Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Southfield Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin December 10-16, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Southfield, City Council Meeting December 17, 2012

City Council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 17, 2012 at 7:00pm.

Topics Include
  • A Q & A Session in which the Road Commission of Oakland County discusses the possible outcomes of the Walmart development at 12-Mile Road and Southfield Road.
  • Regulating  landscaping entrance way and window obstruction and visible external storage.
  • The possibility of an art commission
  • Taxicab bond plates
  • Applying for a grant that would allow construction of two stretches of sidewalks
An agenda and related documents can be found here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Magic Primer: Metaconcepts

So about halfway through writing "Getting Back in the Saddle" I realized that nobody was going to have a clue as to what I was saying, unless you played Magic The Gathering. After thinking about it a bit I thought I should revisit an old idea and create a bit of a primmer on Magic The Gathering so that when I talk about it on this blog, which I will at length, people have an idea or at least an article about what I'm talking about. Eventually I'll get to the rules and even some advanced concepts but I thought a good place to start would be metaconcepts, not how to play the game but what the game is.

What Do I Mean By Meta?
For the purpose of this series I'm breaking things up into three groups. meta-concepts, rules (which by the way will have multiple sub-posts) and advanced concepts. Meta concepts are things that in my mind you don't need to know in order to play the game, or even play the game well, but tend to be discussed in Magic circles.

What is Magic the Gathering?
Magic The Gathering is one of the first, if not the first trading card games. Before Duel Monster, Digimon, Pokemon, Chaotic, or even the franchise TCGs like Dragon Ball Z there was Magic. In the game you play the role of a planeswalker or wizard dueling depending on how, deep you want to roleplay. I'll get to what exactly a planeswalker is later. It's complicated and weird, but for now lets just say multiverse traveling wizard. 

Whenever I'm going to tell and epic Magic the Gathering story at somepoint or another it's going to devolve into flavor. Well what is flavor. Imagine a videogame. Now let's pretend you had no graphics. Well that's okay because all the animations rely on math to tell them what to do. The death animation occurs when you guy's hit point number reaches zero. But you don't say, "The life counter reached 0" You say Link died.

Flavor represents sort of what's taking place in the minds eye. For instance while I won't get into what in terms of the rules the card does when you play the card Lightning Bolt, you think.

Also flavor represents the lore of the game. For instance a lot of cards may reference events,places or people in game lore, such as Coalition Victory, representing the Dominarian victory of Phyrexia.

Expansions and How Cards Are Released
Wizards of the Coast, normally, Lorwyn was weird, releases an expansion block and core set of Magic each year.

Core sets
In general the core sets are designed to provide players the basic no frills tools they need to play the game. They tend to have simpler more easily understood cards then expansions, largely because they are expected to be teaching tools for new players.  While Wizards of the Coast, position has changed slightly recently, generally the core sets were relatively consistent. Recent core sets have surprised a lot of players because a lot of the cards that they took for granted were going to be there forever have been replaced by newer ones.

How the main sets are referred to can be weird so here goes. In the beginning, '93ish Richard Garfield released this new game. This was alpha the first core set. The game sold like hotcakes so he printed up a second printing, which is referred to as beta. These have mostly the same cards and can be thought of as same set, which together is referred to as limited. Mostly these sets are known for two things, creating the foundation of the game, and a lot of "early installment weirdness". Mainly insanely broken, or overpowered cards that for the sake of game balance are no longer in print.  Conversely these sets also had a lot of mainstays that remain player favorites.

After that wizards mostly stuck to naming editions based on how many there had been before, but in 2010 they decided to start naming them based on the year so the current set which will be playable in Standard Format through most of 2013 is called Magic 2013.


Expansions sets are released to keep the game fresh. Typically three of these that share a setting and theme are released each year. Together they are called a block. Normally blocks are named after the first set of the block so the current block will be called Return to Ravnica after the first set. 


The way I think of format is as sort of commonly understood addendums to the rules. The most common "addendum" is a restriction on the cards you can play. When I was in high school I had a hard time getting my friends into magic because they were intimidated by the thousands of potential cards they had to deal with. One of the most common formats his standard which restricts cards to only those printed or reprinted in roughly the last two years.  You also have formats that dramatically add to the rules like Commander, and Archenemy.

So often times you will hear player refer to casual or "casual formats." What do they mean. Well it's weird. Wizards of the Coast has a lot of organized play. But it's generally accepted that that's not where everybody plays the game. Think of it like this. You had your high school basketball team who had coaches, refs and nice gym lines, and then you had everyone else who would play a quick pickup game after school in the driveway. The differences are similar. The rules are enforced not with a ref who has a 2 ton book, but by the players themselves. The stakes are lower if you loose who gives a damn. You didn't have to pay an entrance fee.

Oddly enough the lack of format has become a format.  You'll hear people all the time referring to casual format. Or formats when talking about things like Commander. Since casual generally has lower stakes causal players are more willing to play cards that are fun but won't necessarily win them the game.

The Metagame
The quickest way I can explain the metagame is the as the expected strategies and cards in any given environment.  Let's pretend we're talking about race car driving. You're driving a few hours after it rained. So you know damn near every driver who knows what the hell he or she's doing is going to put on tires that have better grip. You can also probably predict how they will adjust they're driving. This is all information you can use to mentally prepare yourself for the race.

Same deal. Let's take standard. Because of the limited card pool there are generally only 10-15 tournament level competitive deck archetypes in that format.

Deck Archetypes
I'll talk alittle more about this later, but deck archetypes are basically acceptable strategies. While every now and again someone will come out with a "rogue deck" most viable strategies in the game have been tried before. Learning to recognize the pacing and cards that make up a given strategy can be a huge advantage. While I alluded to it earlier magic can be an information cancan. Meaning it can get into I know you know I know territory.

Player Archetypes
While not crucial to the game player archetypes are interesting.  Wizards of the Coast, I'll just call them Wizards from here on in, when designing cards tries to categorize who the card is for by splitting players in to three well four if you count old Vorthos, into mindsets.

Vorthos - Plays the game for flavor. This is the guy who will try his damnedest to make a Weatherlight deck work, ride the dragon, and invent or play as character who's slinging his spells.  Radha badass Keldon Warlord, commanding a mighty host.

Timmy - Likes big splashy things. Timmies tend to be the guys who will overlook how hard it is to make a card work for the sake of it being cool.  Who cares if you'll win only 1 out 4 games. The one will be superspecialawesome.

Johnny- Likes things that are bigger than the sum of their parts and thus is willing to play cards that don't do much on their own, but in concert can do awesome stuff. I like to think of Johnnies as clock masters. Most people would look at a screw and throw it away, not Johnnies. They'll try to fit that screw into a monster clock that will mop the floor with you.

Spike - Just likes to win and judges how good a card is based on that criteria. How likely is this card going to win me games?

December 10, 2012 Southfield Road Corridor Concept Drawings

At the Southfield Road Corridor Project December 10, 2012 Open House, the public had the opportunity to view concept drawings of early ideas the Oakland County Road Commission has of the future of Southfield Road.

Also while at the open house I conducted an interview with Tom Blust, Road Commission for Oakland County Engineering Director.

More Information can be found at and

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In Defense of Free Speech Part Four (You Know, Maybe I Should Do Away With the Pretense Of Not Being An Advocate/Activist.)

What follows is a email I am sending to the Southfield Board of Education

Hello. I am Greg Miles. I am blogger who records audio of local public meetings including Southfield Board of Education meetings. You are considering altering your public participation rules. Recently, the Southfield City Council began to consider a similar move, (Discussion of this particular issue begins roughly 2 hours and 27 minutes into the meeting/video) to reduce the time residents had to speak from 5 minutes to three. I wrote an editorial on my blog describing my opposition to Council’s change and eventually spoke during a City Council meeting on the issue. In the effort of moral consistency, I oppose your proposed changes and am emailing you a link to the blog post I had originally written.

Also here is the prepared speech I gave. (I got nervous, slurred and verbally veered a bit during the actual meeting which incidentally is probably the first thing you’ll hear at the time on the video I provided.)

Statement to Council on Communication Changes
Good evening. I am Greg Miles. I reside at 19116 Greenwald Dr. I am here today to oppose the proposed change to Council's communications rules. I feel that recently the ability of residents to address their concerns to council has been constrained, for example moving the communications portion of meetings to the end. I feel that the proposed change would further make it harder for residents to address council.

While I understand the frustration Council may feel at some of residents' misinformation or lack of decorum, I feel that people must have a way to address their local government in person. Most of us can't travel to Washington, or in some cases even Lansing. You are the governmental officials that the public has the most access to. You are our community leaders. When the bureaucracy is broken you're the super.

Furthermore, while I, like you, often disagree with what some of the more antagonizing residents have to say, I feel that there is value in listening to them. Some of the details of facts they cite may be wrong, but they often have valid criticisms of the city government such as the length of time it took the city to hire a new Police Chief. Even when I disagree completely with them I find value in the knowledge that people exist in this city that hold their beliefs.

I further believe that to restrict the ability of residents to communicate with Council is unfair to residents whom may have made arrangements in order to be at meetings. For instance at an April meeting an active member of the community was dismayed when although she was first on the agenda she was made to wait a little over an hour to speak before Council. Often times other residents leave before they have an opportunity to state their concerns. I don't know why but I feel that it may be because they have other responsibilities to attend to, such as family and work, when the meetings run long.

I also understand that there is a concern about how long the meetings have been running and the need to move items off agenda to compensate. To that I would say that I believe that residents should not be penalized for that, and in the coming weeks when Council schedules next year's meetings it takes into consideration the need to meet more often as to my knowledge Council has met slightly less often in 2012 than they have in 2011.

I also am unsatisfied with the Council's proposed solution, to give residents 3 minutes and extend time if Council deems it necessary. I feel that this adds a subjective element to the rules that may not be fair. What if Council never extends time for those who criticizes them, even justly? It is through such criticism that many of the problems within the city are brought to light.

I believe your proposed rule changes go even further than the Council’s because, in my view it provides a nuclear option whereas the Board President would have the authority to, “terminate a participant's statement,” under what I consider a very subjective set of guidelines and limits the participation portion to thirty minutes creating a scenario in which a very controversial issue will have limited public input.

Thank You
Greg Miles

P.S. Because I am a blogger I don’t like to try to affect public policy, especially in secret, so whenever I send an email like this one I try post a copy of it on my blog for the sake of transparency.

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin December 3-9, 2012

Southfield Board of Education Meeting December 11, 2012

Southfield Public School District Board of Education Meeting held December 11, 2012

Topics Include

  • Congratulations from Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson to Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson for being named MASA superintendent of the year
  • Experiences of students at a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) competition and conference
  • A resolution in opposition to recent right-to-work legislation
  • Changes in the public participation policy for meetings

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 10, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Topics Include

  •  Presentation of a joint resolution to Wanda Cook-Robinson regarding to her recently being named Superintendent of the Year by the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA)
  • Presentation of the Keep Michigan Beautiful President's Plaque for the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve
  • Comments made by the public regarding possible rezoning and Walmart site plan
An agenda and related documents can be found here

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Journals of the Michigan House and Senate for December 6, 2012 (Right to Work)

Names I Call Myself in My Head (Damn I Have A Big Ego)

Danny Boy
Madman Miles
Motor City Miles
The Cyphered Wolf
Running Wolf
The Mirrored Dog
The Wordsmith
God's Sentinel

Names I call my pad in my head

The Watchtower
The Aries

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Southfield City Council December 3, 2012 Regular Meeting (Walmart Introduction)

Regular City Council meeting held at 7:00 in Southfield Michigan on December 3, 2012

Topics include
  • The proposed Walmart and relevant rezoning 

Sub-issues include
  • The seperation of macro issues such as labor practices and micro issues such as land use 
  • Wal-mart wages and labor practices
  • Traffic 
  • Garbage disposal 
  • The current condition of the proposed site 

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

December 3, 2012 Special Southfield City Council Meeting

Special City Council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 3, 2012 at 5:30

Topics Include 
  • A Brownfield Redevelopment Amendment 
  • Proposed Parking and drainage improvements to Inglenook Park 
  • A proposed walking path on the Southfield Municipal Campus
  • LED Gas Signs

An agenda and related documents can be found here

Sunday, December 2, 2012

La Locura De Walmart

To Describe The Madness 
It came to a head last night: the boredom: the frustration. It was four days since I escaped the madhouse. I had finally fully recovered from headache and echoes, of the copious amounts of caffeine that that sleepless night had caused me to drink.

I knew I had to write on what I saw, but how. How to relate to my audience the insanity of it all, the complete absurdity? One of my comforts through it was that I was able to read Bonfire of the Vanities, but this occasion does not call for the style of Wolfe. No! He is too subtle in his disgust, anger, befuddlement, and eventual acceptance of it all. No! Now it is time to transform myself into that other madman of the Stone who so often was stoned. This shall be one of the few moments where I think to truly relate the experiences of the last few weeks in the menagerie of madness I must go gonzo.

In this one instance, it is difficult if not impossible to put into context the hadron collider that is Southfield, Michigan, without being subjective. Without saying flat out that sometimes this town is fucking nuts!

The Ringing Voices
For nearly a year I had been hearing whispers that Wal-Mart was coming to town, but like most changes in the wind I ignored them to go about the business of my day. I have always and probably will always live my life a week at a time. Why shouldn't a 25-year-old, 24 when this whole mess started, have the liberty of being shortsighted?

Eventually those whispers became a ringing shouting in my ear. "Miles," they said, "get your ass on it. This has all the likelihood of being a second Golden Corral"

To understand this circus you must understand that carnival.

Burned to a Husk

Nearly a year ago I attempted to cover that fiasco with a cool detachment. While I thought much of the opposition to that was nuts there was never a one I didn't like. I thought I owed it to them and the job.

But after nearly two years listening to the city leaders I now have an awareness of our crucible, but I'll get to that later.

Larry Weiland. The man seemed pleasant enough, a bit like your fun uncle. He had the job of convincing the Southfield City Council and the Planning Commission to allow the company he represented to take what at the time was a burned down building and rebuild it into a restaurant.

It seemed simple enough no one was using the building, which stood as a testament to the decaying state of the city. Southfield, once designed as an office community was and still is in the middle of the post '08 real-estate slump, with an office vacancy rate above 20% in 2011.

The residents hated the idea of building it, mostly for the same reasons they object to building a Walmart now. Before I get to those allow me to take a moment to explain that while I am mostly speaking on the Golden Corral at the same time Lawrence Technological University, a local University wanted permission to build a new dormitory and there was just as much if not more resistance to it. The only reason why I'm not going into detail on that is because eventually the university obtained permission to build, but Golden Corral didn't.

They broke Weiland. After 5 or 6 meetings and what must have been at least tens of thousands of dollars, he and his company ended up with a goose egg. It was so bad that both his architect lawyer and the Mayor spoke saying that decision might give the city a reputation for being difficult to conduct business in. As I watched the fun uncle become less and less fun I realized, I had never thought of Southfield as being a rough town. I thought the worst that could happen to a man was bullet to the heart, or maybe a skull stomping. I was wrong.

It probably didn't help that it was nearly a just over a month out from a very contentious city council election.

The Devil Came In a Suit

Okay first off when I say the devil I mean the whole damn mess. I was lured into a false sense of security by the first few meetings  but now it's clear to me this thing is going to be wild. While it was clear that a lot of folks didn't want the Walmart, the meetings were relatively tame and well balanced. Nobody seemed to loathe the idea. Oppose it? Sure.  Fair criticism of a large and important project. But the rhetoric never seemed like a cobra's poison, or maybe it did. Like a spider or snake bite I didn't notice it until it was far too late.

The Hidden Gangrene

The big problem with the city is it isn't what it was suppose to be, and because of that nobody is happy with what it is. I said it earlier but I'll say it again. The city was designed as a office community. People would come to work here from Detroit and outlying suburbs and then go home. That's not the case, anymore. Due to a lauded public safety and public education reputation in the '80's and '90s a lot of people, including my folks moved to the city, creating a population boom that hit its zenith around 2000.

Due to the fact that nobody was expected to actually live here the roads were designed as mini-highways for travel in and out of the city, making it difficult to get from place to place in the city and nightmare for pedestrians. Because these mini-highways are used as mini-highways traffic is god awful, and there isn't really a whole lot anyone can do about it. It is what it is and we all just have to live with it.

View Larger Map

Because yes the traffic is a safety hazard for those living here it is one of the biggest issues in these types of fights. But I also keep getting the feeling that the traffic is also being used as a smokescreen for those who just plain don't like these types of developments.

Also because this city was designed as a place to be commuted to and from there is a shortage of retail and other services, which can make living here a bit inconvenient. I mentioned before in "I really want a downtown"

 The Hidden Cancer

Again I must return to the real-estate slump. Because of the declining property values, the basis for how much tax is paid and relatively high office vacancy rate the city has less money to operate. The public library is on reduced hours and last year to keep from layoffs the city asked for a millage. While there has been a fairly spectacular monetary juggling act, it's clear that if the city doesn't increase its funds eventually there may be some spectacular cuts, hell there already have been.

Furthermore, the city needs to update and repair various aspects of its infrastructure but has very limited financial wiggle room to do so, major improvements that in the long run could save money and improve safety get punted, especially in the area of roads.

This is important because the Walmart development could bring in $100,000 a year in taxes to the city not counting the tax it would pay to other entities like schools and the state.

Chasing Eden

A lot of the individuals who came to Southfield during that boom I mentioned earlier, came in retreat of Detroit. And to a faction of them this Walmart represents everything they hated about it. Increased traffic, big box stores, low paying wages, destruction of nature, light pollution, noise pollution. They hate developments like these. How do I know? Because a lot of the same people who are opposing the Walmart are the same ones who opposed the Golden Corral. Don't get me wrong though. The two sites are not all that far apart, but still the same arguments are being made. Heck these same arguments are part of the reason why I don't get sidewalks.

Even those who are not necessarily opposed to retail development in the city in general hate the idea of the Walmart being "there," close to where they live.

Chasing Heaven

Then there is the religious factor, those who are infuriated that in order to build the new Walmart the church that currently resides there is going to have to be demolished. In particular there was one pastor who attempted to purchase the land for his parishioners who brought the whoop and holler at the November 28, public hearing.

Здравствуйте! and 112 Dead Comrades

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a lot happened involving Wal-mart. For starters there was a horrendous fire in a garment factory that Wal-mart has a connection to. I'm still fuzzy on what exactly that connection entails, but it's there. I think the factory was owned by a Wal-mart supplier.

Also there was a labor strike on Black Friday. These things coincided to make nearly every pro-labor person in town outraged. One woman was yelling at the commission after the November 28, meeting that they had bangladeshi blood on their hands after they approved the recommendation to city council for the Walmart to be built.

The union may be weaker the further north you go but down here it seems pretty damn strong.

Investment in Infrastructure

One of the things that makes the Walmart really tempting is that how much they are saying they will invest in the traffic infrastructure around the area, helping to improve traffic signals. While no one is saying that the investment would solve all of the area's traffic problems it would at least mitigate some of the traffic harm the Walmart might cause and it's something the government probably couldn't do on its own for a long while.

It's going to get nuttier
The thing folks is that it took a six hour meeting just to get the planning commission to vote on a recommendation to the City Council. What the hell is going to happen when we're actually talking about the enchilada?

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that the November 28, 2012 planning hearing took place on November 29, and also erroneously implied that improvements at the intersection in question would be the responsibility of the Road Commission for Oakland County.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 28, 2012 Southfield Planning Commission Meeting (Walmart Public Hearing)

Planning Commission Meeting for the Southfield Planning Commission held on November 28, 2012

Topics Include
  • Walmart rezoning and site plan recommendation
  • Rezoning for a parking lot on property owned by the Southfield Funeral Home near the proposed Walmart
  • A proposed Tim Horton's restaurant

An agenda can be found here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 26, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on November 26, 2012
Topics Include

  • Introduction of Fire Captain/Reserve Coordinator William Johns as Emergency Management Division Director
  • Construction of a new Taco Bell
  • Construction of a Auto Zone
  • The new fence ordinance
  • Consideration to change the amount of time residents have to address Council

Note: An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back in the Saddle Deck Aside #1 Back in Time

Whenever I have deck builder's block I try to take myself through a couple of conceptual exercises. One such exercise is to try to build a deck out of the cards I had access to when I first started playing so here is such a deck.

Geting Back in the Saddle Part One

It's no secret I am a nerd. One of my favorite past times is playing Magic the Gathering, but for about the past three months I've been on a bit of a sabbatical. Mostly the cards I wanted were getting way too expensive, damn planeswalkers, so I decided to spend the last few months trying to save my money so that when "Return to Ravnica", a revisiting of the setting of my favorite magic expansion, came out I would have some cash.  I decided I didn't even want to play as not to be tempted.

As a result my deck building skills are rusty as all hell. It doesn't help that most of my standard decks relied on "Scars of Mirrodin" tech, not Innistrad so I'm nearly back to square one. I thought Innistrad was mechanically boring, being mostly tribal. vampires vs. werewolves got old for me.

Note: Okay it's official in order for anybody who isn't a magic nerd to understand this I'm going to need to include footnotes. To keep the game fresh and maximize profits magic releases expansions of the game. These expansions are typically grouped into blocks which include three expansions and are typically named after the first one. So the "Scars of Mirrodin" block includes the expansions "Scars of Mirrodin", "Mirrodin Besieged", and "New Phyrexia." Typically each block takes place on its own world, but recently magic has been revisiting older settings. For instance the "Scars of Mirrodin" blocks takes place in the same setting as the older "Mirrodin" block.  Now they are revisiting Ravnica. The second video is a trailer for the first Ravnica block while the first is for the new "Return to Ravnica"  

Innistrad,is the last block which mostly stuck to a Gothic horror theme including vampires, werewolves, zombies and angry townsfolk.
Also every year Wizards of the Coast, the gaming company behind Magic as well as Dungeons and Dragons comes out with a base set whose purpose is to provide players with the basic tools required to play the game without all of the pomp and flash of the expansions. I think of them mostly as teaching tools, giving new players relatively simple cards to help them understand the basics of the game.

It's not so much as I don't want to play as much as I don't remember how to build a deck. Or mostly the subtleties of how to build a deck I like. So that's what this post is. My trying to remember how I developed as a magic player. How I learned and how I gained my style.

Pre-Mage Days
The first thing I ever had regarding magic was the "Beat Down" Box Set, though I never played with it and my mom eventually through out. Oh how I wish she didn't. Those cards go for a bit now days. Anyway even though I didn't really have anyone to play with I really liked the art.

It was also around this time I decided I needed a hobby so I started trying different stuff. I still have my Beyblade gear. While I never did I also thought about maybe starting to build Zoid and Gundam models.  

Ultimately my love of magic was rekindled and solidified by the Yu-gi-oh craze. I know it will sound really odd, seeing as Magic inspired Yu-gi-oh, but I started buying Magic cards because in the days before the Yu-gi-oh Upper Deck cards came out Magic was the closest thing I could get to Yu-Gi-Oh. I started buying Odyssey and Judgement tournament packs and pre-constructed decks.

Around the same time I bought a strategy guide. Even though I had no one to play with, being an only child, I knew that I really wanted to. While  I never really played I wanted to have a basic understanding of the rules. I also started reading the books to this day, The Brother's War is one of my favorites.

Note: In retrospect buying various stratagy guides and card encyclopedias was probably a bad idea. One, internet. Two is more complicated. The game is always changing. Every few years or so there is going to be a rules overhaul to mop things up and those overhauls can make entire strategies obsolete.  The best you can really hope for  is a general understanding on how to comprehend what cards do and how they interact.

The Grimoire's Call
Back right around my teenage years I was getting a pretty decent allowance. As a result I liked to spend my weekends searching for cool stuff at the local Media Play. It closed but now the Best Buy that at the time was across the street is right where it was.  I liked the place because in one building it had most of the entertainment items I liked music, movies, and books. It had a nice and quiet upstairs so I could ponder my options and really think about whether I wanted to lay down $50 on that game.  Also it was one of the best places in town to find anime. The only place I knew of that could compete in anime selection was SunCoast movies at Eastland mall.

I would do the weekly rounds and almost every time the Magic Online Starter set would catch my eye. I didn't buy it immediately, but eventually I did. It was relatively cheap compared to other games and most of the money you spent could be redemed via a voucher, so you were really just paying for cards like in real life.

The Apprentice Mage
Like most new player my first few decks were horrible kitchen sinks, but here is the thing I got in back when Magic Online was new so almost everyone was bad. You know how I said I had read stratagie guides. Well for the first year I played I ignored almost everything they said. No playsets, way more than minimum number of cards, complete disregard of color and converted mana cost. I was just glad I was able to play after years of wanting to.

There really wasn't an online secondary market like there is now. You worked with what you had and maybe if you were lucky traded with a guy, not a bot mind you, an actual person who traded cards not tickets.If you didn't have what they were looking for you were boned. I generally don't trade cards because in my first trade I traded away Deep Analysis, a relatively good card. It would be years before I got another copy let alone a playset.

Note: To those not in the know a playset is four copies of the same card. In magic the gathering you can have any number of cards in your deck you want with a few stipulations. No less than 60 total and more than 4 of the same card. Putting 4 cards in your deck and sticking to 60 total maximizes the statistical probability that you will draw a particular card so if it's important to your strategy you put four in. 

Back then I was playing a kitchen sink deck. I would revisit it later and it would become my trademark, but back then you played with the kitchen sink because it was all you had. All the players had limited card pools. Heck it wasn't just because we all had limited cards online. The game had a limited number of cards online. Over the years Wizards of the Coast has tried to expand the number of blocks that are online, even adding blocks that came out before Magic Online, but back then there were only two, Invasion and Odyssey. Extended, what extended, it was all standard baby.

Note: In tournament and online play players chose a play format which constrains which cards they can use, in standard players can only use cards in the last two blocks and base set, roughly all the cards that came out in the last two years. Extended at the time, they changed it, included roughly the last seven years worth of cards.

So he learns
The first card I wanted in particular was Akroma. To this day she's known as one of the games greatest beatsticks, a dumb muscle card you use to beat someone over the head with.  She's kind of used to judge other cards that way. When people in the game talk about the good and bad qualities of other big dumb muscle the conversation normally turns to her. There really is only one way to use her, but she does what she does well.

I really didn't really start, "building" decks until Mirrodin, and even then they mostly amounted to use Mirari's Wake, the first card I really buckled down and traded as a play set, to stupid crazy stuff. Create an army with Myr Matrix  or 20/20 potential KO creatures every turn with Riptide Replicator. I don't remember how or when the light went off but I figured out that that card let me do insane things that I shouldn't have been able to do.

The single card responsible for actually teaching me how to play the game was Sakura-Tribe Elder. By that time I had just sort of fell into a play set of Diligent farmhands and an opponent chided me saying that in most circumstances the Elder was better. Figuring out why ultimately taught me a lot about the game, what mana acceleration was, how to use the stack and timing, and how to judge cards.

Note: In the game X/X represent power/toughness. Power represents how much damage a creature can, though combat deal to a player or other creature and toughness represents how much damage a creature can take per turn before dying. 

In the game player's switch priority. So player one has the opportunity to do something and player two has an opportunity to respond until both player decide to pass priority consecutively. How each action resolves is based on , "the stack" an imaginary pile of actions. The stack resolves from most recent action to least recent action. It's difficult for new players to learn because most of the time well both player pass priority so it seems irrelevant, but knowing when not to pass priority wins games. 

The game has a resource management system which uses mana, generally players can gain the potential to make one more mana each turn than the last.  A card costing one mana can generally be played on the first turn while a card costing four can generally be played on the fourth, but there are cards that, "accelerate" the potential mana players can use allowing for more powerful cards to be played earlier.

What each card does is written on it, but some cards are better than others. An invaluable skill is learning how the minute differences in similar cards can make one more useful than another or how those differences can make one card more situational than another.

The card that taught me about card advantage was Dimir Guildmage in the original Ravnica block. If you had the mana he could get you an unlimited number of cards.

Note: In the game card advantage represents having more cards in your hand than your opponent. One guide for who is winning the game is who has more cards in their hand because cards represent the potential things players can do. While players don't show their hands players often deduce the potential options a player has based on how many cards are left in their hand. You may not know what a player can do, but you know that there is the potential they can do something. For instance there are cards that can cancel the last move an opponent made, counters, when playing against an opponent who you know uses this strategy knowing that they no longer have the potential to cancel your next move is useful information. You can play decoy cards in hopes they waste their cards on those saving your good stuff for when they no longer have the ability to counter. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 19, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield Michigan on November 19, 2012

Topics Includes
  • Super drunk legislation
  • Two expense reports for Mayor Lawrence
  • A straw vote for City Council officers
  • An update for the Coasting the Baseline Project
  • A discussion on possible changes in how schools are funded

Note: An agenda and related documents can be found here

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Defense of Free Speech Part Three

This post breaks several  of my general rules, discussing private individuals on the internet as well trying to overtly and blatantly affect local public policy. And I'll probably send a link to it to the powers that be. I generally like to stay neutral, but this post talks about issues that I have been ignoring in order to keep, said rules.  By the way part two also breaks rules. So don't expect to see it anytime soon. Here is part one.

Anyway, as I was reading the agenda for the next Southfield City Council meeting I came across a proposed change in the Council's procedures that would reduce the number of minutes individuals have to address the Council from five minutes to three minutes.

I think it is a horrible idea, but I understand the reason why it's being looked at. For as long as I've been attending the meetings there has been a woman who aggressively criticizes and antagonizes council, often in ways that disrupt and derail meetings. Over the course of the past year the problem has been exacerbated by other residents who have joined her crusade. My feelings regarding this woman are complex.

Is she always right? No, in fact she often spreads misinformation. Is she wasting time? Ehh not really.

"Wait, what" I hear you saying.  Yeah I know. I'm a free speech nut. While a lot of what she says is out there, she does on occasion make valid criticisms of the Council. For instance, I also feel that the city took too long, at least a year and a half, to find a new Police Chief. I changed my mind because the city administrator better explained why after the city worked with the Federal government to modify and accepted it, but at the time I thought the city should have accepted the SAFER Grant.

But even I'll admit that very often she is misinformed. That said I believe that even knowing she is wrong there is value in the knowledge that there are people in the world, heck, in this city who view things the way she does.

But let's get to brass tacks here. My views on the proposed policy change have little to do with this woman. As stated I am free speech nut. I have to be. I want to make my living by obtaining and redistributing information as well as crafting narrative, which is a complicated way of saying reporting, media and writing. I have a vested interest in the first amendment and free speech. On a quasi-unrelated note... free Pussy Riot!

But moreover, the residents, including this woman, need a way to address Council in person, and Council needs a way to get feedback from the residents. I feel that there may be an attitude that this portion of the meetings may be less important than others and I disagree with that view profoundly.

I feel that in trying to curtail this woman, Council may in fact be limiting all residents' ability to address their concerns and grievances to council. For instance, when I first started attending the meetings the communications portion of these meetings, where residents have the ability to address the Council in person, were at the beginning of the meeting.  They were moved towards the middle and on occasion the end. On several occasions residents who wanted to address the council left before they had an opportunity to. I can not for certain say why, but I feel that they may have been unable to wait until the end of the meeting. They may have had to work early in the mornings or needed to collect their children from a sitter.

Sometimes the agendas do not reflect the change and have to be verbally changed which I also feel is unfair to the public, who may have made prior arrangements to be at the meeting. One woman, whom I believe many on the council know as an active community member, was livid after having waited for over an hour when she believed that she would be speaking relatively early at the April 23, special meeting.

I just feel that there is an overall constraining on residents' ability to address Council and it's unfair and ultimately detrimental to the city.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Audit Presentation Given to Southfield School Board By Debbie Tremp and Plante-Moran

On November 13, 2012 the results of an audit were presented to the Southfield Board of Education.

Southfield Planning Commission Meeting held on November 14, 2012 (Wal-Mart Study Session #2)

Southfield Planning Commission Meeting held on November 14, 2012

Topics Include
  • A proposed Walmart on Southfield Rd and 12-Mile Rd. 
  • A proposed Tim Horton's roughly located on 12-Mile and Evergreen Rd.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin For Southfield November 5-11 2012

Southfield Board of Education Meeting November 13, 2012

Southfield Board of Education Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on November 13, 2012

Topics Include
  • Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson earning the MASA Michigan Superintendent of the Year Award
  • A new garden in Southfield-Lathrup High School 
  • The results of an audit for the school district

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 7, 2012 Southfield Planning Commission Meeting (Wal-Mart Study Session #1)

A meeting of the Southfield, Planning Commission held on Novemeber 7, 2012

Topics Include
  • A proposed Wal-mart on Southfield Rd and 12-Mile Rd.
  • A proposed Tim Horton's roughly located on 12-Mile and Evergreen Rd.

You mean after 2 years and $3 billion we're in the same boat?

First off let me say that I sat out doing anything regarding the election for the past week because I felt that one man with no budget could not effectively cover a national or even state election, especially in comparison to all the other news outlets who are. All I could really do was parrot what was already said by more qualified voices or spout off my own opinion which could easily veer off into partisan hackery. 

That said I am going to give my opinion about the results, which yes has already been said by more qualified voices.

Many of my disappointments with the Obama administration, come from his inability in a divided government to accomplish some of his more lofty goals such as, closing Guantanmo Bay, passing the Dream Act, and various banking reforms.

Absolutely nothing changed! Government is still divided. The Republican House of Representatives still hate his guts. Most evidence suggests that Washington is incapable of doing a damn thing in times when things really need to get done.

Throughout the election both Obama and Romney said they did not expect the sequestrations agreed to in the debt-ceiling debate to take place. But I do, the sequestrations were a last minute poison pill created because of Washington's inability to negotiate and act in times of crisis. That inability still exists.

We still have a dysfunctional Congress! The only silver lining I see is the posiblity that without a looming election, it is not compleatly to the advantage of congressmen and congresswomen to be at least as publicly hostile to one another as they have been, but election seasons are long and House terms are short. So hope is limited.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on October 29, 2012

Topics Include
  • Electronic Sign Ordinance
  • Overlay Districts

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

A city council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on October 22, 2012

 Topics Include

  • The swearing in of the newly appointed Police Chief, Eric Hawkins and Fire Chief, Keith Rowley
  • A Requested Tax Abatement for DENSO International America Inc.
  • Road Reconstruction From 12-Mile Road to 13-Mile Road
An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Nobody Likes A Presidential Shrug

At the moment I am currently watching the third presidential debate via The New York Times. And something occurred to me as I was watching Obama speak about the prospective draw down of troops in Afghanistan.

Many of the issues that will decide this election have been simplified into platitudes for the people. The truth is that there is no magic bullet for the recession or the crisis in the Middle East. What our world will look like in the coming years is unpredictable, because these are complicated issues with many competing factors.

The reason why we are beginning to look at leaving Afghanistan is because there is a doubt that it is possible for American and Afghan troops to trust each other in the field, not because we've "won" or are winning the war on terror.

My gut tells me that regardless of who is elected the economic recovery will be a long and difficult road. For our debt to seriously be cut we will have to touch programs that nobody is happy to cut, Democrat and Republican alike.

There is no easy solution. But that is not what I feel the candidates are telling the public. Regardless of who is elected there will be no magic bullet, no instant fix, no cure. Largely because we the American people aren't interested in anything else. We aren't interested in asking "What can we do for our country?". Nor do we really even pose the question of "What can our country do for us?" No because we feel that the ballot is the end and the beginning of it all, and as long as our guys are in power everything will work itself out.

All we get are the platitudes because we seek nothing more. Nobody wants the doc to give it to them straight. To us it is patriotic to patronize.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Denso Abatement October 15, 2012 Presentation

On October 15, 2012 Denso International America Inc. gave a presentation to Southfield City Council.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Hate Silly Love Songs

Okay because I'm Black I feel guilty that there is a large swath of Black music that I don't like. I try to give it a chance and I still hate it. Right now I'm in the process of listening to and reviewing Brandy's Two Eleven and I figured it out. I figured out why I don't like Jill Scott's Under the Sun or Anthony Hamilton's Back to Love.

So now allow me to tell you what's wrong with silly love songs. First off let me say that while I noticed this in R&B it's not just them.

By the way Paul love you, hell I like, "Silly  Love Songs" just not silly love songs.

Anyway. Let's look at R&B. And yes there is a racial component for better or worse R&B is one of the flag-bearer genres for Black music. When Hendrix first came on the scene he had a hard time getting airplay because he didn't fit easily to that mold.
For a more contemporary example take FeFe Dobson.

Okay she's technically Canadian, but the point stands.

Though I disagree with it, when people think Black music they think either hip hop or R&B, which means that for a lot of folks this is going to be their first or even on occasion primary experience with Black culture and by extension Black people. And that statement includes the black teenager coming to grips with racial consciousness having figure out for the first time in their lives this weird subconscious line between black culture and mainstream culture, asking themselves what it means to be Black in America.

And since this is a post about music.

The point I'm trying to make is that this music is one of the few ways African Americans as a group can communicate with the American people as a whole. I love the Wire, but it had horrible ratings. I also love listening to and reading Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, but do they have the ear of the people watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta though?

Now I'm not one of those positive message wonks, but I do believe that if this is how the American people are going to view the African-American experience it needs to be more diverse than, "I love you. You love me. We're a great big family"

What are our likes, dislikes, fears, worries, experiences etc. We as a people are more than silly love songs.

Now onward my donkey towards that windmill. This is not just R&B. It seems like the entirety of the mainstream music industry, hell the entertainment industry as whole has been moving this way. And what I am going to say has echos as to what I said before. This is American culture. Movies and music are how to a large degree how we commune together as a people. And silly love songs are dumbing us down. They aren't just love songs they're silly love songs. They don't talk about relationships in an adult way.

Reading Romeo and Juliet you know what I realize their fatal flaw was? They were in love with the idea of being in love rather than actually being in love. And unlike twilight Shakespeare wrote in a way the audience could see how rash and stupid they were being, especially with the convoluted fake death plot. What could possibly go wrong? I don't know?  They die.

Okay now I'm going to be an ass and impose my definition of love on the rest of you.  Love is knowing that despite how much a person bugs the shit out of you, you want to have that person around you anyway. You enjoy who they are enough to overlook the crap that would want to make you want to smash someone else's face in. Because let's face it in a long-term serious relationship that lovvy dubby crap is going to get old fast.

Of course this is coming from the maladjusted misanthrope who's probably going to die alone and miserable so what do I know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presentation Given to Southfield City Council Regarding the City's Tax Abatement History

A presentation given to Southfield City Council on October 15, 2012 by Shelly Freeman, Southfield Business Development Manager regarding the city's tax abatement history.

The current abatement policy can be found here, and the proposed changes can be found starting on page 8 of this document.

Southfield City Council Discusses the Downtown Development Authority Sale of Property

At the October 15, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting council discussed the Southfield Downtown Development Authority's(DDA) Sale of property to Oakland County Community College that the DDA had purchased from the city during the summer of 2012 through a tri-party agreement.  General ideas on how to in the future develop the area were also discussed.

The Tri-party agreement was discussed in a June closed session, and approved in late July.

October 15, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on October 15, 2012

Topics Include
  • A Presentation by Shelly Freeman, Southfield Business Development Manager regarding the history of the city's use of  tax abatements
  • Proposal to change tax abatement guideline language
  • A proposed tax abatement for Denso International America, Inc.
  • The appointment of the Southfield Fire and Police Chiefs
  • Sale of property from the Downtown Development Authority through a tri-party agreement to Oakland Community College
  • An update on the proposed fence ordinance and current moratorium
  • Discussion regarding the city's involvement in the Oakway Mutual Aid Association

An agenda and related documents can be found here

Southfield October 15, 2012 Acting Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins, and Acting Fire Chief Keith Rowley are Appointed as Southfield Police Chief and Southfield Fire Chief

On October 15, 2012 Acting Southfield Police Chief, Eric Hawkins was appointed Southfield Chief of Police and Acting  Southfield  Fire Chief Keith Rowley  was appointed Southfield Fire Chief.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 9, 2012 Southfield Board of Education Meeting

Southfield Board of Education Meeting Held on October 9, 2012

Topics Include
  • Student Board Representatives
  • Saturday School
  • NCAA Requirements and an Online Course Record Keeping Error

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Useful Links: Week of 10/8/2012

Okay I suck at covering police and public safety but too much happened recently for me to just kind of ignore it so here is a list of articles written by people who are more competent than me.

"Suspect sought in Southfield bank robbery"  | South Oakland Eccentric

"$1 Million bond set in crash that injured Beverly Hills officer" | South Oakland Eccentric

"Southfield officals probe EMS response in boys death" | Detroit Free Press

And while I'm at it there is a Southfield Board of Education meeting tonight.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Urban Agenda

I've been hinting at this for a long time, but now it's time poked the bear. We as a country and as a society need to start thinking about urban policies.  A few days ago a New York Times article came out about the GOP's declining urban agenda. Heck a year ago the Metrotimes, had damn near the same article nearly a year ago.

Almost everytime I read an article in the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News I alwasys see comments along the lines of just let Detroit die. I'll address Detroit specifically in a moment but for a moment I just want to speak on why cities, and urban policies are important in general.

Why Are Cities Important ?

The world is rapidly urbanizing. There are social and economic forces behind this trend, but in the United States 80% of the populous lives in urbanized areas defined as areas (the article was unclear as to what constituted an area I am going to say local governmental unit) with more than 50,000 people.

First of cities serve purposes, they tend to be economic, industrial, or governmental hubs. I am going to rip of a line from Urbanized, or at least close to it. They are the places where the larger forces that guide the lives of the people coalesce. They are the places where government and economic leaders make decisions. They are the places where goods are produced. They are the places where services are rendered. And most importantly they are the places where a large portion of the population lives.

They are the places where the forces of progress move. That's not to say that that rural constituants should be ignored, but as stated in terms of number of people the scales are tipped in one direction.

Problems of Cities
As stated cities have numerous purposes, but anytime you have a large population of people it's going to generate problems. Part of the reason why an urban agenda is needed is so that the effects of these problems can be minimized. You need to minimize the the negative effects of an increased population density like, parking, crime, fire, transportation and traffic, housing, sanitation and drinking water, power, air and water pollution, garbage disposal, lighting, education, jobs and more recently public internet access.

These are the things that people deal with in their everyday lives. How are my kids doing in school? If I want access to knowledge and information how do I go about getting it (adult education and the press)? Where am I going to work? How am I going to get to work? What is there to do after work? Where is a good place to park my car? Where am I going to live and how much is it going to cost? Who do I call in the case of an emergency situation that I can't deal with on my own like a burglary or a fire? Where can I get food? Where can I get medicine and medical attention? Where can I find someone to babysit my kids when I have to go to work? Where can I get access to the goods and services I need to live, because as obvious as it sounds, people need things.

And then there are the things we don't think about because we have civil engineers and urban planners to think about it for us. Where does our biological waste go? How do we get fresh drinking water? How far apart should the buildings be so they are safe yet appealing? How wide should the roads be? How do we, especially in Michigan, limit environmental damage, like water and wind damage to buildings and roads so we can maximize their use. How do we bring in new business? How do governments foster, cooperate with and encourage an urban commercial and industrial community? How do we preserve nature in a place that is man made? How do we make roads and bridges safe and economically feasible? How do we direct the flow of pedestrian and automobile traffic?

These are important questions that deserve an active discussion, because we as a society have collectively made our choice to live in urban areas, even if it's not the big city.We need our leaders on the local, state, and even federal levels to think about these things and the only way that is going to happen is if we the people also commit to some contemplation.

An Appeal To Save the Big City
I live in Southfield an innerring suburb of Detroit. That puts me in a weird place. I don't live in Detroit, but I do live literally a half of a mile from it. While I am not of Detroit, the city affects my life. When the idea of the suburb came into being, there was an assumption that people would live in the suburbs and commute to do everything else. Honestly I don't want to live like that, but for the sake of the argument let's say that you, my audience, are fine with that. You are fine with a half-hour to 45 minute drive to do just about everything. Many of your services such as water and electricity are still headed by companies and governmental institutions housed in the big city. Many of your commercial institutions are housed in the big city. Many of your court houses and state legislatures are housed in the big city. Many of your entertainment options are housed in the big city. So goes the city so goes the suburb.

I may be wrong, but when I read those comments on I think that people believe themselves to be insulated from the city, as if Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles or Brooklyn are a world away, but they're not. What separates the suburbanite from the city dweller is often nothing but lines on a map. The people who you are so afraid of are the same people checking you out at the store, counting your money at the bank, building your roads, cooking your food, and writing your laws.

Damn class stratification!

Lore List

So while watching Once Upon A Time I came across one of the things that bugs me about the series. If Mulan, the Mad Hatter and the Genie of the Lamp exist in this world why are they sticking so much to Grimm and Anderson lore? So here is the list of folks I want to see show up.

and why not while I'm at it,  Yog-Sothoth (Great. Excuse me while I go insane for a bit

... okay I'm back), John Henry, and Jonah Hex
What can I say, I like tricksters and badasses. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fortunate One

I ain't no fortunate one
All those American chiefs caused me nothing but grief
And all those songs I sung
I just let those dreams die in peace

What now can be done
I don't know but I can't stand to be called a thief
Down on the ladder last on the rung
But I refuse to cease

Even if the day can't be won
I'll cling to the tree, the last leaf
Even if I wind up hung
I'll keep going even without a piece

Cause doing anything less, well it aint me
It aint me
I ain't no fortunate son

Dark Clouds Playlist Part II

Okay so I relapsed. So Dark Clouds Playlist Part II
Here is part 1.
"Roses" : Outkast

"Don't Speak": No Doubt

"Bring Me to Life": Evanescence
"Cleaning Out My Closet": Eminem

"Slip Out The Back": Fort Minor

"Six Days": DJ Shadow

"You're Standing On My Neck": Splendora

"Tomorrow Comes Today": Gorrilaz
"I Fought The Law": The Clash

"Hollow": Tamar-Kali
"L.A. Song": Christian Kane

Jane Says: Jane's Addiction
Kryptonite: 3 Doors Down

"Loser": Beck

Ohh Ahh: Grits

"Got Me Wrong": Alice in Chains

"Can't Even Tell": Soul Asylum

"Where Is My Mind": The Pixies
You met me at a very weird time in my life.

Album Review: Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part I

Lupe Fiasco
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

On the one hand I really want to like this album. It's exactly the type of rap I always say I like. So why don't I? Don't me wrong I like Lupe Fiasco. The original Food & Liquor tops my list as one of the best hiphop albums of the last decade. I think I'll steal a line from one of the best ones of the previous one.

About my people she was teaching me, by not preaching to me, but speaking to me, in a method that was leisurely so easily I approach.
"I Used to Love H.E.R."

Fiasco uses Food & Liquor II to talk about everything he feels is wrong with the black community and black culture. I agree with a lot of his points but here is the thing about becoming the preacher-man,  it takes a certain amount of arrogance to tell people how to live. And that arrogance can come off as obnoxious. I know. I was there at 16. It's one of the many reasons why my 24-year-old self would slap the shit out of my 16-year-old self.

It doesn't help that he subtitled the thing, "The Great American Rap Album". By the way stop. Just stop I'm looking at you too Blige and Jay-Z. If you're album has more than two sequel and or part numbers in the tittle you need to rethink it.

Anyway back to Lupe Fiasco. When doing social commentary a certain amount of subtlety and or humor is needed not to come of like... well an ass, and here Fiasco flirts with that line.

Don't get me wrong the album my be a bit preachy but it is technically proficient, while there isn't much as catchy and fun as the original food and Liquor's "Kick Push" the flow is good and the lyrics aren't completely inane.

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