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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Going Natural ... Off-Line

Robert Downes - April 20th, 2009
Going Natural -- Offline

Here’s one of those news items that’s so quirky compared to the spirit of our time that it sounds like an item from News of the Weird or a gag story from The Onion. It appeared in the online newsletter published by ForeWord magazine in Traverse City:

“Former Librarian Quits the Internet
The Grayslake Review reports that Jack Hicks, a 69-year-old retiree, has cancelled the Internet. Hicks was the director of Illinois’ Glenview Public Library, one of the first libraries in the Chicago area to offer free Internet access.
‘Mainly, it’s a time-waster. And there’s so little time. Why waste it?’ Hicks said. “In retirement, I’m interested in real life, not an imitation of life.’”
At the Express, we now have readers who can’t even recall a time when there was no Internet -- it was up and running before they were born. And many of us would be fish out of the water without the sea of information we swim in each day.
But it’s not hard to understand where Jack Hicks is coming from because increasingly, our lives are twittered away with what’s going on online.
Magazines, for instance. Who’s got time when you’re busy blogging or logged onto Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, slate.com, or any of hundreds of other sites? Soon, you’ll see the big timber of the magazine world start to fall, victims of the Internet time-waster.
We‘re also raising a generation of kids who spend most of their time indoors, with their only exercise being what they get from prancing around in front of a Wii Nintendo game on a TV set. There’s currently a “No Child Left Inside” movement taking root in Northern Michigan, trying to explain to parents why it’s healthy for their kid to actually experience the natural world.
It‘s no wonder we now have the phenomenon of obese four-year-olds.
Those of us who were born long before the digitalization of childhood can recall a time when kids spent as little time as possible indoors. You ran around barefoot outdoors all summer and only came in when your parents yelled themselves hoarse, long after sunset.
Times change and now we’ve become so indelibly stamped and imprinted with the Internet that it seems like national news when an old-timer like Jack Hicks announces that he’s given up our new master.
But Hicks may be onto something, because when you do nothing but waste your time, you also waste your life. When you only know how to play Guitar Hero, you’ll never know the thrill of playing an actual instrument. When you only know boxing from what you get from a Wii game, you’ll never know the edge of the real martial arts. When all of your time is taken up Twittering Ashton Kutcher (who‘s dueling with CNN for the most hits) or compulsively texting your friends, you may never experience the soul of a good book.
Then there are the iPod commercials where phony hipsters dance the boogaloo in silhouette with their earbuds on, shut off from the outside world and real experiences.
At what point do we turn into a nation of incompetents who don‘t know how to do anything beyond texting their order in to McDonald‘s?
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke predicted a time when human knowledge is far advanced thanks to the Internet and artificial intelligence, and yet collectively as shallow as a saucer without any common shared culture. People will have their own sinkholes of expertise without knowing or caring who Shakespeare, George Washington, Susan B. Anthony or Martin Luther King were and why they mattered.
So be it. According to a 2007 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “only four percent of Americans had dropped the Internet,” mostly because they couldn’t afford it due to an illness or whatever.
But taking a tip from Jack Hicks, it might be good for the soul to take an annual vacation from your iPod, Internet, cell phone, Twitter, MySpace and all the other electronic strings attached to your life for a week or so if only to reboot your sense of humanity and become a “real person” once a year.
Build a campfire, write your own song and sing it, dance your ass off, hike 10 miles -- be something that‘s not just part of a machine.
Because, to paraphrase an old saying, what does it profit you if you gain the whole (Internet) world but lose your soul?

Check out Bob Downes & Jim Moore performing ‘The Dinner Show‘ unplugged every Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m. at Cuppa Joe Warehouse (behind Right Brain Brewery) in TC.
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