More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.
First, bright blue and green signs cropped up in neighborhood yards atop winter snowbanks. I passed them daily without giving them much thought except to register the message: Label GMOs Now! Without thinking much beyond the surface, I gave it an internal nod of approval since I generally don’t support genetically engineered foods and I want to know where my food comes from and what’s in it. Then, I visited with a neighbor who owns a small specialty food business and began thinking more about how the GMO labeling law may affect her livelihood.
My eldest child is a high school junior and I have officially joined the ranks of parents immersed in - and overwhelmed by - the college search process. My first goal was to simply show my son that anything is possible: the classic “world is your oyster” message.
William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago right about now. His exact birthdate is unknown, but his baptism was recorded on April 26, 1564. Shakespeare left neither letters nor diaries, and only eighteen of his plays were printed during his lifetime. The thirty-six plays that comprise what we consider his complete work were published in The First Folio of 1623, seven years after he died, but this lack of hard data hasn’t hindered a thriving industry in Shakespeare scholarship.
I just love hearing the music of unfamiliar languages. On the Megabus to Manhattan recently, my seatmate was singing in Russian to her baby, and behind me two students were chattering away in Japanese. It made me smile, to realize that Vermont is beginning to reap the richness of all the cultures which make up this amazing quilt that is American life.
People tell stories – and so do buildings. All you have to do is go to other places in this country where proliferating highways, shopping malls and strip development have leached away the local flavor to realize how important our historic buildings, villages, and downtowns really are – how much they contribute to Vermont’s unique sense of place, and how much they tell us.
Extremes of wealth and poverty have often led to revolution. Our own founding revolution was but one example in the historical continuum.
Oxfam has declared without challenge that 85 people own half the world’s wealth. Here at home, the top 10% own 75% of all domestic wealth. But even as concentrations of the world’s wealth are at an historic high this does not necessarily mean revolution is inevitable. Nor does rebalancing wealth solve poverty, because wealth isn’t exactly a zero-sum game.
Tod Machover may not yet be a household name, but give him time. A composer, computer scientist, and all-round futurist at MIT’s Media Lab, Machover is the central figure in Opera of the Future, an ambitious effort to, as he puts it, “humanize technology and make technology, especially in music, be an extension of human gesture.”
We shouldn’t treat our desserts like vegetables – pretty obvious concept when I think about it – but putting it into practice can be difficult. I realized this the other day when I was eating a bland, crumbly cookie from a package that had passed its prime about a week earlier. It wasn’t great, but it was a cookie, and I didn’t see any other cookies around, so it seemed sensible to finish it.
The University of Chicago Press recently published a gorgeous book about architecture, with compelling text and spectacular photos. It’s entitled The Library, A World History. It takes us from the ruins of libraries of antiquity through the cloisters of medieval libraries, past the “angels [and] frescoes” of 18th-century Baroque and Rococo libraries, around the iron stacks and gaslights of 19th century libraries, into the “concrete and steel” of 20th century libraries, and finally, through libraries in the emerging “electronic age.”
Last month Generator, a new maker space in downtown Burlington, opened its doors to the public. Housed in the basement of the old Memorial Auditorium, it sported a clean, open floor plan, lots of tools for jewelry making and wood working, and some very high tech machines including a 3D printer and a laser cutter.