Opinion in NY Times about cyclists, drivers and responsibility. The time has definitely come for the discussion. The article, I felt, is especially good at not ignoring both sides and not forcing anyone to take sides.
Let’s thank Steve Jobs, Tim Cook and Apple. Let’s thank John McCain, the US Congress and the American tax code. Let’s thank consumers world-wide.
We have just experienced the iMirror, an Apple phenomenon many years in the making. Like many Apple products, upon close inspection, it will be found that it is not original, innovative or unique but has been produced and executed magnificently.
As Congress often does and does well, it is has once again found some busywork to make itself seem important and upstanding.
This is all possible and brought to us by consumers- like you and me.
To understand this situation, a necessary primer is a short, insightful article
NY Times: Apple’s Web of Tax Shelters Saved It Billions, Panel Finds http://nyti.ms/10fOPRF
Synopsis: A Congressional panel’s findings were remarkable both for the tens of billions of dollars involved and for Apple’s audacity in saying some of its subsidiaries are stateless and beyond any tax authority’s reach.
It is a mirror because it has just shown all of us what we as a country have been for a very long time (if not always): not a Democracy but a Capitalist Republic.
The reality is that for-profit business and wealthy individuals will have the laws and tax codes designed to protect their interests. Apple is not the first, will not be the last but like many endeavors has become one of the best at exploiting the system from within and with help from the system itself.
While the final determinations have not been made, it appears that Apple did nothing illegal. My understanding is that Congress has not alleged that they actually did anything illegal.
What has happened is that at least 18 months were spent and countless American tax dollars spent to come to this conclusion.
Yes, tax dollars were spent to find out that a company was legally avoiding paying billions of dollars in taxes. (We must acknowledge that Apple did also pay billions of dollars in taxes it was required to.)
Now, for the kicker: Congress looking for us- the individual, hard working average Joe- to now pay taxes for buying the very goods and services such as Apple produces when purchasing them on the Internet which their products enable us to do.
The iMirror has been held up high for all of us as a nation to see. Smile. How do we look?
We are hearing the term nonstop but what really is the sequester? Believe it or not it has almost nothing to do with economics or budget. It has everything to do with the failure of America as a country.
What it really boils down to is the ineffectiveness of our leadership that we, the people, voted into office.
It is party-neutral and universal all at once. It has very little to do with the failure of our government to compose a balanced budget over the last few years and very little to do with the contingency plan that was developed during that time.
It has everything to do with the stubbornness and greed that led to 9/11 and what has happened since.
This may be simplistic but that’s just why they want you to think it’s complicated.
Ever since September 11, 2001 the US economy has been in shambles.
In my view, this is basically an indisputable fact. The government’s biggest expenditure since that date has been under the umbrella of the “war on terror.” That covers military spending, defense spending and all manner of law enforcement. This has led to a depletion of funds needed for all other kinds of services that the government provides and funds.
So now the sequester kicks in which means that there are severe and immediate cuts to many services which will also include the military and law-enforcement. Of course that means our vulnerability grows as well. All of that money that has been spent to supposedly protect us has now opened a gaping hole with a giant bull’s-eye.
Many would argue that it’s due to the squabble over things such as big versus little government, private investment versus public spending. When it comes down to it, though, that’s really bullshit.
It is the utter failure and lack of vision of our leadership- the representatives that we, the people, voted into office.
I have many friends and acquaintances that support gun ownership. I have many that support tight gun control. Others have had varying views.
My personal opinion is that there are gun control laws in place. What took place on Friday, December 14th, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut would not have been prevented either way. If someone is hell-bent on this kind of action, they will go through with it by any means necessary. It hurts so bad because it exposes our fragility as human beings. It exposes our reliance on natural forces to form good mental health. It exposes our failings and vulnerabilities as a civilized society.
The reality is this was going to happen. The reality is that it may not been preventable. Sure, steps can and might have been taken to mitigate the possibility but they are fare from definitive. We need to believe these kinds of steps will work in order to have a mental state of feeling safe. We need to feel safe because it one of the most basic instincts of a living creature, especially a sentient one.
What shakes many of us to our core is that, when it comes down to it, we cannot prevent these kinds of acts. What’s unfortunately worse, is that reality dictates this will happen again.
Being allowed to have guns will not stop it. Not allowing us to have guns will not stop it. Praying to God will not stop it. Not believing in God will not stop it. It is an inevitability that cannot be wished away.
There is no “good” that comes out a situation like this. It does force a time of reflection and introspection. It raises more questions than answers. It makes us yearn to reach a next, higher level of evolution.
It makes us realize we are human.
However, in his attempt to answer that question, he arrives at an incorrect conclusion.
The implication of the article is that anybody who purchases and owns Apple products and to an extent, any other product that is produced under harsh labor conditions, is at fault for propagating those conditions.
I have a feeling his incorrect conclusion comes from confusion between consumerism and capitalism.
Consumerism is only the engine that powers the car of capitalism. That car is driven by senior corporate executives. The car is owned by the stockholders of those corporations. Companies are not valued by the products or services they produce and the money that brings in. Their worth is decided by how much someone values a stake of ownership in that company. Of course that stake of ownership is represented in the form of stock whether private or public. When it is public, it is not usually held in large quantities by individuals.
Who does own the largest quantities you may ask? By and large it is government-on the federal state and local levels. The larger the corporation, the more this is true. Whether it is individual stocks or in a form such as mutual funds, large amounts of retirement fund money are sunk into these ownership stakes.
I would therefore counter Mr. Biddle’s question with a different one: Is it immoral to own Apple stock?
The United States Postal Service (USPS) just informed the Postal Regulatory Commission that it plans to launch an experimental same-day delivery service called Metro Post. The USPS says this test is specifically designed for e-commerce companies and will initially focus on a single (currently undisclosed) metropolitan area. The market test for Metro Post is scheduled to begin around November 12 and run for at least one year.
The USPS as it currently exists is nothing but a bureaucratic nightmare and a black hole for money. It ranks second only to the DMV as the worst thing ever. It’s not entirely clear why it still exists in the 21st century. To ensure junk mail gets delivered?
But this could actually be a decent idea. The infrastructure is in place. Of course it will come down to execution — not exactly the USPS’ strong suit.
So let me get this straight: a focus on only one metropolitan area and take at least a year? Sorry, that’s not an “experiment.” That’s a pet project that, when it fails, can be excused by saying it was an “experiment.” It just focuses on how the USPS is grossly mismanaged. It sounds almost as bad as Google having Gmail being called a public “beta” for over three years. All we need now is Tobias Fünke to exclaim: “Let the Great Experiment begin!”
With the recent announcement of our exciting renovation at The Pavilion Theater, a lot of our customers are curious to know what is really changing. No, really changing. We hear you loud and clear. We know The Pavilion has been through a few changing hands and never quite settled on an adequate…
Green Beans Not Walgreens- A community fights back
GREEN BEANS NOT WALGREENS
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Contact: Steve LeVine, 917.548.6949 Ryan Lynch, 631.742.7528
Community Opposition to Walgreens Launches New Name, Website, in Fight for Grocery Store
WINDSOR TERRACE—Thus far, community leaders in Windsor Terrace have collected over 2,000 signatures—more than 16% of the total neighborhood population—in an ongoing boycott pledge drive opposing the pending arrival of a Walgreens location at the former site of the neighborhood’s only full service grocery market.
Building upon this outcry of community opposition, a group of Windsor Terrace citizen advocates have launched a new website for residents and supporters to use as a place of information and action to oppose the replacement of Key Foods with a Walgreens pharmacy.
The website, www.greenbeansnotwalgreens.org, will serve as a rallying point for residents eager for information and action in opposition to the Walgreens locating to the small neighborhood in Brooklyn. Windsor Terrace, a community of just over 12,000 residents on the southwest side of Prospect Park, is already home to two existing pharmacies, but with the departure of Key Food, will now lack a full service grocery store in a mile in either direction, and could potentially be considered a food desert.
Coupled with the website launch, the group unveiled its new name, Green Beans Not Walgreens, a name that was adapted from a chant and rallying cry heard at a previous rally opposed to Walgreens arrival. GBNW is made up of local advocates who hope the website and name serve as another way to accommodate the growing opposition to Walgreens in the community.
“The Green Beans Not Walgreens website will serve as a focal point of action in support of fresh food in our community,” said, Steve LeVine a Windsor Terrace resident of seven years. “Walgreens, to date, has failed to respond to our requests for real food options, and this website is necessary to organize our neighbors and advocate for what our residents desperately need: a grocery store.”
At a meeting in late June, Walgreens representatives dismissed requests from community leaders and local elected officials to either operate a full service grocery, renegotiate the lease to subcontract the store space to another grocery operator, or work with the City to identify a partnership where Walgreens and a grocery store could co-exist on the same site.
“Since Walgreens said no to us, we’ve decided we’ll say no to them,” said Laura Jacobs, a lifelong Brooklyn resident. “This website is just another step of the many that we will take to let Walgreens’ leadership know that if they don’t consider our community needs, our community won’t consider shopping at their store.”
The Pavilion Theater in Park Slope- Will you return?
So, I just had an interesting “conversation” on Twitter with The Pavilion. They have acknowledged their problems, explained what has been done and what is still being worked on. They do seem eager to gain back our trust and, more importantly, our business. Of course, actions speak much louder than words but they do seem genuine.
When asked about the status of renovations, have they done more than just replace some seats and put up some paint, fixed the a/c, etc.
"Glad you asked! We know we’ve left a very bitter taste in our customers mouths, but we are doing A LOT to finally fix it!"
They provided me with the following info:
They have already replaced “all those awful purple seats in the theaters.”
Renovated concession stands:
The broken tiles
They now serve yogurt
Replaced the carpet throughout the theater
Have spent almost $80,000 on the still-in-progress upstairs cafe
The ceiling tiles
Sprinkler system safety
A final choice on the interior colors to highlight the classic design
Staff’s ability to provide the highes level of customer service which includes cleaning frequently
As for the A/C, the original ‘28 structure has consistently needed to be updated to accommodate modern appliances. This is one of them.
"& for the record- there is no record, actual case or judgement of BEDBUGS @ The Pavilion! Rumors; the city would require exterminators"
Also, “We will not be raising prices & truly hope to see you & other BK/Park Slope residents back, watching all the best movies with us!”
How To Solve The Illegal Immigration Issue In Less Than A Year
It is finally time to solve an issue facing this country that is as divisive as slavery. It is time to end the rhetoric, the hateful speech, the coddling, the handouts and the erosion of what it means to be an American citizen. It is time to stop the grandstanding and having this just be a campaign issue. It is time for our leaders to actually lead. It is time to put up or shut up.
Here’s my outline of a plan, albeit a fairly comprehensive one, on what to start doing and begin reuniting this country as one. There is no reason this cannot be implemented and actually running in less than a year from now if our politicians, our government and we, as a nation, actually want a working solution.
The problem: Illegal immigrants
The motivation: My philosophy is that patriotism is not celebrating the the current state of the country but expressing the belief and steps it can take to achieve true greatness.
Hear me out and consider this before thinking I’m insane, radical, racist or anything other than trying to be realistic and practical. It is time that we help ourselves as a county and get back the “can do” attitude that built this great nation. It’s greatness came not from military might but our internal focus on being the best. It’s what attracted our ancestors here. It is also what has attracted all of the people that we now refer to as “illegals”. Also, this is just a starting point that just came to mind and I’m putting down in writing.
The solution: Puerto Rico. Honestly, the location is merely a part of the solution. You’ll see why.
Background: Puerto Rico has already voted to not consider becoming an actual state. As a commonwealth of the US, they continue to enjoy the protection of rights as well as foreign intervention and of course monetary aid while not paying taxes or having a voice in our Federal government. To me, that says that the majority of it’s citizens are perfectly fine with PR being a possession (owned by?) the United States of America. Time to utilize this resource besides using it a bomb testing site.
The preparation: We round up illegal immigrants in a joint effort of the individual states and Federal government. They will and must be treated humanely and with a certain degree of courtesy. Keep in mind, they are here illegally. They are not citizens, they do not enjoy Constitutional protection. However, they are people that have chosen the US for a better life and we all should be flattered that we have created this shining beacon that does attract them. Many of them have immediate family that are here, are productive citizens and have greatly contributed to lighting that beacon. Also, many of them have had children and raised families here that did not come here illegally.
The plan: This ongoing operation will be run by the various branches of the US military, Army Corp of Engineers, FEMA, The Red Cross and other organizations that choose to help such as Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, etc. This will, in essence, be a disaster relief effort on steroids. The majority of funding should come as such, as it’s time that we start healing our own country before helping others. It’s great that the US offers humanitarian relief so often to other countries but it’s time to pay ourselves. Additional funding will come from private corporations as well. (More on that later.)
The logistics: Those here illegally and desire to actually remain as a legal citizen will be escorted to provided accommodations on Puerto Rico. Those accommodations may be somewhat basic- think military barracks. No, this is not a prison in Guantanamo Bay. This is not any sort of internment camp. This is, for the most part, completely voluntary. Anyone not wishing to do this can be deported. Those are the rules. While here, accommodations should be better than a disaster relief camp. (An additional thought would be that anyone that can afford it can pay for upgraded accommodations and amenities, but that’s a fine detail to be worked out.) The Army Corp of Engineers can use this as a training program for their new recruits and help develop the great minds and skills of those that are usually part of that program. FEMA, even with their faults, can still make sure that a safe, healthy environment is maintained. The Red Cross can provide basic medical services as well as immunization, etc. The Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, etc. can help ensure the human experience is kept, that people are people and that the guests understand that we are helping them to help themselves.
The goal: This project will be known as CITI- the Citizen In Training Initiative. The government loves acronyms (euphemisms?) Hell, Citibank can even sponsor this starting with, let’s say, $10 Billion of their taxpayer funded “bailout” money. Anyway, the main idea is to have these “citizens in training” go through just that- a training program. This will include:
- Language education: English becomes their primary language so that reading and comprehension is AT LEAST on a 5th grade level. (There will be advanced classes available as well for those that want to take the next step.) Of course, this also includes speaking and conversational components.
- Basic history education: Cover the main points of the founding and building of the US, philosophy of the founding fathers, basic ideas of democracy and capitalism.
- Health, nutrition and first aid: As we know, nothing is more cultural than food. However, besides keeping their culinary heritage (which we all benefit from) they should be educated on at least the basics and benefits of good nutrition. That is the underpinning of good health along with explaining the benefits, mentally and physically, of exercise. We’re worried about the cost of healthcare in this country. If we can train people to take steps on their own towards prevention as well as first aid so that the healthcare system is not burdened with simple, non-life threatening incidents, that’s a win.
-Job training. One argument is that “illegals” do the jobs that most Americans don’t want to: janitors, maids, dishwashers, etc. so they’re not really taking away jobs. That is not going to change. What will change is the quality of the jobs that are done. In addition, upon successful completion and graduation of this CITI program, a person will no longer be an “illegal” but a full-blown, entitled citizen just like the rest of us. My hope is that this job training will be funded and provided by private companies, especially ones that currently benefit from cheap labor and would greatly benefit from skilled labor. Home Depot, Boeing, GM, GE, etc. Imagine financial and other companies that will hopefully move customer service and call center jobs back to US. Just imagine the increased sightings of products that say “Made in the USA” and the scarcity of “Made in China”! I’d be quite surprised to hear that anyone that wants to kick out illegal immigrants would not want this. *Note- I am not advocating for actual job placement or guaranteed employment- that is not what our system in this country is or necessarily should be.
-Citizenship and civics: What does it mean to be a citizen?- Rights and responsibilities, civic obligations (such as jury duty) and everything required to pass the US Citizenship Test.
The result: Upon graduation of the all of the above, they will receive a personal invitation from the President of the United States to formally apply for citizenship and take the citizenship test on US soil (make use of Ellis Island?) Upon successful completion, the appropriate ceremony takes place and they are welcomed with open arms.
What I experienced tonight was definitive proof that Windsor Terrace is NOT Park Slope’s sleepy little neighbor. What I witnessed was not a hipster foodie discussion about the uses of Sriracha or locally sourced ingredients. What I did participate in was community in every sense of the word. It was akin to a gathering in a tiny midwestern town but with with much bigger balls and a great deal of pride and passion. It was about the most basic of needs while keeping the small, friendly neighborhood lifestyle amidst a thriving metropolis.
It was about the ONLY supermarket in Windsor Terrace closing and having been sold to a big-box mega chain drugstore.
So, a Key Food closes and a Walgreens opens- who cares? The denizens that call Windsor Terrace home (even some that USED to call it home!) The people that have lived here for 50 + years, don’t or can’t drive and certainly cannot walk to the next “closest” supermarket which could be about a mile away. The people that have lived here only a handful of years, have no mobility issues, a plethora of choices at their disposal and WANT a reason to shop here. Of course, there’s also the entire neighborhood in between that have an almost infinite amount of logical, rational, emotional and even seemingly irrational reasons.
The bigger question of the night was WHY? Why would Walgreens want to open here when we already have enough (beloved!) pharmacies serving the neighborhood? Why would they want to sell “health and beauty” products that are abundant enough elsewhere? Why would they not want to sell a bounty of fresh produce, quality meats and affordable food staples that customers are demanding, née BEGGING, to buy? Why would you not embrace a monopoly handed to you on a silver platter?
Prepackaged foodstuffs, wrapped sandwiches, rice pudding, fruit cups and even cold cuts will not cut it. As succinctly put by one woman as the voice of many ” Will I be able to walk in and buy my Thanksgiving turkey?”
Basically, it seems we’re being given a turkey of a deal and I didn’t hear one person out of over 500 give thanks.
Windsor Terrace is the Incredible Hulk of Brooklyn neighborhoods. We’re kind, gentile and unassuming. “Don’t make us angry- you won’t like us when angry!”
To follow up on this quote, this whole story is fascinating.
New data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope proves, NASA says, that in 4 billion years the Milky Way and Andromeda will collide or pass each other by so closely that the gravitational force each exerts on the other will cause them to slow down to the point of merging. The merger will be completed 6 billion years from now.
“The clear finding is, we are going to merge with Andromeda,” van der Marel said. “In the past, it was just a possibility, but now it is a known fact that this will happen.”
There is a 9% chance that M-33, a satellite galaxy of Andromeda, will hit the Milky Way first in what van der Marel called a “one-two punch,” causing it to become a satellite of the new galaxy that is formed.
When Andromeda gets here, the sun will likely be pushed out much farther into the universe. By that time though, Earth will have become too hot to be inhabited by humans anyway.
Our sun will not be directly hit when the initial collision happens in 4 billion years. But in 6 billion years, when the merger is complete, our sun will die.
Everybody is outraged – OUTRAGED! – over language hurled against women these last few weeks. First it was Rush Limbaugh. Then Bill Maher. Now Louis C.K. has resigned from hosting the Radio and TV Correspondent’s Dinner after Greta Van Susteren threatened a boycott because during the last election Louis called Sarah Palin a cunt.
From Greta Van Susteren’s blog: “he changed his mind less than 24 hours after I called for a boycott. I assume many others jumped on the call for the boycott and thus he made the right decision. We did it together.”
Sincere congratulations to Ms. Van Susteren. You asked for his removal and you got it. The lesson: words have consequences. His words, your words, everybody’s words. Mr. Rogers would be thrilled.
No word yet on Ms. Van Susteren success in her boycott of Rush Limbaugh’s show because no such boycott exists. Why the selective outrage? Because, as always, these things have far less to do with what was said and more to do with who said them. Like the words themselves, they have to be viewed in context.
The difference between what Louis said, and what Rush said is this: in his apology, Rush made a point of saying that his personal attacks on Ms. Fluke, were not intended “as a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”
In other words, when he specifically called Sandra Fluke a “slut,” “a prostitute,” and encouraged her to post sex videos of herself online so he could watch, it was not personal. It was, therefore, general. Which I, for one, believe because it fits perfectly within the larger context of Rush Limbaugh’s twenty-plus years of ad hominem attacks on “feminazis” and gratuitous comments about all female journalists as “news babes.”
With Louis, his insult was actually the opposite: it was a highly personal attack. The target of his insult, Sarah Palin, so infuriated him that he felt the need to call her the very worst name he could think of. His insult referred to a specific woman at a specific time and place.
Did Louis cross the line? Yeah. Did Bill Maher? Yeah. Have I at times? Yeah. Has Greta Van Susteren ever crossed the line? Have you, in your personal conversations? Yeah. We all have. The difference is context. Do a Google search of the horrible shit Rush Limbaugh has said about women. Then do a search on Louis C.K. See if it’s comparable.
Louis did use those words, and opted to drop out of an incestuous Washington dinner party rather than make himself the focus of this recurring debate on language. But the reason more people don’t give a shit about what Louis C.K. said is not because of a liberal bias – does anybody even know what Louis C.K.’s politics are, aside from hating Sarah Palin (a sentiment shared by many Republicans)?– but because the charge of misogyny just doesn’t hold a lot of water with Louis.
With Rush it does. Regular listeners to Rush Limbaugh’s program, as I have been for years, are not surprised when he finds himself lambasted for his petulance, name-calling, and race baiting. It’s what he does. He’s kind of a cunt that way.
Mr. Siegel said that even if you do exceed 2 gigabytes of data usage and qualify as one of the top 5 percent, that doesn’t absolutely mean you’re going to be throttled. AT&T will only reduce speeds for the top 5 percent of users in areas where network capacity or spectrum is insufficient, he said.
Read: only in areas where AT&T is completely incompetent. Read: San Francisco and New York City, among other places. You know, small towns that no one lives in.