[Re "Next Act," March 26]: In the sidebar entitled "Les Misérables by the Numbers," it incorrectly says that the original Broadway production began in 1983. Les Misérables opened on Broadway on March 12, 1987. Also, under info it says "Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Shönberg." It should read "... by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Shönberg."
How Many Shots?
[Re "Flips, Grogs and Rattle-Skulls," April 2]: In his review of Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, Ethan de Seife quotes author Corin Hirsch as remarking that "The quantity that people drank was surprising to me," and cites a statistic from her book: "By the beginning of the Revolutionary War, every colonist above the age of 15 drank about 3.7 gallons of spirit per year. That's the equivalent of seven shots of liquor per day" — a "staggering" amount, according to Hirsch.
I spent a few minutes with a regulation-size shot glass and a measuring cup and proved that this calculation is so far off as to arouse suspicion that Hirsch was having a few herself when she came up with it. There are 112 shots in a gallon, and 414.4 in 3.7 gallons. Divide 414.4 by 365, and you come up with a bit more than one shot per day — hardly a "staggering" amount, or enough to make one stagger. Even if the colonials did knock back seven shots a day, what's the big deal? That's only half a pint, such a paltry amount that it constituted the Royal Navy's daily rum ration for each sailor throughout the years when Britannia ruled the waves.
The book, and the review, confirm the fact that we live in prissily abstemious times ... and that we've gotten lousy at arithmetic.
Great article but wrong conclusions [Poli Psy, "Two Ways to Fix Inequality," March 26]! I believe in American exceptionalism and that we have created the greatest democracy the world has ever known, fueled by a capitalistic economy. Harsh disparities exist, but no other country or society has ever unleashed the nearly unlimited potential for personal growth and economic potential. Judith Levine makes a strong case, but it goes in the dumper when she mentions the "benefit cliff." I have great empathy for those in dire need, but the "benefit cliff" is not there for my wife and me. Where does the money come from? From us! Taxpayers! Levine states: "The other way is for the government to make up the difference in workers' buying power." Trust me, as our national debt increases, the government is posed to unleash an inflation rate so high that you will get your wish — only I'm afraid with far less buying power! Better-paying jobs come from individual effort to advance and limiting government intrusion on businesses so they can grow and thrive! The sad reality is that life itself provides many inequalities, and I, too, would like a bigger paycheck! We all need to look within ourselves and ask if the path we are now on politically will actually improve our lives, or continue to crush us through false promises with even greater government intrusion!
["Truancy Enforcement is Difficult and Uneven Throughout Vermont," March 12]: I think a better way to fight truancy is to eliminate mandatory school attendance! The first stereotypical, but certainly not always true, premise is that if kids are present in school they are learning, and if they are not present in school, they are not getting an education. Vermont law says that the state must provide equal educational opportunities for children. I believe it should be between a child and parent to decide how and where to take advantage of that opportunity.
Some kids want to go to school; some don't. I think that the truancy response project would be better served by getting in touch with absent-from-school kids (truant has such a negative connotation) and determine if they want to go to school, but can't, then facilitate a solution to that issue. If a kid doesn't want to attend school, then facilitate his/her education elsewhere by making sure the child has the tools to complete the assignments or the course work wherever they are at. Education should be judged by what is learned, not where it is learned.
[Re Fair Game, March 12]: Alicia Freese's recent coverage of the legislative debate over paid time off omitted mention of one business group's support for the legislation: Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. Most VBSR members already offer this to their employees, recognizing that it's good for business: no germs spread around the workplace because folks can't afford to stay home; reduced turnover, meaning less training time needed for constantly churning new hires, etc. Hopefully, in the future, we'll see more "fair and balanced" reportage from Freese.
Mad About Milk
I was dismayed to read John Aherns' letter to the editor titled "Milk Myths" [Feedback, February 19]. I am an agricultural science teacher at the Cold Hollow Career Center. I have coached a dairy foods and milk quality team for over 30 years, taking many state winning teams on to regional and national competitions. I had my students read the letter. It was a great opportunity to teach students to read critically for facts, since they are well versed in milk quality and the dairy industry. They were very upset that someone would write erroneous information about milk, so they wrote letters to the editor. We did not wade into the raw-milk debate in these letters, since both sides use data to strengthen their side of the debate.
Downes' students Bryan Stanley, Issiah Snow, Matt Woods, Gavin Ryan, Todd Reed and Ryan Harrness also submitted letters to the editor.