Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Atlantis in Eberron?

Well, its not impossible, actually. A city under the sea is a staple of the Genre. Keith and Wizards describe such a sunken city under the Aventi Isles near Sarlona. Called Aventi, it's Eberron's answer to Atlantis.

Not that anyone would try to go there, but it's there. Under the waves. Just waiting for a couple of intrepid explorers from Khorvaire to explore. It's nothing personal, just a way to spend a good couple of weekends looking around for an ancient civilization. After all, what will you expect to find? A stargate? :D

Friday, February 15, 2008

National Association of Photoshop Professionals

I joined the National Association of Photoshop Professionals today. Call me crazy, call me anything you want, I just joined them. I joined them to get a discount on Matt Kloskowski's book on layers. Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature, which you can get for $23.99 as a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. For the price of signing up, I've got some nice benefits. Like watching back episodes of Photshop User T.V. at any time I like. I even get issues of Photoshop User Magazine (YAY!).

Next Time: Schrodinger's Cat -- Doing a report on the Thought Experiment that changed Quantum Physics.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Manufactured Beauty

The Next Part of exploring Photoshop is the manufactured beauty. I can enhance the beauty of models taken in a photograph now. So, this means that all beauty shots you see in magazines, including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, is potentially manufactured.

For instance, take this photo of a Latina I recently purchased from Canstockphoto. It's a perfect photo to work in manufactured or enhanced beauty. She has a few flaws that can be edited out and worked out with the CloneStamp tool. Notice the large mole on her body and the mole on her face.

Although at the time of this writing, I already have Photoshop opened and ready to use. In fact, I used Photoshop to change the DPI of this picture from 300 (print quality) to 72 (screen quality). So, lets use the Clone Stamp tool to first remove the blemishes to make her more presentable for certain magazines.

1. I revert the Photo back to it's original size (from 72 DPI to 300 DPI). And I first go into my layers palette and clone the background as it's own layer. This insures that the editing I do is non-destructive to the original photo.

2. I first zoom on the first blemish, the large mole on her body, and select the clone stamp tool. With the first blemish removed, I can work on the bigger blemish.

3. I zoomed in on the mole on her face. Again, using the clone stamp tool, I proceed to erase it.

With these two erased, the photo now looks like this:

But I am not finished enhancing her yet. I can increase the size of her eyes to make her look much more cute. Still working from the Layer, I proceed to enhance her eyes.

4. I create a mask around her left eye, and then port it over to its own layer.
5. Next, I use the Free Transform tool to ever so slightly make her eyes bigger.
6. With that complete, I proceed to combine the Enhanced Beauty layer with the two eye layers.

Now, I venture to take care of any blemishes at once by enhancing the beauty over all using Smart Filters.

7. By setting up two gaussian blurs: one to darken and one to lighten. I then set the pixelation to about 10, and work with the median noise filter to set up some noise at 12 pixels.
8. Using a Brush to brush out some areas I want to show through on the layer mask, I proceed to do her eyes and her lips and other areas I want to show through. Like her belly button.
9. Finally, I reduce the opacity of the smart filters which creates a softened effect.
10. Keeping her smart filters in the orginal PSD, I get this result:

So, since I have manufactured beauty with Photoshop, changing a true unadulterated picture of a woman ready for the gym into a photo that is magazine ready, you can see for yourself how beauty is manipulated and enhanced for the printed page.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Athenian Democracy

The Athenian Democracy

By Elton Robb

The Athenian Democracy is one of the models our Republic was founded on. For the people of Athens, Democracy gave power to the demos. Which means, power to the people, power to the village, and power to the Assembly. How the Athenian Democracy worked was that a citizen, which was typically an Athenian man of Athenian parents, could participate in the Assembly and add his voice to government affairs.

How the democracy worked was that it was divided into a number of branches, all served by the people of Athens. The branches of the Athenian Democracy included the Assembly, the Council of Five Hundred, and the People’s Court. These three main branches were supplemented by other branches of the Democracy. These other branches are the Council of the Areopagus, the Archons, and the generals. Each had a role to play. Legislation was carried on by the Assembly and the Council, with committees of lawmakers or lawyers presenting new laws for review. While the archons and the generals played a role in the Athenian Democracy, they were servants of the Demos. Unlike how our republic works now, where the President of the United States is chief of the Executive Branch and represents our nation to the world, the Archons who acted as President served the people.

In the Assembly was where the real power of an Athenian Democracy was held. The Assembly (or Ekklesia, the word where Ecclesiastes comes from) was the regular gathering of Athenian men who enacted their duties as part of the Legislative branch. In the Assembly the citizen voted on decrees that affected every aspect of Athenian life. Including your public life and your private life. They also voted on decrees that dealt with matters of commerce, finance, religion, war, festivities, and treaties with foreign powers such as Egypt or Israel. In the Assembly, you had an opportunity to speak your mind and to exercise your voting rights daily. It seems to be the perfect government. But no government is perfect.

Every government has its dark side. A democracy is no exception. In our republic, we send representatives to Washington to represent the Voice of the People in each of our three branches of Government: the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial. We often do not know what goes on in Washington, unless you want to watch C-SPAN for much of the day. Thus we have no idea what sort of laws are being passed. The Athenian Democracy is worse than our Republic. Since all the power is held by the People, at any one time the people can turn on a citizen and try him for false crimes.

It was by the will of the people that Socrates was murdered by hemlock. After being defeated by Sparta, the Athenians looked for anyone to lay the blame of their defeat on. They chose Socrates. A man who was ugly by Athenian standards, who dressed like a pauper, and debated like any expert citizen. Socrates, who revolutionized philosophical thought, was the scapegoat for Athens defeat.

So, the qestion is: is a pure Athenian Democracy a government that can work in our day? The answer is no. The Athenian Democracy can only work if a bare maximum of two hundred thousand citizens are participating. The Athenian Democracy is a flawed government when dealng with populations as large as the United States of America. A true Democracy is grossly inefficient for our day and our time. Our government was framed as a Republic, meaning we elect representatives to represent us in our government. Although inefficient, our government does not depend on three million citizens to provide a voice. However, the Athenian Democracy did work, as it is a form of mob rule. In today’s world, with so many people in government seeking power over others, the truly efficient form of government is government of one’s own self.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Caesarism, Two Cows . . .

After being exposed to the "two cows, government" website, I thought I'd do some more.

Under Julius Caesar, you have two Cows. You raise them for the glory of Caesar, who comes along and takes them for the glory of the Republic. When you protest, Caesar explains that he's the Master of them all.

Under Augustus Caesar, you have two cows. Caeser says that your cows are better than any other cows because they are morally upright and worship the old cow gods. He also makes you proud to have your cows, because you no longer have to take care of them. although he takes care of them, while cow talking to the cow council for advice. The cow council thinks they are in charge, while Augustus owns all the cows.
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