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, December 1, 2008

Rubber City Rampage

Books Robert Downes Who knew? Akron, Ohio was at the epicenter of the punk rock movement at the dawn of the ‘80s, churning out some of the greatest bands of the era.
That’s one of the revelations in Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, a new graphic novel by Derf, the artist whose comic, The City has run in the Northern Express since the early ‘90s.
If anyone would know, it’s Derf Backderf, a resident of Cleveland whose work appears in alternative newspapers across the nation. Derf’s noir viewpoint is almost gothic in his approach to trolling the gritty, banal bottomlands of life in the Midwest -- an Ohio frozen in a New Dark Age and locked in medieval attitudes.
Nowhere is that exploration more evident than in his high school haunts of Akron, a town known as Rubber City for its tire factories, which also happens to be stalled by a Rustbelt recession as the book opens.
Yet there’s one bright spot for the trailer park kids doomed to life in Akron: by some odd confluence of fate, rage and despair, the town gave rise to a dynamic punk rock scene, starting in 1979, with acts such as Devo, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and other raw & ragged groups swept up by punk’s power. A lively club scene took root in a ruined bank, bringing in such iconic acts as The Ramones and The Clash. The punk rock eruption prompted Melody Maker magazine to dub Rubber City as “the new Liverpool.”
 
Monday, December 1, 2008

We‘re moving to Europe...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes We‘re moving to Europe...
Has anyone noticed that America is starting to look more like Europe lately?
Not that we’re sprouting castles or seeing women going topless at the beach, but there are some trends toward the Europeanization of America that are worth watching. Some good, and some ennh...
Ten years from now, you may wake up and find that you have all of the advantages of a citizen of Paris or Budapest -- and all of the disadvantages too. Consider the following:
 
Monday, November 17, 2008

A new view for Sleeping Bear

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Seven years ago, there was a scorcher at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. It wasn’t a forest fire (as is an ongoing fear of some who live next the the park); it was the flames of public opinion over a proposed Wilderness Management Plan that many locals thought was a bit extreme back in 2001.
To take you back to those days of pitchforks and torches, there was speculation that the park would close several dirt roads leading down to popular beaches along Sleeping Bear’s 35-mile coast. And that fishing for coho salmon would be limited. And that large sections of the park would be declared “wilderness” territory, accessible only by hikers.
It was a public relations disaster, as park-goers blew their collective stacks over the threat of limited access. But one thing the public outcry proved is that people love Sleeping Bear, even though it sometimes seems we’re on the verge of loving it to death during the summer months when thousands seek the paradise of its beaches.
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Those dear little deer...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Many years ago, the first snowfall in November used to be a cause for celebration in our family because it meant good tracking through the woods during the deer hunt. My dad and uncles were out before dawn on the first day of hunting season, and when they bagged a buck the excited talk of their deeds lit up the Thanksgiving table as they relived the fatal moment in the woods again and again. Those memories of the hunt were more precious than gold, and they would be taken out and polished for many years to come. Even when he was in his 80s, I recall my father talking about his first deer, taken at the age of 17 on the family farm outside Rockford.
I thought of those deer last week when the temperatures were in the 70s. By now, perhaps, they’re making tracks in the snow, seeking to elude the 700,000 or so deer hunters who swarm the forests and fields. But last week, they could have used some sunglasses.
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Mission to Haiti

Features Robert Downes Even during the best of times, life is rough in Haiti, an island east of Cuba that is considered the poorest country in the western hemisphere. But when ophthalmologist Dr. Martin Arkin, M.D., visited the poverty-stricken island last August,
he and his medical team had yet another problem to deal with: that of Hurricane Gustav.
“A lot of patients couldn’t get to us because the roads were washed out by the hurricane,” he recalls. “Some who made it drove through three feet of water to get to the hospital. It was a fairly mild experience for us, because we were staying at a hospital on top of a mountain. But many people build their homes on the side of the mountain and a lot of their houses were washed away.
“Then there were three more hurricanes after we left Haiti and over 1,000 people died,” he adds. “It was pretty horrible after we left.”
One of Northern Michigan’s top specialists in corneal surgery, Dr. Arkin of Bay Eye Associates in Traverse City has traveled all over the world for years to help people in Third World lands with their eye problems. He’s conducted eye clinics in India, Cuba, Honduras and Peru. “I try to go every couple of years. Mostly I do cataract surgery,” he says, adding that he also treats a number of non-surgical eye problems.
TEAM APPROACH
In Haiti, he was part of a team which included three optometrists, a nurse and a number of non-medical volunteers, including his companion, Kristin Clara, a fifth grade teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School in Traverse City. “Kristin assisted me in surgery,” he says, noting that volunteers tend to get on-the-job training due to the lack of medical and surgical care on Haiti.
Why did he pick Haiti?
“I wanted to go someplace that really needed help, and I also like going somewhere different each time,” he says. “I went on the web and found the St. Boniface Foundation, a Catholic charity based in Massachusetts that’s been going to Haiti for years. We met the team at the airport and drove up to their hospital, which was built from donations by members of the church.
“If it weren’t for St. Boniface the people in the area we visited would have no care at all,” he adds. “They’d never seen an eye doctor and they don’t have any eye lasers in the entire country. That’s something you really need to have in eye surgery.”
Dr. Arkin had to bring his own eye surgery equipment and microscope to Haiti, which involved shipping it piecemeal. “Doing eye surgery involves a whole lot of equipment and supplies. I shipped it to the foundation in Massachusetts and then they sent a little bit of it with each person visiting Haiti until we had enough for 50 surgeries.”
He saw 500 patients during his two-week stay in late August and did 16 surgeries on people who were so far gone with cataracts that they would be considered legally blind in the U.S. The remainder of his supplies stayed on in Haiti to be used by the next med-surg team.
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

Hope For America

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A generation ago, there was another man who brought hope to America in a time of crisis.
John F. Kennedy‘s greatest gift was bringing inspiration and a ringing challenge to young people who were hungry for hope at a time when we lived under the shadow of mushroom clouds and the Cold War.
Today, we face a new crisis: the threat of world-wide economic collapse.
And, as was the case in 1960, we need a leader who can inspire hope, especially in the hearts of young people. It‘s the young who need to be uplifted with an optimistic vision of their place in America‘s future, rather than a creeping sense of despair.
 
Monday, November 3, 2008

Urinetown

Features Robert Downes Warning! Be careful you don’t pee your pants laughing when you see
Urinetown at the Old Town Playhouse this month.
Having seen the play myself several years ago in Toronto, I can guarantee it’s one of the funniest, most offbeat and thought-provoking musicals ever to hit the stage.
 
Monday, October 27, 2008

Looking Beyond the Election

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Here’s something we haven’t seen in many years: posted in a few yards around Traverse City you’ll find campaign signs for Obama next to those of Wayne Schmidt -- the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 104th District.
Say what? Is it possible that in some small way, we’re moving toward a spirit of bipartisanship? Sort of like a dog and cat snuggling up together when its too cold outside to bear their differences?
There’s been endless speculation in the press about undecided voters this year and who the independents will vote for in the national election.
But those “undecideds” are primarily Republicans who are thinking of jumping ship for the first time in their lives, the same way that many Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980.
This is why we’re seeing defections by the likes of Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State under President Bush, and Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative icon William F. Buckley. Both are Republicans voting for Obama.
Call it the Reagan Effect.
 
Monday, October 20, 2008

Opponents of Proposal 2 clone around the facts

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Here are some questions for Joe Plumber:
Are you afraid that giant biomedical corporations will start pumping out human clones if Proposal 2 passes in Michigan this November?
Or, are you more afraid that you (or a member of your family) will someday come down with MS, diabetes, Lou Gehrig‘s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Krohn’s disease, blindness, cancer, heart disease, damaged organs, stroke and a host of other afflictions?
You know, things that may be cured someday by the stem cell research encouraged by Proposal 2.
Embryonic stem cell research is one of the greatest discoveries of our time. It has the potential to cure our most devastating illnesses. It’s possible that it will someday help quadriplegics rise from their beds, and make diseased hearts strong.
 
Monday, October 20, 2008

Dental Day

Features Robert Downes Parents and their kids will have something to smile about this Saturday, Oct. 25 at 10:30 a.m., when a Dental Health Morning program takes the stage at the State Theatre in Traverse City.
Hundreds of kids are expected to attend the educational event that brims with fun, including a 25-cent matinee showing of “The Sandlot” baseball flick, along with a skit on orthodontics and dental hygiene handouts of 1,000 toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste.
The event is one of many creative ways that children and adults are being helped by the Dental Access Program of the Traverse Health Clinic and Coalition (THC&C) and Northland Dental Hygienists.
“We screened 4,040 kids last year through the Traverse Bay Give Kids a Smile program,” says Rene Louchart, dental health coordinator for THC&C. “At the State Theatre, we’re going to offer more awareness of preventive oral health services and habits that parents may not be are of.”
 
Monday, October 13, 2008

Fear Itself

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Gee, this is a great time to be young. Why? Because if you‘re in your teens or 20s, you probably have little or nothing in the stock market and haven‘t lost a dime in the crash.
While you kids were wisely investing your money in Jello shots, iTunes downloads and the latest Xbox games, your parents were foolishly gambling in the Wall Street Casino, where we‘ve lost thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands in the last few weeks on our 401Ks and other retirement plans.
If you‘ve been too busy playing Guitar Hero to keep up, here‘s the deal: The stock market has dropped by 40 percent of its value in the past year, with a wild roller coaster ride, spiralling ever downward.
And this time around, there hasn‘t been any inspiring leader at the helm to calm the sense of panic that‘s sweeping the world, as was the case in 1932, when presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.“
 
Monday, October 6, 2008

There Should Be Hell To Pay

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Back in college economics 101, we learned that the Great Depression could never happen again because our wise legislators had enacted many iron-clad regulations and safeguards to ensure that the stock market would never again reach such a state of peril.
But, like the chaos theory taught by the mathematician in Jurassic Park, you can never say never -- the destruction of those market regulations over the years has let the T-Rex out of its cage.
Thus, the rampage on Wall Street last week and terror plastered across the media. Let’s hope we don’t all get eaten alive by this thing.
Now, millions of Americans are of the opinion that the gamblers on Wall Street should bail themselves out. Why should we contribute a nickel to help these pirates? They can sink or swim.
But unfortunately, we are chained to the pirates. In some pirate navies, if you killed another sailor, your ankle was tied to his corpse and it was shoved overboard.
So, if you oppose the bailout, consider that you’re likely to go under too.
 
Monday, September 29, 2008

Poets Rock!

Art Robert Downes There’s no other way to say it: poet Derrick Brown kicks ass. He’s an action-adventure poet, swinging to the stage from the end of a vine with a ululating Tarzan yell and a ray gun in his belt. Well, not really, but the one thing you can expect from Brown’s multi-media poetry readings is the unexpected -- and that it will be the best night of poetry you can imagine.
A former paratrooper, gondolier, magician, and “fired weatherman,” Brown is bringing some of the world’s top-gun poets to the Traverse City Opera House stage on Saturday, Oct. 4 as part of his “Junkyard Ghost Revival” show that blends comedy, music and performance art with poetry.
“It’s more like a theater experience than a poetry reading, with everything planned out,” Brown says by phone from his home in Venice, California.
“Most of the poets who will be appearing are those I met at the National Poetry Slam in Madison, Wisconsin,” he adds. “We’ve got a world champion on our team, who won slams in Munich and Paris. We decided that it would be better if we all got together and went on tour.”
 
Monday, September 22, 2008

The Great Book Round Up

Books Robert Downes Summer produced a slew of new books by Northern Michigan authors. In particular, local writers were absorbed with local history this season. Here’s a look at what you’ll find on area bookshelves:
Old Mission kids enjoying a trip by goat cart -- circa 1900, from A Century of Service.

A Century of Service -- The People and Places on Old Mission Peninsula
Edited by Jack and Vi Solomonson Photo editor Mary Jo Lance

Largely a picture book, you’ll find over 300 photos in A Century of Service, many of which are from the family albums of the residents of Old Mission Peninsula and have never been seen by the public.
Many of the photos date back to the early 1900s, with glimpses of farm life at a time when horses were still used to plow the fields and pull buggies to market.
Here too are photos of the “bustling port” of Old Mission Harbor, with steamships docking at the town. There are histories of prominent families as well as the Indian residents and humble postmen.
The reader will also find tales of how memorable sites on the peninsula came to be. Did you know, for instance, that Marion Island -- once a gathering spot for Indians -- was acquired by the Chicago Yacht Club and was later sold to Henry Ford for $100,000?
Published by the Peninsula Telephone Company, this book is full of such nuggets and is a must-have for any resident of the Old Mission Peninsula.
The Unraveling Thread
By Priscilla Cogan
$26.95
 
Monday, September 22, 2008

Food Paranoia

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Do you like bugs in your food? Neither do I. But not so long ago, that was a fairly common occurrence.
Sorry to gross you out here, but it used to be possible that you’d open a box of pancake mix, or a bag of flour or instant potatoes that had been sitting around a couple of months and find... weevils!
Those are beetle larvae for those of you who flunked biology.
Then the food industry started irradiating all of the above in the 1980s. This involves zapping food with a burst of high-energy radiation. It not only killed the critters and bug eggs that hatched in these products, but did away with a lot of bacteria and micro-organisms that make people sick. It also served as a preservative -- doubling the shelf life of strawberries, for instance.
I once interviewed a scientist at Oakland University who ate a piece of steak that had been sitting on a shelf for two years without refrigeration. The steak had been irradiated and sealed in a plastic bag. Since all of its bacteria had been killed, it was still safe to eat two years after being zapped.
 
 
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