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Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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Happy Father's Day to All

I got a new camera, and I've been trying it out. Here is one of the first photographs I took a Western Scrub-Jay it makes great wallpaper on my Mac desktop.

There’s a movement afoot to frame science/religion discussions in such a way that those of who believe that the two are incompatible are labeled as extremists who can be safely excluded from grownup discussions about the issue. It’s somewhat insulting — to be told that people like you are incapable of conducting thoughtful, productive conversations with others — and certainly blatantly false as an empirical matter — I’ve both participated in and witnessed numerous such conversations that were extremely substantive and well-received. It’s also a bit worrisome, since whether a certain view is “true” or “false” seems to take a back seat to whether it is “moderate” or “extreme.” But people are welcome to engage or not with whatever views they choose.

Truster-Pro and the Vericator may sound like devices Wile E. Coyote would order from the Acme Co., but they are real technologies for detecting lies. Unlike the traditional polygraph, which zeroes in on factors such as pulse and breathing rate, these analyzers aim to assess veracity based solely on speech.

Do they work, no.

In a new book The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons show how little we know about our own knowledge. Christie Nicholson reports

This book is definitely worth a read. I recently finished it and noticed how often one of the illusions afflict me, namely assuming others have the same knowledge on a given topic. Often they do, but just as often they don't.



re: "reluctance to let go".

I think you were the one recommended that delightful "Descartes Bones" book, I found it one of the more illuminating discourses on this interface between rationality and religion. So much heart wrenching intellectual effort has gone into trying to straddle the line between them, over all these centuries since. T'was the most enjoyable book I've read in a long time.

You've no doubt seen Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God." I loved the part where she told her parents she'd become an Atheist, and Mom's first response was "but you'll still be going to Church, right?"

We can so easily hear the parent's conversations between this and Julia's next visit as they seek to rearrange their position on their daughter's condition. Dad probably comes up with the "It's just a phase, you know Julie," which Mom finds comfort in agreeing with. She practices speaking out loud a "what will the neighbors think!?" objection, then reluctantly abandons it as a weak argument unlikely to move her independent and quick thinking daughter. She resolves instead on painting a more modern and tolerant hue on this concern of hers. So on Julia's next visit, Mom says, "Why can't you be a Lesbian instead? At least THAT is Acceptable now days!"

When I returned from my mission for the Mormon church. I forsook my foolish ways. It wasn't long before I put on my atheist hat and my atheist bumper sticker and began my life as a non-believer.

My mother didn't say anything, she was like Grandma B that way. My dad however really got a kick out of it. I remember a family reunion in Salt Lake, your father was there. Dad couldn't wait to corner him to announce my non-belief. When I finally saw your father, he said, "I hear you're one of us now," and smiled.

So there was no family pressure or disappointment, but there were those moments when being an atheist had its consequences.

I was quite an outspoken atheist then, ha ha, I had a bumper sticker that read: "Religion is the Problem not the Solution."

Gail and I and the boys were driving down the freeway on the way home from somewhere, when we pulled along side an older couple. They saw a good Mormon family probably on their way to church, they smiled and the woman waved a little wave.

I accelerated slightly and pulled a little more that half a car's length ahead. It was then they noticed the bumper sticker and their smiling faces turned to frowning faces. You could see the hate in their eyes. I smiled and waved a little wave, they both turned their heads and locked them straight ahead. He gunned his engine and his big blue Buick accelerated leaving the godless his dust.

re: reluctance

His assertions that the god question and the climate change debate are similar doesn't jive. In the first case, a negative can never be proven. As for anthropogenic global warming, time will tell.

I have to say, Norm, I’m really digging the birds. When I lived in Seattle I started to gain interest in birds. I actually took a trip or two just to bird watch (God, how fucking dorky. I would beat myself up but I’m sort of a tough guy). I worked very peripherally with a guy who I thought was a retard drug addict. Later I learned that he was a world class birder (besides being a world class asshole, drunk, junkie, etc.). I went from totally avoiding the guy and treating him like shit to following him around like a puppy asking him questions about birds and such.

I got into the birding back in the 90's for a bit, but didn't stick with it. I have a bit more time now and must say I find it addictive. I recently sent Walter my bird guy a couple of pictures and asked if they were the same he sent the pictures back with arrows pointing to the differences. It really should have been obvious but if you don't know what to look for they all look the same feathers, eyes, beaks and the like. I've quickly discovered that color alone is not a very reliable marking.

Norm, great picture of that scrub jay! The EXIF information embedded in that picture says your new camera is a Nikon D90. Are you using a Nikon 70-300mm zoom? The "as shot" aperture of f5.6 at 300mm fits the specs on that lens.

Exactly, the Nikon D90 with the 70-300 zoom. I was really pleased with the picture it's amazing the difference a good camera makes. I was fortunate that Mr. Jay picked a spot so nicely framed for the shot.

I was gonna make a similar comment. It's amazing what modern cameras can accomplish nowadays, that ISO 800 pic is very clean. Is this your first digital SLR?

Here's a couple of mine. I cheated though, I was at that Disney zoo (don't ask).

I wish I had a longer lens. The longest I got is a 135mm plus a 1.4x teleconverter (189mm). I've had my eye on the Canon 400mm f/5.6 but I refuse to buy such an expensive lens if it doesn't have image stabilization. Canon seems to be slowly updating their lenses to IS versions so I think I'll wait.

I think you should consider signing up for one of those photo album sites though. Smugmug is absolutely great. I've also tried Zenfolio (a little less great) and Flickr (meh, it's more for the facebook people). Pbase was another favorite years ago, but I never liked its boring interface enough to try.

I pay $60 a year on Smugmug, but there's a $40 plan too. Lemme know and I'll give you a referral code so we both get discounts :)

Yes, my first digital SLR. I used a old Minolta SLR for years when film was deal. When the digital cameras made their debut I tried a number of different compact digital cameras. My favorite was my Konica Minolta Zimage 5, but alas it is only 5 megapixels, it did have a fairly decent optical zoom, but a compact is a compact and they just can't compete with a SLR. Even though they have many of the same features it's just not the same as having quality lenses and the wider range of speeds and aperture settings. I remember back in the day when you had to choose aperture priority or speed priority when you bought a good camera these days you get everything and more. I've only had the Nikon for a few days, but I really like it, and I'm looking forward to exploring it's many features.

Great pics by the way even if they were at the zoo, and I think you should definitely hold out for a lens with image stabilization.

Smugmug looks great please send me a referral code.


This is my code anyone else also feel free to use it :)


It's only $5 though, but I think you can stack codes, so if you know others who have Smugmug accounts you might wanna do that.

You might wanna also make your own code viewable somewhere in your home page here so you and your readers can get discounted subscriptions.

Oh, and happy father's day!


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