Using the Sony FE Telephoto 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS as a Macro Lens

I pride myself in not having much in the way of conventional sense when it comes to photography.  I started very late in life and self-taught myself the little I know the hard way, by making an enormous number of mistakes.  So last summer I rented the Sony 100-400mm GM lens and in addition to taking shots of birds in trees and other obvious telephoto targets I tried my hand at using it as a macro lens.  Now it wasn’t really a macro.  Each of these photos is a massive crop from the original file.  But I wanted see if I could get the resolution and focus needed to take insect photos.  The answer is yes and no.  Yes in the sense that if you’ve got blazing sunlight you can shorten the exposure enough to make up for the difficulties of a long lens and monopod stability (or instability) without the ISO going too far up.  But no, in the fact that you can do the same and better with a 90mm f2.8 macro lens without having to stand in the next county.

The results are respectable and show that the lens is very sharp.  And I’ve become more appreciative of my macro lenses.  I’ll put up a second post later on the more conventional telephoto capabilities of this lens.


Link to Part Two of Curtis Yarvin’s “The Clear Pill”

Without a doubt Yarvin must have a dizzying intellect.  Reading his narrative is like taking a graduate course in sociology from Einstein.  I feel like I’ll need to read it three more times to make sure I followed all his points.  Basically he’s explaining why Progressives believe the nonsense they believe.  He used climate science as an example and it is interesting.  Support for the Progressive worldview allows Leftists to feel good about themselves by believing that the warming narrative makes sense.  It’s a dense read but if you liked Part 1, you’ll have to continue down the rabbit hole..

The Clear Pill, Part 2 of 5: A Theory of Pervasive Error



Sturgill Simpson – A Country Music Artist Review

When I played Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” a while ago, I was struck by the fact that he could write an excellent and very genuine country song like Panbowl but didn’t really seem to belong to the genre on a consistent basis.  Later I listened to “High Top Mountain” and noted that this was an album that followed the country music conventions but breathed an original and idiosyncratic life into them.

Recently I bought Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” and “Sound & Fury” albums.  I can officially declare that Sturgill Simpson’s days as a country musician have ended.  A Sailor’s Guide is an album of personal songs, some to his young child, that might be characterized as some kind of combination of folk/pop and a smattering of everything else.  Sound and Fury is what a musician I know described as techno-metal.

Whatever they are, they ain’t country.  It seems that musicians wander into country via folk music origins, probably because it’s commercially viable and then can’t maintain the interest.  I think many of them feel too constrained or long to add other sounds to the mix.

So unless someone tells me that Sturgill Simpson has become possessed by the spirit of Hank Williams Senior I won’t be checking out his subsequent releases.

Reclaiming the Family – Part 3 – Recruit Grandma and Grandpa

Reclaiming the Family – Part 1 – Bring Back the Dowry

Reclaiming the Family – Part 2 – The Family Business

At least going back a generation or more a pattern of behavior has become established in the colder areas of the country that once people reach retirement age they head south to Florida or Arizona and live out their days in a retirement community.  And I suppose if you are sufficiently wealthy this would not prevent you from supporting and staying in touch with your descendants back North.

But in today’s world of limited opportunities and constrained resources another choice is to use your retirement and the resources you have accrued to reinforce and enhance your family’s opportunities.  Think about how difficult it is for a family with two working parents to provide the opportunities and attention that their kids need to grow up right.  If they manage to check their kids’ homework and get them to sports practices and games that’s probably taking up their whole free time left over from work and sleep.

Now as touched on earlier in this series it is much to be preferred that children have a stay at home mom to take care of them and make sure they’re staying out of trouble but even then, kids should have a lot more of their family’s time and attention.  For instance, who says a father is the only one who can bring the kids to a baseball game or a museum or a movie.  Why can’t grandpa do that?  And grandma is about a million times better at babysitting babies than a 15-year-old girl who will spend all her time on the phone while the baby sits glued to Sesame Street.

With respect to school work many of the baby boomers are STEM professionals and can not only help out with homework but can provide real world insights to children on what career paths make sense and which are dead ends.  For instance, if one of my grandsons asked me whether he should major in computer science or intersectional gender studies I think I’d be able to give him a very clear answer!

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Even the tradition of having the Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house does more for bonding the family than an occasional phone call to Florida provides.  And it may provide the opportunity for a request for financial or other help that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

And what are you sacrificing if you forego the condo in Florida.  Playing shuffleboard with other old people that you don’t even know?  Missing out on skin cancer?  Sure, maybe your arthritis won’t hurt quite as much but don’t forget those alligators that are waiting to pick you off at the mail box.  And how does that stack up against teaching your grandkids how to fly a kite or telling them about the time their great-great grandfather shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a car.

And there may even be a payback for you besides satisfaction.  When the day comes when you are against it and your time is up maybe there will be someone to shed a tear and say a kind word at your bedside instead of just a text message from up North to say goodbye.


Electoral College Calculus – November 2019 Installment

Trying to handicap a presidential election is far from an exact science.  So, let’s have some fun.

Here is a map of the 2016 presidential results in terms of the electoral college votes.  Trump won by 77 electoral votes, 304 to 227.



A few things come to mind.  That 77 electoral college vote lead in 2016 translates into a lot of flexibility in 2020.  The three big surprises in 2016 were Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.  Well a 77 electoral college vote lead means you can lose additional states with up to an additional 38 electoral votes and still win the election.  For instance, Pennsylvania and Michigan have big cities like Detroit and Philadelphia where voter fraud is almost the rule.  Together those two states have 36 electoral votes.  If President Trump won all the states he won before except for Pennsylvania and Michigan, he’d still win.  That’s pretty good.  It would be very close but he’d still win.  But you might say what about Wisconsin and its 10 votes?  Well, the folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin are still relatively honest and in fact the blue-collar workers up there have actually increased their support for President Trump over the last several years.  I’ll say that it is possible that Wisconsin could go too but let’s look at those two states together.

Now look at some of the “close” states he lost.

Notice in each case that a third-party candidate (either Libertarian or Never-Trump or both) represented more than enough votes to turn the race around if shifted to the Republicans.

The first item up is Minnesota.  Trump lost by less than 45,000 votes.  McMullin who was a Never-Trumper protest candidate took over 53,000 votes.  That tells you there were over 53,000 extra republican voters available in 2016.  Well in 2020 McMullin won’t be running or if he is only Bill Kristol will be voting for him.  But most of those 53,000 Republicans will be voting.  Not to mention all the other blue-collar Democrats who now know that President Trump is pro-worker.  My strong opinion is that President Trump will pick up Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes in 2020.  So, going back to an earlier scenario, let’s say that Wisconsin flips, well it’s just as likely that we’ll snag Minnesota this time instead.  That’s pretty good.

The other states are a lot harder to handicap until we know who the Democrat candidate will be.  If Bernie or Liarwatha is the Democrat candidate then either one of their socialist platforms will be a big problem for the libertarians.  And if that’s the case then Gary Johnson’s pot head voters might vote their pocketbooks and in Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Maine and Colorado that should be more than enough to tilt all those states to President Trump.

In theory that would change the Electoral College scores (all other things being equal) to 337 to 194.  Of course, this assumes that the Democrats would allow their daft electorate to choose their own candidate.  In actuality the politburo wants Creepy Uncle Joe or Bloomberg or Deval Patrick to be the candidate.  And that’s the big question mark.  Can they make the switch at the convention?  The way things are going Biden may not make it to the convention.  He may be an indicted co-conspirator along with his nincompoop son Hunter for the Ukraine mess.  So that would require either Bloomberg or Obama’s mini-me shadow Patrick to play candidate.  Neither is really the perfect candidate.  Bloomberg is an insufferable rich guy trying to get the votes of the urban poor that he subjected to the stop and frisk program in New York City which in Progressive circles is considered an abomination.  Patrick is a short squeaky voiced doofus that will be less than inspiring to the same urban crowd.  I’m guessing neither of them will bring out the Obama sized voting crowd.

But let’s say it is Bloomberg or Patrick.  That will cut into the Gary Johnson vote for sure.  But does it really change the overall situation on the ground?  In either of those scenarios I see Minnesota and the states he won in 2016 still going to President Trump and the rest of those states above toss-ups that, let’s say, go to the Dems.  Final Electoral College total 314 to 217.  That’s almost a hundred-point difference.  That means President trump has a pad of 46 points that can go against him and still win.  That’s more electoral votes than in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan combined.  That’s as much as Texas and Wisconsin combined.

So those are the rosiest projections.  Between now and Election Day a lot of bad things can happen.  But you would have to borrow a lot of trouble to assume at this point that the odds are against us.  The economy, the stupidity of the Democrats, the obvious falseness of all the Deep State machinations against the President’s administration all add up to an advantage at the polls.  The items like voter fraud and changing demographics all existed almost identically in 2016.  Plus, the president has energized his base and they are behind him 100%.  Even the independents are starting to break his way.  A lot can go wrong but right now is not the time for fretting.  The wind is at our backs and the prospects for even better things seem to be there.