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Letters to the Editor 

Published January 12, 2010 at 7:23 p.m.

Gospel Truth

In reference to street “preacher” William Ray Costello, why is it that the dumbest people always seem to be the loudest [“A Sidewalk Preacher Battles Burlington for the Right to Shout the Gospel on Church Street,” December 16]?

Zak Schafer


People = CO2

In your December 16 issue you included an article on the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen [“From Copenhagen, a Solar Ray of Hope?”]. Nowhere in this article is mention made of the tremendous impact that population growth has had upon our environment. During the last 100 years, the world population has increased from 1.7 billion to 6.6 billion, with some estimates taking it to over 30 billion by the end of this century.

I would suggest that without either zero or negative population growth, there can be no serious reduction of CO2 emissions without all of us going to live in caves.

Raymond E. Leary


Signals Crossed?

The encryption of Burlington police communications, along with the explanation given, is a prime example of the need for evidence-based policy making [“Burlington Police Scanners Go Silent — to the Public,” December 22]. The police chief claims that “teams of criminals [are] using police scanners and text messaging to anticipate and evade police.”

To date, there is no published research anywhere that would validate this claim. Even the pre-SMS claim that criminals routinely used police scanners to evade police has never been proven. Occasional incidents of scanners being found during searches are so rare as to have absolutely no statistical power.

Add to this the fact that modern police scanners are complex, that street criminals are not often literate and tech savvy, and that (responsible) police do not discuss operational plans for raids over their agency channels, and the claim of highly sophisticated scanner use by criminals becomes laughable.

The most dangerous, best-funded criminal enterprises — major drug cartels and terrorist networks — can afford to invest in decryption, anyway. Locking out the public does nothing to protect them or the police against criminals.

If the police believe otherwise, show us your data.

David Stark

Waterford, N.Y.

Rip-Off Artist?

I had no idea that it was so easy to get credit for designing a Seven Days cover [“2010,” December 29]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Renegades_alternate_album_cover.png. For an arts-and-entertainment weekly, it’s a pretty shoddy (lazy?) way to start the new year.

Tim Douglas


Art editor’s note: Nice try, Tim, but your cultural referent isn’t old enough. Like Rage Against the Machine and probably hundreds of other entities over the decades, Seven Days appropriated Robert Indiana’s iconic “LOVE” image for the cover of its December 29, 2009, issue. Not original, granted, but neither was the Renegades cover. Indiana first created “LOVE” — himself appropriating the alphabet, the throbbing colors of psychedelia and the graphic simplicity of pop art — for the Museum of Modern Art’s 1964 Christmas card. It was used on a stamp in 1973 in the U.S. Postal Service’s “Love” series, and was translated as large-scale steel sculptures throughout the ’70s. The art history lesson doesn’t stop there: Indiana appropriated his own work in 2008 by creating a “HOPE” variation; sales of reproductions benefited the presidential campaign of Barack Obama to the tune of more than a million bucks.

Chinese Checkout

Sigh, grocery shopping gets even harder [“Know Where Your Organic Food Comes From? Maybe China,” December 22]. Thanks for the great article and research!

Gwen McShea


Message from Mom

I would like to thank your editor and the writer Lauren Ober for her outstanding article on my son’s burgeoning messenger service [“Crucial Convenience,” December 16]. It is a sterling example of a community newspaper at its best: helpful to Burlington’s citizens and encouraging to its small businesses. Plus, it was quite well written, and I offer this praise as a writer myself (for the Washington Post).

Andrea Rouda

Freeport, Maine

Set SEABA Straight

In his article on Roy Feldman, the new director of the South End Arts and Business Association, Kevin Kelley notes that Art Hop and SEABA were at the center of controversy over some politically charged exhibits in past years [“New Director Brings Entrepreneurial Savvy to SEABA,” December 22]. He asked Mr. Feldman “whether he views artistic expression as an absolute right regardless of content.” For many of us I believe this is a loaded question. The controversy was not about rights of artistic expression. Many artists rightly and purposely address social and political concerns in their art. But art can sometimes mislead, confuse and lie: for example, Rajie Cook’s art and his political talk at a previous Art Hop event at the Flynndog Gallery.

Art Hop became a venue for hurtful falsehoods sponsored by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine (VJP). One example: a poster of a crushed child in a high-tech mousetrap, arms broken, steel across the neck, accompanied by text that tells us that Jewish “soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.” This is blood libel (allegations that Jews engage in human sacrifice of children). Similar VJP presentations continued in the next year.

There are better ways to advocate for peace and justice in the Middle East. Demonizing Jews and Israel only polarizes the community and creates acrimony and anger. I hope Mr. Feldman is wise enough to clearly understand the issues and will steer Art Hop in the appropriate direction.

Michael Strauss

South Burlington

Author’s Appreciation

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please express my gratitude to Margot Harrison for mentioning me in her article on self-publishing [“Self-Published in the 802,” December 22]. I had given up hope that anyone who was not a personal friend would ever read my book ...From the Top. In her article, Margot said the book was “a surprisingly addictive read.” So if I am not mistaken, she may have actually enjoyed it. That brings a great deal of joy to my heart. I am very grateful. I am so lucky to be living here in Vermont with my two grandchildren whom I love so very much, but it is also true that I still cry every night over the loss of my special-needs child, Michele.

Yes, a copy of the book is available online, but if anyone is interested in getting a hard copy they can email me at Wayne@WaynesWorldStage.com. I had to order 100 copies to get a good price, and unfortunately I do not have 100 close friends. I have more than a few copies left over.

Wayne Martens


Sound Tracks

Ben Campbell makes good sleddin’ music! Thanks for turning me on to it [“Basement Tapes,” December 16]. Check it out at http://hammerheadsleds.ning.com (“the way I like it right now” video). Notice the Seven Days sled in it?

Tony Telensky AKA Max Speed


Not Exoccoli Broccoli

I just read that Margot Harrison said romanesco was a cauliflower [“For the Love of Lists,” December 29]. According to the latest edition of Larousse Gastromomique culinary encyclopedia, romanesco “is the autumn broccoli with the large yellowish green heads divided into conspicuous little peaked groups.” Correction, please!

Maggie Sherman


Food editor’s note: There is widespread disagreement about whether the pale green Romanesco is a type of cauliflower or of broccoli. The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst lists it as the former, while Alan Davidson’s The Oxford Companion to Food says it’s the latter. Much of the confusion stems from the fact that both vegetables are cultivars of the same species, ß, selected over time for different traits. (The same is true of kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). It may not resolve the dispute in grocery stores, but in a 1996 paper that was given at the ninth Crucifer Genetics Workshop during the International Society for Horticultural Science’s Brassica Symposium, the authors suggested that purple “cauliflower” should actually be grouped with broccoli and romanesco with cauliflower.

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