Welcome to another edition of Boos and Bravos, where we try to criticize and praise in equal amounts:
BOO to Facebook. Although I’ve long been hoping for the total demise of this social media platform, I take a bit of solace in last week’s stock plunge, which followed the revelation that 250 million users’ personal data was compromised during the 2016 election.
I can’t tell you how much I loathe social media in general. It’s been taken over by cynicism, snark and folks projecting a fake image of themselves and their always glamorous and glorious lives to impress their hundreds of “friends.” But thanks to the recent revelation of Facebook’s thirst for making money off information from their unsuspecting saps – I mean users – it seems many are realizing that the price for all that fake online fun is a total loss of privacy.
Many, of course, don’t care about their personal lives being exposed, and they will continue to use Facebook. But many are already deleting their accounts and opting for real relationships instead of virtual ones. And studies say those strong enough to actually kick the Facebook habit – and let us not fool ourselves, it is a serious addiction – are experiencing less anxiety, less stress and an overall higher happiness quotient. And some are even venturing outside into nature for the first time in ages. Hip hip, hooray.
Remember MySpace of the mid-2000s? No? I’m not surprised. Ten years from now, I’m hoping we’ll all have a similar recollection of Facebook.
BRAVO to the hard-working maple syrup producers who bring us Maine Maple Sunday each year, introducing thousands of farm visitors to the wonder of turning maple sap into maple syrup. The big day occurred this past Sunday, when thousands ambled to their nearest sugar-producing farm and enjoyed the sticky sweetness of the season.
Making syrup isn’t easy or inexpensive, and each year the weather dictates how much sap flows from the taps. But, celebrating this process on Maine Maple Sunday is part of what makes Maine great. It doesn’t get much more “Real Maine” than tromping through snow (or mud) to watch steam rise from a sugarhouse set back in a sugarbush, which is the name farmers give to their stands of maples.
Maple sugaring is a not a task for the impatient, either. It takes 40 gallons of sap, which is the sweet watery stuff that comes straight out of the tree, to make a gallon of syrup. I guess that’s why I think of steam when I think of Maine Maple Sunday, since there’s basically 39 gallons of sweet-smelling steam produced for every gallon of syrup. Ayuh, that’s the way life should be.
Speaking of steam, pretty much everybody had steam coming out of their ears thanks to President Trump last week. So, a big, disappointed BOO to him, for the reality-show antics of March 23, when he threat-tweeted his disfavor of the $1.3 trillion federal budget in the morning and then voted for the monstrosity in the afternoon, leaving us feeling like saps.
I know we’re supposed to beware the Ides of March, when Brutus stabbed Julius Caesar on March 15, but I guess we Republicans should have been more worried about March 23. Et tu Trumpe?
Trump needs to remember his base wants the wall to keep out illegals; we want spending reform and less hoopla coming out of the Oval Office, since it makes America look silly on the world stage. Trump may be our wish come true when it comes to supporting a strong military and dismantling the nanny state, but he’s losing his luster with his shifting-sand leadership.
While I wasn’t sad to see Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus or H.R. McMaster get the boot, and admire Trump for standing firm on tariffs to stop China’s cheating ways, I am disturbed by the constant Cabinet chaos and I’m especially disturbed about the exit of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, since he is a composed, thoughtful and kind individual who embodies the common-sense conservatism we used to see in President Reagan and thought-leader William F. Buckley.
Trump likes to rock boats, and we need his chutzpah in some arenas to get things back on track. Some unpredictability and bravado is beneficial, because it instills fear into rogue world leaders. But the March 23 flip-flop went overboard; we will likely rue the day that budget was approved.
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.