Forum, Nov. 6: Thankful for Community Support

Monday, November 05, 2018
Thankful for Community Support

The Woodstock Area Jewish Community/Congregation Shir Shalom is deeply grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of community support in response to the massacre in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue. The presence of more than 200 people from throughout the Upper Valley at the interfaith gathering at our synagogue on Friday evening, sharing in grief, was indeed the clearest communication of solidarity against hate of all kinds, a commitment to human decency and a determination to stand beside one another in difficult times.

We are most grateful to the clergy, congregations, police, emergency services, neighbors and friends who have expressed their sorrow. An enormous tragedy brought us all together. In today’s world, it was greatly comforting. We thank the community for your warm loving support.

Tom Beck


The writer is the president of the Woodstock Area Jewish Community/Congregation Shir Shalom.

Whale Tales at Hanover High

Iain Kerr, the CEO of Ocean Alliance, will give a free talk on Thursday evening at the Hanover High School auditorium about the organization’s work on behalf of whale and ocean conservation.

Since its founding in 1971, by South Woodstock resident Roger Payne, Ocean Alliance (whale.org) has always been a place for solid science and also of innovation. Many of the research tools used around the world today to study whales were developed by Payne. Kerr has followed in Payne’s footsteps with his invention, called “SnotBot” — a drone that flies into a whale’s exhalation and collects biological data on the whale, such as DNA and hormones.

As if that were not reason enough to come to this talk, the footage of whale behavior that SnotBot captures is absolutely spectacular — so good, in fact, that it has been featured in two National Geographic specials in the last year and will be featured in a BBC Wildlife special in the spring.

Please come to the Hanover High School auditorium on Thursday, from 6:30-8 p.m., ready to hear some amazing stories and see incredible footage of whales. The event is hosted by the Hanover Conservancy. Refreshments available at 6:30.

Linde McNamara


‘New Normal’ Will Get Much Worse

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Florence and Mike, we are going to read and hear that these frequent superstorms represent a “new normal.”

It would be nice if that were so.

Unfortunately, however, there will be no new normal. Things will get a lot worse. And they will get worse faster and faster.


First, there are long delays in the process of heating the world. Just as a cold pot doesn’t boil instantly, even on a hot stove, heating the earth takes time, because it’s huge. The climate and weather we have now results from what we did 40 years ago. But since 1989 we’ve emitted more carbon than in all of civilization before then. When that carbon has its effect in another 20 years or so, watch out.

Second, every degree of warming evaporates more water than the degree before. Much more. So, storms fueled by warm ocean water will gain size, wetness and intensity, and probably will become more frequent and longer-lasting — faster and faster. At the same time, increasing evaporation means deserts and semiarid land will get dryer and dryer. Faster and faster.

Finally, heating of the Earth will beget still more heating, through what scientists and engineers call positive feedback loops.

Less area covered by reflective snow, glaciers and ice means more dark earth, stone and water to absorb heat from the sun. Thawing permafrost is already releasing methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and it will release it faster as temperatures rise. Deserts growing larger mean that forests, which keep carbon out of the air, will go up in flames and shrink. And hotter ocean water may release truly gigantic amounts of methane stored in unstable methane hydrates on continental shelves.

And so on. Virtually every climate-related process discovered so far accelerates the process of climate disruption as temperatures rise.

So when some pundit intones that we are now seeing a “new normal,” remember: We should be so lucky.

Richard Andrews

Springfield, Vt.

An Office With Windows in Thetford

The Selectboard in Thetford has given a lot of thought to the idea of hiring a town manager. Offering a competitive salary is only one aspect of attracting a good pool of applicants. It has come to my attention that in Thetford we have another asset that might entice a new town manager.

The church next door to the town offices has been offered to the town because of declining membership and the town facilities are already short of workspace. Having served as chair of the Development Review Board for many years I have often felt the need for divine intervention despite being an agnostic at best. Is there a better way to attract an able administrator than an office in a house of worship, replete with stained glass, that offers access to a higher authority? I think it a reasonable assumption that town officials can use all the help we can get, both those powers fixed here on “terra firma” and those that exist in the greater cosmos.

Sean Mullen

Thetford Center

Why Do We Accept War?

It seems to me that the central institution of what some call the patriarchy isn’t violent sports or omnipresent sexual abuse or the capitalist system, but war.

War, with its chaotic disruptions, reverberating destruction and chronic self-justification has, miraculously, been so deeply accepted by most cultures for so long that we’ve come to assume its inevitability and its omnipresent and chronic damage to our long-term survival. Its costs are overwhelming — from armaments to armies to the destruction of lives, families, habitations, landscapes and human culture as we know it, and yet we willingly — even eagerly! — bear these corrosive burdens, frosting them over with religious and patriotic rationalizations. We even willingly spend billions of dollars inventing new ways to murder each other, with no effective opposition.

Shake the kaleidoscope and a different scenario appears: female collusion with male addiction to disruption, conflict and death. We’ve been brainwashed into believing “there’s a time to destroy,” that life-giving must be “balanced” with “life-taking,” that military uniforms are noble, that God is with us.

We seem to have turned away from what I — and I suspect millions of others — believe is our central human task: to create and sustain a life-and-growth-enhancing world where physical and spiritual evolution are our primary values and goals, where conflicts are resolved without destruction and, most basically, where women — the majority of our population and the group most responsible for creating and sustaining life — can actually become empowered and happy. Has anyone ever heard these two interrelated maxims, “Happy wife, happy life,” and “Happy women, happy world”?

War is based on a philosophically unsound belief: “Might makes right.” We’ve evolved beyond this in many significant ways. How come so many of us, then, still collude in acceptance of war as a national and international problem-solver — despite the horrendous costs that damage us for centuries?

There’s obviously much more to this discussion.

Nan Bourne