The Toadman of Clawson, Michigan

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I'd like for you to meet one of my favorite people in the whole world.   He's a private guy and though he's okay with my writing this post, he'd rather I kept his identity a secret for now.  He calls himself The Toadman.   But I should warn you, what you are about to read isn't what you'd expect.   He doesn't lick toads for fun, eat amphibians or live under a bridge.  He simply loves toads more than anything in the world and what he does in his free time proves it.

If you ever meet The Toadman, he'll seem just like anyone else in the Motor City.  He'll probably talk about Michigan State University, the Detroit Tigers and how great it is to live in his hometown of Clawson.  But what you won't get right out of the gate is what I call his "green side".  That's the side of him that's comfortable discussing his life-long passion.

Since we were kids, The Toadman has been obsessed with frogs and toads.  The day I got my drivers license he talked me into traveling 20 miles north to a swampy area because "that's where they have the best ones".  I know it sounds strange, but just as a bird watcher is able to detect the presence of certain birds by how they chirp, The Toadman is able to do the same with toads.  It's uncanny really.

Did I mention that for the past 2 decades he's lived with toads and sometimes sets up professional photo shoots with them?   Read the rest

Kid who found a knife in a used backpack suspended for turning it in at school

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Kyler Davies is in the seventh grade in the Coldwater Community Schools district in Coldwater, MI; his mom buys her kids (whom she fosters) some of their school supplies used at Goodwill, including Kyler's backpack, which turned out to have a knife in it. Read the rest

Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber

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People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service. Read the rest

Bill criminalizing anal and oral sex passes Michigan Senate

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Michigan is one of the last states to keep an "anti-sodomy" law on the books, which criminalizes oral and anal sex -- most states dropped theirs when the Supreme Court ruled that law like these are unconstitutional. Read the rest

Michael Moore: Flint needs a revolution, not bottled water

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Michael Moore, perhaps Flint, MI's most famous son, has written an open letter to people who are heartsick at the thought of a whole generation of mostly poor, mostly black children being given permanent brain damage through lead poisoning, thanks to the deliberate indifference of the state's Republican administration and the greedy people who elected them. Read the rest

Turkey terrorizing college campus

A "very aggressive" turkey has apparently been terrorizing people on the University of Michigan's North Campus.

"Do not try to approach the turkey," deputy police chief Melissa Overton said. "We've gotten calls from people who have been trapped and unable to move because he's cornered them."

"He hasn't hurt anybody, but he's a very aggressive bird... He's also created a traffic hazard because apparently he likes to lay down in the middle of the road and not move. It can be very difficult for the buses to get around him."

(MLive)

Read the rest

Incredible Science Machine team seeks Rube Goldberg record with chain reaction gizmo

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Chain reaction artists and domino builders have collaborated to create what they hope will go on record as the largest chain reaction in history. Read the rest

Republicans in Michigan House pass religious bigotry bill

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by the Republicans in the Michigan House of Reps, follows the same contours as the Arizona pro-bigotry law that Obama Governor Janet Brewer vetoed: it allows shopkeepers to discriminate against people they don't like if they claim their religion demands it. Read the rest

University of Michigan makes up a bunch of non-reasons why it doesn't have to do record retention

The University of Michigan campus newspaper, Michigan Daily, is investigating a campus scandal that resulted in the athletic director resigning and a football player being expelled for sexual misconduct, but the university has engaged in blatantly illegal destruction of records to stymie the investigation. Read the rest

Michigan State Fair program book, 1967

The program book for the 1967 Michigan State Fair is a slice of heaven -- like the Schoolhouse Rock kids have gone to the carny for the day. Read the rest

Michigan sheriff issues inmates black-and-white striped uniforms

He's worried that "Orange is the New Black" has made orange prisoner uniforms too cool. Read the rest

Kleargear ruins customers' credit over online criticism, refuses to honor US judgment

The latest update in the saga of Kleargear (previously) is downright bizarre. Having invoiced unhappy customers for complaining online about their crappy service and then ruined those customers' credit rating, the company now refuses to acknowledge a judgment against them from a US court because they insist that they're located in France and weren't served there. Read the rest

Michigan's Penguicon will focus on crypto and privacy this year

Scott sez, "Privacy and security has been a huge problem since the Snowden revelations, and midwest SF/open source software convention Penguicon [ed: near Detroit!] wants to be part of the solution. With Guest of Honor Eva Galperin from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Cory Doctorow returning as Guest Emeritus, much of their tech track is focused on finding answers to the recent privacy problems highlighted by Snowden. Pre-registration tickets are available until April 1st. Programming was just announced." (Thanks, Scott!) Read the rest

Historic "mixfilm" in Detroit this weekend

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "I'm bringing a new archival 'mixfilm' on Detroit's rich history to the beautifully restored, vintage-1927 Detroit Film Theatre this weekend. This is the fourth of my Detroit compilations, and it's packed with new footage (especially home movies shot by Detroiters themselves) that's never before been publicly screened. It's a fully participatory show, meaning that viewers (hopefully you) are invited to identify places, people and events, ask questions, and converse with one another as the film unreels. And it's anything but nostalgic -- rather than lamenting what's gone, it aims to contribute to the ongoing, spirited discussion about Detroit's future, and encourage people to talk with one another."

Events: Detroit Film Theatre — The Detroit Institute of Arts Auxiliary (Thanks, Rick!) Read the rest

Library defender runs for City Council in Troy, MI

Neil sez,
You may remember 2 months back when the Troy, Michigan Public Library faced closure due to declining revenue. It was particularly sad given that this libary only recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. It is home to some amazing letters from some of the most prominent authors and people of the day when it opened in 1971 thanks to a very intrepid children's librarian named Marguerite Hart.

Residents of Troy sprang into action to ensure that no effort be spared to prevent the library from closing. This included reaching out on line to rally library lovers throughout the world. Thanks to Cory, and our friends at Boing Boing, we raised almost 3 times our goal of $1200. This meant not only could we pay for our last mailing but we could afford a small TV buy for our existing web video. We won in no small part thanks to you!

Now our city faces a new challenge. Half of the City Council is up for election, and no sitting members are running. To make matters worse the forces who worked against our compromise solution to keep the library open and funded, have a slate of candidates who are determined to undermine our recent victory.

So I decided I couldn't stand by and watch these people undo our hard work. Now I am asking my fellow happy mutants / hacktivists to lend my campaign a hand. I face a unique challenge because unlike a library which people have an emotional connection, I am just a person, and not nearly as creative as Sean Teavis.

Read the rest