For those of you not a part of the usual points of aggregation who are wondering just what Dick Cheney is actually looking at in that photo on whitehouse.gov, I'd like to share the solution. If you've not yet seen the picture, you ought to click over and check it out. And then make sure it's really whitehouse.gov, because you can't believe such a picture would be on the real whitehouse.gov.
Neat huh? Funny how your brain jumped away from the obvious to the COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, isn't it? (I thought it was interesting, anyway. I've dubbed this phenomenon "the Dick Cheney Rorschach test," because it very clearly illustrates the inner perv in each and every one of us.)
Snopes.com frequently irritates me with their liberal use of the blanket terms "True" and "False" to denote things they have no way of knowing about. What generally happens is they come up with a plausible explanation for something and decide that this had to be what happened. I feel that it is irresponsible of them to go around claiming things as true or false on a flimsy basis when the entire internet treats them as the be-all-end-all source for the truth about sketchy things. They need to be more honest and broaden up their determinations a bit.
The most recent example of this is Phallus in Bugs Bunny Cartoon. In it they do no more than suggest a POSSIBLE explanation for the mystery flesh, yet they outright claim that it is "False." Here's the picture in question for those that don't feel like clicking over:
Their claim is that a white area on Bugs Bunny's crotch (that's much more impressive in the video) is, in actuality, just the tub behind behind him, and that what looks like a penis is just the natural curvature of Bugs's legs. Never minding the fact that Bug's's's legs never, ever, extend up into his abdomen, this answer just doesn't hold water for me. I downloaded the video off YouTube, extracted the three frames in question and examined everything thoroughly, and -- guess what -- I have reached an entirely different conclusion than the one they did.
The first thing I did was look for other pictures of Bugs with legs extending into his abdomen. Go ahead and watch the video for yourself, where you can see Bugs in that same position several times without ever having his legs extend up that high:
It just doesn't happen... they stop below his abdomen. That said, his legs do seem a bit short in the 'penis' shot; if you WERE to extend Bugs' legs into his abdomen, the length would be about right.
The next thing I did was find a frame with that area of the tub unoccupied:
I then cut out Bugs and overlaid him atop the empty tub:
As you can see, the area that people are claiming to be a penis is now the same color as the tub -- much darker than the white area in the original shot. Clearly this means that Snopes is mistaken with their assessment of the situation. Rather than the tub, it's more likely that the white in question is supposed to be Bugs' towel draping around his backside.
Except for one little detail:
Bugs' towel can be clearly seen at several points in the episode tied ABOVE his tail, meaning that it could never be seen behind his legs in the first place:
So what's all this lead to? The 'penis' can only be one of two things: a) a penis snuck in by a feisty animator, or b) a result of a poorly-sketched-out Bugs with too short of legs that was quickly 'fixed' by extending his legs up into his abdomen. After all, there are only 3 frames affected by this problem, and who would ever know? It's not like nerds are obsessively going over these things with a fine-toothed comb, right?
In any case, without any way of ever knowing whether this was an animator goof or some animator shenanigans, we can't call the claim "True" or "False." I think the reasonable answer is the goof one, but it would be dishonest to say for certain one way or the other. Which is exactly what Snopes did, and does on a regular basis.
There's been some hooplah the last couple days regarding the video of Bush "flipping off reporters."
Here's the video:
Click to play
I admit, it does look quite a bit like Bush is flipping the bird, but I am 100% positive that is not what is being depicted. I spent some time this morning with the GIMP doing some rotoscoping and photographing my own hand and have come up with this scenario.
Click to enlarge
While I was painstakingly tracing hand shaped outlines on the really zoomed in image, I could clearly see the shadowing and lighting hilights of everything I was tracing. There's no doubt in my mind this is what happened.
I would have to agree with many of the detractors who say that flipping the bird is a gesture one should not expect from the President of the greatest country in the world, but even had he done it, it wouldn't be that big a deal. People tend to put politicians (and our founding fathers) on this pedestal like they are more than mere mortals. It is fun to point out when Bush makes mistakes or does stupid shit because frankly, he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But does he have to be? No. That's what his handlers are for. Presidents don't write speeches. Presidents don't answer questions unless the question has been previously approved. I'm not saying that Bush doesn't make decisions about things, but he has good people who are there to present him with a multitude of information about the decisions, so the fact that he's no genius doesn't really matter all that much.
It isn't often that I defend Bush on things, but this seems like a pretty clear case of people who don't like him grasping at straws just trying to find stuff to make him look bad.
That said, here's video of Bush flipping the bird for real.