Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Own's The Dead?

Or, perhaps more fully phrased as; can the dead retain "rights"?

In comments to this film review of the then-recently released James Cameron film Avatar by Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon, I said in part:

I forget who's scifi story I read it in (lo, these many years ago now), but the idea put forth was that technology had developed to the point that it allowed then-living actors to emulate long dead performers (who already had an established marquee value) in new on-screen entertainment productions. For the life of me, I can't see how the technology behind Avatar wouldn't allow this to actually occur now. Mind you, I'm not looking forward to watching "John Wayne" and a 13 y/o "Brooke Shields" as they star in the new production Rio Blue Lagoon, but I don't doubt someone in Hollywierd will try that very thing some day too soon. Or worse.

The possibilities are a bit frightening actually, given the degree to which people's experience has trained them to associate a broadcast image with the person being depicted. If someone used the Avatar technology to film an actor killing a person, and the crime was actually committed, what with all the physical evidence of a murder having occured, could you prove that wasn't actually you in the video of the killing posted on You Tube? Or the President or the Pope, as the case may be? The possibilities are ... interesting, aren't they?

While trying to be somewhat provocative yet mindful of courtesy on another's blog page, I may have mis-served my objective.

Expanding upon my initial (and thankfully still hypothetical as of yet) example, what are the property rights (amongst other) complications deriving from the example I offered above? Imagine if you will, an explicitly pornographic "entertainment" (pre-supposing that actual film and present-technology digital media aren't the only distribution possibilities) depicting the physical image of John Wayne from the motion picture Rio Bravo in a graphic display of sexual congress (or, in more sailorly terms: a two-fisted three-holer) with the film image of the then-13 y/o Brooke Shields from the motion picture Pretty Baby combined with her performance two years later in The Blue Lagoon, giving rise to my speculative title; "Rio Blue Lagoon".

Let me take just a moment to acknowledge both that, not only is the ever-lovely Brooke not dead yet, Mrs. Henchy is eminently capable of defending her own interests. In the present circumstance, what she provides is the context for a rare alignment of interests (mine); speculation on the possible ramifications of future developments, individual rights, strategy and smokin' hot babes. Not necessarily in that order of precedence.

Returning to Mr. Cameron's technical triumph (and I don't believe it can honestly be described as anything less), there do seem to be a number of unintended consequences to his quest for the 2.5 billion dollar gross. The possibility I raised first on The Speculist has now been considered by none other than Brian Wang of the Lifeboat Foundation and principal author of the Next Big Future blog, where-in he also notes the less light-hearted possibilities:

"There is also the increased possibility of fake news interviews. The image of President Obama could be made to say or do anything. Similarly for Osama bin Laden."

Drawing inspiration from the recent electoral event in Massachusetts, consider the following:

Dressed in casual attire, Senatorial candidate Scott Brown is seen leaning against a parked pick-up truck's rear fender, speaking into the camera. While he does so, the nude figure of Martha Coakley is seen in the near background entering into the sex act with an heroically priapic Sen. Edward Kennedy while he rests his buttocks against a low bridge railing.

It almost doesn't matter what verbal content is conveyed by such a video appearing on YouTube, Vimeo and all the rest of the on-line outlets available, the visual one is the message. The image technology displayed in Avatar makes this type of moving image's falsehood essentially undetectable to all but the most in-depth examination of the process by which it was created, I believe (those with actual detailed knowledge of the technology's limitations are encouraged to step in here - all I've got is how it has been publicly characterised to this point).

Possibly even more inimical is that precisely the same "performance" could be created by supporters of either of the two actual Senatorial candidates - to equal effect. Dueling douche-baggery, if you will.

Mr. Brown's (either of us actually, but "the other" is most pertinent to this discussion, he selflessly asserts :)) history of apparent casualness regarding personal nudity plays into such an accusation of attacking an opponent in this fashion. Similarly, the predictable response of "shocked" "violation", "virtual rape" and similar vociferous pronouncements from the Coakley camp.

All of which distract from my question today: what (if any) rights are retained by Mr. Kennedy, or his estate, in such a now-plausible scenario in light of Mr. Cameron's visually stunning achievement?

Understand, all of the "actors" in the foregoing little (and also thankfully still hypothetical) drama would be performed by real, living people who's images were subsequently re-worked with Avatar-type technology to seamlessly appear as presented above. The two candidates at least would still have the option to pursue recourse under existing laws governing electoral practices if in no other venue. Mr. Kennedy isn't afforded that opportunity any longer and I'm unclear on what alternative option might plausably be pursued, and by which "offended" parties, under any existing US legal construct (leaving for the moment the more direct time-honored methodology that modern social and legal institutions frown upon).

The actors could claim legal innocence plausibly enough. If the post-production work was done outside US legal jurisdiction, I'm not sure any recourse via the courts would be possible under current legal codes.

For myself, I think the concept of property extending to one's image is well-enough established that a straight-forward extension of that concept into perpetuity as the default legal standard doesn't seem that contorted. Such a legal position allows for added revenue possibilities for individuals as well as those who also hold more limited rights to someone's visual image, along with further complication of estate planning, but these are details that markets are well demonstrated to sort out given a sufficiently solid demarcation within which to do so.

Any thoughts? Mrs. Henchy per chance? :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Training Aid

There has been some discussion recently about a variety of .22lr alternatives to center-fire caliber weapons (mostly in pistol formats, but rifle too). Like most of my shooting confreres, I've been looking at what seemed to best meet my financial and technical limitations.

I went with this option today.

First, what this isn't. It isn't an exact copy of the John Browning M1911, principally in that it has a fixed barrel and there is no half-cock function in the trigger design. It feels quite close to my Taurus PT 1911 in weight and the physical silhouette is near-identical, but the absence of any sort of grip safety makes an immediately obvious distinction between them from the shooters perspective. Quoting from the owner's document:

"Front Sight - The front sight of your "standard model" 1911-22 is a fixed sight and has been designed to allow extra material so that it can be "filed" to adjust for the individual shooter one time. Once the front sight has been filed to proper adjustment, the sight can be blued with a "Cold Blue" product ... Without adjustment, your new 1911-22 handgun will typically shoot 2" - 4" low at 25 yards."

Care needs be taken while seating a fresh magazine; the spring tension on the slide is nothing like as strong as that in a 9mm or .45 and the slide will easily jar loose and chamber a round inadvertently if a typically firm slap of the heel of the hand to the bottom of the magazine is employed.

Finally, do not dry fire this weapon. Ever! Doing so will result in the firing pin striking the upper edge of the breach surface causing a burr to form that prevents proper seating of a round and FtE. Ask me how I know.

That all said, I am initially quite pleased with the gun. It fits into my selection of holsters quite well and "points" quite naturally. I still need to do further work on the front sight (some care needed here; there's no putting metal back on once it's filed off :)) and I suspect the lack of any attachment feature for "tactical" sights n' lites will be thought a disadvantage by some. If, however, like me your principal intent is to practice draw and first-shot accuracy for both dominant- and weak-hand scenarios, then the ~$280 asking price for this gun is favorably comparable to that asked for conversion kits. Since this is a new model firearm (second half 2009), the lack of any accessories offered by the company (like additional magazines beyond the one included) is something I have already contacted the manufacturer about.

For it's limited intended purpose, I think I will be quite satisfied. More to follow, as they say. And, if it need be said, I bought the gun on my own volition; no inducement from the manufacturer has been offered in exchange for the foregoing commentary.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Damned Global Warming

Here's something to look forward to:

Temperatures dropped into the upper teens and lower 20s this morning and even with abundant sunshine this afternoon, they will struggle to reach the lower to middle 40s. Tomorrow we will see increasing clouds with a chance of rain late in the day with highs reaching the upper 40s.

Things begin to get interesting tomorrow night. As bitterly cold moves in, rain could change to snow/sleet/or even some freezing rain before ending. Right now we are not expecting any accumulation as most of the moisture should be off to our east. During the first half of our Thursday we could see a few snow flurries as the arctic air moves in...but the big story will be the cold. Temperatures Thursday afternoon will drop into the lower to mid 20s with wind chill temperatures near zero at times. Wind chills could be quite dangerous through the day on Friday as NW to N winds continue to blow.

The coldest temperatures we have seen in nearly 14 years will greet us Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings as lows bottom out in the middle, possibly lower teens.
[local ABC affiliate KLTV]

Friday's projected high? 29F

I live in the South, dammit, the land of cotton not ice floes! Now, where'd I put that pea coat? Good thing I bought myself one of these for Christmas, eh?

Monday, January 4, 2010

UPS = Delivery FAIL

I ordered an item last week and the vendor uses UPS. Which is fine as far as that goes, but there seems to have been a problem completing the delivery this time.

For whatever reason, my apartment number was left off the shipping address. The UPS tracking web page notes an exception to the delivery schedule but doesn't provide a workable mechanism for the receiver (the individual most likely to be tracking a shipment, I would think) to correct the problem. What I really want to avoid is having my purchase returned to the company I bought it from (which is UPS' default option after 3 failed deliveries). I can find no means of contacting UPS about this without an InfoNotice number (the number on the slip they leave on your door when there's no-one to receive the delivery) which I don't have because UPS can't deliver my package without knowing which apartment I live in to leave the InfoNotice slip at (or possibly even just go ahead and deliver my package). The old Catch 22; you can't do what you need to because they can't leave you the necessary for you to do ...

I really don't want to take time off from work just so I can hunt up their local office and go down there in person.

Sort of defeats the purpose of shipping with them in the first place, doesn't it?

Update 1/5/10: Credit where due; UPS persevered, solved the problem and made delivery only one day later than scheduled. I still think they ought to review their customer support set up, but they got it right in the end so "well done" for that.

Break Time's Over (again)

Everybody back on your heads!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turse NDT Review

So, I asked Tam if my Christmas present to myself was an example of what she had earlier called a "turse" - a contraction of tactical purse. Leaving for another day the distinction between "purse" and "handbag", let me point out that this example of the product type is probably best described as a shoulder bag, since there is no other provision made for a means to conveniently carry it except by the shoulder strap itself (there is a velcro closure loop permanently sewn to the body-side of the bag, which I presume is intended to serve as a belt loop to keep the bag in place during episodes of physical exertion - climbing, riding a motorcycle, etc). I got the bag from Cheaper Than Dirt across the state from me over in Fort Worth.

I would like to make special note that I ordered the bag (along with several other items) on-line on the 23rd of December. FedEx was banging on my front door the following afternoon, so "well done all around" there.

Let's see, other disclaimers or initial observations? I bought the black colored bag and the woven nylon material is decidedly not "fashionable"; it is extremely durable however and a good deal of care seems to have been taken to make sure the material was cut to the pattern dimensions. The fit and overall appearance seems quite good to me given the limitations imposed by the material and fundamental design criteria. There are a number of questionably located loops on the bag, but since they also provide reinforcement of the joints and seams I won't use them as appears intended but have no real objection otherwise. Finally, there is no provision for the "handedness" of the carrier. The bag is laid out to be worn over the right hip. Leapers lists this as a new product so there may be plans for future model variants, but no information to that effect is mentioned at their site. As Tam commented, the price seems quite reasonable as well.

Let me begin the actual review by acknowledging that this product is not a purpose-built handgun concealed-carry platform. Rather, it is a compromise between several potential applications, among which the requirements for toting a pistol in a less-than-obvious manner are included. The interior dimensions of the central compartment are: 8.5"w x 4" thick x 9.5"d (+3.5" of material in the draw flap closure). Also covered by the primary buckle closure is an anterior pocket internally measuring 6"w x 7"d featuring a zipper that extends at least halfway down the side allowing extreme accessibility to the contents.

Forward of the main compartment is another pouch (the only one with a dual-slider zipper, which also extends at least halfway down the side of the compartment) measuring 3"w x 6"d, while aft is a drink bottle pouch with it's drawstring closure (intended to hold the container secure, not actually close the pouch) which features a grommet in the bottom material to allow drainage/ventilation of spillage.

Finally, the interior-most compartment is a wide zippered opening (at fully open measuring 8.5" max) with an interior width at least 1.5" more. The pocket's interior depth is 9" and there are two velcro strips sewn in to the interior-most side of the pouch as well. Judging by the added padding sewn on to the body-facing side of the bag, I believe the intention is to provide a means of temporarily mounting a holster to the rear of the compartment and at least one spare magazine holder to the fore-end (I suspect that a revolver speed loader would be better accommodated in the forward-most zippered compartment mentioned earlier). I tried both my Colt Commander and Taraus PT 1911 and both fit quite comfortably (I already own a detachable velcro'd holster from a FAG bag) (I've got an assortment of 1911 magazine belt pouches; I'll look into cutting one down and gluing the other half of the velcro onto it and see how that works one of these days).

The shoulder strap is a full 2" wide with closure buckles that, while ballistic plastic, are quite stout in construction. One minor annoyance is the shoulder pad itself has no provision to be fixed in place once a strap length has been adjusted (I keep having to re-adjust the damn pad as it won't stay in place). Also, and as I commented earlier, there are a number of external loops that don't seem particularly useful/desirable in a heavily trafficked locale (they might prove extremely useful in a rural or more remote setting - camping or the like say), as well as a couple of spring-loaded hooks for key rings and such. Since I don't like clipping a pocket knife to the seam of my trousers pockets, I don't see the utility of hanging a knife out in the open myself. YMMV as they say.

In closing, and on short acquaintance, I recommend this product to anyone looking for an alternative pistol carry option or who simply has an interest in a well-constructed, convenient and relatively commodious day pack. I'll have to check first, but I'm thinking my daughter (or more likely SiL) might find one of these useful for baby related items once my new grandson moves out of his current lodging this March or early April. :)

Hope this review proves helpful and the seemingly obligatory FTC disclaimer follows: the foregoing is an unsolicited product review of an item(s) I purchased on my own initiative. No inducement or remuneration was offered or solicited for my writing this review (although such would not go unconsidered should they subsequently be offered :)).

PS: Tam, mine cost 8 bux, but thanks for this, it was really helpful. I told you you will always have a place in my life. :)

Pede Ant Tree

Huh. It seems there are those who consider the calendar to be contextual too.

Some writers[5] like to point out that since the common calendar starts from the year 1, its first full decade contained the years from 1 to 10, the second decade from 11 to 20, and so on. The interval from the year 2001 to 2010 could thus be called the 201st decade, using ordinal numbers. However, contrary to practices in referencing centuries, ordinal references to decades are quite uncommon.

Following the link for ordinal numbers embedded above, we find this:

In linguistics, ordinal numbers are the words representing the rank of a number with respect to some order, in particular order or position (i.e. first, second, third, etc.). Its use may refer to size, importance, chronology, etc. They are adjectives.

They are different from the cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc.) referring to the quantity.

Ordinal numbers are alternatively written in English with numerals and letter suffixes: 1st, 2nd or 2d, 3rd or 3d, 4th, 11th, 21st, 477th, etc. In some countries, written dates omit the suffix, although it is nevertheless pronounced. For example: 4 July 1776 (pronounced "the fourth of July ... "); July 4, 1776, ("July fourth ..."). When written out in full with "of", however, the suffix is retained: the 4th of July.

Ok then.

Since the modern western calendar system you do indeed use (the time/date function of the computer you are using to read this is based on it) is in actual fact an ordinal number record, and since that system in fact does not contain any such silliness as a "year 0" (if you were to cycle the format back far enough the transition would read 12/31/01bc - 01/01/01ad), it follows that the "common usage" mentioned in the first cite above is yet another example of human stupidity on public display.

Just this once, and do try to follow along, it goes something like this:

A decade consists of ten consecutive years.

A century consists of ten consecutive decades.

A millennium consists of ten consecutive centuries.

See the pattern here?

The first year of a decade is year one (1). Consequently, the last year of a decade is year ten (10).

Do keep up, there's more!

If you sequence ten decades in a row, the result is called a "century" and the convention is to identify that time period by it's final year number. Thus, once a century is completed it is written X (with x- being some number) 00; 200bc, for example, or 1700ad perhaps. This system does lead to the slightly confusing practice of referring to a given year, say 1776 (a year of some significance to American readers), as having occurred during the 18th century.

Continuing to follow the pattern we observed earlier, ten centuries transpiring one after the other is widely known as "a millennium". 1000ad would thus be ten (10) centuries (00). See?

Given all the foregoing to be true, the most previously completed millennium would have been the second following the transitional event in the calendar system we use in much of the modern world. And, indeed, the last year of the 20th century was in fact recorded as 2000ad. It would then consistently follow that the succeeding year would be the first in the new millennium/century/decade that follows on along from there, wouldn't it?

So, to re-cap: the millennium following after the second would be the third. It is scheduled to consist of ten centuries ending in the numbers 21 through 30. Each century is demarcated into segments of ten decadal sub-units which, in turn, consist of ten single year segments, numbered conveniently enough 1 through 10.

Now hover the mouse cursor over the time display on your monitor and read for yourself today's date. January 2, 2010 maybe (if not we have a problem of an entirely other dimension)? Now, the quirks of our cack-handed cousins across the pond notwithstanding, this is written as 01/02/2010 and reads: the second day of the first month of the first decade of the first century in the third millennium.

Got it?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rush Limbaugh "OK"

Hot Air commenter Mankai wins the internets in response:

Grief counselors were immediatly dispatched to dKos HQ and to the Democratic Underground.
mankai on January 1, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Via Instapundit.

Starting Afresh

Yesterday was solidly overcast with thick fog in the morning and a slow drizzle for the remainder of the day. The temperature was in the low/mid 40's 'till noon, but had risen to the mid 50's by 4:30 that afternoon. As a metaphor for the year just completed I can't think of better.

By contrast, this morning dawns brightly, with clear skies and a crisp temp in the upper 30's. There is a frost on the vehicle and building roofs that fades into memory shortly after the sunlight strikes it. The air is calm and the impression one discovers within is one of promise and optimism. If ever there was desired an illustration of the impetus driving New Year's Eve celebrations, surely this is it.

Our singular and unified challenge may indeed be to raise the next 364 days to steadily greater heights, but I think I'll content myself discovering this day's possibilities. I understand that, if you just keep doing that, you reach a place called "success", but I wouldn't know yet.

Update: You have to love a man that brings such a positive outlook to events.