Archive | Monthly Gathering

SEMMantics 42

Enjoy this member-only, free one day event featuring speakers, games, and fun. Join us wherever you are!

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January Monthly Gathering – Burn Before Reading – America’s Incredible Intelligence Failures

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. These programs are “members only” events, and not open to the public.  Members should consult this month’s newsletter to register.  If you are not a member, why not join us?  See how at the “Join Now” tab above.

Unbelievably screwed-up intelligence operations rarely make headlines unless people die or major political figures are involved. What screws up a carefully planned operation? Most of the time it is ignorance or personality driven guidance and direction from people who have attained senior decision-making positions without ever having spent a day “on the street.”

For example, a person who spent their entire career in signals intelligence (SIGINT) wearing headphones, listening to enemy radio conversations, or supervising soldiers wearing headphones, is promoted to lieutenant colonel, assigned to be a department chief, and suddenly has the responsibility of approving human intelligence (HUMINT) operations involving real people illegally crossing borders, to carry out clandestine activities. It is analogous to a TV repairman being asked to do open-heart surgery.

On the other hand, an experienced HUMINT operator, who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam demands his subordinates use some of the same tactics and methods from those conflicts in post-Cold War Europe. When his subordinates question his guidance, they get fired, their operation goes down in flames, and the operator gets pushed into a dark corner until they retire.

In his thirty-three-year career as a multi-disciplined intelligence operator and analyst, our speaker this month, Robert Dukelow, participated in or provided support to several operations that should have been stamped SNAFU, maybe even FUBAR, rather than SECRET. Tales based on these operations have been fictionalized in Dukelow’s books, which were cleared for publication by the NSA and the Pentagon’s security offices. You should not, therefore, hear any currently classified information in this presentation.

Robert Dukelow lived 27 years in Germany. The fictional books he’s authored are filled with humor, spy stories, and strong women. After working 33 years as an Army counterintelligence special agent in Europe, Afghanistan, and the Pentagon, his German is superb. His Hungarian is marginal. His Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, and Japanese can get him in trouble. He now lives in Arizona, where he writes, gardens, teaches, hikes in the mountains, and says he’s having more fun than an old guy at his age should probably expect.

Join us on Saturday, January 16, to hear former Army Intelligence officer Robert Dukelow tell some of the astounding stories behind the stories of America’s intelligence operations. The Zoom room will open at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.

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December Monthly Gathering – What does it take to compete on “Jeopardy!”?

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. These programs are “members only” events, and not open to the public.  Members should consult this month’s newsletter to register.  If you are not a member, why not join us?  See how at the “Join Now” tab above.

For SEMM member, Amanda Holm, the answer was: What is broad-based knowledge, nerves of steel, and timing? Alex Trebek butchered the pronunciation of Livonia, and almost called her a bed wetter instead of a bead weaver, but Amanda still persevered and ended up a winner on “Jeopardy!”

Now lots of smart people know tons of trivia and get told, “Hey, you should be on Jeopardy!” But what’s it like when that pipe dream comes true? Well here’s your chance to find out! Amanda will be with us on Saturday, December 19 to give you the answers (always in the form of a question) on everything you always wanted to know about being on the “grande dame” of game shows, but were afraid to ask. Questions such as; How does someone get on Jeopardy? How do you prepare for questions that could be on any imaginable subject? And what’s host Alex Trebek really like?

Amanda is a Project Manager at Henry Ford Health System (all opinions are hers, not theirs); wife & mom of a blended family with four kids, ages 5 to almost 18; her hobbies include: reading, making beaded jewelry, reading, baking all sorts of goodies, and reading. She’s been a SEMM member for about 10 years, and was all set to whip up a Chocolate Feast and a host of Decadent Desserts for the 2020 Regional Gathering when… well, you know. Amanda has drifted steadily eastward across Michigan through her life, with a brief dip southward to the Washington, DC area. She holds a Masters degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, both from the University of Michigan (double Go Blue!).

So join us at 7:00pm, on Saturday, December 19, for this rare opportunity to find out first-hand from our own Amanda Holm, how it feels to actually go for broke in full view of millions of people, how life changed after appearing on Jeopardy, and maybe what actually happened to the money she won… or maybe not. The Zoom room will open at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.

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November Monthly Gathering – Treason!

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. These programs are “members only” events, and not open to the public.  Members should consult this month’s newsletter to register.  If you are not a member, why not join us?  See how at the “Join Now” tab above.

For David Tenenbaum, an Orthodox Jew, life has not been the same since February 1997. That’s when he was suspended from his job of 13 years as an engineer at the Army’s Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) headquarters in Warren, and the media reported that he was suspected of being a spy for Israel.

Some of those involved in the investigation characterized Tenenbaum as another Jonathan Pollard, a Navy analyst sentenced to a life term for giving classified material to Israel in the 1980’s and paroled in 2015. Mr. Tenenbaum was interrogated at length by the FBI and Army intelligence, polygraphed, placed (along with his wife) under 24-hour surveillance and his home was searched. Items collected as evidence in the FBI’s search of his home included a drawing by one of his children of some Hebrew letters, which the FBI suspected to be a coded message.

After more than a year of investigation, the FBI officially closed the case. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute, stating: “There is no question that if evidence existed which would prove this case, then these agents would have found it.”

Mr. Tenenbaum returned to work at TACOM and his security clearance was eventually restored. Yet despite having never been charged, some of his colleagues still shunned him on both a personal and professional level, fearing guilt by association, and/or believing him to have evaded prosecution due only to a lack of evidence, and that he was, in fact, a traitor. 

In 2008 the Department of Defense’s Inspector General issued a scathing condemnation of the investigation, and ruled the allegations against Tenenbaum were “both false and initiated with a discriminatory intent.”

Twenty-two years after the investigation ended, David Tennenbaum is still involved in litigation, but the Army steadfastly refuses to make Tenenbaum whole and compensate him for the false accusations against him.

Join us on Saturday, November 21 to learn what Mr. Tenenbaum actually did to merit such intense scrutiny by the government, if the investigation actually was motivated by prejudice, and the personal toll of the government’s actions on an American family. The Zoom window will open at 630pm for mingling. The program starts at 7pm.

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October Monthly Gathering – Of Icebergs and Inquiries: Michiganders on the Titanic

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. These programs are “members only” events, and not open to the public.  Members should consult this month’s newsletter to register.  If you are not a member, why not join us?  See how at the “Join Now” tab above.

On the night of April 15, 1912, the luxury ocean liner RMS Titanic sank during its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. When the ship went down, there were a number of Michiganders aboard, some, but not all, of whom tragically lost their lives. Within a week, Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan, a native of Dowagiac, convened the Senate inquiry into the disaster. Sans all the glitz and hype, this presentation explores the history of the Titanic, Senator Smith’s far-reaching quest for answers, and details what became of the Michiganders on board

Our speaker, Bob Myers, is the Director of Education for the Historical Society of Michigan. He holds a BA in history from Alma College and an MA in history from Western Michigan University. He has authored numerous books, including Lost on the Lakes: Shipwrecks of Berrien County and Adeline and Julia: Growing Up in Michigan and on the Kansas Frontier.  His articles have appeared in Michigan History Magazine and Michigan Historical Review. He and his wife Candace live in Grand Ledge, where they are restoring their 1903 Colonial Revival home.

Members please join us at 7pm, on Saturday, October 17, for a story which is both historically significant and locally relevant .

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