Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Make your own macro lens for any smartphone - for less than $2

I recently came across an idea for how to completely transform the camera in any cell/smartphone from one that can take a picture of $0.16 from this close:

 ...to one that can take a photo of $0.10 from this close:

For the record, this has not been cropped or processed at all - this image is straight off the phone's memory card.

...and the whole thing only costs a handful of dimes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

On racism in Canada

So it's been a while, but here we are again.

Here's a story from CTV news, published today. It's about how the Bank of Canada is redesigning their $100 bill so that the woman at the microscope appears "less Asian" - and it's all because of some racist assholes in a focus group.

Everything about this is nauseating, especially the fact that so many people are bound to disagree with the fact (yes, fact) that anyone who thought she should have been less Asian is racist.

The notion of "neutral ethnicity" is utterly, completely and insultingly garbage. There is no 'neutral ethnicity'. Everyone has it, and it's distinct from those that have a different variety. The idea that this fictitious scientist-woman would better represent Canada if she was less Asian is EXACTLY the same as saying that the only people who should be able to represent Canada are whites. There is NO argument about that.

The attitude demonstrated by the idiots in this focus group, and then dutifully endorsed in the most explicit way by the Bank of Canada, is precisely the one that let Crayola (and others) get away for decades by calling their light-peach-tan colour "flesh tone", and they likely complained pretty hard when it was finally changed.

Can't imagine what the focus groups would say about what Crayola has (awesomely) done to update themselves...

Actually, I probably can imagine...

If there was someone with a single iota of common sense or something that even bore a passing resemblance to even mediocre intelligence at the helm, they would have been able to come up with myriad reasons why they should simply quietly (or better yet, loudly) ignore the room full of mouth-breathing troglodytes that had pointed to the largest bill and wrote down "What's with the Chink?"

But since there obviously isn't someone like that involved here, howsabout we help them out?

"The original image was not designed or intended to be a person of a particular ethnic origin."
- Hey, BoC - Everyone is "a person of a particular ethnic origin." If you mix up "neutrality" with "European origin", go back to 1950s Mississippi.

"The inclusion of an Asian without representing any other ethnicities was seen to be contentious." (Thanks, Quebec)
- Right. You can't have a single person on a banknote - you have to have someone from every single ethnicity out there. (NB: This is me desperately trying not to imagine that this particular suggestion came from someone who somehow expected them to put an obviously Francophone scientist on the note.)

And finally, the cream of the crop (keep in mind, the Bank of Canada not only paid $53,000 to hear from these people - they took all of these opinions into consideration and acted on them...), courtesy some Frederictonian white-power jerk:

"The person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn't rep(resent) Canada. It is fairly ugly."
- Let's ignore (for now) the fact that apparently what this person actually wrote was that she didn't "rep Canada", but... seriously?? This is the type of person that you had give opinions on the money to be used across Canada? You take this opinion into account like it "reps Canada"? Like it holds any validity whatsoever? I'll (briefly and grudgingly) acknowledge that the two sentences may have been intended to be separate complaints about the bill's design, with the latter having more to do with the overall impression rather than the person depicted, but it doesn't excuse any of this.

The Bank of Canada should be 100% ashamed of themselves, first for spending money on focus groups for something like this at all, and secondly for not employing a single bit of thought or intelligence in filtering the good suggestions from the racist blatherings of neanderthals.