B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Join Together – A New-To-Me App to Recreate Spinning Vinyl Sides

The Replacements - Tim
The Replacements – Tim, on vinyl.

Yesterday I realized that iTunes 12.x doesn’t have an option to merge two or more music tracks into one. I thought iTunes used to have this functionality, but perhaps I was mistaken. I could have dug out my original CD, and merged the songs that way, but after briefly Googling, I discovered that Applescript master and long-time iTunes expert Doug Adams has built a (Mac only) app that performs this very task. Cool!

Join Together will create and export a single AAC or ALAC audio file from the audio data of tracks dragged from iTunes or files dragged from the Finder, leaving the original source tracks and files intact.

(click here to continue reading Doug’s Apps for iTunes – Join Together – v7.7.3 – Official Download Site.)

Or as Doug added on Twitter: 

Quality LP sides have their own internal logic & mood, as sequenced by the artist/producers. Each LP side can even have its own character. Breaking up albums into single songs in iTunes defeats the artist’s intent. I realized there were many albums that I owned that would benefit from being joined together like this. Mostly albums from before CDs became the default medium, I’m guessing in the early 1990s.1

An LP that has been played many, many times embeds itself in your brain as it is sequenced. Of course, thinking back, I often did skip a particular track on some albums if I wasn’t otherwise occupied, but usually I would play an entire LP side, and then maybe not even flip it over, but move on to the next LP. 

Wu-Tang Clan’s debut LP
Wu-Tang Clan’s debut LP

Albums that I loved on vinyl enough to replace on CD, aka Desert Island Discs; LPs like Highway 61 Revisited, or London Calling, or Kind of Blue, Electric Ladyland, individual songs that should be heard together in sequence like the Grateful Dead’s China Cat Sunflower and I Know You Rider, or even the short songs that make up the second side of Abbey Road; these are ideal candidates for Join Together.

Whenever I played the Meat Puppets 2, I always played the second side first, as I thought the first song on the first side2 was too jarring, and unlike the rest of the LP. When I use Join Together, I’m going to recreate that playing experience. I don’t need to hear Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” more than once or twice a year, so I’ll make a version of Led Zeppelin IV -Side 1 without Stairway3. Same with the Velvet Underground & Nico: how many times a year do I want to hear “European Son”? 

Big Star - first album
Big Star – first album

Footnotes:
  1. I was a late hold-out, and didn’t purchase my first CD until I couldn’t find a vinyl version of Sonic Youth’s Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star []
  2.  “Split Myself in Two” []
  3. I often would pick the needle up after hearing the first few notes []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 1st, 2017 at 9:44 am

Posted in Apple,Music

Tagged with , ,

Federal Savings Bank and Paul Manafort

one comment

The Federal Savings Bank
The Federal Savings Bank – FSB

There is a small brick building on the corner of Fulton and Elizabeth; on the third floor is the Federal Savings Bank. Unless you follow the news closely, you’ve probably never heard of this bank – it doesn’t advertise that I know of, nor does it maintain a high profile.

Federal Savings was born out of Generations Bank, a Kansas thrift bought by Calk and his brother John Calk in 2011. That bank, which had about $40 million in assets, was undercapitalized, facing regulatory restrictions and posting losses for five straight years, according to a 2012 story in ABA Banking Journal, an American Bankers Association publication.

Now headquartered on Chicago’s Near West Side, successor institution Federal Savings in 2012 said it was getting $18 million in tax breaks over 10 years from the state through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program as well as up to $4 million in training money from the city of Chicago.

The bank had 842 full-time workers as of the end of March. Steve Calk has said about 10 percent of the bank’s employees are veterans like him.

Federal Savings has three branches or loan production offices in Illinois: at its headquarters and in Lake Forest and Naperville, according to its website.

(click here to continue reading Report: Prosecutors demand records on Chicago bank’s loans to Paul Manafort – Chicago Tribune.)

Does that seem like a lot of employees for such a small bank? I wonder what they all do, and where they all fit? Who knows, I’m not a banking expert. Maybe many employees work remotely, or in Lubyanka Square?

Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Federal Savings Bank (FSB, not to be confused with the Russian FSB which is the successor organization to the KGB) is1 tight with the Donald Trump 2016 campaign, and with Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Tight enough that this small bank loaned 1/4 of its assets to Manafort to cover the payments on two of Manafort’s properties, despite his seemingly shaky credit (one property was in foreclosure after a loan default, the other property was not yet in foreclosure, but was also in default).

The Wall Street Journal reports:

New York prosecutors have demanded records relating to up to $16 million in loans that a bank run by a former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump made to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoena by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to the Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago bank run by Steve Calk, sought information on loans the bank issued in November and January to Mr. Manafort and his wife, the person said. The loans were secured by two properties in New York and a condominium in Virginia, real-estate records show.

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had begun examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort, who has spent and borrowed tens of millions of dollars in connection with property across the U.S. over the past decade. Investigators at both offices are examining the transactions for indications of money-laundering and fraud, people familiar with the matters have said.

The Journal reported that at the time of the loans from Federal Savings Bank, Mr. Manafort was at risk of losing a Brooklyn, N.Y., townhouse and his family’s investments in California properties being developed by his son-in-law, real-estate and court records show.

Mr. Calk was a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory panel who overlapped with Mr. Manafort on the Trump campaign. Messrs. Manafort and Calk knew each other before the campaign, a person familiar with the relationship has said.

The bank’s loans to Mr. Manafort equaled almost 24% of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital, according to a federal report. Around the time they were issued, Mr. Calk had expressed interest in becoming Mr. Trump’s Army Secretary.

(click here to continue reading New York Seeks Bank Records of Former Trump Associate Paul Manafort – WSJ.)

I walked over to this bank a few weeks ago, and it is sort of strange, at least to me. FSB is an odd kind of bank, only on the third floor of 300 N. Elizabeth, with a building security employee that won’t let you go up unless you are a member of the bank, plus they won’t allow photography in the lobby. Reading through FSB’s Yelp reviews, they seem a little sketchy, sending out loan application letters to veterans almost to the degree of spam and many other complaints of incompetence and worse. Of course, Yelp reviews aren’t the most reliable, but still, this bank has a lot of unhappy (civilian) clients.

For instance:

Horrible experience. They send letters every week to advertise being part of the VA IRRRL program. If you look, you’ll notice the phone number is different in every letter. So, you can’t trace if there’s been any complaints about the number. The representative got very defensive when he couldn’t answer why the number is different and after I asked to speak with a manager, he said he’d take me off the mailing list and hung up on me. After I tried calling back with no answer, I received a call from someone who apologized, and though he was very nice and informative, I still believe this company is very deceptive. The first guy told me they are VA owned and operated when I asked if they are from the VA. He then said its because 95% of their loans are to veterans. THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM VA OWNED! I just learned they used to operate under the name Chicago Bancorp and they have a lawsuit against them from 2014, and the owners’ names are the same as now.

(click here to continue reading The Federal Savings Bank – 27 Reviews – Banks & Credit Unions – 300 N Elizabeth St, West Loop, Chicago, IL – Phone Number – Services – Yelp.)

Makes one wonder how FSB is making a profit, suddenly, after years of not making profits. Maybe there are other sources of income besides veterans and tax dollars from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago?

The property in Brooklyn seems to be in distress:

Reference to home values in the area suggests that the outstanding principal on the loan secured by the townhouse at 377 Union Street may exceed the market value of the property. Reports suggest that the property has been empty for the last 4 years and is currently in disrepair (link). The mortgage secured by the Bridgehampton property indicates that the borrower was required to deposit $630,000 as additional collateral.  The mortgage secured by 377 Union Street indicates that the borrower was required to deposit $2.5 million as additional collateral.

(click here to continue reading 377 Union | Paul Manafort | Who is Steve Calk, and What Does He Have to Gain From Helping Paul Manafort?.)

Caviar Russian
Caviar Russian

One final weird thought: the modus operandi for Russian money laundering schemes frequently use real estate as the anchor. What better way to wash one’s dirty money than paying more than a property is worth? The seller is happy, and now the money is in the banking system. Especially if the purchaser is an LLC company, with limited public information available as to the source of the money.

A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers.

(click here to continue reading Mueller Seeks to Talk to Intelligence Officials, Hinting at Inquiry of Trump – The New York Times.)

From USA Today we read:

Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.

USA TODAY journalists have spent six months cataloging every condo, penthouse or other property that Trump and his companies own – and tracking the buyers behind every transaction. The investigation found Trump’s companies owned more than 430 individual properties worth well over $250 million.

Since Election Day, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 of those U.S. properties for $33 million. The sales include luxury condos and penthouses in Las Vegas and New York and oceanfront lots near Los Angeles. The value of his companies’ inventory of available real estate remains above a quarter-billion dollars.

Profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and can withdraw cash any time.

(click here to continue reading Trump property buyers make clear shift to secretive shell companies.)

and from Bloomberg:

But the Justice Department inquiry led by Mueller now has added flavors. The Post noted that the investigation also includes “suspicious financial activity” involving “Russian operatives.” The New York Times was more specific in its account, saying that Mueller is looking at whether Trump associates laundered financial payoffs from Russian officials by channeling them through offshore accounts.

In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.

In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.

Kriss has sued Bayrock, alleging that in addition to laundering money, the Bayrock team also skimmed cash from the operation, dodged taxes and cheated him out of millions of dollars.

(click here to continue reading Trump, Russia, and Those Shadowy Sater Deals at Bayrock – Bloomberg.)

which makes this real estate transaction, a few blocks away2 from FSB’s West Loop HQ so eye-catching:

The record purchase price for a West Loop condo is set to more than quadruple, with a buyer agreeing to pay more than $5 million for a not-yet-built penthouse on Washington Street.

The asking price is about $5.6 million for the home, which is under contract. The listing agents declined to provide any details on the buyer, whom they referred to only as “he.”

Construction is scheduled to start next month, with the building ready for occupancy by summer 2018.

The penthouse prices astonished Baird & Warner agent Nicholas Colagiovanni, who sold the previous record-setter, a 2,400-square-foot loft at 1000 W. Washington, which closed this week at $1.2 million. It’s one of four condos sold in the neighborhood that have sold for $1 million or more so far this year.

(click here to continue reading West Loop contract under contract at over $5 million – Residential News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)

So a condo, in a building not even under construction yet, is worth 4 times more than the previously record holder for most expensive, one on the same block? One wonders what sort of business the purchaser is in. Do they speak Russian? Hmm.

If I was an investigator working for Robert Mueller, I’d take a closer look at this, and similar property transactions.

Footnotes:
  1. or was []
  2. a ten minute walk, 15 via Google Maps []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 21st, 2017 at 1:53 pm

The Federal Savings Bank was uploaded to Flickr

A strange little bank in Fulton Market, tied in closely to Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and maybe Russian money laundering.

New York prosecutors have demanded records relating to up to $16 million in loans that a bank run by a former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump made to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoena by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to the Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago bank run by Steve Calk, sought information on loans the bank issued in November and January to Mr. Manafort and his wife, the person said. The loans were secured by two properties in New York and a condominium in Virginia, real-estate records show.
More
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embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/WQMYN4

I took The Federal Savings Bank on May 18, 2017 at 10:03AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 17, 2017 at 10:39PM

Written by eggplant

July 17th, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Strange New Requests From Strangers

one comment

Strange Things Are Happening
Strange Things Are Happening

For the last year or even longer, I’ve periodically received email from strangers purporting to be fellow bloggers asking me to update old posts with a fresh link to their content. I’ve maintained a blog for a long time,1 thus I have lots and lots of posts and pages of posts by date and by category. I’ve always gotten “spam” comments, Akismet has protected your site from 1,571,626 spam comments but these new requests baffle me. Before the blog format was commodified, and commercialized2, I received lots of daily traffic, but I haven’t been a high traffic blog for a while now. I’m confused by this new, frequent request to update links – it isn’t as if Google ranks links from me highly these days.

This new category is labor intensive, so doesn’t seem as if it created by a bot. 

Emails such as this one:

Hi,

You’ve had a couple of emails from me recently, but I’ve not heard back.

I wondered if the resource was of interest, or is there someone else I should contact instead?

I’ve included my email below for reference.

On Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 8:36 AM, Paul Turnbull <paul@aob-mail.com> wrote:
Hi,

I appreciate you’re busy but I wondered if you had a chance to check out my earlier email.

I’ve included a copy here –

On Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 8:48 AM, Paul Turnbull <paul@aob-mail.com> wrote:
Hi,

I noticed you have a link to the Rebecca Blood post on the history of weblogs here – http://www.b12partners.net/mt/archives/2006/04/.

That post was published way back in 2000 so is missing everything that has happened in the blogosphere since.

We’ve got an updated history of (we)blogging here – artofblog.com/history/

Perhaps you’d consider adding a link to our piece as well to serve as additional reading?

Thank you for your time.

Paul

Or another one I’ve also gotten today:

Just making sure you saw this. Hope you are well! 

P.O. Box 135, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand | To unsubscribe please reply with ‘Unsubscribe’ in the header

On Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 9:04 PM, Jesse Miller <jesse@jenreviews.com> wrote:
Dear Editor,

I was searching the web for information on how to choose a bike and saw your great post here: http://www.b12partners.net/mt/archives/2005/05/

I noticed you mentioned http://www.bikethedrive.org/ in your post, and just wanted to give you a heads up that I recently wrote a blog post you might like. It’s a detailed, up-to-date 7,000 word guide on how to choose a bike according to science, that details 10 factors to consider and is packed with tips and advice.

If this is something you’d be interested in, here is the link to the blog post: jenreviews.com/bike/

This is completely free and if you like it, all I ask is for you to link to or share the article on your site. In return, would love to share your post with my newsletter subscribers and followers on social media.

Either way, keep up the great work!

Cheers
Jesse

Here are some of the raw email headers for reference:

From: Jesse Miller <jesse@jenreviews.com>
In-Reply-To: <CAFrQzFYz8cX6jx=o047FxoSK1Lq7ELRVhLZAVW5hZoN-f6BTrA@mail.gmail.com>
References: <CAFrQzFYz8cX6jx=o047FxoSK1Lq7ELRVhLZAVW5hZoN-f6BTrA@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2017 00:12:37 -0400
Message-ID: <CAFrQzFa52QJeHTZ0rVkQz0HcGzLdhcdDjty-WMuuLfVbZ29UfA@mail.gmail.com>

Strange News From Another Star
Strange News From Another Star

I’m skeptical of the motives of these requests. Why would someone request an update to a page which is a month’s worth of blog posts back in 2005 (or 2006)? Why not the specific individual post? In a moment of weakness, I responded to one earlier this year requesting money to make these links. That particular emailer didn’t reply again. 

As I mentioned before, I do still frequently get automatically generated “spam” comments, ones like:

“Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Appreciate it”

which links to  proxieslive (dot) com/free-proxy/ etc   

Those kinds of spams are irritating, and clutter up my blog’s databases, but they are obviously generated by bots, and not hand-crafted emails. 

These new super-targeted requests are strange. Did some SEO eBook suggest reaching out in this way as a means to increase traffic? Or are these Spambots 2.0?

Footnotes:
  1. longer if you include even earlier years when I hand wrote crap on my webpage without a CMS []
  2. by organizations like Huffington Post and the Gawker enterprise, for instance []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 16th, 2017 at 9:28 am

Posted in blog

Tagged with

Abolish property tax exemptions for rich nonprofits

Dom Sub Invoc S Hedwigis
Dom Sub Invoc S Hedwigis.

David M. Simon elaborates on a point I’ve made before: wealthy non-profits like churches and universities shouldn’t be tax exempt.

Illinois is the land of special favors for those with lobbyists, connections or clout. Just look at the state’s property tax laws and the exemptions for rich nonprofits.

Retired homeowners living on fixed incomes pay hefty property taxes, despite the so-called “senior exemption.”

On the other hand, real estate owned by many rich nonprofits is completely exempt from property taxes. This includes private university campuses and their sports facilities, the gleaming skyscrapers of qualifying private hospitals and magnificent church cathedrals. And lots of other expensive real estate owned by other qualifying nonprofits. All completely exempt — and unfair.

Wealthy nonprofits with expensive real estate use and benefit from the same law enforcement, fire protection and other basic services as other property owners. These nonprofits may not principally use their real estate to make money, but neither do most families.

This system also dumps the hefty shares of the tax burden that these nonprofits should pay on the rest of us.

(click here to continue reading Abolish property tax exemptions for rich nonprofits – Chicago Tribune.)

Jesus Is A Hoarder
Jesus Is A Hoarder

What are these organizations doing for our society? Is it justified for them to be takers on the basis of whatever their so-called mission is? For instance, Scientology? Or college and professional sports stadiums? Not if I had a vote.

I had a 3 A.M. thought. Mayor Daley the Younger was bad for the city in a lot of ways1 but inarguably there was one aspect he was better at than the current administration: keeping the city gleaming, especially downtown, but everywhere really. Today, in many nooks and crannies of the city, there are mounds of McDonald’s wrappers, Starbucks coffee cups, cigarette butts, puddles of stale urine that haven’t been touched in years. Rain washes some of this detritus off the streets and sidewalks, but then it accumulates in stairways, alleys, and other locations. Nobody is power-washing the sidewalk, nobody is picking up the garbage that doesn’t make it into a garbage can.

What if in exchange for tax-exempt status, a non-profit had to adopt a city block and keep it clean? There could be some formula based on the annual financial report of the organization and the total number of city blocks. So the Heritage Foundation would be required to keep clean 5 blocks on the South Side somewhere near the Koch Brothers coal dust repository, while Northwestern Memorial Hospital would be responsible for 23 blocks in a cluster near Garfield Park. Or however the math works. 

Impractical, unlikely, and unwieldily, like most 3 AM thoughts…

Footnotes:
  1. enthusiastically privatizing city assets, allowing the police free rein to ride roughshod over civil liberties, frequently walking right up to the line of corruption, and even putting his toe over the line, and so on []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 12th, 2017 at 9:27 am

Posted in government,politics,religion

Tagged with ,

Reading Around July 9th, 2017

A few snippets for your reading and eye-rolling muscles, collected from various journeys across the vast wasted plain of the internet…

 

Daddy, what did You do in the Great War? (Art.IWM PST 0311)  Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/17053

Nothing to see here, says GOP

Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials.

The U.S. officials said there is no evidence the hackers breached or disrupted the core systems controlling operations at the plants, so the public was not at risk. Rather, they said, the hackers broke into systems dealing with business and administrative tasks, such as personnel.

(click here to continue reading U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks – The Washington Post.)

I’ll probably (eventually) see the comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s new film, The Big Sick:

After the panel, in the greenroom, Nanjiani expanded on his thoughts about representation. “People use these words so much that they can start to sound meaningless,” he said. “But I believe it matters. The stories you see as a kid show you what’s possible. I mean, I’m almost forty, and when I saw a brown guy kicking ass in the new ‘Star Wars’ movie I started crying in the movie theatre.” He went on, “Everyone knows what a secular Jew looks like. Everyone knows what a lapsed Catholic looks like. That’s all over pop culture. But there are very few Muslim characters who aren’t terrorists, who aren’t even going to a mosque, who are just people with complicated backstories who do normal things. Obviously, terrorism is an important subject to tackle. But we also need Muslim characters who, like, go to Six Flags and eat ice cream.”

(click here to continue reading Kumail Nanjiani’s Culture-Clash Comedy | The New Yorker.)

You’d think the Russian link to Trump would be a bigger story, and yet, it keeps circling and circling, and the right keeps denying there is any “there there”.

Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

(click here to continue reading Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign – The New York Times.)

A new-to-me term, differential privacy:

Last year, Apple Inc. kicked off a massive experiment with new privacy technology aimed at solving an increasingly thorny problem: how to build products that understand users without snooping on their activities.

Its answer is differential privacy, a term virtually unknown outside of academic circles until a year ago. Today, other companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc. are experimenting with the technology.

The problem differential privacy tries to tackle stems from the fact that modern data-analysis tools are capable of finding links between large databases. Privacy experts worry these tools could be used to identify people in otherwise anonymous data sets.

Two years ago, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered shoppers could be identified by linking social-media accounts to anonymous credit-card records and bits of secondary information, such as the location or timing of purchases.

”I don’t think people are aware of how easy it is getting to de-anonymize data,” said Ishaan Nerurkar, whose startup LeapYear Technologies Inc. sells software for leveraging machine learning while using differential privacy to keep user data anonymous.

(click here to continue reading Apple Expands Bet on Cutting Edge Privacy Technology – WSJ.)

Biometric hand scanners are the Mark of the Beast? What about thumbprint scanners that unlock your smart phone? Or worse, the rumored face scanner in iPhone 8?

To more accurately track attendance and time worked, the employer, Consol Energy, installed a biometric hand scanner. Beverly Butcher, an evangelical Christian employed with Consol for over 35 years, refused to use the new biometric scanner. Butcher believed that the Book of Revelation referenced the hand-scanning technology when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a “mark on their right hand.”

Butcher made repeated requests to Consol to exempt him from use of the biometric hand scanner based on his religious beliefs, but the company denied those requests. The employer reasoned that hand scanner left no physical mark. In any event, Consol understood that the “mark of the beast” related to the right hand and the company could “accommodate” Butcher by allowing him to use his left hand in the scanner. The employer had already approved complete exemptions from the biometric scanner for two employees with hand injuries. In fact, in authorizing the medical accommodations, a company representative wrote, “Let’s make our religious objector use his left hand.”

Facing discipline for refusing to use the biometric scanner with his left hand, Butcher retired. He then filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging that by failing to accommodate his religious beliefs Consol had constructively discharged him. The EEOC took the case to trial and a jury found in favor of the employee. The court awarded the employee a total of $586,860 in lost wages, benefits, and compensatory damages.

(click here to continue reading In employment law, even the “mark of the beast” must be accommodated.)

and a bit of history worth clicking to see the photos:

Work began on the tunnels in 1899 under the auspices the Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Company, reorganized in later years as the Chicago Tunnel Company. An enormous quantity of blue clay soil was excavated by hand and used as landfill to build up low lying areas on the waterfront.

The Chicago Tunnel Company had an aggressive (perhaps brash) business strategy, building 60 miles of tunnels before securing a single client. Once the network was complete they approached downtown buildings and offered an array of services, including telephone and telegraph connections, and coal, mail and merchandise deliveries. And the clients did come; tunnel connections were built to the Board of Trade, City Hall, Merchandise Mart, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Chicago Tribune, the Civic Opera House, the Field Museum, and dozen of others. One of the Chicago Tunnel Company’s  more inventive products was “tunnel air” (55˚F year round), which they piped into theaters and hotels as natural air conditioning.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Freight Tunnels – Chicago, Illinois – Atlas Obscura.)

and finally, a fascinating exploration of a man’s grandfather:

For three years at the end of his life, Dr. Lee Hartman worked as a resident physician and psychiatrist at Huntsville’s Wynne Unit. From 1960 to 1963, he witnessed at least 14 executions as presiding physician, his signature scrawled on the death certificates of the condemned men. All of them died in the electric chair – “Ol’ Sparky” – a grisly method that left flesh burned and bodies smoking in the death chamber as my grandfather read their vital signs.

I had always known from my father that his dad, who died before I was born, worked for the prison system as a psychiatrist.

But I had no idea that he’d worked in the death chamber, witnessing executions. Or that he’d been involved in testing psychedelics on prisoners to see if drugs like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin could treat schizophrenia. Or that he’d been hospitalized repeatedly during his lifelong struggle with depression.

And I didn’t know the truth about his death at age 48, when he was found on the staircase of his house in Houston’s exclusive River Oaks neighborhood.

My obsession with my grandfather’s life grew from my father’s sudden death from a stroke at his Austin home in 2014. Last summer, I came back to Austin after 14 years overseas and began searching for clues about my grandfather – in the state archives, in Huntsville and in boxes of old family keepsakes kept by my aunts.

(click here to continue reading My grandfather was a death row doctor. He tested psychedelic drugs on Texas inmates. | The Texas Tribune.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 9th, 2017 at 11:04 am

Posted in News-esque

DNA Chicago Uses My Photo of Casa Aztlan Mural Without Crediting Me

Casa Aztlan
Casa Aztlan

I realize that I did not paint Ray Patlan’s Casa Aztlan mural, but I did photograph it, and now DNA Chicago and other entities are using my photograph on their website without crediting me. The author of this article is Stephanie Lulay, who I’m sure will rectify the situation, eventually. I imagine this is just an oversight, and not malicious.

For instance, in reporting the news that Ray Patlan’s mural has been painted over, but now the original muralist is willing to come back and re-paint his work:

PILSEN — After an iconic mural was painted over in Pilsen earlier this month, the developer responsible for the change has promised to bring back the mural’s original artist to re-create it.

Workers painted over the mural that adorned the former Casa Aztlan community center facade at 1831 S. Racine Ave., a storied artwork created by artist Ray Patlan and Pilsen students more than 45 years ago. The incident sparked outrage in the neighborhood known for its public art and murals.

(click here to continue reading After Casa Aztlan Mural Painted Over, Artist Will Return To Re-create It – Pilsen – DNAinfo Chicago.)

DNA Chicago uses this photo, credited to Pilsen Allian, and Facebook/Ricardo Gamboa:

DNA Chicago uses my photo without crediting me

Notice the area in red: if you make the photos bigger, you will see a white chair in front of an area being repainted.

During the time I took this photo, and uploaded to Flickr (with Creative Commons license, albeit, “Some Rights Reserved”) I did not use a watermark. Incidents like this one are so common, I started signing all my photos.

One reason this copyright infringement sticks in my craw is that DNAInfo is owned by wealthy businessman Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, owner of the Chicago Cubs, and a noted Donald Trump supporter. If the Ricketts can afford the luxury of owning a major league sports team, you’d think they could be a little more careful with copyright.

No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts
No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

Bonus: a couple more photos of the mural. I’m happy Ray Patlan is coming back to recreate this iconic artwork.

Che Guevara - Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center
Che Guevara – Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center

Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center
Detail at Casa Aztlan Community Center

Written by Seth Anderson

July 1st, 2017 at 7:44 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,Photography

Tagged with ,

Senate Democrats Take a Harder Line Eventually

Lil Trump and Obama
Lil Trump and Obama (via)

Funny how the Democrats were so willing to work with Trump and the GOP, in contrast to Senator Mitch McConnell’s scorched earth approach in 2008. McConnell famously pushed his party to not vote with the Democrats a single time and to actively obstruct each and every possible initiative proposed by President Obama. Remember that guy named Merrick Brian Garland?

Rather than trying to bring Democrats to his side, Mr. Trump has instead waged a war of Twitter insults against lawmakers who oppose his agenda. He has picked fights with allies, proposed giant budget cuts to programs dear to many in his own party and inserted himself into the health care fight in ways that hurt congressional Republicans’ efforts, all under the cloud of a federal investigation into possible connections to Russian meddling in the election.

All this has undermined the notion, born just six months ago, that Mr. Trump’s surprising win had rewritten the political map, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980, in a way neither party could ignore. Confident that the political order is largely intact, Democrats have been emboldened to oppose his agenda, and Republicans, who adamantly refused to help Mr. Obama, are learning what turnabout feels like.

“Early in new administrations, members look to work together where they can,” said Scott Mulhauser, who served in senior roles for several Democrats and committees in the Senate over the past decade. “There was a postelection moment where this president might have reached toward the center, delivered on priorities like infrastructure that cut across party lines and reconfigured the electoral math. Instead, he made little effort to collaborate, lurched rightward to his base while taunting the center and the left, and is now feeling the consequences. You reap the discord you sow.”

Some Democrats, including Mr. Schumer, tried to appeal to Mr. Trump early on.

“I told him infrastructure and tax reform should have been the first thing out of the box,” said Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, whom both parties expected to be an early ally of Mr. Trump. But, Mr. Manchin said, the president chose a more partisan agenda. “Someone got to him,” he said.

Mr. Manchin spoke with the president early in his administration — leading to speculation that he might even land a job within it — but has since been largely ignored by White House officials and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who has mostly iced out Democrats in this Congress.

(click here to continue reading Spurned by Trump, Senate Democrats Take a Harder Line – The New York Times.)

Partisanship is here to stay, the Democrats might as well accept it. The Democratic Party’s rank and file understand the new paradigm, too bad the party officials are seemingly stuck in 1948 mode.

Watch Your Damn Mouth.jpg

Watch Your Damn Mouth.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

June 29th, 2017 at 9:47 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

But Actually…

But Actually…
But Actually…

At the closing of UrbanSeens at Spellerberg Projects.

Photo of me mansplaining taken by someone I know (not sure exactly), then manipulated in Comic Life 3 on my flight back home.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 28th, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with

Firm Says Voter Data Set Left Unprotected Online

Democratic Primary Ballot
Democratic Primary Ballot

Kinda seems like a big deal, though this sort of information is in all sorts of databases, public and private…

A computer-security company said that a proprietary data set containing personal information on nearly 200 million American voters and their predicted voting behavior was left unprotected online, in a large cache of spreadsheets and other electronic files.

According to security company UpGuard, the information, which was available on a public server accessible by anyone via the internet, was compiled by consulting firm Deep Root Analytics, which helps Republican campaigns choose which voters to target with TV advertising.

The voter records, which are public information, were augmented with proprietary analysis about voter behavior by Deep Root, which tries to predict voters’ policy preferences and how likely they are to choose a particular candidate.

The voter information, portions of which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, includes the names and other personally identifying information about 198 million registered voters, which would appear to be nearly all of the estimated registered voters in the U.S., the company found. The information includes dates of birth, mailing addresses and party affiliation, as well as self-reported racial demographics, according to Mr. Vickery, but didn’t include social security numbers or financial information.

Registration information about individual voters is available from state and county election boards to anyone who requests it, though compiling it all in one place would take a significant amount of time and labor, and it wouldn’t contain any predictions about voter behavior.

 

(click here to continue reading Computer-Security Firm Says Voter Data Set Left Unprotected Online – WSJ.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 19th, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

ADM to close Fulton Market wheat mill

Industrial Devolution
Industrial Devolution.

Surprised that this took so long, actually…

Archer Daniels Midland is planning to close a 120-year-old Chicago wheat mill and move operations to a new facility it is building in rural Mendota, Ill.

The Chicago-based food processing giant on Friday announced construction of the new flour mill, which is slated to open in mid-2019. The high-capacity facility will be adjacent to ADM’s existing Mendota grain facility, about 90 miles west of Chicago in LaSalle County.

The current plant on West Carroll Avenue in the trendy Fulton Market district, will continue to churn out flour until the new facility is fully operational, the company said Friday.

The Chicago plant was built in 1897 by B.A. Eckhart Milling, which operated it for decades. ADM purchased it from Dixie Portland Flour Mills in 1990 for about $14 million, according to Cook County records. Located in the once-gritty meatpacking district on the Near West Side, the plant is now something of an anachronism amid the trendy restaurants, bars and office buildings that have sprung up in recent years.

The 250,000-square-foot industrial facility sits on a 2-acre site, according to CoStar Group.

(click here to continue reading ADM to close Fulton Market wheat mill for new LaSalle County plant – Chicago Tribune.)

That could turn into a monster new development if current real estate trends continue

Reliable, ADM In afternoon light
Reliable, ADM In afternoon light

Ogden Avenue - 1923
Ogden Avenue – 1923

I Doubt That Is True
I Doubt That Is True

Majestic Corn Silo- Kodak Ultra Color 100UC
Majestic Corn Silo- Kodak Ultra Color 100UC

ADM butt-crack
ADM butt-crack

Storing Corn - Agfa Scala 200
Storing Wheat – Agfa Scala 200

Written by Seth Anderson

June 3rd, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with , , , ,

U.S. death rate from Alzheimer’s rose dramatically over 15 years. Why?

Brain Salt
Brain Salt won’t help.

Grim indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the spike was related to the increase of chemicals like those in Febreeze or Downy, and other industrial chemicals sold to consumers in the guise of “cleanliness”. Or even the miasma of all of them combined. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just put out a grim report about Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.

Death rates from Alzheimer’s climbed 55 percent from 1999 to 2014, CDC found, and the number of Americans afflicted is likely to rise rapidly in the coming years. About 5.5 million people 65 years and older have the disease — a wretched and fatal form of dementia that erases memories and ultimately can destroy mental and physical capacity. By 2050, that’s expected to more than double to 13.8 million people.

The report is based on state- and county-level death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System, and CDC researchers said the sharp increase in death rates may be due to the aging population, earlier diagnosis and greater reporting by physicians.

(click here to continue reading U.S. death rate from Alzheimer’s rose dramatically over 15 years. Why? – The Washington Post.)

All Your Brains Are Belong To Us
All Your Brains Are Belong To Us

The CDC adds:

The findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, several factors relating to the assigned cause of death might affect estimates of death involving Alzheimer’s. Evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s deaths reported on death certificates might be underestimates of the actual number of Alzheimer’s deaths in the United States (8). Because cases were identified using the underlying cause of death, persons with Alzheimer’s but a non-Alzheimer’s underlying cause of death were not identified in this analysis. Second, complications from Alzheimer’s, such as pneumonia, might be reported as the cause of death although the actual underlying cause of death, Alzheimer’s, was not reported on the death certificate. Finally, a person with Alzheimer’s might have dementia assigned as the underlying cause of death rather than a more specific diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Some modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as obesity and fewer years of education, have been identified as factors associated with an increased risk for dementia (9,10). Although some treatments have been demonstrated to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is no cure or definitive means of prevention (2). Until Alzheimer’s can be prevented, slowed, or stopped, caregiving for persons with advanced Alzheimer’s will remain a demanding task. An increasing number of Alzheimer’s deaths coupled with an increasing number of patients dying at home suggests that there is an increasing number of caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s. It is likely that these caregivers might benefit from interventions such as education, respite care, and case management that can lessen the potential burden of caregiving.

(click here to continue reading Deaths from Alzheimer’s Disease — United States, 1999–2014 | MMWR.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 26th, 2017 at 8:42 am

Posted in health

Tagged with

A Sean Hannity Conspiracy Theory Finally Went Too Far

Don't Forget to Suffer In Brooding Silence
Don’t Forget to Suffer In Brooding Silence.

We live in a new world, a world where advertisers don’t want to be associated with toxic scum like Sean Hannity. Finally!

Sean Hannity has been peddling his Roger Ailes-inspired schtick for a long, long time. Fear, hatred, anger, and related emotions are the currency Hannity and his ilk traffic in. But these days, there is a precedent for consumers to directly contact the advertisers for these shows, and pressure the corporations to withdraw their support. Sometimes the corporation is enlightened enough to act on their own.

Cars.com, Casper, and several other companies pulled advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Wednesday as the host continued to push a conspiracy theory about Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in Washington, DC, last year.

For days, Hannity has been peddling a theory that Rich’s killing was ordered by the Clintons in retaliation for leaking DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Police have said his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong.

“Cars.com’s media buy strategies are designed to reach as many consumers as possible across a wide spectrum of media channels,” a Cars.com spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News when asked about Hannity’s focus on the conspiracy.

“The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn’t mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. We don’t have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we’ve been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity,” the company added.

After learning its commercials ran on Hannity’s show, Crowne Plaza Hotels said it terminated its relationship with its third-party ad-buying agency.

“We do not advertise on Fox News, Hannity or any political commentary show. We have a specific do not advertise list for this type of programming. Unfortunately, our expectation to adhere to this list was not met by a third-party agency. Since we learned of the airings, we addressed the issue immediately and terminated our relationship with the agency. We have no plans to advertise on Fox News for the foreseeable future,” the company explained.

Ring, a video doorbell company, and Peloton, a cycling studio, announced that they had directed their media agencies to stop advertising on the show.

Mattress companies Casper and Leesa Sleep also said Wednesday that they had pulled ad buys from the show. Casper said it was “reassigning the allocation.”

The decisions came after Rich’s brother sent a letter to Hannity’s executive producer pleading for the show to stop spreading rumors about Rich’s death. On Tuesday, Fox News retracted a story tying Rich to Wikileaks and wrote in a statement, “The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require from all our reporting.”

(click here to continue reading Sean Hannity’s Seth Rich Obsession Just Cost Him Several Advertisers.)

Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic
Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic

Corporations want to sell their goods and services, not support hate speech. Thus in the last few years there have been several instances of advertisers fleeing toxicity: Sandra Fluke vs. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Breitbart, Bill O’Reilly, and probably other incedents too. The right wing tried these tactics on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, but without much success, so far.

Media Matters added:

Fox News’ two decades of peddling bigotry, misogyny, and extremism are finally coming home to roost. After former president and CEO Roger Ailes was forced out last year, Fox News parted ways with Bill O’Reilly and co-president Bill Shine last month after their central roles inside the network’s workplace culture of sexual harassment and racial discrimination were put in the spotlight and advertisers started to flee.

At Media Matters, we know Fox News. We’ve spent more than 10 years watching the network profit from a dangerous mix of hate, lies, and propaganda. Ad buyers may think that because Fox dropped O’Reilly and some of the old guard executives who enabled him, it’s safe to get back in the water there. But we know that the network’s new prime-time lineup — featuring the likes of Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, and darling of the “alt-right” Tucker Carlson — is just as bad. They’re committed to the same “culture war” racism and misogyny that made Fox culture toxic in the first place — and as a federal investigation into shady practices at Fox ramps up, there are no indications yet that this network is any less risky for advertisers than it was before.

The bottom line is this: When companies knowingly advertise alongside hate, they incentivize and enable more hate, and they put their reputations on the line. Like our ads say, “It’s one crisis after another with Fox. Don’t forget: Hate, misogyny, and racism are bad for business.” Advertisers beware.

(click here to continue reading Media Matters Launches “Know What You’re Sponsoring” Ad Campaign Targeting Buyers At Upfronts.)

Hannity had been one of the main purveyors of a widely discredited theory that DNC staffer Seth Rich was shot and killed near his home in Northwest Washington last year because he had supplied DNC emails to WikiLeaks. District police say Rich died in a botched robbery. His parents have pleaded with news outlets to stop speculating about his death.

Facing a wave of criticism over its reporting, Fox News retracted an article on Tuesday that said Rich made contact with WikiLeaks before he was shot.

At first Hannity refused to follow suit, telling listeners on his radio show, “All you in the liberal media, I am not Fox.com or Foxnews.com; I retracted nothing.” On his Fox News show Tuesday evening he said he would back off the story “for now,” but he continued to post cryptic tweets about Rich’s death.

The left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters published a list of Hannity’s sponsors on Tuesday — a move many interpreted as a call to boycott his show.

Hannity responded in a series of tweets saying “liberal fascists” were trying to bring him down.

(click here to continue reading Sean Hannity loses advertisers amid uproar over slain DNC staffer conspiracy theories – The Washington Post.)

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

Even some at Fox question why Hannity is allowed free reign…

Fox News staffers have told CNNMoney that they are frustrated and embarrassed by Hannity’s peddling of the conspiracy. “It is disappointing because it drags the rest of us down,” one senior Fox News employee said earlier this week. Several staffers have also questioned why Fox News leadership continued to allow Hannity to spread an unproven theory on the network.

The most common theory circulating among staff is that Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, doesn’t want to run the risk of losing Hannity by upsetting him. Fox News has already lost its two biggest prime time stars — Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly — in the span of just five months. Losing Hannity would be a crushing blow to the network, these sources said.

(click here to continue reading Sean Hannity’s conspiracy theory puts pressure on Fox – May. 24, 2017.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

May 25th, 2017 at 9:01 am

Posted in Advertising,Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Google now data mining credit card data

Cougle Comission - Fulton Market
Cougle Comission – Fulton Market

Inevitable, and yet still creepy

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.

To power its multibillion-dollar advertising juggernaut, Google already analyzes users’ Web browsing, search history and geographic locations, using data from popular Google-owned apps like YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and the Google Play store. All that information is tied to the real identities of users when they log into Google’s services.

The new credit-card data enables the tech giant to connect these digital trails to real-world purchase records in a far more extensive way than was possible before. But in doing so, Google is yet again treading in territory that consumers may consider too intimate and potentially sensitive. Privacy advocates said few people understand that their purchases are being analyzed in this way and could feel uneasy, despite assurances from Google that it has taken steps to protect the personal information of its users.

(click here to continue reading Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post.)

Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

especially since all this data is vulnerable to hackers

Paul Stephens, of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy group based in San Diego, said only a few pieces of data can allow a marketer to identify an individual, and he expressed skepticism that Google’s system for guarding the identities of users will stand up to the efforts of hackers, who in the past have successfully stripped away privacy protections created by other companies after data breaches.

“What we have learned is that it’s extremely difficult to anonymize data,” he said. “If you care about your privacy, you definitely need to be concerned.”

Such data providers have been the targets of cybercriminals in the past. In 2015, a hack of data broker Experian exposed the personal information of 15 million people.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 24th, 2017 at 10:05 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank was uploaded to Flickr

Actually, entrance to the building where The Federal Savings Bank is located. A strange kind of bank, only on the third floor, with a building security employee that won’t let you go up unless you are a member of the bank, plus won’t allow photography in the lobby.

The FSB has been in the news lately for its Trump ties, and allegedly Russian money laundering schemes with Paul Manafort.

For instance:
Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank wouldn’t comment Tuesday on a report that New York prosecutors have subpoenaed records related to $16 million in loans the institution made to former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

chief executive, Steve Calk, was an economic adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. Manafort is under scrutiny from a special prosecutor and members of Congress for his dealings with Russian interests, part of the wider investigation into ties between Russia and members of Trump’s campaign and administration.

Federal Savings Bank made about $6.5 million in loans in January to Manafort and his wife for a Brooklyn property, documents show. That came about a month after Federal Savings lent $9.5 million to Summerbreeze, a limited liability company connected to Manafort, according to 377 Union, a website run by two New York lawyers that is named for the address of the Manafort property in Brooklyn.

The combined $16 million in loans to one borrower represents nearly a quarter of the small bank’s loan portfolio and approaches the level at which regulators would start to think about imposing limits on lending to one customer.

more:
http://ift.tt/2twR3py…

embiggen by clicking
http://ift.tt/2uIJV8W

I took Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank on May 18, 2017 at 10:02AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 21, 2017 at 10:06AM

Written by eggplant

May 21st, 2017 at 2:26 pm