Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2010 Interview With U.S. Navy Commander William Mayes

After two years I no longer get free web hosting with MSU so my resume/writing sample website is down. I thought it might be a good idea to put some of the more interesting stuff from it here so here is an email interview I did while working with DTE Energy.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Southfield City Council July 29, 2013 City Council Meeting

Regular Meeting of the Southfield City Council held July 29, 2013

Topics Include

  • Bootcamp Michigan's application for special use
  • An ordinance that would make the city's laws regarding cell towers more compliant with the State's.
  • The Community Development Block Grant (CDGB) Budget 

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

July 29, 2013 Southfield Committee of the Whole

This July 29, 2013 Committee of Whole Southfield City Council meeting was held primarily to discuss the appointment of Sue Ward-Witkowski, current City Deputy Attorney, to the position of City Attorney.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not A Review of Weeds

Note: I've only seen the first season.

I'm watching Weeds and man is that show bumming me out. Why? Because if I were watching this show when it first came out in 2005 I would love it. But through a wacky twist of fate I saw a show with roughly the same premise that came out later  and has a better execution first.

Watching this show in my head I keep saying "I would absolutely love it... if Walt hadn't killed Krazy 8." That's a shame because this show did almost all of it first. Not necessarily the long drawnout dude in a basehead's basement being suffocated with a bike lock thing, but the, "breaking bad" thing, and the cancer thing and the "relationship" with a fed thing.

I'm trying to pin point why it's not as good and I think I figured it out. The Wire, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy,  and The Sopranos, established early on that their worlds were filled with death and destruction. Or to put it bluntly no matter what happens things will not go well. Murphy's Law is God.

I just don't feel that, in this show. Without that element why should I care? What are the stakes? There is a moment early on in the show where the protagonist, Nancy has a meet with a competitor who has been trying to intimidate her.  In those other shows that confrontation would have involved serious violence the likes of which at best would have caused a severe permanent limp and at worse... death.

In Weeds it leads to.

And that's the moment the show lost me.  It's not about the show being unrealistic. Honestly have have no clue how the drug trade works and I don't want to know. But like I said I have no clue what the stakes are. Okay what happens if Nancy fails in her endeavors?

I'm running through all the hypotheticals in my head. She's caught. Well that is a risk, but other than general witticisms the threat of the cops feels weak. In The Wire there was a constant paranoia, same with those other shows accept maybe Breaking Bad and the show always treated Walt's hubris on the subject of his DEA brother-in-law as an idiotic liability. W.W.

Okay how about this? A competitor "fucks her up". One word, pennies. Can't take that seriously anymore.

What if she loses business due to "normal" market forces like the better quality at the  marijuana dispensary.

I would be worried about that if the struggle for money was a consistent element in the show. We get one episode where that's really an issue. Even then it's mostly used for stuff that seems out there. Karate classes and maid service? How about mortgages, groceries, car payments. Again Breaking Bad did it better showing a constricted food budget. The show doesn't really explain why she's turned to drugs rather than anything else. With Walt the "I'm dying so I'm out of fucks to give" works until it's clear that pride has a role to play but with Nancy I don't know.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I Know Every Generation Shakes Their Fist At The Last But...

Okay the last couple of posts have been about things that bug me and people seem to like that, but I'm feeling sort of emotionally burnt-out after talking about racial disenfranchisement and the slow decline of Detroit so how about pet peeves, things that get an emotional reaction out of me but don't require the same amount of thought as active investing, bankruptcy and the prison-industrial complex.

Hey you know what I hate? These kind of articles, the Generation Y consists of a bunch a do-nothing slackers articles.  I'm tired of this kind of thing and want to nip it in the bud, and seeing as this humble blog post is probably not going to do it ... eghhhh.

I hate them for all sorts of reasons lets start with the obvious. They're insulting.  And they are so for absolutely no reason. I'll get to that in a sec. Anyway they're the same sort of mean girl talk you see in high school except they're from "media professionals" who by all accounts have better things to write about, again more on that in a sec.

Now for the record I've seen a lot of these done well... when they have something to say about about how aggregate trends and the youth demographic can have concrete consequences. For instance every now and again The New York Times will run an article about how my generation drives less and how it is having or will have an impact on the automotive industry and how roads are funded.

Most of these aren't that though. They're cathartic fist waving at the intern who decides to text you rather than pick up the phone. Or self-righteous aggrandizing image perpetuation about how boomers have their shit together and millennials don't.  And I wouldn't have a problem with that if they were a little self aware about it, but they aren't.

They do it because they feel they can get a way with. Let's face it for most of the magazine/websites that pull this crap, their lead demographic are the middle aged office crowd for whom old man fist waving strikes a chord. It's cheap pablum that its audience will eat up.

Which is what I have more of a problem with than it perpetuating stereotypes about the young.  Half of these have the gall to call my generation lazy and unmotivated in articles that are being kicked out solely because they're easier than going out and doing real reporting.

Hey look, I get it. Sometimes a slow newsday is a slow newsday, and budget and staff reductions are budget and staff reductions, but every now and again could you just write about a skateboarding dog or something?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bankruptcy Sucks

Alright, you know what? I need to get this out of my system.

The current situation with Detroit sucks. Okay Captain Obvious do go on. Detroit is right now ground zero for just about every kind of political, social, and economic type of dysfunction you can have short of going to a war zone. But you know what, it's not a war zone, it's part of the good old U. S. of A.

Okay let me back up. I love South Park, but I hate this joke.

My point is that everybody kind of sort of knew Detroit had problems but nobody cared enough to try to fix them. Why because everybody was just glad that the problems of Detroit weren't in their backyard.

My understanding and I could be wrong here is even if the city goes through bankruptcy the most that will probably do is reduce or eliminate it's debts. But to truly reform the city and improve civil services would require capital that even then probably won't be around, especially if the federal and state government don't decide to get off their asses. Not to mention the likelihood of retirement promises being broken.

And all of that pisses me off mainly for three reasons.

1. While the residents do share some of the blame for the decade long slow decline of the city a lot of it was caused by either A. crocked politicians. i.e. Kwame Killpatrick, and Monica Conyers or B. exterior aggregate trends and forces that they had no control over, i.e. white flight, urban sprawl, the economy, and declining property values. So it seems sort of like a dick move for everybody to be saying, "Oh Detroit you made your bed now lie in it."

And for the rest of the country, but especially the Michigan suburbs, who I might add actually use utility and court services based in Detroit, that kind of pisses me off.

2. Look if you want me to go into more detail about this I already did, but Detroit is a mostly Black city.  Especially when you consider that a lot of the aforementioned problems can be charted back to the 1967 riot, letting the city go to pot has racial implications.

3. Look if you don't like giving foreign aid, fine. I disagree with you but fine. But you know what Detroit is a part of the country, and as a country we should have standards, bare minimums of what a citizen should expect of the state and we haven't been meeting them. I mean that's why we are a country in the first place right.

You know that scene in Dark Knight Rises where Robin and Gordon are watching a White House press conference and realize the city is on its own...yeah. That's the kind of day I'm having.

General Misanthropic Posturing About the Downfall of Detroit

Facebook rantings of the last eh hour or so. 

Well it's official my opinion of Congress could not get any lower. [ After indidividually saying more or less they wouldn't try to help the city.]

By the way since Congress is freely elected I should add my opinion of humanity in general couldn't get any lower.

Which, sums up how we got here in the first place, a cesspool of crocked politicians, racist opportunists, corporate greed, and incompetent administration that is almost unimaginable. I hate humanity.

Then again all of that crap is the cost of free will. At the end of the day yes we will be cruel, stupid, violent, greedy, arrogant, vengeful and petty. Because we can be. And being able to be those things is better than the alternative. 

... So am I saying the collapse of Detroit is the price of freewill? Dear god. Send me to the re-education camp.

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin July 15-21, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yes You Can Make Wonder Woman Work

Alright let's talk about this.

Eh screw that.

Wired ran a piece decrying how during the announcement everybody was excited about seeing seeing Batman and Supes together,but there was nary a word about Wonder Woman, further theorizing that chances are even if they did manage to give her a big role in the JL movie said role would probably suck because people have a hard time writing her right. And also pointed to the fact that W.W's early comic appearances were... weird.

And you know what yes there were, and so were Superman's and Ironman's, and the X-men's and you get the point. The Big Blue Boy Scout started off as more like The Punisher than most people are willing to admit.

That said I am only tangentially antiquated with the character and mostly know about her from adaptations, yet I feel that's exactly why I would like to see a Wonder Woman movie. Sure there are lots of Wonder Woman comics on my list but there are lots of comics on my list. At the end they are a luxury item and as far as luxury items go, right now it's cheaper and easier for me to rent movies, watch Netflix, or catch comic movies on TV. I'm not saying I don't want to her read comics I'm saying right now I can't really read comics period.

Which is why I really want to see her on the big screen. So here is my list with the very limited knowledge of the character I have of how not to make her suck.

1. Consult Gail Simone

Again I have very limited knowledge about Wonder Woman comics, but there is a general consensus that she is probably the best contemporary writer to tackle her character in a long while. Again most of this is second hand, but when it comes to Wonder Woman she is one of the few people who gets her.

2.  Yes She Is An Amazonian Princess Damn It
Okay for better or worse most adaptions of Wonder Woman outside of comics or cartoons try to soft peddle the fact that she's an amazon.  And no. That is a huge part of her character and identity. I'm not saying do the origin story necessarily, but her being an Amazon is kind of what makes her her.

Furthermore the thing that she generally contributes an the J.L. is that she is a warrior, i.e. soldier. Superman being the general pacifist he is normally is a little antagonistic towards the military, and Batman, well let's just say getting him to trust any large organization with the type of power the USMC. can muster is out of character. You need someone to talk to the highly trained, highly armed, highly disciplined, highly regimented organization, you go to the person raised to command XX chromosome Sparta.

Hell she's probably the only J.L. headliner who is sort of iffy on the thou shalt not kill thing. Yes if it's a numbers game of death she will make the call the others can't.

3. Feminism is Complicated
Okay, being a guy I'm not really going to go on about feminism, but what we call feminism is wide birth of issues and ideas some of which contradict each other. Being as steeped in feminism as she is it's almost impossible to talk about Wonder Woman without talking about woman's issues so I'm just going to say be smart.  Whoever does the next Wonder Woman TV show, movie, whatever, really has to think about the message and implications there in.

4. Lead Role
Alright some when it come to comics Wonder Woman is probably the third best known member of the Justice League as has been constantly one of it's lead members, yet in mainstream media, not so much. We've had like 8 batman movies, like 6 superman movies, yet I can't even think of a Wonderwoman movie. Again she's generally considered the third piller of the J.L. being even more important than Green Lantern and Super Girl who both have their own movies, bad movies albeit but movies.

Even without the sexism, there's a joke out there that the only superhero Warner Brothers really knows how to do right is Batman and if they're going to get serious about making a big competitor to Marvel's Avengers, that's going to have to change.

See what made the Avengers work as a movie was that it was able to marry all of the different settings and tones of all the Marvel movies, which were diverse enough to make such a marriage kind of interesting. You've got a millionaire playboy hanging out with a military experiment gone wrong, hanging out with a military experiment gone right,  hanging out with a Norse god hanging out with two super spies. All while keeping their strong individual persona's in the fore.

I think this why any J.L./Wonder movie is likely to fail more so than sexism. They're going to bend over backwards to try to ground all of this stuff in reality and for Batman's Gotham or even maybe, I said maybe, Superman's Metropolis that might work but for Wonderwoman, Martian Manhunter, The Flash, and Green Lantern, what makes them them are supernatural fanciful elements. You have basically  Hector with boobs, normal sized green man from Mars, human Sonic the Hedgehog (Damn you Movie Bob), and space cop.

You are not going to make that seem normal.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why Scott Pilgrim Is Important (Yeah I'm Assuming You've Seen The Movie)

You know what? When I do that big post about why I like Kevin Smith a big chunk of it is going to based around young adult slice of life realism in movies. This is what he makes his bread and butter out of, but what got me thinking about all of that in the first place was me continually thinking that I should eventually get around to explaining and defending Scott Pilgrim vs the World.  Why?

Because once you scrap away all the shine and especially if you take all that shine as visual metaphor Scott Pilgrim is basically one of the best young adult coming to grips with life movies I've seen in years, with the possible exception of Adventureland. See in a big way I always thought that Scott Pilgrim was Clerks, but for Gen Y instead of X and with a budget and better actors, and camera movement. Keep in mind I do really like Clerks.

For a better version of what I'm about to say see Spoony's review.

Alright so lets get started. Scott Pilgrim along with Titan A.E. and Death to Smoochy is on my list of good movies that broke the studio.  A lot of people said that the movie was all style and no substance, but I say it was more of a case of the style overshadowing the substance.  There is a lot of visual comedy, even 4th wall visual comedy. The movie very often uses a lot of screen, composition, and sound effects to communicate contextually. And whether you loved it or loathed it, it was the most defining thing about the film.


Regardless of everything else I am about to say, on an academic cinematic level this is why you should watch this movie. See film is a medium. And a lot of the execution of the narrative deals with the form of the medium. No matter what movie you're watching it is a movie and has to deal with the form of its medium.

Think about it like this. The cut. Almost every feature film you've seen features the cut because it's a specific tool of the medium. This movie uses cuts or even the noticeable lack a cuts not just as an accepted part of the medium, but as a communication or even narrative tool in and of themselves. Most  movies do this kind of thing, but Scott Pilgrim is one of the most blatant movies I've seen in this regard.

Conventional wisdom is that you want the audience to be aware of the medium as little as possible. You don't want people thinking metatextually, i.e. this happens because this is a movie. Or I feel this way because x was written or shot y way.

This movie says screw all that and in doing so those medium tools take on a life of their own. They can be used to make a joke, reference, or visual metaphor, and while the tool becomes obvious the joke, reference and metaphor becomes subtle, Causing the audience to ask why? Why is this shot this way? Why is there a cut here? Why is there not a cut here?  And because of the sheer craftsmanship of the movie you know there is an answer. Without that craftsmanship rather than ask why the audience would just assume accident and laze. Hell, some did that anyway.

A great meta-meta textual example of this is the song in the "So Sad, So Very Very Sad" it clocks in at about 3 seconds short for song, it's medium, making the audience go why?

The Soundtrack...Visualtrack... Narrative Thingy of Our Lives
Apart from the language of film the movie also seeks to take advantage of the fact that my generation has been inundated with multimedia;  music, comics, video games, TV, anime even text messaging and twitter.  I feel that this is one of the defining traits of my generation.

All of these other mediums have their own media tools and the film attempts to adapt them all to be usable in the medium of film. This inter-texuality at least for me, makes the film incredibly relatable.  I experience life through media. If you want to know what's running through my head any given day, check out my recently watched queue, or Rhapsody mixer

The movie seems to be ... aware of this and uses these tools accordingly.

Anyway, as evidenced by the last 10  paragraphs that's what people focus on when talking about the movie. But it has a lot of other stuff going on.

The Heart
As state previously all of that stuff is kind of academic. As I sort of started saying Pilgrim is my generations' Clerks.  Let me qualify that.

Clerks is ultimately about a Dante Hicks coming to grips with and dealing with his own laze, narcissism and indecisiveness, as manifested by his inability to break up with his current girlfriend when he realizes he still has feelings for his ex.

See Dante views himself as the put upon only sane man, so when his much more self aware best friend calls him on his bullshit he denies how unfair the situation is to both his respective beaus. Not only that but again his best friends tells him that despite everything Dante's beleaguered lot in life is more or less  his own fault for being so wishy-washy.

The point of Scott Pilgrim is more or less the same, and yet I feel it's the more emotionally complex movie, especially if you take the plot as a metaphor for relationships.

I like to think of the evil ex's, the guys Scott has to fight for Ramona's affections, as metaphors for her emotional baggage. Not unlike Clerks the movie is about Scott's journey to self-awareness, a realization that he is not as awesome as he thinks he is.

The biggest example of Scott pre-revelation, is when just after the fourth fight he decides he doesn't want to deal with Romona's past anymore, not realizing that he's got his own emotional baggage that Ramona has to deal with, i.e. Knives, Envy and his own kind of douchey personality.

After burning with jealousy, literally becoming a green-eyed monster when he sees her with the last boyfriend, Gideon, he mulls things over with cocoa.

Eventually he finally decides he loves Ramona not to give up on the relationship and with the visual metaphor of a kickass katana called, "The Power of Love" he goes to take on her last evil ex who "controls her mind".
... And he loses.

He dies and gets sent to the, "Desert of Loneliness" where he finally realizes he's not the hot shit he thinks he is. After that he gets a do-over and a new sword, "The Power of Self-Respect," with which he is finally able to get past all the crap and beat Gideon.

The ultimate resolution is him finally coming to grips negative aspects of his personality, "Nega-Scott" and going out for coffee with him.

How the hell can you say it has no substance.

My Thoughts on Red State

I love Kevin Smith. I suppose in another post I'll get to why but this isn't that post.

What is the point of this post. Red State.

I really really really like Red State. But it's also a somewhat polarizing movie. The same reasons why I like it are the same reasons why other people hate it and I think that merits discussion, so let's discuss. See the big criticism is with the movie is that it's all over the place and oddly enough yeah it is.

But it is for a reason.


See in one of his Q and A sessions Smith said that he designed to the movie to take a right turn everytime the audience saw where it was going and it does.

The movie starts out as a teen road trip comedy, then turns into a torture porn horror, then turns into a police stand off movie.

In theory, every time the audience is starting to guess the genre and by extension the tropes of the movie they change.  Creating a scenario where in watching the audience never really knows what's going to happen. And my opinion is, judged solely on that criteria the movie works. It does what it is supposed to do, but it also becomes three separate and incomplete movies.

And I can see how that could get on people's nerves. See the movie primarally accomplishes this by shifting the focus to other characters once the fate of the character you're looking at starts becoming apparent. Once it's clear someone's going to die there is no point in following them anymore. But, even if it's a movie you've seen before you want to see the end. Even then you could also argue that that makes Red State a lesser movie than the standard bearers of the genres it's imitating.

I argue however that on a metatexual level this makes the Red State really really interesting, especially upon a first viewing and as an exersise in story telling.

Going back to that Q and A session, Smith said the reason why he designed the movie the way he did was because my generation's audiences are really genre savvy. Most movies are based off of established archetypes and tropes. I'm not saying it's bad but well with not only the thousands of movies out there, we've also been exposed to comics, books, and music videos. We've been inundated with narrative.

The movie tries to use the audiences experience with narrative against them saying, "Stop trying to guess what's going to happen. No. Stop it. Damn it. Now I have to do something else." And even if you get annoyed by it I kind of dig a movie having the balls to do it.

Until the last scene where he cops out.

Useful Terms for Understanding the Finance Stuff

Okay after some reflection I realize I am not qualified to actually analyze the financial document in the previous post. I have been frantically trying to acclimate myself to some of the terminology and this website is the closest I got to defining the nomenclature tripping me up.

Particularly the parts I think I should be paying attention to are the rate of return and the policy index.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Finances of Southfield Police and Fire Retirement Fund

At the May 20, 2013 Southfield City Council meeting the Council expressed concerns about the financial investment losses in the city's fire and police retirement fund. Councilman Fracassi in particular stating that making up the difference in the system comes from tax payer dollars.

Correction: An earlier version of this post cited a number and upon reflection I think I might be confused about said number but I thought the information I had was still worth posting.

If This Were A Real Paper

  • Cameras and Lenses
  • Video Camera
  • External Microphone and Audio Equipment
  • New Printer and Scanner
  • Podcast/Webcast Studio Area
  • Updated Office, Graphics, Web Design, Audio Editing,Video Editing, Screen Capture and GIS Software
  • Live Feed Switcher With Overlay Capability
  • Monitor, HDMI Cable and Switcher
  • New Web Host
  • Dedicated Laptop/Tablet
  • Media Storage
  • Organizational External PVR, Media Storage and categorization software (Who said what where)
  • Digital Security
  • PACER Account
  • Lexis Nexis Account
  • Police Scanner
  • Premium Ustream/Livestream Account
  • Travel Expense Account
  • Skype Handset
  • Skype Phone Number
  • A.P. Wire Service
  • Staff (Copy Editor, Proofreader, Artist, Photographer, Videographers, Reporters, Section Editor, Literary Writers, Columnists)
  • Lansing, Washington, New York, and L.A.  Bureaus
  • Event (Conference, Panel, Fundraiser) Budget
  • FOIA and External Printing Budget
  • Legal Counsel (What can I record? What can I print? Am I in danger of libel?)
  • Accountant
  • Marketing Budget
  • Advertising Sales Staff
  • Media (Movies, Concerts, Albums) Review Budget
  • Printing Press
  • Reference Books
  • General Office Supplies
  • White Board/Bulletin Board


  • New Chair
  • Brief Case 
  • Trench Coat
  • Lifetime supply of Coke Cola, (I think better when I'm on the stuff. Perfect combo of caffeine and sugar, to keep me going 'till 4 in the morning.)

And while I'm at it how about a fedora.

Councilman Jeremy Moss Running For The Michigan House

Southfield City Councilman Jeremy Moss in an email press release announced his candidacy in the 2014 35th District Michigan House of Representatives election. The current holder of the district's seat, Ruddy Hobbs, will be for running for the 14th Michigan U.S. Congressional District seat currently held by democratic congressman, Gary Peters who is making a U.S. Senate bid.

Moss is currently the youngest councilman in the history of Southfield, and graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in journalism and political science. He has worked in the offices of former State Rep. Paul Condino and State Rep. Rudy Hobbs.

Peters, who has raised more than $1,000,000, and is considered the front-runner  for the Senate race, will be running against Michigan's former secretary of state, Republican Terri Lynn Land.

Also of note is Mark Schauer who will be running in the Michigan gubernatorial race as a democrat.

And now you know as much as I do. I need some Republican contacts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Tell The Tale

I was going to review Alice, but I can't find it on Netflix. I started writing an interesting intro to it and it's taking me places so let's go.

Okay let's play catch up. About a month ago give or take I said that I wanted to watch a good miniseries and thought of Alice. On second thought I decided to watch Tin Man instead because, Alice is the spiritual successor to Tin Man. Same basic idea, made by the same basic people, but... better.

Tin Man had a lot of really good ideas that got bogged down in a flawed execution. The script and acting were a bit wonky. Alice was essentially a do over. Same basic plot, same basic concept except with the benefit of experience.

See, Tin Man had a lot of problems, but I always thought the general idea of taking a familiar children's tale and updating to be a dark gritty science fiction story had merit. Heck a lot of my favorite stories are retellings. I love Daughter of the Forest, which is basically an extended version of the "Six Swans", and I also like Enchantment, which is basically "Sleeping Beauty" mashed up with Ivan the Fool and Baba Yaga playing the roles of The Prince and Witch.

Why? Well folk tales tend to get simplified. See the the thing about these types of stories is that they have to be simple enough so they can be retold COHERENTLY orally. Think of your favorite movie. The one you can quote backwards and forwards. Now try to retell it ... without sounding like a babbling idiot.

Hard ain't it.

Because of that simplicity they have a lot of room for expansion. I love the BBCs Robin Hood. Hell half of my ethos is based of father of all rogues. 

And don't get me started on all the bad ass versions of Merlin and Arthur I've seen.

The characters in these stories tend to get boiled down to their most defining trait, but it's interesting to see them when their that and more. People forget but a crap ton of Shakespeare's work was retelling some older story, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, Pericles, the Prince of Tyre, and don't get me started on the histories.

It's okay to mine a legend. That said what are some I wouldn't mind seeing more of.

Well. John Henry. He's Black and unquestionably American. Since the advent of television, comic books and modern mass media people forget we have our own folk tales. Let's use 'em.

Speaking of American, how about Coyote there are some good places you can go with that.

Or what about CĂș Chulainn he's got some bad ass stories.

Point is I need to watch Sinbad.

Angry Black Man: You Want To Protest Something? Fine! (Okay so I'm a Hippie, Commie, Liberal Bastard Child of the 60's)

Okay, okay after this I'll shut up about it. Anyway the thing that always annoyed me about the indignation over the Zimmerman case was that it always appealed to emotion and I've always been of the opinion that that the reason we have law is so that the execution of administrative services and justice isn't determined by whether or not the guy hearing the case happens to be in a good or bad mood that day, and legally it always seemed like there was very little chance Zimmerman would be convicted.

Why? Because of the laws that could be applied to the case. But who made those laws? Us. My point is that people  shouldn't be protesting the individual outcome of this case, especially considering that there can't be a do over without resorting to double jeopardy, but rather should be protesting for reforms in laws that intentionally or otherwise disenfranchise minorities.

So here's a list of those.

1. Budget Appropriations and Geographical Disenfranchisement
All over the country, but especially in my neck of the woods there has been a quasi-re-segregation, with people who can afford it getting as far away from the cities, in particular Detroit as they can. And yeah I could make an argument that race has something to do with it, especially when these trends first started showing up after the 1960s race riots, but that's not my argument.

My argument is that the people left are often minorities, but more importantly they are often poor. These are the people who do not have the resources to leave. With all of the money leaving these areas they there is a general downward spiral in social and civil services that hurt those left who again are often poor minorities.

This social trend has a tendency to hurt poor minorities moving the country backwards from social and economic progress of the civil rights movement.

And to me that seems like something we should at least make an attempt to fix.  And there is a simple way to try to move in the right direction. Implement and fund programs aimed at rebuilding urban services. Fund education programs, housing programs, infrastructure programs.

Here are some of those

You know what? In the span of the last couple years of cut cut cut alot has been trimmed or axed complexly, locally, federally and statewide. Protest something, protest that.

2. Educational Reform
I am not an expert. I have no ideas to fix it. But of because the aforementioned re-segregation schools are starting to look like they did prior to Brown V. Board of Education.

Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does... Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system... We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

3. Equal Protection Under The Law
As stated because of the downward spiral of social services caused by declining tax bases it might be a long wait for various social services depending on where you live, and since where you live is linked to how much money you have, which lets face it has a correlation to you skin tone... you get where I'm going. If you call EMS because your Mom had a heart attack an ambulance should come regardless of where you live, how much money you make, or what race you are.

4. Tough on Crime Laws

In the 90's there were a lot of judges, legislators and mayors who came to power by promising to be tough on crime. They trumpeted broken window theory. They instituted polices, like mandatory minimums, three strikes laws, and draconian drug policies that disproportionately incarcerate not just black folks but young folks, and poor folks.

The jails are overflowing to the point where we can't even use them anymore. And they're overflowing with the poor.

You know in a perfect world you're not supposed to be afraid of the cops. In a perfect world they should be your first call when things get really bad. This is not a perfect world. My view of what cops do is that they minimize damage. When  there is no good ending they keep things from getting worse. But when the worse thing that can happen is getting locked up and that's almost a guarantee when you call the cops nobody wants to do that.  So bad goes to worse to HOLY FUCK!

And we all know who lacks the resources to get out of  "HOLY FUCK!"

5. The Privatization of Prison

I know why we do it. On a ledger government is squeezed and a good deal is a good deal, but it just seems wrong to me that people are profiting from and making a business out of what should be a necessary evil of the state. Especially when these prisons can use the labor of the incarcerated which can amount to slave labor. You shouldn't be able to make money from locking people up.

6. Equal Enforcement of the Law
You know all that other crap I said it amounts to this. There should be a number of black people in prison proportional to the general population. If you screw up, you go through the system. Race, class or wealth shouldn't have anything to do with it. For that to happen we have to look at how the factors that correlate to incarceration, education level, wealth, geography, and access to social services, are connected to race and incorporate them into our laws. .

7. Gerrymandering and Race Based Districting
The dirty little secret of politics is that if you draw the map right you can rig who wins, and the maps are always rigged. Both the Democrats and the Republicans want to minimize the number of contested fights. We know our guy is going to win here and your guy is going to win here. You get it. It's been suggested by writers wiser than I that this is why it's easier for minorities to win districted seats and harder to win national and statewide elections.

We, the black community in the know, mostly accepted this under the assumption that especially in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement the general populous was not going to vote for a black candidate so the map should be drawn so a concentration of Blacks could vote their guy in.

The trade off is that it's harder to vet and gauge how those candidates will perform in a general populous election like a statewide gubernatorial or a senate race reducing the chances of having a black governor, senator, or president, President Obama not withstanding.

And that kind of sucks. The system has built in a glass ceiling.

8. Campaign Finance Reform

Alright Black wealth is on the rise, but there is still a wealth gap. As a result a system where those with the most cash make the rules and those with the most cash are old white guys, that system is going to be old white guys make the rules.

Let's make that not the system.

Never going to happen because everyone is making too much money, and campaign ad time costs but a man can dream.

9. Redesign Civil Rights Legislation to Account For Poverty and Provide Equal Opportunity
Okay so less than a month ago the Supreme Court knocked down a big part of the Voting Rights act of 1965. I wrote a little ditty where I said Congress got complacent. Let me explain why without all the grandiose language.  Over the past couple decades The Supreme Court has been generally ruling that using race any any law is unconstitutional. And you know what. I kind of agree with that. The reason why we sort of wink wink nudge nudge it is because the laws generally in question were created to undo a societal racial bias that had persisted for years and that racial bias was considered the worse of the two evils.

I'm Black and so I mostly harp on black issues. But, most of what I've described could be summed up as not stuff that keeps black people down, but stuff that punishes people for being born poor.  Circumstances that are out of your control should have little to no impact on your lifetime earning potential, and you shouldn't have a harder time in life just because of where you happened to be born.

Today being poor caries the same social stigma and disenfranchisement as not being white did previously and oddly enough there is a pretty big overlap in those two circles on the Venn Diagram.

10. Stand Your Ground
I hinted at it previously but I'll say it here flat out. There is a societal prejudice against young urbanites who often happen to be not white. Yes it is kind of insulting for old women to cross the street at my passing. That said, I can't nor do I really want to fix what's in people's heads being the free will and by extension free speech cultist I am. At the end of the day I'm the guy who will defend to the death the Clan's right to march up and down Main Street.

But I draw a line at violence, so yeah. Any law that makes it okay to kill a black kid because you got paranoid is one we should think about knocking down.

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin July 8-14, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Southfield July 15, 2013 City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan
Topics Include

  • Mutual Interests With Lawrence Tech University 
  • The Purchasing of New EMS Life Support Units and Power Stretchers 
  • The Miracle League 
  • A Possible Letter To the Governor Regarding the Redevelopment of The Michigan State Fair Grounds
An agenda and related documents can be found here

Monday, July 15, 2013

Southfield Stryker Power Stretcher Demonstration

Southfield City Council at the July 15, 2013 Council study session considered the purchase of four new life support vehicles for the city's EMS. In an attempt to reduce insurance liability during lifts the city considered implementing Striker Power Stretchers into the vehicle systems. This is a demonstration of the stretcher at the meeting. P.S. I almost never shoot cell phone video so forgive the fact that I did it wrong.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Dream

When my forefathers set foot on this continent they were bound. I am fortunate enough to not be shackled by thier chains. When they came they were excluded from the covenant of this country, but I am not.

We owe it to ourselves and our children to continue the journey towards freedom. I believe that the path to liberty lies in equality and dignity. But these are complex issues. To insure them legally we must first define them.

There are many types of equality, equality of opportunity, equal protection under the law, and equal enforcement of the law, equal access to government resources. A black kid in Detroit should have the same chance to make something of himself as white kid in Bloomfield Hills. But if we want true equality it we can not just base our success in this regard on race. The dream the covenant is based on is meritocracy.

If you want to learn, work, or speak that knowledge, work and speech should carry you as far as it can without the glass ceilings of gender, class, race, geography, religion and sexual orientation. I dream of a world where the measure of a man or a woman is the quality of their ideas.

In order for such a world to exist everyone must be given a chance. Everyone must be given a chance to learn. Everyone must be given a chance to listen. Everyone must be given a chance to think. Everyone must be give a chance to dream. Everyone must be given a chance to speak. Everyone must be given a chance.

Everyone must be given a chance to speak. Under the law speech is to be protected. An idea may be shouted down but it must be allowed to be spoken regardless of its source because a good idea is a good idea.

One of the greatest expressions of this is the right to vote. Everybody over the age of 18 gets a voice. And not just a voice an equal voice. The President's ballot is treated the same as Bill Gates', is treated the same my grandmother's is treated the same as mine.

Equality is hard to enforce legally because it all boils down to how people treat each other and how the hell can you legislate that? It's hard.  However, we can legislate how the instruments of the state operate, and the instrument of a republic is the ballot.

I mourn the Voting Rights act of 1965, but the sacred right of the ballot should not be have been considered complete by Congress. We became complacent. We became complacent towards the rights of man!

The sad truth is that equality can not be completed because of history and the odd and diverse circumstances of humanity.  But we can draw a line. We can strive for equality. Even if you can barely afford ham sandwich  you get a say. If you're and old man and can barely walk, you get a say. If you can barely write your name you get a say. If you're pregnant and can't stand in the line you get a say. If you're second generation and the first in you're family to cast a ballot here you get a say.

That is the start. And that is the least we can do.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Road Jurisdiction in Southfield

Miniseries Review:Tin Man

Well if I'm going to do this I might as well start from the start.

Look do you know how many times the Wizard of Oz has been a thing? And people love it. Probably because of the nostalgia for a certain 1939 movie that is almost required Easter Sunday watching along with the movie about the lawgiver. Why do the movies never get into the 40 years of wandering.

Anyway they remake and retool that story a lot and my favorite is Tin Man,  a 2007 Sci-fi channel minseries .

Let me bottom line my thoughts. Lots of good ideas trapped in a flawed execution. I mostly respect Tinman for what it was trying to be rather than what it was, ambitious unapologetic science-fiction. Are you ready for some steampunk.

The problem is that in order bring the ambitious vision to the small screen they decided to 300 it. Don't get me wrong it looks beautiful, but it's also clear that a lot of the actors didn't really know how to act against the green screen and so things get a little weird. Furthermore some of them were miscast. I get why Zooey Deschanel was chosen.

But here she's constantly set on dull surprise.

The Good Ideas
Okay so as I said this is the Wizard of Oz, but a different Wizard of OZ. Meaning that it's recognizable as itself but it's also something else. And that sums up all the individual elements of the show.

The first episode more or less plays the story straight but with a few differences.

See we know the story. We know Oz, which normally kind of takes away from what is suppose to be this wierd out there place, but because here we feel like Oz is so familiar the show keeps surprising you by the choices it makes with the story, the characters, and the setting.

Despite that every element is recognizable as itself. D.G. is Dorthy Gale, and depending on how you look at it Glinda. Glitch is the Scarecrow, Cain is the Tinman, and RAW is the Lion.

All of those differences eventually start to make the world, the O.Z. becomes cool again.

Most retellings of the Wizard of Oz fall flat because they run like a check list. We have to have these characters and places because without them it wouldn't be the Wizard of Oz. Here with the exception of some referential dialogue, they all feel like they're here because of the backstory. And all of them have a backstory. Every character has a reason for being where they are and who they are.

But like I said this is a different Oz. This is the Outer Zone. A lot of aspects of the characters get broken up reconstituted and put back together. For instance in this show the Wizard, The Wicked Witch and Glinda get split between two people each. And that can come as a shock. When you think you've got the place figured out it can throw you for a loop.

To explain further I think I'm going to have to start talking about the differences in the plot so spoilers. I'll try to make them white so if you want to see them highlight them.

Things start to go differently right around the third act of the original so lets recap,

The characters reach the Emerald City where the Wizard tells them he'll help if the defeat The Wicked Witch.

That happens and the Wizard who is really a two-bit hustler goes about solving everyone's problem except Dorthy's and then Glinda comes tells her she could have gone home all along.

Well here. Our Glinda the Good, and Wizard aren't in a position to do that. See in the original movie at least the witch is portrayed mostly as a nuisance. Sure she's the source of all the story's problems but apart from that she's mostly just interested in ruining people's day. And getting revenge for her murdered sister.

Here she's the overlord. The Wizard's on the vapors and Glinda, the elder Glinda, is trapped in a pocket universe.

Ousting this witch is going to take more than a bucket o' water.

And this is where the story starts to become something else. The basic story of the has been told  by the end of the first episode, but, the problems haven't been solved. The Tinman's "heart" is still gone. Glitch  our scarecrow, still doesn't have a brain.  And Raw still has the problem that requires him to nut up, his family has been kidnapped by the witch. For the girl wanting to go home well Oz is Dorthy's home, she is actually the princess of O.Z. daughter and successor to the other Glinda character.

And like in the original The Wicked Witch is the cause for all of it.

And when you think on it, it all makes sense. As I mentioned the Wizard's always been of questionable help and Glinda was a walking deus ex machina. The biggest joke for my generation of Oz watchers is that she's kind of bitch for not letting Dorthy go home from the get go.

Anyway, the story folds in on itself and through some trippy exposition becomes a plausible sequel to the original. This witch has been possessed by the spirit of the original who has learned from her mistakes. We're looking at an Oz without the Great and Powerful and Glinda to keep the Witch in check.

So, for the most part the witch is a competent villain. Not quite genre savvy, but definitely less cartoonishly evil than "Wicked Witch" would imply. Good villains need menace, and as a sci-fi guy I have to say sorry green paint isn't enough. This witch on the other hand can bring the menace.  "Did she just eat the wizards soul?"
Anyway back to the point I was circling around. The story you know is only the half of it. There are lots of really good twists and turns.

That said it's not just the movie they used as a source the books, and Wicked. They know their way around Oz.  And that knowledge comes together to  bring forth a lot interesting aspects of the place that haven't immigrated into mainstream pop culture.

Beyond that, the place looks amazing. Oz looks fantastical again.

The Flawed Execution
Well for starters the script could have used another pass. A lot of the dialogue only exists to make reference to the original. We have to have the witch say, "I'll get you my pretty." And it gets old quick. The story itself makes enough reference to the original...s, they they didn't have to beat anyone over the head with it.

Even the dialogue that isn't can feel a bit stilted. I don't know if it was the actors or the script but well we get some robotic stuff here.

On top of that there are a lot of cliches to this plot. And I'm not just talking cliche because it was already done in the original. I mean there was better way to deal with some of this stuff than the way they did.

Like I said in the Hook Paradox my favorite of series of miniseries this is a part of Alice, because in a lot of ways the creators learned. It has the same basic plot but with a mirrored sheen instead of colored but I'll get to it in a bit later.

2013 Southfield Council Candidate Interview #3 Councilman Myron Frasier

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