B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Gina Haspel Should Be Sent To Trial At The Hague Not Promoted To Head The CIA

It s About Judge Ment
It’s About Judge Ment

One of my biggest disappointments with Obama’s presidency is that he never vigorously prosecuted those in the US Government who conducted torture, or in Gina Haspel’s case, enabled torturers to evade public scrutiny by covering up evidence of crimes.

Gina Haspel should not be promoted, she should be sent to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes, along with others like Dick Cheney. Torture is not an American value, at least not in the America I want to live in.

The Guardian reports:

 

Gina Haspel is set to become the first female director in the 70-year history of the CIA. But smashing that glass ceiling will depend on offering the US Senate a convincing explanation about her dark past.

 

More than a decade ago Haspel reportedly oversaw an infamous secret CIA prison in Thailand where a terrorism suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded, a process that simulates drowning. She is also said to have drafted orders to destroy video evidence of such torture, which prompted a lengthy justice department investigation that ended without charges.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Torture allegations dog Gina Haspel as she is poised to be first female CIA head | US news | The Guardian.)

I am personally not reassured by her assertion that the CIA won’t restart torture:

 

Gina Haspel is expected to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that she “will not restart” the CIA’s brutal interrogation program if confirmed to lead the agency, according to excerpts of her remarks released by the agency in advance of what is expected to be a contentious confirmation hearing.

But that is unlikely to satisfy those senators who have called for more public disclosure about her career. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the Intelligence Committee’s vice chairman, told Haspel in a letter earlier this week that her recalcitrance was “unacceptable.”

 

 

(click here to continue reading Gina Haspel hearing for CIA director: Senate questions Trump’s nominee on interrogation program – The Washington Post.)

Not reassured at all that Haspel, Bolton and Trump won’t quickly start up black sites and begin torturing people again. Who would even know, at first? She seems quite happy with herself, able to sleep at night, unlike some of her victims.

In October 2002, she took over a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand where an al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded. Another suspect was subjected to the same so-called enhanced interrogation technique before Haspel arrived. At the time, she was serving in a senior leadership position in the agency’s counterterrorism center.

In 2005, Haspel drafted a cable, ultimately issued by her boss, ordering the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes of the interrogation sessions. Officials familiar with the episode have said that Haspel believed her boss, Jose Rodriquez, then the director of the National Clandestine Service, would obtain approval from the CIA director and general counsel before issuing the order. But Haspel was a strong advocate within the agency for destroying the tapes, believing that were they to become public and reveal the identity of CIA interrogators, they could face reprisals from terrorists.

End Torture in Illinois
End Torture in Illinois, and everywhere

James Cavallaro of The Guardian writes:

In the coming days, Gina Haspel will testify before the Senate in connection with her nomination by Donald Trump to direct the Central Intelligence Agency. Much has been written about whether someone who oversaw a secret CIA detention site where detainees were tortured should be eligible to head the nation’s leading intelligence agency.

At first blush, this may appear to be the central debate. What ethical transgressions are inconsistent with an agency-level directorship in the United States government? Certainly, participation in torture should render a candidate unqualified. Yet, on further inspection, the focus on whether Haspel’s abusive conduct disqualifies her from CIA leadership cloaks a far more important and revealing debate.

Judging candidates to direct the CIA presupposes knowledge of the history of the CIA and a vision for its role – if any – in a society that purports to be democratic. Interrogating, so to speak, that knowledge and understanding that vision have been painfully absent from the national debate.

More recently, the CIA created black sites around the world to host programs of institutionalized torture, documented by the Senate itself. The torture memos, written to justify this torture, so twisted and distorted legal norms that they were kept secret for years. The agency also facilitated creation of a black hole legal regime in Guantánamo, where the US has indefinitely detained hundreds of people in violation of international law.

My guess is that none of this bleak history will be raised when Gina Haspel appears before the Senate. Since 9/11, we have witnessed a national, collective effort to rehabilitate the CIA and champion its role as a noble protector of the US. Our post-9/11 reverence for all those tasked with defending us against real and perceived terrorist threats has crippled our ability to assess the actions and role of agencies like the CIA critically. This collective amnesia regarding the agency’s abuses, including its pattern of interference in democratic processes, is particularly stark today, as our nation grapples with the consequences of Russian efforts to undermine our elections and those of other nations.

Given its sordid history, the question to ask might not be whether Haspel rises to the caliber of the CIA. The question might be whether Haspel descends to the level of instigator of torture, murder and interference in foreign governments that has marked the history of the CIA. Unless and until we examine the difficult questions about the past and future of the CIA, Haspel may just be perfect for the job.

(click here to continue reading The CIA has a long history of torture. Gina Haspel will be perfect for the job | James Cavallaro | Opinion | The Guardian.)

The Arc of History Is Rusted
The Arc of History Is Rusted

The AP reports:

 

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, offered to withdraw her nomination amid concerns that a debate over a harsh interrogation program would tarnish her reputation and that of the CIA. That’s according to two senior administration officials.

 

White House aides on Friday sought out additional details about Haspel’s involvement in the CIA’s now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11 as they prepared her for Wednesday’s confirmation hearing. This is when she offered to withdraw.

 

They said Haspel, who is the acting director of the CIA, was reassured that her nomination was still on track and she will not withdraw.

 

 

(click here to continue reading The Latest: Sanders: Haspel offered withdrawal to shield CIA – The Washington Post.)

If Ms. Haspel had any honor, and there is no evidence she does, she would immediately withdraw her nomination and start a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of human rights abuses around the world as a kind of penance. Even still, she should become a pariah, unwelcome to visit civilized societies.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 9th, 2018 at 8:29 am

As headlines swirl, Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani

Don t Bring Your Dog Shet to Town
Don’t Bring Your Dog Shet to Town

Speaking of that repugnant person, Rudy Giuliani, the AP reports:

President Donald Trump is growing increasingly irritated with lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s frequently off-message media blitz, in which he has muddied the waters on hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels and made claims that could complicate the president’s standing in the special counsel’s Russia probe.

Trump has begun questioning whether Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, should be sidelined from television interviews, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Trump also expressed annoyance that Giuliani’s theatrics have breathed new life into the Daniels story and extended its lifespan.

(click here to continue reading As headlines swirl, Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani.)

What a surprise!1

Rudy “9/11” Giuliani has always been a carpet stain, and a media hog, just like his motorboating buddy, Trump. The smart money was on betting that Rudy and Trump would not have a long time working relationship, too much competition for the same attention.

Footnotes:
  1. nobody is surprised []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 8th, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Will Trump Testify in Mueller Probe?

Dump Googly Eyes Trump
Dump Googly Eyes Trump

The WSJ reports:

Mr. Giuliani said he came into the case last month skeptical about letting Mr. Trump testify, based on his own experience as a former U.S. attorney and private lawyer.

“I’m not sure any client of mine has ever testified, and I sure as heck have benefited from ones who were dumb enough to do it” when he served as a prosecutor, Mr. Giuliani said.

Another consideration is how Mr. Trump would perform as a witness and whether he has the discipline to avoid unnecessary tangents that open himself to new questions.

“Anyone can see he has great difficulty staying on a subject,” one person familiar with the legal team’s deliberations said.

A person familiar with the legal team, i.e., Rudy Giuliani, admitting that Trump has the attention span of a gnat. 

Preparing Mr. Trump to testify would be a serious distraction to his work as president, eating into time he needs to deal with pressing global issues, Mr. Trump’s lawyers contend.

In an informal, four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions, given the frequent interruptions on national-security matters along with Mr. Trump’s loquaciousness, one person familiar with the matter said.

(click here to continue reading Trump Lawyers Aim to Decide by May 17 Whether President Testifies in Mueller Probe – WSJ.)

Yeah, there’s so many television shows he needs to keep up with; I’m certain his DVR is nearly full because he never has time in his busy day to watch the shows and delete them from his playlist. Oh, and golfing of course.

On the second quoted sentence, I think Mueller’s team would be fine with Trump rambling on and on, contradicting himself every other sentence, spinning tales that will reveal more than they conceal. Trump is a lot of things, but he isn’t shy about voicing his opinions, especially opinions that have no basis in fact. 

Oath
Under Oath

Trump’s new legal team doesn’t have a security clearance, but that’s never stopped Rudy Giuliani in the past from reading classified documents1 – allegedly.

Meanwhile, the turnover has created a separate problem for Mr. Trump’s defense: His lawyers lack security clearances, which could limit the documents and materials they can see.

When Mr. Dowd left in March, he was the only outside lawyer who held a clearance. The outside team as it now stands—Jay Sekulow, Marty and Jane Raskin and Mr. Giuliani—are all in the process of applying for security clearances, a person familiar with the matter said.

 

(click here to continue reading Trump Lawyers Aim to Decide by May 17 Whether President Testifies in Mueller Probe – WSJ.)

The best and the brightest people…

Footnotes:
  1. and leaking []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 8th, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Former Little Village coal plant to be demolished, replaced with warehouses

Gain the Whole World and Lose
Gain the Whole World and Lose

Ryan Ori of the Tribune reports:

The former coal-fired power plant in Little Village is set to be demolished and replaced with a 21st-century use: warehouses to speed orders for online customers in Chicago.

Northbrook-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners has bought the former Crawford Power Generating Station as part of a $100 million-plus project to demolish the facility and replace it with up to 1 million square feet of warehouses along Interstate 55, Pulaski Road and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. No tenant has been signed.

The facility was one of the last two coal plants in operation in Chicago until 2012, when power company Midwest Generation closed the facility and its Fisk generating station in Pilsen. The Crawford plant opened in the 1920s.

Roberto Perez, president and managing director of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, said “70 acres in a perfect rectangle is almost impossible to find in downtown Chicago.”

Hilco is working on a community benefits agreement with 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz on the Crawford redevelopment. “No. 1, I want to see it cleaned up properly, and No. 2, I want to see jobs go to local residents,” Munoz said. “It’s great that they’re going to repurpose the site, put it back on the tax rolls and bring jobs back to the site.”

Site cleanup and demolition is expected to take 14 to 24 months. Hilco will talk with prospective tenants during that time.

Hilco has been buying and redeveloping similar sites in other parts of the country, including Boston and Baltimore, as online retailers and other companies seek “last mile” distribution centers close to residential areas. The company signed leases with Amazon, FedEx Ground and Under Armour on a former Bethlehem Steel plant it is redeveloping into distribution space in Baltimore.

(click here to continue reading Former Little Village coal plant to be demolished, replaced with distribution center – Chicago Tribune.)

Good news, I guess, though I hope they use permeable pavement. Would have been nicer if that area had become a beautiful parkland instead of warehouses. But, still better than a heavy metal spewing power plant, especially if the site is cleaned thoroughly.

The Dark Doesn t Hide It
The Dark Doesn’t Hide It

West Wind Blowing Ill
West Wind Blowing Ill

Go Back To Where You Have Been Again
Go Back To Where You Have Been Again

West Wind Blowing Ill  Redux
West Wind Blowing Ill – Redux

Tales of the Towering Dead
Tales of the Towering Dead

Everything If You Want Things
Everything If You Want Things

Withered and Died
Withered and Died

Fisk Station
Fisk Station

Satanic Gift
Satanic Gift

Stack for Fisk Generating Station
Stack for Fisk Generating Station

Written by Seth Anderson

May 7th, 2018 at 8:21 am

Bank for Illinois’ medical marijuana industry is pulling out

Truck full of Cannabis
Truck full of Cannabis, Washington State.

Ally Marotti of the Tribune reports:

The main bank serving Illinois medical marijuana companies is pulling out of the industry, leaving operators with few options other than dealing in cash.

Bank of Springfield sent a letter to its cannabis clients late last month informing them that their accounts will be closed May 21. The decision is tied to the reversal of an Obama-era policy that discouraged prosecution of those operating under state marijuana laws.

The move is a setback for the industry, which remains a pilot program more than two years after medical cannabis became legal in Illinois. Strict regulations and other obstacles have added challenges to running cannabis companies and kept patient numbers too low for some operators to recoup their investments.

Taking away the bank accounts medical marijuana companies use to pay their employees, vendors and the government is another hurdle. It also eliminates some of the legitimacy and traceability of transactions that banking added to the industry, which had $8.5 million in retail sales statewide in February, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

(click here to continue reading Main bank for Illinois’ medical marijuana industry is pulling out, leaving some operators to deal in cash – Chicago Tribune.)

Yet another reason to vote against Governor Bruce Rauner, as if we needed any more. His willful antagonism towards medical cannabis is undermining its growth. Illinois certainly could do better.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. all agree that money is good for the Illinois budget, why not follow the model of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and others?

Henry Anslinger
Henry Anslinger

From an article earlier this year, also by Ally Marotti:

As the legal marijuana industry navigates uncertainty on the federal level, state attorneys general are asking Congress to pass a law allowing banks to work with cannabis companies.

Along with Illinois, 28 other states, Washington, D.C., and several U.S. territories have legalized medicinal cannabis, and eight states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use. But in the eyes of federal law, weed is still illegal, and the cash earned selling it is drug money.

Without banks, though, operations and growth could be hindered.

The federal government has issued guidance for how banks can work with cannabis companies, but without a law, banks hesitate to enter the growing industry. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and 18 other attorneys general — from 16 states, the District of Columbia and Guam — signed a letter this week saying they want that to change. Madigan was not available Wednesday for further comment.

Passing a law “would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions,” according to the letter. “Moreover, compliance with tax requirements would be simpler and easier to enforce with a better-defined tracking of funds. This would, in turn, result in higher tax revenue.”

Banks that work with the cannabis industry can take further guidance from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. But, again, that’s just guidance.

“That’s not enough for the national and international banks,” said Cresco’s Bachtell, who has a background in mortgage banking. “They’re not comfortable with guidance; they want real regulation.”

The letter from the state attorneys general asks Congress for legislation to provide a “safe harbor” for financial institutions that work with cannabis companies in states where the drug is legal in some capacity. It points to a bill introduced in the Senate in May that would do just that.

More banks would likely expand operations into the marijuana industry if such a law were instituted, though it might take time for financial institutions to become comfortable with it, said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution.

(click here to continue reading U.S. law sought to allow banking for legal pot – Near West.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 7th, 2018 at 8:03 am

Steve Dolinsky Is Hosting Tours of Chicago’s Best Pizza

Culicchia  Co
Culicchia & Co, West Loop

Anthony Todd reports:

As with many great things, Pizza City USA Tours were born out of a combination of love and frustration. “I was super annoyed reading yet another listicle online of the 7 hottest pizza places in Chicago,” explained founder (and Chicago food superstar) Steve Dolinsky. “And I had been to one of them that week and thought, this makes no sense.” Dolinsky, who you probably know as ABC7’s Hungry Hound, was startled to find that no one had done a really-for-real deep dive into Chicago pizza. So, he started eating.

185 pizza places (and some acid reflux and a lot of yoga) later, Dolinsky is, likely, the most comprehensive expert on Chicago pizza in the world. “In January and February of 17, I started on this major quest, doing 3 a day,” Dolinsky remembered.  “People talk about ‘3-a-days’ as if it were a workout, but mine were pizza!” The result: a new book coming in September called Pizza City USA: 101 Reasons Chicago is America’s Greatest Pizza Town. If you can’t wait that long (and want to eat pizza yourself), Dolinsky has also started his own tour company.

Be warned, though: this might not be what you think of as “Chicago Pizza.”

“Chicago is really a city of thin crust,” insisted Dolinsky. “My analogy: deep dish is to Chicago what Times Square is to New York.  It’s a thing for tourists, locals could really care less.” Most of the pizzas he’s covering in the book and on the tours are from a variety of non-deep dish styles, including tavern-style, Detroit-style, Neapolitan and Roman. A tour will visit places with different styles; for example, one of his bus tours will visit Labriola on Michigan Avenue for deep dish, Pizzeria Bebu for an artisan pie, Pat’s for a tavern-style pizza and Dante’s for a New York-style slice.

(click here to continue reading Steve Dolinsky Is Hosting Tours of Chicago’s Best Pizza | Chicago magazine | Dining & Drinking May 2018.)

I love this Steve Dolinsky quote.

I’ll dial his sentiment back a bit, I’ve eaten good deep dish pizzas over my lifetime. That said, the best pizza I’ve had in Chicago is always thin crust.

YRMV.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 6th, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque,Food and Drink

Tagged with ,

Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It

No Information Left Of Any Kind
No Information Left Of Any Kind

NPR reports:

In a much-watched case, a Michigan agency has approved Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the state. The request attracted a record number of public comments — with 80,945 against and 75 in favor.

Nestlé’s request to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to pump 576,000 gallons of water each day from the White Pine Springs well in the Great Lakes Basin was “highly controversial,” member station Michigan Radio reports. But despite deep public opposition, the agency concluded that the company’s plan met with legal standards.

Under the plan, Nestlé will be approved to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from the well, rather than the 250 gallons per minute it had been extracting. The company first applied for the new permit in July 2016.

Water is a complicated and sore subject in many areas, but in few places more so than in Michigan, where a crisis has raged for years over high levels of lead and other dangerous heavy metals in the water in Flint. And back in 2014, Detroit resorted to shutting off water to thousands of customers as it fought bankruptcy.

With that recent history as a backdrop, Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the Great Lakes State drew attention and added another dimension to a debate over whether water should be seen as a commodity, a commercial product — or a human right.

Nestlé’s well is in western Michigan, near the town of Evart…The company bottles the water for sale under its Ice Mountain label.

(click here to continue reading Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It : The Two-Way : NPR.)

Disgusting, really that Nestlé gets to sell, for profit, water that is taken from the public at a rate of 400 gallons a minute. By my quick math: 400 gallons x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 365 days=  approximately 210,240,000 gallons a year; roughly 1,681,920,000 Iron Mountain 16 ml bottles that are sold for $3.99 in airports, or cheaper at, for instance, Target). Even accounting for the costs of “extraction”, plastic bottles, shipping, labeling, and so on, that’s a damn nice profit margin. Almost 2 billion 16 ml bottles a year, for basically free!

Thirsty Side view
Thirsty? Side view of discarded plastic water bottles

Especially because of this:

in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan. The spokesperson for Nestlé in Michigan is Deborah Muchmore. She’s the wife of Dennis Muchmore—Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, who just retired and registered to be a lobbyist.

 

(click here to continue reading Michigan’s Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water | Democracy Now!.)

Private profits from public resources, despicable. And the Republican assholes currently running the State of Michigan are happy to do it.

Thirsty
Thirsty?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 6th, 2018 at 7:53 pm

Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed

Slated for Destruction
Slated for Destruction

Curbed Chicago reports:

As presented, the 680-foot skyscraper would deliver 370 rental apartments, a 165-room hotel, and an Equinox fitness club. Related Midwest’s owner Related Cos. acquired the Equinox brand in 2006 and plans to build as many as 75 fitness-oriented hotel projects.

Concealed on-site parking for 150 vehicles comes via an interior motorcourt accessible from the Randolph frontage road and the existing Court Place curb cut on Halsted. The development can provide additional vehicular capacity with a valet service. All commercial loading will take place off the street and within the envelope of the new building.

The project is seeking a zoning change in the form of amending an existing Residential-Business Planned Development at the site. It takes over an older, unbuilt plan from a different developer that had called for a 370-foot tower with 220 residential units atop a prominent 260-space parking garage.

Related acquired the stalled development site in 2016 and demolished the existing dilapidated buildings that fall. The current proposal grew its L-shaped footprint through the addition of an adjacent parcel and achieved greater density with a 2017 transfer of air rights from the neighboring Haymarket Brewery.

(click here to continue reading Chicago’s Equinox hotel tower proposed as West Loop ‘gateway’ – Curbed Chicago.)

Oh boy, more traffic in an area that can’t handle the traffic it has already, and that’s before all these new constructions finish…

58 story hotel and residential
58 story hotel and residential

Written by Seth Anderson

May 6th, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

Tampopo aka The Pope aka Pope-a-schmope 2001-2018 RIP

Last week, Tampopo was lethargic, listless, and sat on my office couch for multiple hours as in a daze, head bowed over, eyes halfway shut, the whole gamut. Went to the kind folks at Family Pet, early next morning, did blood work, her kidney numbers were off the chart (not a good sign), creatine off the charts, etc. Kidney failure with secondary obstipation – R/O underlying infection, inflammation, neoplasia ((Diagnostics/Radiographs: CBC: HCT=27.8 (30.3-52.3), WBC=29.55 (2.87-17.02), NEUT=15.64 (1.48-10.29), LYMPHS=12.10 (0.92-6.88), MONOS=1.03 (0.05-0.67), BASO= 0.76 (0.01-0.26), PLT=107 (151-600) —> Mild anemia and panleukocytosis Chemistry: Severe azotemia – BUN>130, Creat not reading, Phos=12.6 (3.1-7.5), Ca=11.7 (7.8-11.3) ))

We could have left her at the vet (and an overnight place, at a different location) for 3 days while they hooked her up to a catheter and gave her fluids, but instead decided on option B: to bring her home, give oral dosage of Enrofloxacin and 100 cc of subcutaneous fluids daily, and be a hospice for her. We had to feed her with a syringe, and though she did drink water on her own, when she could stand, I learned to administer a sub-cutaneous fluid injection daily, a basting or juicing as I called it.

She did recover a bit, enough to drag herself to her litter box to pee, but not enough to keep her with us. So this morning, we did the difficult, heart-rending task of taking her in for a final time.

Rest in peace, sweet kitty.

Pope Soaks Up Some Sun
Pope Soaks Up Some Sun

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

April 25th, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , , ,

AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers–allegedly

 Zoey Getting Ready to Vote in the Nature Photo Contest

The Washington Post reports:

The Department of Justice is investigating potential efforts by AT&T and Verizon to hamstring a technology that could someday make it easier for consumers to seamlessly switch their wireless carriers, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The probe appears to focus on whether those companies — perhaps in a bid to stop their subscribers from jumping ship to rivals — colluded to undermine so-called eSIM cards, a technology that could someday allow the owners of smartphones, smartwatches or other devices to change their service provider on their own, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the probe, which has not been made public.

If the U.S. government ultimately determines that AT&T and Verizon harmed competitors or consumers, it could result in major fines or other penalties.

(click here to continue reading Did AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers? The Justice Department is investigating. – The Washington Post.)

Operative word being “if”…

In the Trump/GOP era of government, corporations are encouraged to run rampant over any rules or laws they don’t like, all that is needed is a nice campaign contribution, and issues miraculously vanish! Poof! 

Written by Seth Anderson

April 22nd, 2018 at 11:20 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with , ,

Whose Bubble Is It Anyway?

Hay Bales
Hay Bales 

Rebecca Solnit eloquently writes about the rural bubble that racists like Charles Murray want the rest of us to enter:

 The exhortations are everywhere. PBS News Hour featured a quiz by Charles Murray in March that asked “Do You Live in a Bubble?” The questions assumed that if you didn’t know people who drank cheap beer and drove pick-up trucks and worked in factories you lived in an elitist bubble. Among the questions: “Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American community with a population under 50,000 that is not part of a metropolitan area and is not where you went to college? Have you ever walked on a factory floor? Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?”

The quiz is essentially about whether you are in touch with working-class small-town white Christian America, as though everyone who’s not Joe the Plumber is Maurice the Elitist. We should know them, the logic goes; they do not need to know us. Less than 20 percent of Americans are white evangelicals, only slightly more than are Latino. Most Americans are urban. The quiz delivers, yet again, the message that the 80 percent of us who live in urban areas are not America, treats non-Protestant (including the quarter of this country that is Catholic) and non-white people as not America, treats many kinds of underpaid working people (salespeople, service workers, farmworkers) who are not male industrial workers as not America.

More Americans work in museums than work in coal, but coalminers are treated as sacred beings owed huge subsidies and the sacrifice of the climate, and museum workers—well, no one is talking about their jobs as a totem of our national identity.

PBS added a little note at the end of the bubble quiz, “The introduction has been edited to clarify Charles Murray’s expertise, which focuses on white American culture.” They don’t mention that he’s the author of the notorious Bell Curve or explain why someone widely considered racist was welcomed onto a publicly funded program. Perhaps the actual problem is that white Christian suburban, small-town, and rural America includes too many people who want to live in a bubble and think they’re entitled to, and that all of us who are not like them are menaces and intrusions who needs to be cleared out of the way.

(click here to continue reading Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This? | Literary Hub.)

We’ve discussed this before a few times. The rural voters may have disproportionate power in Congress, but they don’t have much cultural power. Urbanites are not clamoring to move out to small towns in Alabama or Iowa, places where the Walmart and four Protestant churches are the sum total of cultural life. Not all rural folk are racist assholes wallowing willfully in their ignorance, by the way. And in truth, there are liberal-minded folk all over the country, even in pockets of small town America. Jefferson’s America is long, long gone though. 

I actually have lived in rural America, years ago, albeit not by choice. I have no desire to move back. 

I mean, sure, who wouldn’t like being wealthy enough to have a place to go and unwind, some isolated thousand acre ranch in beautiful country, maintained by staff, but I wouldn’t want to live there more than a few weeks a year.

Rural Still Life
Rural Still Life

Back to the main point, why aren’t there a gazillion think pieces on the bubble of the rural Trump supporter? Coal jobs are not coming back, women are going to be able to vote, and drive, and make reproductive decisions for themselves; and non-white people are going to have civil liberties and be able to vote for their own interests. Supporting reactionaries like Trump and Scott Pruitt and the like is not going to alter the march of human history towards inclusion.

Quoting myself:

 

As somebody said on the internets (sic), the corporate media and the political chattering classes are treating the Trump base as if they are superdelegates. These reactionaries who voted for Trump despite all the warning signs of Trump’s incompetence are never going to be convinced to vote for progressive policies, why do we need to devote so much effort trying to cater to them? Are the Deplorables the only citizens who matter? Why not spend resources convincing the sometime voters who lean left to come to the polls instead?

 

 

(click here to continue reading Democrats Can Retake the House in 2018 Without Converting a Single Trump Voter at B12 Solipsism.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 22nd, 2018 at 9:26 am

Posted in News-esque,politics

Tagged with , ,

SmugMug snaps up Flickr photo service from Verizon’s Oath

Old Skooler
Old Skooler

USA Today reports:

Flickr has been snapped up by Silicon Valley photo-sharing and storage company SmugMug, USA TODAY has learned.

SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill told USA TODAY he’s committed to breathing new life into the faded social networking pioneer, which hosted photos and lively interactions long before it became trendy.

SmugMug, an independent, family-run company, will maintain Flickr as a standalone community of amateur and professional photographers and give the long neglected service the focus and resources it deserves, MacAskill said in an exclusive interview.

The mostly free Flickr was founded in 2004 and played a central role in the cultural and social life of the Internet. Friendships were forged on Flickr as people shared photographs and others commented on them. 

Overshadowed in the smartphone era by the rise of Facebook and Instagram, Flickr suffered defections to rival services but held onto a core loyal following of shutterbugs despite product and policy misses and the hacks of Yahoo, as well as encroaching competition from Google and other massive photo services.

Traffic has shrunk from its heyday, but Flickr says it has more than 75 million registered photographers and more than 100 million unique users who post tens of billions of photos. In March, Flickr had 13.1 million unique visitors, up from 10.8 million a year earlier, according to research firm comScore.

(click here to continue reading SmugMug snaps up Flickr photo service from Verizon’s Oath.)

Hmm, that’s potentially great news. I’ve used SmugMug for selling prints in the past,1 and of course, I’m a multiple-visits-daily user of Flickr ever since I was a beta-version Flickereeno.2 

Yesterday as I drifted off to sleep I even had the germ of an blog post idea about Flickr’s long term future. I assume Flickr is profitable, and gets quite a lot of traffic, but nothing has been changed there for a long, long time. I’m not sure what Verizon’s plans were, or if they had decided upon them. 

So I’m cautiously optimistic this will be good synergy.

And I especially liked this:

 

And, in an industry that dangles free services to suck up people’s personal information to target ads, SmugMug has catered to people who are willing to pay for privacy and storage, offering four levels of subscriptions to appeal to everyday shutterbugs and professional photographers alike.

 

MacAskill says the SmugMug model works for the business and his conscience because it aligns his incentives with his customers. “We don’t mine our customers’ photos for information to sell to the highest bidder, or to turn into targeted advertising campaigns,” he said.

 

After revelations that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information pilfered by Cambridge Analytica, a British political firm with ties to the Donald Trump presidential campaign, consumers are having second thoughts about trading their data for a free service.

 

 

(click here to continue reading SmugMug snaps up Flickr photo service from Verizon’s Oath.)

Footnotes:
  1. without much success to be honest []
  2. circa 2004 []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 20th, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Business,Photography

Tagged with

Twitter vs. Facebook

From the Department of Thoughts Slightly Too Long To Post on Twitter

Tweet
Tweet!

In the context of my parenthetical aside in this post, Facebook Doesn’t Pay You Because That’s Not Their Model, I admitted I use Twitter much more than I ever used Facebook. For me, Twitter posts are links to go read ((or look at)) something posted somewhere else while Facebook posts are often, though not exclusively, self-contained. Twitter was initially only 144 characters, and despite this count being subsequently expanded, it retains that ethos. Facebook never had a length limit to what was posted.

This sucky blog has nearly always been more of a go read something ((or look at)) that is posted elsewhere, here’s a sample paragraph or two, here’s my reaction, but go read the source material kind of blog. A large percentage of the kind of posts that used to be created here are now created on my Twitter page

That is all.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 20th, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Blogtopia

Tagged with ,

Swaziland’s King Wants His Country to Be Called eSwatini

Swaziland map
Swaziland-map 2018.

The New York Times reports:

The country will henceforth be known as eSwatini, the kingdom’s name in the local language. (It means “land of the Swazis” in the Swazi — or siSwati — tongue.)

The king, who has reigned since 1986, announced the name change — an adjustment, really — during a ceremony in the city of Manzini on Thursday to mark his 50th birthday.

Many African countries upon independence “reverted to their ancient, native names,” The Associated Press quoted the king as saying. “We no longer shall be called Swaziland from today forward.”

According to Reuters, Mswati argued that the kingdom’s name had long caused confusion. “Whenever we go abroad, people refer to us as Switzerland,” the king said, according to Reuters.

The king had used the name eSwatini in recent years, including in addresses to his country’s Parliament, the United Nations General Assembly and the African Union. He said that the kingdom was reverting to its original name, before the advent of British colonization in 1906.

When Swaziland gained independence from Britain on Sept. 6, 1968, it retained its colonial-era name, unlike several other former British colonies in the region.

Nyasaland became Malawi on achieving independence in 1964. Months later, Northern Rhodesia achieved nationhood as the new republic of Zambia. In 1966, Bechuanaland was reborn as Botswana, and Basutoland changed its name to Lesotho. Rhodesia, following a 14-year period of white-minority rule that was not internationally recognized, became the new nation of Zimbabwe in 1980.

(click here to continue reading Swaziland’s King Wants His Country to Be Called eSwatini – The New York Times.)

Sounds legitimate to me. Why shouldn’t a country be named by its inhabitants instead of its former colonial overlord? I named my land outside Austin as Upper Yurtistan, why can’t eSwatini be an accepted new name? Granted eSwatini might have some bigger issues of corruption and so forth, but names are important too.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 20th, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with

Facebook Doesn’t Pay You Because That’s Not Their Model

Fuck The Internet
Fuck The Internet

In the context of describing yet another social network aimed at Facebook, albeit one that allegedly will pay you for your content1 Wired reports:

DURING MARK ZUCKERBERG’S over 10 hours of Congressional testimony last week, lawmakers repeatedly asked how Facebook makes money. The simple answer, which Zuckerberg dodged, is the contributions and online activities of its over two billion users, which allow marketers to target ads with razor precision. In which case, asked representative Paul Tonko (D – New York), “why doesn’t Facebook pay its users for their incredibly valuable data?”

(click here to continue reading Minds Is the Anti-Facebook That Pays You For Your Time | WIRED.)

Yeah, Facebook doesn’t want to really discuss this key aspect of their business in public: all their wealth is based on the mining and reselling of their users data. It was never a hidden fact, it was always known to anyone who bothered to ask, but Facebook doesn’t really like to explain it so that the majority realize they are the product being sold.

So let’s be clear, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter even2 only exist to collect data about their users, and use information gleaned from their users to sell to corporations, or governments, etc. That is the model. If everyone, including your grandmother, and my 14 year old nephew understands this basic fact, we’ll all benefit as a society.

Footnotes:
  1. in cryptocurrency []
  2. which I still use frequently, maybe even more than I should []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 19th, 2018 at 11:19 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with , ,