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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Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Thoughts: What‘s wrong with us?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts: What‘s Wrong With Us?
Robert Downes 10/5/09
We just passed the first anniversary of the collapse of the stock market and the wreck of the world economy. To refresh your memory, a year ago a gang of suicidal financial terrorists flew a jet full of empty promises into the Twin Towers of home ownership and retirement savings on Wall Street. Result? Millions of Americans lost their homes and their 401k savings.
September 15, 2008 is generally held to be the day everything went kerblooey with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers -- the largest in U.S. history.
Lehman Brothers was a global financial firm that was heavily invested in subprime (“dubious“) mortgages. Unable to pass this junk on to its fleeing investors, or to secure a bailout from the U.S. government, the bankruptcy of Lehman kicked off a global meltdown in the economy.
 
Monday, September 28, 2009

Our bicycle revolution

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 9/28/09

Our Bicycle Revolution

The sun is setting on the cycling season here in Northern Michigan and another year of advancing the most eco-friendly form of transportation on the planet. Most of us have swallowed our last bug, cussed out our last flat, and (finally) tossed those over-ripe bike shorts in the wash.
Some, such as author Jeff Mapes claim that we’re on the brink of a “Pedaling Revolution” in America (the title of his new book), in which cyclists are changing the landscape of cities across the country. That’s certainly true in Northern Michigan and other parts of the state. Even Detroit is establishing a network of bike paths and greenways to fill in urban areas that have been vacated by its dwindling population.
David Byrne, the former frontman of the Talking Heads, whose own book “The Bicycle Diaries” hit the shelves this month, stated in a recent article that a bicycle has been his primary form of transportation around New York City for the past 30 years.
 
Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Thoughts/ Tough choices for Michigan

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 9/21/09
Tough Choices for Michigan

We’re very lucky here in Michigan that we still have something of a social safety net to care for the poor and people who are down on their luck. About 450,000 jobless residents are riding out the recession on
unemployment insurance at present, with tens of thousands of others getting by on
disability payments.
By contrast, I recall giving a coin to a leper sitting on a street corner in one of the most prosperous cities in India. The old man didn’t have any fingers on either hand -- just white stubs at the end of his palms -- and he sat all day long on the filthy pavement, begging in the 95-degree sun as thousands brushed past.
 
Monday, September 14, 2009

The death of Hip again

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 9/14/09
The Death of ‘Hip‘ (Again)
What’s the hippest show on TV these days?
If you believe the critics, along with millions of viewers, four Golden Globe awards and six Emmys, it’s Mad Men, a drama about the stressed-out, hard-drinkin’, skirt-chasin’, underpaid and overworked ad executives of Madison Avenue.
Cue up the Perry Como records.
Mad Men takes place back in the early ‘60s and reinvents the men in the gray flannel suits as brimming with snappy patter, Old Fashioneds, and a devil-may-care attitude about sleeping with their secretaries. You know, like really “hip.”
The funny thing here is that the “Mad Men” are just the sort of worker drones the beatniks and bohemians rebelled against when they came up with the alternative “hipster” lifestyle in the 1950s.
As every English Lit major knows, to be “hip” was to live outside of the mainstream, with Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg making it up as they went along; hitchhiking down the highways of America in the late-’40s and 1950s, and pushing on to Mexico, Morocco and India. The Beats borrowed ideas from other, more exotic cultures, not to mention the liberal use of marijuana and hallucinogens such as peyote and ayahuasca.
The late author Norman Mailer wrote a famous essay in 1957 called “The White Negro” on what it meant to be hip: basically, you had to slip into the loose loafers of a black jazz musician, fire up a dooby and swing, man, swing...
So the cynics who invented “hip” would surely scoff at Mad Men as being the epitome of hip today. But then, those long-gone beatniks never would have dreamed that the zenith of hipsters these days -- Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake -- would have been the manufactured products of the Mickey Mouse Club (!).
 
Monday, September 7, 2009

The inevitability of health care reform

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
The inevitability of health care reform
Robert Downes 9/7/09


If you were at a dinner party and the conversation turned to health care reform, could you explain the single-payer plan used by many countries around the world?
This is just a blind guess, but one can only imagine that the vast majority of Americans don’t have a clue. All they know is that “single-payer” has something to do with Canadian health care and it sounds like a
bureaucratic buzz word, so it must be a shady proposition.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration hasn’t done a very good job of offering a simple explanation of health care alternatives such as the so-called “public option,” much less a single-payer plan. Instead, much of the debate has been ceded to those who are intent on spreading disinformation.
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Tim Callaghan

Music Robert Downes Under his Thumb

Tim Callaghan reinvents
the way music & video
are delivered 8/31/09

By Robert Downes

As the frontman for the bands Fairchild and ’74 Marauder, Tim Callaghan is one of the most exciting rock musicians in Northern Michigan, with years of packing full houses at local nightclubs to prove it.
But Callaghan is also something of an inventor. His new thumb drive (TD) goes beyond the CD and DVD to deliver music and video in a format that has already caught the attention of major players on the music scene as well as the big box merchandiser, Best Buy.
Callaghan has just signed an exclusive distribution deal with Best Buy, with his new thumb drive and album to be on the shelves this month. Here’s what’s up with that:
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

The last daze of summer

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Last Daze of Summer
Robert Downes 8/31/09

Remember the “Year Without A Summer”? Neither do I, because it happened in 1816. It was also called the “Year Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”
Crops failed throughout the U.S. and Europe -- killed off by frost and two huge snowstorms in June. Ice was reported on the lakes and rivers of Pennsylvania in July and August, and (if Wikipedia can be believed) there were temperature swings from as high as 95 degrees to near-freezing within the space of a few hours.
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Under the eightball

Features Robert Downes Under the Eightball
Tim Hall honors his sister Lori with a documentary on Lyme Disease

By Robert Downes 8/31/09

Filmmaker Tim Hall will see his labor of love up on the screen at the State Theater in Traverse City this Monday, Aug. 31, with Under the Eightball, which promises to be a hard-hitting documentary.
A director, musician and activist in progressive causes, Tim is the brother of Traverse City writer Lori Hall-Steele, whose death at an early age last year inspired his film tribute. Here’s what he had to say about the film on the eve of its premiere:
 
Monday, August 24, 2009

Living the Great Lakes by Jerry Dennis

Books Robert Downes The One to Read this Summer
The Living Great Lakes by Jerry Dennis
By Robert Downes 8/24/09

Informative, wise, funny -- and an adventure story to boot -- The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis is a page-turner that reads like a novel while informing you on par with a college education on the history, geology and biology of our region’s greatest resource.
Published in 2003 to widespread acclaim, The Living Great Lakes is this summer’s selection by TC Reads, a community book club sponsored by the Friends of the Traverse Area District Library that takes a crack at a different title each year from April-October, followed by a public event with the author.
The book delves Michener-style into the natural history of the Great Lakes, taking you back 600 million years or so to a time when Northern Michigan lay beneath a saltwater sea, filled with critters whose exoskeletons would someday become our Petoskey stones.
But before you can grow bored with the Paleozic Era, Dennis skips to the recent past and his adventures getting seasick on his first tack with the Chicago-Mackinac Race; or the fun of crewing on the Malabar on its cruise along the St. Lawrence Seaway.
 
Monday, August 24, 2009

A bear trap for homegrown terrorists

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 8/24/09
A Bear Trap for Homegrown Terrorists

When Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred E. Murrah Building in April, 1995, Americans were rattled and outraged by photos of 168 deaths, including children killed in a nearby daycare. But the Oklahoma City Bombing was nowhere near the bee’s nest kicked up by the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001.
That’s because America has always had a tolerance for paramilitary types, white supremacists, skinheads and political extremists dating back to the raiders of Bloody Kansas in the 1850s and the Ku Klux Klan. We’ve tossed Arab farmers into Guantanamo Prison for eight years without trial on the mere suspicion of being terrorists, yet there is no Gitmo for our own home-grown terrorists.
In contrast to the Muslims, America’s domestic terrorists are largely considered to be colorful characters playing soldier, whose stockpiling of weapons and talk of bringing down the government is not only tolerated like a post-Kindergarten version of ‘show and tell,’ but even tacitly encouraged and egged on by the Rush Limbaugh Jrs. of talk radio or the Glenn Becks of Fox News.
So when one of these guys shoots a doctor in church, as was the case with George Tiller in May; or kills a guard at the Holocaust Museum, as was the fate of museum guard Stephen Johns in June, it makes the news for a couple of days and then people move on until the next school massacre, or whatever.
 
Monday, August 17, 2009

When the mob rules, the people lose

Random Thoughts Robert Downes When the Mob Rules, the People Lose
Robert Downes 8/17/09
When the kings and queens of Europe heard of the American Revolution in the 1770s, they doubted that our experiment in democracy would succeed because they assumed our government would fall prey to anarchy and mob rule.
Given what we’ve seen on television with organized activists disrupting the town hall talks on health care reform, perhaps those royals were right.
Apparently, the protesters all have solid gold Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage and think our health care system is fine and dandy the way it is, without a concern for their fellow Americans being raked over the coals by the insurance industry. Armed with Internet advice on how to disrupt public meetings, they‘re getting a lot of attention on TV, while Americans who lack health insurance are ignored.
But when the mob rules, the people lose.
 
Monday, August 10, 2009

Banking Promises Broken

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts
Banking promises broken
Robert Downes 8/10/09

Banks have been given billions of dollars over the past year to help lower the mortgages of homeowners in danger of foreclosing. But, as noted in the financial news last week, those funds aren‘t being used as intended. And while banks are making record profits and dishing out billions in bonuses to their employees, the pain in Main Street, America continues.
Take the case of William, a 41-year-old single dad who bought his home near East Bay in Traverse City three years ago for $145,000.
Last week, William (that‘s his middle name) saw his dream of home ownership threatened when his house went up for a foreclosure auction in a sheriff‘s sale.
The good news for William is that no one bid on his house, partly, he says, because mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, tacked on $15,000 in interest as well as fees and penalties for an asking price of $164,000, pricing the modest house out of the market. Now, he says, the home goes back to the note-holder and will be relisted by a realtor friend of his. William‘s parents plan to buy the home and sell it back to him in a year or so when he‘s back on his feet.
Complicated? Yes. Unnecessary? Probably, considering William‘s eight-month struggle with Wells Fargo to try lowering his 9.9 percent mortgage.
 
Monday, August 3, 2009

Pearls before swine/An unwelcome dip

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Pearls Before Swine
Robert Downes 8/3/09
Back at my first newspaper job in 1979, there was a woman in the graphic
design department who often worked until midnight on deadline, typing our
junk into long strips of plasticized paper which were then waxed and
pasted on sheets to send to the printer.
 
Monday, July 27, 2009

Ripping the Lid Off the Writing Racket

Books Robert Downes Ripping the Lid Off the Writing Racket

By Robert Downes

How I Became a Famous Novelist
By Steve Hely
Black Cat Books
322 pages - $14

“When my career as a novelist began, my ambitions were simple: to learn
the con, make money, impress women, and get out.”
 
Monday, July 27, 2009

Trust & Consequences

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Random Thoughts 7/27/09
Robert Downes
Trust & Consequences
If your spouse was caught fooling around under the covers with someone else, would you go on national TV and stand behind him (or her) and make like it’s all nicey-nicey now and you’re on the road to “healing”?
We’ve seen a parade of political ‘Stepford Wives’ standing behind their men at press conferences over the past few years. Consider the rogue‘s gallery:
• New York Governor Eliot Spitzer spends $7,000 a pop to have sex without a condom with a call girl.
• New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey drops the bomb on TV (and his wife) that he’s gay.
• Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is caught seeking sex with other men in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
• Presidential candidate John Edwards is caught making a baby with his “videographer.”
 
 
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