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Welcome to another edition of Boos and Bravos, where we try to criticize and praise in equal amounts:
Boo to the biased media, which rarely reports any news that might conflict with the theory of man-made global warming. Why have national news reports on this recent bitter cold snap failed to mention the potentially positive effects on global warming trends? Every time it’s 100 degrees the media is quick to run stories about climate change, but when it’s 0 degrees we hear nary a peep about how the cold weather could benefit both global temperature averages and the northward creep of invasive species.
Closer to home, Maine media should be reporting on whether the brutal conditions are killing off the wooly adelgid, emerald ash borer, green crab, deer tick, winter moth and other species that are threatening our area. Even a story in this Sunday’s newspaper seemed to downplay the prolonged cold spell’s positive effects regarding invasive species. Readers deserve to hear both sides of the story, even if it contradicts the science community’s supposedly expert consensus. But, sad to say, climate change is fait accompli, and nothing will deter the media from its precious narrative.
Speaking of global cooling …
Bravo to those making it through the harshest start to winter in a long, long time. It’s hard being a Mainer. It’s really tough. Removing snow, moving around in it, being cold and going without sun for several months takes its toll on the psyche and one’s energy levels. But, through it all, Maine’s many plow drivers, both private and public, are doing a great job beating back nature’s onslaught.
A belated boo to the renaming of Catherine McAuley High School in Portland, which is now called Maine Girls’ Academy. I drove by it this weekend and was struck by the dull name. The students, whose parents are shelling out $17,250 per school year, deserve a better name.
The former Catholic school had to change its name two years ago when it disassociated from the Sisters of Mercy. But did the trustees have to choose such a blah, unremarkable and forgettable new moniker as Maine Girls’ Academy? The only name more blah than that is Maine Boys’ Academy, which thankfully doesn’t exist, or Maine Girls’ School, which sounds like a reformatory.
I read a Portland Press Herald story regarding the 2016 name change and wished the trustees, who held a naming contest that garnered 400 entries, had instead chosen a name one of the students came up with: Lionheart Academy, which referenced the school’s lion mascot. A name referring to lionhearted young women is much more inspiring than one that merely references the students’ gender. Is it too late to change it again?
Boo to the generic stores and food offerings inside the Maine Turnpike’s rest areas. We now have Pennsylvania-based Hershey’s Ice Cream, which is just a cart that’s not even open in the winter. Then there’s Burger King, which can be found everywhere in America. There’s also Seattle-based Starbucks, which is similarly ubiquitous. The turnpike rest areas should feature local shops and restaurants.
Hershey’s should be replaced with Sanford-based Shain’s of Maine or Skowhegan-based Gifford’s Ice Cream. Starbucks should be replaced with Kingfield-based Carrabassett Coffee or Portland-based Coffee By Design. And Amato’s or one of Maine’s many lobster roll purveyors could replace Burger King. Maine is known for its local-food fervor, so the Maine Turnpike Authority should use its precious real estate to introduce the state’s millions of visitors to our best local food options.
Bravo to the American Dialect Society – which, interestingly enough, started the practice of choosing a word of the year back in 1990 – for getting it right when it picked “fake news” as 2017’s Word of the Year. How many times did we hear that term last year? Too many times. Of course it was made famous by President Donald Trump, and repeated to the point of regurgitation by everyone else.
The word of the year has become a fun end-of-year tradition for word nerds. There are many organizations that have joined the etymological fun since 1990, and their choices usually reflect what took place in the culture that year. The Oxford English Dictionary chose “youthquake” for 2017’s word of the year, which it defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.” Merriam-Webster chose “feminism” as its word of the year. And dictionary.com chose “complicit,” whose popularity spiked after actress Scarlet Johansson portrayed Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in a Saturday Night Live skit touting a fake fragrance called Complicit.
I wonder what 2018’s word will be. “Impeachment?”
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.