Letters to the Editor | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published May 4, 2011 at 4:02 a.m.

Spot Off

Looks like you folks missed the spot again [“Burlington City Planners Object to Restaurant’s Wind Turbine,” Blurt, April 21]. Now that you have had a couple of weeks to get it right, you opted to perpetuate the rage and anger many people feel on this issue. It’s not a clash of preservationists and greenies; it’s simply a matter of following the written rule. I wonder what many of your irate Twitterers would do if their next-door neighbor installed a hideous compost bin next to their property line after being refused allowance by the city. Do we all have the same opinions on what is right and wrong? Perhaps that’s why we have regulations.

Jack Mentes


Bliss Gone Ballistic

Wow, talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Harry Bliss’ trash-talking letter to the editor [“Bye-Bye, Books,” Feedback, April 20] in response to the very balanced article by Margot Harrison debating print versus e-books [“Print Versus Pixels,” April 13] makes me think he’s completely lost it. Bliss, a cartoonist and illustrator of children’s books, argues, albeit indirectly, that books are destroying the planet. And so, I’m sure, are all those copies of the New Yorker and the New York Times and Seven Days.

Come on, books, newspapers, magazines can all be recycled. Unlike the iPad, Nook and Kobo, which all entered my household this year — not to mention three new cellphones, two new iPods, a hard drive and a laptop computer — none of these printed items will end up in a landfill. I will continue to pass along books to friends, recycle my newspapers and magazines, and send all the crappy galleys publishers send me directly to the zero-sort stream.

As for Bliss’ suggestion that we “book lovers” read paper books so that we can “display them all on bookshelves for everyone to see,” I think not. I am a bookseller. I read two to four books a week, but in my home I keep only the ones that mean something to me or are awaiting my attention. I prefer to put art on my walls, much of it on paper. Is that destroying the planet, too? And for the record, I only read print. I just love the way a book feels. (Vomit away, you angry SOB.)

I wonder if the great children’s classic Make Way For Ducklings had been published only in e-book form if it would still be read today, generations later. If I didn’t have such high regard for the authors of Bliss’ books — Doreen Cronin, Kate DiCamillo, Sharon Creech and Alison McGhee — I’d say let’s try it with his books and see how long the luster — and the royalties — last.

Becky Dayton


Give Bliss a Miss

If the Harry Bliss, who recently wrote the letter to the editor entitled “Bye-Bye Books” [Feedback, April 20] is also the cartoonist (and I assume he is, based on his claim of authorship of five New York Times best sellers), I plan on making it a practice to bypass his cartoons and books whenever presented with the opportunity. His letter, filled with vitriol and sarcasm for those of us who prefer the “feel of a book,” has given me an inside look at this gentleman who, oddly enough, has chosen humor for a vocation.

Sequana Skye

East Calais

The Real Cost of Incarceration

[Re: “Is it Cheaper to House Vermont Prisoners In or Out of State? It Depends,” April 20]: The public and the Department of Corrections ignore a number of societal and ethical costs in sending Vermont prisoners to other states. While some of the incarcerated individuals in our state prison system are transients who happened to commit a crime here, most are Vermonters: our sons, boyfriends, nephews, fathers, brothers, neighbors. The goal of our criminal justice system is to welcome those men (and, less frequently, women) back to our communities as valued, productive citizens after they have paid their proverbial debt to society and addressed whatever addictions or behavioral issues had cursed their lives. Kept close to home where friends and relatives can visit and keep hope for a different future alive in these prisoners’ minds greatly increases the chance for successful redemption and rehabilitation. It sends the message: “You are one of us and we will not give up on you.” Exile to a far-away state where there can be no visits, no familiar voices, no familiar landscape out of the window does precisely the opposite. The extinguishment of any sense of self-worth, and the growth of anger and hostility, can only thrive and grow when a Vermont prisoner is cast into the harsh dog-eat-dog world of a distant contract prison. We owe it to them, and ourselves, to handle our own criminal justice problems here in Vermont.

Cindy Hill


Too Easy on Inmates

After reading [“Is it Cheaper to House Vermont Prisoners In or Out of State? It Depends,” April 20], my question wasn’t whether it was cheaper to house prisoners in or out of state, it was “Why are we spending $40,000 to $55,000 each year per inmate?” My husband and I are college-educated individuals who have spent five years working full time in our professions, and neither of us makes $40,000 per year. Why are we spending so much money per inmate? We pay for their health care, three meals each day, clothing, stamps, cable television, etc., while they contribute nothing. Meanwhile, my husband, who works for the state of Vermont, had a 3 percent pay reduction and a two-year wage freeze last June to reduce the state budget. The state of Vermont is willing to reduce the pay of thousands of state employees but not willing to reduce the amount of money it pays to house an inmate, which is rather hard to swallow when a lot of employees, like my husband, make less than what the state spends on inmates. As Vermonters, we need to be aware of what we are actually providing inmates and say “no” to all of the luxuries, because many Vermonters don’t live as well as the inmates we provide for. Also, it stands to reason that if we remove the incentive for inmates to go back to prison, the recidivism rate should plummet. In this economy, the working class shouldn’t be providing luxuries for inmates that we, ourselves, can’t afford.

Alicia Wallace


Power Play

Vermont could be an exporter of power if those two plants were built and operated [“How Vermonters Shot Down Two Proposed Northern Nukes,” April 20]. We wouldn’t have one of the highest electrical costs in the country. As far as Vernon is concerned, it is an outdated plant that should be transformed to the new GEN3 status plant. The safety status of these new plants should not be a concern to anyone, and they are far more efficient. Technology has improved, and these plants have, too. We should update them accordingly.

Vermonters need to know they live on top of one of the country’s most active naturally occurring radioactive elements, uranium. Check it out; we have plenty of it everywhere here.

Being a power exporter, Vermont could have no income tax or real estate tax. Think about it: People will complain about thermal pollution, and that’s not true, either, as diffusers and deep discharge are effective means of controlling surface temps. Stop hugging trees and start hugging life! Human life.

Jeff Kleefisch


Once and Future Nukes

Re: [“How Vermonters Shot Down Two Proposed Northern Nukes,” April 20]: “Shooting down” new nuclear power plants, historical examples of which are described by Kevin Kelley, produces some destructive ricochets. They will include, but are not limited to:

• wind turbine industrialization of Vermont hills,

• pollution and deforestation caused by industrialized wood burning,

• massive disruption of native culture and wildlife habitat by Canadian hydropower,

• wars, terrorism, environmental destruction, cancer and other pollution-triggered diseases, death by accidents caused by coal and oil dependence, and

• increased poverty, scientific and economic decline, and strategic vulnerability due to lack of energy.

Here’s a prediction: In 50 to 100 years, if the U.S. manages to survive the current foolishness over energy choices, our descendants will be building nuclear power plants just as fast as they can. It’s our obligation, both as the world’s foremost progressive nation and as human beings, to keep scientific and social progress moving forward. Until the scientists develop something better, nuclear power is the safest and most dependable major energy source for that effort.

Andy Leader


Tip Myth

While the article “Tipping Points” [April 20] brings tipping issues to light, it also continues to uphold a certain myth I would like to address. Keep in mind that, as the article states, tipping in general is a very American concept, due to how we pay waitstaff. Tipping outside the U.S. is considered very odd and even frowned upon.

The myth: Fifteen percent is the minimum you should tip. While 15 to 20 percent is considered an acceptable tip range, tipping at 15 percent is the minimum for good service. I have surveyed several people nationally. The consensus is that if you get poor service, tipping at 5 to 10 percent is acceptable.

Much of the attitude about tipping has to do with waitstaff feeling they need to get 18 percent to pay their bills and forgetting that tipping is directly equated to service. Any place I have worked where you receive tips always makes it a point to say not to be dependent on tips coming in at any consistent percentage. If you are depending on tips to pay rent, then you have completely ignored what tipping is all about and are trying to make me feel guilty for not tipping what you expect.

I, too, would welcome a change in how we pay waitstaff so we could put this whole issue to rest and everyone feels like they are compensated properly.

Greg Demetrick


Book Ends

[Re: Margot Harrison’s piece, “Print Versus Pixels,” April 13]: I was recently on the receiving end of a rant orated, not surprisingly, by a local used-bookseller who was aggressively outlining the evils of e-readers. The purveyor of print went on — and on and on — about the likelihood of Amazon going “belly up, the same way Enron did,” about authorial intent invariably being sacrificed in reformatting and about how e-publishing has potential to filter the media content allowed a certain demographic.

A few months back I got a Kindle as a gift. I was a bit slow getting started with the device, but when at last I went digital and downloaded Moby Dick, I was in love. I’ve since come to spend more time with the e-reader than I do with my partner; it’s totally win-win. 

As a lit major, I’ve been forever hoarding books, but I’m also a compulsive mover. Both of these traits are character defects, and they’re a pair that do not conveniently coexist. One must finally go; I’m going to continue with the wanderlust and I’m bringing the Kindle with me. Books are things, but we all know the best things in life aren’t things. Ideas and principles are easily formatted for e-reading.

The last of my print books are boxed, ready for donation. Many were difficult to part with, but I’m glad I did. If Amazon goes under — and the government doesn’t bail it out — I’ll go back to bookstores and libraries. Until then, I’m e-reading.

Eric Beauregard

St. Albans

Rutland Pong

Thank you for recognizing one of the best — and Olympic — sports around: table tennis, aka ping-pong [“Champlain Volley,” April 20]. I would invite anyone with an interest in the game to come play with our club in Rutland; visit our great website at gmttc.com for info, times of play, etc. We play in a recently renovated gym, our equipment is the finest north of Boston (we have eight $1200-$2000 tables), and, as we say on the backs of our club shirts, we’re “celebrating over 25 years of competition, sportsmanship and lasting friendships.”

Ron Lewis


Lewis is the founder and president of the Green Mountain Table Tennis Club.