B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Don’t Know Where To Finish was uploaded to Flickr

Wolf Point somewhere

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I took Don’t Know Where To Finish on August 31, 2014 at 04:51AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 09, 2019 at 05:52AM

Update: apologies for multiple posts (IFTTT messed up again)

Written by eggplant

May 9th, 2019 at 5:58 am

Dreaded First Pair of Glasses was uploaded to Flickr

I guess I made it this long on the planet before needing them, but still…

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I took Dreaded First Pair of Glasses on April 26, 2019 at 06:06AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 26, 2019 at 01:46PM

Written by eggplant

April 26th, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Hedge-Fund Ownership Cost Sears Workers Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back

Valleys outside of Neptune

The Nation reports:

The bill, introduced by State Senator Joseph Cryan, a Democrat, aims to bolster financial security for employees in the state by making them less disposable. Currently, there is no law anywhere in the country that guarantees severance for workers after a layoff. His bill would mandate that laid-off employees of large companies in the state be paid a severance equal to one week of wages for each full year of employment. “It is critical for holding Wall Street accountable…to the retail employees they take over,” Ryan told assembled media and lawmakers, sporting a purple vest with the Babies “R” Us logo stitched in yellow.

The bill would also require companies to give employees more notice before layoffs, including at least 15 days’ warning ahead of a bankruptcy filing or change in ownership, and would prohibit mass firings for 180 days after such an upheaval. It would ensure that Wall Street firms—like KKR, Bain, and Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund—are responsible for severance claims by classifying them as joint employers along with the executives who run their portfolio companies, and would classify severance as wages so that such payments would get top preference in the bankruptcy process alongside creditor claims.

“The genesis point for this legislation,” Cryan said, “was me standing with hundreds of Toys ‘R’ Us workers, listening to stories of folks who dedicated 27, 28, 31, 32 years and were basically getting nothing.” Democratic State Senator Nellie Pou, who backs the bill, noted that when Toys “R” Us laid off employees with little to no warning and refused to give them severance, it wasn’t “doing anything technically illegal, but they did something I believe to be reprehensible.”

The measure would be “game-changing,” said Carrie Gleason, the policy director of United for Respect. It would mean more than giving workers money to help after a layoff. It could change the calculation that companies make when deciding to cut workers in the first place, by putting a price on it. Right now, it’s “virtually costless” to fire employees, Appelbaum said. Private-equity firms in particular tend to turn to layoffs quickly after taking over a company. “Squeezing labor is the fastest way to increase cash flow to be able to make payments on the debt,” Appelbaum explained. This measure could “cause companies to think twice about whether laying off workers is their go-to solution for every problem that they face.”

(click here to continue reading Hedge-Fund Ownership Cost Sears Workers Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back. | The Nation.)

I don’t know what the chances are of this bill passing, but I whole-heartedly support it. Hedge funds bleeding a company dry of its assets then laying off employees is a frequent occurrence, it isn’t right.

Even better would be a national bill with these same general parameters. Maybe Elizabeth Warren could propose it? 

Two is a Magic Number

Written by Seth Anderson

April 23rd, 2019 at 10:03 am

Posted in Business,government

Tagged with

Not Wasted A Single Penny was uploaded to Flickr

Construction, West Loop

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I took Not Wasted A Single Penny on March 21, 2016 at 04:16AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 16, 2019 at 10:32AM

Written by eggplant

April 16th, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Trump Erroneously Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem

Shrieks and Secrets

The New York Times reports:

President Trump has adopted a blunt new message in recent days for migrants seeking refuge in the United States: “Our country is full.”

To the degree the president is addressing something broader than the recent strains on the asylum-seeking process, the line suggests the nation can’t accommodate higher immigration levels because it is already bursting at the seams. But it runs counter to the consensus among demographers and economists.

They see ample evidence of a country that is not remotely “full” — but one where an aging population and declining birthrates among the native-born population are creating underpopulated cities and towns, vacant housing and troubled public finances.

Local officials in many of those places view a shrinking population and work force as an existential problem with few obvious solutions.

(click here to continue reading Trump Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem. – The New York Times.)

East 44

This is among the most ridiculous assertions to base a governmental policy upon that I can recall. Immigration should be stopped completely because there is no room for new people? Trump and his Rasputin, Stephen Miller, base this on what exactly? Trump has a history of flying in to a city to “perform” one of his patented rallies, then flying back home the same night. 

In other words, Trump has not apparently spent much time in places that don’t have airports large enough to accommodate his plane. If he ever took a driving trip through rural America, he’d find there is a lot of empty space, in pretty much every state in America. Even New York/New Jersey has plenty of farmland and small towns! 

I’ve been lucky to have visited nearly every state in the US (missing the North East – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire – and inexplicably, Colorado and Utah), hard-working immigrants could boost America’s economy in all sorts of ways, if racism and fear didn’t intercede, obviously.

Even downtown Manhattan, which Trump knows well, and is quite crowded, seems to do well with immigrants. Or what about Detroit? Or Chicago? Lots of room for new, vibrant communities. 

Ready for the Open Road

Ready For The Open Road

America is a vast country, mostly empty, on average, which is why I like John Lettieri’s idea of a “Heartland visa”:

A particular fear, said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, is that declining population, falling home prices and weak public finances will create a vicious cycle that the places losing population could find hard to escape.

He proposes a program of “heartland visas,” in which skilled immigrants could obtain work visas to the United States on the condition they live in one of the counties facing demographic decline — with troubled counties themselves deciding whether to participate.

Although some of the areas with declining demographics are hostile to immigration, others, cities as varied as Baltimore, Indianapolis and Fargo, N.D., have embraced the strategy of encouraging it.

Hay Bales

Written by Seth Anderson

April 9th, 2019 at 9:43 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Did Not Draw A Conclusion One Way Or The Other was uploaded to Flickr

Albany Park somewhere

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I took Did Not Draw A Conclusion One Way Or The Other on May 03, 2015 at 11:04AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 24, 2019 at 06:31PM

Written by eggplant

March 25th, 2019 at 1:32 am

You Wanted Some Privacy was uploaded to Flickr

Alley, Loop.
(Fujifilm Neopan 1600 in emulation)

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I took You Wanted Some Privacy on February 22, 2015 at 05:09AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 21, 2019 at 12:24PM

Written by eggplant

March 21st, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Trump Crackdown Unnerves Immigrants, and the Farmers Who Rely on Them

!!!PMURT KCUF

The New York Times reports:

Last fall, Victor Pacheco, the foreman on Ms. Raby’s family farm for 23 years, was detained by ICE agents and deported to Mexico.

Ms. Raby has struggled to find a foreman skilled enough to manage her vineyard, where the grapevines are now dusted in a light coat of snow and in need of winter pruning. This has left her uncertain about the future of their family farm and the president she helped vote into office.

“I still agree with Trump in a lot of ways, but I’m more on the fence about him now,” Ms. Raby said. “I don’t want to lose the immigrants who are working here and growing our food.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Crackdown Unnerves Immigrants, and the Farmers Who Rely on Them – The New York Times.)

I hope someone is planning on writing a book based on the numerous Trump voters who ended up getting screwed by Trump-enabled GOP orthodoxy, like this woman. It’s basically a cliché by this point.

I Am Going To Eat You - Paul Noth

But I’m also firmly of the belief that Trump-bots like Ms. Raby don’t deserve much sympathy. Trump isn’t subtle, he said what he was going to do, and then he did it. His announcement that he was running for president was built upon racist demagoguery, but Ms. Raby was ok with that, and all the subsequent racism was fine, up until her own business got decimated. Then she has doubts.

As to the bigger story, American agriculture depends upon low paid workers from other countries, mostly Mexico. If Trump and Stephen Miller get their way, we won’t be able to eat anything other than processed meat from McDonald’s because there won’t be anyone to pick the crops.

HOMER, N.Y. — The fears weigh on Mike McMahon: If one of his undocumented workers gets a traffic ticket, it could prompt an immigration audit of his entire farm. If another gets detained by immigration agents at a roadside checkpoint or in a supermarket parking lot, the rest may flee. And if his undocumented work force disappears overnight, there is no one to replace them.

“It keeps me up at night,” said Mr. McMahon, who owns a dairy farm south of Syracuse. “There are people out there who just say, ‘Send them all back and build a wall.’ But they would be facing empty shelves in the grocery store if that were to happen.”

It has long been an open secret in upstate New York that the dairy industry has been able to survive only by relying on undocumented immigrants for its work force. Now, this region has become a national focal point in the debate over President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants and their role in agriculture

Written by Seth Anderson

March 18th, 2019 at 10:05 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Poster Child For Corporate Welfare was uploaded to Flickr

Boeing depends upon taxpayer dollars more than most corporations.

See for instance:
The top welfare recipient of them all is aerospace giant Boeing, which has operations spread all across the country building aircraft and working on numerous Department of Defense projects. The amount of work Boeing does for the federal government no doubt plays a part in the amount of subsidies the company has been able to secure, but Boeing has also played hardball with local jurisdictions to get enormous tax breaks. With more than $13 billion coming in from 148 handouts, Boeing has thoroughly entrenched itself in the interest of the government and taxpayers.

Despite the immense amount of money the company receives, it has still gone on to hold cities hostage in tax negotiations, threatening to remove jobs and open up shop in friendlier climates. In 2013, Boeing secured the highest ever tax break at the state level when it cornered the Washington legislature into ceding to its demands, lest it move its production plants to another part of the country. The legislature granted Boeing its wish, but Boeing went on to announce drastic layoffs anyway, angering many locals.

Boeing has become the king of corporate handouts, and other corporations have a long way to go to catch up.
via
www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/high-on-the-hog-the-top-8…

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I took Poster Child For Corporate Welfare on March 02, 2018 at 05:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 17, 2019 at 12:24PM

Written by eggplant

March 17th, 2019 at 1:08 pm

The Loophole That Lets Boeing Get Cozy With Congress

Boeing - El Segundo

The New York Times reports:

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, its decision was based solely on its evolving understanding of the evidence. But critics have suggested that the delay in joining the international consensus may have been the result, at least in part, of the close relationship that Boeing, a major political force in Washington and a large government contractor, has with American officials.

Boeing receives more federal money than any corporation other than Lockheed Martin, its main competitor in the defense contractor industry. Boeing took in over $23 billion in con tracts from the government in the 2017 fiscal year — near its annual average. (Just this fall, the company won a $9.2 billion contract to make a new generation of jets for the Air Force.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren publicly questioned whether the government had “put lives at risk” to protect Boeing’s bottom line. She and a bipartisan group of her colleagues requested congressional hearings to investigate.

In the Turning of the Twilight

In 1940, Congress passed a law barring individuals and firms from making federal campaign contributions while they negotiate or perform federal contracts. The intent was to prevent companies from trying to bribe politicians for lucrative deals and to prevent lawmakers from extorting money from companies with business before the government.

So how do campaign donations that appear to be connected with Boeing manage to avoid violating this law? The answer is a loophole, cemented in the law in the 1970s, that permits government contractors to set up “separate segregated funds,” or political action committees, to make political contributions using money typically pooled from the contractors’ executives and major shareholders. Such funds are legal even if the parent company pays for their operating and fund-raising costs. This exemption — whose ostensible justification is the free-speech rights of contractors’ employees — is why political action committees like Boeing’s can exist.

“It’s a huge loophole,” said Craig Holden, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen who has helped states write pay-to-play laws more restrictive than the federal-level bans.

There is also, in effect, another even larger loophole for contractors looking to influence national politicians: the inaugural committee for a president-elect. Because inaugural committees are technically not connected to the political campaign, “all bets are off,” as Mr. Fischer put it. Boeing gave a million dollars to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee — a giveaway now under scrutiny as a possible conflict of interest for the president.

Thanks to this maze of loopholes and legal niceties, federal contractors are able to effectively spend or direct the spending of money on political campaigns, despite the original intent of the law against contractor contributions. One clear result of this system is the widespread suspicion, warranted or not, of the government’s initial decision not to ground Boeing’s plane.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | The Loophole That Lets Boeing Get Cozy With Congress – The New York Times.)

Boing and Lockheed Martin and similar companies slurping up tax payer dollars is why Flint still doesn’t have clean water, why college education isn’t basically free, why millions of people don’t have health insurance, and so on. Corporate welfare is like a black hole, distorting our entire economy.

Wintry Moon Rise over Boeing

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Door Nine was Explored

Door Nine

Mural by Brazilian artist Cranio. Actual title unknown.

Hubbard Street Mural gallery.

I took this photo March 11th, 2019, and processed it in my digital darkroom the same day.

Explored, March 12, 2019.

Click to embiggen.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 14th, 2019 at 8:36 am

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , ,

California Gov. Gavin Newsom to impose moratorium on death penalty

Ghosts

The Washington Post reports:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday will impose an indefinite moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, arguing that the cost, finality and racial imbalance among death-row inmates make the punishment immoral and a public policy “failure,” according to planned remarks released by his office.

Newsom will suspend the practice through an executive order that will give a reprieve from execution — though not release — to California’s 737 death row inmates, about a quarter of the nation’s population awaiting capital punishment. The order will also annul California’s lethal injection protocol and close the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison, where the state’s most notorious criminals have been put to death.

“I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people,” Newsom plans to say. “In short, the death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”

(click here to continue reading California Gov. Gavin Newsom to impose moratorium on death penalty – The Washington Post.)

Kudos to Governor Newsom for following the trend of the rest of the civilized world. I am a little surprised that California is a latecomer to this decision, but better late than never.

The government should not be in the business of murdering its own citizens. 

It Might Rain Money It Might Rain Fire

Parenthetical autobiographical note: before my sophomore year in high school, I travelled with my uncle Phil by car on an extended road trip, through the south, south east, Charleston, Atlanta, DC, NYC, and Toronto/Frostpocket and then back to Austin. Somewhere along the journey, we went to an exhibit of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, and an Amnesty International exhibit on the pointlessness of the death penalty. Both stick in my head to this day. Also, I recall writing a term paper for Mrs. Kathy Borich in honors English that subsequent year on the topic of the futility of the death penalty. I don’t remember the paper’s details, only that I got an A+.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2019 at 9:27 am

Posted in crime

Tagged with

Trump Loses Yet Another Communications Director – Bill Shine

Newstand on State Street circa 1996

Surprising nobody, today there was yet another departure from the Trump White House of Best People.

Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg reports:

Bill Shine, who helped Roger Ailes shape Fox News into a propaganda machine fueled by hype, cynicism and hogwash before joining a presidential administration fueled by hype, cynicism and hogwash, is leaving his post as the White House’s chief communications adviser less than a year into the job.

That short span in President Donald Trump’s warm embrace isn’t of note, really. The White House is essentially an outsized meat grinder, beset by chaos, backstabbing and incompetence and managed by someone who has little interest, and thus a woeful lack of managerial experience, in building strong teams. The practical implications of this are a dearth of expertise, loyalty, productivity and accomplishments — bad for any organization of any stripe.

For all of that, Shine’s departure isn’t a surprise. What is compelling about the end of his run is that he came from Fox, and packaging and promoting Trump at the expense of truth, justice and the American way was familiar territory for him. Shine and his Fox team pursued this with real gusto. As Jane Mayer pointed out in the New Yorker this week, Shine was responsible for defining Fox’s brand by overseeing its morning and evening talk shows (Fox’s straight-news operation, populated by many talented, fair-minded people, wasn’t part of his purview). And as Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s media critic, noted this week as well, Shine’s handiwork — Fox’s talk shows — often are fact-free zones that allow the network to essentially function as “Trump TV.”

(click here to continue reading Trump’s White House Just Out-Foxed Bill Shine – Bloomberg.)

Yeah, maybe the problem with Trump’s negative press coverage is that Trump keeps doing stupid, cynical things? Ya think?

The Pope is Concerned About Putin and Trump

Or as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post puts it:

But the question is, what could get it done? Consider the headlines we’ve seen in recent days. Some of the most unflattering ones are just straight reporting of ways in which Trump has failed by his own metrics. For instance, migrating families arriving at the border just spiked to new highs — meaning Trump’s efforts to deter them from coming through all manner of cruelty have failed. When those numbers were low, he saw that as a sign that he was succeeding. But now they’re spiking. This is just a factual matter that no amount of magical spinning can make disappear.

On North Korea, Trump got slammed with headlines after his efforts at a deal with North Korea abruptly collapsed. But it was Trump himself who inflated expectations by absurdly blustering early on that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” This also led to more bad headlines when administration officials were forced to contradict it.

Then there’s the trade deficit in goods. It has now ballooned to its largest point in U.S. history. This is a fact that Trump’s own Commerce Department announced. It has always been idiotic of Trump to invest this metric with the importance that he has, but he did that, and so he is failing by a metric that he established for himself, out of folly and ignorance. No amount of magical spinning can make that disappear, either.

Also on trade, Trump is getting hammered by headlines reporting that he’s likely to end up making a face-saving deal with China that doesn’t produce the concessions he originally wanted. But it’s Trump who sold himself as the Greatest Dealmaker in History, then launched us into a trade war while absurdly claiming that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” This guaranteed that the headlines showing the damage being done by those trade wars, and the failure to secure the deal he wants, would be all the more brutal. Trump’s total lack of interest in learning the complexities of issues, and his unshakable confidence in his ability to bluster his way through anything, is the problem here.

But it turns out that there’s a whole news media outside that feedback loop that is telling the truth about Trump’s presidency, and the results are unflattering to him. And not even a former Fox News executive was able to do anything about it.

(click here to continue reading Bill Shine quits amid Trump’s anger over bad press. Maybe that’s Trump’s fault? – The Washington Post.)

Trump is mad that nobody is capable of spinning all the shit he spews into golden threads. If he finds such a miracle worker, he better pay better than the going rate…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 8th, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen

Perpetual Payment of Perpetual Loans

The New York Times reports:

Of the eight checks now available, seven were for $35,000 and another was for $70,000 to cover two months’ worth of payments. Six were signed by Mr. Trump himself while he was president and the other two were signed by his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

Altogether, Mr. Trump or his trust paid Mr. Cohen $420,000, according to federal prosecutors. Of that, $130,000 was to reimburse payments made shortly before the 2016 election to Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, so she would not tell her story. Another $50,000 was for Mr. Cohen’s effort to manipulate online polls to inflate Mr. Trump’s reputation as a businessman.

That $180,000 was then “grossed up” with another $180,000 to offset taxes that Mr. Cohen would have to pay on the original money since it was being treated as income. Another $60,000 was added as a “bonus,” prosecutors have said.

(click here to continue reading In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen – The New York Times.)

That was a pretty nice deal for Michael Cohen. I’ve never had a client that allowed me to bill them more than double what was contracted for. Is this standard procedure for Trump world?

Contemporaneous Memos

And I’ve also been saying the same thing as “some peope close to Mr. Trump” for a while:

“The $35,000 is an indication of the quality of that evidence, and it both shows the extent of Trump’s leading role and now leaves little doubt that he faces criminal prosecution after he leaves office for the same offenses for which Cohen will serve time,” said Robert F. Bauer, a law professor at New York University and former White House counsel for President Barack Obama.

Indeed, some people close to Mr. Trump have privately predicted that he will ultimately choose to seek a second term in part because of his legal exposure if he is not president. While there is no legal consensus on the matter, Justice Department policy says that a president cannot be indicted while in office.

The Justice Department policy is rather weak sauce, but we’ll see if it stands up to scrutiny once the breadth of Trump’s crimes comes to light.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2019 at 4:54 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went

Sean aka Chawn, Chawn

The New York Times:

Many of the people and entities have already told the Judiciary Committee that they will cooperate, meaning that the panel could soon begin reaping reams of evidence already in the hands of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and federal prosecutors in New York. Others will most likely do so under subpoena in time.

A closer look at Mr. Nadler’s initial 81 targets — a mix of household names and bit players — reveals a web of lines of inquiry and overlapping interests. Here are some of the most noteworthy patterns.

(click here to continue reading Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went. – The New York Times.)

Noted for future reference. Here are the 81 letters. I’m that kind of nerd who will admit publicly that I’ll skim them all.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 5th, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,