B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Wabash Avenue Facelift planned

Spent Many An Anxious Hour
Spent Many An Anxious Hour…

In general, I’m supportive of some civic attention being paid to Wabash Avenue, but I will be sad to lose the dramatic shadows underneath it when the lighting gets upgraded.

Wabash Avenue, critically located between the tourist attractions on Michigan Avenue and shopping on State Street, is poised to undergo a significant makeover.

After more than a year spent collecting input and brainstorming, the Chicago Loop Alliance, the organization that promotes the downtown business district, has issued final recommendations for transforming the iconic corridor under the “L” tracks into a more inviting street.

The 24 recommendations range from the immediate, such as removing graffiti and litter, to the long-term, which includes installing a kinetic lighting installation running the length of the tracks.

Wabash, given its location under the tracks, tends to be dark and loud, often gathering litter and flocks of pigeons. It has higher vacancy rates, lower commercial and residential rents and lower pedestrian and vehicle counts than neighboring streets. Twelve of the projects to improve the street should start within the next two years, nine of them in two to five years and three of them five to 10 years from now, according to a timeline in the final report.

(click here to continue reading Group lays out its plans to spiff up Chicago’s Wabash Avenue – Chicago Tribune.)

Forgotten Moment - Number 382
Forgotten Moment – Number 382

While Your Train Gently Squeaks
While Your Train Gently Squeaks

Analysis and Consultation
Analysis and Consultation

Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go
Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go

You just want to be on the side that's winning
You just want to be on the side that’s winning

Written by Seth Anderson

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:09 am

REAL ID Boondoggle Continues

Complex Citizen
The continuing saga of the Complex Citizen.

Sigh. The REAL ID boondoggle isn’t dead yet. Doesn’t it sound like everything the Big Govment’ haters rail against? And yet, it was passed “in the wake of 9/11”…

Currently, Illinois licenses and identification cards do not meet minimum standards mandated by the Real ID Act, which passed in 2005 in the wake of 9/11. If the Department of Homeland Security does not grant Illinois an extension, residents would need additional identification like a passport or face additional security checks to get on planes.

The act aims to thwart efforts by terrorists, con artists and immigrants in the country illegally to obtain government-issued identification. Arguments about costs, privacy and whether the additional information would actually reduce threats have delayed implementation of the law for more than a decade.

A major feature of Real ID is the verification of birth certificates, which Illinois currently does not require. The information is electronically scanned and stored in a federal database, and data can be shared easily among states and the federal government.

“It’s a large database that allows us to verify birth certificates and death certificates, things of that nature,” said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White. “It’s quite costly. We estimate, in order to utilize it and have all the birth certificates verified for Illinois drivers, it would cost about $3.75 million each year.”

White’s office estimated it would cost $100 to $150 million just for staffing, equipment and data storage. A Real ID driver’s licenses could cost an estimated $75 in Illinois. A license currently costs $30 for ages 21-68, according to CyberDrive Illinois.

That cost would largely be shouldered by Illinois drivers and taxpayers. The Homeland Security estimates it could cost $4 billion nationwide to implement the act.

States and territories were initially required to implement the program by May 2008, but the federal government delayed its start four times. Twenty-one states and four territories have been granted extensions to meet the law’s standards; 22 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented the act, according to a Jan. 30 Homeland Security statement.

Seven states — Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York — have no plans to implement Real ID. Residents of five of those states will not be able to board airplanes without additional identification like a passport starting in 2016; New York and Minnesota have driver’s licenses with enhanced security measures that will allow their residents to board airplanes, according to Homeland Security.

(click here to continue reading State eyes more secure driver’s license to avoid flying restrictions – Chicago Tribune.)

Back Seat Drivers
Back Seat Drivers

Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), a long-time opponent of the bill, says:

“I viewed Real ID as yet another unfunded federal mandate on state governments already facing tough budgets for important priorities,” Martinez said. “The proposition of a creation of a ‘one size fits all’ ID card necessary to travel was of great concern.”

 and the price of implementation to the states is steep:

Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License who helped draft the law’s provisions on driver’s licenses as a congressional committee staffer, said Illinois would have to construct or renovate buildings that issue licenses in order to meet security criteria, which could prove challenging.

The law prompted some states, like Wisconsin and Texas, to consolidate facilities. In Tennessee, licenses are issued from a single, secure location, he said. That means applicants get their license via mail instead of in person.

“Real ID required states to move from a business model where licensing was a revenue source to a business model where money needs to be invested in it to ensure it was done more securely,” Zimmer said. “The new model is security first, and security comes with a price.”

May Day rally 2007
Line at the REAL ID DMV station

price, confusion, long lines, and of course, privacy theft concerns:

Critics of Real ID have complained that it is a blatant invasion of privacy and would make people vulnerable to identity theft.

Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said a government database of citizens and some of their personal information smacks of Big Brotherism and would be a gold mine for identity thieves.

“One of the troubling things is that the system to protect our data will no longer be dependent about what happens here in Illinois,” Yohnka said. “What happens in Mississippi or Maine or Montana will be a conduit to get to our data. If hackers can get into those systems, they can get to the national system.”

He noted that the state’s database of driver’s licenses has fought off tens of thousands of improper access attempts.

“From a pragmatic point of view, all this furor over something that doesn’t provide safety and security is ridiculous,” Yohnka said.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8591/16639540626_809dfb3b7c_z.jpg
It’s the Future…

Sounds great! Can’t wait! Especially since I had such a bitch of a time getting my passport due to bureaucratic SNAFU ingrained in that system. 

Written by Seth Anderson

March 1st, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Abstraction in Ice And Glass, Number 27 was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago skyline as viewed through ice, brightly

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/roc4mS

I took Abstraction in Ice And Glass, Number 27 on February 27, 2015 at 02:22PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 01, 2015 at 07:32PM

Written by eggplant

March 1st, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Abstraction in Ice and Glass, Number 23 was uploaded to Flickr

Iced window, Chicago

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/rphmaw

I took Abstraction in Ice and Glass, Number 23 on February 27, 2015 at 02:22PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 28, 2015 at 05:10PM

Written by eggplant

February 28th, 2015 at 12:52 pm

More New Jobs Are in City Centers Not In Suburbs

Nothing Ever Stays The Same
Nothing Ever Stays The Same.

I’ve long predicted this trend – why would anyone willingly work in a soulless suburban office park instead of in a vibrant downtown? Even parents happily enrolling their kids in suburban schools still get bored and head for the city when it is time for some culture. Strip malls  just don’t have the same energy. Cities are not perfect, but they are where the action is. 

For decades, most Americans working in metropolitan areas have gone to work outside city centers – in suburban office parks, stores or plants, not downtown skyscrapers. But as people increasingly choose to live in cities instead of outside them, employers are following.

In recent years, employment in city centers has grown and employment in the surrounding suburban areas has shrunk, a striking change from the years before, according to a report published Tuesday by City Observatory, a think tank.

Cities with a high concentration of urban jobs include Austin, New Orleans and Portland, Ore. In Atlanta, Los Angeles and Miami, meanwhile, less than 10 percent of jobs are in the urban core.

The 110-story Willis Tower in downtown Chicago is a microcosm of the shifting geography of jobs. Originally called the Sears Tower, it was built in 1970 by Sears Roebuck and Co. But in 1988, Sears left it for a green suburban campus in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Then, in 2013, United Airlines moved its world headquarters and 4,000 employees into the tower. Other companies like Motorola Mobility and Archer Daniels Midland have also recently relocated to downtown Chicago from suburban campuses.

Chicago has gained more creative jobs, international tourism, university centers and residential development. The Chicago Loop, the city’s central business district, has been transformed from a financial district that emptied at 5 p.m. to a seven-day-a-week entertainment zone, said Aaron Renn, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

The changes have been driven in part by employees wanting to live and work downtown, said Mr. Renn, who writes the Urbanophile blog: “Today there is more of an expectation on the part of both people and employers that they have to be more flexible and accommodating of their work force.”

(click here to continue reading More New Jobs Are in City Centers, While Employment Growth Shrinks in the Suburbs – NYTimes.com.)

As an aside, this is why I usually find the corporate threats to leave and go somewhere else so hollow – do employees of 3 Initial Corp., or whichever entity currently has their hand out for taxpayer largesse, really want to move to Podunk land? Probably not…

Now, if we could only convince politicians that investment in such urban-friendly items as public transit, infrastructure improvements and the like is good for the long term health of the nation…

Written by Seth Anderson

February 26th, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

Flaunting Civic Responsibility Without Repercussions was uploaded to Flickr

So the owner of this parking lot-soon-to-be-something else (a hotel or an office building most likely) refuses to shovel their sidewalk. They didn’t shovel it after the snow in January, and in fact, since it warmed up a bit, this block is now solid ice. Seriously, you can skate the length of this block of Randolph.

Looks like the owner of the pin is JHM Hotels Inc, per this article from a couple years ago:
http://ift.tt/1BVJ7eW…
Last year, JHM Hotels paid $4.1 million for a, 11,700-square-foot parcel at 150 N. Jefferson St. near the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago’s West Loop, where it plans to build a boutique hotel.

Maybe because they are a large corporation, the City of Chicago doesn’t want to tell them to follow the law and make the sidewalk passable.

I filed a report with the City’s 311 service on 2/6/15

Thank you for submitting your Snow – Uncleared Sidewalk service request on February 06, 2015.

no response as of yet, I still see pedestrians falling down, trying to navigate this block.

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qq3fBj

I took Flaunting Civic Responsibility Without Repercussions on February 24, 2015 at 12:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 25, 2015 at 08:01PM

Written by eggplant

February 25th, 2015 at 7:18 pm

While Your Train Gently Squeaks was uploaded to Flickr

well, maybe not so gently…

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qpPhZG

I took While Your Train Gently Squeaks on February 19, 2015 at 05:05PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 25, 2015 at 02:35PM

Written by eggplant

February 25th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Americans should drink more coffee

Morning Coffee Ritual
Morning Coffee Ritual

Since I’m descended from the Murphy clan, who habitually drink coffee by the gallon daily for the last 70 years, I’ve always been a coffee enthusiast.

When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

That’s great news if you’re already drinking between three and five cups each day, which Nelson and the rest of the panel consider a “moderate” level of consumption.

(click here to continue reading It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee – The Washington Post.)

About 1250 ml of water
About 1250 ml of water

Well, I should be safe. Every morning, as part of my current coffee ritual, I pour about 1250 ml of water from my 5-stage Reverse Osmosis filter into a pot, boil it. Meanwhile, I grind fresh coffee beans in a burr grinder, and place them in a paper filter, held in place with a ceramic cone. The cone is placed above a coffee thermos, and then I pour the hot water slowly over the grounds. My carafe only holds 1000 ml, so when it is about half full, I pour out the days first cup, then continue pouring the hot water over the coffee grounds.

1250 ml is roughly 5 8 oz cups1 – that is perfect for me. Later in the day, if I need more, I’ll either make a single cup, or an espresso, or some days switch to black or green tea.

Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee

For several years, I had switched to a French press, but got tired of the film and sediment, so started making pour-over coffee again.

Footnotes:
  1. 42.268 oz []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 25th, 2015 at 9:14 am

Posted in Food and Drink,health,science

Tagged with ,

The Breakfast Club 30 years later

"You load up. You party"

A photo posted by Seth Anderson (@swanksalot) on

I graduated from high school in 1986, so the Breakfast Club will always have a certain resonance for me. Coincidentally, I watched the film a few months ago (for the first time since seeing it in a theater in Austin) – verdict, good film, not great, but watchable.

Make it a double feature with Slacker (filled with people I knew or at least recognized from Austin’s streets), and you have a decent biosketch of a lot of people my age.

Hanging over the film is a dread that no matter how cool or rebellious or thoughtful you may be, we all become our parents. Well, sounds good: Socioeconomically speaking, this generation (according to too many studies to mention) will be the first in 60 years to have smaller incomes, greater student-loan debt and higher unemployment than the previous generation. Said Daniel Siegel, the esteemed clinical psychiatrist and author of “The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are”: “The upside may be an increased quality of life than generations before this one. Science supports that if you don’t reflect on what happened to you as a child, it is highly probable you will re-enact the behaviors of your parents. Under stress, those qualities really come out. Culture may change, but that fundamental reality hasn’t. But it could be this generation is more reflective. The more mindful you are, the more you release yourself from matters of the past, and I think that mindfulness is being encouraged more than back in 1985.”

The critical assessment

“The Breakfast Club” made $51 million on a modest budget of $1 million. Chicago reviews were generous: Roger Ebert (“a surprisingly good ear”) and Gene Siskel (“thoroughly serious”) raised their thumbs. Elsewhere, notice was mixed. Kirk Honeycutt, then film critic for the Los Angeles Daily News (and later the Hollywood Reporter), remembers: “I thought the movie was a little pat, a little too eager to blame parents, then go home.” These days, it’s seen as Hughes’ defining work, an ’80s touchstone with a Rotten Tomatoes approval (consisting of mostly blog reviews) of 91 percent. It is in a way a reminder that nostalgia and reassessment take an outsize role in deciding what becomes a classic. Honeycutt, for instance, has a new book: “John Hughes: A Life in Film.” He told me: “A lot of critics didn’t treat (Hughes) fairly. I think we were too worried about, say, Woody Allen. These kid problems looked overblown. We missed the relevance. Hughes was making a point about how it felt to be a teen, and we missed it with “Breakfast Club.” I failed it too. But then, a good film — you see something new each time. And 30 years later, I’ve changed my mind.”

(click here to continue reading The Breakfast Club 30 years later, how culture has changed – Chicago Tribune.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 18th, 2015 at 10:03 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with , , ,

Anarchists, Communists and Tubas, Oh My was uploaded to Flickr

May Day, Haymarket Riot Memorial, Chicago.

(Note: I have no idea of anyone’s politics in this double exposure, just making a joke)

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qVmYWV

I took Anarchists, Communists and Tubas, Oh My on May 01, 2014 at 03:53PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 15, 2015 at 10:40PM

Written by eggplant

February 15th, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Every False Thing Ends was uploaded to Flickr

Franklin St. Bridge in the rain

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/raHLho

I took Every False Thing Ends on December 22, 2014 at 03:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 13, 2015 at 04:46PM

Written by eggplant

February 13th, 2015 at 11:13 am

Cloudscape Number 2199 was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop a couple of summers ago

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/ra1UkH

I took Cloudscape Number 2199 on July 01, 2011 at 12:51PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 12, 2015 at 03:46PM

Written by eggplant

February 12th, 2015 at 3:08 pm

PHP memory limit

Enraged
Hmm, weird. I changed the value of the PHP.ini value in memory_limit to 194M, and then my site crashed and burned. Either I made a typo (unlikely, but possible, I guess), or this value is not unlimited. I’m getting memory errors trying to install iThemes Security Pro, so thought to increase the PHP memory allocation. Something is still awry with everything, but I’m not sure what, yet.

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 67108864 bytes exhausted (tried
to allocate 122880 bytes)

Truth and Mister Rogers

Truth and Mister Rogers


I’m also getting errors while using my long-time blogging tool, the incredibly useful MarsEdit, so am attempting to post directly from the WordPress dashboard for a change.

Can’t post for B12 Partners Solipsism because the server reported an error: unexpected response code 500.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 11th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Posted in blog

Low-fat diet advice was based on undercooked science

Lobster Spring Roll - Japonais
Lobster Spring Roll.

As a follow-up to revision to the US government’s advice about cholesterol, we read this tidbit yesterday…

An international team of health scientists has completed a systematic study of the evidence available back in the 1970s and ’80s and concluded that a relationship of causation between fat consumption and coronary heart disease was never established. The researchers found just six studies that fit the criteria to be considered proper randomized controlled trials, all limited to male subjects and most addressing the proportion of fat in the diet only indirectly.

“Government dietary fat recommendations were untested in any trial prior to being introduced,” writes Zoe Harcombe of the University of the West of Scotland, lead author of the study. Despite this, “to date, no analysis of the evidence base for these recommendations has been undertaken,” which is what prompted Harcombe and her team to conduct their investigation.

From among the data on various diet types that was available, there were no differences in the number of deaths from all causes, and no statistically significant changes in death from cardiovascular disease. Eating less fat was not shown to improve a person’s heart health, even where changes in diet led to a reduction in blood cholesterol levels. “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens, given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men,” comments Harcombe.

At the time of issuing the original 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States, better known as the McGovern report, the Senate Committee’s lead nutritionist, Dr. Hegsted of Harvard University, admitted that the evidence base was for the advice was somewhat lacking. “There will undoubtedly be many people who will say we have not … demonstrated that the dietary modifications we recommend will yield the dividend expected,” remarked Hegsted. But his counterargument was that there was more to gain from switching to the recommended diet than there was to lose. Beyond reducing fat intake, the Dietary Goals also urged a reduction in the consumption of salt and sugar, whose deleterious health effects have been far better established.

(click here to continue reading Low-fat diet advice was based on undercooked science | The Verge.)

Oh boy, so 40 years of bad advice from the government and corporate allies all based on incomplete science. Seems like someone should have said something, oh, maybe a few years later? Ten years later? Twenty years later? Ten years ago? 

Written by Seth Anderson

February 11th, 2015 at 11:52 am

US poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol

Cajun Campfire Breakfast
Cajun Campfire Breakfast

An amazing sea change in nutritional policy. Just think of all the times you’ve heard to avoid cholesterol-laden foods like eggs.

The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel will drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings.

The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a ‘‘nutrient of concern’’ stands in contrast to its findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed ‘‘excess dietary cholesterol’’ a public health concern.

The new view does not reverse warnings about high levels of ‘‘bad’’ cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warn that people with particular problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

But the finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now say that, for a healthy adult, cholesterol intake may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

The greater danger, according to this line of thought, lies in foods heavy with trans fats and saturated fats.

The panel’s report will be the basis for the next version of the ‘‘Dietary Guidelines,’’ a federal publication that has broad effects on the American diet. A person with direct knowledge of the proceedings said the cholesterol finding would make it into the group’s final report.

(click here to continue reading US poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol – Nation – The Boston Globe.)

For me, I’ve never particularly hewed closely to these guidelines (I’ve eaten eggs more mornings than not the last 45 years, sometimes with bacon, or cooked in butter!), but still will be happy to see these guidelines revised.

O'Shaughnessy's Irish Breakfast
O’Shaughnessy’s Irish Breakfast

HHS’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has the administrative leadership for the 2015 edition and is strongly supported by USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Committee and process management, and evidence analysis functions. The Departments jointly review the Committee’s recommendations and develop and publish the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document.

Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended for Americans ages 2 years and over, including those at increased risk of chronic disease, and provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet—one that focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease.

The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 1980. As mandated in Section 301 of the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 5341), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is reviewed, updated, and published every 5 years in a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Beginning with the 1985 edition, HHS and USDA have appointed a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) consisting of nationally recognized experts in the field of nutrition and health. The charge to the Committee is to review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time. The Committee then prepares a report for the Secretaries that provides recommendations for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines based on their review of current literature.

(click here to continue reading Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 | Dietary Guidelines for Americans | Health.gov (ODPHP).)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 11th, 2015 at 10:12 am