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.

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