Friday, December 27, 2013

Sometimes Amalgamation of Things

A collection of interesting links people send me because I am too busy holidaying to really post.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Day After Caturday Post: Old Lady Kitty on Rocking Chair

Miriah, my old 19-year-old kitty who lives with my parents.  She sits on things and disapproves of things. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Presenting an Opera Composed by a Woman! Finally!

The Washington National Opera is staging Jeanine Tesori's The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me. This is the first time ever that this opera house has presented an opera with a female composer.  Good on them!  I hope it's good.  Broadwayworld reviews and likes it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Caturday Post: Leaves of Grass

My sister, who has assured me that she does not spoil my kitties at all, grows grass in a pot specifically to feed to the cats, who adore it and are not allowed outside.  She yells "grasstime" and they come running and begging.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Self-Education via Libraries

The self-made person is a popular conceit of the American mythos, along with pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.  In association with this, one sometimes runs into the idea that education is unnecessary, given enough libraries and internet one can educate oneself.

Education solely via the internet is questionable because searching for information is a skill, and parsing out information that is credible and meaningful out of the web of a million lies (/cite{Vernor Vinge}) is also a skill.  Not to mention that you need some idea of the subject you are searching for in order to know the words to even start.  Not that having the internet is a bad thing, quite the contrary.  But having a teacher, even if one's teacher is an underinformed bigot, is going to give one the words with which to become better educated.  Just starting at a search engine with no words to enter and no idea of existing websites would be close to impossible. 

Education via libraries can be possible, I suppose, but it would be really hard.  Even Madam Marie "Radium Woman" Curie says in her autobiography that studying only from books without guidance is really hard. This from Radium Woman.  She goes out at night in the light of her own body to destroy supervillains with her righteous bone-melting rays of accurate diagnosis.

I bring this up because the local college in this hamlet recently screened Girl Rising, which I attended.  The film is a tearjerker about the struggles of girls in the developing world to get an education without being forced into child marriages, slavery, or rape.  I highly recommend it, though I would have liked it to end with a brief segment on the girls in the U.S.A who are denied upper education by their culture and entered into child marriages, since it is always good to remember that such atrocities don't just happen to other people in other places.  Anyway, the point of this is that during the Q&A session after the screening, someone asked "what about libraries, couldn't the girls get an education at a library?"

Umm, well, maybe.  Assuming an underprivileged girl is 1) literate.  2) Has access to a reasonable library that contains appropriate books in a language she can read. And 3) Has more self-discipline than most adults.

Prerequisite #1, literacy, should obviously indicate a need for some actual non-independant education.  I disapprove of the CIA, but they do have an awesome factbook online, part of which includes estimates of world literacy rates by nation and gender.  I have friends who teach at a primary school in Tanzania, and lament the number of kids, not just in form 1 or 2, who seriously cannot read.  This cannot be fixed by a library.

Prerequisite #2, access to a reasonable library, is a little variable.  If there is a library, it may or may not be in use, since maintaining a library in a useful form is a non-trivial amount of work.  If there is a library and it is decently maintained, it may or may not have appropriate books. By appropriate I mean books that are actually in a language the patrons can understand.  There are a lot of languages in the world for which there is a limited or nonexistent literary tradition.  In Tanzania, a lot of volunteers like to do library projects.  U.S. citizens are more than happy to donate books to the developing world, but what this means in practice is that Tanzanian libraries will have collections that include something like five copies of War and Peace, all in English.  This was good for me, since one of my Tanzanian projects was to read all the great classics of Russian literature, but useless for people who only nominally speak English.  This is not to say that libraries can't be made to work, I have friends who would get together a committee of students to pick what books they wanted for the library, and that works a lot better for getting a collection of actually useful books.  But as far as education goes, it's still hard, even in the U.S. to find in a library up-to-date textbooks.  Classic literature doesn't really change that much, assuming zombie Shakespeare isn't holed up with a word processor somewhere, but science does.  Old textbooks are outdated, and current science textbooks are massively expensive.  This is partially because textbook publishing is a corrupt industry, but the fact remains that getting access to good and recent educational textbooks via a library is not that likely.

But let's assume that all things are great.  There is a well-maintained library, accessible to a schoolchild.  The library even includes recent textbooks written in the child's native language!  What then?  Libraries are big.  Where do you start?  How do you know what course of self-study is best?  How, by yourself, do you have the motivation to really study without any sort of indicator of progress or outlet to practice learning?  You cannot learn science and math without doing science and math.  I know I probably wouldn't have the motivation for this, so all glory to those who do.

A library is better than nothing, absolutely.  But it is only part of a full education, not a replacement for the same.  Except for maybe a few exceptional individuals with ideal libraries, and most people aren't that and don't have that.    

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hector Berlioz

On this day, back in 1803, Hector Berlioz was born.  This is reason enough to listen to the Symphonie Fantastique, it's a rocking piece of music.  I love the bassoon section in the "March to the Scaffold" movement.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day.  It's good to remember on such days that human rights abuses don't just happen in other countries somewhere else to other people.  Amnesty International has details on the human rights abuses committed by the U.S. Pablo Neruda has poetic scorn:

The North American arsonists dropped dollars and bombs.                                                                                                         ~"In Guatemala, " from Song of Protest
We don't have a good history, and David Bowie has excellent reason to be afraid of Americans.  Let's not continue this trend.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Necromantic Sex and Unborn Children Singing to Batman

Because I'm stuck a few km to the left of center of nowhere here, my live opera experiences now arrive courtesy of the Bavarian Staatsoper, which streams live and free out of Munich.  Turing bless them.  If they would offer sufficiently low definition streaming options that I could have enjoyed their productions in Tanzania, Turing would bless them even more.  Yesterday they presented the Angsty Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten.  I knew nothing about it prior to watching it.  Musically, it's sort of meh.  I've never been particularly moved by the instrumental music of R. Strauss, and I don't find that his vocal lines add anything memorable.  It's not bad, it's just that there's nothing in it that I remember five minutes after hearing it.  Plotwise, it's kind of like a cooler and more surreal version of The Magic Flute but without the awesome music, and instead, even more misogyny.  The libretto blatantly and inescapably presents a moral that women who can't have or don't want children are less than human or evil, respectively.  During one of the intermissions, this was actually addressed on camera by the director (I think.  I missed half the intermission talks due to needing to get drinks and snacks.  It was a four hour opera.  I needed the breaks.) who at least recognized, and attempted to mitigate, this aspect of the opera.  His take on the misogyny was to say that since this was an opera that came out of Germany around the time of the Great War, we can interpret the opera as a call for a continuation of life after the most destructive war then known rather than as a call for women as breeding stock.  I don't know that the text supports this or that this mitigated message really came through in the production, but I do appreciate the production team for trying.  It's not their fault that all the operas of the canon are written by (and largely for) men.  If anyone out there can write an opera, message me and I'll write a libretto and we can work on fixing this.

Anyway, the opera.  We open in the spirit world, where a nurse is creepily giving an injection of some sort to a woman in a ballgown.  Through expository recitative, we learn that the ball-gowned woman is the half-human daughter of the undefined Keikobad, and she doesn't have a shadow. What this Keikobad or the spirit world is, we don't actually know, but it seems vaguely reminiscent of Faerie, but everyone wears formal clothes and hangs out in a creepily lit room with a giant aquarium. The half-human woman is also the Kaiserin, because the Kaiser was hunting and encountered her when she was magically in the form of a white gazelle and they have gotten along swimmingly ever since except for she can't have children (the euphemistic meaning of a shadow here).   This is bad and also BAD because falcons show up, wander about surrealistically, and portentously portent that because the woman casts no shadow, the Kaiser is going to turn to stone in three more days.  The Kaiser doesn't know about this and wanders off to hunt, because that's all he ever seems to do.  The Kaiserin asks the nurse to help her get a shadow so her lover won't turn to stone and they toddle off to the human world to get one.

Scene switch to a shabby laundromat, the abode of Barak the dyer and his three stereotypical brothers: a man in plaid pants and a sweater vest, a blonde man with lots of eyeliner and a t-shirt I'm not hip enough to understand, and a man with long dreaded hair.  The brothers are just freeloaders, and they dislike the dyer's wife.  The feeling is mutual.  The dyer's wife is not so down with her Angel in the House role.  She doesn't want children, doesn't like sharing her marital home with her husband's brothers (who did wake her up fighting with each other for a piece of bread), and is generally just unhappy. So when the Nurse and the Empress show up and the Nurse offers her blonde hair, freedom from childbirth, and a hot guy in briefs and headphones(and people think I'm kidding when I say I watch opera for the fanservice) she is ready to make a deal.

Story character 101: avoid making weird deals with complete strangers.

Nevertheless, the wife (she never gets a name or more of a title than wife) offers her shadow in exchange for 3 days of service from the Kaiserin and the Nurse plus wealth and hot guys in briefs and headphones.  In the meantime, before giving up her "shadow" she confesses her distaste for her husband's bed, and so the dyer and his wife get separate beds while the creepy chorus of unborn children sings in the background.  That night, the unhappily married couple go to separate beds without ever talking about their unhappiness, and the night watch, instead of an all's well, serenade the city with a chorus on the joys of matrimony.

You spouses, who lie lovingly in each other's arms, You are the bridge spanning the chasm on which the dead come back into life.

Married people sex: it raises the dead.

I realize that I am an evil feminazi opposing traditional marriage here, but desire for children or lack thereof should really be something discussed before marriage, and if there is no desire for such, that's what contraceptives are for.  Do I need to do a condom demonstration for opera characters?  If it's a problem with the sex, there are conversations, books, and for some cases, doctors for that.  Not that this is probably a marriage based on equality since the nameless wife is identified as a beggar's daughter, so she probably has no options other than marriage at the terms of her husband, who, she comments, wants his dinner and his bed whenever he comes home from work.

Whatever.  The awkward state of their marriage continues for the contractual three days, during which time the wife angsts over, but ultimately refuses, the gift of the hot guy in briefs and headphones. But then her husband brings the entire children's choir home for dinner without warning, thinking this will make her happy, and she snaps and screams at him, including a fanciful account of the awesome sex with the hot man in briefs and headphones.  He nearly kills her with a sword he has from somewhere, but then everyone thinks better of their passions (how unoperatic!) and goes to bed.

They all wake up in part of the spirit world to await the judgment of Keikobad, who, like Sarastro before him, is coming across as petty and sadistic, as the dyer and the wife wait miserably in a giant waiting room while dead horses and soldiers float slowly past the windows.  While they stew in their unhappiness, a messenger of Keikobad shows up, calls the Nurse a bitch, and tells her that while it was the will of the Keikobad that the Kaiserin run to the human world, the Nurse is cast out of the spirit world for failing to protect the Kaiserin and keep her in the spirit world.  This is illogic of first order pettiness.  But the opera continues and Keikobad ends up deciding that everyone has overcome their trials and gets rewarded with (in the case of the women) their own shadows, and (in the case of the men) women who can make babies.  The Kaiser doesn't have to turn into stone after all, and the wife is going back to being a dutiful wife.  Huzzah?  The creepy chorus of unborn children arrives on stage to play shadow puppet games on the back wall of the stage and sing about happiness.  Meanwhile, giant animated images of (I swear I am not making this up) Batman, Jesus, Gandhi, King Kong, Marilyn Monroe, Sigmund Freud (I think), and Buddha are projected onto the walls of the set.  To demonstrate that I am not making this up, I have a screenshot.

I am suffering from a complete failure of intellect and imagination to explain this cast of characters in the context of the opera.  Or, frankly, any context whatsoever.  Darling readers, please tell me why and how this makes any sense.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Caturday Bonus Double Post: Cats into Cakes Part 3

I finally managed to make a fudge cake!  It was still disobligingly difficult to remove from the cake pans, which I could have solved by using parchment paper in the pans I suppose, but at least the cake was gooey and delicious.  

I put a generous helping of vanilla ice cream between the cake layers.

Served with fudge sauce, whipped cream, and strawberries.

The kitten is finally more obliging.

Caturday Post: Wild West Kitties take on a Tumbleweed and Find it Tasty

After doing his lawnmower goat thing Scaramouche then vomited up tumbleweed for a while, so that is the end of that particular toy.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Close Encounters of the Wyoming Kind: Tools! For Great Wifedom!

The other day in the gym, my sister and I were setting up our aerial rig in preparation to working out on the silks  This involves assembling some steel beams and using a wrench to bolt them together.  It's fairly simple.

One of the more elderly gentlemen who take their morning constitutionals in the gym, seeing this, remarked that because we can use tools, we will make good wives one day.  I have many problems with his comment.  First, saying I use a tool is sort of a meaningless statement.  Humans are tool-using animals.  Not by any means the only animals that use tools, but it's a thing we do.  The aerial rig itself is a tool, we drove to the gym in a car, which is a tool, and earlier that morning I used a coffee grinder, an electric kettle, a coffee press, and a coffee mug.  Later that morning I used a computer.  But since tools for mechanical and/or manual labor are more stereotypically for men (Sojourner Truth and Rosie the Riveter be damned) than, say, the applicator I used for spreading sparkly green polish on my fingernails, they are more important, even though putting on nail polish actually requires significantly more muscle control and skill than turning a bolt with a wrench.  I mean, it's a wrench.  It applies mechanical advantage to a bolt such that I don't need much in the way of skill or muscle when turning it.  That's the whole point.   I am, however, a woman, so my ability to use a manly tool such as a wrench, particularly since it isn't a specially marketed pink lady-tool, is surprising and worthy of note.  

My other major problem is the statement that using a non lady-tool will make me a good wife someday.  What exactly non-gender-stereotyped tool-use has to do with forming a government-recognized partnership based on mutual love and respect I do not know.  I do know that he probably doesn't think of marriage in an egalitarian sort of way if he makes this statement, but I'm going to ignore that.  I have skills.  I have skills now.  I use skills to accomplish tasks now.  I am using my remarkable tool-using skills in despite of my ladyness in order to be an aerial dancer.  That's a skill to be proud of.  There is nothing wrong with marriage, and if it is implemented well, there can be quite a few things right with it, but to imply that this is the apex and end of accomplishments for a woman is insulting.  I am a dancer whether or not I am married, and that accomplishment is an accomplishment to be recognized that has nothing to do with marriage.  Come to that, my ability to use a wrench, is a skill (such as it is) that does not need to be modified by marriage.

What I'm getting at is that this man is refusing to recognize that I am a skillful person now in myself.  If in my life I marry, I imagine I will be rather skillful at that too, but it doesn't take marriage to make use of my skills and be a good person.  To imply, or blatantly state, otherwise is an insult.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Copy Machines Part 2: Now with More Gorillas

With great blogging comes great responsibility.  I must create content worth reading to make the web a little better than I found it.  So when I am informed by a darling reader in the comments that my copy machine emulation is flawed because I used a giraffe picture, I have no choice but to repeat the experiment with a gorilla picture, as suggested.

This is a mountain gorilla in Uganda.  The photo has a
resolution of 72x72ppi, the same as the giraffe photo. 

As suggested, my verticalstreaks error function has been modified to use prime numbers.

def verticalstreaks(img):
    width, height=img.size
    #print rand1, rand2
    for i in range(width):
        for j in range(height):
            if j%rand1==0 and i%rand2==0 and i+h<width and j+h<height:
                for k in range(h):
    return img        

Now for results.  I am just using this with errors that should be invisible to a casual copyist, because again, if you noticed problems you would try it again, right?

Copied 50 times. 

Copied 100 times.

Copied 250 times. 

Copied 500 times.
So there you have it.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Which I Support the Arts as They Should Be

There is life outside this little hamlet a few km left of center of nowhere.  Sometimes, we forget this, so accordingly, we went on a pilgrimage to Denver, to see actual art.  Also, a dear friend of mine from Peace Corps Tanzania who has earned my admiration for many feats of strength and capacity building, including, but not limited to, teaching comprehensive sex education to Masai dudebros and running a half marathon while suffering from giardia.

On to the main event!  Actual art!  A dance show that is not a haphazard mess!  Momix' Botanica!  This is everything that art should be.  It incorporates "digital technology," or more meaningfully, projection technology, in a way that adds to the performance and delights the audience, beginning with the opening in which green lights dance on the curtain and form smiley faces, or birds, or stick figures, dancing or fighting with one another.  I have never seen moving lights anthropomorphized so perfectly.   A storm sequence alternately lit first the dancers, then increasingly enlarged projections of them on the screen behind.  At the end, to Azam Ali's beautiful rendition of "Aj Ondas" a dancer manipulated a giant sail on which changing flowers were projected.  Most of the time, though, the projection screen was just used for pretty easily changeable backgrounds.  It is so easy for projections to be used sillily, and I've seen that quite a lot, but this was projection done right.

The non-electronic props were used just as effectively, my favorite being the woman (possibly representing a jellyfish?) in a sort of headdress with long strands of light-catching something falling freely around her.  All she did was spin and turn, while the light-catching somethings spread out and spun the light with her.  It was beautiful.  Additionally, during the above-mentioned storm scene, men held and spun long (10 ft+) poles from which fluttered rippling silk for other dancers to leap over and under as the lightning flashed.  A group of mushroom women had amazing long pale green dresses with giant fluffy orange fluff at the hem, an orange fluff which could be raised for them to hide behind, or held at tutu level.  The fluff was moved up and down by (I think) strings attached to the dancers' hands.

The choreography itself constantly surprised and invited the audience to see movement in new ways or set up what appeared to be cliches, only to destroy them.  One of the very first acts was a woman on a mirror, dancing with her own reflection.  Simple, graceful movements, reflected and lit in gold, making her into constant symmetrical patterns both abstract and intimate.  Later on, we see a man sleeping in a forest, and a woman sees him and wants to approach.  Just as we think we are about to witness an Eve and Adam type scene, the woman's friendly dinosaur skeleton becomes jealous and eats her.  Which is a little disturbing.  More importantly, somewhere in the world, there are people whose job it is to create and operate a giant skeleton dinosaur puppet.  This world is beautiful.  Near the end of the show, a group of "centaurs," each composed of two dancers, one upright, one behind bent over, demonstrated amazing coordination in creating a horselike optical illusion.  Likewise, the dancing worms (pair acrobatics in soft green light) appeared wormlike, rather than human.

Overall, the performance was excellent.  Beautifully designed by an illusionist, and exquisitely performed by masterful dancers.  This is what art should be.  This is how to show us new ways of dance and movement while constantly delighting us with beauty. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Day After Caturday Post: Foam Quality

I just got back from trip to find my inbox containing emails demanding a Caturday Post.  I bow to the demands of my public.

Recently, we found ourselves in need of some crash pads, and went the cheaper (comparatively) route of buying foam and covering it with fabric.  Scaramouche tested the foam and found it dubious, but sittable.

Meanwhile, Tamerlane found a bug!

Friday, November 22, 2013

In Which I Judge Books by their Covers

Ebooks, they are useful, assuming you are not "purchasing" them from one of those evil corporations that have convinced people that renting the rights in such a way that it can be revoked at any time without warning, e.g. Amazon, is equivalent to purchase.  Ebooks solve many issues related to transport weight and availability.  In Tanzania, having a dear friend email me a collection of Star Wars ebooks was just as good as getting a care package.

I said all that to say that while I like and read ebooks, I prefer physical books, and I prefer them to be pretty.  Which is why I recently reread Wilde's Salome.  I normally wouldn't,  I prefer Wilde as the scintillating drawing room wit he displays in The Importance of Being Earnest. So, fine, that's not a play that challenges its audience in anyway, but on the other hand, it is a lot of fun and works for even not-so-talented companies because the writing will carry a bad production.  In this is art, that it is art even poorly performanced.  Such a pity that the prudish British killed Wilde for his genius.*  Anyway, below are pictures of the copy of Salome which is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen.  Sunken relief, severed heads, peacocks, nudity, swords, it's got everything.  Found, of all places, in a library in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming.

*And, admittedly, for drawing some stripling youth into Sin, but let's be honest.  Had the stripling youth been a lass rather than a lad it would all have been fine, and Wilde hailed as the next mad, bad, and dangerous to know Lord Byron.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Computer Problems: A Lack of Blinking Lights

Warning: possibly incomprehensible computer words and a little navel-gazing

 I have a beautiful Alienware m18x laptop, the most important feature of which, besides the 500gb ssd, is the LED backlit keyboard.  I love this keyboard.  The lights can be set to specific colors!  In sections!  You have no idea how much I love this keyboard.

The problem is that I have GNU/Linuxified this laptop.  The proprietary manufacturer program for changing the LEDs only works on Windows.  It's hard to find nice GNU/Linux programs for changing the lights that weren't built specifically for a Debian distribution.  I am running Fedora, not a Debian distro.  Fortunately, nice and really smart Germans have noticed that the backlit keyboard is a usb device and reverse engineered all the operating codes that Alienware won't just release.  Other nice people have provided some example C code free for download that is easily alterable.  The only problem now is that the it's an 8-bit color system, which I so don't know the codes for, but Wikipedia has the color chart for that.

Someone told me if I put GNU/Linux on this machine I would spend half my life trying to get the lights changed.  It really only took a few days of reading the internet and sporadic work, attempting the manufacturer program through WINE and a VM, trying to get alienfxlite.jar to work, discovering that the pyalienfx package won't work because libusb on Fedora is different from the one on Ubuntu, and by the way unless you download libusb-devel you won't get the necessary header files.

So if anyone else is wondering if the lights on an Alienware will still work under GNU/Linux, the answer is yes, but you have to use C to write directly to the USB device.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fabulosity for a Tuesday: Mavis Batey

One of the last survivors of Bletchley Park has passed away.  The Boston Globe has a lovely piece written about her.  She is quoted as saying that neither her legs nor her German were good enough for her to be Mata Hari.  But more fortunately for posterity, she participated in the cryptography project of the century.  Rest in peace, Ms. Batey.  The work of you and your colleagues helped to bring us the information age.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In Which I Make my Cats into Cakes: Part 2

I was going to turn my droll Scaramouche kitty into a chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce and some strawberries on top for his cute pink nose.

But he is a cross and disobliging cat and I had difficulties.

I lost against a chocolate cake.  This is humiliating.  In Tanzania, I could make a chocolate cake with nothing but large sauce pan like pans and a hot plate.  How is it harder with a real oven and real cake pans??  Not to mention actual butter and eggs that I can just break into batter without worrying about rottenness or fertilization.

The kitty is not sympathetic.  
I will be wallowing in feelings of cake-related inadequacy if anyone needs me.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

In Which I Make my Cats into Cakes, Part 1

In my continuing descent into crazy catladydom I have decided that I should makes cakes that express my kitties.   

My world-conquering Tamerlane is sweet and orange and adorable. 

We made a sweet orange cake and filled it with orange custard. 

We covered the cake with sweet orange frosting.  

And we made the cake pretty. 

Yes, I offered some to my sweet baby Tamerlane, and he did indeed enjoy his own cake.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Questions that Keep Me Awake at Night: Copy Machines

How many times can you make a photocopy of a photocopy before losing legibility?

Not having an actual photocopier that I can abuse, I'm going to have to emulate this, which means I am going to actually have to have some sort of understanding of copy machine resolution and what sort of generation loss I can expect.  That's the hard part.  The easy part is building an emulator, which will be a Python script that take in some jpg or whatever, applies an entropy function, and outputs the resultant jpg or whatever.  Turing bless the PIL [Python Imaging Library], which is going to do all the heavy lifting in the code without making me bother my pretty little head about the details.

I selected a sample photocopier to emulate on the extremely rigorous basis of the first thing that came up at Amazon when I searched for a copy machine. The important thing to note here is that the photocopy resolution is 600x600dpi.   Because I don't understand the complexities of dpi vs ppi, I am going to claim that in this case, there is actually a 1 to 1 conversion.  That's true in some cases at least  Feel free to tell me in the comments how wrong I am for making this assumption.  The image below is 72x72 ppi, thank you GIMP print resolution feature.  It is well within the resolution limits of my imaginary copier.

Now, what can go wrong with in the process of copying?  The digital process of storing and copying an image should not have any inherent generation loss, provided the resolution of the image is not above the resolution of the copier.  There is some evidence to suggest that sometimes characters will change into other characters depending on what sort of compression algorithm is being used.  Xerox claims that this can all be avoided by changing settings.  Since this isn't a Xerox machine I'm emulating, I think I'm going to ignore this.

Based on that pinnacle of internet research,, the process of copying is complicated and involves a lot of different things like lights and toner all working properly.  I don't know how failure of any one piece translates into image quality when copying.  So I got the user manual for this copy machine and looked at the trouble shooting section to see what commonly goes wrong and came up with the following list and hacked together some functions that will produce each effect.

  • uneven printing
  • white specks
  • vertical streaks
  • smudges or spatters appearing
  • printing is dark
  • bottom edge has smudge marks
  • portion of the page not printed

None of the individual functions will produce much of a noticeable effect.  If something went horribly wrong, you would redo the copy, right?  The question is, I think, how quickly small accumulating errors lead to completely terrible resolution.  The only assumption I need to make here, is how often such a small error will occur.  I am going to claim an error happens 4 times out of 10.  If this seems arbitrary, that's because it is.

Now for my emulator.  At each copy pass, there is a 40% probability that an error will occur.  An error will be chosen at random from the above list.  Each error has an equal probability of occurring in my emulation.

Below are my results

Copied 30 times. 

Copied 50 times. 

copied 100 times. 
copied 500 times. 

If I adjust the numbers such that visible (to the casual eye) errors are made by the error function, illegibility happens a lot faster.

Copied 10 times. 

Copied 20 times. 

Copied 30 times. 

To make this smell like science I'd have to fiddle with a lot more of the variables, but I think I'm bored at this point.  So I'm going to leave this as is.

Copied below the fold is my code, for anyone interested.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Thought

If I was the person hanging out on the Bridge of Eternal Peril, or the Sphinx, or whoever else asks travellers questions they must correctly answer or die, there have to be better questions than trivia or riddles.  To whit:

  • What is your full legal name and date of birth?
  • What is your social security card number?
  • What is your credit card number including security code? 

People whose job it is to beriddle the unwary have bills to pay just like everyone else but no clear source of income.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Caturday Post: The Stars of Kitty Television

There is a bird feeder in the back yard.  I am not that interested in birds, but my pampered house pets are.

I sincerely hope the birds engage in soap opera like drama and expository dialogue. 

"We would know exactly who the father of Alex's baby is if only Brian hadn't
fallen into a coma at the exact moment of revealing the name!"

"No matter, Gus is secretly a necromancer, and a coma is close enough to death for him to
enter into Gus's mind and extract the secret in a perilous and allegorical journey."
But Regina, Gus's jilted lover, is conjuring a powerful spell to trap Gus in the mind of
Brian where he hovers between life and death.
Just beyond the boundaries of the known world, evil lurks. 
An evil that plots to rend the very flesh from their bones and render all their petty machinations useless.