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...


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Random Thoughts

 
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Walk like an Egyptian

Random Thoughts Robert Downes With the full moon rising behind the ancient Temple of Luxor, I find myself in what was once the heart of Egypt, far down the Nile on a trip that is taking me around the world.
Arriving in Cairo a week ago put me into a state of culture shock. This is one of the world’s ‘supercities’ with a population of more than 20 million, and most of the people in Egypt are dirt poor. The city itself is the filthiest I’ve ever been in, owing to the fact that it only rains three or four times a year, so there’s nothing to wash away the grime. Then there’s the insane traffic, with no rules and few stoplights, and temperatures in the 90s. But I’m cheered to think that the grunge will prepare me for even scruffier places down the line.
 
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Why Hillary should not be president

Random Thoughts George Foster Don’t get me wrong.
I am not a Neanderthal who detests women asserting themselves in public or the work place. Nothing is more attractive than an independent-minded woman who speaks her peace - I married one. Whoa mama, don’t ever change.
Hillary Clinton has never been accused of being a shrinking violet, either. She is also smart and an accomplished Senator of New York. Yet, I don’t believe she should be president.
First of all, electing Hillary would perpetuate a Clinton family dynasty. You may have already forgotten how experts believed Clinton-fatigue was a factor in kicking out the Democrats, thus George W. Bush sweeping to the presidency in 2000. Now we want to bring back a Clinton because of Bush-fatigue? If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008 and serves two terms, Clintons and Bushes would have monopolized the White House for (gulp) 28 consecutive years. Just end it, people, END IT.
 
Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Invaders

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Word has it that less than 20 years ago, the citizens of communist East Europe were still standing in line, waiting for potatoes and beets at truck depots. Maybe that was just Cold War propaganda, but it’s true that the museums here can’t seem to say enough bad things about the bad old days of life under communism.
Today, all that has changed. I walked out of the grungy, grimy train station in Krakow, Poland and through a tunnel into a huge three-story mall as big as the Grand Traverse Mall in TC. It had your typical mall babes walking around in the latest styles and many of the same stores found in the U.S. If it weren’t for the great Polish food and generous beer steins in the food court, you’d swear you were in Grand Rapids.
I’ve spent the past two weeks barnstorming around Central and East Europe on an extended trip around the world. Vienna, Austria. Prague in the Czech Republic. Krakow, Poland. And now, Budapest in Hungary. The streets of each town are filled with invaders -- foreign tourists from all around the world. In Prague, I heard more American voices downtown than those of the Czechs. East Europe is the new ‘in’ place to visit, owing to the (slightly) cheaper prices than France, Britain or Germany.
 
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Biking to Budapest

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Greetings from Prague, the “Capital of Cool” in Europe during the ‘90s. I’m happy to report that it’s still pretty cool with its cobblebrick streets, mammoth castle, clock towers, coffeehouses and cheap beer. Also, hordes of travelers from every land crowding its colorful streets.
After biking 225 miles down the Danube in Austria and bushwhacking various ‘bandit’ campsites along the river, I now have the benefit of regular showers and meals. The downside is losing the privacy of my soggy pup tent, which means sharing hostel rooms with up to seven strangers.
As mentioned in previous columns, I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream of traveling around the world -- close to the edge -- starting out with Europe on a bicycle. So far, I’ve biked up the lush coast of western Ireland and from sea-to-sea across England; then down Der Donau, as we call it in Austria -- about 700 miles.
 
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dear Old Ireland

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Have you ever been to Moyvore? Not many people have. It‘s a tiny village in County Westmeath in the very center of Ireland. It‘s not on any tourist route -- there’s nothing much to do there. It’s an anonymous place of lumpy fields, populated mostly by sheep and cows.
Yet it is was from here in 1850 that my great, great (great?) grandfather, Michael Downes, emigrated to the United States. I am his 259th descendant.
If you have more than a dash of Irish blood in ye, chances are that someday you’ll travel to the Emerald Isle in search of your roots. The place is teeming with American visitors, packed into tour buses.
We Americans mob Ireland searching for clues to our past in the picturesque pubs, which are as lacquered and ornate as antique music boxes. We look hopefully to the heather, the occasional thatched-roof cottage, and the rocky walls of the old country, seeking signs of our roots. It’s an impulse we Irish-Americans have, similar to the need of every good Muslim to visit the holy city of Mecca at least once in a lifetime, or the quasi-expectation of every American parent to take their kids to Disneyworld.
 
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Gold Coast Trail

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Great Britain has an idea that could be a good fit for Northern Michigan. It’s called Sustrans, which is short for “Sustainable Transportation.” It’s a charity which “works on practical projects to help reduce motor traffic.”
Sustrans has established a 5,000-mile National Cycle Network of trails that criss-cross England, Wales and Scotland. Bike-friendly routes such as the C2C Trail in northern England and the Reivers Route along the border of Scotland attract tens of thousands of cycle tourers every summer from all over Europe, and even overseas.
 
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Learning to love nature

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The mice were quite inconsiderate at our cottage this year.
For starters, four of them had the poor taste to die under our bathroom sink cabinet, creating a stink like rancid gym socks (only far worse). I pried a board off the cabinet and found them all dried out in there. One got stuck in the vacuum cleaner hose, glaring defiantly with his little dead mousie eyes.
They also chewed up a bunch of stuff: a box of Kleenex was shredded for bedding and they gnawed a hole through a vinyl/canvas car top that was stored out in the garage. They chewed a hole in an expensive sail. Who would do such a thing?
 
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just lay off LLoyd Carr, okay?

Random Thoughts George Foster Life is barely worth living in Wolverines Land these days. Michigan fans are not used to losing much - let alone two games in a row in Ann Arbor before a packed house of maize and blue crybabies.
When tiny Appalachian State shocked Michigan’s football team in their opening game this year, U of M fans thought it couldn’t get worse. Then underdog Oregon stomped the Wolverines, proving it could. Much worse. With team injuries mounting and continuing uninspired play, Michigan’s fans are humiliated and need to take it out on someone. They have selected coach Lloyd Carr.
All Carr has done is coach Michigan with dignity for 27 years. As head coach the last 12 years, he has won 5 Big Ten titles, one national championship, and led the team to a bowl game each year. Yet, Michigan fans have quickly turned on Carr with venom usually reserved for the hated Ohio State Buckeyes.
 
Thursday, September 13, 2007

A journey through war & peace

Random Thoughts Robert Downes We tend to shy away from reviewing self-published books at the Express, because generally, they are - how you say? Not so good.
But there’s a poignancy to the story of Father Walter Marek that tugs at the heartstrings on almost every page of his memoir: “Cache the Czech -- A Divine Journey to America.”
It’s a small, plain-spoken book -- just 99 pages -- but its 89-year-old author weaves a tumultuous tale from simple threads as he takes us on a journey through war and peace. As a young man, he lived through the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, and then through the occupation of his country by the Soviet Union. The book tells of his calling as a Catholic priest and subsequent escape from the Communist secret police, narrowly escaping possible torture and execution. It tells how he made his way to America as a refugee priest to make a new life in western Michigan.
 
Thursday, September 6, 2007

Our Men‘s Issue

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Hey, whatever happened to old
what’s-his-name? The so-called Angry White Male of the ’90s? He swept the Republicans into absolute power and marched around for a decade or so, pounding his chest with his neoconservative views.
He’s been pretty quiet lately. These days, you barely hear a peep out of him.
Maybe he‘s rethinking a few things that used to send him into a tizzy.
 
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Vick‘s bad trip

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Michael Vick‘s Bad Trip
Animal abuse cases are not unknown in Northern Michigan. Stories of abused horses or reeking homes filled with starving dogs and cats have been in the news here in recent years.
But each time a story of animal abuse surfaces, it touches the heart of our humanity and generates outrage. To have a sense of humanity means caring for those weaker than yourself -- be they children, the poor, the less fortunate, and even pets or farm animals.
 
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Slogging through the Iraqi quagmire

Random Thoughts George Foster Just when we think it can’t any get worse, the single, most deadly attack since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq hits us in the gut.
A staggering death toll of at least 400 civilians and many more wounded, resulted from explosive-filled garbage trucks flattening a village, recently. The Bush administration has characterized that attack as al Qaeda’s bid to break America’s will in Iraq.
 
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Scrapbook

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Whoops -- looks like Rick Coates‘ story on nude beaches in our Super Summer Guide had an all-too predictable result. When you visit Otter Creek Beach in Benzie County these days, you see park rangers roaming up and down the beach, presumably looking for outlaw weenie roasters.
I feel sorry for the rangers -- they‘re dressed in full uniforms that look terribly hot in a polyester sort of way, and it‘s got to be tough wading through the sand in your Florsheims in search of elusive nudies. Also, I‘ve seen some of the Otter Creek nudists, and it‘s not a very pretty sight. There ought to be extra compensation -- like combat pay -- for putting the rangers through a thankless task.
***
 
Thursday, August 9, 2007

In defense of Barry Bonds

Random Thoughts George Foster Last January, while visiting Atlanta, I made a special trip to the exact spot where Hank Aaron’s 715th home run landed in the spring of 1974. It is now the site of a parking lot in downtown Atlanta as the old stadium was torn down years ago. That, of course, was the home run that broke the previous record of 714 career home runs set by the immortal Babe Ruth in 1935, his last season.
I know, I know. Only a nutty baseball fan would spend a few moments standing on a slab of cement where hallowed sports history took place a generation ago.
Ironically, though, I admit to not being enamored with Aaron’s feat at the time it was taking place, over 30 years ago. You see - Babe Ruth was an icon. He dominated the game with his exploits (on and off the field) like nobody had done before. Many of us thought, “How dare Hank Aaron think he is in the same class with Babe Ruth.”
 
Thursday, August 2, 2007

May I have a word with you?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes May I have a word with you?
Some of you who are regular readers of our Letters to the Editor page probably scratched your heads last week at the letter, “No cherry for the slice of pie I’m holding,” from Don Swan, who has a penchant for Capitalizing many Words without any Rhyme Or reason, much In the Style of the German Language.
I happen to know Don -- a local musician who heads up a band called The Company. I ran into him a few days before we ran his letter and said, “You know, Don, you might want to clean up the grammar in your letter because it’s not proper to have all of those capitalized letters.”
 
 
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