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January 05, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-01-05

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 5, 2001

e Nticbt-UU tia

I went to the Bermuda Triangle but I'm still a square

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Iwent down to the Dominican Republic
over break. When I told people this, most
of them gave claim to a bewildered interest,
suspicious I suspect, because they didn't
know what the follow-up question or com-
ment ought to be. I wouldn't have been able
to tell them.
This is probably
because that fustian
word, "republic,"
sounds more meaning-
ful than "United
States." It just won't
jive with notions of
tropicality, notions
that Jamaica and
Bermuda (etc.) have
subsumed into thea
very concepts of their
seemingly origin-less Patrick
names, names that Kiley
sound like the votes of . i
marijuana farmers and t
other palm people My ieep
whom have never seen
snow.
But the "Dominican Republic" is Christian
and somehow democratic, a salty vapor
shaped unlike us yet carrying a familiar taste.
Yes, the Caribbean has politics, government
and diesel engines that pollute their slivers of
coast with as much grit as any nuclear war-
head.
In the words of Vincent Vega in "Pulp
Fiction": They got the same shit over there
as they got over here, but it's just there it's
a little different. The paradox I confront is
that my impression of the Dominican

Republic would be both oversimplified and
understated by this observation. Sitting
inside a cabana, my ears getting bombarded
with Spanish verse, the ocean finally ending
footsteps away, its hard .not to stop and
think: Where the hell am I? And then you
look down at the Coke bottle in your hand.
Siempre.
I think Vince's thought holds true for the
typical tourist, for the reason that people tour
in order to see what's the same and what's
different. When she returns, the tourist tabu-
lates her experience on a scale of relative
likeness and that's why only the insane might
say: "You know, I think Tibet really has
something of Iowa in it."
So they've got McDonald's, Coke, rum
and Coke, television, books, computers: Basi-
cally all the tangible things that keep Ameri-
cans going, whether or not we admit to it.
The little differences? A ubiquitous swarm of
mopeds, abundant prostitutes and an eager-
ness to dance the merengue before crowds of
aghast white people, who smile and bob off-
beat. But think about it: We have window-
tinted SUVs, a thriving porn industry and
dimly lit clubs where men and women grind
together their unmentionables in near solitude
and anonymity.
I'm a cultural scholar. Wait, no I'm not.
That's what I meant to say: I am not a cultur-
al scholar. To be honest, I didn't spend much
of my vacation consciously aware that I was
there. I was usually reading or sleeping, or
craning my neck to watch the zooming mope-
ds in covetous awe. At least, that's what the
photographs show me doing. I have no actual
memory of leaving this state. It's good to be

home.
But I didn't want to seem lazy in my expe-
rience. That's why I lied. I wanted to bring
back with me at least one reputable statement
about the Dominican Republic, something
that would make people want to go there or
definitely not go there. I was going to bring
back some sand and ocean water in a jar, but
I couldn't get the lid off.
Well, I've flipped through my trip photos
once more to find helpful information. In t
one it looks like there are various white peo-
ple on the beach together. A lot of the rmen
have mustaches and many women are topless,
so they must be European. One man is lock-
ing down at a dark Dominican boy, who-is
offering to shine shoes for money. Most-of
the people are barefoot or wearing sandals,
which probably accounts for the apparent
confusion.
In the water is a pack of wind-surfers, their
sails lying flat as fish fins on the surface.
They're all looking back at the beach as if t
sunbathers forecasted gnarly waves.
This looks like the quintessential photo: A
bald man with no smile and grubby hands is
sitting across from his dinner-date, an opa-
lesque native in a skin-tight mini-skirt. He
must have paid for her. They are drinking
Presidente, which is beer in green bottles. He
seems oblivious to, or perhaps in appalling
denial of, the fact that everyone in the restau-
rant is looking at them. I remember this p
everyone was looking. That woman looked
much like those smooth wood sculptures they
carve down there.
- Patrick Kiley can be reached via e-mail
atpkiley@umich.edu.

Snow emergency declaration came too late

hile snow storms had buried
T many of Ann Arbor's streets at the
end of last semester, returning students
found most streets cleared. This was due
to the efforts of dedicated city crews to
remove excess snow that was dumped on
Ann Arbor on one of the snowiest
months on record. To encourage people
to move their cars and make plowing the
roads easier, the city declared a snow
emergency and put certain parking regu-
lations into place.
The snow emergency, which went into
effect on Dec. 26, was lifted on Tuesday,
a week ahead of schedule.
Before the emergency was declared,
city plows encased many parked cars in
massive snow mounds. With snow, slush
and ice filling the streets, many area dri-
vers on two-way thoroughfares found
themselves competing with oncoming
traffic for a way through the clogged
mess.
And although most streets were at
least crudely passable, for about a week
much of Ann Arbor was trapped by the
snow.
The need for the snow emergency was
obvious, but its timing was wrong.
By the time city crews were preparing
to attack the excess snow, most students
had left campus for the holidays, many
leaving their cars in the streets, compli-
cating the snow removal process on many
streets close to campus.
Toward the end of the final exam peri-
od, Jim Kosteva, University director of
community relations, sent an e-mail to all
students, faculty and staff members, to
inform the University community of the
upcoming snow emergency.
The University did its job disseminat-
ing information regarding snow removal
procedures and parking alternatives, but
by the time most students, especially
those from out-of-state, received news of
the snow emergency, they were already at
home, unable to return to Ann Arbor to

move their cars.
If Ann Arbor City Administrator Neal
Berlin, who has the power to declare a
snow emergency, would have taken
action in the days following the first mas-
sive snowfall Dec. 12, more University
students with vehicles would have been
able to move their cars and they would
not have impeded the necessary snow
removal.
All in all, the city issued 124 parking
citations and towed 166 cars. And
although cars were generally just tem-
porarily moved out of the way, the cost of
towing could have been greatly reduced
if most students would have been noti-
fied in time to move their vehicles out of
the way.
The University should be applauded
for its efforts not only to keep campus
sidewalks and driveways clear.
Even during the height of the massive
snow storm that took aim on Ann Arbor
and southeast Michigan on Dec. 14, Uni-
versity snow removal crews kept a good
portion campus parking lots, driveways
and pedestrian pathways clear.
Although battling city streets and the
bitter cold was quite a challenge, travers-
ing campus was relatively painless. Once
on campus, students were able to navi-
gate campus sidewalks thanks to Univer-
sity crews.
As it did in January 1999, when the
city declared a snow emergency after
more than 17 inches of snow fell on Ann
Arbor, the University opened its parking
facilities to students and city residents so
city crews could clear area streets. The
University needs to continue to play an
active role in providing parking alterna-
tives in snow crises.
Since predicting the effects of massive
snowfall can be difficult, the city needs
to be prepared for any situation. City
administrators need to use this past emer-
gency as a lesson so snow removal can
run more smoothly in the future.

'it's a bummer'

- State Sen. Joanne Emmons (R-Big Rapids) on the announcement tha%
Michigan will loose a seat in the US. House of Representatives through
reapportionment.

The Michigan Daily welcomes let-
ters from all of its readers. Letters from
University students, faculty, staff and
administrators will be given priority
over others. All letters must include the
writer's name, phone number and
school year or University affiliation.
The Daily will not print any letter that
cannot be verified. Ad hominerm
attacks will not be tolerated.
Letters should be kept to approxi-
mately 300 words. The Michigan Daily
reserves the right to edit for length,
clarity and accuracy. Longer "view-
points" may be arranged with an editor.
Letters will be run according to order
received and the amount of space avail-
able.
Letters should be sent over e-mail to
dailyletters@mnich.edu or mailed to
the Daily at 420 Maynard St. Editors
can be reached at 764-0552 or by send-
ing e-mail to the above address. Letters
e-mailed to the Daily will be given pri-
ority over those dropped off in person
or sent via the U.S. Postal Service.
The rght to vote is
bestowed on citizens
by state legislatures
TO THE DAILY:
Obviously, the authors of the editorial
"Election 2000 results in insult" did not
actually take the time to read the Supreme
Court opinions nor did enough research to
realize that we as citizens of the United
States do not have a Constitutional right to
vote for the president of the United States
(12/14/00).
According to the Supreme Court opin-
ions, that honor is given to us by the indi-
vidual state legislatures and can be taken
away by those legislatures at any time for
any reason.
I have read that the founders of the
United States set up the electoral college
with the intent of not letting the presiden-
tial election being decided by the masses,
hence the electoral college.
As far as Gore winning the popular
vote, the Supreme Court opinions stated
that the voting process contains a statistical
error of around 2 percent.

Being that the final popular vote tally
was well within this margin error, statisti-
cally, either candidate could have won the
popular vote:
I guess this brings the question, would
you rather have had the Supreme Court
decide the Constitutional validity of the
way in which the votes were being consid-
ered, or would you rather have had the
election decided by a game of five card
stud or some other game of chance, as can
happen in some states?
At the end of the day, the popular vote
was a tie and the fact that we as a country
peacefully designated a president elect
shows how strong our system of govern-
ment actually is.
BRYAN JOHNSON
UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS
U' correct to defend
affirmative action
TO THE DAILY:
It is extremely satisfying to see that the
University of Michigan is taking such a
determined and wellidocumented defense of
its multicultural admissions policy.
For those out-of-state students that think

that this stance is not in their interest and
only those in the "so-called" non-white
minority, they should take another look at
what the University is doing for all foreign
citizens, including white Americans, whp
live outside the U.S.
All too many universities in weste@
Europe exclude foreigners from equal treat-
ment - that means U.S. whites as well.
Perhaps the two applicants who filed suit
against the University should apply to some
universities over here.
It was a real wake up call for me as a
white American to be regularly discriminat-
ed against in a university of a western Euro-
pean country that is well known for its
reputation of tolerance.
At a very basic-level the United Stat
has much of it past and future success
thank for its ability to better tolerate its citi-
zens and foreign multicultural visitors than
far too many other countries.
What thesetwo students have not real-
ized is that they are providing fuel tothe
most racist and anti-American types-if
political groups which put all Blacks, Iate-
nos and all Americans into the same boatof
world second class citizens. s b
CORT JotN6
PROF. OF INTERNATIONAL BUST
THE NETHERLANDS

Safety under fire
Absurdity governs new firearm regulations

Presently, roughly 52,000 people in
the state of Michigan possess a con-
cealed weapons permit. Those 52,000
permits were granted under the old set of
Michigan concealed weapons laws that
required applicants to provide a valid rea-
son for the possession of a concealed
weapon. Thanks to a bill signed by
Republican Governor John Engler, this
number is estimated to double in the
coming year.
On Tuesday, January 2, 2001, Engler
signed a new concealed weapon bill that
removes the clause requiring applicants
to provide a reason for concealed
weapons possession. The Michigan State
Police estimate that the number of appli-
cations for concealed weapons will sky-
rocket and that the number of people
granted concealed weapon permits will
bring the total number of concealed
weapons in circulation will increase to as
much as 120,000. The bill, Public Act
381, is a dangerous threat to not only
police officers, but also to law-abiding
citizens who do not wish to endanger
themselves or their families by purchas-
ing a weapon.
An armed population is, according to
Washtenaw County Chief Assistant Pros-
ecutor Joseph Burke, "a heck of an
. , A I *, I

from voter referendums, essentially mak-
ing the bill untouchable by Michigan citi-
zens. By tagging a spending measure
onto the bill, the state Congress guaran-
teed that this dangerous new law would
not be impacted by the opinion of the
people.
Luckily there are provisions in the
bill that do put restrictions on concealed
weapon ownership. The major ones
include a 21-year old age limit, a
mandatory gun safety course, restric-
tions of concealed weapons in schools,
daycare centers, bars or hospitals and a
mandate that all permits be registered
with a state-wide tracking system avail-
able to all law-enforcement agencies.
Most of the new laws are simply minor
changes to the previous concealed
weapons laws, and were included as a
compromise for the largest and most
frightening, change in the law; the elim-
ination of the need for intent in obtain-
ing a concealed weapons permit.
Donald Homan, the County Sheriff
for Livingston County, also quoted by the
News, said that the new bill is "too
lenient." He acknowledged the impor-
tance of securing gun ownership rights
and said that Livingston County has
always done its best to ensure these rights
,. 4- . ... ..~, ~ - n a e _ _ -a ,-

DANE BARNES DISTURBED SLEE
UN 4
if
Zaor

es don't trai~sate into r

By Bill Chapin
Daily Northwestern (Northwestern U)
We, as a society, have a moral obligation
to lower the drinking age.
Before I go any further, I should let you in
on my dirty little secret: I didn't have a drop
to drink before my 21st birthday.
Oh sure, there was that one little screw-
driver at the tailgate before the football game
freshman year. I was thirsty as all hell, I
needed something to wash down that alleged
hamhbrer At the time all I could think was.

lawsuits.
If you go to a fraternity party and drink
yourself to death, your parents aren't going to
just sit back and say, "Oh well." They're
going to sue the pants off the university, the
fraternity, the brewer and the Barenaked
Ladies because they wrote a song called
"Alcohol." But if you drink yourself to death
at an off-campus party, guess who gets taken
off the list of litigants?
Don't think Northwestern is overreacting,
either. For a while, the Massachusetts Insti-
+.. s e ,' o 1. , .. "rn :-ot rr - t ii o :n i :

kill themselves with alcohol. In Novembe,
University of Michigan student Byung Sop
Kim became the latest kid to die on his 21$t
birthday after he downed at least 20 shots of
scotch. Even 21-year-olds can't hand
responsibility. But raising the drinking age
will only exacerbate this problem. Make it
24, and people will just do 24 shots on their
24th birthday.
Obviously the solution is to lower the
drinking age. Make it, say, 13. Thirteen shots
probably isn't enough to kill your average 13
.c-rn An - thav'l cll ave a it..~

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