Archive for the ‘Clippings’ Category

Have you ever said to yourself…

Monday, June 29th, 2015

…”Self, I wonder what it’s like to take photos with a three foot long, 36 pound, $180,000, 1,200mm camera lens?”

Don’t even think about taking a selfie. It will not focus on anything closer than about 46 feet.

I wish this had been a better article. It really doesn’t talk as much about the actual process of shooting with the lens as I’d like, and I’m not all that impressed with two out of three of the photos. But I still think it’s worth linking, even if it doesn’t push all of my photo geek buttons.

(Also, this is a used lens. For the record, and because I’m a Nikon guy, here’s their “equivalent” lens.)

Obit watch: June 29, 2015.

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Chris Squire, bass player for Yes. A/V Club.

Walter Shawn Browne, noted chess grandmaster.

Mr. Browne’s competitiveness extended beyond chess. “I can beat 97 out of 100 experts in Scrabble, 98 of 100 in backgammon and 99.9 of 100 in poker,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1976. “At hi-lo, table-limit poker, I’m the best in the world.”

Finally, Red Mascara. Mr. Mascara wrote a song, “I’m From New Jersey” in 1960 and spent the next 55 years on a quixotic quest to have it made the official state song.

He came closest to his goal in 1972, when the Legislature passed a bill recognizing “I’m From New Jersey” as the official state song. Mr. Mascara had hired a band to play it from the gallery of the Assembly chamber. But Gov. William Cahill vetoed it, telling reporters that the only thing worse than that song was hearing Mr. Mascara sing it.

Quick random thoughts.

Friday, June 26th, 2015

1.

Bob Willett, a Malone resident, also called 911 Friday afternoon when he found an opened bottle of grape-flavored gin on the kitchen table at his cabin, his cousin, Mitch Johnson, told CNN.

For me, the most amazing part of this breaking story is: grape-flavored gin exists? Because that just sounds god-awful, and I say that as someone who likes regular gin.

2. Apropos of nothing in particular (no, really), I’m thinking I’d like to own a Spiro Agnew watch. But it would have to be one that works: I’m not going to wear a broken wristwatch.

Random notes: June 26, 2015.

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Obit watches: Patrick Macnee. A/V Club. LAT.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin, founding member of the Firesign Theater, passed away on the 18th, but the paper of record just got around to running his obit.

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of “malicious destruction of property” for tagging buildings in Detroit.

The police say he tagged as many as 14 buildings with his signature images, which include the face of Andre the Giant. Nine of the building or business owners were interested in pressing charges.

Two things from the WP that kind of tickled my fancy:

1. How much water do California pot growers use? The answer is: well, that’s hard to quantify, for obvious reasons. But a group of researchers have made an attempt to come up with a number, and their estimate is that pot growing uses about the same amount of water as almond growing.

2. Don’t let your pet goldfish loose in the nearest pond, because they will become gianormous and screw up the ecosystem.

(Do I need a “Fish” category?)

Obit watch: June 23, 2015.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

This has been semi-well reported elsewhere (except, oddly, in the paper of record); James Horner. (Edited to add 2: NYT obit. In fairness, it appears that they were waiting for official confirmation from Horner’s people that he was actually flying the plane; other sources seemed to be basing their reports on “well, it was his plane, and he hasn’t called anybody since it went down to say ‘I’m alive!’, so…”)

Dick Van Patten: LAT. A/V Club. (Edited to add: NYT.)

(He was in “Soylent Green”? I need to watch that movie “again”, as I’ve only ever seen parts of it in the “edited for television” version.)

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#S of a series)

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Blayne Williams is an officer with the Austin Police Department.

Officer Williams has what might be called a “colorful” history. He was fired in October of 2013 after an incident at a local hotel. Last November, the arbitrator overturned Williams’ firing, reducing it to a 15-day suspension.

Previously, in 2011, Officer Williams was suspended for 90 days after he got into a physical altercation with an HEB employee while he was off duty. He was also charged with “assault on an elderly person”, but that charge was dismissed “and eventually wiped from his record after he completed probation and had the charge expunged”.

The hook now is that Officer Williams is suing. Why? He claims the police department “wrongly passed him up for promotion”. Yes, I kid you not: a guy who has been suspended twice in four years and was almost fired is claiming he should have been promoted to either corporal or detective.

Oh, by the way: in addition to his suit against the city, Officer Williams already has a lawsuit pending in federal court, claiming his firing over the cellphone incident was in retaliation for discrimination claims he’d filed previously.

Hand to God, people, I don’t make this stuff up.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#R of a series)

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I would have sworn that I wrote about APD lieutenant Jason Disher back in October, but I can’t find it now. This one may have gotten past me.

Anyway, Lt. Disher was having an affair with a woman who was married. This was a long lasting affair: Disher told a detective “eight or nine years”. At some point, according to Disher, the woman’s husband “started harassing him and making threatening phone calls”. The detective issued an arrest warrant for the husband.

The woman Disher was having the affair with later came forward and said Disher’s claims that led to the warrant were false. There was an investigation, and Disher was fired.

Old news? Not so fast; if you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you can guess what happened next.

Yes! The arbitrator overturned Disher’s firing! The Statesman doesn’t go into detail on the reasons, and I hesitate to speculate. But isn’t it interesting…

Disher told investigators he was aware that some of the information in the husband’s arrest affidavit was not true, but he made no effort to have it corrected.

Obit watch: June 18, 2015.

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Nelson Doubleday Jr., heir to the Doubleday publishing empire and former owner of the New York Mets.

I was going to let this go by, but there were a couple of things in the NYT obit that tickled my fancy:

Mr. Doubleday was an avid outdoorsman, fond of practical jokes and not particularly bookish. He enjoyed playing golf; hunting at his plantation near Beaufort, S.C.; sailing the world on his yacht, Mandalay; and heading off to annual pheasant-hunting trips in Somerset, England. In the 1960s and ’70s, he invested in two hockey teams, the California Golden Seals and the New York Islanders. On his daily drive into Manhattan, he chatted with a group of fellow CB radio enthusiasts who called themselves the Cuckoo’s Nest Convoy. His handle was Bookworm.

Obit watch: June 16, 2015.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Blaze Starr, noted “burlesque performer” and paramour of Louisiana governor Earl Long, has passed away at the age of 83.

Edited to add: better WP obit.

Their affair was an open secret until the governor’s wife had him committed to a mental hospital in Texas in 1959. Long was released after several days, then returned to New Orleans, where he “received redheaded Blaze Starr, his favorite Bourbon Street stripper, at 2:30 a.m.,” according to Time magazine.
“At week’s end,” the magazine added, “six doctors gravely warned Long that he would risk his life if he undertook any more strenuous activity.”
He died a year later.

Today’s bulletin from the Department of WTF?! (#7 in a series)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating members of the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals to determine whether the organization hacked the computer network of the Houston Astros in order to steal player personnel information.

I was going to make a “how parenthetic do you have to be” joke, but the Astros are actually doing okay this year. The Times story seems to be spinning it as the Cardinals being worried about their secrets being compromised:

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

“Luhnow” is Jeff Luhnow, the current Astros general manager and previously a high-ranking member of the Cardinals management team.

I care very little about baseball, but this should be fascinating to watch. As the papers note, this is the first known instance where one team attempted to hack another team’s computer network for competitive advantage. Ignoring the possibility of some people being convicted of actual Federal crimes, what’s MLB going to do about this? Lifetime bans for anyone proven to be involved?

Firing watch.

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Bud Black out as San Diego Padres manager.

Since he was hired following the 2006 season, Black had never taken the Padres to the playoffs. In 2010, they went from an apparent stranglehold on the NL West title, to losing 10 consecutive games, to official elimination on the final day of the regular season.

Black was 649-713 over roughly eight seasons.

Obit watch: June 11, 2015.

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It seems like all I’m doing this week is posting obituaries. I could do with a week where good people don’t die.

Ornette Coleman, noted jazz musician.

Christopher Lee: NYT. WP. A/V Club.

Not exactly an obit, but:

Spain gave its greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, a formal burial Thursday nearly 400 hundred years after his death, unveiling a funeral monument holding recently unearthed bone fragments believed to include those of the author of “Don Quixote.”

Edited to add: A/V Club obit for Ornette Coleman.

Lawrence challenged me to find some Coleman on YouTube that isn’t “unlistenable” (his word, not mine). I’ve never really acquired the ability to appreciate jazz, but I like this well enough.