siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Just checking. Does everybody know about "Wild Nights with Emily"?

And, relatedly, that a scholar applied moderning imaging technology to the erased parts of Emily Dickinson's letters to recover what they said, and uncovered that, contrary to Dickinson's dour, spinster, hermit-like reputation, she had a passionate, oh-so-carnal, life-long love affair with a Susan Dickinson nee Huntington? Who married Emily's brother expressly so that she could live next door to Emily for the rest of her life? Happily ever after?

See also: Behind the New, Gloriously Queer Emily Dickinson Movie.

(h/t [personal profile] conuly)
bloodygranuaile: (sociability)
[personal profile] bloodygranuaile
Following a talk given by one of my comrades, I determined to read the late, great Erik Olin Wright's Envisioning Real Utopias rather than just grabbing little excerpts of his work on class analysis off the internet. Judging by the comments made by several comrades at the talk, Envisioning Real Utopias is, or at least should be, considered one of the modern classics of socialist theory — it's been widely read and widely beloved in the (admittedly rather small) world of people who read left theory; there are comrades who have acquired multiple copies and lent them to people (sometimes not getting them back — so basically, it's the Good Omens of left theory), which certainly indicates a certain stature. Despite my current level of burnout, which is hovering around "Has to stop and play FreeCell on my phone every two pages" levels and has been for months, I finally made it through all 400 pages.
 
It was definitely worth it. Stylistically, it's fairly accessible by the standards of "full-length theory books written by professional sociologists"; it's certainly not a breezy read but it's pretty good at explaining the jargon it has to use and is otherwise a readable introduction to the subject matter for a reasonably well-educated adult reader. The tone is decidedly not polemic, which can be a nice change of pace when reading leftist writings; it takes a fairly evenhanded, nuanced approach to sorting through the various criticisms and counter-criticisms of each topic it covers. It is also nice and straightforwardly organized: There is a prefatory section, explaining the Real Utopias project and Wright's understanding of the tasks of "emancipatory social science"; there is a diagnostic section, in which he critiques arguments in favor of capitalism and explores why an alternative is desirable; there is an "alternatives" section, which looks at seven different alternative structural proposals and a handful of case studies in building non-capitalist institutions of various sorts; and lastly, there is a "transformation" section, which discusses different approaches to creating social change. Since it covers a lot of ground, some of the coverage of specific projects must necessarily be a bit shallow, but it's meticulously cited so the reader has more than enough resources on hand if they wish to learn about, say, the Mondragon cooperatives in greater depth. And the information that is there is still quite solid and informative -- this isn't a book to rip through; there's far too much to chew on.
 
I think this book is an especially good fit for DSA comrades who want to move beyond ABCs of Socialism-level stuff because it fits very well within the DSA's general multitendency ethos. Some other organizations  — and even comrades within DSA itself  —  sometimes lament our lack of a single political "line," seeming to take it for granted that not having one unified plan for smashing capitalism means we're just hopelessly bumbling along. Olin Wright does a good job of laying out the the reasoning for taking a "democratic experimentalist" approach to social change and unifies a seemingly disparate bundle of projects under the guiding principles of a "socialist compass." The book doesn't so much set out a method for building socialism as it does set out methods for figuring out how to build socialism, which, considering nobody has actually figured out how to build socialism yet (and anyone who says they have is selling something — in this case, probably newspapers) is much more useful. 

Writing a city

Apr. 22nd, 2019 09:14 pm
michelel72: Suzie (Default)
[personal profile] michelel72
Writing question: I'm playing with a plot, and while I have a loose idea for a city to set it in, I'm having trouble picturing details. And, I mean, I can leave it vague; that's usually how I roll when it comes to settings. But if I wanted to get a sense of the layout / population / amenities of a city from a historical period, are there good (easily accessible) resources for that kind of thing?

Some details of what I know and what I want to know. )

Any leads would be greatly appreciated!
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Maggid
By Marge Piercy

The courage to let go of the door, the handle.
The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very
stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles
of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,
a child’s naughtiness, a loud blattering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.

The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,
the small bones of children and the brittle bones
of the old whose marrow hunger had stolen;
the courage to desert the tree planted and only
begun to bear; the riverside where promises were
shaped; the street where their empty pots were broken.

The courage to leave the place whose language you learned
as early as your own, whose customs however dan-
gerous or demeaning, bind you like a halter
you have learned to pull inside, to move your load;
the land fertile with the blood spilled on it;
the roads mapped and annotated for survival.

The courage to walk out of the pain that is known
into the pain that cannot be imagined,
mapless, walking into the wilderness, going
barefoot with a canteen into the desert;
stuffed in the stinking hold of a rotting ship
sailing off the map into dragons’ mouths,

Cathay, India, Siberia, goldeneh medina*
leaving bodies by the way like abandoned treasure.
So they walked out of Egypt. So they bribed their way
out of Russia under loads of straw; so they steamed
out of the bloody smoking charnelhouse of Europe
on overloaded freighters forbidden all ports—

out of pain into death or freedom or a different
painful dignity, into squalor and politics.
We Jews are all born of wanderers, with shoes
under our pillows and a memory of blood that is ours
raining down. We honor only those Jews who changed
tonight, those who chose the desert over bondage,

who walked into the strange and became strangers
and gave birth to children who could look down
on them standing on their shoulders for having
been slaves. We honor those who let go of every-
thing but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought,
who became other by saving themselves.


* "Goldeneh medina", Yiddish, literally "Golden Land", idiomatically America
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
From CBS News:
Dozens charged in major opioid bust across U.S.
By Brian Pascus
Updated on: April 17, 2019 / 10:36 PM / CBS News

Dozens of people, including 53 medical professionals, have been charged for their alleged participation in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other narcotics, Justice Department and Department of Health and Human Services officials said Wednesday. Federal law enforcement and health officials held a press conference in Cincinnati where they announced charges resulting from the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force takedown operation that began only four months ago.
'k
[...] According to the indictment, one pharmacy in Dayton, Ohio prescribed over 1.75 million opioid pills
Wait what. Pharmacies can prescribe? Is that a thing? I thought the whole point of pharmacists existing was to separate the prescribing of drugs from the selling of drugs to eliminate the conflict of interest?
The indictment states one doctor in the Western District of Tennessee, who called himself the "Rock Doc," would exchange opioids and benzodiazepines with patients in return for sexual favors.
This is your friendly reminder that if a physician is prescribing medications to someone, the recipient of that prescription is that physician's patient, and a physician having sexual contact with a patient is, depending on jurisdiction, somewhere on the continuum from profoundly unethical to frankly felonious. Further, that someone with an addiction is someone with a mental illness that makes them desperate for relief. This is not an exchange for sexual favors, this is a medical professional sexually extorting the vulnerable mentally ill. Jesus Fucking Christ. This is like saying that a manager "exchanged promotions with subordinates for sexual favors", only worse. There is no sense in which this is a meeting of equals in which consent can obtain.

But all that said, turns out this "Rock Doc" person is not a physician. From The Tennessean:
Young, 43, a Tennessee nurse practitioner who called himself 'Rock Doc' and once piloted a reality show about his Jackson clinic, was indicted with federal drug trafficking charges this week, accused of trading drugs for sex.
*rolls eyes* Do NPs get to prescribe unsupervised in TN? Or is there some physician whose license this was done under?
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I received an email today from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) with the subject line "Sandbox: Your email address and username have changed." and the text "If you did not make or request this change, or the new email address/username is incorrect, please contact us immediately at (855) 411-2372."

And, as long-time readers may remember, I use plus-addressing, and of course I had used a unique tag when I had opened an account (to complain about BoA, actually) with the CFPB years ago, and, yes, the tag in the email address was correct. Whoever it was who was emailing me had access to the CFPB's corpus of complainant email addresses.

I read the header, and there was a lot about Salesforce.com in there, and a SPF soft fail. There were no malicious urls hidden in the body and the phone number was correct, so *shrug* I called the CFPB.

They were very abashed and apologetic. And "knew about the issue". No, they weren't compromised; yes, "the emails had been sent in error".

[health, me] Technical Difficulties

Apr. 17th, 2019 12:07 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I am experiencing some technical difficulties with my body: I'm having some RSI problems with my arms, and also I seem to have injured a leg. The remaining limb aint none to happy with the resultant distribution of labor.

My various hurt bits seem to improve if I don't use them. But everything in my life seems to consist of either keyboarding/writing or going somewhere. Argh.

[labor, MA] Peapod Update

Apr. 16th, 2019 11:56 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Peapod has no delivery times available until Sunday April 28. This suggests either an abundance of caution, or they don't think the Stop and Shop strike is being resolved any time in the next week and a half.

They're still aggressively advertising their new delivery discount deals, which one cannot presently elect. I'm guessing that was preprogrammed in advance, or maybe there's areas they're still delivering in? Their notification text suggests that.
Also, it was updated:
Important information regarding order availability.

We are experiencing some service disruptions within your service area due to a result of current negotiations between UFCW unions and Stop&Shop. If you are looking to place an order, delivery and pick-up times may be limited. Please check the Delivery Times page to see current availability for your specific location.

We know our customers rely on us. We’re working hard to ensure that we can continue to serve the communities that we operate in and we hope to be back to full service availability as quickly as possible. We genuinely appreciate your business and thank you for your patience.

If you have any questions about a scheduled order, please call or email Peapod Customer Care on 800-5-PEAPOD (800-573-2763) or service@peapod.com
bloodygranuaile: (teeths)
[personal profile] bloodygranuaile
 For the politics book club last month we read The Dictator's Handbook, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and a bunch of other people (the team apparently calls itself BdM2S2, which I think sounds like it should refer to something spicier than a bunch of political science researchers, but there you go). Since we've already discussed it pretty thoroughly, I don't have a lot of brain left to rehash all my thoughts about it. 
 
The Dictator's Handbook is an introduction to the team's flagship political science hypothesis, which they call "selectorate theory." Selectorate theory makes two key assertions:
1. Regardless of intent or stated political ideology, leaders' primary goal is to stay in power.
2. How a leader gains and keeps power, and therefore the actions they take as leader, are shaped by the interests of the people who keep them in power (the selectorate). 
 
The selectorate is not the same thing as a leader's supporters; all sorts of people can support a leader but not be materially relevant to whether they keep their job or not. 
 
Most of the book is then dedicated to comparing and contrasting stories of leaders in "small-coalition" — i.e., more autocratic — systems with leaders in "large-coalition" — i.e., more democratic — systems, and the ways in which the difference in the size and interests of the selectorate affect policy. There's also some really interesting stuff about why leaders are incentivized to shape their selectorates to be as small as possible — mainly, that they'll have fewer people to keep happy — and how they pull off doing so, and some even more interesting stuff on the times when leaders have been incentivized to expand their selectorates because they couldn't get a leg up with a small one. 
 
The writing style is not fantastic and the book can get a bit repetitive, but I'm sure it beats the hell out of reading the 500-page academic version, especially if you're trying to cram the whole thing in less than a week.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
FreeTaxUSA.com: "Thank you for your business. We look forward to preparing your
tax return next year."

You do? Then why did you fuckers print "SELF-PREPARED" all over the tax return I just had you, uh, "prepare".

So what, exactly, is the IRS's definition of a professional tax preparer, such that something like FreeTaxUSA – or its better known competitors TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block at Home, etc – isn't one?

I mean, I understand the logic at one point might have been, "Well, it's just software, a tool, that the user uses to prepare a tax return, unlike hiring a professional to interrogate you for your financial information, answer your questions about what needs to happen and what the tax laws say, advise you on how to minimize your taxes, or generate the actual documents you sign and send to the IRS/state equiv." Except not only does the tool do a bunch of those things, these tools all come with access to documentation and even human interactions to provide all the rest of that. There doesn't seem to be any daylight left between what a human tax preparer does and what these software tools + their customer support humans do.

Is this just one of those things where the real sole difference is that the software companies just disavow legal responsibility as "tax preparers", and are allowed to get away with it by buying Congress?

[me, taxes] Taxes done

Apr. 14th, 2019 11:08 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Done, phew! My Federal taxes took longer than expected because I didn't know about the Qualified Business Income Deduction, which doesn't turn to out play gracefully with multiple Schedule Cs - or at least the implementation at FreeTaxUSA.com doesn't handle it gracefully.

Also, I duly made my first quarter estimated tax payments, both IRS and DOR.

Good lord the DOR's web interface sucks. For anybody else trying to do this, the obvious "Make a Payment" link on the home page has maybe nothing to do making tax payments at all; you can't use it for estimated tax payments, certainly. Every damn time I have to look up in the FAQ how to find the interface for making tax payments, which is different.

I did not in any way expect that the bank account I set up last Tuesday would be up and running sufficiently that I would be paying my Q1 estimated taxes out of it today, but here we are. Paypal turned around the set up process of linking the account faster than they ever have in my experience, and the transfers I made via Paypal from old bank account to new cleared in about 24 hours each. The money was all sitting in my new account waiting to go yesterday - Saturday, four days after the account was opened. So, *shrug*. What the hell. I was all prepared to use the old account, but it wasn't necessary.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
0) Stop & Shop workers are on strike. Support the workers! Do no cross the picket lines and shop somewhere else until management comes to terms.

1) What Peapod management said about the strike (from Boston.com):
Peapod, the online delivery company that partners with Stop & Shop, told customers Thursday that the strike should not affects its services, but would inform them “if for some reason an issue arises.” Peapod is owned by the same parent company as Stop & Shop, Dutch grocery giant Ahold Delhaize.
What is actually happening on Peapod.com right now:

Notification on Peapod 4/12/19 (technically about 1am 4/13/19).  Transcription:  Important information regarding order availability. We are experienceing some service disruptions with your delivery area. If you are looking to place an order, delivery times are limited. Please check the Delivery Times page to see current availability. For customers expecting completed orders, you should have received details via email, call and/or text regarding your order status. Thank you for your patience.

"Please check the Delivery Times page to see current availability"? Okay...

Screenshot of Peapod scheduler interface, showing "sold out" availability on Sunday, two days from taken.
Screenshot of Peapod scheduler interface, showing "sold out" availability later on Sunday, two days from taken.
Screenshot of Peapod scheduler interface, showing "sold out" availability on Monday, three days from taken.
Screenshot of Peapod scheduler interface, showing "sold out" availability on Tuesday, four days from taken.
Screenshot of Peapod scheduler interface, showing "sold out" availability on Wednesday, five days from taken.

Uh-huh.

Not that I had any intention of booking my regular – or any – order. I just logged in to fire off a note to customer service expressing solidarity with the union and letting them know I was observing the strike, and having done that, saw the service outage notification and decided to share.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
From:    "Tumblr" <noreply@tumblr.com>
To:      siderea
Date:    Fri, 12 Apr 2019 23:00:00 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: The Tumblr community is nominated for a Web
     ***by!

part 2     text/plain                2686
This is the header title.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing el
it. Aliquam tincidunt elementum sem non luctus. Ut do
lor nisl, facilisis non magna quis, elementum ultrici
es tortor. In mattis, purus ut tincidunt egestas, lig
ula nulla accumsan justo, vitae bibendum orci ligula
id ipsum. Nunc elementum tincidunt libero, in ullamco
rper magna volutpat a.

blogname.tumblr.com

Blog description here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing el
it. Aliquam tincidunt elementum sem non luctus. Ut do
lor nisl, facilisis non magna quis, elementum ultrici
es tortor. In mattis, purus ut tincidunt egestas, lig
ula nulla accumsan justo, vitae bibendum orci ligula
id ipsum. Nunc elementum tincidunt libero, in ullamco
rper magna volutpat a.Unsubscribe From This List


Yes, Tumblr, even in 2019, some of us see the text/plain component of emails.

[banking] How Not to Run a Bank, S4E1

Apr. 12th, 2019 05:03 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
A new season of How Not to Run a Bank commenced on Tuesday! I don't know however that there will be anything to actually air, because so far the bank in question hasn't screwed anything up.

I know, I wasn't prepared either.

As previously mentioned, I found my then-new bank's statements unusable. And there was also the fact – did I mention this? – that while opening the account in the first place, I discovered that they were so profoundly unprepared to open a business account for a sole proprietorship, and were finding the whole thing so traumatic, that I said, "Hey, if it would make things easier, I just really need the checking account now. We can come back and do the savings account on another day." And the banker (and her boss and her other colleague) gratefully accepted my offer.

(How unprepared were they to open a business account for a sole prop? Their computer system was incompatable with Massachusetts sole prop business certificates. Yeah, MA is one of the few(?) states that has biz certs issued by municipalities, not counties. Their screen for entering the info from the biz cert had a helpful pulldown list to indicate the granting jurisdiction – of MA counties. Apparently they don't do this much in MA. I chatted up the branch manager (who was by this point involved in trying to set up my account) and he said the bank was from Connecticut.)

I never did go back for the savings account. I emailed my banker on a Friday asking about terms for their available banking products, and by Saturday night I had the flu, and even though she got back to me on Monday, I was out of commission for a week, then moving. And the terms sucked and also I was not feeling like I wanted to do business with a bank that considered a MA sole prop with business certificate some sort of challenging exotic edge case. So I have been trying to run my business out of a single checking account and it's been driving me up the wall.

I did decide, upon discovering the uselessness of their statements, that I needed to move to a new bank. At the time, I was overwhelmed with my personal moving drama, and not in any position to deal with it, and, well. Another bank was in the process of opening up a branch right around the corner. One with which I had previously had many satisfactory dealings. So I waited patiently, and a week ago Wednesday, I discovered it was finally open. I stopped in, tested the ATMs to make sure they accept cash deposits, and chatted briefly with a banker, asking the crucial question about what their statements were like for business bank accounts. I explained what the other bank was doing and he got that slightly incredulous "I know I shouldn't be surprised, but man" look.

Also, their business accounts are free.

So I came back on my first available day, Tuesday afternoon, and opened a fresh set of business bank accounts.

So far so good. I've already patched the checking account into PayPal and gotten my online banking account up and running. I did run into one technical glitch with the website, but I've gotten that straightened out with a call to tech support. I'm still waiting on getting the ATM card so I can migrate fully to them and close the previous account, but in the meanwhile, I've been moving money in from the shambles that is the previous business bank account via PayPal.

It has been amazing how much a relief it has been to do this, and actually get my accounts in order. I shouldn't feel this much glee at banking, but here we are.

Meanwhile, I still have the previous pair of bank accounts open, the ones I was trying to flee by opening the account at the bank that I am now leaving. The ones at BoA. I cleverly decided to open a new pair of business bank accounts in December, and start using the new accounts with the new fiscal year; I would then finish up fiscal year 2018 out of the BoA accounts and close them. The last thing to do was file my taxes and pay my outstanding tax bill, and then transfer everything left over into my personal bank account as profit – which I was planning on doing the second the IRS opened 2018 tax year filing. Like Feb 1. Ha ha ha. Moving. So now it's April 12 and I still haven't filed my taxes.

I have started preparing them. That was the other thing I was doing this week. I have an hour or two more going over my hard-copy receipts to see if I missed any of my expenses, and then I push the button.

Pro tip: don't try to pay your estimated tax payments while delirious with the flu! I accidentally double-paid my last payment. I have a checkbook "app" that lets me set up transactions in advance and store them, so that I just have to click an icon and confirm to write them to the register when they happen; I had lovingly set up all my tax payments in there when I did my 2017 taxes. In the throws of the flu, I completely blew past the pre-set (correct!) payment in my Upcoming transactions log, and entered a fresh one from memory. I assume I was getting panicky in a "OMG IRS DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR FLU MUST MAKE PAYMENT BEFORE DEADLINE" way. I don't remember much of that chunk of January, except the part about coughing up blood.

So here I am, expecting to owe the IRS about $1.5k, and fully prepared to pay two grand, aaaaaaaaaaaand it's looking like I owe about $300. \o/

Anyways, I'm super looking forward to being done with that bank too.

ETA: $99! \o/
Page generated Apr. 26th, 2019 03:55 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios