Letters

Letters 11-24-2014

Dangerous Votes You voted for Dr. Dan. Thanks!Rep. Benishek failed to cosponsor H.R. 601. It stops subsidies for big oil companies. He failed to cosponsor H.R. 1084. There is an exemption for hydraulic fracturing written into the Safe Drinking Water Act. H.R. 1084. It would require the contents of fracking fluids to be publicly disclosed to protect the public health.

Solar Is The Answer There have been many excellent letters about the need for our region, state and nation to take action on climate change. Now there is a viable solution to this ever-growing problem: Solar energy is the future.

Real Minimum Wage In 1966, a first class stamp cost 5 cents and minimum wage was $1.25. Today, a first class stamp is 49 cents, so federal minimum wage should be $11.25.

Doesn’t Seem Warmer I enjoy the “environmentalists” twisting themselves into pretzels trying to convince us that it is getting warmer. Sure it is... 

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Robert Downes

 
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Brett Dennen

Music Robert Downes These are high times for singer-songwriter Brett Dennen: He just wrapped up a performance on the Conan O’Brien Show; he’s been signed to perform at the 2009 Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee; and he’s backing up The Fray on a tour of Britain this April.
With a buzz building in Dennen’s direction, it’s a good time to catch the acoustic rocker on his way up. Locally, music fans will have their chance when Brett Dennen and his band perform with The Little Ones this Thursday, Feb 19 at 8 p.m. at the City Opera House in Traverse City.
 
Monday, February 16, 2009

Who let the hogs out

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Put this in your ‘One More Thing to Worry About’ file: Apparently, there are hordes of vicious wild hogs roaming the Michigan woodlands, and these pigs are in serious danger of becoming an “environmental disaster” for our state.
Who knew? I’ve been tramping around the forests of Michigan for 50 years now and count myself lucky to see an occasional woodchuck or a porcupine. But a band of up to 20 wild hogs? That would be like spotting an elephant.
This news comes from the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy (MWC), based in Bath, Michigan, which is calling for a bounty to exterminate wild hogs.
Don’t want to boar you, but here’s the skinny on a big pig of a problem, according to the Conservancy:
Apparently, these hogs are the descendants of Russian wild boars which have escaped from commercial game ranches over the past decade. They’ve been spotted in 63 of Michigan’s 83 counties and are “reproducing rapidly.”
The impudent hogs cause crop and forest damage and carry a pseudorabies virus which is “a huge threat to Michigan‘s domestic swine industry, which is already reeling from high grain prices and low market pork prices.”
Who knew there was so much drama in the pig industry?
 
Monday, February 9, 2009

Signs of the Times

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Signs of the Times
Residents of Boyne City were sad to see their local newspaper go under two weeks ago. The Citizen-Journal ended its 128-year run with a two-sentence farewell on page three. Like, how lame can you get?
The Elk Rapids Town Meeting also bit the dust. Both papers were owned by Up North Publishing, which in turn, is owned by the Journal Register Company of Pennsylvania.
Such are the perils of corporate newspaper ownership.
A common practice for newspaper corporations is to buy up other papers with borrowed money. Then, the corporation hollows out the paper, replacing local reporters with wire copy and cutting employees and features to drive up profits. When the paper‘s bottom line looks rosy, the corporation sells the paper to another corporation, which starts the process all over again.
Sound familiar?
But the news-corps have finally stubbed their toes with this practice, and for some, the prognosis may be fatal. Many of these chains are insanely over their heads in debt at a time when auto and real estate ads have vanished, along with classifieds.
 
Monday, February 2, 2009

The Great Indoor Folk Festival

Music Robert Downes Dozens of musicians from across the state are tuning their guitars and practicing their songs in preparation for The Great Indoor Folk Festival on Saturday, Feb. 7 in Traverse City.
The free festival will be held on the ground floor Mercato shopping corridor at Building 50 in the VIllage at Grand Traverse Commons from noon to 5:30 p.m. Visitors will find five performance “stages” spread out throughout the length of Building 50, with as many as 75 performers throughout the day.
 
Monday, February 2, 2009

Coming Together

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Talk about bad timing.
When Rush Limbaugh states his wish that President Barack Obama’s policies fail, he might as well desire that millions of Americans be laid off. Of course rich talk-show hosts are unlikely to experience the anguish of unemployment, but it seems astonishing that anyone could hope for more suffering by his countrymen.
Is Limbaugh also hoping that Obama is a failure as Commander-in-Chief, leading to unnecessary deaths of our troops? If Rush really feels this way, he must be enjoying attempts to sabotage bi-partisan efforts by our lawmakers that might relieve the pain of Americans unemployed and not covered by health insurance.
 
Monday, January 26, 2009

Facing up to Facebook

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Facing Up to Facebook
I got a new Facebook account over the holidays and with it came an unpleasant surprise: not a single friend from my high school or college days is a member.
Jim, Tom, Carol, Gary, Mary Jo, Ross, Linda, Anne, where are you? It’s funny how you lose track of your old high school pals through the years and then get nostalgic for them, forgetting the time they put snot in your Coke or whatever.
A bigger shock was going to Facebook’s list of members from Royal Oak High, class of ‘70, and finding that there are only 22 of us who are members. And this is out of a class that had something like 800 graduates. By contrast, the class of 2000 has 134 members, and the class of 2006 has 223.
 
Monday, January 19, 2009

Recharging Michigan

Random Thoughts Robert Downes We may be down, but we’re not out. Michigan got some great news last week with word that General Motors is planning to open a new battery-pack factoryhere, along with the largest battery lab in the country.
This is an ‘electrifying‘ development; state officials are striving to make Michigan a powerhouse for the batteries which will run the electric cars of tomorrow. “We want to be the battery capital of the world,” Governor Granholm stated in the Detroit Free Press.
 
Monday, January 12, 2009

The value of fitness

Random Thoughts Robert Downes When my partner George Foster and I started this newspaper back in 1991, it was with the idea of having a strong emphasis on health and fitness.
We were both products of the fitness boom of the ’80s -- a time when running, biking, cross-country skiing and triathlons were more a way of life than something you did for fun.
Through the years, we’ve gotten soft on that side of the paper, but I still enjoy working on this annual tribute to fitness issue each January. It’s a reminder to reinvent ourselves each year.
A lot of you apparently feel the same way. I’ve been going to the same gym since ’91 and every January since then, the place has been packed with the newcomers.
But each year, the converts gradually taper off and the gym empties as the months go by. I once heard that the average newcomer to a fitness program lasts about 11 weeks before he or she caves in, but one of our local trainers thinks it might be more like six.
 
Monday, January 12, 2009

Star Workouts: How do personal trainers stay in shape?

Features Robert Downes Everyone knows that a personal trainer can help you get in the best shape of your life by tailoring a workout to fit your needs and then seeing that you keep at it.
But how do personal trainers keep in shape? Do they practice what they preach? Here’s a rundown on some notable fitness experts in the area:
 
Monday, January 5, 2009

Blissfest plans new recreation center

Music Robert Downes A new Blissfest Arts Recreation Center is in the works at the music organization’s 120-acre site outside Cross Village.
Blissfest Director Jim Gillespie says the new center will offer a range of attractions in a quiet, natural setting.
“The center will place special emphasis on traditional music, dance and crafts education,” Gillespie said in a release. “In addition, general recreation activities such as camping, hiking, nature walks and gardening will be available. Guests and members will be encouraged to participate in developing and maintaining the facility’s gardens, orchards and trails.”
The project is contingent on approval of township and county planning commissions that review special use permit zoning requests and allow for public input.
Several years ago, the Blissfest attempted a similar expansion and was met with opposition from a number of neighbors in Readmond Township. Since that time, the music organization has worked hard to prove itself a good neighbor by tightening up regulations and oversight at Northern Michigan’s biggest music festival, which is held the second weekend in July.

 
Monday, January 5, 2009

Moving On

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Moving On
Met a young guy over the holidays who is moving to Australia this week to take on a new job.
“How’s the economy doing there?” I asked.
“Not all that great, but better than here,” he said.
It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, working as an accountant in Brisbane, which is a city on Australia’s “Gold Coast” of spectacular beaches and tropical skies. Brad said he planned to learn how to surf and would be making frequent trips to New Zealand and New Guinea to audit businesses on behalf of the firm that is sending him Down Under.
Although he‘s from Florida, Brad‘s story made me think of all the people in Michigan who are moving on in search of a job.
 
Monday, December 29, 2008

A Brave Experiment

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Got a lump in my throat recently, reading the plans of the Detroit Free Press and News to go digital four days a week. Starting in March, the papers will end home delivery Monday-Thursday and begin offering an “electronic edition“ to subscribers for $12 per month.
Having had my first serious job as a paperboy with the Free Press at the age of 15, and then writing for the paper as a freelancer, it was a bit surreal to read the news of the online switch and come to grips with the “end of an era.“
But, considering the flight of readers to online sources for their news, it seems like a good plan. The key to its success will most likely be having an exact duplicate of the print version of the paper delivered online.
The electronic facsimile is a good way to go because current newspaper websites offer little or nothing for advertisers who pay the salaries of the reporters and editors who bring us the news.
Newspaper websites make it easy for readers to ditch their subscriptions. They‘re like candy stores giving away free lollipops out the back door and then wondering why there‘s no business up front.
So, perhaps the only way newspapers will survive will be by offering an exact duplicate of their publications online, complete with the ads that pay for the news.
 
Monday, December 22, 2008

If the shoe fits...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes There’s been so little fanfare over the latest news from Iraq that most Americans probably don’t have a clue: the war is essentially over.
Okay, let’s qualify that by saying “barring some unforseen calamity, the war is over...” because you just never know.
But on Thanksgiving Day, the Iraqi parliament approved a new security pact that requires the United States to withdraw our troops by 2011.
 
Monday, December 15, 2008

What would Mr. Scrooge think?

Random Thoughts Robert Downes What does Mr. Scrooge think about the Big 3 auto bailout?
Meaning, the Republican Scrooges in the Senate who killed the rescue of the auto industry last week, at a time when the recession is expected to last for years...
Let’s take a trip with the Ghost of Christmas Present, shall we?

Mr. Scrooge: “Bah, humbug! I’ll tell you what I think of these short-sighted, fat-cat dinosaurs from Detroit, dragging 400,000 GM retirees in their wake, like the chains of Jacob Marley... (Rattle, rattle) You UAW workers never voted for me in the first place, and it’s the banks I care about! The banks, the banks! Where’s my change purse? Ah, here, my dears -- a $700 billion contribution to you good bankers. Spend it as you will! No strings attached -- it’s Christmas, after all! Bless you, my boys.
“But for you miserable automakers and your blue collar ilk, only a lump of coal, and not a penny in my purse for you!”
 
Monday, December 8, 2008

Lunch at Leopold‘s

Random Thoughts Robert Downes If you’ve ever been to the Leopold Café in Mumbai, you probably felt right at home, even though it’s on the far side of the earth.
Having had lunch there a year ago November, it was especially sad and disturbing to see the puddles of blood on the floor of the café in the TV coverage of the Mumbai massacre. Ten people died on that scuffed and dirty floor, with at least 20 wounded as the terrorists came through the wall that opens to the street along what is called the Colaba Causeway.
 
 
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