Netflix Roulette: Kelsey Grammar on a sub edition

    downperiscope3

    Don’t ruin it for me. I’m only up to the part where the crew shrinks the uniform of Lt. Lake, the Diving Officer on the USS Stingray, so that it can barely contain her distractingly-large breasts.

    Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

    Geocentrism, anti-Semitism, and the role of Kate Mulgrew in helping Robert Sungenis to roll back the Enlightenment

    Kate Mulgrew is a terrible person.

    Not only did she attempt to ruin my favorite television show, by willingly participating in the excerable 1979 mystery series Mrs. Columbo, but she’s now lending her voice to a “documentary” project putting forward the preposterous notion that the sun and planets rotate around the earth. Here with more is a clip from RawStory.com.

    A new documentary film, narrated by a former Star Trek actress, promotes the long-ago disproven idea that the sun revolves around the Earth.

    “Everything we think we know about our universe is wrong,” says actress Kate Mulgrew as she narrates the trailer for “The Principle.”

    The film, which is set to be released sometime this spring, was bankrolled in part by the ultra-conservative and anti-Semitic Robert Sungenis, who maintains the blog “Galileo Was Wrong.”

    In addition to Mulgrew, who played Capt. Kathryn Janeway in “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Nemeis,” the film features several scientists, including Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmart.

    In the trailer, the scientists discuss how the Earth’s unique characteristics make it well-suited for life, in comparison to other planets.

    But Sungenis himself offers the only real bombshell in the two-minute, 20-second trailer.

    “You can go on some websites of NASA to see that they’ve started to take down stuff that might hint to a geocentric universe,” Sungenis says.

    About one in four Americans believe in geocentrism, which places the Earth at the center of the universe and the sun, planets, and stars revolving around it…

    Sungenis, by the way, is perhaps best known for his work to disprove the “myth” that 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust. He’s also written extensively about our government’s faking of the moon landing, and the fact that NASA is responsible for the world’s crop circles. (“It gets everybody talking about UFOs,” he says. But really, all they are doing is getting our minds off the Bible and Christ by making it look like neither are true.”) Oh, and he also believes that the Jews are responsible for 9-11.

    Here’s the trailer for his film, The Principle.

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we know that so-called Young Earth Creationists are out there, spreading the belief that the earth is only 6,000 years old. And we know that there are people who actually believe that humans coexisted with dinosaurs, and that evolution doesn’t exist. So why should it be any surprise to learn that there are people out there who believe that God created the earth at the center of the universe? I suppose we should just be thankful that we haven’t yet regressed to the point where a majority of us once again believe that the earth is flat, and that the sun is a golden chariot driven across the heavens by a god.

    As for Mulgrew, I realize that she probably just did this for the money, without looking into the men behind it, but, at some point, I feel as though you have to take responsibility for your actions as an adult. And I’m not inclined to give her a pass for this just because she wanted the paycheck. The anti-science movement taking root in America is very real threat to the future of humanity, and we need to do whatever we can to stop it, even if it means calling out actresses like Mulgrew who we might otherwise respect. I can forgive a celebrity who does an ad for something stupid because he or she wants to make an extra million bucks, but I think you cross a line when you start helping ultra-conservative religious fanatics roll back the Enlightenment.

    One last thing, don’t be surprised if there are strange notes left in the comments section that don’t quite made sense. You see, I have a weird history when it comes to Mulgrew, and I expect, by bringing her up today, I may reopen some old wounds.

    It all started about six months ago, when I made an offhand comment about her on Facebook. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that some people got the impression that I was calling her ugly, when, in fact, I was just noting my dislike of the short-lived 1979 mystery series in which she starred. (According to my friend Peter Falk, the program was produced by the network against his wishes in order to squeeze a little more revenue from the Columbo franchise during a time when he’d left television to work in film.) Anyway, a photo of Murgrew, in character as the woman she portrays in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, popped up in my newsfeed one day, and I reposted it with a comment about how no one could ever convince me that my favorite television detective would have married her. And this in turn led to a lot of people accusing me of being superficial, etc. I tried to explain myself, and say that the image had nothing to do with my comment, and I would have said the same thing even if she’d been younger, etc., but it was too late. No one wanted to hear what I had to say. I’d shown myself, in their eyes, to be a man who can’t appreciate the beauty of a mature woman, or whatever, and that was that. (In truth, I’m just an obsessive Columbo fan who believes somewhat strongly that, despite all of his comments to the contrary, he never had a wife at all.) So, if you see a weird mix of comments, some from geocentrists and some from women defending Mulgrew’s beauty, that’s what’s going on.

    geocentric

    [Teach the controversy. Buy the shirt.]

    update: Mulgrew apparently released a comment on Facebook today. “I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism,” the actress said. “More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused.”

    Posted in Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

      As it’s become impossible to pass laws in Congress due to Republican obstructionism, the fight for the minimum wage has moved aggressively to the states… Here’s what’s happening

      Last night, Zingerman’s co-founder Paul Saginaw and I met up for a late dinner at Dalat to discuss the various campaigns being waged across the country right now to raise the minimum wage, and how it came to pass that he’s become a spokesman for the movement. My hope is to share my notes later in the week, once I’ve had a chance to transcribe everything. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share a little background on the minimum wage, in hopes that it might better inform our conversations between now and November, when it’s likely to be on the Michigan ballot.

      HERE ARE THE PRESENT FACTS AS I UNDERSTAND THEM:

      $7.25: The present hourly minimum wage as set by federal law.

      $10.74: How much the federal minimum wage would be if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. [note: This does not take into account the significant gains in productivity made by American workers over the last several decades.]

      $15,080: The annual income for a full-time employee working the entire year at the federal minimum wage.

      $7.40: The Michigan minimum wage.

      • 50%: Percentage of workers making minimum wage, or less, who are over 25 years of age. [note: There are instances where workers can be paid below the minimum wage. The federal minimum for tipped labor, for instance, is $2.13 per hour, as long as the hourly wage and tip income, when taken together, equal at least minimum wage. Also, employers are allowed to pay workers below the age of 20 $4.25 an hour for their first 90 days of employment.]

      34%: Minimum wage workers with an associates degree or some college experience.

      3.3 million: The number of people working for wages at, or below minimum wage in the United States. [note: In 2013, 1.5 million were reported as earning exactly minimum wage. During that same time, approximately 1.8 million were reported as earning wages below the minimum wage. Together, this 3.3 million represents 1.0% of the population, 1.6% of the labor force, 2.5% of all workers, and 4.3% of hourly workers respectively.]

      CURRENT INITIATIVES UNDERWAY TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE:

      RaiseTheMinimumWageWhile organized labor has been working on the issue for some time – most recently helping fast food workers in several U.S. cities to launch campaigns – the issue of raising the minimum wage really began to gain national traction in January of last year, when Barack Obama noted in his annual State of the Union address his desire to see the federal rate raised from $7.25 to $10.10. “To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on,” said the President. “And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” [The White House press release on the President's statement can be found here.]

      As Obama mentioned elsewhere in the speech, there is presently a bill in the Senate that would, if enacted, raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers, and not just the employees of federal contractors. Most folks who watch Congress seem to agree that, given the current state of affairs in Washington, it doesn’t have a chance of passing, but the legislation – Tom Harkin’s Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 – is scheduled to come up for a vote this week. As the President noted, though, no one is holding their breath, waiting for Congress to do the right thing. No, the battle is shifting to the states, where the odds of making a positive change are significantly better. The following summary of the current situation comes by way of the New York Times.

      …But the (federal) stalemate matters less and less. In the last 14 months, since Mr. Obama first called for the wage increase in his 2013 State of the Union address, seven states and the District of Columbia have raised their own minimum wages, and 34 states have begun legislative debates on the matter. Activists in an additional eight states are pursuing ballot referendums this year to demand an increase in wages for their lowest-paid workers.

      The result is an outside-the-Beltway variation on Mr. Obama’s pledge to use his executive powers to bypass an obstructionist Republican Party in Congress. In this case, White House aides said they believed that Mr. Obama’s feverish rhetorical push for a higher minimum federal wage, to $10.10 per hour from $7.25, has helped generate political pressure on states to act…

      The state minimum-wage actions, which have created a patchwork of minimum wages across the country, are not the uniform step that Mr. Obama and his allies would prefer. Some states have minimum wages on the books that are below the current federal level of $7.25 an hour, meaning that the federal level automatically applies to them. Other states already require wages to start at $8, $8.25 or higher. The District of Columbia, which already has an $8.25 per hour minimum wage, could have the highest in the nation on July 1, 2016, when it rises to $11.25.

      But Mr. Obama’s advisers have embraced the legislative flurry across the country as a second-best alternative that can work politically and substantively. Local increases in the minimum wage will help workers and pump money into those economies, they say…

      THE MICHIGAN INITIATIVES:

      Here in Michigan, there are two such efforts underway. In the Michigan House of Representatives, Adam Zemke and Jeff Irwin have co-sponsored Michigan House Bill 4386, which would increase the state minimum wage from $7.40 to $9 this year. And, at the same time, a coalition of various civil rights, faith, labor and community organizations is trying to get the issue on the November ballot, so that the voters of Michigan can weigh in. The group, called Raise Michigan, needs to collect 258,088 valid signatures from registered voters by May 28. If passed, the Raise Michigan legislation would 1) raise the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour by January of 2017, 2) Ensure the minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living, based on the Consumer Price Index, and 3) Guarantee that eventually tipped workers, like waiters and waitresses, earn the full minimum wage. (Tipped workers in Michigan, who are currently paid $2.65 an hour, would receive an $.85 an hour increase each year until they’re paid the full minimum wage.)

      While I expect that Republicans in Lansing will kill the legislation being put forward by Irwin and Zemke, I suspect that the Raise Michigan ballot initiative has a better than 50% chance of passing… I’d like to say that it would be a slam dunk, given that the idea seems to have widespread support from voters right now, but you can be sure, if it does make it on the ballot, that the Koch brothers and their fellow Plutocrats will be pouring an ungodly amount of money into the state, in hopes of convincing Michiganders to once again vote against their own best interests. And, as we know from experience, they’re damn good at what they do.

      ENERGIZING THE BASE IN A NON-PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR:

      It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just about the minimum wage. This is also about motivating the Democratic base to get out and vote in a non-Presidential election. And that, to a large extent, explains why we’re seeing so many progressives across the country looking to get the minimum wage on the November ballot in their states. It’s just like, a few years back, when a lot of conservative groups were coming together to get anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives in place… This isn’t to say that Obama and the Republicans don’t care about the minimum wage. I think they recognize that it’s an important thing to do, if for no other reason that to temporarily stabilize our society, which is in danger of losing the middle class altogether, as the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. I do think, however, that this is a godsend for the likes of Mark Schauer, who hasn’t exactly been lighting a fire under Michigan Democrats. And we’re not alone in that regard. All over the country, there are state-wide races where the minimum wage could really make a difference by bringing people to the polls, where they might also vote out Republican governors and legislators.

      As I mentioned above, everyone knows that, at least for the time being, nothing is going to happen in Washington. No, if we want to make progress on issues like education, the environment, and civil rights, it’s going to have to be at the state level. And, in order to do that, we need to start winning races closer to home… Hopefully, the minimum wage will help us do that.

      $10.10 AN HOUR WILL RAISE FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY AND PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY:

      Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would give more than 27 million workers a raise, which, in turn, will put more money into the economy. Here, with more on those 27 million people, are a few facts from Senator Tom Harkin.

      • 88% are adults over the age of twenty, 55% are women, and nearly half are workers of color.

      • More than 14 million children have a parent who would get a raise.

      • The average affected worker brings home approximately 50% of her household’s income.

      • 71% of tipped workers getting raises would be women – a key step for women’s pay equity.

      If you still want more, I’d encourage you to check out this report from the Economic Policy Institute, which lays out the benefits to the economy which would be realized with a minimum wage of $10.10. Here’s a clip.

      …(R)aising the minimum wage would provide immediate benefits not only to affected workers (whose incomes would rise), but to the broader economy as well. Research over the past two decades has shown that, despite skeptics’ claims, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative impact on jobs (Schmitt 2013). In fact, under current labor market conditions, where tepid consumer demand is a major factor holding businesses back from expanding their payrolls, raising the minimum wage can provide a catalyst for new hiring.

      Economists generally agree that low-wage workers are more likely than any other income group to spend any additional earnings they receive, largely because they must in order to meet their basic needs. Higher-income individuals, corporations, and beneficiaries of corporate profits are more likely to save at least a portion of any additional income. Thus, in a period of depressed consumer demand, raising the minimum wage can provide a modest boost to overall economic activity because it shifts income to workers who are very likely to spend it immediately. Indeed, recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $10 could increase U.S. GDP by up to 0.3 percentage points in the near term (Aaronson and French 2013).

      Our research shows that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 would provide an additional $35 billion in wages over the phase-in period to directly and indirectly affected workers, who are likely to then spend that additional income. This projected rise in consumer spending would provide a modest boost to U.S. GDP, even after accounting for the increased labor cost to businesses and the potential for small price increases for consumers. Using standard fiscal multipliers, we would expect that increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would generate a net increase in economic activity of $22.1 billion over the phase-in period. This additional GDP would support roughly 85,000 new jobs…

      Also, to those who would say that prices would rise as a result, I’d encourage you to read this recent report by a Bloomberg analyst which showed that raising the minimum wage at Walmart to $10.10 would translate to the addition of just one cent to the price of a $16 item, assuming all additional costs were passed on to consumers.

      OK, that’s everything that I know… What do you know?

      [And stay tuned for that interview with Paul Saginaw. I think you'll like it.]

      Posted in Civil Liberties, Economics, Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

      Charter schools are putting both our children and our democracy at risk, says former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch

      A few days ago, education historian Diane Ravitch, a former Assistant Secretary of Education under the first President Bush, was interviewed by Bill Moyers on the subject of school privatization. In the interview, Ravitch, who was once a staunch supporter of No Child Left Behind, talks of her ongoing research into the $500 billion K-12 education sector in America, the aggressive push currently being made by hedge funds into the space, and her ultimate realization that charter schools are putting both our children and our democracy at risk.

      Here are a few of my favorite exchanges, followed by video of the interview. (Note the references to Michigan.)

      MOYERS: You have said that within ten years, there’ll be cities in this country without public education.

      RAVITCH: I think at the rate we’re moving now, we will see places like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and many, many other cities where public schools become, if they still exist, they will be a dumping ground for the kids that the charter schools don’t want. We will see the privatization of public education run rampant…

      MOYERS: We’re talking about big money, aren’t we?

      RAVITCH: Absolutely. Minimum, at least, from the estimates I’ve seen it’s a market of $500 billion.

      MOYERS: A year?

      RAVITCH: Yes. An annual market of $500 billion. So the entrepreneurs do see it as huge opportunities to make money. There are now frequently conferences, at least annually, conferences on how to profit from the public education industry. Now I never thought of public education as an industry. But the entrepreneurs do see it as an industry.

      They see it as a national marketplace for hardware, for software, for textbook publishing, for selling whatever it is they’re selling, and for actually taking over all of the roles of running a school. This is what the charter movement is. It’s an effort to privatize public education, because there’s so much money there that enough of it can be extracted to pay off the investors. But I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I’m a graduate of public schools in Houston, Texas, and I don’t want to see us lose public education. I believe it is the foundation stone, one of the foundation stones, of our democracy. So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.

      MOYERS: The people behind privatization, you say they’re flush with cash. Where is it coming from? Where does this money trail start?

      RAVITCH: You have to understand that firstly we do have a significant number of for-profit charter schools. They’re not the majority, by any means. But they’re driving a lot of the legislative changes. There is also the power of the federal government.

      Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, put out $4.3 billion called Race to the Top. And he said to the states, you can’t be eligible for any part of this money unless you lift your cap on charter schools. So suddenly the lure of getting that federal money made many states change their laws to open the door to many, many more charter schools.

      So that’s really what driven the increase in charters. But what — the other thing that’s driven them is that there is a tremendous political force of very wealthy hedge-fund managers who are investing in the charter-school industry and seeing it grow. And so they have fought for these laws. There’s also a lot of charter school money going as political contributions to legislators in many of the states where the charters are booming…

      MOYERS: Charter schools are not all bad, are they?

      RAVITCH: They’re not all bad. The worst thing about the charters is the profit motive. And I want to reiterate that most charters are not for-profit. Although many of the non-profits are run by for-profit organizations. For instance, in Ohio, where they’re overrun with for-profit operations, they’re actually not for-profit charters. It’s just they’re run by a company, in one case, called the White Hat company. Which has extracted about a billion dollars in taxpayer funds since 1999.

      In Florida where there are some nearly 600 charter schools, they’re overrun with for-profit schools. There’s a charter empire in Southern Florida where the brother-in-law of the guy who runs the charter empire, which is worth more than $100 million, is in the state legislature and is in charge of education appropriations. And he never recuses himself. And the charter industry has basically taken over the legislature of Florida.

      In Michigan, more than 80 percent of the charter schools operate for-profit. They don’t get good academic results, by the way, but they make a lot of money. And the worst of the charters, frankly, are the virtual charters. This is a moneymaking machine.

      MOYERS: Virtual charters?

      RAVITCH: Yes, these are charter schools that have no, actually, no physical school. And they advertise very heavily. And they’re in many states. The biggest of the companies is called K12. It was funded by Michael Milken and his brother.

      MOYERS: Michael Milken of junk bond fame.

      RAVITCH: Right. And they’re very profitable because they get full state tuition signing up kids to learn online… So the kids are basically home-schooled, they get a computer and textbooks and then they learn online.

      MOYERS: So they make their money from the state funding?

      RAVITCH: Right. So they get full tuition money and all they give out is a computer and they may have one teacher monitoring fifty or a hundred screens, in some cases, more than a hundred screens. The teachers are low paid. They don’t have any physical building to take care of, no custodians, no social workers, none of the regular expenses of a school. They’re very profitable. K12, by the way, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange…

      MOYERS: If the for-profit motive were taken out of charter schools, do you think they have potential?

      RAVITCH: No, because I think that what charter schools should be is what they were originally supposed to be. They were originally supposed to be a collaborative, cooperating with public schools, trying to solve problems that public schools couldn’t solve. The original idea was that they would go out and find their dropouts and bring them back.

      They would help the kids who lacked all motivation and bring these lessons back to public schools to help them. What they have become is competitors. And they’re cutthroat competitors. And in fact, because of No Child Left Behind and because of Race to the Top, there is so much emphasis on test scores, that the charters are incentivized to try to get the highest possible scores.

      And now that there are so many hedge-fund people involved, they want to win. They want to say to these guys who are on another school board, my charter got higher scores than yours. So if you’re going to make scores the be all and the end all of education, you don’t want the kids with disabilities. You don’t want the kids who don’t speak English. You don’t want the troublemakers. You don’t want the kids with low scores. You want to keep those kids out. And the charters have gotten very good at finding out how to do that…

      MOYERS: On your blog, there’s a speech by the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings. He seems to be saying that 20 years from now, 90 percent of our schoolchildren will be in charter schools. And that we have to get rid of school boards, because all this democracy is very messy. And everything should be should be managed by charter-like boards. Is that the endgame, is the charterization of American public education?

      RAVITCH: I think for many people in the charter movement, that is the end game. They want to see an end to public education. They continue to say that charter schools are public schools. They are not public schools because they say in court, whenever asked, we’re private corporations with a contract with the government.

      In fact just recently there was a decision in New York that charter schools can’t be audited by the state controller because they are not a unit of the government. In California there was a decision in the federal court saying, charter schools are not public schools. They’re private corporations.

      MOYERS: So this puts their accountability off limits, right?

      RAVITCH: Right. And in fact, in many states, the charter schools don’t have to hire certified teachers. So we’re moving in a direction that is harmful to democracy. That is not good for kids. And that will not improve education. And so when you say how do I feel about the charter movement, I’d say that it should return to its original purposes, which is to help the neediest kids. To seek out the kids with the lowest test scores, not the highest ones, and to do, to collaborate with public education to make it better.

      But what it has turned into, and I think that Reed Hastings’ speech puts that very well, is an attack on democracy and an effort to replace public education. That if 90 percent of all the kids are in charters, the other 10 percent that’s left, that’s called public schools, will be the dumping grounds for the kids that the charters don’t want. That’s a direct attack on our democracy.

      MOYERS: When you were on the money trail, looking at how this money influences the movement, you ran into the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. What did you learn about ALEC?

      RAVITCH: ALEC is an organization, as I discovered, that’s been around since 1973. It has something like 2,000 or more state legislators who belong to it. And ALEC is very, very interested in eliminating public education.

      It has model legislation, which has been copied in state after state, in some cases verbatim. ALEC wants to eliminate collective bargaining, and it’s done a good job on that. It wants to eliminate any due process for teachers, so that teachers can be fired for any reason. It wants teachers to be judged by test scores. It’s done a really good job of that. It wants charter schools, it has a charter legislation, it has voucher legislation, it has legislation to promote online charter schools. So the whole package of what’s called reform is being pushed very hard by ALEC. It’s being pushed very hard by a group called Democrats for Education Reform.

      That’s actually the hedge-fund managers’ organization. So you get the combination of ALEC with its state level, very far-right-wing legislators, who have taken over some legislatures. For example, North Carolina is now completely ALEC-governed. And they have enacted everything in the ALEC package.

      MOYERS: Where does ALEC’s money come from, as you’ve found it?

      RAVITCH: ALEC has major, major corporate funding. It’s hard to find a major corporate group that is not part of the corporate sponsorship of ALEC.

      MOYERS: What’s their motive?

      RAVITCH: ALEC wants money to flow freely throughout the economy. They do not want any restraints on how they spend and where they spend. They don’t even want to be audited if they could avoid that. That’s why the charter schools, for example, have fought in court to prevent public audits, because they share this philosophy that what they do is their business…

      I’d love to see Ravitch debate Michelle RheeCan one of you at the College Education at either UM or EMU make that happen, please?

      In the meantime, check out Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, and start sharpening your pitchforks.

      Posted in Detroit, Education, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

      Could the Prospect Park “mystery pooper” being doing more than pooping? And, regardless, how can we work together to apprehend him?

      Last summer, as Arlo was running around Ypsilanti’s Prospect Park, Linette noticed what she thought was adult feces on a sliding board. She called the Parks Department and reported it, and we thought that was the end of it. Apparently, though, it wasn’t an isolated incident. According to a story in yesterday’s Ann Arbor News, there have been several reports of feces being found on Prospect Park sliding boards over the past half year or so.

      Given the current state of the American news media, the story, as you might expect, is getting traction nationally. So far, I’ve seen it picked up by about half a dozen or so media outlets, including the NBC affiliate in Chicago and the NY Daily News. And folks are having a lot of fun with it… “‘Poops!’ they did it again,” declares the headline in the Daily News.

      According to what I’m hearing from folks in the Prospect Park neighborhood, though, we might want to cut the lighthearted nonsense and take this a little more seriously. Not only are we clearly dealing with a disturbed individual, but, as I understand it, there also may be a sexual component that isn’t being discussed in the press. In addition to finding feces on the sliding boards, it would seem there’s also evidence of someone having relations with the same play structure.

      According to my source, he reported to the City a few years ago that what looked like lube and semen was dripping from a hole in the same play structure where Linette, last summer, found the feces. According to him, the City eventually sent out a crew to plug the hole, but it’s since been removed. (He believes that the hole in question has been plugged and unplugged several times over the past few years.)

      Here are two images that were taken and sent to me today. According to the person that sent them, the once-again-unplugged hole looks “active,” and the goo coming from it looks “fresh.” (These are font and back images of the same hole.)

      Prospect2

      prospect1

      I know, with our ever dwindling number of police officers, we don’t have the resources to put someone full-time on play structure watch, but surely there’s something that came be done. And, yeah, maybe I’m overreacting, but I can’t help but think that, if someone is actively defecating on, and having sex with, children’s playground equipment, that he might be inclined to perform other, perhaps even more serious acts that would be unwelcome in our community. And, even if he weren’t inclined to escalate his activity, there’s a very real health risk as is.

      According to the article in the Ann Arbor News, the police have attempted to catch the man on video, using a hidden camera. Clearly, however, it hasn’t worked. I’m thinking that it’s probably time for some technology-minded members of the local community to get involved, perhaps deploying a few wireless sensors and the like… If you should happen to have any ideas, send me a note.

      I should note that I’d wanted to write about this in the past, but I held back, as I knew that the police were involved, and I didn’t want to let the perpetrator know that efforts were being made to apprehend him. As this is now in the national news, though, I didn’t see any reason not to post something. The Ann Arbor News, after all, has already reported that video surveillance has been attempted.

      So, let’s move beyond all of the hilarious jokes about the “mystery pooper” and figure out a way to apprehend this person and get him the help that he needs before this becomes an even more serious issue.

      [note: I'm assuming, of course, that the "mystery pooper" and the person ejaculating on the play structure are one in the same, but I suppose it could just be an unfortunate coincidence.]

      Posted in Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

        Connect

        Hut-K ad Vault of Midnight ad Sabor Latino ad BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Dustin Krcatovich