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Letters to the Editor 

Bien Fait

Kudos to Ken Picard for his fair and accurate depiction of the new government north of the border [“Seven Things Vermonters Should Know About the New Québec Government,” September 12].

Claude Boucher

Québec City

Québec College Costs

[Re “Seven Things Vermonters Should Know About the New Québec Government,” September 12]: The increase in university fees was not $325 a year; it’s $325 a year — times five years. Think of it as five hikes of $325 each. This is the $1625 a year that you find in the news in Québec, but the government has been playing repeatedly on the confusion between $325 and $1625.

The government usually talked about it as if only the first year of increase mattered, as if everybody was in the middle of a degree and would not care about what happens after next year; but instead, the students wanted to talk about the future of universities in our society.

Fees are currently $2168 per year, plus some extra fees counted separately.

Mathieu Bouchard

Montréal

Don’t Forget French

Armando Vilaseca — or anyone else who seeks consideration as Vermont’s first education secretary — should understand the importance of increased French-language competence to the economy and culture of Vermont [“Is Armando Vilaseca the Man to Reform Public Education in Vermont?” August 29]. Businesses including the Sheraton Hotel, Dealer.com, and JetBlue have all sought French lessons for their employees from the language school of the Alliance Française of the Lake Champlain Region in the last two years. Burton Snowboards is currently seeking to hire French-speaking sales staff, and many more businesses and business groups from St. Johnsbury, Stowe and Burlington are working to become more competent in basic French to better serve their clients.

In a recent Vermont Public Radio interview, Vilaseca spoke of the growing usefulness of Spanish in American life, but in Vermont we have a unique opportunity to build our business relationships with the 80 percent of Québécois who are primary French speakers. His Cuban heritage may color his perceptions, but considering his experience in Chittenden County, Mr. Vilaseca should be aware of the unique importance of French to the economy of northern Vermont. He and the other candidates should be anxious to seize this opportunity, which we have too long neglected. There is no reason why all Vermont students should not receive basic instruction in French, which, unlike Spanish, they can practice daily on the streets of both Vermont and Québec.

Steve Norman

Burlington

Review Is Wrong

The [August 1] review of our Gang of Thieves Riddle EP was crass, dismissive and offensive. Reviewer Sean Hood makes us out to be a bunch of drug-using stoners not worth listening to unless you smoke marijuana.

Many of Hood’s comments are misinforming, unfair and degenerative. He writes, “Gang of Thieves have got to be a weed-fueled outfit, as lyrics like these suggest: ‘Super skunk in your trunk / Right on time, taking your troubles away.’” This line in “Mighty Monk” is the only reference to pot in the whole EP. Hood also notes, “You’d have a hell of a time interpreting any of the EP’s stoner lyrics as less than optimistic (‘Show me funk, Mighty Monk / Lead the way with positive action’).” “Batarang” and “Gunslinger” are both intense and not even close to optimistic or “stoner.”  

It is obvious Hood didn’t even listen to the other songs, as he continues to only mention lyrics and inaccurate musical references to the first track, “Mighty Monk,” throughout the entirety of the article (such as claiming there is “more than a little wah-wah,” when there is actually none on the entirety of the EP, to name just one example).

We are proud to be a Burlington local rock-and-roll band, but ashamed of how we were presented in this Seven Days article. Hood generalized our band based on one track, one line of lyrics, and the dreadlocks Tobin and I sport. I would write much more about this, but unfortunately I am already over 250 words. I sincerely ask for a new review by someone else, referencing the inaccuracy of Hood’s article. Thanks for your time.

Michael Reit

Starksboro

Animals Deserve Protection

Aren’t there enough outraged people in Vermont to demand laws that will provide protection for our animals [“Animal-Cruelty Charges Dropped Against Chef; Humane Society Howls,” August 29]? Prosecutors shouldn’t have such difficulty getting these cases convicted and provisions to prevent abusers from having any further opportunity to harm other animals. They also need to be held accountable to reimburse people for the costs of caring for abused animals. Animals are the innocents; we owe them our protection from all forms of abuse.

Kay Mitchell

Hinesburg

Half-Life, Whole Untruth

Discussing the tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant [“Jack Is Back: The Republican Candidate for Attorney General Makes His Case,” September 12], Jack McMullen is quoted as saying: “You could drink a glass of tritium 30 seconds after it came out of the tap. It has a half-life of seconds, milliseconds.” The implication of his remark is that virtually all the tritium would have decayed away in 30 seconds. Unfortunately, McMullen understated the half-life of tritium by a factor of almost a billion. The half-life of tritium is about 12.3 years (or about 388,000,000 seconds), and almost all of it is still there after 30 seconds.

Mr. McMullen defends continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant by saying: “Yes they have a tritium leak. So do 29 other reactors in the American nuclear fleet.” The apparent implication is that tritium leaks are OK since lots of other reactors also leak tritium. It is not logical to suggest that if the same problem has occured at several reactors, it must not be a significant problem. I assume, if elected attorney general, he wouldn’t accept the argument that a bank robber should not be prosecuted because lots of other people rob banks, too.

Although Mr. McMullen is identified in the article as having worked as a technical manager for the navy’s nuclear program, his expertise in the areas of tritium and the safety of nuclear plants seems questionable.

George Flynn

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Flynn is a professor of physics at Plattsburgh State University.

Roads Less Traveled

I believe that Jernigan [Pontiac] is referring to the Stage Road in Jonesville [Hackie, “My God, the Trout!” September 5]. It is not a new road. In fact, my great-grandfather used to drive a stage on that road in the 1800s. It goes to West Bolton. If it isn’t Stage Road, but is the Notch Road (actually in Bolton) or even Snipe Island (I just will not call it Snipe Ireland), the other two fairly steep roads going north off Route 2 in the Jonesville area, they have also been around since way before four-wheel drive — even before automobiles.

Patty Baumann

Huntington

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