Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Bulletin May 20-26, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Anime Representations of the Internet

Alright, so I'm going along the internet as I often do and I come across a review for .Hack//Sign. The review doesn't like it. And I can see why. It's a very slow show. But I love it, not because of the show itself, but what it represents.

.Hack//Sign was released in 2002 right around the time the internet was becoming mainstream. Don't get me wrong. The internet was around before that but now days I don't have to preface "What's your email address?" with, "Do you have an email address". The late 90's early 2000s were when that happened. And .Hack//Sign is one of the best shows I know of that explores what does it mean. How does the internet change the human condition? And that I feel is an important question to ask. So here is a list of other shows and movies I think do that well. By the way most of these are navel gazers.


Well since I was talking about it any way. People think the show about MMORPGS, but it's not. It's really about how more and more our online identities are merging with our offline ones. Several online activities are meant as escapism but can you ever truly escape from yourself. We all play roles, but only to a certain extent. Oh sure different aspects of my personality are highlighted depending on my company, but at the end of day, Greg Miles, and The Cyphered Wolf are one and the same even when I'm deliberately trying not to be. There is but one self (most of the time).

For better or worse in .Hack the main character only has access to his online personality, while almost all other characters continuously waver between the two, some even deliberately invoking that separation.  For example the character Crim deliberately sees the game as only that and maintains a distinct personality within it while knowing damn near every other character in real life. The schism between the two personalities frustrates his friends to no end.

Ghost In the Shell The Stand Alone Complex

One of the defining traits of the internet is the amalgamation and synthesis human effort and resulting information. Or to put it more simply crowd sourcing. And Ghost in the Shell especially the ending of the first season of that show is all about that.  MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD

The overall plot is bassically about stoping a cyber terrorist, but the original "Laughing Man" was mostly by the time of the actual plot just an digital activist collecting and disseminating information. When he decided to disappear several third parties took up his name, all acting independently yet concurrently creating the eponymous stand alone complex,  a situation whereby independent activities by independent agents can culminate into a singular effect.  He only really gets involved when said third parties start doing things he finds completely repugnant. It's complicated with government and corporate coverups, rouge splinter groups and false flag operations. You're going to need to break out the white board, q-cards, yarn and thumbtacks.

The whole thing reads like the history of Anon  before Anon existed.  Same goes for Wikileaks.

Okay. That show with The Grim Reaper, what could it have to do with the internet? The Dollars. Think everything I said about Ghost in the Shell, but more realistic. At least as realistic as you can get in a show with zombies, The Grim Reaper, and mad scientists. Again SPOILERS. A kid basically starts up fake gang, that gets taken over by a quasi-evil social engineer in his madcap scheme to cause Ragnarok.

On the internet rumors are everywhere. And people have to make a choice on what to believe. They don't always believe what's true, and in a way the stakes, the why the problems of the series matter, is because of viral internet rumors that a slasher is a part of this "fake gang," which dispite the creator's wishes slowly becomes real.

And that's a constant. Sure most of the plot happens offline, but an internet chat room, which often features main characters, acts as a running greek chorus for why it all matters.  See this show lives on dramatic irony. Several of the characters are in positions to have privleged information, yet can't just say "I know this because it involves me".  So the chat room becomes sort of an anonymous way of obtaining, assembling, correlating, and disseminating useful information or in the case of our evil social engineer misinformation. Oh screw it. Izaya is basically an offline internet troll taken to the behavior's logical concision.  Almost every problem of this 24 episode show, the damn near destruction of the entire town starts because he thinks it's funny.

After some thought, I'm taking away my almost. Every problem in the show is connected to him.
Anyway. It's not always what happened that matters, but what people think happened and the internet is a very good tool at figuring that out, in both this story and in real life. Perception matters and perception can cause problems. IZAYA!!!!

Rin Daughters of Mnemosyne

Rin presents two versions of the internet with equal validity. It spans a large period of mostly in the future.  So in this world both versions existed but at different times in the development of the internet. One version is purely escapist, existing entirely separate from the "real world" where people often let their real bodies rot away while in the net, While the other is compleatly integrated into the real world via neural implant, where people's clothes are even digital projections.

And it's interesting because it presents two competing views of the internet. 

  • The internet as an separate escapist entity from the real world
  • The internet as an augmentation of the real world
Both have some truth to them.  We are still having this debate regarding taxation on digital goods

Anime I Like

You know I've been meaning to make a list of my top 10 favorite anime for a while, but I'm an indecisive bastard so here are the openings of every anime show I liked that I can think of and I know I have some missing.

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin May 13-19, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Southfield City Council Meeting May 20, 2013

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on May 20, 2013

Topics Discussed Include

  • The sign ordinance
  • Almost Home, a local no-kill animal shelter and a philosphical debate about the nature of it's no-kill policy
  • Oakland County Water Resources Commission measuring basements in the area
  • A budgeting update from State Representative Rudy Hobbs which included the status of various transportation funding ideas in the state legislature
  • Financial losses in the fire and police retirement pension fund

Monday, May 20, 2013

Look Not Away

Look not away from the flame and its shadow
For within it lies your soul's battle
On the lining between darkness and light
Lies the truth of both day and night

Look not away from the flame and its shadow
For doing so is a sure sign of callow
The flame's lining provides true sight
For it is there that lies the true fight

Look not away from the flame and its shadow
And be sure not turn into either's vassal
For ignoring either turns men into cattle
Truly become flame's shadow's master.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pandora Station: Station Greg Stats

For a while I've been trying to figure out away to share my pandora stats. This is my main station Station Greg.

Play Station

Station Greg

Punk, funk and the urban touch
Created by Greg Miles
July 8, 2009

Station Seeds

Sort by Artist Date

Thumbed-up Tracks

Sort by Artist Date

Thursday, May 9, 2013

SEMCOG Road Inventory of Southfield Major Roads

I found a list of all of the major road and road segments in Southfield on SEMCOG's (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) webpage. It has some pretty interesting information such as the condition of the roads, type of pavement and number of crashes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Adventures of Huck Finn

In my North and South review I said I haven't seen the movie that adequately depicts why the Civil War happened, that adequately depicted all of the hypocrisies of the South.  I was wrong. there is one.

You know there is one man who truly understood the southern culture of the Civil War and reconstruction era. He loved it and he hated it. And he was a master storyteller the likes of which hasn't been seen since.

The thing you have to realize when going into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is that it was written when Twain was starting to get a little tired of the South. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer represents everything good about the South while Huck Finn represents everything he thought was poisoness in that culture. Oh it's fun to laugh at it now hell it was fun to laugh at then, but if he was definitely choosing his targets.

See Huck is a rebel who thinks everything around him is kind of stupid. Why because Twain was a rebel who looked around and some of the stuff he saw and though that's kind of stupid. "Just because an idea is popular don't make it right"

That bein' said, Huck ain't no gentleman and will give you a good right hook for sayin' he is. "Who you callin' innocent?" He's a loveable scoundrel, so lyin', thievin' cussin' and scrappin' are part of what he does. Hell you could go as far as saying he's Han Solo beta.  Damn I wish I was half as good and spinin' a good yarn when I needed but my face ain't half as good at lying as my tongue. Keep it simple so you'll remember it and try not to let the guilt get to you. 

"Its always so damn troublesome doing whats right and so damn easy doing what's wrong so I just decided from now on I'm going to do what's handiest."

Okay. I am not a Huck Finn connoisseur, I mostly skimmed the book to get through a class (the worst way to get me to read a book by the way), but growing up one of my favorite movies of was 1993 Disney version aka the one starring Frodo, and on retrospect I know why. Oddly enough for Disney it didn't pull punches. It understood that while exaggerated for comedic effect, a lot of the stuff in the book was drawn from real life, and as a result should be treated with respect. Racism, child abuse, religion, and most pointedly the Southern code of honor.  It's all meant to be funny, but uncomfortably funny, like when you're in the front row of a comedy club and become fodder for the night.

The movie can switch between drama and laughs at the drop of a hat.

And just for the record I have a thing for tricksters in fiction. Well Huck is the original American guile hero in that regard.  The entire plot starts because he fakes his death to keep his drunk pap from beatin' on and possibly murderin' him. By the way Ron Perlman can do menace.

Okay if you didn't know the entire thing hinges on the strained friendship between  Nigger Jim, a runaway slave and Huck. By the southern code of honor Huck is obligated to turn Jim in but doing just so doesn't sit right with him, but he doesn't know why and feels guilt about not doing it. Again Huck hates rules and prefers doing what feels right vs what folks tell him is right. He sees Jim's plight and fear and suffering and determines taking him back to all of that, especially considering their friendship just wouldn't be decent despite not doing so by all his accounts also being wrong.

Take a ride down the Mississippi.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Movie Review: North and South

I love miniseries. You have the time to tell an indepth story, but since they have a set number of episodes don't have as much of the sprawl as other types of serial media. To put this in perspective Lord of the Rings is structured more like a big budgeted miniseries than a traditional Hollywood movie, especially if you're watching the extended editions. Each intermissioned part plays out like a 90 minute episode.

But that's not what I'm writing about. North and South:Book One. Okay a brief description about my mindset going into this thing. A few years ago I took a history of Civil War class. I don't know how the hell he did it, but my prof was able to get the room an hour early before each class and let everybody kill time by watching Civil War movies. I was lazy so I never went, but I tended to make it to class a few minutes early each time and for a good month North and South was playing.

So in my head it was a little hyped. Hey my professor who has probably written a book on this stuff likes it has to be good. No, no its not. It tries and comes close. But it misses the mark.

There are really two reasons.

The first

Okay to be fair I've never watched Gone With The Wind there is way too much baggage with that movie for me to ever really enjoy it.  It's not Gone With The Wind. It's what it represents. Decades of how stories set in that time period have been told. I.E. romance.

And you know what it pisses me right the hell off. The period between 1840-1880 is interesting because it's mostly that period time the country changes from how it looked during the revolution to how looked pretty much until WWII depending on where you lived. A lot happened. And every time it starts to dangle an interesting morsel in front of the audience the focus shifts into somebody doing something arbitrarily evil even by the standards of the time or some long winded speech about love, or friendship. It could have been Gettysburg before Gettysburg but settles for Days of Our Life.

It burns me because I have yet to see the movie that adequately portrays the complex why of the Civil War, and this comes so close. 

To explain why let me use another flawed miniseries as an example.

In Hatfields & McCoys our two leads are very much products of their time doing things that to the audience seem insane, but by the logic of their time regardless of the consequences they are doing the right thing. In other words good historical fiction is always going to have values dissonance. And god does the moral code of antebellum America have some values dissonance.  This is why most movies set in this time, including this one miss the mark.

 They either

  • Intentionally or unintentionally vindicate that moral code ie. Birth of a Nation
  • Try to downplay or ignore the more uncomfortable elements of that moral code ie  The Patriot.
  • Create morally binary characters, that diminish how ingrained in society these moral codes were in a very heavy handed attempt to show why these attitudes were wrong.
Since this miniseries mostly falls in to the last category let me expond that.  See as a modern audience we know the results of the culture of the antebellum South. Hopefully my readership knows why slavery and racism are wrong. If not GET OUT NOW. I've argued with too many racists on the internet.

Anyway, slavery was cornerstone of  southern politics culture and economics. They weren't lying when they were saying they were defending their way of life. Slavery was the South. Even if you didn't have slaves you admired and aspired to be one of the guys who did because the paragon of that society was the southern gentleman who did.

Saying this especially in regards to this is going to make me choke a little. People are not the worst thing they do. Meaning I can find the concept of slavery entirely repugnant and I do, yet find some admirable qualities in individual slave owners. I kind of have to if I want to continue liking the first President George W.  and Tommy J. People are complex.

And that's the problem Orrey our Southern protagonist is a "progressive slaver owner". Because writing him otherwise would turn off the audience. Same goes with his love interest. No he should have been written as a racist misogynist, because well that what he probably would have been.

See the show comes so close because there is a cultural rift between the North and South characters.  but the show is incredibly hesitant to show exactly how slavery permeated the antebellum South. Our two main male leads come very close to calling off their brolationship because the Northern one can't stomach slavery. It's there. You see it. But other than. "Slavery is bad" it's not really talked about much. You just see a few black folk off to the side. And for an issue that broke the country well that's not good enough.

Why was the South so economically dependent on slave labor? Why did the South defend so adamantly? Why did the North, which was still very racist, attack the institution? How did slaves feel about slavery?  How did slavery affect other aspects of southern society? How did poorer planters and foreigners feel about slavery? Why does the South desolve it's relationship with The Union?

The series comes so close to answering these very important questions but the series isn't about these questions.  It's about bodice ripping.

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