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 · By Harley L. Sachs

Harley L. Sachs

Top Articles from
No articles in this section
Monday, February 23, 2009

Have a seat... composting toilet

Features Harley L. Sachs Have a seat... composting toilet
Harley L. Sachs 2/23/09

So you found that perfect place to build your vacation cabin. The views are lovely and you made plans to build. But there’s a catch: The building site on the shore of Lake Superior is solid rock. You’re nowhere near any water mains or municipal sewer system. There’s no place to dig a hole for a septic tank, and even if there were, there’s no soil suitable for a drain field. Your family doesn’t like the idea of a pit toilet privy, either. Are you sunk? Not necessarily.
There are many parts of the country where a conventional water-flushing toilet is impractical. An alternative is a composting toilet. It can not only dispose of “humanure” and urine, but can digest table scraps and function as a garbage disposal as well. Some people actually hasten the digesting process with worms.
Monday, November 17, 2008

Data in the clouds

Features Harley L. Sachs The latest Internet concept involves the creation of a world-wide “cloud” to store massive amounts of data. Think of the cloud as an “information bank” which will largely replace your hard drive as a place to store your data.
To compete with Google’s massive data retrieval system, Microsoft is incorporating a data cloud with its next bloatware platform, Windows Azure. It will allow users to store and access their info from anywhere on the planet.
“The basic idea is simple enough,” writes Daniel Lyons in Newsweek. “Instead of storing your data on your PC, you store it on a server on the Internet. You don’t know, or care, where that server is located. Your data might, in fact, be scattered across a bunch of different servers. It’s just all up in the sky someplace (hence the name ‘cloud’).”
Monday, September 8, 2008

Breezy... is there a wind-powered car in your future?

Features Harley L. Sachs Sails were the main propulsion power for transportation for thousands of years. Pecos Bill, that American folk hero, was said to sail across the American plains in a square-rigged prairie schooner. Pecos Bill’s land ship was depicted in a Disney movie. But what if you could actually sail across the land?
The fastest any human being had ever traveled back about 1910 was on an ice boat. An ice boat, rattling along on a smooth, frozen lake, can reach speeds of over 90 miles an hour. On a broad reach, the wind amid ships, a sailing craft can exceed the wind speed.
Of course, the ice boat speed was soon surpassed by racing cars. The fastest land speed record was achieved by Campbell in the Bluebird, a jet-powered fuel-gulping monster blasting along on a salt flat.
The existing wind speed record for a land sailing craft is 115 miles an hour. Now a couple of eco-friendly Brits, remembering Campbell’s Bluebird, have named their vehicle “Greenbird” and plan to test it on a salt lake in Australia.
Monday, August 18, 2008

One step closer to the Invisible Man

Features Harley L. Sachs Shades of Harry Potter and his cloak of invisibility! The gee whiz scientists are buzzing with experiments in invisibility.
There have been other stories of invisibility, as in the book The Invisible Man, in which drinking a chemical rendered the hero invisible as long as he went around naked, and the radio series The Shadow, in which Lamont Cransten could hypnotize people so they could not see him. In the Star Trek science fiction series it was the Romulans and Klingons who used a cloak of invisibility. That’s fiction, too.
But what about some sort of paint that bent light? What if, for instance, a tank could be made invisible? Now it’s looking like invisibility is possible and not merely fiction.
Monday, August 4, 2008

A car that runs on air

Features Harley L. Sachs The energy crisis and the impending end of oil have people scrambling for alternate fuels. We read about fuel cells, hydrogen powered cars, cars running on used cooking oil, and biodiesel -- even cars that run on water that’s broken into its hydrogen and oxygen components.
But what about a car that runs on air?
Monday, July 21, 2008

The pulsing power of EMP

Features Harley L. Sachs An electromagnetic pulse, EMP, is created when the radiation of a nuclear blast at high altitudes interacts with the ionized layers of the upper atmosphere and the earth’s magnetic field. If an electromagnetic pulse were fired off in the atmosphere above the United States. not only the power grid, but everything that runs off an electronic circuit board -- which means your phone, your late-model car, your computer and anything that has a chip in it -- might be wrecked.
It would be like the effect on our cheap telephone when it was hit by a static electricity spark: the dialing chip died. If an EMP weapon were set off we’d be thrown back into the 19th century. Maybe a Model T Ford would still run, but not much of anything else.
Monday, July 7, 2008

Sailing: The Green Alternative

Features Harley L. Sachs If you’re one of those go fast boaters who likes to roar around the lake, the cost of fuel this summer may keep your boat at the dock. You sit, glum in the back of your fuel guzzling “stink pot” motorboat, and enviously watch those parsimonious sailors happily coasting by on the free wind. Suddenly “rag men” don’t look so dumb after all. Maybe, as the world’s oil runs out, it’s time to consider sailing as a green alternative.
With the possible exception of the water skier and hydrofoil racer, sailing has something for everyone. After all, the main point is to get out on the water, and you don’t have to be rich to do it.
Monday, June 9, 2008

A hard road for the U.P.

Features Harley L. Sachs The impact of the increase in gasoline prices seems to follow a pattern. When the price per gallon hit $2 a few years ago, the reaction of tourists to the Upper Peninsula was taking shorter trips. Now with gasoline nearly $4 a gallon and even more for diesel, the impact will probably be the same: more travelers from Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin, but not so many drivers coming from farther away. Detroit is about 600 miles from my home town of Houghton in the U.P. Those folks may opt for Traverse City or Petoskey instead.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Thruvision T-Ray

Features Harley L. Sachs After Wilhelm Conrad Rntgen discovered the X-ray in 1895, there was widespread fear that devices using it would see through clothing. There were absurd ads in newspapers to sell X-ray proof clothing so women would not be the victims of peeping toms using X-rays.
Monday, April 7, 2008

It‘s tax time

Other Opinions Harley L. Sachs Because of some past foreign employment records, in addition to our annual U.S. federal income tax, I get tax forms for two very small foreign pensions.
Other than actually owing nothing abroad because the sums are so small, I do get an insight into tax filing practices in Sweden and Denmark. The tax forms of both countries consist of a single sheet of paper. No, they don’t say: 1) write down everything you earned, and, 2) send it. They do have high rates for those who earn enough to pay, but that’s another story.
Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Winter Survival Primer

Features Harley L. Sachs The country was gripped last year by the story of a California family of four that took a wrong turn in the middle of the night on the road to the Oregon coast, got stuck in the snow, and were trapped. Nine days later the mother and her two children, one four, the other a few months old, were rescued in good shape because they had done the right things to survive. The father, however, made the fatal mistake of leaving the shelter of their car and going on foot in search of rescue only to die of hypothermia. Being as that winter is almost upon us once again, this is a good time to revisit rules for cold weather survival.
Monday, December 3, 2007

The Perfect Toy

Features Harley L. Sachs With all the recalls of toys, primarily from China, for having lead in the paint, parents are having a dilemma regarding what to buy for their kids. The cuter the toy, the more quickly a kid is likely to be bored with it. Toy boxes are full of toys that were played with for an hour or two, then discarded or broken.
The perfect toy is one that engages the child’s imagination for many hours and even longer. I grew up before plastic. Toy cars were either made of tin, sometimes recycled tin cans from Japan, or pot metal, like the little Tootsie Toy cars which sold for a dime. Other toys were wooden.
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Something?s Watching You

Other Opinions Harley L. Sachs Technology, like a ravenous wolf, is closing in on our heels.
Thursday, November 15, 2007

The road to obsolescence

Features Harley L. Sachs Instant obsolescence may be a tactic to keep manufacturers like Microsoft in business, forcing us to continuously upgrade hard and software, but it irritates me. Just look at that next shopping insert from Office Max or Office Depot. Thirty years ago most of those products didn’t exist. Soon they won’t!
In 1983 when I bought my first computer, a 64k Cromemco C-10 compatible with the then standard CPM operating system, I chose it because it used double-sided, double density 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, a step up from the Apple I single-sided disks. The disks then cost four dollars apiece. When I wanted to add a spell checker from Random House, it came on an eight inch floppy that was already obsolete but accessible because, at the university, I knew where an eight inch drive still existed. Now that eight inch floppy disk is only suitable as an exhibit in a museum of old technology.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Can you hear this?

Features Harley L. Sachs It’s well known in the annals of electric engineering that when the middle-aged men at RCA were developing television, they needed a sound they could use to test the equipment. They chose something in the high frequency range that they could not hear but would show up on their oscilloscopes.