Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Southfield City Council May 22, 2015 Budget Meeting

On May 22, 2015 the Southfield City Council held a meeting to discus the municipal budget.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 18, 2015 Southfield City Council Meeting

Southfield City Council Meeting Held May 18, 2015

Topics Discussed or Acted Upon Include

  • Various Liquor License Requests
  • Amending the City's Density Requirements
  • New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
  • ALD Awareness

An agenda and related documents can be found here. For more please visit

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Do it. Do It Now!

So monday was one of the more frustrating City Council meetings I've been to. Not because it get derailed as often happens but rather because I was disappointed that many of the Council saw the point in going to both Japan and Korea.

And that requires a lot of context.

Sister City
Way back in the tail-end of 2012 the City of Southfield was approached by the Koran-American Cultural Center about a sister center relationship with the City of Dongducheon South Korea.  While the sister city agreement was never signed things had progressed far enough that when the City Admistrator tried to couple the promised trip to Korea with a trade trip to Japan to save money I was actually kind of shocked they hadn't done that already. 

See a delegation from Dongducheon had come to the city in 2013 and the city had unofficially agreed to fly over to South Korea and sign a formal agreement. That didn't happen. I kind of missed it because it's been a busy year for me.  

Woman of Comfort Memorial
Tangentially related is that in 2014 a Comfort Woman Memorial Statue was pegged to be installed in the Southfield Public Library and one of big companies, headquartered in Japan in the city, Denso, objected so it was instead installed in front of the Korean-American Cultural Center. I'm hazy on the details here but evidently it caused "a thing".

Now would be a good time to talk about why it would. We Americans think of the pacific theatre in WWII as starting with Pearl Harbor but part of the reason why Japanese-American relations had broken down is that Japan was already occupying parts of China and Korea. And by all accounts they did some pretty nasty stuff that still effects relations between all three countries. Comfort women were a part of the "pretty nasty stuff"

Recently there have been a series political movements in Japan that in an attempt to restore its cultural identity kind of ...

Look I am neither Japanese nor Korean but I occasionally read news reports about Japanese revisionism and it kind of bugs me. Especially since I absorb a lot of Japanese technology, movies, video games and TV shows. I was raised on Sega and Nintendo. I was raised watching Dragon Ball Z and Power Rangers. I was raised listening to a Sony Walkman and playing a Playstation 2. 

A lot of what I hear about right-wing Japanese conservative nationalist movements "concerns" me. Though the same could be said for right-wing European conservative nationalist movements. But all the same in both cases I am an outsider and have more domestic concerns. 

On a "quasi" lighter note that back drop influences  one of my favorite movies. IP Man.  Hell once you scrape away all the fancy fights that movie is more or less about China finding and reaffirming its national identity (Something something revolution) during the Japanese occupation. 

Aaand some good old fashioned audience catharsis as Donnie Yen kicks ass.

So the governor has been trying to increase Japanese investment in Michigan via the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conferences. It kind of makes sense. Even outside of the big three Michigan has lot of car part manufactures, and they could all benefit from contracts with Japanese auto-manufactures. 

Denso (the one mentioned earlier), a Japansese car part manufacturer that has a facility in Southfield requested members of the council accompany it and the governor to Tokyo for this year's conference.

In an effort to save money the City administrator decided to try to couple that trip with the trip to South Korea.

Don't Be Nintendo At CES in '91
At monday's meeting it seemed most of the Council was luke warm to the idea at best. Okay now I have to go into the subjective area of my read of the room. Most of the staff considered the sister city thing with the South Korea a done commitment.  But the official agreement never got signed...probably because the trip was planed in 2013 (I was wrong it was planned for early 2014 so my mild griping over how elections interfere with policy was pointless and has more to do with Prop 1 angst than anything else.

That said I'm still mad about Prop 1.

Anyway, bringing it up all of a sudden opened the gates for some members of Council to try to dodge the deal.

It's been a while and I'd say that only three of the Council members who were originally there when the South Korean Delegation visited the city were in the room so there isn't really a feeling of personal commitment.

But man that would suck. Again things had moved so far that I kind of assumed it was a done deal. Gifts were exchanged. The South Korean Delegation was hosted in the city and offered to do the same.

That right there is at least a gentlemen's agreement.

Okay I'm making generalizations that may be mildly racist, but almost everything I've heard about the Japanese business world implies that breaking a gentlemen's agreement is serious business. You DO NOT do it.

Oh and for a quicky video game history lesson MovieBob did it pretty well. Though my childhood owes more to the PS2 than the NES so I disagree with his conclusions.

And in a more general economic sense we need to project trust and stability. Our business partners must know that...

I was getting a little too ...serious yeah let's go with serious rather than uh upp no not going there especially with all this talk of World War II. So enjoy that clip from Excel Saga while I talk myself down from wishing for "a strong leader" to say to everybody else, "shut up this is what we're doing".

And for balance here's the trailer for Volcano High. I need to watch Oldboy already.

Where was I? Right trade mission to Asia. Apart from the obvious cool factor. If things go well it could mean jobs down the road. Even if they don't if it's not an outright catastrophe the exposure itself would be great.  It would get the city's name out there in the international business community.

And as far as the Korea trip goes,  there is something to be said for honoring commitments even the soft ones.

But beyond that there are a lot of other reasons for honoring the agreement. As I walk around town I fear, and I include myself in this, that we think too locally and the world doesn't work like that anymore. The cultural exchange with South Korea could help the younger generation get over that.

I got to get out of Michigan.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Southfield School Board Meeting Held on May 12, 2015

Meeting of the Board of Education Held on May 12, 2015

Topics Discussed Include
  • Building Utilization
  • Summer School
  • Police Safety Tips For End of School Year Parties
  • Awards the Levy Middle School Band Received
  • The Potential Merging of Southfield High School and Southfield Lathrup
An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Southfield City Council Meeting Held May 11, 2015

Meeting of the Southfield City Council Held on May 11, 2015

Topics Discussed Include

  • Potentially Changing How Multiple Family Residential Land Requirements are calculated. From Number of Rooms to Number of Units 
  • The potential of a trip to South Korea in reciprocation to the city of Dongducheon for its delegation's visit in 2013  
  • Accompanying the governor and representatives from Denso to a trade visit to Tokyo 
  • A charter amendment to eliminate primary elections 

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past and Specific Comic Adaptation?

My dirty little secret when it comes to movies is that since I'm broke I don't tend to catch them until way, way, way, after the fact. Which bums me out because yeah it means I don't get to see Avengers 2 this weekend and because it means that when it comes to movie reviews I am almost never topical.

But there is a freedom in that. It means that rather than worrying about telling people if I think a movie is good or worth thier money I can take a much more lackadaisical approach and talk about any interesting ideas I had while watching a movie or letting them percalate for a while.

In this case I had an epiphany about a recent shift in comic book movies after watching X-men: Days of Future Past.

While I enjoyed it I couldn't help but feel the movie was a bit of fan wank. Almost every narrative flaw the film has can be explained by it bending over backwards to position itself for moments and characters the fans have wanted to see for years.

Once it becomes clear that dealing with Mystique in the past is a golden snitch why do we keep cutting to the future? Because realistically it's the only chance to see future characters like Bishop the fans have been clamoring for since the first one.

Why does young prof-ex seem so out of character? So we can have Patrick Stewart give one of "his" speeches to James McAvoy, both of whom are two of the best actors of their respective generations.

Why is Quick Silver in the movie even though his presence raises a million questions and breaks the narrative?  Well because he's a fan favorite and everybody's been asking for him to show up even though the rights are nutty for while now.

That got me thinking. What should I have expected with Days of Future Past. The movie fans have been asking for that they never thought they would get since the first one of these.

Why when I was a young warthog the point of a comic book movie was to distill the characters and essence  of half  a century into something a mainstream audience could understand. Sure there might be elements from the bigger story lines but it was rare for a movie to straight up admit, "Hey this is an adaptation of say Civil War.  If you're a fan of that this is for you.

If you wanted that you had to go to cartoons.

 And I'm not talking all that long ago. Even the first Avengers was more about that distillation than a specific story. But with Age of Ultron (which again I haven't seen) and the crop of movies over the last year and a half I see a new paradigm on the horizon.

It's just something to think on.

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.