B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Where Chicago Trounces New York: Fixing Mass Transit

Waiting For My Connection Back To You 

The New York Times:

Like New York’s subway, it is another century-old system struggling to keep up with the transit demands of a booming city. It, too, has been plagued by crumbling tracks, antiquated signals and unreliable trains that turn routine commutes into nightmares.

But the difference is that Chicago’s L has made a comeback, reversing decades of cost-cutting and neglect.

Today, nearly one-third of its tracks have been rebuilt for faster and smoother rides. Rail cars from the 1970s have been replaced with the latest models. More than three dozen stations have been overhauled, many rebuilt into sleek, steel-and-glass outposts. There are new elevators, wider platforms, high-definition security cameras and works by Chicago artists.

“We’ve had a pretty impressive turnaround,” said Joseph P. Schwieterman, a professor of public service at DePaul University. “It’s still an old system — and we still have delays — but the problems are staying out of the headlines and that’s quite an achievement.”

(click here to continue reading Where Chicago Trounces New York: Fixing Mass Transit – The New York Times.)

Government investing in infrastructure?! What a novel idea!

Chicago’s public transit is not the best in the world by a long shot, but it is certainly among the best in the US. Better than Austin, better than NYC, better than Dallas. Instead of tax cuts for billionaires, the federal government ought to invest in transportation infrastructure. I assume the impediment is Koch Brothers related, and that urban environments are more liberal than rural areas and thus the GOP mouth-breathers don’t want to divert funds from air craft carriers and the like.

Chicago is not Toronto, or London, UK, but it is possible to live in Chicago without having to own a car.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 18th, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

Is All Art Sacred Art? In a Prose Meditation, One Poet Makes the Case

The Journey Isn t as Difficult as you fear
The Journey Isn’t as Difficult as you fear

The New York Times:

HE HELD RADICAL LIGHT The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art By Christian Wiman

With all the stonings, smitings, beheadings and bear maulings in the Bible, it is easy to miss the rather staid death of Eutychus. As recounted in the Book of Acts, the young man nods off during a long sermon by St. Paul, and falls three stories from a window in Troas. In a reprieve for dozing parishioners everywhere, Paul resurrects him.

Poor Eutychus comes and goes in only a few verses, but I thought of him while reading the poet Christian Wiman’s curious new book, “He Held Radical Light” — not because it’s in danger of putting anyone to sleep, but because, like Acts, it’s an episodic account of equally strange encounters, in this case, with apostles of verse. A. R. Ammons shows up for a reading in Virginia but refuses to read, telling his audience, “You can’t possibly be enjoying this”; Seamus Heaney winks before stepping into a cab in Chicago; Donald Hall orders a burger for lunch, then confides to Wiman, who was then 38: “I was 38 when I realized not a word I wrote was going to last”; Mary Oliver picks up a dead pigeon from the sidewalk, tucks the bloody carcass into her pocket and keeps it there through an event and after-party.

Wiman had met a few poets by the time he finished college at Washington and Lee and completed a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, but he really started to collect them at Poetry magazine, where he was editor for 10 years. The most straightforward version of those years would be a literary tell-all, along the lines of the former New Yorker editor Robert Gottlieb’s “Avid Reader.” But “He Held Radical Light” is something else: a collection of private memories, literary criticism and theology, plus an eccentric anthology of poems Wiman holds dear, all drawn into an argument about art and faith.

(click here to continue reading Is All Art Sacred Art? In a Prose Meditation, One Poet Makes the Case – The New York Times.)

Hmm, sounds interesting.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 11th, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public

Expanding the Parameters
Expanding the Parameters

WSJ:

Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage.

A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident. A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.

(click here to continue reading Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public – WSJ.)

The cover-up is always worse. Google could have admitted to this during some Trump-Tweet-Tempest, and nobody would have paid much attention. 

Written by Seth Anderson

October 8th, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with , ,

When the Gray Lady Started Wearing Color

Newstand on State Street circa 1996

The New York Times:

Yet the A section of the paper, the daily news section, remained color-averse. It wasn’t until Oct. 16, 1997, that the first color images graced the front page of The Times. (The Times Magazine had used color at various times since 1933.)

Until autumn of that year, New York was the only major city in the nation that did not have a newspaper printing full-color news photographs each day. USA Today had been producing color in its pages since its first issue in 1982. So what took the daily edition of The Times so long

(click here to continue reading When the Gray Lady Started Wearing Color – The New York Times.)

Amusingly, I was a paid focus group member for consultants working for the NYT around this time (probably a couple of months later), and discussed this decision. I still laugh – the focus group was about the digital edition of the NYT, and there was one curmudgeonly older-than-me woman who was sour on everything about it. I mean, every topic brought up she was against. Finally I blurted out, “did you like it when the NYT put color photographs?” and the woman vehemently disagreed with the very thought of color in her newspaper. The consultants who were running the meeting both looked at each other, and scribbled furiously in their notebooks.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 6th, 2018 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Travis Varsity Soccer circa 1985-1986

Seth  Varsity Soccer from 1985 1986 yearbook
Seth – Varsity Soccer from 1985-1986 Travis High School yearbook

Our team was horrible that year, but it was also a fun season. Several people on the team are not in this photo for whatever reason (poorly organized photo session probably, THS’s award winning yearbook teacher left the summer before, this edition of the yearbook won zero awards).

This was the year that I was anonymously quoted in the school newspaper complaining that the football team got pep rallies and the soccer team was basically ignored. Our principal stormed out on the practice field and yelled at us for 15 minutes about it, even though it was true, she didn’t want to admit to it, it made the school look bad and blah blah blah. Nobody on the soccer team said a word, we just looked at the ground sheepishly until she left.

Ahh, youth…

No Soccer Playing Allowed
No Soccer Playing Allowed

Muscle Memory
Muscle Memory

Kicking The Gong Around
Kicking The Gong Around

Why Yes I Did Watch Some World Cup Matches Today
Why, Yes, I Did Watch Some World Cup Matches Today

Written by Seth Anderson

October 4th, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , ,

River City condo owners sue to block $90M sale to Marc Realty, say board conspired to ‘bribe’ holdouts, skew vote

 River City and Van Buren Street Bridge

Cook County Record:

In the wake of a vote to approve a sale that would reportedly pave the way for the largest condos-to-apartments conversion in Chicago to date, a group of condominium owners in the River City complex have filed suit to block the more than $90 million sale, accusing the condo association board of working with the would-be buyers to essentially target and bribe certain unit owners to persuade them with secret “side deals” to vote to approve the sale.

The collection of condo owners, including owners on both sides of the vote to sell the South Loop condo complex to developer Marc Realty, filed their complaint in Cook County Circuit Court on Oct. 3 through attorneys with the firm of Chuhak & Tecson, of Chicago.…

According to the River City owners’ complaint, River City voters rejected two initial offers from Marc Realty for about $83.1 million and $92.2 million, respectively. In December 2017, unit owners appeared to approve a sale worth $100 million, with 79 percent of owners voting yes.

However, in May, Marc Realty terminated the sale, and then came back with an offer worth $90.5 million. About 77 percent of owners purportedly approved the sale at the lower purchase price in balloting that closed at the end of August.

However, opponents of the sale cried foul, and, according to the complaint, conducted an audit of the votes cast. They assert their audit indicates the purchase deal actually received only 72 percent of the vote.

Further, they alleged their information indicates the River City board worked with Marc Realty to hold the vote open, even though more than 90 percent of owners had voted, to allow the buyer to “bribe” as many as 35 owners with “additional consideration not set forth in the contract,” to change their votes from no to yes.

The complaint asserts this maneuver stands as a violation of the law, and should invalidate the vote, which they said “was the result of substantial misrepresentations .. to induce the owners to vote against their best interest.”

(click here to continue reading River City condo owners sue to block $90M sale to Marc Realty, say board conspired to ‘bribe’ holdouts, skew vote | Cook County Record.)

Wild. 

Unless this settles, I’d think this could drag out for years.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 4th, 2018 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

With Illinois medical pot market poised to expand, high-profile national chain is buying Oak Park dispensary

Best Buddies
Best Buddies

MedMen buying into Illinois.  But to me the bigger story is that the upcoming gubernatorial race is about cannabis legalization in Illinois…

Chicago Tribune:

The sale is timely because Gov. Bruce Rauner last month signed into law a measure allowing any patient who would qualify for an opioid painkiller prescription to also qualify for medical marijuana. The new law also eliminated requirements for fingerprints and criminal background checks. Those changes are expected to greatly expand a market that had about 44,000 certified customers and $12 million in monthly sales as of August.

In addition, industry leaders expect Illinois lawmakers to legalize marijuana for recreational use next year if Democrat J.B. Pritzker wins this November’s election for governor. Pritzker supports allowing and taxing adult use, while Rauner, a Republican, opposes it.

(click here to continue reading With Illinois medical pot market poised to expand, high-profile national chain is buying Oak Park dispensary – Chicago Tribune.)

J.B. Pritzker is not my favorite politician by any metric, but Rauner is horrible, and he doesn’t deserve another term.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 3rd, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Posted in government,health

Tagged with

Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Closer to Medicinal Use

Forgive Mushrooms
Forgive Mushrooms

The New York Times:

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking.

The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin.

Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote.

Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland

For decades, though, researchers have shunned the study of psychedelics. “In the 1960s, they were on the cutting edge of neuroscience research and understanding how the brain worked,” [Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins] said. “But then it got out of the lab.”

Research stopped, in part, because the use of mind-altering drugs like LSD and mushrooms became a hallmark of hippie counterculture.

The researchers who conducted the new study included Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is one of the most prominent researchers on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. The researchers reviewed data going back to the 1940s.

(click here to continue reading Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Closer to Medicinal Use (It’s Not Just Your Imagination) – The New York Times.)

Psychedelic experience
Psychedelic Experience

Potentially good news. Psychedelic drugs should be researched and studied without moralistic restrictions imposed by LBJ/Nixon’s DEA.

Pioppino Mushroom from River Valley Kitchens
Pioppino Mushroom from River Valley Kitchens

Written by Seth Anderson

October 3rd, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in health,science

Tagged with

Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Dismiss Emoluments Lawsuit

Emolument Man 

The New York Times:

Congressional Democrats cleared a key hurdle on Friday in their effort to sue President Trump over whether he is illegally profiting from business dealings with foreign governments, in a case that could give the lawmakers access to the Trump Organization’s finances.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court in Washington ruled that the lawmakers have standing to sue Mr. Trump for accepting payments and other benefits from foreign governments without obtaining permission from Congress, which would violate the Constitution’s clause that bars federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

Judge Sullivan dismissed the Justice Department’s claim that the legislators did not have standing to sue and denied its request to dismiss the lawsuit.

“The court finds that the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president for allegedly violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” Judge Sullivan wrote in his opinion. Mr. Trump “has neither asked for their consent nor provided them with any information about the prohibited foreign emoluments he has already allegedly accepted.”

(click here to continue reading Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Dismiss Emoluments Lawsuit – The New York Times.)

Well, a glimmer of hope is better than utter despair.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Russia’s Fancy Bear Hackers Have a Clever New Trick – A UEFI rootkit Called LoJax

Computer Consultants

WIRED:

THE FANCY BEAR hacking group has plenty of tools at its disposal, as evidenced by its attacks against the Democratic National Committee, the Pyeongchang Olympics, and plenty more. But cybersecurity firm ESET appears to have caught the elite Russian team using a technique so advanced, it hadn’t ever been seen in the wild until now.

ESET found what’s known as a UEFI rootkit, which is a way to gain persistent access to a computer that’s hard to detect and even harder to clean up, on an unidentified victim’s machine.

If “LoJax” sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because you might recall LoJack—formerly known as Computrace—security software that lets you track your laptop in the event of theft. LoJack turns out to be potent stuff. It sits in a computer’s firmware, making regular calls back to a server to announce its location. Crucially, that also means you can’t get rid of it by reinstalling your operating system or swapping in a new hard drive.

Fancy Bear figured out how to manipulate code from a decade-old version of LoJack to get it to call back not to the intended server, but one manned instead by Russian spies. That’s LoJax. And it’s a devil to get rid of.

“Whenever a computer infected with a UEFI malware boots, it will place the LoJax agent on the Windows file system, so that when Windows boots, it’s already infected with the LoJax agent. Even if you clean LoJax from Windows, as soon as you reboot, the UEFI implant will reinfect Windows,” says Alexis Dorais-Joncas, ESET’s security intelligence team lead.

It is possible to remove LoJax from your system entirely, but doing so requires serious technical skills. “You can’t just restart. You can’t just reinstall your hard drive. You can’t replace your hard drive. You actually have to flash your firmware,” says Richard Hummel, manager of threat intelligence for NetScou

(click here to continue reading Russia’s Elite Fancy Bear Hackers Have a Clever New Trick | WIRED.)

Great. Too bad the US Government doesn’t have a Cyber Czar anymore.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 28th, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Ted Cruz is a Serpent Covered In Vaseline

Brett Stevens is a reliably irritating neo-con newly hired columnist for the NYT, formerly of the WSJ, but this is a spot-on description of Ted Cruz.

Asp door handle- Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum

The New York Times:

I share your enthusiasm for the Texas Senate race, for a couple of small reasons and one very big one. Small reasons: I like Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger, and I like the idea that Texas can turn a bit purple if you have a candidate with energy, wit and a human touch.

The big reason is that I despise Ted Cruz. That is “D-e-s-p-i-s-e,” in case I haven’t spelled out my loathing clearly enough. Would you like to know why?

…Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected.

Otherwise, you might say I’m his No. 1 fan.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Supreme Confusion – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 26th, 2018 at 9:12 am

Kodak Ektachrome is Now Shipping

Kodak Cameras and Film

PetaPixel reports:

After nearly two years of building up anticipation, Kodak Alaris has just announced that it has started shipping Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100 film worldwide. If you’ve been dying to get your hands on the film stock again, you’ll be able to very soon.

The new Ektachrome will initially be available in 35mm film rolls in the standard 36×24mm film format. It’s a daylight balanced color positive film that features “clean, vibrant colors, a neutral tone scale, and extremely fine grain,” and it’s “well suited to a wide range of applications, such as product, landscape, nature and fashion photography,” Kodak Alaris says.

(click here to continue reading Kodak Ektachrome is Now Shipping.)

Cool. I find myself gravitating towards Ektachrome emulation often. If I ever fixed my Nikon D8008 35mm, I’d for sure use this for color shooting.

Suspicions

Leaving Soon - Ektachrome

Written by Seth Anderson

September 25th, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with ,

Review: ‘The City’ podcast tells sordid tale of illegal dumping on Chicago’s West Side

I wish I had time to listen to podcasts, this one sounds fascinating…

No Parking

Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson:

“Anytime you see anybody drive over (to) a vacant lot in a limo, you know it’s no good.”

When you’re a reporter trying to bring a complicated story to life, quotes like that — wry, sharply worded, evocative of a much larger scenario — are pure gold.

And in the promising, new Chicago-focused podcast “The City,” chronicling the battle over vacant lots in North Lawndale that became illegal dumping sites in the 1990s, lead reporter and narrator Robin Amer recognizes that quote for the gem that it is.

It comes from Gladys Woodson, one of the residents who tried to fight the illegal dumps, a story that would lead to FBI surveillance, court cases and a picture window into city corruption during the early years of the reign of the second Mayor Daley, the podcast asserts.

The first episode of “The City” debuts Monday, under the auspices of USA Today and available there and on iTunes, Stitcher and the like. In it, the host promises the first season’s Chicago illegal dump story will be one of “corruption, apathy and greed,” a story dark enough to stun even hardened city dwellers.

(click here to continue reading Review: ‘The City’ podcast tells sordid tale of illegal dumping on Chicago’s West Side – Chicago Tribune.)

Politicians and other elite from the dinosaur era (i.e., pre-internet) escaped being judged for a lot of bad behavior. I can just imagine stories like this becoming viral in today’s hyper-focused era. 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 24th, 2018 at 7:33 am

See Beto O’Rourke Air-Drum to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’

Rolling Stone:

See Beto O’Rourke Air-Drum to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ After Ted Cruz Debate “This may be the best song ever written,” Democratic senatorial hopeful says of ‘Who’s Next’ classic while waiting in Whataburger drive-thru line

(click here to continue reading See Beto O’Rourke Air-Drum to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ – Rolling Stone.)

Uhh, hyperbole much? Ok, indeed, Baba O’Riley is a great song, and a worthy air drum tune for sure. Also, Nirvana covered it on their 1991 tour (though less bloated, like 3 minutes instead of 5 minutes). 

Ted Cruz booked his flight to Iowa directly after the debate…

Written by Seth Anderson

September 22nd, 2018 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with , ,

The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances

 More Spare Change

Mother Jones reports:

Before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he had a lot of debt. In May 2017, he reported owing between $60,004 and $200,000 on three credit cards and a loan against his retirement account. By the time Trump nominated him to the high court in July 2018, those debts had vanished. Overall, his reported income and assets didn’t seem sufficient to pay off all that debt while maintaining his upper-class lifestyle: an expensive house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, two kids in a $10,500-a-year private school, and a membership in a posh country club reported to charge $92,000 in initiation fees. His financial disclosure forms have raised more questions than they’ve answered, leading to speculation about whether he’s had a private benefactor and what sorts of conflicts that relationship might entail.

During his confirmation hearing last week, he escaped a public discussion of his spending habits because no senator asked about it. But on Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Kavanaugh 14 pages of post-hearing follow-up questions, many of which involved his finances. On Thursday, Kavanaugh supplied answers, but he dodged some of the questions and left much of his financial situation unexplained.

(click here to continue reading The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances – Mother Jones.)

Super PAC money? Koch dollars? NRA/Russian rubles?

All of the above?

Written by Seth Anderson

September 20th, 2018 at 8:21 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with