Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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Monday, September 8, 2008

What‘s Cookin‘? A look at the Epicurean Classic‘s cookbooks & classes

Books Rick Coates The Epicurean Classic, September 11-13, has become one of the top culinary events in the country. It attracts “foodies” and wine and beer enthusiasts from all over (even overseas) to the Great Lakes Culinary Institute on West Bay in Traverse City. Anchoring the event and setting it apart from similar affairs is its connectivity cookbooks.
Each year, a dozen or so cookbooks are released at the Epicurean Classic, with another dozen recently-released cookbooks and the authoring chefs on hand. Each chef offers a class or seminar based on recipes from his or her book. Wine and beverage experts are also present with their books, and also offer tasting seminars.
Each year, several cookbooks that were released at the Classic have gone on to win major awards. In addition to the seminars and classes, the chefs will appear on Saturday night to prepare recipes from their new cookbooks at the Grand Reception (see ‘Tastemakers’).
New this year at the Epicurean Classic is a pass program that allows for access to daily seminars and the tasting pavilion. Passes are available by the day or for two days. There is also the Gourmand Pass that gets the pass holder into the opening night reception, the Grand Reception, both days of the tasting pavilion, and all the seminars. Note that tasting classes are sold separately and not part of the new pass program. It should also be noted that tasting classes are now priced at $29 versus $39 last year.

Here is a sampling of cookbooks and classes
offered at the Epicurean Classic this week:
 
Monday, August 25, 2008

Staying safe abroad

Books Robert Downes Ed Lee has lived a life of adventure, working in some of the most dangerous countries in the world as a security consultant. Riots, bombs, bullets and kidnappings -- he’s dealt with it all -- and he’s used his wits to keep himself and others out of harm’s way.
But today, Lee, 64, is relying on more than 30 years of experience as an international security consultant to help keep readers out of trouble overseas with his new book: “Staying Safe Abroad -- Traveling, Working and Living in a Post-9/11 World.”
The 327-page book, published by his own Sleeping Bear Risk Solutions press, is packed with hair-raising stories, timely statistics and common-sense tips that will rate as valuable cargo on your next foreign vacation. In fact, if there’s any fault to the book, it’s that you may not want to venture much farther than your back porch after reading its cautionary tales, much less across the U.S. border.

 
Monday, August 18, 2008

Dave Dempsey‘s Great Lakes for sale

Books Rick Coates As the final beach days wind down for 2008, consider taking Great Lakes For Sale From Whitecaps to Bottlecaps along with you for that final beach read.
Now at first glance this might seem a little bit of a heavy read for a leisurely afternoon at the beach. But there is really no better place to read this book than gazing over the miles of Lake Michigan.
First of all, author Dave Dempsey has taken one of the most challenging and often misunderstood issues in Michigan and the surrounding Great Lake states and put it all in layman terms. Dempsey has made this an easy read, not one full of scientific mumbo-jumbo, but rather he has written a 100-page essay (easy to read in an afternoon) that puts forward the issues at hand and offers solutions as well.
Dempsey is one of the leading advocates and experts for the future of the Great Lakes Water Basin. He is a senior policy advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council and well known for his writings on environmental issues in the Great Lakes region. He is author of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader and William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate.
 
Monday, July 21, 2008

Local writers celebrate Michigan

Books Glen Young Summertime is prime time to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors. And whether on land or on water, the number of folks who take to Michigan’s wilds explodes in the summer months. John Knott of the University of Michigan has put together a successful group of writers and photographers to explore this call of Michigan’s wild in the new book “Michigan: Our Water, Our Land, Our Heritage.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, the book is built around a solid collection of essays about Michigan’s many treasures. Several notable local authors are represented, including Stephanie Mills, Anne-Marie Oomen, Jerry Dennis, and Jack Driscoll.
 
Monday, July 7, 2008

Revisiting the Good Hart murders

Books Glen Young Much of what happened that summer day in 1968 is known. Six members of a prominent Detroit area family were gunned down in their summer cottage near Good Hart, north of Harbor Springs. No credible witnesses came forward to aid police. The community and the nation were stunned. These facts and a few others are prolifically documented.
What is not known is who committed the murders, or why. The uncertainty has haunted family members, vexed law enforcement, and intrigued the curious for 40 years.
Several authors are among those transfixed by the unsolved murders of the Richard Robison family at their Summerset cottage in the rustic Blisswood resort community. Traverse City area author Mardi Link has waded through what is known, what is suspected, and what is still a mystery for her new book “When Evil Came to Good Hart.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, Link’s book is the first non-fiction examination of the family, the crime, and the suspects who were investigated by police both in the aftermath of the murders, and for years afterwards.
 
Monday, June 30, 2008

Do travel writers go to Hell

Books Robert Downes Indiana Jones, look out: when it comes to gutsy adventurers and studly chick magnets, you’re no match for Lonely Planet travel guide writer Thomas Kohnstamm, who has penned a gonzo memoir of six smokin’ hot weeks in Brazil.
Er, make that “ex”-Lonely Planet writer because Kohnstamm is currently persona non grata at the travel guide publishing house, owing to the damning details of his new memoir, “Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?” in which he admits that he made up much of the information he collected in a Lonely Planet guide to northeast Brazil.
And not only that, but in subsequent news reports, Kohnstamm outed himself as a fraud, claiming that he made up details in 12 Lonely Planet guidebooks and didn’t even bother visiting Columbia for his research. He wrote the book from his apartment in San Francisco.
“They didn’t pay me enough to go (to) Columbia,” he is widely reported as stating in what has become a Jayson Blair-style scandal in the travel writing industry. “I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating - an intern in the Colombian Consulate.”
 
Monday, June 23, 2008

Fighting Words: The bloody saga of George Armstrong Custer

Books Robert Downes A Terrible Glory
By James Donovan
Little, Brown and Company
528 pages • $26.99

“June 25, 1876. The air is filled with smoke, arrows, and the roar of hundreds of rifles. George Armstrong Custer and five undermanned companies of his famed Seventh Cavalry are trapped on a hill overlooking a river called the Little Bighorn. They are surrounded by more than a thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors...”
So begins the much-told tale of George Armstrong Custer, “the Boy General” whose hubris led more than 200 men to their death in what author James Donovan calls “The Last Great Battle of the American West.”
There have been many retellings of Custer’s last stand on a hill in Montana, but Donovan sheds new light on the battle by exploring unpublished resources and new forensic evidence. His claims are backed up by more than 80 pages of footnotes in small type, as well as a bibliography that cites hundreds of books, articles and unpublished accounts.
More to the point, his superb scholarship is matched by a spellbinding gift for storytelling: Donovan is adept at drawing pictures with his words, bringing the story of “the last cavalier” to life. That gift is perhaps a bi-product of the fact that he’s also the author of an illustrated book on the battle, “Custer and the Little Bighorn.”
 
Monday, June 9, 2008

The Great American Hamburger

Books Rick Coates “Hamburger America”
By George Motz
The Running Press
$19.95


Sure, that old saying bills “apple pie” as American, but nothing says American like a juicy hamburger. Just ask filmmaker and author George Motz. Last month his book, “Hamburger America: A State-By-State Guide To 100 Great Burger Joints,” was released by The Running Press.
Now, usually movies are inspired by a great book, but “Hamburger America” was inspired by the documentary film Motz began in 2001. He had this idea of traveling the country, seeking out the best burger joints. The film focuses on what Motz describes as “eight historically significant hamburger counters in America.”
Released in 2005, the film won three Emmys, 12 Broadcast Design Awards, a Telly Award and a James Beard nomination for its contributions in recognizing America’s most iconic food. The documentary has even become required viewing for students at Princeton University who take the food course
 
Monday, June 9, 2008

Best beach reads

Books Robert Downes Back when I was a kid, our library used to have a summer reading club for those of us who enjoyed the escapism of a good book. I’m not sure that many kids actually made it through an ambitious summer reading project, but the idea of enjoying a big summer novel or nonfiction potboiler retains its allure.
So, here are a few tomes to chew on while you’re down at the beach, looking for something to do besides counting seagulls:
 
Monday, May 26, 2008

Five years in Guantanamo

Books David Swanson The guards at Guantanamo are terrified, ex-prisoner Murat Kurnaz writes. Even a man with no legs (amputated after being intentionally exposed to extreme cold by American guards in Afghanistan) is treated as a horrifying threat:
“The bandages wrapped around Abdul’s stumps were never changed. When he took them off himself, they were full of blood and pus. He showed the bandage to the guards and pointed to his open wounds. The guards ignored him. Later I saw how he tried to wash the bandages in his bucket of drinking water. But he could hardly move his hands, so he wasn’t able to. And even if he had, where would he have hung them up to dry? He wasn’t allowed to touch the fence. He wrapped his stumps back up in the dirty bandages.
“When the guards came to take him to be interrogated, they ordered him to sit with his back to the door and put his hands on his head. When they opened the door, they stormed in as they did with every other prisoner. They hit him on the back and pushed him to the ground. Then they handcuffed and bound him so he could no longer move. Abdul howled in pain.”
A man with no legs? No, a terrorist with no legs, a mythical evildoing creature with no legs. Hatred? Yes. Bigotry? Yes. But driven by fear instilled through training in the U.S. military, fear of monsters with superhuman powers, fear strong enough to make a team of armored storm troopers fear a legless man in a cage.
The passage quoted above is from “Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo,” by Murat Kurnaz, and reading his account might begin to make the reader, too, view the caged prisoners as less than human, were it not for the skillful way in which Kurnaz intersperses descriptions of his pre-Guantanamo life in Germany.
 
Monday, May 19, 2008

Visions of Mackinac

Books Robert Downes If there’s one book you simply must have on your coffee table this summer, it’s “A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan.
The book is a treasure trove of the days when the Straits area served as North America’s ‘wild northwest,’ lifting the reader’s soul with visions of our colorful, rough-and-tumble past. Filled with 330 paintings, drawings, maps and documents, “A Picturesque Situation” tells the story of the Straits area at a time when it was the western terminus to the resources of North America.
 
Monday, April 21, 2008

The Bush Tragedy

Books Robert Downes The Bush Tragedy
By Jacob Weisberg
Random House
269 pages, $26



With the presidency of George W. Bush wrapping up as an historic disaster, authors are lining up to dissect how the president managed to pull so many blunders, including the war in Iraq, the wreck of America’s reputation around the world, and the disaster of New Orleans, to name a few.
Author Jacob Weisberg offers insights in “The Bush Tragedy,” a biography that explores the psychological issues that influenced George W. Bush. The book also examines the motives of Bush’s misguided advisors, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who led the inexperienced president into a series of poor decisions.
Weisberg compares Bush to Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, a ne’r-do-well youth who became the warlike and religious King Henry V of England. Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s plays “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” George W. stands in the shadow of a famous father: he’s desperate to live up to his father’s legend, and also to outdo his father to make his own mark as a man.
The editor of Slate.com, and a former writer for The New Republic, Weisberg notes that both George W. Bush and Prince Hal also play out roles drawn from even older stories: that of the prodigal son in the Bible and the father-destroying legend of Oedipus.
 
Monday, March 10, 2008

Strike Dog

Books Glen Young Author Joe Heywood genuinely likes conservation officer Grady Service.
Heywood, a retired pharmaceutical executive, believes Service, the curmudgeonly Upper Peninsula “woods cop,” has a big heart, a sharp mind, and a knack for finding the bad guys.
Service is the fictional creation of Heywood, and the two have returned for a fifth installment of the “Woods Cop” mystery series published by The Lyons Press.
Heywood has pressed Service back into active duty in “Strike Dog,” the latest adventure in the series that began in 2001 with “Ice Hunter.”
A 1961 graduate of Rudyard High School, Heywood now lives in Portage, near Kalamazoo. But every year he returns to the U.P., riding alongside conservation officers and scouting new locations and new ideas. More than anything, however, Heywood finds a greater appreciation for the real-life woods cops.
 
Monday, March 3, 2008

Skinny Bitch

Books Robert Downes It was just an obscure diet book on the shelves a little over a year ago, but today, Skinny Bitch and its sister publication Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
are two of the fattest books on the bestseller charts.
Specifically, Skinny Bitch has spent the past 30 weeks at the top of the New York Times Paperback Advice Bestseller List, with Skinny Bitch in the Kitch weighing in at number four, along with nine weeks on the list.
Both books offer “vegan diet advice from the world of modeling.” Author Rory Freedman is a former agent for Ford Models and a “self-taught know-it-all,” while Kim Barnouin is a former model who holds an MS degree in holistic nutrition.
 
Monday, February 18, 2008

Black Hole

Books Robert Downes If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, then “Black Hole” by Charles Burns is a wake-up call as to how disturbing and provocative these steroid-packed comic books can be.
Hailed as the masterwork of a comics superstar, “Black Hole” is a frightening trip into a nightmare of teenage anxieties, rendered with drawings that recall the darkness of both Rembrandt and Dracula.
The story involves a bizarre plague that infects a group of teenagers in the Seattle area during the 1970s -- a time when “it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie any more, but David Bowie was still just a little too weird.”
 
 
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