B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Midterm Election Results: Trump Constrained, Democrats Take House

 Forgive Yourself Trump Tower

Bloomberg reports:

Donald Trump, who spent the past two years wielding the powers of the presidency unbound by party or political convention, is now constrained.

The Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives cripples his conservative agenda and opens the way for unfettered investigations into his scandal-plagued administration, his presidential campaign and his family’s business empire.

His personal tax returns may fall into the hands of his opponents. His re-election — always far from certain — may be even more dependent on the economy remaining at full steam.

(click here to continue reading Midterm Election Results: Trump Constrained, Democrats Take House – Bloomberg.)

Weird, like there are different branches of government or something…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2018 at 10:24 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with

A Best-Selling Conservative Author Spread A False Claim About Non-Citizens Being Paid To Vote For Beto

 I voted! Did you?

Buzzfeed:

A Best-Selling Conservative Author Spread A False Claim About “Illegals” Being Paid To Vote For Beto “Hey, fake news, right?” said Larry Schweikart when asked about his false tweet.

(click here to continue reading A Best-Selling Conservative Author Spread A False Claim About “Illegals” Being Paid To Vote For Beto.)

The funny (almost) thing about this fake story is that a bus of non-citizens voting wouldn’t be enough to swing even a percentage point of place as big as Texas. How many people are on the bus? 50, 100? Texas has 30,000,000 people, and somewhere around 10,000,000 registered to vote. Would have to be a damn big bus to swing even one county’s total…

And would seem like someone would notice at the polling location, perhaps post a photo?

Written by Seth Anderson

November 6th, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Electoral College confusions | National Popular Vote Compact

Times Have Changed
Times Have Changed

Lawrence Lessig on why the Electoral College should be reformed or eliminated:

Yet this debate is much more interesting—and important—than a typical left/right fight. For the college, as it is, gives no one what they should want. It certainly does not give us what the Framers expected. And if we’re going to reform what everyone should recognize as a broken institution, we need strategies beyond amending the Constitution. (Any amendment from Congress would require 2/3ds of Congress to support it, and then 38 states to ratify it. That’s not even conceivable in the current political climate.)

The Electoral College today is defined by a choice that all but two states have made to allocate their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state. If a candidate gets even a single vote more than the others, he or she gets all of the Electoral College votes in that state. 

This is the “winner-take-all” system. And the consequence of winner-take-all is that candidates for president focus their campaigns exclusively on the so-called “battleground states.” In 2016, 99 percent of campaign spending was in just 14 states — states representing 35 percent of America, and an older and whiter America.

The most plausible alternative to the Electoral College as it is is the National Popular Vote Compact. If states representing the equivalent of 270 electoral college votes commit to this plan, then those states would select electors committed to the winner of the national popular vote — regardless of who wins in the state. This change could happen without an amendment to the Constitution. It is certainly constitutional under the framers’ design.

The advantage of this alternative is that it would end the exclusive hold that the battleground states have on our presidential elections, and hence, on the president. Candidates would have an interest in getting votes from wherever they could get them. That might be New York or Texas (states that now just don’t matter). It might be Missouri or Kansas. The National Popular Vote Compact would make every vote in America count equally — and thus end the possibility that a president would be selected by a minority of American voters.

(click here to continue reading Electoral College confusions | TheHill.)

It is time to ring some changes…

The Change In Your Pocket Won t Buy You A Dream
The Change In Your Pocket Won’t Buy You A Dream

From their website:

 

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Explanation  It has been enacted into law in 12 states with 172 electoral votes (CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). Map showing status in states.  The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 98 more electoral votes.  It has passed at least one house in 11 additional states with 89 electoral votes (AR, AZ, CO, DE, ME, MI, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR)  and has been approved unanimously by committee votes in two additional states with 26 electoral votes (GA, MO).

The bill has recently been passed by a 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57–4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, 34-23 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House, and 26-16 in the New Mexico Senate.

State winner-take-all statutes adversely affect governance. “Battleground” states receive 7% more federal grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions.

Also, because of state winner-take-all statutes, five of our 45 Presidents have come into office without having won the most popular votes nationwide.  The 2000 and 2016 elections are the most recent examples of elections in which a second-place candidate won the White House.  Near-misses are also common under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes.  A shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes. 

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact would not take effect until enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). Under the compact, the national popular vote winner would be the candidate who received the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) on Election Day. When the Electoral College meets in mid-December, the national popular vote winner would receive all of the electoral votes of the enacting states.

The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.

 

 

(click here to continue reading National Popular Vote.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 31st, 2018 at 11:32 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections

Tomorrow We Vote
Tomorrow We Vote

ABC reports:

Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections.

Voters are reporting odd problems on both the Republican and Democratic side of straight-party voting in Texas.

Mickey Blake was one of the voters in those early voting lines in Houston earlier this week.

“I hit straight Democratic ticket,” Blake said.

She says she expected all Democrats to come up on her screen, especially Rep. Beto O’Rourke, but when she got to the last screen to review her choices, she noticed a problem.

“It’s all Democratic except for Ted Cruz was checked,” Blake said.

So she backed up and did it again. And again.

“I tried it a third time and the same thing happened,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections | abc13.com.)

Fired up and ready to vote
Fired up and ready to vote

Anecdotal evidence, sure, but enough people are complaining that the Texas Secretary of State issued a statement.

It’s popped up across Texas often enough for the Secretary of State to put up a statewide advisory on Monday to every Texas election advisor.

The Secretary of State calls it ‘operator error.’

A little disturbing, but perhaps the short term answer is don’t use electronic ballots, if you have a choice, and don’t vote straight ticket even though it is more convenient.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 27th, 2018 at 8:40 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

Tim Cook blasts weaponization of personal data and praises GDPR

Apple Rising
Apple Rising

BBC News reports:

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has demanded a tough new US data protection law, in an unusual speech in Europe.

Referring to the misuse of “deeply personal” data, he said it was being “weaponised against us with military efficiency”.

“We shouldn’t sugar-coat the consequences,” he added. “This is surveillance.”

The strongly-worded speech presented a striking defence of user privacy rights from a tech firm’s chief executive.

Mr Cook also praised the EU’s new data protection regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Apple boss described in some detail what he called the “data industrial complex”, noting that billions of dollars were traded on the basis of people’s “likes and dislikes”, “wishes and fears” or “hopes and dreams” – the kind of data points tracked by tech firms and advertisers.

He warned that the situation “should make us very uncomfortable, it should unsettle us”.

(click here to continue reading Tim Cook blasts ‘weaponisation’ of personal data and praises GDPR – BBC News.)

Kudos to Mr. Cook. As regular readers of this space know, I’ve been jealous of the EU and their fancy data protection policies for a while.

You Are Being Film
You Are Being Film

And this point is key:

And the trade in personal data served only to enrich the companies that collect it, he added.

Not only is our personal data being mined, processed and sold, but we don’t get compensated for it. Sure we get a place to look at photos of grandkids, and Russian-created memes, but at what cost?

Written by Seth Anderson

October 25th, 2018 at 8:00 am

Posted in Advertising,Apple

Tagged with , , ,

Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter

Donald Trump Is A Swine

The Guardian reports:

A crew of Fox News reporters witnessed the attack on the Guardian’s correspondent in Bozeman. According to their firsthand account, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands as the reporter was posing questions to him.

The crew wrote: “He then slammed [Jacobs] into the ground behind him. [We] watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.”

Jacobs was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated for an elbow injury.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and was sentenced to four days in jail as a misdemeanor. The sentence was later changed to 40 hours of community service, a fine and a compulsory anger-management course.

In a statement, the Guardian US editor, John Mulholland, said: “The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.

“In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

(click here to continue reading ‘He’s my guy’: Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter | US news | The Guardian.)

What a thug. As a long time student of American history, I cannot recall any president ever praising a violent criminal like this, especially 

Probably a good day to donate a couple of bucks (or more) to the Guardian. I did.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 19th, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Food Scientists Are Getting Fed Up With Picky Eaters Who Want To Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide

Nothing We Can Do About It Now
Nothing We Can Do About It Now

WSJ:

First they came for the trans fat, and pretty much everyone agreed it should be banned, because it can clog arteries.

Then they came for monosodium glutamate. Even though food companies say it is harmless, they eventually pulled it from many products, because that’s what the customer demanded.

Now, one in 10 young adults want regulators to ban dihydrogen monoxide from food and beverages, according to a study by research firm InsightsNow.

Um, that would be H2O, also known as water.

The food industry is grappling with just how far to bend to consumer whims about chemicals—even when those whims seem clueless. And this is giving America’s food scientists indigestion.

(click here to continue reading Anyone for Diglycerides? Anyone? Food Scientists Are Getting Fed Up With Picky Eaters – WSJ.)

Gluten Free Certified Vegan Top 8 Allergen Free Pareve Non GMO
Gluten Free, Certified Vegan, Top 8 Allergen Free, Pareve, Non-GMO

I’m of two minds on this: sure, there is no need to ban dihydrogen monoxide, or other harmless chemicals from packaged foods. Even MSG turns out to be useful, and non-harmful.

On the other hand, food scientists shouldn’t get an automatic pass to put whatever they want in foods, especially if there are untested ingredients. Or too many additives. The best foods are simple, and don’t require 500 word ingredient lists. I’m with Charlie Baggs…

Products free from artificial colors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and certain other additives make up roughly 30% of food and beverage sales and are the fastest-growing segment, according to Nielsen.

The Food and Drug Administration acknowledges its requirements for describing ingredients can be confusing. Anna Abram, an FDA deputy commissioner, points to vitamin B12, which in line with FDA regulations appears on some food labels as cyanocobalamin.

“That sounds like cyanide,” she says. B12, which helps cell and nerve function, occurs naturally in beef and tuna. Breakfast cereals are often fortified with it. She said the FDA is considering ways to make such ingredients sound more palatable.

That’s welcome news to Charlie Baggs, a “clean-label” research chef in Chicago who slashed the list of ingredients in one frozen dinner from 60 to 15. One common foe is xanthan gum, an emulsifier used to stabilize sauces and soups that is widely considered safe and natural .

“It doesn’t sound like something your grandma would use,” he says. “Who wants to eat that?”

Non GMO Project
Non GMO Project

Written by Seth Anderson

October 19th, 2018 at 8:49 am

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