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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Mares: The U2 and Me

1 hour ago

Recently I went to see the new Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, about the exchange of Soviet spy Rudolph Abel for Francis Gary Powers, American pilot of a U-2 spy plane shot down over Russia in May, 1960.

Vogel: Hang Ups

Nov 30, 2015

On November 3rd Congress passed and President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Most of us breathed a sigh of relief. 

Here in Vermont, the fact that the radar on self-driving cars can see what’s going on 30 cars in front of you in a giant traffic jam is less important than the fact that the radar is now so good it can see deer in the woods near the road and black ice far ahead on the road, and it can tell the car to slow down before you hit either of them.

Now that deer season is almost over, I’m getting ready to reenter the woods in search of lingering waterfowl and early arriving winter finches. But my old and excellent binoculars, bought in the early nineties, light and durable, that yield a crisp, bright image, even in fading light, have been sent away to be repaired.

Despite the stretch of warm days we’ve had this fall, winter’s just around the corner. And even though I love skiing and snowshoeing, I dread the short days and frequent lack of sunshine. Cold, gray days with mixed precipitation make being outdoors less than inviting.

Apparently the Mythbuster boys are putting away their cheese cannon for good. That’s the cable TV show that debunks urban legends and other rumors that maybe we hoped were true. So in the spirit of solidarity, let me de-bunk a couple of local myths regarding electricity.

Beck: Brownie

Nov 25, 2015

Smart phones are omnipresent, communication today is instantaneous and global. My grandchildren can’t conceive of a party line or the fact that in the early days of the 20th century, many people didn’t have phones.

Here we are at the time of year when we roll out family traditions with bravado. For many this is a great solace and comfort, but for others it can be a clashing symbol of what’s changed, what’s missing, who’s gone. No wonder the air seems charged, having as it does such conflicting emotional ions butting about: anticipation and joy, anticipation and dread.

Last Thanksgiving, I traveled more than a few miles to meet seven other volunteers and twelve inmates in a medium security prison for a Thanksgiving Table of sorts. I was apprehensive, since this was my first visit to a prison and it was all new to me. But the prisoners all shook our hands and welcomed us warmly.

For the past thirty-one years I’ve stayed out of the woods in November. Every rifle season during deer hunting, I’ve donned blaze orange to walk the dog on a leash. If all goes well, this will be my last November on the back roads. If all goes well, next year, I’ll be in the woods, hunting.