Racism in New Zealand, Teapot, and Lena

Politics: Lest we get carried away with the beauty, grooviness and coolness-in-general of New Zealand — where 1 in 160 of the population was involved in the making of the LoTR trilogy — up pops this story. It seems racism and xenophobia is finally arriving on the shores of Aotearoa.

Under the headline ‘Whose country is it anyway?’ Peters’s leaflet rails against Asian immigrants, falsely claiming that hundreds of thousands are coming to New Zealand and blaming them for, among other things, traffic problems in Auckland. These immigrants are, according to Peters, simultaneously poor enough to be leeches on the welfare system, and rich enough to drive up the cost of housing.

It would be easy to dismiss all this as a piece of desperate populism. But, unlike the Australian One Nation party, New Zealand First is not a collapsing political joke: it is the third-biggest party in Wellington’s parliament, and until 1999 Mr Peters was the country’s deputy prime minister. Barring an electoral miracle, the opposition National party will have to take them on as coalition partners if it is ever to win another election.

‘Traffic problems in Auckland’? WTF? (found via Danny Yee)

Computing: Amazing. via GirlHacker, it turns out that a teapot has long been used as a demonstration of complex computer graphics techiques — with it’s curved surfaces, hidden surfaces and the like (don’t ask me, I’m no graphics guru). If you were around for the early 3-D graphics days, you’ve almost definitely seen the teapot.

Well, it turns out there was a real teapot. Here’s the history.

A related image is that of ‘Lenna’, a standard test image used when testing image compression schemes, which features a woman giving the viewer a rather saucy come-hither look. It turns out she was a Swedish model, who posed for Playboy in 1972, and that picture was scanned by an (unauthorized) researcher at USC. Piracy!

Playboy later threatened to prosecute over the unauthorized use, but by now has recognised the unique history this now has, and has relented. Cool.

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