Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Friends of Rouge Park to meet on Tuesday

The non-profit community group, Friends of Rouge Park, will hold their next general membership meeting on Tuesday, January 17. Everyone who is interested in the future of Detroit's largest park is invited to attend. This meeting will happen from 6 - 7 pm at the Don Bosco Center (9356 Westwood St. at West Chicago).

The agenda for this meeting will include an update from the City Parks & Recreation Department as well as:
  • Update on Progress on the Scout Hollow Campground;
  • Report from the National Kidney Foundation's work in the park; and
  • Update on Detroit Water & Sewage Department's plan for Green Infrastructure in the park.
There will also be a general discussion of goals for 2017 as well as upcoming events in Rouge Park.

Monday, January 09, 2017

10 tips to prevent a rape

The following is a guest commentary from Ricardo Moore, who represents the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods on the Detroit Police Commission. This column is presented as part of the semi-regular Tip of the Week feature.

It has been reported by Detroit Police ChiefJames Craig that the crime of Criminal Sexual Conduct (Rape) has risen on the streets of Detroit. As Vice Chairman of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, it is my mission to help keep every woman, man, and child safe from any and all criminal attacks. Please report all crimes that occur to the Detroit Police Department by dialing 9-1-1. When crimes are not reported, it gives law enforcement leaders lower crime data. Unreported or unknown crime is known as the Dark Figure of Crime.
Photo by Adina Voicu/Pixababy

I would like to thank Sgt. Darren Laur and his wife Beth for providing the following safety tips:

Awareness: Your first line of defense. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defense.” However, true self-defense begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defense is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.

The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence,” many altercations which are commonplace on the street can be avoided.

Use your sixth sense. “Sixth Sense.” “Gut instinct.” Whatever you call it, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift, but very few of us pay attention to it. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.

Self-defense training. It is important to evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a women’s self-defense program before signing up. Here are two tips:
  1. Avoid martial arts studios unless you specifically wish to train in the traditional martial arts techniques and are prepared for a long-term commitment. Many women’s self-defense programs teach watered-down martial arts techniques that are complex and unrealistic under the stress of an actual attack;
  2. The self-defense program should include simulated assaults with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you’ve learned.

Escape: Always your best option. What if the unthinkable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.

Your right to fight. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently we practice awareness and avoidance techniques, we may find ourselves in a physical confrontation. Whether or not you have self-defense training, and no matter what your age or physical condition, it is important to understand that you can and should defend yourself physically. You have both the moral and legal right to do so, even if the attacker is only threatening you and hasn’t struck first. Many women worry that they will anger the attacker and get hurt worse if they defend themselves, but statistics clearly show that your odds of survival are far greater if you do fight back. Aim for the eyes first and the groin second. Remember, though, to use the element of surprise to your advantage–strike quickly, and mean business. You may only get one chance.

Pepper spray: Pros and cons. Pepper spray, like other self-defense aids, can be a useful tool. However, it is important to understand that there can be significant drawbacks to its use. For example, did you know that it doesn’t work for everyone? Surprisingly, 15-20% of people will not be incapacitated even by a full-face spray. Also, if you’re carrying it in your purse, you will only waste time and alert the attacker to your intentions while you fumble for it. Never depend on any self-defense tool or weapon to stop an attacker. Trust your body and your wits, which you can always depend on in the event of an attack.

Home invasions: A crime on the rise. The primary way to prevent a home invasion is simply to never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there (dressing up as a repair person or even police officer is one trick criminals use). In the event that an intruder breaks in while you’re home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.

Avoiding a carjacking. Lock all doors and keep windows up when driving. Most carjackings take place when vehicles are stopped at intersections. The criminals approach at a 45-degree angle (in the blind spot), and either pull you out of the driver’s seat or jump in the passenger’s seat.

A travel tip. Violent crimes against women happen in the best and worst hotels around the world. Predators may play the part of a hotel employee, push their way through an open or unlocked door, or obtain a passkey to the room. As with home safety, never open your door unless you are certain the person on the other side is legitimate, and always carry a door wedge with you when you travel. A wedge is often stronger than the door it secures.

Safety in cyberspace. Although the Internet is educational and entertaining, it can also be full of danger if one isn’t careful. When communicating on-line, use a nickname and always keep personal information such as home address and phone number confidential. Instruct family members to do the same. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good bye 2016 and hello 2017

Looking forward
Today is the day.

Today is the day when say good bye to 2016; a year that has been challenging in so many different regards for so many in our community.

Today is also the day when we say hello to 2017; a year that I greet with cautious optimism.

I hope that each of us navigates through the challenges that will invariably meet us in the coming year and find the joy we all deserve.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher and our dystopian future

Carrie Fisher - Photo by Riccardo Ghilardi
Earlier today, legendary actress and writer Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60. She joins Richard Adams, author of Watership Down who also died today at the age of 96, George Michael, and so many other high-profile deaths in 2016 that I have lost count.

Carrie Fisher doesn't have any particular connection to Detroit or the Warrendale neighborhood. Indeed, none of these deaths have any particular connect to Detroit nor the Warrendale neighborhood. However, I still need to rant about something and, well, this blog is my opportunity to do so.

It seems to me that the bankers and politicians who have screwed our world up will continue to live. Meanwhile, the artists like Carrie Fisher and others who have collectively made living in this world worthwhile are dying off rapidly.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how the dystopian future begins.

Detroiters vs wolves: what matters more in Lansing

Gray wolf - Photo by Isster17/Wikicommons
It was this past Friday that Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that would authorize wolf hunting in Michigan. This, by the way, was the fourth time in four years that there has been one legislative attempt or another to allow wolf hunting in this state.

I repeat, wolf hunting has resulted in four different pieces of legislation reaching the governor's desk in the past four years.

Meanwhile, legislation authorizing the D-Insurance program has been languishing in the Michigan Legislature for almost two years.

Hunting wolves has resulted in four different bills moving through the Michigan Legislature. However, when it comes to helping inner-city residents cope with out-of-control auto insurance costs, the Michigan Legislature can't be bothered to do anything.

This is frustrating, to say the least.

Based on all of this, I believe that it well past time for the City of Detroit to reexamine an issue that has been discussed for years now - that is, the City of Detroit to start its own insurance company.

Lansing isn't going to help Detroiters get affordable auto insurance. They are too busy worrying about whether or not people can hunt wolves in northern Michigan.

The insurance companies aren't going to help Detroiters get affordable auto insurance. Quite frankly, I don't think they even want to insurance anyone who lives in the inner city.

This is an issue where Detroiters need to help ourselves. And that means starting our own insurance company.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from outer space

Peggy Whitson at the International Space Station - NASA photo
Astronaut Peggy Whitson wishes everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very Merry Christmas. She is currently spending Christmas aboard the International Space Station, as the photo above clearly shows.

There is simply no view in this world like the view from our space station.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that this holiday season brings the best of everything to our community.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflections on life in a post-truth world

Photo courtesy of  DTTSP
There has been a lot of discussion as of late about fake news; how it has evolved from harmless site on sites like The Onion to something that has an increasing impact on our life. It has reached the point where social media sites like Facebook have launched an effort to combat the spread of fake news on its pages.

This proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and misinterpreted data has caused some to refer to our modern age as the "post-truth era." The extent to which this has become embedded in modern life was perhaps best exemplified when the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary named "post-truth" as their word of the year for 2016.

All of this makes me wonder more and more about how we got to where we are.

How did this become the so-called post-truth era?

How did we get here? How can we function in this type of an environment? How can we get back to a world where the truth actually matters?

I won't pretend to have all of the answers to this one. I will, however, mention that this phenomenon is not a new.

C.H. Spurgeon
Back in 1859, the British author and pastor C.H. Spurgeon published a compilation of his sermons in a book entitled Gems from Spurgeon. In this opus, he observed, "A lie will go round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on."

A lie will go round the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on. There's a lot of truth in that simple sentence, I believe.

In my opinion, what we now refer to as the post-truth era is merely the logical evolution of what Spurgeon opined about 157 years ago.

In Spurgeon's time, the telegraph was still a relatively new invention. Information could move vast distances in a short period of time. However, it was nothing like what we see today with the internet.

In the modern era, any liar with an internet connection can blast his or her misinformation around the world with a speed that Spurgeon could never have dreamed of. Plus, those lies can be shared with much less effort that it would take one to write a letter or send a telegram. Meanwhile, it still takes the truth the same amount of time to put its proverbial boots on.

I won't pretend to have a solution for the challenges of living in a post-truth world. I simply do not have such an answer to these questions.

I do, however, take a certain amount of comfort in knowing that other great individuals have muddled through similar challenges. Until I have an epiphany as to how to best live in a post-truth world, I invite anyone with a better idea to leave a comment below.

Editor's note: This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.