B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Gas For Less was uploaded to Flickr

http://ift.tt/1xrTmV6

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/pJL1Kg

I took Gas For Less on January 04, 2015 at 01:41PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 04, 2015 at 11:02PM

Written by eggplant

January 4th, 2015 at 10:13 pm

iTunes 12 Syncing Is Broken Beyond Belief

Hello Would You Like To Restore Your iPhone Again
Hello Would You Like To Restore Your iPhone Yet Again?

Kirk McElhearn, a long-time Mac columnist, adds his voice to the chorus of iPhone owners dismayed with iTunes 12 and iOS 8.

Now, syncing an iOS device—iPhone, iPad, or iPod—is too often an ordeal. And it is because it’s become untrustworthy. Will the sync work at all or will your content disappear and be transformed into something that fills the amorphous “Other” category in iTunes’ capacity bar. Will all of your content sync or just your music, or music, or apps?

Sync problems between iTunes and iOS devices are all too common. (See the last thirty days of posts in Apple’s support forums about iTunes sync issues.) In a way, this may be a predictable side effect of Apple’s push to online services. The company wants everything to be in the cloud, and it would prefer that you buy all your music and movies from there as well. Local syncing isn’t really a part of that plan and so may be treated as an afterthought. The difficulty is that not all users are right for the cloud model. For those with large iTunes libraries, or with limited broadband bandwidth, cloud storage simply isn’t usable.

Given that, it’s time to revisit local syncing. In its current state, iTunes syncing is broken and it can only be fixed by Apple.

Apple needs to fix syncing. While users who don’t sync their iOS devices in this way aren’t affected by these issues, those people with small and large iTunes libraries alike report syncing problems. It’s frustrating, and the fact that there’s no way to find out what’s wrong makes it even more so. In an ideal world iTunes would have some kind of sync log or sync diagnostic tool, akin to the Network Diagnostics utility, that would help ferret out problems and let people get on with enjoying their media.

(click here to continue reading iTunes syncing is broken: Apple, please fix it | Macworld.)

 iPhone 6 and iOS 8 restore number 12
iPhone 6 and iOS 8 restore number 12

I’ve written at least once about my frustrations with syncing, and by my count, I’ve had to restore my iPhone 6-minus at least ten times since I got it last fall. Ten times! New Year’s Eve1 was number eleven, and for some reason2 the PIN I used yesterday would not unlock my iPhone today. Since I have Find my iPhone turned on, I was unable to restore directly via my Mac, and had to log on to https://www.icloud.com/#find, and remotely wipe the iPhone. 

Sync Music 2015-01-01 at 12.10.18 PM

Restore Number 12 finally began, and because I use my iPhone for more than just a phone, the syncing takes for freaking ever3, and I probably won’t have use of a phone for several hours. 

Sure there are much worse problems in the world, but iPhone owners want devices that we spend thousands of dollars annually4 on to actually work. Currently, the iTunes 12/iOS 8 platform is not up the usual Apple standards. Constantly having to reinstall the software is not customer-friendly.

Restoring iPhone From Backup 2015-01-01 at 11.33.01 AM

Syncing photos 2015-01-01 at 12.09.28 PM

Syncing apps 2015-01-01 at 12.24.52 PM

Footnotes:
  1. yesterday, 12/31/2014 []
  2. fat fingers, or the beginning stages of a good buzz, or Jony Ive’s sense of humor, whatever []
  3. between 4-5 hours, plus time to reset Apple ID, iCloud, the thumbprint, Apple Pay, etc. []
  4. the device itself, the monthly bill, the apps and songs and etc. []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 1st, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Apple,Music

Tagged with , , ,

Diver – Chicago River was uploaded to Flickr

Working on the Riverwalk I believe.

http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/chicago…

or, for instance:
http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/October-2014/What-the-Chicag…

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qh7VRz

I took Diver – Chicago River on June 20, 2014 at 01:30PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 27, 2014 at 05:22PM

Written by eggplant

December 27th, 2014 at 11:37 am

Even This Breath Will Expire was uploaded to Flickr

Accidental self portrait in a mirror

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/pyeKB1

I took Even This Breath Will Expire on December 22, 2014 at 02:38PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 22, 2014 at 11:39PM

Written by eggplant

December 23rd, 2014 at 12:10 am

Instagram Purge Hits Brands Who Artificially Built Up Follower Numbers

one comment

Stop Following

Stop Following!

I am no self-described expert in social media, just a sometime user of it, but from I sit, obsessing about follower counts is stupid, and a waste of everyone’s time. I guess certain digital agencies sold the concept to their clients, and then cut corners in building up follower counts by utilizing sleazy tactics and spam-bots.  Follower counts are a nearly meaningless number to be used on a PowerPoint presentation to clueless executives. As the poet sang, numbers add up to nothing.

Instagram in recent days has revealed “corrections” in the number of people following many users, after announcing last week it had removed a significant number of fake accounts from the Facebook owned photo-sharing service.

Celebrities including Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez each lost more than a million followers, according to Zach Allia, a Boston photographer and Web developer who tallied the losses in this chart. Each of those celebrities still counts more than 18 million followers. Allia estimated that the average Instagram user lost 7.7% of his followers from the purge.

The purge reflects a persistent problem for social networks: separating real users from computer-generated “bots.” Instagram conducted a similar purge in May. Twitter says fewer than 5% of its 284 million monthly active users are fake, though outside researchers think the number is higher.

In an interview last week, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom declined to say how many accounts the service deleted. Systrom said fake users are most often created “for commercial reasons.” Users are either “paying to buy followers” he said, or “trying to get attention for some product they’re selling or some email subscription.”

(click here to continue reading Instagram Users Finding They’re Less Popular Than Thought – Digits – WSJ.)

from Adweek:

National Geographic, Nike, Adidas and Forever 21 were among the top 100 Instagram accounts that saw their follower counts pummeled after the spam hunt. The photo- and video-sharing app said last week that it would cull fake and inactive accounts, and it did its best to prepare brands and fans for the worst. Today, Instagram users were lamenting their fallen following with memes and jokes to cover the hurt. The shock of a diminished audience is just a short-term hit for marketers, who ultimately want to know if their fans are fake, said Eric Brown, head of communications for social influence measurement tool Klout and its parent company, Lithium.

(click here to continue reading Instagram Purge Hits Brands Like National Geographic, Nike, Forever 21 the Hardest | Adweek.)

Numbers Add Up to Nothing
Numbers Add Up to Nothing

For myself, I stopped caring long ago how many Twitter followers1 I have, how many people2 follow my Tumblr feed, or my Instagram account3. It  means nothing, it isn’t as if I get a financial incentive to have more followers. Neither does Nike, or any other brand. It is nearly meaningless number to be used on a PowerPoint presentation to executives basically.

Defunct Tweets
Defunct Tweets

Adweek reports that these are the brands that should fire their digital agencies, or at least ask a few hard questions to their digital team at the next social media meeting.

  • National Geographic: 229,000 followers lost. New count: 9.75 million
  • Nike: 257,000 followers lost. New count: 8.75 million
  • 9Gag: 120,000 followers lost. New count: 8.38 million
  • Victoria’s Secret: 215,000 followers lost. New count: 7.7 million
  • The Ellen Show: 270,000 followers lost. New count: 7.47 million
  • Forever 21: 245,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
  • Real Madrid Club de Fútbol: 159,000 followers lost. New count: 5.36 million
  • FC Barcelona: 133,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
  • NBA: 196,000 followers lost. New count: 4.15 million
  • GoPro: 94,000 followers lost. New count: 3.64 million
  • Adidas: 101,000 followers lost. New count: 3.6 million
  • Louis Vuitton: 107,000 followers lost. New count: 3.55 million

Amusingly, I noted the problem with Instagram followers being spammy right away:

As a side effect of this growth, there are a lot of spammers who take advantage of Instagram’s audience, and offer to sell you “likes” or other sleazy tactic

(click here to continue reading Notes on Instagram after Using It for A Month or So at B12 Solipsism.)

Footnotes:
  1. currently 1,015 []
  2. currently 589 []
  3. currently 144 []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with , ,

Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World

Now that I’m no longer a vegetarian, I’m a member of the chicken-eating hordes. I don’t think I eat 80 pounds of fowl a year, but maybe…

Essence of Chicken
Essence of Chicken

Andrew Lawler, author of Why Did The Chicken Cross The World, is interviewed by the National Geographic:

Humans can’t do without chickens. Chicken is the most popular meat today. Americans eat more than 80 pounds a year, more than pork or beef. So we tend to think people must have domesticated the chicken because it was good to eat, right? Well, no. Scientists now believe chickens were not domesticated to eat in the first place.

Every chicken you see on Earth is the descendant of the red jungle fowl, a very shy jungle bird that lives in south Asia, all the way from Pakistan to Sumatra and Indonesia. It’s a small, pheasant-like bird hunters like because it’s very hard to find, so it poses a great challenge. The strange thing is that these birds are so shy that when they’re captured in the wild, they can die of a heart attack because they’re so terrified of humans. So the question is, How did this bird, that is incredibly shy, become the most ubiquitous bird on Earth?

(click here to continue reading The Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World.)

Rooster and angles
Rooster and angles

Chicken or religion, which came first?

But when I started to dig into it, I discovered that the chicken has actually played more roles across human history, in more societies, than any other animal, and I include the dog and the cat and cows and pigs. The chicken is a kind of a zelig of human history, which pops up in all kinds of different societies.

If you go back to ancient Babylon, about 800 B.C., in what is now Iraq, you find seals used by people to identify themselves. Some of these have images of chickens sitting on top of columns being worshipped by priests. That expanded with the Persian Empire. Zoroastrians considered the chicken sacred because it crowed before dawn, before the light appeared. And in Zoroastrian tradition, the coming of the light is a sign of good. So the chicken became associated with an awakening from physical, as well as spiritual, slumber.

Big Cock
Big Cock

and finally one last tidbit, one that I was unaware of: roosters don’t actually have a penis!

Do roosters really have no penis?

This is true. And the odd thing about it, of course, is that roosters are the byword for the male reproductive organ. Yet they don’t have penises. Ducks and a lot of other birds do. But chickens are among those birds that don’t need a penis. When two chickens get romantic, they have a cloacal “kiss,” pressing their cloaca against one another. The reason the rooster has been for so long the symbol for sex as well as the male organ is because they’re randy creatures. They will mate continuously, and with different partners. In the ancient world, that was considered a sign of vibrancy and fertility. So they became associated with human sex.

In Puritan America, we tried to stamp the word “cock” out of our English language. It used to be you would call a weathervane a weathercock or a water spigot, a water cock. But in the 17th and 18th centuries in New England, people decided that they shouldn’t even use the word cock, because it was too suggestive. [Laughs] Luckily, it didn’t catch on.

(click here to continue reading The Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 22nd, 2014 at 10:43 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with , , ,

Your Wicked Contrivance was uploaded to Flickr

sculpture, Lincoln Park

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qcY5np

I took Your Wicked Contrivance on June 07, 2013 at 05:45PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 21, 2014 at 08:17PM

Written by eggplant

December 21st, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers

Daily News
Daily News.

As we suspected, having traffic to Spanish news sites drop by 5%-15% is kind of a big deal…

We call it the “Google News bump.” When a story on WIRED.com gets a link on the front page of Google News, traffic skyrockets. Readers click. Ads are served.

But in Spain, at least, the Google News bump is no more. On Tuesday, Google shut down Google News in Spain in response to a law that requires news aggregators to pay a fee for the right to post snippets of stories. Big Spanish publishers pushed for the law, but their math is hard to fathom. Without Google News, they get no bump, nor do they get any fee. Trying to stick it to Google is an understandable impulse, a resentment fed by the company’s monolithic influence over the web. But all the shutdown really shows is how powerless traditional publishers really are.

But where I work, at least, a 5 percent traffic dip wouldn’t exactly be something to celebrate, much less lobby lawmakers to effectively codify. And as GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram says, the damage could be worse. The chief data scientist at Chartbeat, a web service many publishers use to monitor real-time reader traffic, told Ingram that the average falloff in the hours since the Google News shutdown was more like 10 to 15 percent.

(click here to continue reading Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers | WIRED.)

and as many people have noted: removing all Google News traffic benefits the larger media companies at the expense of the smaller media companies. Google News links to both: sites you’ve heard of, and sites you haven’t. If you don’t regularly visit the websites of smaller news organizations, you probably won’t.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

Apple Easily Wins iPod Antitrust Trial

Tech Graveyard
Tech Graveyard.

Briefly, since we marveled at this ridiculous lawsuit recently, the iPod DRM Class Action litigation lost in front of a jury:

A jury ruled in favor of Apple Inc. on Tuesday in a class-action lawsuit that accused the technology giant of violating antitrust laws by suppressing competition for its iPod music players.

After deliberating for only a few hours, an eight-person jury in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., found that Apple’s iTunes 7.0 was a genuine product improvement, and therefore not a violation of antitrust laws. The decision was unanimous.

The plaintiffs had said Apple made changes to its iTunes music service so that iPods wouldn’t operate with other companies’ products, driving up the cost of the devices. The plaintiffs, representing an alleged eight million harmed consumers, were seeking $350 million in damages, which could have been tripled under antitrust laws.

(click here to continue reading Apple Wins iPod Antitrust Trial – WSJ.)

Dead 4G iPod
4G iPod

Another amusing part of this trial was that the original plaintiffs were thrown out since they didn’t even own iPods during the time in question. Embarrassing for the plaintiffs’ legal team, and a ridiculous waste of the court’s docket…

The lawyers fighting Apple in a class-action lawsuit involving iPods have managed to do a few remarkable things: They persuaded a judge to bring a decade-old lawsuit to trial here last week, for one. They even managed to drag the famous Steve Jobs into giving a videotaped testimony shortly before he died three years ago.

But they have one big problem: Their case has no plaintiff.

A federal judge on Monday disqualified the only remaining plaintiff in the case, Marianna Rosen of New Jersey, after Apple’s lawyers successfully argued that she did not even buy any iPods for which she is seeking damages.

The judge appeared annoyed about the discrepancies with Ms. Rosen’s iPods and scolded the plaintiff lawyers for failing to do their homework. Another plaintiff in the case dropped out last week.

 …

Last week, Ms. Rosen testified that she had bought two iPods: an iPod Nano in the fall of 2007 and an iPod Touch in December 2008. Apple’s lawyer asked whether Ms. Rosen kept receipts for her purchases. Ms. Rosen said she probably did not have the paper receipts, but later said her iPod Touch was in her bag.

Apple’s lawyers looked up the serial number of Ms. Rosen’s iPod Touch and found records showing it was bought in July 2009. The class action seeks damages for iPods bought from September 2006 to March 2009. So this iPod Touch missed the cutoff.

Apple’s lawyers last Wednesday pointed out the discrepancy about Ms. Rosen’s iPod Touch in a letter to the judge. They also raised similar concerns about the second plaintiff’s iPod purchases. On Friday, the second plaintiff dropped out of the case, leaving Ms. Rosen as the lone plaintiff.

Ms. Rosen’s lawyers then provided Apple a receipt showing two iPod purchases made in September 2008. But Apple pulled up its copy of the receipt for those iPods, which indicated they were bought by the Rosen Law Firm, the firm owned by Ms. Rosen’s husband. Apple’s lawyers argued that these were not iPods bought directly by Ms. Rosen, and therefore she could not claim injury.

(click here to continue reading Setback for iPod Class-Action Lawsuit as Sole Plaintiff Is Disqualified – NYTimes.com.)

iPod Classic Returned From The Dead
iPod Classic  

Just ridiculous from the beginning. Speaking as a consumer who owned an iPod during this time, and could prove it, the litigation is (was?) groundless – I played music from many sources on my iPod without issue. And it would be like suing a CD manufacturer because some moron bought an 8-track tape and stuck it in a CD player, and the 8-track didn’t play. Is it the responsibility of the CD manufacturer to play every kind of music format ever created? No, this case was a joke.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd should lose their license to practice law…

Bonney Sweeney, the antitrust attorney at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd who claims to represent the interests of 8 million aggrieved Apple customers, now represents nobody but a roomful of lawyers.

On Monday, Sweeney lost her last plaintiff, a resident of New Jersey named Marianna Rosen. It turns out the “supracompetitive” price Rosen claims to have paid in 2008 for an iPod (“greater than she would have paid, but for the antitrust violations alleged herein”) was charged to her law firm’s credit card.

(click here to continue reading How dumb is this Apple iPod antitrust suit?.)

Nano gift

iPod Nano 

Especially since this is their second bite of the apple…

After a judge rejected Version 1.0 of the lawsuit, CNET says, lawyers changed their tune to accuse Apple of making software updates that kept rival music stores off the iTunes platform.

This is typical in class-action land. As with any repeated game, class-action lawyers are a well-defined group of players who must establish a reputation for fighting hard in every case and racking up as much expenses on the defense side as they can, in order to induce companies to come to the settlement table. That’s where they make their money, and the convenient fiction that they are suing on behalf of consumers collapses as they get down to the real negotiations, which are over the fee they will be paid without any objections from their supposed opponents across the table.

But for the whole process to work, they still need clients. And those clients must have a case. Defense lawyers have slowly but steadily woken up to the fact that those clients often come with baggage — Bill Lerach, the founder of the predecessor to Robbins Geller, went to jail for paying his clients to appear in securities class actions — and they are digging into their backgrounds to find out if they can even serve as plaintiffs. This must strike some plaintiff lawyers as strange, since everybody knows the “client” is just a vehicle for assembling a case that often is already loaded in their computer, ready to be filed. But it’s the law

(click here to continue reading Whoops! No Plaintiff! Apple Tells Court iPod Owner Isn’t In Class She Represents.)

Mirrored

The current case involving iPods is complex, having evolved significantly since the original January 2005 filing. The suit initially alleged that Apple broke the law by restricting owners of its iPod to songs purchased only through iTunes. A court deemed that legal, however, and the plaintiffs have since altered the suit, alleging instead that Apple made a series of software updates to iTunes specifically designed to shut out competing music stores’ ability to load their songs onto iPods.

The case will aim to determine what effect Apple’s FairPlay technology — a so-called digital rights management tool that acts like a watermark made of code — had on the market for MP3 players when it restricted iPod owners to iTunes and how to interpret Apple’s behavior in protecting FairPlay using software updates. Apple refused to license FairPlay to competing music stores and would not allow other MP3 players to connect to iTunes.

Apple’s Isaacson says the iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 updates were designed to improve security and purposefully keep third parties like RealNetworks, which Apple still considers a hacker, out of its system. “Harmony was outdated when FairPlay was updated. All Apple was doing was updating FairPlay,” he said. “That’s what happens when you reverse engineer the product and there’s an update of that architecture.”

Neither RealNetworks nor any of the retailers named in the suit, including Best Buy and Walmart, have filed suits of their own. RealNetworks executives will not appear as witnesses.

(click here to continue reading Apple misled iPod owners, plaintiffs allege at class action trial – CNET.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Tech and Media Companies Back Microsoft in Email Seizure Case

Over Under Sideways

Good for Microsoft, and good for the tech industry to rally behind Microsoft1

A broad array of organizations in technology, media and other fields rallied on Monday behind Microsoft’s effort to block American authorities from seizing a customer’s emails stored in Ireland.

The organizations filing supporting briefs in the Microsoft case included Apple, Amazon, Verizon, Fox News, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, CNN and almost two dozen other technology and media companies. A cross-section of trade associations and advocacy groups, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the United States Chamber of Commerce, and 35 computer scientists also signed briefs in the case, which is being considered in New York by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

“Seldom do you see the breadth and depth of legal involvement that we’re seeing today for a case that’s below the Supreme Court,” Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said in an interview.

The case involves a decision by Microsoft to defy a domestic search warrant seeking emails stored in a Microsoft data center in Dublin. Microsoft has argued that the search warrant could provide a dangerous precedent that is already leading to privacy concerns among customers. The case is especially relevant, the company says, to customers who are considering conducting more of their electronic business in the cloud.

(click here to continue reading Tech and Media Companies Back Microsoft in Privacy Case – NYTimes.com.)

Even the Faux Walls have eyes
Even the Faux Walls have eyes

You know who isn’t mentioned here or at Microsoft’s public blog page for this case? Google. I wonder why? Seems like a pretty high profile case to be siding with the US DOJ instead of privacy advocates.

Today represents an important milestone in our litigation concerning the U.S. Government’s attempt to use a search warrant to compel Microsoft to obtain and turn over email of a customer stored in Ireland. That’s because 10 groups are filing their “friend of the court” briefs in New York today.

Seldom has a case below the Supreme Court attracted the breadth and depth of legal involvement we’re seeing today. Today’s ten briefs are signed by 28 leading technology and media companies, 35 leading computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations that together represent millions of members on both sides of the Atlantic.

We believe that when one government wants to obtain email that is stored in another country, it needs to do so in a manner that respects existing domestic and international laws. In contrast, the U.S. Government’s unilateral use of a search warrant to reach email in another country puts both fundamental privacy rights and cordial international relations at risk.  And as today’s briefs demonstrate, the impacts of this step are far-reaching.

Today’s briefs come from:

Leading technology companies such as Verizon, Apple, Amazon, Cisco, Salesforce, HP, eBay, Infor, AT&T, and Rackspace. They’re joined by five major technology trade associations that collectively represent most of the country’s technology sector, including the BSA | The Software Alliance and the Application Developers Alliance. These groups raise a range of concerns about the significant impact this case could have both on the willingness of foreign customers to trust American technology and on the privacy rights of their customers, including U.S. customers if other governments adopt the approach to U.S. datacenters that the U.S. Government is advocating here.

Seventeen major and diverse news and media companies, including CNN, ABC, Fox News, Forbes, the Guardian, Gannett, McClatchy, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and The Seattle Times. They’re joined by ten news and media associations that collectively represent thousands of publications and journalists. These include the Newspaper Association of America, the National Press Club, the European Publishers Council, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. These organizations are concerned that the lower court’s decision, if upheld, will erode the legal protections that have long restricted the government’s ability to search reporters’ email for information without the knowledge of news organizations.

(click here to continue reading Business, Media and Civil Society Speak Up in Key Privacy Case – The Official Microsoft Blog.)

Footnotes:
  1. not a sentence I’d thought I’d type []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Dick Cheney Makes a Great Case for Prosecuting Torturers Like Himself

A Couple of Jokers
A Couple of Jokers…

Can someone please start a Kickstarter campaign to snatch up Dick Cheney and fly him to The Hague for a War Crimes trial? I know a lot of people that would donate money for that…

In a disturbing interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, former vice president Dick Cheney basically taunted ambitious lawyers at the Hague to come after him.

The host of the show, Chuck Todd, read horrific details from the Senate report on “enhanced interrogation” and asked Mr. Cheney if he thought they amounted to torture. Rectal feeding? Keeping a man in a coffin-sized box? Handcuffing another man’s wrists to an overhead bar for 22 hours per day, for two consecutive days?

No.

Mr. Cheney was bullishly nonsensical — refusing to acknowledge a difference between mass murder and torture. Worse, he was unrepentant.

Did any of the details from the report “plant any seed of doubt?” asked Mr. Todd. “Absolutely not,” Mr. Cheney answered.

What about the fact that “25 percent of the detainees” turned out to be innocent?

“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective” answered Mr. Cheney

(click here to continue reading Dick Cheney Makes a Great Case for Prosecuting Torturers – NYTimes.com.)

I find it really hard to make jokes about how evil Dick Cheney is, but without jokes, he’s a sociopathic monster, and sadly a monster that the rest of the world assumes speaks for America.1 No remorse for torturing innocent people, sometimes to death, no remorse at all. Torture doesn’t provide actionable intelligence in the first place, but torturing people just the heck of it? 

As Digby writes:

This went all the way back to the 70s when Cheney was working in the Nixon and Ford White Houses and thought that the USA was becoming soft and the presidency was losing its juice. He was ready to fix that when he got the chance and he has no regrets. He does not care one bit that he’s considered by millions of people to be a war criminal and a sadist. He got what he wanted.

There are Godwinesque restrictions on certain things we can say about Dick Cheney in public. But I don’t think it’s too much to point out that having him on television saying what he said yesterday is the very definition of the banality of evil. Yesterday morning Dick Cheney, torturer, unrepentant war criminal was presented as just another government bureaucrat doing his job. He will be welcomed into the homes of the political elite like any other former VP, as will the man he went to great lengths to say approved it all: George W. Bush.  In fact, Jeb Bush is widely hailed as the best man to carry on the “Bush tradition” and cognoscenti of all political stripes are cheering on his candidacy.

Think about that: the political establishment believes that the brother of the president who ordered torture and invaded a country on false pretenses — and who has never shown the slightest daylight between his brother’s policies and decision and his own beliefs — is an excellent candidate for the presidency. It’s not even a question as far as I can tell.

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo – How Cheney planned his move for decades.)

and an excerpt from a powerful post by Hunter of Daily Kos:

Let us suppose that every one of the assertions is true. Let us suppose that torture, by which we mean the simulated drownings, the broken bones, the medical injuries, the psychological torture, the death in a bitterly cold room—”worked.” It generated irreplaceable results. Valuable results. It was manifestly successful.

Then why are we not continuing it?

Why are we reserving it for suspected Muslim terrorists or collaborators or hangers-on or those named by another tortured suspect, and not, say, against arms smugglers? Against suspected drug importers? Against Swiss bankers who are suspected of laundering money gained in organized crime?

No, forget that—let us presume it to be not a weapon for fighting crime, but a weapon meant only for war. Does that mean that America shall henceforth be torturing wartime prisoners, if we feel they have information we require?

Set aside the relevant laws and treaties—does only America get to torture prisoners? Are we declaring that wartime torture of prisoners work, and therefore should be used, as international policy statement or as statement that America alone ought to benefit from the manifestly successful tool of torture? We are comfortable, then, with the notion that our own soldiers will be similarly interrogated by opposing forces or groups, and due to our understanding of the military significance of the irreplaceable results to be gleaned, we will acquiesce to the treatment, and will not seek to prosecute those that torture our own citizens?

Or are we, indeed, the declared exception to this rule? We may torture to the point of broken bones, blood clots, mental incapacitation or—oops—the occasional death, but only us, due to our manifest and unique need to do so?

That is where I am stumped, and where, over a decade of debate, we continue to make no progress whatsoever in the conversation. Sen. John McCain can ask the question or I can ask the question; it makes no difference. Whether it be the past vice president or any of the various pundits of the punditry litter, the declaration that our torture of prisoners has been manifestly successful is always where the debate abruptly trails off, like the author has suddenly remembered they have somewhere else to be. There is never an answer on why we have used international law to put torturers to death for past interrogations considered similarly manifestly successful by their nations’ advocates, and no opinion given on whether we shall be withdrawing from those treaties in the future or merely ignoring them if we feel it would be manifestly successful to do so. There is no citation as to what ought to be done against those that treat our soldiers similarly in the future. We are simply told that we will torture, perhaps under euphemism if the wordsmiths object to the older word, because it generates “results.” Full stop. The rest is just left hanging in the wind like a noose from a tree.

(click here to continue reading Of all the torture defenses, ‘because it works’ is the most troubling.)

Footnotes:
  1. He doesn’t, for the record []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

iPod Classic Returned From The Dead was uploaded to Flickr

What a pleasant surprise! Left it plugged in overnight on an underutilized iMac, and after it charged up the iPod Classic, went into recovery mode. Yayy, I have a working iPod Classic again…


previously: http://ift.tt/1wARac2…

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

I took iPod Classic Returned From The Dead on December 15, 2014 at 12:12PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 15, 2014 at 06:13PM

Written by eggplant

December 15th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

How Brownback Is Relying On Obamacare To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole

Don't Fool With Fools Who'll Run Away
Don’t Fool With Fools Who’ll Run Away.

Oh, Kansas, you so crazy – you elected this clown twice!

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is calling all hands on deck to fix his state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis, which nearly cost him re-election this year, and the staunch conservative is now receiving an assist from an unlikely source: Obamacare.

The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011. With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week, a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.

(click here to continue reading How Brownback Is Relying On O-Care To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole.)

I'm With Stupid
I’m With Stupid

No worries, Kansas will turn into Somalia soon enough, Governor Brownback has 4 more years of wrecking the state’s economy to prove Republican talking points about economics are faith-based. As long as you don’t live in Kansas, or near Kansas, or have any dealings with Kansas, or live in the same country as Kansas, you should be ok…

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

(click here to continue reading Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas – NYTimes.com.)

Puzzle of Puzzles
Puzzle of Puzzles

and as long as the morons in Washington don’t follow Brownback’s lead:

Remember, as far as Brownback is concerned, he has a popular mandate from the Kansas electorate. He ruined the state’s finances, won a second term, and sees no need to change course. So, predictably, he’s keeping the tax breaks that didn’t work and slashing public investments even deeper, since this is entirely consistent with the agenda endorsed by voters.  

Shortly after the election, Brownback’s budget director said the administration “has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy.” Of course not. Why would failure need to be revisited?  

Postscript: Two years ago, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.” Something to keep in mind.

(click here to continue reading Brownback scrambles to clean up his mess | MSNBC.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Shirts vs. Skins – Venice Beach was uploaded to Flickr

not sure who won

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I took Shirts vs. Skins – Venice Beach on February 02, 2013 at 02:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 14, 2014 at 03:02PM

Written by eggplant

December 14th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Evening Comes Early Enough For A Stroll was uploaded to Flickr

Division and Damen in a light rain

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

I took Evening Comes Early Enough For A Stroll on April 13, 2014 at 07:33PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 12, 2014 at 03:31PM

Written by eggplant

December 12th, 2014 at 10:06 am