Letters to the Editor
Good Pun, Bad Grammar
While I sympathize with Ken Picard in [“Hitting the Sack: What a vas deferens it makes when a ‘routine’ vasectomy doesn’t go as planned,” January 16], I found the most painful part of his tale of testicular trauma to be the repeated trouble with subject-verb agreement. Despite the multiple tubes involved, the term “vas deferens” is a singular phrase. The Latin plural is “vasa deferentia,” but it’s probably easier just to change the verbs to agree with the singular subject.
Ready to Roll
I have heard the rumors about Skateland making a comeback and was excited to read more about this in [WTF, January 16]. My friends and I spent many weekends there and often talk about how we miss it. I’m ready to shout Cyndi Lauper songs and bust my ass in the name of fun. So bring on the disco ball, as I will be the first one in line when it opens.
Carol Ann Wooster
On “Second” Thought
Congratulations to Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon and Burlington City Council member Norm Blais for having the courage to take a stand on assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines [Fair Game, January 9]. This is not an issue of the denial of Second Amendment rights, but rather an opportunity for a little Vermont common sense. Why is it legal to walk around our city streets with a military-style rifle when you could not do so on any military base in the United States?
What a horrible cartoon you included with the article [“Is ‘Citizen Legislature’ a Misnomer? Plenty of Vermonters Can’t Afford to Serve,” January 9]. In reality, the retirees who serve in our legislature are doing the opposite of napping. They are working long hours with little pay to perform an essential function for Vermont. It’s true that many of us who would like to serve in the legislature can’t afford to work for that rate of pay, but the retirees who do serve are not the problem. They are the current solution, given the fact that our state can’t afford to pay a living wage to its legislators. I appreciate the retirees who serve our state in this vital way.
Respect for Retirees
Last summer I was fortunate to be able to step down by choice from a job I loved, after 23 years working as a VNA nurse. Now, as a new member of a demographic group, that of “retirees,” I find it interesting to notice how we are viewed. I was appalled to see the cartoon accompanying the article [“Is ‘Citizen Legislature’ a Misnomer? Plenty of Vermonters Can’t Afford to Serve,” January 9]. The drawing presumably depicts a panel of Vermonters who sit on the “Citizen Legislature.” Three of the members sit behind nametags that just read “Retiree.” All three of them are asleep, snoring, with their heads down on the table.
Are we to think that retired people are all feeble, useless members of boards and government panels? Should we also assume that we are too ineffective and lacking in energy as to be helpful volunteering our time in schools, hospitals, parent-child centers, mentoring programs, libraries, animal shelters, hospice programs, ESL classes, prisons, sports programs, environmental groups, the arts and political campaigns?
I suspect that if Seven Days ran an article or cartoon that denigrated members of a racial- or gender-specific group in such a stereotypical way, your readers would be horrified.
[Re “Sen. Patrick Leahy Exhibits His Photos from a Political Life,” January 16]: I used to enjoy the art at the Vermont State Supreme Court building. Then they wanted me to go through a metal detector to see art. That’s when I stopped going. Art and metal detectors are incompatible, in my opinion.
Big on Bigelow
As always, I enjoy Rick Kisonak’s film reviews in Seven Days — in particular his recent review of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty [Movie Review, January 9]. The distortion the film portrays involving torture as described by Mr. Kisonak does complicate the appreciation of this work, and was probably the cause for the snubbing of Bigelow in this year’s contention for the Best Director Oscar.
This is a shame, as Bigelow is a masterful director of action films dating back 30 years. In fact, she has been the only woman director of action films, which include cult favorite Near Dark, the stylishly loopy Point Break and the sci-fi tale Strange Days. The Hurt Locker brought Bigelow’s work to new levels. With Zero Dark Thirty, she has created a disturbingly dark meditation on violence — global, national and personal.
In fact, this film could easily be viewed as an homage to the films of her favorite director: Sam Peckinpah. From the main theme of the hunt for bin Laden (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) to the scenes of rendition and dirty tricks (Killer Elite) to the saga of Seal Team Six (The Wild Bunch and The Getaway), this film is a straight-on, powerful piece of filmmaking in the grand tradition of American action films.
Gun Survivor Rights?
With all this talk of our gun rights [Fair Game, December 19] after the nation’s most recent massacre of innocents, I want to ask a question that has not been asked: Should there be another amendment to the constitution to protect those Americans, like me, who do not love guns or desire an arsenal of high-powered weaponry for any of the reasons touted by the NRA on why it is necessary to own them? As far as I know, there is no constitutional amendment on our behalf like there is for the NRA. So, without an amendment, does this mean that we can become victims at will of America’s vast fetish with guns? Do those of us who choose not to carry Bushmasters wherever we go have to constantly live in fear that we may be shot down at any moment?
As a survivor of a drive-by shooting (Boston, 1972), I want to know the answers. As someone who also has lost a friend to an AK-47 at her work as a town clerk (New Hampshire, 1992). The gun was wielded by a citizen who was a responsible gun owner until he “lost it,” I want to know. Do we need a constitutional amendment of our own to secure our rights not to be mowed down en masse? Do we survivors have to constantly relive the nightmares of getting shot at so the Second Amendment can go on unimpeded? Does anyone in this country, in Vermont, care about the survivors of our gun cult?
Dangers of Dairy
[Re “Midd Kids’ Documentary Shows How Vermont Dairy Workers Get Milked,” January 9]: Dairy farms in Vermont still enjoy the perception of being family owned, with hardworking, dedicated and honorable citizens who are integral to local economies, preserving rural heritage, conserving the working landscape.
In just one generation, things have changed dramatically. The postcard pastoral of Holsteins grazing in green pastures is fast becoming a nostalgic fantasy. With mechanized milking procedures, with increased herd sizes driving family farms out of business, with cows forced into constant production and confined indoors 24/7, why are we surprised at inhumane conditions for illegal workers? Imagine their maddening frustration and the effect that has on their own well-being, on their families and on the cows that are subjected to existence in the same vile conditions. The animals must also endure an inexorable, execrable routine; they will never feel the grass beneath their feet.
Here in our beautiful state, immigrants on dairy farms are treated like the animals, and the animals are treated like machines. Granting driver’s licenses to immigrants won’t change the workaday misery, boredom and monotony endured by every living, breathing being in the dairy facility. It’s a partial welfare fix, not a fundamental change in a rotten system that’s becoming the norm.
Conditions on farms that are big enough to employ undocumented immigrants require even a deeper look inside the dairy barn, as well as a broader look on how Vermont’s heritage and character are affected.
There was an error in the bold pull quote for last week’s news story, “HowardCenter’s New Approach to Treating Mental Illness: More Talking, Fewer Meds.” While the text of the article accurately reported the results of Dr. Sandra Steingard’s drug-reduction efforts on 55 patients — “In one year, she’s seen a 30 percent reduction in their consumption of antipsychotic drugs. Only two have had to be rehospitalized.” — the pull quote erroneously simplified that to: “Of 55 people who went without meds for one year, only two were rehospitalized.” In fact, only 28 of 55 patients chose to taper their medications; the rest did not.