Religion is like Sausage (The Only Thing I Ever Wrote on Facebook Worth Saving)

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Today is Quit Facebook Day, and I have deleted my account. Bottom line: Facebook’s culture, beliefs and attitude all seem to indicate that they want everything to be shared with everyone. Nothing they have done indicates any change in their core values and beliefs. I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with a service that shares everything with everyone by default. That’s what this blog does, and Twitter. However Facebook promised something different, and then they took it back, exposing users’ private information in the process. Furthermore they have given every indication that they intend to keep doing so just as soon as they can get away with it.

Even if I trusted Facebook to keep their promises for more than a week, the bottom line is I just don’t need the service they want to provide. Facebook’s value proposition was always a way to share content with friends and family that you didn’t want to share with the whole world. For sharing with the whole world we already have Buzz, Blogs, Twitter, and many more options. For sharing one-to-one we have e-mail. Facebook, for a time, sat in-between; and it was useful. It no longer is. If there’s an existing service that offers what Facebook used to offer, I haven’t found it. Linked In comes closest, but its focus is different.

In any case, I mostly used Facebook to keep up with a few old, geographically diverse friends. I never used it much for writing. In fact, in the years I’ve had a Facebook account (going back to when you had to have a .edu address to join, and your network was your university) I think I’ve only written one significant item I’d sort of like to keep. So here it is for posterity, after a little editing. In the meantime, if you need to find me I’m easy enough to google and I put my real, unobscured e-mail address on most of my web pages.

#504 Kentucky Warbler

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Today I slept in and went down to Prospect Park around 8:30 AM where I promptly ran into Tom Stephenson who informed me that Rafael Campos had found a Kentucky Warbler in the Vale of Cashmere. We hurried down to the Vale just in time to see it fly across the grassy path leading out to Nellie’s lawn. Unfortunately, all we really saw was a small brown bird fly very fast across in front of us. There was no way to ID it. However after a few minutes of waiting it was spotted again, and I got one good look at it. I saw it for less than a second, and I didn’t get a photograph, but it’s distinctive enough that there really wasn’t any doubt. It looks a lot like the Common Yellowthroat except instead of a black mask it has a slightly more patterned brown mask. The Kentucky Warbler is a Southern bird that usually doesn’t get as far north as New York City, but every year a few birds overshoot their marks and end up in Central Park or Prospect Park or Forest Park and similar environs.


Come Birding with Me

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 15 I will be leading a Brooklyn Bird Club field trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. We’ll Start outside the Eastern Parkway entrance at 9:20 AM, just down the street from the Brooklyn Museum stop on the 2/3. Spring migration is in full swing so I’m hopeful that we will have many interesting warblers, thrushes, tanagers, and other uncommon species. As bird club trips go, this is a fairly relaxed one. We start late and finish early, so it’s a really nice walk for beginners or folks just dipping their toe into the water for the first time. Bring binoculars. Hope to see you there.

Common Grackle
Common Grackle at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2010-05-06

Happy International Migratory Bird Day!

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Bright red bird with black wings
Scarlet Tanager, Piranga olivacea, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2010-05-08

Does Image Stabilization Help?

Friday, May 7th, 2010

My friend Steve Nanz is of the opinion that in 2010 I shouldn’t even consider a lens that doesn’t have image stabilization. He suggested that I might want to try Canon’s 100-400 mm f/5.6L zoom lens instead of the 400mm f/5.6L prime that I have been using. I actually did test the 100-400 mm f/5.6 L lens rather thoroughly while I was shopping for lenses last year and earlier this year. It’s a good lens to be sure, but I just found that I got better results of the prime lens. Still Steve is a better photographer than I am so I thought I’d give it one more try. Here’s what I found:

Gray catbird perched