HDR Photography: my new reason for wanting a digital SLR

I've been wanting to purchase a digital SLR camera for a while, and HDR photography is giving me another reason.  By taking multiple exposures of the same scene, you can produce these amazing painting-like photographs. 


The technique works by combining multiple exposures, using each exposure to capture a different part of the scene.  By varying the shutter speed and aperture, you can capture detail throughout the image.  The Photomatix website shows an example of how this works, combining multiple shots of the Eiffel Tower to produce this image:


The technique is also popular for food photography.  Take a look at this example from 101cookbooks.com:


how much should a city be allowed to regulate our behavior?

I have mixed feelings regarding this article (Defying Law, a Foie Gras Feast in Chicago) about the new anti-foie gras law in Chicago.  On the one hand, I have a libertarian streak in me that wants the government to keep out of my business as much as possible (I hate not being able to order a rare steak when I travel to certain cities).  On the other hand, I think the animal cruelty argument that lead to this ban has a lot of validity.  So, while I don't think I could support a ban on a specific food for health or political reasons, I don't really have much of a problem with this particular ban.

The smoking bans currently being debated in Houston raise similar issues.  The Houston Chronicle is reporting today that the Greater Houston Restaurant Association has endorsed an expansion of Houston's current anti-smoking ordinance to cover bars as well as restaurants (Restaurant owners now want smoke-free bars).   I have friends who view any such ban as an infringement on their liberty.  While I would not want the government to be able to prevent people from smoking in their own homes, the evidence regarding the dangers of second-hand smoke seem clear enough to justify a ban on smoking in public places. 

Things to make you feel old . . .

Fred sent me this link to the BELOIT COLLEGE'S MINDSET LIST® FOR THE CLASS OF 2010.   I'm sure that everybody over the age of about 30 has those moments when you suddenly realize that a younger adult has no idea what you're talking about – like when I had to explain who the Six Million Dollar Man was to a woman who didn't get the joke behind this AOL commercial (perhaps that was a sign that I'm too old to ask her out).  (YouTube has the original opening sequence in case you don't remember it.) 

I run into it all the time when I teach IT classes – analogies to technologies such as 8-track tapes, manual typewriters, and even vinyl records use to work just fine but now just get me puzzled looks from anybody under the age of 25. 

Baseball: What are the Chances?

Because of the number of games played and the breadth of statistics kept, baseball seems to lend itself to statistical analysis more readily than most sports.  The New York Times on Sunday published a rather sobering analysis of the playoff chances of each major league team (sobering, that is, if you're rooting for the Astros).  Can my home team really be that colse to elimination?

This kind of statistical analysis has been around for a long time.  As a kid, I use to play a Strat-o-Matic-style  baseball games (both card-based and computer-based) with my brother Charlie – which is kind of odd, because I really wasn't much of a baseball fan until my 20s (winning a trip to the 1989 World Series seems to have been a turning point in my interest in the sport). While the statistics make those games a bit more 'real,' it's nice to know that the real games will still be played.  Hopefully, the Astros will prove Twain (or was it Disraeli?) right, and the September Astros games for which I already have tickets will be meaningful games.