B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Roof Moss was uploaded to Flickr

A cabin in Frostpocket

embiggen by clicking
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I took Roof Moss on September 12, 2014 at 04:42PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 01, 2014 at 05:11PM

Written by eggplant

October 1st, 2014 at 10:29 am

Bad U.S. roads force just in time manufacturers to plan for just in case

And Have You Traveled Very Far Today?
And Have You Traveled Very Far Today?

Here is another reason why Republican-friendly, Republican-leaning, and straight-out Republican corporations are not served by the current Tea Party ascendency. Government does have a purpose, does need a tax base, or else common good tasks like maintaining roads and other infrastructure cannot be performed. If corporations such as the ones mentioned in the James Kelleher, Reuters article quoted below were smart, they’d put their political capital to work throwing out the Tea Party wing of the GOP.

Companies like Whirlpool and Caterpillar are making costly additions to their otherwise sinewy supply chains to compensate for aging U.S. roads that are too potholed and congested for “just in time” delivery.

Some opt to keep more trucks and inventory on the road. Others are leasing huge “just in case” warehouses and guarded parking lots on the edges of big cities. All that activity raises costs, which are expected to increase even more if roads are allowed to deteriorate further and an improving economy boosts traffic.

Whirlpool, for instance, has set up a network of secure drop lots outside Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. A washing machine that used to go from regional distribution center to local distribution center to customer in one day now sits overnight in a parking lot.

It “adds an extra day of lead time, which means extra inventory,” said Whirlpool Corp logistics chief Michelle VanderMeer.

Then there are the parking lots and the guards. “That’s real physical infrastructure and security that we have to pay for,” she said. “We’d rather be investing our money elsewhere,” she added, declining to estimate Whirlpool’s expenses.

Overall, U.S. companies face billions of dollars in costs due to the limitations of the creaking, overcrowded transportation network, which earned a D+ grade in the most recent report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute estimates that road congestion alone costs shippers $27 billion a year – and that is only the value of wasted driver time and extra fuel.

Outside Chicago, Panasonic Corp, Ingram Micro and Owens & Minor have all leased spaces in recent years to help take congestion-related variability out of their supply chains

(click here to continue reading Bad U.S. roads force just in time manufacturers to plan for ‘just in case’ | Reuters.)

East To Dan Ryan Expy
East To Dan Ryan Expy

for instance, do you think the mouth-breathers in Congress are going to raise the gas tax anytime soon? What kind of odds would you give? A million to one? or a billion to one?

Manufacturers are lobbying Congress to approve new repair funds next year, with low expectations. The Highway Trust Fund, which finances road and bridge repairs, narrowly avoided insolvency this summer when lawmakers approved funding through May.

The current gas tax which funds repairs raises $40 billion annually and has not been raised in two decades. There is little appetite in Washington, D.C to raise the gas tax to bring in the $170 billion the Federal Highway Administration estimates is needed annually to improve roads.

So if you do the math, every year, we have a $120,000,000,000 budget shortfall for roads and bridges. Every year! Even if you discount the $170 Billion number by a bit, because everyone wants a bigger budget, there still is a huge gap between actual money and required money. How long can this go on before the problem gets so bad we turn the corner into a Mad Max type society? But hey, ISIS is an existential threat, so by all means, piss our tax money on the sands of the Middle East instead of on the roads of Iowa and Illinois…

Written by Seth Anderson

October 1st, 2014 at 8:03 am

If I’m not smiling, I’m just thinking was uploaded to Flickr

stream, Frostpocket

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http://flic.kr/p/prtKaf

I took If I’m not smiling, I’m just thinking on September 12, 2014 at 04:52PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 01, 2014 at 04:46AM

Written by eggplant

October 1st, 2014 at 7:34 am

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s Tactics

Stack of Books
Stack of Books

Amazon.com continues its losing war against book publishers, especially in the PR battlefield. When authors as well known as Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip Roth, and Milan Kundera side against you, it might be time to start dialing back the rhetoric. 

Last spring, when Amazon began discouraging customers from buying books published by Hachette, the writers grumbled that they were pawns in the retailer’s contract negotiations over e-book prices. During the summer, they banded together and publicly protested Amazon’s actions.

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

(click here to continue reading Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics – NYTimes.com.)

Rate this packaging
Rate this packaging

Why does it even matter to you, oh book consumer? For instance, since Jeff Bezos is clearly on the political right, or at best, Libertarian in his outlook, when he favors Paul Ryan’s book over an exposé of the Koch Brothers, we should pay attention. 

Sons of Wichita” by Daniel Schulman, a writer for Mother Jones magazine, came out in May. Amazon initially discounted the book, a well-received biography of the conservative Koch brothers, by 10 percent, according to a price-tracking service. Now it does not discount it at all. It takes as long as three weeks to ship.

“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” by Representative Paul Ryan has no such constraints, an unusual position these days for a new Hachette book.

Amazon refused to take advance orders for “The Way Forward,” as it does with all new Hachette titles. But once the book was on sale, it was consistently discounted by about 25 percent. There is no shipping delay. Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than “Sons of Wichita.”

An Amazon spokesman declined to explain why “The Way Forward” was getting special treatment.

Not Barnes and Noble
Not Barnes and Noble

Book sellers have always made decisions about what books to stock, but Amazon was supposed to be the largest bookseller on the planet, where you can get any book you want. Seems as if Jeff Bezos’ company is starting to reflect his anti-tax, anti-small business, anti-regulation views.

As Ms. Ursula K. Le Guin puts it:

“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. “Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

(click here to continue reading Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Books,Business

Tagged with , ,

Lightning Strikes Not Once But Twice – Explored

Lightning Strikes Not Once But Twice
Lightning Strikes Not Once But Twice

I took this photo on September 15, 2014, and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 26, 2014. Explored in Flickr on 9/27/14.

A Ford, I think. Sitting mostly under a shed near the Frostpocket Workshop for 30 years…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:25 am

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , , ,

Self Portrait – First day in Frostpocket – Explored

Self Portrait - First day in Frostpocket
Self Portrait – First day in Frostpocket

I took this photo on September 13, 2014, and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 26, 2014. Explored on Flickr 9/27/14.

Still relatively clean-cut, but starting to show signs of sleep loss (those little deer mouse might be cute, but they are loud at night). 

and the after-Frostpocket beard, right before I shaved:

Goodbye Frostpocket Beard
Goodbye Frostpocket Beard

 

click images to embiggen

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:12 am

Phil Repairing the Roof of the Workshop – Explored

Phil Repairing the Roof of the Workshop
Phil Repairing the Roof of the Workshop

I took this photo on September 12, 2014, and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 26, 2014.

That’s a pretty darn steep slope if you ask me.

Explored on Flickr, 9/27/14

click image to embiggen

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:07 am

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , ,

Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Slows Down N.S.A.

one comment

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Remind me again why warrantless searching of personal information is a good thing again? Oh, right, TERROR, and that old shibboleth, kidnapping. Yeah, count me in the “Why not just get a warrant” camp…

The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.

The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.

Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take “more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.)

Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey.

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

If the NSA and related agencies hadn’t been so damn aggressive circumventing American law, perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to taken this additional step.

Or as Vikas Bajaj writes:

Apple’s new privacy policy does nothing to prevent law enforcement from searching an iPhone or an iPad if they obtain a warrant from a court to do so. The company is merely saying that Apple will no longer be able to unlock those devices for investigators as it did previously. The police will still be free to hack into the devices, just as they are authorized to kick down the door to a house or use a blowtorch to open a safe that they have been given permission to search.

But that’s not good enough for Mr. Comey and others. They want Apple (and Google, which makes the Android mobile phone software) to do the hacking for them.

Furthermore, investigators can often get information stored on phones and tablets through other means. For example, they could get the calling history from wireless phone companies like AT&T; same with text messages. And companies like Google and Yahoo would have to turnover messages on their servers if presented with a search warrant. Lastly, law enforcement agencies could also access any photos and videos stored on the phone have been backed up to Apple’s iCloud servers from the company.

(click here to continue reading Using Scare Tactics to Fight Apple – NYTimes.com.)

Cops on Bikes
Cops on Bikes

Plus there is the issue of a dysfunctional Congress, too mired in partisan bickering to actually update the laws for a modern age. Mostly on the Republican side, but not exclusively.

The move raises a critical issue, the intelligence officials say: Who decides what kind of data the government can access? Until now, those decisions have largely been a matter for Congress, which passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1994, requiring telecommunications companies to build into their systems an ability to carry out a wiretap order if presented with one. But despite intense debate about whether the law should be expanded to cover email and other content, it has not been updated, and it does not cover content contained in a smartphone.

At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.

Surviving in the global marketplace — especially in places like China, Brazil and Germany — depends on convincing consumers that their data is secure.
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has emphasized that Apple’s core business is to sell devices to people. That distinguishes Apple from companies that make a profit from collecting and selling users’ personal data to advertisers, he has said.

and a bit of rationality:

Mr. Zdziarski (Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher who has taught forensics courses to law enforcement agencies on collecting data from iPhones) said that concerns about Apple’s new encryption to hinder law enforcement seemed overblown. He said there were still plenty of ways for the police to get customer data for investigations. In the example of a kidnapping victim, the police can still request information on call records and geolocation information from phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

“Eliminating the iPhone as one source I don’t think is going to wreck a lot of cases,” he said. “There is such a mountain of other evidence from call logs, email logs, iCloud, Gmail logs. They’re tapping the whole Internet.”

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:02 am

Posted in Apple,government

Tagged with , , ,

Here But Now Gone was uploaded to Flickr

Frostpocket

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/p7oUBB

I took Here But Now Gone on September 13, 2014 at 03:37PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 26, 2014 at 12:36AM

Written by eggplant

September 25th, 2014 at 6:47 pm

RIP, iPod Classic was uploaded to Flickr

Not only is my iPod Classic dead, but Apple has officially discontinued them. :(

Eulogy for the iPod classic

http://ift.tt/YBrIqJ

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

I took RIP, iPod Classic on September 11, 2014 at 07:47PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 12, 2014 at 12:49AM

Written by eggplant

September 11th, 2014 at 5:53 pm

“If I See A Mule Run Away With The World” was uploaded to Flickr

“I’m just gonna tell him to go head on"

Phil takes a nap in Union Park, West Loop

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

I took “If I See A Mule Run Away With The World” on September 05, 2014 at 03:03PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on September 08, 2014 at 12:18AM

Written by eggplant

September 7th, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Boogie Woogie Box Set

Boogie Woogie Box Set
Boogie Woogie Box Set

Horrible documentation (like, zero, in fact), but still, 200 jazz and blues tracks on 10 CDs for around $20 US is a pretty good deal if you are into such things (“original masters” btw) . Artists range from  Blind Willie McTell, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Joe Turner, Artie Shaw, Louis Jordan, Champion Jack Dupree, and all points in between.

amzn.to/1u5TGo5

I can’t say I’d want to listen to all 200 in sequence, but as part of a shuffled playlist? delightful.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

August 29th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

Tagged with , ,

Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone

Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee

I’ve been meaning to try this: I am a nap person anyway, typically for about 30 minutes in the late afternoon. And since I have some coffee in my thermos from this morning…

To understand a coffee nap, you have to understand how caffeine affects you. After it’s absorbed through your small intestine and passes into your bloodstream, it crosses into your brain. There, it fits into receptors that are normally filled by a similarly-shaped molecule, called adenosine.

Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, and when it accumulates at high enough levels, it plugs into these receptors and makes you feel tired. But with the caffeine blocking the receptors, it’s unable to do so. As Stephen R. Braun writes in Buzz: the Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, it’s like “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals.”

 Now, caffeine doesn’t block every single adenosine receptor — it competes with adenosine for these spots, filling some, but not others.

But here’s the trick of the coffee nap: sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. If you nap for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, your brain is more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep that take some time to recover from. But shorter naps generally don’t lead to this so-called “sleep inertia” — and it takes around 20 minutes for the caffeine to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

So if you nap for those 20 minutes, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. The caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, and will thereby be even more effective in making you alert.

(click here to continue reading Scientists agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone – Vox.)

Ask me tomorrow (or better yet next week after I try coffee napping a few times) how well it works…

Full of Beans - Espresso
Full of Beans – Espresso

Round of Coffee
Round of Coffee

Jabez Burns and Sons - Coffee Roasters
Jabez Burns and Sons – Coffee Roasters

Daily Rounds
Daily Rounds

Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around
Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around

Colleen Drinks Coffee
Colleen Drinks Coffee

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2014 at 11:06 am

Posted in Food and Drink,science

Tagged with

Fracking rules to be unveiled for Illinois

Motion is Life
Motion is Life

Great, just great. I guess this is why the Koch Industry was so concerned about Chicago’s attempt to ban petcoke from being stored in the city.

Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiled Friday.

Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.

A year ago a draft version of the proposed rules proved controversial, drawing about 30,000 comments, mostly from anti-fracking groups who sought to delay the law from taking effect.

Environmental groups claimed the proposed rules written by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had undermined key provisions of state law dealing with containment of fracking liquids, fines for drillers who violated rules, and emergency situations.

(click here to continue reading Fracking rules to be unveiled Friday – Chicago Tribune.)

and to jog your memory a bit, from last spring:

We’ve had enough petcoke surprises lately in Chicago. Fortunately, the Illinois Pollution Control Board prevented another one last week.

The first surprises were mountains of petcoke — or petroleum coke — that grew as tall as five stories last summer near the Calumet River. The petcoke was generated by an Indiana refinery, and it was transported for storage to Chicago. People who live in the area said the powdery, black dust swirled off the mounds and coated their homes, along with any meals they were barbecuing outside.

In December, Chicago drafted new regulations governing the storage of petcoke, which is a refinery byproduct. Then, on Jan. 13, Gov. Pat Quinn announced his own emergency administrative rules. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency filed the rules late on Jan. 16, and comments were due by Jan 21 at noon. Because the intervening Monday was a holiday, that left just one full business day for research and comments.

Many businesses that have nothing to do with petcoke found some surprises in the rules that they thought would hurt their operations. Some environmentalists, while pleased something was being done, thought the rules didn’t go far enough.

(click here to continue reading For petcoke solutions, look to how state handles fracking – Chicago Sun-Times.)

Let’s rape and pillage our state’s environment so that a few can make profits. Whoo hoo! Earthquakes as a bonus!

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2014 at 8:22 am

Parasites Practicing Mind Control -Toxoplasma

Ladybug Cow (aka Cowccinella Novemnotata), climbing the wall of the Talbott Hotel
Ladybug Cow (aka Cowccinella Novemnotata), climbing the wall of the Talbott Hotel under direction of Toxoplasma Gondii…

Wild, just wild. Fascinating stuff, and we are just discovering exactly how powerful these microorganisms actually are…

An unassuming single-celled organism called Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most successful parasites on Earth, infecting an estimated 11 percent of Americans and perhaps half of all people worldwide. It’s just as prevalent in many other species of mammals and birds. In a recent study in Ohio, scientists found the parasite in three-quarters of the white-tailed deer they studied.

One reason for Toxoplasma’s success is its ability to manipulate its hosts. The parasite can influence their behavior, so much so that hosts can put themselves at risk of death. Scientists first discovered this strange mind control in the 1990s, but it’s been hard to figure out how they manage it. Now a new study suggests that Toxoplasma can turn its host’s genes on and off — and it’s possible other parasites use this strategy, too.

Toxoplasma manipulates its hosts to complete its life cycle. Although it can infect any mammal or bird, it can reproduce only inside of a cat. The parasites produce cysts that get passed out of the cat with its feces; once in the soil, the cysts infect new hosts.

Toxoplasma returns to cats via their prey. But a host like a rat has evolved to avoid cats as much as possible, taking evasive action from the very moment it smells feline odor.

Experiments on rats and mice have shown that Toxoplasma alters their response to cat smells. Many infected rodents lose their natural fear of the scent. Some even seem to be attracted to it.

Manipulating the behavior of a host is a fairly common strategy among parasites, but it’s hard to fathom how they manage it.

(click here to continue reading Parasites Practicing Mind Control – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2014 at 8:11 am

Posted in News-esque,science

Tagged with , ,