Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sound Bite Politics: Obama's Long Form

Sound  bites don't count. Facts do. That is why I posted here instead of emailing...

Things like this are never simple.


In my email this morning, someone wrote:
Any questions/comments-----
regarding citations of the very interesting and potentially significant video being promulgated:


TEEN FIGURES OUT OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE FRAUD.! !  Watch this over 1,300,000 hits

the message screams...


Well, once again, sound bite politics only work for the lower 47%. Large multicolored bold fonts and exclamation points don't do much for me (or anyone else with more than half a brain. So please just knock it off).

Fact checking does.


For starters, he isn't a teen. The presenter says "I do this for a living".

We all know that "teens" don't do anything for a living. They just go around trying to make themselves as copulable as possible... (New word, but you know the meaning... >:-)

I also do this for a living and decidedly am not a teen.


So, being a geek, and a graphics geek at that, I thought I might go on and check it out further.

On further checking, the URL cited in the video has changed. The cited

is now a long discussion of the topic, not a single file.

The first document offered there:

is a white printed form without signatures bearing no resemblance to the document in the video. It could have been generated anywhere.


But further down the page appears the document shown in the video:

I have also a GnuPG signature file that uniquely identifies this file:


This is the GPG signature for the file I downloaded from the White House. If a subsequent download's GPG signature does not match this signature then it shall have been changed.

If you don't understand GnuPG and signatures then I invite you to visit google:

This gives you the tools to protect yourself in situations like this, to be absolutely assured that the file you have on hand is indeed the file that was generated. And much much more. Recommended...


Examining the "metadata" (the overlying statistics about a file - available as an embedded XMP file) in Adobe Acrobat show that the file was created on a MAC by an "artiste" ("artistes" use MACs. Reeel engineers use Linux, but I digress) on 2011-04-27 12:09:24Z (7:09:24 EST or 8:09:24 EDT) and has not been modified since.

The metadata offer a unique "UUID" to identify the file:


So, if when you decide to check me out, if the uuid has changed then someone shall have changed the file on the site. Plus, the metadata shall show a different creation date. 

But I assure you, the GPG signature file cited above is a much more reliable and verifiable indicator of veracity.


OK, so let's talk about layers.

There now appears to seems be only one "layer" when viewed in either Adobe Acrobat (Windows) or the GIMP (Linux).

However, absent the availability of Adobe Illustrator (cited in the video), the unix/linux command pdfimages indeed shows nine layers.

andy@tm2t:~> pdfimages -list /data/gov/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf
page   num  type   width height color comp bpc  enc interp  object ID
   1     0 image    1652  1276  icc     3   8  jpeg   no         7  0
   1     1 mask     1454  1819  -       1   1  image  no         9  0
   1     2 mask      199   778  -       1   1  image  no        12  0
   1     3 mask       42   274  -       1   1  image  no        14  0
   1     4 mask      123   228  -       1   1  image  no        16  0
   1     5 mask       47   216  -       1   1  image  no        18  0
   1     6 mask       34    70  -       1   1  image  no        20  0
   1     7 mask      243   217  -       1   1  image  no        22  0
   1     8 mask      132   142  -       1   1  image  no        24  0

So someone has decidedly gone beyond a simple single layer scan, as noted in the video.

Fortunately you can extract and examine each layer with

    pdfimages -j /data/gov/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf /Desktop/

which gives you the nine jpg and pbm files listed above onto your Linux /Desktop.

(Sorry, too little time to figure this out for Windows users. If this doesn't make sense then just ask your friendly  neighborhood Linux geek. Maybe tomorrow I'll post these here. But it is too late right now.)

These images then can be viewed in any number of different programs, including (Linux) gwenview or GIMP, the latter available for Windows as well as Linux.

[Anyone interested in playing with this can easily download "The GIMP" for free (including for Windows):

to explore the world of digital imagery.]

The extracted layers are counter-rotated (anti-clockwise) by 90 degrees.

The extraction gives you nine files, n going from 0 to 8, and xxx either jpg or  pbm.

1. When you examine -000.jpg you see the basic document.

Except that everything except the signatures (and only part of the mother's signature, at that) have been ghosted to different layers.

This is easy to do with the GIMP or Photoshop or others: select by color (*they obviously chose black), then cut and paste to a new layer.

As seen in -000.jpg, when you cut areas from an image it leaves whitespace behind, unless you "flatten" the image, which this incompetent amendant clearly failed to do, but then s/he wasn't expecting to be caught out (and what can we expect from this Government but incompetence).

And except further, this image DOES NOT include the "certifying statement" by Alvin T. Onaka, PhD., ghosted or not. So it would seem that such a "certifying statement" did not exist in the originally scanned image.

[OBTW, layer manipulation is easy. Collapsing can be done with a single keystroke. On the other hand, layers can just as easily be created. So a knowledgeable person can fairly easily take selections of an image, cut them, and then paste them to a new layer. I do this all the time.

[So in short order one could, from a single layer scan, create a multiple layer document, as indeed this is. Whether they changed anything or not, this image has clearly been manipulated, if only to cut stuff from the original scan and move it to a different layer.

[Of course, it begs the question: "Why bother", unless you were going to change the stuff in the other layers.]

2. Now, when you examine -001.pbm you see all the stuff that was cut from -000.jpg, including the printed form data (Block numbers and descriptions) and the typwritten data, missing:   
    a. (Block 1a) the middle R in BA ACK,
    b. (Block 15) the first letter of [S]TANLEY
    c. (Block 18a) the first part of the mother's signature
    d. and various other little bits.

The background is black because the background was not cut from the original image, only the black selection. These programs let you choose your default background for new layers. I choose white. But the default is often black or empty, that ends up black. These people were lazy and used the default.

And again, the "certifying statement" is not present, neither in -000.jpg nor -001.pbm.

[Unfortunately, what they actually did change in the different layers cannot easily be discerned.Diddling with a particular layer before finalizing the document (and the resultant metadata is not recorded in either layers or the metadata. But the fact that they did indeed decompose the original image into multiple layers is irrefutable.

[Which goes back to "Why bother" unless it was to be able to change something.]

The point is that someone did a Select by color to extract black from the original scan to a new layer, so obviously, whether fair or foul, was messing with the original scan.


Scanners don't create layers. People create layers.

(Reminds me of a famous NRA Second Amendment quote, but I digress).

3. -002.pbm is particularly interesting. It is an entirely monochromatic and hence apparently digital image of the alleged "certifying statement", including the signature. by Alvin T. Onaka, PhD.

Again, easy to do when you know how. There are tons of signature fonts out there. Try these for starters:

4. -003.pbm, -004.pbm, -005.pbm are extractions (or creations) of date stamps. Again an indicator of manipulation.

5. The remaining two pbm files are just noise, presumably an attempt to clean up the document from residual static from the scan to "make it pretty".


So, without screaming multicolored bold fonts. exclamation points, and "PASS IT ON" crap:the temperate, objective, technically correct, and factual evidence and subsequent deduction are irrefutable:

the image has been manipulated, if not substantively altered.

More fuel (or perhaps gasoline) for the fire.


As a consequence,:

is a matter altogether different from the layering issue:

1. Block 18a: the signature for Ann Dunham Obama indeed appears to computer-generated after the D, as are many other parts of the document:

2. Particularly important is that the certification signature (Alvin T. Onaka, PhD) does not show any of the normal multicolor pixillation seen in the Ann D signature, indicating it also has been created digitally, perhaps with a signature font.

3. Block 1a:  The child's first name appears to be digital, except for the letter R, which is normally pixillated.

4. Block 13: Mother's name, only the first letter of the surname is normally pixillated.

5. Blocks 19a and 21 signatures ARE normally pixillated

So questions need to be asked for someone to explain these anomalies: Why are only parts of signatures and entries normally pixillated, while a large number appear to be monochromatically digitally created?

Fortunately there are smarter minds than mine to amnswer such questions.

But caution, some artifacts can be introduced by scanning at insufficiently fine resolution:

For example, you can tell the scanner to scan in color, greyscale (with different numbers of "levels" - numbers of gradations) or monochromatically. After the scan you can adjust these further.

So the monochromaticity of portions of the image are not damning in themselves as they could have resulted from incompetent scanning, but the layer extraction and/or creation is proof that the image was manipulated, whether for fair or foul.

So the the questions should be asked, especially of Alvin T. Onaka, PhD.

And what should we do?

Vote. Vote with our heads and vote with our feet.

We need a change.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nasty Sandy

It is prudent to be prepared.

OTOH, the media overhype things often.

In defense against this here is this Friday evening's plot of the data from

My graphic changes these numbers into graphs of the distribution of expected wind speeds, day by day, that the table provides.

Yes, the Sky is Falling! the Sky is Falling!

There are very slight probabilities of 180 knot winds.

But as the curves show, mostly in the 50-70 knot region. Not trivial, but not traumatizing if you are prepared.

Once again, there are no easy sound bite answers.

VirtualBox problem workaround reports a problem with running VirtualBox under openSUSE 12.2. I have had the same problem.

The thread promises a fix. Until that happens I've done a workaround:

    a. As root:
        i. Move the following to a user directory, e.g.,
           /root/VirtualBox VMs

        ii. Link them back to /root, test: Yes, it still works for root.
        iii. Recursively change permissions to your non-root user, e.g., andy:users
       iv. Test: Yes, it still works for root.
            However N.B.: having opened them as root the vbox and log files are saved with now root permissions!
            You'll have to change  them back to andy:users.

    b. As andy:
        i. Link them back to /home/andy
        ii. Edit VirtualBox.xml line. Change:
            /root/VirtualBox VMs/121025_WinXP/121025_WinXP.vbox
            /data/computer/VMs/VirtualBox/VirtualBox VMs/121025_WinXP/121025_WinXP.vbox
        iii. Test: Now it works for andy.