Category Archives: Ann Arbor

Unsubscribing from a bitter local politics list (before I get kicked off)

I’ve unsubscribed from a local politics mailing list that I’ve been on for a while. Out of an abundance of not wanting to name names, I’m not naming names; chances are there’s one of these in your community too.

The ground rules of this list are almost certainly that of typical politics lists. There’s a list owner, who sets the rules. One of the rules is that the list is a private list, with no reporters on it and no one is supposed to share anything they get from the list to anyone who’s not on the list. Occasionally someone transgresses and they get visibly kicked off the list. A number of small-time politicians are on the mailing list, and it’s run by a former elected official.

I’m not sure how I ever got on the list, but I stayed on it. I didn’t feel like I could contribute anything to it, because if I was outed as a blogger I’m sure I’d be kicked off. And I couldn’t copy anything from it to anyone else (even though I did from time to time).

Small town politics can be very small and very bitter. The straw that broke the camel’s back was whining that there wasn’t enough parking near Farmer’s Market downtown, since apparently walking 5 minutes to an enormous structure nearby wasn’t enough.

Not my clowns, not my circus. My inbox is full enough as is. If I need to read this particular list, I’ll just FOIA the contents of the inboxes of the elected officials that subscribe to it.

(shakes dust off shoes)


The New York Times notices when the Michigan Daily scoops the Ann Arbor News

The story is Local News, Off College Presses, from April 13, 2014.

The constant changes have muddled The Ann Arbor News’s identity and, according to some residents, eroded its standing as the go-to source of news in the community. That sense was reinforced by the football article, on which The Ann Arbor News played catch-up after student reporters broke the story.

Poynter noted in 2011 that the University of Michigan had placed a member of its PR staff on the editorial board. This drew criticism from former Ann Arbor News reporter Jim Carty at the time.

David Lampe spent a good six months fighting The Ann Arbor News at every single point of our academics and athletics investigation. He is a well-paid professional spinner for the biggest organization you cover. The idea you would put him on your editorial board would be nothing less than mind-boggling if it weren’t for everything we’ve seen over the past year-plus. Pretty much epic fail on every front at this point, Tony.

You need to have a certain degree of editorial freedom to go after the biggest employer in town; the Michigan Daily clearly has it.

U of Michigan to announce “historic event” at Michigan Stadium

The working assumption is that this is the long-rumored summer soccer game between Manchester United and Real Madrid in August. From Crain’s Detroit:

Global soccer powerhouses Manchester United — wearing its new Chevrolet-sponsored jerseys — and Real Madrid will square off at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor at 4 p.m. Aug. 2, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Crain’s this week.
The University of Michigan has scheduled a press conference for noon Friday to announce the game.

UPDATE: Confirmed.

One-Day Tech Class: Saturday, May 3, 2014 9a-3p at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

From Dan Romanchik KB6NU – lightly edited:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU will be conducting the next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 9am to 3pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 220 E. Ann St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you’d like to take this class, you should send a check or money order sooner rather than later to reserve their spot. Dan’s address is 1325 Orkney Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. People can also pay via PayPal by sending $10 to

There is also a $15 fee to take the test. This fee is payable to the volunteer examiners just before they take the test. DO NOT send me the $15 exam fee.

Prospective students can download the study guide from Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before taking the test. They greatly increase the chances that you will pass the test if you do some studying beforehand.

If you have any questions, please send an email to or phone Dan at 734-930-6564.


Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire, May 10, 2014, Washtenaw Community College


Please share this Save the Date with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues across the area.

Now in its sixth year, the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire features dozens of makers from across the region and draws over three thousand members of the community for the day’s free events. Metalworkers, inventors, papermakers, artists, students, robot designers, enthusiasts and professional alike teach the public how they make their work.

Many participants come away with more than just inspiration, but new skills they can use to fuel their own creations and lasting connections to other makers and resources in the region.

May 10, 2014 marks the second time the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire will be hosted by Washtenaw Community College. This free, all-ages event features community members of all types who come together to display their ideas, projects, and inventions.

We will be seeking applications from people and groups with engaging, inspiring, and just plain cool projects. Projects should have a focus on the process of creating, designing, and making – not just displaying a final product. Makers of all ages and experience levels are encouraged to submit applications. We will begin seeking applications for makers in the next few weeks.

More Info

Check out our website ( or our Facebook page for more information, applications, and dates.

Organized by members of the Ann Arbor tech and arts communities such as a2geeks ( and GO-Tech (, the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire is a small, local version of the huge Bay-area Maker Faire, and is one of many faires across the country that happen year around.

If you have any questions about participating in or attending the Mini Maker Faire, please visit

(Needs point of contact for questions via email)

March 22, 2014: Washtenaw County Clerk to issue licenses for same-sex marriages

From Facebook and from Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum:

Same sex marriage is now the law in Michigan.

This afternoon, Judge Friedman of the Eastern District federal court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan. Unexpectedly, there was no “stay” pending appeal, and thus the ruling went into effect immediately.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is seeking an injunction or stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court may or may not do so. But in the meantime, Judge Friedman’s ruling is the final word on the matter.

My Vital Records office will be open tomorrow, Saturday (March 22, 2014), from 9am to 1pm, to accept applications and issue marriage licenses. We anticipate that we will be able to process about 60 applications. After 1pm, the staff will not be available. I apologize in advance to those we will have to turn away.

Of course, we will be giving out numbers on a first-come, first-served basis, but first, we will honor the numbers we gave out last October.

Note that applicants should bring the documents specified on our web site, and $20.01 (for residents of Washtenaw County) or $30.01 (if both members of the couple live out of state). If either member of the couple live in Michigan, and neither one lives in Washtenaw County, you have to go to your own county.

The additional one cent is the fee (set by the Board of Commissioners) for immediate processing of the marriage license. I anticipate that those who apply tomorrow will want immediate processing. If you don’t need your marriage license right away, please wait until Monday.


Marriage Application Information — Official Website of Washtenaw County, MI

April 3, 2014: Finn Brunton on Cryptocurrencies, North Quad Space 2435, 4:00 p.m.

This wide-ranging talk uses the current state of cryptocurrencies (most notably Bitcoin) and their underlying technologies to consider contemporary digital culture and its future. Professor Finn Brunton will discuss peer-to-peer networks, public key cryptography, proof-of-work systems, and the blockchain, illuminating their underlying social, political, and theoretical models and concepts. We will travel from sixth century Chang’an, seventeenth century Switzerland, and the vault of the New York Federal Reserve to IRC channels, software development communities, and closely guarded facilities in Iceland and Hong Kong to understand a system with fascinating implications for identity, ownership, authorship and trust online.

Good pre-meeting reading is Finn Brunton, More Problems More Money, Artforum, February 2014. (Free registration required.)

Cryptocurrency Digital

More Finn Brunton at

Notes from a 2013 talk by Finn Brunton on The Accidental Archive.

Notes from the talk follow here. I kept a running log with Twitter, and I’m writing this from my Pinboard bitcoin bookmarks; these links are to the bookmarks for ease of linking for the most park. I’m not trying to reconstruct the talk, just to give context for my bookmarks!

The talk started off with a discussion of the Audrey Hepburn film Charade, in which the mystery of what happened to the wealth of a family is only resolved when it’s realized that rather than searching for lost money that they should be trying to make sense of the tail of rare stamps. This was the kickoff to an extended and wide-ranging discussion of the various roles and purposes of money throughout history and how very odd things that don’t look like currency at all still functioned as stores of value, units of account, or mediums of exchange.

Bitcoin has peculiar mathematical properties that make it unusually suited for use as a store of value. Bitcoins are mined through a process that’s NP-hard, which means for practical purposes that it’s difficult to create them but easy to prove that they are real. Bitcoin is a “proof of work”; someone did something hard, consuming scarce computing power and copious amounts of energy, in order to accomplish a task that’s easy to confirm.

Finn talked about other coin systems (usually lumped under the term “altcoin”) that are based on Bitcoin but that are run separately and have their own twists. There’s Allahcoin, which donates a percentage of each transaction to the Muslim Brotherhood; Aphroditecoin, which is doing an “air drop” to give citizens of Cyprus their own money; Mazacoin, from the Oglala Lakota Nation; Freicoin, which depreciates through “demurrage” if you don’t spend it; and most notably Dogecoin, a joke of a currency that nevertheless raised enough money through the Dogesled fundraiser to help send the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics.

Dogecoin was noted as an exemplary virtual currency, in part because unlike Bitcoin it’s not worth very much and in part because the Dogecoin community is willing to spend it rather than hoard it. So people give Dogecoin tips readily – a few Dogecoin for posting a funny picture of a dog – and are generous in sharing.

Bitcoin is not even the first of the efforts to create alternative currencies on the internet. I worked at First Virtual Holdings in the 90s, which is one of the payment mechanisms discussed in a Jeff Mackie-Mason paper on digital payments. Not all of these enterprises ended up well, e.g the E-Gold system which saw its owner convicted of a conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Finn talked about some of the crazy things you can do with Dogecoin, and described the first Dogecoin meetup in New York City where he noted that kombucha was for sale – payable only in Dogecoin. The conclusion I draw is that cryptocurrencies are equal parts community and technology, and that you get radically different social results when you keep the technology basically the same but change the initial conditions of community formation.

This over-simplifies and leaves out some really good and funny bits, but should give you some flavor for the talk.