Hobbies - Books
What Are You Reading Wednesday was created by Rhianna, Marissa, and Kendall. The idea is to create a space for book lovers to share, discuss, and recommend the books they are currently reading and loving. All you have to do is answer the questions about your current read and then head over to one of the host’s...
The Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series continued on Saturday May 14th with a discussion of both Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and My Monticello (the novella in the collection of the same name) by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson.
Octavia Butler wrote Parable of the Sower in 1993. The main character, teen-aged Lauren Olamina becomes a leader of refugees, walking from Robledo (a fictional town in southern California) to northern California, seeking a safe place to build a community. She's guided by a belief system that she herself penned called Earthseed. She's been prepared collecting food, money, seeds to plant, clothing, and supplies for the day she had to flee. Her neighborhood is burned down by a group of drugged pyromaniacs. Lauren grabs her bag and takes off, attracting fellow travelers along the way.
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson wrote My Monticello is 2021. The main character is Da'Naisha Love who lives in Charlottesville, VA, and also becomes a leader of a group of refugees. Her group is made up of her neighbors, her grandmother MaViolet, and her boyfriend Knox. Whereas the group who burned out Lauren Olamina in Parable chose to burn their neighborhood because they perceived the neighborhood as "rich," the goup who burned out Da'Naisha's street in My Monticello based their actions specifically on race. Da'Naisha leads her group to the famous Thomas Jefferson home: Monticello, an estate that Da'Naisia and MaViolet share a special connection with.
Here are the elements both stories had in common:
1. Before leaving their respective homes, both groups had established a dynamic community of sharing and bartering. It seemed that all govenrnment systems had basically shut down.
2. Both groups are led by young African American women.
3. Both groups' homes were destroyed by fire.
4. Both stories describe extreme climate disasters.
5. Both stories are first-person narratives.
6. Both groups are multicultural.
Barb started our discussion off by pointing out that although there was racism described in Parable, the social classes were stratified economically, in other words, victims were chosen if they were perceived to have more, whereas in My Monticello, the victims are burned out of their homes by violent white supremacists.
Bonnie called our attention to p. 187 in Parable, where Lauren Olamina is saying,
I thought something would happen someday. I didn't know how bad it would be or when it would come. But everything was getting worse: the climate, the economy, crime, drugs, you know. I didn't believe we would be allowed to sit behind our walls, looking clean and fat and rich to the hungry, thirst, homeless, jobless, filthy people outside...I thought we were so strong."
Shelara offered that people always say that Octavia Butler must have been "prophetic" or "prescient" to have written Parable back in 1993, but Butler always explained in recorded interviews that "you didn't need to be a prophet to see where we were headed." She said any logical person could look around and see the way the world was going. Shelara continued, "Are we going to do something about it? Right now we're going to have little kingdoms instead of a nation."
Jezrie mentioned that in Parable, things had devolved to the point where it wasn't safe to leave home, not even to go to work. Jezrie also expressed that she disliked the story line in My Monticello about Da'Naisha being pregnant and not knowing whether Knox or Devin was the father. She said this sounds like a trope and that the first story in the collection: "Control Negro" would have been a better comparison with Parable. Shelara liked the story "Virginia is Not Your Home" more.
Here in New Haven, Parable of the Sower is the selection for this year's One City One Read. This is why we're discussing it again. The children's companion book is Star Child by Ibi Zoboi, which is a biography of Octavia Butler written in verse.
Octavia Butler had written five novels and a multitude of short stories before she wrote Parable. She had been writing and submitting stories to magazines from the time she was a child. Jocelyn Nicole Johnson had been a public school art teacher for twenty years and My Monticello is her debut collection.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
After losing his world, one man must fight his way off of Earth and venture forth into the unknown to save those left behind in author David M. Kelly’s “Kwelengsen Dawn”, the second book in the Logan’s World Series.The Synopsis
When you lose everything you love, the whole world becomes the enemy.
After his planet was invaded by ruthless Corporate forces, engineer Logan Twofeathers is trapped on Earth by the authorities, who are more afraid of starting a war than helping their people. He may be safe, but many others are still missing.
When security tries to arrest him on trumped-up charges, he must find his own way to return to Kwelengsen. His only option is to seek out someone from his past–a borderline psychotic, who might just be crazy enough to help.
Now, he must draw on all his strength and resilience as he undertakes a precarious and violent journey into the unknown, with enemies lurking in every shadow. The outlook is bleak, and all he has is his grit and sense of honor. Will that be enough?
The battle is over. But the war is about to begin.The Review
This was such a brilliant spectacle and action-packed sci-fi story. The gritty nature of the world the author has built and the brutality for which the action takes the cast of characters made this story so visceral and really highlighted the author’s use of imagery in his writing. With the shocking betrayal of Earth’s security and the settings that Earth’s streets take the reader felt alive on the page.
The development of the mythos and characters in this book were the heart of the narrative. The desperation and heartbreak that the protagonist exudes as he seeks to find his love and the fight he takes to make it a reality is something that speaks to the humanity of the protagonist, and is something readers will identify with immediately. Exploring Earth and the hierarchy of the security forces was also interesting, exploring how this world’s version of Earth has evolved over time.The Verdict
Thoughtful, exhilarating, and adrenaline-fueled, author David M. Kelly’s “Kwelengsen Dawn” is the upcoming must-read sci-fi novel of 2022 and the perfect next book in the Logan’s World Series. The brilliant storytelling the author utilizes here and engaging world-building will draw readers in, and the shocking twist on the final pages of this novel will have readers anxious to learn more about a must-have third book in this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy today or grab your copy on June 7th, 2022!
Rating: 10/10About the Author
David M. Kelly writes fast-paced, near-future sci-fi thrillers with engaging characters, cynical humor, and (mostly!) plausible science. He is the author of the Joe Ballen series (Mathematics of Eternity, Perimeter, Transformation Protocol, and Intersection), the Logan’s World series, and the Hyperia Jones sci-fi humor series.
David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.
An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.
David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.
Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.
David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.
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26 May 2022Photography Blogs
26 May 2022
The camera industry is changing, the photography industry is changing, and professional photographers are struggling. Tony wonders if it's time to say goodbye to a bygone era and laments a time when photography was booming and the industry was growing. Are the best years behind us? Chelsea argues that photography is more exciting than ever. Everyone has a camera, more people get to share their point of view and write history, and more people than ever can share and enjoy photos. Meanwhile, the camera industry has the coolest tech ever! Animal EYE AUTO FOCUS??? Amazing. We have cameras with 30 frames per second and cameras in our pockets that can do computational photography. Are times a bit tough for pros? For some. But others are utilizing the ubiquity of photos and videos online by expanding their skill into video work, drone work, social media marketing, education, and more.
SPONSOR: Go to http://squarespace.com/Chelsea & save 10% off your first website or domain with code “Chelsea"
26 May 2022
LG has announced three new displays that promise extremely high refresh rates and solid color accuracy. Two of them feature the company's Nano IPS technology while the third is an OLED display.
26 May 2022Nikon's Z9 flagship looks good in a plant. Stan Horaczek
The Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA) has just announced the winners of its 2022 World Awards. Even if you haven’t heard much about the association, you’ve likely seen its logo and “award winning” pop up in advertising for camera gear over the past 30 years.What are the TIPA awards?
The TIPA World Awards are presented by the Technical Imaging Press Association, a group of 26 independent photography magazines from around the world. (In the US, Rangefinder and Digital Imaging Reporter are members.) The group has been giving out its awards since 1991.
Of course, over the years the categories have changed somewhat. Originally, they celebrated film cameras and film stocks, before transitioning to DSLRs and then mirrorless cameras. For 2022, for example, the aard categories were updated to remove the “Expert” tier of gear and combine the three APS-C categories down to one, while adding the Best Rangefinder Camera, Best Micro Four Thirds Camera, and Best Camera Innovation categories, and splitting Best Professional Hybrid Camera into 4K and 8K sub-categories.
While this kind of shuffling and adding niche categories could make it easier for companies to win awards (which is a fair criticism), we feel the categories are also a reasonable reflection of the state of the industry. APS-C cameras simply aren’t as relevant as they were five years ago—though with Canon’s announcement of the R7 and R10, that may change.Do these awards matter?
Sure, to the camera companies who can now use “award winning” in their advertising, the TIPA World Awards are useful, but we’re long past the point where this kind of publicity could make or break a camera. They’re a fun legacy but if you want to know whether the Canon EOS R7 is the sports and action camera everyone hopes it will be, you aren’t waiting for the 2023 awards: you’re reading things like our preview and checking out YouTube videos right now.Our takes on some of the winning cameras MFT Camera: OM System OM-1
Om Digital Solutions Corp
“OM Digital Solutions Corp says they have refocused on the adventure genre with this new release, and the features they packed into this small camera reflect that. The improved autofocus and burst shooting speeds mentioned above will be excellent additions for adventure sport or wildlife photographers documenting fast action.” —Abby FergusonAPS-C Camera: Nikon Z fc
“On paper, the spec sheet looks as you’d expect for a camera at this price point. The heart of the camera, a 20.9-megapixel DX-format sensor, is roughly 25 percent smaller than full-frame FX-format full-frame sensors. That choice makes sense for the camera’s $959 price, which aims squarely at the enthusiast market. The autofocus system covers roughly 85 percent of the frame in either direction and face tracking and other convenient modes that make mirrorless cameras appealing.” —Stan HoraczekFull-frame expert camera: Sony a7 IV
“The a7IV brings some worthy updates, making it an excellent full-frame mirrorless camera suitable for many photographers and videographers, from sports and wildlife to portraits and vlogging. This latest version comes with a handful of new features and specs, including a new 33-megapixel sensor and an enhanced body design. It also has even better video and improvements to the already impressive autofocus system, making this one capable camera.” —Abby FergusonFull Frame Professional Camera: Nikon Z9
“Nikon decided it wasn’t interested in moderation when it designed the relatively absurd Z9. It’s a mirrorless camera without any kind of mechanical shutter. Its sensor reads out super fast so it can capture huge bursts at 20 fps with full AF tracking and AE metering going the whole time. It’s built like a tank with lots of weather sealing, so it’s meant to last for years, even under harsh punishment. If you can find one in stock and afford it, there’s literally no situation in which this camera body would be out-classed.” —Stan HoraczekCamera Innovation: Canon EOS R3
“Rather than trying to ratchet up the speed on its high-resolution cameras, Canon purpose-built a camera for sports photographers. It has a super-rugged coating on the outside and a deep grip that makes it very easy to hold, even when there’s a huge lens attached to the front. The autofocus menus have pages and pages of customizability, but the people and object tracking works fantastically right out of the box. The viewfinder is big and bright, thanks in part to the Eye AF system, which tracks your eye to determine where to focus. If you’re a sports shooter, I think this is the best camera you can buy at the moment.” —Stan HoraczekRangefinder: Leica M11
“With the M11, Leica created a photographer’s camera. It handles just as you’d expect an M-series body to. It doesn’t have autofocus. It doesn’t shoot video. It’s about as pure as it gets. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking it lacks advanced technology. The new 60-megapixel sensor inside offers three different resolution settings. You can capture the full 60 megapixels for maximum data, reduce it down to 36 megapixels for increased dynamic range, or drop it all the way to 18 megapixels for max dynamic range and improved low-light performance. It’s a clever system that gives this camera a ton of flexibility.” —Stan HoraczekProfessional 4K Hybrid Camera: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH6
“Last year’s announcement promised that the GH6 would be a highly portable, video-centric Lumix G-series flagship designed to take the reins from Panasonic’s extremely popular GH5 series. The company also pledged that it would deliver this new camera at a price tag of around $2,500. With a body-only price of under $2,200 and some very impressive specs, the GH6 looks not only to have delivered everything it promised… but for even less cash than we were expecting. Given the supply chain issues and inflationary woes the world has been faced with of late, that’s got to be commended.” —Mike TomkinsMedium Format Camera: Fujifilm GFX 50S II
“Medium format digital cameras used to cost about as much as a family sedan, but Fujifilm’s GFX cameras have brought that price down considerably. The GFX 50S II offers many features you’d expect from a pro-full-frame mirrorless camera, including an in-body image stabilization system and advanced object tracking AF.” —Stan Horaczek
26 May 2022
26 May 2022
In the bay area, everything is about productivity. To maximize your productivity.
However, in LA, it is much more about Image, Fitness, fashion, models and people.
Also in the bay area, it is all about tech, and technology, and tech companies.
However in Los Angeles, they’re much more about media, fashion, modeling, video, arts, culture, etc.
25 May 2022
A photograph of Sony's a7R IV full-frame mirrorless camera, the latest a7R model to be released.
Photo Rumors has published what appears to be a pretty plausible specifications list for an upcoming full-frame camera from Sony. According to the leaked details, the camera’s model identifier will be ILCE-7RM5, a naming scheme that suggests a Sony a7R V is around the corner.
Whereas most leaked specifications from rumor sites tend to be short on, well, specifics, this list is exhaustive and very detailed, with what appears to be every major feature and capture mode covered. Based on this leaked information, the hypothetical a7R V would feature a 'redesigned' 61MP image sensor with readout speeds twice as fast as the a7R IV. The leaked specs suggests this new camera will be powered by Sony’s BIONZ XR image processor and add an array of features we’ve seen appear in Sony’s recent BIONZ XR cameras (a7S III, a1 and a7 IV).
The suggestion is of a camera that can shoot at up to 10fps when shooting uncompressed Raw (the a7R IV could only deliver 10fps in compressed mode, with uncompressed topping-out at 6fps). The quoted 9.44M dot viewfinder spec matches that of the a7S III along with the 2.36M dot LCD added to the a7R IVA.
For stills, the leaked spec sheet suggests we’ll see a system with 759 phase detection points that cover ‘about 92%’ of the frame (425 contrast detection points), as well as 'real-time tracking,' Eye AF for animals/people and and real-time pupil AF. What the leak suggests is new would be real-time Eye AF for animals and birds, as well as the ability to focus at EV-4, a one-stop improvement over the a7R IV. These features would be consistent with what Sony added to the a7 IV over is predecessor.
That said, the number of phase detection points quoted exactly matches that of the a7 IV (whereas it usually varies a little depending on the camera's pixel count), which is one of the few details that raises some doubts.
Image stabilization for the a7R V appears to remain largely unchanged compared to the a7R IV, with the leaked specifications noting up to 5.5 stops of compensation using its five-axis design. What will be new, based on Photo Rumors’ reporting, is the addition of a 10-bit HEIF capture mode, an accompanying ‘HLG still image mode,’ giving the same true HDR stills options as the a7 IV.
As for the video capabilities, the rumored spec sheet claims we’ll see 8K/30p video recording with all-pixel readout (oversampled from 9.6K), as well as 4K/60p capture with oversampling for both full-sensor and Super 35mm capture modes. Other rumored capture modes include internal 4:2:2 10-bit recording, All-I recording (via XAVC S-I) and MPEG-H HEVC / H.265 recording (via XAVC HS). If all of this sounds like it could build up quite a bit of heat, it appears as though Sony has developed a new ‘heat dissipation structure that enables continuous recording for a long time,’ according to the leak.
These video specs would fit with the idea of a faster sensor and processor and all the compression options are those we've seen arrive on the a7S III and models since then. Though the a7R IV's '61MP' sensor is only 9504 pixels wide, making the '9.6K oversampling' claim seem a touch questionable.
A photograph of Sony's a7R IV full-frame mirrorless camera, the latest a7R model to be released.
The leaked list also mentions the ‘breathing correction’ feature for digitally suppressing focus breathing that first appeared in the a7 IV, along with the ‘focus map’ feature. Other new features noted in the leak include a new USB-C port (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps [USB 3.2 Gen 2]) and a pair of CFexpress Type A card slots: again the kind of upgrades we've seen on other recent Sony models.
As with all rumors and leaked information, this information should all be considered alongside a healthy dose of salt. That said, this leak is unusually detailed and all the additional features are ones we've seen appear in the Bionz XR cameras launched since the a7R IV was released. This makes the list look pretty plausible or exactly what you'd come up with if you were planning on making up a rumor. You can see the full list at Photo Rumors and draw your own conclusions.
25 May 2022"I think my conceptual frameworks usually come from something very personal, like working out past traumas," says photographer Michelle Watt to the Phoblographer about how she gets her ideas. "...I'm constantly curious about how people use visuals to express what they express." Staring into Michelle's work is synonymous to staring into the soul of a complex human being. It has layers, skin, and its own wardrobe on top of it. And in that way, Michelle's work is captivating and endlessly fascinating.
25 May 2022Actually, it has been spring, summer, winter, and spring within a couple of weeks this year. Despite the sudden changes in temperature that made most of us uncomfortable, plant life and nature displayed their colors and beauty. Spring Flowers Everywhere We have many flowering trees around us with graceful branches. They even create colorful displays …
25 May 2022DSLRs simply won’t die, and for good reasons. While the industry is undoubtedly gung-ho for all things mirrorless, it doesn’t mean that DSLRs should be ignored in 2022. After all, there are some stunning DSLR cameras available, and their prices are falling all the time. There are many reasons to pick up a DSLR over […]
25 May 2022Don’t you love taking a step back in time in a vintage Pioneer Village? I recently had the pleasure to visit the largest pioneer village in the Southern Hemisphere, Old Tailem Town. Located in Tailem Bend in South Australia. This preserving our past is so valuable. It allows us to glimpse what life was like […]