Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Smithsonian X3D

The Smithsonian has initiated the X3D viewer, accessible via the web, to display 3D models of specimens from its collection of 137 million objects.  The viewer was developed by Autodesk and its operation will look familiar to anyone who has played with 3D drawing software.  The model may be manipulated and zoomed with the mouse controls, and the viewer also permits custom view settings including light controls.

The source images for the digital models are produced by drawing, laser scanning, photogrammetry and micro-ct scans.  In addition to making the images available through a web brower, there is also a possibility of supplying files in formats permitting the production of solid models with a 3D printer.

The Smithsonian site contains interactive models, and explanatory videos showing the digitization techniques and brief lectures about the potential of the idea for educational outreach.  There is also a conference planned for November which will be streamed live from the web site.
The X3D application is pretty resource intensive.  One of our home computers is an older Dell running XP, and it really cannot even support a small iframe running the the Autodesk viewer.  My Dell Precision 690 has more RAM and a faster CPU which does ok with X3D.  I'm wondering how people with tablets and similar platforms are doing with this technology.

Friday, November 15, 2013

historia de una foto

1.  Cuenta la historia de esta fotografia en 200 palabras:

Había visto antes la foto, pero no le presté mucha atención.  Mi impresión inicial era que representaba una escena del Carnaval, quizás un hombre en disfraz de pirata.  Al mirar más detenidamente la foto me di cuenta de que era una foto sacada durante una protesta política en forma de teatro callejero.  En el fondo hay una línea de policías con los escudos levantados. Las letras grabadas en los escudos identifican la unidad y la ciudad: Polícia Militar do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (PMERJ). La figura de enfrente, desafiante y amenazadora, probablemente representa un guerrillero de la rebelión de Canudos en el fin del siglo XIX, descrito primero  por Euclides da Cunha, y después en forma novelística por Mario Vargas Llosa.  

Hice una copia de la foto con mi escáner fotográfico, y la cargué al buscador de imágenes de Google.  Resultó que la imagen apareció muchas veces en la red, y que era una foto hecha por el fotoperiodista japonés, Yasuyoshi Chiba, de la Agence France-Presse.  El fotógrafo estaba sacando fotos de una manifestación de protesta grande en Rio de Janeiro relacionado a las políticas económicas del gobierno Brasileño, incluyendo recortes a la educación y gastos de millones relacionados a la visita del Papa.

Al caer la noche, subía el nivel de la violencia.  Con su cámara, el periodista documentó la pelea entre manifestantes y policías, durante la cual alguien arrojó una bomba de fuego, quemando un policía.  Inmediatamente después de sacar aquella foto, el periodista fue agredido por un policía quien le dio un golpe fuerte en la cabeza con el bastón, causando una herida sangrante.  Se llevaron el fotógrafo al hospital, pero no sufrió graves lesiones.  El periodista hizo una denuncia de las acciones del policía después, apoyada por el testigo de varias fotos de la agresión sacados por asistentes a la manifestación y documentado mediante Twitter.
This was my response to an assignment in the Spanish course I am taking at the National Hispanic Cultural Center under the able guidance of Fernando Gimeno Hermoso.  The most significant thing I learned from this exercise was the awesome ease with which one may find specific images on the web through Google's image search engine.

Friday, November 1, 2013

20 weeks

Wednesday morning was cool and clear.  I got on my bike an rode down 12th St. to Menual and then up a couple blocks to the early voting location near 6th St. where I cast my vote against the proposal to restrict abortions in the City of Albuquerque beyond the twentieth week.  I can't say I'm very optimistic about the outcome of this special election.  Democratic party spokespeople have encouraged the idea that a successful election outcome for the anti-abortion proponents will not survive a court challenge.  However, that outcome currently looks shaky given the recent appeals court decision upholding the anti-abortion election effort in Texas.

The local pro-choice position made its debut in the media only days ahead of the early voting launch date.  The full ad makes a pretty good case, but what gets aired in most instances is a truncated version that really doesn't get across the terrible burden that the 20-week ban puts on women who are found at that point to be carrying an unviable fetus.

A more thorough look at the issue is provided by an article by Geoffrey Plant in the Alibi.  He suggests, for instance, that the probable conflict of the proposed ban with state and national laws is a double edged sword.  The proposed law could get stopped locally by a legal challenge, but the proponents would then be given the opportunity to push the issue into higher courts which are quite likely to be sympathetic to overturning Roe v Wade.  The obvious strategy for pro-choice supporters is to defeat the Operation Rescue effort now in the polls.

Also, an article at Salon provides some insight into the organizational tactics behind the Albuqurque election intiative, and points out that this is the first time such an effort has been undertaken in a major city.