Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Monday, February 21, 2011

A home buyer‘s Paradise...Lost?

Letters Robert Downes A Home Buyer‘s Paradise... Lost?
Here in the Midwest, we live in a home-buyer’s paradise compared to much of the rest of the world. Realtor Jack Lane (who hosts a real estate show on WTCM-AM) notes that the median price for a home in Grand Traverse County in 2010 was $145,000. The region’s high is Leelanau County, where the median price was $205,000 last year. In Kalkaska County, however, the median price was just $65,000. The median price for a home in Petoskey is reportedly $169,000.
By contrast, the median price for a home in San Diego County last year was $305,000. It was $225,000 in Denver and $205,549 in Fort Lauderdale.
So we’ve got some bargains in Northern Michigan (Leelanau County notwithstanding) and you’d think there would be something of a land rush on here in the region.
What’s holding people back?
“History will show you that most people will wait and wait, hesitant to act before the entire crowd acts,” Lane says. “Therefore, not until interest rates begin to rise and headlines begin to say ‘Housing recovers!’ will you see the market kick back to the levels of ten years ago. Most buyers need ‘the psychological permission’ of the masses. The really smart people are either already wading into the water or are donning their hip-waders as you’re reading this.”
 
Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt: Too many people and not enough resources

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Egypt: Too many people and not enough resources
I’s been largely unsaid in the news, but the sight of 50,000 protesters scrambling through the heat and dust of Tahrir Square in Cairo sums up that ill country’s problems in a nutshell:
“Hot, flat and crowded,” to paraphrase the bestselling book by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. That’s Egypt’s real problem -- not just the oppressive government of Hosni Mubarak, which is a symptom of a place that has a population which is far beyond reason.
That’s the Middle East’s problem in general in the strip of 13 desert countries ranging from Morocco in the west to Iran in the east. Many of these countries have virtually no resources. But people? They’ve got loads of angry, restless, frustrated people held down by their medieval religion and despotic leaders.
Consider that virtually all of “Egypt” occupies a strip of green only a few miles wide along 600 miles of the Nile -- no different than during the kingdoms of the Pharaohs dating back 4,000 years. A few steps beyond this thin ribbon of green lies a desert as bleak and lifeless as Death Valley.
 
Monday, February 14, 2011

Shoes & Snacks for backpacks

Features Robert Downes Shoes & Snacks for Backpacks blends family fun with a great cause
Even though the next school year is still seven months away, a small army of volunteers will be ringing the school bells of a good cause at a Shoes & Snacks for Backpacks fundraiser this Saturday.
The fundraiser will combine a family fun snowshoe event with food and beverage treats at the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City from 1-5 p.m. The idea is to raise funds to fill backpacks with much-needed school supplies in the coming year.
“This year we will pass the 10,000 milestone of backpacks donated for kids in need since the project’s inception in 2004,” says Nancy Thornton, a Kingsley resident and marketing professional who serves president of the Rotary Club of Traverse Bay Sunrise. “We expect to distribute approximately 1,300 backpacks in 2011, and will also distribute 1,100 books as part of the project.”
 
Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Indoor Folk Festival

Music Robert Downes Great Indoor Folk Festival
A new day is dawning for the Great Indoor Folk Festival this year, as
the family-friendly event moves to the Sunday before Valentine’s Day.
That’s Sunday, Feb. 13, to be exact, with more than 50 musicians set
to perform in the sprawling Mercado  shopping area of Building 50 at
the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.  If attendance matches
that of years past, the third annual event is expected to draw as many
as 1,000 people throughout the day.
 
Monday, January 24, 2011

Turning a page

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Turning a Page 1/24/11
Congratulations to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, which has started
charging for a portion of its local online content. It’s about time,
and anyone who cares about the fate of newspapers in America should
hope this trend continues.
 
Monday, January 17, 2011

Digital Art at the Dennos

Art Robert Downes Digital Art at the Dennos: Korean artist Lee nam Lee brings classic paintings to life 1/17/11
Blending digital technology with classic paintings of the East and West is the challenge of Lee nam Lee, whose exhibition “A Conversation Between Monet and Sochi” will run at the Dennos Museum Center through March 27.
A sculptor by background and a master of digital technology, Lee nam Lee brings wall-sized paintings to life, even to the point of interacting with other paintings.
In the exhibit’s main work, a waterscape painting by French impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926) is projected side-by-side with a water scene by Korean artist Sochi (1803-1893) on a 40-foot-wide wall. Other than their shared use of water, the paintings are completely different in style. Yet by using digital technology, Lee nam induces the paintings to move and interact.
 
Monday, January 17, 2011

Gas pains in Emmet/Charlevoix

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Gas Pains In Emmet/Charlevoix 1/17/11
Sometimes, it really does pay to look a gift horse in the mouth...
When oil and gas landmen descended on the Little Traverse area last
summer with promises of easy riches in return for mineral leases and
signing bonuses, many landowners in Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim and
Cheboygan counties took the bait.
 
Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorrentino‘s Situation

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Sorrentino’s Situation
There was a shirtless photo of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s
Jersey Shore in last week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly. The
Situation, of course, is world-famous for his abs, and looks to be ‘cut’
about as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Anyone who’s ever trained for a body building competition, a black
belt, or for their first marathon, can appreciate the kind of effort
that goes into Sorrentino’s level of fitness. But as any fitness junkie
knows, getting there is one thing -- staying there is another.
 
Monday, January 10, 2011

Sara Cockrell

Features Robert Downes A Life of Adventure: Superfit Sara Cockrell follows her dream
By Robert Downes
Hiking solo for more than 40 miles across Isle Royale in her first-ever
backpacking trip is the kind of thing you expect from Sara Cockrell, one
of the most energetic and upbeat persons you could hope to find in the
Grand Traverse fitness community
 
Monday, January 3, 2011

Rebooting the Mating Ritual

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Rebooting the Mating Ritual
Anthropologists often study the habits of primitive tribes, including
their mating rituals, dances, tattoos, dining practices and such.
It makes you wonder what they’d think of the odd and exotic practices
of the natives here in Northern Michigan.
Recently, I went to a popular nightclub in the area and noticed that
the dance floor was packed with women in their 20s, dancing to DJ
music by Ke$ha, Kanye, Prince and the like. Where are all the young
dudes? the anthropologist in me wondered. Sitting at the bar with glum
looks on their faces, dressed in their hip-hop baseball caps and
oversized sweatshirts, watching the girls dance.
 
Monday, December 27, 2010

Wrapping it up

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Wrapping It Up
Person of the Year:
For Michigan it was Ms. Mary Jane Medical Marijuana and her thousands of fans.
I’ve been amazed at the number of people who’ve gotten their “card”
since medical marijuana was legalized. Never knew there were so many
sick people out there.
“I went down to the clinic and paid them $150 with an extra $100 to
the state and I was good to go. It was easy,” one new card-holder
told me recently. Now he can buy an ounce of weed for $300 or so to
ease a nervous condition.
 
Monday, December 20, 2010

The Giving Season

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Giving Season
There’s a man in our town who looks like a walking pile of rags. Ten
years ago, he was a well-groomed street person, handsome in a Brad Pitt
sort of way and wearing stylish clothes, like someone was caring for
him. But he’s dwindled down through the years to the visage of a
ragged scarecrow with long, knotted hair and a matted beard -- his
layered clothes in tatters -- shambling down the streets with the look
of a kicked dog in his eyes.
 
Monday, December 13, 2010

Creative Roundup

Music Robert Downes Creative Roundup: What’s new from local authors & musicians
By Robert Downes
If you’re taking the ‘buy local’ movement to heart, consider
supporting local artists, authors and musicians this holiday season.
Often, their work is a labor of love that pays more in terms of
personal satisfaction than in dollars. Here’s a brief look at who’s
doing what:
 
Monday, December 13, 2010

The White Hurricane

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Only a fool would try to predict the weather, but let’s get a little
wild & crazy here and give it a go anyway: It’s going to snow this
winter.
Ha-ha. If any of us had worries about not celebrating a white
Christmas this year, they were put to rest by last week’s dump,
courtesy of a lake effect snowstorm that blew the white stuff all the
way to Tennessee. Midway through last week, we had already received 4
feet, with buckets of snowflakes still falling.
 
Monday, December 6, 2010

The Buy Local Movement

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Buy Local Movement
In some ways, the early ’90s were a scarier time for downtowns in
Northern Michigan than what we face today in the “Great Recession.”
Nearly 20 years ago, we interviewed Bryan Crough, executive director
of the Downtown Development Authority about the future of downtown
Traverse City. At the time, America was undergoing the recession of
1991-’92. Merchants and restaurateurs in Northern Michigan were also
threatened by an invasion of chain stores and eateries.
 
 
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