Thomas Jefferson & Good Government

Detail: Hand and Globe, “Spirit of Detroit”–Detroit MI, photo by pinehurst19475

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
-Thomas Jefferson

Happy 274th birthday to the principle author of our Constitution, Thomas Jefferson.

As we head into a recess where we all have a chance to speak with our elected officials, my personal hope is that many voices will be raised in support of this Jeffersonian ideal of good government that seeks to uplift and preserve our health and well-being, particularly in regards to our preserving & expanding access to health care, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and ensuring that efforts to protect the Great Lakes aren’t defunded. You may want something different, so you probably should show up and share your thoughts as well! ;)

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in pinehurst19475’s massive Statues & Sculpture slideshow.

PS: This is the detail of the hand on the Spirit of Detroit by noted sculptor Marshall Fredericks and you can click that link for much more!

Ecorse, Little Venice of the West End

Morning, Ecorse, MI, March, 2017, photo by Norm Powell

It’s always cool to discover new websites about Michigan, and my search for more on the history of Ecorse led me to Mr. Cosbey’s History of Ecorse at the website Along the Detroit River. It was written by  Ecorse High School history teacher John Howard Cosbey and is very comprehensive – here’s a slice:

The River Aux Ecorces appears in history as early as 1763 as the retreat of Pontiac and allied chiefs in the famous plot to rid the mid-west of the encroaching white settlers. It was known also as a favorite burying ground of the Indian tribes in the locality.

It appears, however, on the evidence of birth records and of the statements of sworn witnesses in court that the first white settlements at the River Aux Ecorces were made during the period between 1784 and 1797, probably about 1785.

…The Detroit Free Press for July 2, 1905, tells of the “Little Venice of the West End”:

“All along the river shores from Fort Wayne to the Village of Ecorse, some hardier folks of Detroit who like to keep cool cheaply have boat houses in which they live during the summer. “The Little Venice of the West End,” they call it, and it is truly a colony of resorters distinct in itself.

“The rich may go to Grosse Point, to the mountains or to the sea shore, those of limited means, such as skilled mechanics, clerks, and other small salaried men with families may easily afford to rent a cottage built out upon the piers of Ecorse’s “Little Venice.” There they may have the air and the cool of the river, in fact, all of the real luxuries of a more exclusive colony, and at much less cost.

“Every day the resorters of Ecorse, who have business in the city, travel back and forth on the trolley. And every evening fish, boat and bathe with the women and children before the very doors of their summer homes.”

View Norm’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Automotive Old Guard Leading the Race to the Future

Autonomous Fusion Hybrid research vehicle in Dearborn, courtesy Ford Motor Co

While Uber, Tesla & Google are getting most of the ink, WIRED magazine’s article Detroit Is Stomping Silicon Valley in the Self-Driving Car Race says:

IF YOU’RE BETTING on Silicon Valley stars like Google, Tesla, and Uber to free you from your horrorshow commute with autonomous driving technology, don’t. That’s the key takeaway from a new report that finds Ford—yes, the Detroit-based, 113-year-old giant—is winning the race to build the self-driving car, with General Motors running a close second. Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen round out the top five. Meanwhile, Waymo—aka Google’s driverless car effort—sits in sixth place, with Tesla in twelfth. Uber languishes in sixteenth, behind Honda and barely ahead of startup Nutonomy and China’s Baidu.

That may sound all kinds of wrong to anyone who has seen Uber, Waymo, and Tesla flaunt their tech, and regards Detroit’s old guard as ill-prepared for the robotic future. But it’s the state of the race according to Navigant Research, whose newly released “leaderboard” report ranks these players not just on their ability to make a car drive itself, but on their ability to bring that car to the mass market.

Ford and GM both score in the low to mid 80s on the technology front; it’s their old-school skills that float them to first and second place. They’ve each spent more than a century developing, testing, producing, marketing, distributing, and selling cars. Plus, each has made strategic moves to bolster weak points. Ford just dumped a billion dollars into an artificial intelligence outfit. It acquired ride-sharing service Chariot and invested in Velodyne, a company producing lidar, the laser scanning tech many argue is necessary for self-driving cars. GM scooped up self-driving expertise via a startup called Cruise, and partnered with Lyft to put the eventual result on the road.

Lots more in a great article from WIRED!

View the photo of an autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid bigger on Ford’s website.

More cars & autos on Michigan in Pictures.

Detroit Tigers Opening Day & 2017 Home Opener

4 days to opening day, photo by Kevin Povenz

Justin Verlander will take the mound today at 4:10 PM for the Detroit Tigers as the face the Chicago White Sox for their 116th Opening Day. The first game the Tigers played as a Major League team was on April 25, 1901 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Roscoe Miller started the first-ever Tigers Opening Day, a game the Tigers won 14–13.

The Baseball Almanac lists the results of all Tigers’ opening day games. They are 65-50 on opening days with an 11-8 record against the White Sox.

The Tigers’ home opener – fortuitously for the title of today’s photo – is Friday at 1:10 PM against the Boston Red Sox – play ball!

Kevin posted this back in April of 2014. View the photo bigger and see more in his Fun/Interesting slideshow.

More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

2017 Marche du Nain Rouge is this Sunday!

Marche du Nain Rouge, photo by Joel Williams

My favorite event of the year appears to have snuck up on me! The 2017 Marche du Nain Rouge takes place in Detroit this Sunday (March 26th) at noon at the corner of Cass and Canfield (parade departs at 1 PM). The organizers have some hints about what’s in store for one of Michigan’s quirkiest parades:

The start of the 8th annual Marche du Nain Rouge on Sunday, March 26, 2017, promises to be the most epic parade launch yet. Will the Nain Rouge’s dastardly plan for squelching city pride involve an overly complicated scheme with oversized props and ridiculous costumes? Come find out!

The annual parade through Midtown shows of Detroit pride in the face of the city’s oldest nemesis, the scheming doomsayer, the Nain Rouge. More than 6,000 people are expected to attend this year’s parade, featuring costumes, marching bands, dancers, tricked out cars, and more.

Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions will return with all of its feathers, sparkles and dancers, ready to accompany their Pans of Joy steel drum band. And our friends at Gabriel Brass Band will return to lead the Marche with their authentic New Orleans second-line sound.

In addition to whatever madness the Nain has concocted, the cockroach car from the past couple years will return, bringing with it several other Art Cars, including a new “Bubblemobile” out of Southwest Detroit, and Scrubby Bubble, which has represented Detroit at the Annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada. Also, we’re asking cosplayers to come out for the parade and a costume contest at the afterparty. (at the Detroit Masonic Temple)

If that sounds like fun, get more info about the Marche at marchedunainrouge.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook.  You can read all about the legend of the Red Dwarf of Detroit at Absolute Michigan.

View Joel’s photo from the 2015 March bigger and see more in his Marche du Nain Rouge 2015 slideshow.

Detroit’s Immigrant Workers

Immigrant Workers, photo by Ryan Southen

3 out of 4 people in 1910 were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Wow. Ryan shared this photo on Facebook and wrote:

I stumbled upon this stone along the riverfront this afternoon. This region is what it is today because people came here seeking opportunity, or refuge and we are absolutely better for it. Something to ponder the next time you find yourself discussing immigration.

As the descendent of immigrants to the Detroit area, I completely agree. Crain’s Detroit Business has a nice feature by about how foreign-born workers have been an integral part of Detroit’s history, economy. It says in part:

Detroit once was the third-largest U.S. settlement for immigrants, said Kurt Metzger, the retired founder of Data Driven Detroit who spent nearly 40 years compiling information and statistical analysis locally.

“In 1930, the foreign-born accounted for almost 30 percent of Detroit’s population. The data show that more immigrants settled in Detroit between 1900 and 1920 than any other city but Chicago and New York,” Metzger said via email.

“The makeup of Detroit — European (Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, etc.) was heavily influenced by the national quota system that either forbid certain groups (Asians, for instance) or maintained extremely small quotas.”

The second, much broader and more diverse wave of immigration began around 1970 after Washington relaxed the quota system on a wide variety of groups, he said.

“We began to see large flows of Chaldeans from Iraq, Muslims from Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East, Asians from Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Albanians, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans,” he said. “Since that time, we have added, through war and displacement, Hmong, Cambodian and Vietnamese, Chaldeans, Syrians, Yemeni, and many more.

…Foreign-born workers and their families helped swell Detroit’s population to nearly 2 million people at its 1950 peak.

Ryan doesn’t have this pic on his Flickr, but you can see a lot of great shots from Detroit and elsewhere there and by following Ryan Southen Photography on Facebook.

Wednesday’s windstorm leaves Southeast Michigan powerless

Storm Damage, Ferndale Michigan, photo courtesy DTE Energy

The Detroit Free Press reports that millions of people in Michigan lost power in yesterday’s crazy winds and many are still without power:

A barrage of high winds Wednesday cut power to a record 700,000 DTE Energy customers and 290,000 customers of Consumers Energy across southeast and south-central Michigan, utility officials said.

A number of customers had been restored by about 10 p.m., bringing DTE’s outage number down to about 650,000 and Consumers’ down to 210,000.

…The total number of customers equates to an even higher number of people because the utilities’ term “customer” refers to electric meters, not individuals. “During the height of the storm, we were seeing 1,000 customer outages a minute,” said Randi Berris, a communications manager for DTE Energy.

As utility crews from Michigan began 16-hour shifts, and crews from four other states were due to arrive around dawn Thursday, families in the dark faced forecasts of possible snow and sliding temperatures for southeast Michigan, with a low of 12 predicted in Detroit by early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Across the region, as winds clocked as high as 68 m.p.h. at Metro Airport, the weather knocked down even more trees and power lines than usual because the ground, instead of being frozen at this time of year, was soft and super-saturated with this winter’s unusually heavy rains, DTE Energy said.

View DTE’s photo bigger on their Facebook and thanks to the crews from both companies and elsewhere for their hard work – stay warm everyone!