Austrian Anarchy (3010653) writes "Glenn Reynolds has the story on the current state of food desert affairs: "VIDEO: A Driving Tour of a West Knoxville “Food Desert.” UPDATE: You know, this kind of verification (or de-verification) of what the government tells us — what the spy satellite guys call “ground truthing” — could be interesting in all sorts of fields." The video he mentions shows the USDA food desert map, with a zoom to a Google map of the same spots, followed by in-car drive-by video of numerous grocers (including Trader Joe's and Target) throughout a "food desert" in a prosperous area of town." top
Enter The Quiet Zone: Where Cell Service, Wi-Fi Are Banned
Austrian Anarchy (3010653) writes "The US government has been enforcing an RF "Quiet Zone" in West Virginia for over 50 years. From NPR: There are no physical signs you've entered the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia. But the silence gives you a signal. Somewhere around the Virginia-West Virginia state line, the periodic buzzes and pings of our smartphones stopped." top
Maker of Physical Bitcoin Tokens Suspends Operation After Hearing from Federal G
Austrian Anarchy (3010653) writes "Via Reason and Wired: Mike Caldwell ran a business called Casascius that printed physical tokens with a bitcoin digital key on it, key hidden behind a tamper proof strip. He's charge you $50 worth of bitcoin to print a key of a bitcoin you sent him via computer on this token. Cool stuff--a good friend of mine found one sitting unnoticed in her tip jar from an event at which she sold her artisan lamps from 2011 and was naturally delighted given the nearly 1000x increase in value of a bitcoin since then.
So, you're making something fun, useful, interesting, harmless---naturally the federal government is very concerned and wants to hobble you.
Just before Thanksgiving, [Caldwell] received a letter from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FINCEN, the arm of the Treasury Department that dictates how the nation’s anti-money-laundering and financial crime regulations are interpreted. According to FINCEN, Caldwell needs to rethink his business. “They considered my activity to be money transmitting,” Caldwell says. And if you want to transmit money, you must first jump through a lot of state and federal regulatory hoops Caldwell hasn’t jumped through." top
Austrian Anarchy (3010653) writes "The October, 2013 edition of Reason Magazine reports:"The ZXX font is designed to be difficult for machines to read. Former National Security Agency contractor Sang Mun created the font as a response to increasing government incursions on privacy. “I have become dedicated to researching ways to ‘articulate our unfreedom’ and to continue the evolution of my own thinking about censorship, surveillance, and a free society,” he explained after releasing the font online in June." The article is missing a link to the project page." top
Was Michael Crichton's "Andromeda Strain" a documentary?
Austrian Anarchy (3010653) writes "NBC Reports that "For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere — but no longer.
A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.
The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.
The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified." Not exactly "Scoop," at least not that they are admitting yet."
Austrian Anarchy writes | about two weeks ago
Yes, government as a whole is too but the FBI is especially a pain. For a book project, I did a few FOIA requests that I've mentioned various places. They will not even supply information that they have released in the past, but is no longer available through their regular publications, and they use "the person in question is still alive" as their catch-all denial mechanism. Including denying requests for FBI wanted posters of a guy who is still at large.
After you have watched and read the information from various places on how to do a FOIA, let me add this - it is much easier to start with a dead person in your information excavation than it is to start with a live person.
Being dead is not enough either, the FBI must KNOW they are dead and they will not take your word for it either. They might not even take your proof of death.
When I requested information on a series of bombs in banks, I was denied all information, even public statements made by the director, on the basis of the bomber still being alive.
Finally a light came on, I asked for all of the public statements and briefings by director J. Edgar Hoover (they KNOW he is dead) for the time period in question, and they accepted that one. They haven't provided anything yet, but they did not flat out deny it.
AG John Mitchell, someone else they know is dead, made joint statements with the FBI director about the bomb plot too. I've submitted a FOIA request to DOJ for his statements and am awaiting a response.
Another interesting aspect, my bomber did a false enlistment with the US Army for a few months and he was declared AWOL around the time of his bombs being discovered. There was no mention in the press of any charges being brought against him for the false enlistment, or his conduct, etc. So I emailed off a FOIA to them at the email address they provided. The email to the DAG1 office bounced! Found another and tried it. Still waiting for a response there too.
Guardians of the Galaxy a short review. I don't rehash what most of the other reviewers said, and links are provided to some good ones, along with an interview of James Gunn. Focus is more on some of the Easter Eggs or Hat Tips to other work I noticed. Plus, video of some of the songs used in the film by Redbone and The Runaways. Hope you enjoy.
Austrian Anarchy writes | about 3 months ago
On this week's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Sarah Jessica Parker uses the phrase "that's not politic." I guess I don't get out enough in wealthy leftoid circles to know that "politically correct" has been reduced to one word, and that is the context that she used it.
It was on the tail of her gem that there used to be signs in NYC that said "No Irish, No Entertainers, No Jews, No..." Which is another new one on me. Her rendition of the "No Irish, No Negroes, Need Apply/Served Here/etc." now includes "entertainers."
"No Irish Need Apply":
A Myth of Victimization Abstract (the whole article at the link)
Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming "Help Wanted--No Irish Need Apply!" No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent. The market for female household workers occasionally specified religion or nationality. Newspaper ads for women sometimes did include NINA, but Irish women nevertheless dominated the market for domestics because they provided a reliable supply of an essential service. Newspaper ads for men with NINA were exceedingly rare. The slogan was commonplace in upper class London by 1820; in 1862 in London there was a song, "No Irish Need Apply," purportedly by a maid looking for work. The song reached America and was modified to depict a man recently arrived in America who sees a NINA ad and confronts and beats up the culprit. The song was an immediate hit, and is the source of the myth. Evidence from the job market shows no significant discrimination against the Irish--on the contrary, employers eagerly sought them out. Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.
As mentioned in the paper, certainly the occasional mention was made. One could read the NYT classifieds every day for 20 years in the 19th century and find the reference perhaps twice. The NINA signs appeared in England, but did not seem to make it across the pond in any numbers that could be called prolific.
And now, an actress wishes to add entertainers to the myth.
Austrian Anarchy writes | about 4 months ago
OKAY, this ain't new to me, but sometimes it drives me to a new level of nuts. This "food desert" crap is pretty much peak bureaucrat bullshit. Back in 2009, the USDA came up with a map that was allegedly going to show where poor people had trouble finding "good" food. If they would have bothered to use factors that are easily available to the federal government, they might have come up with a useful product.
Instead, for the "good" food part they used, exclusively, supermarket locations. The industry definition, and the definition the USDA used is grocers that have all of the general grocery departments that do $2 million or more in annual sales within one mile of the "low income" folks described below. So if you have a neighborhood with Asian, Hispanic, and Indian markets (like the first food desert I examined) they are still deemed as "low access" to food. The added some other levels, like 1/2 mile from a supermarket, since 2009.
Another factor they used was "vehicle access" and it comes from census data. The running lie is that it is 500 people OR 1/3 of a census tract reporting no vehicle access. It ignores free services, like the TWO we have in Knoxville, that will pick up the poor and take them to the grocery store (or dialysis, or many other things). In this county, even the poorest of the poor has vehicle access for the necessities and they do not need to wait for the regular city bus either.
Yet another factor is the poverty measure. If a census tract has >20% households at the poverty level OR the average household income is
When you stick to the 1 mile map of 2009 the neighborhoods you expect were on the map. Areas with government housing complexes, poverty, and few grocers. But all sorts of other places showed up too, like the entire campus of the University of Tennessee, all the dorms, all the frat houses, the Agricultural campus, everything. Which pretty much makes the map cast too big a net and become nearly useless.
Then comes along the first lady in 2010 who decided the way to fix this issue was to "partner" with large grocers (supermarket owners) to bring more supermarkets to the poor. The White House announced that it was directing $400 million per year at the president's wife's project.
Here in Knoxville, the local equivalent of the Daily Worker, known as Metro Pulse, reported the 2011 version of the map. It showed what I described above, college campus census tracts appeared as destitute as the projects.
Something happened between 2011 and 2013. The map changed here and a good chunk of the tracts with public housing projects dropped off. The tracts still numbered 20, but new ones popped up. One was a bit west of where I live. in 2012 a Trader Joe's opened there, and by 2013 it was a food desert. Even more odd, one of Michelle Obama's food desert partners converted part of their store to a grocery.
Also in 2012, the city of Knoxville decided to throw $1.5 million dollars at a developer for the "University Commons" project. Developers are supposed to be developing all on their own and the good ones know how to buy land with their own money, and build stuff that will turn a profit. The ones that build crap that becomes and empty hulk in a few years get $1.5 million dollars from the city.
Their project includes a Publix, in the food desert, pretty close to the new sorority mansion compound.
What about all of this compassionate government crap and the housing projects? No new stores there, and I am pretty sure the residents didn't get any wealthier either. However, they are not in a food desert anymore, so no new Publix for them. No, the city had to raise our property tax to bribe a developer into building a Publix for sorority girls.
It gets even better than that! A charter school wants to open and locate in the low income area I was talking about (Western Heights), but the teacher's union wants to block it. The charter school does not get any more money per student than a regular government school, they just don't have the bureaucrat overhead of the local government schools, plus the local school board still sticks their collective nose into every crack in the place anyway. The teacher demonstration I recorded yesterday on Market Square Mall was indeed the whitest gathering of people I've ever seen in this town. Whiter than #FFFFFF. By the way, that demonstration was in another food desert, surrounded by fancy pants eateries and expensive condos.
Pissed me off so much I have not been able to narrate the latest video hardly anybody is going to see anyway.
Another week, another ground truth video of what the local Food Policy Council and the USDA call "food deserts" these days. Most of the video shows the conditions in two census tracts with high concentrations of public housing that have been de-listed from the basic food desert map by the USDA. The Knoxville Knox-County Food Policy Council joined with them and call the map "the 20 food deserts of Knox County." The last several minutes of the video shows me leaving the safety of recovered food deserts and entering the downtown area, populated by condo dwellers and all sorts of government sponsored urban renewal, which is still listed as a "food desert." One of the council members works in the midst of 'recovered' food desert territory, so you would think these people would know there was something a bit off with their map.
In my ongoing examination of what KnoxFood.Org (part of our Metropolitan Planning Commission) is calling "food deserts" (basically, whatever the USDA says they are), I discovered a new one. The new sorority village at the University of Tennessee is labeled on of Knox County's 20 food deserts, and they just got Walmart and Publix stores to relieve the suffering. Before they built the sorority dorms, this tract was home to student dorms and fraternity houses.
I've been finding some odd info in the "food desert" maps of my community. Like a wide variety of grocery stores within the borders of the so-called food deserts. Now I discovered the Knoxville Metropolitan Planning Commission is on board with the corporate propaganda (I was not surprised). The started a website KnoxFood.Org and ask the usual propagandist open ended questions, in this case implying the only way for some to get to the grocery store is by city bus, walk, or starve. The problem is there has been a bus service in place for years and years that is there specifically for driving the elderly, disabled, and anybody without vehicle access to the store (or pharmacy, or dialysis, etc.). Food Desert Fabrications gives the info on how to contact Knox CAC for a ride to the store, while KnoxFood.Org never mentions it. How is this a big business scheme? KnoxFood.Org and the USDA want you to think that 1. food deserts exist all over the place, and 2. that the ONLY way to relieve them is by building Supermarkets every mile or two. BTW, a grocery store sells less than $2 million per year, and a supermarket sells $2m or more per year.
The way the USDA has developed their food desert map leaves few options for solving this problem, at least it leaves few options for getting an area off of their food desert maps. For one thing, if you have an expensive subdivision within the city limits zoned residential, by definition a grocer cannot locate his storefront there and it becomes a food desert because the residents do not have "access" within 1 or even.5 mile of a grocery. If only 500 people within that census tract do not own their own vehicle, the whole tract counts as "limited vehicle access." Some food deserts use the.5 mile rule, so if a poor person is not within.5 miles of the store, it is a food desert. Now imagine how to eliminate this problem to the satisfaction of the USDA. You have to get all of the poor people within.5 miles of a grocery store, or give away a pile of vehicles. I'm not sure who is up for corralling poor people into grocery store parking lot dorms, nor am I sure who is for bulldozing homes every mile for a Kroger's. Don't even suggest bus service, because that has no effect on the map at all. More here.
Glenn Reynolds goes grocery shopping in a food desert
Austrian Anarchy writes | about 4 months ago
Via Instapundit - "I BOUGHT LAST NIGHTâ(TM)S DINNER AT THE FOOD-DESERT TRADER JOEâ(TM)S: Knoxvilleâ(TM)s Federally-Designated âoeFood Desertsâ Include Super Walmart, Samâ(TM)s Club, Kroger. Plus a couple of tasty oriental supermarkets. âoeIf the federal government wants to be taken seriously, they really need to try harder.â" That food desert also contains a Super Mercado and an Indian Market
Hidden in this story is a big lesson in data analysis. Looking at the USDA food desert atlas, the definitions of the desert do not appear to be followed very well by the cartographers. In the area central to the story (Downtown West/West Town Mall area of West Knoxville, TN) is almost completely commercial property and very few residences. The only residential area in the desert is quite well to do too. Right across the south boundary of the desert are square miles and miles of apartments and single family homes, but no grocery stores of any kind. Also, it appears that independent or small chain stores are ignored when one looks to the downtown area. The corner of Baxter Ave. and N. Central has a discount supermarket, and it sits in the middle of another food desert. I did find one food desert without a grocery store contained within: my own subdivision and immediate area. It is not low income at all and is pretty darn close to Kroger's, Food City, and many other food stores that can be visited easily by private and public transportation.
I just heard about the Department of Agriculture's "food desert" map, so I decided to take a peek at the most prosperous part of Knox County, TN. The first two "deserts" I noticed were the homes of large grocery stores, or right next to large grocery stores. By "right next to" I mean literally across the street. One of the "deserts" has both a Super Walmart and a Sams Club anchoring its corner, INSIDE the "desert." The second of the "deserts" is the home to West Town Mall, established in the 1970s, with a large food court and several stores that sell "artisan" food, and it is directly across the street from a large grocery store. When I looked deeper into the city, I found my own subdivision in a large "desert" and homes here ain't cheap. Even deeper into the city, I found food deserts with discount grocery smack in the middle. Now I wonder just what the heck they mean by a "food desert" since a lack of produce, raw or prepared, does not seem to matter. Places that are not considered "deserts"? The more expensive subdivisions with no grocery stores or eateries of any kind at all.
A bit of a strange day yesterday. I could not get any slashdot or sourceforge pages to load on my machine for most of the day. Everything seems fine now. Scrolled through the stories from yesterday and did not see any note of an outage and when I tweeted about it, one other person retweeted it. Did not have any trouble with any other sites at all. Strange.