Forum, Oct. 10: Which Nonplussed?

Monday, October 09, 2017
Which Nonplussed?

In your front-page article on Oct. 6 about the new Quechee riverside park, I was nonplussed (surprised, concerned) when your reporter described the reaction of a visitor to traffic delays due to construction as “nonplussed” (not surprised, unconcerned). The internet confirmed that the original meaning of nonplussed is, in fact, more or less the opposite of the more recent second meaning, although the second meaning is “not considered part of standard English.”

Language is, of course, always evolving, and those of us caught in the past are reliable grumblers. More than 100 years ago, Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty scornfully proclaimed, “When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Convenient for politicians, confusing for the rest of us.

I suspect your reporter is a lot younger than I am — most people are. I’m not nonplussed.

Norwood Long


Hartford’s Choice

Regarding the Hartford “To-Do List” editorial (Oct. 8), the School Board particularly has chosen high-cost solutions with a limitless ability to borrow through more school bonds. The latest example is asking for people with building backgrounds to work on fixing the Wilder School building, essentially a rundown waste site.

A more strategic study for educating 30 special needs students could save taxpayers millions. Given that the students must be isolated from the general student body, this can be achieved at two existing schools where ample land exists to expand. Currently, the autism program at Ottauquechee runs separately. Significant benefits can be achieved through such a solution.

First and foremost, site security is reduced by using one school.

There would be less wasted costs for removal of toxic material, construction of elevators, etc.

Utility feeds for water, sewer and power are already upgraded.

Facilities such as a kitchen and parking would be shared.

Backup staff for nursing and office administration are always available.

Scheduling to allow for use of the gym, etc., would broaden the experiences of special needs students.

Special needs students would be able to attend a regular school, but isolated from disrupting the educational experience of others.

The time to think is now.

Harvey Bazarian


Freedom Fading Away

For people of a certain age, America today is a very different place than it was 20 years ago. Twenty years from now, it is likely to be equally different from today. If some people have their way, we will be monitored, scanned and surveilled everywhere we go — at home, in the car, at work, the local library, grocery store, at restaurants and movies — everywhere.

Every bit of data concerning our actions and associations, maybe even inferred thoughts, will be collected and transmitted to a central location to be stored and analyzed. We would be living like criminals in a prison, an electronic prison, and surveilled like convicts.

There is, of course, nothing the least bit constitutional about any of that. Perhaps most people don’t really care much about that sort of thing these days, but it should be remembered that the Constitution is still, as they say, the law of the land. It is, in fact, still the supreme law of the land, and supercedes all the rest of the criminal justice system. To violate it is a felony.

The surveillance state is illegal. It’s a homicidal attack on the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. The future that I mention is not so hard to imagine. We’re well on our way there already. The amazing thing is that, all of the time that it was being done to us, and is being done to us, there has been a generally quiet, passive consent. It may well be that, in a very near future, American children will curse their oblivious and naive parents for surrendering every one of our hard-earned, long-cherished freedoms.

Neil Meliment


Park at Your Own Risk

I would like to add to Sally Page’s comment in the Oct. 6 Forum about parking at the Hanover Post Office big lot.

I think many of us have thought for years that it was OK to park there after hours to go to a movie, a restaurant or performance. A friend and I found out last Tuesday that this wasn’t the case. What a surprise to find both of our cars towed and not one sign indicating who took our cars or a phone number to call.

We called the police, and thanks to them found out that it was Grizzaffi’s Towing in West Lebanon. We were not able to reach them right away so we were stranded for a while. We finally reached the number and were told that we needed to pay cash, $215 to get our cars, and if we hurried we wouldn’t have to pay the extra $55 when the gate closed. Try getting a cab at 9:30 p.m. Fortunately, Big Yellow Cab worked out a time for us, and we were able to get down there.

I did go the Post Office the next day, checked out all the signs, then spoke to the supervisor, who was very understanding when I told him that they need more explicit signage.

There is not one sign that indicates who tows the cars and no phone number appears anywhere. Also, the signs don’t indicate that there is no parking at any time. It would have been helpful if the Post Office had run a notice in the paper saying that the practice had changed. As Page indicated, she was told it was OK to use it at night.

The message to everyone is — don’t park at the Post Office at any time — ever.

Jan Bent

West Lebanon