TSA Images

The controversy over the images taken by the TSA is increasing:
  • The TSA says that the scanners cannot save the images yet Gizmodo shows 100 images from 35,000 illegally saved images from a courthouse in Orlando, Florida.
  • Scientists are speaking out about the supposed safety of the devices, for example, this letter from four faculty members of the University of California at San Francisco.
  • The threat of a $10,000 civil suit against a man who refused scanning then told a TSA agent that he would file a sexual assault case were the agent to touch his “junk," was told to leave the airport by TSA agents and then, after receiving a ticket refund from American Airlines, was threatened with a lawsuit by another TSA agent.
  • One Florida airport is opting out of using the TSA to screen passengers.
Markku, a member of the “Dread Ilk” over at Vox Popoli (warning: possibly NSFW images), took the left image from this Gizmodo article and performed some simple image manipulation operations. He writes:

What I did was, I created a grayscale image of it in GIMP. I applied selective gaussian blur (I don't remember what exact values.) I removed the necklace, the watch and the objects at the belt by using clone brush tool. Then I used this tutorial to apply it as a height map to a grid with resolution 400*400, and scaled the height and the depth dimensions to what looked correct.

Looking at the model from the side, I selected the lowest vertices with rectangle select and deleted them. Then came the artistic part (in addition to the removal of the objects, but if the person has none, this is not a problem), which is hard but not impossible to do as an algorithm: I smoothed the roughness in sculpt mode, until I was satisfied with the model. I placed a blueish hemisphere light over the model, and a white, omnidirectional light in the direction where the sun would be. I colored the material to skin color and lowered specularity to almost none.

Had I used more time, I could have made the skin look much more realistic. This was just a proof of concept. And when you have made a realistic skin texture once, you could apply it to any model without extra effort.

He then added:

Still far from photorealism, but won't leave many secrets about your body unrevealed, either. Plus, increase radiation resolution, and you could almost certainly reconstruct even the face.


Note: I modified the
source image in Photoshop by cropping and resizing to better match Markku’s result.

Comments

Shiny Secular Utopias

I am a fan of the Vox Day blog. Several recent topics have discussed the fantasy of secularism producing a “shiny sexy utopia” (notably here, but also here, here, here and here).

I have almost finished the book
Etidorhpa, or The End of the Earth by John Uri Lloyd, first published in 1895. While I am reading it because of a possible tie-in to my grandmother, it also sounds the same alarm as Vox Day. This excerpt is taken from chapter 51, “Beware of Biology, The Science of the Life of Man”:

“Bah,” he said; “does not another searcher in that same science field tell the mother that there is no personal hereafter, that she will never see her babe again? One man of science steals the body, another man of science takes away the soul, the third annihilates heaven; they go like pestilence and famine, hand in hand, subsisting on all that craving humanity considers sacred, and offering no tangible return beyond a materialistic present. This same science that seems to be doing so much for humanity will continue to elevate so-called material civilization until, as the yeast ferment is smothered in its own excretion, so will science-thought create conditions to blot itself from existence, and destroy the civilization it creates. Science is heartless, notwithstanding the personal purity of the majority of her helpless votaries. She is a thief, not of ordinary riches, but of treasures that cannot be replaced. Before science provings the love of a mother perishes, the hope of immortality is annihilated. Beware of materialism, the end of the science of man. Beware of the beginning of biological inquiry, for he who commences, cannot foresee the termination. I say to you in candor, no man ever engaged in the part of science lore that questions the life essence, realizing the possible end of his investigations. The insidious servant becomes a tyrannical master; the housebreaker is innocent, the horse thief guiltless in comparison. Science thought begins in the brain of man; science provings end all things with the end of the material brain of man. Beware of your own brain.”

Over 100 years between Lloyd and Vox Day sounding the same warning. Not being a historian, I am not quickly able to state who, how long, or how often this warning is given. But Vox is more of a polymath than I am:

Everyone, of every creed or lack thereof, needs to get this basic fact through their college-thickened skulls. The shiny, sexy, secular science-fiction society of progressive fantasies is not going to happen. The demographic realities have already killed that dream, the corpse just hasn't finished twitching yet. The material choice is not Christian tradition vs post-Christian utopia, it is Christian tradition vs PRE-Christian dystopia. And if you don't understand what that entails, then I suggest you get caught up on your ancient history, starting with Caesar and Tacitus.


Comments

"Mike is my homeboy..."

Jesse has been my personal trainer for four years. He was, and is, a big supporter of Mike Huckabee. Back in September of 2007, Jesse and his father, Dan, were at a Huckabee function in Gwinnett County and were filmed by the local Fox News station. After all this time, I finally managed to get the video from my PVR into my laptop. I had to use my son’s digitizer; the video obtained via FireWire was unwatchable. Jesse appears about 19 seconds into the first clip.



In this next clip, Jesse’s shirt (“Mike is my homeboy”) is about 33 seconds in.



Jesse is also an aspiring musician who, IMO, has a real talent for lyrics. Some tracks from his debut album, “Year of You”, can be found
here. I particularly like “Inside your love”.
Comments

Videos

A hilarious Christmas medley:
Straight No Chaser - 12 Days of Christmas


A touching story of one man’s attempt to evangelize. Penn Jillette is a famous magician (cf. the team of “Penn and Teller”) and an avowed atheist.


An interesting take on the relationship between oil and several wars. I wasn’t able to find much counterpoint after a few minutes with Google. Run time: 47:13.




Comments

Citizen, what do you have to hide?

If you're doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about” is a flimsy rationalization. I'm doing nothing wrong, but I nevertheless worry about the government doing something wrong. Governments exist to increase their power -- at the expense of freedom. Therefore, government should be limited wherever and whenever possible.
Comments

Lewis, Thoreau, River Tam, and Politics

I will probably comment very little on politics. The antics of the kingdom of man, which is destined for the dustbin of history, cannot match the eternal appeal of the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, with an election four days away, I am reminded of this quote from C. S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

I mentioned this to a co-worker earlier this week. It reminded her of this saying of Thoreau:

If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life ...

This sentiment is echoed by River Tam in the movie Serenity:

Teacher: So with so many social and medical advancements we can bring to the Independents why would they fight so hard against us?

River: We meddle.

Teacher: River?

River: People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think. Don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right.

We're meddlesome.


Unfortunately, having turned away from the Heavenly Shepherd, we look to a supposedly omnicompetent, hopefully benevolent government to take care of us. Professing to be wise, we have become fools...

Comments