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..

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Smart Music for Smart People: A Few CDs to Study by while You‘re Hitting the Books

Andy Taylor - August 12th, 2004
One of the imperative aspects to the college experience is the music you listen to while you are living the life of an undergraduate. There are many great conversations to be had while gathered around the stereo and picking apart some old classics or the latest favorite. For some it was Neil Young, for others it was R.E.M., and still others (like myself) found Alice in Chains to be inspiring (many a night was spent discussing the guitar licks on “Dirt”).
But, of course, no one should forget their homework. It is after all probably the most important part of higher education. But who says you can’t listen to some tunes while you are straining your brain? Here are some suggestions for your listening enjoyment, depending on which subject you’re studying:
- The John Wilkes Kissing Booth - “A Threat in the Broadcast” - Velvet Blue Music

When it comes to utilizing music and poetics there are few who match the wit and sheer clever nature of Derrick Brown, the vocalist at the head of the John Wilkes Kissing Booth. This obscure, but well-worth-the-effort California band plays smooth indie-rock music in the vein of the Smiths and Morissey, while slam poet Brown keeps it real. He is known all over the world as an award winning writer and performance poet, with a knack for giving the English language a swift kick in the rear. This is fairly quiet music, yet it’s energetic enough to keep your toes tapping while you are slaving away with that T.S. Eliot or Emily Dickinson. For those struggling to grasp the rhythmic nature of poetry, which your instructor probably rails about so much (and is always convinced that no one else gets), this is the perfect complement to your studies. “Avalon by Braille” and “My Most Hated Love Song” are the two tracks to keep in mind on this album.

- The Dillinger Escape Plan - “Calculating Infinity” - Relapse Records

If you can still concentrate while simultaneously having your mind blown and your skull crushed, then this is the fitting thing to have coming through your headphones while working on that blasted Algebra. DEP have a volume and intensity that is unmatched in all of heavy music (at least for now), and are some of the most technically skilled musicians you will ever hear play. What sounds like pure chaos at first is actually well-crafted, rhythmically driven metal-core that knows nothing of any typical time signature. No band can make listeners want to pay closer attention, yet at the same time want to run away in fear. There is a mathematical aspect to music, and no one captures it with quite the same intensity and dedication as this band.

- Sufjan Stevens - “Greetings from Michigan: the Great Lake State” - Sounds Familyre/Asthmatic Kitty Records

You can learn more about the geography of Michigan from listening to this album and looking at the liner notes than you can get from an entire semester of reading those horrible science books. This quirky, yet charming singer/songwriter has impressed many with this album, which is entirely devoted to none other than his home-state of Michigan. With song titles like “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid),” “Sleeping Bear, Sault St. Marie,” and “Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)” it is obvious that Stevens’ heart is still in Michigan and he displays it with his soothing, eclectic jazz/pop/bluegrass music. Stevens is planning on making an album for each of the fifty states and rumor has it that he is now toiling away at a record dedicated to our neighbor to the southwest, Illinois. What better way to learn about landmarks all over the state and the country?

- Elliott Smith - “From a Basement on the Hill” - Anti-Records

Although this album has not been released yet (it comes out on Oct. 15, just in time for midterms) it is sure to be quite a piece of art as it is the last thing that beloved indie-songwriter Elliott Smith completed before he committed suicide not too long ago. One can only imagine what was going through a person’s head while they were being creative yet thinking of ending their own life as well. It is not too difficult to identify with what
Elliott has to say and at times that can be quite depressing as Elliott was not the most uplifting of songwriters. Someone should do a study on how music affects the mood of listeners with this record.

- Miles Davis and John Coltrane - “Miles and Coltrane: Live” - Columbia Records

We can’t let you forget about the past. There is no better place to start than with these two great jazz innovators, performing together live.
So while you are reading “On the Road” or “The Catcher in the Rye” and discussing the atmosphere of the 1950s, slip in this little fella and HEAR what the ’50s were like. You can hear a little of everything, from these masters’ dueling solos on a Charlie Parker tune, to slow and chill crooning on some of Davis’ own work. Without musicians like Coltrane and Davis the current music scene would not be the same, and as grandpappy says, it’s good to respect your elders and know about the past. So why not listen to some sweet music at the same time? Listen to it on vinyl and it just might save your life.

Blow off some steam:
- Still Remains - “If Love Was Born to Die” - Benchmark Records

Study breaks are probably the best part of the academic realm in college. And you’ve got to have something to rock out to while you are taking that 15 minute to hour-long break. One band that is still under the radar (but not for too much longer) is the Grand Rapids-based melodic hardcore outfit Still Remains. As far as underground heavy music goes this band has it all: great guitar riffs and harmonies (that are actually more metal than hardcore), nice breakdowns, good melodies and catchy sing-along lyrics that you would normally expect from old school hardcore, not from its more modern cousin. This is a six-song demo the band just released but look for a full-length in the not too distant future. “Light Through Skin” is probably their best work. So get up and throwdown a little when you have homework up the wazoo, because college is supposed to be a little fun isn’t it?

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