Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dictatorships and Photoshop, A Love Story

Dictators hold a very interesting position in world society for a number of reasons. For the time being, we will ignore the loftier and less playful of these reasons, and instead focus on the lighter things. Chief among these lighter things is the privileged position dictators occupy among the ranks of humanity as being one of the few groups of people that routinely get to live their lives doing much closer to whatever the heck they want than most people can manage. Between the money they've stolen, the dissenters and detractors they've killed, and the power they have leeched out of their governments and concentrated in themselves, they've really got nothing holding them back. In theory even the most unchecked, overindulged of imaginations must eventually hit a wall--and, of course, pesky little realities like the laws of physics do eventually put a damper on things--but for all intents and purposes, they've basically been given carte blanche to do as much of whatever they please as they can. Until the revolution, of course, but as previosly mentioned, we're keeping things light for the moment.

Despite all of this power, privilege, and general exceptionalism, there are some things that these people seem to be comically incapable of accomplishing without seeming as intelligent or competent as, well, something very unintelligent and incompetent. Unfortunately, no comparison came to mind that didn't seem incredibly childish, so I'm opting not to include one. Forgive me.

Moving on, despite the capabilities despotism has afforded them, there have been a spate of recent examples of dictators being woefully [for them], delightfully [for us] inept at crafting propaganda.

We'll start with the most recent one of which I am aware. I say we'll start, because depending on my level of interest in continuing this (and possibly popular response), this may become an ongoing research endeavor of mine. Anyway, this particular story was mentioned in class during our little current events chat at some point in the past couple weeks, possibly even by me. The charming establishment that presumes to be leading/governing Iran (which may or may not be considered a dictatorship, but it will be here for simplicity's sake) has this homegrown fighter jet referred to as a Qaher 313. It's attractive enough as a fighter jets go, I suppose, but for a variety of mildly amusing technical reasons, no amount of aesthetic appeal will get this blob off the ground. Ever. Or, at least not while the current laws of physics have anything to say about it, and it is my understanding that they have rather a lot to say about the matter. But what is physics to the Iranian powers-that-be? Not much, it seems. They felt it appropriate to release the following image to the world at large:

For starters, when last I checked, the sun did not have a tendency to shine directly on the center of the back of an object of any sort while simultaneously shining in a presumably even fashion on absolutely everything else around said object.

Second, it was suggested to me that if you know anything about perspective (which I don't), for this "picture" to make any sense (and I don't think any rational human being really wants it to, but let's say there are one or two of them out there), that jet would have to either be extremely close to the "photographer" or absolutely monstrous in size. It is my belief that neither condition can be met.

What I find most interesting is the picture over which the Qaher 313 is superimposed. It is a quite nice stock photo of  Mount Damavand, a very attractive volcano in northern Iran. If nothing else, I'll give them partial credit for not having their jet flying over Mount Everest or Disneyland Paris or something. Sad thing is, the Iranians couldn't be prevailed upon go and take their own picture of their own mountain. The one they used was a computer wallpaper image they took (without asking, no doubt) from

For your viewing pleasure, here is the pickywallpaper image with and without the intrusive jet:

Granted, some presumably underpaid Iranian computer "wiz" spent a solid 4.8 seconds playing with the colors, but it is absolutely, unquestionably the same image. In theory, we as Americans/America should be taking the Iranian government somewhat seriously. Their nuclear program is cause for some concern, among other things. But it would be much easier to do so if they could manage to exist and function (or pretend to function) without behaving more and more like an SNL parody of themselves.

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