Mostly about my amusement

Month: March 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Browsing the web like it’s 2002

I’ve re-acquainted myself with StumbleUpon and finding out it’s a much better time waster than Reddit. It’s like Reddit without the witty comments. I pressed the Stumble! button and went to the Stellarium web site.

Stellarium was a fantastic find. I installed it and was explaining to my kids that this is how the start are laid out in the sky right now. I had no idea this was freely available and here’s the best part: this is GPL’ed software too.

When you visit a website you can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Or you can ignore it. Mostly I press the Stumble! button and get sent to web sites that are in my chose categories. With your account you get to select those subjects that interest you, and can add or subtract later on.

It’s very addictive. I have narrowed down to astronomy and photography (not at the same time) and I get some really good websites. StumbleUpon has been around for many years and I’m glad that I’m using it now.

Strangely enough, I don’t watch enough TV

I have been busy at work these past two weeks and I normally don’t watch much TV. But this episode of The Daily Show from March 18th makes me wish I’d at least DVR’ed this show.

Jon Stewart is not really a political hack and he does make fun of everyone. That’s his job and calling him a liberal operator is really funny since his show is on Comedy Central. He’s a comedian for crying out loud.

I don’t watch Glenn Beck because I don’t agree with him and I don’t like his Morton Downey, Jr. shtick. The few times I have seen clips of that clown on other shows, it’s really obvious that he’s afraid that someone will call him out on his ignorance. Even on Bill O’Reilly he tries to out “intellectualize” other people. The interview video clip with is great; he’s explaining to O’Reilly what a liberal is?

I don’t like O’Reilly either (he was rude to someone who I grew up admiring in an interview) but I do respect him in the sense that he does the math and understands what he’s talking about. Bill O’Reilly just makes the decision to skew the facts for his point of view. That’s fine and it’s just political commentary. While many people won’t like the comparison, Rachel Maddow does the same thing. In my opinion, she’s just more polite, rational, and reasonable.

Glenn Beck is a shrieking maniac. He is just an entertainer that deluded people into believing that he’s a savvy political commentator. He’s honest enough to tell people that he’s doing it just for the money, but once the roller coaster ride is over, he ends up in the dust bin with all the other flash in the pans. The fact that people mistake him for a political leader is scary.

He’s as smart as an 80’s talk show/variety host desperate for ratings and Jon Stewart, whose job is just to be funny, does great work making fun of him.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G

New 50mm

After using my brother’s Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens for a few weeks, I broke down and picked up a new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens. From all the reviews I’ve read, it’s an improvement over the older f/1.4D version being more sharper while still having a good DOF.

Here are some samples of what I took with the older f/1.8D lens. I like 50mm on my camera because I can get good photos without being in people’s faces.

I’ve really enjoyed using the 50mm f/1.8D and have taken some good photos with it.  But it is on loan and I wanted my own. The new one is a better and more modern lens so getting that version should work out for me.

My initial test shots with the 50mm f/1.4G lens shows that the depth of field is really good.  The object I focused on is sharp but the background is nice and soft.

This weekend I’ll use it a lot and post some of the results.

Politically, this is a really fun week

David Frum demonstrates that he gets it. Political cartoonists get it (Danziger’s was too good to not show).

GOP? Nope. Senator McCain? Nope. Democrats probably do get it but it’s a long way to November and there is plenty of time to let the bully on the block take their lunch money.

The GOP had the opportunity to participate and they did get involved with amendments. But it was all an act since no matter how bipartisan the Obama administration got, the GOP was just wasting time.The Democrats had the votes and the GOP thought they did not have the spine. Now the GOP platform is to hope that the country implode before November.

There are many rational discussions about what’s wrong with the bill. But so far the GOP only panders to the gun totting racist fear mongers. Which is what you do when you care about getting the votes instead of getting the job done.

Even their web server went into a coma

Just for giggles I tried to go to the GOP web page to see what kind of response the opposition has to the health care reform.To be honest I was hoping for some rational arguments about why this health care reform is bad. I wasn’t counting on much, but I hoped it would be something profound.

Two things happened. First I was redirected to a Fire Nancy Pelosi web page.

Nice graphic. The second thing was that the rest of the GOP website was FUBAR. There is a link at the bottom of the page that is supposed to lead to the real website and it just does not work.

Putting aside any politics for a moment (I’m for reform myself), their lack of technical expertise is appalling. This is the GOP website for crying out loud. It’s just not that hard to get it right.

What these folks need to do is speak with (read as “HIRE”) some of the talent that hosts conservative websites.  While the styling and graphics are important, just being able to serve HTML pages without a redirection loop might help them get their message out.

Looks like the Democrats actually DO have the votes

Health care in this country is currently broken. Too many times hard working people need to decide to go poor or stay healthy. That does not mean that people should get a free ride, but there has to be a way to equalize the health care that I get with the health care that an unemployed single mom gets.

So when the Obama administration actually tried to address this great problem, the GOP decided that for anything to pass a super majority is required. You know, the filibuster proof 60 seats in the Senate? And when Scott Brown was elected, the Democrats almost fell for it. But right now it looks like the Democrats have found their nerve.

It’s not a law yet (11:25 PM Sunday night) but unless the GOP can win elections right now, this should pass.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing; the GOP had almost 8 years of running the show and look how that turned out. And just like them, if this administration fails then come November there will be changes.

“I hope they don’t bring back segregation”

The things kids say. On the radio this morning me and the kids heard about that public announcement someone aired in a Walmart. Some jerk used the PA system to make a racist comment.

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP/ 1010 WINS) — An announcement at a Walmart store in New Jersey ordering black people to leave brought chagrin and apologies Wednesday from leaders of the company, which has built a fragile trust among minority communities.

A male voice came over the public-address system Sunday evening at a store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey and calmly announced: “Attention Walmart customers: All black people leave the store now.”

via Announcement At NJ Wal-Mart: ‘All Black People Leave Store Now’ – .

There are always an available pool of morons in any public place, and I seriously doubt that Walmart had anything to do with that. And now Walmart is locking down the PA system at least in that store.

But what struck me was what my 8 year old said when he heard that.

Him: I hope they don’t bring back segregation.

Me: How do you know about segregation??

Him: Dad. We learned about that during Black History month.

Me: Oh.

I should not be surprised at all, and I’m glad that my kids school teaches about that. But at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, I’m not ready to hear things like that from my kid’s mouth.

Model train show

Today was a miserable day weather-wise but had one good thing going for it. The next town over had a model train show and the highlight was a N gauge train layout. It was a fun display and I took almost 300 photos. I shared 40 of them over here on Flickr. I also learned of a couple more train museums to visit in Long Island.

My son could have stayed there all day. The N gauge trains are about the size of one of my fingers and the detail was surprising. I shot most of the event with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens and some shots with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4. I prefer to not bug people with a flash so most of my shots have a narrow depth of field. It’s a shame that I did not use the flash since the detail on those sets was amazing.

The Nikon 50mm is on loan and I am definitely getting the newer Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.

I know it’s Karl Rove, but geez

Some people will never get it and this debate will never go away.

George W Bush’s former top adviser has said he is “proud” of the use of harsh interrogation techniques – including waterboarding – during the War on Terror.

via Bush aide Karl Rove insists ‘waterboarding is not torture’ – Times Online.

Why stop at waterboarding? The number one compelling reason was to protect Americans and save lives, so why was waterboarding the only method used?

It is pointless to keep discussing it: President Obama’s administration won’t do anything and political hacks like Rove only do it to score radical conservative “street cred”. But really, what can’t be rationalized away?

Note: The dunce cap photo was taken by Cogdogblog on Flickr. Creative Commons is very cool.

Now using Hybrid and a child theme

I’ve been interested in switching to a theme framework and after looking at both Hybrid and Thematic, I’ve begun plugging into Hybrid with the child theme WP Full Site.

It’s a fun little exercise and Hybrid has lots of places to make changes just using a child theme. The WP Full Site function.php file has already gotten some additions by me and I’ve switched from using the_content() to using it for just the first two posts. The rest uses the_excerpt(); I couldn’t work out how to use the Query Posts widget so I broke down and copied hybrid/home.php to wp-full-site/home.php. The file in the child theme directory gets precedence over the parent template version.

This is hands down the wrong way to go about this and defeats much of the point of using a child theme. But until I work out the widget logic, this will have to do. And besides I get to brush up on my PHP skills some more.

Update: Nuts, while playing with my install I lost this post. This is actually copied from my RSS feed on Google Reader.  Backup, backup, backup…