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Noisy Necessity

To start, I live in the airport neighborhood and I am aware that the noise of the current F-16s stops all conversation when they take off [“Airport Fuels Resentment — and Activism — in South Burlington,” March 31]. Also, I am, at heart, a pacifist, and hesitate to support anything that promotes war. All that said, I am very concerned by the response from my neighbors about the location of F-35s at the airport. If one starts with the assumption that the Green Mountain Boys play an important role in our national defense, then their having access to the latest equipment becomes an obvious requirement to meet that mission. Further, while the brunt of carrying out that mission falls on the men and women who serve in the Guard, all citizens have a role to support them in their job. That support may well carry with it a personal cost. If living with more noise is the part I play in supporting their mission, then I say, “So be it!” It is simply not a sustainable position to say, “Support our troops except when it causes me trouble.”

Merle Edwards-Orr

South Burlington

Animal Instinct

How did the Seven Days “Animal Issue” miss covering the biggest story of the season for animal lovers? Sometime this spring the Vermont Supreme Court will issue a decision in a case that could create a new legal doctrine for animal lovers who sue when their beloved pets die from acts of malicious intent. Sarah and Denis Scheele of Annapolis, Md., brought the case after their mixed-breed dog “Shadow” was fatally shot with a pellet gun after wandering into the yard of Lewis Dustin, who is in his seventies. At issue is whether the couple have the right to receive $6000 in damages for “emotional distress” and loss of the “solace, affection, friendship and love that they share(d)” with their dog.

“As his mommy, I feel so lost. I can’t sleep and I can’t stop crying. My days are so empty without my little boy,” said Sarah Scheele. David Blythe, the attorney for Dustin, has stated, “The Vermont rule, which is consistent around the country, is that animals including pets are personal property, and if someone or something causes the death of an animal, you do not recover emotional distress damages.”

The Scheeles have already been awarded $4000 in property damages. The case has drawn national attention and a poll at the L.A Times website showed a strong sentiment — 73 percent — against the couple.

Theodore A. Hoppe

Montpelier

Google’s Not All Great

Not everyone in Burlington is gaga for Google [“Week in Review: Getting Google,” March 24]. Sure, Google offers interesting and convenient services, including its latest 1-Gig fiber idea. However, nothing in life is free. A partnership with Google comes at a cost. Given Google’s history of censoring Internet search results, scanning email content to customize web advertisements and its stated goal to “store 100 percent of its users’ information,” it’s a price I’m not willing to pay.

Shouldn’t the city be asking why Google wants to offer high-speed service to communities? Is it a good-hearted gesture from a philanthropic company? Or does Google see an incredible opportunity to collect massive amounts of data and then repackage, sell or give it away?

It’s one thing for individuals to willingly use Google’s services. But I’m disappointed that my city officials want to help Google achieve its goal of total information awareness.

Arguably, Google’s data collection network is the most comprehensive surveillance system the world has ever seen. There’s Google Earth, Maps, Docs, Calendar, News, Shopping, Book Search, Instant Messaging, Analytics, Gmail, YouTube and Blogger. And, according to its own researchers, Google has developed a system that uses microphones in our computers to monitor background audio in our homes.

Clearly, Google’s mission is to know everything about us. I do not believe the City of Burlington should make it easier. That’s why, as a Burlington Telecom triple-play subscriber, I oppose giving Google a direct pipeline into my home via BT’s fiber-optic network.

Doug Dunbebin

Burlington

Crucial “Dope”

Twice in recent weeks the biggest news for this reader has come from an “entertainment” piece in your paper. “Straight Dope” [March 24] addressed the possibility of “peak phosphorous.” In short, the world is close to running short of the mineral needed to grow crops.

A few weeks ago the same column addressed the decline in global fisheries. Everyone has noticed the sharp rise in fish prices and the disappearance of once plentiful fish from stores. Most people don’t realize that it’s because those fish are virtually gone. Cecil talked about this and responded effectively on his website to a rebuttal by a representative of the commercial fishing industry.

I’m not going to discuss the obvious solutions, such as more composting and cover crops. Instead, I’d just like to point out that these developments, along with peak oil and global climate change, are really signs that we’ve reached peak population, or the maximum number that the world can sustain. Actually, we may be past that number and close to calamitous population numbers.

It’s time we start a real education and discussion effort about this (and avoid the irrational response health care reform has attracted). Perhaps it’s time this issue move from an entertainment column into the news space in Seven Days and other pubs.

John Taylor

Williamstown

CORRECTIONS:

In last week’s story “Mob City,” we incorrectly noted one of the benefits of the new Green Mountain Crop Mob. Crop mob volunteer hours do not count toward City Market working-member hours. More info: www.greenmountaincropmob.weebly.com.

Last week’s story “What Rape?”, about sexual assaults on Vermont college campuses, incorrectly stated that Middlebury College reported no sexual assaults in the three academic years between 2006 and 2008. In fact, it reported eight “forcible sexual offenses.” Seven Days regrets the error.

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