Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Is Glenn Puit the King of True Crime

Books Robert Downes Is Glenn Puit the King of True Crime
Robert Downes 5/4/09


By day, Glenn Puit spends his time as an environmental reporter, sifting through reams of boilerplate reports and conducting interviews with bureaucrats and eco-activists to promote a greener world. But at night, chances are you’ll find him wading knee-deep through the bloody history of the Las Vegas underworld -- a place where psychopaths present a smiling face to the world, yet roil with killer impulses; a world where upstanding citizens and pillars of the community set their colleagues on fire in the desert, or bash the brains out of their loved-ones.
 
Monday, May 4, 2009

Seeking a new direction

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Seeking a new direction
Robert Downes 5/4/09


Rick Snyder, the surprise Republican candidate for governor in 2010, strikes you as the kind of guy who could save the Grumpy Old Party from going down the path to extinction.
With an open expression, a youthful demeanor and an emphatic way of listening, Snyder thinks of himself as a “green” Republican, interested in preserving the environment and promoting alternative energy as avenues for solving Michigan’s job crisis. An Ann Arbor venture capitalist with the firm Ardesta, he served as the interim CEO of Gateway Computers a few years back, offering credence that he may be the sort of person with big ideas and business savvy to turn our state around.
Snyder stopped by the
Express offices last week as part of his statewide listening tour. “I’ve been visiting communities across the state to hear what people have to say about jobs and Michigan’s direction,” he said.
Much of what he’s heard has been pretty gloomy, especially coming direct to Traverse City from the Upper Peninsula, where unemployment is above 20 percent, with not much hope on the horizon.
So we were quick to point out that life seems to be much brighter here in the ‘magic bubble’ of northwestern Michigan, where various windpower projects are starting to take root, along with our robust tourism and agricultural industries. We pointed out that the Grand Traverse Commons renovation project in Traverse City is going like gangbusters and that our region is percolating with ideas for festivals, downtown destinations and new manufacturing schemes.
 
Monday, April 27, 2009

Why we must investigate torture

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Why we must investigate torture
Robert Downes 4/27/09
In 1947 the United States convicted a number of Japanese war criminals to life in prison for waterboarding U.S. soldiers.
In one case, a Japanese officer named Chinsaku Yuki made his victim strip off all his clothes, after which he was tied naked to a bench. Then Yuki poured water over a cloth wrapped around the victim’s face until he drowned and passed out. When the man was revived, he’d find Yuki sitting on his belly and the process would start all over again.
One U.S. soldier testified that he was drowned four or five times, losing consciousness, then revived for more punishment.
We gave the Japanese and Nazi war criminals the harshest penalties that a military tribunal could mete out for their hideous acts. But now, our nation finds itself gazing in a mirror, faced with the same question: Should the Bush administration be investigated for condoning and encouraging torture?
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

Going Natural ... Off-Line

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Going Natural ... Off-Line
Robert Downes 4/20/09


Here’s one of those news items that’s so quirky compared to the spirit of our time that it sounds like an item from News of the Weird or a gag story from The Onion. It appeared in the online newsletter published by ForeWord magazine in Traverse City:

“Former Librarian Quits the Internet
The Grayslake Review reports that Jack Hicks, a 69-year-old retiree, has cancelled the Internet. Hicks was the director of Illinois’ Glenview Public Library, one of the first libraries in the Chicago area to offer free Internet access.
‘Mainly, it’s a time-waster. And there’s so little time. Why waste it?’ Hicks said. “In retirement, I’m interested in real life, not an imitation of life.’”
At the Express, we now have readers who can’t even recall a time when there was no Internet -- it was up and running before they were born. And many of us would be fish out of the water without the sea of information we swim in each day.
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

A Whitewater Park in Traverse City

Features Robert Downes A Whitewater Park in Traverse City
Robert Downes 4/20/09


Imagine this: you grab your paddle, jump in your kayak or inner tube, and plunge into the churning thrills of Class III rapids on the Boardman River right off Union Street in downtown Traverse City.
Sweet.
At least, that’s the dream of Eric Clone of Boardman Paddle and Pedal in the city’s Warehouse District, who is testing the waters for the creation of a $1 million whitewater park just east of the Union Street dam.
“The Boardman River in Traverse City has high potential for a whitewater park,” Clone says. “A consultant was here a few weeks ago and he fell in love with what we have to offer. He says the area could have one of the best whitewater parks in the country.”
 
Monday, April 20, 2009

A Whitewater Park in Traverse City

Features Robert Downes A Whitewater Park in Traverse City
Robert Downes 4/20/09


Imagine this: you grab your paddle, jump in your kayak or inner tube, and plunge into the churning thrills of Class III rapids on the Boardman River right off Union Street in downtown Traverse City.
Sweet.
At least, that’s the dream of Eric Clone of Boardman Paddle and Pedal in the city’s Warehouse District, who is testing the waters for the creation of a $1 million whitewater park just east of the Union Street dam.
“The Boardman River in Traverse City has high potential for a whitewater park,” Clone says. “A consultant was here a few weeks ago and he fell in love with what we have to offer. He says the area could have one of the best whitewater parks in the country.”
 
Monday, April 13, 2009

Pure Boredom

Random Thoughts Robert Downes “It was 1989, my thoughts were short, my hair was long,
Caught somewhere between a boy and man;
She was 17, and she was far from in-between,
It was summertime in Northern Michigan.“

-- Kid Rock, ‘All Summer Long‘

Have you seen the new television commercials promoting the state of Utah? They feature a funky, old beater truck loaded with kayaks, mountain bikes, surfboards, tents, beach gear. You see a family driving around to all of the spectacular sights in Utah, having a blast. They’re hiking through canyons, biking across desert plateaus, white-water rafting down a raging river -- the works.
 
Monday, April 6, 2009

The bright side of bankruptcy

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The bright side of bankrupcy

A friend compares the current economic crisis to the stomach flu. “I hate to throw up,” he says. “You resist and resist and keep feeling sicker until you can’t take it anymore. Then you’re glad you threw up and got it over with.”
It’s a good metaphor for what ails General Motors and the Big 3 automakers. Should taxpayers give GM a heave and get it over with, or should we keep resisting the company’s bankruptcy until we just can’t take it anymore?
Either way, like the consequences of stomach flu, it’s starting to seem inevitable.
Now, it looks as if the federal government is holding up the toilet seat and giving GM a comforting pat on the back to do the Thing That Must Be Done.
Last September, the feds gave the Big 3 automakers a $25 billion loan. In November the automakers were back, asking for $50 billion more. They were told to get their act together and come up with a plan for reviving the auto industry.
 
Monday, March 30, 2009

Good things happen at Shirley‘s

Dining Robert Downes Good things happen at Shirley‘s
Robert Downes 3/30/09

The first thing you notice about Shirley’s Café Family Restaurant in Mancelona is the vibrant energy of the place. The restaurant gleams spic and span; there are plenty of smiles on the faces of the staff; and there always seems to be a good crowd of customers, drawn by the generous portions of good food.
That positive energy positively radiates from owner Shirley Tracey, who established the restaurant on US 131 in Mancelona just a year and four months ago. Since then, word-of-mouth has made it one of the most popular stops in Antrim County.
 
Monday, March 23, 2009

All Abourd?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes All Aboard
Robert Downes 3/23/09

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel from Northern Michigan to Detroit or Chicago at 200-300 miles per hour on a magnetic levitation train?
That’s still in the realm of science fiction, but last week’s announcement of plans for a hydrogen-powered MagLev train linking Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing does get the wheels of possibility spinning for the future...
Last week, State Representatives Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) announced the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the possibility of building a MagLev rail system down the medians of Michigan’s freeway system.
 
Monday, March 16, 2009

Re-inventing the book store

Random Thoughts Robert Downes In Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451, the ‘firemen‘ of a fascist society in the near future have the task of burning books in an attempt to stamp out knowledge, truth and beauty. A few brave rebels save what’s left of literature by memorizing books and passing them on to their children by word of mouth.
Gee, if only it were that simple.
Today’s bonfire is the digitization of books and the way that they are being sold online via amazon.com and Google. The trend is to live-stream books for sale over the Internet. Amazon.com has 240,000 books available for downloads, with hundreds of thousands more offered by Google.
These forces, combined with the recession and the fact that fewer young people are reading books, have put the beloved institution of the book store in peril.
Booksellers are wrestling with survival issues on par with those that are driving CD stores to extinction. Rolling Stone reports that 2,680 music stores have closed in the past four years, and the CD is on its way to oblivion.
One scheme would make books available for in-store downloads onto your iPod or reading device while you browse a much-reduced inventory on the shelves. Another idea being explored is to install in-store printers which will be capable of whipping up books while you wait.
 
Monday, March 9, 2009

The dropout dilemma

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Raising Michigan’s high school dropout age to 18 sounds like a good idea in principle. But one could also argue that the new legislation may harm students who are committed to graduating by forcing them to endure the company of disruptive kids who are turned off by high school.
On March 4, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 71-31 to approve passage of House Bill 4030, which will require students to attend high school until the age of 18. The bill has gone on to the State Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.
Sponsored by State Rep. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor), the bill is the first change in Michigan’s allowable dropout age in 113 years. In 1896, the legislature ruled that students could leave school at the age of 16, primarily to help work on family farms.
Rep. Geiss makes some good points in promoting his bill. He notes that 70 percent of prisoners in Michigan are high school dropouts. He points out that requiring students to spend an extra two years in high school will better prepare them to find jobs, instead of being a drag on society.
 
Monday, March 2, 2009

Beyond Human

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Do your sprockets need oiling? Did you reboot your head this morning because you woke up feeling like a Vista system crash?
Well, maybe soon, because if the techno prophets are right, the human race will begin merging with our machines any time now...
(Cue up some eerie sci-fi theremin music here, folks, and hang onto your hood ornaments.)
This being our annual Body, Mind, Spirit issue, I’m delighted to report the latest news from scientists who keep track of a coming event known as “The Singularity.”
The Singularity is the point at which computers will become more intelligent than the human race and attain consciousness. At that point, we will find ourselves merging with our machines.
If this sounds like the plot of the new Terminator film or another remake of The Matrix, rest assured, it is.
 
Monday, February 23, 2009

The new home

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There’s a rare sight in my neighborhood these days: teams of contractors are working to finish a new home.
It’s the completion of a saga that began about five years ago. An older home was torn down to make way for the newcomer. Then, the owner‘s personal problems intervened and the project was abandoned, lingering half-finished for several years. In some places, the roof hadn’t been completely shingled, and the unsided walls were left exposed to the wind, rain and snow.
When it was begun, the new home looked to be in the $400,000 range -- a far cry from the homes in our neighborhood which total half that amount on the average. But as the years rolled by without a buyer for the “as is” home,
the price drifted down to an affordable level and
was sold.
 
Monday, February 23, 2009

Kitchen Magic/ Sara Dakoske

Features Robert Downes Kitchen Magic/ Sara Dakoske
Robert Downes 2/23/09

Sara Dakoske looks like she’s having the time of her life at her job, and why not? Her day is spent designing imaginative, creative kitchens and baths for new residents at Building 50, the massive renovation project at the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.
“I thought it would be awesome to get involved with the Building 50 development and it’s been very interesting so far,” she says. “Designing a kitchen or a bath here involves keeping the historical feel of the building, and also working with exposed conduit and duct work, the old windows and the dimensions of each space.”
 
 
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