Nashua Library selectively promotes candidates

The Nashua, NH public library has a display inviting people to give it donations in the name of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The library displays life-size cardboard cutouts of these two people next to big jars. No choices are available except Trump and Clinton. This is, of course, selective promotion of some candidates above others, which a government-financed library is not supposed to do.
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News: Downed lines in Nashua, Riverside Dr. closed

Today’s bike ride for a bagel was more exciting than I expected. As I returned home on Riverside Drive, I saw fire trucks across the road. On a closer view, the situation was even worse: Power lines draped over a big trailer truck right at Conway Arena, all the way across the street to where a utility pole was down. The firemen weren’t even allowing foot traffic through, so I had to backtrack to Mine Falls Park and ride to the other side of the turnpike to get home.

Riverside Drive is the only vehicle access point to the Riverside Medical Center and Nashua High School South, so they were cut off from the world till traffic was restored. I don’t know if it has been yet. The traffic light at the entrance to my condo complex was on but blinking, as if its control had been knocked out. There were probably power outages, but they don’t seem to have been widespread.
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Wagner’s Ring (the “good parts” version)

Yesterday in Nashua I got to see a concert performance of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, cut down to three hours including an intermission. The performance was fantastic. The experiment of squeezing it down had a mixed result.

1876 scene from Das RheingoldSymphony NH, Nashua’s resident orchestra, combined forces with the Lexington Symphony Orchestra and a group of soloists in Keefe Auditorium, Elm Street Middle School. The stage had to be extended to accommodate all the musicians. Between the two orchestras, the contingent was close to what Wagner specified; they even had Wagner tubas and anvils. It was my first time seeing anything close to a live performance of the Ring, with or without constumes and staging. There are some thing you need to see to appreciate, such as singers who can hold their own against a hundred-piece orchestra. I was particularly impressed by Alfred Walker’s Wotan. Wotan’s definitely the main character in Rheingold and has a good claim to it in Walküre, and walker brought a lot of power and emotional effectiveness to the role. (By the way, his skin is dark. Take that, Nazi Wagnerians!) Pawel Izdebski, who played the giant Fafner, really is a giant, a head taller than any of the other singers. Many of the singers covered more than one role; Sam Handley doubled as a dwarf and a giant.
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Nashua school threat update

Nashua police and school officials are claiming to have broad support from parents, yet a lot of people didn’t trust them when they said the schools were safe to reopen Tuesday, after the threat which resulted in all the schools being closed on Monday. An AP report says that attendance on Tuesday was down significantly, more than normal ducking out on Christmas week would account for. Somewhere between 30 and 35 percent of the students at the two Nashua high schools didn’t show up.

Can anyone blame them? The police claimed the threat was plausible enough to justify closing not just the two high schools, but all the city’s public schools, and yet they refuse to tell us anything specific about the threat other than that it was directed at the high schools and named December 21 as the date. There are extra police in the schools this week, even though the threat is allegedly gone. Everyone except government officials knows that murderous attackers can easily change details of their plans or lie about them in the first place. If the schools were in grave danger on Monday, there’s no reason to believe they’re much safer now, given the claimed seriousness of the threat and the lack of information to go on. As I said before, it makes sense to withhold details that could be “fingerprints” of the threat, but we should at least know what kind of threatened attack prompted such a drastic response.

It reminds me of the locking down of six cities in the Boston area while pursuing the Tsarnaev brothers. The public is simply considered an inconvenience to be kept in the dark even when it’s in danger. People are still claiming that ordering everyone to stay inside their homes was what allowed a person who went outside his home after the order was lifted to find Dzokhar Tsarnaev. I’m less scared of this mysterious threat than of what the police might do while hunting it down.

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Nashua school threat

Yesterday all the public schools in Nashua were closed because of a reported threat against the city’s two high schools. The schools are reopening today.

I live less than two miles from one of the high schools that was threatened, and the threat was considered credible enough at first to justify closing the other schools as well, yet I don’t know its actual nature. The public hasn’t been told, on grounds of “protecting the integrity of the case.”

This bothers me. The school officials decided the threat was serious enough that it didn’t stop at the boundaries of the high schools, so why should we think it stopped at the boundaries of the public school system? Did it extend to private schools? (Bishop Guertin High School, the city’s biggest private high school, is apparently closed for the week, so at least they didn’t have to decide based on inadequate information, but the city has at least one other place that calls itself a high school and several colleges.) Did it extend to Nashua’s shopping centers, which are crowded this week? To where I live?

Reports of looking for a “device” and news pictures of a bomb squad vehicle suggest that the threat involved a bomb, or perhaps that a bomb was one of several possibilities. I understand not disclosing everything; identifying a suspect by knowledge of unpublicized details is a standard investigative technique. But the assurance that an unspecified threat is no longer credible, based only on a search of the schools, isn’t very convincing.

The bottom line for me is: How should I react? Most obviously, I should avoid the high schools for a while. The next couple of days will be abnormally warm, great for bike riding, and one of my favorite routes goes through Nashua South’s parking lot to Mine Falls Park, but I’m going to avoid it. It’s not bombs I’m afraid of, but cops who might arrest anybody for no reason. I’m avoiding the shopping centers anyway; they’re too crowded.

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Prize scam by Allen Mello

Allen Mello Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Nashua, NH is running a highly deceptive “Heart of Gold” giveaway, designed to bring in people on the false belief that they’ve won big prizes. They lured me in that way today.

A mailing which I received on Wednesday from them claimed to be giving away prizes. More often than not, I throw those things out with the rest of the junk mail, but I thought of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and decided to uncover the numbers. The mailing had specific prizes next to specific numbers, so I’d know whether I’d won something worth claiming or not.
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Don Lebrun vs. private property

In Nashua, state representative Don Lebrun is showing his disregard for private property, wandering around the Ledgewood Hills grounds distributing his campaign literature even though there is a sign prohibiting solicitation. When I told him he was not supposed to be on our property, he said I was “full of shit.” He claimed some piece of state legislation entitles him to ignore our right to keep solicitors off.

When voting in Ward 5, remember how little respect he has for the property rights of us commoners.

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A complaint to St. Mary’s Bank

I’m sending the following letter to Ronald H. Covey, the president of St. Mary’s Bank. St. Mary’s is actually a member-owned credit union, the oldest in the United States. If this were a large-readership blog, I’d urge everyone to write to them; but my readership is small, and the number of readers in Nashua can probably be counted in the fingers of an amputee’s hand.

Today, after getting to the head of the line to use the ATM in the Nashua branch of St. Mary’s, I saw a notice that it will be shut down next week because of alleged low use. I am extremely unhappy about that.

The ATM in the Spring Street branch is the only St. Mary’s ATM in Nashua. That leaves all the members in Nashua having to go to Hudson, Milford, or somewhere else. This is a serious disservice to all of us in New Hampshire’s second largest city.

Usage was low? That’s understandable. It’s inside the main customer space, which means it’s only usable when the branch is open. This is substandard; I can’t think of any other ATM that has that restriction. Yet we’re supposed to take the blame for not using it enough. Why not put it in a 24-hour location, like almost every other ATM?

You tell us we can just go looking for a SUM machine if we want to avoid charges every time we need our money. Do you ever use ATMs? Are you aware that the SUM-participating ones been disappearing at a rapid rate? Most of the online guides I find are useless because half or more of the machines they list are no longer SUM, if they’re still there at all. lists five locations in Nashua, one of which is the St. Mary’s branch. I hope some of the others are still valid.

Since I could only use the ATM when the branch is open, it’s true that I can just wait in line for a teller. This will take longer, and the burden on the employees will just get worse because they’ll have to serve people who just want to cash a check.

I’ve been a member of St. Mary’s for many years. I stuck with it when the alternative was banks being acquired and changing their names every few months. But if the management of St. Mary’s just has contempt for their own employers (i.e., us, the members), I may have to change.

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Protests and people

There’s a group in Nashua that stands in front of the City Hall at 11 AM every Saturday to protest whatever war is current. They’ve been there since the Bush years. Yesterday I decided it would be a worthwhile gesture to stand with them, so I headed downtown. The group has dwindled down to two people. I hoped there would be a boost in numbers because of Syria, but apparently the old regulars have wandered off and they haven’t been bringing in new people. That happens with a lot of organizations.

It was still an interesting way to spend an hour. One of the two men was a liberal sort; the other described himself as libertarian-leaning. The second was also a 9/11 truther. I’ll listen to anyone’s arguments if I don’t have something better to do; even if they’re nonsense, I’ll learn something about how they think. He claimed to be a chemical engineer and to have concluded from a personal analysis of some of the debris that the towers collapsed from set explosives, not from the impact of the airplanes.

He gave me a “9/11 fact sheet card.” This didn’t mention the chemical which he talked about, and I don’t remember the name, so I can’t look up information on his argument. I have some technical knowledge on Point 7, which looks very dubious: “Tests have shown that cell-phone calls cannot be made at altitudes over 4000 to 8000 feet, as cell towers are located on the ground … No passenger could have successfully placed a call for help by cell phone from an airborne plane on 9/11, as reported.”

Now I know that cell phone use is prohibited on airplanes partially because a phone would have a line of sight to multiple towers and could put an undue burden on phone traffic. Also, I’ve played enough with shortwave radio to know that there are no hard limits on radio distance. I’ve picked up AM broadcasts from distant parts of the US. Today I learned in a web search that most if not all of the calls from Flight 93 (the one that crashed in an unpopulated area) were made from airplane phones, not cell phones. An article by a 9/11 skeptic supports this conclusion, as do other sources.

My biggest complaint about the 9/11 truthers is that they offer no coherent alternative. How could any group within the government make Bin Laden a stooge in their plan, plant explosives enough to destroy the WTC, and arrange the hijackings? Why would they bother crashing a plane in rural Pennsylvania and faking phone calls from it? I don’t doubt that there are people who’d have killed thousands for the sake of gaining power and profiting from the actions that followed, and the NSA scandal has shown how deeply dishonest our government can be, but the scenario just doesn’t make sense.

At any rate, I can say I single-handedly boosted the turnout against bombing Syria by 50%!

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