austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

On soft gray mornings windows cry

There are claims that recent photographs released by the North Korean government of Fearless Leader Kim Jong Il may have been Photoshopped in order to create the illusion that he's healthy, active, and not dead. The BBC's web site had examples of apparent curiosities in the background (a shadow of Kim which doesn't look like the shadows of people standing adjacent to him, and a horizontal line which runs the length of some sort of cement barrier but not behind him), and some details in the colors of individual pixels which do look like the result of a hastily done image pasting.

I would expect that when people talk about the photographs possibly being Photoshopped they mean that in the colloquial genericized-trademark sense of the term. But if they did alter the photographs, they did have to do it by some software, didn't they? So then what did they use? It's somehow funny to me to think that maybe it actually was Photoshop, just like one of us might purchase at the store except that North Korea, of course, hasn't got stores or anything to buy with except for threats to bomb South Korea. If they have got a copy of Photoshop, do you suppose it's licensed? Granted Photoshop is absurdly expensive, and the North Korean government is not one of the wealthier ones in any set of countries, but they could cough up the change if they wanted.

So as often happens a perfectly routine bit of news has left my mind swirling with irrelevant questions like, has somebody in the North Korean government pirated a copy of Photoshop? If they have, what else have they pirated? Dreamweaver? Powerpoint? GarageBand? Railroad Tycoon 3? What instruction books do they buy for this software? Why do we never get information like this in the news and instead just get stuff that actually affects what people do?

Trivia: In 1686 Edmond Halley used Mercator's projection for the first meteorological chart. Source: Mercator, Nicholas Crane. (And happy birthday to Halley, one of those guys who did a lot more stuff than you'd imagine.)

Currently Reading: Comet, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. (Which it happens goes into some of what's intriguing about Halley.)

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