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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 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts. You trip over one fundamental idiocy of the 9/11 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 9/11 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 9/11 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 9/11 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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