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Here’s a look at what’s been happening in Photoshop and pop culture this week. Coming at you a day early, because why not? That’s why. Have a great weekend!
- Kate Middleton is the latest victim of a major Photoshop disaster. [ET Online]
- We have a new contender for “worst client ever.” [Clients From Hell]
- i09 asked its readers to Photoshop movie posters to make them better, and they did not disappoint. [i09]
- Busted! These people got caught totally LYING on Facebook. [Web Humor]
- Artist Matthew Swarts copes with breakup by slowing eliminating his ex from his photos. [Wired]
- British politicians accused of Photoshopping opponent to look fatter in new campaign ad. [Daily Mail]
More than 10 years and three books later, this guy is still one of my favorite characters in the series. (Originally posted Dec. 30, 2003)
Left Behind, pp. 22-37
One of the most successfully conveyed early characters in Left Behind sadly disappears from the novel once our heroes have left the plane.
We never actually learn this character’s name, and he never becomes more than a broad, comic stereotype. Yet he is semi-successfully rendered as a broad, comic stereotype, which may make him the book’s most notable literary achievement.
(My reading of this character may be overly charitable in that I pictured him as played by Ned Beatty, and Ned could really put some life into even such a two-bit, stock-character role.)
Here is the entire saga of The Drunk Executive in the Seat Next to Buck.
Buck suppressed a smile when he noticed the woman’s pained expression. He climbed over the sleeping executive on the aisle, who had far exceeded his limit of free drinks, and leaned in to take a blanket from the old woman. …
Buck’s seatmate roused, drooling, when an attendant asked if anyone in the party was missing. “Missing? No. And there’s nobody in this party but me.” He curled up again and went back to sleep, unaware.
When the captain had come back on the intercom with the information about returning to the United States, Buck Williams was surprised to hear applause throughout the cabin. Shocked and terrified as everyone was, most were from the States and wanted at least to return to familiarity to sort this thing out. Buck nudged the businessman to his right. “I’m sorry, friend, but you’re going to want to be awake for this.” The man peered at Buck with a disgusted look and slurred, “If we’re not crashin’, don’t bother me.”
The executive next to Buck snored. Before drinking himself into oblivion soon after takeoff, he had said something about a major meeting in Scotland. Would he be surprised by the view upon landing!
The man next to Buck stared at him and then at Hattie. He swore, then used a pillow to cover his right ear, pressing his left against the seat back.
The man next to Buck roused and squinted at the late-morning sun burning through the window. “What in blazes are you two talking about?” he said. “We’re about to land in Chicago,” Hattie said. “I’ve got to run.” “Chicago?” “You don’t want to know,” Buck said. The man nearly sat in Buck’s lap to get a look out the window, his boozy breath enveloping Buck. “What, are we at war? Riots? What?”
Buck never answers the man, he too looks out the window to see: “Smoke. Fire. Cars off the road and smashed into each other and guardrails. Planes in pieces on the ground.”
At the sight of this carnage, LaHaye and Jenkins tell us, Buck’s mind begins racing, “Plotting how he would beat the new system.”
We never hear again from the two-dimensional “drunk businessman.” But unlike Buck, Hattie or Rayford Steele, he looked upon this still-unfolding horror and disaster and seemed genuinely horrified. Unlike our heroes, the drunk at least seems to give some thought to someone other than himself — to recognize that the suffering and death he sees represents something more than an inconvenient delay in his own schedule.
That’s why, so far, he’s my favorite character in Left Behind.
Yes. I've seen the Lars Andersen archery video*. Everybody can stop sending me links to it now.
Speaking as a mediocre archer in my own right, and as somebody who's written three novels with a Mongol archer as a protagonist and done a fair amount of research on the subject of worldwide bow techniques...
That guy's a really good marketer.
But he's not actually doing anything we didn't already know about, he's not shooting in a manner that would be at all effective in combat or for the historically more common purpose of feeding his family, and his quiver-handling skills are worthy of the "before" segment of an infomercial.
I'd like to see him cut a sandwich with a regular knife! It might result in an explosion.
Here's the thing. He's basically misrepresenting a bunch of well-known techniques in non-Western-European archery as his own invention or "rediscovery" (bonus cultural appropriation!), and into the bargain, he's not actually putting any strength into that bow of his.
One of the things about archery is that arrows (even war and hunting arrows) are very light. E=MV^2, as we all know, right? So, if the mass of your projectile is slight, it needs to have a pretty good velocity to do some damage. Where that velocity comes from, in a bow, is the power. And where that power comes from is--surprise--your trapezius muscles.
Not your arms. And not actually the bow: the bow is a mechanical device that transforms back and shoulder strength into velocity, by means of storing the energy you use to draw it. It's more or less a simple mechanism that you spring-load with physical force, and then release. The more energy that bow is physically capable of storing, the more energy it takes to draw the bow.
This is what we mean when we say a bow has a "draw weight." I own two bows--a lightweight recurve, very simple and primitive, and a medium-weight compound bow, which are the ones with pulleys and stuff. (The pulleys are there to create a mechanical advantage, but they don't make it significantly easier to draw the bow. What they do is make it easier to hold the bow in a full draw. This is called letoff, and there's a bunch of technical stuff about round pulleys vs. oblong pulleys and you probably don't care about it anyway--and I don't understand it well enough to explain it even if you did. There are books, you can read some.)
Anyway. The reasons archers draw the way we do--which is to say, standing sideways to the target, less-dominant arm extended and slightly flexed with a relaxed wrist and loose grip on the bow; dominant hand brought back to the jaw or ear; dominant elbow raised and drawn back--is to engage the back muscles and create a broader draw. A significant portion of the power of your draw comes from those final inches, because of the way that springs work.
The thing he says about modern archers only drawing with one arm, by the way, is patent nonsense. Anybody who's had half an hour of archery instruction at a range populated by people who know what they're doing has been told to push the bow away with the bow hand as they simultaneously draw back with the draw hand.)
Also having a reliable anatomical point at which to anchor your draw, and a reliable stance, means that you have a reliable point of aim. Incredibly minor alterations in biomechanics--something as invisible as tensing your neck, or not fully broadening your back--can send an arrow wildly off course over distances as short as ten or twenty yards. Something as major as moving your draw point an inch? No freaking telling where that arrow is going.
When you are drawing a bow correctly, there is a feeling of being inside the span of the bow, a sense that the bow and your body have melded and that you are as much suspended in the tension of the bow as the bow is drawn by you.
Is this effective? Well, worldwide, millions--perhaps hundreds of millions!--of men and women successfully feed their families using this technique to this very day. They have cable channels up in the high digits where you can watch them do it. Whole cable channels devoted to stalking and killing deer and bear with a bow. Turkeys, too. Wild boar. Yes, it's effective.
Anyway, back to Mr. Andersen. His draw is likely to be largely useless for killing anything larger or farther away than a paper plate. It's any which way, and it's insufficient for power. (Also, hunting and war arrows are, generally speaking, much larger and heavier than what he's using there. E=MV^2, after all. Size does matter.)
Compare his release to that of Adama Swoboda (below), and see that Swoboda, even shooting fast, brings the bowstring back to his jaw. Andersen is shooting so fast that he doesn't have time for a full draw.
His tactics, though--speed shooting and so forth--are suited to a shorter recurve (like a Mongol, Hun, or Indian bow), which is designed to be shot in motion and from horseback.
If you're using a very heavy, penetrating bow such as an English/Welsh longbow, different tactics apply. For one thing, a heavier-limbed bow has a lot more mass, and accelerates the arrow in a different way. A laminated Mongol-style bow relies for its power on some gloriously advanced materials hacks involving laminating substances with different compressibility to one another and making them fight. They're snappy, and because they are small the tips of their limbs whip back into position speedily. You can't speed-fire a longbow that way, because the limbs of the bow are large, there's more mass to be moved, and they derive their draw power from compressing a quantity of wood. (They also make use of the varied compressibility of different substances, by the way--but those substances are the heartwood and sapwood of a young tree. Nature provides the lamination itself!)
(And massed fire with the things is indeed withering!)
And Mr. Andersen is firing so fast that he's not actually even getting his Asian-style bow to a full draw! He's basically doing the equivalent of swinging a hammer from the wrist; just plinking away, not really thumping on anything.
You can, in fact, fire these bows quite quickly. I've included some Youtube links to videos of people using them more correctly below. You'll notice that the master archers in those clips are handling their bows quite differently from Andersen. (He also has a death-clutch on the grip, which affects your aim rather badly. Proper grip on a bow is tender enough that when you loose the arrow, the bow actually rocks back against the web of your thumb.)
Meanwhile, to continue debunking his claims that modern archers don't use a right-side draw and that he's somehow reinvented the technique of keeping both eyes open:
If you look closely at the links below, you'll see that one of the Mongol/Hun techniques is indeed a right-side draw, and that a number of archers shoot with both eyes open. (This actually has more to do with whether you have a strongly dominant eye or not, in my experience, than the style of archery you prefer.) Another technique involves whipping the arrow from a quiver opening at your shoulder over your head, and not doing any of Andersen's dramatically inept banging it against the side of the bow. (Another infomercial moment.)
(I feel like Kirk in Wrath of Khan--"He's thinking in two dimensions!")
Andersen also neglects to mention (or possibly is not aware) that there are about seventeen different possible ways to grip a bowstring (not counting modern trigger or twist-style releases), and that one of the technical challenges of anyone who shoots a bow suitable for hunting or war is preventing nerve damage to the fingertips on the draw hand. Possibly because he's using a light bow and not drawing it to its full potential. The classically Asian/Mongol draw uses the thumb to hook the bowstring, with a flat-sided ring carved from animal horn to protect the thumb. (Tabs, archery rings, and so forth serve another purpose beside protecting the archer's fingers. They also provide a smooth surface for the string to slide off of, so that the friction of the archer's fingerprints snagging on her serving does not affect her aim. Yes, that's all it takes.)
You'll also notice that the traditional archers linked below have no problem keeping arrows in a quiver on a cantering horse!
Andersen's various trick shooting bits pretty much have to involve prepared materials. I feel like the Mythbusters have adequately debunked arrow splitting and arrow catching. (I myself have split a modern aluminum tube arrow on more than one occasion, which always makes you feel good but gets expensive.) The armor piercing trick is actually not particularly impressive. That looks to be costume chain, which is basically snipped bits of spring steel twisted together like a bunch of keychains. You can pull it apart with your hands.
And as for his shooting a guy across a table thing--I wouldn't try that with *gun*, frankly, let alone a bow. FBI guidelines for an officer armed with a firearm to safely kill an attacker armed with a knife are... 21 feet. Inside that range, and you are very likely to get cut.
*If you haven't seen it, there's an embed and an even eyerollinger response than mine over on Geek Dad. I saw a link to this post just as I was completing my own rant, or I'd probably have saved the time and just linked over there.
Here are some examples of similar rapid-fire and archery-in-motion techniques as used by modern archers, and a nice video of a military historian talking about some of the same things I have--and making some points of his own.
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor —
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn’t elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That’s how it is sometimes —
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you’re just too tired to open it.
a party. Everybody
at home getting
on boots, fixing
their hair, planning
what to say if
she's there, picking
a pluckier lipstick,
rehearsing a joke
with a stickpin
in it, doing
the last minute
fumbling one does
before leaving for
the night like
tying up the dog or
turning on the yard
light. I like to think
of them driving,
finding their way
in the dark, taking
this left, that right,
while I light candles,
start the music softly
the wine barely
• “Just as everything Bryan Fischer has to say about ‘biblical values’ gets outweighed by everything he has to say about people who aren’t white, so too everything mainstream evangelicals have to say about ‘biblical values’ gets outweighed by everything they haven’t said about people like Bryan Fischer.”
AIDS-denying, racist homophobe Bryan Fischer is the public face of the American Family Association and it’s most prominent spokesperson, but the AFA says he will no longer bear the official title of “spokesperson.” Or something. More about this later.
• The image to the right here is from a recent collection of Christian book covers at Christian Nightmares. It seemed appropriate to make that image a link to the first post in this thoughtful series by Samantha Field.
• Skull found in cave in northern Israel is roughly 48,000 years older than Al Mohler’s universe.
The bigger news on the find is that it may help us understand when our folk — homo sapiens — first started interbreeding with our Neanderthal cousins. Joel Duff has a fascinating discussion of “Christian Responses to the Spiritual and Physical Status of Neanderthals.”
But what does the Bible say about the spiritual status of Neanderthals? I don’t know — I’ve never seen the Neanderthal Bible and wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway. We think that some of them buried their dead. We cannot know what prayers, if any, they may have prayed at their funerals.
• Let me amend and expand my usual appeal for more singing in protests and public demonstrations. Singing is good. If you can get a marching band, that’s good too.
• Today is January 29. Aaron Campbell was unarmed when he was killed by police on January 29, 2010.
• “Whatever Happened to ‘Eco-Terrorism’?” Lauren Kirchner asks at Pacific Standard. It’s a good overview of a real, but overhyped, phenomenon that petered out, living on today mainly in the re-runs of the dozens of late-’90s and early-’00s TV cop shows that all featured at least one “eco-terrorism” episode.
• Doctor Science takes a deeper dive into a subject we mentioned here the other day: “The Saudi succession system isn’t really strange, but that doesn’t mean it’s functional.”
• “Don’t read the comments” is a good rule of thumb, but pieces like this one need a comment thread. Sara K. Runnels has done a terrific job establishing the template for a joke, and then offering 28 funny variations on that theme. She’s also nicely established that this can, and should, go on and on and on much longer. It’s the kind of joke that wants to pass the baton on to the comment section and let them run with it as far as they can.
Again, this is something that I can't bring myself to care about. USM is not as good as it used to be and at this point and I have no idea what's going on with the rest of the titles. Well it was fun while it lasted.
( Covers under the cut... )