“If you had to lose to somebody, at least you know it was somebody better than you!”

— Foglio Scion of Doom

What a Jiffy scam!


Just got back from the grocery, and happened to notice the recent carb-faddish Simply Jif line of peanut butter. I was picking up a jar of the regular stuff, and on a whim I decided to compare the nutritional labels.

A standard two-tablespoon serving of regular Creamy Jif: 190 calories. Low-carb Simply Jif: 190 calories. Reduced Fat Creamy Jif: 190 calories. It’s the same for their entire product line. The reduced-fat version eliminates a whopping 4 grams of fat but compensates by adding 8 grams of carbohydrates. The low-carb version removes a majestic 1 gram of sugar.

(and, yes, I know they round off the calories to the nearest 10)

Why isn’t this man smiling?


Is it just me, or does the new Miss America’s father look like he’d go after you with a shotgun if you asked her out? And this picture was taken before she won…

Miss America and happy dad

Thanks for noticing…


So, I just received email from Apple, thanking me for registering iLife ’04 and GarageBand Jam Pack. Which I registered in January.

Out with the chad, in with the pencil


Just received the bilingual instructions for how to vote in Monterey County in the November elections. Apparently we’re abandoning the aging punch-card machines in favor of an optical scan system that requires you to draw a line completing an arrow that points to your choice.

They’re also encouraging everyone to apply for absentee ballots to avoid long lines due to the projected record-high turnout.

Pushing back the Borders…


I figure the best response to this, whether it reflects widespread Borders employee opinion or not, is to ride down there tonight, walk in wearing my motorcycle jacket and Call of Cthulhu Elder Sign t-shirt, and buy copies of Unfit for Command, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, a few gun magazines, a copy of Playboy, a red-meat-oriented cookbook, the latest issue of The Skeptical Enquirer, and a pile of translated manga.

That ought to confuse them.

As for the predictable outrage at discovering that chain bookstore employees tend to be virulently Leftie college students, I can only ask, “…and this surprises you how, exactly?”.

Of course, used bookstore employees lean to the Left in my experience as well, but at least they tend to be older and more well-rounded in their opinions. Like the guy who bored me stiff at ConQuest talking about San Francisco politics and the editorials he writes for a local communist paper, but who was happy to shift the topic to “guns that are fun to shoot” when my lack of interest in the Commies and Greens became obvious. Oh, and I hope he didn’t burn off too much hair lighting that cigarette; at our age, it doesn’t come back as easily.

“What if Bush wins”…


I’m still reading, but so far, I think every single member of this panel of experts assembled by Washington Monthly is, um, smoking crack. With a side order of rabies.

There goes my savings…


I’ve been so good recently. Really. My credit cards are clean, my home equity loan has plenty of headroom, I didn’t spend much in Vegas (although for a change I actually lost a few hundred, but still got the room comped), I haven’t gone wild on bike accessories like some Harley owners I could name, and I’ve even resisted the temptation to buy one of the new iPods to replace my now-obsolete 30GB unit.

So what happened? Minolta finally sorted out all the problems with their merger with Konica, and announced this:

Minolta Digital Maxxum 7

Full-frame 35mm CCD, 6.1 megapixels, optical image stabilization built into the body so it works with existing lenses, and based on the Maxxum 7 body. Pixel count might seem low compared to some of the alternatives out there right now, but this thing has been delayed for so long that it’s mere existence is good news, because it preserves my investment in lenses and flash gear. And 6MP is good enough for most common uses of 35mm, especially since I’ve been moving toward medium and large-format film for a lot of things.

My model shoots will work just fine at 6MP, and get processed for the web a lot faster. And the truth is that this thing won’t actually put much of a dent in my wallet; I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while…

Update: The official announcement is out now, with sample images and more details. This is a recompressed crop from a full-sized JPEG sample:

crop from Minolta 7D sample

Right now, the only compatibility limit they list to the image-stabilization is with the 16mm Fisheye and the 3x-1x Macro Zoom. I never bought the latter, and I can see why it would be tricky to stabilize the former. If it really does deliver the promised 2-3 stop improvement in hand-holdability with the rest of their lenses, though, it’s going to be a fantastic tool. With its matched 2x teleconverter, my 300/2.8 makes an excellent 600/5.6, but I’ve never been able to use it without at least a monopod. Very, very cool.

And then there’s the 500/8 Reflex, the 100-400/4.5-6.7, etc, etc. Actually, there have been enough times when I was losing the afternoon light while shooting ISO 100 film with my 80-200/2.8, that those three extra stops would come in handy for all sorts of lenses.

Nifty feature: RAW+JPEG, which allows you to record each picture in both formats, so you’ve got both a compact version for previewing, and an uncompressed, full-quality original to import into Photoshop (a 1GB CF card will hold ~76 of them). And they’ve put in a buffer big enough for 9 RAW+JPEG images shot at 3 frames/second. If you sacrifice the RAW image and adjust the JPEG size and compression, you’ve got a continuous shooting range of between 12 and 43 pictures at 3 f/s.

Only downside: APS-sized CCD, not full-frame (“wait for the 9D?”), so there will be some magnification from my lenses. On the bright side, this will reduce the cost a bit, and I’m not big on superwides anyway.

Minolta’s official sample images.

As mostly pointless, rarely enforced laws go…


…I’d have to say that this one is pretty inoffensive. It is now illegal in California to have sex with corpses. Multi-millionaires who haven’t quite kicked off yet are still fair game, to the relief of gold-diggers and their prey.

I was going to say that this was a law “I could get behind,” but that just sounds wrong somehow.

[technically, this one falls into the “Reasons to keep an eye on JWZ’s LiveJournal” category, but consistency gobbles the mind’s little hobs, or some such.]