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Letters to the Editor 

Breast Practices

Although I agree with Judith Levine’s premise that not all medical procedures should be covered [“Poli Psy: Medical Necessities,” December 9], I felt insulted by her characterizing a woman who desires a mammogram to prevent a life-threatening disease as a “spoiled customer at Saks.” Unfortunately the press, including Ms. Levine, has been irresponsible in covering the flap over mammograms.

I am an under-50 woman currently battling a serious form of breast cancer. I have no family history of the disease, nursed two children, am physically active and ate my five servings of fruits and vegetables. According to the media, I should be cancer free. I wish I were a statistic anomaly, but I can name at least five under-50 women who have also been diagnosed with the disease.

For years, the media have warned us that early detection is key, and that mammograms are safe. Why suddenly the reversal? I see little media coverage of the details of the panel’s findings. Mammograms obviously are an imperfect tool, as Ms. Levine has personally experienced. However, she should consider herself blessed not to be in my position. Better a false positive than a diagnosis of breast cancer.

I wish that I had been less laissez-faire about my own breast health and caught my disease earlier. It scares me that women may become less vigilant about their health and be lulled into a false sense of security. One out of eight women ends up with breast cancer, and the numbers are climbing. Let’s have a real discussion of the facts of the disease and don’t sensationalize the issue by comparing it to a woman seeking insurance coverage for cosmetic surgery.

Bonnielee Hooper


Conservation Is Key

Your article “Passing on the Pasture” [December 9] offered much insight into the issue of farm succession. However, there was a critical piece of information that was missing: the role of conservation in facilitating the transfer and keeping the farm in the family.

In Vermont, many farmers have sold their development rights or placed a conservation easement on their farm and used the proceeds to make the farm affordable for their successors. Farmers have used the proceeds to reinvest in their farm business, build a new barn or modern milking parlor, or to pay down debt. One in every three conservation projects involves the transfer of the farm to the next generation. Farmers committed to conservation have different options, for better or for worse, than farmers who can subdivide their land and sell housing lots. Therefore owners of conserved land are more likely to remain in farming through hard times.

In this year’s Vermont Land Trust annual report, young dairy farmer Jeremy Russo reflected that his grandfather was forced to sell his cows in 1986 when none of his three daughters wanted to farm. The land was conserved in 1990 and his grandfather said, “I could have sold it for development and retired to Florida.” Jeremy realizes that conservation kept the farm in his family. “The fact that the farm is conserved meant we could come to the table,” said Jeremy. “If it weren’t conserved, the value would have been so high that we wouldn’t have even been in the room.”

Paul Hannan


Hannan is former director of conservation programs for the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and co-owner of a conserved farm.

Waterboarding Is Torture

I’m writing this regarding the more than 50 percent of Norwich cadets who do not think waterboarding is a form of torture [“Corps Confessions,” December 2]. I suggest that every last one of those little douchebags and douchebaguettes volunteer to undergo some “enhanced interrogation techniques,” especially waterboarding. I guarantee that after five seconds of being waterboarded, every single one of those little punks will go home crying to mommy.

Unfortunately … the average Norwich student will not volunteer [for] this treatment, so innocent brown people will continue to be subjected to torture at the hands of cowards … all on the dime of John Q. Taxpayer.

God bless America.

Andrew Riegle


“Snark” Attack

While I agree with your music editor [“Putting the ‘Art’ in Arts Criticism,” December 2] that pandering for positive reviews or phrases for marketing use is in indeed inappropriate (the relationship of at least some journalism to marketing seemingly murkier by the day), I feel compelled to offer another perspective. Please consider the possibility that apprehension in submitting music for review, or attempts to qualify it, may at times represent evidence of a lack of trust in the acumen of the editor and in his ability to communicate effectively.

To describe the writing of Mr. Bolles as sophomoric would be, I believe, an act of considerable generosity. He has an awkward propensity to insinuate himself into his reviews in such a way that the focus becomes more on him and his relationship to the music than on the music itself. This is unsettling. His recent use of the word “snark” was stunning, because it is the literal definition of his style; it is his sole stock in trade.

Seven Days readers are savvy enough to know that snark, like nutmeg or vanilla, is only effective when used with judicious restraint. I am faced with a weekly moral dilemma: Do I risk physical revulsion by reading his column, or do I take a pass and thereby risk not picking up on some new local music and the attendant opportunity to support it? I believe that the wonderfully vibrant Vermont musical community would be better served by a more nuanced and mature approach to press coverage.

Jeff Sampson


No Segways

[Re: “Segway Tours Seeks a ‘Roll’ in Burlington,” November 11]: Just got my Local Motion annual report: a stunning list of accomplishments by energetic people. Congratulations. Another reason to be proud to live in Burlington.

In that report, I note that Local Motion’s logo shows people biking, walking, running, rollerblading and skiing. It shows no nonhuman propulsion. I also note that Adele Dienno starts her column by saying, “Our mission is to get people of all ages active.” To me these features of the annual reports say: No motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, motor scooters, rider mowers, snowmobiles, half-tracks, power sleds, kids’ electric scooters, Segways, or as-yet-unthought-of and unmarketed terrestrial motor craft (but yes to electric wheelchairs for the disabled).

Let’s spend 30 seconds firmly nixing Segways on the bike path, and get back to the vision of Local Motion and the great things it is doing and planning.

Robert Herendeen


Hands-Free Cabbie

Perhaps I’m just not as rounded as I had believed, but I don’t see the purpose of this article [“Hackie: Goo Goo Googling,” November 4]. Is it really [the cabbie’s] hate/hate relationship with his cellphone? Or this woman’s inability to maneuver Google? Not only would these characters be infuriating in any story, but the fact that they are in existence somewhere close to home makes this just plain scary. Are taxicab drivers really as careless as to multitask and risk lives? …

Celine: Not only do I suggest that you return to class, but perhaps you should use the Internet more often. Your inability to understand Google could be a result of the classes you are missing. Surely St. Michael’s must offer something to aid the technologically challenged.

Now, Jernigan Pontiac, I really can simply offer you a headset, a seatbelt and my prayers that not only you become friendlier with technology, but that you start picking up people who would like to go somewhere instate.

Emily Evans


Mammograms Save Lives

Judith [Levine] got it right with the last paragraph [“Poli Psy: Medical Necessities,” December 9]: “But, socially, politically and existentially, the right to have an abortion — and the affordability and accessibility on which the right depends — is not elective. Abortion is necessary to women’s equality; it is necessary to women’s freedom. Abortion is necessary to more than women’s health.” She also got it right about the need to change the culture regarding aging and how women look.

For me the jury is still out on the mammogram recommendations. I have too many friends who got breast cancer in their forties and survived because it was caught early on a mammogram, or they caught it in a self-exam.

Mary Claire Carroll


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