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A look inside Google
Sep 28th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Good Agile, Bad Agile [Stevey’s Blog Rants]

Although this arti­cle is meant as a dis­cus­sion of a cor­po­rate buzz­word called “agile pro­gram­ming,” the real­ly inter­est­ing part is the descrip­tion of what it’s like to work at Google. It’s hard to imag­ine work­ing for such a place–all the com­pa­nies I’ve worked for use what the calls the “whip-cycle of devel­op­ment.”

Runyon Canyon
Sep 25th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Here’s a pho­to tak­en ear­lier this mon­th at Run­y­on Canyon.

What the cops mean by “credible informant”
Sep 25th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Radley Balko has some infor­ma­tion about the infor­mant whose infor­ma­tion led to the raid in which Cory Maye killed one of his attack­ers while defend­ing his fam­i­ly, only to end up on death row because it was the cops who attacked him.

The good news about this case is that enough light has been shed on the case to get him off death row. That’s a start!

It depends on what the meaning of “torture” is
Sep 25th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Bovard on the Sen­ate tor­ture deal. JIM BOVARD ON THE RIGHT-TO-TORTURE DEAL and America’s new sta­tus as a banana repub­lic (or Medieval fief­dom).

This is lat­est sign that our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Wash­ing­ton believe that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment deserves absolute pow­er over every­one in the world. For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Col­in Pow­ell warned recent­ly that Bush’s efforts to gut the Geneva Con­ven­tions would cause the world to “doubt the moral basis of our fight again­st ter­ror­ism.”

But more impor­tant, the Senate-White House tor­ture deal should cause Amer­i­cans to doubt the moral basis of their entire gov­ern­ment.

Every time I think the U.S. gov­ern­ment has reached a new moral low, the Bushe­viks sur­prise me and sink even low­er. Oh, the irony of the fact that Bush got elect­ed because of his supe­ri­or “moral val­ues.” Supe­ri­or to whose, I won­der? Vlad Tepes’s? [Wolfes­blog]

I’ve noticed that for a while now Bushe­viks have been defend­ing the Feds’ lat­est attroc­i­ties by say­ing that he’s not as bad as Sad­dam, or not as bad as Stal­in. Although the Sad­dam com­par­ison has fal­l­en by the wayside, pre­sum­ably because it’s become so obvi­ous that he’s actu­al­ly worse than Sad­dam.

Looters celebrate
Sep 19th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Bush: More tax­es than ever. Hold the press­es: The Bush admin­is­tra­tion is col­lect­ing more tax­es than ever before. Cor­po­rate tax­es, that is. The Bush admin­is­tra­tion says so.

Isn’t this the admin­is­tra­tion that likes to talk about cut­ting tax­es? Not today. Today, the White House and Trea­sury Depart­ment alike are tout­ing a record haul of tax­es from the cor­po­rate sec­tor – $71.8 bil­lion in the quar­ter­ly col­lec­tion of cor­po­rate tax­es that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment made Fri­day. [Chicago Tri­bune]

Appro­pri­ate­ly, today is Inter­na­tion­al Talk Like A Pirate Day.

New 35mm Tilt/Shift Lenses
Sep 17th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Here’s an inter­est­ing news item from Lumi­nous Land­scape:

Hart­blei is a Ukraini­an com­pa­ny that makes some weird and won­der­ful lens­es. Their lat­est offer­ings are three tilt / shift lens­es called Super­Ro­ta­tors, a 40mm Carl Zeiss Dis­tagon f/4 T*, 80mm Carl Zeiss Pla­nar T* f/2.8 and a 120 mm Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* f/4. Yes, you read that right – Zeiss! Hart­blei is now using Carl Zeiss glass and for­mu­la­tions for the­se lens­es along with their own mechan­i­cal assem­blies.

The­se three lens­es will be avail­able in mounts for Canon and Nikon cam­eras, and because they are based on medi­um for­mat designs, are able to cov­er full frame 35mm film and dig­i­tal. (My review of the medi­um for­mat Hart­blei 45mm f/3.5 Super-Rotator from a few years ago may be of inter­est with regard to the­se lens’ unique con­struc­tion).

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly good news for Nikon own­ers (such as myself), as Nikon’s offer­ings are sub­stan­tial­ly less capa­ble (and very hard to find). If the 40mm lens for the Nikon mount comes out for a price that’s not com­plete­ly unrea­son­able, I’ll prob­a­bly buy one.

Digital Leica preview
Sep 14th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Leica M8 Hands-on Pre­view, Sep­tem­ber 2006. This new rangefind­er dig­i­tal cam­era has the clas­sic design, build and func­tion of the M series but uti­lizes a com­plete­ly dig­i­tal imag­ing sys­tem. The M8 has a spe­cial­ly designed ten megapix­el CCD sen­sor which being slight­ly small­er than a film neg­a­tive intro­duces a 1.33x field of view crop. This ratio con­ve­nient­ly con­verts sev­er­al stan­dard M lens­es to sort-of equiv­a­lent steps (so 21 mm to approx. 28 mm, 28 mm to approx. 35 mm).

The M8 is not an adapt­ed M7, it is a total­ly new cam­era with a new body (albeit one that bears all the usu­al M trade­marks), a new viewfind­er and a new sen­sor. Nor is it nec­es­sar­i­ly the end of the line for M film cam­eras; Leica is leav­ing that door open, for the moment at least. [Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy Review]

From the pre­view it seems that Leica has done a very good job of design­ing a dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent to their film cam­eras. It’s very expen­sive, which is to be expect­ed for a Leica pro­duct. I won­der how the non-full frame sen­sor will affect sales, since it’s in the same price range as Canon’s full-frame DSLRs. The crop­ping fac­tor might also be a prob­lem for peope who already have Leica lens­es. Leica lens­es are very expen­sive com­pared to SLR lenses–if your nor­mal lens has sud­den­ly become a short tele­pho­to, buy­ing a 35mm lens to be your new nor­mal lens will set you back over $2,000!

From what I’ve read on the Inter­net, though, it appears that dig­i­tal cam­era pur­chas­es are often dri­ven by tech­no­log­i­cal fetishism more than any prac­ti­cal con­cern, so per­haps this won’t mat­ter. And in any case, Leica is very pop­u­lar with rich col­lec­tors who don’t actu­al­ly use their cameras–that’s part of the rea­son why they’re so expen­sive.

The government is omnipotent in conspiracy land
Sep 12th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

The 911 Con­spir­a­cy Nuts. You trip over one fun­da­men­tal idio­cy of the 911 con­spir­a­cy nuts — – the ones who say Bush and Cheney mas­ter­mind­ed the attacks on the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­tagon — in the first para­graph of the open­ing page of the book by one of their high priests, David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Har­bor. “In many respects,” Griffin writes, “the strongest evi­dence pro­vid­ed by crit­ics of the offi­cial account involves the events of 911 itself… In light of stan­dard pro­ce­dures for deal­ing with hijacked air­planes… not one of the­se planes should have reached its tar­get, let alone all three of them.”

The oper­a­tive word here is “should”. One char­ac­ter­is­tic of the nuts is that they have a devout, albeit pre­pos­ter­ous belief in Amer­i­can effi­cien­cy, thus many of them start with the racist premise that “Arabs in caves” weren’t capa­ble of the mis­sion. They believe that mil­i­tary sys­tems work the way Pen­tagon press flacks and aero­space sales­men say they should work.

[…]

It’s the same pat­tern with the 911 nuts, who prof­fer what they demure­ly call “dis­turbing ques­tions”, though they dis­dain all answers but their own. They seize on coin­ci­dences and force them into sequences they deem to be log­i­cal and sig­nif­i­cant. Like mad Inquisi­tors, they pounce on imag­ined clues in doc­u­ments and pho­tos, tor­tur­ing the data –- as the old joke goes about econ­o­mists — till the data con­fess. Their treat­ment of eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mony and foren­sic evi­dence is whim­si­cal. Appar­ent anom­alies that seem to nour­ish their the­o­ries are bran­dished excit­ed­ly; tes­ti­mony that under­mi­nes their the­o­ries – like wit­ness­es of a large plane hit­ting the Pen­tagon — is con­temp­tu­ous­ly brushed aside.

[…]

Nat­u­ral­ly, there are con­spir­a­cies. I think there is strong evi­dence that FDR did have knowl­edge that a Japan­ese naval force in the north Paci­fic was going to launch an attack on Pearl Har­bor. Roo­sevelt thought it would be a rel­a­tive­ly mild assault and thought it would be the final green light to get the US into the war. [Coun­ter­Punch]

The irony is that FDR’s record of deceit, manip­u­la­tion, and dan­gling the lives of Amer­i­can sailors as bait for Ger­man and Japan­ese war­ships has grad­u­al­ly come out thanks to the efforts of peo­ple who have over the decades slow­ly dug it out. Today, even Roo­sevelt apol­o­gists admit that he was respon­si­ble for drag­ging the US into World War Two (although of course they think that’s a good thing). But if the 911 nutjobs had been around back then, any seri­ous attempt to find out what hap­pened would have been derailed by fren­zied claims that the Japan­ese nev­er bombed Pearl Har­bor at all; that it had real­ly been the US Navy car­ri­ers that were then at sea that had made the attack.

No justice for Menezes
Sep 12th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Menezes police offi­cer pro­mot­ed. One of the senior offi­cers in charge on the day Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police is to be pro­mot­ed.

Com­man­der Cres­si­da Dick is to become a deputy assis­tant com­mis­sion­er, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Author­i­ty (MPA) announced on Tues­day. [BBC News]

So the penal­ty for mur­der­ing an inno­cent man by mis­take and then lying to cov­er up it up is a pro­mo­tion. Appar­ent­ly the British cops are fol­low­ing the exam­ple of Amer­i­can cops in more ways than just their eager­ness to kill the peo­ple they’re sup­posed to be pro­tect­ing.

There is one big dif­fer­ence from how this would have been addressed in the US: the BBC sto­ry iden­ti­fies Com­man­der Dick by name and includes a pho­to of her. Appar­ent­ly the British cops aren’t wor­ried that some con­cerned cit­i­zen might get some jus­tice for poor Mr. Menezes.

The Constitution and Immigration
Sep 10th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Please tell me this…. I’m ask­ing because I sin­cere­ly want to know. Myself and oth­er writ­ers on this site have point­ed out that the Con­sti­tu­tion does not any­where men­tion immi­grants or immi­gra­tion. By the stan­dards of the 10th Amend­ment, this means that immi­gra­tion and… [LewRockwell.com Blog]

Actu­al­ly the con­sti­tu­tion does give Con­gress the pow­er “To estab­lish an uni­form Rule of Nat­u­ral­iza­tion,” but the author is cor­rect that the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has no (legal) pow­er to con­trol immi­gra­tion beyond that. Under the Con­sti­tu­tion, the States have the pow­er to decide their own immi­gra­tion poli­cies (or bet­ter yet, lack there­of). Of course, legal­i­ty and the Con­sti­tu­tion are total­ly mean­ing­less in the Evil Empire.

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