Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Something Beautiful

Two Thoughs On The "No More" Ad

During last night's MNF beat down of the Patriots, this ad or something like it ran:

Two thoughts:
  1. Who are these people? Am I supposed to recognize them?
  2. Every time I see this sort of thing on TV, in my daughter's classrooms, in editorials, or wherever, all I can think is that we're trying to recreate Judeo-Christian morality from scratch with no first principles. Good luck with that. We've been trying that since the libertines took over in the 70s and we've now devolved into ad campaigns like this. If it was going to work, it would have worked by now.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Favorite Team Has Always Been

The San Diego Padres
The Green Bay Packers
The New Orleans Saints
Newcastle United
Mississippi State*! Go Bulldogs!

You know it's a bad sports year when less than a third of the way into any particular season, watching your team makes you feel like this:

* - I've never been a big fan of college football. I've never been a fan of Mississippi State at all. With my other teams falling to bits, I turned to LSU, who I follow only slightly, and watched them lose to the Bulldogs. I'm not a front runner, having been a Padres, Packers and Saints fan through some terrible years, but this year the teams have all been universally unwatchable.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In Cave Man Days

... did all the men have ZZ Top beards? How did they shave before the invention of the knife?

Gormok, middle, has discovered the use of sharpened rocks for shaving. Krondar and Oorf, left and right, respectively, have not.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Utilitarians Aren't Happy

Well, not the ones I know.

I've got a friend who is a true Utilitarian. He's always working hard to maximize pleasure and payoff and working hard to minimize pain and effort. He's never happy because he never reaches the maximum and there's always some kind of impediment he has to overcome. Nothing is good enough and every setback is a major annoyance.

Pleasure, I think, is an asymptote.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Restoring Old Movies, Part 2

Here's Part 1,

Definition: Dynamic range is the difference between the whitest whites in a picture and the darkest blacks. In some old videos, like the one I showed from The Adventures of Richard the Lion Heart last time, everything has mushed towards a middle gray, muddling contrasts. Contrasts are what give you discernible features in an image. Without sufficient contrast, everything blurs together into a blob.

Last time, I played with modifying brightness and contrast. I've since found out those are tools for illiterate savages. Brightness takes your pixels and makes them lighter or darker. That may sound fine, but it has a tendency to saturate your extremes. Saturated colors show no features at all since they're, well, saturated and can't get any whiter or darker. Here's an annotated color analysis from one still of that scene where I blundered about with brightness and contrast.

A graph of light intensity on the left and the still image on the right. I left this large, so clicking on it will make the situation more obvious.
Increasing the brightness did indeed give me more dynamic range in the image, but it also smashed the lady's dress right up against the stops. You can see the folds of her gown in the original image, but not in my "improved" one. Dittos for King Richard's hair and clothes on the far right, although they fare a bit better.

You want to increase the dynamic range of the scene so you can get every last drop of contrast out of it and clear things up, but there are better ways of doing it than boosting or quenching every pixel identically. The link above takes you to a tutorial that shows you how to do it with more finesse using Adobe Premiere. Adobe Speedgrade has even better tools than those shown in that tutorial.

Instead of crudely changing every pixel, you can modify them based on where they are in intensity. That is, the bright ones can be modified differently than the midrange ones and differently from the dark ones. Nothing needs to be saturated unless you want it to be, I'm still playing with it and hope to show off some cleaned up video from this scene in the near future. So far, I really like what I'm getting out of it.

What To Look For In A Manager Of Scientists And Engineers

Scientists and engineers can be very sensitive creatures. You need just the right sort to manage them.

Friend and commenter Tom knows where this comes from. ;-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3rd Place Out Of 3

I'm playing around with Adobe SpeedGrade this morning, but while perusing the news and drinking coffee, I came across this interview with Matthew Van Dyke recently back from Syria, talking about the airstrikes on ISIS.
“Syrians on the ground are surely laughing at it,” VanDyke said. ”My contacts in Syria don’t take this seriously. They’re very concerned. They don’t want to be fighting the Assad regime’s battles for them by only going after ISIS.”
So we're backing the weakest members of a 3-way civil war with air strikes while being supported by 5 Arab countries and no one else? I'm glad we're doing something, but I can't quite figure out just what that something is supposed to accomplish.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Without France

... the strategic problem for ISIS has become much simpler.

First the British and the Germans and now the French have backed out of airstrikes in Syria against ISIS. All have sizable Muslim populations and the French ones can be quite restive. See also: cars, burning of. The risks of rioting in their cities outweighed the nebulous benefits of a dilatory bombing campaign. We are effectively isolated in this effort with no allies of any consequence at our side.

For ISIS, the problem has been reduced to getting the US out of the way. They can wait us out, a strategy that has born fruit everywhere or they can take more direct action. Would we still have the stomach for the fight once chunks of the US electrical grid have been knocked out with some well-placed acts of terror?

More to the point, would we be willing to spend the men and money required to go after them in force over in the Middle East with no large allies?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cleaning Up Old Movies

I'm starting to work on cleaning up some old movies, ones from the 50s and 60s. At work, we've got a bunch that are still in 16mm reel-to-reel form that we're digitizing. At home, I'm playing around with DVDs of medieval costumer schlock from that period. If you were wondering, you digitize 16mm film by projecting it on a wall and recording the wall with a digital camera. Seriously, that's how you do it.

Old film can have all kinds of artifacts in it and can decay to the point where it goes in and out of focus as you play it. While you can't add details to low-quality film, you can work to extract details hidden by noise. I'm just starting out with this and one of our video experts turned me on to a simple trick with brightness, contrast and sharpening.

Below is a clip from the 50s British TV series, The Adventures of Richard the Lion Heart. It's total schlock, from beginning to end. The DVD I got is foggy and messy. A little work with Adobe Premiere revealed a bit more details. You can see the processed version on the right and the original on the left. Here, the brightness is increased, causing some over saturation, but giving me enough light to boost the contrast quite a bit which goes a long way towards getting the gray fog out. Increasing the sharpness accentuates color differentials, giving you better demarcation on edges.

This is a start on learning how to make the most of poor quality video, but I liked the results so far.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm Not Sure We've Thought This All The Way Through

The Puppy Blender has produced a parody video which has plenty of excerpts of progressives talking about the alleged rape epidemic that may or may not be happening on college campuses.

Wait a minute here. College campuses, probably more so than any other institutions in the country, are run by progressives from top to bottom.

Can't you people do anything right?

Friday, September 19, 2014

In Praise Of Dry Shaving

While hanging out with my homies downtown at Catholic Charities a while back, I met a homeless man who, while waiting for his turn with us, asked me for a razor. I dug around and found one and brought it out to him. I proceeded to watch him shave dry. No water, no lotion, nothing but zip zap zurp and his two day beard was gone.

Since then, my wife bought me a Gillette 5-blade razor and some shaving cream. The razor does a great job, but within 3 shaves, it's gummed up with shaving cream goo no matter how much you clean it. Recalling my homeless friend, I've taken to shaving dry or slightly wet. The shave is just as close and the razor blades last a lot longer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Come Join The Losing Team And Die!

I've read a bunch of Internet comments and pundits blathering suggesting that if we bomb ISIS, it will become a great recruiting tool for them. Picture that. ISIS using videos of F-18s blasting ISIS vehicles, artillery pieces, infantry and leaders into oblivion with the message, "Join us and die like this!"

Err, maybe not.

On the other hand, Hot Air posted a real, live ISIS recruiting video. It's since been removed from YouTube, but while it was up, I didn't see too many American bombs falling. I did see ISIS guys blowing things up and Americans retreating and vowing not to send in the Army.

Not too many people want to join a losing team.

Disappointed In The BloodMobile

I gave blood today. Oh sure, the folks running the BloodMobile were competent, professional, friendly and efficient, but none of them had Transylvanian accents.

Really, is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


On a whim, we planted a jalapeño plant in one of our raised beds this year. It's turned out to be our favorite of all the vegetables and herbs. After our trip to Grand Cayman, I've been making a lot of jerk and those jalapeños come in mighty handy. They'll get planted every year from now on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cloud Evolution

It's been hot and humid here in San Diego lately. We've gotten some lovely thunderheads over the mountains, but I've not been in a good place to film them. Instead, I took this one yesterday looking almost straight up at what I thought was an interesting sky. The movie ends before the music so the audio is abruptly cut off. Sorry about that. It was shot in 1080p, so it might be worth watching it in full screen mode.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

You Can't Run A Professional Sports Team Like A Retail Shop

... and expect to do anything but lose.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley loves to make money. He uses the team like a store in a shopping mall, buying players wholesale and selling them retail. He grabs a bunch of what would be called "reaches" in the NFL draft, lets them play for a year and then sells anyone who pans out. Last year, he sold Yohan Cabaye, a world-class midfielder*, for about 20 million pounds. That's like the New Orleans Saints selling Drew Brees after one or two great seasons.

Ashley has done this time and time again. He replaces the great players with bargain-basement prospects and starts the process all over again. Sometimes it works out well, like it did two years ago when Newcastle finished fifth and sometimes it doesn't like this year where it looks like they're going to fight for their lives to keep from being relegated to a lower league.

Meanwhile, the fans are screaming bloody murder and are demanding the head of Alan Pardew, the manager, on a plate. I'm a big Pardew fan, but I'm now in agreement with most other fans. Pardew needs to go, not for the sake of the team, but for the sake of Alan Pardew. Newcastle doesn't need a football manager, they need a retail marketing expert.

Some Southampton dude after scoring in their 4-0 romp over Newcastle yesterday. Source.
* - Yohan started for France's World Cup team, that's how good he is.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Every Time I Drink Milk

... I think of this scene from the movie, Daughters Courageous. I call milk "the white wine of the Mahabus" and laugh, but no one else gets the joke. Oh well.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The ISIS Speech

I suppose, as someone who has repeatedly criticized President Obama and has an interest in current affairs, I should have watched the speech so I could excoriate it regardless of its merits. Meh. Too predictable. I've been pondering something else.

While it's a good thing that we're going to continue air strikes against ISIS, I'm wondering how prepared we are for this thing to escalate. Eventually, ISIS, or someone else, is going to realize that it's a lot easier to fight California aqueducts and Texas power transmission lines over here than AC-130 gunships over there. If they're willing to behead and crucify people, they're not going to sweat hauling small SAMs across the border and camping out at the end of the ORD runway to pop airliners.

Seriously, would you take on one of these brutes?

Looking at the problem from the ISIS point of view, it would be silly to fight us where we're strongest. From what I can tell, the speech didn't go into that aspect of the problem. At some point in time, some speech will.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

You Can Use It Anywhere In The World

... because it's a chocolate bar.

A friend at work turned me on to this ad from a year or so ago and it plays well today after the big iPhone (arroo!) rollout yesterday.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cheezburger of the Day

Yes, I know, it's dog-related and not cat-related, but the Catican Guards love this sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I Am So Over Tattoos

... especially on women.

Driving through Ocean Beach (the San Diego equivalent of Haight/Ashbury), I saw a lovely young lady on a bike with a tattoo going from her shoulder to her elbow. Fully a third of it was a huge skull with flaming, red eyes. Hideous.

This weekend, while taking the Catican Guards out on maneuvers down at Fiesta Island, we drove by a beautiful girl in a bikini down by the shore. Fiesta Island can be a little messy at low tide, which this was, and at first I thought her back was smeared with mud. It wasn't. It was a tattoo covering the upper right-hand quarter of her back. Horrible.

Can we stop this now?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Who Jiggles The Table?

Robert Shiller's CAPE ratio (cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio) is sounding the alarm.
Shiller's 'CAPE ratio' is among the most widely-used measures of whether markets are cheap or expensive, and he got the Nobel Prize for economics last year for his work on market volatility and asset prices.

So it's chilling when he tells you that his CAPE ratio for US stocks has reached its present level on only three times in the past 130-odd years, and that those previous occasions were 1929, 2000 and 2007, each followed by a crash.
Then again, something is always sounding the alarm. If you'd been fed a steady diet of ZeroHedge and Mish Shedlock, you'd have kept your money in a mattress and missed out on years of very nice asset growth. Still, this is Robert Shiller we're talking about here, not some wild-eyed, survivalist nut.

Having been raised to hate borrowing, I've blogged ad nauseum about national debt levels, but nothing ever seems to come of their growth. Except in Argentina, but that particular social justice fascist basket case* is always blowing up. National debts keep going up and up and up without any apparent repercussions.

Sort of like when you build a house of cards and make it taller and taller and taller. So what's going to jiggle the table?

I spent a little time meandering around the FRED charts and graphs and came up with two to bore you.


The Bank of Japan is printing money like crazy to keep interest rates for the government around zero. If you can borrow and renew debt at zero percent, that can go on indefinitely. Only inflation can put an end to that and with the population of Japan being so old, it's hard to see how the consumer demand-driven inflation is going to happen.


Click on the image for a legible picture.
China, as of the 2011 data shown here, has positively ginormous bank loans to deposit ratios. They have 2.5x as much money lent out as they do deposits. When someone big can't make their loan payments, their bank is in trouble and then ... what? Massive printing of currency to shore up the banks?
Of the two, I'd bet that China is more likely to blow first. It's going to require some dynamism to shake things up and Japan hasn't shown any of that in decades.

Of course, if ISIS blows some bridges, power lines or aqueducts in the US first, then all bets are off.

I still feel really uncomfortable about the market, sort of the way I felt in 2007. I guess if there was some obvious marker out there, everyone would see it, not just some dilettante blogger. This post is pointing out that everything is set for a fall. Secondarily, if the CAPE ratio is historically high, how much higher can the market go? How much are you risking if you take money off the table for a while?

* - As opposed to the social justice fascist basket case Obama and Democrats are endeavoring to create here in the US.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Sexual Morality As Contract Law

I've been following, with considerable amusement, (mostly through reading the headlines) all the hoo-hah about the "sexual assault" epidemic on college campuses. Here's a roundup of sorts if you haven't been keeping track.

My favorite story is that of a coed who, sleeping with her boyfriend, repeatedly told him she didn't want to make love, but finally gave in because he kept asking and she wanted to get some sleep. That a young woman thought she would lay in bed with a young man and not end up having sex amazed me. I thought we had fought the war against sexual prudery and the prudes had lost. Everyone was now being taught chapter and verse about sex in schools everywhere. This sort of ignorance was supposed to be a thing of the past.

Oh well, I guess not.

What is a thing of the past is the simple rule: wedding ring first, sex second. Instead, it's been replaced, at least at college, with a variety of contract law. Did she say yes? Did she repeatedly say yes? At any time, did she say maybe not? Was she of sound mind and sufficiently sober at the time? Do you have a sworn affidavit and three witnesses proving this was the case? How romantic!

Now that we've rediscovered that men want to sleep with women, men are more physically powerful than women and women get pregnant*, we need a way to deal with these facts in a postmodern, secular, non-judgmental, open-minded way. What could be better than sex tribunals run like a courtroom?


Little-known fact: In the original Robin Hood screenplay, this kiss celebrated the signing of a binding foreplay contract between Errol Flynn's Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland's Maid Marian. While it looks like Robin has climbed a trellis to get to Marian's window, he is actually standing atop the 237-page document prepared by Marian's law firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.
* - No, really! As crazy as this sounds, this is actually the way things work!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Fighting Tanks With Minivans

Dig this.
(Ukrainian Army volunteer) Mr. Kravchenko said he joined the militia because he wanted Ukraine to be part of Europe...His training consisted of calisthenics and one day of shooting a Kalashnikov, he said...The unit, funded by private donations, was no match for the artillery and tank fire of the Russian military...Mr. Kravchenko said he boarded a minivan that joined a column of at least 60 other Ukrainian vehicles, which left Ilovaisk early in the morning. Ukraine's poorly funded armed forces often rely on buses and minivans to ferry many of their troops. After the convoy had been on the road about an hour, Russians and Russia-backed militia opened fire on it, first with mortars, then with machine guns, he said.

Mr. Kravchenko said the minivan broke down after it was riddled with bullets, and he jumped aboard a municipal bus carrying troops. Within minutes it was raked by machine gun fire that mowed down the passengers, killing the man sitting next to him and wounding Mr. Kravchenko in the shoulder, he said.

He piled out of the bus with a handful of survivors and jumped aboard a pickup truck carrying six other men, which continued before it, too, was hit by machine gun fire and then blew up when it was hit by a grenade. Most of the others died in the pickup, he said, or were killed when they took cover beneath it and it exploded, he said.
Bravery? Yes. Equipment? No.

Something tells me Putin isn't done yet.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Dealing With Microsoft Calls For

... a riot!

At work, my hard drive crashed. No problem, as almost everything I've got is on a server somewhere. All I need to do is reinstall my apps.

Adobe Creative Cloud, fine. Camtasia, fine. XAMPP, fine. And so on.

Microsoft Office? Hahahahaha! Prepare to go through enterprise license hell, you worthless peasant!

I hate Microsoft. (Except Windows 7. That's petty good.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

In Rotherham, They Believed Us

... when we told them how horrible we were.

In her junior year at high school, my daughter took history from an anti-American racialist. I blogged about it several times including As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap which included this tidbit.
At my daughter's public high school, her history teacher preaches racialism morning, noon and night. Almost every time we've asked for extra credit assignments, they've been suggestions to watch racialist movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Butler, Cesar Chavez and so on. In order to gain some extra credit points, my daughter had to go to the MLK Day Parade here in San Diego. The textbook is no better. The chapter on WW II is a wonder to see.

The first 8 photographs in the chapter are of minorities and women. The chapter deals exclusively with WW II, not the lead-up to it nor the aftermath. It's straight-up wartime history twisted into racialism. The white guy with the biggest photo in the chapter is ... President Clinton apologizing to a Japanese internment victim. Eisenhower's photo is 1/6 the size.
In England, they've done much the same thing, denigrating British history with accusations of imperialism, racism, class oppression and so on. When the Pakistani immigrants came, they came with some pride in their own culture. When they were told the British culture was built upon evil and stupidity, who were they to argue?

The end result was that the ones running the rape gangs in Rotherham (and who knows where else) viewed the natives as subhuman trash. And why not? After all, year after year in school, the children were taught to hate the cultural heritage of England.

Rotherham is what happens when you deliberately demoralize your own people.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rotherham, 1980

How much would you like to bet that 30 years ago, in or around Rotherham, England, there was an argument between an opponent of mass immigration and a multicultural academic that went something like this:

Unlettered, knuckle-dragging yob: 'Ere now, don't let all those Pakis in here, it's not right!

Tweed-coated, superior academic: Please. What do you think they're going to do, rape your daughters?