May Monthly Gathering – The Fear Industry

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
– Edmund Burke

Join us at 7pm on Saturday, May 21, when our guest speaker, Dr. Arash Javanbakht M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC) at Wayne State University, will give us a crash course on the nature of fear, why we experience it, and how it can be, and is, used to manipulate us.

Dr. Javanbakht will deliver a research-based analysis of how fear can be exploited by politicians or religious leaders to encourage tribalism, by rallying us against feared others. Also, how it keeps us frantically consuming the media and social-media products that convey it, thus offering business a financial incentive to keep us afraid in ways that pit us against each other, or to intimidate enemies and subordinates. Lasty, Dr. Javanbakht will explore ways of overcoming fear and how to resist fear-based manipulation. Skills that if learned widely would leave our nation less divided.

Few people confront fear as often as Dr. Javanbakht, an internationally recognized expert on all of its aspects, including its biological roots and cultural influences. 

Dr. Javanbakht’s clinical work is mainly focused on anxiety and trauma related disorders, and PTSD in civilians, first responders, law enforcement, and refugees and victims of torture and human trafficking. 

His research is also focused on anxiety disorders and trauma. Several research studies at the STARC examine the impact of exposure to war trauma in adult and child Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US, and biological and psychological factors of risk and resilience. This research examines genetic, environmental, and inflammation correlates of trauma as well. Also, use of art, dance and movement, and yoga and mindfulness in helping refugee families overcome stress.

Please note that this program will be presented live and on Zoom. The live presentation will take place at:

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

Doors open at 630pm. The program begins at 7pm. Admission: $4 for Mensa Members, $5 for non-Mensans. 

Following the presentation, those attending the live presentation are invited to join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Hwy., in Farmington Hills, Just Northeast of Middlebelt Rd.

If you’d prefer to participate on Zoom, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0522-Gathering ,The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will only be sent to those who are pre-registered. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. There is no charge for the Zoom presentation.

March Monthly Gathering — Fly Me to the Moon? The Story of NASA’s First Lady Astronauts

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-0322-Gathering .

In 1961, NASA invited the nation’s best female pilots to a medical facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they were subjected to physical exams unlike any they had ever experienced before. The tests were intense, both physically and psychologically, and were designed to determine if these women had “the right stuff” to fly in space. NASA had also just administered these tests to a select group of men, of whom seven were destined to be forever known as “the Mercury 7”. Now commonly known as “the Mercury 13”, this class of First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs) included twins, a senator’s wife, and a few mothers. Would they fly in space too…and, if so, when??? 

Dr. Nicolle Zellner, our speaker this month, is a professor of physics at Albion College. Nicolle’s research interests focus on understanding the impact history of the Earth-Moon system and how those impacts affected the conditions for life on Earth. 

Dr. Zellner was a member of the 2006 Antarctic Search for Meteorites team and collected over 800 specimens. Before Albion she was a post-doctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, and she was a member of the scientific ground crew during NASA’s STS-67 Astro-2 mission of the Space Shuttle “Endeavour” in 1995. 

Nicolle completed her undergraduate degree, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her PhD is from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her work has earned several prestigious awards, including the Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in public communication.

Dr. Zellner has been published in over 50 Scientific Publications. She’s presented at more than 100 Conferences, and participated in up to 150 public outreach activities, and you can follow her on Twitter at @astrodiva.

Sound interesting? You can blast off with us on Saturday, March 19 to learn more about America’s first female astronauts. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm. Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0322-Gathering .

February Monthly Gathering – Hail to the Chief! Saluting America’s First President, John Hanson!

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-0222-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. 

Quick! Who was the first president? George Washington right?…

Think about it. The ratification process for the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, was completed on March 1, 1781, but Washington wasn’t elected until 1789. So, who was our head of state during the 8 years in between? Enter John Hanson. It is a fact that on November 5, 1781, John Hanson of Maryland was elected the first “President of the United States in Congress Assembled”. And he was followed by eight more presidents PRIOR to George Washington.

But WHO was John Hanson? And WHY, despite his considerable accomplishments, was a person who played a vital part in founding the United States, almost totally forgotten by history, to the point where his burial place was lost, then obliterated, and remained unknown until rediscovered in 2011?

Peter Michael, our speaker this month, is the author of “Remembering John Hanson: A Biography of the First President of the Original United States Government”, which was awarded two national book prizes in biography. Mr. Michael has advised the federal and Maryland governments on John Hanson matters, and lectures widely on him. Peter Hanson Michael descends from President John Hanson’s immigrant grandfather, also
named John Hanson, and from William Stone, the third colonial governor of Maryland.

He also authored “Palace of Yawns: How the United Nations Failed Poor Nations in the Population Explosion”, which won a national book prize in foreign affairs; and “Running on Empty: Along an Epic 12,000 Mile Road Trip, America Has Its Say on Economic Inequality”, which was awarded national book prizes in political and economic affairs and in travel essays. He serves as publisher of “Underground Railroad Free Press”, North America’s top-circulation Underground Railroad news publication.

He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Berkeley and Princeton, and lives with his wife Vicki, a painter, at Cooling Springs Farm, a state historic landmark founded by the Michael family in 1768, near Adamstown, Maryland.

Please join us at 7pm, on Saturday, February 19 to learn more about the remarkable John Hanson, a Founding Father who was almost lost to history! The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm

January Monthly Gathering – Vladimir Putin: Corrupt! Competent! Environmentalist(?)!

Until the weather becomes more predictably amenable to meeting in person, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of free lectures on Zoom. Attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0122-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. 

Let’s take a look at the career of Vladimir Putin, an autocrat who publisher Henry Quinlan, this month’s speaker, describes as corrupt, yet competent, and (Yes!) an environmentalist! While many in the West look at Putin as unscrupulous and dictatorial, among the Russians his approval rating in July 2020 was 60%! Russia’s high confidence in Putin has been the result of numerous positive achievements under his leadership. For instance, who would believe that Russia may well become a leading producer of food? It’s a real possibility, and one of many results of Putin’s competence. But there are also reasons for wariness on the part of the West. 

Mr. Quinlan’s presentation will include a full examination of:

  • Putin’s policies and actions that could lead to a new “Cold War!”
  • The opening of the Northern Passage and its impact on international trade.
  • The points of conflict within the Arctic Council and the Paris Accords.
  • The role of China in supporting Russia’s goals.
  • Putin’s environmental concerns and actions
  • The significance to the rest of the world of growth in Russia’s Autonomous Jewish Region, after years of decline.
  • What’s in Russia’s future.

Henry M. Quinlan has been involved with the former Soviet Union and Russia since 1986 and has made more than 60 round trips. He lived in Moscow from 1990 to 1995, and witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last question to Quinlan in an FBI interview in 2016: “How does it feel to be a buddy of Putin’s?”

Mr. Quinlan is owner and publisher of Omni Publishing Company, and has 40+ years of varied experience publishing books. He is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School.  Notable among the books that he published are: “My Life in Space” by Wally Schirra; “Rebound” by KC Jones, coach of the Boston Celtics; “My Dad the Babe”by Babe Ruth’s daughter Dorothy Ruth Pirrone; “The Cops are Robbers” by Kevin Stevens, which was featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and made into an HBO movie.

While engaged in a publishing venture in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Quinlan was asked by President George H.W. Bush to organize the publishing of the children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings” in Russia in 1991, and the erection of the statues, “Make Way for Ducklings” in Moscow.

Sound interesting? Join us on January 15 to learn more about Vladimir Putin, perceptions of him from inside Russia, and Russia’s evolving role in the world community. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.If you’d like to participate, YOU’LL NEED TO PRE-REGISTER by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0122-Gathering . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will be displayed on the page when you register and sent to you by email.

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.