Thursday, 25 August 2011

08:22 – I’ve been thinking about unusual antonyms, ones that almost no one knows. Last night, I was thinking about writing something about the Euro crisis, focusing on the mistaken idea that the Eurozone is an “optimal currency area”. Far from it, the Eurozone is the opposite of optimal. So what’s the antonym for optimal? I had to think about for a moment. So, quickly and without looking it up, what’s the antonym?

Having thought of it, I did a quick google search on “optimal” and its antonym. The results were about 200 million hits on “optimal” and about an eighth of a million on the antonym, making “optimal” about 1,600 times more commonly used than “pessimal”.


In every one of my books, I’ve included one horrible pun, often quite subtle, and I just added the one for the biology lab book. I was writing up a lab session about the effect of nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobium) on the growth of lima bean plants, touching on the ecological principles of mutualism and commensalism.

In mutualism, each species benefits from the relationship with the other species. In a commensalist relationship, only one of the two species benefits. The other does not benefit, but suffers no harm. For example, on one level the relationship between squirrels and oak trees is commensalist. The oak tree provides shelter for the squirrel by providing a secure location for its nest, but the tree does not benefit from the presence of the nest. (In another sense, the relationship is mutualist, because the squirrel benefits from acorns as a food source, while the tree benefits by having the squirrel bury its acorns far afield, where they can germinate.)

Rhizobium forms nodules on the plant roots, and converts atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates that the plant can use, an obvious benefit to the plant. But what is the benefit to the bacteria? Obviously, there must be some benefit to the bacteria from a close association with the plant, or the bacteria would be distributed throughout the soil, rather than forming nodules on the plant roots. Oh, yeah. The pun. I mention the plant providing the bacteria with a location for a nice, cozy nodular home.


09:09 – I just ordered a Pentax K-r DSLR with the kit lens from B&H, along with a spare Pentax battery and a Class 10 memory card. The AA battery adapter is back-ordered, so I’ll pick up one of those later. B&H is supposed to email me when they’re back in stock.

This is the first DSLR we’ve bought that can save image files simultaneously in RAW and .jpg formats, a feature that I’ll definitely use. For the last few years, we’ve always saved as RAW format and then I’ve used showFoto to convert to .jpg for printing at Walgreens and so on. Having the camera produce and save .jpg files along with RAW files will save some time and effort. Speaking of RAW, that raises another question. All of our past Pentax DSLRs have offered only the proprietary Pentax .pef RAW format. This camera offers the choice of saving RAW as .pef or .dng. Is there any advantage or drawback to choosing one or the other?


16:06 – As usual, good sense from Pat Condell, this time concerning the European Union.

8 thoughts on “Thursday, 25 August 2011”

  1. Similarly, yesterday I helped my grandkids with an antonym, for increase. One of the had said “downcrease” and after my daughter corrected with “decrease”, I suggested “outcrease.”

    OTOH, when the flight attendents says “deplane” , upon landing, what is the antonym?

  2. OTOH, when the flight attendents says “deplane” , upon landing, what is the antonym?

    Fantasy Island.

  3. On the Washington State Ferry system, when you embark on a ride, there is an announcement that all cars and passengers are required to “disembark” the ferry. I know the word is correct, but it grates on me as I always expect to hear “debark”. “Disembark”, humorously to me, self-negates to just ‘bark’ which is what trees have and dogs do, but not normal commuters.

  4. PEF vs. DNG? Well, depending on how Pentax designed their .PEF format, there might be a lag before DCRAW is able to support new camera models; at least theoretically (and that’s part of Adobe’s justification for the format) .DNG files shouldn’t need any revisions to the program even if the sensor changes.

  5. I use showFoto, which is based on the dcraw libraries, for handling RAW. As far as I know, Pentax .pef is based on TIFF, and I think the only thing that changes with a new camera model is the metadata on the sensor characteristics. The K-r, IIRC, was announced last autumn and shipped this spring, so it’s probably been long enough for dcraw to make any necessary modifications. Or so I hope. Once I get the camera, I’ll shoot a RAW image and pull it up in showFoto to see what happens.

  6. There is no reason to use JPG and RAW at the same time. Programs that handle RAW images handle them as easily as JPG. You have more latitude in your images with RAW as they are typically 12 bits per pixel per color where JPG is only 8 bits per pixel per color. Only reason to use JPG is if your software does not support PEF or DNG. I changed to RAW several years ago and will never look back. There is no real harm in doing both, just twice the number of images to mess with for no real advantage. Do what makes you feel comfortable as space on the memory card is not an issue.

    I never set white balance on the camera. I just leave the WB on sunny. I use a digital target to get a color balance later on. This is much more accurate than what the camera provides and is one less thing I have to worry about. RAW images are not white balance and the setting in the camera is only used for the JPG preview on the camera display. It also provides a starting point for the software RAW processor. Other than that the WB setting has zero effect on a RAW image.

    DNG is Adobe’s attempt to standardize a lossless, compressed, digital format. Is there an advantage over RAW? I really don’t know. Try them both and see which you like best.

  7. I thought I was the only person in the world who knew the word pessimal. Unless I’m just flinging my superior vocabulary in someone’s face (which happens more often than is probably optimal) I always use “anti-optimal” as a lash-up antonym for optimal. At least in the engineering and programming crowds in which the need normally arises, the meaning gets across whereas “pessimal” requires definition and usually leads to the conversation being sidetracked.

    In other news, I find that using “bad” as the antonym for “good” is sometimes unclear, and having “terrible”, “egregious”, and the like is redundant. I hereby suggest the introduction of the word “ungood”, with “plus ungood” serving as an intense version.

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