Monthly Archives: September 2005

Double posting

For those of you who read this but not ModBlog, I wanted to mention that I've posted a number of media gigs there for individuals and suspension teams — click here for your fifteen minutes.


(CLICK FOR MORE WETPLATE SUSPENSION PIX)

Anyway, I've got to get up early tomorrow because our boat launches at 7 AM, so I'm going to watch a little TV and go to bed very early. The folks who are taking us also offer free diving courses which I admit that I've been considering…

Simple comicbook PS filter

Earlier this year I wrote about simple Photoshop tricks to make your photos look like painting… This afternoon I wrote a very primitive (but one-click) filter for converting photos into comics (download). It's tuned to run on photos that are 1200 pixels across (but it can work on any size), and expects that after running you rescale the image to 50% (or the linework will be fuzzy) and then pump up the saturation manually. Here's a few examples of it at work; this is without any hand processing.

It works by cloning your image and running a poster edges command, which it then lightens and smooths a little and darken-merges into your original image (ie. creating outlines). Then a combination of smart blur and cutout filters are run. It's a little more complicated than that but that's pretty much all it does. It's far from an ideal result but if you need something in a few seconds it works nicely.

PS. The filter works on PS 8.0; I haven't tested it on anything else.

Rainstorm on the Baja

I know it's no Rita-Katrina, but we're getting quite the rain and thunderstorm here in usually bone-dry La Paz, Mexico… Inside fifteen minutes the streets had a foot or more of water in them — seeing all the dead cars littered in the street from the depth made me glad Rachel lent me her thankfully monstrous Escalade to give Jon a ride home (the buggy was in no state to go).

It sure is nice to get some rain, although I'm not so thrilled about the living room being under water. Luckily everywhere else (inside) seems to be dry so far. I'm going out into the Sea of Cortez on Wednesday with Jon and Rafael and Travis, so I sure hope it's not too crazy on that day…

A long rambling probably offensive entry

Let's start with a map of the quality of education across America.

I mention this because in parts of Kentucky, which is pretty low on the list, they're talking about schools cutting back to four days a week (with days slightly lengthened) because Bush's “no child left behind” budget is so inadequate in paying the schools' bills. Kentucky has an education budget of $3 billion a year. To put that into context, if the Iraq war could be stalled for two weeks, the education budget for the entire year could be doubled. Good to know the money is going where it's needed most.

It's interesting to contrast the priorities of the (incompetent*) federal government, made up of illegally appointed officials representing the very richest — and certainly most corrupt — people in this world to the priorities of the common man on the street. For example, there were just two rallies in Washington.


* Hell, they even tried to appoint a male veterinarian as the director of the Office of Women's Health. Are we living in some kind of crazy alternate-galaxy rap world where women really is bitches?

The “anti-war” rally drew as many as 200,000 people (with plenty of new faces), whereas the silly Republican “pro-war” rally managed to draw only 200 people… For every thousand people publicly speaking out against the neocon agenda, only one was willing to support it. Ah, modern democracy.

Speaking of insane ratios, did you know that for every 250,000 bullets fired in that hell-hole of Iraq by American troops, only one rebel is killed? Maybe that explains why the US military is putting in bulk orders for anthrax… Maybe they should just start gassing regions?

So, most Americans think the plan to rid Iraq of its WMDs rid Iraq of terrorists bring democracy to Iraq is a failing battle (as Mr. George “deja vu” Bush demands “more sacrifice“), and local officials describe Iraq as “headed for disintegration“. I worry though, because this means that we've taken a relatively secular progressive Middle Eastern country, broken it and allowed invasion by Iranian Islamic extremists. Islam will continue to spread across the region, and continue to threaten America both culturally and via direct terrorist action. Keep on killing those reporters if you want to see America adopt the Koran…

I suppose my problem is that I have fundamentally conservative ideas about the world and government and have a pathological hatred for organized religion, coupled with a pathological love for sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. Why, oh, why, do the conservatives of the world have to be of the Jesus-freak no-sex-no-drugs-no-dancing sort? Why couldn't they just be some kind of Thoreau-tinged libertarians? We have so much technological might as modern humans that we could easily all live wealthy fulfilling lives, without all this bullshit about forcing each other to live the way we think is morally correct and imprisoning and killing each other when we fuck the wrong way… What a waste…

I desperately hope that aliens will come and say “hey, ya dumbasses, god's not real” or at least “god is for everyone, and he doesn't care what you call him!”

Anyway… back in America, international reporters unsympathetic to the Bush administration are being denied entry at the border, kids that ask too real difficult questions at school are getting punished, casinos are getting tax breaks, pro-choice groups are being branded terrorists, and even with the occasional protest, by and large the American public is unwilling to entertain the notion of removing Bush from office or even resisting. Take a note from this Aussie surfer — if he can punch out a shark, surely someone can figure out a way to deal with the problem in the White House.

While we're taking advice from other nations, asexuals, take a note from this new Dutch television show that explores, among other things, who gives better head — a guy or a girl? Now that's what I call investigative journalism. (Feel free to wear multiple condoms around your ailing banana).

So the US has launched a new satellite that attacks other satellites… While I think that's probably a pretty decent strategy, in more far-out conspiracy tech-land, either the US or the Japanese Yakuza used weather control technology to direct this latest bunch of hurricane “attacks”. If a hurricane is a WMD, then do we have to declare war on Terra? Oh, and South Korea is building front-line combat droids (and they're seriously goofy looking).

God bless the USA.

Oh, and did you know that by eating transfat-free potato chips you're killing orangutans?
Goddamn. I'm out of here.

The Future is Tomorrow

When public institutions have been privatized and deregulated, especially those that are either monopolistic or singularly government-contracted (healthcare, energy, education, and so on), quality of service has gone down, costs have gone up, fraud has greatly increased, and the system becomes fundamentally unstable and beyond the control of the public that it works for. There are things that we all need — the basic necessities of life and society — and logically it makes sense that the entities that provide them should “work for us” in order to provide universally good and inexpensive service, rather than working for a corporation seeking to figure out how to have the highest profit for the lowest expenditure (that is, how to make the most money for the least product, rather than how to charge the least money for the most product). There are exceptions, but as a general statement I believe this is true.

That's why this MeFi thread about the privatization of police in America should worry you. Not only should people be scared that megacorporations are starting to become the beginning and end of the law and its enforcement, and that these private paramilitary contractors are tied deeply to the wealthiest end of the Republican party, but realize that by placing a corporate barrier between police action and the state you make it wholly unaccountable. Let me give you an example from environmental issues.

Let's say a factory is making paint, and that paint has dangerous byproducts. The company can either dump those byproducts into the river and pollute the water system, killing and making ill both wildlife and humans and pay a fine for breaking the law, or it can use expensive systems to safely recycle these byproducts. If the cost of paying the fines is lower than the cost of the recycling systems, it not only will choose to murder, but it is legally required to do so. Car safety is similar — if the price of fixing a problem is more expensive than the price of paying the lawsuit damages from people who'll be killed and injured from the problem, the corporation will choose to murder. Remember Fight Club?

Take the number of vehicles in the field, (A), and multiply it by the probable rate of failure, (B), then multiply the result by the average out-of-court settlement, (C). A times B times C equals X... If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

Extend that into police and security, and realize that it moves to a dangerous model of shoot-first-never-ask-questions, deception and non-accountability, results over morality, and optimizing the profitability of the police state rather than optimizing the justice and liberty it protects.

Welcome to the New Perfect America™.

And don't even get me started on the privatization of democracy. That's so fucked up it doesn't even seem real… but, with at least one election stolen if not two, it's happened, and barely anyone even noticed, and anyone who writes about it (no matter how hard their evidence) gets branded as a nut.