Archive for November, 2008

Watch House outside the house

If you missed House, you can catch-up at http://www.hulu.com/house. Hulu posts the latest episodes. You will have to wait 8 days or so to get last week’s episode. With high-speed internet, the quality is decent. You will have to watch a few 30 seconds adds.

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November 26, 2008 at 4:18 am Leave a comment

Digital cameras and Moore’s Law

Quotes from Michael Reichmann at his website, The Luminous Landscape. His experience with the Canon PowerShot G10 leads him to conclude we’ve reached another major milestone in the digital camera industry:

No one could reliably tell the difference between 13″x19″ prints shot with the $40,000 Hasselblad and Phase One 39 Megapixel back, and the new $500 Canon G10…In fact it was the H2 system’s narrower depth of field that occasionally was the only clear give-away.

These comparisons fall down when prints over about 13″x19″ are made. Once the output resolution drops below 200PPI the advantages of a 39 Megapixel sensor over a 15 Megapixels sensor become evident. And, even when smaller prints are made, cropping becomes an issue.

Also, though on prints up to 13X19″ differences are almost impossible to see, on-screen at 100% one can fairly easily tell which files are from the G10. There are artifacts visible at the micro-detail level and one can easily see other hints of what one is paying for.

But, … in medium-sized prints it’s been almost impossible for experienced photographers who I’ve shown these comparison prints to to tell the difference. Scary.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

Reichmann concludes:

As Ray Kurzweil has illuminated in The Singularity is Near, once Moore’s Law states to kick-in in earnest the rate of change becomes almost exponential. That, my friends, is what we’re now starting to see in the camera industry.

November 15, 2008 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

The Big Picture

The Big Picture is a photo blog from the Boston Globe, around since May that features high-quality photos related to “current events and lesser-known stories”:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/

The photos are of varied subjects (current categories are: Africa, Americas, art, Asia, astronomy, ceremony, daily life, disaster, earth, environment, Europe, health, history, Middle East, politics, protest, science, sports, USA, and war). Each blog entry provides a captioned sequence of related photographs. Recent subjects include:

32 Scenes from Antarctica:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/scenes_from_antarctica.html
Bhutan crowns a new King (22 photos):
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/bhutan_crowns_a_new_king.html
35 Photos of the next President of the United States:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/the_next_president_of_the_unit.html
Storm-battered Yemen (22 photos):
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/stormbattered_yemen.html
Enceladus up close (26 photos of Saturn’s icy moon):
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/enceladus_up_close.html
19 Photos of London from above, at night:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html

November 11, 2008 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

The code of the west

Apache County, Arizona apparently had too many city slickers moving there with unrealistic expectations about what they should expect.  The county created an interesting document called “The Code of the West” and made it available on their website:

http://www.co.apache.az.us/pdfs/PlanningandZoning/CODEOFTHEWEST.pdf

Here are my favorite quotes:

County governments are not able to provide the same level of service that city governments provide. To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated and informed decision to purchase rural land.

  • The existence of an unobstructed road to your property does not guarantee the road will remain open in the future or that you will have unlimited access.
  • You may need a four wheel-drive vehicle and/or chains for all four tires to travel safely during storms, which can last for several days.
  • Apache County maintains about 800 miles of off reservation roads- 60(+/-) miles are paved.  If an existing road is unpaved; it is highly unlikely that Apache County will pave it in the foreseeable future.
  • Electric service is not available to all areas of the County; [installing it may require] underground trenching costs, material costs and electrician fees. In some cases, it is necessary to cross your neighbor’s property to bring power to your property (either overhead or underground lines). It is important to verify [or] obtain the proper easements prior to construction of the power lines. Due to ongoing development and limited utility line capacity, electric power that is available today may not be available when you decide to build. If you are purchasing land with the plan to build at a future date, there is a possibility that electric lines (and other utilities) may not be large enough to accommodate you, if others connect during the time you wait to build.
  • Sewer service is not available in most rural areas, [so] you will need an approved septic system or other treatment process. The type of soil available for a leach field is very important in determining the cost and function of a new septic system. In some cases, a standard septic system will not work (based on soil conditions) and an alternative septic system is required. Alternative systems can be very expensive (they could exceed $20,000).
  • Trash removal:  In more remote areas, the most viable option may be to haul your trash to a landfill or a solid waste transfer station. It is … illegal to create your own trash dump, even on your own property.
  • Existing easements on your property may require you to allow construction of roads, power line, water lines, and sewer lines etc., across your land. These existing easements may also prevent you from building your residence, accessory buildings, or fences where you want to locate them.
  • Many property owners do not own the mineral rights on/under their property.  Owners of these rights can change the surface characteristics in order to extract mineral deposits.
  • What surrounds your property now is not a good indicator of what the surroundings will look like in the future. Spectacular views can be replaced by structures if neighboring private parcels are already approved for development. There is also no guarantee that surrounding public lands will remain undeveloped.
  • North facing slopes or canyons rarely see direct sunlight in the winter. There is a possibility that large amounts of snow will accumulate and not melt throughout the winter. In these conditions, keeping an access road open can be difficult and expensive.
  • The Rural “Aroma”- Many people who live in rural areas keep livestock on their land.   Living in rural areas means living with the smells inherent in rural life. Development of new residential areas is not grounds for shutting down existing permitted agricultural uses.
  • Arizona has an open range law. This means that if you do not want cattle, sheep or other livestock on your property, it is your responsibility to fence them out. It is not the responsibility of the rancher to keep his/her livestock off your property. Also, if your dog harasses livestock, the rancher may legally shoot the dog without prior notice to you.

Since the rural west will not change immediately to accommodate your lifestyle or expectations, you should be prepared to adapt accordingly.

November 9, 2008 at 4:13 am Leave a comment

Proposed LNG Pipelines Would Uproot Oregon Pinot Noir Vines

Palomar Gas Transmission and Oregon LNG have proposed parallel pipelines to transport natural gas from terminals on the lower Columbia River to a station southeast of Portland. Palomar’s route would go through at least two vineyards, including a hillside property leased by Ken Wright located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Yamhill County. Oregon LNG’s route would cut through at least two vineyards, including Montinore Estates’ 230-acre biodynamic vineyard in Washington County, owned by Rudy Marchesi.

http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,4701,00.html

November 8, 2008 at 1:26 am Leave a comment

71 million viewers election night

CNN, NBC, and ABC combined for half of the audience, with Fox News, CBS, Univision, and MSNBC getting most of the rest.  BBC America got a couple hundred thousand…

http://blog.nielsen.com/…/more-than-71-million

November 6, 2008 at 6:06 pm 1 comment

David Foster Wallace on McCain in 2000

Here are some quotes from the late David Foster Wallace’s April 2000 Rolling Stone article on John McCain:

Since You’re Reading “Rolling Stone,” the chances are you’re an American between say 18 and 35, which demographically makes you a Young Voter. And no generation of Young Voters has ever cared less about politics and politicians than yours….when Senator John McCain …says… that his goal as president will be “to inspire young Americans to devote themselves to causes greater than their own self-interest,” it’s hard not to hear it as just one more piece of the carefully scripted bullshit that presidential candidates hand us as they go about the self-interested business of trying to become the most powerful, important and talked-about human being on earth….  But there’s something underneath politics in the way you have to hear McCain, something riveting and unSpinnable and true. It has to do with McCain’s military background and Vietnam combat and the five-plus years he spent in a North Vietnamese prison….It’s very easy to gloss over the POW thing, partly because we’ve all heard so much about it and partly because it’s so off-the-charts dramatic, like something in a movie instead of a man’s life. But it’s worth considering for a minute, because it’s what makes McCain’s “causes greater than self-interest” line easier to hear.  [T]he point is that with McCain it feels like we know, for a proven fact, that he’s capable of devotion to something other, more, than his own self-interest. So that when he says the line in speeches in early February you can feel like maybe it isn’t just more candidate bullshit, that with this guy it’s maybe the truth. Or maybe both the truth and bullshit: the guy does — did — want your vote, after all.

The rest of the lengthy article is about a week that Wallace (who committed suicide in September 2008) spent on a McCain press bus after McCain’s New Hampshire victory and before the swiftboating he got during the lead-up to the South Carolina primary. The article is written in a style more typical of the essayist and novelist that Wallace was, and is peppered with McCain-specific press jargon that you have to go to the end of the article in order to get translated, e.g. THM=town hall meeting, F&F=file and feed (stories), Pencil=print reporter, Shrub=G.W.Bush.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/18420304/…

The article is interesting to read the day after Obama’s victory because it paints such a different picture of the “youth vote” than the one witnessed this year, and it hints at some of the ways that the McCain of 2000 differed from the McCain of 2008. Not to mention it’s written by Wallace.

If the many worlds/parallel universe theory of quantum mechanics could be experienced in practical terms, the alternative universe I would like to visit would be one in which the swiftboating failed to prevent McCain from winning the South Carolina 2000 primary.

November 6, 2008 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment


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