Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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Harley L. Sachs

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A flying cruise ship

Features Harley L. Sachs Most Americans who remember the dirigible think only of the spectacular crash of the Hindenberg at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937. Some know that the U.S. Navy acquired a couple of other dirigibles which both came to tragic ends.
What you might not realize, however, is that in spite of the spectacular blaze that incinerated the Hindenberg as its hydrogen burned, only 36 of the 97 persons aboard were killed. The film of the disaster made such an impression that dirigible travel ended. Yet, the sinking of the Titanic with a loss of 1,500 lives did not end the era of the ocean liner. And a disaster in the Canary Islands when two jumbo jets collided on the runway did not end jet travel, either. Should the new gigantic jet airbus -- still not in regular service -- crash with 600 people aboard, that might end the Airbus, but not air transportation.
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Carbon Dioxide‘s impact on the seas

Features Harley L. Sachs By now we are all familiar with carbon dioxide, CO2, that infamous greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. CO2 is spewed into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants. Its also in comes from the exhaust of internal combustion engines, like your car, the truck that transports your groceries, the airplanes jetting at 35,000 feet, and your gasoline-powered lawnmower. Even you release carbon dioxide every time you exhale - and so does your cat.
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are you ready for a Second Life?

Features Harley L. Sachs An amazing moment in Peter Seller’s “Being There” is when Sellers as Chauncy Gardener emerges from his cloistered residence into a now rough neighborhood. Chauncy has lived a life in front of a television set and carries his remote control. He’s accosted by a couple of black hoodlums. When he doesn’t like what he sees in the toughs he’s met he tries to change the channel to something else. His clicker doesn’t work. He has entered a new reality.
Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fishing for almost everyone

Features Harley L. Sachs Now that the ice is off the lakes and ice augers and tip-ups are put away for a few months of summer, it’s time to think about other forms of piscatorial pursuits. Isaak Walton, in his “Compleat Angler” (the first published treatise on the art of fishing,) never dreamed of the means available today.
Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Death of Privacy

Features Harley L. Sachs Bruce Schneider, author of “Beyond Fear” and one of the world’s foremost security experts, spoke at Michigan Technological University recently and his message was chilling. Privacy is dead.
He wasn’t merely referring to the surveillance cameras that are everywhere—in shopping malls, on buses, by ATM machines, at busy intersections and outside government buildings. These have played important parts in tracking down criminals, kidnappers, armed robbers, and people who run red lights. Those are external watchers outside of our control. What Schneider talked about was how we expose ourselves.
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Death of the Bees

Features Harley L. Sachs Forget global warming. Forget being struck by a giant meteorite. Forget a cataclysmic earthquake or eruption of the Yellowstone volcanic complex. You can even forget al Quaida. The most credible and impending threat to our lives is happening right now. It’s the death of bees.
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rights for robots?

Features Harley L. Sachs Just what is a robot, anyway? At the most basic level it’s a mechanism that performs an action on orders from a human operator. In that sense, your toaster is a sort of robot because you set the control and when the toast is ready it pops up. In World War II the strength demanded for the operation of certain controls, such as the wing flaps on a bomber, required a servomechanism. Your power brakes and steering are such servomechanism. So is your car’s cruise control, which turns your car into a robot of sorts. Eventually, we’ll have a car that drives itself. Set the GPS destination and the car will take you there; and there are already mechanisms which parallel park some new cars. (We used to have a similar device. It was called a chauffeur.)
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Invaders from Mars

Features Harley L. Sachs Back in the 1960s, Sir Fred Hoyle, the astronomer whose lucidly written popular books brought an understanding of the universe to the general public, teamed up with an Indian doctor, N. C. Wickramsinghe, with a controversial book, “Diseases from Space.” In their book the two scientists postulated that certain viruses from space had infected the human population. Their theory was called “Panspermia,” the idea that life on earth is a transplant from outer space.
As examples they pointed out how totally isolated arctic communities not visited by humans or even by birds had been mysteriously infected with a virus that could have come from nowhere else but outer space. The claim was that viruses of a certain size could survive entry through the protective shields afforded by the upper atmosphere. Certain respiratory diseases, they claimed, were a form of space invader.
Other scientists debunked “Diseases from Space,” and Hoyle’s reputation as a serious scientist was tarnished.
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Airline of the future

Features Harley L. Sachs In spite of all the talk and alarm about greenhouse gasses and global warming, there’s almost no mention of the impact of high flying jet aircraft on the atmosphere. As we saw so vividly during the 9-11 hijackings, at any given moment there are hundreds, even thousands of planes in the air over the United States. Their exhausts are spewed out at high altitudes where they do the most damage to the ozone layer. If those emissions could be substantially reduced, it would make a big difference.
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Shopping made a Turkey out of me

Books Harley L. Sachs Don’t let anyone tell you that grocery shopping in America is boring. At holiday time, Thanksgiving and Christmas, grocery stores in the United States offer special deals. Cranberry sauce is suddenly cheap. Sweet potatoes, a staple on the menu, are also pullers. Then there’s the promise of a reduced price or even free turkey. This can be an adventure.
The store whose coupon we pursued offered three different deals. If we spent $25, our holiday turkey would be 49 cents a pound. If we spent $50 the price would drop to 39 cents a pound. If we spent $100 the bird would be free.
We had no intentions of going for a free turkey. We live in a studio apartment with a small refrigerator. A typical holiday giant frozen turkey would not fit in the freezer compartment. With only two of us to eat it, a whole turkey would last for weeks. At least, after several meals followed by turkey fricassee and even turkey soup, we would be satiated on turkey for a whole year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A bomb anyone?

Features Harley L. Sachs At the height of the Cold War arms race between the United States and Soviet Union (USSR) there was a well-understood reality called MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. For anyone who fired a nuclear missile, whether from the USSR or the USA, it was well understood that retaliation would obliterate the attacker.
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Truth or Hoax...Disappearence of F89

Features Harley L. Sachs Late on November 23, 1953 radar from Kinross airbase detected an unidentified flying object over Lake Superior. An F89 jet fighter with a crew of two, pilot Felix Moncla and radar observer Robert Wilson, were dispatched to investigate. At one point the radar images of the plane and the object appeared to merge and then they disappeared. What happened to the plane and the object it was sent to investigate has been a closely guarded secret for over 50 years.
Thursday, August 17, 2006

SPACE: The final hotel frontier

Features Harley L. Sachs So you’ve “been there and done that”? Seen and done everything and have the dough to say the sky’s the limit on your next vacation? How about space?
While NASA struggles to complete a space station with what remains of its 20-year-old shuttle fleet, private investors are forging ahead with their own money. It’s a strange partnership: American and British entrepreneurs have teamed up with Russia to convert some of those menacing ICBMs, left over from the cold war, to civilian use.
On July 12 Bigelow Aerospace, using money from the sale of a chain of U.S. hotels, launched an inflatable space module to test the feasibility of what is to become a tourist attraction for the rich. Bigelow Aerospace, located in Las Vegas, is gambling on a plan to launch a string of sausage-like space modules in five years to accommodate space tourists.
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Press two for Spanish

Other Opinions Harley L. Sachs The story of the Tower of Babel applies today. The project was an attempt to reach heaven by building a high tower, a plan that failed when God made people all speak different languages. They could no longer work together. For a cohesive society, people must be able to speak the same language.
The Dutch have the right idea. Faced with a troubling influx of immigrants who want the benefits of life in Holland but do not learn Dutch, the country has changed the laws. If you want to stay in Holland and be a citizen you must learn Dutch. To not embrace the language and culture of your adopted land undermines it. We have that problem here.
English is now the official language for the state of Michigan. In the 1900s when this country had a huge influx of foreign immigrants those folks could not wait to learn English. Nobody wanted to be a “greenhorn.”
My mother was born in London and told us of a visit to an American farm. She asked what they did with all those beans and was told, “We eat what we can and what we can’t we can.” A friend explained, “Oh, they put them in tins.” Though my mother was English and knew the language, she didn’t know American.
Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Latest on Global Warming

Features Harley L. Sachs The burning of fossil fuels has two main byproducts: carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor. No one knows the effect of water vapor (clouds) on global warming, but the theory was that CO2 is a major contributor. CO2 emissions are the subject of the Kyoto treaty to limit emissions by industrial countries, especially the United States. Current research, however, suggests that basis may be false.
For several years the theory has been that increasing CO2 as the result of the burning of fossil fuels is warming up the earth. Turns out that assumption was a computer error. The latest conference in Montreal on climate change concludes that even a 400 percent increase in CO2 emissions will have such a small impact on world temperature that it can hardly be measured accurately. Oops. So what actually is warming up the earth?