B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Brexit buzz Re the fate of England’s honeybees

Bee Cee Honey
Bee Cee Honey

As a brief follow-up to yesterday’s question about future food crops in England post-Brexit: the honeybees are also in the divorce negotiation apparently.

SURBITON, England — The honeybees buzzing inside the hives in this community garden outside of London appear blissfully oblivious of the follies of man. But the political drama that has engulfed their human keepers since Britain voted to leave the European Union could ensnare them as well.

Few have bothered to consider what the country’s historic decision to end its four-decade alliance with the continent will mean for the humble arthropod. Gaining far more attention have been the passionate debates over the merits of immigration and the limits of globalization that fueled the nation’s desire to quit the E.U.

But unraveling any marriage is a complicated affair, and the fate of Apis mellifera highlights how entangled Britain has become with the 27 countries beyond the English Channel. At stake are the future of European regulations of pesticides that could threaten the 250,000 hives on this island nation; medicines that can be used to treat honeybee ailments; and funding for inspectors responsible for ensuring the health of Britain’s bees.

The honeybee falls under the jurisdiction of the European Food Safety Authority. The E.U. produces more than 200,000 tons of honey for human consumption each year, but officials’ interest is not merely culinary. Bees are a critical pollinator of Europe’s farm crops, and their indirect impact on agriculture is estimated to be 22 billion euros, dwarfing the sales of honey. Beekeepers hope that means their interests would not be ignored in any future discussions.

Beekeepers are divided over what Britain’s departure from the E.U. will mean for their hives. Generating the most buzz is a temporary ban on pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, used by farmers. Environmentalists and bee enthusiasts had lobbied for the moratorium after noticing that bees exposed to the chemical appeared to act drunk — becoming disoriented and getting lost.

Now the question is whether Britain will keep the ban or roll it back.

“Environmental issues cross political boundaries. In order to tackle them, you have to work together,” said Norman Carreck, science director at the International Bee Research Association. “If the U.K. leaves, everything is open to negotiation.”

To those who supported remaining in the E.U., the moratorium is exactly the type of regulatory minutiae that the alliance is supposed to alleviate. A centralized bureaucracy helps Britain compete in an increasingly interconnected world. Rather than negotiate with 28 agencies over pesticide use across Europe, beekeepers need only deal with one. A unified bloc also gives Britain greater leverage in negotiations with other world leaders. Collectively, the E.U. is the largest economy in the world — bigger than the United States. Alone, the United Kingdom is a distant fifth.

(click here to continue reading The latest Brexit buzz is about the fate of England’s honeybees – The Washington Post.)

Gee, Dad, What’s That?
Gee, Dad, What’s That?

Written by Seth Anderson

August 20th, 2016 at 9:43 am

With nearly half its food imported, who will feed Britain after Brexit?

Organic Tomatoes Produced in Kent
Organic Tomatoes Produced in Kent, UK.

Trump called himself “Mr. Brexit” yesterday. Funny, almost, in light of the reality of how removing E.U. immigrants is going to drastically change how Britain feeds itself. America too if the anti-immigrant brigade ever gets a modicum of power. Have you ever picked vegetables in the hot sun? It’s not work I’d do voluntarily, even if it paid above minimum wage. Trump’s anti-immigrant army will be spluttering in impotent rage if tomatoes were $50/lb, if lettuce was something you only could afford to eat over the holidays, if a hamburger cost $35 even to make it at home with store-bought ingredients. 

But then Trump’s cult has never had the ability to comprehend facts.

Courgetts (or Courgettes)
Courgetts (or Courgettes) (a/k/a Zucchini)

Anyway, back to Britain, where Carla Power writes, in part:

“Brexit” has sown deep uncertainty in Britain’s food system, which for the last 43 years has been entwined with the rest of Europe’s, relying heavily on the EU for everything from pork to peaches to farm subsidies to the labor that picks its tomatoes. Now, the country is going to have to rethink how it feeds itself, from farm to fork.

“Food is the biggest sector of engagement with Europe,” said Timothy Lang, a professor at City University London’s Center for Food Policy. “It’s hundreds of thousands of contracts, all woven into long supply chains.”

Currently, European laws regulate nearly everything that ends up on British plates: how clean a chicken should be before slaughter, how cold to keep frozen cod, who gets to call their biscuits “gluten free.”

Now, Britain will have to decide all that for itself. Some groups already have begun lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May’s new government for regulations to improve animal welfare and protect soils.

But what Britain can’t do is feed itself. The country imports more than $50 billion a year in food, or nearly half of what it eats. That’s more than double what it exports. Most wine and beef come from mainland Europe, as do about 40% of fruit and vegetables.

The future of food in Britain will depend largely on what sort of trade deals the government can strike with the European alliance it is preparing to abandon.

Germany and other European powers have made it clear that they will not grant Britain the benefits of EU membership if it leaves and that the country probably will face tariffs on many of its imports.

New tariffs on food would drive up prices and potentially change the nation’s diet.

EU membership has brought them a flexible, energetic and mobile labor force of Romanians, Bulgarians and other Eastern Europeans. While EU-born workers from outside Britain make up 6% of the country’s workforce, they account for more than a quarter of employees in the food manufacturing industry — and 95% of crop pickers.

“Every strawberry eaten at Wimbledon was picked by an Eastern European,” said John Hardman of Hops Labour Solutions, an agricultural recruitment firm in Kenilworth. “Every Brussels sprout eaten at Christmas dinner was picked by an Eastern European.”
If Britain stops free movement of EU workers, farmers may struggle to find replacements. Britons themselves don’t seem keen on the low wages and long hours in the orchards and fields.

(click here to continue reading With nearly half its food imported, who will feed Britain after ‘Brexit’? – LA Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 19th, 2016 at 1:15 pm

M. Hohner Special 20 – Key of C was uploaded to Flickr

Harmonicas are extremely easy and hard to learn.

I had one for many years, but it got sat on and squished one drunken night (might even have been me, but probably not). I never got around to replacing it until today.

embiggen by clicking

I took M. Hohner Special 20 – Key of C on August 19, 2016 at 07:03AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 19, 2016 at 01:28PM

Written by eggplant

August 19th, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Drink Your Sidewalks Like Wine was uploaded to Flickr

Construction, West Loop somewhere, Chicago

embiggen by clicking

I took Drink Your Sidewalks Like Wine on June 07, 2012 at 04:59PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 19, 2016 at 10:03AM

Written by eggplant

August 19th, 2016 at 10:44 am

Testing of Household Materials

Star Kiss
Star Kiss

We’ve discussed this inexplicable loophole a few times before, ever since Bill Moyers tested his own body for chemicals and found over 70 different ones. We are glad that maybe something will be done, maybe. Though with the current group of knuckle-draggers and corporate sell-outs inhabiting Congress, I’m skeptical.

You can’t legally buy a drug in the United States that hasn’t undergone rigorous testing, mandated by Congress, to prove that it’s safe and effective. By contrast, that lipstick, shampoo, or deodorant you use every day may have undergone no such testing.

And there’s cause to wonder if those products are safe. More than 21,000 complaints of itching, rashes and hair loss, for instance, have been sent to the manufacturer and distributor of Wen Hair Care products. And hair-straightening products that contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, have caused allergic reactions, hair loss, rashes, blisters and other problems in salon workers and their customers.

A bill introduced by two senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine — would change that by requiring the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate a minimum of five chemicals used in cosmetics every year and to collect fees from the industry to pay for those reviews. The agency would also get the power to order companies to recall dangerous products and to force companies to provide it with safety data and reports of adverse health effects from consumers.

The bill has the backing of public interest groups like the Environmental Working Group and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, as well as much of the cosmetics industry, including big companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. But some manufacturers, like Mary Kay, oppose the bill because they argue that its provisions would be too onerous. They are pushing a much weaker measure introduced by Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, that would not require the F.D.A. to review risky ingredients and wouldn’t give the agency authority to order recalls.

(click here to continue reading Is Your Lipstick Bad for You? – The New York Times.)

See, Pete Sessions and his pals are doing their best to ensure you are poisoned by household chemicals. That’s democracy in America folks…

Let The Kiss Free!
Let The Kiss Free!

We are way behind Europe. As Bill Moyers and other pointed out, in the US, chemicals are only tested after they can be scientifically linked to problems: in Europe the chemical has to past those tests before being approved to the marketplace.  

All told, European officials have restricted or banned more than 1,300 chemicals and groups of chemicals, experts say; the F.D.A. has prohibited 11 ingredients. That shocking discrepancy makes clear how far behind the United States is in this area. It also shows that sensible regulations will not cripple companies that make cosmetics, since many of their products are already covered by European law.


Written by Seth Anderson

August 18th, 2016 at 10:20 am

Posted in government,health

Tagged with ,

The Free Trade Myth, Explained

Milwaukee Venetian Blind Co Since 1936
Milwaukee Venetian Blind Co Since 1936

Gail Ablow tackles the question, “What is the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade”…and discusses the oft-mentioned Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Fair traders are in favor of government policies that protect workers, farmers and the environment, and they will pay a premium for fair trade-certified goods. Free traders favor less government regulation and fewer trade barriers between countries and want the market to determine the price of goods in the hope of having the most choices at the lowest prices. The two terms are not opposites, but in the real world “free trade” comes with costs — and the TPP trade agreement that the Obama administration recently finished negotiating is, in the view of many critics, a shining example of that.

All trade is political. All trade is about power.

When you buy something — a car, clothes, coffee, computer, a hamburger, you name it — international trade agreements affect the price and determine who profits from it. Proponents of free trade say businesses should thrive or fail in an open market without government interference such as protections, tariffs or subsidies.

But trade is about much more than the price of your shoes. In practice, the parties who craft trade agreements are less interested in unfettered markets and far more interested in increasing corporate profits and pursuing international strategic goals. “There is no such thing as free trade,” says Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Program at the New America Foundation. “The idea that there is a self-regulating marketplace out there is fundamentally wrong, as opposed to a bunch of power relationships between large corporations and nation-states. Put simply, free trade is a myth.”

According to Lynn, the main reason people promote this “myth” is to push the idea that “government should not regulate the large corporations that run the marketplace. The two groups who push this argument in a coherent manner are the libertarian right and the neoliberal left.”

Big Pharma benefits because the TPP extends patents, copyrights and other monopoly protections to companies that want to profit for as long as possible. In an interview with Bill Moyers in 2013, economist Dean Baker explained there is nothing “free market” about these corporate safeguards against competition that will prevent millions of people around the world from getting cheaper generic medicines. “If this was really about trade,” he said, “we’d be going, ‘How can we bring those prices down?’

Firms that want to sue governments also benefit. The TPP creates an extra-judicial process known as an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Foreign investors would be able to sue governments for compensation if they impose environmental, health and safety, and even labor regulations that result in lost profits to the company. These suits would be arbitrated by international tribunals that aren’t subject to US laws. There is no appeals process. Putting ISDS into such a sweeping deal, writes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), “would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine US sovereignty… America’s current trade policy makes it nearly impossible to enforce rules that protect hard-working families, but very easy to enforce rules that favor multinational corporations.”

(click here to continue reading The Free Trade Myth, Explained – BillMoyers.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 17th, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

Free Soap was uploaded to Flickr

35mm, scanned from a print (sadly). I’d guess taken in 1997, but I could be off by a few years either way.

Broadway, Chicago

embiggen by clicking

I took Free Soap on December 31, 1996 at 06:00PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 16, 2016 at 09:02PM

Written by eggplant

August 16th, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Investment in Science Helps A Nation

Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds
Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds

The United States should spend less on building aircraft carriers, less on tax breaks for the wealthy, and for corporations like General Electric and ExxonMobil and more on projects like this:

A rocket that shot skyward from the Gobi Desert early Tuesday is expected to propel China to the forefront of one of science’s most challenging fields.

It also is set to launch Beijing far ahead of its global rivals in the drive to acquire a highly coveted asset in the age of cyberespionage: hack-proof communications.

Aboard the Micius satellite is encryption technology that, if successful, could propel China to the forefront of hack-proof communications. Professor Hoi Fung Chau of Hong Kong University explains how quantum physics can be used to frustrate hackers. State media said China sent the world’s first quantum-communications satellite into orbit from a launch center in Inner Mongolia about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. Five years in the making, the project is being closely watched in global scientific and security circles.

The quantum program is the latest part of China’s multibillion-dollar strategy over the past two decades to draw even with or surpass the West in hard-sciences research.

“There’s been a race to produce a quantum satellite, and it is very likely that China is going to win that race,” said Nicolas Gisin, a professor and quantum physicist at the University of Geneva. “It shows again China’s ability to commit to large and ambitious projects and to realize them.”

Scientists in the U.S., Europe, Japan and elsewhere are rushing to exploit the strange and potentially powerful properties of subatomic particles, but few with as much state support as those in China, researchers say. Quantum technology is a top strategic focus in the country’s five-year economic development plan, released in March.

Beijing hasn’t disclosed how much money it has allocated to quantum research or to building the 1,400-pound satellite. But funding for basic research, which includes quantum physics, was $101 billion in 2015, up from $1.9 billion in 2005.

U.S. federal funding for quantum research is about $200 million a year, according to a congressional report in July by a group of science, defense, intelligence and other officials. 

It said development of quantum science would “enhance U.S. national security,” but said fluctuations in funding had set back progress.


(click here to continue reading China’s Latest Leap Forward Isn’t Just Great—It’s Quantum – WSJ.)

In other words, Congressional disfunction, partisanship and misguided priorities are stymieing the United States. 

Written by Seth Anderson

August 16th, 2016 at 9:44 am

Posted in government,science

Tagged with ,

The Colors Cannot Change You was uploaded to Flickr

Random Austin hipsters at Hope Outdoor Gallery

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I took The Colors Cannot Change You on January 18, 2016 at 07:14AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 26, 2016 at 10:19AM

Written by eggplant

July 26th, 2016 at 10:16 am

Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton So Much

 Planet Hillary

Planet Hillary.

Here is a question I’ve discussed with a lot of people, and never found a satisfying answer to: why do so many Americans despise Hillary Clinton? What is the cause of it? Is it her personality? Her policy stances? Her DNA? Her microbiome? What?

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been an enthusiastic Clinton supporter, not in the 1990s, not in 2008, nor in the current election cycle. However, I don’t consider her evil, and would never use such strong language as hatred toward her. I’ve often considered the rabid, slanderous attacks on her as the beginning of the end of our country’s bipartisan consensus. Fox News, the Vulgar Pigboy, the Short Fingered Vulgarian and all their friends and cohorts first honed their falsehood machine attacking Hillary Clinton – the so-called Vast Right Wing Conspiracy did and does exist.

Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby - Official Photo
Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby – Official Photo

Michelle Goldberg explores in greater depth:

In 1996, the New Yorker published “Hating Hillary,” Henry Louis Gates’ reported piece on the widespread animosity for the then–First Lady. “Like horse-racing, Hillary-hating has become one of those national pastimes which unite the élite and the lumpen,” Gates wrote. “[T]here’s just something about her that pisses people off,” the renowned Washington hostess Sally Quinn told Gates. “This is the reaction that she elicits from people.”

 It might seem as though nothing much has changed in 20 years. Many people disliked Hillary Clinton when she first emerged onto the political scene, and many people dislike her now. She is on track to become the least popular Democratic nominee in modern history, although voters like Donald Trump even less.

But over the last two decades, the something that pisses people off has changed. Speaking to Gates, former Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan described “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” in Clinton that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects.” Noonan saw in Clinton “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.”

Noonan’s view was a common one. Take, for example, Michael Kelly’s 1993 New York Times Magazine profile, mockingly titled “Saint Hillary.” “Since she discovered, at the age of 14, that for people less fortunate than herself the world could be very cruel, Hillary Rodham Clinton has harbored an ambition so large that it can scarcely be grasped,” Kelly wrote. “She would like to make things right. She is 45 now and she knows that the earnest idealisms of a child of the 1960s may strike some people as naive or trite or grandiose. But she holds to them without any apparent sense of irony or inadequacy.” Kelly’s piece painted Clinton as a moralist, a meddler, a prig.

Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.

Some who loathe Clinton see her as the living embodiment of avarice and deception. These Clinton haters take at face value every charge Republicans have ever hurled at her, as well as dark accusations that circulate online. They have the most invidious possible explanation for Whitewater, the dubious real estate deal that served as a pretext for endless Republican investigations of the Clintons in the 1990s. (Clinton was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, though one of her business partners, James McDougal, went to prison for fraud in a related case.) Sometimes they believe that Clinton murdered her former law partner, Vince Foster, who committed suicide in 1993. They hold her responsible for the deadly attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Peter Schweizer’s new book Clinton Cash has convinced them that there was a corrupt nexus between Clinton’s State Department, various foreign governments, and the Clinton family’s foundation. Most of Schweizer’s allegations have either been disproven or shown to be unsubstantiated, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from invoking them repeatedly. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he accused Clinton of raking in “millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers.”

(click here to continue reading The people who hate Hillary Clinton the most..)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 26th, 2016 at 8:29 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Is Trump Complicit in Attacks?

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine.

Look, I hope this is not true, and just a figment of my febrile, over-caffeinated mind, but think about this: how many times has a politician or public figure made a huge deal about something that later it turned out they themselves were doing? How many televangelists railing against homosexuality have later been outed as gay? How many times has a teabagger made a claim that really was about themselves? How many times did Bill Cosby criticize fornicators?

After reading Jane Mayer’s piece on Trump and his machinations and duplicitous personality, is it really so far fetched of an idea that Donald Trump and some of his mobster friends are hiring or manipulating hitmen to target police? I would not be shocked to find evidence of this in 2020 or even sooner. 

Last month, as the nation was grieving the mass murder of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, offered his own analysis of what had led the gunman, Omar Mateen, to open fire. “We’re led by a man who is very—look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said , theorizing as to the real reason President __Barack Obama has not used the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” “There’s something going on.” Those four words returned again this week in the wake of another tragedy—this time, the killing of three police officers by a black shooter in Baton Rouge over the weekend—when the billionaire recycled the same phrase to hint yet again that the Democratic president of the United States might have somehow been involved.


“I watch the president and sometimes the words are okay but you just look at the body language and there is something going on, there is something going on,” Trump said Monday in an interview with “Fox and Friends,” when asked to comment on the assertion made by Steve Loomis, the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, that Obama has “blood on his hands” in the aftermath of the Baton Rouge shooting and another attack by a black gunman on police in Dallas earlier this month. Pressed to explain what he meant, Trump continued, “There is just a bad feeling, a lot of bad feeling about him.”

While the real-estate mogul has long played into right-wing conspiracy theories about the nation’s first black president, Trump’s racial dog whistle has in recent weeks grown louder and more explicit. In June, after Trump came under fire for suggesting that Obama didn’t use the term “radical Islamic terror” because he sympathizes with America’s enemies, the G.O.P. nominee revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials for what he called a “dishonest” headline about his comments. Shortly thereafter, however, he doubled down on his insinuation by tweeting a Breitbart story in support of his outlandish claims.

(click here to continue reading Trump Again Suggests that Obama Is Complicit in Attacks | Vanity Fair.)

Just saying I hope it isn’t true because police shouldn’t be pawns in Donald Trump’s vanity campaign for emperor. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:58 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Trump’s Boswell Tony Schwartz Would Rename Book to The Sociapath

Spy Magazine - Donald Trump - Trumps final days
Spy Magazine – Donald Trump – Trump’s final days.

Tony Schwartz, the actual author of Trump’s opus, The Art of the Deal, has a few regrets about writing the book, and feels strongly that Donald Trump is a sociopathic bully who should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes of the United States. I’ve never read the book, but apparently it was a sensation that put Trump on the national stage for the first time.

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker interviews him:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.

In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

At the same time, he knew that if he took Trump’s money and adopted Trump’s voice his journalism career would be badly damaged. His heroes were such literary nonfiction writers as Tom Wolfe, John McPhee, and David Halberstam. Being a ghostwriter was hackwork. In the end, though, Schwartz had his price. He told Trump that if he would give him half the advance and half the book’s royalties he’d take the job.

Such terms are unusually generous for a ghostwriter. Trump, despite having a reputation as a tough negotiator, agreed on the spot. “It was a huge windfall,” Schwartz recalls. “But I knew I was selling out. Literally, the term was invented to describe what I did.” Soon Spy was calling him “former journalist Tony Schwartz.”

(click here to continue reading Trump’s Boswell Speaks – The New Yorker.)

Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

Trump sounds even more petulant and without inner life than former president George W Bush, if that’s possible. Trump’s only concern is himself, and lies, manipulations, exaggerations, bullying, whining are all part of plastering over the empty hole in the middle of Trump.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

But Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

Other journalists have noticed Trump’s apparent lack of interest in reading. In May, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, asked him to name his favorite book, other than the Bible or “The Art of the Deal.” Trump picked the 1929 novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since he’d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book he’d read. “I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters—I don’t have the time,” Trump said. As The New Republic noted recently, this attitude is not shared by most U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, a habitual consumer of current books, and George W. Bush, who reportedly engaged in a fiercely competitive book-reading contest with his political adviser Karl Rove.

Trump’s first wife, Ivana, famously claimed that Trump kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in a cabinet beside his bed. In 1990, Trump’s friend Marty Davis, who was then an executive at Paramount, added credence to this story, telling Marie Brenner, of Vanity Fair, that he had given Trump the book. “I thought he would find it interesting,” Davis told her. When Brenner asked Trump about it, however, he mistakenly identified the volume as a different work by Hitler: “Mein Kampf.” Apparently, he had not so much as read the title. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” Trump told Brenner.

I shudder to think of a Trump occupied Oval Office. Read the entire piece if you can spare a few moments, or if you know anyone who is considering voting for Donald Trump because he’s such a great business success…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Posted in Books,politics

Tagged with ,

Apple, in Seeming Jab at Spotify, Proposes Simpler Songwriting Royalties

The Music Kept Playing
The Music Kept Playing

More skirmishes in the continuing battle between corporate behemoths…

Apple, in a government filing on Friday, proposed simplifying the highly complex way that songwriting royalties are paid when it comes to on-demand streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

According to Apple’s proposal, made with the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of federal judges who oversee rates in the United States, streaming services should pay 9.1 cents in songwriting royalties for every 100 times a song is played. This formula would replace the long passages of federal rules for streaming rates, which often leave musicians bewildered about just how the money flows in streaming music.

Apple’s filing was made as part of a proceeding by the Copyright Royalty Board to set statutory rates for downloads and interactive streaming services from 2018 to 2022. Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon and the Recording Industry Association of America were all expected to file their proposals by Friday, but the panel has not yet made the filings public.

Although the bulk of Apple’s proposal with the Copyright Royalty Board is confined to three brief paragraphs, it would have wide implications if it were adopted. Songwriting rates paid by interactive streaming services like Spotify are now governed by a byzantine system that includes a division between what are known as mechanical and performance royalties for the same songs. Apple’s proposal would cover all songwriting royalties with the same rate. (Royalties for recordings are accounted separately.)

What Apple does not say in its filing, however, is that the statutory rates it proposes would not apply to its own services. When the company introduced Apple Music last year, it struck direct deals with music publishers at rates that are slightly higher than usual.

(click here to continue reading Apple, in Seeming Jab at Spotify, Proposes Simpler Songwriting Royalties – The New York Times.)

Phil Entering Around Again Records
Phil Entering Around Again Records

Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora et al, do seem to rely upon underpaying artists, or figuring out schemes to avoid payment at all. If musicians cannot make a living creating music, there won’t be any, other than vanity projects, and top 40 bullshit. But then I’m a curmudgeon who still purchases all my music in hard-copy and don’t subscribe to any of these services.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 8:12 am

Posted in Apple,Music

Tagged with ,

GOP Senator Tillis Hasn’t Read The Constitution In A While, Or Ever


I know there isn’t a civics test a prospective Senator has to pass before running for office, but perhaps there should be.

Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to confirm judges. But Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) came up with a new reason the Senate shouldn’t be filling empty court seats: It’s not our job.

Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) made repeated requests Wednesday to confirm a batch of Obama’s judicial nominees who are ready for votes. Each time they tried, Tillis objected and suggested the Senate shouldn’t be spending time on judges.

“What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs,” he said. “I’m doing my job today and objecting to these measures so we can actually get back to pressing matters.”

It’s a weird thing to say since it is literally the Senate’s job to confirm judges, as spelled out in the Constitution. It’s also ironic that Tillis is the one saying this, given that he’s overseeing the longest federal court vacancy in the country. There’s been an empty seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for 3,848 days, or 10.5 years.

(click here to continue reading GOP Senator: Confirming Obama’s Judges Has ‘Nothing To Do With Doing Our Jobs’.)

/Eye Roll!

For reference:

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the President of the United States to appoint certain public officials with the “advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate. This clause also allows lower-level officials to be appointed without the advice and consent process.

He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Councils, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.


(click here to continue reading Appointments Clause – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 15th, 2016 at 8:16 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

GWB Among the Worst US Presidents

Stop Bitching Start a Revolution
Stop Bitching Start a Revolution

Jean Edward Smith has a new biography of George W. Bush coming out soon. I’ll probably read it eventually, whenever I want to remember how horribly The Shrub screwed up the world…

Thomas Mallon of The New Yorker reviews the bio:

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” By the book’s last sentence, Smith is predicting a long debate over whether Bush “was the worst president in American history,” and while the biographer doesn’t vote on the question himself, the unhappy shade of James Buchanan will feel strongly encouraged by his more than six hundred pages.

Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas. On the morning of 9/11, Laura Bush was in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office, having come to testify for the No Child Left Behind Act; the White House she returned to later that day was a wholly different place, a domestic cruise ship that had become an aircraft carrier.

In Smith’s view, the military and moral calamities began right then. If he is moderately critical of the President for being “asleep at the switch” in the period before the terrorist attacks—Bush felt no particular alarm when an August 6th C.I.A. briefing indicated that Osama bin Laden was up to at least something—the biographer is simply aghast once Bush seizes the controls. Within three days of September 11th, he says, the President had acquired a “boundless” confidence that put the country on a “permanent war footing” and the White House into a “hothouse climate of the President’s certitude.”

In another anti-superlative, Smith suspects that the invasion of Iraq will “likely go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.” The thirteen-year legacy of “preëmption” makes this a hard prophecy to counter, and Smith’s well-ordered scenes on the subject—Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war against Saddam on September 12th, just as he’d been pushing for it in April—do dismaying work. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the wise men of his father’s Administration, tell Bush to go slowly or not at all, but George Tenet, the holdover C.I.A. director from the Clinton years, assures him that convincing the public of the need to invade Iraq over W.M.D.s will be a “slam dunk.” As persuasively as anyone before him, Smith presents a strong story of how a successful military mission quickly unaccomplished itself; turned into quite something else (“the United States was going to bring democracy to the country”); and then festered into what Donald Rumsfeld himself, in his memoirs, judged to be “a long and heavy-handed occupation.”


(click here to continue reading W Is for Why – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 9:13 am