How Can You Stop Capitalism?


I do not live in fancy digs, nor do I use Uber or Airbnb, but I cannot understand why there is a growing backlash against basic capitalism:
A woman has been “profiteering” from her government-subsidized, rent-controlled Central Park duplex by renting out bedrooms through Airbnb, a Manhattan judge said, ordering her to stop immediately.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead issued a temporary injunction against Noelle Penraat, who, as The Post reported in October, was sued by her landlord.
In her ruling made public Tuesday, Edmead said records show Penraat made $61,000 off her rent-controlled Central Park duplex in just nine months. Penraat’s “own records indicate that she has been profiteering from a rent-controlled apartment partially subsidized by another government program,” Edmead wrote.
The apartment is hers, right? And all she is doing is a form of subletting, which used to be legal. And it's not even subletting. It's called renting out a room, which was done extensively during the Depression. The fear-mongering against the "traffic" in and out of the building is absurd and elitist.
The landlord claimed Penraat has had 135 rentals since February 2012, with guests logging three- to 21-night stays.

The landlord estimated that Penraat could make up to $118,300 a year if she rented the apartment on a nightly, year-round basis.
Penraat advertised her “Gorgeous master bed/bath on the park,” a “Lovely small bedroom in a huge apartment” and a “Sunny bedroom, Central Park view” for between $75 and $150 a night until the case was filed.


Honestly, where's the crime here?  If this was Colorado or Georgia, she'd be unable to charge that much and no one would want to stay in her apartment (emphasis on her apartment). She's using the marketplace to make money. She isn't forcing anyone to overpay her. She's charging what people want to pay. Someone has found a way to undercut the profit margins of the people who are really ripping people off. Imagine that.

Making money by giving people something they want to pay for is illegal now?

Abstract Number Twelve December 2014




Abstract Number Eleven December 2014




An Ethics-Free Congress





You can tell the Republicans are in charge because ethics no longer matter. Michael Grimm was re-elected with a felony indictment hanging over his head and, thanks to a safely Gerrymandered district, he won his race going away.

And yes, there is a precedent here. William Jefferson was a corrupt Congressman from Louisiana who stuffed the money in his freezer and told everyone to go pound sand when they politely asked him to resign from Congress. You can read about that here and then do a comparison and contrast with how the GOP leadership has basically thrown their hands in the air over a convicted felon like Grimm. Reading that old story was like stepping into a time machine.

Ethics in Congress? Really? And people actually cared about that stuff? Wow.


None of These Clowns Are Worth the Attention




At some point, the trolling has to stop:

North Korea threatens to 'blow up' the White House after claiming to find 'clear evidence' that the GOVERNMENT was behind controversial Sony film The Interview

It now looks more like an inside job at Sony Pictures than it does anything else. And it looks to me like the extra attention granted to all three parties--Kim Jong Un, James Franco, and Seth Rogen--is about as shopworn as using a ticking time bomb as a plot device.

In a world...where things actually mattered...nobody would be talking about any of them. Ever.

Abstract Number Ten December 2014




Abstract Number Nine December 2014






Abstract Number Eight December 2014




Whose Ordered Plan?




The British say this is a work of madness:

An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.


It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.


The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.


The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.


Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".

It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

This is Why We Can Invade Iraq Again


All someone needs to do is figure out how to blame the hacking of Sony on the Iraqis.

That's it.

Once we do that, we have the case for war. We can invade. We can go break shit. We can own that country all over again.

The problem is, these hacks probably come from the Chinese, who are receiving some hard currency or some other form of graft from North Korea and we can't invade those countries. But, anyone threatening another 9/11 falls under the new American doctrine which allows for tearing up old agreements.

Seriously, though. Threatening another 9/11 isn't cool. Someone is going to overreact to this and we may well end up with a sequel to this movie. Killing Vladimir Putin would make a great film, but he'd probably just kick Franco's ass.

Trolling Ted Cruz



And what I like about this Politico story are the comments, of course:


Classic...

Abstract Number Seven December 2014




The Russian Ruble is Collapsing




Couldn't have happened to a nicer kleptocracy:

The ruble tumbled the most since 1998, sliding past 60 for the first time, as traders tested Russia’s willingness to defend the currency amid an oil slump that’s pushing the economy toward recession.


The ruble weakened 9.1 percent to 64.0005 per dollar at 7:57 p.m. in Moscow, the steepest slide on a closing basis since the year Russia defaulted on local-currency debt. The 10-year government bond yield rose 23 basis points to 13.23 percent. Three-month implied volatility for the ruble climbed to a six-year high as the rout triggered the Bank of Russia to sell foreign exchange, according to BCS Financial Group and MDM Bank.


Traders are pressing the central bank to buy more rubles to limit a selloff that has wiped out 22 percent of the currency’s value this month. Oil’s slide toward $60 a barrel in London and sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine are undermining confidence in Russian assets as evidence mounts that the economy is entering a recession. Industrial output fell the most in more than a year in November, data showed today.


Everyone who bet on oil being expensive is losing money right now. And I think that this is largely driven by the fact that alternative forms of energy are making inroads and so there's a glut of oil on the world market. I don't want to be around (but I will be) when the major producers scale back--the price will shoot up, no doubt.

Is it time to get that electric car and invest in solar panels? It's always time to get the electric car and put solar panels everywhere.

The decision made by the Western nations (The U.S. and Europe) to put a shiv into the side of Russia's economy is paying off. The price for all of this has to be for Russia to give up two things: Eastern and Southern Ukraine and Edward Snowden.

Silver Screen Fiend



Patton Oswalt has an anecdote from 1997 he would like to share with you, Mr. Chase...

The Nightly News No Longer Matters


Are you relieved that Brian Williams isn't going anywhere? Or did you, like me, yawn and look for other news:
Brian Williams is staying put as NBC Nightly News anchor, the network announced Monday. Saying that he's "renewed his commitment" to the network's news division, NBC News presidentDeborah Turness said in a staff memo that he will continue to serve as anchor and managing editor of the nightly broadcast "for years to come."
The news comes as Williams recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as NBC Nightly News anchor and ABC News recently replaced longtime World News anchor Diane Sawyer with David Muir.
People no longer wish to be informed. They wish to be entertained. I hope Williams can continue to dance around the fact that the job he holds isn't worth what it used to be. In the 1980s, this kind of an announcement would be huge because the nightly news mattered back then, The revenue generated by those programs floated these huge, bloated news divisions. Now, the only thing keeping them alive are the morning shows.

The evening news is merely a hole for the schedulers to work around.

Ben Edelman and Slanty Eyed Chinese Food Menus




This is what "lawyer" Ben Edelman said to the owner of the Chinese restaurant that he harassed earlier this year.

And no, there are no words for this kind of discourse in American society. This is what happens when you eliminate ethics from everyday life--you say whatever you want because there are no repercussions for it. Edelman won't be fired, disbarred or anything, I would imagine, because he has mastered the law as a tool for furthering his own pathologies.

I mean, wow.

Wow.

Modern Life is a Nightmare




Ben Edelman is a Harvard-educated lawyer who found out that he was overcharged for Chinese takeout. He became enraged, in only the way that a lawyer can, and terrorized the owner of the Chinese restaurant that made the mistake of trying to have a website online and survive.

We can't let one complete and utter asshole ruin everything, can we?




Follow the link to go read the whole thing. It is the use of the law to terrorize an establishment over a pithy amount. We're not talking about a whole lot of money, and we are talking about principles, but, wow.

Ben Edelman's talents seem to be honed in a way that would make him a sociopath or worse. This kind of behavior is an indicator of other very special things and I would hope that this case would inform everyone's thinking about not to deal with others.

New Horizons




Did you know that we're about to have a probe arrive at Pluto? 

The New Horizons Pluto Probe woke up today and, in a conversation with a lag time of 4.5 hours, transmitted messages from about as far away as you can get in our solar system.

Amazing.

Stolen Heritage




The Elgin Marbles are back in the news for another round of handwringing and complaining.

The Greek prime minister has said the British Museum's decision to loan one of the Elgin Marbles to Russia is "an affront" to the Greek people.


Antonis Samaras added: "We Greeks are one with our history and civilisation, which cannot be broken up, loaned out, or conceded."


He said Britain's view that the marbles could not be moved was now invalid.
A depiction of the river god Ilissos will go on show in St Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.


It is due to remain on display in the Russian city until mid-January.


The work is one of a number of relics acquired [a fantastic euphemism for stolen, as usual] by Lord Elgin in Athens in the early 19th Century, now known collectively as the Elgin Marbles.


Ownership of the artefacts, once part of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, is disputed by Greece.


It maintains that Lord Elgin removed them illegally while the country was under Turkish occupation as part of the Ottoman Empire. The items have remained in the British Museum ever since.

Yes, I think we can all agree that the old British Empire stole whatever it wanted just like everyone else. No, there really is no compelling case for not returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

I can see the reasoning behind these arguments, but if you're going to be a purist about this sort of thing, then the museums of Europe need to be emptied of everything they contain.

I remember visiting the Baden State Museum in Karlsruhe, thinking that I would see a lot of German artifacts. And you can certainly see some of that, but what you will also see are numerous artifacts looted from around the world, either "borrowed" or "acquired" the way everyone else used to do it--through war or conquest, and usually both and almost always waged with a heavy hand against anyone who dared lay claim to a cultural treasure.

Honestly, why would a museum in Baden-W├╝rttemberg feature all of those Egyptian and Greek artifacts if they hadn't already been loaded into wagons or onto horses centuries ago and stolen? If you send back the Elgin Marbles, I think you have to send back all of the pottery as well. And then and only then can we talk about the removal of human remains.

Abstract Number One December 2014




Abstract Number One for December, 2014 is a radically different piece than anything that I've done this year. I wanted to start out with something completely new, but my old habits and my old way of doing things will return eventually in this series. That's not an awful thing, I hope.

John Boyega and That Stormtrooper Outfit




Here's my first reaction to seeing John Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform on the surface of a desert planet.

Cinematically, this is a single reaction shot, designed to orient the audience/viewer to a new scene or the beginning of a scene. Boyega rises up, gives a solid reaction, and then moves in the frame to a new perspective that does not appear in the clip.

This suggests that the actor has been knocked out, incapacitated, or is recovering from being struck or disabled in some way. His shocked demeanor supports that.

The idea that he is, in fact a stormtrooper is a stretch for me because he is considered one of the "good guys." That would suggest the Boyega is wearing the uniform as a ruse and nothing more. He put on the armor in order to escape from a situation or to pass himself off as someone he is not. Where's the helmet? Removed because this is not who he is and this is not his actual uniform? Probably.

The Internet exploded with outrage; however, in keeping with the cinematic history, using a stormtrooper uniform to escape detection or deceive the real bad guys goes back to Episode Four, which, of course, begins with a crash-landing on the desert planet that has seen so much action.

I could be entirely wrong, of course, and I'll eat my words a year from now...

The Collapse of Bill Cosby


I sure hope Bill Cosby has been good with his money because when one in three people are turning in their tickets to your show for a refund, that's a pretty good indicator that your performing days are coming to a close.

Fall Colors and Textures




Some of the patterns and textures found in this shot really came out in the Photoshop processing. This is amateur photography, and this is about as good as it gets for me.