Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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Random Thoughts

 
Monday, September 22, 2008

Food Paranoia

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Do you like bugs in your food? Neither do I. But not so long ago, that was a fairly common occurrence.
Sorry to gross you out here, but it used to be possible that you’d open a box of pancake mix, or a bag of flour or instant potatoes that had been sitting around a couple of months and find... weevils!
Those are beetle larvae for those of you who flunked biology.
Then the food industry started irradiating all of the above in the 1980s. This involves zapping food with a burst of high-energy radiation. It not only killed the critters and bug eggs that hatched in these products, but did away with a lot of bacteria and micro-organisms that make people sick. It also served as a preservative -- doubling the shelf life of strawberries, for instance.
I once interviewed a scientist at Oakland University who ate a piece of steak that had been sitting on a shelf for two years without refrigeration. The steak had been irradiated and sealed in a plastic bag. Since all of its bacteria had been killed, it was still safe to eat two years after being zapped.
 
Monday, September 15, 2008

When good intentions go off the rails

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There was an historic moment last month which Michigan Senator Carl Levin can be proud of: the U.S. Senate passed his legislation for the Great Lakes Compact by a unanimous vote, protecting our water for all time.
Or does it?
The Compact bans the diversion of water from the Great Lakes. The agreement has already been signed by the governors of eight states along the lakes, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Senate passage of this compact will help us protect the Great Lakes from water diversions and preserve this invaluable resource for future generations,” said Sen. Levin in a published report.
The Compact is also considered a slam-dunk for approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, and President Bush will surely sign it. Plus, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec have already passed the Compact.
“It’s looking like an unstoppable tide now,” said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
 
Monday, September 8, 2008

Why not Geena?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Choosing Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate for vice president was a brilliant idea -- if you were trying to write a comedy skit for Mad TV or the Conan O’Brien Show, that is.
John McCain has a lot of wear on his tires. Five years in a Vietnamese prison camp played hell with his health, and he’s also battled skin cancer three times. If he takes office at the age of 72, McCain will be two years away from the average life expectancy of the American male.
So, it’s nice to know that he picked someone younger “just in case.”
But Sarah Palin? She’s been governor of one of the least-populated states in the country for just two years. Prior to that, she was mayor of Wasilla, a town of 7,000 people.
 
Monday, September 1, 2008

Fastforwarding to the past

Random Thoughts George Foster This must be my mid-life crisis. I continually hear how men my age and younger often experience a mid-life crisis after being married with children for decades. My married life has only spanned three years, so my youth-based fantasy can hardly be blamed on family fatigue.
You see, for the past couple of years, I have dreamed of playing rugby one more time. My life revolved around playing rugby for about six years in the early 1970s. As a member of the Detroit and Michigan State rugby football clubs at various times, it was the most memorable time of my life. During the fall and spring, two nights per week were spent practicing, while Saturdays were set aside for games at locations around the Midwest.
American football was actually derived from rugby. Having been seriously involved in both as organized sports, my opinion is that playing rugby is much more fun. I think of rugby as a combination of football and soccer. When you view rugby for the first time, each team’s 15 players seem to be playing something akin to football in soccer uniforms.
 
Monday, August 25, 2008

Meet your sister...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The next time you enjoy a refreshing glass of green tea in downtown Traverse City, be sure to think of your sister. Your Japanese Sister City, that is. It turns out that the green tea crop is as important to Koka, Japan as cherries are to Traverse City.
That‘s one of the things members of the city commission learned last week when they welcomed a delegation of three Japanese visitors who represent our “home away from home“ across the Pacific.
Yoshinobu Lino, Misato Yamagiwa and Yoichi Shirai spent five days here, touring the region as part of a goodwill mission that was established 38 years ago.
 
Monday, August 18, 2008

What‘s on your iPod?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It’s got to be tough being Barack Obama these days: everyone in the media wants to know what’s on his iPod. And that’s kind of personal, like the “boxers or briefs?” question.
Even Ludacris is in the act, rapping about being on Obama’s iPod in his new song, “Politics.” Obama’s peeps scrambled to denounce the song because it took some shots at Hillary, McCain, Jesse and “mentally handicapped” Bush. But it’s a pretty good jam with plenty of bass, drums and heart. If I were Obama, I’d start my day listening to it with the volume way up and a cup of strong coffee.
Beyond that, there’s no accounting for musical tastes. You can tell a lot about people by the kind of music they listen to, so maybe the media is on to something here.
Recently, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen endorsed Obama, so naturally, Jenn Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone, asked him what Dylan songs he had on his iPod.
“I’ve got probably 30 Dylan songs on my iPod,” Obama said. “I think I have the entire Blood on the Tracks album on there.”
 
Monday, August 11, 2008

Looming questions for the Beijing Olympics

Random Thoughts George Foster This year’s Olympic Games in China have been hyped even beyond the normal fevered pitch that we are used to every four years. By spending $40 billion on the games, razing many miles of slums, and deploying ten of thousands of security forces for a Gestapo-like atmosphere, the story of China’s rise into the modern world has overshadowed the competitive events themselves.
Let’s talk about the participants for a change. Going into the games, the following are the biggest issues concerning the athletes:
 
Monday, August 4, 2008

The end of reefer madness

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Do you believe in having the freedom to do as you choose with your own body? Or should government make those decisions for you?
That’s the fundamental question in many great controversies of our time regarding smoking, prostitution, abortion, stem cell research, marijuana, wearing a motorcycle helmet, the right to die with dignity, the use of steroids, and drug use to name a few.
At least half the time, we (ie. society) decide to limit ourselves. If you want to make money by inviting strangers to enjoy your body, too bad -- it’s against the law. If you want to hit the ball farther than anyone else on the team by taking steroids, tough luck -- it’s illegal.
 
Monday, July 28, 2008

A hype-free zone

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Just about everyone knows the famous “Peanuts” cartoon where Lucy is holding a football in position for Charlie Brown to deliver the kick-off. Charlie fears that Lucy will pull the ball away, just like she has 100 times before -- but Lucy promises that she won’t -- she’ll let him make the kick. Sure enough, Charlie Brown tries to kick the ball and winds up flat on his back because Lucy has jerked it away at the last second.
That’s pretty much my experience with summer blockbuster films. I’m a Charlie Brown-style sucker for the hype and get all revved up to see some movie that is praised to the skies, only to end up flat on my back, wondering where my $8.50 went...
Oh, you too?
 
Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting our share

Random Thoughts Robert Downes “May you live in exciting times.“
-- ancient Chinese curse

These certainly are exciting times in every sense. On one hand, we have war and ruin blaring in the headlines and newscasts each day. Alarms are going off over the mortgage crisis, the inflation crisis, the Madonna/A-Rod crisis...
But turn the page and you‘ll also find that titanic forces are in play to transform the earth for the better with a ‘green‘ energy movement that will benefit billions of people -- including those who get the jump on building the infrastructure of the new world.
That‘s the news we should be excited about. There‘s a sustainable-energy revolution about to explode in the coming decade and we‘ve got a front-row seat.
Consider a few articles in the July 21 issue of Newsweek:
 
Monday, July 14, 2008

Are we missing the boat on festivals?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The National Cherry Festival has come and gone here in Traverse City, blessed this year with great weather and good attendance. The music was good, the jumping dogs were cool and a lot of tourists came to town despite gloomy predictions and high gas prices.
What’s not to like?
It made this long-time festival-goer wonder why Traverse City doesn’t have more bayside festivals during the summer? After all, many waterfront cities, such as Milwaukee and Detroit, have festivals every single week.
Obviously, that wouldn‘t be a good idea for a residential community, but how much is too much?
 
Monday, July 7, 2008

Enough with the Doom & Gloom

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If ever there was a time to recall Mark Twain‘s great line on statistics, this is it, considering all the doom & gloom about the economy:
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.“
If you read the newspapers or follow the TV news, you‘d think the wheels were falling off America. But check the story behind the story on these widely reported downers:
 
Monday, June 30, 2008

Some dam good ideas

Random Thoughts Robert Downes 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.
 
Monday, June 23, 2008

Walking in my dad‘s shoes

Random Thoughts George Foster This year, for the first time, I spent Father’s Day without my dad.
Maybe the holiday heightened my sense of loss, but it seemed that the national media converged more than usual around memorialized fathers.
First, we heard over and over how TV political moderator Tim Russert is no longer here for his son or to honor his own father. No conversation of Russert’s rise to political prominence is complete without the well-documented inspiration from his dad - Big Russ, a sanitation worker from Buffalo.
 
Monday, June 16, 2008

The New Russian Roulette

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The woman yakking on a cell phone sailed through a red light just a stone’s throw away from the Traverse City Police Department. Of course, there’s never a cop around when you wish some jerk would get nailed, so she drove off down the street without a clue.
If there had been a child at the intersection, perhaps the driver would have been a killer in addition to a red light runner. But of course, few parents today are crazy enough to let their kids ride bikes around town like we did when we were young, because increasingly, drivers seem to be ignoring the rules of the road, busy talking on the phone, or even text-messaging while they drive.
 
 
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