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 · Random Thoughts · We‘re all...
. . . .

We‘re all journalists now

Robert Downes - June 28th, 2010
It was old news long before it hit the newspaper or the airwaves.
Last Wednesday, citizens writing on local Internet and social
networking sites helped spread the news that Traverse City Light &
Power (TCL&P) had shelved a plan to build a controversial new biomass
The news was passed on via environmentalists on Facebook and Twitter
and by TCL&P’s own e-mailed press release. The Traverse City
Record-Eagle also issued an email blast, scooping its print edition
story by some 20 hours.
An hour or two later, if you were tracking Facebook, you learned that
earthquake tremors had shaken some tourist trinkets off the walls of
the knick-knack stores downtown. Again, the 5.5 Canadian earthquake
was ‘old’ news by the time it hit the 5 o’clock TV news that day.
It just goes to show that the ‘news’ has morphed far beyond what
anyone might have expected even a year ago. Thanks to online social
networking, the news now gets around like lightning, often well
before it can be reported on radio, TV or in the newspaper.
Back in those long ago, faraway days of a year ago, it was predicted
that newspaper websites would replace the printed page as soon as
someone figured out a way to monetize the Internet.
Funny, but now websites in general are starting to look a bit quaint
and old-fashioned, considering that it’s far more fun to play an
interactive role in the news by joining the collective conversation on
Facebook or Twitter. We’re all citizen journalists now, even if it’s
just by passing the news along or adding a few of our own Comedy
Central-type comments to the news stream.
Facebook now has more than 400 million users with millions more
joining every week. Innovations such as the iPad and Skiff e-reader
are drawing more readers to online news, making it possible for all of
us to be citizen reporters through our blogs, Tweets and Friendings.
One sour note: this trend is accelerating with plenty of corporate input on the
• Yahoo has announced that it plans to buy an outfit called Associated
Content which has a freelance staff of 380,000 writers who will whip
up articles, photos and video stories for as little as $2 a shot. This
will serve the needs of 600 million Yahoo users and tens of thousands
of advertisers.
• AOL is also diving into journalism, “planning to hire hundreds if
journalists, editors and videographers in the coming year,” according
to AdAge magazine.
But many of the new ‘journalists’ being hired by Yahoo, AOL, Google
and such are actually ‘content providers’ who pump out an endless
wastestream of piddly-diddle meant to draw traffic to millions of
It goes like this: Joe Writer goes to an online content provider and
considers a menu of story options. He decides to write a 300-word
article on how to unscrew a stuck jelly jar lid. Joe receives a PayPal
payment of $10 or so and his jelly jar lid exposé is sold to jelly &
jam merchants who need ‘content’ to draw more hits to their websites.
Internet entrepreneurs buy bundles of such ‘content’ for a few bucks
to feed their websites, getting a kickback from the Giant Jelly
Corporation (or whatever), each time they pass along a new customer.
If you’ve ever googled a topic and have run into one of these micro
non-articles, you‘ve been lured into the shallow end of the online
content pond. So expect a lot more of this sort of thing gumming up
your search engine and wasting your time.
By contrast, the arrival of the online citizen journalist is a good
development because we‘re sharing more information and commenting on
it. Facebook brings a sense of immediacy, humor and participation to
the news that makes us hungry for more.

Now that we’re all connected, with the news delivered as soon as it
happens, one might logically assume that printed newspapers and
magazines will disappear over the next few years.
That doesn’t necessarily follow. One might also have assumed that
acoustic guitars would have disappeared after Les Paul invented the
electric guitar in 1940. Electric guitars can make far more
interesting sounds than acoustic guitars and -- like online news
websites -- initially, they were all the rage. They’re slimmer and
come in more interesting paint jobs and designs. There’s no logical
reason for the acoustic guitar to even exist, except that it has a
sweetness and “soul” in its simple arrangement of wood, strings and
space in a way that no electric instrument can mimic.
And yet if you walk into any music store in the world, you’re likely
to find as many or more acoustic guitars for sale than their electric
cousins. Doesn’t make sense.
Coloring books. Why do they still exist in an age of dazzling video
games for kids? If you follow the logic of the Internet replacing
newspapers, then coloring books would also be goners. And why are
natural food stores on an upswing when we have Sam‘s Club and Walmart?
Natural foods cost more and are less convenient to prepare than
frozen, processed meals.
The point is that innovation and progress don’t always trump what is
satisfying to the soul.
Whether we’ll see that same effect in the new social networking media
remains to be seen. I like to imagine that Northern Express will still
exist in its printed form 10-20 years from now because to an acoustic
guitar, natural foods-loving type like me, that‘s more soothing to the
soul than the endless staring into a monitor that we‘re all afflicted
with these days.
What will be the role of the ‘old’ media? Perhaps to link, lead and
analyze. Anne Stanton’s article in this issue goes in depth on the
wind and natural gas alternatives to biomass in a way that no
landslide of 140-character Tweets could ever hope to cover, and her
reporting has sparked much of the public debate that led to a more
positive and enlightened direction for TCL&P.
Northern Express Weekly, along with other members of the “old” media,
helped sound the alarm against the plan to burn the region’s forests
for electrical power at a time when biomass looked like a slam-dunk.
We did due diligence by providing a forum for supporters of biomass,
giving them a chance to offer their views. But we also amplified the
voices of anti-biomass activists such as M’Lynn Hartwell, Jeff Gibbs,
Greg Reisig and the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council
(NMEAC); and readers contributed dozens of opinions to our Letters
page to keep the heat on this issue. Hopefully, this is the start of
a movement that will send biomass plans across the state up in smoke.
That’s what the “old” media can still do for you.

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