Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

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.

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A big part of the contest between Bernie and Hillary is a fight over words, particularly one word. It's the P-word: "progressive."

History, like water, flows downhill over time, and gathers in certain places. Places such as the Vermont State House in Montpelier, our exquisitely restored state capitol.

People might be surprised at how many Vermont households are busy making Chinese dumplings to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, which begins Monday the 8th. But when you consider the number and scope of Asian exchange programs the Freemen Foundation has funded, it makes a little more sense.

I used to cross country ski for hours from my front door. Then we moved to the Champlain Valley, where I’ve not yet gotten in the habit of driving to snow, so aside from running and walking outside, I’ve been looking around my house more than usual.

It’s an understatement to say that the views in the national parks are striking. Take Bryce Canyon National Park, for instance, with its legions of multi-colored hoodoos - iconic “forests of stone” left by millennia of erosion.

I’ve heard it said that Act 46 would undermine democracy and women’s role as elected officials in Vermont, but I’m convinced that Act 46 presents opportunities to expand democracy and elected women’s leadership.

I’ll ski over almost anything. I figure I need about a 60:40 snow to mud ratio. Or snow to ice. Snow to puddles gets a little tricky. But I’ll ski around corn stalk stubble when it starts reemerging in fields. I’m working on my ability to jump over obstacles and it’s not graceful - but at least it’s usually forward momentum.

McQuiston: College

Jan 29, 2016

When your college kid’s on break, occupying your sofa, your TV, your car and your fridge, you might be ready to pay any price to send him back to school.

Or maybe not.

In 2004, Vermont governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean wondered why working class whites consistently acted against their own economic interests by voting Republican. Some suggested that Republicans’ cynical politicizing of social and cultural values masked economic policies favoring the rich. Others argued that Americans don’t vote on the basis of where they are, but on where they expect to get.

When I was a teenager, I interviewed my elderly great aunties in England about their lives as parlor maids, tweenies and cooks for wealthy London families and their experiences as suffragettes. Some of their stories were hilarious, with slapstick moments, plans gone wonky and generally cheeky mischief – a very wry sense of humor seems to be in our genetic coding.

Porto: Air Ball

Jan 28, 2016

Good intentions are necessary, but by themselves not sufficient for wise decisions. That was evident recently on newspaper sports pages that featured a story about Wisconsin’s ban on “disrespectful” behavior at high school games.

I grew up in rural upstate New York. I was lucky enough to live in a university town, so that when music changed in the sixties, and folk and gospel entered the mainstream, I could go to concert halls or sports arenas on the university campus to hear Judy Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary and Odetta.

Homeyer: Clean Water

Jan 27, 2016

We Americans take clean, abundant water as a birthright, and nearly everywhere it is. But this isn’t the case in some parts of the world.

We love our phones, our tablets, and our televisions.

The New Hampshire Primary turns 100 this year – just a couple weeks from now – and I’ve decided that being a New Hampshire resident during primary season is sort of like being the pretty girl at the high school dance, who’s been put in the irritating position of having to fend off nearly two dozen would-be suitors.

Polls will show by a slight majority, Vermonters think legalizing pot is a good idea - but you can look at another factor – consumption.

In 2014, Vermonters consumed somewhere between 15 to 25 metric tons of marijuana – and spent at least $125 million on that. Per capita, we’re one of the highest pot-consuming states in the nation.

Wallis: Women's Hockey

Jan 25, 2016

I grew up in Vermont playing pond hockey. We shoveled snow in straight lines to clear the ice. The dogs, Seamus and Mr. McGregor would happily retrieve the puck from snowbanks that formed the edges of the rink - temporary until the next snow.

Robert Proctor, a science historian at Stanford, has coined a new word that’s getting lots of attention… agnotology.

Averyt: Mindfullness

Jan 22, 2016

January is the quiet month - a respite after the frenetic busyness of the holidays. In January, I love to awaken to the calm of white , after soft snow has fallen overnight and spread a blanket on our world. Even better is when it comes as a surprise as I draw open the curtains. Quiet sometimes speaks more than words. It's a new year's message that says, slow down you're missing what’s here in this moment because you're rushing.

With the Internet, there are no longer any stupid questions. Inquiries can be worded awkwardly or misspelled, and you will still get answers. No more shame or fear of looking ignorant. But the catch is: those answers will vary wildly in quality. Truth used to be gated territory, jealously curated by a seemingly mysterious elite. But the crowd-sourced Internet has shown us how relative that perspective can be.