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Afternoon shadows, Monument Valley

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In and out

My next to last  last blast for a while. Going to go to Texas cold turkey, no computer, no blog, no heavy pharmaceuticals.

Thought I would skip around hither and yon and get a few things off my chest before I mosey on down the highway.

Bruce Jenner, I feel for you man, er woman. I must admit that my track record on the transgender issue has been less than stellar in my lifetime. A close associate is of this particular breed and things have not always been the best between us, but not because of gender or orientation necessarily.

But I am thankful that I have always felt comfortable as a straight man. It is hard to imagine the pain people feel when they are "born into the wrong body." Couldn't even begin to walk in their shoes.

I used to be rather doctrinaire and hard headed on that issue. Sex changes in the olympics, is that really fair? For women to compete against a woman born a man, with their stronger muscle mass, etc.. My mantra was that chromosomes don't lie, neither do y cells. But a little education showed that there are a lot of people in between biologically, that legitimately have female and male characteristics. Discriminating against them would be as wrong as any other discrimination. So go for it Caitlin, whatever flips your wig.

Bruce Jenner has nothing to prove as a man, certainly one of the greatest athletes of our time. I wish her all the happiness.


Thank you Rand Paul. While there are many issues that I disagree with you, you had the courage to stand up to your peers on the right and left against unwarranted government intrusion and surveillance. A sizable majority of americans from both parties agree with you. Thanks for speaking up. And your position on the Iraq invasion and marijuana decriminalization were spot on as well. Took some courage, I salute and thank you.

I can't agree with you on choice or gays but do agree with you on most everything else. Thanks for calling Jeb the hypocrite that he is. Might want to watch your back around McClain. The old coot might be gunning to sucker punch you. Some angry warhorses in the Senate today. Very butch. Might need some serious sit down with Bruce Jenner.


Now the Colorado movie killer James Holmes says that he wished the shrink had locked him up and she refused. Is it just me or are the shrinks usually nuttier than the patients?
CENTENNIAL, Colo. –  Colorado theater gunman James Holmes once said he wished a psychiatrist who treated him before the shootings had locked him up so the attack wouldn't have happened.
In a videotape played for jurors in Holmes' murder trial Tuesday, Holmes also says he might not have carried out the attacks if the psychiatrist, Dr. Lynn Fenton, hadn't prescribed him a drug that reduced his anxiety and fear -- but he says he might have done it later in life.
Fenton didn't return a phone message Tuesday. She is expected to testify later in the trial.
The videotape shown to jurors was from of a court-ordered sanity evaluation of Holmes conducted last year by another psychiatrist, Dr. William Reid. Reid concluded Holmes was mentally ill but legally sane because he understood right from wrong.
Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the July 20, 2012, attack in suburban Denver, which killed 12 people and wounded 70 others.
Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Defense lawyers are asking jurors to find him not guilty by reason of insanity, which would bring an indefinite commitment to the state mental hospital. On the video shown Tuesday, Holmes says he repeatedly asked Fenton if she was going have police detain him under a 72-hour psychiatric hold, which she could do under Colorado law.
"I kind of regret that she didn't lock me up so everything could have been avoided," Holmes says.
Nikon had a tumble this year. Last week it was announced that Nikon Corp. has dropped on the Nikkei 225 by more than 11 percent after the camera maker forecast a lower profit for the full-year and said that it expects to halve the annual dividend. The company also reported a 61 percent fall in net profit for the year ended March 31.

There are many possible reasons for this, among them the switch to smaller mirrorless cameras, the huge capture of the camera market by cell phones, the high cost of "serious" photographic equipment and a general public that frankly wouldn't recognize a good photograph if it bit them on the ass.

Now I am a Nikon man. I have had four of them, never dreaming as a kid that I would be able to afford even one. But I can't afford to buy their lenses, which cost two to three times the cost of their competitors, principally Sigma and Tamron, who are getting closer and closer to Nikon in terms of sharpness and quality.

I love Nikon but they play funny games with their releases, deliberately streamlining and dumbing down certain products in order to maintain a casual hobbyist/enthusiast/professional hierarchy so that the amateur always knows his place.

Other camera companies like Sony and Samsung, just put their best foot forward and they are beating Nikon now, at least on some technological advances like buffering and sensor technology.

I have been looking at long primes and advanced zooms. Sigma has a "Contemporary" model coming out at 150-600mm for about a grand. Tamron has one two. Both good lenses, at least by the images posted to DPreview. Sigma has a better version for another grand. So you are looking at 2k, tops.

The cheapest Nikon that will get you to 600mm?

About 10k, although you could probably spend half of that for a smaller lens and a teleconverter that would get you to the distance. But teleconverters require stopping down and they have notorious optical flaws, like softness, CA and distortion or at least the ones I have used.

Here's the Nikon lineup.

Pretty pricey stuff. I am a talker and even I couldn't justify this kind of expenditure to my spouse.

If Nikon put out a decent 500mm or 600mm f/5.6 for three grand they wouldn't be able to keep them in stock. Photographers would be pleased, happy and grateful. Nikon would make oodles of money if they considered making affordable equipment to service professionals and serious hobbyists. Right their ship. If Tamron and Sigma can do it, Nikon can surely do it.

But they won't.

Because they are busy with their newest venture.

Cameras for dogs.


What the hell is next? Methinks there are going to be a lot of unhappy cats moping around now, trying to get even and maybe stay out of the canine paparazzi's way. What about them?

Glad to see you have your priorities straight, Nikon.

FBI, in the sky.
"Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a “cell-site simulator” – or Stingray, to use one of the product’s brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.
Officials say cellphone surveillance is rare, although the AP found in recent weeks FBI flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington national airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
After the Washington Post revealed flights by two planes circling over Baltimore in early May, the AP began analyzing detailed flight data and aircraft-ownership registrations that shared similar addresses and flight patterns. That review found some FBI missions circled above at least 40,000 residents during a single flight over Anaheim, California, in late May, according to census data and records provided by the website FlightRadar24.com."
Stingray from the sky.
"The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the US carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology – all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, the Associated Press has learned.
The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.
Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence investigations. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.
A Justice Department memo last month also expressly barred its component law enforcement agencies from using unmanned drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment” and said they are to be used only in connection with authorized investigations and activities. A department spokeswoman said the policy applied only to unmanned aircraft systems rather than piloted airplanes. The first amendment of the US constitution guarantees freedom of speech and assembly."
Skys over MinneapolisMysterious low-flying plane over Twin Cities raises questions of surveillance


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I don't see much of a difference between the NSA keeping my phone calls on file and the phone companies. Like they are going to stand up for my rights? Thanks Barack.


I am trying to make sense of the metrics of the social media. I don't facebook, tweet, instagram or snapchat. No television for a couple decades. Practically a luddite in such matters.

I do know that I have recently passed one million pageviews on the blog, of which my own surely contributed to a small portion of the total. There are over 180 million blogs around the world, I am sure many readerships exponentially dwarf my own. I mostly appreciate the regulars, that is what is important to me. Staying relevant and interesting.

Readership is up. Great.

But then I looked at Google and they are supplying a number as well. Yikes.


5,375,189 google views? People, get a life. When the hell did this happen? I don't hardly ever use Google+ unless I want to read David Brin or look at Heidi's desert pictures.

I did some searching. Turns out 5 million ain't nothing. There's people with a zillion, like Avinush here.

Good thing I'm not competitive.

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psychogeography © Ralph Steadman
"And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back." Raoul Duke  Fear and loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter Thompson
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I just got word that long time blog reader and all time uncle, Uncle Norm is going into hospice today. Will keep you informed. Please wish him well.


Late breaking news, senate passes NSA reform bill.
Senators hailed Tuesday's passage of the USA Freedom Act as an important step toward reform.
"We passed the most significant surveillance reform in decades,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, declared triumphantly after the final vote. “We’ve done it by setting aside ideology, setting aside fear mongering, and saying we’ll protect the security of the United States, but we’ll also protect the privacy of Americans.” Leahy has previously authored several similar versions of the bill that passed Tuesday.
"I think Ben Franklin would've been proud of this outcome," said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), an Intelligence Committee member and co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act. "I think our framers really understood the importance of this underlying tension ... they understood the dynamic of protecting security and liberty at the same time. Today we struck a blow for finding that balance that will truly accomplish both of those things."
However, some lawmakers warned that the bill doesn't do enough to end what they believe is the intelligence community’s overreach on surveillance.
“Some of us don’t think USA Freedom sufficiently ends bulk metadata collection. In fact, [the government] will still contend after the act passes that they can bulk collect all of the websites and emails and all that content,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). “Read it closely, it’s only about your phone calls.”
Massie is one of 60 congressmen who voted against the USA Freedom Act in the House, claiming that the bill had been unacceptably weakened from its original form and would preclude further surveillance reform.
Outside observers agree that it's unlikely that Congress will retain momentum for further reform, absent another pending deadline. 

1 comment:

Jon Harwood said...

The choices regarding technology get more difficult. As the various devices get networked into the internet and thousands of other devices it becomes more and more impossible to have any privacy. I don't know the answer beyond using the best judgement one can about what technical stuff you really need. So far we only turn or cell on from time to time and we minimize any appliances that "call the mothership". The technology keeps expanding and insinuating itself in to lots of odd corners of life, so I hope I ain''t headed for hermit land.