Video on msnbc.com: Half the size of a football field, the massive asteroid known as 2012 DA14 will pass about 17,000 miles above Earth traveling five miles per second.
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Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I don't feel I know enough about the evidence or what really happened to say anything about this on my own. This, on the other hand, raises some important points that seem to get ignored most of the time. It's not a long article and I think it's worth reading.
On the evening of March 3, 2013, a young paleontologist named Nizar Ibrahim was sitting in a street-front café in Erfoud, Morocco, watching the daylight fade and feeling his hopes fade with it. Along with two colleagues, Ibrahim had come to Erfoud three days earlier to track down a man who could solve a mystery that had obsessed Ibrahim since he was a child. The man Ibrahim was looking for was afouilleur—a local fossil hunter who sells his wares to shops and dealers. Among the most valued of the finds are dinosaur bones from the Kem Kem beds, a 150-mile-long escarpment harboring deposits dating from the middle of the Cretaceous period, 100 to 94 million years ago. After searching for days among the excavation sites near the village of El Begaa, the three scientists had resorted to wandering the streets of the town in hopes of running into the man. Finally, weary and depressed, they had retired to a café to drink mint tea and commiserate. “Everything I’d dreamed of seemed to be draining away,” Ibrahim remembers.
Ibrahim’s dreams were inextricably entangled with those of another paleontologist who had ventured into the desert a century earlier. Between 1910 and 1914 Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach, a Bavarian aristocrat, and his team made several lengthy expeditions into the Egyptian Sahara, at the eastern edge of the ancient riverine system of which the Kem Kem forms the western boundary. Despite illness, desert hardships, and the gathering upheaval of World War I, Stromer found some 45 different taxa of dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, and fish. Among his finds were two partial skeletons of a remarkable new dinosaur, a gigantic predator with yard-long jaws bristling with interlocking conical teeth. Its most extraordinary feature, however, was the six-foot sail-like structure that it sported on its back, supported by distinctive struts, or spines. Stromer named the animal Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.
Stromer’s discoveries, prominently displayed in the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology in central Munich, made him famous. During World War II he tried desperately to have his collection removed from Munich, out of range of Allied bombers. But the museum director, an ardent Nazi who disliked Stromer for his outspoken criticism of the Nazi regime, refused. In April 1944 the museum and nearly all of Stromer’s fossils were destroyed in an Allied air raid. All that was left ofSpinosaurus were field notes, drawings, and sepia-toned photographs. Stromer’s name gradually faded from the academic literature.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I've always been fascinated by dinosaurs. This is a fantastic find. I thought maybe you would find it fascinating too.
Aaron Carroll today offers a graphic depiction of the toll of the anti- vaccination movement. (H/t: Kevin Drum .) It comes from a Council on Foreign Relations interactive map of "vaccine-preventable outbreaks" worldwide 2008-2014.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Definitely worth reading. This confirms the opinion I already held, that public health trumps private fears, especially when those fears are not based on science but on mythology.
[Row of Unemployed from Flickr Commons] I'm afraid. Truly. I'm afraid of where we're headed. We live in a world where the basic storyline goes something like this: we are born, we get educated, we ...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Upsetting and important information we should read. Even if we don't want to. Maybe especially if we don't want to.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Don't you just loved famously cursed treasures? It's the stuff of creepy movies and crime noels.
“You have cancer, which is horrible. The treatment is chemotherapy which should help but I think there should be something better, so I’ve decided to let you die. I will be charging you for the treatment, though.”
“I realize we lost the big game, but we really wanted to win, so we’ve locked the gates of the stadium, and no one is allowed to go home until you change the scoreboard and give us the game ball.”
“I can see you spent a lot of time setting the menu and preparing Thanksgiving dinner, but I think the way turkeys are raised is inhumane, so I’ve set fire to the house.”
“Well, the brake pads are thin, your radiator hose is cracked, and this timing belt has had it. I can fix it all, and would be happy to, but I also noticed that the door latch is sticking, and I just hate doors, so I’ve put your car in the back lot until the door falls off.”
“I am aware that I voted for you, but that was on the assumption that you had the ethics and intellectual ability to put the good of the people you serve ahead of childish games, feeble-minded combatism, and partisan posturing, so I will be voting for someone else in the next election.”
Oh, wait. That last one makes sense, doesn’t it.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Well put, my friend. Horrible but funny.
All I ask are moments of peace where I can stop and be in the moment.
All I ask is to be grateful for the things I have.
All I ask is for motivational images that don’t actually connect to the motivation.
All I ask is to be trusted and worthy of trust.
All I ask is to have the courage to try new things, and to be immediately better at them than everyone else.
All I ask is to be liked by people I can’t stand.
All I ask is the ability to orgasm at will.
All I ask is that my friends be less successful than me.
All I ask is to remain at my physical peak with little effort on my part.
All I ask is that “little effort” mean “no effort.”
All I ask is that the things I purchase never break or get worn out.
All I ask is that for one month a year (October? May?) the schools be devoted to teaching good things about me.
All I ask is that, when I have a conflict with someone, they acknowledge that it’s them, not me.
All I ask is for a state to be named after me.
All I ask is that it not be North Dakota or Florida.
All I ask is that the world’s population be reduced by 4 billion without anyone suffering.
All I ask is for a God who has the exact same opinions I do.
All I ask is to be able to make things explode with my mind.
And, really… is that so much?
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
What he said. Like that.
"As e-readers grow in popularity as convenient alternatives to traditional books, researchers at the Smithsonian have found that convenience may not be their only benefit. The team discovered that when e-readers are set up to display only a few words per line, some people with dyslexia can read more easily, quickly and with greater comprehension."
Via Beth Dichter
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I think as time goes on, there will be more discoveries like this!
Windows 8.1 will be released soon (Oct. 17), with many improvements over Windows 8. In this video I will show you what has changed since Windows 8. If you tr...
Via Tiaan Jonker
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
The few people I know who actually bought Windows 8 or RT are not happy campers. I hope this really does make it a real usable system because otherwise, my next computer is not going to be Windows based ... and that's a problem, given that all my software IS Windows based.
As caught off-guard as he was byCote de Pablo‘s decision to walk away from NCIS after eight seasons as Ziva David, showrunner Gary Glasbergrecognizes the seriousness of the situation and as such hopes he will do the character justice during her swan song.
On Monday night at CBS’ Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour party, Glasberg spoke with TVLine about the “very” surprising news, how he reacted to it and what “Tiva” fans can expect when Season 11 gets underway Sept. 24.
RELATED |CBS Boss on Cote de Pablo’s NCIS Exit: ‘We Offered Her a Lot of Money’
TVLINE| How surprised were you by Cote’s decision?
TVLINE | Was it, like, a matter of Cote wanting to re-up for just one year versus multiple years…?
RELATED |NCIS: Read the First Details on Ziva’s ‘Emotional’ Exit
TVLINE | You previously said that we would find out what Ziva and the others were up to during the four-month time jump. Will Ziva’s story now be different?
TVLINE | Oh, but I can’t imagine it’s much better than heartbreak for those fans and for Tony.
TVLINE | Is Tony the first person she shares this “decision” with?
TVLINE | Because at the end of the day, Gibbs’ team will be down a man.
TVLINE | So, what are we talking as far as the timeframe for filling that void? November sweeps? February…?
Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
We are going to miss her a lot.
When Silver Dollar City announced Outlaw Run, their new coaster for 2013, I, like everyone else, was amazed. It broke numerous world records including steepest drop of a wooden coaster and first woody since Son of Beast to include inversions. Of course, we were all excited to see how it would turn out. Ladies and Gentlemen, Outlaw Run does not disappoint.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
If you love roller coaster, this one sounds like a big winner!
"To Boldly Go, Where No One Has Gone Before"... a simple, yet iconic phrase that has delighted TV viewers and film fans for decades and is attached to the journeys of "Star Trek" in all of its forms. Open today in theatres everywhere "Star Trek: Into Darkness" takes us deep into the universe in ways that will delight the hardcore fans and not alienate the casual ones either.
After an attack of terror from one of their own within the Federation, Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) leads the crew of the Enterprise into uncharted waters risking interplanetary war to try and track down this one man weapon of mass destruction.
As J.J. Abrams gets to dive into this world for a second time, the results range from thrilling and brilliant to occasionally maddening but it is never dull and even the most dedicated and hardcore 'Trekker' cannot deny that "Star Trek: Into Darkness" is a wall to wall thrill ride that will delight all ranges of fans considering how brazenly nervy the material does get at times. The script from frequent Abrams collaborators Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof have craft a big and bold action adventure told on a pretty grand scale, that flows like an easy current allowing us more time to really get to know and exist with these characters. The differences and similarities that we saw in the first film that referenced the original franchise, weren't as subtle this time out as they clubbed the viewer over the head with some obvious story parallels but it is such a fun ride, that even the ardent 'Trekker" won't give up on this one. Always visually stunning to a fault, the film successfully never loses sight of the human element of the "Star Trek" universe as it is these interpersonal stories that have always made the franchise click. As Abrams throws as many lens flares at the screen as he possible can, this film like so many of his other projects keeps the people first and that is truly where the magic lies as the ensemble returns getting fully ensconced in their characters with some excellent performances.
Surprisingly enough, in this second film it is the supporting cast that shines just a brightly as the leads. Chris Pine is embracing the swarthy, arrogant swagger of Kirk that will all love so very much as he leads his crew into battle against this new villain. Benedict Cumberbatch simply tears up the screen as the best kind of bad guy there is, the one we love to hate and he gloriously chewed the scenery at every turn.
Zachary Quinto truly became Spock in this one channelling both emotional sides of his character really becoming Spock's equal this time out. Karl Urban chews the scenery with his one liners and Simon Pegg provided some fantastic comic relief as John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Zoe Saldana and newcomer Alice Eve rounded out the supporting ensemble making this film a real ensemble piece, just like a Star Trek film should be.
As they pay homage to the old, while trying to bring in new fans, "Star Trek: Into Darkness" despite the occasional hiccup works as an across the board action ode to the countless adventures that are out there in the universe for this crew to explore.
"Star Trek: Into Darkness" is now playing at theatres all across the country; please check with your local listings for show times.
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Over the past week, I've been surprised how many armchair pundits have lambasted Microsoft forits still not officially-admitted but largely expected decisions to add an optional Start Button and boot-to-desktop capability to Windows Blue.
There've been reports claiming everything from Microsoft is doing a 180-degree reversal with Windows Blue, to others advising the Redmondians to dig in their heels and stay the current UI course with its coming Blue update.
Windows Blue, from all leaks and tips I've received, is not a do-over. (If it were, it would take Microsoft a lot longer than nine or ten months to deliver it.) And ignoring customer confusion isn't a virtue; it's stupidity.
This armchair pundit finds it refreshing to hear Windows honchos admit that Windows 8 isn't selling as well as they hoped and that they want to make its successor more comfortable, familiar and usable for the Windows installed base.
In addition to the optional Start Button and boot-to-desktop options, there may be other interface adjustments in the works, according to one of my Blue tipsters. I hear the Windows team may also be tweaking the Charms to make them a bit easier to use with a mouse. There might be new built-in tutorials and in-context help coming to Blue. And word is there may be adjustments to the Start Screen designed to make Blue easier to use for Desktop users. One of my sources said some of these tweaks may not be in the Windows Blue preview release coming at the end of June, but that they still could make it into the final product.
If any or all of these tweaks make it into the final version of Blue, it's nothing but goodness. If you're a user who likes Windows 8 already, great. Just ignore new options and keep on keepin' on. If you're someone like me -- who is still running Windows 7 on two of my three Windows devices (with Windows RT running on my Surface RT) -- maybe Blue will make you reconsider whether you might find the new Metro-centric Windows a little more palatable because of these changes.
Last summer, before Windows 8 launched, I said I thought the operating system would face a rough road. My reasoning at the time was there were few PCs or tablets that made Windows 8 usable. And for those of us who might be interested in putting Windows 8 on existing non-touch hardware, the usability was questionable. Now that Windows 8's been out for about six months, I feel like my early inklings were true. I wouldn't call Windows 8 a disaster (with 100 million licenses sold), but I also wouldn't call it a barn-burner success.
My biggest criticism for Microsoft in all this isn't that the company is trying to make some adjustments to improve usability with Blue. Instead, I can't but help wonder why Microsoft -- with all its telemetry information, customer satisfaction data, and beta-testing input -- still went ahead with what its Windows execs must have known full well would be a confusing and less-than-optimal experience for many Windows users.
It's possible to project a bit by reading one of the recent blog posts of former Windows President Steven Sinofsky, who spearheaded Windows 8's development, for some insights into that question. In a May 8 post (a day after Microsoft's latest Blue disclosures), Sinofsky blogged about the damned-if-they-do/damned-if-they-don't choice that companies face when launching a disruptive technology:
"If you listen to customers (and vector back to the previous path in some way: undo, product modes, multiple products/SKUs, etc.) you will probably cede the market to the new entrants or at least give them more precious time. If technology product history is any guide, pundits will declare you will be roadkill in fairly short order as you lack a strategic response. There’s a good chance your influential customers will rejoice as they can go back and do what they always did. You will then be left without an answer for what comes next for your declining usage patterns.
"If you don’t listen to customers (and stick to your guns) you are going to 'alienate' folks and cede the market to someone who listens. If technology product history is any guide, pundits will declare that your new product is not resonating with the core audience. Pundits will also declare that you are stubborn and not listening to customers."
The Windows organization that Sinofsky left behind in November is facing this very choice right now, and seems to be heading toward Option A (after already trying Option B under Sinofsky).
Given Microsoft's installed base of 1.4 billion and the reticence of some of its key partners to back Microsoft's claim that the whole device world is going touch (something else I have to say I'm relieved to hear), I am liking Microsoft's new direction here.
I believe Microsoft can stay its Metro-centric, touch-centric course with Windows Blue, while still making some changes that will make the OS more usable and comfortable for a bigger pool of users. While it would have been great if Windows 8 debuted this way last October, I say better late than never.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
And about time, wouldn''t you say?
Etsy, Kickstarter are holding a day of action on September 10 as the deadline approaches for public comments on the proposed 'fast lane' rules.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
This is a fight we cannot afford to lose. No matter how little of the technology you understand, we all use it. Cell phones, Netflix and other WiFi television connectors, our computers, Kindles ... so much of our lives depends on fast, dependable Internet connections.
If we lose this fight, we will be looking back on these days as those glorious days when we were all equal on the net ... because we won't be any longer.
Sid Caesar is dead at 91 and the curtain has softly closed on a comedy giant. Although giant is perhaps not a large enough term to refer to a legendary figure who, through his live comedy programs,...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Truly one the greatest of the greats. I remember "The Show of Shows" when I was a kid. From that show came more giants -- Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Woody Allen -- to name a few.
I currently own 4 Olympus micro 4/3 cameras, 2 E-PL1s, an E-P3 and an E-PM2. I also own 7 Olympus and Panasonic micro 4/3 lenses. I’ve shot more than 20,000 frames with my Olympus cameras, so I know these cameras well. I’ve also used the newest Olympus Pen, the E-P5, during a week and half evaluation.
I’m also a Canon DSLR shooter. I started with the Rebel XT 7 years ago and have upgrade over time to the 20D, 7D and currently own the full frame 6D. While I shoot a variety of subjects, I’m most excited about urban landscapes and street photography, especially in the evening and night. For this reason, I’m usually drawn to fast shooting cameras that have great low light (high ISO) performance.
THE 4/3 FORMAT
Before micro 4/3, there was an older format called 4/3. Olympus and Panasonic also shared the original 4/3 standard. This standard was for DSLRs with traditional lenses and a flipping mirror. The goal was to create DSLRs smaller than Canon and Nikon by using a smaller sensor.
The 4/3 DSLRs were in fact smaller but it ultimately didn’t make a big difference — Canon and Nikon continued to dominate sales. Back then the smaller 4/3 sensor didn’t perform as well in low light, which was the main knock against the format. Also the mirror assembly still added considerable bulk so the 4/3 cameras were not “radically” smaller than the bigger APS-C sized DSLRs.
Ultimately, Olympus and Panasonic regrouped to form the now popular micro 4/3 standard. They took out the flipping mirror and further shrank the lenses and, in the process, started the mirrorless interchangeable lens movement.
The jewels in the old 4/3 system are the highly regarded Olympus lenses. Olympus DSLRs focused faster than the original mirrorless offerings and while Olympus released an adapter to use 4/3 lenses on micro 4/3 cameras, they didn’t work as quickly. The 2010 release of the E-5 was the last time Olympus updated their DSLR. Since then, 4/3 lens fans had no modern, high performance cameras to use their glass. This changed with the release of the OM-D E-M1.
BRINGING THE FAMILY BACK TOGETHER
With the release of the OM-D E-M1, Olympus combined the best of the micro 4/3 world with the best of the 4/3 lens world. Though the E-M1 is not an SLR, it has phase detect and contrast detect focusing which allows the older 4/3 lenses to focus quickly. Reports on the web indicate that while some 4/3 lenses don’t focus as fast as on the E-5 DSLR, the E-M1 is significantly faster than previous micro 4/3 cameras. Robin Wong in Malaysia reports that the focus speed with the 4/3 lenses are more than enough and it is a very usable system. It appears that 4/3 lens focusing speed is lens dependent. A reader indicates that SWD lenses focuses even faster. I didn’t have any 4/3 lenses to test but reports on the web indicate positive results indeed.
In one bold stroke, Olympus managed to up its mirrorless focusing capability while supporting the older, loyal Olympus 4/3 owners. It’s a move that brought back the two side of the Olympus household under one roof.
CHALLENGING THE DSLR
While the original 4/3 DSLR never did challenge the Canon / Nikon duopoly, the new mirrorless E-M1 has put together a package that has compelling advantages over the old fashioned DSLR. Imagine a camera that is as fast as a DSLR, with equal image quality, with superior video in a small package.
It took several years of refinement and ultimately a new Sony 16MP sensor, but the micro 4/3 system currently has the same image quality as an APS-C DSLR. When I tested the Olympus E-PM2 against my Canon 7D, I found the low light image quality to be equal to or superior on the Olympus. Even the newest Canon 70D, which is better than the 7D, appears to be in the same ball park as the E-M1. Looking at the DPReview results, it appears that the Olympus JPEG engine still does better than Canon, pulling out sharp details. High ISO performance seems about the same for JPEG and the new 70D might be a tad better than the E-PM2 in RAW.
At 10 frames per second in continuous focusing mode, the E-M1 is the first micro 4/3 camera that I would recommend for sports. The latest generation of Olympus Pens are quick for normal shooting — it has one of the fastest contrast detect focusing systems. But when it comes to fast action sports, like soccer, the contrast detect can’t keep up. The E-M1 uses phase detect focusing to assist the contrast detect focusing when set in continuous mode with the micro 4/3 lens (on 4/3 lenses, I’m told it uses phase detect full-time) which makes all the difference. I was able to continuously focus more reliably than with my Canon 7D, which by the way, only shoots at 8 frames per second. DSLRs still have the sports advantage in certain ways, which I will explain below however, this is a major step for mirrorless sports photography.
One of the knocks against the DSLR is the size of the camera and even worse, the size of the lenses. Since the E-M1 uses the slightly smaller micro 4/3 sensor, the body and the lenses are noticeably compact. Even though this latest OM-D has the beefiest body so far for an Olympus micro 4/3 camera, it is still a lot smaller than a comparable DSLR. Here is a photograph I took at Precision Camera that compares a Canon 70D with the 24 – 70mm f2.8 vs the Olympus E-M1 with the very similar 24 – 80mm equivalent (Note: technically the Canon 24- 70mm lens on a 70D has a 38mm – 112mm equivalent). Notice a difference?
A GROUND BREAKING LENS
Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 The impact of Olympus’ new lens, the 12 – 40mm f2.8, is hard to overstated. This is the first PRO micro 4/3 lens from Olympus. It has a metal exterior, it’s weather proof and it’s fast. f2.8 is typically what pros like to use. The large aperture and a usable 24 – 80mm equivalent range makes this a do all lens. This type of lens is popular with wedding photographers and photojournalists where fast action and changing light conditions makes it indispensable.
But imagine all this capability in a size not much bigger than a typical DSLR kit lens. That’s what you can get with micro 4/3, a constant 2.8 zoom in a small package. With Canon, for example, their 24 -70mm f2.8 is nearly 3/4″ larger in diameter and over an inch longer. It weighs more than double, coming in at a hefty 1.77 pounds. The Canon lens also runs about $2,300 which is $1,300 more than the Olympus.
Unique to the Olympus lens is a feature where you can pull back on the focus ring, which automatically switches the E-M1 into manual focus mode. Between the focus peaking and digital zoom, this maybe the easiest way to manually focus, at least on a digital camera. This manual focus interface is also available on the Olympus 12mm f2 and the 17mm f1.8. The 12mm and 17mm don’t do automatic focus peaking or digital zoom when the focus ring is pulled backed, however. Unlike the 12-40mm zoom, you need to program a function button to bring up the manual focus aids.
Separately, the E-M1 and 12-40mm lens are excellent in their own way. But together, as a package, the two complement each other perfectly. They’re an unbeatable pair. Of course the E-M1 can be used with any micro 4/3 lens. Conversely, the 12-40mm can be used on any micro 4/3 body. This lens needs the beefy grip of the E-M1 to be comfortable. While the lens is small in DSLR terms, it is one of the bigger micro 4/3 lenses. Perhaps adding the optional grips on the OM-D E-M5 will also do the trick but on a smaller camera like the E-P3 or even the smaller E-PM2, the lens is too heavy.
Mated together, you get a total package that is significantly smaller than the DSLR equivalents. Remember, a smaller sensor may reduce the body size somewhat but it really has benefits in shrinking the lens size. I carried around this high performance, weather sealed, f2.8 zoom camera all day with no strain. It fits in my small Domke bag and it didn’t tire me out. Try that with your DSLR.
The E-M1 and 12-40mm combo may be the first setup that handles 95% of my needs. That includes my serious photography as well as family vacation snapshots and videos. Action in low light maybe the only time I’ll need a second lens with a big aperture. I like to use the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4. Other choices may include both the Olympus 12mm f2 and the 17mm f1.8, both really good lenses. Finally, the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is a very popular and compact alternative.
A serious portrait shooter, which I am not, may also want to consider a wide aperture portrait lens to decrease the depth of field. The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is a low-cost and highly rated lens. The Olympus 75mm f1.8 is considered by some to be the highest quality micro 4/3 lens.
Olympus E-M1 Details Olympus E-M1 Details The E-M1 is unlike any previous Olympus micro 4/3 camera. The actual size, in person, seems smaller than expected. It doesn’t look “toy like”, which is the reaction I had when I first saw the E-M5. In actual use, it feels more like a DSLR than the typical mirrorless camera, albeit a very small DLSR. It feels very different from the Olympus Pens that I’ve come to know very well.
On first use, I found the camera heavy. It fit well in hand and all the controls are easy to reach — many accessible single-handed. I can change the two control dials with just my right hand which is not possible, for example, with my Canons. I may opt to use my left hand for added stability, but it wasn’t required to change the primary controls.
There is enough direct access buttons on this thing that I rarely need to go into the menus or super control panel. And all the buttons are well place and easily accessible. Between the weight, build and control, it’s a totally different experience than using an Olympus Pen. Compared to this camera, my otherwise excellent E-PM2 feels like a plastic point and shoot. In less than a week, I got used to the weight. It became the new normal. My Pens felt tiny but the DSLRs still seemed a size or two larger.
While the control accessibly of the E-M1 is superior to my Canon 6D, I prefer the larger grip of the Canon for heavier lenses. The 12-40mm works fine on the E-M1 but with heavier lenses (like the legacy 4/3 lenses), I think you should attach the optional HLD-7 Camera grip. The E-M1 is a lot shorter than the DSLR so the grip does not extend down to the pinky, even with my smaller hands. The optional battery grip will add needed support for heavier lenses.
The menu system seems very similar to the other Olympus micro 4/3 cameras however there are some changes. I noticed, for example, the menu options around bracketing and HDR have changed somewhat. There are probably other small differences but I didn’t do a comprehensive check. I like all the options and customizability of the Olympus menus but I know some find it overwhelming. The good news is with all the external, physical controls, you will rarely need to visit the menus.
Olympus E-M1 Details Olympus E-M1 Details Olympus E-M1 Details Unlike the other Olympus models, this camera only comes in black. The dark, angular shape with its sharp creases is in direct contrast to the smooth and rounded shapes of DSLRs. It also has a very different aesthetic from the Pen line. While the smaller Pens are cute, retro or in the case of the E-P5, upscale. The E-M1 looks like a purposeful photographic tool and its smaller than DLSR size still makes it accessible and non-threatening. It strikes a good balance. While there is a similarity to the old, film Olympus SLR, to me the design doesn’t look retro, It looks modern and high tech.
There is enough heft and size, especially with the 12-40mm lens, to come across as a premium product. However, unlike the two toned, Olympus E-P5, it does not look luxurious. The E-M1 is more functional than decorative. My 14-year-old son describes it as cool but not Pro. Meaning, a big DSLR with a large white lens looks more professional and impressive. So if you are getting this camera to impress people, it may not be the ideal choice. But it doesn’t look like a budget plastic DSLR either — you can tell it is something special. This thing has a solid all metal build with nice rubbery grips. The only section that feels a bit lacking is the SD Card door located on the grip, by the palm. It doesn’t seem cheap, I just don’t know how solid it will be after years of use. For the record my Canon 6D also has a similarly placed SD card door, of which I have the same concerns.
Not looking like a typical DSLR but with DSLR performance is why I like the camera. It’s certainly not as stealthy as an Olympus Pen, but I don’t think it will attract attention like a Pro DSLR either. Purely on looks, I prefer the two toned E-P5. It has just the right amount of sparkle and it seemed like a “civilized” travel and street camera. Performance and flexibility wise, the E-M1 is clearly superior. You can shoot sports, take it into country for landscapes (in all kinds of nasty weather) and do almost everything in between. In that sense, E-M1 is Olympus’ most versatile camera.
Where the E-M1 is clearly superior over the E-P5 is with the integrated EVF (Electronic View Finder). I didn’t like that add-on EVF on the E-P5, one of the few things I complained about in an otherwise fine camera. On the E-P5, the EVF is an afterthought. It doesn’t integrate into the design and, for me, get’s in the way. The E-M1 EVF, I believe, has the same technical specifications but it is full incorporated into the body. (Note: A reader reports that the E-M1 EVF has slight improvements over the VF-4 EVF that optionally comes with the E-P5. It has less lag and automated brightness, adjusting to ambient light) It looks good, design wise, and is less fragile. I don’t typically use EVFs, but on the E-M1 I used it more than usual. Perhaps I used the EVF more because, conceptually for me, the E-M1 handles and feels like a DSLR. The Pen cameras, on the other hand, work more like point and shoots.
The EVF quality is the best yet. It is the closest so far to the feel of an optical view finder. It smooth, with great color and it doesn’t get overly bright in dark scenes. It’s the first EVF I don’t mind using, though I still find it comfortable and more flexible using the flip LCD up screen.
I know there’s a lot of people who like the Olympus E-M5 but I never warmed up to that camera. The ergonomics, such as the button placement didn’t work for me. Also, it just looked a bit “toy like” because of its small size. It looks like a retro SLR but not sized like one, which is where the disconnect for me happens, I think. The E-M1 just looks right. It still seems smaller than expected but not to any extreme. There is a balance to it that the E-M5 doesn’t have unless you add the optional grips.
There are many aspects to image quality, of course. There is color, dynamic range, contrast, noise levels and sharpness to name a few. Color is probably the most important for me and usually the most visible. The Olympus color, which I really like, is a key reason I use the system. Beyond that, I tend to look at noise levels particularly for high ISOs. I shoot a lot in dark conditions and having great high ISO performance is important. Certainly, I would like better dynamic range but for my serious urban landscapes I often use HDR which increase the apparent dynamic range. This, I find, is a great equalizer between systems.
I rarely do serious ISO tests. I generally look at the results from normal shooting and see what looks acceptable to me. I view the photograph on my 27″ Apple Thunderbolt display so that the image fills the display (not at 100%). If I can’t see any noise or general harshness, I deem the image as acceptable for my purposes. While I may do retouching at 100%, I don’t pixel peep at 100% once I know the limits of a camera.
Compared to other Olympus cameras
For Olympus Pens I’m usually satisfied with the images up to ISO 3200. Keep in mind that noise levels vary by color and exposure so ISO 3200 is a general rule of thumb. The EM-1 uses a new 16MP sensor. I’ve head reports that it might be better at higher ISOs than the previous E-M5 sensor. I decided to run some quick tests to see if I can detect a difference.
I shot the Texas State Capitol on tripod with both the E-M1 with the 12-40mm attached and the E-PM2 with the Panasonic 14mm attached. Both cameras were set to f8 and at 14mm (28mm equivalent). I was testing noise levels, not sharpness so I decided not to use the same lens. I shot 3 photos at -2 stops, 0 and +2 stops exposure compensation. I did this at ISO 200, 1600, 3200, 4000, 5000 and 6400. By varying the exposure compensation, I can judge noise levels with both over and under exposed photographs. I also shot both cameras with RAW + JPEG but did the analysis with JPEG since I don’t have a RAW converter for the E-M1.
My results? In this simple test, the two cameras did about the same. I did not see a noticeable improvement with the E-M1. This is in contrast to Ming Thein’s results where he was getting about 1/2 or so stop better noise performance. Ming is a professional photographer out of Malaysia and I certainly trust his analysis. Keep in mind that noise characteristics change with exposure and color. So even if we are both testing noise performance, our results may vary depending on the subject. Also, Ming was using an OM-D E-M5 and I was using a Pen E-PM2. My understanding is that both cameras use the same sensor and processor but a quick check over at DXO Mark reveals something interesting. According to their tests the E-PM2 does a tad better at high ISO. Could that account for the difference?
That’s not to say I didn’t see any differences. For my state Capitol scene, things looked about the same until ISO 1600. At 3200 and above, I noticed that the E-M1 processed JPEGs differently from the E-PM2. The JPEG noise reduction on the E-M1 seems lighter creating a more detailed but slightly noisier images. I am splitting hairs though, pixel peeping at 100%. At full size on the 27″ monitor, its hard to make out the differences.
That said for the “normal” non-test scenes I shot, I was getting decent, usable image as ISO 4000 and 5000. Even ISO 6400 was okay in terms of noise. Remember that these are JPEGs so the camera adds noise reduction. I usually use RAW where noise is a bigger factor unless I add additional noise reduction. The advantage of RAW is that I can post process the image with more latitude, pulling out details from shadows or bringing back some detail in over exposed areas. I can also manipulate color more in RAW without the image falling apart.
So your mileage will vary. I wouldn’t expect radically better high ISO results with the E-M1 over the current generation micro 4/3s. But this camera’s strength lie in other areas. I’ve also noticed more noise in some over exposed images with the E-M1, which I create when shooting HDR brackets. I don’t see it all the time and it may be related to the way JPEGs are processed. The net effect is that I’ve created a noisier than usual HDR image, the one of the State Capitol displayed above. I needed to apply extra noise reduction via software to get it down to acceptable levels. I would need to run more tests to determine if this was a fluke or a real issue. The image above used the photos I shot at ISO 200. And in case you are wondering, the white specs you see on the pavement are not noise but light reflecting off the pavement.
Compared to DSLRs
The current generation micro 4/3 are surprisingly competitive, image quality wise, with DSLRs with APS-C sensors. The larger APS-C sensors should give it a distinct advantage but in actual usage there seems to be very little difference. I am more familiar with Canon than Nikon so I will talk about the former. I’ve been shooting with micro 4/3 for a while and I was surprised to discover that my small Olympus E-PM2 matched or exceeded the low light performance of the Canon 7D. I’ve talked a lot about this. Basically, Canon have not improved their APS-C sensor for over 3 years. In that time, smaller sensored cameras, like micro 4/3 caught up. Recently Canon released the 70D. This is first Canon APS-C DSLR that noticeably improves low light performance. I would estimate that 70D is about a 1/3 to 2/3 stop better in RAW performance than the E-M1 (that’s assuming the E-M1 RAW performance is similar to the E-PM2). If you compare JPEG performance, it appears that the superior Olympus JPEG engine still matches Canon’s results.
For full frame DSLRs, it’s a very different story. High ISO performance on full frame is clearly better than micro 4/3. The physics of a grossly larger sensor is hard to beat. On my Canon 6D, for example, I get nearly 2 stops better high ISO performance. So ISO 10,000 on my Canon 6D is about on par with ISO 3200 on micro 4/3.
Olympus does have one tangible benefit though. The E-M1 has a very sophisticated 5 axis in-body image stabilizer. This allows you to take clear shots at lower ISOs by reducing your shutter speed. This technique will not help with fast action but for scenes with little or no movement, you can reduce your shutter speed greatly. Couple this with some large aperture prime lenses and you can easily best APS-C sensored DSLRs. And you can almost close the gap on full frame cameras too depending on the circumstance.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
See the rest of the story -- comparisons, photos, analysis, summaries on ATMTX PHOTO BLOG at: http://blog.atmtxphoto.com/2013/10/06/the-olympus-om-d-e-m1-review/
That’s the message. The ACA doesn’t affect me directly since I’m already on Medicare — except the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare have been going up each year. Higher deductibles and premiums, less coverage for the money and the doughnut hole in prescription coverage just keeps going and going and going. They are nibbling away at the coverage. Slowly and surely.Ever since I turned 65, it’s been a rapid downhill slide into worse medical care. As long as was on MassHealth, the Massachusetts version of “Obama Care,” I was fine. I got medication for cheap or free and if I was sick, they took care of me. Thank God I had cancer while I was still covered under MassHealth!The day I turned 65, they tossed me off of MassHealth. Did I get richer or healthier? Nope. The Great Minds who designed the system decreed when you hit 65, you don’t need money. You can automatically live on about 1/3 the amount you used to need. Apparent the benevolent folks who hold our mortgage and bills knock 2/3 off our payments because they know we are getting old and definitely poor.In your dreams.
I knew it was going to happen but I’d been trying not to think about it. I knew because it happened to my husband when he turned 65. Bang, no more MassHealth. You’re on your own, buster. Garry has fewer major health issues than I do, a situation that is not guaranteed to last forever but so far, so good.
Me, on the other hand … well. I’m just about to hit the second anniversary of the two tumors which cost me both breasts – the definition of a bi-lateral mastectomy and essentially, I’m getting no care at all, not even checkups. I had cancer twice – simultaneously. Those two-for-one sales are a killer.
My insurer has too few oncologists, so essentially I have no care. I hope for the best and don’t think on it much. Usually. Except at night, when I’m trying to fall asleep. Then, I wonder what’s really going on in my body. It is not the kind of thinking conducive to relaxation and rest.
I have evolved into a cardiac disaster area. I need a new mitral valve and other things. Turns out that my Medicare Advantage Plan (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) charges $50 per day co-pay for cardiac rehab. Since there is no way we can come up with that money, I can’t afford cardiac rehab. With all the deductibles, I’m not even sure I can afford the surgery itself … and I’m not sure they’ll perform it if I can’t do the rehab. I’m trying real hard to find something funny here and not doing such a great job.
I’ve been considering using Magical Thinking as a medical alternative. Magical Thinking is holistic medicine for the hopelessly deluded. Rather than medication and surgery. I pretend I’m fine and kaboom — I’m fine. Problem eliminated. Magical thinking is cheap, efficient and much less stressful than actually dealing with the problem.
Okay, back to earth. I’m getting a message from the ether and the message, ladies and gentleman is (wait for it) … “Just die already.”
If I could afford $220 per month more, I could get a policy without deductibles. Ironically, that’s exactly what it costs me monthly to keep the house heated. On the budget plan. Could I skip heating and trade up for better medical insurance? But this is New England. It gets cold.
Or, for an additional $200 per month (which we don’t have) — plus the cost of Medicare — I could get a Medigap policy that would cover everything Medicare doesn’t cover. I’d need a prescription plan separately and no plan covers that big doughnut hole in the middle of prescription coverage. Kind of a moot point since I don’t have the money. Hell, we have more month than money now. More? From where? Our generous government entitlements?
If I don’t take care of the bad valves, I will die. If I delay too long, the chances of the surgery working well become increasingly poor. I can’t afford the surgery, not really … and the alternative is?
The message comes through loud and clear. I’ve outlived my usefulness. Just die already.
With the shut down of the government by those opposed to the ACA (let’s call them “Republicans” and be done with the niceties), with the GOP apparently believing “Just die already” is a reasonable message to send to me and lots of other people, I have to wonder how I wound up here. We worked hard our whole lives. We deserve better than this. I try not to be whiney about it, but it hurts to find oneself discarded, marginalized, back against the wall with the wolves closing in.
How did the United States become this ugly, mean-spirited country that would rather close down than offer medical care to its poor, its children, its senior citizens? How did we come to this? Who are we, anyhow?
I know. I get it. Just die already.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
And that's the way it really is for so many of us. It's not theory. It's not funny. It's not political. It's life and death for real. Maybe you want to rethink your position.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
For those who have never read the Constitution -- and for we who may need a refresher (it being a long time since school days), here is a link to a transcript of the Constitution by which ALL Americans are all sworn to abide.
Regardless of party. Regardless of whether or not we like the President. We are a nation of laws, not extortion.
We are all supposed to care about this country. We can disagree, but holding the government to get your way is wrong. Unethical, immoral and unpatriotic. Maybe worse.
The science behind the beauty of the season, from the Mass Audubon Society. One of my favorite organizations. They do good work to help preserve our natural world.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I always wondered. Now, I know.
Despite news stories that would suggest the opposite, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy are fond of pointing out that the city has endured less shootings than in recent years. If that is truly the case, then the shootings in past years was under reported by local media. You can believe that they are all over it now. Local news in most big cities follow the mantra, “If it bleeds, it leads,” and shootings have become the lead stories all too often in the Windy City and around America. Chicago has become the topic of national newscasts and unfortunate late night talk show jokes.
Mayor Emanuel and his predecessor, long time mayor Rich Daley, have worked hard to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. They worked to restrict gun sales, limit concealed carry and ban guns at certain locations. In light of gun violence, it seems logical that city leaders would lead the charge to get guns out of the hands of the type of people who would shoot up a city park. Unfortunately their efforts have met the fight to let criminals have their guns. “Who would be against the efforts of our elected officials to make the city streets safer?” you may ask. Is it just the gangs? Are the gangs using their drug profits to oppose the city in court? Is it the Mafia and their high-priced attorneys? Is it some Tea Party extremist? No, it is none of those although the last might be close. It is the National Rifle Association that is working hard to let criminals have guns and keep violence on main street America. They have money. They have lawyers and they like taking Chicago to court.
Yes, one of the roadblocks to taking guns away from criminals is the NRA. They will now point to recent shootings as proof that we can not have gun control. They will again try to force feed us the argument that gun control will mean that only criminals will have guns and we will all be at their mercy, as if we are not now. The NRA will use their usual scare tactics to defend their extreme position that actually allows criminals to get more and more guns. They will then attempt to sell us on the idea that all of those guns in the hands of criminals means we can not have gun control laws. Somehow they seem to think that arming the bad guys is proof that the good guys should not have to face any sort of restrictions on buying guns. If you think this philosophy is a bit twisted, you are right (or perhaps I meant left).
The “slippery slope” argument is at the top of the NRA’s philosophy about gun control laws. They seem to think that if there are any restrictions to buying guns, soon there will be more and more restrictions to follow and eventually all the good guys will have to give up their guns to the federal, state and local governments. It does not matter that this argument make no sense and the Second Amendment will protect them. They continue to fight the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago through misleading pronouncements and court challenges. Consider the common sense ideas of the state and city along with the extremist, Wild West position of the NRA.
Attempts at restricting private sale or transfer of guns to criminals have been challenged. Reporting lost or stolen guns has been challenged. Restricting concealed carry in certain public places has been challenged. The NRA has won a battle against the State of Illinois in Moore v. Madigan. That would be Lisa Madigan, Attorney General for the State of Illinois. They claimed that the State efforts to enforce its laws left people “defenseless” outside their own homes. They also backed McDonald v. Chicago in a fight against Chicago hand guns laws. Their direct fight in NRA v. Chicago was later consolidated with the McDonald case. While the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the Chicago law, the fight went to the Supreme Court where the much of the Chicago ordinance was struck down, leaving the city to attempt a less restrictive ban in 2010.
The State of Illinois was forced in July to adopt a concealed weapons laws, which angered city officials. The law forced changes on the City of Chicago. City officials, however, refuse to roll over to the wishes of the NRA. They are now attempting to ban guns in bars and restaurants that sell alcohol. They feel guns and booze don’t mix. They expect the NRA to back the Dodge City mentality and challenge them in court. Apparently, there should be no checking of hand guns at the door, but Marshal Dillon is not around to toss the bad guys in jail like an episode of Gunsmoke so this may not go well. Perhaps all disputes will be settled by a duel in the street rather than shooting up Chicago saloons.
If Al Capone were still alive he would be proud of the efforts of the NRA to let Capone and Frank Nitti keep guns on the streets of Chicago. As for Eliot Ness, the NRA would keep him and the Untouchables busy in court with challenges over any attempts to enforce the law, even common sense laws.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Despite all the palaver that the availability of guns does not affect crime levels, this is so obviously ridiculous and self-serving by gun enthusiasts that it really isn't worth arguing. I think everyone who hunts, competes in shooting sports and has some kind of genuine reason to own a weapon should be allowed to do so. I also think that all guns should be better regulated, insured, and kept track of. Heres an opinion worth reading.
srael could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.
The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond just the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.
But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel.
Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” But does Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?
There are other losers as well. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern-Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Suddenly, Turkey became one of Israel’s worst enemies and the Obama administration’s best friends.
Yet if Erdogan has charmed President Obama, he has alienated almost everyone in the Middle East. Islamists such as former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi felt that Erdogan was a fickle and opportunistic conniver. The Gulf monarchies believed that he was a troublemaker who wanted to supplant their influence. Neither the Europeans nor the Russians trust him. The result is that Erdogan’s loud anti-Israeli foreign policy is increasingly irrelevant.
The oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf once funded terrorists on the West Bank, but they are now fueling the secular military in Egypt. In Syria they are searching to find some third alternative to Assad’s Alawite regime and its al-Qaeda enemies. For the moment, oddly, the Middle East foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other oil monarchies dovetails with Israel’s: Predictable Sunni-Arab nationalism is preferable to one-vote, one-time Islamist radicals.
Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the current bloodletting lends credence to Israel’s ancient complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations.
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship is gone. His radical Muslim Brotherhood successors were worse and are also gone. The military dictatorship that followed both is no more legitimate than either. In these cycles of revolution, the one common denominator is an absence of constitutional government.
In Syria, there never was a moderate middle. Take your pick between the murderous Shiite-backed Assad dictatorship or radical Sunni Islamists. In Libya, the choice degenerated to Moammar Qaddafi’s unhinged dictatorship or the tribal militias that overthrew it. Let us hope that one day westernized moderate democracy might prevail. But that moment seems a long way off.
What do the Egyptian military, the French in Mali, Americans at home, the Russians, the Gulf monarchies, persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, and the reformers of the Arab Spring all have in common? Like Israel, they are all fighting Islamic-inspired fanaticism. And most of them, like Israel, are opposed to the idea of a nuclear Iran.
In comparison with the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.
Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns with the Israelis. In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.
— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, is just out from Bloomsbury Books. You can reach him by e-mailing email@example.com. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc
"If they did secede, America should get to keep Austin. And San Antonio. And Willie Nelson." —John Fugelsang
Every year, Texas celebrates Texas Independence Day, where they commemorate their independence from Mexico. In recent years, though, it’s become a bit of a pep rally for some state residents who think Texas needs to secede from America — these tend to be guys who really just need to secede from AM radio and high-fructose corn syrup.
Seriously, earlier this year over 100,000 people signed an online petition demanding the Obama White House allow Texas to secede. At one point, even Gov. Rick Perry got in on the action, saying in speeches that Texas had the right to secede if they wanted to. Now, I love Texas. I’ve got family there, and I always thought this was an awful idea — but if they did secede, America should get to keep Austin. And San Antonio. And Willie Nelson.
Nowadays, Rick Perry’s in the news again by trying to bribe American businesses — with low taxes, low regulation and taxpayer funds — to secede from their own states and move to Texas. He’s running new commercials and hoping to pilfer enough corporations to help him run for president on job creation in 2016. I’d like to tell an original joke about Rick Perry running for president, but it’s hacky, it’s been done and — I forget the third thing.
But a Rick Perry candidacy is why I haven’t wanted Texas to secede because America really needs a leader who talks about quitting America.
This guy’s got a low-wage right-to-work state that’s 50th in high school graduations and first in worker deaths.
Now, I’m not here to put Rick Perry down, just to deny him clemency. But the great state of Texas has had some pretty bad PR this month.
Last week, Texas GOP Chair Ken Emanuelson said, “I’m going to be real honest with you: the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9 to 1 for Democrats.”
Used to be in Texas, a man would get arrested for exposing himself like that. But we let it slide.
But then, my friend, came Ezekiel Gilbert. Back on Christmas Eve 2009, he paid $150 for the company of a Craigslist escort. Her name was Lenora Frago, she was 23 and her ad did not guarantee sex, just her time. She decided she didn’t want sex with Mr. Gilbert. She left his home, her driver picked her up, and as they pulled away, Mr. Gilbert came out and shot her through the neck. She was paralyzed and died from complications seven months later.
And last week, because of a Texas law that allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft, the jury acquitted him and he walked free.
So what can I say except, ‘As of now, Texas, you’re free to go.’
Break it off at the panhandle and secede away. We’ll miss ya, but if legally murdering women for $150 is how it’s gonna be, we’re not gonna make you stick around. You can take the NAS, Big Oil, cotton, that new reboot of Dallas and Ted Nugent. I don’t even know if Ted lives in Texas, but please take him.
Go off on your own and become the whitest, twangiest, most northernmost province of Mexico. Your sane moral residents will be given free asylum here in America, and Gov. Perry will get to be el presidente del Republica de Tejico. Then he can woo even more American NAFTA jobs south of the border, where there’s no pesky minimum wage.
Keep all your guns, ban all your gays and here’s Puerto Rico to become the fiftieth star, so we don’t have to change the flag.
Oh, and we’ll be happy to finish that border fence — only it’s gonna be along your northern border. Try crossing and watch those Oklahoma militias go to town on you illegals. We’ll beg them not to shoot y’all, but they won’t have to listen, because, hey, states’ rights!
Now, of course, I’m just kidding. Nobody sane wants Texas to leave. In fact, if you look at the demographics you’ll see Texas is our biggest minority majority state. White folks — especially the mean ones — are becoming a minority. Which may be why Rick Perry is so hell-bent on cutting public education funds. But it doesn’t matter. Texas is becoming more blue every year. I’m not saying they’re about to become an all-solar-vegan-hemp-happy-clappy-gay-marriage-liberal colony, but it appears that within our lifetimes we can look forward to seeing the people of Texas secede — from the likes of Rick Perry.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Good article. Funny, in a dark humor kind of way.
A reliable source has revealed that Nelson Mandela’s life support machine was shut down and he has died in hospital aged 94. According to the source, the iconic Mandela died last night while he was still in hospital for the recurring lung infection that left him in critical condition for several days.
Rumours have flooded the newspapers and the internet with several sources reporting his death days earlier in a cruel attempt to fool the public and to upset the many people who have respect for this great humanitarian. The loss of the great man will be felt across the world.
Earlier today one of our writers, Laura Oneale, wrote an article questioning whether or not Nelson Mandela was still alive. He had been in the hospital 19 days for a recurring lung infection. As speculation surrounding his health continued to grow with many asking whether he was still alive or if, in fact, he had died. Until recently authorities would only confirm that he was on a life support system and remained in a critical condition.
Authorities have confirmed that Nelson Mandela has been taken off his life support machine. Adding fuel to the speculation that he had died. Because of this, the rumor has been spreading that Nelson Mandela died last night and that the government and his family have “kept a lid” on the news because of American Present Obama’s upcoming trip to South Africa. Obviously, the president’s vist will be overshadowed by the announcement of the Noble Prize wining Mandela.
The Noble Prize winning humanitarian Nelson Mandela had his life support shut down after he died last night aged 94 at the end of a long battle with illness that ended with his hospitalisation and finally his death. While his health problems started in 2011, it was the summer of this year when his condition worsened.
In February 2011, he was briefly hospitalised with a respiratory infection, attracting international attention. He was then re-hospitalised for a lung infection and gallstone removal in in December 2012. After His successful medical procedure in March 2013 did not prevent his lung infection from reoccurring and he was briefly hospitalised in Pretoria.
On June 8, 2013, his lung infection worsened and he was rehospitalized in Pretoria in a serious condition. After four days, it was reported that he had stabilized and that he remained in a “serious, but stable condition”.
While on his way to the hospital, The ambulance carrying Mandela broke down and was stranded on the roadside for 40 minutes. The South African government was criticized for the incident when it confirmed the report weeks later. President Jacob Zuma protested that, “There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care.”
On June 22, 2013 CBS News reported that Mandela had not opened his eyes in days and that he was unresponsive. The family began discussing just how much medical intervention should be given.
On June 23, 2013 President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying that Mandela’s condition had become “critical.” Zuma, who was accompanied by the Deputy President of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, met with Mandela’s wife Graca Machel at the hospital in Pretoria and discussed his condition.
On June 25, 2013, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba visited Mandela at the hospital and prayed with Graca Machel Mandela “at this hard time of watching and waiting.”
On June 26, 2013, Nelson Mandela was taken on life support after his condition deteriorated further. Sources have said that the 94 year-old Mandela died last night after his life support was shut down.
The Los Vegas Guardian Express writer Laura Oneale also wrote that in Qunu, the home town of Nelson Mandela, his family got together with the elders to discuss specific events surrounding the well-being of Mandela. It has been confirmed that they were talking about highly sensitive issues.
The grandson of Nelson Mandela angrily left the meeting over a disagreement of where the former president was to be buried. Mandela’s daughter, who was seen wearing a red blanket over her and other family members were at the gravesite. It has been reported that the “red blanket” is part of a tribal ceremony of the Xhosa. According to Xhosa custom the blanket is used when a family member has died.
Later in the same day, gravediggers arrived at the Mandela burial site.
Sources have confirmed that Nelson Mandela died last night after his life support was shut down and the respected iconic humanitarian has died age 94. Details of the funeral arrangements will be released when they become available.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
He changed the world. I never thought I would live to see it, but he changed the world and made it a better place.
I mentioned on last Friday’s post that I thought the E-P5 was Olympus’ take on Fujfilm X100S. — the retro style, the packaged 35mm prime (34mm to be exact) lens and the premium pricing to match. My friend Mike aptly says it’s closer to a Fuji X-E1 because of the interchangeable lenses. Even though the X-E1 does not yet off a 35mm equivalent, he has a good point. Either way, it seems like Olympus created an upscale camera that echoes cameras of a bygone era. The big question is, is it worth the premium price?
I’ve been busy with my, yet unannounced, equipment changes so I really didn’t look into the E-P5, until today. I knew I wasn’t going to get one any time soon. After all, I already bought an E-PM2, late last year and the image quality should be the same. But what if I didn’t get the E-PM2? Would it make sense to buy the E-P5? As I already mentioned, it’s pretty much the camera I wanted last year — it has most the features on my wish list.
First, let’s compare the E-P5 vs. the OM-D E-M5. The two cameras mostly share the same feature set. Sure the body style is different, but they both have the same sensor, same image processor, the roughly the same 5 axis image stabilizer and the same speedy focusing system. You lose the water resistance and the EVF (Electronic View Finder) on the E-P5 but gain WiFi, 1/8000s max shutter speed and a faster 1/320s flash sync speed. The OM-D body is $999, the same price as the E-P5. However, keep in mind that the body-only E-P5 doesn’t come with an EVF. Bought separately, the EVF costs more than $200. So effectively, the E-P5 body is sold at at least a $200 premium.
Second, the E-P5 replaces the E-P3 introduced in 2011. The E-P3 with the standard $100 kit lens ran $899. Subtract out the kit lens and a fictional body-only E-P3 configuration should run $799, again $200 lower than the E-P5 body-only price.
Third, assuming you support my premise that Olympus is competing against the Fuji X100S with the 35mm equivalent lens, consider this. The Fujifilm X100S is priced at $1299. The Olympus E-P5 with the 17mm lens (34mm equivalent) and the EVF is packaged at $1499. Now, despite the retro look of both cameras, they are very different beasts. Direct comparisons are a bit of a stretch, but let me try. On the plus side for Fuji, you get a very good hybrid optical/EVF, arguably better image quality, true analog exposure controls and an attractive well designed body with a seamlessly integrated viewfinder. The E-P5 has the advantage of a world-class in-body image stabilizer and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. People can quibble of the price but I believe the two cameras should be priced the same. Certainly, I find it hard to justify a $200 premium over the X100S.
My conclusion, the Olympus E-P5 is overpriced by $200. The body only price should be $799 and the kit price should be $1299. Still expensive, but it makes sense based on the competition. So is the camera worth it? Only you can answer that question, however, if I were in the market for an Olympus, I wouldn’t pay $999 for the body or $1499 for the kit. So despite my fondness for Olympus micro 4/3, I can’t recommend the E-P5 at the current price.
I also predict that the prices will fall fairly quickly. Olympus will inevitably have a $200 rebate or just reduce the price. No guarantees of course, but that’s been Olympus’ pattern over the last couple of years. What do you think? Is the E-P5 worth it to you?