December Monthly Gathering – Why is there a German U-Boat at the Bottom of Lake Michigan?

Until the weather becomes more predictably amenable to meeting in person, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. Attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1221-Gathering . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation. The number of attendees may be limited, so please pre-register early. 

I suspect that some of you may think I’m either mistakenly referring to the U-505 submarine on display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, a relic of World War II, or the recent totally fake news report of another Nazi submarine discovered in Lake Ontario. Answer: No and hell no(!), respectively.

This vessel, the one located in the depths of Lake Michigan, approximately 20 to 30 miles offshore of Highland Park, Illinois, is World War I’s UC-97. Nearly forgotten since it disappeared beneath the waves for the last time 100 years ago, UC-97 was not only the first submarine to reach the Great Lakes, it is also the ONLY vessel EVER sunk by naval gunfire in Lake Michigan. 

There has been an ongoing effort to raise the UC-97 since its rediscovery, which has only led to frustration, due in no small part to incredible levels of red tape. Which brings us to the question of just how and why does the Naval History and Heritage Command stand in the way of any attempts to salvage her? Why, according to some, has this branch of the U.S. Navy, whose mission is to make naval history come alive and present it to the American people, attempted to obstruct others from doing what they are paid by the tax payers to facilitate?

There’s lots more to this incredible story that will leave you gasping for air as we take a deep dive into this account of war, politics, Lake Michigan exploration, and history.

Leading the discussion will be Taras Lyssenko, a partner in A and T Recovery, a company dedicated to the recovery and preservation of history that had been lost under water, and rediscover of the UC-97. His activities have led to the discovery of the location of hundreds of artifacts including World War II aircraft, ships dating back to the 1800s and even the remnants of a forest that dates back over 8000 years. Taras is one of the leaders of the team that has recovered dozens of the aircraft on behalf of the National Naval Aviation Museum. Those aircraft are now on display in museums and airports across the United States.

Mr. Lyssenko was a commissioned Army officer, Ranger qualified, who now works in government relations and business development within the realms of defense, energy, aviation, medicine and homeland security. He donates great amounts of time assisting in educational efforts for students ranging from grade school to college, and he has written two books, including the children’s book “Wendy’s Fear of Heights” and the firsthand account of marine exploration and aircraft recovery, “The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and the Aircraft They Rescued.”

Sound interesting? Join us on December 18 to learn more about this fascinating page of almost forgotten history. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.

Announcing Winter Bash 2021

Southeast Michigan Mensa’s Winter Bash is coming Saturday, November 13, 2021. 

Featuring: A chance to mingle with Mensans and guests who will actually get your jokes! All you can eat: pizza, salad, soft drinks, beer, wine, dessert, and munchies! Stuff to do: eat, socialize, games– bring your favorites!

Visit the Winter Bash page for ticket information.
Early bird pricing ends on November 11th.

October Monthly Gathering – Domestic Terrorism: Threats, Government Policies, And Responses

The events of January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol served as a stark example of the evolving threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States. In response, new initiatives and programs have been announced by the Biden administration, the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), as well as a new senior domestic counterterrorism position at the National Security Council (NSC). All demonstrate an increased focus on the problem.

This threat has ebbed and flowed in intensity over the past several decades, with some experts suggesting the more recent manifestation of what the country is currently experiencing started a decade ago, if not earlier. This discussion, led by Javed Ali, former National Security Council Senior Director for Counterterrorism, will provide perspectives on the threat landscape, the policy and legal framework on domestic terrorism, and possible new approaches that can help reduce the threat in the future.

Please join us at 7pm (EDT) on Saturday, October 16, for a discussion of what top justice and homeland security officials call today’s most dangerous terrorism threat.

Javed Ali is an associate professor of practice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Ali brings more than 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, DC. He held positions in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security before joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior roles on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council and the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration. Mr. Ali holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Detroit School of Law, and an MA in international relations from American University. He writes and provides commentary across a number of media sites and platforms, including MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Hill, and Newsweek.

WHEN: Saturday, October 16, 2021

5:30pm: The ExComm business meeting begins. All Mensa members are welcome to attend
6:30pm: Mingling begins
7:00pm: Program starts

ADMISSION: (Exact change appreciated)
Adult Mensa members: $4, Adult guests: $5; Children 13 and under: $3
Mensa members receive free admission in the month of their birthday

LOCATION:
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield
23925 Northwestern Hwy
Southfield, MI 48075

We ask that you help us to provide a safer live meeting environment for all by wearing a face mask.

If you are unable to attend in person, join the Zoom presentation! Zoom attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1021-Gathering, The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation. The Zoom room opens at 630pm for mingling.

Following the presentation, join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Hwy., in Farmington Hills, Just northeast of Middlebelt Rd.

September Monthly Gathering – China: Existential Threat to the U.S. or Overhype?

Republicans across the political spectrum, from moderate Senator Mitt Romney to hardcore former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have decreed that China poses an existential threat to the United States. While President Joe Biden hasn’t gone that far yet, his national-security team has maintained the previous administration’s hardline policies toward Beijing. A recent Gallup poll shows nearly 80% of Americans hold unfavorable views of China — a number that will only rise if it is proven that the new coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab. And what about the prospect of China displacing America as the world’s largest economy? Meanwhile, China’s diplomacy largely entails an adversarial and confrontational attitude toward foreign diplomats, an accusatory and provocative domestic and foreign propaganda campaign and an assertion of its military power onto its neighbors. This has been spurred on by the fanning of nationalist flames in China and the view of Chinese citizens that the West pushes them around. So, are Americans’ worst fears about China justified, just paranoia, or something in between?

To help answer these and other questions about China join us at 7pm Saturday, September 18, when our guest speaker Gus Mondalek will guide us through an evaluation and discussion of China’s potential threats to the U.S. and the rebalancing of power in the far east, and southeast Asia.

Our speaker, Gus Mondalek, is descended from a family of secular religious scholars whose personal history is a conduit between East and West. Born in Kuwait to an expatriate family, he spent his formative years in Lebanon during that country’s civil war. He is a graduate of the American University in Beirut, and holds multiple advanced degrees from Lawrence Technological University. 

WHEN: Saturday, September 18, 2021

5:30pm: The ExComm business meeting begins. All Mensa members are welcome to attend
6:30pm: Mingling begins
7:00pm: Program starts

ADMISSION: (Exact change appreciated)
Adult members: $4, Adult guests: $5; Children 13 and under: $3
Members receive free admission in the month of their birthday

LOCATION
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield
23925 Northwestern Hwy
Southfield, MI 48075

We ask that you help us to provide a safer live meeting environment for all by wearing a face mask.

If you can’t attend in person, join the Zoom presentation! Zoom attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0921-Gathering,The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be sent to those who are pre-registered, about an hour before the presentation.

Following the presentation, join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Hwy., in Farmington Hills, Just northeast of Middlebelt Rd.