Friday, September 2, 2016

The road to “social justice:” paved with unclear and troublesome intentions


As we often say, we’re cursed with an active mind.  It’s one of the reasons this blog exists.

And that characterization is becoming all too real…the cursed part, that is.

Regular readers know that one of the consequences of Side’s affliction is a tendency to read journals dealing with ‘academia,’ and specifically the state of affairs on college campuses.  Combined with the proximity of Bowdoin College, which we ‘watch’ to some modest degree, we can find ourselves in the strangest of places.

Now throw the Brunswick “Human Rights Task Force” into the mix, and we end up with a concoction so yeasty that we worry it could ‘explode’ all over the walls and ceiling of the Other Side editorial kitchen.  It’s actually quite amazing what basic flour, salt,  yeast, and water can do if you give them some time, and don’t pay attention.

Our friend Chance stops by from time to time, and he’s visited longer than we would have liked this week.  He told us of some happenings on the campus of our Alma Mater, Rutgers University, that figuratively blew our minds.


Our memories of the four years we spent on the Old Queens campus in New Brunswick, NJ are so strong and fresh in our mind that we were afraid what he brought to us would burst our bubble, to borrow an image.

We stipulate that we are a cranky old SOB, and not easily given to the social compulsions and trends of our day.  We even think, from time to time, that whatever we’ve learned and experienced in our three quarters of a century might offer some useful counterpoint to the au courant sensibilities of the post-modern era.

As one example, we find it a bit cognitively dissonant that the coeds of Bowdoin make an annual ritual of  putting on a Vagina Monologues show, and willingly subscribe to a ‘hook-up’ culture that rationalizes and glorifies the one night stands of not that long ago.  Yet at the same time, they bemoan the ‘objectification’ of themselves, and the ‘campus sexual assault’ culture.

Duh, we say.


The image just above is at the top of this article:

There’s enough in the article alone to keep us busy, if we’d allow it, for weeks.  For now, we’ll just hit you with some of the ‘new language’ developments, like the three types of ‘micro-aggression:’ microassaut, microinsult, and microinvalidation.  Just imagine the new types of victimhood this opens up. 

Are you paying attention, Brunswick Human Rights Task Force members?  You better be if you’re gonna stay ahead of the game.  And THIS is a game; a very serious one.

Fertile as our imagination is, we see this whole ‘micro-‘ thing working its way into the hook-up culture.

“Hey, babe, I may be micro-attracted to you, and it could turn into micro-affection.  If I told you I micro-loved you, would you take it laying-down for one night of micro-sex?” Maybe micro-relationships will evolve from the hook up culture.  You know, something lasting 36 hours or more, which is to say beyond the hangover phase.

(Warning to those with fragile sensibilities; a brief adult moment follows immediately)

Reminds us of the old joke about a guy at a bar asking the broad sitting next to him is she’d go to bed with him.  “What is it with you?   You don’t care about my mind; all you care about is my body!”

“Whadda ya mean?  I wanna bleep your brains out!”

Ok; the moment is over.

Then there’s this passage:

Rutgers president Robert Bachi defended Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus despite expressing views that may be considered offensive, but the “Language Matters” campaign contradicts that message through 60- to 90-minute workshops examining how “negatively charged words...create a damaging environment for all of society,” during which presenters seek “to demonstrate how microagressions hinder our ability to have a diverse and inclusive society/community."

Once you’re paying staffs good money to generate that sort of psycho-social-babble, there’s no turning back.  They become self-perpetuating and self-breeding.

Call us alarmists, but we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if students at the Rutgers College of Law are busy preparing themes on how to take this concept and turn it into a case to repeal First Amendment free speech rights.  “For the greater good,” you understand.

The link embedded in the passage quickly took us here:


Which offered up innumerable rabbit holes; far more than we care to explore right now.  But if you spend a few moments surfing through the top level menu options, it shouldn’t take you too long to find out about the annual “Gaypril” celebrations, and the free renaming services.


“Whatever floats your boat” obviously won’t cut it anymore.  Between what you’ll find on the bleeding edge of campus social revolution and the now relatively mundane “body art” pursuits, somebody needs to come up with a fresher platitude.  We’ll gladly accept your suggestions here, and offer them up for our readers.  Here’s a hint: we think sinking fits better than floating.

We’ll leave you with this assurance: we aren’t the least bit apolgetic for being put off and saddened by what we glean from our ‘scholarly research,’ both that we’ve given you a glimpse at, and far more that we haven’t.  What we’ve found doesn’t make us ‘more hopeful’ or ‘renew our faith in humanity.’  To the contrary, we fear for what our children will be facing as they approach the years of sending our grandchildren off to an IHE (Institution of Higher Education) they’re willing to tolerate.  And for your progeny as well.

By the way, we’re currently considering renaming Bowdoin College “Fort Bowdoin, Home of the 7th Brigade of the Social Justice Warfare Command” or something to that effect.  What’s going on there seems too militaristic at this point to continue thinking of it in the old ‘boola, boola’ framework.  If it makes you feel any better, we intend as well to rename our Alma Mater “Fort Rutgers, Supreme Headquarters of the Social Justice Special Warfare Command.”


And for a little levity, we’re going to put together a training syllabus for the skills we adopted and perfected during our college days.  We exoect the response will be underwhelming on both campuses, but you gotta start somewhere.

    Image result for mooning from car

Good night, moon.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

On Foamers, Sow’s Ears, and Silk Purses

Funny how thoughts and memories come at us as we ponder a possible post.  For reasons we can’t explain, in this instance we remembered the silly phone pranks of our childhood in the 50’s.

“Hello, do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

“Yes we do.”

“Then please let him out, he’s suffocating.”


Which led us to think about “Foamers in a can,” and off we went from that point.

You probably wonder why the term “Foamers” came into play.  Well, If you frequent the halls of power in Augusta frequently enough, which we don’t recommend, you’ll eventually hear the accolade “foamers” used by weary and cynical bureaucrats.

Though we suspect it has wider use, in our experience it’s most often applied to describe passenger rail advocates, and especially those seeking millions upon millions of OPM so they can indulge their hobby at the expense of the rest of us.  Our interpretation is that their exuberance for their favored project often causes them to figuratively, if not literally, foam at the mouth.  But it’s a close shave.

Yesterday we had a few moments of clarity.  To begin with, Side and three friends met for lunch at Byne’s Irish Pub at the Brunswick station.  The place was 80-90% empty, and our food was relatively undistinguished, though that matters little in this essay.

At roughly 12:30, we felt the rumbles of the incoming Downeaster and stepped outside to the adjacent platform to view the ridership for ourselves.  We personally counted 14 or 15 passengers gettting off; our friends had a count no higher than 17 as best we can recall.  The Amtrak conductor in charge, however, indicated he had a count of 20 riders to turn in to Amtrak and NNEPRA officials.

Say what you will about Side, but we assure you that no-way, no-how did 20 riders get off that train.  So we’re left, as we have many times in the past, to ponder just how Downeaster ridership figures are collected and compiled.


Back to the foamers.  Two of our favorite in this category include Tony Donovan, Portland real estate developer and head of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition.  He recently had an opinion column appear in the Portland Press Herald, in which he made this assertion:

“A mile of road costs about the same as a mile of rail line, but a road must be rebuilt every decade or so. In contrast, rail lines last more than a half of a century. Also, by reducing the number of cars on our road system, trains reduce road repair costs substantially.”

Along with a dozen or so equally unsubstantiated propaganda claims


Then, of course, there’s our old friend Wayne Davis, Founder and Chair of TrainRiders/Northeast, who humbly assigns himself credit for creating NNEPRA and bringing the Downeaster into being.  The same Wayne Davis who not that long ago said he ‘wished we hadn’t brought the Downeaster to Brunswick,’ and told the Governor’s staff that it was his job to select nominees for the NNEPRA Board, in spite of statute saying that is the Governor’s task.  You can see the modesty and humility in his face in the photo above.

Davis was also quoted in a recent article, in which plans for spending another $9.4 million in capital construction to ‘optimize’ Portland North (Brunswick) service was described:

Constructing the Royal Junction track and completing the layover station will add ridership from Brunswick, which has consistently exceeded forecasts, said Wayne Davis, chairman of TrainRiders/Northeast, a passenger rail advocacy group.

“We are glad that something we recommended over 20 years ago is finally coming to fruition,” Davis said Tuesday. “The ridership figures are way above forecast. July was the biggest July ever. It just gets better, which is wonderful.”

Which sets up the final scenes in this story.  Wouldn’t you just know that NNEPRA recently held a Board Meeting, as they do from time to time.  If you read the briefing  package prepared for these meetings, you’ll rarely see anything that grabs your interest.

In this case, however, we’re extremely grateful to Mr. Davis and his groupies at TRN.  Because they posted a report on the Board Meeting that reads as follows:

  TRN Report August 2016full

Which is to say that they published the truth for a change.  We hope you read the entire page, but if you don’t, please take note of the mention of “the botched tie job” in FY 15 and 16, and the fact that you can already count on Downeaster Service out of Brunswick (as far south as Wells) being totally cancelled for at least two months coming soon.

Looks like you might want to invest in motor coach stock, if you can get your hands on any.

While the service ‘break’ should give the staff at the Brunswick Station Departure Center a well-earned rest from their grueling service, we do expect that the ladies of the AAB will be left agog.

                         Image result for All aboard brunswick

There’s nothing more unsettling, of course, then leaving our town lovelies agog. You know who we mean: Knox, Harris, Boochever, Wilson, Dunbar, and the rest of the All Aboard Brunswick dance team.  We mustn’t mess with the bookies and the schoolies; now we can add to that the trainies.

Oops!  We almost forgot; there is one other teenie weenie little problem.  AAB ladies and the other trainies know that TRN provides ‘volunteer hosts’ riding along on Downeaster runs, ensuring that customers are content and enjoying their sumptuous accomodations, provided at an extremely high discount via the generosity of unknowing taxpayers.


We don’t know whether the volunteers will be told to ‘stand down’ during the months long service stoppage, or asked to (oh, the horror!) ride the buses standing in from Brunswick to Wells.

If they do, they’ll be forced to give new credibility to the old saw about turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

We hope they carry spare knitting needles with them on each ride.  If they’re inclinded towards humor, they can always ask passengers whether ‘they have Wayne Davis or Tony Donovan in a can.’


And when riders look perplexed, whip a handy can of Barbasol out of their kit bag, and recite an appropriate jingle from the old days..  If they can’t pull it off, they’ll lose their porcine cosmetology license.


Who says we’re not still crazy after all these years?