Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Some dam good ideas
. . . .

Some dam good ideas

Robert Downes - June 30th, 2008
Here’s an old idea whose time has finally come around again: hydroelectric dams.
While Grand Traverse County and Traverse City have been mulling over whether to tear down two power-generating dams on the Boardman River, more forward-thinking (or should we say “backward”?) persons in other states are giving dams a second look as a way to generate clean electrical power.
Currently, a power company in Pennsylvania is sinking $350 million into revitalizing a decrepit old dam on the Susquehanna River. When it goes on line, the dam will generate power for 100,000 homes.
Meanwhile, upgrades are underway at 23 dams in Idaho, California, Kentucky and other states, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun.
And that’s pollution-free power. Power that doesn’t add anything to global warming and comes free of charge from the motion of water through a turbine.
The Sun notes that there are 79,000 dams in America. But only 2,400 dams have hydroelectric generators, producing just seven percent of our nation’s power. Adding turbines to more of our country’s dams could provide enough juice to power 27 million homes.
Closer to home, two power companies are currently seeking permits to generate electrical power on the dams on the Boardman River owned by GT County and Traverse City. The county is spending $1.4 million on a study to determine if the dams should be taken down.
Traverse City Light & Power stopped generating electricity at the dams in 2005, claiming the dams were too costly to maintain.
Yet, consider that there are plans to establish seven new coal-powered plants in Michigan and a new wood-burning plant in Kalkaska. Why are we pursuing these dirty technologies when Michigan is a state that is rich in rivers and wind resources?
Add to that the fact that the Sabin and Boardman dams are the bulwarks of two lovely ponds teeming with wildlife and it seems a no-brainer. Dam it all! Let’s not pull the plug on our local dams until we reconsider this clean, renewable resource.

John McCain’s Contest
Give presidential candidate John McCain credit: he’s thinking outside the box with his idea of awarding a $300 million prize to the person or team that comes up with a long-life battery to power the car of the future.
For that world-changing suggestion alone, perhaps he deserves to be president.
Considering the peril our planet faces from global warming, not to mention America’s plight of being dependent on foreign energy, the zero-emissions battery system McCain recommends is urgently needed.
Currently, it’s possible to create a plug-in car battery for around $5,000, according to a professor of science and engineering, quoted in MIT’s Technology Review. But it wouldn’t take the average car very far: less than 40 miles on a charge.
What is needed is a dramatically improved battery -- one that might be created if there were, say, a prize of $300 million.
The prize isn’t such a crazy idea: in the 18th century, the world was transformed by a similar contest. In 1714, the British government offered a prize of 20,000 pounds to the inventor who came up with the first reliable marine chronometer.
And what is that? The thing we now call a clock. Without a clock to refer to for navigational purposes, it was impossible for sailors to determine longitude with any accuracy. Without knowing one‘s longitude, it was impossible to explore and map the world.
It took more than 20 years to invent a reliable, spring-driven mechanical clock that could be used at sea. The prize was claimed by John Harrison -- a woodworker who enjoyed tinkering with wooden clocks -- in 1737.

One Man with an Idea
Speaking of changing the world, I‘d like to direct your attention to our GearBox feature on page 35 this week to highlight a gas-saving idea by local publisher Mark Bonter.
Bonter has come up with a simple booklet called The GasFactor which makes it easy to compute how much a car trip will cost around town.
The beauty of the booklet is that it makes you think about your driving habits and reconsider unnecessary trips -- knowledge is power. Check it out.

Beyond impeachment
Recently, Rep. Dennis Kucinich spent five hours in the House of Representatives reading off a laundry list of reasons as to why President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached for their disastrous reign of error.
Predictably, the idea has gone nowhere because the Democrats want a nice soft landing for this year‘s presidential election, and impeachment proceedings would only muddy the waters.
As an aside, if a Democratic administration had pulled all of the blunders and evil deeds that Bush and Cheney have been party to, the Republicans would have had them impeached years ago.
A more urgent matter in these times of high gas prices and record oil company profits might be investigating what kind of crooked deal Bush and Cheney made with the energy companies back in 2001.
To refresh your memory, after only two weeks in office, former oil company president George Bush created an Energy Task Force chaired by Dick Cheney, who also had ties to energy companies.
Cheney went on to hold top-secret meetings with the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries, the results of which have never been revealed, despite congressional investigations, lawsuits and grand jury subpoenas.
Did those secret meetings have anything to do with the war in Iraq, $4 gas, and Exxon‘s quarterly profit of $11.7 billion -- the highest in history? We deserve to know.
 
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