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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Party for the Afterlife

None - August 19th, 2011  


For years, many traditional funerals in Taiwan - - especially in rural areas or among working classes -- have included pop singers and bikinied dancers, supposedly to entertain the ghosts that will protect the deceased in the afterlife. According to a recent documentary by anthropologist Marc Moskowitz, some of the dancers until 20 years ago were strippers who did lap dances with funeral guests, until the government made such behavior illegal. Contemporary song-and-dance shows, like the traveling Electric Flower Car, supposedly appeal to “lower” gods who help cleanse the deceased of the more mundane vices such as gambling and prostitution (compared to the “higher” gods who focus on morality and righteousness).

Can’t Possibly Be True

-- California’s state and local governments are rarely discussed these days without the pall of budget cuts looming, but apparently the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is safe because it is spending a reported $1.5 million to move a big rock in from Riverside, about 60 miles away. It’s a 340-ton boulder that the museum intends to display above a sidewalk (“Levitated Mass”). The move will require a 200-foot-long trailer with 200 tires, with one semi-tractor pulling and one pushing, at night, maximum speed 8 mph.

-- Tennessee State Rep. Julia Hurley apologized in July and said she would pay for the refinishing of her desk in the legislative chamber after it was revealed that she had carved her initials in it during a January session. “It was like one in the morning on the last day of the session,” she told WSMV-TV. “I wasn’t thinking straight.” Rep. Hurley, 29, who has a daughter, 14, unseated a nine-term incumbent legislator in 2010 with a campaign that touted her time as a Hooters waitress. “If I could make it at Hooters,” she wrote in the restaurant’s magazine, “I could make it anywhere.”

-- In June, the California Court of Appeals threw out the three counts of possession of child pornography for which Joseph Gerber had been convicted, even though what Gerber had done was paste face shots of his own 13-year-old daughter onto ordinary pornographic photos. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2002 that a conviction for making “child pornography” requires actual sexual abuse. (Gerber had also been convicted of supplying the daughter with drugs and the court ordered Gerber re-sentenced.)

Unclear on the Concept

-- Georges Marciano, co-founder of the clothing company Guess? Inc. and ostensibly in no trouble with IRS, nonetheless demanded in 2009 that the agency audit him over the previous several years. IRS turned him down, and he sued the agency in federal court in Washington, D.C., but in July, a judge rejected the case, declaring that federal law and the U.S. Constitution do not give anyone a “right” to demand that IRS collect more taxes from them. (Marciano perhaps hoped for IRS to uncover cheating by his former employees and accountants, whom he thought were stealing from him. Paying higher taxes might have been worth it if the agency had made it easier for him to sue any cheaters.)

-- A Singaporean army draftee caused a public stir in March when he was photographed by a visitor as he underwent physical training in army fatigues but with his maid following behind him carrying his backpack on her shoulders. (Army officials told reporters the draftee had since been “counsel(ed).”) -- Helping Disaster Victims: (1) In May, following near-record floods in fields south of Montreal, Quebec, farmer Martin Reid made sure to apply for his fishing license because he had learned the hard way that when his land gets flooded, he cannot remove the fish washed onto it unless he is a licensed fisherman. After flooding in 1993, Reid and his father failed to secure a license and were fined $1,000. A second offense brings a fine of $100,000. (2) Two weeks after the catastrophic April tornadoes hit Alabama and neighboring states, Bailey Brothers Music Co. of Birmingham offered to help. To soothe those suffering depression and grief from devastating property losses, Bailey Brothers sponsored weekly drum circles.

Police Blotter -- Must Be Guilty: Arrested in Woodbridge, Va., in July for burglary after being discovered by police inside the MVC Late Night adult store: U.S. Army officer Justin Dale Little Jim, 28 (who was found physically engaged with a “blow-up doll”). Little Jim’s chances for acquittal are slim under News of the Weird’s insightful theory of criminal culpability known as the “Three First Names” hypothesis.

-- In June in the Houston suburb of Alvin, Texas, a petite, 42-year-old Walmart customer came across three men running out of the store carrying shoplifted beer. She decided that it was up to her to take a stand because, as she said later, she was “sick of the lawlessness.” The woman (whose name, coincidentally, is Monique Lawless) chased the men, climbed onto the hood of their getaway car, even jumping up and down on it, to delay their escape. The three were eventually arrested: Sylvester Andre Thompson and his brothers Sylvester Durlentren Thompson and Sylvester Primitivo Thompson.

Recent Confusing Headlines

(1) If Yogi Berra Wrote the Headline: “Woman Missing Since She Got Lost” (Chicago Sun-Times, 5-17-2011). (2) Please Explain: “Teen Dies of Shaken Baby Syndrome” (Chicago Tribune, 3-9- 2011). “Man With Clown Nose in New Cumberland Poses No Serious Threat” (Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa., 7-3-2011). (3) Run for the Hills: “Return of the Giant Carnivorous Hermaphrodite Snails” (Yahoo News-LiveScience.com, 6-3-2011). (4) Not What You Think: “Showboat Casino Hotel to Become First Dog-Friendly Casino in Atlantic City” (Press of Atlantic City, 2-3-2011) (Guests’ dogs can be admitted to the floor, but dogs are still forbidden to play poker.)

People With Issues

The usual furtive restroom photographer is male, but sheriff’s deputies in Plantation, Fla., arrested Rhonda Hollander, 47, in July and charged her with several misdemeanors and a felony stemming from an episode in which she allegedly followed a man inside the men’s room at the West Regional Courthouse and snapped photos of him at a urinal. Hollander insisted she had violated no law, and indeed the charges against her were only for conduct after she was confronted by deputies (when she continued to take pictures as they led her away). Hollander is actually Judge Hollander, who works in the building as a traffic magistrate.

Recurring Themes

Advances in DNA testing have improved society in several ways in the last two decades, especially in criminal justice, but in many states, one area remains a backwater, as News of the Weird has noted over the years: men’s obligation to pay support for children they did not father. Ray Thomas of Houston is the most recent frustrated complainant, with a court refusing to relieve him of the $52,000 in back child support he owes for a “daughter” that DNA has subsequently shown is not his. Ironically, in March the Texas legislature became one of the few to allow men like Thomas to present DNA evidence in order to end court-ordered support, but the state attorney general noted that the new law covers only prospective judicial orders.

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2002)

Board-certified Kansas City, Mo., psychiatrist (and University of Kansas School of Medicine graduate) Dr. Donald Hinton told reporters in February (2002) that “Elvis Aron Presley, the entertainer (whom) everybody believes died in 1977,” is alive and that Hinton has been treating him for migraine headaches, among other things, for five years. Hinton, 35, said he has several items from Presley containing his DNA and has continually denied that he’s running a scam. An Elvis Presley Enterprises official was unfazed, insisting that Elvis is still “in the garden (at Graceland).” (Update: Dr. Hinton subsequently self-published a book, co-authored with Elvis, explaining their relationship, and was subsequently investigated by the Missouri Healing Arts Board, which ultimately closed the investigation without charges.)

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