B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

You May Know How To Cut Hair was uploaded to Flickr

Ashland, perhaps, Chicago

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I took You May Know How To Cut Hair on September 22, 2012 at 04:16PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 18, 2015 at 03:36PM

Written by eggplant

April 18th, 2015 at 9:03 am

40R Italian Shit was uploaded to Flickr

or suit, depending.

Rogers Park somewhere

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I took 40R Italian Shit on April 12, 2015 at 05:13PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 14, 2015 at 03:49PM

Written by eggplant

April 14th, 2015 at 9:05 am

My Epitaph

Birthday Hat

Birthday Hat

Ok, so it’s my birthday more or less. No need to congratulate me for living this long without jumping off a building, or swallowing a pistol, I’m happy to still be here on our decaying planet, more or less. If you see me, buy me some wine or something.

I think I discovered what my epitaph should be:

ok, so I learned how to play “Smoke on the Water” on ukulele, I should probably go to sleep now

Kohala Ukulele
Kohala Ukulele

And for no particular reason, some people you might of heard of who share this birth date, allegedly. We are all so similar…

  • 1770 – William Wordsworth, English poet
  • 1772 – Charles Fourier, French philosopher 
  • 1860 – Will Keith Kellogg, American businessman, founded the Kellogg Company
  • 1893 – Allen Dulles, American lawyer and diplomat, 5th Director of Central Intelligence 
  • 1897 – Walter Winchell, American journalist and broadcaster
  • 1915 – Billie Holiday, American singer-songwriter and actress 
  • 1920 – Ravi Shankar, Indian-American sitar player and composer
  • 1927 – Babatunde Olatunji, Nigerian-American drummer, educator, and activist
  • 1928 – James Garner, American actor, singer, and producer
  • 1931 – Daniel Ellsberg, American theorist and author
  • 1933 – Wayne Rogers, American actor, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1938 – Jerry Brown, American politician, 34th and 39th Governor of California
  • 1938 – Spencer Dryden, American drummer (Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Dinosaurs, and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy)
  • 1938 – Freddie Hubbard, American trumpet player and composer
  • 1939 – Francis Ford Coppola, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1939 – David Frost, English journalist and game show host
  • 1954 – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong actor, martial artist, director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1954 – Tony Dorsett, American football player
  • 1964 – Russell Crowe, New Zealand-Australian actor, singer, director and producer 

Written by Seth Anderson

April 6th, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Narcipost

Tagged with

Wipe Your Weeping Eyes was uploaded to Flickr

Cook County Forest Preserve somewhere

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I took Wipe Your Weeping Eyes on April 01, 2015 at 08:55AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 01, 2015 at 01:56PM

Written by eggplant

April 1st, 2015 at 9:52 am

Going Clear and the Ridiculousness of Tax Exemption for Religious Organizations

Ideas and Not Battles…
Ideas and Not Battles…

I hope you’ve seen, or plan to see, the documentary by Alex Gibney called Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Besides the whole insanity of Xenu, and thetans and Suppressive Persons, a big question raised is why exactly did the IRS classify L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction stories as a religion, entitled to evade taxes? Was it a result of Operation Snow White? Or some other reason?

The latter half of Going Clear delineates how David Miscavige uses the above dogma to create a financial empire built on celebrity outreach, with the organization’s Celebrity Centre being a major landmark, and Hubbard’s directive of “fair game” (i.e., harassment and threats to enemies labeled “suppressive persons”). The result is extensive research and testimony based on the experiences of former church members, some of them former senior members, with allegations of torture, labor camps, re-education camps, human trafficking, and a non-profit religion that has at least $1.5 billion in the bank. If you or I paid someone who worked for us 40 cents an hour or forced someone to mop a bathroom with their tongue, we would probably be looking at spending some time in a courtroom.

However, because Scientology has tax-exempt status as a religion, these practices are protected by the First Amendment as “self-inflicted” punishments by adherents of a religion.

That tax-exempt status was also important in saving Scientology from bankruptcy. Going Clear asserts the church was looking at a $1 billion tax bill in 1993 after fighting the IRS for decades. Not only was the tax debt forgiven, but the classification of Scientology as a religion also means sales of Dianetics and other Hubbard books are not taxed either, since they’re considered “religious texts.” And all of this is supposed to be given a happy face by trotting out celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and others so they can peddle Scientology in other countries and attempt religious recognition in Europe and elsewhere. However, Cruise is shown to be the equivalent of manipulated royalty within the church. Church insiders paint a picture of him as pampered and coddled to be Scientology’s ambassador to the world, with his every whim attended to, but Miscavige dictates who can be close to Cruise and is jealously protective of his own relationship with the star. And Travolta is implied to be either indifferent to the religion’s abuses or a “captive” who stays in his place because of the threat of blackmail.

(click here to continue reading ‘Going Clear’ offers a devastating exposé of greed and abuse.)

Truthfully, I don’t understand why any mega-rich church gets to be tax exempt. My taxes partially go to support schools, I don’t object to that despite me having no children of my own. I understand the idea of the public good – a well educated society is better for all of us. I pay for the park district, and I don’t object to that. I use the parks, I am happy to see others using the parks, families, dogs, whatever. But what good to society is Scientology doing? or any of us who aren’t Tom Cruise or John Travolta?

I don’t think the Catholic Church should be tax-exempt either, but at least they seem to do a small amount of good for the public – soup kitchens, outreach, etc. What is Scientology doing for the community? Other than separating rubes from their money? 

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center reports that more than 100 501(c)(3) organizations are stripped of their tax-exempt status each year. The reasons can vary, covering the violation of laws that govern private benefits, lobbying, political campaign activity, unrelated business income, the obligation to report annually and maintaining operation in accord with stated exempt purpose.…

According to the film, Church of Scientology Chairman David Miscavige ordered the organization’s members to file individual lawsuits against the IRS for its failure to recognize it as a church. Overwhelmed by 2,400 individual suits and the prospect of defending itself against all of them, the IRS agreed to grant Scientology tax-exempt status in exchange for the withdrawal of the cases.

A 2011 tax filing reveals that the three organizations comprising Scientology claim a combined value of $1.5 billion, a sum that has allegedly been built on the backs of members who pay thousands of dollars to rise within the organization, are paid 40 cents an hour for labor and have been tortured for dissent, combined with the organization’s vast international property portfolio. “This issue is not about whether Scientology is a religion,” Gibney told TheWrap. “The issue is whether or not Scientology is pursuing policies that are not in the public interest.” The government simply needs to determine whether there’s a “fundamental overriding interest” in declassifying an organization involved in the above activities as exempt from taxation.

According to the IRS website, to be tax-exempt, an “organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.” An IRS representative told TheWrap he’s unable to comment on whether there’s currently an investigation into any organizations or individual cases.

(click here to continue reading HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ Triggers New Scrutiny of Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Status.)

Church of Scientology London
Church of Scientology London

So how exactly did the Scientologists get the IRS to reverse itself? There are many still unanswered questions:

For 25 years, I.R.S. agents had branded Scientology a commercial enterprise and refused to give it the tax exemption granted to churches. The refusals had been upheld in every court. But that night the crowd learned of an astonishing turnaround. The I.R.S. had granted tax exemptions to every Scientology entity in the United States.…The landmark reversal shocked tax experts and saved the church tens of millions of dollars in taxes. More significantly, the decision was an invaluable public relations tool in Scientology’s worldwide campaign for acceptance as a mainstream religion. On the basis of the I.R.S. ruling, the State Department formally criticized Germany for discriminating against Scientologists. The German Government regards the organization as a business, not a tax-exempt religion, the very position maintained for 25 years by the American Government.

The full story of the turnabout by the I.R.S. has remained hidden behind taxpayer privacy laws for nearly four years. But an examination by The New York Times found that the exemption followed a series of unusual internal I.R.S. actions that came after an extraordinary campaign orchestrated by Scientology against the agency and people who work there. Among the findings of the review by The Times, based on more than 30 interviews and thousands of pages of public and internal church records, were these:

*Scientology’s lawyers hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of I.R.S. officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities, according to interviews and documents. One investigator said he had interviewed tenants in buildings owned by three I.R.S. officials, looking for housing code violations. He also said he had taken documents from an I.R.S. conference and sent them to church officials and created a phony news bureau in Washington to gather information on church critics. The church also financed an organization of I.R.S. whistle-blowers that attacked the agency publicly.

*The decision to negotiate with the church came after Fred T. Goldberg Jr., the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service at the time, had an unusual meeting with Mr. Miscavige in 1991. Scientology’s own version of what occurred offers a remarkable account of how the church leader walked into I.R.S. headquarters without an appointment and got in to see Mr. Goldberg, the nation’s top tax official. Mr. Miscavige offered to call a halt to Scientology’s suits against the I.R.S. in exchange for tax exemptions.

After that meeting, Mr. Goldberg created a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology outside normal agency procedures. When the committee determined that all Scientology entities should be exempt from taxes, I.R.S. tax analysts were ordered to ignore the substantive issues in reviewing the decision, according to I.R.S. memorandums and court files.

The I.R.S. refused to disclose any terms of the agreement, including whether the church was required to pay back taxes, contending that it was confidential taxpayer information. The agency has maintained that position in a lengthy court fight, and in rejecting a request for access by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act. But the position is in stark contrast to the agency’s handling of some other church organizations. Both the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and an affiliate of the Rev. Jerry Falwell were required by the I.R.S. to disclose that they had paid back taxes in settling disputes in recent years.

(click here to continue reading Scientology’s Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt – NYTimes.com.)

Xenu dot Net
Xenu dot Net

From the IRS manual, your organization only needs to check these boxes off to be classified as a religion, and not even check all the boxes:

The Service considers all the facts and circumstances in determining whether an organization is a church, including whether the organization has the following characteristics:

  • a distinct legal existence
  • a recognized creed and form of worship
  • a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
  • a formal code of doctrine and discipline
  • a distinct religious history
  • a membership not associated with any other church or denomination
  • a complete organization of ordained ministers ministering to their congregations
  • ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
  • a literature of its own
  • established places of worship
  • regular congregations
  • regular religious services
  • Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young
  • schools for the preparation of its ministers

The above list of 14 church characteristics (first published by the Service in 1978 as a news release, IR–1930) is not exclusive—any other facts and circumstances that may bear upon the organization’s claim for church status must also be considered.

An organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.

Some of the characteristics may be given more weight than others in a given case.

(click here to continue reading Internal Revenue Manual – 7.26.2 Private Foundations Defined – IRC 509(a)(1) Exlcusions (Other Than IRC 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)) and IRC 509(a)(4) Exclusion.)

Church of Scientology
Church of Scientology

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2015 at 11:46 am

Posted in News-esque,religion

Tagged with , , ,

Everything You Do Leaves You Empty Inside was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago River at night

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I took Everything You Do Leaves You Empty Inside on March 28, 2015 at 08:11PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 29, 2015 at 05:41PM

Written by eggplant

March 29th, 2015 at 11:07 am

Waltz was uploaded to Flickr

Cook County Forest Preserve somewhere

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I took Waltz on March 26, 2015 at 11:54AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 27, 2015 at 12:19AM

Written by eggplant

March 26th, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Attention Customers – Photography taking place in the store today was uploaded to Flickr

Whole Foods may use you as a prop without compensation, and are free to exploit you…or something like that…

At the grand opening of the West Loop Whole Foods in Skybridge.

I wonder if anyone has ever challenged this kind of license? Most people probably don’t even read the sign, just like those software EULA that you click through without reading.

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I took Attention Customers – Photography taking place in the store today on March 25, 2015 at 12:00PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 25, 2015 at 05:00PM

Written by eggplant

March 25th, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Monday March Commute was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago

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I took Monday March Commute on March 23, 2015 at 08:46AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 23, 2015 at 02:52PM

Up to 5 inches of snow to drop during rush hour – Chicago Tribune: “Spin-outs and near white-out conditions slowed the morning rush Monday as a burst of spring snow hit just in time for the commute and could bring as much as 5 inches of snow in some parts of the Chicago area.”

(Via.)

Written by eggplant

March 23rd, 2015 at 9:08 am

Rahm Emanuel’s sins against the progressive movement

Best Buddies
Rauner and Rahm, Best Buddies…

Progressives do have a history with Mayor 1%, Rahm Emanuel, and it isn’t a pleasant one. Sadly, it does look like Rahm-bo might squeak out a win over Chuy Garcia, but the special runoff election isn’t until April 7th, so there is still hope.

Digby writes, in part, a bit of the history:

Way back in the day (a decade ago) when the Progressive Netroots were just starting to organize, the first “scalp” any of the left leaning movement activists took was that of a Democratic hack from Maryland named Al Wynn when they backed a progressive challenger by  the name of Donna Edwards. Edwards defeated Wynn in 2008 and is now running to replace Senator Barbara Mikulski who recently announced her retirement. In each congressional cycle Netroots progressives have fought a number of hard-fought primaries, losing more often than they won (just like the Tea Party) but slowly managing to make the House of Representatives a bit more progressive than it was before. Congressional representatives like Matt Cartwright, Beto O’Rourke and Senators like Jon Tester were backed strongly by the grassroots of the party and managed to unseat incumbents. Nobody in the beltway noticed or cared, of course. (Progressives always forget to order their tri-corner hats and Betsy Ross wigs…)

But over time, it’s had an effect and not just because of the “scalps” they took, but because all of those hard fought races, whether won or lost, showed the incumbents that there was a restive group of activists out there who could challenge the status quo.  And aside from primary challenges, progressives in congress from Keith Ellison and Alan Grayson in the House to Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin in the Senate were enthusiastically supported by Netroots groups like, Move On, DFA, PCCC and Blue America (disclosure: I am a principal in that group) among a number of others, a support which translates into small donor involvement, campaign volunteering and strategic advice as well as engaged in grassroots activism for progressive congressional initiatives.  It’s made a difference.  The House and Senate today have progressive wings that are active and vocal in a way they did not a decade ago.

Rahm Has A Message For You
Rahm Has A Message For You…

Back in 2006 when all this really started to come together there was one Democrat who quickly determined that this nascent progressive movement was a major threat to the status quo. His name was Rahm Emanuel who was, at the time, an Illinois congressman in charge of candidate recruitment for the congressional Democrats. If there’s anyone who can take credit for being the catalyst for this long term Netroots commitment to elect progressives to congress it is him. His crude dismissal of grassroots concerns was blatant. His contempt for anyone who disagreed with his centrist Blue Dog/New Democrat philosophy was palpable.  While his wholehearted support for big money interests was seen as the ultimate in strategic brilliance by the beltway elites, it repelled Democratic activists everywhere.

Despite the fact that lame-duck George W. Bush and the war in Iraq were so unpopular that virtually anyone who could draw a breath who had a D after his or her name could have won, the conventional wisdom said that Emanuel’s DCCC win in the off year election of 2006 was a validation of his political savvy. (In case you were wondering, Emanuel wasn’t elected to congress until after the Iraq war resolution but was on record supporting it, saying that the U.S. needed a “muscular projection of force” there. You can let the shrinks sort out just what that language says about him …)

When the newly elected President Obama tapped him as chief-of-staff, you could hear progressives screaming “nooooooo” across the land. And when he departed to run for mayor of Chicago, the collective sigh of progressive relief (everywhere but Chicago) was just as audible. He is, in other words, the symbol of everything progressives are trying to change about the Democratic Party.

And right now, in Chicago, a progressive is giving him the personal challenge of his political lifetime. Political observers were stunned last month when a longtime Illinois politician by the name of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff for his second term as mayor. Perhaps stunned isn’t really the right word. Apoplectic is more apt. After all, Emanuel has a seemingly unending supply of money with which he tried to buy off every bit of institutional support and his network of elite friendships goes all the way up to the White House. But it turns out that his arrogance and corruption may be too much even for a city that is anything but starry-eyed about such things.

(click here to continue reading Why the left hates this man: Rahm Emanuel’s sins against the progressive movement – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2015 at 8:47 am

Random Friday – Desperados Waiting For A Train Edition

A slightly different way to play the random music on a Friday game, I started with a song I wanted to hear, and used the Create Genius Playlist on my iPhone to generate a list. 

I’ve talked about my deep love for Guy Clark’s version of Desperados Waiting on A Train previously, instead of repeating that, I’ll just add that these songs do fit well together. Vocals and literate lyrics front and center, lots of stringed acoustic instruments, guitar, fiddle sometimes, lots of empty space. If I had been older instead of younger, I’d probably have seen all of these acts multiple times when I lived in Austin, as it is, I don’t remember ever seeing any of these acts live (maybe Joe Ely, but my memory is fuzzy). I really wish I had seen Townes Van Zandt at least once, his music can bring a tear to my eye.

  1. Clark, Guy- Desperados Waiting For A Train
    Old No. 1
  2. Steve Earle- Mercenary Song
    Train A Comin’
  3. Townes Van Zandt- Pancho And Lefty
    Rear View Mirror
  4. Jerry Jeff Walker- Pissin’ In The Wind
    20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker
  5. Slaid Cleaves- Broke Down
    Broke Down
  6. Ray Wylie Hubbard- Conversation With The Devil
    107.1 KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 7 (disc 2)
  7. Ely, Joe- Me And Billy The Kid
    Live At Liberty Lunch
  8. Earle, Steve- The Mountain
    Just an American Boy
  9. Townes Van Zandt- Tecumseh Valley
    Live and Obscure
  10. Jerry Jeff Walker- Desperados Waiting For The Train
    Viva Terlingua
  11. Mary Gauthier- I Drink
    Bob Dylan – Theme Time 3 Drink
  12. Earle, Steve- Poncho And Lefty
    Townes

Written by Seth Anderson

March 21st, 2015 at 9:37 am

Posted in Music,Narcipost

Tagged with ,

Foolish To Think Too Much About It was uploaded to Flickr

Manhattan Beach, LA

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I took Foolish To Think Too Much About It on February 03, 2013 at 01:59PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 20, 2015 at 02:18PM

Written by eggplant

March 20th, 2015 at 10:36 am

The World Is Full of Troubles was uploaded to Flickr

Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted construction

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I took The World Is Full of Troubles on March 16, 2015 at 11:50AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 18, 2015 at 02:35PM

Written by eggplant

March 18th, 2015 at 9:19 am

Porthole to Alaska was uploaded to Flickr

near Juneau, AK somewhere

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I took Porthole to Alaska on June 24, 2007 at 07:38AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 11, 2015 at 02:23PM

Written by eggplant

March 11th, 2015 at 8:26 am

Daylight saving time Is Bad For You

Am I Boring You?
Am I Boring You?

I’m firmly in the camp of One Time per Time Zone Per Year. In other words, drop the whole Daylight Savings bullshit introduced by the Kaiser1 , and keep the time the same all damn year long. So what if it gets light later, or dark earlier. Most of us have electricity by now, and access to coffee, we can artificially create light, and wake our lazy asses out of bed when we need to. 

Aside from getting one less hour of sleep on Sunday and getting more light in the evening, daylight saving time doesn’t affect me, does it?

Actually, it may have a more averse effect than it seems. A study done by Dr Amneet Sandhu, a cardiology fellow at the University of Colorado in Denver, shows that on the Monday immediately after daylight saving time heart attacks increase by 25 per cent, Reuters reported.

On the Monday after daylight saving time ends, heart attacks fall by 21 per cent. Dr Sandhu said the loss of sleep is the likely culprit of the increase of heart attacks seen after the clocks move forward, so make sure you get plenty of sleep on Sunday.

(click here to continue reading Daylight saving time: Why moving the clock forward increases risk of heart attacks – Americas – World – The Independent.)

Time is out of Focus
Time is out of Focus

Accuracy is Overrated
Accuracy is Overrated

Footnotes:
  1. Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation, starting on 30 April 1916. []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Posted in News-esque,science

Tagged with , ,