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Thursday Leftovers – Plate 7

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If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, these would be full-blown posts, interspersed with actual thoughts of mine, but I am, so belly up to the blog bar…


Shortly after Snyder became owner, the Skins lobbied the Prince George’s County authorities to authorize a ban on all pedestrians from entering the grounds of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (renamed FedExField after the delivery firm offered Snyder $205 million), even on public sidewalks. No public hearings were held before the ban went into effect. There was essentially no public transportation to the games, so the ban meant fans had no choice but to drive and park in the Snyder-owned lots.

Pedestrian ban/parking monopoly in hand, Snyder jacked the parking rate up from $10 to $25.

Szymkowicz found out about the ban after a friend had given him a pass to sit in the owner’s suite for a Washington/Dallas game at FedEx in 2001, but didn’t have a parking pass. Not wanting to pay $25 for a free ticket, Szymkowicz parked for free at Landover Mall, located about a half-mile from FedEx Field’s front entrance, and walked over, only to be told by police that walking into the stadium was against the law.

The county’s ban was repealed in October 2004. Szymkowicz not only had beaten Snyder, he’d also exposed the owner, who’d positioned himself as an everyfan when he bought the team, as the anti-fan phony he was.

Snyder got up to his old parking tricks again soon, however. Only the venue had changed.

(click here to continue reading The Atlanta Braves Borrowed Their Parking Scam From Dan Snyder.)

Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins headphones, one of many audio devices using a 3.5mm jack in my home or office

Damn, I hope Apple doesn’t remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. I have too many third-party headphones, speakers, musical instruments, etc. that wouldn’t connect anymore. Dongles are irritating to keep track of, and as Jason Snell writes, there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to removing the headphone jack, not that anyone has come up with anyway.

Is Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone? Nobody really knows, though rumors have swirled for quite a while now. A recent exchange between Nilay Patel and John Gruber returned this debate to the foreground last week.

Of course, the truth is that it’s very hard to talk about this rumor in the absence of actual information. Any move like this by Apple would be accompanied with a raft of other information, including Apple’s rationale, any new features enabled by the removal, and of course adapters for existing hardware. In the absence of all that, people are able to fill in the blanks with bogeymen or rainbows depending on their point of view.

Before digging into the possible reasons for the move, it’s worth mentioning why this is such a hot-button issue in the first place. It’s all about inconvenience. As a standard that’s been around for more than a hundred years, there are a massive number of devices that support the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not just phones and tablets, but computers and amplified speakers and mixers and pretty much any other device in existence that can play audio.

There’s no doubt that if Apple were to remove the headphone jack, there would be some sort of adapter to allow headphones and speakers with headphone plugs to get audio out of an iPhone. But of course, adapters cost money and are easily lost or forgotten and can be bulky and annoying.

(click here to continue reading Searching for a good reason to remove the headphone jack – Six Colors.)

Debt is a finger laying on the scale of the economy. If a college education, for instance, didn’t cost so much, perhaps more small businesses could be launched… 

Young people very well may lead the country in entrepreneurship, as a mentality. But when it comes to the more falsifiable measure of entrepreneurship as an activity, older generations are doing most of the work. The average age for a successful startup-founder is about 40 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a think tank focused on education and entrepreneurship. (In their words, one’s 40s are the “peak age for business formation.”)  The reality is that the typical American entrepreneur isn’t that hover-boarding kid in a hoodie; it’s his mom or dad. In fact, the only age group with rising entrepreneurial activity in the last two decades is people between 55 and 65.

So, why hasn’t Millennial entrepreneurship kept pace with either media expectations or past generations?

The answer begins with more debt and less risk-taking. The number of student borrowers rose 89 percent between 2004 and 2014, as Lettieri said in his testimony. During that time, the average debt held by student borrowers grew by 77 percent. Even when student debt is bearable, it can still shape a life, nudging young people toward jobs that guarantee a steady salary. Entrepreneurship, however, is a perilous undertaking that doesn’t offer such stability. There is also some evidence that young people’s appetite for risk-taking has declined at the same time that their student debt has grown. More than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year old Americans said a fear of failure kept them from starting a company in 2014; it 2001, just 24 percent said so.

The rarity of Millennial entrepreneurs doesn’t just deflate a common media myth—it could have lasting consequences for the competitiveness of the American economy. Although venture-capital investment has grown in the last decade, the majority of “startups” are really what most people consider “small businesses.” A new bodega, coffee shop, or small construction firm doesn’t seem like a radical act of innovation. But the government considers such companies to be startups, and they’re getting rarer as a handful of large firms dominate each sector of the U.S. economy. Three drug stores—CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid—own 99 percent of the national market. Two companies—Amazon and Barnes & Noble—sell half of the country’s books. If it is not quite a new Gilded Age for America’s monopolies, it is certainly a new dawn for its oligopolies.

(click here to continue reading The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur – The Atlantic.)

Go Teach All Nations
Go Teach All Nations

If you call yourself a Christian, and you enthusiastically support Donald Trump, you are a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

Those who believe this is merely reductionism should consider the words of Jesus: Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. This attitude is central to who Mr. Trump is and explains why it pervades and guides his campaign. If he is elected president, that might-makes-right perspective would infect his entire administration.

All of this is important because of what it says about Mr. Trump as a prospective president. But it is also revealing for what it says about Christians who now testify on his behalf (there are plenty who don’t). The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?

(click here to continue reading The Theology of Donald Trump – The New York Times.)

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Speaking of carelessness:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is yet again facing scrutiny for his involvement in the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal. In the latest “Bridgegate” twist, the New Jersey governor can’t account for the phone he used to send text messages when the bridge was partially shut down—allegedly as political retribution—and during the subsequent legislative hearings, which could harm the failed presidential candidate’s chances of getting tapped for the No. 2 job.

Two of Christie’s former allies, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, are pushing prosecutors to introduce more evidence ahead of their criminal trial in September. Facing charges related to the lane closures, which created a days-long traffic jam roughly two and a half years ago, the duo is seeking the cell phone used by Christie during the scandal, but both the governor and federal prosecutors say they don’t know where it is. Gibson Dunn, the law firm Christie hired for the case, said it returned the phone after clearing the politician in the case, but did not specify to whom it was returned, Bloomberg reports.

News of Christie’s missing cell phone comes less than a day after F.B.I. director James Comey labeled Hillary Clinton “extremely careless” in her use of her private e-mail server while secretary of state, though he stopped short of recommending that criminal charges be brought against her. During his bid for president, Christie—who has allegedly filled the position of The Donald’s “manservant”, among other campaign roles—was quick to condemn Clinton for her e-mail practices. Now, it seems the governor’s national aspirations could be derailed by his own scandal. With a Bridgegate-saddled Christie on the ticket, Trump’s attacks on the former secretary of state would be weakened and introduce further ethical issues to the presumptive G.O.P. nominee’s campaign.

(click here to continue reading “Manservant” Chris Christie Can’t Find His Bridgegate Cell Phone | Vanity Fair.)

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered
Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

and speaking of idiots:

Trump currently dismisses climate change as a hoax invented by China, though he has quietly sought to shield real estate investments in Ireland from its effects.

But at the Republican presidential contender’s Palm Beach estate and the other properties that bear his name in south Florida, the water is already creeping up bridges and advancing on access roads, lawns and beaches because of sea-level rise, according to a risk analysis prepared for the Guardian.

In 30 years, the grounds of Mar-a-Lago could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of tidal flooding along the intracoastal water way, with the water rising past some of the cottages and bungalows, the analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting found.

Trump’s insouciance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change – even lapping up on his own doorstep – makes him something of an outlier in south Florida, where mayors are actively preparing for a future under climate change.

Trump, who backed climate action in 2009 but now describes climate change as “bullshit”, is also out of step with the US and other governments’ efforts to turn emissions-cutting pledges into concrete actions in the wake of the Paris climate agreement. Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement.

And the presidential contender’s posturing about climate denial may further alienate the Republican candidate from younger voters and minority voters in this election who see climate change as a gathering danger.

(click here to continue reading Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier | US news | The Guardian.)

Until next time…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:48 am

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 6

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Browser scraps your humble blogger was too damn lazy to make an entire blog post out of. Refund checks are in the mail, promise…


Drink Beer Like An Egyptian
Drink Beer Like An Egyptian

I saw the traveling King Tut exhibit in Toronto as a kid, still remember how awed I was. 

King Tut was buried with a dagger made of an iron that literally came from space, says a new study into the composition of the iron blade from the sarcophagus of the boy king.

Using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers confirmed that the iron of the dagger placed on the right thigh of King Tut’s mummified body a has meteoric origin.

The team, which include researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, detailed their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

(click here to continue reading King Tut’s Blade Made of Meteorite.)

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered
Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

Not at all surprised to find municipalities hiding their hands in the wet sand:

At least 33 cities across 17 US states have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead, a Guardian investigation launched in the wake of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has found.

Chicago residents take action to be rid of lead pipes as fear of toxic water grows Read more Of these cities, 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.

The crisis that gripped Flint is an extreme case where a cost-cutting decision to divert the city’s water supply to a polluted river was compounded by a poor testing regime and delays by environmental officials to respond to the health emergency.

The Guardian’s investigation demonstrates that similar testing regimes were in place in cities including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee.

(click here to continue reading At least 33 US cities used water testing ‘cheats’ over lead concerns | Environment | The Guardian.)

Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

Some Donald Trump supporters on 4chan–that time-honored bastion of gentility, courtesy, and sensibility– hatched a plan on the forum to use sockpuppet Twitter accounts to pit Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters against one other. The plan had a slogan: “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically.”

Their scheme didn’t really work, and has been removed from 4chan. But something like this could be effective in the future–and who knows, another instance of this same political game may be working elsewhere, undetected, right now.

(click here to continue reading “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically,” said Trump fans on 4chan / Boing Boing.)

The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game
The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game

If there was a hell, Ken Starr should be burning in it soon

Today it was Ken Starr—yes, that Ken Starr—taking his turn with his version of the truth. On Thursday, the regents said they were keeping him on as chancellor and as a tenured professor at the law school. That news, like so much else of what Baylor has said, got the Baptist university bad press. Today, Starr told ESPN’s Joe Schad that he has decided to step down as chancellor but stay on at the law school. Starr said the move was “a matter of conscience.” (He didn’t point out that June 1 also has in the past been a key date for his contract.)


At this point, Starr has decided he doesn’t even agree with the findings of fact released by the regents, which he can do because the finding of fact contained no facts.

Starr also has insisted that he had no idea there was a problem at Baylor until 2015, even though former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014. Several of his victims have spoken openly about how they reported their rapes to Baylor only to be met with indifference.

(click here to continue reading Baylor’s Ken Starr Is Full Of Shit.)

The Troubled Harpo Studios
The Troubled Harpo Studios

Oh, boy…

One of the world’s largest fast food chains, McDonald’s, is making plans to move to the former Harpo Studios campus in the West Loop, according to a report. 

According to Crain’s Chicago, McDonald’s is in advanced negotiations with West Loop-based developer Sterling Bay to move its headquarters to a more-than 300,000-square-foot building the developer plans to build on Randolph Street at the former Harpo Studios in Fulton Market.

McDonald’s corporate employees are now located at a campus in suburban Oak Brook. The company was poised to take over 350,000-square-feet at One Prudential Plaza downtown last year before backing out of the deal, according to Crain’s Chicago, and also has office space in River North.


(click here to continue reading McDonald’s Plans To Move Headquarters To Old Harpo Studios Lot: Report – West Loop – DNAinfo Chicago.)

Oh Narcissism - Up Yours
Oh Narcissism – Up Yours

Trump As Joker
Trump As Joker

Suckers are born every moment, and anyone who votes for Trump is one. The world hopes there aren’t enough suckers to put Trump in the White House.

Before Donald Trump was the Republican nomination for president, he charged thousands of dollars for an education at “Trump University,” promising to share the secrets of his real estate investing success.

The only problem: Trump University wasn’t anything close to a university. It was a multilevel marketing scheme.

Students were lured in with a free 90-minute seminar. Trump University promised that the real insider knowledge, and even access to Trump himself, could be theirs if they could just commit to the next level of classes.

Representatives urged prospective students to charge the fees to their credit cards if they needed to, according to court documents — and promised that a few more thousand dollars would change their lives.

Instead, those students sued, saying Trump and his eponymous university defrauded them. The case has its final pretrial conference in May. When it goes to trial, Trump will almost certainly have to testify.

(click here to continue reading Trump University, explained – Vox.)

Starbucks Elevators
Starbucks Elevators

Not only are bookings at Trump Hotels way down, but there are also petitions for businesses to break ties with Trump. Like Starbucks:

Starbucks has suddenly found itself on the unfamiliar side of social activism: A petition is circulating online that demands the coffee chain, arguably among America’s most overtly political corporations, terminate any and all leases it holds on properties owned by Donald Trump. It’s racked up 7,000 supporters in less than a day and, at last glance, had already stretched that goal to 8,000.

On the page for the petition, posted to activist-networking site Care2, creator Kyle Brooks tries to clue CEO Howard Schultz and the rest of the company in to the paradox he sees:

Starbucks is a bold company that values belonging, inclusion, and diversity. They have continuously stood beside the LGBT community, African-Americans, and other minority communities. Unfortunately, Starbucks still has a business partner with a man who has called Mexicans rapists, stereotyped the Muslim community as terrorists, and disgraces women.

(click here to continue reading Petition Demands Starbucks Leave Trump Buildings — Grub Street.)

More Trumpyness:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken out 16 loans from 11 different lenders, totaling at least $335 million, according to a Mother Jones analysis of Trump’s financial disclosure form.

His favorite lender, according to the forms, was Deutsche Bank, a major German institution with American subsidiaries that attempted to dodge new regulations instituted by the Dodd-Frank Act.

Deutsche Bank lent Trump at least $295 million between two major projects of his, Trump National Doral golf course and Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Trump also has two outstanding loans worth at least $50 million from the German bank.

While this country has had wealthy presidents, none have been so deeply in debt as Trump. How much pressure could an institution like Deutsche Bank, upon which a sizable portion of Trump’s wealth is dependent, pile on the Republican nominee should he become president?

“They weren’t in a situation where someone could put pressure on them to do what they want,” said Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, to Mother Jones. “Whereas having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Owes At Least $100 Million To Bank That Tried To Skirt Dodd-Frank.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 2nd, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Lorem fucking ipsum: A Good Fucking Design Advice Service

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words at the Seattle Public Library
random words at the Seattle Public Library.

Sometimes standard Lorem ipsum is not the right choice. Lorem fucking ipsum might be.

Here is 156 words worth:

You are not your fucking work. Respect your fucking craft. Creativity is a fucking work-ethic. Don’t worry about what other people fucking think. You won’t get good at anything by doing it a lot fucking aimlessly. Practice won’t get you anywhere if you mindlessly fucking practice the same thing. Change only occurs when you work deliberately with purpose toward a goal. Paul Rand once said, “The public is more familiar with bad fucking design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.” When you sit down to work, external critics aren’t the enemy. It’s you who you must to fight against to do great fucking work. You must overcome yourself. To go partway is easy, but mastering anything requires hard fucking work. Form follows fucking function. Intuition is fucking important. Why are you fucking reading all of this?

(click here to continue reading Lorem fucking ipsum: A Good Fucking Design Advice Service..)

Create your own

Written by Seth Anderson

June 2nd, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Posted in humor,Links

Tagged with ,

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 5

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Some snacks while you wait…

Exiled and Wandering
Exiled and Wandering

Road innovation, what’s not to love?

Founded in 2008, in Chicago, IL, LANDLOCK® Natural Paving, Inc has set out to solve the world’s infrastructure needs, both in road building and dust suppression.   Our reach is global, and we’re proud to be the industry leader in our field.

Unpaved and poorly paved roads have been identified as infrastructure barriers to profitable development: by individual nations, businesses, city planners and supranational organizations (the World Bank and the United Nations) alike.

The United States alone has over 1.5 million miles of unpaved roadways, leading to transportation inefficiency, destructive airborne pollution and unsafe transportation.

Asphalt, as a primary paving solution, has increasingly proven expensive and environmentally irresponsible because of its reliance on crude oil, poor durability, need for maintenance and pollution.

To respond to this need for a reliable, cost-effective and durable paving solution, LANDLOCK® has emerged as a respected, reliable international distributor of a patented paving technology that is among the most cost-effective, durable, strong, sustainable and easy to build. Most of all, it is superior to asphalt: less expensive, more durable, easier to install and more sustainable.

Environmentally, asphalt incurs a high cost because of the toxic footprint of the fuel-inefficient trucks that must drive back and forth to the plant; and because of the petroleum in asphalt that leaches into the groundwater and, when hot, pollutes the air, proving toxic for the workers laying the asphalt. Finally, the added cost of maintenance comes into play when inevitable erosion and potholes arise with time and changing climate patterns, necessitating frequent repeats to the whole expensive process.


(click here to continue reading About Us | LANDLOCK® Natural Paving | The Future of Road Building is Here….)

The Waiting is The Hardest Part
The Waiting is The Hardest Part

I think we can all agree that the TSA should be abolished, sooner than later:

The TSA is hard to evaluate largely because it’s attempting to solve a non-problem. Despite some very notable cases, airplane hijackings and bombings are quite rare. There aren’t that many attempts, and there are even fewer successes. That makes it hard to judge if the TSA is working properly — if no one tries to do a liquid-based attack, then we don’t know if the 3-ounce liquid rule prevents such attacks.

So Homeland Security officials looking to evaluate the agency had a clever idea: They pretended to be terrorists, and tried to smuggle guns and bombs onto planes 70 different times. And 67 of those times, the Red Team succeeded. Their weapons and bombs were not confiscated, despite the TSA’s lengthy screening process. That’s a success rate of more than 95 percent.

It’s easy to make too much of high failure rates like that. As security expert Bruce Schneier likes to note, such screenings don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough to make terrorists change their plans: “No terrorist is going to base his plot on getting a gun through airport security if there’s a decent chance of getting caught, because the consequences of getting caught are too great.”

But even Schneier says 95 percent was embarrassingly high, and probably not “good enough” for those purposes. If you’re a prospective terrorist looking at that stat, you might think smuggling a gun onto a plane is worth a shot.

Schneier isn’t a TSA defender by any means. He likes to note that there’s basically zero evidence the agency has prevented any attacks. The TSA claims it won’t provide examples of such cases due to national security, but given its history of bragging about lesser successes, that’s a little tough to believe. For instance, the agency bragged plenty about catching Kevin Brown, an Army vet who tried to check pipe bomb-making materials. Brown wasn’t going to blow up the plane — the unfinished materials were in his checked luggage — but if the TSA publicized that, why wouldn’t it publicize catching someone who was trying to blow up the plane?

(click here to continue reading The TSA is a waste of money that doesn’t save lives and might actually cost them – Vox.)

Chicago Sun-Times News Shack
Chicago Sun-Times News Shack

People like Peter Thiel would be better served if they left the United States and started their own country somewhere else, leaving the rest of us normals alone:

Peter Thiel, foremost among Silicon Valley’s loopy libertarians and the first outside investor in Facebook, has written an essay declaring that the country went to hell as soon as women won the right to vote.

Thiel is the former CEO of PayPal who now runs the $2 billion hedge fund Clarium Capital and a venture-capital firm called the Founders Fund. His best-returning investment to date, though, has been Facebook. His $500,000 investment is now worth north of $100 million even by the most conservative valuations of the social network.

On the side, though, his pet passion is libertarianism and the fantasy that everything would be better in the world if government just quit nagging everybody. But, now he’s given up hope on achieving his vision through political means because, as he writes in Cato Unbound, a website run by the Cato Institute, all those voting females have wrecked things

(click here to continue reading Facebook Backer Wishes Women Couldn’t Vote.)

I’d be very leery of doing business with Mr. Thiel, he seems like he could fly off the handle very easily, and hold a grudge about it for years. But you might never hear about it, because the media that covers Silicon Valley is more like a PR machine than journalistic:

I would like to think that I would know more about whether this sort of thing is typical of Thiel’s behavior because there would be enough evidence of it one way or the other in tech press. But I don’t think there would be. A lot of self-censoring happens in the tech industry because people fear blowback — and in a way that I haven’t experienced in finance or publishing. Entrepreneurs genuinely worry that capital markets won’t be accessible to them if they express any kind of criticism, or talk about the bad things that happen in the industry. (I am not of that opinion, obviously, but as the former CTO of a big tech co told me a couple of weeks ago with a bit of an eyeroll, “you’re not normal anyway, Spiers.”)

Another factor: I think Thiel aside, tech press is largely fawning toward successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and mostly unintentionally. Journalists who haven’t worked in tech themselves are sometimes genuinely and sincerely enamored with the promise of what they’re looking at and are so dazzled that they fail to ask the questions they should. Some of them are lazy and it’s always easier as a journalist to write the glowing lightweight story, where no one’s going to press you to nail down the facts and you won’t get any blowback from sources or subjects. Ultimately, this has created a sense of entitlement in the industry where denizens of Silicon Valley expect the media to actively support them and any negative portrayals are met with real anger and resentment, even when they’re 100% accurate. And it’s never the media’s job to support the industry — that’s PR. It’s the media’s job to cover it, the good and the bad. But if you’re not used to being covered, and that would describe 99% of the tech industry, the scrutiny can be uncomfortable.

(click here to continue reading On Peter Thiel and Gawker : Elizabeth Spiers.)

Trump Stamp
Trump Stamp

Does Donald Trump have a long history with the mob? David Jay Johnston thinks Trump might:

6. Trump Tower is not a steel girder high rise, but 58 stories of concrete.

Why did you use concrete instead of traditional steel girders?

7. Trump Tower was built by S&A Concrete, whose owners were “Fat” Tony Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, and Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, head of the Gambinos, another well-known crime family.

If you did not know of their ownership, what does that tell voters about your management skills?

8. You later used S&A Concrete on other Manhattan buildings bearing your name.


9. In demolishing the Bonwit Teller building to make way for Trump Tower, you had no labor troubles, even though only about 15 unionists worked at the site alongside 150 Polish men, most of whom entered the country illegally, lacked hard hats, and slept on the site.

How did you manage to avoid labor troubles, like picketing and strikes, and job safety inspections while using mostly non-union labor at a union worksite — without hard hats for the Polish workers?

10. A federal judge later found you conspired to cheat both the Polish workers, who were paid less than $5 an hour cash with no benefits, and the union health and welfare fund. You testified that you did not notice the Polish workers, whom the judge noted were easy to spot because they were the only ones on the work site without hard hats.

What should voters make of your failure or inability to notice 150 men demolishing a multi-story building without hard hats?

11. You sent your top lieutenant, lawyer Harvey I. Freeman, to negotiate with Ken Shapiro, the “investment banker” for Nicky Scarfo, the especially vicious killer who was Atlantic City’s mob boss, according to federal prosecutors and the New Jersey State Commission on Investigation.

Since you emphasize your negotiating skills, why didn’t you negotiate yourself?

12. You later paid a Scarfo associate twice the value of a lot, officials determined.

Since you boast that you always negotiate the best prices, why did you pay double the value of this real estate?

(click here to continue reading 21 Questions for Donald Trump.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 26th, 2016 at 8:11 am

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 4

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Some morsels you’ve maybe already sampled…

 Urban Roses

Urban Roses. 

What an asshole…

Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday slammed his colleagues’ efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms, saying the United States is actually suffering from an “under-incarceration problem.”

Cotton, who has been an outspoken critic of the bill in Congress that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences, smacked down what he called “baseless” arguments that there are too many offenders locked up for relatively small crimes, that incarceration is too costly, or that “we should show more empathy toward those caught up in the criminal-justice system.”

“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

(click here to continue reading Sen. Tom Cotton: U.S. has ‘under-incarceration problem’ – POLITICO.)


Good for Google, doing something notEvil…

In its first five years, the Google Cultural Institute scanned and archived 200 works of art in super-high-resolution gigapixel images. Now in just the past few months, it has managed to scan another 1,000.

The sudden expansion is thanks to a new camera developed by Google, simply called the Art Camera. It’s designed to be far simpler to use than other camera setups, making it easier for museums and other institutions to start digitizing the art and documents in their collection. And critically, it’s also much faster.

“The capture time has been reduced drastically,” says Marzia Niccolai, technical program manager at the Cultural Institute. “Previously it could take almost a day to capture an image. To give you an idea, now if you have a one meter by one meter painting, it would take 30 minutes.”

(click here to continue reading Google made an insanely high-res camera to preserve great works of art | The Verge.)

Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn
Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn

Gee, that’s great news, LinkedIn. Remind me why I even have a LinkedIn account?

Hey, do you remember back in 2012 when hackers hit LinkedIn, stole a few million passwords, and released them online? It was a while ago, so don’t feel bad if you don’t. LinkedIn simply can’t leave the breach behind, though: there are now another 117 million e-mail addresses and passwords for sale on an underground marketplace.

…Sure, the data is old, but people do tend to use the same password from one site to another, which means that the credentials might still be useful for accessing other sites, even if users have already changed their passwords, or LinkedIn reset them.

After an initial report on Motherboard that the the cache was for sale for 5 bitcoin ($2,285), LinkedIn confirmed that the leaked information is genuine. “We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords,” the company said in a post on its official blog. “We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.” Well, that’s… still not comforting.

(click here to continue reading Remember That LinkedIn Breach Back In 2012? It May Have Been Bigger – Consumerist.)

 Familiar Ground

Familiar Ground

Still waiting for Ted Cruz to admit he’s told lies, you know, sinned. Oh that’s right, for Ted Cruz’s brand of Christianity, lying your ass off is fine as long as you lie to attack liberals.

Last year liberals took a break from attacking veterans, unborn babies, and Christmas to wage war on cops. Like all the other wars that didn’t actually happen, this one was deserving of a full-court press on Fox News and became a centerpiece of the Cruz campaign. … Cruz, of course, blamed Obama. And complained about Obama’s “complete silence” following the shooting of a deputy—a silence in which Obama had already made comments, issued a statement, and called the deputy’s relatives. But faster than you can repeat “Obama won’t say radical Muslim terrorists,” the entire right was singing the chorus of how liberals hate cops, cops were getting massacred, and it was all the left’s fault for backing horrible, life-threatening ideas like not shooting unarmed 12-year-olds, and accountability. In New York City, the police union went so far as to insist that officers shouldn’t conduct arrests because of “wartime” conditions.

The narrative continued through the year, but now that all the numbers are in …

Data released by the FBI on Monday shows that 2015 was one of the safest years for U.S. law enforcement in recorded history, following a sustained trend of low numbers of on-duty deaths in recent decades. …
Every one of the 41 police officers killed on the job is a tragedy, and every effort should be made to bring that number to zero. Oh, and every one of the at least 1,186 people killed by police in the same period is also a tragedy, and every effort should be made to bring that number to zero.

The number of officers killed on the job was down almost 20 percent from 2014. However, even in 2014, being an active duty police officer was number 15 on the list of dangerous jobs.

(click here to continue reading The ‘war on cops’ leads to … one of the safest years for cops on record.)

Back to You in the Studio…
Back to You in the Studio…

For news organizations, Trump is good for business, so expect the cable news flunkies to line up to kiss his ring

And it’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel’s ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs. A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes’s executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don’t go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.” Similarly, the New York Post has staked out a pro-Trump position in the marketplace while its rival the Daily News remains one of Trump’s loudest critics. The Post endorsed Trump last month and dubbed him “King Don!” after he won the New York primary. (The outlier among Murdoch’s properties is The Wall Street Journal. “They’re stupid people,” Trump told me back in March).

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo- Rupert’s game plan .)

Pink Tv
Pink Tv

Case in point: Megyn Kelly is no journalist, but people still pretend she is…

“You are so powerful,” Megyn Kelly, of Fox, said to Donald Trump, with a note of wonder in her voice, as she interviewed him for her special on Tuesday night. They were sitting in a conference room on a high floor, with a view of Central Park behind them, the proper backdrop for an interview characterized by a soft deferral to the grandeur of Trump. Kelly had, in the moments before, remembered his angry response, after she asked a question at the first Republican Presidential debate about his past comments disparaging women. It had caused a “firestorm,” and Trump was the fire. Did he understand the profound effect that he had on people?

And what did Megyn Kelly know? When the special returned to Trump Tower, the Donald let it slip that, in the period when he was loudly claiming to be boycotting her on Fox News, he had, perhaps, peeked at her show. The other big news was Kelly’s unveiling of her new book, “Settle for More”—not a good slogan for the G.O.P. at the moment—which will go on sale after the election and in which, she said, “For the first time, I will speak openly about my year with Donald Trump.” So what did we just watch? “Well, that is it,” Trump tweeted after the broadcast ended. “Well done Megyn—and they all lived happily ever after! Now let us all see how ‘THE MOVEMENT’ does in Oregon tonight!” Trump won the Republican primary in Oregon with about sixty-seven per cent of the vote. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich were still on the ballot, but Trump was, effectively, unopposed—just like he now is on Fox.

(click here to continue reading Megyn Kelly’s Guide to Surrendering to Donald Trump – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 19th, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Links

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Thursday Leftovers – Plate 3

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A few scraps of news discovered on my browser recently. Or is it in my browser?

Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Division…

Jimmy Comey, FBI director, seems to be of the mind that the only way that police can do their jobs is if they are allowed to be a military invading force, civil liberties be damned. If a cop is worried about his actions being controversial, perhaps the actions are the problem, not the videotape? Comey must want to be fired, the last time this topic came up, the White House vehemently disagreed via multiple channels. What will happen this time? Also am heartened to read the comments to this article, for once, 90% of the comments are thoughtful, and most agree that Comey is way out of line.

The director of the F.B.I. reignited the factious debate over a so-called “Ferguson effect” on Wednesday, saying that he believed less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities.

James Comey, the director, said that while he could offer no statistical proof, he believed after speaking with a number of police officials that a “viral video effect” — with officers wary of confronting suspects for fear of ending up on a video — “could well be at the heart” of a spike in violent crime in some cities.

“There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.

(click here to continue reading F.B.I. Director Says ‘Viral Video Effect’ Blunts Police Work – The New York Times.)

FBI Anti-Piracy Warning
FBI Anti-Piracy Warning…

The FBI wants free reign to watch you, however, by installing malware on your devices at their whim, without even a warrant…

n an interview with Gizmodo, Senator Ron Wyden revealed that he’ll introduce legislation next week that, if passed, would stop the recent Supreme Court change to what’s known as “Rule 41,” which gave the government broader hacking power.

The Department of Justice has been pushing for the rule change for years, and it was finally granted by the Supreme Court in April. The new rule allows federal judges to grant warrants to agencies like the FBI to deploy “Network Investigative Techniques” (malware) to search any number of computers, be it 10 or 100,000, even if they don’t know what jurisdiction the computers are in. The rule change also allows judges to grant warrants to search the computers of victims of cybercrime, even if that person hasn’t been suspected of a crime. Congress has six months to oppose the rule change or else it will automatically go into effect.

Then there’s the question of infecting computers with malware in order to search them. In an interview with Gizmodo, Senator Wyden aired his concerns.

“By compromising computer systems, it could leave it open to other attackers. What if the government has to turn off the computer’s protections to search it?,” he said. “So if the government is out there turning of millions of security features in order to search computers, my view is that there could be some serious security threats.”

The legislation Wyden plans to introduce next week will be just one sentence, simply stating that the changes to rule 41 will not go into effect.

“What I hope is that the House and Senate Judiciary committees will start looking into the rule,” Wyden said. “They’ll start looking at our bill and and Senators would realize that this is the question for the Congress. An agency like the Department of Justice shouldn’t just be able to wave its arms around and grant itself vast new powers. The changes to rule 41 dramatically expand the government’s hacking authority.”

(click here to continue reading Senators Are Trying to Stop the Supreme Court’s Bullshit New Hacking Rule.)

You Are Being Film
You Are Being Film

or your Amazon Echo, if you are foolish enough to own one…

Back in March, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the FBI asking if the agency had ever wiretapped an Amazon Echo. This week I got a response: “We can neither confirm nor deny…”

We live in a world awash in microphones. They’re in our smartphones, they’re in our computers, and they’re in our TVs. We used to expect that they were only listening when we asked them to listen. But increasingly we’ve invited our internet-connected gadgets to be “always listening.” There’s no better example of this than the Amazon Echo.

In many ways the Echo is a law enforcement dream.

(click here to continue reading The FBI Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny Wiretapping Your Amazon Echo.)

A Good Dinner Party
A Good Dinner Party

Philosophy, and most Liberal Arts programs, in my experience, are weighted heavily towards Europe, mostly Northern Europe really.

The vast majority of philosophy departments in the United States offer courses only on philosophy derived from Europe and the English-speaking world. For example, of the 118 doctoral programs in philosophy in the United States and Canada, only 10 percent have a specialist in Chinese philosophy as part of their regular faculty. Most philosophy departments also offer no courses on Africana, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Latin American, Native American or other non-European traditions. Indeed, of the top 50 philosophy doctoral programs in the English-speaking world, only 15 percent have any regular faculty members who teach any non-Western philosophy.

Given the importance of non-European traditions in both the history of world philosophy and in the contemporary world, and given the increasing numbers of students in our colleges and universities from non-European backgrounds, this is astonishing. No other humanities discipline demonstrates this systematic neglect of most of the civilizations in its domain. The present situation is hard to justify morally, politically, epistemically or as good educational and research training practice.

This is not to disparage the value of the works in the contemporary philosophical canon: Clearly, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with philosophy written by males of European descent; but philosophy has always become richer as it becomes increasingly diverse and pluralistic. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) recognized this when he followed his Muslim colleagues in reading the work of the pagan philosopher Aristotle, thereby broadening the philosophical curriculum of universities in his own era. We hope that American philosophy departments will someday teach Confucius as routinely as they now teach Kant, that philosophy students will eventually have as many opportunities to study the “Bhagavad Gita” as they do the “Republic,” that the Flying Man thought experiment of the Persian philosopher Avicenna (980-1037) will be as well-known as the Brain-in-a-Vat thought experiment of the American philosopher Hilary Putnam (1926-2016), that the ancient Indian scholar Candrakirti’s critical examination of the concept of the self will be as well-studied as David Hume’s, that Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), Kwazi Wiredu (1931- ), Lame Deer (1903-1976) and Maria Lugones will be as familiar to our students as their equally profound colleagues in the contemporary philosophical canon. But, until then, let’s be honest, face reality and call departments of European-American Philosophy what they really are.


(click here to continue reading If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is – The New York Times.)

Haze of Purple
Haze of Purple

An interesting and brief history of the purple bag that Crown Royal Whiskey is sold with:

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Crown Royal Canadian whisky, you know the iconic bag, that ubiquitous purple “velvet” satchel with gold stitching and tasseled drawstring. Nearly everyone has one, even if they’re unsure where it is, or even how they got it. They’re impossible to throw away, and are just the right size, perfect for, say, a camera lens, weed stash, or as a relative used it for, an old set of dentures. Heck, I had one moons before I even knew about the whisky, and was probably using it to store Tiddlywinks, or my Indian Head pennies.

The bag does go back generations. In fact, the Canadian distillery’s first batch of hooch was blended in 1939 for the premier visit to the Americas by none other than England’s King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. No reigning British monarch had ever set foot on the continent. Upon hearing of the impending visit, Seagrams Chairman Samuel Bronfman sought to create a whisky, well, suitable for a king. He was said to have sampled six hundred blends before approving the recipe, the etched-glass crown-shape bottle and cap and now-venerable purple bag, the color chosen to imbue royalty.

For many subsequent years, the purple bag and its contents remained under wraps in Canada. That ended in the 1960s, when some enterprising Canadians, having packed some purple pouches, headed for oil-rich Texas. After that the blended whisky and their bags were also sold in the United States.

(click here to continue reading For Keeps – The Awl.)

Instagram 8 logo
Instagram 8 logo

Instagram 8 introduced a new logo. I’m meh about it, I don’t like it, but I’m not having a tantrum. I do use Instagram a few times a week, by the way, here’s my page. Anyway, a discussion of the logo change itself is more interesting:

The skeuomorphic camera icon that has accompanied Instagram until today is a modern-day classic. Not because it’s good — it’s not, really — but because of its omnipresence in users’ phone screens. I bet it’s on the home screen of 99% of people who have the app and who tap it very regularly. When the iPhone first came out — if you’ll remember — skeuomorphism was the default aesthetic and now, for better or worse, it’s all about flat design with a dash of optional gradients so it’s no surprise that’s where Instagram has headed. If there was any surprise it’s that Instagram held on to the skeuomorphism for a relatively long five years.

I doubt anyone will be making cakes and cookies in the shape of the new Instagram logo and that’s the biggest problem the new logo faces: it’s not the old logo. The ensuing shitstorm on the internet today will be epic. About 75% of the negative reaction will be simply to the fact that it has changed and the other 25% will be to the not-quite-fact that there is a generic aesthetic to the new icon where it could be a “camera” icon for the upcoming smart microwave from Apple or whatever other user interface you would imagine. This is not to say it’s a bad-looking icon, no… as far as camera icons go, this is quite lovely and has the minimal amount of elements necessary to be recognized as a camera BUT not the minimal amount of elements necessary to be recognized as Instagram.

(click here to continue reading Brand New: New Icon for Instagram done In-house.)

Make Sidewalks Great Again
Make Sidewalks Great Again

Trump is so thin skinned, I can’t even make a joke about it:

Donald Trump’s campaign requires volunteers to sign a contract that forbids them from criticizing the Republican presidential front-runner, his family members, any Trump businesses or products, or his campaign. The six-page contract, reviewed in full by the Daily Dot, theoretically lasts for the entirety of a volunteer’s life.

Legal experts say, however, that the contract’s non-disparagement clause would likely never hold up in court.

The tight control of volunteers stands in stark contrast to not only American political-campaign norms but also Trump’s reputation for speaking his mind.

In addition to forbidding volunteers from disparaging Trump, the contract also includes a sentence that demands volunteers prevent their employees from criticizing Trump, thus making volunteers responsible for the free speech of others for an indeterminate amount of time.


Volunteers also sign a non-disclosure agreement, forbidding them from sharing any sensitive information from the campaign. What kind of information is sensitive or confidential is completely at Trump’s discretion, according to the contract.
“He’s apparently so afraid that people would say something bad about him after spending some time on his campaign that they have to sign some sort of agreement,” Perry explained. “I don’t see how this stands up. I don’t see how a court enforces this.”

Volunteers must also sign a non-compete agreement that extends until Trump ceases his campaign for president, identified in the contract as the “Non-Compete Cutoff Date.” The agreement also forbids volunteers from working for another presidential candidate, should they change their minds.

In the event of a Trump victory in November’s general election, the non-compete clause could extend until his 2020 reelection campaign or even 2024, at the end of a second Trump term, the document explains. If Trump loses but wants to run again in the next election or in any presidential election in the future, the contract states the volunteer cannot work for another candidate.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump’s volunteer contract forbids all criticism of Trump.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 12th, 2016 at 8:35 am

Posted in Links

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Leftovers – Plate 2

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The best part of leftovers is filling up your plate again…

Frozen Head of Rhaegal
Frozen Head of Rhaegal

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, RodentPro.com® specializes in the production and distribution of premium quality frozen mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and quail.  We are proud to include hobbyists, commercial reptile breeding facilities, raptor sanctuaries, and some of the nation’s largest and most respected zoos and aquariums among our broad spectrum of customers.

(click here to continue reading Online Store – Frozen Mice, Rats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs – About Us.)

 Jeff is a Jew

Jeff is a Jew

Vanity Fair and a well written essay:

The author reflects on her lifelong role—above and below the Mason-Dixon Line—of being the only Jew in the room, and how an unexpected declaration by her daughter helped her reconstitute her identity. BY AMY FINE COLLINS

(click here to continue reading Jewish Like Me | Vanity Fair.)

I especially liked this paragraph, and plan to use it in the future1 :

My habitual muteness in these situations—a reflex of politeness, a journalist’s instinct to listen with a neutral ear, a female tendency to grant the other person the benefit of the doubt—doesn’t make me proud. At these moments—whether I’m “passing,” a fly on the wall, intentionally being provoked, or simply confronted with perplexing ignorance—I wish I had at my disposal the stun-gun comeback, the withering rejoinder that would silence the speaker, neutralize his words, force him to swallow even a micro-pellet of the poison that he is spewing my way.

If only I had this arrow in my quiver (and the balls to fire it) for my college friend’s D.A.R. mom and Fred Flintstone dad: When Clare Booth Luce, perhaps apocryphally, told a Jewish friend, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust. Why can’t you people just get over it?” the Jewish lady replied, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Crucifixion. Why can’t you people just get over it?”

Strong Sound Ideas - circa 1995
Strong Sound Ideas – circa 1995

I never use a hair dryer, mostly because I hate how loud they are…

“There has been zero innovation in this market for over 60 years,” said Mr. Dyson, 68, a billionaire who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.

“Millions of people use contraptions daily that are hideously inefficient, waste their time and are causing them long-term damage,” he said. “We realized that we could — and should — sort this situation out.”

He triumphantly held up what appeared to be a sleek black and pink plastic doughnut on a stick. “Four years, 100 odd patents and 600 prototypes later, I think we might have found the answer.”

Known as the Dyson Supersonic and unveiled in Tokyo on Wednesday, the device is his response to a question many never thought to ask: Is it possible to make a better hair dryer?

This may not seem like a big deal. A few burned scalps and frizz issues aside, people have been doing just fine with the standard hair dryer for decades. But, as Dai Fujiwara, a Japanese fashion designer who collaborated with Mr. Dyson on an Issey Miyake runway presentation, wrote in an email, “Because everyday life is too common, people rarely realize there is a problem.”

(click here to continue reading Dyson Wants to Create a Hair Dryer Revolution – The New York Times.)

Shit Fountain
Shit Fountain, literally.

Microbiome study is going to advance by leaps and bounds in the upcoming years. Here’s one tale from the front lines…

Human feces floated in saline solution in a mortar, on a marbled countertop, in a dimly lit kitchen in Burlingame, California. A bottle of ethyl alcohol, an electronic scale, test tubes, and a stack of well-worn pots and pans lay nearby. The stove light illuminated the area as Josiah Zayner crushed the shit with a pestle, creating a brownish-yellow sludge. “I think I can feel something hard in there,” he said, laughing. It was probably vegetables — “the body doesn’t break them down all the way.”

This heralded the beginning of Zayner’s bacterial makeover. He was clad in a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt, jeans, and white socks and sandals. At his feet, James Baxter, Zayner’s one-eyed orange cat, rubbed its flank against its owner’s legs. The kitchen smelled like an outhouse in a busy campground.

Over the course of the next four days, Zayner would attempt to eradicate the trillions of microbes that lived on and inside his body — organisms that helped him digest food, produce vitamins and enzymes, and protected his body from other, more dangerous bacteria. Ruthlessly and methodically, he would try to render himself into a biological blank slate. Then, he would inoculate himself with a friend’s microbes — a procedure he refers to as a “microbiome transplant.” Zayner imagines the collection of organisms that live on him — his microbiome — as a suit. As such, it can be worn, mended, and replaced. The suit he was living with, he said, was faulty, leaving him with severe gastrointestinal pain. A new suit could solve all that. “You kind of are who you are, to a certain extent,” he said. “But with your bacteria, you can change that.”

A full bacterial overhaul like this had never been documented before — in fact, it may have been the first time it had ever been attempted. There was no evidence to suggest it would work, though there was a real risk it could make Zayner life-threateningly sick. That didn’t bother him.

(click here to continue reading A Bitter Pill | The Verge.)

Spectators in Ketchikan
Spectators in Ketchikan with sunglasses

Sadly, I couldn’t get this to work:

If you need reading glasses—and if you’re over about 40, you probably do—then the next couple of paragraphs will change your life. You’re about to find out how to read small type, in a pinch, without your glasses.

Maybe you’ve lost or broken your reading glasses. Or maybe you don’t feel like going upstairs to get them. Or maybe you’re naked in the shower, frantically trying read the bottles to see which one is shampoo.

Here’s the trick: Curl up your index finger, making a tiny hole. Hold it up to your dominant eye and peek through it.

Incredibly, you’ll discover that the small type you couldn’t read a moment ago is suddenly crystal clear! You can read the date on a penny, or the serial number on a product, or the instructions on a medicine bottle. It doesn’t matter if you’re nearsighted or farsighted.

(click here to continue reading Life Hack: Instant Reading Glasses – David Pogue.)

Your Choice
Your Choice?

Ted Cruz was almost nobody’s favorite:

[Ted Cruz] spoke out of both sides of his scowl, itching to be the voice of the common man but equally eager to demonstrate what a highfalutin, Harvard-trained intellect he possessed. He wed a populist message to a plummy vocabulary. And while the line separating smart and smart aleck isn’t all that thin or blurry, he never could stay on the winning side of it.

He wore cowboy boots, but his favorites are made of ostrich.

Two peacocks in a pod, he and Trump, and what ghastly plumage they showed on Tuesday.

Trump somehow saw fit to bring up a National Enquirer story linking Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz exploded, branding Trump a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” He also brought up an interview from many years ago in which Trump told Howard Stern that his effort to steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases was his “personal Vietnam.”

Where was this rant six months ago, when the Republican field was crowded and Cruz played footsie with Trump? Back then he was wagering that Trump would fade, and he wanted to be in a friendly position to inherit the billionaire’s supporters.

But by Tuesday, Trump was the main obstacle between Cruz and the Republican presidential nomination, and Cruz has just one true compass: his own advancement.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Bitter End – The New York Times.)

You Look Amazing Today
You Look Amazing Today!

How mentally ill do you have to be to want to poison strangers via fresh produce? Damn…

A man accused of sprinkling mouse poison and hand cleaner on produce at several self-service food bars in Michigan grocery stores over the last two weeks has been arrested, the F.B.I. and local police said on Tuesday.

Images taken from surveillance video at a supermarket and published online by the F.B.I. showed the man carrying a red basket in a grocery store, walking past a display of avocados and down aisles.

The man was identified by members of the public and arrested by the agency and the Ann Arbor police, but his name had not been released as of early Wednesday.

The authorities said the man was suspected of contaminating food in several Ann Arbor grocery stores, including a Whole Foods Market, a Meijer and a Plum Market, over the last two weeks

(click here to continue reading Man Is Accused of Putting Poison on Food at Michigan Stores – The New York Times.)

AniMoog screenshot
AniMoog screenshot

I will probably purchase this app late one night, I already own Animoog, and it is fun to play with:

Moog Music has been known for producing some of the most popular synthesizers since the 70s— we reviewed a couple of the newer models in our Logic Pros series and noted that iPad/Mac synths still can’t quite capture the experience of even a $1,000 Moog. But today Moog is releasing its own iPad and iPhone version of its popular $10,000 Model 15, aiming to offer a similar experience in a $30 mobile app. 

Moog’s own techs helped program the app at the Moog Factory in Asheville, NC, according to the company, with the app both resembling the look and sound of the original 1970’s Model 15 hardware:

Each facet of the Moog Model 15 modular synthesizer has been meticulously recreated in this application to ensure the power and transcendent sound quality of each module remains intact. The character, harmonic complexity and mystique of the Moog Model 15s modules, from the legendary Moog 921–series oscillators and 904A Low Pass Filter, to the coveted 907 Fixed Filter Bank have been painstakingly preserved.

That means you’ll find both monophonic and 4-voice polyphonic modes with four controllers, and you can also pull up an on-screen keyboard in the traditional Moog style and layout, as well as a “1150 ribbon controller, 8-step sequencing arpeggiator and the award-winning Animoog keyboard with 22 built-in scales and polyphonic modulation capabilities.” Animoog is the company’s other very popular iOS app that it designed specifically for iPad and touchscreens. 

(click here to continue reading Moog brings its $10,000 Model 15 synth to iPad and iPhone w/ new $30 app | 9to5Mac.)

  1. despite being only 1% Jewish, per DNA testing – I actually didn’t think I had any Jewish ancestors beyond Adam and Eve []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Links

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Thursday Topic – Leftovers – Plate 1

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The editor of this humble blog couldn’t think of a good topic to fit the day, instead assigning a day of leftovers. Steaming pile of lukewarm tidbits, most of which you’ve already read on Twitter or in your local fish wrap. Drive-by’s, one-hitters, hot-takes, all basically the same thing. Copy-pasta is what the blogosphere was built with. Without further ado, here are some plates of copy-pasta for your general amusement…


Slight Return
Slight Return

First off: I enjoyed the hell out of this book review essay from Scott Alexander, responding to David Hackett Fischer’s book, Albion’s Seed, a history of early American migration patterns.1

90% of Puritan names were taken from the Bible. Some Puritans took pride in their learning by giving their children obscure Biblical names they would expect nobody else to have heard of, like Mahershalalhasbaz. Others chose random Biblical terms that might not have technically been intended as names; “the son of Bostonian Samuel Pond was named Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond”. Still others chose Biblical words completely at random and named their children things like Maybe or Notwithstanding.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)


These aristocrats didn’t want to do their own work, so they brought with them tens of thousands of indentured servants; more than 75% of all Virginian immigrants arrived in this position. Some of these people came willingly on a system where their master paid their passage over and they would be free after a certain number of years; others were sent by the courts as punishments; still others were just plain kidnapped. The gender ratio was 4:1 in favor of men, and there were entire English gangs dedicated to kidnapping women and sending them to Virginia, where they fetched a high price. Needless to say, these people came from a very different stratum than their masters or the Puritans.

People who came to Virginia mostly died. They died of malaria, typhoid fever, amoebiasis, and dysentery. Unlike in New England, where Europeans were better adapted to the cold climate than Africans, in Virginia it was Europeans who had the higher disease-related mortality rate. The whites who survived tended to become “sluggish and indolent”, according to the universal report of travellers and chroniclers, although I might be sluggish and indolent too if I had been kidnapped to go work on some rich person’s farm and sluggishness/indolence was an option.

The Virginians tried their best to oppress white people. Really, they did. The depths to which they sank in trying to oppress white people almost boggle the imagination. There was a rule that if a female indentured servant became pregnant, a few extra years were added on to their indenture, supposedly because they would be working less hard during their pregnancy and child-rearing so it wasn’t fair to the master. Virginian aristocrats would rape their own female servants, then add a penalty term on to their indenture for becoming pregnant. That is an impressive level of chutzpah. But despite these efforts, eventually all the white people either died, or became too sluggish to be useful, or worst of all just finished up their indentures and became legally free. The aristocrats started importing black slaves as per the model that had sprung up in the Caribbean, and so the stage was set for the antebellum South we read about in history classes.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

and my favorite as an inveterate map lover:

Borderer town-naming policy was very different from the Biblical names of the Puritans or the Ye Olde English names of the Virginians. Early Borderer settlements include – just to stick to the creek-related ones – Lousy Creek, Naked Creek, Shitbritches Creek, Cuckold’s Creek, Bloodrun Creek, Pinchgut Creek, Whipping Creek, and Hangover Creek. There were also Whiskey Springs, Hell’s Half Acre, Scream Ridge, Scuffletown, and Grabtown. The overall aesthetic honestly sounds a bit Orcish.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

Line Drawn In Space
Line Drawn In Space

Erick Erickson claims he’ll the flee the GOP. Doubtful, at best. I’m guessing 98% of Republicans will hold their noses and end up voting for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, despite what they say now. Maybe higher!

Prominent conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson said Tuesday night he will de-register as a member of the Republican Party if Donald Trump secures the presidential nomination.

“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” Erickson, who founded RedState, told the Daily Beast. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”

(click here to continue reading Erick Erickson Vows To De-Register As GOPer If Trump Is Party’s Nominee.)

The Earth Was Here
The Earth Was Here

Climate Disruption is going to disrupt the planet until it is stopped, or we perish…

In 2006, six years after his presidential bid, Al Gore launched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The movie made headlines around the world, raising awareness of global warming and its predicted dire consequences for the planet and society.

The movie did more than this, though, as it also politicized global warming to an unprecedented level. It brought the spotlight to an issue that, as the title says, many investors and politicians find inconvenient. If nothing is done to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, temperatures will rise, ice caps will melt, ocean levels will rise and weather patterns across the globe will be disrupted. This truth remains unchanged.

An article in Science News by Thomas Sumner does an excellent job summarizing what we’ve learned since the release of the movie, which predictions panned out and what was off the mark. Lonnie Thomson, the climate scientist whose studies of melting glaciers in the high Andes were featured in the documentary, says: “The physics and chemistry that we’ve known about for over 200 years is bearing out. We’ve learned so much in the last 10 years, but the fact that the unprecedented climate change of the last 40 years is being driven by increased carbon dioxide hasn’t changed.”

(click here to continue reading After 10 Years, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Is Still Inconvenient : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.)


Don’t know if this is positive news or negative news for Donald Trump:

Neither George HW nor George W Bush, the only two living former Republican presidents of the United States, will endorse Donald Trump.

In statements released to the Guardian on Wednesday evening, spokesmen for both former presidents said they would be sitting out the 2016 election. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W Bush, told the Guardian: “President George W Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.”

The statement by the 43rd president was echoed in one released by his father. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for George HW Bush, told the Guardian: “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics.

(click here to continue reading Neither George W nor George HW Bush will endorse Donald Trump | US news | The Guardian.)

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

Speaking of idiots, Donald Trump has already began to flip-flop:

“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in an interview Wednesday. Mr. Trump, who had largely self-financed his successful primary run, added that he would create a “world-class finance organization.” The campaign will tap his expansive personal Rolodex and a new base of supporters who aren’t on party rolls, two Trump advisers said.

The new plan represents a shift for Mr. Trump, who has for months portrayed his Republican opponents as “puppets” for relying on super PACs and taking contributions from wealthy donors that he said came with strings attached.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Won’t Self-Fund General-Election Campaign – WSJ.)

Tribune Tower
Tribune Tower

and speaking of fish-wrappers:

Less than two weeks after the Gannett Company went public with an unsolicited bid to acquire Tribune Publishing Company, Tribune’s board formally responded with a firm answer: No.

On Wednesday, Tribune Publishing, which owns newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, sent a letter to Gannett saying its board had unanimously rejected the $815 million takeover offer, which included debt and other liabilities and represented a significant premium above Tribune’s share price.

(click here to continue reading Tribune Publishing Says No to Gannett’s $815 Million Offer – The New York Times.)

Prince - A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop
Prince – A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop

This is just sad news: addiction is a real epidemic…

Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He ate vegan and preferred to avoid the presence of meat entirely. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either.

But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.

Dr. Kornfeld, who runs a treatment center in Mill Valley, Calif., sent his son on an overnight flight to meet with Prince at his home to discuss a treatment plan, said William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for the Kornfeld family, during a news conference on Wednesday outside his Minneapolis office.

But he arrived too late.

(click here to continue reading Prince’s Addiction and an Intervention Too Late – The New York Times.)

Ted Cruz - National Enquirer
Ted Cruz – National Enquirer

On a lighter note, at least Ted “Calgary” Cruz has suspended his campaign. Though I suspect he’ll still try to cause disruption at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, at least enough to get his name in the news again.

Before confronting for the first time the innate chaos contained in the phrase, “Presumptive Presidential Nominee Donald Trump,” let us pause for a moment to bid farewell to Tailgunner Ted Cruz, who probably is not the Zodiac Killer, whose father probably did not drink hurricanes in the French Quarter with Lee Harvey Oswald, and who definitely is not the towering figure in our national history that he fancies himself to be. Nothing became his ego so much as the speech in which he decided that his campaign was, indeed, a dead fish

He brought Carly Fiorina in as a mock running mate. (For the record, she was Cruz’s “running mate” for less time than Tom Eagleton was for George McGovern.) It didn’t work. He played the Urinal Cooties card. It didn’t work. Instead, he probably lost badly on Tuesday night at least in part because Trump deftly played The Oswald Card when it would do the most damage.

That was a bit of mock punditry there on my part, but the fact that Cruz couldn’t resist rising to that idiotic clickbait on the day of the primary is measure enough of the self-delusion that was his greatest weakness against a shameless and vulgar talking yam. It was Jeb (!) Bush who learned the second-worst thing for a candidate to be if he’s running against He, Trump—which is a humorless, privileged fop. The worst thing to be is what the Tailgunner was—a self-important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur. In both cases, you are a big bag of hot air in search of a needle. That is He, Trump’s only consistent political skill. No wonder Tom Brady loves him. Nobody is more skilled at deflating people than He, Trump.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Drops Out of Race After Indiana – The Same Forces That Produced Trump Produced Cruz.)

  1. more than just the Mayflower folks []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2016 at 9:10 am

Snootful of Snippets for December 11 2015

without comments

We'll see what happens
We’ll see what happens…

Some quick takes for your general edification and amusement, and disgust…

Too many people have not learned this essential 21st C.E. lesson: corporations are not really people, and thus cannot really “like” you…

A downside of any emotional relationship that can bring such joys is that it can also bring anguish if things go sour. A 2004 BusinessWeek analysis found mergers were a common cause of that anguish: Measures of customer satisfaction tended to decline significantly and persistently after them. Just ask anyone who was a Flickr super-user before Yahoo! bought the photo sharing service. Or the shoppers who protested in downtown Chicago streets when the beloved local department store Marshall Field’s turned into Macy’s.

That may seem like an argument for resisting the urge to fall in love with a company. After all, companies don’t really love their customers. They love profits. And they see gaining customers’ affection as a good way to make profits. They will let that affection wilt if it stops being an effective tool for making money.

(click here to continue reading Sorry, but Your Favorite Company Can’t Be Your Friend – The New York Times.)

Jon Stewart is starting to get bored not being on the teevee, methinks

That’s when Stewart got down to business by bringing da Trump with a thick New York accent, wagging shoulders and wild gesticulations we’ve come to love about his classic impressions. “These 9/11 first responders, let me tell ya’ something, hey, these 9/11 first responders are the most top-notch, first-class, diamond-encrusted heroes America can produce,” Stewart said. “Don’t let Congress play politics with this necessary bill. If I’m elected, and I will be elected, I will build a wall around politics and I will make politics pay for it. Tweet at your Congressman #WorstResponders. Tell them Donald said ‘pull up your big boy pants and make America Great again. Pass the Zadroga Act, or I will glue Congress together, dip them in gold and wear them around my freggin’ neck!”

Stewart is hoping with enough public pressure on Congress they will add the Zadroga Act to the upcoming omnibus bill that has so many riders it’s not as if anyone would notice.

(click here to continue reading Jon Stewart plays Trump in riotous reunion with Stephen Colbert – Salon.com.)

The madness has begun!!

Like a food court maybe? Seriously, how long before Scalia says something so vile that impeachment talk begins to rumble in Congress? Within the year? 

A new study conducted by legal scholars indicates that Justice Antonin Scalia would fare better if he served as a judge at a court that was “less advanced” than the United States Supreme Court.

According to the study, Scalia’s struggles to perform his duties in a competent fashion stem from his being inappropriately placed on a court that is “too demanding” for a person of his limited abilities.

“Forcing Justice Scalia to weigh in on complex legal issues that he lacks the background or aptitude to comprehend is, at the end of the day, cruel,” the study said.

(click here to continue reading Study: Scalia Better Off in “Less Advanced” Court – The New Yorker.)


Sign me up!

Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion have flocked to register as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods and – perhaps more importantly – promises its followers a tax rebate.

More than 3,100 people – almost 1% of Iceland’s population – have joined the Zuist movement in the past two weeks in protest at paying part of their taxes to the state church and other religious bodies. Followers of Zuism will be refunded the tax element earmarked for religion.

Icelanders are required to register their religion with the state, with almost three-quarters of the population affiliated to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. There are more than 40 other registered religious bodies that qualify for “parish fees” paid through the taxation system. The amount set in next year’s budget is the equivalent of about $80 (£53) per taxpayer over a year.

“There is no opt-out. Those who are unaffiliated or belong to unregistered religions effectively just pay higher taxes,” said Sveinn Thorhallsson, a Zuist spokesperson. An opinion poll published in September showed 55% of respondents want an end to the system.

(click here to continue reading Icelanders flock to religion revering Sumerian gods and tax rebates | World news | The Guardian.)

One Stop Shopping
One Stop Shopping

Our premiums have jumped, our insurance broker says it is most certainly due to this change: Feds promised money to insurance companies, then reneged…

Nine days later, the New York Times’s Robert Pear broke some news to readers. “A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration,” he wrote. “Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law has hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”

A paradox emerges. A “quiet” sabotage would seem to be one the saboteurs do not discuss. Rubio, by contrast, went after risk corridors with all the subtlety of Auric Goldfinger talking to a captured James Bond. Two years ago, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Rubio introduced a stand-alone bill, the “ObamaCare Bailout Prevention Act,” to end risk corridors altogether. Rubio’s talking points have hardly changed since then; letting HHS make up the difference in cost for insurers amounted to “Washington picking winners and losers.” When the CRomnibus passed, health care wonks rang alarm bells about the risk corridor amendment.

(click here to continue reading The ‘quiet victory’ that Marco Rubio can’t stop talking about – The Washington Post.)

Rubio is responsible for the premium hikes, basically

What he calls a bailout is the idea of risk corridors. That was a cushion created, paid into by health insurance companies, to help out companies who took on a disproportionate number of sicker, more expensive Obamacare patients. In the early going, companies couldn’t predict what their customer mix was going to be to help them set premium levels. For those who ended up paying out more in coverage than premiums brought in, the risk corridor gave them a safety net of funds to draw on. At the same time, the companies who paid out less than predicted and had higher profits paid into the fund. 

But in the first year, “claims to obtain money from the program equaled $2.9 billion, while insurers’ payments into the system came to $362 million.” Health and Human Services would have transferred departmental funding—taxpayer money—to the fund to cover the shortfall, but Rubio blocked them from doing so. The result has been that a bunch of smaller insurers have had to drop out of the exchanges, and a dozen or so health insurance cooperatives that started up under the law have folded. Because they’re the ones who couldn’t recoup losses.

(click here to continue reading How Marco Rubio might be responsible for higher Obamacare premiums.)

Buddha Checks Out Illinois Lottery
Buddha Checks Out Illinois Lottery


A new round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes like sailors competing farther from the shore.

“Those virus levels are widespread. It’s not just along the shoreline but it’s elsewhere in the water, therefore it’s going to increase the exposure of the people who come into contact with those waters,” said Kristina Mena, an expert in waterborne viruses and an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We’re talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.”

Now, the AP’s most recent tests since August show not only no improvement in water quality — but that the water is even more widely contaminated than previously known. The number of viruses found over a kilometer from the shore in Guanabara Bay, where sailors compete at high speeds and get utterly drenched, are equal to those found along shorelines closer to sewage sources.

“The levels of viruses are so high in these Brazilian waters that if we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches,” Mena said.

(click here to continue reading AP test: Rio Olympic water badly polluted, even far offshore – Yahoo News.)

Enough of this nonsense!
Enough of this nonsense!

Speaking of viruses and pathogens…

Republican party officials are now actively preparing for the prospect of a contested convention in Cleveland as front-runner Donald Trump continues to draw strong support from the GOP base. The scenario was discussed by more than 20 party stalwarts Monday at a Washington, DC, dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the Washington Post reported. A person familiar with who attended the dinner confirmed to Bloomberg that it took place, and that Priebus, members of congress, establishment lobbyists and others have held similar discussions for weeks. Should Trump continue to dominate the nomination race in the coming months and amass the required number of delegates to become the official Republican nominee, members of the establishment told the Post they would be forced to contest his nomination on the convention floor in Cleveland from July 18–21. 

(click here to continue reading Republicans Discuss Brokered Convention as Trump Leads – Bloomberg Politics.)

What I Say
What I Say

…and worse, Ted Cruz:

In no particular order, Texas senator and Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz has: said acts of Christian terrorism stopped centuries ago, forgetting the Ku Klux Klan and the shooting in Colorado last week; claimed he has never met an anti-abortion activist who advocates violence, despite being endorsed by one just days before; dismissed the need for Planned Parenthood because there isn’t a shortage of “rubbers” in America; and made an offhand comment that Colorado mass shooter Robert Dear could be a “transgendered leftist activist.” All this in just the last week.

Ted Cruz is far from crazy, which is the essential Ted Cruz problem. Crazy you can deal with, even forgive a little, often ignore. Ben Carson is a bowl of Froot Loops floating in a sad lethal pond of gasoline. Donald Trump went warp speed into the Trumpiverse decades ago. Both men have conducted their campaigns and recent years on perpetual tangents. But Ted Cruz knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t even hide it particularly well. Not only is his intelligence one of his favorite selling points, his book undermines any notion that he misspeaks. He is gaffe proof because the gaffes are not arrived at by error. Ted Cruz does awful things by intelligent design.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Isn’t Crazy – He’s Much Worse | Rolling Stone.)

flapper Head gear (?)
flapper Head gear (?)

I’m sort of interested in watching The Man in The High Castle, even though it is one of my favorite PKD books, especially since fascist ideology seems to be on the rise

They basically stole Phil Dick’s pitch — and then deployed it in their own inimitable style. I find the show fairly compelling to watch. But I also find myself saying, “I don’t know that this is what Dick was getting at.”

It seems much morally simpler, less ambiguous. There were some suggestions in [the novel] that America and Nazi Germany were not all that different — that’s not a particularly P.C. idea, but it is important. While the Germans were extinguishing Jews, we were excluding black people from the lunch counter. It was a matter of degrees.

We had [racial] superiority here … The Nazi fantasy of the blond, blue-eyed book and how it overlapped with California dreamin’ … The idea of the blond, perfect teeth, riding on the wave like some übermensch. It’s not without its resonance, and to leave all those out and make it a simple good vs. evil — that’s a travesty. A betrayal of Dick’s intention. But probably works better on TV.

(click here to continue reading “They basically stole Phil Dick’s pitch”: Why Amazon’s “Man In the High Castle” might not please die-hard Philip K. Dick fans – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 11th, 2015 at 11:29 am

Quickies – 11-23-15

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But inside we don’t mind at all…

A few articles you could be reading now instead of playing Pin The Lie On Donald Trump

And as for the idea of the GOP establishment ganging up on him and/or uniting behind another candidate like Rubio, that’s at least as likely to backfire as to work. And even if it works, what’s to stop Trump from then running as an independent?

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

(click here to continue reading Thinking About the Trumpthinkable – The New York Times.)

 Stuffed Girls Heads

Stuffed Girls Heads

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refused to rule out a third party bid for the presidency in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump has signed, along with other Republicans, a vow to run for the GOP nomination.

But, Trump didn’t discount a third party bid when he was asked on Sunday about efforts to unravel his candidacy by some in the Republican party.

“I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,” Trump said. “When I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want to do is (have) a level playing field.”

(click here to continue reading Trump (Again) Refuses To Rule Out Independent Bid For The Presidency.)

 These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

None of this is to say that the Mac App Store doesn’t offer some valuable services for users: Automatic updates, easily downloading all your apps to a new Mac, and offering a central clearinghouse for finding apps are just a few of the positives. The latter is a big advantage to those who have come to the Mac from iOS and are used to having a single repository rather than hunting hither and yon for apps. For developers, it provides a single storefront and easy purchasing. 

But given that the Mac is doing tremendously well, setting sales records—even if not approaching the sales volume of iOS devices—and given that Apple takes a 30-percent cut of both iOS and Mac app sales, regardless of the disparate support for the two app stores, it might behoove the company to spend a little time bringing the Mac App Store up to snuff.

(click here to continue reading The Mac App Store: Not gone, but certainly forgotten | Macworld.)

 Ms. Potato Head

Ms. Potato Head

Ever wonder why all those folks in rural, “red” America still vote in droves for the same Republicans who brag about gutting the very social programs keeping them alive?  How someone like Matt Bevin can run a winning campaign in Kentucky based on cutting people’s access to affordable health care? How Republican governors can get away with refusing free Medicaid for their own citizens?  Every election it seems that Democrats end up shaking their heads in dismay as yet another mean-spirited red-state Republican manages to defeat the Democrat by essentially promising to make his own constituents’ lives more miserable.  Afterwards we all intone the familiar refrain which boils down to “these people don’t know any better.”  If only the Democrats had a more effective “message” on the issues, we could surely reach those people who by all strands of logic ought to vote blue, and convince them that Republicans don’t have their interests at heart.

In one of the more insightful articles ever written about what motivates the rural poor to vote Republican, Alec MacGillis, who covers politics for ProPublica,  took a tour through deep red America, asking the same questions. In an Op-Ed for today’s New York Times, MacGillis explains that it’s not all about guns and abortion that drives people in economically-depressed areas to vote Republican. In fact it’s something very basic to human nature, which the GOP exploits at every turn. And Democrats ignore it at their peril. 

(click here to continue reading The Most Important Article You’ll Read Today About The Democratic Party..)


Notice that he’s an admirer of Hitler:

Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache.

And his avatar, that looks like a modified swastika, is the symbol of the neo-Nazi German Faith Movement.

So there you have it. Donald Trump is posting racist imagery that comes directly from neo-Nazis.

I hope you’re not surprised that a guy like Donald Trump, who continually spouts fascist rhetoric, is attracted to fascist memes posted by neo-Nazis. This is where the right wing has ended up in 2015.

(click here to continue reading We Found Where Donald Trump’s “Black Crimes” Graphic Came From – Little Green Footballs.)

Big Dick
Big Dick

The riveting new documentary The Sunshine Makers chronicles two hippies’ quest to bring LSD to every person in America in order to change the world.  Drugs have yet to save the world, but that didn’t stop Nick Sand and Tim Scully from once believing they might. The former a New York-bred prophet of psychedelics who preached their ability to radically improve humanity, and the latter a Bay Area chemist driven to create global “oneness” through mind-altering substances, they were an odd-couple pair who, in the late ’60s, became notorious for manufacturing and distributing enormous amounts of LSD—including “Orange Sunshine,” the hard-hitting tabs that became so synonymous with the counterculture they were even spoofed on Saturday Night Live. Theirs is a story about the marriage of idealism and criminality, and it’s recounted in amusing and thrilling detail by The Sunshine Makers, Cosmo Feilding-Mellen’s astute documentary (which premiered as part of this year’s DOC NYC festival) about the drugged-out duo.

(click here to continue reading Inside the Plot to Get Every American High on Acid – The Daily Beast.)


Ten anonymous Planned Parenthood patients, along with three Planned Parenthood affiliates, have filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas over the state’s attempt to boot the provider out of the joint federal-state Medicaid program.

In court documents, Planned Parenthood argues that Texas’ actions violate the federal Social Security Act, which allows Medicaid patients to choose their own health care provider. According to plaintiffs, Texas’ efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds “will cause significant and irreparable harm” to Medicaid patients who “will lose their provider of choice, will find their family planning services interrupted, and in many cases will be left with reduced access to care.”

The lawsuit comes after the Texas health commission’s Office of Inspector General sent a series of letters to Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates informing the provider of their ouster from Medicaid in October.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Patients Take Texas Back to Court.)


Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. …

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

(click here to continue reading Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year – The Washington Post.)


Those resolute voices in American public life that continue to deny the existence of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy argue that “someone would have talked.” This line of reasoning is often used by journalists who have made no effort themselves to closely inspect the growing body of evidence and have not undertaken any of their own investigative reporting. The argument betrays a touchingly naïve media bias—a belief that the American press establishment itself, that great slumbering watchdog, could be counted on to solve such a monumental crime, one that sprung from the very system of governance of which corporate media is an essential part. The official version of the Kennedy assassination—despite its myriad improbabilities, which have only grown more inconceivable with time—remains firmly embedded in the media consciousness, as unquestioned as the law of gravity.

In fact, many people have talked during the past half of a century—including some directly connected to the plot against Kennedy. But the media simply refused to listen. One of the most intriguing examples of someone talking occurred in 2003, when an old and ailing Howard Hunt began unburdening himself to his eldest son, Saint John.

(click here to continue reading Inside the plot to kill JFK: The secret story of the CIA and what really happened in Dallas – Salon.com.)


Inflammation occurs when the body rallies to defend itself against invading microbes or to heal damaged tissue. The walls of the capillaries dilate and grow more porous, enabling white blood cells to flood the damaged site. As blood flows in and fluid leaks out, the region swells, which can put pressure on surrounding nerves, causing pain; inflammatory molecules may also activate pain fibres. The heat most likely results from the increase in blood flow.

The key white blood cell in inflammation is called a macrophage, and for decades it has been a subject of study in my hematology laboratory and in many others. Macrophages were once cast as humble handmaidens of the immune system, responsible for recognizing microbes or debris and gobbling them up. But in recent years researchers have come to understand that macrophages are able to assemble, within themselves, specialized platforms that pump out the dozens of molecules that promote inflammation. These platforms, called inflammasomes, are like pop-up factories—quickly assembled when needed and quickly dismantled when the crisis has passed.

For centuries, scientists have debated whether inflammation is good or bad for us. Now we believe that it’s both: too little, and microbes fester and spread in the body, or wounds fail to heal; too much, and nearby healthy tissue can be degraded or destroyed. The fire of inflammation must be tightly controlled—turned on at the right moment and, just as critically, turned off. Lately, however, several lines of research have revealed that low-level inflammation can simmer quietly in the body, in the absence of overt trauma or infection, with profound implications for our health. Using advanced technologies, scientists have discovered that heart attacks, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to smoldering inflammation, and some researchers have even speculated about its role in psychiatric conditions.

(click here to continue reading Medicine’s Burning Question – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Snippets 11-21-15

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Mystified and Holding On
Mystified and Holding On

More copypasta for your more advanced stage news junkies…please, no gambling.


Famous Nathan (U.S. 2014, 86 minutes)  chronicles the personal and public history of Nathan’s Famous of Coney Island, the iconic Brooklyn eatery and Coney Island institution created in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan Handwerker. 

The film debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Coney Island Film Festival and the Audience Award at the 2015 Jewish Film Festival in Berlin.

In 1984, Lloyd started filming interviews with former workers and family members, a journey that took him around the world, as he listened to stories, first-hand accounts, secrets and perhaps a few tall tales. Spanning a century, this Coney Island inspired rollercoaster ride of a film employs a kaleidoscopic blend of home movies, animation, experimental cinema, historic archival, family photos, never-before heard audio recordings of Nathan, and a series of emotional and sometimes hilarious interview ‘encounters’ with the Handwerker family, their tight-knit circle of friends and a group of former Nathan’s employees recounting the dedicated days of ‘hustle and bustle, fast food cooked at nano-second speed.’ A film about labor, family, immigration, and yes, food, Famous Nathan is a vivid testament to a true American success story and the fighting spirit of a consummate New York family-run business.

Nathan Handwerker raised in Jaroslaw, Poland, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, came to New York, in 1912, unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930s, with the love, support and dedication of his wife Ida and sons Murray and Sol, he’d created one of the most beloved places to eat anywhere in the world. For decades, millions flocked to the larger-than life playground known as Coney Island and without a doubt, Nathan’s, on Surf Avenue, was the soul of Coney Island. As the centennial of Nathan’s approaches in 2016, Famous Nathan stands as an intimately personal love letter, thirty years in the making, to parents, grandparents, workers, eaters, and all lovers of Coney Island and Nathan’s Famous.

(click here to continue reading.)


“All of the biggest food companies in the country are looking at how to source non-G.M.O. ingredients right now,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, adding that it seems that the government’s decision about the G.M.O. salmon was out of step with what the public is asking for.

Ms. Westgate said that about 34,000 products were now labeled with the Non-GMO Project’s seal, representing about $13.5 billion in annual sales. That’s up from January, when 24,500 products bore the seal. (The Food Marketing Institute estimates that total supermarket sales were $638 billion last year.)

Efforts at the state level over the last few years to mandate labeling of foods that do contain genetically engineered ingredients have largely failed by narrow margins, after heavy lobbying and campaign spending by the food and biotech industries.


(click here to continue reading F.D.A. Takes Issue With the Term ‘Non-G.M.O.’ – The New York Times.)


Air Raid - Chicago - 1942
Air Raid – Chicago – 1942

It seems more than bit odd when you look at the GOP and other assorted right wingers as they heap their criticisms onto President Obama for his alleged lack of adequate action in the war against ISIS. Because when their golden boy George W. Bush was in the White House and progressives criticized the way he prosecuted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the jerkweeds on the right claimed it was unpatriotic to do so.

I seem to recall that one of the favorite talking points from Republicans and their Fox News lapdogs during the Bush Administration was that it was wrong and even treasonous to criticize the Commander-in-Chief when we had troops in the field.

Here are 10 separate occasions when the right wing tried to claim executive privilege during war:

(click here to continue reading How Quickly They Forget: Here Are 10 Times Conservatives Said It Was Unpatriotic To Criticize POTUS.)

Her teeth were white lies

Her teeth were white lies 

Leaving aside the broader question of whether Wilson’s name should be removed, let’s be clear on one thing: Woodrow Wilson was, in fact, a racist pig. He was a racist by current standards, and he was a racist by the standards of the 1910s, a period widely acknowledged by historians as the “nadir” of post–Civil War race relations in the United States.

Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office. It is completely accurate to describe him as a racist and white supremacist and condemn him accordingly.

(click here to continue reading Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist — even by the standards of his time – Vox.)

Exit, Zimmerman

Exit, Zimmerman 

This weekend marks the centennial of the old Duluth Armory, a once-proud venue that played host to luminaries from Duke Ellington to Johnny Cash.

Located near the waterfront, just across London Road from Leif Erikson Park, the armory today stands vacant and run down, a far cry from its glory years. But as Duluth celebrates the building’s rich past, there’s new hope for its future.

The Minnesota National Guard built the armory in 1915 for military training. It even featured a specially constructed dirt-filled pit in the drill hall for teaching field tactics like digging trenches. But it doubled as a concert hall and civic center. And it quickly attracted world-renowned performers, including Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1920.

As it turned out, Beasy Latto would be one of the last people to see Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens perform. Three days later, after a concert in Iowa, they died in a plane crash, bound for Moorhead, Minn.

Beasy Latto’s friend and classmate Bob Dylan was also at the concert. He recalled that 1959 night nearly four decades later, when he won a Grammy for his album “Time out of Mind.”

“And I just wanted to say, that one time when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth, the National Guard Armory, and I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me,” Dylan said. “And I just have some kind of feeling, that he was, I don’t know how or why, but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”

(click here to continue reading Long-silent Duluth Armory may hear music once again | Minnesota Public Radio News.)


Back in January, Geoffrey Smith, an assistant professor of early Christianity at the University of Texas, came across one such item: a 1,700-year-old papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John. The starting price? $99, no reserve.

The fragment had six partial lines of text on it, written in Greek. It was John I, 50-51, from the New Testament. And searches in a database of known New Testament manuscripts showed no such artifact — this was a “new” find for the scholarly community.

(click here to continue reading Scholar finds rare New Testament manuscript on eBay priced at $99 | The Verge.) 


The so-called “New Jersey First Act” of 2011 aimed to ensure state government employees actually live in New Jersey full time. Christie sent an initial version of the bill back to the Legislature for technical changes, but said, “ I commend the sponsors for their efforts to increase employment opportunities for New Jersey residents, by ensuring that citizens throughout the state enjoy access to public positions in their communities.” He signed the amended bill in May of that year.

A Christie administration fact sheet says “all employees are covered by the law,” which imposes a strict residency requirement as a condition of continued employment by the state. The fact sheet says residency is defined as meaning “the state (1) where the person spends the majority of his or her nonworking time, and (2) which is most clearly the center of his or her domestic life and (3) which is designated as his or her legal address and legal residence for voting.”

The Christie-backed law explicitly says it covers “state officers” in the executive branch. It says any public official violating the mandate “shall be considered as illegally holding or attempting to hold” a public office. If a person fails to satisfy the residency requirement within any 365-day period, the law says, “that person shall be deemed unqualified for holding the office.” The legislation empowers New Jersey state courts to oust the violator from office if “any officer or citizen” of New Jersey files a formal complaint.

State officials may avoid the law’s requirements, but only if they formally apply for an exemption to a commission comprised of a majority of Christie appointees. That commission has approved roughly 975 such requests, a Politico analysis of state data showed. But it has also rejected requests from employees who want to relocate to neighboring states to live near family members. The Christie administration’s website does not show that Christie applied for an exemption from the law in the last few years.

(click here to continue reading Chris Christie Imposed Strict Residency Requirement, Then Spent Hundreds of Days Out Of State.)


What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?


(click here to continue reading The Farce Awakens – The New York Times.)

In the primaries, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers privately concede that she will lose some votes over her Wall Street connections. They declined to share specific findings from internal polls, but predicted the issue could resonate in Democratic contests in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, where many have lost homes and businesses to bank foreclosures.

Mr. Sanders zeros in on Wall Street donations to Mrs. Clinton in an aggressive new television commercial that started running in Iowa and New Hampshire on Saturday: “The truth is, you can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” he warns.


Continue reading the main story One of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporters in Ohio, former State Senator Nina Turner, defected to Mr. Sanders this month in part, she said, because she felt he would be tougher on special interests. And some Democratic superdelegates, whose backing is crucial, said Mrs. Clinton’s ties to big banks, and her invocation of 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street at the Nov. 14 debate, only made them further question her independence from the financial industry.

“My parents had a saying in Spanish — ‘Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres’ — which means, ‘Tell me who you’re hanging with and I’ll tell you who you are,’” said Alma R. Gonzalez, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida. “A lot of my Democratic friends feel that way about Hillary and Wall Street.

(click here to continue reading Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton – The New York Times.)


Ingrid Bergman, an A-list Hollywood actress, was eviscerated in the tabloids, who painted her as a wanton harlot. The insanity reached a fever pitch when, on March 14, 1950, Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D-CO), a rank moralist who opposed FDR’s New Deal policies, slut-shamed the actress on the Senate floor.

“Mr. President, now that the stupid film about a pregnant woman and a volcano [Stromboli] has exploited America with the usual finesse, to the mutual delight of RKO and the debased Rossellini, are we merely to yawn wearily, greatly relieved that this hideous thing is finished and then forget it? I hope not. A way must be found to protect the people in the future against that sort of gyp,” he proclaimed. Sen. Johnson then proposed a bill wherein movies would be approved for licenses based on the moral compasses of those behind the picture, insisting that Bergman “had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage,” and going so far as to call her “a powerful influence for evil.”  

(click here to continue reading When Congress Slut-Shamed Ingrid Bergman – The Daily Beast.)


A 23-year-old man in Melbourne, Australia, voiced his frustration with Facebook in January, claiming that it had repeatedly deleted his account. The site’s reasoning? Almost certainly the man’s legal name: Phuc Dat Bich. 

If this dude wanted to go viral, he couldn’t have picked a better way. After spending the better part of the year as a sleeper post, Bich’s rant suddenly exploded this week, even becoming a national Twitter trend in the United States.

(click here to continue reading Man named Phuc Dat Bich wants Facebook to stop deleting his account.)


There are not many NBA players who are as well-rounded and multiculturally engaged than the 14-year veteran and two-time champion. Born in Barcelona, arguably the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Spain, and to two parents who are in the medical field—his mother, Marisa, a surgeon, and father, Agusti, a nurse administrator—Gasol developed a bigger-than-basketball mentality at a young age.

He started taking piano lessons at 8 and could play Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky at 13 (he has a keyboard at his home in Los Angeles). At 11, he wanted to become a doctor, motivated to cure after hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive announcement in 1991, and later enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona where he cut open cadavers. He also speaks Spanish and Catalan, teaches himself French and Italian, reads historical novels and watches documentaries. Oh yeah, he’s also been the Bulls’ bowling and ping-pong champion.

“[My brothers and I] grew up in a very open-minded environment,” said Gasol, who would like to pick up Spanish guitar one day. “Our parents did a great job I think really educating us, with values such as respect, tolerance, honesty, have respect for everyone, the ability to listen. And our school did a great job of teaching us those values.”

(click here to continue reading Global Gasol: Bulls Star Pau Gasol Expands his Palette in Philanthropy and the Arts | NBPA.)



Then the conversation took a turn. “Am I off base suggesting that newspapers stick to print?” someone formerly of the Tribune suggested. He saw advantages in going back to the old ways and he said what they are: “the superiority of print as a reading medium”; its “exclusiveness,” which some advertisers might value; its ability to provide readers with “a calm and uniquely authoritative daily harbor apart from the ceaseless digital crap storm.”

Alan Solomon, also formerly of the Tribune, responded “I heartily agree,” and offered a seven-point plan to put print-only daily journalism back on its feet. “Be prepared to lose millions early,” he advised. But after two decades of desperate investment in digital, Solomon said, newspapers “not only have come up empty but, in most cases, have hastened print’s obsolescence.” He wondered, “Why not redirect all that effort and money in producing a publication that, once again, compels folks to pay attention and pony up?”

The next person to comment was a nonjournalist who spends ample time online yet professed that holding a newspaper in his hands is “the only way I feel I can know what’s happening in the world. . . As newspapers fade out, so will our freedom, I’m convinced.”

(click here to continue reading Commenters urge the Trib to reinvest in print | Bleader | Chicago Reader.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2015 at 11:37 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,

Shorties – 11-19-15

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This Man Was Talked To Death
This Man Was Talked To Death

Some extra reading for extra credit…

More than a few times I’ve wondered if I’m absolutely loco, or if I really have something of value to give.” At the other end of the line, Scott Fagan’s voice falls quiet. “At my lowest place, I would go into the library at UCLA and look up ‘Jasper Johns’ and ‘Scott Fagan Record’. It meant a lot to me.”

Fagan’s story is one of extraordinary fortune and disappointment, a tale that takes in abject poverty in the US Virgin Islands, the height of the Greenwich Village folk scene, love, alcoholism, Jasper Johns, the Magnetic Fields and some of the biggest names in music. It is a story that encapsulates the great near-miss of a musical career, and now, somewhat late in the day, the possible glimmer of success. “Forget Rodriguez, forget Searching for Sugar Man,” says Sharyn Felder, daughter of the late Doc Pomus, the legendary songwriter who signed Fagan in 1964. “Scott was so much more. He was cut from a different cloth.”

(click here to continue reading Scott Fagan: the psych-folk singer once tipped to be bigger than Elvis | Music | The Guardian.)

FWIW, i.e., not much, but…

The results of WIU’s 2015 mock election are in, and if you tend to take the mainstream media seriously, the results of that election will more than likely surprise you: Bernie Sanders won the presidency, then the general election… and he did both in a massive landslide.

The WIU mock election, in which thousands of students from multiple schools form parties and caucuses and play out a small-scale election over the course of several days, has Bernie Sanders beating Hillary Clinton in 22 out of 26 primary states; Hillary Clinton survives past Super Tuesday, but loses out before the month of March is concluded.

(click here to continue reading University With 100% Accuracy Record Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Be America’s Next President – Firebrand Left.)

Vive La France

Never even heard of Captagon…

As Syria sinks ever deeper into civil war, evidence is starting to emerge that a brutal and bloody conflict that has left more than 100,000 people dead and displaced as many as two million is now also being fuelled (sic) by both the export and consumption of rapidly increasing quantities of illegal drugs.

Separate investigations by the news agency Reuters and Time magazine have found that the growing trade in Syrian-made Captagon – an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere – generated revenues of millions of dollars inside the country last year, some of which was almost certainly used to fund weapons, while combatants on both sides are reportedly turning to the stimulant to help them keep fighting.

(click here to continue reading Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria’s civil war | World news | The Guardian.)

Google Wave, remember that? Didn’t last, did it…

What does it say about the technological world in which we live that 92 percent of the people asked could not identify the name of the program they use to access the Web? If other statistics are to be believed, browsing the Web is the primary use of computers today, so that’s saying these people couldn’t name the program they use more than any other.

Worse, some of the answers on the video reveal that they don’t even know what a program is. A number of them identified their browser as “a search engine” and “Google.” When asked which browser he used, one guy said “the big E,” undoubtedly meaning Microsoft Internet Explorer, which has a stylized lowercase letter E as its icon.

When the best someone can come up with is a vague recollection of a program’s icon, it says to me that we’ve entered a “post-literate” technological society, one in which people have lost not just the ability to read and write about a topic, but also the ability to speak about it, all while retaining the ability to use it.

(click here to continue reading Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?.)


Prosecutors in the Los Angeles suburb responsible for a huge share of the nation’s wiretaps almost certainly violated federal law when they authorized widespread eavesdropping that police used to make more than 300 arrests and seize millions of dollars in cash and drugs throughout the USA.

The violations could undermine the legality of as many as 738 wiretaps approved in Riverside County, Calif., since the middle of 2013, an investigation by USA TODAY and The Desert Sun, based on interviews and court records, has found. Prosecutors reported that those taps, often conducted by federal drug investigators, intercepted phone calls and text messages by more than 52,000 people.

Federal law bars the government from seeking court approval for a wiretap unless a top prosecutor has personally authorized the request. Congress added that restriction in the 1960s, when the FBI had secretly monitored civil rights leaders, to ensure that such intrusive surveillance would not be conducted lightly.

In Riverside County — a Los Angeles suburb whose  court and prosecutors approved almost one of every five U.S. wiretaps last year — the district attorney  turned the job of reviewing the applications over to lower-level lawyers, interviews and court records show. That practice almost certainly violated the federal wiretapping law and could jeopardize prosecutors’ ability to use the surveillance in court.

(click here to continue reading Police used apparently illegal wiretaps to make hundreds of arrests.)


Scary, I’m still waiting for the liberal-leaning, or even socialist-leaning billionaire to emulate the Koch Brothers and their ilk…

The Koch brothers are really going to have to kick their public relations efforts into high gear now to make the latest revelation about their nefarious efforts to acquire the  U.S. system of governance in a hostile takeover look like politics as usual. They have a “secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence-gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.” No, it’s not April Fool’s Day. They’re really doing this.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network. The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular “intelligence briefing” emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.

The competitive intelligence team has gathered on-the-ground intelligence from liberal groups’ canvassing events in an effort to assess the technology and techniques of field efforts to boost Democrats, according to the sources. And they say the team utilizes high-tech tactics to track the movements of liberal organizers, including culling geo-data embedded in their social media posts.

(click here to continue reading The Koch brothers have a surveillance program and staff—to spy on liberals.)

 Droppin a G

In a perfect world, all former members of the Bush administration, specifically former President Bush, along with Dick Cheney and the administration’s national security czars, should’ve spent the last several nights sleepless and emotionally crushed with brutal regret and unbelievable remorse by the horrifying events that transpired in Paris. It’s been a rough several days for the so-called Bush Doctrine and the fallacy that the previous White House occupants somehow “kept us safe,” given the pair of news stories that ought to further condemn the Bushes in the eyes of history.

The first story, though not the most heart-wrenching of the weekend, was a report from Politico’s Chris Whipple who, once and for all, confirmed that the Bush team entirely failed to prevent 9/11 in the face of multiple warnings that a “spectacular” attack was being planned for inside the United States. According to Whipple, the CIA and Director George Tenet were aware that an attack was imminent and reported this information to Condoleezza Rice and others inside the White House, where the intelligence was mostly brushed off. This in addition to the dozen or so counter-terrorism warnings originally revealed by author Kurt Eichenwald that came from other al-Qaeda experts in- and outside the White House. Given the sheer volume of actionable intelligence relating to Bin Laden at the time, there’s no excuse whatsoever for failing to prevent the attack, or, at the very least, doing anything about the warnings, even if those actions ultimately failed.

(click here to continue reading The GOP’s deadly, broken history: Why last week’s Paris attacks prove yet again that George W. Bush didn’t “keep us safe” – Salon.com.)

Enough of this nonsense!

Quite interesting analysis

Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I’ve run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I’m going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday’s massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe’s Muslim population, and Da’esh. I’ll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we’re seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.

(click here to continue reading Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da’esh (the organization formerly known as….)

We’ve grown accustomed to Carly Fiorina’s brand of truth-telling. She seems to lie so easily, I don’t even think she knows the difference between fact and fiction at this point. The overarching theme of her Fox and Friends interview today is fearmongering. Rather than rehashing what she said verbatim, I feel it’s important to discuss reality. I’m certain that you’ve heard her put down President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry plenty of times. She’s so much more capable because she’d be a real Commander in Chief, not a ‘politician.’ You get the gist of her right wing talking points; the ones that are so easily discredited.

(click here to continue reading Carly Fiorina Can’t Stop Lying About The Syrian Refugee Crisis | Crooks and Liars.)

the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is already saying it’s interested in buying it.

The union is considering leaving its home at 600 W. Washington Blvd. and is considering several locations, including the former Drake building at 2722 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.

“We’re looking to move for a lot of reasons, but we’re getting squeezed out,” said Donald Finn, business manager for the union.

(click here to continue reading Electricians’ Union Wants To Buy Shuttered Drake School for Union Hall – Oakland – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Non Moving Target
Non Moving Target

The iconic railroad bridge just south of the Kinzie Street Bridge on the North Branch of the Chicago River that almost always is raised was lowered for several minutes this morning for its one truck crossing per year.

The bridge is lowered once a year so that a Hy-Rail truck (a type of pickup truck that can drive on tracks or roads) can go onto the tracks, which officially places the rail line in “active status,” according to Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite.

(click here to continue reading Chicago River Bridge That Allows One Truck Per Year Lowered Thursday – Downtown – DNAinfo.com Chicago.)

Wolf Point
Wolf Point

There Oughta Be A Law
There Oughta Be A Law

and finally, Texas

According to a finalized list of BCCS clinics for the 2016-17 fiscal year, obtained Wednesday by the Observer, at least one area of the state where Planned Parenthood was previously the only BCCS provider still remains without one: McLennan County.

Tonya Capson, health center manager at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Waco, said that in the two months since the fiscal year began September 1, she has received phone calls from at least seven patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and need help enrolling in Medicaid for breast and cervical cancer treatment. Assistance with quick Medicaid coverage is unique to the BCCS program; only a state contracted provider can directly enroll a patient.

“I have to call them back and explain that we are no longer contracted with BCCS and we are no longer able to help with those applications,” Capson told the Observer, adding that Planned Parenthood has directed patients to the state Health and Human Services Commission’s online clinic locator, but has not directly heard from the agency concerning where to send BCCS patients.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Ouster Leaves Cancer Patients Stranded.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2015 at 10:07 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Quick Hitters – 11-18-15

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Some additional reading for you, because I care…

Coffee from El Mirador - Cauca, Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of premature death The health benefits were seen whether people drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Researchers have now linked three to five cups of coffee per day to an overall lower risk of premature death, according to a new review of data on more than 200,000 health professionals.

The lowered risk was associated with a moderate amount of coffee, as opposed to those who drink only a cup or two, or no coffee at all, who did not see the health benefits. When researchers adjusted for those who smoke cigarettes, the benefits of all that coffee were even greater.

The idea that coffee can prevent the development of adverse health conditions, as studies just this year have shown it is good for brain health in older people, cancels out liver damage from over-consumption of alcohol, and may improve colon cancer survival.

(click here to continue reading Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of death – UPI.com.)


Ben Carson’s remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject, but never more seriously than in the past week, when he wrongly asserted that China had intervened militarily in Syria and then failed, on national television, to name the countries he would call on to form a coalition to fight the Islamic State.

Faced with increasing scrutiny about whether Mr. Carson, who leads in some Republican presidential polls, was capable of leading American foreign policy, two of his top advisers said in interviews that he had struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect.

 “Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” said Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security. He also said Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so “we can make him smart.”

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say – The New York Times.)


Clarridge was pardoned (in the middle of his trial) by President George H.W. Bush in that historic exercise in ass-covering on the way out the door in 1992. After that, he left the CIA and went into business for himself in the shadow world of private spookdom.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say. So, yeah, maybe the Doctor knows what he’s doing here.

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Lacks Foreign Policy Knowledge – Ben Carson Can’t Grasp Middle East.)

 Cat - Orange

Cats are notoriously picky eaters—and one reason may be that they’re fine-tuned to detect bitterness. Cats can’t taste sweetness, but they have a dozen genes that code for bitter taste receptors. A recent study from researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital finds that at least seven of these bitter taste receptors are functional, indicating that cats are very sensitive to those tastes.

In order to figure out whether the 12 known bitterness receptor genes actually cause cats to taste bitterness, the researchers inserted these genes into human cells and figured out which ones responded to chemicals that cause people to taste bitterness (since cats can’t tell us when something is bitter). 

(click here to continue reading Why Is Your Cat Such a Picky Eater? Blame Bitter Taste Receptors | Mental Floss.)


There’s the president of the United States, and then there’s the person who happens to be the President of the United States.

Bill Clinton served for eight years, but we were always more intrigued by Bill Clinton the Person—a magnetic charmer once described by Chris Rock as “a cool guy, like the president of a record company.” Clinton’s charisma defined his presidency, for better and for worse. He couldn’t always harness it. He couldn’t stop trying to win everyone over, whether it was a 60 Minutes correspondent, 500 powerful donors in a crowded banquet hall, or a fetching woman on a rope line.

If Clinton acted like someone who ran Capitol Records, Obama—both the person and the president—carries himself like Roger Federer, a merciless competitor who keeps coming and coming, only there’s a serenity about him that disarms just about everyone. At one point during the hour I spent interviewing him at the White House this fall, he casually compared himself to Aaron Rodgers, and he wasn’t bragging. Obama identified with Rodgers’s ability to keep his focus downfield despite all the chaos happening in front of him. That’s Obama’s enduring quality, and (to borrow another sports term) this has been his “career year.”

(click here to continue reading Obama and Bill Simmons: The GQ Interview | GQ.)

Archaeologists in Israel have kind of a great problem. While building a visitor center to house the Lod Mosaic, a magnificent work from 300 AD discovered near the construction site in 1996, workers uncovered another ancient treasure: a 1,700-year-old Roman mosaic.

The new find measures an impressive 36 feet by 42 feet, and would have likely paved the courtyard floor in a large Roman or Byzantine-era villa. The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled photos of the floor, which contains imagery of fish, hunting animals, birds, and vases, this week in the Israel National News, which called it “breathtaking” and “among the most beautiful” mosaics in the country.

(click here to continue reading Hidden Ancient Mosaic Discovered in Israel – artnet News.)

Opera Reminiscence’s 1829

We have two possibilities before us. First, that House Republicans purposefully stacked their Benghazi! select committee with the dumbest, most inept, most incompetent twits they could round up. Or second, that they didn’t do that and the whole sodding Congress is just this dumb.

Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a member of the House Select Committee On Benghazi, said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her Oct. 22 appearance go “as long as possible.” Mind you, of all the people in that hearing room, the one least able to control how long the committee would sit on their behinds and ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton long, sometimes bizarre questions was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was not allowed to just pick up and go home, even after the first four, six, eight, and 10 hours of questions proved that Republicans had absolutely no new information or questions or theories that might require her actual presence there. Republicans could have, say, limited their robust speechifying and instead asked a few more actual questions. They could have paid attention to their own rules on how long questions could go on, and perhaps gently persuaded the worst of the blowhards to give it a rest when their time had officially expired.

(click here to continue reading Rep. Westmoreland: Hillary Clinton laid ‘a trap’ for Benghazi committee by answering their questions.)

 Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

Not one of them can win, but one must. That’s the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy.

Conventional wisdom says that with the primaries and caucuses rapidly approaching, front-running nuts Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson must soon give way to the “real” candidates. But behind Trump and Carson is just more abyss. As I found out on a recent trip to New Hampshire, the rest of the field is either just as crazy or as dangerous as the current poll leaders, or too bumbling to win.

Disaster could be averted if Americans on both the left and the right suddenly decide to be more mature about this, neither backing obvious mental incompetents, nor snickering about those who do. But that doesn’t seem probable.

Instead, HashtagClownCar will almost certainly continue to be the most darkly ridiculous political story since Henry II of Champagne, the 12th-century king of Jerusalem, plunged to his death after falling out of a window with a dwarf. 

(click here to continue reading The GOP Clown Car Rolls On | Rolling Stone.)

Truck full of Cannabis
Truck full of Cannabis 

Beginning in 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana. By this time next year, that number could well double, and then some. National polls consistently show majorities in favor of legalization, with a recent Gallup poll showing 58% support—tied for the highest level in the poll’s history.

That doesn’t mean legalization is inevitable in any given state, as the case of Ohio demonstrated earlier this month. There an initiative led by non-movement investors who sought monopolistic control of commercial pot cultivation got trounced despite spending millions of dollars.

But the Ohio result was probably a fluke, a convergence of a number of factors, including tone-deaf initiative organizers, a flawed initiative, a widely criticized mascot, and the fact that it was an off-off-year election with low voter turnout. There is no reason to believe that legalization initiatives likely next year in other states will be defeated just because the Ohio effort went down in flames.

At this point, it looks like six states are likely to legalize weed through the initiative process next year, with those efforts at varying stages, and a couple more could do it through the legislative process.

(click here to continue reading The next 8 states that could legalize weed within the year – Salon.com.)

RIP, iPod Classic
RIP, iPod Classic

I don’t have terabytes worth of music, but I have a lot, and I’m frequently annoyed with iTunes. However, I keep with it because it syncs to my iPhone/iPad…

AT THE START of the millennium, Apple famously set out to upend the music business by dragging it into the digital realm. The iTunes store provided an easy way of finding and buying music, and iTunes provided an elegant way of managing it. By 2008, Apple was the biggest music vendor in the US. But with its recent shift toward streaming media, Apple risks losing its most music-obsessed users: the collectors.

Most of iTunes’ latest enhancements exist solely to promote the recommendation-driven Apple Music, app downloads, and iCloud. Users interested only in iTunes’ media management features—people with terabytes of MP3s who want a solid app to catalog and organize their libraries—feel abandoned as Apple moves away from local file storage in favor of cloud-based services. These music fans (rechristened “power users” in the most recent lingo) are looking for alternatives to Apple’s market-dominating media management software, and yearn for a time when listening to music didn’t require being quite so connected.

(click here to continue reading Apple’s iTunes Is Alienating Its Most Music-Obsessed Users | WIRED.)

…raises hand

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

If you only own the original studio release of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (recorded on December 9, 1964, and issued in February, 1965), then the new three-disk release “A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters” of the classic album by Coltrane’s classic quartet will be a revelatory experience.

It’s a revelation because of one particular set, one that many Coltrane fans have heard before: the live performance by the quartet from Juan-les-Pins, France, on July 26, 1965, of the entire suite of “A Love Supreme.” This set was also included the “deluxe” two-disk edition of “A Love Supreme,” issued by Impulse! Records, in 2002. By making that performance readily available to the general listener, Impulse! sparked a major advance in the appreciation, the understanding—and the love—of “A Love Supreme.” The merits of that recording shed particular light on the importance—and, strangely, the limits—of the original studio recording of “A Love Supreme.”

(click here to continue reading Seeing Through “A Love Supreme” to Find John Coltrane – The New Yorker.)

Listening In
Listening In

Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots.

CIA Director John Brennan asserted on Monday that “many of these terrorist operations are uncovered and thwarted before they’re able to be carried out,” and lamented the post-Snowden “handwringing” that has made that job more difficult.

But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

And even before Snowden, the NSA wasn’t able to provide a single substantiated example of its surveillance dragnet preventing any domestic attack at all.

(click here to continue reading U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top government officials could be detained if they step foot in Spain after a judge there issued an arrest warrant stemming from a deadly 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, but Israel is dismissing the move as a “provocation.”

In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists — which included members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to authorities – boarded several aid ships to try and break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

(click here to continue reading Spain issues arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over deadly 2010 flotilla raid | Fox News.)


In its article, the AP also wrote, “The archive had more detailed data for children and teenagers, showing 70 from those age groups killed by firearms since the Democratic candidates debated Oct. 13 – not 200 as [Clinton] claimed.”

Again, this criticism of Clinton is erroneous because it treats the Gun Violence Archive as a comprehensive source.

The botched AP fact check was subsequently touted by the National Rifle Association.

(click here to continue reading AP Botches Fact Check Of Hillary Clinton’s Accurate Statement About Gun Deaths | Blog | Media Matters for America.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2015 at 10:21 am

Quick Hitters – November 17th, 2015 Edition

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Well since the great Reeder / Delicious experiment failed, maybe I’ll try just posting this manually. If I had more mental energy, I’d craft responses to all these; instead I’ll leave that as an exercise to you, the reader, to imagine what I might have said…


 Rolling up on stage after HRC, O’Malley got in on the action himself. “Last night in the debate, Secretary Clinton, to try to mask her proximity to Wall Street and the huge amount of contributions she has received personally from the major banks of Wall Street, sadly invoked 9/11,” O’Malley said. “She doesn’t have to mask it. It is what it is. That is the sort of economy, that is the sort of economic advice she would follow.”

So far, so ordinary. A lot of the audience, and most of the media, had filtered out after HRC had finished her spot, so there was a corporal’s guard of largely white, largely elderly folks remaining when Cornel West took the stage to pitch Bernie Sanders, and then the day stopped being ordinary for everyone.

“What a blessing it is to be here,” West began. “All of my brothers and sisters of all colors here in central I-O-WA!”

Suddenly, the whole atmosphere of the day changed. Some of the people who’d stuck around looked on in something like awe. Some of them laughed and cheered. And, admittedly, more than a few of them looked as though they’d been hit over the head with a shovel. For West it didn’t matter. He’d started at a higher altitude and he very quickly lit the afterburners.

(click here to continue reading Cornel West Stumps for Bernie Sanders in Iowa.)


Indeed, it’s not clear that the talk of Christian refugees is meant, even by the loudest Republicans, to translate into the appearance of Syrian Christians in America, as opposed to being an acknowledgment that some of the crowds that cheer when they hear anti-immigrant rhetoric might have qualms of conscience. The problem, they can be told, is just that our Muslim-sympathizing, cowardly leaders would bring in the wrong refugees.

Christians are in danger in Syria. Their danger is distinct but not unique. The Yazidis, an even more isolated religious minority, has been a particular target of ISIS. Shiites and Alawites have been targeted, too. Refugee policies have at times rightly recognized the urgent danger that certain religious or otherwise distinct groups are in, and have properly responded. This is something quite different than saying, as Cruz does, that being a Muslim should be a basis for exclusion. Would he let in atheists, for that matter? It seems strange, when moderate Muslims are trying to distance themselves from a milieu of terror, that we would insist that such a thing is impossible. There are international and American laws that recognize people who need protection. There are principles of common decency which do the same. What they do not do is use faith, or the lack of it, as a basis for rejection. (America should have let in more Jewish refugees during the Second World War; that wouldn’t have meant turning away Thomas Mann.) And it is a brutal insult to Syrians who have gone through four and half years of carnage to say that the fact that they are Sunnis gives them some sort of immunity from ISIS or from the Assad regime. There are four million Syrian refugees outside of the country now, and many more inside it. There will likely be some bad people among them. That fact does not obviate their suffering. Taking more of them in can be an unpopular position at a moment when the news is full of speculation that one of the Paris attackers had passed through a refugee camp in Greece with a Syrian passport. But their desperation will not disappear if we lose interest in it; it may just take a different and more destructive form. We have a role in deciding where they will go next.

One of the more dishonest aspects of Cruz’s comments on Fox was his characterization of who the Syrian refugees are. He mentioned an estimate that, in the “early waves” of refugees entering Europe, “seventy-seven per cent of those refugees were young men. That is a very odd demographic for a refugee wave.” Perhaps it would be, if the number were accurate. A bare majority of the Syrian refugees are women, as FactCheck.org noted in September, when Ben Carson and Scott Walker raised similar alarms. About twenty-two per cent are men between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine—a broad definition of “young.” Cruz is smart enough to know this. He may be referring to a number given for migrants who arrived in Europe, from nine different countries, by taking a specific, dangerous Mediterranean sea route in 2014 (seventy-two per cent). Among the two million Syrian refugees the United Nations has registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, a full thirty-eight per cent are under the age of twelve.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian Refugees – The New Yorker.)

“States lack legal authority to refuse to accept refugees (or any other immigrants) that are admitted by the federal [government],” [Adam Cox, a New York University Law School professor who is an expert in immigration and constitutional law] wrote in an email.

* And, of course…

“There are no barriers, no requirements in the Refugee Act of 1980 that indicate a governor has to give permission to resettle in a state,” [Anna Crosslin, the president of International Institut] said. “That’s all a federal process.”

That’s pretty obvious. We can’t just shut our state borders.

(click here to continue reading Capitol Fax.com – Your Illinois News Radar » Missing the point.)


He’s part news anchor, part gleeful nerd—a formula that’s almost scientific in its ability to deliver hard-core information with chasers of wit. In this, however, he was just giving us a kind of release.

“So here is where things stand. First, as of now, we know that this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes, unconscionable, flaming assholes, possibly, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery,” he said. His audience began to laugh. “Second, and this goes almost without saying, Fuck these assholes!” The audience began to cheer. “Fuck them, if I may say, sideways!” He made some definitive hand gestures. Third, he said, nothing these assholes attempt is going to work. “France is going to endure. And I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and life style with France, good fucking luck!” More cheering. “Go ahead, go ahead. Bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons”—images of these appeared behind him as he spoke—“Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche!” An image of what looked like a glazed-cream-puff Christmas tree popped up. He waved his hands and pointed at it. “The croquembouche! You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friends. You are fucked! That is a French freedom tower!” The crowd howled with delight.

(click here to continue reading Vive John Oliver – The New Yorker.)
Funky Funky Christmas

During a press conference this morning, President Obama used the term “pop off” in reference to people making uninformed and patently ridiculous claims about what should be done with France and ISIS. And, unless I go outside today and witness a Sojourner Truth hologram double dutching with Marilyn Mosby, I’m very confident in declaring that the Black president dismissively referring to his haters the exact same way Loretha Lyon or Draymond Green or your barber or your best friend or you would have will be the Blackest thing that ever happened this week.

So Black, in fact, that instead of attempting to determine and assess exactly how Black it was, I’m more interested in how “folks wanna pop off” found its way into the President’s lexicon. Does he possess a reservoir of culturally relevant slang terms and colloquialisms that he employs when White people aren’t around? We know he code switches — we see it with every seven-step handshake, and his rendition of Amazing Grace during Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy is a first-ballot entry in the Code Switch Hall of Fame — but he’s also a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. (No. seriously. He does.) He is, and will always be, cool in a macro sense. But, in micro sense, he, again, is a 54-year-old man who hoops in Sam’s Club Nikes and tucks his shirt into his sweatpants. This is not what cool people do. Cool people do, however, reflexively use “pop off” to address haters. President Obama is a paradox.

(click here to continue reading President Obama’s “Folks Wanna Pop Off” Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week » VSB.)


ANTALYA, Turkey — President Barack Obama is sending a message to critics he says “pop off” with their opinions about the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State.

He says they should present a specific plan. And if his critics think their advisers are smarter than Obama’s, the president says, “I want to meet them.”

Obama says his sole interest is in keeping the American people safe. He says he’s not interested in doing what works politically or will make him or America look tough.

(click here to continue reading Obama decries critics who ‘pop off’ with opinions on IS – The Washington Post.)


It seems like it has taken an eternity, but the Roosevelt Road raised bikeway is finally getting the green paint and bike symbols that will turn it into a functional cycling route. This Chicago Department of Transportation initiative is part of a streetscaping project that involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane.

(click here to continue reading Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Raised Bike Lane Is Almost Ready to Ride | Streetsblog Chicago.)


Directly across the street stood a house painted in bright, horizontal rainbow stripes. The house had been bought, in 2012, by Planting Peace, a nonprofit group whose mission, according to its Web site, is “spreading peace in a hurting world.” The Equality House, as it’s known, is home to a group of young L.G.B.T. activists. Planting Peace has worked with former Westboro members to spread its message of tolerance. Megan first visited the house in 2013, after her cousin Libby encouraged her to visit. She sneaked in the back door, for fear of being spotted by her family.

Today, Megan and Grace’s only connection to Westboro is virtual. Although Phelps-Roper no longer believes that the Bible is the word of God, she still reads it to try to find scriptural arguments that could encourage Westboro to take a more humane approach to the world. Sometimes she’ll tweet passages, knowing that church members will see them. After they left the church, Megan and Grace were blocked from Westboro’s Twitter accounts, but they created a secret account to follow them. Sometimes, when her mother appears in a video, Megan will loop it over and over, just to hear her voice.

Fred Phelps died in March, 2014, at the age of eighty-four. Former members of the church told me that Fred had had a softening of heart at the end of his life and had been excommunicated.

(click here to continue reading Conversion via Twitter – The New Yorker.)


In some ways, his story mirrors that of Lassana Bathily, a young immigrant from Mali who hid a group of frightened shoppers from the assault at the Kosher supermarket in January. Both were Muslim, and both risked their lives for others while men claiming to represent their faith caused so much carnage. A contrast that perhaps illustrates the complex nature of Muslim relations in France. I asked him what he thought about the killers claiming their actions in the name of Islam. “This has nothing to do with religion.” “Real Muslims are not made for killing people,” he said. “These are criminals.”

(click here to continue reading Paris attacks: Restaurant worker who saved two women – BBC News.)


Governors of at least 20 U.S. states have now said they won’t accept additional refugees from Syria after the attacks Friday in Paris, which French officials say were masterminded by a Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria. As of Monday evening, governors in five other states said they would welcome refugees as part of President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 people in 2016 who are fleeing the Islamic State and Syria’s civil war.

That means at least half of governors have weighed in, even though they can’t block refugees from entering the United States (though they could complicate settlement within their states’ borders).

There is one stark, obvious difference between these two groups of states: the party that controls the statehouse. Just one of the 20 governors who oppose taking in more refugees is a Democrat: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

(click here to continue reading Governors Who Want To Ban Syrian Refugees Have Something In Common | FiveThirtyEight.)

Doonesbury - Texas Secession
Doonesbury – Texas Secession

Californium is an upcoming first-person game inspired by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It seems to be about a writer who “slips” between different realities as his life falls apart.

If you’ve any familiarity with Dick, you’ll know that most of his fiction — which has been made into movies like Total Recall, Through a Scanner Darkly, and Blade Runner — deals with the conflict between paranoid characters and the world around them, which may or may not confirm their darkest fears.

Californium is vividly illustrated by French artist Oliver Bonhomme, wh may be the perfect fit for this sort of surreal story about Elvin Green, a sentimental writer with not too many prospects. You become Green in the story, discovering a break up letter from your wife, an editor who fires you, and other such travails.

(click here to continue reading Upcoming Philip K Dick-inspired game is appropriately bizarre | Cult of Mac.)

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allow towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine.

(click here to continue reading What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt? : NPR.)


The long-rumored Apple store at the gateway to the North Michigan Avenue shopping district won’t be a 2.0 version of the famous glass cube that forms an iconic entry into the retailer’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan. It would be more like a high-tech version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quintessentially Midwestern Prairie Style homes, with river views to boot.

Soon-to-be-unveiled plans for the store call for a glass-sheathed temple of computing near the historic Michigan Avenue bridge and grand flights of stairs that would cascade from street level to the walkway along the Chicago River’s north bank. These details are outlined in a report from the city’s Department of Planning and Development, a draft copy of which was obtained by the Tribune.

(click here to continue reading Apple store on Chicago River: An exclusive first look at plans – Chicago Tribune.)https://farm1.staticflickr.com/531/18578039911_eff2134bb6_n.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Interactive Voice Systems Try New Consumer Approaches

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Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Co

Earlier today…


It’s one thing as a consumer to go through the frustrating experience of calling for customer service and getting lost in a maze of “Press one for…” and “press two for…” and inevitably being sent to the wrong extension, misunderstood by a bot, or simply cut off and forced to repeat the process. But it’s another to encounter it as a reporter trying to get in touch with companies that make these so-called interactive voice-response systems. Each request made to speak with a living, breathing human for this story was met with a recorded instruction to leave a voicemail. In short, IVRs systems practice what they preach. “We purposely designed it to have bad customer service”

Interactive Voice Systems Try New Consumer Approaches


Written by eggplant

August 17th, 2015 at 1:12 pm

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