Yep…just wow for Neil’s new lens…but before I get to that the usual updates.
It’s been going on 3 weeks with no posts…and Ima sorry ‘bout that…but mostly there just hasn’t been much to talk about. Connie’s been going to some rehearsals for the choral part of our upcoming UK trip and also has been going to some MasterSingers Artistic Director auditions. Shannon (the AD) is leaving the area in July for the DC area as her husband is going to the University of MD for an advanced degree…so the group has been looking for a new director. They had 10 candidates that they whittled down to 4 and each of those gets an in person audition rehearsal…they do a rehearsal blind on a piece the group already knows and bring another piece that the group does’t know and do an initial rehearsal/breakdown/teach how they want this piece sung…and when all 4 are done (2 so far) the board will decide who to hire. Based on who the finalists are…Neil thinks that it isn’t a case of “the fix is in” but is really leaning towards “it’s one of them’s job to lose”…sort of thing. She thinks he’s a cynic…which he freely admits to…but he says that doesn’t make him wrong…just a cynic and that his cynicism is rightfully justified.
Neil had his final checkup from his retinal repair some 7 or 8 months back…it was one of those laser things…and he’s now free to move about the country as the commercial for whatever car rental company it was used to say. Dr. Warrior did recommend that he come in every 12 months or so to recheck things…he’s gonna have to see if they can do his annual refraction and contact lens prescription at the same time or if she only does the retina stuff.
And other than that…it’s been pretty much same stuff different day for us. We’ve had the A/C on most of the time for the past 3 weeks but did have 3 days last week with the house open and can open up for a few hours in the morning at least part of the time…did that this morning to get some fresh air and reduce the inevitable “we been closed up too long” smell.
OK…on to the news.
I’m sure you’ve seen in the news the past few days how corrupt the SCOTUS in general is now…and in particular how corrupt Justices Thomas and Gorsuch are…all of this is based on some investigative journalism that ProPublica did…and to hear them tell it those two in particular and in general the 6 conservative justices on the court are barely short of being Lucifer incarnate. Now I understand that just about every media outlet is biased one way or the other…and ProPublica is actually rated as left leaning…and I’m sure that each organizations bias influences their reporting. They don’t outright lie…at least most of the time but occasionally they all do, despite the claims of the left that Fox always lies and MSNBC is the epitome of truth…but they all have a political ax to grind and inconvenient facts are just ignored…and convenient facts are stated in a manner to inflame the folks on the same side of the political spectrum as the outlet. ProPublica does it…Fox does it…and just about every other media organization does it…because the people writing the articles and/or opinion pieces and/or expose articles have a bias one way or the other.
None of that means that the facts they do talk about aren’t facts…but it does mean that one needs to do a little digging on your own to see what facts they ignored because they were inconvenient or whether the wording they used was factual or inflammatory and designed to whip up one side or the other. For instance…Justice Thomas has been accused of accepting a “vacation that would have cost him $500,000 if he paid for it himself”…when a more sober reading of all the facts would reveal that the private jet and yacht are owned by a billionaire friend of his and the Justice would not have gone on the vacation since he could not have afforded it on his own…he would have flown commercial and stayed on the beach in the resort. The Wall Street Journal produced a counter-piece to the ProPublica piece and pointed out the inconvenient facts that ProPublica ignored but in true media fashion ignored the actual facts that they did include.
Now I don’t pretend to know for sure whether this was an appearance of impropriety or actual impropriety or none of the above…because I’m not in possession of all the actual facts without the politically charged descriptions. Perhaps it’s true that the justices did something they weren’t supposed to do…and perhaps it’s true that they didn’t. As a matter of fact and a point of law…Congress passed a law requiring that the executive and judicial branches of the government to fill out financial disclosure forms…and mostly those branches do so…but whether they’re actually required to follow that law has never been constitutionally determined. The Constitution sets out 3 co-equal branches of government…and it is certainly an arguable legal point that one branch doesn’t have the authority to impose such a requirement on the other two branches…but nobody has yet sued over it and had the case get up to the SCOTUS to determine whether the law is in fact constitutional or not…and such a determination doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Now…should the SCOTUS have a code of ethics. Mostly the answer is Yes but it’s up to them to determine what is included in that as nowhere in the Constitution does Congress have the power to do so as the SCOTUS was created as one of those co-equal branches. Lower federal courts are constitutionally created by Congress…and as such Congress does have the power to implement rules and a code of ethics for those lower courts…and in fact SCOTUS should create one for themselves. However…this does not mean that no justice can accept gifts or that they’re required to recuse themselves from cases or that they can’t have outside sources of income or investments.
Back to Justices Thomas and Gorsuch…as I said they may have done something improper…but ProPublica doesn’t know they did…the WSJ doesn’t know they didn’t…and neither does any other media organization. However…I am surprised that only conservative justices were…selected…by PP to be investigated and its’ very strange to me that the 3 liberal ones were not investigated nor were the 535 members of the Congress…and I’m pretty sure that one would find questionable practices across all branches politically, white males vs black females, and however else you might want to slice and dice them into groups. Yes…there appear to be valid enough circumstances that further investigation is warranted…but the same groups that are demanding the resignation of the justices ignore the circumstances involving the President and his family…those are dismissed by the left as “thoroughly debunked theories” but from the mostly in the middle stance we have at our house…it seems that there’s some smoke in both of those situations and perhaps both should be fairly evaluated to see if there’s fire involved.
However…given the current political climate and the insistence by both sides that their opinion on every issue is 100% valid and the other side’s is 100% delusion…and that seems to be the case for every major issue we have today from guns to corruption to abortion to climate change too nuclear power to pipelines to etc, etc, etc.…well, it just ain’t gonna happen. There are some folks in the Congress who while right or left believe in bipartisan negotiation and compromise with the other side…but unfortunately they’re all too afraid of getting a primary challenger from the fringes of the party and losing their job…and all of that prevents them from actually doing their jobs. Pity.
Ok, enough of that.
Oh yeah…I forgot that he filed for his Social Security since he’s now reached the highly coveted plateau of “Full Retirement Age” or FRA…so that’s some more bucks coming into their monthly cash flow which means they can spend more on toys and travel. As such…he’s got himself on the short list for some photo tours to Africa and Costa Rica next year…they haven’t been scheduled yet but are in the planning phase and with only a limited number of participants so that the leaders can give Individual attention to everybody ya gotta get your oar in early as they say. We don’t know if any of them will actually come to fruition…but we’re working on it. Connie has no interest in going to Africa…she would be interested in Costa Rica but not for the photo part, she just wants to stay in the resort and lay by the pool and have those tropical drinks with the little umbrellas in them followed by dinner with Neil.
Neil bought himself a new lens for his camera…he sold his last remaining old F mount Nikon body and also the 500PF lens that has been referred to us here as ‘the bird lens’ for a long time…and replaced them with a new Z mount 400mm lens…now that probably sounds like the new ‘bird lens’ has less reach than the old one did and technically that’s true…but if one pops on the teleconverter it becomes a 560mm which is longer than the old bird lens…and the new Z mount lenses are simply better than the old F mount ones for a couple of reasons and in particular there’s really no degradation in image quality with the teleconverter on…essentially the Z lenses have a wider opening where it joins the body which makes the optical design easier, and the optical software and computer power available today as opposed to 5 or 6 years ago means that they’re simply better designs because they’re newer…and in addition to being better optically they’re smaller and lighter than their old equivalents from the F mount line. He’s also got 3 zoom lenses so he’s covered with them from 14mm up to 400mm and then 560 with the new bird lens and he’s mighty happy about that combination…and a secondary factor of the newer design software is that the Z mount zooms are pretty much as good as the old F mount prime lenses and the Z primes (i.e. non zoom) are better than either the F mount primes or the Z mount zooms. (Yeah, I know most of you don’t really care about details like that…but I gotta talk ‘bout sumtin’ ya know.)
Anyway…after he received the new lens…it was actually only 800 bucks after he traded in the old stuff…he grabbed a couple of shots out back…
Green Heron across the other side of the pond…maybe 35 or 40 yards.
And he decided to show off his Mohawk appearance.
Tricolor Heron…this was at the end of the pond closes to him and about half the distance to the Green Heron above.
It’s hard to really tell on the blog…but those are significantly sharper than the old bird lens was…although to be honest I think Neil needs to brighten them up just a badge in Lightroom…I’ll remind him to do that next time.
Anyway…he’s satisfied and that’s what counts. He’s got himself some new noise reduction and sharpening software as well and all of that goes into making the shots here better.
Interesting things found on the net.
No gender bias here…their positions could be reversed and it would still be funny.
Neil really liked this one.
Schrödinger’s cat…for those of you who don’t know who he was…it’s a theory from quantum physics (that’s atomic level stuff) that says it’s not possible to know something in quantum physics without observing it and the act of observing changes it. Essentially…the cat inside the box (the quantum box) can be both alive and dead simultaneously (because that’s the way quantum physics works and I don’t understand it well enough to explain why that is but just take it as a fact) and that looking inside the box to see if it is alive or dead changes the fact that it’s both alive and dead simultaneously. And yes…it seems to me that quantum physics folks might suffer from heavy recreational pharmaceutical use. Anyway…this is what the cat might be doing in the box…and all the equations on the wall are…you guessed it…quantum physics equations…at least I think they are but mebbe they’re just random calculus looking things…dunno.
And finally…based on some of the arguments by the anti-gun crowd…I think we need to ban high capacity assault cows.