B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

London Guarantee & Accident Bldg was uploaded to Flickr

a/k/a Crain Communications Building, and f/k/a Stone Container Building. A Chicago Landmark building.

Wacker and Michigan. More tasteful than the Trump Stamp

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I took London Guarantee & Accident Bldg on June 20, 2014 at 01:36PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 22, 2014 at 12:03AM

Needed Somewhere To Go was uploaded to Flickr

jogger, underpass, W. Randolph St.

Solarized in Photoshop

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http://flic.kr/p/nL1WyW

I took Needed Somewhere To Go on June 20, 2014 at 01:11PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 20, 2014 at 09:15PM

Written by eggplant

June 21st, 2014 at 9:33 am

Musicians on Robert Allan II was uploaded to Flickr

South Branch, Chicago River

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I took Musicians on Robert Allan II on May 10, 2014 at 08:07PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 19, 2014 at 04:20PM

Written by eggplant

June 21st, 2014 at 9:33 am

The Amazon Fire Phone Is An Overpriced Shopping and Surveillance Tool

Jeff Bezos introduced the latest Amazon hardware device yesterday, the Fire, an entry into the smartphone category. I’m only half finished reading Brad Stone’s biography of Bezos, The Everything Store, but one thing has been made clear: Jeff Bezos is a long-term thinker who makes no small plans.

And so what seems to be Amazon’s long term goal here? Basically, to sell more items at Amazon.com. The Fire is a hand-held cash register customized to selling you more things. Uhh, yay? Are there people out there who are irritated that it takes 10 seconds to order replacement razor blades at Amazon.com? Not to mention there already is an iOS Amazon app that scans either a bar code or the text on a package. I’ve found it occasionally useful, but frequently the scan yields zero results.
Search Amazon
The Fire is not really a phone, per say:

Although he did not show the feature onstage, Mr. Bezos confirmed that his expensive new phone does makes calls. “I haven’t made a phone call on my phone in a long time,” he said. “But I know people still make phone calls.”

(click here to continue reading Amazon Fire Phone’s Missed Opportunities – NYTimes.com.)

and skeptics abound:

At the outset, Fire looks to be an attempt to rope Amazon shoppers deeper into its world — the phone is, above all, an enhanced shopping tool. It’s not a realistic shot at the smartphone market.

(click here to continue reading Amazon Phone Is An Enhanced Shopping Tool | Digital – Advertising Age.)

Rate this packaging
Rate this packaging

and my second, nearly immediate thought about the Amazon Fire – it seems like an NSA dream! So while the Fire encourages you to purchase more consumer goods, it will allow Amazon.com to collect more meta data about your house, your office, your car, your friends, your neighbors, and so on.

The WSJ notes:

Amazon squeezed a number of new technologies into the Fire, but it seems its biggest innovation may be new uses it found for an old technology: cameras. The Fire doesn’t just take nice photos–it watches you, and what’s around you, to customize what you see and how you interact with the world.

(click here to continue reading First Look: Amazon’s Fire Phone Is Watching You – Personal Tech News – WSJ.)

John Koetsier agrees with me that this sounds a bit creepy, and writes:

How do you think it recognizes those things, including text on images, which Amazon says it will offer language translation features for later this year?

Well, the Firefly button and the camera button are one and the same. Meaning that whenever you use the camera, you’re using Firefly. And whenever you’re using Firefly, you’re using the camera. Plus, of course, you’re turning on audio sensors that capture ambient sound.

And then you’re transmitting all those pictures and sound files to the grandaddy and still global leader in connected cloud technology, the company that pretty much invented what we now call big data analytics for customer insights, and the largest online retailer in the wild wild west.

Amazon.com, of course.

All of those pictures require processing, analysis, and matching, presumably at a level — if they can identify 100 million objects — that can only be done in the cloud, and not on a small handheld device with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage.

Fortunately for you, dear consumer, Amazon has kindly consented to storing all your photos, forever, in its vast cloudy server farms. How gracious Amazon is, providing that massive service for free! How lucky are you, getting all that for free!

Probably not as lucky as Amazon.

(click here to continue reading Amazon’s Fire Phone might be the biggest privacy invasion ever (and no-one’s noticed) | VentureBeat | Marketing | by John Koetsier.)

I think I’ll pass…

Written by Seth Anderson

June 19th, 2014 at 8:01 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

This Will Be Our Year was uploaded to Flickr

waiting for the storm to roll in

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http://flic.kr/p/o28d5Q

I took This Will Be Our Year on June 18, 2014 at 11:34AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 18, 2014 at 08:56PM

Written by eggplant

June 18th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

West Wind Blowing Ill – Redux was uploaded to Flickr

another view of the now defunct Fisk Generating Plant spewing mercury and what-not over our fair city…

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I took West Wind Blowing Ill – Redux on January 14, 2012 at 05:44PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 16, 2014 at 02:59PM

Written by eggplant

June 17th, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Pump Room at Public Chicago was uploaded to Flickr

Goofing around with Analog Efex Pro.

The original was opened in 1938, per Wikipedia but this is a revamped version. I actually only used their bathroom facilities…

http://ift.tt/1qX2GL6

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I took Pump Room at Public Chicago on June 15, 2014 at 05:45PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 16, 2014 at 09:02PM

Written by eggplant

June 17th, 2014 at 8:55 am

Dreaming of The Funeral of Amenhotep was uploaded to Flickr

Street art, Wicker Park somewhere, or maybe W. Chicago Avenue. Actual title and artist unknown.

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http://flic.kr/p/nXDzsm

I took Dreaming of The Funeral of Amenhotep on September 09, 2011 at 02:13PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 13, 2014 at 08:38PM

Written by eggplant

June 16th, 2014 at 8:27 am

A Sight For Sore Eyes was uploaded to Flickr

Marty checks out a hologram, Museum of Holography, Chicago.

The museum is closed, btw.
http://ift.tt/1l8yEof…

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I took A Sight For Sore Eyes on September 09, 2011 at 01:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 13, 2014 at 03:08PM

Written by eggplant

June 14th, 2014 at 9:38 am

IFTTT Recipe Acting Strangely

Chainsaw sculpture
chainsaw-sculpture – source unknown

If you’ve noticed, in the last couple of days photos have appeared here that have already been posted; duplicate entries from weeks ago. I don’t know why this is happening, but I do know the cause – https://ifttt.com/wtf

I have a recipe1 that works like this: if I add the keyword “blogged” to a Flickr photo, the photo gets published on this blog with the author being “eggplant”.  I find this recipe to be a fairly easy way to add photos – all it takes is adding a tag, which can be accomplished even with a mobile devie – the main complaint I’ve had is that the photo has to be fairly recent. It doesn’t work with any image uploaded more than six months ago, give or take.

IFTTT Recipe: New Flickr photo with tag “blogged” gets a WP post connects flickr to wordpress

I’ve used this recipe 183 times as of this morning, but starting yesterday, duplicates started appearing. I’ve deleted them all so far, but since this is an automated process, I don’t notice the duplications until later, which means they get pushed out to my Tumblr blog, Twitter, yadda yadda. Irritating, but not happening frequently enough to turn off the recipe. Yet.

Apologies.

Footnotes:
  1. Recipe is the word IFTTT uses for these scripts []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 14th, 2014 at 8:51 am

Posted in blog

Tagged with

The Emergency Monologues – by Morgan Jones Phillips was uploaded to Flickr

Got my copy from Lulu.com today…

http://ift.tt/1vaZXAb

embiggen by clicking
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I took The Emergency Monologues – by Morgan Jones Phillips on June 13, 2014 at 01:16PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 13, 2014 at 06:17PM

Written by eggplant

June 13th, 2014 at 11:27 am

Boeing falls most since April After Cantor loss

Double Rainbow Over Boeing
Double Rainbow Over Boeing

The most amusing headline we read the day after Eric Cantor (Smug R) lost his primary to the Tea Bagger, and Ayn Randian acolyte, David Brat, was this one. Poor, poor Boeing, lost one of their sugar daddies…

Boeing Co. (BA) fell the most in two months as U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in a primary election threatens congressional reauthorization of low-cost lending that benefits the world’s largest planemaker.

Keeping alive the Export-Import Bank will be an “even more high-profile/challenging fight,” Chris Krueger, a senior policy analyst for Guggenheim Securities LLC, said today by e-mail. Boeing was the “biggest loser” besides Cantor in the Virginia Republican’s surprise loss yesterday, Krueger wrote.

Ex-Im arranges financing that helps foreign airlines buy jets, a service that Boeing said last month would support $10 billion of 2014 sales. As Congress debates reauthorization, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas is being promoted as a possible Cantor successor. He has said the U.S. should “exit the Ex-Im.”

(click here to continue reading Boeing Tumbles as Cantor Loss Clouds Ex-Im Bank’s Future – Bloomberg.)

Boeing - El Segundo
Boeing – El Segundo

So what exactly is the Export-Import Bank? The Wikipedia entry:

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government. It was established in 1934 by an executive order, and made an independent agency in the Executive branch by Congress in 1945, for the purposes of financing and insuring foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk. The mission of the Bank is to create and sustain U.S. jobs by financing sales of U.S. exports to international buyers. The Bank is chartered as a government corporation by the Congress of the United States; it was last chartered for a three-year term in 2012 which will expire in September 2014. Its Charter spells out the Bank’s authorities and limitations. Among them is the principle that Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders, but rather provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not take place because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risks inherent in the deal.

(click here to continue reading Export-Import Bank of the United States – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Golden Plowshares
Golden Plowshares

Corporate welfare, in other words. Propping up the bottom line of the military-industrial complex, and other crony capital chores. Sure, after World War 2, the bank was perhaps justifiable, the Marshall Plan and all that. But in today’s economy? Why does Boeing, GE, Halliburton or ExxonMobil need special low-interest loans subsidized by US taxpayers, loans that are not available to the rest of the business world? Especially when so much of what the bank subsidizes is bad for the planet. 

Like:

The bank’s environmental policy is a disappointment because it would allow an increase in spending on coal and other technologies harmful to the environment, said Steve Kretzmann, who runs Washington-based Oil Change International, which seeks to curb government aid to fossil-fuel companies.

“It makes a mockery of the Obama administration’s supposed commitment to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies,” Kretzmann said in an interview.

The project in Papua New Guinea led by Irving, Texas-based Exxon has become a particular point of contention.

The pipeline’s construction will destroy pristine tropical forests, PacificEnvironment’s Norlen said in a submission to the lender in September.

Exxon “is the most profitable corporation on the planet,” Kretzmann said. “This is the last place that taxpayer support should be going.”

(click here to continue reading Obama’s Trade Goal Fights His Clean-Energy Plan (Update4) – Bloomberg.)

and:

President Barack Obama’s goals of boosting U.S. exports and combating climate change are colliding as the U.S. Export-Import Bank expands financing for oil, gas, mining and power-plant projects.

Bank-supported ventures approved in the year ended Sept. 30 will emit an estimated 17.9 million metric tons of carbon annually, more than triple the previous year and the most since the lender started releasing data in 2001, according to its annual reports. Among companies aided were General Electric Co. and Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil business.

“Ex-Im is on a fossil-fuel binge,” said Doug Norlen, policy director at PacificEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group in San Francisco.

You Can't Bribe No one
You Can’t Bribe No one

We’re not alone in wondering why in our current economic climate, this corporate welfare bank continues to exist.

For instance, from those hippies at Forbes:

Nothing brings out the well-tailored lobbyists in Washington quite like a threat to corporate welfare.  With the Export-Import Bank’s legal authorization set to run out this year, the Chamber of Commerce recently led a Big Business march on Capitol Hill to protect what is known as Boeing’s Bank.  Over the last eight decades ExIm has provided over a half trillion dollars in credit, mostly to corporate titans.  Congress should close the Bank.

ExIm was created in 1934 to underwrite trade with the Soviet Union.  The agency piously claims not to provide subsidies since it charges fees and interest, but it exists only to offer business a better credit deal than is available in the marketplace.  The Bank uses its ability to borrow at government rates to provide loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and loan insurance.

The result is a bad deal for the rest of us.  For instance, ExIm is not free, as claimed.  Recently made self-financing, the agency has returned $1.6 billion to the Treasury since 2008.  However, economists Jason Delisle and Christopher Papagianis warned that the Bank’s “profits are almost surely an accounting illusion” because “the government’s official accounting rules effectively force budget analysts to understate the cost of loan programs like those managed by the Ex-Im Bank.”

In particular, the price of market risk is not included, even though doing so, explained the Congressional Budget Office, would provide “a more comprehensive measure of federal costs.”  Delisle and Papagianis figured ExIm’s real price to exceed $200 million annually.  Indeed, both the Government Accountability Office and ExIm Inspector General raised questions about the accuracy of the agency’s risk modeling.

Federal Reserve economist John H. Boyd took another approach, explaining:  “For an economic profit—that is, a real benefit to taxpayers—Eximbank’s income must exceed its recorded expenses plus its owners’ opportunity cost, a payment to taxpayers for investing their funds in this agency rather than somewhere else.”  If ExIm was private, he added, “one must suspect that its owners would have pulled out long ago in favor of a truly profitable enterprise.”  He figured the Bank’s real cost averaged around $200 million a year in the late 1970s but had increased to between $521 million and $653 million by 1980.  Given the recent explosion in Bank lending the corresponding expense today could be much higher.

(click here to continue reading Close the Export-Import Bank: Cut Federal Liabilities, Kill Corporate Welfare, Promote Free Trade – Forbes.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 13th, 2014 at 10:42 am

Self Portrait with a Hat, Redux was uploaded to Flickr

Testing a new Hipstamatic Lens/Film combination

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http://flic.kr/p/nT48Uw

I took Self Portrait with a Hat, Redux on June 06, 2014 at 01:35PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 06, 2014 at 11:16PM

Written by eggplant

June 11th, 2014 at 9:11 am

Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer was uploaded to Flickr

I need a better name for this, suggestions?

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http://flic.kr/p/nAYM5m

I took Cocktail (18) – Hendrick’s Gin, Meyer Lemon, Heering Cherry Liquer, Thatcher’s Blood Orange Liquer on May 16, 2014 at 10:32PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 17, 2014 at 03:35AM

Written by eggplant

June 9th, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Lost Time Is Not Found Again was uploaded to Flickr

Kinzie St Bridge over the Chicago River

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http://flic.kr/p/nkCrdU

I took Lost Time Is Not Found Again on April 20, 2014 at 07:07PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 25, 2014 at 05:45PM

Written by eggplant

June 9th, 2014 at 8:05 pm