Friday, May 30, 2008

Urban Development

Atrios is right that urban residents' fear of disruption does not necessarily affect development plans in a positive direction. On the other hand, I don't think any "big project" can ever really deliver the kind of ideal urban vibrancy that attracts people to cities in the first place.

In the Gospel According to Jane is it writ, buildings close to one another should be of mixed construction age, not just designed for mixed use or income-level. Any big development is inherently going to fail at that and is going to have to succeed in every other aspect of urban planning just to break even.

But big projects are big profit, so developers are always going to push for them. Residents might be misguided in opposing any change to the status quo (a static neighborhood is not a healthy one) but in the case of confronting real big development projects, they will probably almost always end up minimizing the damage that these projects can wreak; limiting the height of a project isn't necessarily an ideal way of keeping an urban area healthy and vibrant, but if it's the only feasible means of limiting the project's scope then I think it's still justified.

Julie Klausner Kills It

Word. The most charitable thing you could say about someone who equates Pretty Woman and Legally Blonde is that at some point they may have seen one of the films. But they probably weren't paying much attention.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Anticipa-Do List

My anticipatory to-do list program is complete. It's called Anticipa-Do List and basically works just as I record whenever you clean your room or notice that it needs cleaning, and after a couple times it will remind you before it gets too bad:

Updating the status of a task

Notifications are handled by setting up email reminders in Google Calendars. Here's an event that Anticipa-Do List has generated:

Google calendar event with reminder

It's configured thus:

Configuring the Google Calendars notification plugin

Notifications use a plugin system, so that part is flexible.

It's all C# and Windows and everything, so it's not like anyone I know could actually use it. But I'll post updates as my own life is revolutionized.

Email reminder

In The Zone

I went to Manhattan's public Community Board 3 meeting Tuesday evening to see the DOT's proposal for bike lanes on Chrystie St. I'd never been to even one of my own CB's meetings, so it was at least informative in that sense.

I didn't stick around for the DOT presentation, but in the public comment portion of the meeting there was the one Transportation Alternatives guy talking in favor of the bike lanes in a way that suggested that they had really already been decided upon (basically, "hey, thanks for approving the new bike lanes") and nobody in opposition.

The meeting's real controversy was over a rezoning plan for the East Village. Coming late to the issue, I may be missing out on some history or nuance, but basically it seems that existing zoning regulations in the East Village limit floor area ratio, permitting the development of tall skinny towers as long as they leave enough empty space on the rest of a given lot (as was not considered undesirable in the early 60's when the regulations were enacted). Nobody in the neighborhood likes that idea now, so the new zoning would limit development with absolute height caps.

As far as I can tell, the controversy is not between residents and developers, but residents of the East Village (which composes only a subset of CB3's total area) and residents of Chinatown (the rest of it). (Both sides claim to include the Lower East Side, which, as far as I can tell, seems to straddle the downtown border of the rezoning region.)

Nobody wants their neighborhood taken over by giant towers, but the fewer that are permitted in the rezoned East Village, the argument goes, the more will consequently end up being built in the un-rezoned Chinatown; if the zoning stays as-is, then at least everyone shares the burden of new development, but even better would be a plan that protects everybody. It's a pretty straightforward supply-and-demand argument that's hard to dispute.

Of course, because of which neighborhood is getting rezoned and which isn't, there's also a racial angle that seems to be generating most of the hostility. And looking at the composition of the community board, it's easy to imagine that the process was, if not racist per se, at least somewhat less than complete in taking the opinions of all the affected parties into account.

I gather that people were arrested during the last public meeting, and at this one there was a sizable police presence and lots of shouting and catcalling as various community members and activists made their cases. (I held this blog post up for a day hoping that NY1 would have some video of screaming neighborhood activists and me cowering in the background, but I guess without the handcuffs coming out it's not newsworthy.)

At this point everyone seems pretty entrenched; there was one white guy who had been a supporter of the rezoning throughout the process (I guess it has taken four years to get to this point) but who wanted to broaden the area to include Chinatown. I noticed that he sat near and talked to a bunch of the Chinese activists, and was the only person I noticed who was widely applauded by both sides after he spoke.

A lot of the anti-rezoning (or more correctly, "anti-this-rezoning-plan-now") advocates also came across as more conciliatory, which makes sense, since the nature of their position is that they like the idea of much so that they want their own neighborhoods included in it. I guess the fear of those on the pro-rezoning side is that, in the time it would take to come up with a more inclusive plan, who knows how many new towers could go up in the region currently slated for rezoning. Especially as developers try to "beat the buzzer" and get projects approved before the zoning laws can change.

To which I guess I would say, you should have taken that into account when the process started. And perhaps it's true that in an ideal world, these concerns would have been raised by concerned Chinatown residents earlier in the process; but it's not as if they could not have been anticipated, and pushing rezoning through now, after concerns have been raised, resembles nothing more than "I've got mine, to hell with the rest of you."

A community board that looked out for residents first and property owners second (if at all) would do well to halt all new development until a plan rezoning the entire area could be designed. I don't expect that to happen. My guess is that getting the board's support for the current plan was made a whole lot easier when some developers thought they'd still have Chinatown to work with. But who knows!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thick Erections

By happy coincidence, I was in the process of reading The Corrections just as Harper's contributing editor Wyatt Mason posted his three-part account of an event with Jonathan Franzen discussing his novel with critic James Wood.

The first part recounts their conversation on the state of the novel and the extent to which Franzen had succeeded in balancing challenging fiction with readable narratives, concluding with Mason asking about the role criticism plays in Franzen's work as a novelist. The second begins with Franzen's response that it does play a significant role, and then Mason follows up by wondering why more writers of fiction don't engage with critics directly. (Relevant footnotes here to Wood's review of The Corrections and Mason's review of Wood's first novel, The Book Against God.) And the third part addresses the idea that critics do not engage with contemporary fiction, leading to the introduction of Mason's essay arguing that there is plenty of intelligent criticism being written. Which I gather is a running theme of Mason's.

Anyway. I enjoyed it all. With the exception of the Book Against God review which I mostly skimmed until I get a chance to read the book. No spoilerz.

Cats in 3D

The other day I noticed that both cats were on my bed sleeping even more deeply than usual. I managed to get anaglyph photos of each of them. Lucy is curled up all sweetly, and the Colonel is in fine form with her arms splayed out. Very cute.


Bike Snob NYC's latest quiz features the tall bike that's chained up by the elementary school where I vote.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Andrew and I discussed the stimulus checks, and the political motivation thereof, in our last/next/currently in production podcast. More grist for the cynical ploy to leave taxpayers feeling personally indebted to George W. Bush mill:

Check from Uncle Same, clearly labeled as originating in the Great State of Texas.

Uh, racist?

This word newsletter I read had an interesting pick for this week's "weird word": jiggery-pokery.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You Can Have Any Economy You Want, As Long As It's Capitalism

Cam doesn't like Naomi Klein's criticisms of capitalism, but his criticisms don't stand up.

His analogy of today's China to the Detroit of yesteryear (and post-NAFTA Mexico, for heaven's sake) is telling in its aptness. The old US auto industry was the very picture of thuggish capitalism, working in concert with the state to commoditize labor and squelch potential competition. No, "[t]he police state is not necessary for the efficient delivery of capitalism" of this sort, but it certainly does help, as the fascist Henry Ford certainly recognized.

It is customary, when extolling the virtues of classical liberalism (which actually is "predicated on free markets and economic liberty"), to overlook such gross capitalistic excesses as are represented by Fordism and contemporary China. To hold them up as exemplars is mystifying.

To be sure, Klein is mistaken in her article, but her mistake is in the same vein as Cam's: "free markets and free people" may well "go hand in hand," but neither one has much to do with capitalism.

Anticipatory To-Do List

A few weeks ago, friend Dmitry told me about this Wired story on a crazy Polish guy who invented this software that helped you remember things. Basically you tell it what you want to remember and then every now and then it checks whether you've forgotten stuff and based on how long it takes you to forget things, it learns what the optimal moment is to send you reminders so you will remember stuff forever.

So that exists. But something I realized today—as I noticed that my workspace and bedroom has once again become buried under daunting piles of sweaters, eviscerated cat toys, and junk mail—is that a similar program could be used to manage periodically recurring chores before they get overwhelmingly out of control.

The idea is that for each task—cleaning the toilet, say—you'd first get the program moving by noting down either "I did it" or "I noticed it needed doing" on the appropriate date. (If you happen to remember both—"I saw on Thursday that it looked pretty grody, and then on Sunday I got around to cleaning it"—then all the better, but recording just one or the other is enough to get started.)

From then on, every time you either a) do one of your tasks or b) notice that it needs to get done again, you record it in the program. And after a couple repetitions, the software will start to be able to predict that your toilet is ready for a cleaning around every sixteen days, and that it's usually three or four days before you get around to doing it. And so then when twelve days have gone by since the last cleaning, and you haven't even thought about doing it again, the program can email you and be like "hey, clean the toilet before it gets too nasty."

And it will constantly be feeding back on itself, so that if you do your tasks right away when it tells you to, it will give you some more time before the next reminder; but if you procrastinate, and it has to nag you with emails for a week, then next time it will take that into account and notify you well in advance.

The software could optionally randomize its notifications slightly, so that you won't be expecting them at a specific time and thus more easily ignore them. And maybe it could notice if, for example, the fish tank and the bathtub were about to be in need of cleaning on the same day it would be time to mow the lawn and oil your bike chain, and space those tasks out over a couple days so you wouldn't get overwhelmed by a sudden deluge.

It would not work for tasks, like feeding the dog or paying your taxes, that (hopefully!) get done on an externally imposed schedule; regular calendars and to-do lists, if not simple force of habit, can deal with those easily enough. And it would not work for people who prefer to leave their messes until a biweekly "big clean," or who like to set aside one day a month to sort out all their bills.

It seems like a simple enough program to write, and though I couldn't find anything like it, I may have just been searching for the wrong terms. I did find that the Boy Scouts have a merit badge for time management. Which is hilarious.

So I might take a crack at a quick proof of concept, just to see if I actually use it. And to give me something to do while I'm avoiding sweeping the stairs, natch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Check Cashing

I enjoyed Dallas and Rafi's new video on check cashing places. Also, part of it is shot right down the street!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not That Surprising

A big part of New York "progressivism" consisting of opposition to the corrupt local party establishment and entrenched influence in Albany, it's not really all that surprising that the DNC has chosen to credential a more accommodating group of Democratic bloggers for the convention. Endorsing another primary candidate over the state's junior US Senator, not exactly going to curry favor with the proverbial powers that be.

Which isn't to knock The Daily Gotham crew, none of whom I imagine would be particularly insulted were they to be described as being more dedicated to liberal and progressive principles than to the political goals of the Democratic Party per se. But the party itself's greater interest in the latter is hardly a shock.

(Not familiar with the political environment in Jersey, but I would imagine it's much the same there.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Red-Green Show

I was thinking about color-blindness the other day as I was trying to wrap my head around some coordinate issues I was having in Blender and noted how much even more confusing it would all be if I couldn't tell the color-coded axes apart on the screen.

For some reason the importance of not relying on red/green distinctions is like the only thing that stuck with me from the user interface design course Andrew and I took in college. Hullabaloo's Tristero has a post up on the problems that can arise from overreliance on color distinctions in diagrams.

There's also this excerpt of Oliver Sacks' that has some really interesting analogies between absolute versus relative pitch and different experiences of color vision, including disorders.

Liberdeez Nutz

In the course of arguing in favor of early schooling, Kathy G. quotes someone from Cato writing in The New Republic:
[M]e and my fellow libertarians...insist on the central importance of individual responsibility for the healthy functioning of a free society. Yet, by the time people become legally responsible adults, circumstances not of their own choosing—namely, how they were raised and whom they grew up with—may have prevented them from ever developing the capacities they need to thrive and flourish. Which raises the possibility that government intervention to improve those circumstances could actually expand the scope of individual autonomy.
That strikes me as a pretty major concession coming from a right-libertarian. My impression is that the coherence of a lot of Cato's positions (e.g., against the estate tax) rests on a rather narrow interpretation of "liberty" where the only potential actor against liberty is the state, via the twin vectors of capital gains taxes and minimum sentences for marijuana possession. Once you've admitted that "individual autonomy" can be impeded by one's childhood environment, doesn't that open the door to the possibility that polluted drinking water, a racist police force, or an exploitative employer or landlord could have a similarly negative effect?

Seriously, I fully expect this Brink Lindsey to be run out of town on a rail for suggesting that the government might be justified in educating children, a clear violation of parents' property rights.

I'm a Terrible Roommate

I don't care who's sleeping, garlic is to be smashed, not minced.

Iron Man Not So Critical

Ezra Klein is right on the money in labeling Iron Man "less [criticism] than absolution" in its commentary on the evils of US foreign policy. It's the old Captain Planet dilemma: in order to convey the seriousness of hurting the environment or arming terrorists, you portray an evil supervillain doing those things; but then since the people in the real world who do the most environmental damage and prop up the most brutal dictators are not mustachioed villains, but just regular politicians and businesspeople doing what they do in a fairly aboveboard (if not extremely well publicized) manner, they're let off the hook.

The (only slightly less comic book-y) Lord of War sort of got at the underlying issue a little better. Though (spoiler warning) if I recall, even in that film it was government figures working in the shadows behind the scenes who were driving the US's role as a state sponsor of terrorism. It's a little more critical of a portrayal, since at least the "bad guys" are clearly acting out of political rather than financial motivations, but there's still the idea that surely nobody could get away with such wickedness were it out in the open, whereas in reality they do even when it is.

New Podcast Episode

Andrew has posted a second round of applause. I swear I can hear myself chewing throughout the first half, so next time I'm going to forego the snacks. I also say "like" too much. There are some funny moments in the second half, I think.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nicely Done

I've been following the story of Phyllis Schlafly getting an honorary degree from Washington U. Tasteful protest, executed well, it sounds like. Good for them.

Clean as a Hippie!

Cam linked to a blog dedicated to "unbranding" your home. Totally my kind of thing, but I'm skeptical about the natural cleaning tips. In particular, the idea that vinegar and baking soda combine to make a more effective cleaning product than either one alone, and that you can "see it working" as it foams up. What you can see is the mixture turning into water and carbon dioxide, but maybe carbon dioxide is really good for cleaning. Anyway, I haven't tried it, so I guess I should reserve judgment.


Ezra Klein links to an Johann Hari's account of taking Provigil. I think some of Hari's fears are unfounded:
And if this drug becomes as popular as, say, anti-depressants or Ritalin, won’t there be a social pressure for workers to take it? Many parents feel intensely pressured by schools today to drug away their child’s disobedience; will they feel pressured by their bosses to drug away their natural fatigue?
Although he is supposedly talking about "popular" drugs like "anti-depressants [and] Ritalin," the pressure he's worried about really only applies to the latter: nobody is pressured into taking anti-depressants themselves. The case of children in school is unique because of the incredible pressure our society puts on parents. I think people who aren't bosses (but I repeat myself) would already see the immense inappropriateness of any pressure from an employer to use any medication, let alone one that impacts productivity. Also, more flippantly, what boss actually wants smarter worker drones?

For myself, I love the idea of Provigil. I sure wouldn't waste it on making myself more productive at work, though.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I saw this cool moped parked on Smith Street the other day:

Moped from back

Moped from front

The gas tank is on the top tube, and the motor drives the rear wheel. There was a neat chrome exhaust pipe on the other side, but it looks like I didn't get a good picture of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Unjustified Presumption of Good Faith

Kathy G. gives Mickey Kaus and Megan McArdle too much credit when she proposes that "[Kaus] needs to let a few facts penetrate his thick skull" and that "McArdle...makes the same kind of mistake Kaus makes." The bad anti-union arguments they make are not due to a want of "facts" and are not a "mistake." Both pundits oppose organized labor in principle; they will never be swayed by empirical evidence because theirs is not an empirically-derived position.

(Kathy G. is no doubt aware of this, and presents her rebuttals for the benefit of impressionable readers.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lunch On Me!

My lover and I watched a documentary on Harvey Milk last night. Somewhat of a downer, of course, but a great film.

One segment I found particularly interesting came in a speech Harvey was giving, I believe in opposition to California's Proposition 6. After defending the right-ness of gay rights, he moved into a passionate call for closeted gays to come out to their family, friends, and coworkers. He framed it as an obligation to the gay community, to come out and help break down anti-gay stereotypes. At the very end he tagged on something like "oh, and you'll feel better about yourself too."

I found it interesting that today's mainstream discourse on coming out basically flips these two arguments around entirely: the primary benefit of outness is one's own individual well-being and mental health, and "oh, and it'll make it easier for others" seems sort of tagged on as an afterthought. Or such is my perception anyway.

I find the older framing more appealing, though that might well be due to its novelty from my perspective. I feel like in general we see a lot of arguments, even (or especially) for positive things, made through appeals to self-interest rather than obligations to others: buy local produce because it tastes better, seek out school diversity so you can learn more about others, ride a bike to lose weight1, and so forth. Any notion of personal sacrifice is limited to religion (or environmentalism).

I can see why people like these arguments, since they do seem more likely to meet with success, but they have the unfortunate side effect of reinforcing the attitude that there is such a thing as a free lunch, and that the more you can live responsibly and morally, the more strings-free personal benefits you will accrue. It's a dangerous implication, because giving up or trying to counteract real privilege (and staying closeted can be a privilege) does necessarily result in personal detriment; otherwise it would not be privilege.

There are movements away from the pure self-interest appeals. Sarah sent me a link yesterday to a Q&A with the author of a book that deals with closeted rappers and the damage they do to their (both gay and straight) communities. There is very much a sense of "yes, coming out could in all probability be disastrous for your career, but you owe it to society." It's an encouraging turn.

1 This one's a particular pet peeve of mine. One hundred fifty years of technological innovation has gone into making bicycles as poor exercise as possible. Bikes are great for going places, but if you want exercise, jump rope.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Copies of Famous Buildings

I had this idea the other day. Blueprints for famous buildings are pretty easily obtained, right? Like I assume architecture students can buy books of Frank Lloyd Wright designs. So does anyone ever build a home based on those?

One day I shall live in a scale model of the Lincoln Memorial.

Hip-Hop is DYING

Amanda links to a Salon piece lamenting the decline of hip-hop. And it is a weird article. There are always going to be border cases that are tough to judge when laying out any sort of real hip-hop/ring-tone crap dichotomy, and usually this kind of piece will steer well clear of any of them in favor of gimmes proclaiming, say, the superiority of Tupac to Rich Boy.

But here, author Paul Kix seems to take it as a given that Paul Wall's rapping about how many diamonds he wears on his teeth obviously transcends Boosie's tribute to strong women. Which no disrespect to Paul Wall—and props to Kix for going on-record in support of both Paul Wall and Mike Jones, whose flow does not often get the recognition it deserves—but it's hardly a settled judgment in either performer's favor, and most self-appointed arbiters of hip-hop quality are just as likely to look down their nose at both of them as to choose either one over the other.

Especially when you've only just finished lauding Paul Wall for his funny lyrics, to not recognize the sense of humor that permeates pretty much every Lil Wayne verse reeks of bias dressed up as objective criticism. I mean, to each his own and there's no accounting for taste, but if you're going to knock Weezy's repetitive chorus then you can't very well expect people to take your defense of Mike Jones all that seriously.

I mean, fine, you like Houston's aesthetics or personalities or whatever it is better than other Southern rap. More power to you. But please don't pretend that you perceive some objective quality distinction between Chamillionaire and Young Jeezy.

And to echo Amanda, there have always been and shall always be shitty pop hits with shitty line dances associated with them. Sometimes they are hip-hop flavored and sometimes they taste like something else, but in neither case do they herald anything other than that the pop cultural world continues to spin on its metaphorical axis.

Visible Pinball

Rob Cockerham's Maker Fair coverage led me to the Visible Pinball Project, a complete working Surf Champ game with a fully transparent cabinet and playfield. I couldn't find any video of it, but the stills look amazing.

Rob did post video of a neat-looking sculpture repurposing some pinball parts.

Update: I thought of this observation right away when I read about visible pinball, but then somewhere during the search for video it slipped my mind: Michael Schiess teaches people to play pinball using a transparent pinball machine the same way Tristan Taormino teaches people to have anal sex using a transparent dildo.

Bike to Shea Day Addendum

Oops, forgot to link to the other pictures I took, and Blogger won't let me edit the other post. Some pics along the ride and then some at the game, including some 3D anaglyph ones.

Bike to Shea Day

Bike to Shea Day was a blast! Peter changed two flats, Nate spotted a couple warblers, I only almost drove us on to the Grand Central Parkway once, we all got All-Star ballots, and the Mets won 12-6!

Grayscale anaglyph of Shea infield

Johan Santana was good, but I don't think at the top of his game. The game started out with a goofy error and a good old-fashioned pickle, and there were a lot of other fun moments. You know, as baseball tends to have. Emma and her friend Jose both know their baseball, so it was fun talking to them.

Nate had his "field glasses" (bird-watching jargon for "binoculars") with him, and took advantage of Shea's location in former wetlands to try to spot some birds. He'd been birding earlier that morning, so he had his field guide with him as well.

View Larger Map

As Andrew had predicted, it really did turn out to be "Bike to Shea Day," with the emphasis on the "to": the TransAlt tent wasn't even up anymore when the game let out, there were no cue sheets for the return trip, and people were kind of just clumping up to try and blaze a trail home together, post-apocalyptic road warrior style. I believe one pair even said they were taking their bikes on the 7 train. We muddled our way home without too many missteps.

Overall, a great afternoon. The ride isn't as scenic as the trip up the West Side bike path to Yankee Stadium, but you do go through some neat different areas, including some crazy industrial parts of Queens, and it's all nice and flat with no grueling climb at the end. Really it's not much farther than the Cyclones, though the beers are a lot pricier when you get there.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Search Engines Instead of Domain Names

Cam links to an article talking about people who don't even try guessing at domain names for things like corporate websites, and just use search engines to find what they're looking for.

It's interesting, this is actually how people were originally expected to access internet services: you'd look up what you were interested in in a directory service of some kind the same way you look up a phone number in the yellow pages. It was really the popularity explosion the internet went through, coupled with the incredible shittiness of search engine technology at the time, that made corporate vanity domain names necessary in the first place.

Bike to Shea Day Tomorrow!

I slept on this last year, but tomorrow I'm totally going to Bike to Shea! I'm totally psyched. I'm not the baseball cap or jersey type (though a fitted t-shirt could tempt me), but I did have to grab some kicks:

Red/cyan anaglyph photo of sneakers with Mets 'NY' logo

It looks like Johan's going to start. I'm psyched to see him strike out Ken Griffey!

I'm A Petty Jerk

The picture of John McCain watching Arizona host my Mets drove me to go check on the results of that game. It warmed my heart to know that he watched his wretched D-Backs suffer a dramatic 9th-inning defeat. In your face, Insane McCain.

No symbolism should be implied by New York's righteous defeat of Arizona on that day, however. Clinton is a fan of the unholy Yankees.

More 3D Graphics

Microsoft just released the "community preview" of the new version of their C# game development libraries, and it happens that someone has already done a demo of anaglyph stereo for it:

Screen capture of XNA anaglyph demo

Looks good! The cool thing about XNA is that you can use it to make Windows games, and then target the XBox (and with this version, the Zune) with the same codebase.

I think if I mess around with any of this stuff in the future I'll still be sticking with Axiom, because targeting Mac and Linux is more practically useful than targeting the XBox and Zune. And an XNA render platform for Axiom is already under development in any case.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Against "Spam"

I won't bother railing against unwanted email solicitations (though it's true I consider this a problem that is basically solved and not worth complaining about). But I happened to notice today that the Thunderbird email client has taken a bold stand in refusing to label said email "spam":

Thunderbird's Junk toolbar button.

I agree with and approve of the decision. "Spam" is overly informal, and nerdy in its allusion to Monty Python. The term "junk mail" was already around and there's absolutely no reason it can't be applied to emails.

How About "A Round Of Applause"?

Andrew just posted the first episode of our new podcast, A Round Of Applause With Travis And Andrew. Packed with news, commentary, and interviews, it's the midweek program of choice for the discerning listener.

I think we'll be shooting for a Sunday taping and early weekday posting schedule. The taping part was really fun, but the editing was a bit grueling from what I gather (that was all A-Train's doing). Hopefully it will be a bit more streamlined as we get practice.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Atrios is talking sense. Getting rid of the single and five dollar notes would be the bare minimum for sensible currency reform, but we really don't need paper tens anymore either, in my opinion.

Tom Friedman on the Rational Lazy Worker

Lindsay at Majikthise has a good post objecting to Tom Friedman's placing the blame for Americans' economic woes on their own moral lassitude. I'm skeptical in general of this kind of disdain for the general populace. But it is particularly rich that Friedman's delusional neoliberal economic ideology relies in no small part on the assumption that people behave rationally in making economic decisions in their lives. Rational but lacking in moral fiber, I guess.e

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Putting the "Frustum" in "Frustumerated"

DU was right in comments to my last post. Pointing both cameras at the same place (midway between the robots) results in almost identical left- and right-eye images:

Crappy anaglyph that just looks like a normal picture.

If you look very closely at the full-size image you can see the red/cyan separation along the antennae, but there is essentially no 3D effect at all.

He mentioned "photons," which leads me to suspect this may be related to how when you look through a telescope and cover half the objective lens with your hand, you see the exact same thing you were seeing before but half as bright, when what you should see is half of the image and then a very large hand. I hate physics.

You Can't Frustum and You Can't Frust Withoutum

That title is just a joke. Contra my graphics (and award-winning user interface design) instructor in college, it certainly is possible to discuss 3D projection without resorting to the term "frustum."

I'm a little confused about what kind of camera setup creates the best anaglyph images. All of the custom hardware setups I've read about people using either have identical cameras exactly side-by-side and pointing in the same direction,

Schematic of two parallel cameras,

or a single camera mounted so it can slide right and left perpendicular to the direction of the lens,

Schematic of single camera on sliding mount.

Either of these setups result in two images that reproduce the effect of looking at an object (a duck, say) with your eyes facing exactly the same direction:

Eyes looking at an object in parallel.

(Those are eyeballs at the bottom.)

And that's the kind of configuration I've been using for the anaglyph 3D graphics display: move the virtual camera slightly to the left and render the red channel, then move the virtual camera slightly to the right and render the blue and green channels.

But I think the way human vision actually works is that both eyeballs sort of independently point at whatever you're focusing on. Which is why when a butterfly flies up to you and lands on your nose you end up crossing your eyes. More like this:

Eyes looking at an object obliquely.

I think that's more like how I take 3D photos with my digital camera. I don't have a horizontally-sliding mount or two identical cameras, so I just take one picture pointing at an object, move over, and then take another pointing at the same object. I think the result should be more like looking at an object in real life, assuming the viewer is focusing where you expect them to be.

I'm going to try this out in my graphics setup and see how it works.