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Forum, Sept. 17: A glorious day turned terrible

Published: 9/16/2021 10:00:00 PM
Modified: 9/16/2021 10:00:06 PM
A glorious day turned terrible

Sept. 11 this year was a glorious day here, just as it was 20 years ago here and in Washington. I was there, in the Ford House Office Building, on a congressional fellowship sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The administrative assistant for the office had a TV, always on to the news. When the first plane hit the north tower, we were notified. I thought: freak accident. When the second plane hit, I knew it was planned. The odds of two freak accidents were too great.

Soon the Pentagon was hit. The sergeant-at-arms of the House shut down the Capitol and we were told to go home. I called my wife, who was here with her sister, and she warned me not to go in the subway. Her husband had been trapped underground in a New York City train for hours in the 1965 blackout.

Traffic was jammed, and hundreds were walking up Connecticut Avenue. So I walked the miles to our apartment in the Cleveland Park area, changed clothes, and walked to our nearby church. It was locked, as I recall. I then continued uphill to the National Cathedral, which was also locked on orders of the bishop. In the Prayer Garden, a small group had gathered, including a couple from our church. Two Muslim men, with identifying dress, were there too. We prayed together, understanding that the attackers were following a perversion of Islam. We were also painfully aware of the perversions of Christianity in the world.



Wake boats, dangerous waves

The natural surf at Malibu Beach in Los Angeles County is legendary. The swells there have had perhaps 7,000 miles of open Pacific Ocean to mature.

Why should anyone attempt to replicate the Malibu surf on a Vermont lake or pond? Good question, but that is exactly what a “wake boat” is designed to do — and does most successfully. Here’s how. Compared to a craft of similar length, a wake boat:

■ Heavily weights its stern, and thus “drags its butt” through the water.

■ Augments stern-weighting with water (of uncertain provenance) in its ballast tanks.

■ Moves relatively slowly to avoid the “planing” that allows faster craft to skitter over the surface.

■ Displaces much more water.

■ With its bow-high aspect, directs its prop wash more downward.

■ Its broad fantail creates a smooth standing wave, ideal for boarding or surfing.

A great design, except: Its ballast water potentially carries invasive aquatic species from lake to lake. Its downward prop wash disrupts the lake bottom ecosystem, increases turbidity, facilitates the spread of milfoil fragments and potentially elevates phosphorous levels. And its super-sized waves create hazards for swimmers, canoes, kayaks, sailboats and smaller motorized craft, along with nesting waterfowl such as loons, and they can damage docks and undercut shoreline vegetation, including mature trees.

We Vermonters like to compromise and accommodate. Yes, there are some (perhaps many) of us who would like to see all motorized craft disappear from our lakes and ponds, but there is little outcry for legislative action to that effect. But wake boats have pushed the envelope of silent accommodation beyond its bursting point.

Please. Move the wake boats elsewhere. The Green Mountain State doesn’t need a Malibu.


West Fairlee

Some sanity emerging in GOP

We all hear the noise about mask-wearing and mandates and the hysteria over constitutional rights. For those who are not sympathetic to that anger and paranoia, there has been an endless search for sanity in the Republican Party. Finally, it is beginning to emerge. The speech of former President George W. Bush at the 9/11 crash site in Pennsylvania and the Sept. 9 speech by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library should be mandatory reading or listening.

They both rejected domestic terrorists. They both labeled the Jan. 6 insurrection a terrorist attack. They both rejected the anger and paranoid conspiracy rhetoric that is a pervasive part of the current Republican base. Christie went even further in rejecting former President Donald Trump as a legitimate leader for the future of the party.

Republicans need to listen to them, not once but several times. It is past time when an informed and principled Republican Party reasserts itself. While many, like me, vehemently disagree with many of the conservative ideas that have governed much Republican behavior prior to Trump’s ascendancy, there is no question but their voices are important in shaping policy. While I fervently hope that their slavish loyalty to capitalism, small government and personal liberties is modified in that debate, there is no question that the strength of this country as an economic force, a democratic republic and an example for the world is better when Republicans are at their best.

I cannot speak to whatever force Trump has exercised over them in demanding loyalty. It seems like they have taken a collective hallucinogen. Perhaps their own people can pull them out of it. I certainly hope they do. Sanity seems like a distant dream these days.



A shared hatred of fishing

Thank heaven for the courageous and saintly Margaret D. Hurley for yet another thoughtful and insightful letter spelling out the reasons for my shared implacable hatred of fishing (“Fishing is torture,” Aug. 31).

A few years ago, I expressed my utter disgust to a weekly newspaper for its front-page photograph of a smiling young boy holding up five dead fish hanging from hooks. The reaction from a local talk show host ridiculing me was typical of the toxic male sadism that the world would be well rid of.

I went to a local beach recently and was delighted to see six medium-sized fish swimming there. They graciously made way for me to share their territory. I overheard a father on the opposite beach teaching his son how to bait a hook, My rage was palpable.

Hurley belongs to a better world. I hope there are more like her. For myself, I can’t wait until all the lovers of bloodsports are transformed into decent, compassionate beings.



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