Health & Medical

Top Michigan Viral Videos for 2011

Mark W. Smith of the Freep picked his Top Viral Videos of 2011 from YouTube. While there’s a number of nationwide hits, he highlighted a few Michigan ones.

We featured Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad smash Imported from Detroit (starring Eminem) and the fantastic Grand Rapids Lip Dub (starring pretty much the entire city of Grand Rapids) on Absolute Michigan when they came out, but it looks like we may have missed the best of them all! Mark writes:

Billed as the first lipdub to feature senior citizens, this clip of a Grand Rapids retirement community drew national attention in July. The clip was produced with help from students at nearby Grand Valley State University.

It features his grandparents, but with 1.2 million views, Mark’s not alone and we think you’ll agree, this is one awesome video… (if you have another we missed, post it in the comments)



Seeking Michigan: The Treaty of Detroit

Seeking MichiganBy William LeFevre of the Walter P. Reuther Library , courtesy Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan. The goal of Seeking Michigan is simple: to connect you to the stories of this great state. Visit them regularly for a dynamic & evolving look at Michigan’s cultural heritage.
The UAW and GM bargaining teams negotiate the Treaty of Detroit, 1950 (Photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University)

The UAW and GM bargaining teams negotiate the Treaty of Detroit, 1950 (Photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University)

As the national debate over universal health care continues, it is instructive to look back to 1950. The “Treaty of Detroit,” signed that year, represents a pivotal moment in the offering of full medical benefits to the American worker.

Pattern Bargaining

Under Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers (UAW) evolved the negotiating practice of pattern bargaining with the Big Three. In essence, the UAW would pick a strike target among Ford, Chrysler and General Motors (GM) during each negotiating year. The other two companies would match the concessions won by the UAW from the strike target and avert costly strikes at their own factories.

In 1950, the UAW pattern bargaining target was Ford, and among the major issues were pensions and full medical benefits. Ford quickly settled, and, after a 104 day strike, Chrysler agreed as well. GM followed suite. In what was hailed as the “Treaty of Detroit,” all autoworkers at the three carmakers would receive full pensions and full medical care. The trickle down effect was felt across the United States, as companies in the automotive and other industries followed the trend. For the first time, large segments of workers in the United States would have affordable health care, provided through their companies. Individuals and families who couldn’t afford to see a doctor, or for whom a medical emergency was an economic disaster of epic proportions, were now part and parcel of the growing health care system.

Personal Experience

Reuther himself had been forced to use the existing health care system in extreme fashion. He had been the victim of an assassination attempt in his house in northwest Detroit on April 20, 1948. After returning home after a late UAW meeting, Reuther was hit by a shotgun blast through the kitchen window as he was opening the family refrigerator. Wounded in the chest and right arm, Reuther suffered a long process of recovery and knew from first-hand experience the costs associated with the extremes of medical care. No doubt this played heavily on his mind as he negotiated the Treaty of Detroit.

Walter Reuther recuperates after the 1948 attempt on his life. His wife May watches over him. (Photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University)

Walter Reuther recuperates after the 1948 attempt on his life. His wife May watches over him. (Photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University)

For much more about Walter Reuther, visit the Walter P. Reuther Library. Of particular interest is No Greater Calling: The Life of Walter P. Reuther. It was developed to commemorate his 100th birthday and also has text and even audio of speeches, photos and more.

$1 Million Accelerate Michigan Contest!

Speed by IreJustin
Speed by IreJustin

Applications are now open for the 2011 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will award more than $1 million in cash winnings, plus in-kind awards of services, staffing and software to top entrepreneurial businesses and also includes a competition for college students with an idea for an innovative business.

To qualify for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, businesses must make a commitment to locate and grow in Michigan. These companies must also be at the commercial stage of business development, past proof of concept. It’s open to businesses who operate in technology-driven sectors including alternative energy, IT, advanced manufacturing, life science, medical devices and advanced transportation.

Accelerate Michigan on Facebook!Any undergraduate or graduate student who is enrolled in at least two classes in a Michigan public or private university or college for the fall 2011 semester is eligible for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, and student teams may also submit.

Get your applications and much more information at and check them out on Facebook. Check out last year’s winners including $500,000 winner Armune BioScence.

Grand Rapids LaughFest ~ March 10-20, 2011

grand-rapids-laughfest-cosby-betty-whiteGrand Rapids LaughFest on Facebook!The first-ever Grand Rapids LaughFest kicks off this Thursday (March 10) in Grand Rapids. The city-wide festival runs March 10-20, 2011 and is presented by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, an independent branch of Gilda’s Club Worldwide. The organization was founded in honor of comedienne Gilda Radner with the goal of helping men, women and children with cancer and their friends and families, meet to learn how to live with cancer, whatever the outcome.

One neat thing about LaughFest is that the schedule holds a lot of no-cost/low-cost events, beginning with the attempt to break the Guinness World Record for rubber chicken tossing at Rosa Parks Circle at 7:30 PM (just show up – chickens will be provided!). This feature from the Grand Rapids Press on LaughFest says:

LaughFest organizers hope to make West Michigan a very happy place with performances by more than 50 headliners plus another 300 amateur or theatrical performers. More than 110 events are open for free in 29 venues and 14 restaurants and bars.

Ten days before the opening of the 10-day event, nearly 27,000 tickets had been sold to ticket buyers from 17 U.S. states plus Canada as well as from 80 percent of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Grand Rapids LaughLest“The names I keep hearing are Cosby and White,” said Bill Cosby, who appears March 13 in DeVos Hall. “I think that’s very, very interesting that the big names would be those people who are in their 70s,” he said. “One would think that Comedy Central would be able to spin out a whole bunch of potentials who would draw a younger crowd.”

Actually, that’s been taken care of. Comedians such as Margaret Cho, Mike Birbiglia, Kevin Hart, Stephen Lynch and Kathleen Madigan are among those performing during the event-packed festival.

Gilda Radner was from Detroit, and in the video below from Gilda’s brother, Michael Radner, talks about the importance of laughter to his sister. See many more from Grand Rapids LaughFest on YouTube.

Lansing is The Next American City

Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q
Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q

Next American City partnered with IBM and its SmarterCities initiative to encourage citizens across the nation to share how their cities are addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The prize for the city with the most posts to the SmarterCities Scan was a profile on their website, and Lansing, Michigan, blew the competition away. Their profile of Lansing by Ivy Hughes is a great read and shows why Lansing just might be Michigan’s most overlooked success story.

For years, various groups have been trying to change the Greater Lansing Region’s image as another Rustbelt city, but these efforts have really taken off in the last few years. Kiplinger recently ranked Lansing as one of the “10 Great Cities for Young Adults”; several Greater Lansing Region businesses have made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies; Michigan State University (MSU) was chosen as the home base for a the $500 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and is ranked only second to MIT in nuclear physics; and, in 2009, MSU made Entrepreneur magazine’s list of “Top Colleges for Business.”

penthouse by TerryJohnston
penthouse by TerryJohnston

The author lists some of the factors that make Lansing worthy of this honor including Development, Culture, Ideas, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, saying:

Changing a city best suited for cars into a walkable, bikeable community is, at the very least, a challenge but several organizations are working to increase the number of bike lanes, walkways and shared use paths. The region’s bus system, CATA, is one of most effective transportation systems among communities similar in size to the Greater Lansing Region and is a major player in the effort to shift the ratio of cars to people on the street. Discussions regarding the incorporation of a light rail system into the region’s long-term transportation plan have just begun.

Sustainability is the driving force behind these transportation efforts and is the catalyst for the region’s vast community garden network and the inspiration for the city’s first urban garden — Urbandale farm. Many neighborhood organizations are working to increase the visibility and viability of sustainable eating in the region.

They close with:

…a big thank you to the groups continuing to make the Greater Lansing Region a place we all want to be. They are: #lovelansing, Capital Area Michigan Works!, Accelerate Lansing, YSG Lansing, Capital Gains Media, Keep Learning, LEAP, Grand River Connection, Mid-Michigan Tweet Ups, Prima Civitas, Impression 5, City of East Lansing, NOISE, MSU Catalyst, Walk and Bike Lansing; Greater Lansing Business Monthly; Help Make Mid-Michigan Walk and Bike Friendly!; Lansing Walking & Bicycling Task Force; Arts Council; Lansing Happy Hour Club; and a plethora of hardworking neighborhood associations.

Read more at Next American City and also check out the Lansing tag at Smarter Cities for some of the Capital City’s many assets! There are videos there highlighting all kinds of things about the Greater Lansing area such as the many festivals which draw over 1/2 million people a year to the region and this one from Greater Lansing. While it’s definitely idealized, it shows the amazing range of offerings the region holds.

Greater Lansing from Leap, Inc. on Vimeo.

Lansing ranks among great cities for young adults

Skyline: Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q
Skyline: Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q

Spotted in the Lansing State Journal today, Kiplinger magazine Lansing has been identified as one of 10 great cities for young adults. Ranking right along side the notable locations of Austin, TX, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, IL, Kansas City, MO, New York, NY, Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT and Washington, D.C.. The criteria used to identify the cities were 6 key questions.

  1. Will I find good work there?
  2. Who lives there?
  3. What colleges and universities does the city offer?
  4. How much is rent?
  5. How is the commute?
  6. Will I have fun there?


The “Love Lansing” contingent is growing, with a well-known financial group touting the Michigan city as one of the best places for young people.

Lansing has been named one of “10 great cities for young adults” by financial news organization Kiplinger.

They promote their town on Twitter with the keyword “#LoveLansing,” talk about it during networking events and defend their decision to live here to their peers in other cities.

And now, they have something to back it up.

Kiplinger’s made note of Lansing’s cheap rent well below the national average, a respectable bar and club scene, high-paying job opportunities in bio and Internet technologies and an average commute of only 20 minutes.

Michigan’s capital is a little-known hotbed for young professionals,” Kiplinger said. “Granted, this Great Lakes community can’t quite compare to the larger cities on our list in terms of job prospects or things to do. But it has a relatively low cost of living. And its youthful population, downtown renewal projects, and emerging technology sector make Lansing a stand-out in mid-sized cities.

Read the entire article here.

The Grand Rapids Press at also has an article on the ranking: Is Lansing the coolest city for young people in Michigan? Kiplinger says so

Five Things you need to know about Michigan: Extreme Economy Edition

Face Plant by by Rudy Malmquist
Face Plant by by Rudy Malmquist

Five Things You Need to Know About MichiganWe try to be as positive as possible, but I do hope that everyone (and yes, I’m looking at you elected officials) is preparing to need to do extraordinary things to keep our state and the people in it afloat.

1. Jack Lessenberry spoke with Ismael Ahmed, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, who worries that Michigan is nearing the cliff, staring down:

…an explosion in poverty, in need, in families slipping below the water line, just at a time when he knows he is going to have to do much, much more with less money…

(Ahmed says) “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in poverty in the state. More than one-fourth of children are living in poverty. “More than 2 million people are living below the poverty line, and that’s still increasing. And when you count people who are working but who just don’t make enough to live, that increases to about a third of the state.”

2. When we look at our massive deficit, it’s instructive to look at what’s behind it. Peter Luke at mLive points out that tax cuts have left Michigan unable to invest in itself:

The Headlee amendment to the Michigan Constitution is simple. The state can collect up to 9.49 percent of personal income in taxes and fees approved by the Legislature. Anything over that has to be returned to taxpayers. The aim was to cap the growth of government.

…in funding essential services, state government in 2010 will collect a little more than half — $14 billion– of what the father of the modern conservative movement in Michigan thought appropriate.

For all the hand-wringing over how to return to prosperity, Michigan is unable to make long-term investments in its future.

Luke gets bashed in the comments on his article, but the case he makes that we have cut ourselves into a corner is worth a little thought.

3. On the bright side, the Michigan Policy Network says that our corner is nowhere near as dark as California’s:

The projected FY2009 budget gap is 672 million dollars. This number is significant, and additional cuts or tax increases are needed to stabilize Michigan’s economy. However, this budget deficit is only 2.9% of the size of the total projected budget, a comparatively small margin. While the situation seems significant, consider California. The nation’s biggest state has an astounding projected deficit of 35.9 billion dollars. That’s 35.5% of the total projected 2009 budget.

4. The Freep takes a look at a few measures designed to spark our sputtering economy.

5. Finally, I’d like to direct you over to Michigan in Pictures where you can see this photo from the pentax hammer bigger and hopefully take a little hope into your day from these words:

In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
~ Albert Camus

Rollercoaster Wednesday

MSU College of Human Medicine by Eridony
MSU College of Human Medicine by Eridony

Going up

The New York Times reports that in the midst of the darkest economic times Michigan has seen in decades, the University of Michigan is spending billions to grow with nearly three million square feet new buildings for science, medicine, health, art, business, sports, food service and student housing under construction and five others   in the design stage.

wizardkitten at Blogging for Michigan packed a lot of positive economic stories for Michigan into a post about how Obama’s “Green New Deal” can create jobs, ease global warming and lessen our dependence on foreign oil all at the same time. She links to a nice article about Michigan-based Hemlock Semiconductor and also to related stories in the Freep and LA Times and notes that when added to our burgeoning movie industry, those folks out on the west coast might start to think that we are OK after all. Especially if – as she reports elsewhere – Gov. Granholm is tapped for the post of Queen of England.

Fallen by jnhkrawczyk
Fallen by jnhkrawczyk

Going down

Unfortunately, it’s not all (or even mostly) good news. Comerica Bank’s preliminary November Michigan Business Activity Index (28k PDF) fell 4 points to 79 – the lowest level in 16 years. The November reading was down 13 points from November 2007 and 27% from its October 2003 peak of 108. That decline rivals the largest previous peak- to-trough decline of 33% between September 1978 and June 1980.

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry notes that while Washington doesn’t have to live within its means and can borrow and borrow and borrow – hello $11,000,000,000,000 national debt – state governments are not so lucky (also check out his interview with Chris Christoff, the Freep’s Lansing Bureau chief). Jack notes that every few months, Michigan has a “revenue estimating conference” wherein budget controllers assess expected revenues as compared to budgeted expenditures. When revenues fall short, it’s time for cuts. A round of cuts is expected this month, and it likely won’t be the last. He says that our elected officials can go to their usual strategy of blaming each other (and solving nothing) or steal a page from the past:

Back in the 1970s, Governor Milliken used to convene regular weekly meetings of what he called the “quadrant,” the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate. They would get together and discuss how best to solve state problems.

Governor Jennifer Granholm should try that. She is in a position to serve as an honest broker. She can’t run again. These are desperate times, and saving the state needs to take top priority.

In a move that seems oddly desperate, General Motors is selling about 200 vehicles from its collection of 1000 vintage GM cars & trucks. They will be sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2009 Scottsdale Auction and could raise as little as $5 million.

And speaking of roller coasters…

Reports suggest that the Tigers are no closer to filling the roll of closer. Rollercoaster Jones, where are you?

Off the Mat Monday: Bailout busting, rare isotopes, keeping working and Jason Hanson

A2 City Reflections by Behind My Blue Eyes ~~ Stevie Exxxx
A2 City Reflections by Behind
My Blue Eyes ~~ Stevie Exxxx

Before we go into some positive economic stories from Michigan, here’s The Big Fat Auto Bailout Collapse from The Daily Beast and Mitch Albom saying Hey, you senators: Thanks for nothing:

There ought to be a law — against the hypocrisy our government has demonstrated. The speed with which wheelbarrows of money were dumped on Wall Street versus the slow noose hung on the auto companies’ necks is reprehensible. Some of those same banks we bailed out are now saying they won’t extend credit to auto dealers. Wasn’t that why we gave them the money? To loosen credit?

Where’s your tight grip on those funds, senators? Where’s your micromanaging of the wages in banking? Or do you just enjoy having your hands around blue-collared throats?

The carmakers did get a modicum of hope on Saturday, and the Wall Street Journal looks at considerations facing the White House in what appears to the likely granting of funds to the carmakers from the financial bailout package. You can also check out Gov. Granholm, former governor Mitt Romney, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Wal-Mart president Lee Scott and Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussing the auto bailout and the wider economy on Meet the Press (if you want to skip the Rod Blagojevich-fest that leads off, scroll to 20:30).

One of the items lost in the general shroud of gloom hanging over Michigan last week was the news that MSU was awarded $550-million nuclear physics project by US Energy Department. Michigan State University will be the site for a new $550-million research Facility for Rare Isotope Beams that will employ at least 300 people. The equipment:

…would be at least 1,000 times more powerful than the machines now running at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. In some cases, 100,000 times more. It will be used to provide intense beams of rare isotopes for researchers which will lay the groundwork for study in a number of fields, including treating cancer and providing technology for border security.

jason-hanson-detroit-lionsLast week also saw the launch of the Keep Michigan Working program, a partnership of state, local and community officials designed to assist workers and businesses with challenges posed by the economic downturn. Head over to mLive to read more about the program that will focus on attracting businesses through financial incentives and developing a workforce to support emerging industries like alternative energy, life sciences and information technology. Be sure to also check out the info on the Keeping Michigan Working site including a list of high-demand jobs & job facilitators in your area of Michigan.

I had hopes yesterday that I’d be able to include the Lions triumphantly fighting off NFL history in this feature. I think we all could have guessed how that turned out. However, even though they moved to 0-15 and a heartbeat from “worst team ever”, Lions kicker Jason Hanson set an NFL record for most career field goals over 50 yards. Congratulations to a real class act! Here’s Jason Hanson’s Wikipedia page and also his player bio from the Detroit Lions.

Proton Beam Group, Attacked by a lamp post

 Attacked by a lamp post (150)  by caterpillars

There’s pretty much zero chance that I’m NOT going to post a link to an article titled “Proton beam group forms“. More here.

The photo is Attacked by a lamp post (150) by caterpillars. It’s part of her Detroit show. Yow.