Category: Society

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The Farmhouse

I continue to mourn loss of the Wilcox farm—the majority of which my father unexpectedly deeded to the pastors of his church during the last weeks of life. He died on April 16, 2024.

The deeding deed was kept secret from immediate family until after he had passed. I attempted to contact the main pastor—twice. He ignored me. Inaction has shaped, or reshaped, my perspective about the incident, which won’t be publicly shared here.

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Do you Feel…?

You may want to rethink that yes, if the answer. We have come to perilous times, where conspiracies make more sense than commonsense. Take, for example, Joseph Biden’s debate debacle with Donald Trump. An astute observer should have seen Biden’s cognitive decline years ago. I am no expert, and it was obvious to me—and plenty of other folks. Now, post-debate, Biden’s brain, and the continuation of his campaign, are the dominant topics seemingly everywhere. But something smells fishy here—and it ain’t good.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan organization, is responsible for organizing the face-off between candidates, which typically starts some time following each respective political party’s convention. CPD had scheduled four debates, with the first slated for Sept. 16, 2024, at Texas State University in San Marcos. In a statement, the organization explains that it received a “letter dated May 15, 2024 from Jen O’Malley Dillon, Campaign Chair for the Biden-Harris Campaign, in which the Biden-Harris Campaign informed the Commission that President Biden will not agree to debate under the sponsorship of the Commission during the 2024 general election campaign”. The B-H campaign decided to organize its own debates, and Trump agreed to participate.

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Microsoft Copilot Crash Lands, Survivors Uncertain

When Microsoft and its Windows OEM partners unveiled so-called Copilot+ PCs on May 20, 2024, I was intrigued—even excited. Suddenly, the adoption of Snapdragon X chips, with widespread hardware and software partner support, and promised capabilities catapulted the platform to heights not seen since the launch of Windows XP in October 2001—and some people might say Win 95.

Same day, I ordered Samsung Galaxy Book4 Edge to review and use. While the notebook is a huge performance and longevity leap over my Surface Laptop Studio—and my overall satisfaction is high—disappointment is somewhat unavoidable. Microsoft touted four main Copilot+ PC benefits: Longer battery life (yep); uncompromised perceived performance (yep); standard, minimum hardware configurations (yep); and immersive informational interaction and responsiveness via artificial intelligence features running locally on the Neural Processing Unit (nope). The last is the biggest reason to buy into the concept, as presented, and it’s a letdown at launch.

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Street Preaching

The Featured Image, taken by an unknown photographer, puts me on a New York City street in either the summer of 1980 or `81—I don’t recall which. That would make me 21 or 22 years-old, with hair!

Good friend Andy Morris looks on. My recollection of him is his infectious, and friendly, smile. Where is it, Andy? Was I that boring? Looking at how stiff I appear to be, maybe I wasn’t so good a street preacher.

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Requiem for the Farm

Two months ago, or thereabouts, on March 27, 2024, my father signed over title to a large portion of the family farm to the two pastors of his local church. The transfer of ownership was quite unexpected and was not disclosed—to my sister—until after he died on April 16. We all understood that he intended to will the property to the couple, but his estate would pass through the typical legal process first.

Since my grandfather’s will hadn’t been probated, the older document might supersede the other—something I presumed a lawyer and judge would sort out. That process would be opportunity to also open a discussion with the pastors about final disposition of the approximately 100 acres. The unexpected transaction nullified everything—unless the older will is legally enforceable. I wouldn’t know.

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Goodbye Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, Hello Samsung Galaxy Book4 Edge

Neither I nor my wife looked back with much regret when we escaped the Apple socialist computing lifestyle and adopted Android smartphones and Windows PCs. Can you say freedom?

In December 2022, I bought Surface Laptop Studio for me. Config: 14.4-inch touchscreen (2400 x 1600 resolution); quad-core 11th-generation Intel Core H35 i7-11370H processor; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics; 32GB RAM; 2TB SSD. She got Surface Laptop 5. Config: 13.5-inch touchscreen (2256 x 1504 resolution); 12th-generation Intel Core i7-1255U processor; 16GB RAM; 512GB SSD.

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Microsoft, Copilot This!

Yesterday, I dropped by Best Buy for a quick looksee. My local store, in San Diego’s Mission Valley district, is undergoing changes that started with remodeling last year—or, gasp, was it 2022? Oh, how we lose track of time. Regardless, a dramatic change greeted me.

What can best be described as an Apple mini-store occupies some of the space once dominated by Microsoft, Surface devices, and OEM laptops. The newer setup is all about digital lifestyle, with all-Apple devices gathered together in one area. If there was space being made for Windows Copilot+ PCs packing Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite and Plus processors, I couldn’t find it. But nobody could miss all that fruit-logo fare.

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Big Book Bounty

When I was in high school, my cousin piqued my interested in a Dutch novel published in 1968 that debuted in 1973 translated into English. Every few months, over the past three years or so, I looked for a copy to buy, but prices are generally exorbitant; the book is out of print.

Where Were You Last Pluterday? by Paul Van Herck is satirical science fiction at its comically cringiest. The absolute absurdity of American politics and cultural currents triggered my curiosity about how-true-to-life had the hilariously nonsensical story become. Something about our reality of the absurd was once science fiction. I had to know: How prescient is the 50-year-old-plus novel?

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The Player

This afternoon, my wife and I happened to walk down Madison, in our San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. As we moved East, in the direction of Texas, near the corner of Alabama, I regarded identical statutes of youngsters playing a musical instrument. Someone had put them out between sidewalk and street, on the grassy strip where grow plants.

I escorted Annie home and returned with Leica Q2 Monochrom, which produced the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 4:41 p.m. PDT.

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Seven Movies Every Journalist Should See

Periodically, I update my picks for must-see movies about news reporting. More than eight years have passed since the last list, in February 2016—before the tumultuous Presidential election that thrust Donald Trump into the White House and precipitated disastrous changes across American newsrooms.

Editorialization of news, once taboo, is widespread. Many stories are subjective and slanted, pushing progressive—or, to lesser degree, conservative—values over impartial presentation of facts. The changes are evident in headlines or deks but more earnestly descriptive modifiers used for emphasis, where none should be.

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My Cat Wants to Know: Why Use a Digital Camera?

I ask the question, too. I love my Leica Q2, but—increasingly leave it at home. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is good enough shooter for more than 90 percent of any of the photographic opportunities.

The smartphone is always present, quick to use,  and immensely versatile. Consider, for example, the three optical focal lengths—23mm, 70mm, and 115mm—plus the hybrid digital-optical 230mm. Colors are accurate across all four focal lengths; 50– and 200-megapixel options are available; manual controls are outstanding alternative to the excellent auto mode; and RAW shooting is available. Then there are the ever-useful AI-editing capabilities.