Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · The Da Vinci Code is a Work of...
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The Da Vinci Code is a Work of Art

Nancy Sundstrom - June 26th, 2003
Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code“ is so smart and sharp that you will raise your I.Q. by reading it. And you won’t be able to stop turning the pages in the process. I promise.
Brown is a New England-based author of bestsellers like “Digital Fortress,“ “Angels & Demons“ and “Deception Point.“ His legion of fans has grown with each work, but with this, his latest, he has displayed an amazing new level of ability and the praise has been nothing short of heady.
Consider, for example, the comments of Clive Cussler, who raved about the book, saying, “Intrigue and menace mingle in one of the finest mysteries I’ve ever read. An amazing tale with enigma piled on secrets stacked on riddles.“ Nelson DeMille, another bestselling suspense writer concurrred: “Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius.“ Ditto for Vince Flynn, who said, “The Da Vinci Code sets the hook-of-all-hooks, and takes off down a road that is as eye-opening as it is page-turning. You simply cannot put this book down. Thriller readers everywhere will soon realize Dan Brown is a master.“
So what is all the fuss about? Plenty. Lightening-paced, intelligent and riveting, this is the kind of intrigue thriller that can convince you there’s no better genre with which to spend time. And if you think that genre is not necessarily your cup of tea, you’ll probably rethink that position after reading it, right before you start reading it again. Not to belabor the point, but, yes, this book is just that good.

The delicious and dizzying plot involves Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who has come to Paris on business and immediately is involved in the baffling murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre. He’s barely had time to orient himself to being in the City of Lights before being pulled into a crime that seems eerily familiar:
“Robert Langdon awoke slowly... Where the hell am I? The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS.
Slowly, the fog began to lift. Langdon picked up the receiver. “Hello?“ “Monsieur Langdon?“ a man‘s voice said. “I hope I have not awoken you?“
Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead.
“This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent.“
Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor?...“I‘m sorry,“ Langdon said, “but I‘m very tired and--“
“Mais monsieur,“ the concierge pressed, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. “Your guest is an important man.“
Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last year Langdon‘s visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had seemed never-ending...
Almost immediately, a heavy fist pounded on Langdon‘s door... “Mr. Langdon? I need to speak with you.“ The man‘s English was accented -- a sharp, authoritative bark. “My name is Lieutenant Jerome Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire.“
Langdon paused. The Judicial Police? The DCPJ were the rough equivalent of the U.S. FBI...
“May I come in?“ the agent asked. Langdon hesitated, feeling uncertain as the stranger‘s sallow eyes studied him.
“What is this is all about?“
“My capitaine requires your expertise in a private matter.“
“Now?“ Langdon managed. “It‘s after midnight.“
“Am I correct that you were scheduled to meet with curator of the Louvre this evening? “
Langdon felt a sudden surge of uneasiness. He and the revered curator Jacques Saunièère had been slated to meet for drinks after Langdon‘s lecture tonight, but Saunièère had never shown up...
The agent gave a dire sigh and slid a Polaroid snapshot through the narrow opening in the door... As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden upwelling of anger.
“Who would do this!“
“We had hoped that you might help us answer that very question. Considering your knowledge in symbology and your plans to meet with him.“
Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image was gruesome and profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense of deja vu. A little over a year ago, Langdon had received a photograph of a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly familiar.
The agent checked his watch. “My captain is waiting, sir.“
Langdon barely heard him. His eyes were still riveted on the picture.
“This symbol here, and the way his body is so oddly . . .“
“Positioned?“ the agent offered.
Langdon nodded, feeling a chill as he looked up. “I can‘t imagine who would do this to someone.“
The agent looked grim. “You don‘t understand, Mr. Langdon. What you see in this photograph . . .“ He paused. “Monsieur Saunièère did that to himself.“

Not only has the victim been murdered inside the museum, but a mysterious cipher has been found near the body that leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of the master painter Da Vinci. The clues are visible for all to see, yet cleverly concealed by the painter, and Langdon finds himself joining forces with French cryptologist Sophie Neveu, the daughter of the deceased, to unravel the mystery behind them. Together, they learn that the murder is linked to an ancient secret society called the Priory of Sion, a brotherhood whose members have included the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others. The cipher contains an explosive historical secret that has been protected by this clandestine society, and to say the least, the stakes in either exposing it or keeping it hidden are remarkably high for all those involved.
That is only the tip of the iceberg, though to divulge anything more would be a travesty. As Langdon and Sophie race across Europe, a number of startling revelations are made, and at each juncture, there are rich and provocative ideas connected to some of Western culture‘s greatest mysteries -- from the nature of the Mona Lisa‘s smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Right up to the very final paragraphs, the thrills don’t stop coming and the only letdown is that heartbreaking -- yet immensely satisfying -- moment when you have to admit that the white-knuckled ride is over. Yes, the book is just that good.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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