Put up or shut up

Friday. April is a wrap. Bring on the May flowers.

John Richards couldn’t stand by and watch while people abused the poor apostrophe. So he did something about it. Richards died earlier this week in Boston, England.

Everyone says cops make too much money. And everyone seems to be an expert on policing. But nobody wants to be a cop. A head scratcher.

Open office plans may not survive in the post-pandemic world. Google has some ideas on what the new office will look like. Think campfire circles and inflatable walls.

Andrea Campbell stuck her neck out and announced her run for mayor before the race opened up. Some are now encouraging her to drop out and consider a different job. Not likely, I’m guessing.

And Stephen Wolfram ran the numbers on the mystery of existence and he believes he cracked it. The Universe exists, he calculated, because it is inevitable that it exists. Thank you and good night.

Too close to home

Thursday morning. Foggy and cool.

Now you can watch the video of the head of the NRA trying (and trying) to shoot a motionless elephant. Why would anyone want to shoot an elephant?

There was a shooting in Dudley MA, out by Sturbridge on the Connecticut border. The Boston Globe was all over it. There were also shots fired leading to an armed stand-off in Dorchester. Not a peep on that. Odd.

Michael Collins has died. He was on the first moon mission, the guy stuck in orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got to walk on the moon. He led quite a life and people who knew him said he was an amazing guy.

Here’s the James Carville interview where he goes off on the political viability of wokeness.

And people usually like police dogs. But this police dog from Boston, now working for the NYPD, is not so popular. Looks like he’ll be sent to a farm where he can run free.

The other side of summer

Thank God it’s Wednesday. And happy Superhero Day.

Boston Magazine‘s list of the 100 most influential Bostonians includes a guy who lives and works in Tampa, Florida. Kind of pushing the limits of ‘Bostonian’ there.

Things are looking up. On Friday restrictions begin to ease. Singing will be allowed. Later in the month, as the warmer weather kicks in, things will open up even more. Beer gardens, parades and street festivals will be allowed. By August almost all state-imposed business restrictions will be eliminated. But don’t throw away those masks. I think they’ll be around for some time.

One 80 year old rotten tomato spoiled the whole caprese salad for Citizen Kane.

Brian Chen tried out Apple’s new AirTags for tracking objects. They harness the new ultra-wideband technology in Apple’s U1 chip. The AirTags are cool but the potential of the tech is even cooler.

And if you’re travelling by air this summer, leave a little extra time to get through security. You’ll need it.

See no evil

It’s Tuesday. Have a dandy Devil Dog Day.

US population growth is slowing down but the population of the state has grown by almost a half million people according to the most recent census. As a result, Massachusetts will be able to maintain the current number of seats in the US House. The increase in population has mostly been in the eastern part of the state so lawmakers are drawing up plans to shift some district lines to even things out.

It was a busy week in the city as far as crime goes. Here are some headlines from Universal Hub just from the last few days:
Man shot in the side on Clarkson Street
Mattapan gunfire blitz leaves one shot, several cars, houses hit
Barrage of gunfire in Dorchester sends one bullet into a living room
Man shot somewhere south of Grove Hall
Gunfire in Roxbury sends bullet into house around the corner
Two shot on Glenway Street in Dorchester

Live Boston was also covering the neighborhoods over the weekend:
Over 200 rounds fired overnight as understaffed police work to keep up
Boston Police help save man’s life at BMC overnight
Car chase leads to crash on Dorchester Avenue
Neighbor caught in crossfire as Ormond St turns to shooting gallery overnight
Shooting on Glenway St leaves at least two injured

And from the Boston Globe in that same time frame:
Three men wounded in two overnight shootings in Boston
That’s it. These days the city’s paper of record appears largely blind or indifferent to violent crime in the city. Seems like a huge disservice to the people and neighborhoods affected.

The EU is working on a vaccine passport that Americans can use to travel abroad. Details are slim but I hope it doesn’t rely on those paper CDC cards that I keep losing.

Police in Washington DC have some kind of a server problem. The reports and statements about what happened are about as clear as mud but it sounds like ransomware. Speaking of ransomware, the payments demanded by hackers are rising. And people seem to be paying.

And where does a candle go when it burns? Inquiring minds want to know.

Eyes wide open: The TTArtisan 50mm f/0.95

The Leica 50mm Noctilux goes for about $13 thousand bucks. Ouch. That’s a lot of money for a manual-focus lens. But it is very sharp and it has an incredible maximum aperture of f/0.95—more sensitive to light than the human eye! Throw in a razor thin depth of field for subject isolation and buttery smooth bokeh and I can understand why the people who can afford this lens would pay that kind of money. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.

Lately, a number of Chinese manufacturers have been producing lenses with similar specs as the Noctilux but at much lower prices. The TTArtisan 50mm f/0.95 is priced at about $700 dollars, which is more in my comfort zone. I was even able to find a used version for a little less.

TTArtisian 50mm f/0.95 on Leica SL2

The lens itself is solid. Moving parts operate smoothly. It’s a bit heavy, and big. I’ve been using it on a Leica SL2 and it balances nicely. On an M camera it’s a bit unwieldy.

Is the TTArtisian as good as the Noctilux? Probably not. I don’t have a Noctilux to compare it to. (Here are some comparison shots on Flickr). But at the end of the day it’s not how well it holds up against the Noctilux – at more than fifteen times the price – but whether I’m happy with the images it produces. And I am. Here are some test shots, first, wide open with close-range subjects.

Bokeh is good in these situations and center sharpness is very good. Now, moving back away from the subject, still wide open at f/0.95…

Subject isolation is still pretty good. Some reviewers have complained that the bokeh is less smooth or too busy when focusing at midrange subjects. I’m not seeing that. To my eye it renders the out of focus areas nicely even when backed away.

This is a lens designed to be shot wide open but on occasion you may want to stop it down for a different look. This is where the lens falls short.

At f/8 the overall image quality isn’t horrible but it’s also not excellent. Center sharpness is decent but sharpness falls off at the edges. (Below are 200% crops, left edge and center.)

There’s the expected chromatic aberration, vignetting, etc. which can all be easily fixed. Distortion isn’t bad.

Overall I’m happy with this lens. It’s a speciality lens and it’s very good at what it was designed to do. I wouldn’t use it as an everyday lens but for low light or moody, atmospheric shots it’s a great bargain.

Hot chocolate

Monday, Monday. Sometimes it just turns out that way.

Gronk went long and caught a 200 yard pass. From a helicopter. Now he’s in the Guinness Book of Records.

Relighting the Walter Baker sign in Lower Mills would be a nice gesture to the history of the neighborhood. What would be really cool, though, is if they could bring back the chocolate smell that permeated the area back in the day.

Heavy wet snow or high winds can take out power lines in these parts. But at least we don’t have to worry about beavers.

I had a trip booked to Paris at about this time last year. Of course it was cancelled. C’est la vie. It now looks like travel to Europe could open up for this summer, at least for those of us already vaccinated. Iceland is opening too. Fingers crossed. Also, the mask mandate for US airlines expires on May 11th. No one knows what the plan is, but I assume it will be extended.

And here’s something to think about: Why is the 0 key to the right of the 9 (just above the o) and not to the left of the 1?

Reinventing the wheel

Sunday morning. Clouds and rain. Happy birthday to Wolfgang Pauli.

David Smith hacked Ted Lasso’s shortbread recipe.

An array of experts is proposing a novel idea for police reform in Boston: Focus more on community engagement and less on arrests for minor offenses. I wonder where I’ve heard that before.

Apple supplier, Quanta Computer, was hacked. It was, of course, a ransomware attack. The hackers were demanding $50 million dollars. What happens if the ransom is paid but the data isn’t restored? Well, you can’t get your money back. Ransomware is a crap shoot. So if we can’t eliminate ransomware can we at least make it more reliable? Matthew Green has some suggestions.

The Times reports a huge reallocation of IP addresses formerly managed by the Pentagon. I’m sure this makes sense to the people involved but I’m a little confused as to what’s going on.

And Gene Weingarten has some ideas on how to lose weight. Only eat foods that taste horrible. “Hot sauce is legal, but you have to use too much of it. You may also use salt, but only if you over-salt and over-pepper, and add three other emphatically flavored spices that notoriously quarrel: Mix and match among garlic, fennel, basil, cloves and cinnamon.” Sounds like a plan.

Constricted arteries

Saturday. A beautiful day ahead. Today’s word is impresario.

Another SpaceX launch. Watch it here.

The work being done on the Sagamore Bridge was completed more than a month early. The crew now moves over to the Bourne Bridge and the clock ticking down to Memorial Day starts all over again.

President Biden appears ready to go on record acknowledging the Armenian genocide. It’s a big deal in our relationship with Turkey.

Deep-fakes and international relations. What could possibly go wrong?

And a Florida family has been indicted for selling a miracle cure for Covid. What they were selling turned out to be “a powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp, and paper.” Hmmm.

The power of commitment

Friday. The week concludes with sunshine.

Murder rates jumped back up in the US as the pandemic receded. And it wasn’t only here that that happened.

This year’s Mother’s Day Walk for Peace, on May 9th, will be a virtual one. Tina Chéry is doing the organizing, as she has for the last 25 years.

Restaurants are reopening at the same time as the pool of available workers is shrinking. Bad news for diners – but maybe good news for service workers, who are now in a better position to demand higher pay and improved benefits.

Many colleges and universities are requiring vaccines for returning students. Duh.

And the original artwork for the band Boston’s second album, Don’t Look Back, is up for auction. The big flying saucer/guitar illustration was going for just over $13 thousand bucks, last time I looked. (Why do I think it will end up in Ernie Boch Jr.‘s man cave.)

Burning down the house

It’s Thursday. The word of the day is ebullient.

In Brockton, if you make a left hook from Petronelli Way you may soon find yourself on Marvin Hagler Drive.

Paul Evans and Ann Marie Doherty threw the spotlight back to the Globe and City Hall after being scapegoated in the Patrick Rose case. There’s lots of anti-BPD rhetoric going around these days but not much in the way of constructive criticism or credit where it’s due. It’s also disappointing to see a conflation of police management and union leadership along with a lack of knowledgeable coverage of how labor law works in Massachusetts. Hint: it’s not just contracts. This is complicated stuff and the public isn’t well served by being fed a simple, one-dimensional storyline.

India is in trouble.

Land Rover and Jaguar are shutting down production temporarily due to a lack of computer chips. It’s been dubbed ‘chipageddon‘ and it’s expected to go on for some time.

And on Earth Day, the Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative wants you to know that the key to an abundant, clean energy future is… you guessed it: bitcoin.