I present the Logans Run/Soylent Green Aged Pension Amendment Act

So once again, a conservative government is on a drive to cut back on welfare payments. You know all those payments to the bludgers and old folk that don’t contribute to society.

Sure, for once any government could go after the tax havens, tax offsets, and massive tax benefits that the rich get. But no, today Abbott ( you may remember him, he won the election in 2013, then promptly went on holiday or hiding, or doing Harold Holt impressions, to be honest no one knows) and his government, specifically Kevin (I like Work Choices) Andrews, decided that the government spend on welfare is getting out of hand.

Sure, there are graphs that show this isn’t happening, but facts have nothing to do with this argument. Did I mention boat people, or the carbon tax. Boat people, boat people, carbon tax, big fat carbon boat tax.

Yet, once again we have a government afraid to make the big decisions.

The fastest growth in government expenditure is the Aged Pension. It may shock you to know that everyone you know will be on the Aged Pension within 70 years. Yes, that is over 23 million Australians on the aged pension* (*I am not that good at mathematics, but then neither is Joe “the numbers are the numbers” Hockey)

So it is time for a radical rethink of how we approach a rapidly aging population.

I propose the LRSG Aged Pension Amendment Act. This is a nice sounding name, which like Green Army or Direct Action, sounds great.

You can ignore that it is short for “Logans Run/Soylent Green Aged Pension Amendment Act”, cause that sounds a bit scary. Especially for those old enough to remember both movies, neither of which films will feature in the new Pyne model education curriculum.

But the LRSG APAA is great for society. Firstly, think of the massive cuts that the Liberals would be able to make to the Aged Pension. No more, gone, finto. Just how much money would that save alone? Now add the extra benefit of all that pesky superannuation sitting in accounts that only accountants can access via “fees” that the Liberals could get their hands on.

Of course there are a lot of other benefits to our society. Firstly, Bob Katter would stop banging on about food security. Well for two reasons; 1: he would be a green biscuit and 2 so would all the other old people. He could be served up guacamole style in his own big hat for extra flair.

Further, with Australia’s obsession with weight loss programs, image a new show: Australia’s Biggest Biscuit. Yummy, I can just taste that pensioner goodness already. Tie in a major supermarket chain for distribution and you have a winning model right there.

Others shows could make a comeback, Iron Chef Australia: Tonight the secret ingredient is pensioner…. bang a gong we are on.

Slideshow could take aging actors, and if they fall off the stage, they fall into a Soylent Green processing machine.

There a lot of other benefits as well. Housing, all those baby boomers soon will be dunked into a morning coffee in what I call the Tim tam grandpa’s gone slam, housing will become a lot more affordable.

Boat people as an issue is also fixed, no not that ones that arrived in 1788, but the recent ones, will be welcome, because in 50 years’ time or so they can also feed a hungry nation.

I still have 30 years or so before I need an exit visa to get me out of this very yummy and profitable dystopian future, but I can only see positives to this plan.

If only this government would take the big decisions.

( I am sure I have missed other benefits to my plan, please add them in the comments )

#wtrip13 – First Alone Road Trip in 3 years

Yep, this will be my first roadtrip for a few days on the road without the #wolfcatcubs.  They are flying with Mrs Wolfcat to Newcastle, so I have 3 days to drive up.

The biggest issue I had was trying to find roads and towns I haven’t been through.

The Trip will be just me, the new 2013 Subaru Forester, a new D7100, and lots of 80’s music.

So this is the tentative route…  I am happy to take suggestions on what to see along the way…

Day 1 – 422 km – Melbourne Airport to Narrandera ( Drop Mrs Wolfcat and Cubs at the Airport, hit the road )

View Larger Map

Day 2 – 456 km – Narrandera to Nyngan ( Passing the Geographical Centre of NSW as a 10km side trip )

View Larger Map

Day 3 – 499km Nygan to Moore ( With a stop at Siding Springs Observatory )

View Larger Map

Day 4 – 501 km Moore to Newcastle ( Sadly I will miss Hunterlink being open by a few weeks )

View Larger Map

Total Distance Approx 2,950 km, inc return drive back to Melbourne

Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 Nikon Mount – My First Review.

My new Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens For Nikon Unboxing 4/4

Now I know the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens For Nikon is currently as rare as unicorns at a KKK march, but now I finally have one, and wow.  Imagine the shock of seeing that analogy, and you start to get a feel for this lens.

I have over the years played with a wide variety of lenses and camera bodies, but what Sigma have produced with this lens is nothing short of Jesus walking on water, whilst singing Karaoke to the Pet Shop Boys “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” because with this lens, that is what they are about to do. This despite the lens having an RPP of $799 which is remarkably cheap for what it is. ( When announced rumours placed it at over $1200)

Of course, there is one major issue, firstly to make lots of money they are going to have to ship this lens.  I waited six months for it, and my supplier only got 4 on the day I got mine.  I thought it was an Australian only problem, with us often being last in the pecking order.  However I noticed that there are a lot of other countries complaining about the late delivery of the Nikon mount as well.

This does mean either Sigma had a great prototype that they couldn’t mass manufacture, or they simply didn’t make enough.  Only time will tell which is the answer to this question.

But on to the lens… wow, it is heavy.

Little fingers need little chocolateHeavy and long, to the point that you will end up holding the lens a lot more than you thought you would.  I find my hands supporting the lens, not my D7100 body.  Lucky the ergonomics of the lens are such that this is very comfortable. When you think that a Nikon D7100 is 765g inc battery and the Sigma 18-35mm lens is 810g you start to see why. Even my trusty Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 is only 548g.  Still it is a light weight to my Sigma 150-500mm which tops the scales at 1910g.  Sure it is under a kilo, what does that matter?  Trust me you will notice it the first time you sling your camera over your shoulder.  Drop it in your camera bag for a few days it will become more than a noticeable edition.

Yet this weight has to be balanced against what the lens does.  I must admit, I am having sad tinges that my Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 is leaving my camera bag as a day to day lens. On a DX body, sure the “75mm” lens is nice, but why do I need it when I have my wide to portrait lens already.

As for shooting with it.  I’ll take my “wow, it is heavy line” and shorten it to “wow”.  It is so sharp, so fast and so suited to the DX format it is a must buy lens for any DX shooter.  With a focal length just shy of 2cm from the end of the lens you can get so close to a subject and yet so wide it is astounding.

Fried TofuThis lens is perfect for shooting my children and I can see it will be a great favourite with the “food bloggers” as well. Yes it is that versatile.  Add to that the constant F/1.8 and you have a low light master as well.

Given I have left this lens on my camera for a week now, I am sure that my camera body and new lens have run off and got married in a secret ceremony that I was unaware was legal in my home state until now.

It is not without its faults.  Leaving aside the shipping/manufacturing issues, there a things to take into account.  Firstly, I just feel the lens hood doesn’t mount as clean as it should.  I find myself taking the petal hood off just fine, but mounting it, seems to take 2 times to get it seated properly.

Another issue is if you don’t have an external flash, you will need to fork out for one.  This lens is so long it will leave a shadow in every shot, even without the lens hood on if you use the pop up flash. ( Not a problem for me, I have the SB700 already 🙂 )

The other issue is that it is so fast, you have to compensate for it.  I have a lot of shots of fast moving objects where the lens and camera go, oh you want us to focus on that, na, we wont.  A bit of that is user error and a lot of that is getting used to it as well.

Of course if Sigma had made an 11-500mm F/1.8 lens I would buy it, but given it would weigh more than my car, I see there maybe a few issues here.  I still have my Tokina for Ultra wide shots, but this lens is already my go to lens for a wide variety of photos.

Nikkor, Sigma has thrown down a gauntlet, told you “you have been served’, and “ow that burns” as a comment.  I love your cameras, but Nikon, sorry, this is how you make and sell a great lens.

My recommendation is if you are a DX shooter, buy this lens, just don’t expect it in a hurry.

Now to get my hands on some of the other Sigma Art Series Lenses, if they are as good as this, they will be fantastic.

 

And here is my Flickr Set for the Sigma 18-35mm Lens.

Technical Specs: ( Via sigma.com )

Lens Construction 17 Elements in 12 Groups
Angle of View (SD1) 76.5º-44.2º
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9
Mininum Aperture f16
Minimum Focusing Distance 28 cm
Filter Size (mm) 72mm
Maximum Magnifications 1:4.3
Dimensions
(Diameter x Length)
78mm x 121.0mm
Weight 810grams

 

In disasters…Social Media isn’t always right

One of the things about Social Media is that it isn’t always right.

I know this will come as a shock to some of you.  But it isn’t.  And it can become a life threatening concern during crisis communications.  You know, for example when the shit is hitting the fan, in say New South Wales due to record early major fires.

Of course there are those social media expert guru’s (colloquial know as #smeg’s) who will say otherwise that social media is the be all and end all during crisis comms.

The type of people that run with on the ground “reporting” of an event, where rumour can readily become fact; heard  third hand, or from a friend  becomes fact, and where but it was on Instagram means it must be true. In the rush to be first on social media, the rush to get the most retweets “facts” are  a secondary concern.  #smeg’s think that because second-hand sources of information (such as councils) aren’t live tweeting an event it is an outrage, a tweet that doesn’t see fire resources sent in response becomes an outrage.

The rush to be first to tell something can get people killed.  I saw and know of many reports of the Minmi fire jumping the F3 (sorry the M1 Motorway to those born post 2013), reports that were on both social media and commercial radio.  Reports that, by the way, did turn out to be wrong.  These were reports I had to tell a family member who was close by, no they aren’t real. Reports that if people reacted to could have caused stress, panic and even unnecessary evacuations.  Evacs that could have blocked the roads required by the emergency services to stop the fire jumping the road.  But hey, “I tweeted it first”, “I retweeted it first”, “I saw a post from a friend that said it was true, so I will share it so I can be first”, all turned out to be wrong. Funny thing was the ABC and the RFS didn’t tweet these “facts”, didn’t share this information, why because it wasn’t true.

Trust in an agency to get the information right and right the first time is important.  This doesn’t mean being first as is the want of many #smeg’s.

Take Google’s Crisis Maps for NSW.  They don’t just rely on rumours from social media; they rely on the cold hard facts from the RFS. (as an aside they work when the RFS servers are overloaded).  Why, because they are the go-to source.  Why didn’t the local council in the affected areas suddenly open up a twitter account and start tweeting? Because in this case they aren’t the go-to source.  Certainly not, when they don’t have an established system, protocol, trained staff and direct access to the agency that is actually in charge, yes the RFS. And what info would a council tweet, the source info, the RFS anyway!

Now when the shit hits the fan of course the RFS are going to be slower than people want, why because they are fact checking before they communicate.  An awareness of this small thing that seems to be missing from many peoples criticism of other organisations.

I know who I would retweet and share info from.  I have a wide range of trusted sources, these are people that work for organisations like the RFS.

Yes, social media does have  an important place during crisis comms.  The geotagged photo from an event can help.

Yet being first doesn’t always mean being right.

The amount of times I have seen “disaster” photos shared on social media, that aren’t even of the unfolding events but an early and different event, or the reports of something happening, which isn’t are scary.

A social media report saying a road is open, retweeted from 3 hours ago, when in fact a fire is heading straight for it, could see people get killed. What if the RFS reacted to all these reports, sent crews to areas they were not needed, because social media said so and people got killed.  What will the #smeg’s reaction be then…


A few facts to consider before voting tomorrow…

There is NO budget emergency, Hockey/Abbott etc made the whole thing up to fit their narrative. The finally released costing documents delivered by a man who had taken a master class in displaying every single sign of lying in one twenty minute press conference showed that the difference between the Libs and the ALP is 0.36% of the budget over 4 years.  That’s fucking it.  They have banged on about BUDGET EMERGENCY, BUDGET CRISIS, EMERGENCY CRISIS, etc for so long people believe them.

Next, Labors NBN is the only way forward, no point in paying 3/4 as much for something that will only offer .25% of the speed.  Yes, that is right.  Labors NBN is offering 1000mbps, Fraudband is offering 25mbps.  Not a hard choice when you think about it.

The biggest scare is yet to come, the “Commission of Audit” which is code words for blame someone else for you breaking your promises.  As they said in Yes Minister, you don’t have a commission without knowing the result in advance, and I am sure the Liberals do.

As for the terrible minority government that didn’t work.  To start with the Libs passed 87% of the bills anyway and the house passed more bills that Howard did in his first term.  Silly things about facts is they don’t often fit the narrative do they.

As for refugees, a pox on both their houses, without a shadow of doubt.  But if you think that the ALP is going to be worse than Morrison, let’s talk about a bridge I have for sale.

If you think ensuring that the top 10% of people getting the PPL eat up 30% of the total cost of the scheme is fair, we need to have a discussion around what is fair.  The Liberals have said they can’t fund Gonski beyond 4 years because that is beyond the foward estimates, but tell us down to the dollar what the impact of carbon will be to 2050, yeah right.

Voting for the Liberals at this election because you only don’t like Labor is akin to cutting off your own arm because your toe nail is infected.

Education, the NBN, trying to do something about Climate change, rail, these are important issues.

Vote for whoever you want, sure, but stop and think before you do, it will be 3 years if not six before you can take your election result back to the shop for a refund, and you may find your house is destroyed in the meantime and not covered by your vote warranty.

Somewhere in the seat of Hotham this conversation is happening right now. #ausvotes

I’m looking forward to Voting for that nice young fellow in the Seat of Hotham.

The ALP sent me a flyer just a few days after the election was called, still not sure about that Kevin bloke, Julia seemed a lot more go getter really.  Sorry, was distracted there, yes, just after the election was called we received a bit of mail saying Geoff Lake was to be our new local candidate.  It even had a nice photo of Geoff and Simon together.  Well at least Simon heard his phone ring that day to arrange the photo shoot. He should have got a flashing light like I do for when my phone rings.

Now one of the advantages of living in a safe seat is none of those pesky door knockers at this time of year.  Nothing worse than sitting down to do some crocheting and having people knock on your door to say Stop the Boats.  Stop stopping my tea and crochet time I say. At least that Clive bloke hasn’t come to my door, I don’t think I have enough pastry for all the pies he would want to eat.

So here we are less than a week to go, I still have to get some more tea cosy’s made for the local primary school fate, but when I drop them off at the school I will gladly slide my walking frame up to the booth and number 1 to 6 with Geoff Lake, Labor being number 1.

Then we can hopefully never have to worry about that man who wears those silly swimming costumes ever being in parliament again.

———–

Of course I am a bit of a political wonk so I know that Geoff Lake isn’t the local candidate, I know because I saw the 2 min of evening news coverage the story got.  I know that it is now Claire O’Neil as the local candidate, which got even less coverage.  Yet Labor is so busy on telling me not to vote for Abbott they forget to tell me who their local candidate is.  The old saying take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves certainly comes to mind.

Whilst I certainly don’t want to see an Abbott lead Coalition government, the ALP needs to take a good hard look at who their base is.  Confusing the electorate by saying Abbott, Abbott, Abbott all the time isn’t going to get Geoff, no sorry Claire elected is it.

 
guts

Reasons to Vote L/NP and Abbott in this election…

I have thought long and hard about this, as an above average income office worker, with 2 children a stay at home mum and some what of a social consciousness I thought I would outline the reasons to vote for the Liberal Nationals Coalition this coming election…

my top 5 reasons are listed below…

  1.  Bonus number six reason “‘He’ is the guy with the not bad looking daughters…”

Yep, that is about it.

 

Mr Infrastructure, his PPL and our NBN

Mr Infrastructure is off to a bad start, given he got lost in upper upper middle class welfare handouts.  Taking a leaf out of Howards book, he thinks giving tax breaks and massive cash handouts to the rich is the best thing he can do, he kind of forgot to invest in infrastructure and all this before he has even become PM.

At 5.5billion a year ( just in the first year alone ) the paid parental leave scheme (PPL) is a more than robbing the poor to pay the rich side of things, it is robbing our future to pay for rich folk ( or women of calibre as he called them ) to have babies.

The NBN has been described by the Liberals as a waste of money (amongst many other things), however lets put the NBN into a different light comparing it to Mr Infrastucture’s biggest spend for the election.

The NBN is costed at $46 billion over the next ten years and will last 40+ years to ensure that 93+% of Australians have fibre to the premise. The NBN is also designed to have a return on investment.  Not to mention addressing major issues with our failing existing telecom infrastructure.

PPL on the other hand will cost over $55billion for ten years, and will be partially paid for a by a 1.5% levy on over 3000 companies, who I am sure will be good corporate citizens and not pass on the costs to their consumers.

Of the NBN and PPL schemes, one is an investment in the jobs of the future ensuring Australia is well placed to address the changing digital landscape, the other ensures that people get 75k for having a child.

guts


Forget turning back the boats, we need to turn back the continent.

I remember one or two things from high school. Bullies was one of them, the other is the theory of continental drift.  Now this is where modern politics is letting us all down. They are all bullies, oh wait sorry wrong rant.  Continental Drift is the biggest issue facing this country, that and boat people.

Australia is heading north at a rate of between 1 and 4cm a year, the gap between Australia and PNG is only 160.322 km.  I don’t want to alarm anyone, but in 4 million years give or take, boat people will be able to WALK HERE.

We know Rudd has suggested the PNG solution, (obviously he is just 4million years ahead of his time), Abbott has the turn back the boats (Update: Operation Sovereign Borders (because what our borders aren’t sovereign already, and don’t start me on being a republic!)), but both politicians are being short sighted.  Typically they are thinking in terms of electoral cycles not geographical ones.

The parties should get serious about this. Forget the race to bottom in who can treat genuine refugees the worst, by either shooting at them or sending them to a hell-hole concentration camp. What we really need is an Australia wide approach to this problem.

map

We need to turn back Australia.

Yes, mock me all you like, but the boat people won’t get on a boat for a 2000km sea voyage from Indonesia when they have to face the roaring 40’s on the way.

Yes, that is right; we need to drag Australia down south.  Way way down south. This policy may seem extreme, but given we are facing an invasion or is it a national emergency, I can’t think of anything else that would be more sensible to address this issue.

A major bonus to the sporting mad nation that we are is that the extra year round snow would ensure that we would become a nation of world class winter Olympians. No more hoping for a single gold or two at the Winter Olympics, we could take on the world.

As an added bonus, we will get more whale watching opportunities and the impacts of global warming will be dramatically reduced as we are much further south.

Currently the only risk is an increase in solo around the world sailors bumping into Australia, but then think of the cost savings in sending the airforce to look for them. And this in’t that much of problem there has only been 3 or so in the last 20 years.

This policy isn’t fully costed yet, but hey the election hasn’t been called so that doesn’t matter.

Remember Vote 1: Turn back Australia.

Missing from the EXIF: Docklands Fireworks

Docklands Fireworks 1/4It has been a while since I did one of these posts, actually it has been a while since I did any camera related posts to be honest, but twins do that to you.  Since the last post, there has been one small change, I can haz new camera.  Why yes, I have a new D7100, and wow am I loving it.  ( but that is another post )

First real get out and shoot something opportunity came a week and a day after I purchased the D7100, the Docklands Winter Fireworks.  I was going for the day after I purchased the camera, but #manflu got in the way.  Which is not a bad thing on reflection, as I had another week to play and get used to the camera.

This was my first set of long exposures taken with the D7100, and my trusty Tokina 11-16mm lens.

The biggest advantage of the Docklands fireworks is that you get more than one opportunity.  Last year they were only on in July, this year, they are on in July and August so I have a few more chances to get the shot right.  Although after this shot, I may just stay home on the next few Friday nights.

Of course I got there nice and early, got my gear set up and fired off a few test shots.  Then as is often the case, the environment changed.  Someone decided to put some extra lights on the wharf.  These lights ended up as massive lens flares in every test shot.  So I had 10 minutes to move to a new location before the show began.

Being a fan of the interval timer mode, I had test shots to check for lighting and referencing last years shots I knew the basic F stop and Exposure settings I was after anyway.  So click click click goes the camera.  Just near the end of the show I think, wow check out the reflection and quickly rotate the D7100 into portrait mode.  And bang there is the shot.

Someone on Twitter asked me what settings I had used, well here they all are, and all the tweaks I did in Lightroom.  Tweaks that took me less than two min. As I say got to love shooting RAW ( and oh yeah 6000×4000 300dpi from the D7100 does give me some wiggle room for crops )

Stage 1 – Import the RAW – The Image as is off the camera
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 1

Stage 2
fix the angles and lens correction, then auto tone
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 2


Stage 3

Tweak the White Balance to get the colours correct
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 3


Stage 4

Final tweet to Vibrance and Clarity and then hit export… time in lightroom, less than 2 min.
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 4

 

 

The EXIF Info:

Camera Nikon D7100
Exposure 5 Seconds
Aperture f/9.0
Focal Length 11 mm
ISO Speed 250
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire
Software Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4 (Windows)
Exposure Program Manual
Date and Time (Original) 2013:07:12 19:15:34
Exposure Mode Manual
White Balance Auto
Lens Info 11-16mm f/2.8
Date Created 2013:07:12
Time Created 19:15:34
Creator Tool Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4 (Windows)
Image Number 830

 

and of course you can purchase this print:

From Redbubble as a print, postcard, framed or poster

and also from 500PX as a canvas print, or you can vote for it.