Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Thursday, April 4, 2002

The Corrections Examines a Family on a Tightrope

Books Nancy Sundstrom Dazzling. Spellbinding. Exhilarating. Brilliant. Masterpiece.
These adjectives were typical of the sort used last year to describe
Jonathan Franzen‘s “The Corrections,“ a book that has long been on my
reading list and proved to be more than well worth the wait. This is the
type of novel one can actually let age a bit past the initial furor of
its release, and then completely savor because it deserves, if not
surpasses, all of its hype.
In this case, it wasn‘t just that Franzen, the New Yorker and Harper‘s
columnist whose previous two novels were “The Twenty-Seventh City“ and
“Strong Motion,“ had acquitted himself as a Dickens for the new
millennium, he was also at the eye of the storm of the biggest literary
broohaha of 2001.
Thursday, April 4, 2002

The Gatekeepers: John Rohe‘s Book on Mary Lou & John Tanton Warns of a World Headed for Trouble

Books Robert Downes On stormy oceans, sailors batten down the hatches to keep the waves from filling the hold and sinking the ship.
There‘s a similar theme to John Rohe‘s new book, *Mary Lou & John Tanton: A Journey Into American Conservation,* which warns that unless we batten down our own hatches, America and western civilization may be overwhelmed by a tide of immigrants, overpopulation, and cultures which don‘t share such values as democracy and human rights.
It‘s a provocative book, and although it is a biography of two of Northern Michigan‘s most noted conservationists, it is also a book of ideas -- ideas which might have seemed far more radical in the days before the 911 Attack changed our way of looking at the world.
Thursday, March 28, 2002

Michael Moore takes on Stupid White Men

Books Nancy Sundstrom That irascible, cranky, working class champion from Flint is back at it again, and just in time. And he‘s coming to Northwestern Michigan College this Monday, April 1, to promote his new book.
You have to love Michael Moore, the bestselling author of “Downsize This!“, director of the groundbreaking documentary “Roger and Me,“ and creator and host of the Emmy Award winning series “Tv Nation“ and “The Awful Truth.“ And if you don‘t love, you at least have to appreciate what he does. Just when we‘re all getting a little too comfortable with issues we should be downright uneasy about, he‘ll come along and stir up some much-needed self-righteous indignation, all in the form of common sense questions.
This time it‘s through his latest book, “Stupid White Men... And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation.“ “Mike Strikes Back!“ proclaims the book jacket, and I, for one, take great comfort in that. In true Moore fashion, he fires all cylinders at the “big, ugly special interest group that‘s laying to waste the world as we know it.“ That group is stupid, white men, and they‘re headed up by a cast of the usual suspects, most notably “President“ (as he likes to call him) George W. Bush, his “Co-President“ Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, The Idiot Nation (to which we all belong), and Corporate America.
Thursday, March 21, 2002

911: New Books Relive a Day of Heat and Dust

Books Nancy Sundstrom Throughout the course of the most amazing and trying times in our country‘s history, particularly over the past 100 years, photographs have been used to help us understand what has happened around or to us. With its ability to provide a thousand words through an image, these pictures have provided a silent form of communication and sometimes healing to those who use them to put a human face on events the mind can‘t quite seem to comprehend.
Since we have just passed the six month anniversary of September 11, we seem, as a collective nation and individually, more ready to deal with the realities of that grim tragedy by seeking to understand it through pictures - be they in the recent documentary aired by CBS, or in two new coffee table books that emerge as a testament to those who lost their lives, those who fought to save them, and those who are attempting to rebuild from the ashes.
Thursday, March 14, 2002

Coming Home... to Vietnam

Books Nancy Sundstrom You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you; But you can plant a standard Where a standard never flew. -- Stephen Crane, “The Colors“

As it does every few years, or as often as we need to try to grapple again with our unresolved national conflicts on the subject, the Vietnam War has become a hot topic and big business, both in the film and fiction worlds.
The release of the latest Mel Gibson film, “We Were Soldiers“ has prompted the paperback release of Colonel Harold Moore‘s autobiographical tale of the same name about the first major battle in Vietnam. And an excellent and moving novel, “An American Sin,“ unique in that it is written from the perspective of an Asian American who needed to prove he was American by fighting in Vietnam, was published in late 2001 to critical acclaim.
Each has a candor, eye for detail, and a poignancy not often found in books about war, and if there is a common theme between them, it is that in war, more than perhaps any other theater of life, the issues of right and wrong are great, usually fairly obvious, and long-lasting.
Thursday, March 7, 2002

War in a Time of Peace: David Halberstam Probes the Post-Cold War World

Books Nancy Sundstrom A new book from David Halberstam is usually more of an event, and one of the reasons why is that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 17 other works has an uncanny ability to not only reflect the mindset of the American public, but usually be at least a few steps ahead of it.
“War in a Time of Peace“ is Halberstam‘s most recent foray into bringing history to life, and it is a most worthy sequel to his classic, “The Best and the Brightest,“ which examined the decisions made during the Vietnam era and the men who made them. Here, he looks at how many of the lessons learned have come to influence American foreign policy in the past two presidential administrations and since the Gulf War.
Lest that sound like a tonic for insomniacs, be assured that it is anything but. Halberstam is a master at creating finely etched character portraits, finding just the right behind-the-scenes anecdote to illustrate a point, and skillfully weaving in pop culture perspectives to keep serious subjects from becoming overwhelming. The result is another journalistic tour-de-force, one guaranteed to make the same kind of long-lasting impact that “The Best and the Brightest“ was destined for 30 years ago.
His primary point in this highly-anticipated follow-up is that the long shadow of the Cold War still looms over American foreign policy, even as shifts in our domestic politics, policies, and players have changed our identity as a nation and as a world power. The dynamics are even more complex than ever reasons Halberstam in a well-presented case that leaves no stone unturned, from egos to the environment.
In the opening chapter, the author sets the stage as the balance of power is about to be passed on to a new administration, one that will place domestic policy ahead of foreign for the first time in nearly five decades. He writes:
Thursday, February 28, 2002

Men of Words

Books Nancy Sundstrom If you love the written word, then it‘s a fair assumption that you‘re likely to be a fan of authors, as well. That being said, there are several stunning new works on available on three important contributors to American literature, and all are highly recommended.
Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley, “Dashiell Hammett: A Daughter Remembers“ by Jo Hammett, Richard Layman, and Julie M. Rivett, and “Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography“ by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, and Ken Burns all serve up their subjects on a platter rich with scope, detail, elegant writing, and plenty of surprises. Rowley‘s book on Wright, in particular, virtually defines what a biography should be, but across the board, each celebrates the business of words and ideas, while providing valuable insights into three extraordinarily fertile minds.

Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley
“How in hell did you happen?“ a Chicago sociologist once inquired of Richard Wright, the novelist who posed, through his work, some of the most profound questions ever raised in America about the volatile nature of race relations. Well, the answer is found in exquisite and painstaking detail in Rowley‘s engrossing biography, which emerges as dramatic and impressive as Wright was.