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Squirrel Tale

Glad to see squirrel stew is on the menu here in Vermont [Bite Club TV: “Squirrel Stew,” January 12]. When I arrived in Burlington in 1983 from the backwoods of Arkansas, I brought with me an old Ozark recipe for “Six Squirrel Stew.”

I was thrilled with Alice Levitt’s comment that it reminded her of frog legs. That’s always what I thought, but when people ask me how they taste, I’d just say “chicken,” because not that many folks know how frog legs taste.

When my Ozark neighbor, Ed Stedham, died, he left me his squirrel dog, Brownie. Brownie was renowned for running two squirrels up the same tree. When I asked Ed why that was important, he took me into the woods, let Brownie do his stuff, and then proceeded to kill both squirrels with a single shot from his old 22. Ed laughed and said killing ’em two at time saved a lot of time and shells.

Craig Fuller

Burlington

Fact or Fiction?

Ken Picard’s article on dismantling Vermont Yankee lacks journalistic integrity [“Report Asks Entergy to Update Price Tag on Dismantling Reactor,” January 12]. His suggestion that the Yankee decommissioning fund is not fiscally sound is based upon conversations Arnie Gundersen had with a “high-level trust banker from a ‘well-respected financial institution’” who “asked to remain anonymous.” In a court of law this would be called hearsay evidence — and thus not allowed. Bush 43 told the American people he had information uranium was being shipped from Niger to Iraq. The information was fiction, but the war that followed certainly was not.

Ken details Gundersen’s ability to predict events at Yankee. When Yankee uprated power output, Gundersen warned radiation levels would increase “exponentially” at the facility’s fence line. No numbers are presented to detail whether this occurred (it did not), but Ken presents Arnie’s forecast as “prescient.”

Picard also details as prescient Gundersen’s prediction that the extra stress of a 20 percent increase in power output could cause a cooling tower to collapse. A cooling tower did collapse, but it was due to a rotted timber support, not to the power increase. A golden rule in science is “correlation does not equal causation.” The support has since been repaired and reinforced.

Seven Days does not think highly of Yankee, but making statements that cannot be verified, are unreasonable, or are not supported by scientific fact is unacceptable. Remember the words of Aldous Huxley: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” A grade of F is justified for lack of journalistic integrity.

Gerry Silverstein

S. Burlington

NoteWorthy

I was psyched to see an article describing some of Vermont’s potentially lesser- known but independently owned bookshops [“Browsing Grounds,” December 22]. However, I was disappointed that the Crow Bookshop and Speaking Volumes, both located in the vicinity of the Seven Days newspaper office, were not even mentioned. Although it’s awesome that Seven Days is read throughout the state, the majority of its readers are likely still Burlington-area residents, many of whom may not even know about the awesome bookshops we have right here in town. Perhaps there is some specific reason the authors ignored these local gems, but I thought they might have at least been briefly noted if not featured in the article.

Haley Mathis

Huntington

A Coming Apocalypse?

In “At the Movies with Kisonak and Harrison 2010” [December 29], Kisonak argues, “The problem isn’t that people aren’t making good movies but that people aren’t going to see them. Guess where that’s going to lead,” suggesting that lessened interest in film will result in “civilization’s impending downfall.” He fails to mention statistics to back his claim and, based on numbers ostensibly too obvious to print, makes the assumption that diminished revenue at the box office must correlate to an ecumenically diminished interest in film.

Movie theater attendance in 2010 experienced a less than 1 percent decrease from its steady trend of between 1.2 and 1.4 billion admissions annually, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. This insignificant decrease does not posit that people simply don’t care about movies as much as they used to, but that a trip to the theater, from a financial perspective, might just be less enticing. The average price of a non-matinee ticket is about $10, and when a $4 drink and $6 popcorn are factored in, an average trip to the movies for a family, of four costs about $80. For a poorer family, this could be a sizable portion of their weekly income.

In this economy, if anything signifies a collapse in society, it may be the very fact that we continue to frequent the movies — the most expensive way to watch a film. A thrifty attitude can go a long way.

Matthew Didisheim

Burlington

My Generation

I love that Seven Days often talks about our generation needing to stick around and call Vermont home [“Young and Restless,” January 12]. I came to school here nine and a half years ago, left briefly to start my career where I could make a livable salary, but returned shortly after realizing that this state is unlike any other: the beauty, the lack of billboards, the snowboarding, the proximity to Montréal, Boston, the ocean, the mountains, amazing local food, and people with a love for life and what truly encompasses living unlike I’ve seen anywhere else.

However, the one thing you don’t hear about is the cost of living compared to the size of our salaries. I grew up about 30 miles outside of Boston and watched many of my friends return to that area, and they were able to make a livable salary just out of college. With my first “real job” in Vermont, I barely had health insurance, had to have my mother pay my student loans and struggled to pay any other bills. I had a great experience, but ended up leaving for a retail job with a $10K pay increase. The cost of living here is the same as in many other urban areas, yet our salaries are often between 25 and 50 percent less. Are the companies in cahoots? Is the cost of doing business here really that much higher? What’s the deal?

Why on Earth would anyone decide to leave other than that?

Emily Roleau

Essex Junction

On the Lease Lookout?

It would be interesting to find out who dropped the ball on the Wharf Lane and Bobbin Mill properties [“Fair Game,” January 19]. It has been known for 30 years that the leases on these properties are finite. Why didn’t someone start the process of dealing with both issues many years ago? There comes a time when planning for the future and being proactive instead of getting headlines about how “affordable housing” is your mission, gathering accolades from various national groups should be the rule of thumb.

I am sure that the people in charge of VHFA, Burlington Housing Authority and Champlain Land Trust can afford to live here, but a lot of us are paying an exceedingly high percentage of our incomes to live within 30 miles of where we work. It is long past time for a change in the leadership of many of Burlington’s nonprofits from those who have been feeding their egos to people who have vested interests in providing and maintaining long-term, truly affordable housing.

Christopher Hill

Burlington

History and Herodotus

As a historian by training, if not occupation, I should be pleased at the efforts to unearth the truth behind the tale of The Long Walk as described by Margot Harrison [“Movie Review,” January 19]. After all, no less an authority than Herodotus reportedly noted, “Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.” What happens, however, when the last myth is debunked and the last heroic figure is revealed with feet of clay? Though one tiny corner of the hugely capacious warehouse of human knowledge may be more orderly, has anything actually been gained in the transaction? Well, that awaits the judgment of future historians. During his tenure as editor of the Shinbone Star, Dutton Peabody — admittedly a lesser light than Herodotus, though mythic in his own way — remarked, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Mark Horowitz

Montpelier

CORRECTION:

Last week’s article, “Fletcher Allen Tops the Charts in Death by Dialysis,” incorrectly attributed the percentages cited from the Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group study to renal deaths instead of renal failure. The rate of postoperative renal failure for coronary artery bypass surgery patients at FA was 6.3 percent; the regional average is 3.8 percent.

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