B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Al Franken Ran As A Liberal, and Won

Everything Is Political
Everything Is Political

Senator Al Franken won re-election with a novel strategy; he campaigned as he votes: as a Liberal! And won! Sadly, too many of his party tried to win by playing up their conservative side for some reason, and then lost. Seriously, what is the point of presenting oneself as Republican-Lite? Won’t voters just vote for the actual Republican?

Luckily for the Wellstone wing of the Democratic Party, there are a few smart guys, like Senator Franken:

Across the country, other Democratic Senate candidates distanced themselves from President Obama and the Democratic Party platform. Mark Warner, who squeaked by in Virginia, preferred to talk about how he’d tweak the Affordable Care Act than his vote for the bill, while arguing that he hasn’t actually voted with President Obama all that often. Mark Udall in Colorado decided he didn’t want to be seen with Obama. Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky wouldn’t even say if she voted for Obama in 2012—after serving as one of his delegates to the national convention.

Franken took the opposite approach.

Instead of running away from the progressive accomplishments of the Obama era, he embraced them, railing against bankers, advocating for student loan reform—even defending the Affordable Care Act. Franken ran as an Elizabeth Warren-style Democrat, running a populist campaign that didn’t shirk discussion of the specific policies Democrats could pursue to help the middle class. And voters rewarded him. “This wasn’t a safe seat,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in an e-mail. “He earned his victory by being a proud populist Democrat for six years and inspiring voters.”

Franken’s Republican opponent, investment banker Mike McFadden, centered his campaign on painting Franken as an Obama shill. But Franken didn’t deny his ties to the president and the Democratic party—and he would have had a hard time of it if he tried. Franken was a favorite of the liberal base before entering politics thanks to his combative, unabashed left-winger radio persona on Air America and his anti-Fox News books. He joined Congress in 2009 as the Democrats’ 60th, filibuster-breaking vote, allowing the party to pass the Affordable Care Act. Since then he’s racked up a clear lefty record, regularly ranking among the most liberal members in the Senate.

(click here to continue reading Al Franken Was Liberal Enough, Tough Enough, and Doggone It, People Reelected Him | Mother Jones.)

Maybe in 2016, more Democrats will decide to run as liberals. Shocking concept, eh?

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless - Tom Tomorrow

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless – Tom Tomorrow

– via http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/10/1342914/-Cartoon-Midterm-mayhem

Written by Seth Anderson

November 14th, 2014 at 9:19 am

side Doorway to Joseph Theurer House was uploaded to Flickr

blue toned wash added in Photoshop.

sometimes called the Joseph Theurer and Philip K. Wrigley House.

Read more:
http://ift.tt/1sIGRP3…

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I took side Doorway to Joseph Theurer House on October 09, 2011 at 06:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 13, 2014 at 05:00PM

Written by eggplant

November 13th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Been An Outcast All Her Life was uploaded to Flickr

South Pond, Lincoln Park

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http://flic.kr/p/pL99iE

I took Been An Outcast All Her Life on October 11, 2014 at 06:53PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 13, 2014 at 03:09PM

Written by eggplant

November 13th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Amazon’s Echo Chamber

Echoing Rhetoric Not Your Own

Echoing Rhetoric Not Your Own 

and since I’m thinking about how odd Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com are, this is another placeholder for some later posting, a review amorphous as of yet…

It’s extremely hard for me to understand Amazon’s consumer hardware strategy. Usually, when a company has a strategy I don’t understand, I can look deeper, ask employees, or analyze the greater market to get a faint idea of what is driving the company’s behavior. But with Amazon, I can’t. There is simply no rational explanation for its products. The only thing I can come up with is this: Amazon continues to make hardware because it doesn’t know that it sucks, and it has a fundamentally flawed understanding of media. With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success.

It’s an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back. You can’t buy a phone and put it in a lonely drawer, never to use it again, like you would with a Fire Tablet. You can’t dupe your customers by selling them a shitty phone, because a phone becomes a part of its user’s identity.

Amazon’s retail strategy of being allergic to profit does not translate well into hardware manufacturing. People buy hardware that fits into their lives, and becomes part of how they identify themselves to the world. If you want to sell hardware, you have to be in fashion, like Samsung was two years ago, or like Apple has always been. Amazon is incapable of understanding fashion, because it has no taste, and its hardware is completely unfashionable and tasteless.

Amazon is slowly destroying itself from the inside out, through its own echo chamber, by focusing on a strategy that will never work and does not even make sense.

(click here to continue reading Amazon’s Echo Chamber.)

The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with

Jeff Bezos Is A Strange Man

Amazon - The Original Store

Amazon – The Original Store 

I realize I never got around to posting a book review of Jeff Bezos semi-unauthorized biography by Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Mark this anecdote as a placeholder.

The set up to this story is a breakfast meeting between Matt Rutledge, the founder of Woot.com ((Wikipedia page, not actual website)) and the purchaser of Woot.com, Jeff Bezos, and Bezos’ shadow CEO:

So there sat Bezos at the breakfast table, faced with a question for which he was apparently unprepared. Many painful seconds passed without an answer. Rutledge let the pause lengthen as long as he could bear it and was just about to tell his host to forget it, when Bezos finally spoke. 

He looked down at his plate. Bezos had ordered a dish called Tom’s Big Breakfast, a preparation of Mediterranean octopus that includes potatoes, bacon, green garlic yogurt, and a poached egg. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Rutledge remembers Bezos saying. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.”

Not until Rutledge had returned to Dallas and related the story to his anxious employees—now Amazon’s employees—did he realize just how absurd that explanation sounded. Before it can be eaten, generally, the breakfast octopus must be killed. 

(click here to continue reading This Internet Millionaire Has a New Deal For You – D Magazine.)

And I love Matt Rutledge’s new company name, Mediocre Corporation, and his spirit about entrepreneurship. 

Roughly two months prior to the planned late-June launch of his next big thing, Rutledge, wearing jeans and a t-shirt of obscure design, leads a tour of the standard-issue gray cubicles in his new office near Addison Airport, just a few miles from where Woot still has its headquarters. Within a year of his departure from Amazon, five other senior Wooters jumped ship to join him. All told, he has 35 employees now. He’s financing the business with his own money and jokes about his burn rate. The office space and the attached warehouse were once occupied by Heelys, the briefly red-hot company that made the shoe with the wheel in its heel. Remember it? No? Perfect closeout item for Meh.com. 

Yes. It’s called Meh. The opposite of Woot. Hang on a second. We’ll get to that. First: Rutledge’s Mediocre Corporation operates Mediocre Laboratories, which will conduct a series of what he calls e-commerce experiments. The first one, concluded late last year, was called the Seligman Experiment. If you’re curious about the name “Seligman,” you are encouraged, in keeping with Woot’s founding concept of customer service, to Google it. For Mediocre, here’s how it worked:

(click here to continue reading This Internet Millionaire Has a New Deal For You – D Magazine.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with

Spooky was uploaded to Flickr

Sculpture, West Loop

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/oX4Hg8

I took Spooky on October 31, 2014 at 06:47PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on November 01, 2014 at 04:01PM

Written by eggplant

November 1st, 2014 at 10:53 am

Yes, I Judge Your Politics

What Have We Done Wrong?
What Have We Done Wrong?

Jonathan Chait has a nice piece in the New York Magazine responding to David Brooks’ latest bit of twaddle (which you can read here if you are bored or a masochist)

American politics may have been much less partisan in the 1960s, but it was not lacking in hypermoralization. Indeed, it was far more violent. You had white supremacists murdering civil-rights activists in Mississippi, police brutalizing protestors in Chicago, and construction workers beating up hippies in New York City. That angry, hypermoralized politics took place outside of, or within, parties rather than between them.

There are millions of Americans who think it’s okay to deny legal citizens their voting rights or force them to go without health insurance. Those people live in a different moral universe than I do. They’re not necessarily bad people. (Lord knows the people who agree with me on those things are not all good.) But, yes, I believe their political views reflect something unflattering about their character.

(click here to continue reading I’m a ‘Partyist,’ and Yes, I Judge Your Politics — NYMag.)

Yes, count me in the camp that believes in small “d” democracy. If a political party can only seize power by disenfranchising voters through poll taxes, or other duplicitous means, than that party is corrupt. Even dudes who make a living collecting scrap metal have human dignity, and should have a say in their own governance, however small their participation really is in practice. One person, one vote, not one dollar, one vote.

And to Mr. Chait (and David Brooks) larger point: would I want my daughter to marry a Tea Party friendly, Rush Limbaugh reciting, mouth breathing, 6,000 year old Earther who believes the Rapture is approaching? No, I would not. I don’t think they would be worthy of continuing my DNA’s long journey to Alpha Centauri. But, because I am a liberal, if I had a daughter, I wouldn’t get to choose who she loves, I just wouldn’t have to like it.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 31st, 2014 at 7:54 am

Posted in politics,religion

Tagged with ,

Grand Is The Seen Light was uploaded to Flickr

Sun setting, Goose Island, Chicago

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I took Grand Is The Seen Light on October 26, 2014 at 05:51PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 27, 2014 at 10:05PM

Written by eggplant

October 27th, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I Heard You Sigh was uploaded to Flickr

Rain, Chicago at night

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I took I Heard You Sigh on October 13, 2014 at 08:49PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 23, 2014 at 08:46PM

Written by eggplant

October 23rd, 2014 at 5:06 pm

JPMorgan Chase Seeks Corporate Welfare to Build New HQ in Manhattan

Where all hopes sank
Where all hopes sank

I’ve heard of food deserts, perhaps New York City has a bank desert here? Why else would taxpayers fund real estate for one of the biggest, wealthiest banks on the planet? Well, other than the obvious reason, corruption. Sweet, sweet corporate welfare, it’s what makes the business world go ‘round…

City and state officials are negotiating with JPMorgan Chase over a potential deal in which the nation’s largest bank would build a vast $6.5 billion corporate campus with two high-rise towers in the new commercial district on the Far West Side of Manhattan.

The talks, which involve one of the largest real estate complexes for a single company in New York City history and a large package of incentives for Chase, have reached a feverish state after nearly falling apart this week.

The negotiations are so delicate that few people are willing to discuss them publicly for fear of alienating one side or another.

But a deal with the bank poses political risks for both the state and the city. Chase had initially sought, by one account, more than $1 billion in concessions from the city and the state while it continues to pare its payroll in the city. According to executives and officials, Chase wants to build the two towers — whose total space would be the equivalent of about two Empire State Buildings — at Hudson Yards on the north side of 33rd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. They would become home to 16,000 employees.

(click here to continue reading JPMorgan Chase Seeks Incentives to Build New Headquarters in Manhattan – NYTimes.com.)

JP Morgan Chase Blues
JP Morgan Chase Blues

and additional evidence that Chase must have explicit photos of Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in compromising positions, possibly with each other,  on a bed of lobbyist dollars while Jamie Dimon watches:

As is often the case in these kinds of deals, the bank drew up a lengthy list of possible concessions. Chase wanted to cut the mortgage recording tax, the transfer tax and sales taxes on construction materials. It also sought job-training grants, low-cost power from the state, an underground passageway between the two buildings that would require alterations to the newly built No. 7 subway station and financial help with reinforcing the foundation.

The neighborhood, formerly part of Hell’s Kitchen, was rezoned eight years ago for high-rise development by then-Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The rezoning included tax breaks and other incentives intended to encourage new construction.

City officials, who estimated that there are already $600 million in tax breaks and other incentives associated with the two sites, have been reluctant to sweeten the deal for Chase.

The Bloomberg administration issued $3 billion in bonds to pay for parks, a new tree-lined boulevard and an extension of the No. 7 subway line from Times Square to the spot where Chase wants to build the new towers.

Officials at the time had assured skeptics that development fees and payments in lieu of taxes from new towers would cover the debt payments. But development has been slower than anticipated, prompting the city to take more than $130 million from the city budget to make the annual debt payments.

Chase has been eager to reduce its costs in New York and move technical and operational employees to lower-cost locations in Delaware, New Jersey and elsewhere.

Austerity for thee, not for me…

How about instead of giving JPMorgan Chase the $600,000,000 -$1,000,000,000 it is asking for, instead New York gives Chase employees an equal amount in tax credits? Sales tax relief, income tax relief, whatever, but only for the employees who make less than $100,000 a year? Sure they’d all have to file 1040 returns, but seems like a better boost to New York’s economy than doling out government cheese to a filthy rich bank.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 17th, 2014 at 8:55 am

F.B.I. Director James Comey Continues His Obfuscation Tour Re Encrypted Phones

Old US Post Office building Toned
Old US Post Office building – used in Dark Knight

FBI Director James Comey continues his public obfuscation tour, blaming the upcoming Joker and Riddler crime spree in Gotham on the fairly new ability of consumers to encrypt data on their own phones against unwilling intrusions by governments and other entities.

The director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, said on Thursday that the “post-Snowden pendulum” that has driven Apple and Google to offer fully encrypted cellphones had “gone too far.” He hinted that as a result, the administration might seek regulations and laws forcing companies to create a way for the government to unlock the photos, emails and contacts stored on the phones.

But Mr. Comey appeared to have few answers for critics who have argued that any portal created for the F.B.I. and the police could be exploited by the National Security Agency, or even Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies or criminals. And his position seemed to put him at odds with a White House advisory committee that recommended against any effort to weaken commercial encryption.

Apple and Google have announced new software that would automatically encrypt the contents of cellphones, using codes that even the companies could not crack. Their announcement followed a year of disclosures from Edward J. Snowden, the former government contractor who revealed many government programs that collect electronic data, including information on Americans.

The new encryption would hinder investigations involving phones taken from suspects, recovered at crime scenes or discovered on battlefields. But it would not affect information obtained by real-time wiretaps, such as phone conversations, emails or text messages. And the government could still get information that is stored elsewhere, including emails, call logs and, in some cases, old text messages.

(click here to continue reading James Comey, F.B.I. Director, Hints at Action as Cellphone Data Is Locked – NYTimes.com.)

Warrant - Not Found

You know what isn’t mentioned in this long article? Warrants. I wonder why that is? Could it be that most criminal masterminds do not store their plans to rob Gotham National Bank solely upon their encrypted cellphones, leaving law enforcement completely in the dark? Possibly The Joker leaves other traces of his plan elsewhere? Or discusses his machinations with co-conspirators? According to Mr. Comey, without the government retaining the ability to tap into each and every one of our cellphones at any time, The Joker will win. He’ll win! He’ll win, Batman!

or as Marcy Wheeler rightfully notes, this seems to really be about warrantless searching, especially at the US border:

Encrypting iPhones might have the biggest impact on law enforcement searches that don’t involve warrants, contrary to law enforcement claims this is about warranted searches. As early as 2010, Customs and Border Patrol was searching around 4,600 devices a year and seizing up to 300 using what is called a “border exception.” That is when CBP takes and searches devices from people it is questioning at the border. Just searching such devices does not even require probable cause (though seizing them requires some rationale). These searches increasingly involve smart phones like the iPhone.

These numbers suggest border searches of iPhones may be as common as warranted searches of the devices. Apple provided account content to U.S. law enforcement 155 times last year. It responded to 3,431 device requests, but the “vast majority” of those device requests involved customers seeking help with a lost or stolen phone, not law enforcement trying to get contents off a cell phone (Consumer Reports estimates that 3.1 million Americans will have their smart phones stolen this year). Given that Apple has by far the largest share of the smart phone market in the U.S., a significant number of border device searches involving a smart phone will be an iPhone. Apple’s default encryption will make it far harder for the government to do such searches without obtaining a warrant, which they often don’t have evidence to get.

If law enforcement wants to retain this access, they should be honest about what they might lose and why every iPhone user should be asked to carry a phone that is susceptible to criminal targeting as a result. Trading default encryption for a limited law enforcement purpose is just that — a trade-off — and officials should be prepared to discuss it as such. And, as forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski explains, there’s a mountain of other data still available to help law enforcement solve crimes. “There is such a mount of peripheral evidence out there that only a small handful of cases are even likely to have the iPhone be the sole smoking gun to begin with,” he explained. “Cops have iCloud data, iCloud backups, call records, voicemail records, text messages from the carrier (if obtained within a certain retention period), gmail, email, web logs, trap and trace, proxy logs, not to mention copies of data from other people involved or from the victims themselves, desktop backups (if available), sometimes even a desktop (as many criminals don’t use encryption at all). Add to that they’re eavesdropping on the whole damn Internet.”

(click here to continue reading America’s huge iPhone lie: Why Apple is being accused of coddling child molesters – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 17th, 2014 at 8:29 am

Posted in Apple,government

Tagged with , , , ,

iPhone Other Data Suckage

For the third time in the last 2 months, I’ve had to restore my iPhone to factory settings – a long, laborious process – because a sync failed, and left “Other” data behind. This “Other” data is music, but the iOS cannot make sense of it, and just ignores it, except I cannot ever sync the iPhone again because there isn’t enough room. There is no way to get at the file system to delete this crud, other than resetting the iPhone back to as if I just opened it from its box.

A real PITA, in other words, that takes several hours from start to finish. 

IPhone Data Other
iPhone Data Other.PNG

See, the Other Data is so large, that the iPhone sync process fails. Grrr…

 

First, Backup the iPhone. Turn Sync Music Off (click the toggle button), rsync. I’ve found that subsequently turning on use iTunes Match helps make this process actually work without failing. Backup again. Restore iPhone to Factory Setting, wait the 90 minutes or so before this finishes. Enable Location Services, log in to iCloud, etc., Sync. Wait until all the apps and photos,  books, etc. sync. Restore Hipstamatic lens/film combos. Toggle Sync Music back on. Sync again, hopefully for the last time. All told, I started around 4:30 PM, and now it is nearly 11 PM, and the final sync isn’t completed yet (though I had dinner, drank some wine, watched a little television, and so forth, these times might have been slightly less had I sat in front of my computer all night waiting for the various processes to finish) – it has only synced about 10% of my music so far. At least there is an end in sight.1

Lovely.

Oh, and also recreating the TouchID fingerprint scan, another few minutes of time – time that was interesting to do the first time, not that cumbersome the second time, but now, the third time in 60 days? Not ideal…

Footnotes:
  1. 12:33 AM when the phone is finally usable again. Sheesh []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 16th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with , , ,

Harmlessly Passing Your Time was uploaded to Flickr

Rain, Lake Street.

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I took Harmlessly Passing Your Time on October 13, 2014 at 10:10PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 15, 2014 at 06:02AM

Written by eggplant

October 15th, 2014 at 8:19 am

King’s Noodle Restaurant was uploaded to Flickr

Spadina, Toronto, after a rain.

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I took King’s Noodle Restaurant on September 20, 2014 at 11:08PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 11, 2014 at 04:09PM

Written by eggplant

October 11th, 2014 at 9:57 am

King’s Noodle Restaurant – Contrasty BW was uploaded to Flickr

Spadina, Toronto, after a rain.

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/pkE7ma

I took King’s Noodle Restaurant – Contrasty BW on September 20, 2014 at 11:08PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 11, 2014 at 04:09PM

Written by eggplant

October 11th, 2014 at 9:57 am