Aaron Selbig

Documentary filmmaker Rick Prelinger makes films that are carefully pieced together from his collection of more than 14,000 home movies.

Two of them are playing this week at the Traverse City Film Festival. One film takes a look at the American road trip. The other is sort of a time capsule of the city of Detroit.

Keeping an eye on the toxic bloom in Lake Erie

13 hours ago

There’s a bloom of cyanobacteria in Lake Erie right now. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting it could become the second worst on record.

The bacteria produce a toxin called microcystin. A year ago, that toxin led to a ban on drinking water in Toledo and a few Michigan communities. Officials say microcystin can cause skin irritation and could affect the liver and nervous systems if you consume it in large amounts.

This week, Toledo officials said they detected low levels of microcystin in untreated water from Lake Erie. But they say right now, their treatment system is removing the toxin and city water is safe to drink.

A conversation with a tribe of documentary filmmakers about the joys, pains, triumphs, tragedies, and unexpected rewards of their artform.


In Michigan we get a regular glimpse of what people in the state are thinking about the economy, how well they’re doing financially, what they think of the president, the governor, Congress, the state Legislature, and local government.

Michigan State University released its State of the State Survey today. Charles Ballard is the director of the survey.

Filmstrip festival a nod to a simpler time

Jul 29, 2015
Rosie Flickinger started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago.
Tom Carr

Thousands will line up this week with their tickets in hand for the Traverse City Film Festival. But a few miles to the south, the Traverse City Filmstrip Festival at East Bay Branch Library will celebrate a less glamorous medium.

Before YouTube and before videotapes, school kids saw a lot of filmstrips, like the one Rosie Flickinger shows. It’s a story told and sung by the late Pete Seeger.

 She clicks the filmstrip ahead every time she hears the beep on the audio cassette.

Flickinger, a librarian, started the so-called filmstrip festival 10 years ago, when the Traverse City Film Festival was young. The event is really just a couple showings of filmstrips.


Last year Sleeping Bear Dunes ranked 13th out of more than 100 national parks, lakeshores, and recreation areas for the number of search and rescue operations conducted there.

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, and it has something the other Great Lakes don’t — stable populations of mostly native fish species.

But scientists say a key fish in Superior’s food web is now in trouble because of mild winters and an appetite for caviar in Europe.

U.S. Geological Survey

Researchers have discovered a widespread infestation of quagga mussels in Crooked Lake near Petoskey. It’s the first time the mussels have been reported in an inland lake in Michigan.

Quagga mussels spread rapidly through the Great Lakes in the 1990s and eventually displaced their cousin, the zebra mussel. Kevin Cronk from the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council says quagga mussels have a wide range and reproduce very quickly.

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea

Everybody who sets foot in a voting booth wants to know that their vote counts just as much as the vote of the next person in line. Faith in our democratic system rests on fair and representative elections.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s political map has been manipulated to the point that not all votes count the same. Politicians have drawn political districts so that in many places around our state, who wins or loses is a foregone conclusion long before the end of election night. They created the political map this way in order to give themselves and their party a head start in an election, much to the detriment of our democracy and your vote.

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

Everyone needs a vacation every once in a while and Michigan's lawmakers are no different. But in Lansing, some folks in the state Senate promised they wouldn't be taking one this summer, so they could work on a road funding deal.

The state House, however, made no such promises, and they've just started a month long break.

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Classical Music & Culture

Songs We Love: Nordic Affect, 'Clockworking'

Iceland might be small and isolated but the country's music scene is substantial, resonating far beyond the island nation. One Icelandic group that thrives on both new and old classical music is Nordic Affect. Formed in 2005, the quartet of women is equally at home playing 17th century dance music and newly commissioned works like Clockworking, the title track from its forthcoming album.Once the piece gets up to speed, from its slowly churning opening, you feel like you've stepped inside a...
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