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Saturday, May 19, 2012

On Character Recognition, Optical and Otherwise…

It must have been about six months ago now that a friend of mine named Jay called me one morning and asked me to do him a favor and take a look at an "Acrobat" file. For those among you less than moderately geeky, you call a file an Acrobat file when it was saved or created in a special file format called PDF. PDF in the acronym in common use for Portable Document Format files. The format was created some twenty years ago at a company called Adobe. Back then Adobe was in the Font and Imaging language business, not the Photoshop business. The name of that language is PostScript, and it was the original science behind the fonts that you see today. Science has grown, as have language options in the world of graphic arts, but while they were building the company, they faced two major technical problems. One was with color, and the other with file formats in which to store color, fonts, and other graphic information. Both challenges could only be met by some common "color model" and some common "file format". The problem(s) were called "x-y". There were going to be x number of printers outputting y different color models to z number of output devices, or x number of computers whose now-digitally-enabled creative people could see color on x number of monitors. Or y numbers of different programs could save in x number of different formats. What was needed were color spaces that were agreed upon by all the manufacturers. Ditto file formats. So were born from first etches on stone to hand painted colors to four simulation colors (CMYK), Adobe RGB, LAB, and for files PDF.

Color space is still something that can and does take several different forms. Not so with Acrobat; everybody agrees there is no better way to put fonts, layouts, images, and now video and any rich content into one easy-to-generate (as part of the "Print" workflow in all three major operating systems) package. And when the package moves from the creative workflow - the one that is happening in every ad agency, every newspaper, and every magazine in the civilized universe - to the place where things are transformed from that package onto the printing plates ( for printing ) or servers ( for Internet distribution and publishing) - it moves just as easily as it can be output by the artist from her original vision. PDF makes things easy in the creative world. I am not voicing opinion; Acrobat is a reality, and PDF as a way to move files around is the standard.

PDF files can hold a lot of different things and then send that content effectively to any medium, be it print, web, or crop circles. One of the things they can contain are fonts. The next, pictures. Pictures come in two flavors. The first is a "Vector". Vectors are basically line drawings that are mathematically defined, and can be output tiny or huge without any degradation of the image's quality. The second kind of image is called a "Bitmap". A bitmap is how 99% of all the digital photographs you ever see are saved. They might be put into an Acrobat file to move from one place to another. It is not necessary to save an image as an Acrobat file, though, since images like photographs do not contain actual type. In other words, the sign you see in that picture from mom is a picture. You cannot put some tool inside the sign, highlight the text, and type new replacement text to take its place like you could in a word processor. Let's think about that for a moment. If you are skilled, you can retouch the picture and remove the sign, replacing it with other bushes in the background using a clone tool and make it appear to disappear, but you cannot change the phone number on the sign without a great deal of experience retouching. That is a painting job. Like changing Mona's smile on DeCapirio's painting (just kidding; I know Michelle's ancestor actually painted it but had the credit stolen by a white dude. Figures.).
If you take a photograph of something, there is no editable type contained in the document. A normal scan - what should have been done to show the American public something they could analyze without seeing layers, characters, or other "artifacts" - is just that. A photograph.
You can, under certain and very specialized workflows, make that happen. You could use software that could recognize the type on a form, for example. It is called Character Recognition Software, and is used to save the time it would take to retype, let's say, the documentation underneath ObamaCare. If somebody gave you the wheelbarrow of paper it would take to read it, and you did not have a digital version of the file, like a Microsoft Word file, and had to create one, what would you do?

You would use Character Recognition Software. You would not retype it.

Now, back to the real story. The real story is about a story publisher Gary Anderson and I posted here on ThePoliticalSandbox when my friend had called me that night. The story was about the PDF my Rabbi friend had asked me to look at. The Acrobat file he asked to check out was the recently (the day before) released "Long Form". It was a scanned version of a birth certificate. The birth certificate for a child named Barack Hussein Obama.
I had heard the whole "birther" theory. I filed it in my "Bush brought down the towers" cabinet. The cabinet has stuff in it like the folder about encounters with the almond people. They (those weird little aliens that push their fingers in your ear and leave stuff there) are not as amusing or laughable as the tower folder. I have been on the roof of a building above a small town square in a town called Palmyra many years ago. Above a hundred people - a mix of dads, moms, and their rambunctious children - who had, as was normal on cool winter evenings in the Cauca Valley in southern Colombia -- been standing around in the park below. I was watching them when one-by-one, then in pods, and then all together looking north behind me. Looking at a craft no less than 300' long and 200' wide and fifty thick. The blue rectangular lights moving in circles around the rim were not neon; they were something I had never see before or since. It made no noise as it moved south above and then beyond that little town square in that little farming town. When ten miles south it turned, moving into the Andes to the west at speeds that should have made sound as it pulled the air with it. We all felt it. The young hippy named Gary and the old men around him drinking aguardienti felt it. The children were quiet; so were the birds. When breath came back it came back collectively, and came back as an "ohhhhh".
So I ain't so sure about the almond people in the Almond People folder. Somebody or something was driving that thing. And I can tell you it was no man-made Pentagon secret waiting to turn into a popular consumer product. Not that thing. Not that silence and not those blue lights. So almond people I might buy into. After all, we went from tubes to the Internet pretty quick. Maybe the almond people dropped something out of that football field they were flying in the valley that night.

Not so the tower thing. I spent a good amount of time going in and out of all the tower buildings. I didn't work in them, but I was around the printing industry, and I was around wall street people. So I was at the towers a few times. I met people there for breakfast, I met people there for sales calls, and I met a lawyer there when somebody was shooting me out of a company I helped put together. When I saw the buildings come down, and later heard that the small building was clearly the result of Cheney personally carrying some eighteen thousand pounds of plastique explosives to hide underneath the air conditioners, so they could hide their duplicity in the growth of Halliburton and the sales of weapons to the cartels. (oh yeah, not the cartels, freedom fighters. I have the wrong gun-deals mixed together). And if you take the time to read that Cheney didn't need so much explosives after all; the building was structurally flawed so badly according to architects that there might have been somebody "paid off to sign off" the original plans for the building. But since corruption is so rare in big city, union-based contracting, that that is very, very unlikely. Right? Truth is the Towers were taken down by religious fanatics taught to destroy our nation and all ideas of religious freedom since the time they were children, sort-of like six year old Palestinian children I see waving AKs around on the evening news. I wonder if my progressive friends know of any progressive and justice-providing program out there that helps children who have been taught that Jews are rodents? No? Well there is a victim for you. Of course somebody already bought the Palestinians as Oppressed Victims franchise early in the game. Ayres and his socialist wife, of course, among them. And code pink.

You already think that kid with the AK is the victim, right? The victim of those Jews. Or should I say THE Jew? Calling them "The" makes is so much easier to hate them. You learn not to name farm animals. You call them "cow". Name them and they take on a personality. It might have been there, of course, but tagging them with names turns them into sentient beings. And you don't want to do that, now, do you? I fish. If you fish tournaments, you see the Pita-girls hanging around after the event. Progressives need victims, and the Tea Party wants economic Darwinism. The fit will take care of the truly needy, trust me.

Character recognition by any other name...

When I looked at that PDF file that day, I opened it in a program called Adobe Illustrator. I opened it, looked at an interface component that is called the "Layers" panel, and saw something that I should not have seen. I saw layers in a document that should not have had any. What I saw lead me first to say it was a forgery, and then, when I realized that all I saw was very unusual characteristics, and nothing more, I retracted what I said and apologized. Then I restated my position. The one I still maintain.

The layers in that long form birth certificate would only be created if the scan of the original was done outside normal methods. Under normal circumstances, that birth certificate would be a "flat" scan. Like a picture of your mom's birthday cake, or a copy of a deed you had to show somebody before they would trust that the fence you wanted to rip out was yours to rip out - it would normally just be put on the glass, the SCAN button pressed, and the resultant document would not contain any type you could select and edit. It would not contain layers...

You would only use character recognition software - again, under normal, everyday "workflows" - if you wanted to save yourself from having to do too much typing. If you had any experience scanning both type-intensive documents as well as images that required close-up investigation or clarification, you would never use an OCR option to scan that birth certificate. Never. And that process in the workflow - that character recognition event - is the only rational thing that could have happened to create multiple layers in the document given to the public by the white house. Anybody with experience, or that wanted to ensure that it was without question an original would have simply scanned it, and scanned it at a relatively high-resolution. Let's say 1,200 or even 2,400 dots-per-inch.

If I was to testify in court that that thing was real, I would need a new scan. So would anybody. And to keep things above board, I would want five. The two done just before his and the two done immediately after. Same place in Hawaii. All done as flat scans and all done at 2,400 dpi. No OCR.

Who cares where the guy was born? Really? Who cares?

When I saw the layers and first put my commentary up here on the political sandbox, the blog went ballistic. And so, too, did the idea that there were things wrong - or at the very least questionable -- with the PDF file we were seeing. As you can imagine, I got accused of being a birther. I am not. I do not care where Obama was born, neither should any of our readers, quite frankly. His mom was an American. I do not care if he was born while she was visiting the lizard creatures controlling the land of Pellucidar. He is an American and he is the President. The media wanted him, and the media got him. Hiding anything they might have heard about him, they put him in office an unknown. Now? He might have been born in Kenya. Wow!!!! Who would have known?!

Who cares? What I do know, and what America should know clearly, is that the man was raised in Indonesia by a woman married to a hard-core radical socialist/Marxist. In his words and the words of his son, he believed in the complete and total redistribution of all resources, and that all nations should be managed by the college professors who live there. Management should be completely centralized and complete in all its invasions into personal freedoms. Read the Dreams from his father if you doubt what I am saying. The book I mean, not the dreams. I know where the dreams lead. They start out in rose gardens and end in horror. Nightmares always start out in beautiful gardens in the world of progressives. By the time hell arrives, they are out of office and out of the way of the shit. Take a look at any attempt at any time in any civilization and in any form. The only fairness is fairness. Social Darwinism, while terrible in the eyes of our president, brings charity. It brings beauty, and it puts heart valves in the chests of little girls who need them.

Yesterday America got to see what was said in a publisher's brochure pitching their brilliant new books and the brilliant authors who wrote them. The authors in the brochure were both new and not so new to the jaded distributors and publisher's reps whose eyes the brochure was designed for. And AP identified Barack as a Kenyan when he first won his senate seat.

In Kenya, Obama said “It’s nice to be home.” and AP said that the new Illinois Senator was Kenya-born and Hawaii-raised. Why in Hell did the two lawyers you see in this picture wearing the obligatory Almond-Man jewelry you get when you become the President miss the fact that a number of different places made the same mistake of saying he was born in Africa? What, did his future aspirations have him putting recipes into the “Black and White” cookbook someday, like fellow-democrat and fellow liar the Pow-Wow-Chow-Down babe running against a republican in Massachusetts?
Many people have done a brochure, or a flier, or even paid to have a campaign done for their company, where branding and "message" is closely fine-tuned, until you are happy with the message being told by the professional you are paying for to the market you need to reach. If you have, you know how carefully editors look at copy. How they go over every single character with a magnifying glass. They have on their desks three or four different reference books, to make sure that 'then' is never used when you should have used "than". Messaging is important. In the world of professional publishers, the more anal somebody is, the better they are at their job. People do not identify your birthplace as an African nation when it was, in fact, one of the most beautiful beaches, and quite American. And every author in that brochure had to approve what was said about them. And in a brochure done by a publisher to be seen by creative people and other people in the same industry? There is going to be three times more people checking every dot on every "I" than would be under even normally anal editorial workflows.

So what does this mean? Does this prove that the twin towers were, in fact, the result of the almond men talking to W. about going short on Haliburton 90s? No. It is not proof that Barack was born in a grass hut with drum cycles in the distance, while some guy with a tiger bone stuck through his nose chanted booga-wooga. What it does prove is that character recognition is something easily invented by politicians. I think progressives tend to do it more then tea party people do, but the tea party has not been around so long after all. You want to be the first colored babe on campus? Make it up. Say that your paw-paw-paw, according to your maw-maw-maw "had high cheekbones" and that since being somebody you are not - especially somebody your ideological partners have identified as an official "VICTIM CLASS" - will get you into the best parties, what is a little red lie between friends? And what is wrong with lying about being born in Kenya if that makes you even more African than the African-American brother standing next to you.

Or more accurately in the case of Barack, behind him. If you don't know by now that this guy is always the smartest guy in the room, that his intelligence is beyond understanding by mere mortals, you have not listened to the news. Except we cannot see his college records. Who needs records when you have heard this guy read from a TelePrompTer??! I mean what more proof does one need?

Barack wanted into the good parties. He was light black (sort of like being a "white" Hispanic, right?) guy, good looking, and if he said he was African, think of how much more he would get laid, or how much more good dope he would get to smoke for free, or how may high-end political machines would see him as a great Victim-identifier and Victim-collector.

And who can blame Elizabeth Warren for just lying about being a member of a victim's group? Ask yourselves this question: if she didn't lie about her heritage, how in heaven's name would she have been allowed to contribute family recipes to "Chow-Down at the Pow-Wow"; a cookbook of Native American (and of course sustainable) dishes? As a plain-Jane-white-babe, she had no victim creds. No creds, no cookbook.

One last thing before I shut up for a few more days. When Gary Anderson and me first broke this story - because as far as we know we were the first ones on the web to question that long form given to me that day by Rabbi Jay - I felt something that I do not normally feel. It was unusual.

It was fear. The fear is gone, draining away with the threads that appeared all over the web those days. All gone quickly after they started. I had said the long form had stuff wrong with it, somebody hired another expert to challenge what I had said - to explain that of course wherever office in Hawaii had that long form was used to routinely processing text-intensive documents. Documents that were put through the specialized process of character recognition. The person that did the scan probably does nothing but process hundreds of pages of text that needs to be turned into word processing files. I am sure that happens. Sure it does... So when asked to scan the president's birth certificate, no red flags were raised in that government employee's mind. Of course not. Nothing special here, folks.

So they took the birth certificate out of the regular, unguarded file cabinet, put it on the scanner, and said to themselves "Jeez! Look at this!!! There are at least thirty words on this document, and who knows what people want to do with this scan. I better make sure i turn on character recognition software, so we don't have to spend the eighteen weeks it would take a government employee to type that much text.

The results? A certificate that could not possibly be used in court to prove anything. Not if one party had a lawyer, and the Rule of Law was at play. That document has different typefaces on it. It should not. It shows a watermark security pattern. The pattern is somehow on the form itself, and surrounding the form as well. If you look at your scanner, the inside of the cover is white. That is so nothing besides the document you put on the scanner is scanned. The long form I saw that night had the same pattern on the paper and on the cover of the scanner on which that document was placed before the scan button was pressed. The edges are different. It was aligned very, very carefully. But not perfectly. The dual patterns alone - one on the paper and one somehow on the inside of that scanner's cover - should have raised more red flags than a runaway freight train. They didn't. I had no coin in that
document game. My battle is the voting booth, and I can only affect one thing in this world, and that is my choice of actions. Now and only now. If the world felt that way to an individual, and taught the same to their children, progressives would have that utopia they dream of forcefully regulating onto an unwilling following.

There are a few things I would love to see. First and foremost five pictures of five birth certificates. Five scans. Two before and two after the president's. All done flat and all done at 2,400 dpi RGB.

The last thing is an answer to a question that will never be answered, at least not during our lifetimes:

Why release that PDF file with those layers on it? There can only be a few possible reasons. They are the same sort of answers that are gong to be provided when the press asks - as we hope they will - why Barack didn't challenge AP's saying he was born in Kenya. Why he didn't challenge the biography in that publisher's brochure?

The reasons for the PDF file?

  1. Somebody wanted to get the news out that Obama was, in fact, born in Kenya. But now that the AP story is out, and that brochure from the publisher is public, the story isn't about the birth certificate anymore. It is about Barack. Why in hell didn't he personally challenge the biography? Or the AP story about his being elected to the senate? You would think that if you actually ran for the senate and won the contest after your campaign's private investigator found out your opponent frequented a popular Chicago brothel, you would save - or at very least read - all and every article you could find with your name in it, espousing your glorious victory. I sure would, wouldn't you? Why in heaven's name didn't Barack challenge those stories?
  2. Somebody wanted to attract anybody who might possibly notice any of the dozen problems the long form PDF files contained (since then the PDF on the White House site has itself been Flattened, or had the Layers removed). And man, have they done that.
Guys like me immediately were branded and vilified. I saw that coming the first day I said anything. I had started to answer questions on Beck's Blaze about the file, and it took all of three hours before that came to an end. Glenn is a real hero to me, and has taken his considerable communication skills and dedicated them to saving this nation. For that we will all be indented to him. But again, I wasn't doing anything but asking why that file had layers. Why that file had patterns that should not have been where they were? Why did that file show different characters, so bit mapped and some (now) actual editable type? Why was OCR software used? Why can't we get another scan? A normally-generated scan, done specifically to avoid these jettisons? Why not? What would be wrong with looking at another scan, and scans of surrounding documents? Anything?

Now that the issue of his Kenyan origin have again arisen, it is time to ask the truth. Time to pull the switch and turn on the lights. It is not about one thing anymore. It is about the truth.

Just who are you, Barack Hussein Obama? And Who's Yo Daddy? We do not want his dreams, Barack. The people in closed rooms at the United Nations want the dreams of your daddy, Barack. But not us.

Written as stand-in editor of the Sandbox. Come back to me, oh friend; come back to us.
Vote Tea in 2012. And take the money out of politics. Stop charitable donations and impose a flat and fair tax. Because lies, birth certificates, victims and oppressors aside, those changes are the true path to freedom.