February Monthly Gathering – The Man Who Hated Women: Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age

Anthony Comstock, the infamous anti-vice activist, was one of the most important men in the lives of nineteenth-century women: The eponymous Comstock law, passed in 1873, penalized the mailing of contraception and obscenity, with long jail sentences and steep fines.

Join us on Zoom at 7:00pm (EST), on February 18 when New York Times–bestselling author Amy Sohn presents a narrative history of Comstock, and eight remarkable women, especially for their time. They were all charged with violating state and federal Comstock laws in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while opposing his war on women’s rights.

Ms. Sohn will bring these stories to life, including the first woman presidential candidate, Victoria C. Woodhull; birth control activist Margaret Sanger; the anarchist Emma Goldman, and more. Risking imprisonment and death, these women redefined birth control access as a civil liberty. Without them, there would have been no Pill, no Planned Parenthood, and no Roe v. Wade.

Amy Sohn is the New York Times-bestselling author of twelve books, including the novels Prospect Park West, Motherland, and The Actress. Her books have been published in eleven languages and on five continents. In 1995 Amy graduated from Brown University. She has written columns for the weekly New York Press and the New York Post, and was a contributing editor at New York magazine for six years. As a freelance journalist she has written for the New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, Details, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Men’s Journal, Playboy, and many others. Amy is also a screenplay and television writer, including pilots for HBO, ABC, and Fox.

Sound interesting? Join us on Saturday, February 18, for a trip back to the turn of the 20th century, when American women endured economic and educational inequities, restrictive laws on marriage and property rights, and social and cultural norms that prevented them from enjoying all the rights and privileges of men. And, oh yeah, they also couldn’t vote. The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm (EST) for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm (EST). Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0223-Gathering .

January Monthly Gathering – The D.A.R.T. Mission: NASA Takes A Shot in the Dark

A giant space rock wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Could Earth be hit again? You betcha! Researchers were stunned in July, 2019, when a previously undetected “city killer” asteroid, that was up to 427 feet wide, came within 45,000 miles of Earth — less than one-fifth the distance to the moon. If the asteroid had struck the Earth, it would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon. 

To date, NASA has classified more than 21,000 asteroids and more than 100 comets as near-Earth objects. Of that group, about 2,000 are considered “potentially hazardous.” Congress has directed NASA to find and track at least 90 percent of the objects that pose a threat to Earth within the next 100 years. But so far, scientists have identified only an estimated 40 percent of near-Earth objects

The “Double Asteroid Redirection Test”, or D.A.R.T., was a NASA space mission aimed at testing a method of planetary defense against near-Earth objects. It was designed to assess how much a spacecraft impact deflects an asteroid through its transfer of momentum when hitting the asteroid head-on. The D.A.R.T. probe was launched from Earth on November 24. 2021, and intentionally crashed into Dimorphos, the minor-planet moon of the asteroid Didymos on September 26, 2022.

To get a detailed, yet readily understandable explanation of the D.A.R.T mission, without first having to take a crash course in astrophysics, please join us via Zoom, at 7:00p.m. (EST) on Saturday, January 21. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Nick Moskowitz, a planetary astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.Dr. Moskowitz’s research involves observations and simple models of minor planets in the Solar System. He is particularly interested in exploring relationships between small body populations, such as the link between near-Earth asteroids and meteorites. This work has implications for topics ranging from the origin of planets to the exploration of small bodies by spacecraft. He received his PhD and MS degrees in Astronomy from the University of Hawaii and his BS degree in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures via Zoom. Those wishing to attend will need to pre-register at the following link:  https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0123-Gathering . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions will only be sent to those who are pre-registered. 

December Monthly Gathering – A Fraudulent Election? So you think there’s never been an election like 2020? Think Again!

Zoom Presentation: 7pm (EST), Saturday, December 17, 2022

Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of Monthly Gathering lectures on Zoom through March 2023. To attend this month’s presentation, you must pre-register at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1222-Gathering . The event’s Zoom URL and instructions will only be sent to those who are pre-registered.

It was an election where:

  • Both political parties worked exceedingly hard to mobilize their base, and the election yielded the highest voter turnout in U.S. history.
  • Before the votes were even counted, Republicans claimed the election was being stolen. 
  • Democrats win the vote and lead in the Electoral College, but Republicans protest, contending their candidate would have won easily with honest voting.
  • Claims of fraud included, among other things, that some states reported more votes than eligible voters.
  • In several contested states party officials appointed dueling slates of electors and sent conflicting returns to Congress.

Sound familiar? Maybe so, but the year was 1876 and the winner of the election was Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.

The 1876 presidential election is the most controversial in American history. A dispute over the results led to a months-long battle that did not conclude until days before the inauguration. Historians have since debated over a potential “bargain” that took place in the final moments that settled the dispute in favor of Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, with assurances that the federal government would end its Reconstruction efforts. Since then, and especially recently, this election has been an important reference point for many politicians and political media personalities who use it to make pronouncements on the current political landscape. Comparisons to the 2020 election are inevitable, and the 1876 election has thus been subjected to both serious, well-considered study, and politically-infused analysis. This talk will explain the events that led up to the election’s conclusion, and provide thoughts on what we know and do not know about this pivotal moment in American electoral history.

Our speaker, Dustin McLochlin, has been the historian at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums since 2017. Prior to that he worked as the education coordinator at HPLM. His work has been featured in the Presidential Quarterly, Muster of the Journal of the Civil War Era, the Toledo Blade, and the Columbus Dispatch. He also manages a monthly series on “Hayes’ Evolving Views on anti-slavery and Reconstruction.” He received his Ph.D. in the field of Policy History in 2014, and Master of Arts in History in 2008, both from Bowling Green State University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Indiana University Kokomo, in 2005.

October Monthly Gathering – The CERN Large Hadron Collider And the Quest to find the Building Blocks of Reality

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), to push protons or ions to near the speed of light, with the help of a ring of superconducting magnets. This ring is a giant circular tunnel built underground. The tunnel is 17 miles (27 kilometers) long, and between 50 and 175 meters below the surface. It lies beneath the border of Switzerland and France.  The LHC is the largest, and one of the most complex machines ever built. 

Join us on Saturday, October 15, when our guest speaker Dr. Claude Pruneau, Wayne State University professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy, will provide us with an overview of research being conducted at the LHC, and the particles being produced and studied in the collisions of heavy ions there. This presentation is geared towards non physicists, so come and learn, without fear of frying your brain.

Dr. Pruneau is a French Canadian native born in Quebec City. He completed his studies at Universite Laval where he earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 1987. He worked as Research Fellow successively for the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and McGill University in Montreal. He joined the Wayne State University Faculty in 1992, where he conducts an active research program in relativistic heavy ion physics and study of the Quark Gluon Plasma at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at CERN in Switzerland. Dr. Pruneau is a member of the American Physical Society, the Canadian Association of Physicists, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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 6:30pm. The program begins at 7:00pm. Admission: $4 for Mensa Members, $5 for non-Mensans. 

Following the presentation, please join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Highway, in Farmington Hills, just northeast of Middlebelt Road.

If you’d prefer to participate on Zoom, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1022-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.

September Monthly Gathering — The Truth Will Out! Unmasking the Real Author of Shakespeare’s Plays

For more than 150 years, academics have questioned how William Shakespeare of Stratford, a man who left school at age thirteen and apparently never traveled abroad, could have written such a broad and deep body of work, one that is said to draw on the largest vocabulary of any writer in the English language.

Our speaker on Saturday, September 17 will be Mark McPherson, who was a featured MENSA guest a few years back. In his address, he will discuss the matter of the oft-debated Shakespearean Authorship Question. In the course of his presentation Mark will cover: Who was “Shakespeare?” And what evidence does or does not exist to affirm him as the author of the plays and poems which have born his name for the last six centuries? These are the burning questions which have intrigued the likes of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud and many others. Along just such an inquisitorial line, Mark McPherson has continued his scrutiny of the Bard of Avon. Over the course of years Mr. McPherson has actually “tried” William Shakespeare in absentia in a number of discourses, debates, and in 1984, the production of “The Great Shakespeare Duel,” which aired on PBS. On the heels of convincing a general audience jury of his prosecutorial case, Mr. McPherson was invited to London’s Middle Temple Hall, where a British debate involved him as a member of the Oxfordian Prosecutorial team.

Himself a lover of historical research and mystery, our speaker is also the founder of DAEDALOS, an agency for “consultancy and field investigation,” which over the decades has examined such enigmas as parapsychology, the Loch Ness Monster, the quests for Atlantis and Camelot, the Shroud of Turin, as well as the enduring matter of Shakespeare’s identity and authorial claim upon a host of immortal works.

As an actor, playwright, film-maker and popular lecturer, Mark McPherson brings his own unique style to the stage, even as he has done in his national and international one-character dramas in which he has portrayed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Dickens, Wyatt Earp, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and C.S. Lewis. He is also the author of two non-fiction volumes, “Looking For Lisette: In Search Of An American Original”, and a memoir, “An Irregular Life: The Adventures and Memories of a Fortunate Sherlockian”.

Bringing a keen sense of curiosity, intellectual method and vibrant humor to his subjects, Mark McPherson admits to applying “the sort of investigative and deductive techniques” to his case-work as two of his idols, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictive creation, Sherlock Holmes. Dubbed” Michigan’s Indiana Jones” by legendary radio host J.P. McCarthy, Mark McPherson’s work has been critically acclaimed on a national as well as international basis. “Poe is fine, but McPherson is superb” wrote America’s literary giant, Ray Bradbury.

For these and other reasons we look forward to what Mark has to say concerning the enigma of Shakespeare, at 7pm on Saturday, September 17.

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, 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-0922-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.