Commentary Series

Weekdays 7:55 a.m. and 5:55 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.

Send Feedback | Guidelines To Submit A Commentary

IBM has been one of the most important companies to ever establish an operation in Vermont. And barring regulatory problems, it will leave Vermont by the middle of next year.

Is this the worst-case scenario, the best-case scenario, or something else? The recent acquisition by GlobalFoundries of IBM’s semiconductor business, including the Essex Junction chip plant, begs this question.

My father was reserved and taciturn, traits he inherited from his Edwardian mother, who wore her collars up to the chin and a perpetual look of disapproval. Occasionally, though, at about this time of year, he let loose a little. Something about All Hallow’s Eve - talk of ghouls and ghosts, perhaps — must have appealed to a chemist awed by the mysteries of molecules and the infinite possibilities of particles.

The fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago signaled the end of the Cold War, although it didn’t end officially for more than another year. But that night, as I stood next to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, I told ABC’s Ted Koppel and Nightline viewers that with this massive breach of the once-invulnerable wall, the Cold War was effectively over.

Blinkhorn: Ottawa

Oct 29, 2014

Although it’s well off the beaten track in southern Ontario, next to Quebec and about 200 miles west of Vermont’s northern border, Ottawa, with its majestic Parliament buildings and small city civility, has always been special to me.

As a young newspaper reporter covering national election campaigns, I visited Ottawa frequently and walked down the very hall in the Parliament center block where the recent shootings took place.

Patten: Party Politics

Oct 28, 2014

Recently, I bought gas at a small store in Charlotte.  There were three people sitting outside at a patio table, having a lively discussion.  When I finished at the pump and went inside to pay, one of the three jumped up and followed me into the store.  She slipped behind the counter and I paid her for my gas.

What I’d just witnessed were three people discussing issues that mattered to them and their community - from international conflicts to the local school board; with little or no talk of their party affiliations.

It’s one of the main reasons I love Vermont politics. 

We consult the Old Farmer’s Almanac. We examine the stripes on wooly caterpillars. We count thirty days after seeing the first migrating geese to pinpoint the first snowfall. This year, I’m adding the migration of mice indoors to the Signs of a Tough Winter to Come.

When the First Continental Congress adjourned on this date in 1774, America was in chaos. What might happen next was anyone’s guess.

Responding to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament imposed the “Intolerable Acts”, harsh laws intended to punish Massachusetts and force the rest of the colonies into submission. They had the opposite effect, provoking widespread defiance, including calls for an inter-colonial congress.

Our house has become a battleground. The two of us against the invading flies, worms, wooly bear caterpillars, and spiders that each fall colonize it for their own comfortable survival through the coming winter.

The right to vote is the core of democracy.

The word is out. Voter turnout will be low in this mid-term election. Vermont will not be an exception. But we can defy this dire expectation by proving the pundits wrong.

I’m a fierce believer that the right to vote is at the core of democracy. Without it, we would become a dictatorship. The streets of Hong Kong are filled with couragous demonstrators for one reason - the right to elect their leaders.

Dowling: Guided Tours

Oct 22, 2014

As a tour guide at Shelburne Museum I’ve learned a few things about art and about people’s connection to it. For example, I’ve discovered that most people, no matter where they’re from, don’t know much about American art. If pressed, they can come up with names like Andrew Wyeth or Andy Warhol, but many are unaware of the myriad artists and styles that collectively tell the story of our country, its people, and our values.

I’ve also learned that a serious first encounter with American painting can be a marvelous thing.