It’s Good Not To Be Blind…

I had one of those oh crap moments a the Tuesday before last. My glasses fell off at night, and when I went to look for them, mostly in the dark and of course not being able to see clearly because my glasses are now on the ground somewhere, I stepped on them, bent the frame severely and ground the lenses into concrete making big pits and scratches.

Amazingly, even though one of the arms was bent almost 90 degrees, I was able to bend it back but looking through the lenses was extremely ugly, especially at night.

This pair of glasses was a polycarbonate lens type that I had gotten at Lens Crafter because I had destroyed accidentally my previous pair and had no usable spare and they were able to do it in a hurry. But after having a set of polycarbonate lenses I didn’t want to do that again, the chromatic aberration off the center of my vision drove me nuts (red/blue fringes around high contrast lines) and in addition they scratch easily.

I don’t know exactly how long I have had the Lens Crafter glasses but it’s been long enough that they no longer had my prescription. Lens Crafter only would do plastic or polycarbonate, I wanted glass, and they were expensive.

So I shopped around for places that would do glass, and Walmart was pretty reasonable, $59 for the exam, $39/lens, and frames $15-$150 where most other places frames started at around$150 and tended to go up to around $1500.

Turns out my vision has changed quite a bit and I no longer need glasses nearly as strong as the ones I had, did have 2.25 diopter, needed only 1.5 diopters. I thought my eyes had pretty much totally lost their ability to accomodate but actually with the new glasses I can focus from infinitity to about 16 inches with the glasses, and up to about 10 inches without, so not all that bad.

Things are so much clearer now, being able to focus over a greater range, distant is clear, I can see the cross elements on the Queene Anne towers from ten miles away, as as well as read the lowest line on the eye charts, it’s strange how bad things can get out of focus but not be noticable when it happens gradually over time.

And then with the glass, I no longer have the issue with noticable chromatic aberration at the sides of my field of view. It’s an accident that turned out to be a positive.

Independence Day

I used to love July 4th, but as I’ve seen our freedoms rapidly eroded over the years I’m finding more and more difficulty finding a reason to celebrate.

We’re not even allowed to set off fireworks here anymore. An annual tradition I looked forward to as a kid, I can not legally share with my children unless we drive far away on $4.50/gallon gasoline.

But I think about other freedoms we’ve lost… I love live music but decent sounding public performances are no longer possible in this area. The reason is sound regulations enforced by local municipalities. They place decibel limits on music that are not based upon good science and are too simplistic to allow for accurate sound reproduction.

First with respect to the science; all sound is not created equal and does not do equal hearing damage. You will find widely on the Internet that it does not matter if the sound is pleasant or unpleasant, except at extreme levels. This is untrue. Unpleasant noise does damage at lower decibel levels than pleasant sounds. Unpleasant noise causes greater constriction of the ear canal and reduces blood flow to the inner ear which over prolonged periods of time does damage to the nerves at volume levels far below those which would do mechanical damage. But most noise research is based upon noise exposure in industrial settings where this type of reaction happens even though it may not happen while listing to your favorite music.

A second problem is that noise in the 1-6 Khz band does the most damage. In an attempt to accommodate this noise meters and noise regulations use a weighted scale called a dbA scale, however the dbA scale only provides an accurate representation of how loud a sound is if that sound is a pure tone at 40 decibles. Complex noises do not follow this curve and your ear is considerably more sensitive at 6Khz than the dbA curve would indicate.

Also most sound systems aren’t complex enough to follow this curve so to keep power levels safe at say 100 Hz, they tend to limit the power to the same level at 20 Hz where the ear is much less sensitive. This turns the sound of a kick drum into something like whacking on the end of an oatmeal box and turns bass guitar into just harmonic noise, the fundamentals all too far attenuated to hear well. On the high end, usually 6 Khz is going to be reproduced by the same speaker elements and amplifiers as are used to handle 15 Khz, but the ear is MANY times more sensitive at 6 Khz, and since 6 Khz will be limited to 85 DbA or some such by these damned noise ordinances, 14 Khz won’t be audible. The result is that harmonics of instruments and percussion are all in the wrong proproportions. In the current regulatory context, music can not be reproduced accurately, or to put it more directly, music which actually meets legal restrictions in this area sounds like shit. So if I want to listen to decent music I’ve got to drive to Vancouver BC or somewhere else distant which at $4.50/gallon I can’t afford to do, and now that it requires a passport, I REALLY can’t afford to do it.

You know I’m all for education and if they want to post big signs that say, this music in this establishment may exceed 110 dbA and cause you to go permanently deaf, I’m all in favor. I think that is really actually the ideal solution, measure the levels at various areas within an establishment during a typical performance and post signs regarding the average and peak noise levels likely to be encountered in that particular spot. Then people can simply gravitate to what they are comfortable with.

Pretty soon you won’t be able to ski, water raft, water ski, rock climb, surf, bicycle, oh hell pretty soon even going for a walk will be too damned dangerous. I’m sorry but BIG BROTHER GET OUT OF MY FACE! In my view government has an obligation to protect us from each other but not from ourselves.

Now we used to have this thing called a constitution, it was supposed to provide us with all sorts of inalienable rights, but now if you exercise your first amendment rights you must might be labled an enemy conspirator and tried for treason. The first amendment was supposed to grant you freedom of religion, and I guess that’s true if you’re still a right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian, but if you happen to be anything else forget it. Freedom of the press; well as long as it doesn’t involve graphical depictions, which are restricted in many ways, or any media which really is functionally the press such as broadcast but requires an FCC license thus insuring government compliance, or is on a small enough scale it just doesn’t get read. And then there was freedom of assembly, well, as long as you have the appropriate license and you’re on the right side; and be sure to bring a gas mask.

You’re allowed to own a gun as long as it’s not something that might actually have some effect against a tyrannical government (which I think was why the 2nd amendment wanted us to have that right), so it’s effectively gutted.

The 4th amendment that was supposed to protect us from searches and seizure without a specific warrant or probable cause. Government witch hunts are a regular thing now, random check points on roads, wiretaps without warrants, and probable cause is sufficiently undefined as it amounts to, “whenever we feel like it”.

I had a situation a few years back, I run an internet service, and I used to have a bunch of high powered computers in my basement that drew several kilowatts, about like you might expect from say a marijuana grow operation. One day, Shoreline police show up at my house and demand to be let in to the basement claiming someone made a 9-11 call from there. They had no search warrant but told me I had to let them in because someone called from there and there could be an assault in progress.

So I let them in and they see that all that is there are power hungry antique computers (this was back in the days of 3/670’s and the like) and they left and that was that. But I know what probably happened is they obtained records of power consumption, see that I’m eating a bunch of electricity and this room or area has a thermal signature and make up this BS about a call so they can bust me for a non-existent grow room. Oh I did buy a 250 watt halide bulb and ballast for someone that I experimented with for photography (but too much green light) and also used to work on cars so maybe they somehow had a record of that too. At any rate they didn’t have any real probable cause and that operation was illegal just like all the warrantless wiretaps.

I could go on because there just seems to be no end, I mean the fifth amendment is side-stepped by plea bargaining, and you can say yes but you give that up voluntarily if you enter a plea bargaining agreement but not really because they make the threat so large if you don’t agree that most do. You can get fined 250,000 for swearing on the radio. Yep, now if that isn’t a violation of the eight amendment I don’t know what is, but rather than go to trial most people faced with an obscenity charge by the FCC will just pay the initial lower proposed fines and give up their rights. And really what is an obscenity is a highly subjective issue. I hear songs played with part of the ‘u’ removed from ‘Fuck’ so that it sounds something like ‘Fuh..ick’ and I guess it passes because they keep playing it that way. Personally, I think that’s bullshit and if people don’t like it they can change the station just like they can change the URL on their browser if they don’t like my blog. If they Really don’t like that they can boycott the stations advertisers. In my view, the government shouldn’t be involved in programming at all, otherwise you get arbitrary application of the law to any stations which don’t happen to espouse the current administrations views, which is exactly the situation we have today and why 99% of AM talk radio is radical right-wing nut-cases.

The 12th amendment is one I think we should abolish; get rid of the electoral college and go to a direct popular vote; with no Diebold voting machines allowed.

The 13th amendment is meaningless if you can replace slavery by ownership with economic slavery. You are still just as effectively owned. Granted, slavery is no longer against race lines and I guess that’s an improvement, now it’s just a matter of economic class, but we still have slavery.

Personally, I’m not a believer that 9/11 had anything to do with angry Arabs, it had everything to do with people that wanted an excuse to totally usurp the constitution and grab power over the US people.

I used to be able to freely travel to Canada, I can’t now. I can’t afford passports for the entire family so we just can’t go. Never mind I have birth certificates, drivers license, a car licensed in the US, and am probably in a gazillion databases they have access to. It’s a bunch of BS used to restrict our freedoms. Most of the 9-11 hijackers were here on legal student visas anyway so all of these measures would not have prevented the 9-11 event.

I’m sick at the moment and probably would not have celebrated with great zeal even if the constitution actually meant something, we still had real freedom, gas wasn’t $4.50 a gallon and I could afford to go somewhere, but still I wish that were the case.