Sunday, February 04, 2007

Expanding My Horizons Without Leaving My Couch

I collect antique 3-d photography; specifically, nineteenth-century stereoscope cards and View-Master reels from before 1970, when the company started getting lame. (Did you know that View-Masters were originally made for adults, and when they first came on the market could only be bought from “licensed View-Master dealers” found primarily in upscale department stores? It’s true! I could talk for hours about the history of stereoscopic photography in America if my well-developed social skills didn’t preclude such behavior.)

Buying additions for my collection can get a wee bit pricey at times, so I’m in the market for a less expensive hobby and I think I’ve found one: Conspiracy Theorism.

Let me share with you the conspiracy theory I’m developing right now: the Patriot Act is a government plot written by the credit-card companies to force all Americans into eternal debt slavery. My eureka moment (or "awakening," in conspiracy-theorist terms) came when I tried opening a savings account at a local bank.

I already have a savings account, of course, but I’m fed up with my current bank because they keep making bonehead mistakes that take forever to fix. So I figured I’d switch to another one just down the street. Unfortunately, it’s illegal for me to open a new bank account right now because I don’t have the required paperwork. Specifically, the Patriot Act requires a person opening a savings account to have two forms of ID but I only had one with me — a driver’s license.

I’m trying to figure out a plausible scenario beginning with “Jennifer opens a bank account with only one form of ID” and ends with “Thus did New York disintegrate into a giant mushroom cloud, which never would have happened if only she’d been required to show two forms of ID when she opened that account.” For that matter, replace “Jennifer” with “a bona fide TERRORIST” and I still can’t think of a plausible way that could play out.

But I digress. Here’s the hook on which my conspiracy theory hangs: for a second form of identification, I can use a credit card. So can you. We’ve all seen news stories about toddlers or housepets being issued credit cards in their names. Hell, I once had a VISA gold card issued to me and maxed out before I even knew I had it.

Yet as a defense against terrorism you can’t open a bank account and save money unless you have two forms of (presumably anti-terrorist) identification, and a credit card counts as one.

Conspiracy theorists often repeat themselves, though you may not notice this at first because the restatements sound a little different each time. Legally, I need no proof of identity to get into credit-card debt, yet credit-card debt (or at least acquiring the means to get into it) counts as one of the forms of ID the government requires before I’m allowed to save money rather than owe it

I expect to find Conspiracy Theorism a rich, fulfilling and time-consuming hobby, should I choose to pursue it. There are so many examples I can cite for my collection! Granted, I don’t strictly need a vast conspiracy to make sense of something just as easily explained by simple malicious government incompetence, but neither do I strictly need a couple thousand 3-d images from bygone eras. That’s the whole point of a hobby.


Blogger rhhardin said...

My father had a Stereo-Realist camera and so stereo was all over the house, including projector and polarizing movie screen. Upstairs is a shelf of stereo books, though I can't locate the one with the babe taking her bathing suit off. That's what stereo is for. Guys don't take long before all is revealed of their plan.

One of the books shows a stereo attachment for your plain-ordinary Leica model F; on a projector, if you plot two frames head to head, it splits them out and sends them polarized to your screen, for all to see with polarizing glasses.

I started doing stereo movies with a microfilm plotter on a mainframe in the 60s, using one.

It's a very fast way to get a headache, if the adjustments aren't perfect.

Some publishers are aware that you can just print two frames side by side an eye-distance apart, and skilled readers can see them in stereo with no assistance. It helps to be near-sighted. Too bad if you had the Lasik surgery.

Then there were, briefly, the red-and-blue comics.

Sometime in the 70s it became clear that stereo was a pain in the ass and it all stopped.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

The red-and-blue pictures are called "anaglyphs," Ron. Some of them are quite impressive. A few years ago National Geographic put out issues with anaglyph photos of the wreck of the Titanic and the surface of Mars as photographed from one of the Rovers. (I also have the View-Master reels from the Apollo moon landing. The astronauts brought a stereo camera with them.)

Most of the 70s and early anaglyphs were pretty bad, though.

Which doesn't stop me from having quite a few in my collection.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Grant Gould said...

One of my co-workers is an astronomy nut, and puts amazing amounts of work into creating stereoscopic photos of astronomic phenomena -- using the parallax generated by the earth's movement to make a comet appear a dozen feet away, for instance. It's amazing what good stereography can do.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

There was a time (thankfully brief)back in the 70's when every comic impersonator did Henry Fonda talking about the "Gee Aye Eff View-Master."

Since I was born blind in my right eye, I have never seen the attraction to the devices.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

AAAARGH! GAF is what killed View-Master. Not only did they switch focus from interesting places and people to goddamned children's cartoons, but they also used a very cheap type of film that doesn't retain its color. Most View-Master reels from the 70s have become "magentized," which means the pictures have all turned red. That's another reason I don't buy reels from the 70s; even if I find an interesting reel I'd like to add to my collection, it's a crapshoot as to whether the images will be viewable when I get them.

NoStar, I had no idea you had no sight in one eye. That sucks. But the attraction for people with two working eyes is an illusion of depth even deeper than what you get in reality. I have a lot of images in my collection that are downright boring when you look at them normally; only when you look through a viewer and see them in 3-d do you realize what made the photographer decide it was a worthy shot to take.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

I used to take the red/blue glasses and quickly move them back and forth in front of my good eye to make the the close objects in an anaglyph jump.

So, I kinda know what the effect is, but I totally missed out on those computer generated steroegrams that you need to unfocus your eyes to see.

It was getting an uncle to explain how looking crosseyed at a picture of a person whose legs were to the left of the torso brought the images together that made me aware that not everyone was blind in one eye. I was 4 years old. I still remember the spit take my Dad did when I told him the next morning that when I cover my right eye I can see, but when I cover my left eye all I see is black. Untill then I thought every one had a blind eye as a spare.

And on an entirely different matter, I was hoping you would commented on my wine review over at The wine Commonsewer. Always looking for constructive criticisms.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I read the review when you first sent me the link, NoStar, but I didn't comment because I'm a wine illiterate. But I went back and made a comment to that effect, so you don't think I'm just ignoring you.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Thanks. I answered you there, but I have a short answer here.

Aromas are but the promise of enjoyment to come. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with the mouth.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A credit card has some advantages going for it:

1. They are hard to forge. harder than a typical library card, or school id. They may be harder to forge than some states driver's licenses even.

2. Fake or not, issued to the right person, the wrong person or a housepet, real non-forged credit cards allow you to track the person with the credit card better than most other forms of id. If somebody uses the credit card then you track the person thru their purchases with the credit card. this is true even (and especially) if the person is using their credit card to purchase fertilizer and renting Ryder Trucks. However, even if the person is not using the credit card, then they have to have a physical correspondence address associated with the card. That address is an important lead.

To summarize, the credit card is not such a stupid id requirement. Although it may be easy to get one on false pretences, the card creates an evidence trail that other forms of id do not. It may not prevent the terrorist from acquiring a bank account, but it will generally help find the terrorist once people realize that the bank account is an evil, terrorist bank account.

Given that, you can see why they will accept a credit card as a 2d form of id, but ot the first.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Anonymous, I see what you're saying, but the fact that a stranger was once able to open and max out a VISA gold card in my name, while I had nothing to do with it, suggests that the security features aren't as strong as you say. Had the ID thief been an actual terrorist, the address would not be a "lead," but more likely a "time-wasting dead end."

The credit card only leaves a paper trail if it is actually used. What's to stop a terrorist from getting the card and using it to open an account without ever making a charge on it?

And that's assuming that the two-opposed-to-one ID requirement would stop a terrorist attack anyway.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what did the thief in your case use as a correspondence address? I mean, VISA physically sent the little, golden, plastic card somewhere, where it was presumably picked up by the theif. If he used a hotel address, then you look at who was renting in that hotel at the relevant time. If he used an apartment then you look at who was renting that apartment. If he used a business address, then you take a look at the business and its employees.

the theif creates a paper trail by the mere act of allowing the card to be sent to her / him in the mails.

I am not saying that this is foolproof (maybe the theif was your postman), but it is not laughably ridiculous either.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous A moose said...

Random Moose wanderings through the blog with too much to do and no time to read:

I mean, VISA physically sent the little, golden, plastic card somewhere, where it was presumably picked up by the theif. If he used a hotel address, then you look at who was renting in that hotel at the relevant time. If he used an apartment then you look at who was renting that apartment. If he used a business address, then you take a look at the business and its employees.

Obviously you haven't read much of Jack Luna's writings on how to create a ghost address.

People that mean to do bad will get around it. Other people are just subject further to big brother. People like me seriously end up behaving like fugitives half the time simply on principle.

Aromas are but the promise of enjoyment to come. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with the mouth.

There are so many ways one could go with this comment I'm amazed at how well I'm behaving myself.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

We’ve all seen news stories about toddlers or housepets being issued credit cards in their names.

I ran (technically, still run - but it's been quiescent for about a year) a Yahoo Group called "Circle of Wyrms". It was created as a way of facilitating an on-line role-playing game, based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. The game manufacturer, TSR, was infamous for pursuing even trivial copyright and trademark infringements. Thus, out of paranoia, I created a totally fictitious entity to own and moderate the group: "Dracodeus Rex", a two-headed dragon.

This totally artificial character is reasonably well-documented in his Yahoo Profile. He has received email to the effect that he is pre-approved for various credit cards. I've never gone through and actually applied for one, but...

Jennifer, as to your second form of ID, I would recommend either or both of the following:

Most states will issue a "State ID Card" through the same facilities that you use to get your Driver's License. I think this is actually considered good enough to be a primary ID.

Illinois (and thus, possibly other states) also offers the FOID card. This currently costs a big five dollars. You don't have to actually own or use any firearms to get a Firearm Owners ID card. I just had a friend take my picture with a digital camera, adjusted the picture with Paintshop Pro, and printed a couple out on my ink-jet. Send that in with the (very brief) application, wait a few weeks, and voila! Government-issued picture ID for which I presented absolutely no credible personal documentation.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Robert said...


Totally off topic from Jen's post, but in line with your Yahoo group, TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) released a product entitle Council of Wyrms ( - and all I can think of, despite my full D&D Geek credentials, is Martin Luther being roasted alive by ancient red dragons wearing papal vestments. Go figure.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Specifically, the Patriot Act requires a person opening a savings account to have two forms of ID but I only had one with me — a driver’s license.

I had a similar thing happen to me when cashing a large check at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, inside the Pentagon!

I had my Pentagon building pass around my neck, which did not count for some reason, so I showed my passport but they wanted two, so I showed them my Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit. Now that is the first one I show in case it is some transaction only needing one.

I recommend getting a Second Amendment permit to use as ID.

Guy Montag

11:44 AM  
Blogger Lo_Crutis said...

I just want to say, Robert, that I get that joke. I would like to nail 95 kudos to the church doors of Wit-tenberg in your honor.

8:31 PM  

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