With all the rancor about taxi laws, Uber, etc., it's annoying — if not improper, inappropriate or illegal — that a Vermont state cop is allowed to live his civilian life by driving around in a retired-but-still-lettered New York yellow taxi that looks authentic enough to mislead the public [Off Message: "City Attorney Says Uber Is Breaking the Law in Burlington," October 22; Daily 7: "New York Taxi's Retirement: A Quiet Life on Country Roads in Vermont," December 1]. A civilian could not get away with driving a retired state cop cruiser that was still lettered "Vermont State Police."
[Re "Breakthrough Dance," November 5]: I am puzzled at the lack of inclusion, or any mention, of the contribution to dance at Bennington and in the larger world of dance made by the late Judy Dunn. Her partnership with Bill Dixon and association with the Judson Dance Theater, her membership in the Merce Cunningham company, her tenured professorship of dance at Bennington and her role in founding the Black Music Division headed by Dixon, etc., make her perhaps the crucial figure in dance at Bennington in the past 50 years.
In the early 1960s a childhood friend from Montpelier by the name of Butch built a proto bobsled that looked very similar to the "traverse" in your ravine article ["Researching the Ravine," December 3]. It was a good mile run if we were able to make the first and only turn, about 200 yards from the top point on the road. Half the time whoever was steering would catch the front right runner in the snowbank — and off we went. All of us teenage boys and girls who were holding on to each other would slide off and into the bank on the other side of the bend. Not sure how fast we went, but it was faster than one drove in the summer. We did not want to fall off by the time we pitched over the main, very long hill.
Sadly, there is hardly a place left in Vermont where the road crew forgets to sand the hard, snow-packed hill road until early the next day.
I truly miss those days of traversing. Most parents today would not allow it; they'd be afraid someone would get hurt. We loved it. I often wish that those of us still alive could make just one more run. I'm betting most would give it a shot. I'm 66 and would do it on a moment's notice.
["Vermont's Seven Best Cookies," December 6]: I have to add a recommendation for the macaroons at Nunyuns on the corner of North and North Champlain streets. They are delectable and gluten free. I love them so darn much.
Watch Your Language
Alice Levitt described a drink as "a girly-girl drink" ["Sensory Satisfaction," December 10]. Just what did she mean by this? What do people mean when they use this term, "girly-girl," and when they describe things that don't have any gender in gendered terms? All too often there's a kind of put-down implied, and even if no judgment is intended, the act of gendering objects only serves to reinforce gender stereotyping. Yet so much damage continues to result from any kind of gender stereotyping. We already have too many restrictions placed on gender expression and gender identity. So let's leave our drinks alone, and, for that matter, let's support and respect all children, adolescents and adults to be themselves — to self-identify, act, feel, dress, express and, yes, even choose a drink — without judgment.
I must take issue with a recent cartoon in Seven Days [Newcomb, December 10]. In it, the cartoonist Tim Newcomb makes the trite and tired pronouncement that people who don't vote for their rulers have no right to complain about what those rulers do. The idea that the 60 percent of Americans who don't vote are just lazy and incomprehensibly stupid is in fact a lazy, though unfortunately common, thought-terminating assumption of the liberal class.
Let me direct you to a recent Princeton University study that found, "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy."
Perhaps those of us who don't vote are actually better informed than those dupes who still do. I'd rather organize other workers, tenants, students and landowners for concrete changes in our immediate circumstances than throw my vote into the trash can known as a ballot box.
Police State of Mind
The police state is one of the largest U.S. industries. Even Vermont police departments have acquired significant military material ["Up in Arms," December 3]. There is construction money for police stations, courthouses, and public and private jails. What is the payroll for our local, county, private and state police? Then there are jail guards, bureaucrats, probation officers, counselors, motor vehicle enforcement, etc.
How about the many federal law enforcement agencies? You will see this overlap at U.S. airports. Spies listen to our phone calls and intercept our emails. Soon you will see a drone over Vermont.
All of this costs, and since the rich will not pay their fair share, education and social services continue to be underfunded. So intergenerational poverty, ignorance, racism and fear will go on. The police state is thus assured of future customers.
Creative Solution for Burlington College
[Re Off Message: "Mayor Supports Mixed Housing and Open Space on Burlington College Property," November 25; Off Message: "Burlington College Land Sale May be Moving Forward," November 20; "Going, Going, Gone? Who Will Get the Land Around Burlington College?" November 5]: Given that Burlington College is overextended and COTS needs more space, wouldn't it make sense for the college to move back to its old building and COTS could, instead of damaging a historic neighborhood, use the $6 million to rehab the former orphanage? COTS could partner with other entities — perhaps even the City of Burlington. We could chip in and possibly team up to conserve a gorgeous plot of open land for a bargain price. Even a developer whose current legacy is that of having conscientious integrity might want to be creatively involved in helping to preserve the land rather than gobble it up.