B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘religion’ tag

Moorish Science Temple of America inc was uploaded to Flickr

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Temple Nine, 1000 N Hoyne, Ukrainian Village, Chicago.

Read more about them:
http://ift.tt/1EBxB6G

embiggen the photo by clicking here
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I took Moorish Science Temple of America inc on June 16, 2013 at 01:55PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 24, 2016 at 01:42PM

((Sometimes, not all times, but more than half of the time, these automatic IFTTT posts are created twice. Too lazy to troubleshoot, so this is an apology for all the future times it will happen))

Written by eggplant

August 24th, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 7

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If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, these would be full-blown posts, interspersed with actual thoughts of mine, but I am, so belly up to the blog bar…

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Shortly after Snyder became owner, the Skins lobbied the Prince George’s County authorities to authorize a ban on all pedestrians from entering the grounds of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (renamed FedExField after the delivery firm offered Snyder $205 million), even on public sidewalks. No public hearings were held before the ban went into effect. There was essentially no public transportation to the games, so the ban meant fans had no choice but to drive and park in the Snyder-owned lots.

Pedestrian ban/parking monopoly in hand, Snyder jacked the parking rate up from $10 to $25.

Szymkowicz found out about the ban after a friend had given him a pass to sit in the owner’s suite for a Washington/Dallas game at FedEx in 2001, but didn’t have a parking pass. Not wanting to pay $25 for a free ticket, Szymkowicz parked for free at Landover Mall, located about a half-mile from FedEx Field’s front entrance, and walked over, only to be told by police that walking into the stadium was against the law.

The county’s ban was repealed in October 2004. Szymkowicz not only had beaten Snyder, he’d also exposed the owner, who’d positioned himself as an everyfan when he bought the team, as the anti-fan phony he was.

Snyder got up to his old parking tricks again soon, however. Only the venue had changed.

(click here to continue reading The Atlanta Braves Borrowed Their Parking Scam From Dan Snyder.)

Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins headphones, one of many audio devices using a 3.5mm jack in my home or office

Damn, I hope Apple doesn’t remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. I have too many third-party headphones, speakers, musical instruments, etc. that wouldn’t connect anymore. Dongles are irritating to keep track of, and as Jason Snell writes, there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to removing the headphone jack, not that anyone has come up with anyway.

Is Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone? Nobody really knows, though rumors have swirled for quite a while now. A recent exchange between Nilay Patel and John Gruber returned this debate to the foreground last week.

Of course, the truth is that it’s very hard to talk about this rumor in the absence of actual information. Any move like this by Apple would be accompanied with a raft of other information, including Apple’s rationale, any new features enabled by the removal, and of course adapters for existing hardware. In the absence of all that, people are able to fill in the blanks with bogeymen or rainbows depending on their point of view.

Before digging into the possible reasons for the move, it’s worth mentioning why this is such a hot-button issue in the first place. It’s all about inconvenience. As a standard that’s been around for more than a hundred years, there are a massive number of devices that support the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not just phones and tablets, but computers and amplified speakers and mixers and pretty much any other device in existence that can play audio.

There’s no doubt that if Apple were to remove the headphone jack, there would be some sort of adapter to allow headphones and speakers with headphone plugs to get audio out of an iPhone. But of course, adapters cost money and are easily lost or forgotten and can be bulky and annoying.

(click here to continue reading Searching for a good reason to remove the headphone jack – Six Colors.)

Debt is a finger laying on the scale of the economy. If a college education, for instance, didn’t cost so much, perhaps more small businesses could be launched… 

Young people very well may lead the country in entrepreneurship, as a mentality. But when it comes to the more falsifiable measure of entrepreneurship as an activity, older generations are doing most of the work. The average age for a successful startup-founder is about 40 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a think tank focused on education and entrepreneurship. (In their words, one’s 40s are the “peak age for business formation.”)  The reality is that the typical American entrepreneur isn’t that hover-boarding kid in a hoodie; it’s his mom or dad. In fact, the only age group with rising entrepreneurial activity in the last two decades is people between 55 and 65.

So, why hasn’t Millennial entrepreneurship kept pace with either media expectations or past generations?

The answer begins with more debt and less risk-taking. The number of student borrowers rose 89 percent between 2004 and 2014, as Lettieri said in his testimony. During that time, the average debt held by student borrowers grew by 77 percent. Even when student debt is bearable, it can still shape a life, nudging young people toward jobs that guarantee a steady salary. Entrepreneurship, however, is a perilous undertaking that doesn’t offer such stability. There is also some evidence that young people’s appetite for risk-taking has declined at the same time that their student debt has grown. More than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year old Americans said a fear of failure kept them from starting a company in 2014; it 2001, just 24 percent said so.

The rarity of Millennial entrepreneurs doesn’t just deflate a common media myth—it could have lasting consequences for the competitiveness of the American economy. Although venture-capital investment has grown in the last decade, the majority of “startups” are really what most people consider “small businesses.” A new bodega, coffee shop, or small construction firm doesn’t seem like a radical act of innovation. But the government considers such companies to be startups, and they’re getting rarer as a handful of large firms dominate each sector of the U.S. economy. Three drug stores—CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid—own 99 percent of the national market. Two companies—Amazon and Barnes & Noble—sell half of the country’s books. If it is not quite a new Gilded Age for America’s monopolies, it is certainly a new dawn for its oligopolies.

(click here to continue reading The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur – The Atlantic.)

Go Teach All Nations
Go Teach All Nations

If you call yourself a Christian, and you enthusiastically support Donald Trump, you are a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

Those who believe this is merely reductionism should consider the words of Jesus: Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. This attitude is central to who Mr. Trump is and explains why it pervades and guides his campaign. If he is elected president, that might-makes-right perspective would infect his entire administration.

All of this is important because of what it says about Mr. Trump as a prospective president. But it is also revealing for what it says about Christians who now testify on his behalf (there are plenty who don’t). The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?

(click here to continue reading The Theology of Donald Trump – The New York Times.)

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Speaking of carelessness:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is yet again facing scrutiny for his involvement in the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal. In the latest “Bridgegate” twist, the New Jersey governor can’t account for the phone he used to send text messages when the bridge was partially shut down—allegedly as political retribution—and during the subsequent legislative hearings, which could harm the failed presidential candidate’s chances of getting tapped for the No. 2 job.

Two of Christie’s former allies, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, are pushing prosecutors to introduce more evidence ahead of their criminal trial in September. Facing charges related to the lane closures, which created a days-long traffic jam roughly two and a half years ago, the duo is seeking the cell phone used by Christie during the scandal, but both the governor and federal prosecutors say they don’t know where it is. Gibson Dunn, the law firm Christie hired for the case, said it returned the phone after clearing the politician in the case, but did not specify to whom it was returned, Bloomberg reports.

News of Christie’s missing cell phone comes less than a day after F.B.I. director James Comey labeled Hillary Clinton “extremely careless” in her use of her private e-mail server while secretary of state, though he stopped short of recommending that criminal charges be brought against her. During his bid for president, Christie—who has allegedly filled the position of The Donald’s “manservant”, among other campaign roles—was quick to condemn Clinton for her e-mail practices. Now, it seems the governor’s national aspirations could be derailed by his own scandal. With a Bridgegate-saddled Christie on the ticket, Trump’s attacks on the former secretary of state would be weakened and introduce further ethical issues to the presumptive G.O.P. nominee’s campaign.

(click here to continue reading “Manservant” Chris Christie Can’t Find His Bridgegate Cell Phone | Vanity Fair.)

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered
Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

and speaking of idiots:

Trump currently dismisses climate change as a hoax invented by China, though he has quietly sought to shield real estate investments in Ireland from its effects.

But at the Republican presidential contender’s Palm Beach estate and the other properties that bear his name in south Florida, the water is already creeping up bridges and advancing on access roads, lawns and beaches because of sea-level rise, according to a risk analysis prepared for the Guardian.

In 30 years, the grounds of Mar-a-Lago could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of tidal flooding along the intracoastal water way, with the water rising past some of the cottages and bungalows, the analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting found.

Trump’s insouciance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change – even lapping up on his own doorstep – makes him something of an outlier in south Florida, where mayors are actively preparing for a future under climate change.

Trump, who backed climate action in 2009 but now describes climate change as “bullshit”, is also out of step with the US and other governments’ efforts to turn emissions-cutting pledges into concrete actions in the wake of the Paris climate agreement. Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement.

And the presidential contender’s posturing about climate denial may further alienate the Republican candidate from younger voters and minority voters in this election who see climate change as a gathering danger.

(click here to continue reading Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier | US news | The Guardian.)

Until next time…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:48 am

Our Lady of Perpetual Decay was uploaded to Flickr

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Shrine, northside of Chicago somewhere (near Broadway, I think)

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/H9MBFo

I took Our Lady of Perpetual Decay on June 08, 2013 at 12:57PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 27, 2016 at 08:56AM

Written by eggplant

May 27th, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Leftovers – Plate 2

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The best part of leftovers is filling up your plate again…

Frozen Head of Rhaegal
Frozen Head of Rhaegal

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, RodentPro.com® specializes in the production and distribution of premium quality frozen mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and quail.  We are proud to include hobbyists, commercial reptile breeding facilities, raptor sanctuaries, and some of the nation’s largest and most respected zoos and aquariums among our broad spectrum of customers.

(click here to continue reading Online Store – Frozen Mice, Rats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs – About Us.)

 Jeff is a Jew

Jeff is a Jew

Vanity Fair and a well written essay:

The author reflects on her lifelong role—above and below the Mason-Dixon Line—of being the only Jew in the room, and how an unexpected declaration by her daughter helped her reconstitute her identity. BY AMY FINE COLLINS

(click here to continue reading Jewish Like Me | Vanity Fair.)

I especially liked this paragraph, and plan to use it in the future1 :

My habitual muteness in these situations—a reflex of politeness, a journalist’s instinct to listen with a neutral ear, a female tendency to grant the other person the benefit of the doubt—doesn’t make me proud. At these moments—whether I’m “passing,” a fly on the wall, intentionally being provoked, or simply confronted with perplexing ignorance—I wish I had at my disposal the stun-gun comeback, the withering rejoinder that would silence the speaker, neutralize his words, force him to swallow even a micro-pellet of the poison that he is spewing my way.

If only I had this arrow in my quiver (and the balls to fire it) for my college friend’s D.A.R. mom and Fred Flintstone dad: When Clare Booth Luce, perhaps apocryphally, told a Jewish friend, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust. Why can’t you people just get over it?” the Jewish lady replied, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Crucifixion. Why can’t you people just get over it?”

Strong Sound Ideas - circa 1995
Strong Sound Ideas – circa 1995

I never use a hair dryer, mostly because I hate how loud they are…

“There has been zero innovation in this market for over 60 years,” said Mr. Dyson, 68, a billionaire who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.

“Millions of people use contraptions daily that are hideously inefficient, waste their time and are causing them long-term damage,” he said. “We realized that we could — and should — sort this situation out.”

He triumphantly held up what appeared to be a sleek black and pink plastic doughnut on a stick. “Four years, 100 odd patents and 600 prototypes later, I think we might have found the answer.”

Known as the Dyson Supersonic and unveiled in Tokyo on Wednesday, the device is his response to a question many never thought to ask: Is it possible to make a better hair dryer?

This may not seem like a big deal. A few burned scalps and frizz issues aside, people have been doing just fine with the standard hair dryer for decades. But, as Dai Fujiwara, a Japanese fashion designer who collaborated with Mr. Dyson on an Issey Miyake runway presentation, wrote in an email, “Because everyday life is too common, people rarely realize there is a problem.”

(click here to continue reading Dyson Wants to Create a Hair Dryer Revolution – The New York Times.)

Shit Fountain
Shit Fountain, literally.

Microbiome study is going to advance by leaps and bounds in the upcoming years. Here’s one tale from the front lines…

Human feces floated in saline solution in a mortar, on a marbled countertop, in a dimly lit kitchen in Burlingame, California. A bottle of ethyl alcohol, an electronic scale, test tubes, and a stack of well-worn pots and pans lay nearby. The stove light illuminated the area as Josiah Zayner crushed the shit with a pestle, creating a brownish-yellow sludge. “I think I can feel something hard in there,” he said, laughing. It was probably vegetables — “the body doesn’t break them down all the way.”

This heralded the beginning of Zayner’s bacterial makeover. He was clad in a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt, jeans, and white socks and sandals. At his feet, James Baxter, Zayner’s one-eyed orange cat, rubbed its flank against its owner’s legs. The kitchen smelled like an outhouse in a busy campground.

Over the course of the next four days, Zayner would attempt to eradicate the trillions of microbes that lived on and inside his body — organisms that helped him digest food, produce vitamins and enzymes, and protected his body from other, more dangerous bacteria. Ruthlessly and methodically, he would try to render himself into a biological blank slate. Then, he would inoculate himself with a friend’s microbes — a procedure he refers to as a “microbiome transplant.” Zayner imagines the collection of organisms that live on him — his microbiome — as a suit. As such, it can be worn, mended, and replaced. The suit he was living with, he said, was faulty, leaving him with severe gastrointestinal pain. A new suit could solve all that. “You kind of are who you are, to a certain extent,” he said. “But with your bacteria, you can change that.”

A full bacterial overhaul like this had never been documented before — in fact, it may have been the first time it had ever been attempted. There was no evidence to suggest it would work, though there was a real risk it could make Zayner life-threateningly sick. That didn’t bother him.

(click here to continue reading A Bitter Pill | The Verge.)

Spectators in Ketchikan
Spectators in Ketchikan with sunglasses

Sadly, I couldn’t get this to work:

If you need reading glasses—and if you’re over about 40, you probably do—then the next couple of paragraphs will change your life. You’re about to find out how to read small type, in a pinch, without your glasses.

Maybe you’ve lost or broken your reading glasses. Or maybe you don’t feel like going upstairs to get them. Or maybe you’re naked in the shower, frantically trying read the bottles to see which one is shampoo.

Here’s the trick: Curl up your index finger, making a tiny hole. Hold it up to your dominant eye and peek through it.

Incredibly, you’ll discover that the small type you couldn’t read a moment ago is suddenly crystal clear! You can read the date on a penny, or the serial number on a product, or the instructions on a medicine bottle. It doesn’t matter if you’re nearsighted or farsighted.

(click here to continue reading Life Hack: Instant Reading Glasses – David Pogue.)

Your Choice
Your Choice?

Ted Cruz was almost nobody’s favorite:

[Ted Cruz] spoke out of both sides of his scowl, itching to be the voice of the common man but equally eager to demonstrate what a highfalutin, Harvard-trained intellect he possessed. He wed a populist message to a plummy vocabulary. And while the line separating smart and smart aleck isn’t all that thin or blurry, he never could stay on the winning side of it.

He wore cowboy boots, but his favorites are made of ostrich.

Two peacocks in a pod, he and Trump, and what ghastly plumage they showed on Tuesday.

Trump somehow saw fit to bring up a National Enquirer story linking Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz exploded, branding Trump a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” He also brought up an interview from many years ago in which Trump told Howard Stern that his effort to steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases was his “personal Vietnam.”

Where was this rant six months ago, when the Republican field was crowded and Cruz played footsie with Trump? Back then he was wagering that Trump would fade, and he wanted to be in a friendly position to inherit the billionaire’s supporters.

But by Tuesday, Trump was the main obstacle between Cruz and the Republican presidential nomination, and Cruz has just one true compass: his own advancement.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Bitter End – The New York Times.)

You Look Amazing Today
You Look Amazing Today!

How mentally ill do you have to be to want to poison strangers via fresh produce? Damn…

A man accused of sprinkling mouse poison and hand cleaner on produce at several self-service food bars in Michigan grocery stores over the last two weeks has been arrested, the F.B.I. and local police said on Tuesday.

Images taken from surveillance video at a supermarket and published online by the F.B.I. showed the man carrying a red basket in a grocery store, walking past a display of avocados and down aisles.

The man was identified by members of the public and arrested by the agency and the Ann Arbor police, but his name had not been released as of early Wednesday.

The authorities said the man was suspected of contaminating food in several Ann Arbor grocery stores, including a Whole Foods Market, a Meijer and a Plum Market, over the last two weeks

(click here to continue reading Man Is Accused of Putting Poison on Food at Michigan Stores – The New York Times.)

AniMoog screenshot
AniMoog screenshot

I will probably purchase this app late one night, I already own Animoog, and it is fun to play with:

Moog Music has been known for producing some of the most popular synthesizers since the 70s— we reviewed a couple of the newer models in our Logic Pros series and noted that iPad/Mac synths still can’t quite capture the experience of even a $1,000 Moog. But today Moog is releasing its own iPad and iPhone version of its popular $10,000 Model 15, aiming to offer a similar experience in a $30 mobile app. 

Moog’s own techs helped program the app at the Moog Factory in Asheville, NC, according to the company, with the app both resembling the look and sound of the original 1970’s Model 15 hardware:

Each facet of the Moog Model 15 modular synthesizer has been meticulously recreated in this application to ensure the power and transcendent sound quality of each module remains intact. The character, harmonic complexity and mystique of the Moog Model 15s modules, from the legendary Moog 921–series oscillators and 904A Low Pass Filter, to the coveted 907 Fixed Filter Bank have been painstakingly preserved.

That means you’ll find both monophonic and 4-voice polyphonic modes with four controllers, and you can also pull up an on-screen keyboard in the traditional Moog style and layout, as well as a “1150 ribbon controller, 8-step sequencing arpeggiator and the award-winning Animoog keyboard with 22 built-in scales and polyphonic modulation capabilities.” Animoog is the company’s other very popular iOS app that it designed specifically for iPad and touchscreens. 

(click here to continue reading Moog brings its $10,000 Model 15 synth to iPad and iPhone w/ new $30 app | 9to5Mac.)

Footnotes:
  1. despite being only 1% Jewish, per DNA testing – I actually didn’t think I had any Jewish ancestors beyond Adam and Eve []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , , ,

Snootful of Snippets for December 11 2015

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We'll see what happens
We’ll see what happens…

Some quick takes for your general edification and amusement, and disgust…

Too many people have not learned this essential 21st C.E. lesson: corporations are not really people, and thus cannot really “like” you…

A downside of any emotional relationship that can bring such joys is that it can also bring anguish if things go sour. A 2004 BusinessWeek analysis found mergers were a common cause of that anguish: Measures of customer satisfaction tended to decline significantly and persistently after them. Just ask anyone who was a Flickr super-user before Yahoo! bought the photo sharing service. Or the shoppers who protested in downtown Chicago streets when the beloved local department store Marshall Field’s turned into Macy’s.

That may seem like an argument for resisting the urge to fall in love with a company. After all, companies don’t really love their customers. They love profits. And they see gaining customers’ affection as a good way to make profits. They will let that affection wilt if it stops being an effective tool for making money.

(click here to continue reading Sorry, but Your Favorite Company Can’t Be Your Friend – The New York Times.)

Jon Stewart is starting to get bored not being on the teevee, methinks

That’s when Stewart got down to business by bringing da Trump with a thick New York accent, wagging shoulders and wild gesticulations we’ve come to love about his classic impressions. “These 9/11 first responders, let me tell ya’ something, hey, these 9/11 first responders are the most top-notch, first-class, diamond-encrusted heroes America can produce,” Stewart said. “Don’t let Congress play politics with this necessary bill. If I’m elected, and I will be elected, I will build a wall around politics and I will make politics pay for it. Tweet at your Congressman #WorstResponders. Tell them Donald said ‘pull up your big boy pants and make America Great again. Pass the Zadroga Act, or I will glue Congress together, dip them in gold and wear them around my freggin’ neck!”

Stewart is hoping with enough public pressure on Congress they will add the Zadroga Act to the upcoming omnibus bill that has so many riders it’s not as if anyone would notice.

(click here to continue reading Jon Stewart plays Trump in riotous reunion with Stephen Colbert – Salon.com.)

https://i2.wp.com/farm1.staticflickr.com/593/22586967893_7ba686f897_m.jpg?resize=235%2C240&ssl=1
The madness has begun!!

Like a food court maybe? Seriously, how long before Scalia says something so vile that impeachment talk begins to rumble in Congress? Within the year? 

A new study conducted by legal scholars indicates that Justice Antonin Scalia would fare better if he served as a judge at a court that was “less advanced” than the United States Supreme Court.

According to the study, Scalia’s struggles to perform his duties in a competent fashion stem from his being inappropriately placed on a court that is “too demanding” for a person of his limited abilities.

“Forcing Justice Scalia to weigh in on complex legal issues that he lacks the background or aptitude to comprehend is, at the end of the day, cruel,” the study said.

(click here to continue reading Study: Scalia Better Off in “Less Advanced” Court – The New Yorker.)

https://i0.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5749/23282530220_3d6ccf998e_m.jpg?resize=192%2C240&ssl=1

Sign me up!

Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion have flocked to register as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods and – perhaps more importantly – promises its followers a tax rebate.

More than 3,100 people – almost 1% of Iceland’s population – have joined the Zuist movement in the past two weeks in protest at paying part of their taxes to the state church and other religious bodies. Followers of Zuism will be refunded the tax element earmarked for religion.

Icelanders are required to register their religion with the state, with almost three-quarters of the population affiliated to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. There are more than 40 other registered religious bodies that qualify for “parish fees” paid through the taxation system. The amount set in next year’s budget is the equivalent of about $80 (£53) per taxpayer over a year.

“There is no opt-out. Those who are unaffiliated or belong to unregistered religions effectively just pay higher taxes,” said Sveinn Thorhallsson, a Zuist spokesperson. An opinion poll published in September showed 55% of respondents want an end to the system.

(click here to continue reading Icelanders flock to religion revering Sumerian gods and tax rebates | World news | The Guardian.)

One Stop Shopping
One Stop Shopping

Our premiums have jumped, our insurance broker says it is most certainly due to this change: Feds promised money to insurance companies, then reneged…

Nine days later, the New York Times’s Robert Pear broke some news to readers. “A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration,” he wrote. “Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law has hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”

A paradox emerges. A “quiet” sabotage would seem to be one the saboteurs do not discuss. Rubio, by contrast, went after risk corridors with all the subtlety of Auric Goldfinger talking to a captured James Bond. Two years ago, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Rubio introduced a stand-alone bill, the “ObamaCare Bailout Prevention Act,” to end risk corridors altogether. Rubio’s talking points have hardly changed since then; letting HHS make up the difference in cost for insurers amounted to “Washington picking winners and losers.” When the CRomnibus passed, health care wonks rang alarm bells about the risk corridor amendment.

(click here to continue reading The ‘quiet victory’ that Marco Rubio can’t stop talking about – The Washington Post.)

Rubio is responsible for the premium hikes, basically

What he calls a bailout is the idea of risk corridors. That was a cushion created, paid into by health insurance companies, to help out companies who took on a disproportionate number of sicker, more expensive Obamacare patients. In the early going, companies couldn’t predict what their customer mix was going to be to help them set premium levels. For those who ended up paying out more in coverage than premiums brought in, the risk corridor gave them a safety net of funds to draw on. At the same time, the companies who paid out less than predicted and had higher profits paid into the fund. 

But in the first year, “claims to obtain money from the program equaled $2.9 billion, while insurers’ payments into the system came to $362 million.” Health and Human Services would have transferred departmental funding—taxpayer money—to the fund to cover the shortfall, but Rubio blocked them from doing so. The result has been that a bunch of smaller insurers have had to drop out of the exchanges, and a dozen or so health insurance cooperatives that started up under the law have folded. Because they’re the ones who couldn’t recoup losses.

(click here to continue reading How Marco Rubio might be responsible for higher Obamacare premiums.)

Buddha Checks Out Illinois Lottery
Buddha Checks Out Illinois Lottery

Scary.

A new round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes like sailors competing farther from the shore.

“Those virus levels are widespread. It’s not just along the shoreline but it’s elsewhere in the water, therefore it’s going to increase the exposure of the people who come into contact with those waters,” said Kristina Mena, an expert in waterborne viruses and an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We’re talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.”

Now, the AP’s most recent tests since August show not only no improvement in water quality — but that the water is even more widely contaminated than previously known. The number of viruses found over a kilometer from the shore in Guanabara Bay, where sailors compete at high speeds and get utterly drenched, are equal to those found along shorelines closer to sewage sources.

“The levels of viruses are so high in these Brazilian waters that if we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches,” Mena said.

(click here to continue reading AP test: Rio Olympic water badly polluted, even far offshore – Yahoo News.)

Enough of this nonsense!
Enough of this nonsense!

Speaking of viruses and pathogens…

Republican party officials are now actively preparing for the prospect of a contested convention in Cleveland as front-runner Donald Trump continues to draw strong support from the GOP base. The scenario was discussed by more than 20 party stalwarts Monday at a Washington, DC, dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the Washington Post reported. A person familiar with who attended the dinner confirmed to Bloomberg that it took place, and that Priebus, members of congress, establishment lobbyists and others have held similar discussions for weeks. Should Trump continue to dominate the nomination race in the coming months and amass the required number of delegates to become the official Republican nominee, members of the establishment told the Post they would be forced to contest his nomination on the convention floor in Cleveland from July 18–21. 

(click here to continue reading Republicans Discuss Brokered Convention as Trump Leads – Bloomberg Politics.)

What I Say
What I Say

…and worse, Ted Cruz:

In no particular order, Texas senator and Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz has: said acts of Christian terrorism stopped centuries ago, forgetting the Ku Klux Klan and the shooting in Colorado last week; claimed he has never met an anti-abortion activist who advocates violence, despite being endorsed by one just days before; dismissed the need for Planned Parenthood because there isn’t a shortage of “rubbers” in America; and made an offhand comment that Colorado mass shooter Robert Dear could be a “transgendered leftist activist.” All this in just the last week.

Ted Cruz is far from crazy, which is the essential Ted Cruz problem. Crazy you can deal with, even forgive a little, often ignore. Ben Carson is a bowl of Froot Loops floating in a sad lethal pond of gasoline. Donald Trump went warp speed into the Trumpiverse decades ago. Both men have conducted their campaigns and recent years on perpetual tangents. But Ted Cruz knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t even hide it particularly well. Not only is his intelligence one of his favorite selling points, his book undermines any notion that he misspeaks. He is gaffe proof because the gaffes are not arrived at by error. Ted Cruz does awful things by intelligent design.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Isn’t Crazy – He’s Much Worse | Rolling Stone.)

flapper Head gear (?)
flapper Head gear (?)

I’m sort of interested in watching The Man in The High Castle, even though it is one of my favorite PKD books, especially since fascist ideology seems to be on the rise

They basically stole Phil Dick’s pitch — and then deployed it in their own inimitable style. I find the show fairly compelling to watch. But I also find myself saying, “I don’t know that this is what Dick was getting at.”

It seems much morally simpler, less ambiguous. There were some suggestions in [the novel] that America and Nazi Germany were not all that different — that’s not a particularly P.C. idea, but it is important. While the Germans were extinguishing Jews, we were excluding black people from the lunch counter. It was a matter of degrees.

We had [racial] superiority here … The Nazi fantasy of the blond, blue-eyed book and how it overlapped with California dreamin’ … The idea of the blond, perfect teeth, riding on the wave like some übermensch. It’s not without its resonance, and to leave all those out and make it a simple good vs. evil — that’s a travesty. A betrayal of Dick’s intention. But probably works better on TV.

(click here to continue reading “They basically stole Phil Dick’s pitch”: Why Amazon’s “Man In the High Castle” might not please die-hard Philip K. Dick fans – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 11th, 2015 at 11:29 am

An Atheist To Your Religion Too was uploaded to Flickr

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This looked like an obelisk to me, which reminded me of religion.

Ricky Gervais said it best:
The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

via
http://ift.tt/1A2zPd1…

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

I took An Atheist To Your Religion Too on September 08, 2012 at 01:51PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 09, 2014 at 03:39PM

Written by eggplant

August 9th, 2014 at 8:54 am

Did a gay blackmail scandal bring down the pope? – Salon.com

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Earlier today…

You know what the sudden, surprising, once-every-700-years story of the pope’s resignation needed? What every dramatic storyline does: a gay blackmail twist. And so the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica this week reports on a very tangled web that claims to have brought down a pope, under the irresistible headline “Sex and career, blackmail in the Vatican: Behind the resignation of Benedict XVI.” … Now, La Repubblica says that the trio of cardinals, who’ve been looking into the matter since last year, revealed to the pope a faction within the Vatican “united by sexual orientation” that had been subject to “external influence” of a “worldly nature.” (The paper helpfully explains this is Vaticanspeak for blackmail.) A source it says is close to the cardinals who prepared the report told La Repubblica, with equal poetic obscurity, “Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments.”

Via:
Did a gay blackmail scandal bring down the pope? – Salon.com
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Written by eggplant

February 22nd, 2013 at 2:47 pm

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The Catholic Church’s Convenient Morality

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Enraged

Earlier today…

But the church has simultaneously reserved the right to behave just like any other institution, leaning on legal technicalities, smearing victims and demonstrating no more compassion than a tobacco company might show. “In the name of Jesus,” Anderson told me, “they do things that Jesus would abhor.”
They do things erratically, that’s for sure. From my extensive reporting on the sexual abuse crisis in the 1990s, I don’t recall any great push to excommunicate priests who forced themselves on kids. But when Sister Margaret McBride, in 2009, was part of a Phoenix hospital’s decision to abort an 11-week-old fetus inside a 27-year-old woman whose life was gravely endangered by the pregnancy, she indeed suffered excommunication…

Via:
The Catholic Church’s Convenient Morality – NYTimes.com
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Written by eggplant

February 4th, 2013 at 11:47 pm

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Creationism and racism » Pharyngula

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6006988305_21835c00fe_o

Earlier today…

Ken Ham was indignant and outraged. How dare we connect creationism to racism? He was claiming that all races were one, descended from a common ancestor, Noah, 4000 years ago! Of course, what he neglects to mention is that the Biblical story claims that Africans are the product of a curse of servility placed on Ham and all of his descendants.
Well, and he also neglects to mention that the story is totally bogus, disproven by modern evidence, and has no relationship at all to the patterns of migration in human history.
Ken Ham is wrong and racist. The Biblical story of the origins of the diverse peoples of the earth is wrong and racist. It really is that simple. It takes a complex history and turns it into a pat partitioning of humanity into the chosen people, and the cursed people.

Via:
Creationism and racism » Pharyngula
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Written by eggplant

January 22nd, 2013 at 11:38 am

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Sally Quinn Wants Obama to Wear God, Has Gone Mad – Esquire

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Fascist Threat and Commie Lies

Fascist Threat and Commie Lies

Earlier, I read…

The continued authorship of something called “On Faith” by Beltway social-climber and Hall of Fame trophy wife Sally Quinn remains the most hilarious thing about The Washington Post, a once-great newspaper now d/b/a an adjunct to the educational testing institute. In her dotage, Sal has become a spiritual explorer, a religious quester, and a thoroughgoing loon. Reading her stuff is like showing up at Lourdes and finding Bernadette Soubirous standing there, dressed in Prada, chilling the champagne and offering the Blessed Mother a couple of seats at the owner’s box at the next Redskins game.
Anyway, she seems to have been transported to something resembling ecstasy by the fact that Willard Romney took time out from stomping on the Eighth Commandment the other night long enough to mention a certain Deity, although not by name….

Via:
Sally Quinn Wants Obama to Wear God, Has Gone Mad – Esquire
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Written by eggplant

October 5th, 2012 at 9:31 pm

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Sam Bacile: Unknown Man Behind Innocence Of Muslims

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And speaking of Mitt’s Libyan mess, the film that allegedly sparked the riot was created by a mysterious character. I wouldn’t be surprised if Karl Rove was involved somehow, or that this guy, Sam Bacile is a former Bain Capital employee, and the money was routed through a Cayman Islands account, via someone like James O’Keefe or Simon Adelson…

TPM has a good overview of this increasingly bizarre tale:

Who is Sam Bacile? So far, the answer depends on who you ask and what you read.

Early reports after Tuesday’s violence against American diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya identified Bacile as the producer and director of an absurd anti-Muslim film blamed for inspiring the anger of the mobs.

But his biography remains sketchy at best. He has claimed to be a real estate developer, but nobody with his name has a real-estate license or appears in corporation records in California. He has been described as Israeli, but Israeli officials have not confirmed or denied that he is a citizen. He has also claimed to have raised millions for his film, but the results, a low-budget, offensive mess, seem to speak for themselves.

(click here to continue reading Sam Bacile: Unknown Man Behind ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ | TPMMuckraker.)

update: maybe this is the guy. Basseley is pretty close to Bacile:

Has the mystery been solved? The AP on Wednesday interviewed a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who admitted to being the manager of the company that created the movie. Nakoula, 55, was tracked down to an address outside Los Angeles linked to the cell phone with which Bacile spoke with the AP on Tuesday.

Nakoula denied being film’s director, and instead said that he knew Bacile. He described himself as a Coptic Christian, and offered a driver’s license to prove his identity, but, according to the AP, he “kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley.”

And, it turns out, federal court documents suggest that Nakoula has been associated with the numerous aliases, including: Thomas J. Tanas, PJ Tobacco, Ahmad Hamdy, Kritbag Difrat, Amal Nada, Erwin Salameh, Daniel K. Caresman, Robert Bacily, and Nicola Bacily.

In 2009, Nakoula faced federal bank fraud charges in California. In 2010, he was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution, and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He was also ordered not to use computers, cell phones, or the Internet for five years unless he got an ok from a probation officer.

(click here to continue reading Sam Bacile: Unknown Man Behind ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ | TPMMuckraker.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 12th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

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Rick Perry Hates Most of the World – Still Wants Your Vote

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Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Baffles my mind that such an ignorant, government-hating hypocrite as Rick Perry is considered Presidential material. Also, remember those quaint old days when politicians honored the intent of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and considered Church and State separate entities?  Wouldn’t it be pleasant to have some secular humanists in charge for a change, instead of these Christian Taliban fools?

Anyway, Rick Perry is hosting a Christian-only indoctrination camp in Houston which is decidedly anti-secular. Anti-humanity, in fact. Read on:

In early August, Texas Republican governor and possible presidential candidate Rick Perry will host a prayer summit at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The event, dubbed “The Response” and funded by the American Family Association (which was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center), is designed to combat the economic, political, and spiritual crises facing the United States by returning the nation to its Biblical roots. The Response’s website proclaims, “There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.” And in a video message Perry sent out this week, he noted, “I’m inviting you to join your fellow Americans for a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation.” Perhaps Perry should have clarified what sort of “fellow Americans” he meant, for at this event only Christians will be allowed to share the podium with Perry.

Since the event was first announced in early June, organizers have suggested that it would be a great opportunity to convert non-Christians. Now, they’ve gone even further: According to an email blasted out by The Response, only Christians will be permitted to speak at the non-denominational event. If representatives of other faiths (particularly Muslims) were to be included, the email noted, such inclusion would promote “idolatry.” In a message sent out under The Response’s official letterhead, Allan Parker, one of Perry’s organizers, described the event in less-than-ecumenical terms:

This is an explicitly Christian event because we are going to be praying to the one true God through His son, Jesus Christ. It would be idolatry of the worst sort for Christians to gather and invite false gods like Allah and Buddha and their false prophets to be with us at that time. Because we have religious liberty in this country, they are free to have events and pray to Buddha and Allah on their own. But this is time of prayer to the One True God through His son, Jesus Christ, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

With this prayerfest, Perry is associating himself with rather radical folks. The American Family Association’s issues director, for instance, has said that gays are “Nazis” and that Muslims should be converted to Christianity. Another organizer, Doug Stringer, has said that 9/11 was God’s punishment for the nation’s creeping secularism. And then there’s Jay Swallow, whose endorsement is trumpeted on The Response’s website, and who runs “A Christian Military Training Camp for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America” (his description). Consequently, it’s not much of a mystery why only one of the nation’s other 49 governors has so far accepted Perry’s invitation to attend the event (Perry invited all of them)—arch-conservative Sam Brownback of Kansas.

(click here to continue reading Rick Perry’s Christians-Only Prayerfest | Mother Jones.)

I do wonder how the organizers of this summit will screen potential visitors. Will they check their genitals for signs of circumcision? Will they float potential ticket holders in the water to see if they float? Curious.

Evilution
Evilution

Written by Seth Anderson

July 2nd, 2011 at 8:24 am

FBI Invited Hatred-Based Church To Talk To Agents

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Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Division

Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Division

Who had this dumb-ass idea? Any attention paid to the Westboro Baptist Church that doesn’t involve brick-bats is too much.

Jacob Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court during Snyder v. Phelps this past October in Washington, D.C.
The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for picketing soldiers’ funerals with signs like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates the USA.” Yet the FBI recently invited leaders of the fundamentalist church to the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to talk to FBI agents as part of the bureau’s counterterrorism training program. But after four sessions this spring, the FBI canceled the arrangement amid criticism from inside the bureau, while church leaders claimed that they had been misled.

The church group, led by Pastor Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kan., says its protests are intended to tell the world that God is punishing the U.S. military for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. The pastor claims to be the prophet of God’s wrath.

The FBI first invited the church group to address the FBI’s law enforcement training classes back in 2008. And initially, there were no apparent problems. But the most recent sessions, including three at Quantico and one in Manassass, Va., stirred up controversy.

(click here to continue reading FBI Invited Controversial Church To Talk To Agents : NPR.)

I wonder if this program was the brainchild of one of the alumni of Regent University that infiltrated the Bush Administration?

Written by Seth Anderson

June 29th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Posted in government,religion

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Atheist in Florida Files Suit Citing Harassment in Arrest

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Picasso on The Cross

Picasso on The Cross

Sheriff Grady Judd sounds like a real jerkstore. He should move to Yemen or Afghanistan if he’s so intent upon living in an intolerant country. Or Arizona…

MIAMI — An atheist in Central Florida filed suit in Federal District Court in Tampa on Friday, accusing the Polk County sheriff, an evangelical Christian, of harassing and unnecessarily arresting her as retaliation for not believing in God and for her efforts to keep prayer out of public meetings.

EllenBeth Wachs, the legal coordinator for the group Atheists of Florida, asked the court to prevent the sheriff, Grady Judd, from conducting any new investigations, arrests or complaints resulting from her “nonreligious, atheist viewpoint in the predominantly Christian-oriented Polk County, Fla.” The sheriff’s actions, including two arrests and searches of her house, violated her First Amendment rights and her right to due process, the suit states.

A nonpracticing lawyer, she signed the requests with the designation Esquire after her name. Sheriff Judd sent a team of officers to arrest her and charged her in March with illegally posing as a lawyer, a felony.

“This does not violate any bar rules,” said her lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters. “She is allowed to use esquire.”

(click here to continue reading Atheist in Florida Files Suit Citing Harassment in Arrest – NYTimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

June 25th, 2011 at 8:57 am

Posted in government,religion

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Churchgoers forced to pay parking gods to pray

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Poor, poor Christians, forced to pay the city a pittance. Not forced to pay property taxes or anything like that, but even contributing nickles and dimes is apparently too much of a burden.

No Parking

 

Churchgoers forced to pay to pray: Ever since the steeple of Chicago’s First United Methodist Church went up across the street from City Hall in the 1830s, worshippers have sought a place to hitch their horse or park their station wagon to pray.

But since the city privatized its parking meters last year, more churchgoers have encountered unanswered prayers for parking. Pricey meters and restricted curbside parking now surround historic houses of worship in the Loop, forcing the faithful to pay to pray or get free parking by volunteering for soup kitchens, tutoring or other ministries.

Some pastors are pushing the city to consider what churches contribute to city life and ease parking restrictions for congregants, especially on Sunday mornings when commercial and government traffic is light.

(Via Churchgoers forced to pay to pray.)

Fixing Another Parking Meter

If churches whine themselves into special treatment, I’m petitioning various businesses I frequent to become churches too; restaurants, bars, retail, whatever. Only makes sense, right? Food can be a transcendent experience, better than any bible thumping, at least for me. In fact, I’m declaring that I am a Church, so I demand the right to park anywhere in the City of Chicago for free, at any time.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque,religion

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