"What a bizarre day. I'm sitting here watching my email fill up with message after message from people from so many different times and places of my life, all congratulating me for the astonishing good fortune of receiving a MacArthur Fellowship. Not to mention a flurry of texts and tweets, and I haven't had the energy to even look at Facebook." Cartoonist and Graphic Memoirist Alison Bechdel (previously on MetaFilter: 1, 2, 3, 4) has won the prestigious MacArthur Genuis grant, giving her the opportunity to dig into her archives for a previous comic she drew in 2004 to conclude her reaction blog post. [more inside]
Politico: "Young called his creed 'the religion of nature' and 'the religion of nature’s God.' And he made abundantly clear that, in his own mind, this radical philosophical religion was the axis on which the Revolution turned. For him, the project to free the American people from the yoke of King George III was part of a grander project to liberate the world from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion." [more inside]
About half of countries who attempt to build single-payer systems fail. That’s Hsiao’s estimate after working with about 10 governments in the past two decades. Whether he’s in Taiwan, Cyprus, or Vermont, the process is roughly the same: meet with legislators, draw up a plan, write legislation. Only half of those bills actually become law. The part where it collapses is, inevitably, when the country has to pay for it.Ezra Klein's Vox Media looks at the financial and administrative mechanics of Governor Peter Shumlin's quest to bring single-payer health care to Vermont. Bonus: 12 questions about single-payer.
For a while, the first African American graduate of the University of Vermont was George Washington Henderson, who would become the first black inductee to Phi Beta Kappa. Except he wasn't the first black graduate... [more inside]
"In October 2013, Drs. Tim Perkins and Abby van Den Berg of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, revealed the findings of a study at a maple syrup conference in New Brunswick, Canada that sent waves through the industry. In 2010, they were studying vacuum systems in sap collection operations. Based on the observation that one of the mature trees in the study that was missing most of its top was still yielding high volumes of sap, they hypothesized that the maples were possibly drawing moisture from the soil and not the crown. Previously, they had presumed that the sap dripping from tap holes was coming from the upper portion of the tree. But, if the tree was missing most of its crown then, they surmised, it must be drawing moisture from the roots. ... They realized that their discovery meant sugarmakers could use saplings, densely planted in open fields, to harvest sap. In other words, it is possible that maple syrup could now be produced as a row crop like every other commercial crop in North America." [more inside]
Sean Tejaratchi (of LiarTownUSA) brings you the Vermont Pleasures catalog, which answers the vital question "What if the Body Shop made Sex Toys?" (NSFW all around) [more inside]
Most people visit the city of Burlington, Vermont, for the pleasant waterfront of Lake Champlain, the quirky shops and restaurants on Church Street, and the various cultural benefits that come with being a university town. Those are all the right reasons. I, on the other hand, went to Burlington for the flying monkeys... [more inside]
Someone in the Vermont prison system has been hiding a pig in the decals that inmates make for the state’s police cars. After only a few years, the cops just caught on. [YouTube].
The Chick-fil-A corporation doesn't want anybody to ”eat more” anything, unless it comes from them. Not even non-food items — once again they're after the Vermont artist whose t-shirts and stickers have become legendary (in certain crop circles, at least) for extolling the wonders of kale. Kale t-shirts — they taste like chicken, right?
The whole matter began, so far as I am concerned, with the historic and unprecedented Vermont floods...
Whisperer in darkness ...in miniature! - Props from the movie in their new Vermont home from website of Stephen R. Bissette, which also features a gallery of his Swamp Thing art and posts on the Main Street Museum "Floodraiser" including pictures of some auctioned props (1, 2). Previous Whisperings.
On the same morning that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi struck down Wisconsin's infamous union-busting bill on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law (PDF of decision, previously), Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed America's first state-level single-payer legislation into law. [more inside]
With the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act being argued in lower courts, it's probably also worth looking at Vermont's adoption of single-payer health care: "On May 26, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont is expected to sign legislation that will create universal coverage in the state—eventually. Vermont will use subsidies from the Affordable Care Act to help create a Canada-style system. And its system, or so the theory goes, will become so popular and cheap that the rest of America will want to copy it." [more inside]
One year after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which, overturning over 100 years of precedent, opened a floodgate of corporate money into election campaigns, Virginia Lyons (D-VT), has introduced legislation (full text of bill not yet available, articles here and here) in the Vermont State Senate to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly state that corporations are not persons. This would overturn the controversial notion of corporate personhood which was established in the 1800s. Controversial not only for the unequal distribution of rights and responsibilities among humans and corporations, some, like Thom Hartmann (previously), have claimed that the notion of corporate personhood was established as an intentional misinterpretation of the decision as recorded by court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis, former president of the Newburgh & New York Railway Co. [more inside]
"It had a sign outside it saying Museum of the Americas, but no one ever visited it. Anyway, so he opened this door, turned on the lights one by one, and the sight that met my eyes is something I shall never, ever forget because instead of a congregation of people in this disused church, it was a congregation of portraits." Philip Mould, an art expert and a host of the British version of Antiques Roadshow, describes an early business trip where he met Earle Newton. Newton's home grown Museum of the Americas, a collection of over 300 rare 17th- and 18th-century English and American portraits, was housed in a nondescript church on the side of a road in rural Vermont. The collection, later valued at over nine million dollars, became the Earle W. Newton Center for British and American Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design upon Newton's death. [via]
The Vermont state legislature voted today to close Vermont Yankee, the Green Mountain State's own nuclear power plant.
Despondent at having to lay off staff, Stephen Huneck took his own life Friday. Perhaps not well-known outside of Vermont, Stephen Huneck dedicated his life to celebrating the bonds between people and dogs. He credited his dogs with helping him survive and recover from a serious illness. Half of the proceeds from his art sales go to the Chittenden County Humane Society. His Dog Studio and Dog Chapel are open to dogs (as well as humans), and they are free to roam the buildings and land. Treats are always available for the dogs. [more inside]
One Year - Time Lapse Seasons, times and scenery changing over the course of a year at Terrapin Garden Farms. [via mefi projects]
In the bright and shiny future, we all live in cities under giant domes, green and warm all the year round - a sort of Logan’s Run, but without the forced euthanasia. It almost happened in, of all places, in Winooski, an old mill town in northern Vermont. [more inside]
First, there was the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Now, everyone's favorite super-premium conglomerate-owned sticking-to-its-righteous-roots ice cream company has transformed "Chubby Hubby" into Hubby Hubby (only in VT, only for September), in support of same sex marriage, which is legal in Vermont as of this month. No word yet whether Iowa-based Winnebago will follow suit with a specially-named RV.
'Artisanal butters' are favored and appreciated by cooks and gourmands -- especially those crafted by "garage entrepreneurs" from Maine [video]* and Vermont (churned by Diane St. Clair and favored by Thomas Keller at his noted restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se). Butters from Canada, France, Ireland and elsewhere are also cherished. [more inside]
While many quirky news buffs may be aware of the story of Phineas Gage -- the Vermont railroad foreman who had a three foot iron rod penetrate his skull as the result of an explosion and lived to tell about it -- fewer know that the only known photograph of him was recently discovered. Fewer still know that the identification of that photograph happened via a Flickr comment. (no thanks to you LA Times, previously) [more inside]
In the past many folk rightfully pointed out that IHOP (International House of Pancakes) didn't have a restaurant in Vermont. Times have been a changin.' Last month, Vermont became the 50th and final state to welcome an IHOP. And, being in Vermont, "old fashioned corn syrup," masquerading as true maple syrup didn't make the grade. "The IHOP here is the only one of about 1,400 in the United States, Canada and Mexico to serve real maple syrup." The managers got permission from the company "with a special dispensation" to serve the real stuff. [more inside]
Today, the Vermont Legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill allowing same sex marriage, making Vermont the 4th state in the nation (and the second state this week) to legalize same sex marriage. Vermont is the first state to do it legislatively; it happened in the other three states via court ruling.
Up in Maple country The season is right for making maple syrup. Grades a,b,d; colors are factors. The international market is a factor. Visit lovely Cape Breton. [more inside]
Charlotte Dennett who read for the bar in Vermont, is now running for Vermont Attorney General on the Progressive Party ticket. Her platform: Prosecute George Bush for murder. Her choice for chief prosecutor: Vincent Bugliosi. [more inside]
"The sweet aroma of sap permeating the air, still harkens the arrival of Spring"* in New England, Canada and other U.S. states. The Eastern Woodland Indians discovered that maple sap cooked over an open fire produces a sweet sugar [video], resulting in maple syrup. Many associate the syrup with Quebec (which produces most of the world's supply) and Vermont where about "one of every four trees...is a maple."* Vermont even has a "maple cop." He enforces "Vermont's maple regulations for the state Agency of Agriculture, which strictly regulates how Vermont's most famous export is made, marketed and sold."* [more inside]
The Union is Dissolved! Or, at least it will be, if these unusual allies have their way. While waiting for the results of the Second North American Separatist Convention, you can read up on the separatist groups who attended the first convention last fall.
American Elf is a daily diary comic by James Kochalka. The latest strip is always free but the archives are subscription only. He also a musician, his most famous song being Hockey Monkey, and he has number of songs up for free on his site. [via Eddie Campbell who says: "Beginning in 1998 Kochalka took the form of daily strip and imbued it with a life that has been missing from it for a long time. Since then he has made sure his daily round is not finished until a strip is done. Another thing I like about it is the way he carefully avoids any taint of 'continuity'. There is no story here, just the eternal incidentalness of life as it is lived."]
The A.K. Miller Auction "This is one of those stories that begins at the end. This was the end of A.K. Miller’s Stutz collection." Miller was a reclusive eccentric living on a ramshackle farm in Vermont. When he and his wife died, his estate was prepared for a tax sale. Sheriffs found a treasure trove of old cars, some wrapped in burlap to avoid prying eyes, stashed in a collection of dilapidated outbuildings. The auction (pdf) was eventually handled by Christie's and netted over two million dollars. [via]
13% of Vermont wants to secede, up from 8% last year. Here is their manifesto. Also Texas, Alaska, South Carolina, Hawaii.
"All Creeds. All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed." Whether you are a dog person or not, you have probably seen Stephen Huneck's woodcut illustrations, sculptures, furniture or children's books. The man clearly likes his canines. About eight years ago, a wild idea came to him shortly after he returned home with his wife and three dogs following a near-fatal illness that left him in a coma for two months. He was inspired to build a non-denominational chapel on his 400-acre mountain-top farm in St. Johnsbury (named "Dog Mountain," naturally), and to style it in the manner of a small village church built in Vermont around 1820. He then opened Dog Chapel to the public. "I look at this chapel as the largest artwork of my life, and my most personal." he says. It looks cool. Woof.
Interactive Toxic Town from Natl Library Medicine This NLM link shows relatively small everyday sources of toxics around town. Most worry over envirodisasters like Love Canal and Libby Montana but toxics in homes, schools, and small biz can add up to a bigger dose for most of us. The toxic town thread from June 2nd shows the incredible scale of industrial negligance at the nasty sites. Time capsules are neat when you stumble into something gramps left in the attic to remember his hey day. But hazwaste sites are time capsules of a different sort, left behind by industries escaping their environmental liabilities. These sites tell the story of utter disregard for the environment and community as hazwaste was poured down floor drains, dumped into soil and unlined lagoons, or directed into nearby streams. Most of us live far enough away from these chemical bullseyes to not be directly affected. But even more unbelieveably, sometimes the industry was able to pawn off its waste as "clean fill", getting rid of the stuff and spreading it all over town. Prime examples: Grand Junction CO and Stratford CT. But you don't need that for your street to harbor toxic waste - there are thousands of small waste sites in various stages of discovery or cleanup embedded in every state, rural/suburban/urban towns alike. Leaking tanks beneath gas pumps, dry cleaners, small industry, farms, nurseries,and even some homes can be toxics hot spots. Vermont's statewide hazwaste site list broken down by town is an example - it would be smart to find the list for your town.
Vermont's Painted Theatre Curtains were made between 1880 and 1940 and are on display thanks in part to The Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance and a grant from the NEA. [more inside]
Custody After Civil Union Pits States Against Judges (NYT) - This may be the most signficant custody battle to ensue following the collapse of a Civil Union. Are there any laws in place to allow the non-biological mother visitation rights over the three year old child born during this union? Vermont says yes, Virginia says no. Final verdict? Jury's still out, this one may go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) has decided not to run for re-election in 2006 and Bernie Sanders will run for the Senate seat. Major General Martha Rainville (adjutant general of the Vermont Army National Guard) is thinking of making a run as a Republican.
I ran into this article on the The Progressive website. Upon reading it, I said, "Who is this guy and why haven't I heard of him?" You Vermonters know him. He's your congressman, Bernie Sanders. Does anyone else (besides the Vermonters, of course) think this guy's got the right ideas?
"We wanted to retire to something we knew nothing about, something we would find intellectually, physically and spiritually daunting." ~~ "I like goats. They're funny." ~~ "Our animals are vegetarians and don't do drugs." ~~"I can sort of get inside the head of the bacteria," she said. "I read about cheese in bed." ~~ "Oh, Lily," she said matter-of-factly. "Things didn't work out. We ate her." via NortonDC.
An announcement from Trey: "So Coventry will be the final Phish show...For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey."
6000 breathtaking aerial photos of American towns and other sites, with particularly good coverage of towns in New England (MA, VT, CT, NH, RI, ME). All of this by one photographer, Joseph Melanson, whose mission in life is "to show you facets of your environment that you never realized no matter how long you lived there."
Picking Up Butch at Middlebury (Vt.) College - Rick Reilly pulls on the heart strings with a story about a dedicated sports fan.
This summer, I took a trip to the Brattleboro region of Vermont. Until I picked up Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" again this past week, I had not realized that I had just made a trip into Lovecraft Country. [more inside]
Howard Dean Get to know that name because you will likely be hearing it often in the coming months. The Governor of Vermont is currently the only Democratic presidential contender who has officially declared his candidacy. He is gaining press nationally and internationally as a potential breath of fresh air on the American political landscape. An interesting mix of liberal populism and traditional conservative fiscal responsibility, he is known to rub colleges from both sides of the ideological spectrum the wrong way. Regardless of your opinion on his politics, do you think this man have a shot? Do the proverbial square pegs in the Democratic and GOP round holes ever stand a chance? Will the Bush and Gore juggernauts forever push differing ideas into the realm of third parties or is there room for descent from within?
Bill Moyers, National Treasure, Drunk Driver? Man, I almost hate to post this. Up here in Vermont we think that maybe the state troopers just don't have enough Dunkin Donut's outlets.
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