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 · Features · When Santa was skinny
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When Santa was skinny

Emily Manthei - December 20th, 2007
Oh, the parties, the shopping, the cookies, the mistletoe, the fruitcakes! Traditions abound this time of year, and if you’re anything like me, you might feel like a bit of a Scrooge if you catch yourself wondering why you’re stuck finding Aunt Marge another collectable Hummel and what on earth you can get to follow up the pair of styling electric scissors you got Dad last year. So this year, I wanted to rediscover the true spirit of old St. Nick in the present-exchange experience before an unwanted “bah-humbug” set in. So I followed him right to his source:
“Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant, Nicholas of Myra, a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Believe it or not, this is the real guy - the historical St. Nicholas was born in the village of Patara, which at the time was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. While still a young man, he served as bishop in a Turkish city called Myra in the 4th century. He is celebrated amongst Christians as the patron saint of sailors, children, pawnbrokers (yes, pawnbrokers!) and others in trouble. He is popularly remembered for his acts of charity, which is practiced today in the form of gift-giving throughout the world. On the 6th of December, Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox churches remember the Feast of St. Nicholas with prayers like the one above. Children in Holland and Belgium celebrate this Feast with the coming of Sinterklaas, who fills their stockings and shoes with sweets and presents. And our own Santa Claus tradition at Christmas derives from these practices - but in our gifting we forego the saint for a plump, reindeer-wielding man from the North Pole; about as far away from a Turkish bishop as you can get.

Although Nicholas’s place in history offers few hard facts about him, the traditions and legends that grew up around him were faithfully passed on by the Church to make him one of the most well-known saints of today. As the story goes, his family were wealthy managers of a local fishing fleet, but instead of going into their business, Nicholas began a pilgrimage to Palestine that led him to serve in the church of Myra when he returned.
After his parents died, leaving him their fortune, he offered their wealth to people in need throughout the rest of his own life. In one of the most popular legends, Nicholas saved a poor man’s three daughters from being sold into slavery because of the family’s poverty. The man could not afford to pay for marriages for his daughters, so Nicholas secretly delivered three purses filled with gold coins for the girls by night. Versions of the legend have him slipping the gold down the chimney, and, in one version, the purses fall into a stocking left by the fire to dry (you can see what tradition that one led to.)
Because of his reputation for this kind of lavish generosity, anonymous acts of charity became commonly attributed to Nicholas, even well after his death. Later, Nuns in France began visiting children on the eve of St. Nicholas’ day to bring them gifts. This tradition quickly spread to central and eastern Europe, where it became an Advent staple.

Besides his financial generosity, he is also known as a protector of the vulnerable – sailors lost at sea, the poor of his city, and children in danger.
In another popular - and unexpectedly grisly - tale, Nicholas enters a village suffering from a famine. He has a dream that there is something for him to see in the butcher’s shop, so he enters the shop and finds that the butcher has killed three boys to turn them into meat. Nicholas finds the three boys and is able to resurrect the children and rescue them from the evil butcher. Apart from the obviously fantastical religious motif of this story, the basic premise – Nicholas’ rescue of three boys in danger of death – is believed to be fairly reliable history, and serves as the foundation of his link to helping children in trouble.
Yet another yarn finds Nicholas on a voyage from Alexandria back to Myra. A sailor on his ship gets trapped in the rigging of the ship and it is Nicholas who saves him. German sailors still ask St. Nicholas for protection on long voyages today.

The legend of Nicholas’s generosity and kindness, his protection of children and sailors, and compassion for those in need has earned him a revered place in both sacred and secular culture: In Russia, he is one of the most important saints in Orthodox iconography. Catholic parishes in Ireland, Italy, France, and Turkey all claim to host some of his earthly remains. And he is known as patron saint of a number of countries, cities, and towns all over the world, including New York City, Lorraine, France, and Liverpool, England.
Few saints have a busier schedule than our own jolly old Saint Nick.
For some European countries – especially Holland and Belgium – the Feast of St. Nicholas is still the primary gift-giving day in the Christmas season. Sinterklaas arrives from his fair-weather home in Spain by steamship towards the end of November, and is greeted with parades all over the country. He spends the intervening weeks making mall and school appearances to see the children, all leading up to the evening of December 5th. Children place their shoes by the fireplace or the door at night with carrots and turnips for Sinterklaas’ white horse; the veggies are replaced by sweets and presents stuffed inside the shoes in the morning.
The generosity of Sinterklaas is supposed to bear a relation to the generosity and good behavior of the children throughout the year – yes, Sinterklaas has a list of good and bad children too. In his golden book, he keeps the names of the good children, but his black book is reserved for the bad ones, who receive only a stick in their shoes. (Although holiday shopping figures tell us Sinterklaas has eased up on his standards in the past few decades.)

So if you’re having a commercialist crisis this Christmas, perhaps the real St. Nick has the answer; it’s all about the spirit of generosity. The next time you feel yourself disillusioned by gift-giving, think back to St. Nick, and remember that the true spirit of Father Christmas is about providing help for people in need.

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