Monday, August 10, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Monday 10 August

Lazy as I am, and having been out of town for a while recently, followed by hosting family for a few weeks, I fell behind on my newspaper reading and general monitoring of current events.

So I’m gonna take the easy way out and make this post a riff on a collected list of unrelated subjects noticed in catching up on the papers, and anything else that comes to mind. Like the header says, “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” is what you will find here (from “Anatevka” in “Fiddler on the Roof,” in case you wondered.)

Daniel Stone Inn

I had occasion to drive by there today, and paused to observe the work underway. As luck would have it, the owner was strolling by, and we spoke for several minutes. I’m impressed with her commitment to the task, and wish them all the best. Given the numerous challenges elsewhere in town, it’s great to see someone actually working hard to turn things around.

Beetles and Loosestrife

I’m continually puzzled by the discourse on natural species as they relate to the discussion of evolution, and in particular, Darwinism, as the foundational underpinning of the earth and all its inhabitants.

On the one hand, the “natural selection” process, in which the evolution of the species is the key dynamic, is supposed to be the inevitable consequence of Darwin’s theory. We have no business interfering with it, as it is “natural.”

On the other hand, whenever the consequences of Darwinism threaten prized natural foliage or species, “conservationists” attempt to control the spread of a plant they consider invasive. We simply can’t tolerate a decline in “plant diversity,” whether Darwin ordains it or not.

So in come the insect interlopers, with our assistance, to revoke “natural selection,” at least that poo-pooed by the overseers of our environment.

So which is it, oh naturalists? What evolution is approved, and what isn’t?

Doug Rooks and the Times Record: Our “Watchdogs”

Doug Rooks fancies himself an authority on matters of Maine Governance. He’s been pontificating on them for years, and even held a position in Baldacci’s administration as I recall.

The Times Record thinks enough of Rooks to pay him for regular offerings as a “featured columnist.” Rooks has yet to ascend to the depths of a Paul Krugman, but if he keeps on working at it, he should make it.

In a recent column, Rooks asserted that the TABOR II (Taxpayer Bill of Rights – second generation) referendum is “designed to cut state, county, and local spending by formula.” Nice try, Doug, but I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. TABOR I, or II, for that matter, had/have nothing to do with “cutting” anything. They have to do with limiting the rate of growth, which is not at all the same thing. Even you, Doug, should be able to tell the difference. Doug, of course, doesn’t like the referendum process because we have representatives who “studied the issues and have relevant information” to act on our behalf.

If Rooks is going to be paid by our government watchdogs at the Times Record, shouldn’t we at least expect a modicum of accuracy and fact checking in what they print? As I’ve written before, they are more than willing to wire brush my work, unpaid as it is. Shouldn’t they do at least the same for Rooks? Isn’t that the job of an editor?

Oh wait; my submissions usually run afoul of Times Record editorial inclinations, while Rooks’ generally toe the party line. Now I understand why Doug gets plenty of slack.

Rooks also recently wrote that under George W. Bush, the Republican Party “moved steadily rightward.” Anyone who would write that, and any editor who would approve it, are both utterly clueless as to what rightwing ideology is.

Let the readers beware, because the editors sure aren’t.

Gender and Women’s Studies

I could go on and on about the eccentricities of academia in this day and age, especially as it relates to creating specialties to address all manner of “under-addressed” areas of our culture. Just for the heck of it, when’s the last time you read about a “Conservative Studies Program” at one of our Ivory Towers of Higher Enlightenment?

A few weeks back, the Times Record ran a front page feature titled “Women’s studies in context” about Bowdoin Prof Jennifer Scanlon and her new book “The Life of Helen Gurley Brown.” Scanlon is Director of Bowdoin’s Gender and Women’s Studies Program.

Such a profound area for study; we know so little about both. Hence my relief in reading this Scanlon quote: “Really, I’m interested in women’s relationships to money, and I’m also interested in shopping.” Scanlon said “There’s so little respect for women’s relationship to money.”

I kid you not. You need years of advanced study and a PhD to understand this stuff? And people pay 40 grand or more a year to have their kids learn at the feet of such scholars?

Discretion and prudence would probably dictate I shut up at this point, but I didn’t build my awful reputation by being quiet. Besides, I’m just a small town engineer, and everyone knows how ignorant we are, so I’m expecting some slack.

So, let me just say that as a husband of 45 years, and the father of a daughter who is nearing 40, there is no real mystery to “women’s relationships to money” and “shopping.” And my guess is there are hundreds of similarly enlightened males in this town, all without Bowdoin degrees, who consider themselves certifiable experts on the subject.

As they say, you just can’t make this stuff up. We can only wonder what depths of human knowledge are being explored and taught in the other “specialties” at Bowdoin and the other bastions of human understanding.

The mind reels.

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