Archive for June, 2007

The obligatory iPhone post

June 30, 2007

The new iPhone is here! The new iPhone is here!



New Poll Finds That Young Americans Are Leaning Left

June 27, 2007

Thus saith the NY Times. For those who take this as good news, it’s too bad that these left-leaning young Americans will be out-reproduced by their right-leaning peers.

Polls reveal my ongoing effort to be honest with myself and others: they are tempting to believe when they support my own views, but so easy to dismiss otherwise because of the many factors by which a poll can be made to return approximately whatever results the pollsters desire. This one, for example, was based on phone interviews with 659 people aged 17-29. The CIA World Factbook reports about 202 million Americans aged 15-64, which means there are likely around 50 million or more aged 17-29.

659 people out of 50 million is 1.318/100,000th of one percent of the total target population. Can any statisticians confirm whether that’s a sufficiently large sample size?

Let a stranger pick your baby’s name

June 24, 2007

From the Wall Street Journal: I guess people are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to picking names for their children (i.e., they are freaking out). They want something snappy, not trendy, and that will give their children a “corporate edge” when time comes for them to get jobs.

This means a lot more “made-up” names. In that respect, I think some of our foreign friends have a better system than we do:

In Germany, the government still bans invented names and names that don’t clearly designate a child’s sex. Sweden and Denmark forbid names that officials think might subject a child to ridicule. Swedish authorities have rejected such names as Veranda, Ikea and Metallica.

A few that have come across my path in recent weeks: Slivy, Jenifer, Ginnifer, Raluca. Don’t forget Orange’jello and Lemon’jello . . . I’m serious. And I was helped the other day at Home Depot by a woman named Na’Stashia. As Russ said in National Lampoon’s Vacation, “Is that made up? That sounds made up.”

Toronto’s as gay as it gets

June 21, 2007

No, really: that’s their new tourism campaign. I kid you not.

Article here.
I’d be pissed off if I were an American sailor. Apparently it’s okay to stereotype now, too? Pink makes my head hurt . . .

Spelling’s nnot her stronng point

June 21, 2007

Seen on Craigslist:

Cannon, EOS 620 Camera – $160

Presumably, she had the camera sitting in front of her as she typed this ad . . . it bore two pictures of the said camera, after all. How some people can misspell something that’s staring them in the face is puzzling to me. Students do it with my name, even though I’ve spelled it properly for them on the syllabus. I remember as an undergrad, going to talk with my French History prof and seeing a fellow student’s essay atop a stack of papers on his desk. We had written essays on Emile Zola’s L’Assommoir, which features a character named Coupeau. The student consistently spelled it “COPEAU”. Maybe it’s time to crack the book open again?

The Craigslist ad continues:

In great condition, has wonderful flash. This Cannon is mannual and automatic.

Better color from future browsers

June 19, 2007

I was pleased to see this at CNET News, and it answered a question I’ve had for a while: why pictures look so much richer on my own screen than online. Safari already gives better colors, but Firefox is supposed to introduce improvements in this area this summer.

For now, there’s little point employing the more sophisticated color schemes on the Web. IE, Firefox and Opera can’t display them, and worse, Adobe RGB images, for example, typically look worse than sRGB on the Web. That’s because the non-Safari browsers, incorrectly interpreting an Adobe RGB image as sRGB, drain the images of some of their color.

Not so with Safari. Apple machines are in widespread use among graphics professionals, and the operating system supports color encoding schemes that are called profiles and are standardized by a group called the International Color Consortium (ICC). Safari checks to see whether an image is tagged with a particular ICC color profile and displays it accordingly, tuned to work with the user’s monitor.

I guess I must be a sicko, too

June 17, 2007

The stuff people search for that brings them to this blog. Yesterday the search terms were typical, but the stats inordinately favored the word “decapitation”. What kind of twisted miscreants read this blog?

Rule #1: Don’t forget about the focus switch

June 17, 2007

Last Friday I got a Canon EOS 5D, and have been going nuts taking pictures all weekend. I love this camera. Anyway, today I took it to church to show to my friends after Mass. One of them is a photographer, and the others are polite enough to humor my foibles . . .

It so happened that there was a reception afterward for a newly-ordained priest, a man I met a few years ago while he was a seminarian assigned to our parish. So I got to practice photographing an actual event, rather than the no-pressure stuff I normally shoot. Things were going well until I realized, at the end, that I’d had the lens on Manual Focus the whole time. Consequently, my subjects were all just slightly out of focus, while the backgrounds of all the pictures were razor sharp. I was majorly dejected. But it was a lesson well learned, and I can be glad that these were low-stakes photos, no money or friendships involved . . . but still. That’s so amateur!

Is the grey card obsolete?

June 16, 2007

I was thinking tonight . . . in the age of digital photography, is there any more need for a grey card? It used to be (for me, anyway) that I would take a light reading off the grey card, and set my camera accordingly. Most of the time it would give me a good exposure. But I wouldn’t know until the film was developed and prints were made. Now I can just adjust the shutter time and lens aperture on the fly, until the camera’s display shows me something that looks good.

If this means the death of the grey card, I think we should have a party some time.

Obit: G.B. Tennyson

June 14, 2007

One of my UCLA English professors has died in a house fire. I learned this while searching for information on Owen Barfield, whose Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry I’m currently rereading.

I found the news over at David Lavery’s Barfield website. Tennyson was a specialist in Victorian literature and a pioneer in Barfield studies; and at the time I was his student, had recently completed a documentary on Barfield (“Owen Barfield: Man and Meaning”), part of which we watched in class. That was 1996 and Barfield was 98 years old.

Strangely, there’s not a word of Tennyson’s passing on the UCLA English department’s website, and I couldn’t find anything about it anywhere else online, either. I have good memories of his C.S. Lewis class: his expertise on the subject of Lewis’s life and writings, primarily, but also the “magic wand” he would bring to class—a clear tube filled with glitter and a clear, semi-viscous liquid. I think he used its powers mainly to get us to be quiet at the beginning of class—a feat accomplished by tapping it repeatedly on the table. The final exam was also memorable: we were to complete a narrative/analytical essay on Lewis by simply writing single words into blank spaces. E.g., “Lewis was born in the year ____.”

Lavery has written up a nice bio of Tennyson. R.I.P.