Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I want to Review the Black Keys' New Album but...

Okay. So, I'm trying to find new albums to review and I come across the new Black Keys album. Cool beans... wait a minute. Yep, I can't stream it on rhapsody, which is the main way I listen to music. I pay my 10 bucks a month and can listen to all sorts of music I couldn't afford to buy. But this isn't a post to argue why consumers should get on board with subscription services. Nope it's a plea to the artists. The Black Keys made a deliberate decision not to stream their latest album.

First let me speak as a music consumer. I love music. Better yet I love media. But I don't have a lot of money. Subscription services like Rhapsody, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify, seem to me to be a godsend. I pay what I consider a reasonable fee and I get access to media, a lot of which I couldn't afford or wouldn't know about otherwise. I can get it legally, and digitally at will. Honestly. I like these services. I want them to at the very least be a viable option for the consumer, but more and more I hear that it is becoming difficult for services to continue because content providers don't want to get on board. Hate to break it to the Keys but that's them.

My instinct is that for the end user, these services are perfect. If I want music or a movie within minutes I have music or a movie.

Furthermore let me be clear these services are not free. I had a Napster and a Rhapsody subscription, but due to recent events, Rhapsody bought Napster, lets simplify things and just go with the Rhapsody subscription. (I don't use Spotify. It's new so I can't talk about people who use it. I had Rhapsody since 06.) Even before the music industry began to decline (2000) yearly per capita CD sales were about $70. My Rhapsody account is about $10 a month, which comes to $120 a year. And let me be clear I don't have the money to spend on every single album I want to listen to. That's just music that wouldn't cross my ears. As an end user it's a difficult to side with them when words like free start being used. I pay for that music, and I don't like the argument of "It kind of felt unfair to people who purchased our album to allow people to go on a website and stream the album for free whenever they wanted." That is simply not the case.

Now beyond that and this is where I become a bit of an extremist. I believe everything on the internet should be free. Allow me to explain. If somebody wants something on the net they should be able to get it. Now I understand that people deserve to be paid for their work. I think we're in a time of flux where people are trying to find the right business models so that things are at no cost or low cost to the end user, but the right people still get compensated fairly.

Around this time two centuries ago newspapers were having the same argument. For the past 150 with the exception of the last 15 years or so a news paper cost so little that it was a no-brainer to buy one on your way home. But it wasn't always that way. Like every other piece of media the paper was a luxury. Sure it wasn't super expensive but by newspaper's zenith (let's call it at 1944 just to make the research easier on myself) it cost $0.03 for a New York Times, $0.36 cents with inflation.

How'd they do it? Ads plain and simple. I still believe that internet is barley being tapped for its potential as an advertising medium. More so than in other it gives those guys the intelligence to target and evaluate and alter their campaigns.

One of the reasons why people loved Netflix so much-It's been a rough year for them but anyway-for $8.00 the consumer received access to so much content that it was a no-brainer to get on board. It was the same with Rhapsody. Back then I had a little bit of money and access to all that music for that price was again a no-brainer.

Anyway my point with that is that a blind monkey could see that the consumer can be better served with digital distribution, and it's just plain insulting that the media companies want cling to their old methods. I get it; people have to be paid. Nobody is arguing that point. But in the interest of serving the consumer which is what a business is supposed to do, it's long time they looked at new revenue streams, payment models, and distribution technology. As stated previously an idiot could see the media market is in a state of flux and these companies and yes artists you too, need to change up or die in that market.

My argument is that let's face it media is expensive. Sure $10 an album might not sound like a lot, but it adds up. I know for a fact I've listened to at least 36 new albums this year. At $10 a pop that would be $360 and that's not the old stuff that I keep going back to that's just what came out this year. There is a segment of the population that just flat out can't afford to buy every CD or movie video game that's out there they want. These services if run properly and fine-tuned would allow the entertainment industry to obtain the maximum amount of money they could from these people who reason states should be more populous than any other segment especially in this economy.

Why did the wii do better than the Xbox 360? Why does Apple keep lowering their costs? Simple because they still have a portion of the population that want their product but can't afford it. The media industry is no different. All the money they lose per unit could be made up in volume.

Corrections: Yeah I sort of jumped the gun on this one. While I was writing this I forgot that Spotify isn't Rhapsody. Or more bluntly the two work differently. People can stream stuff for free on Spotify. I still think that artists should give streaming services a chance though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When the King Speaks

When the king speaks all listen
Undisputed head of the host
And they all know that ain't a boast
'Cause it was from them that title was christened.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Album Review: Anthony Hamilton: Back to Love

Anthony Hamilton
Back to Love

Without a doubt Anthony Hamilton is one of the best male vocalists to come to prominence in the new millennium. He is the benchmark for what a voice can do. And here he disappoints. He's always best when he's giving emotionally charged wails. But most of this album is low key. He never gets to that crescendo. And why would he? Almost everything I hear about the guy is that he's great, but he's exhausting. He's exhausting for a reason. He normally puts the audience through the emotional ringer.

But here it sounds like he's holding back.

Don't get me wrong the songs here are good, great even but it's just disappointing and frustrating to know the guy has the vocal range to push them further.

Beyond that it's almost as if I'm listening to two albums. The first is somewhat mellow, but around "Sucka for Love" (Track 9) it almost starts to reach the emotional crescendo I was talking about.

As usual Hamilton borrows a lot from 60's and 70's R&B. At some point I heard Stevie Wonder-like harmonicas. But it never sounds as though he's imitating them. It's a natural thing for him. An interesting thought experiment is to have Hamilton duet with the late Marvin Gaye. I'm betting if you threw the original cats in a room with this guy they would all start talking shop and trading music notes. You know what? I hope someone does joint interviews with him, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson just to see how they all interact with one another. That would be made of win.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stop Online Piracy Act Mark Up Video Playlist

These videos are from KeepTheWebOpen which consists of a group of various legislators.

March 1, 2011 House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing on Intellectual Property Enforcement

March 1, 2011 U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Hearing on: "Oversight of the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" held by the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet

For More information and Documentation please visit

P.S. I apologize that the audio is not synchronized; I believe there was a problem in the video conversion process.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Southfield City Council Meeting Held December 19, 2011

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 19, 2011

Topics Include

  • The Introduction of the New Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Tanya Markos-Vanno
  • The Upcoming Menorah Lighting Ceremony to be held at 5:30 pm December 21 on the lawn of South field City Hall
  • The Field Zone in Southfield Partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of South Oakland County
  • A Discussion About Future Funding for the Carpenter Lake Interpretative Center
  • Allegations of Police Time Card Fraud
  • The mayor urging council to begin transitions to paperless technology, ie using ipads and laptops in meetings rather than paper.

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

November 16, 2011 U.S. House Judiciary Committee Hearing on SOPA

The U.S. of House of Representative Committee Hearings regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act held November 16, 2011

For more information and documentation please visit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's time I wrote with some hoop and holler: Regarding SOPA Apathy

If you, like me, "live" on the internet, over the past few days you have probably heard a lot of talk about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). It is not to you whom I speak.

I have been disappointed with the mainstream media's coverage of SOPA. There is relatively little coverage of it on the New York Times and CNN websites and CSPAN isn't covering the Judiciary Committee. Part of me believes that this is leading to a larger sense of apathy regarding the bill.

I am reluctant to discuss this, because as a young man who wishes to make a living by producing online content I have more than a small stake in the outcome of the debate. Furthermore several people for whom I hold great respect and are more articulate and intelligent than myself have already raised their pens regarding the merits and possible outcomes of the bill. However, I still sense that the country at large is apathetic.

In discussions with my family comments were made that basically amount to, "I seldom use the internet. This doesn't affect me. Why should I care?"

Allow me to retort. The internet regardless of individuals' personal use is one of if not the most important inventions of the last half century. It affects American culture, business, scientific research and infrastructural operation. It is quickly becoming, again if it is not already, fundamental to American society in the same way that our power, telephone, transportation and water systems are.

This bill has the potential to in a fundamental way change how on a technical level the internet works, and on an ideological level what the internet is. Regardless of whether you use the internet, or are a copyright hardliner you owe it you yourself, and the next generations to educate yourself about this issue. This isn't about whether it passes or fails, but that people are aware of the process and what's going on.

Stop Online Piracy Act Stuff

Alright so yesterday I tried posting links to video of the November 16, hearings and December 15 Mark up of SOPA. When I tried to watch it it was borderline broken so I am converting it and will post it on Youtube which in theory I can do since stuff created by the U.S. government is non-copyright.

It's taking a long time to convert (I started about 12 last night and the 11/16 hearing is only a 6th done) but I would also like to point to some of the documentation that is being cited.

This page will be updated as I go through all this stuff.

Nearly a Quarter of All Internet Traffic Is Copyright Infringement
Study | News Article about the Study

An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress

Copyright Infringement costs the U.S. $100 Billion
Table| Updated Table | Study| News Article | News Article

750,000 Jobs are Lost to Piracy
Chamber of Commerce Press Release | News Article 1 | News Article 2

Letter from Technology Corporate Leadership
Letter1 | Letter 2

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stop Online Piracy Act Video and Documents

I just spent the day looking at video regarding the Stop Online Piracy act and just wanted to post a couple of links for other people to do the same.

11/16/2011 Hearing /Documents

12/15/2011 Markup and Amendment Debates / Documents

Live Coverage


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 Southfield Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commission Meeting Held In Southfield, Michigan on December 14, 2011

Topics Include

  • A Taco Bell that wishes to rebuild a building to improve driveway circulation.
  • A Pharmacy
  • Public Notice Laws
  • A Kronk Gym

An agenda of this meeting can be found here.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011 Southfield Public School District Board of Education Meeting

Meeting of the Southfield Public School District Board of Education Held December 13, 2011

Topics Include

  • Tray McGuire and Upfront News (Twitter: @UpfrontNews)
  • The Saturday School Program
  • Gifts to Southfield-Lathrup High School's Library Media Center

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

Album Review: The Roots: Undun

The Roots

For some reason the Hip-Hop community decided to release most of the good stuff at the end of the year. Wait. Christmas?

Anyway this is a rely good album. Good production and good lyrics, right up there with Blige's album. Heck, it might be even better. There are times when the album sounds trippy, optimistic, and downright sad.

Overall the album is about looking back, and figuring out how and why you got to where you are. It's all about remembering the good and the bad. In some ways it' sad about how far things have fallen and also sad about how much they've stayed the same.

Southfield Regular City Coucil Meeting December 12, 2011

Regular City Council Meeting, Held in Southfield, Michigan Held on December 12, 2011.

Topics Include

  • Introduction of Three Members to the Emergency Management Volunteer Program
  • A Fund Raiser for the Field Zone to be held on December 17
  • Allegations of Police Time Card Fraud
  • Police Healthcare and Union Grievances

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

December 12, 2011 Southfield Adjoiurned City Council Meeting

An adjourned City Council held in Southfield Michigan on December 12, 2011, regarding a mayoral veto of council's decision to build a nature interpretive Center at Carpenter lake. The veto was officially made public at the November 28, 2011 meeting and Council's original decision was made November 14, 2011.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So How is The President Doing?

Alright, I'm going to break my centrist tendencies for this one post. The next presidential election is actually starting to heat up. The primaries are pretty close now and I no longer feel like punching someone for mentioning the Republican race. The truth is I'm on the fence about Obama. Don't get me wrong I think he's an alright prez, but as long as the republicans don't elect someone with all out crazy ideas... like returning to the gold standard I'm waiting in the wings. I'm a lefty and as such I'm somewhat disappointed in Mr. Obama's presidency. Let's face it who wins the race isn't going to be so much about a Republican plan as much as it will be a mandate on how the American people feel about the job Obama is doing, so here my list of the top good things and bad things about his presidency. Since I'm a negative Nancy let's start with the bad.

Note: The jury is still out on how he handled Libya, Egypt and the Arab Spring so I'm not touching them with a ten foot poll. Same goes for the draw-down of troops in Iraq.

The Bad

5. Lack of consequences regarding officials who ordered or participated in torture.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

One of the reasons why I actually supported Obama was his stance on torture. I saw many documentaries and photographs regarding torture and was appalled that the United States a country that holds the rule of law and the rights of the accused so dear would participate it.

People have died and lives have been ruined. There is something in me that says that justice is needed. That people, no that this country needs to be held accountable. Things like this should not be allowed to happen. Which leads me to.

4. Not Closing Guantanamo Bay

It was a campaign promise. A serious campaign promise that was broken. Gitmo was used as a loophole to allow the government to do whatever the hell it wanted to prisoners. Regardless of whether or not policies have changed or not it needs to close so that it can never again be used in such a manner. I am a hard liner on this I know.

3.Emasculation of Bank Reform

Oh, I remember '08. I remember I supported Tarp. I still do. My economics and journalism professors at the time would spend hours of class going over the worse case scenarios if congress failed to act. At one point I was told that if I went to an ATM on Monday the money might not be there.

But I also expected us to learn from that situation. I expected us to make sure that it would be illegal for banks to participate in the sort of speculation and derivatives that lead to the collapse of the housing market and the U.S. economy in general.

2. Congress' Failure to Pass a 2011 Budget in a Timely Fashion

The others were mostly just me being a lefty but this is about an abdication of basic governmental responsibilities. And I know that this was about congress but here is something that the republicans have a point on.

The president is suppose to be the leader. He is responsible for making sure, at least on a federal governmental level that everyone is doing their job. I don't care how combative congress is. Part of his job is to say, "thing x needs to get done so roll up your goddamn sleeves and get on it." This isn't a Democrat-Republican thing. This is a left-right thing. This isn't even a United States thing. This is a basic duty of any governmental body to figure out where the money is going to go thing.

And the only reason I can think of for not doing before it became a crisis was because everyone was too scared to take a position on the line items before an election where everyone is talking about government spending.

1.Health Care Reform

Yeah. Ignore the number here. I just wanted a cool segue. Anyway, I actually like the idea of overhauling healthcare. Jury's out on if it's good reform or not. That's not why it's on my list of ugly. No. It's on my list of ugly because all the craziness surrounding it represents a larger problem with his administration; the inability to explain to the American people what he's trying to do and fight misinformation. I don't care if you agree or disagree with the man, but I think these decisions need to at least be based on the truth, not some cockamamie email chain letter.

The Good Stuff

5. Healthcare Reform
Left or right you have to face facts. As it exists now and as it existed prior to the healthcare reform legislation, it didn't work. There all sorts of reasons why, but regardless it was a big elephant in the room because politicians knew that touching it was political suicide. As much as I hate to admit it I even have to give Bush some credit for trying it.

In truth I don't think what we have now will be the end of it and I don't think it should be, but at least now it's something people are talking about. Regardless of whether we went too far or not far enough it's something that's people are discussing.

4. Literally Killing Public Enemy #1

This is on my list for two reasons. First off the emotional and cathartic "We got him" feeling he gave the country" can't be taken away by any political opponent. At least I don't think.

Second of all it represents general a shift in U.S. policy regarding the war on terror. Rather than large sweeping campaigns we can secure ourselves through intelligence gathering, policing and precise targeted attacks.

3. Foreign Relations

Maybe it's just because I'm comparing him to his predecessor who was hated and considered toxic to many of his or rather our political allies.

Let's face it when I think of the people of U.K and their character Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the first in my mind of all that is British, well her and David Tennent.

I imagine it's the same with us. Yeah one of the jobs of any head of state is to be the metaphorical representative of their countrymen and their character to the rest of the world. And the rest of the world hated Bush and by extension the United States. Generally speaking at least from the news reports I listen to the international community is fond of Obama, if not always fond of what he says and does. In short he makes us look good. And I like looking good.

2.Credit Card Bill of Rights

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Who among us doesn't have a credit card. And who among us hasn't had some craptastic fee we didn't know about.

1. Declining to Defend the Defense of Marriage Act opposition to Don't Ask Don't Tell and General Support of Gay Rights

Okay. so didn't go as far as I wanted but hey, he's come around. I don't want to give a speech about how some of these policies were modern day discrimination and that spiel, but yeah.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The I want Piss and Vinegar for Christmas Playlist

Now to give the old spiel. I hate Christmas music. I get it. We have to listen to "Jingle Bells". And yes we do. Thank you Macys. Can't we listen to the good versions of "Jingle Bells" rather than the ear splitting generic and in some cases downright bad versions. Here is the litmus test we all need to follow. If the song would piss you off if it weren't Christmas chances are it's a bad song. If the song came on the radio and you would listen to it in July then it's okay. I'm 24, I'm too young to get the Scrooge hunches and the Scrooge voice so rather than saying Bah Humbug here is my christmas playlist.

Thurl Ravenscroft: You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch

The Ramones: Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

X: Jingle Bells

Blink-182: I won't be home for Christmas

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve in Sarajevo/ Carol of the Bells

Note: Look just about everything these guys do is awesome. Everytime they do a song it puts all other versions to shame.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Mad Russian's Christmas (Based on the Nutcracker)

Run DMC: Christmas in Hollis
I still say Die Hard is the best damn Christmas movie ever made.

Twisted Sister: Come All Ye Faithful

Now, before I tell my kids of Santa I'll regale them with tales of the Krampus. No excuse me while I go watch the Main Man kill Santa. Damn that bunny.

Album Review: Florence and the Machine: Ceremonials

Florence and the Machine

There are two ways to look at this album, as a revival and celebration of the underappreciated 90's and 70's movements in indie pop music, or as wailing pretentious piece of gosa. I take the wailing pretentious piece of gosa route.

Now before you go all Kaylee on me hear me out. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of bits of the 90's and 70's indie movement I like, but while this tries to invoke their sound, this is not as good as them.

One of the problems I have is that I don't really like Florence Welch's voice. It's harder to tell on the album than on live performances, but she doesn't really have the voice to wail the way she does. On the longer notes her voice cracks a bit.

Also the album takes itself entirely too seriously that I kind of have to point and laugh at it. Like I said it's kind of pretentious.

I can take Amy Lee seriously because she has the voice and the presence. Welch doesn't.

All that said, look this isn't an album designed for me. After the first three songs I knew this wasn't my bag. I'm only reviewing it because after the slew of albums I did last week this one has been a slow one as evidenced by me reviewing a month old album. Now let those limey invaders die. Wait. What? The Prodigy are English! Goddamn it! The Rolling Stones too? What about Adele? She has to be Amer_. No! Okay. Alright. At least, Iron Maiden was born right here in the good ole U.S. of _. My God! By Lincoln's beard! Minute Men get your riffles and pack in the earthworks this is going to be a long war.

And while we're at it boys we're taking Madonna back across the Atlantic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 2011 Southfield Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commission Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on December 7, 2011

Topics Include

  • A special use request for a Taco Bell that wishes make improvements to it's building.
  • A special use request that would allow Kronk Gym to operate in Southfield
  • A special use request for a pharmacy.

You can find an audio file of this meeting here.

An agenda for this meeting can be found here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on December 5, 2011.

Topics Include

  • A Liquor License Request
  • A presentation regarding the possibility of Non-Motorized Pathways
  • The ability to serve wine at a fundraiser for the field zone on December 17

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

More information about the work The Greenway Collaborative has done in Southfield regarding a non-motorized transportation plan can be found here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Album Review: The Jolts: 8%

The Jolts

I listened to it earlier in the year and as I re-listen to albums, while trying to put together my best of the year playlist, I realize how friggin' good this album is. Shot of pure punk it is. "The Dabbler" and "Deadline" are great tracks for anybody looking for some old school style Rock & Roll. I'll admit the sound is old, but that's why I like it. Give it a good listen. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 28, 2011 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on November 28, 2011

Topics Include
  • A Mayoral Veto of Council's Decision to Build a Nature Interpretative Center
  • A Woman Whose house has been ordered to be demolished
  • Allegations of Time Card Fraud Against a Police Officer
  • Problems regarding electrical blackouts
An agenda and related documents can be found here.
An audio file of this meeting can be found here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

To My Critics

Dear Citizen,

The ideal of a democratic government is too often thwarted by bureaucratic secrecy
and unresponsive officials. Citizens frequently find it difficult to discover what decisions
are being made and what facts lie behind those decisions.

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Public Act No. 442 of 1976, establishes
procedures to ensure every citizen’s right of access to government documents. The
Act establishes the right to inspect and receive copies of records of state and local
government bodies.

The Open Meetings Act, Public Act No. 267 of 1976, protects your right to know
what’s going on in government by opening to full public view the processes by which
elected and nonelected officials make decisions on your behalf.

This guide to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act is designed
to make it easier for citizens to keep track of what their government is doing."

I have been noticed, and it concerns me because I am a man of duel natures. On the one hand I like to be left alone to do as I will, and on the other I believe that there is good work to be done. Twice now in city council meetings mention has been made about my YouTube audio recordings. It was never my desire nor my purpose to draw attention in such a manner, however I believe that these videos do serve a public good.

I have avoided addressing why I post them but I think now I need to. The reasons I do this fall in to two categories, personal and journalistic.

For now I shall put off the "people's right to know" speech and recall the last year of my life. I graduated from college and like many in this recession I had and still do have difficulty finding work. I asked myself what can I do that can serve a societal function. I graduated a journalism major. Because of the draconian penalties for misquoting at Michigan State I developed the habit of recording anything that I intended on using for journalism class assignment. Even though I did not necessarily desire all the pressures of the newsroom and still don't I felt that going to a public meeting and providing an honest, complete, and easily accessible record of the dialogue our leaders were having was something productive that I could do. All in all it was better than eating frosted flakes and watching television. For a better picture of my mental state at the time read my heroic BSOD April journal post, "Look not into the Maw of the Void Lest Ye be Devoured AKA Today Was One of My Demon Days"

For those who don't want to read my angsting let's just say I crashed and rebooted on the truth explained in full in Joss Whedon's Angel episode "Epiphany".

ANGEL: It doesn't.

KATE: Doesn't what?

ANGEL: Mean anything. In the greater scheme or the big picture, nothing we do matters. There's no grand plan, no big win.

KATE: You seem kind of chipper about that.

ANGEL: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. What we do, now, today. - I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but... I never got it.

KATE: And now you do?

ANGEL: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.

I really do not want to give the "people have a right to know" speech so I will say the following. I spent two and a half years as a journalism major and am still not far removed from the idealism of college. It makes sense that some of that government watchdog and transparency talk sunk in.

To get into my mind frame just substitute television with internet.

Apart from that I will address some of the criticisms levied against me, though I know that that is probably a rotten idea.

Though it is something I do not like to discuss I am still without a job. The reason why the audio is so atrocious is because all I could afford was a $30 tape recorder and believe it or not it is better than my old tape recorder which sounds better than my old analogue tape recorder. Even if I had more money there are other things I would want before new audio equipment, like a new hard drive, a camera, or an apartment. The way I view it better equipment is something I am going to have to earn through maintained effort and maybe a little karma.

Now for the one that I feel has some credence. At the beginning of individuals addressing council they are required to give their name and addresses. I sympathize with those who feel it is unfair of me to put that information on the internet and am considering cutting the audio to take that information out. That said there are reasons not to as well. The first is that cutting the audio in that way would be incredibly labor intensive and difficult. I would have to review the audio for each case most of which are seconds or less long. Even if I do the software I use Windows Live Movie Maker is not so precise I am confident I could do it without cutting a good chunk of what people are saying out as well.

Furthermore many of the meetings are already televised. I would contend that if you are uncomfortable giving that information to an internet audience you should also be uncomfortable giving it away to a television audience. While it pains my ego to admit, not that many people watch the meetings on the internet. My guess is that I average about 40 views, about the same size as the city council study room when filled. Even then most though admittedly not all addresses can be found using the white pages anyway.

To those who think that it is odd that I am doing this I say that both the cities of Royal Oak and Detroit do the exact same thing on their official websites. I'm just a guy who lives in a town that doesn't and said hey here is something I can do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Angry Black Man: The New Covenant

When I say that a white power structure permeates this country, I am not talking about overt racism. While I believe that overt racism still exists in this country I believe that we as society perceive it negatively and actively shun those we see as being actively racist.

No. What I am describing are all of the factors that contribute white privilege as well as subconscious stereotyping that people may not even be aware they committing. And while I'm at it let me be clear, these things don't just affect African-Americans. They affect Latinos, Asian-Americans, homosexuals, women, Native-Americans, Middle-Eastern Americans, Indian Americans, and just about everyone under the sun.

As long as you have at least two people in a room there will be a perception of Other. And that perception of Other will lead to tribalism. This is human nature. Tribalism in and of itself isn't bad. Let's face it there and always will be different groups of people and individuals will always choose to identify themselves as part of those groups. Skin color and geographic location are just flat out some of the most obvious differences we have. My skin is mocha and if you go back far enough my people hailed from Africa. Therefore I identify myself as being African-American, and cats with the pale skin just aren't in that club. Just the way it goes.

Despite that, we as a society have to keep that tribalism in check or else you get prejudice, persecution, and eventually slavery. While race may be a social construct, that social construct will always exist as long as different groups exist. Or to put it simply unless we have absolute equality in this country, which would be incredibly difficult at best and impossible at worse, race will continue to matter.

As such we as society must examine how race affects our daily lives so we can mitigate the systemic problems that 250 years of privilege of a majority at the expense of minorities have caused, and ensure that the concept of Other doesn't recreate segregation, class stratification, inequality of opportunity and inequality of the justice system. We must remain vigilante; the civil rights movement did not mark an end to the concept of race in America, only the admittance that the concept of race should not inhibit one's life, liberty, or property. All it did was create a new covenant with minorities, a covenant that we have to work to ensure is not broken.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Angry Black Man: Our Leaders

One of the problems that I have with Obama worship is that the man is president of the United States. His job is not to look out for Black Americans but all Americans. As such he's not going to be the man to talk about racial issues. Even though he sometimes does, I don't expect him to be the guy to talk about declining matching funds for state and municipal social and educational programs that aid places that are more chocolate or even caramel than vanilla if you get my meaning.

Beyond that, let's face it the figures of the '90's, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Farrakhan have lost their credibility as leaders of the people.

But here is a list of some of the people I look to when I think about racial issues.

Cornel West

Nobody right now discusses race on an intellectual level the way this man does. That's not to say I always agree with the man, but he has well thought out arguments that are more than him vying for media attention.

Aaron McGruder

Sure he speaks through comedy, but honestly half the time I agree with the stuff he says and I think it's practical. I doesn't hurt that he's only about 15 years older than me and isn't burdened by 40 years of tradition and emotional baggage from civil rights movement. He's the type of guy who can say on national television that while I respect Dr. King I don't think that he could politically or socially function in modern society were he still alive.

To put it another way I trust him to talk about how race currently affects our society not how it did in the 1960's.

Which leads me to.

Angela Davis

Yes she's still doing her thing. And yes every few months I will pop in a CD of one of her speeches. Again I don't agree with everything she says but I trust her. She talks about race and doesn't exploit it as a way to get, power and or money.

Dave Chapelle

I know people are going why are you putting another funnyman here. Because as with McGruder the point of most of Chapelle's comedy was to talk about race. When you listen to his out of character interviews you can really tell how much thought he put into it.

Album Review: Mary J. Blige: My Life II... The Journey Continues(Act I)

Mary J. Blige
My Life II...The Journey Continues

You know how earlier in the year I said I was disappointed in the Jill Scott's Light of the Sun. That is because I was expecting something like this.

There is great production with awesome percussion. On top that Blige's voice on this album is great. The lyrics are none to shabby either. Honestly, this is some of the best R&B I've heard in years. I was get a bit tired of pretty boys who can dance making albums for teenage girls.

Next July in the season of the family picnic you're probably going to be hearing cuts from this album everywhere. And you'll love it.

There are a lot of tracks that evoke sort of a laid back feeling, like "Midnight Drive" but there are also a lot of deeper more emotional tracks like "No Condition" and "Empty Prayers" And no lie, but "Feel Inside" is probably the best hip-hop track I've heard all year.

As the album goes on it becomes more and more mellow, moving into the acoustic guitar ballad, "Need Someone."

Like I said this is probably the best R&B album of the year.

Angry Black Man: The Flaws of Black Conservatism

Yeah. I'm starting to do this a lot so I'm just going to make a series. Here are some links the proto-Angry Black Man stuff.

Primer on the N_Word
Should I Post I'm Tired of Trying to Prove My Blackness

I'm tired of Trying to Prove My Blackness
Black Rock Playlist
On the Black History Month Thing
Getting Meta: Minorities
Terry Goodkind and Affirmative Action

Argument for Affirmative Action
I Fucking Hate the Noble Savage

Beyond that, before I get started let me say that like Hooper X in Chasing Amy my anger over racial issues comes in three varieties.

  1. Expected faux anger: Look most black people are expected to have some indignation towards the white power structure that permeated and still permeates this country, but some of it honestly is me being mad because I'm supposed to be as a black guy. It's not genuine anger for me.
  2. Comedic parody of the first: Yeah. It's fun to mess with people sometimes.
  3. The real deal: Genuine anger at racism, interracial class stratification, stereotyping, racial inequality, and America's inability to have a serious national discussion about all the previous.

And here is the deal good readers. I expect you to be able to tell when I'm expressing each one in my writing. Good luck.

Now then, the television in my kitchen doesn't have cable and it, being Thanksgiving Eve my mom was in there, she was watching CoolTV trying to remember the name of a Bob Marley Music video she had seen earlier.

My guess is that it was probably "Redemption Song".

You're welcome Mom.

After that they start showing rappers. This along with the fact that afterwards she changed the channel to Bill Cosby's Mark Twain award led to a discussion about how rap has changed African-American culture for the worst.

Now I'll admit that yeah rap has glorified the image of the gangster a bit.

But other than that, I think that it's wrong to blame hip-hop culture on the Black Community's ills. Hoodies are not what's keeping Deshawn out of College. And honestly I think a lot of talk like that masks some of the real reasons behind black inequality. Furthermore it makes gross over-generalizations about the culture that are akin to the same type of stereotyping that caused the aforementioned inequality.

Much of this is due to ever increasing socioeconomic, cultural and political divides between classes amongst the black community.

Poverty in the Black community existed long before Grandmaster Flash and Whodini came on the scene.

In his Pound Cake speech Cosby said it wasn't about money. Yeah. Yeah. It is. A lot of the schools in the innercity are broke. A lot of the families are broke. The cities themselves are broke. Deshawn can't read if Deshawn can't get his hands on a book.

Detroit Library Officials again Consider Closings:

Don't get me wrong. I understand that if Black youth are going to succeed in this world personal responsibility is a must. That said we can't ignore that there is still a lot in this world that lies outside their control. And hip-hop culture in and of itself has very little to do with that.

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