HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 19, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


I bugged out of Montpelier before the flood. But I don't want you to think I did it out of cowardice. I had planed this trip before I knew a flood was in the offing. We have lots of sandbags in Montpelier now. They are stacked in front all almost very business downtown. But I'm worried that if the water really comes they won't be a great deal of protection.

Now I'm in Annapolis. So over the next week I'll be able to observe how the big -- some say the "real" -- world works. If I discover anything startling, I'll let you know.

A personal note that may be of interest to some of you is that I bought a new laptop computer last week, an Apple MacBook with a black casing. It has a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, with an 80 gigabyte hard drive. And it really is as fast as has been advertised. The 13 inch screen is smaller than the screen on my old Powerbook, but it's true that its sharpness and vividness make up for the reduction in size. So far, I have been very pleased with it.

It's about 530 miles from my house in Montpelier to my brother's in Annapolis. It took me nine and a half hours to make it yesterday, but I didn't stop much. That's averaging 56 mph, which doesn't seem very fast. But you have to take into account that the first hundred miles, or so, involves small, fairly curvy, somewhat snowy roads. You'd think I would have seen lots of interesting things on a trip like that, but the truth is, I didn't. Maybe I've made the drive too often for anything to grab my attention.

I now have EZ Pass, an automatic toll payer, which works up and down the East Coast. It actually does make traveling less bothersome. I suspect I save about twenty minutes using it between Vermont and here. That doesn't seem like much for a ten hour drive. But not to have an extra twenty minutes at the end of it is a blessing. I continue to wonder why the various automatic systems around the nation don't combine so that you could use a single device anywhere. Surely, with our technological wizards that could be accomplished.

Gas on the way here cost about $2.55, though I did pay ten cents more than that in upstate New York.

Just as I got underway, I listened to part of The Prairie Home Companion, which was broadcast from New York yesterday in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Maybe it's my advancing age, but for the first time "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" came across to me as tremendously sad. I couldn't get it out of my mind for hundreds of miles. This thing we call humanity is such a mystery -- and, in a way, such a tragedy -- it's enough to make your head explode. I wonder if anyone will ever figure it out. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be me.

On the radio, I also heard several commentators predict that Alberto Gonzales will not last out the week as attorney general. I have no way of knowing. And I confess that though I consider him to be a harmful official, I don't think his going would make much difference. The demand for the resignation or firing of cabinet officers tends to ignore who put them there. We have little reason to think that replacements will be improvements. The danger is that they'll be smoother in getting away with the transgressions their predecessors were too clumsy to hide. I don't expect to see a civil libertarian as attorney general in the Bush administration.

I hope most of you are getting more touches of spring than we've had, so far, in Montpelier. But I have a kind of faith that spring will, indeed, come even to Vermont before too much longer. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, snow has melted by the time I get home this weekend. I'll let you know and keep you posted on the flood.

Keep in mind: we can use your letters.


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