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?

Mr. Michael 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.

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.

August Monthly Gathering – The Constitution, January 6, and Its Aftermath

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was stormed by supporters of President Donald Trump, in an attempt to disrupt the joint session of Congress, assembled to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

Was this insurrection? Rebellion? An attempt by Citizens to defend the constitution against a government run amok?

Also, why have charges against those arrested for their activities on January 6 included (to date) specific acts, such as breaking into the Capitol, assaulting the Capitol Police, destroying government property, and the like, but NOT sedition or insurrection?

Join us on August 21 for an analysis and discussion of the events of January 6, their legal implications, their motivations, and their possible impact on the future of democracy in the United States. Leading the discussion will be former Wayne State distinguished professor of law, Robert A. Sedler.

At Wayne, Professor Sedler taught courses in Constitutional Law and Conflict of Laws. Prior to coming to Wayne State in 1977, he was Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky. Professor Sedler received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif, an honor society for law school graduates. In 2005, he was elected to the Wayne State University Academy of Scholars, which is the highest recognition bestowed upon faculty members by their colleagues. He served as President of the Academy during the 2007-2008 academic year. In April 2019, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Sedler a special assistant attorney general.

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. For the comfort and safety of all; We ask all those attending to please wear a mask.

Following the presentation, please 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-0821-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 6:30pm for mingling.