Saturday, January 1, 2011

Things I Learned Last Year

The Nikon D7000 and Tokina 16-28: proof positive that we're being screwed over.

Retail Markup = Rip-Off
If people want something bad enough, they'll be willing to pay whatever a manufacturer chooses to charge for it. Basically, that's an open secret of the business world that allows manufacturers to set whatever prices they like to maximize their profit margins, which is fine as, since we live in a free market, no one can force us to buy anything we don't want (unless that someone is the government and that thing is health insurance). However, 2 new pieces of photo gear (the Nikon D7000 and Tokina 16-28 f2.8) released last year really went to show how much we the customers are paying through the nose for some stuff. Basically, the D7000 is 95% of the D300s for a third less the cash! Gee? In retrospect, does anyone else think Nikon was charging us a bit too much for the Dx00 series cams? Now the lens, the new Tokina 16-28 f2.8 is everything and perhaps more than the equivalent Canon, Nikon, and Sony models are, but for half the cost! Basically, the manufacturers are charging is an extra $800 for the prestige of having 'Canon,' 'Nikon,' or 'Sony' printed on the lens. Feeling ripped off yet?

He has a camera, call the police!

You Are a Terrorist if You Take Pictures of Planes

Last fall, the Transportation Security Administration released a poster that said, “don't let our planes get into the wrong hands.” The picture on the poster: a man photographing a plane.

Oh waiter! A little arsenic with old lace, please!

A Little Arsenic Can be Good for Your Health

In December, NASA stunned the world and turned the whole field of biology upside down when it announced the discovery of a bacteria that uses arsenic as a main parts in its biological makeup. Basically, while this doesn't prove anything (other than the fact that some organisms thrive off of an element that is poison to everything else), it goes a long way in expanding our search for alien life in that it opens the door to possibilities that life can thrive in places and on materials that were previously thought to be incompatible with living things and that there is no magic formula for biological potential in that life has the possibility to evolve wherever and based on whatever materials are present at the given location.

Is this really 2011?

People Like to Believe Really Stupid Things

If you can't read the picture, click on it for a bigger version to see what was the most searched for item on Yahoo on the morning of January 1, 2011. I don't know whether to find this funny or sad.

Hey, Bozo, mug up for the self-portrait!

People Like to Buy Really Stupid Things

By looking at all the things making their way into cameras these days, it is obvious that a lot of people love gimmick features that do nothing to better the pictures or make taking them easier (if this wasn't the case, manufacturers wouldn't be providing them). Want some examples of stupid camera features? Well, here goes: face detection, front-side LCDs for self portraits, touch screens (and thus no buttons except on/off), GPS, geo-tagging, MP3 players, more colors than a bag of Skittles, ostrich skin grips (not making this up!), wi-fi capability, and the list can go on and on but I want to spare myself the carpal tunnel so I'm stopping this now.

Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad, before it was removed a few weeks ago.

The Space Shuttles Probably Do Need to be Retired

Right now, space shuttle Discovery is sitting in a maintenance building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center over 2 months after it was supposed to have flown its 39th and final mission. The reason: cracks in the fuel tanks and more being discovered, seemingly by the minute. Result: NASA has no idea when Discovery will get off the ground as launch dates have been pushed back over a dozen times in the last 2 months. With all this, even someone as hopeful for the American space program as myself must admit that the shuttles are indeed getting old.

Light dome from a city of 8,000 from about 10 miles away.

Not Just Astronomers Hate Artificial Lighting

Light pollution: those two words might as well be dirty words to anyone who enjoys looking at the night sky. However, a recent study has implied that humans are not the only living things to hate all the unnatural lighting. Basically, the research found that all the artificial lighting in cities is tricking wild animals into thinking that it is day when it is really night. With this comes extended waking hours (and thus less sleep, resulting in tired, poorly-thinking prey species), interrupted mating patterns, and animals thinking night is really day. So, if you're out for a walk in the woods and see a bird with a watch around its neck, now you know the reason.

Frosty is getting blown to pieces!

Winter Stinks

Well, I didn't really learn this but, after months of reasonably good skies, December really reiterated the point that, at least in Northeast Ohio, winter stinks! First of all, winter here means snow, which in turn means that my “observatory” is buried and is unsuitable for imaging. Second, of all 31 nights, I only counted 2 dusk to dawn clear ones.

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