Saturday, January 31, 2009

Advancing Technology in Digital Photography

How long do you think it would take you to count to 1 million?  I remember being about 10 years old and walking down to the end of the street I lived on.  Then continuing on a dusty trail through a field towards a pasture or a creek.  This was one of my usual haunts after school.  This particular day I decided the moment I got to the bottom of our driveway I would begin counting to see how long it would take to get to 1,000 and where I would be when I got to 1,000.  I was about halfway thru the field at the end or our street.  Looking back is was probably a third of a mile.

For this thought experiment let's suppose on average it will take you 3 seconds to pronounce each number from 1 to 1 million and begin pronouncing the next.  Counting day and night without stopping it would take 34 days 17 hours.  To further underscore the point I am about to make I seem to recall my church in Hot Springs organizing an event on government park property in which the word of God, the Bible would be read, by volunteers, without stopping from Genesis to Revelation.  This took just a weekend.

Now that I've set you up have you ever thought about what 10.1 megapixels mean in terms of say an ordinary Sony Cyber-Shot camera?  To capture a color photograph recall that light is made up of 3 primary colors red, blue, yellow.  An equal combination of these 3 colors give you something close to a white light.  Contrast this to food dye or buckets of paint.  It is just the opposite.  The combination of a drop each of red, blue, and yellow dyes give you something close to black when all blended.  Therefore 1 pixel is made up of 3 sensors tuned to just sample the 3 primary colors.

These samples are graded in brightness to maybe a thousand levels.  Now you have 3 color sensors X 10.1 million pixels equalling 30.3 million individual sensors in a space of about 1 centimeter by 1/2 centimeter square.  This is a solid state sensor device manufactured to precise levels such that if you have so much as 3000 defective pixels your picture of your friend's birthday party would be defective and you might be able to tell.  Back to Walmart it goes for an exchange.

The computer inside your digital camera has to record all this information and assimilate 30.3 million individually addressed sensors within the time it takes for you to become impatient AND before you jiggle the camera.

Now this article is not meant to be factually conclusive but if I am wrong in some aspect let me know.   People handle their cameras like aborigines handle a didgeridoo without ever appreciating or understanding what makes them work.  In fact a didgeridoo might be handled more sacredly.  Thoughtful people collaborated to make these cameras possible and it is amazing that they even work as long as they do.

Oh, and the display on the back of your camera is nearly as much of a feat as the camera.  The display is a piece of laminated glass that is nearly clear except for a slight gray appearance.  About half as thick as a Saltine Cracker the glass display is layered together with two pieces of precisely polarized fresnal lenses made of plastic film not much thicker than Saran wrap.  Behind all that is yet another thin film of electroluminescent plastic that serves to backlight the display.  When a certain volatage is applied to this plastic it glows that familiar LCD screen glow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ogden Nash - "A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor"

A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor
by Ogden Nash

(explanations by William Adams)
The hands of the clock were reaching high
In an old midtown hotel;
I name no name, but its sordid fame
Is table talk in hell.
I name no name, but hell's own flame
Illumes the lobby garish,
A gilded snare just off Times Square
For the maidens of the parish.

(Around noon in an old and
 somewhat dis-reputable hotel.
 It has a bad reputation in the
 area. Probably lots of dubious
 characters live there, and/or
 hang out and do business there.)

The revolving door swept the grimy floor
Like a crinoline grotesque,
And a lowly bum from an ancient slum
Crept furtively past the desk.
His footsteps sift into the lift
As a knife in the sheath is slipped,
Stealthy and swift into the lift
As a vampire into a crypt.

(The revolving door, probably in need
 of maintenance, sweeps its bottom
 rubber seals on the floor. Probably
 leaks. A dubious character is sneaking
 past the desk into the elevator to go
 carry out some illicit mission. The knife
 suggests that it will not be peaceful.)

Old Maxie, the elevator boy,
Was reading an ode by Shelley,
But he dropped the ode as it were a toad
When the gun jammed into his belly.
There came a whisper as soft as mud
In the bed of an old canal:
"Take me up to the suite of Pinball Pete,
The rat who betrayed my gal."

(Hint of older times. There is an
 elevator operator here, and he is
 killing time reading a book between
 elevator passengers. We now know
 that the dubious character IS on a
 mission of mayhem as he sticks his
 pistol in the elevator operator's 
 ribs so that the operator knows not to
 pull anything on him. He obviously
 does not want to be overheard by anyone
 who could tell the D.A. what went on

The lift doth rise with groans and sighs
Like a duchess for the waltz,
Then in middle shaft, like a duchess daft,
It changes its mind and halts.
The bum bites lip as the landlocked ship
Doth neither fall nor rise,
But Maxie the elevator boy
Regards him with burning eyes.
"First, to explore the thirteenth floor,"
Says Maxie, "would be wise."

(The elevator starts up with lots of
 mechanical noises. Probably in need
 of some attention from the repairman
 itself. Part way up, it stops, and we do
 not know if the operator stopped it or
 if the elevator stopped of it's own accord.
 The elevator operator apparently knows
 something that the dubious character does
 not know, and suggessts that he visit the
 thirteenth floor before he carries out his
 mission of mayhem.)

Quoth the bum, "There is moss on your double cross,
I have been this way before,
I have cased the joint at every point,
And there is no thirteenth floor.
The architect he skipped direct
From twelve unto fourteen,
There is twelve below and fourteen above,
And nothing in between,
For the vermin who dwell in this hotel
Could never abide thirteen."

 (The dubious character objects, 
 because he has studied the building
 and noticed that it does not use a
 floor numbered 13. This is somewhat
 of a common practice in buildings right
 up to the present day. Further, lots of
 criminals and gangsters are horrendously
 superstitious. A real thirteenth floor
 would NOT do in this building.)

Said Max, "Thirteen, that floor obscene,
Is hidden from human sight;
But once a year it doth appear,
On this Walpurgis Night.
Ere you peril your soul in murderer's role,
Heed those who sinned of yore;
The path they trod led away from God,
And onto the thirteenth floor,
Where those they slew, a grisly crew,
Reproach them forevermore.

(The elevator operator explains that
 the "thirteenth floor" is more of a
 supernatural place than a physical place,
 and that it is NOT a good place. He wants
 the dubious character to see what has
 happened to people who carried out
 killings before him, so that he can make
 a more intelligent decision whether he
 really wants to kill Pinball Pete. Note:
 Walpurgis Night is supposed to be one
 of the Satanic "holy" nights where
 "witches dance with the Devil." It has
 come to have a generic meaning of any
 event coming up that is universally dreaded.
 For example, if I have a shift scheduled at
 the motel where I know that ALL the guests
 will check in between 11:00 pm and 3:00 AM,
 and that they will all be crabby due to some
 airline foul-up, I might refer to it as , "Time
 to go in for my Walpurgis Night Shift.")

"We are higher than twelve and below fourteen,"
Said Maxie to the bum,
"And the sickening draft that taints the shaft
Is a whiff of kingdom come.
The sickening draft that taints the shaft
Blows through the devil's door!"
And he squashed the latch like a fungus patch,
And revealed the thirteenth floor.

(The elevator operator tells the
 dubious character that they have
 arrived at the thirteenth floor,
 then opens the elevator door.)

It was cheap cigars like lurid scars
That glowed in the rancid gloom,
The murk was a-boil with fusel oil
And the reek of stale perfume.
And round and round there dragged and wound
A loathsome conga chain,
The square and the hep in slow lock step,
The slayer and the slain.

(For the souls of the victims ascend on high,
But their bodies below remain.)
 (Sort of a typical "speakeasy" environment,
 saturated with cheap cigars, cheap and
 bootlegged whiskey (fusel oil), and the
 perfume of the women who frequented
 such places. The loathsome conga chain
 is the line of murderers, all being haunted
 and cursed by their victims.)

The clean souls fly to their home in the sky,
But their bodies remain below
To pursue the Cain who each has slain
And harry him to and fro.
When life is extinct each corpse is linked
To its gibbering murderer,
As a chicken is bound with wire around
The neck of a killer cur.

(When a person is murdered, their
 soul was often believed to ascend to
 heaven automatically. We'll argue that
 out later. The point here is that the
 soul goes on to heaven but the body
 stays, lifeless, to torment the person
 who carried out the murder.)

Handcuffed to Hate come Doctor Waite
(He tastes the poison now),
And Ruth and Judd and a head of blood
With horns upon its brow.
Up sashays Nan with her feathery fan
From Floradora bright;
She never hung for Caesar Young
But she's dancing with him tonight.

(Some well known cases, at least
 back then. Doctor Waite poisoned
 his family, Ruth Snyder and Judd Grey
 murdered Ruth's husband, Nan was
 a revue dancer who killed Ceasar Young
 in a hansom cab.)

Here's the bulging hip and the foam-flecked lip
Of the mad dog, Vincent Coll,
And over there that ill-met pair,
Becker and Rosenthal,
Here's Legs and Dutch and a dozen such
Of braggart bullies and brutes,
And each one bends 'neath the weight of friends
Who are wearing concrete suits.

(Vincent Coll, Legs Diamond, and Dutch Shultz
 were known gangsters in the 20s and 30s. Becker
 and Rosenthal were involved in shady gambling
 and Becker set up Rosenthal's murder. General
 air of gangsters "taking people for a ride" and
 "cement overshoes.")

Now the damned make way for the double-damned
Who emerge with shuffling pace
From the nightmare zone of persons unknown,
With neither name nor face.
And poor Dot King to one doth cling,
Joined in a ghastly jig,
While Elwell doth jape at a goblin shape
And tickle it with his wig.

(Apparently there is a "special" hell
 for unidentified murderers. Dot King
 Joseph Elwell were both murdered
 by persons unknown.)

See Rothstein pass like breath on a glass,
The original Black Sox kid;
He riffles the pack, riding piggyback
On the killer whose name he hid.
And smeared like brine on a slavering swine,
Starr Faithful, once so fair,
Drawn from the sea to her debauchee,
With the salt sand in her hair.

(Arnold Rothstein was involved in the
 World Series scandal during the early
 part of the twentieth century. This is
 where we get the phrase, "Say it ain't
 so, Joe!" It was reputedly uttered by a
 young child watching Shoeless Joe Jackson
 being ushered into court to be tried for his
 part in the throwing of the Series. Starr
 Faithful is simply a woman who was found
 murdered on a beach with no clues.)

And still they come, and from the bum
The icy sweat doth spray;
His white lips scream as in a dream,
"For God's sake, let's away!
If ever I meet with Pinball Pete
I will not seek his gore,
Lest a treadmill grim I must trudge with him
On the hideous thirteenth floor."

(The dubious character is now in a panic,
 has decided to drop his plans to kill
 Pinball Pete, and just wants to get the
 heck out of there, fast.)

"For you I rejoice," said Maxie's voice,
"And I bid you go in peace,
But I am late for a dancing date
That nevermore will cease.
So remember, friend, as your way you wend,
That it would have happened to you,
But I turned the heat on Pinball Pete;
You see - I had a daughter, too!"

(The elevator operator has apparently
 already killed Pinball Pete over a crime
 committed against his daughter. He tells
 the dubious character that he, the elevetor
 operator, must now stay on the thirteenth
 floor where Pinball Pete's body will
 torment him for eternity.)

The bum reached out and he tried to shout,
But the door in his face was slammed,
And silent as stone he rode down alone
From the floor of the double-damned.

(The dubious character leaves the
 thirteenth floor untouched, which
 is apparently very rare. He is able
 to ride back to the lobby of the old
 hotel and re-join the physical world
 once again.) 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cattle Ranching in Florida

Visit the photographer's studio website by clicking on the title above, click on 'gallery' then watch 'Florida Cowboys' and 'Cowboys #2' slide shows.

The actual address is

Excellent black and white photography I hope you enjoy as much as I did.  His photographs were selected for display in the state capital and each photo has a poem that goes with it. 

These ranches are in southwest Florida within about 50 mile radius of Sarasota. Outside of Disney, condominiums and beaches people don't know Florida as a cattle state.  Because of favorable weather year round the state has been a cow capital raising more cattle than any other state until recent years.

Because of Florida's distance from the market hardly any of the cattle are slaughtered here commercially. Generally, I've been told, Florida is used to breed and raise cattle then at the right weight they are shipped off to cattle yards in the midwest grain belt and auctioned. Once in cattle yards they are fattened with a lot of grain and a whole lot less exercise.  Dairy cattle are only produced for local dairies and hobby ranches.   I think it ironic that when I buy a hamburger at Steak and Shake the cow very possibly was raised in Florida, shipped to Kansas, then shipped back down here on a refrigerated truck all ground up. Its possible anyway.

Have anything to add or corrections to make let me know!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Book in Time Saves Mind

     If you click on the title of this posting it will zap you to the website where you can read George Orwell's "1984".  I am probably one of a few priviledged people on the planet who actually read "1984" in the year 1984.  This is a book that is huge fun to read and to then compare to our present times and possible futures.  But what great book to talk about.  I hope our students are still reading such material.  Similarly is a book called "Fahrenheit 451".  I can't recall whether I read this or not and will have to look into it.  This title too comes up in discussions of modern politics.  Comments I have heard cannot decide what the present age most similarly matches to which book.  Anyone have any comments out there?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nuancing the Constitution

No, nuance-ing is not a dance move but in  a    way   it  is cha cha cha!  Very often to the point of embarrassment all of the mainstream media that support Obama to Obama himself would never quite answer any question, no matter how simple, without completely getting us all lost in a mire of mashed potatoes.  "Is the sun yellow like you think it should be mister Obama?"  "Well, uh, you know it all depends on where you are standing and whether or not you are looking at the sun, which is dangerous don't get me wrong.  Small children should not be looking at the sun.  I would have to consider this and and consult with people privy to that information to make it definitive but the sun's yellowness has no bearing on the discussion of the subject at hand."...and you Senator McCain? "The sun is as yellow as Illinois corn!"

This whole discussion of Obama's birth certificate seems to have drifted off into the Island of Misfit Toys.  On we had pdf files of submissions to district court then supreme court.  Finally, well not finally let me nuance this, a video was posted of a expert in analyzing documents.  This man, whose voice and image were hidden and distorted, looks at documents and figures out whether they are truthful or forgeries.  He was quite certain that Obama's birth certificate was not an actual certificate of live birth and a forgery at that.  I leave you the reader to find that video.

In the other corner was a man, Alan Keyes, a constitutional scholar.  On various forums and his own website he discussed the amazing spectrum of problems of having a President, sworn in, who is not a citizen of this country.  If hearing and seeing is better than reading information one can find videos on YouTube from Keye's website that talk about these very things.  Our courts could be tied up for decades with challenges to every single solitary signature on every document Obama signs while he is in the presidency.  The other abyss that gets opened up is if this part of the constitution can be ignored what else is there that CAN'T be ignored?

What do I think?  I think Barack Obama is not a citizen of the USA.  The evidence is just too overwhelming and the supportive response from the Defense who should be concerned  is underwhelming.  I feel like I should just drink the Flavor_Aid like everyone else.  When you think about it long enough you will see that perhaps being an illegal alien your entire life could make you evasive at answering questions. 

The heart of the story is the reality of single parent homes and unwanted children.  Once, a long time ago, a mom had an illegitimate child and he was not aborted.  He grew up to become a man so powerful that he endorsed, applauded, and approved the very operation that could have prevented him from existing in the first place.  How ironic and sad his mother's moral values were higher than her son's.  But children cannot decide who their mom and pop are going to be nor where they are going to be born.   Of all the qualified people in the United States what are the odds we would end up with a President like this?  Answer- there are no odds because God is in control of the odds so we have who we needed to have at this moment in history.

Aye chihuahua this posting shows I've been reading too many Ted Dekker books.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old Message for Our New Political Times

Proverbs Chapter 1

20 Wisdom calls out in the street;
  she raises her voice in the public squares.

  21 She cries out above the commotion;
  she speaks at the entrance of the city gates:

  22 "How long, foolish ones, will you love ignorance?
  [How long] will [you] mockers enjoy mocking
  and [you] fools hate knowledge? 

  23 If you turn to my discipline,  
  then I will pour out my spirit on you 
  and teach you my words.

  24 Since I called out and you refused, 
  extended my hand and no one paid attention, 

  25 since you neglected all my counsel 
  and did not accept my correction,

  26 I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. 
  I will mock when terror strikes you,

  27 when terror strikes you like a storm
  and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
  when trouble and stress overcome you.

  28 Then they will call me, but I won't answer;
  they will search for me, but won't find me.

  29 Because they hated knowledge,
  didn't choose to fear the LORD, 

  30 were not interested in my counsel,
  and rejected all my correction, 

  31 they will eat the fruit of their way
  and be glutted with their own schemes.

  32 For the waywardness of the inexperienced will kill them, 
  and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

  33 But whoever listens to me will live securely
  and be free from the fear of danger." 

Proverbs 2
Wisdom's Worth
 1 My son, if you accept my words
  and store up my commands within you,

  2 listening closely to wisdom
  and directing your heart to understanding;

  3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
  and lift your voice to understanding,

  4 if you seek it like silver
  and search for it like hidden treasure, 

  5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
  and discover the knowledge of God.

  6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
  from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

  7 He stores up success for the upright;
  He is a shield for those who live with integrity 

  8 so that He may guard the paths of justice
  and protect the way of His loyal followers. 

  9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice,
  and integrity—every good path.

  10 For wisdom will enter your mind,
  and knowledge will delight your heart.

  11 Discretion will watch over you,
  and understanding will guard you, 

  12 rescuing you from the way of evil—
  from the one who says perverse things,

  13 [from] those who abandon the right paths
  to walk in ways of darkness, 

  14 [from] those who enjoy doing evil
  and celebrate perversity,

  15 whose paths are crooked, 
  and whose ways are devious. 

  16 It will rescue you from a forbidden woman, 
  from a stranger with her flattering talk,

  17 who abandons the companion of her youth
  and forgets the covenant of her God;

  18 for her house sinks down to death
  and her ways to the land of the departed spirits. 

  19 None return who go to her;
  none reach the paths of life. 

  20 So follow the way of good people, 
  and keep to the paths of the righteous.

  21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
  and those of integrity will remain in it; 

  22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
  and the treacherous uprooted from it. 

Copied directly out of Holman Christian Standard Bible

Words of King Solomon to his son and others 9th century BC.