Pictures from the end of America?

Posted On: Tuesday - July 21st 2020 7:25PM MST
In Topics: 
  Economics  The Future  Peak Stupidity Roadshow

Yeah, I realize that the post's title sounds like writer Mr. Lin Dinh's column title, "Postcards from the end of America". For whatever reason, I have not read but one of Mr. Dinh's columns, and didn't like what I read. Is it because he is anti-all-things-American, as the proprietor, Ron Unz, seems to be? I read a lot from young people who have no idea of the country this used to be. I can't blame them for that, but I can blame them for writing on what they no nothing about. It doesn't help that I see Mr. Dinh (obviously Vietnamese) as a foreigner writing about America, though perhaps he has lived here his whole life (until his recent traveling, going by his titles that I see). I have not bothered to check.

That initial digression completed, this view of a seemingly disintegrating America presented here is of the runways, taxiways, and ramps of the northeast side of the Minneapolis airport, one of the hubs of Delta Airlines from a while back. To get these nice views shown here, I'll give the airline traveler some advice here, at least for those spending some time at the MSP airport.

If you have extra time beyond what it takes to get to your next gate and perhaps get something to eat from the Somalians, go over to the D-concourse. You may not know there IS one, as it's smaller than the stretched out C and G ones, and the fairly big E and F, and the A/B complex. From the main "mall" area, go as if you're heading to the C concourse, but go straight instead of hanging a right toward the first C-gate (and that white tram). You'll see a McDonalds (wasn't very busy) on the left, and you can go through a door to your left right after the McD's that says "restricted, blah, blah" (ignore the sign) or a stairway with no door on the left that's just at the entrances to the D-concourse.

Either way, you must lug your luggage (pun? unintended) up about 30 steps, or 1 1/2 flights of stairs, I'd put it. You'll find yourself in what must have once been a ramp tower, that is, not an air traffic control tower, but one used to direct traffic in the ramp areas. It's an observation area that obviously most passengers don't know about, as it's nice and quiet up there with nobody else, or a TSA guy on lunch, and an occasional other passenger. Classical music is playing. Is that to keep away the riff-raff, and/or Somalians? Nah, I think the music is playing throughout the airport, but it's drowned out usually by too much noise elsewhere.

While at peace up there, I noticed how dead the airport really was. With only 2 parallel and sometimes an angled-off runway normally used for landings and take-offs, it'd normally be a great view for kids that like airplanes. Don't they all? There would be one after another, rolling out or taking off, and the view, even though from only 50 ft high or so, is very nice, though it's only of this runway on the NE side (12R/30L) and the ramp/gate areas of E, D, and C concourses. Nope, I think I saw 2 or 3 take-offs and the same number of landings, in about an hour and a half. This is not normal*.

In the sunshine, the huge expanses of concrete were bright and clean, the planes looked beautiful, and ground vehicles and planes just occasionally did what they do. The terminal, the parts that were open, had a few restaurants open, and things were clean enough. People were perhaps extra friendly with the extra time due to low levels of business. This huge airport terminal**, however, costs a lot of money to keep like this. The airport itself costs lots and lots of taxpayer money of various sorts too - FAA, surcharges on tickets, etc. - to keep the cracks in the pavement fixed, keep weeds out, clean the signs, paint markings, chase out critters, keep the many fire trucks in good shape, and lots of things I've probably missed.

This running of < 25% of the flights compared to normal out of there, with them < 1/2 filled, and the loss of revenue that goes with that is not, errr, sustainable. It can't go on like this. If it can't be paid for long term, this nice hub airport would eventually have to go to rot. That's all there is to it.

I sat there and imagined the hard work in building the runways, taxiways, and terminals, the setting up of jet bridges, laying of fuel pipelines, and all that being ignored by hordes of ignorant masses taking over this weed-overgrown place for shelter, farm land, and scrap metal, in a Planet of the Apes sort of way. The engineering of flying machines, and the art of flying them are long forgotten. "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

Looking due north, one can see a gleaming city about 10 miles away, with the larger buildings poking out over the horizon and trees. It looked nice and peaceful from 10 miles and a couple of months after the Kung Flu Infotainment intermission rioting. I was imagining how it would have looked for those few days when the thugs and Commies were setting things alight. Could one have seen the smoke rising in the distance from my same vantage point? Come to think of it, Minneapolis has already experienced a Planet of the Apes moment.

Anyway, it's quite nice out there right now still. Business better pick back up, though.

* Granted this was on a Sunday, but it was Sunday afternoon. The slow time for the passenger airlines is Saturday afternoon through Sunday noon-time. Business travelers mostly travel home on Fridays, not the weekend, and don't go out until Sunday afternoon. The short-term vacationers are where they want to be in the middle of the weekend, but many are traveling home (in normal times) on Sunday afternoon.

** It's one out of 2, as there is a Humphries Terminal (Hubert? Nah.) completely separate on the SW side where Southwest, Sun Country, and few other airlines park. The big one, where mostly Delta, but also United and American too, park, is called the Lindbergh Terminal.

PS - specifically for commenter Adam Smith: Per our conversation on the iSteve thread regarding image meta-data, I'd like to experiment on this one, if you could help. Could you let me know which if any of these 3 images has meta-data? (I know you used a different term, but I'm sure you know what I mean. You have the program that you downloaded to display the values. I'd rather you not give all the values, even the dates, but there really is nothing much anyone could get out of them to track me. I'm a little bit careful.

You could just write in what you found quickly in the comments - just referring to image 1, 2, or 3, I suppose. Thanks. This will be kind of fun.

Adam Smith
Friday - July 24th 2020 9:31AM MST
PS: Good morning Mr. Moderator...

I agree, this technology could be used for digital samizdat (which may be increasingly important in our brave new future) or for just simply communicating in an encrypted fashion with no nefarious intent. Steganography is interesting to me, a sort of hobby, and if used properly can be a very secure means of communication. It's kind of cool in an artistic sort of way.

You could try one of these in a laptop (or desktop) to play with some operating systems while leaving your current system safely intact on it's current hard drive (or ssd as the case may be). It's an inexpensive, easy way to get started.

Thursday - July 23rd 2020 2:57PM MST
PS: Adam, though this stuff may not be useful to me immediately (and I'll really need to get Debian, as I'm sure everything will be easier than trying it all on Windows), just knowing what goes on is great information for the long run.

Yes, I didn't know the term before, but steganography is something I figured could be done, and could be the most insidious.* I know there are programs to mess with the image enough to lose this data but still keep the picture viewable.

* Then again, as per the Orwell/1984 example, as I think I read about on an unz thread, it could be some digital samizdat that may help us all come, well, what's coming.
Adam Smith
Thursday - July 23rd 2020 7:33AM MST
PS: Good morning Mr. Moderator...

This photo has the same “Image Unique ID” as your camera...

Interestingly, there is a field in your exif data called “Circle of Confusion”.
Your Circle of Confusion is only 0.003mm, so I guess that means you're not terribly confused.

So... In the spirit of good fun, and because I'm a tinkerer, I added GPS data to your first two photos.

If you download them to your computer then upload them to the link below you can see your location on the map... I think I got your location in the observation deck pretty close...

The third file is a little trickier...
This is how I like to do .zip files...

I linked a zip file to post_1545C.jpg that contains a password protected zip file named that contains three text files with the exifdata from your original photos. When I unzip it from the command line in debian by typing “unzip post_1545C.jpg”, it unzips into the folder that post_1545C.jpg resides in. From there you can access like you would any other .zip file. The password is “peakstupidity” (as it is for the files below). I'm not sure how this would work in windows, (and I'm too lazy to install windows on a computer just to figure it out), but I'd imagine Robert would have no trouble opening it from his command line. It might work in windows with whatever tool you use to unzip stuff. Maybe 7zip would work.(?) Try renaming the file to (it worked for my graphical archive manager!)

Here's another file I was toying with yesterday...

It unzips the same way and contains a .pdf of 1984.

This last file uses a technique called steganography to hide data within a file. You'll notice that this orwell file is much larger. It also has an encrypted zip file containing a .pdf of 1984.

I open it from the command line by typing... “steghide extract -sf orwell.jpg”. It will ask for your password and then write the zip file to the same folder.

I'm not sure how useful any of this is, but I sure do find it interesting.

Hope you all have a good day.

Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 10:20AM MST
PS: Thank you, Adam Smith. Yes, you got it. This was not so much a test of your image foo (or your, Robert) but just a way for me to be sure. That 3rd one was the only one for which I just made a screenshot of the image I'd saved. I uploaded it with the other 2, rather than the one handled the same way as the other 2.

Amazing that it gave my "orientation". I'm am so relieved it had "horizontal" in that field rather than "gay". People are going to trust the Samsung over my own lying ... uh,..

Nah, you don't need to upload anything. My problem is not so much computer illiteracy but laziness and time constraints (lots of both, haha!)

As I wrote Robert, I had to wake up that phone out of a Van Winkle-like slumber to use the camera, as my other one was not up for it. So, I didn't bother with the date, and I got it up to 10 % energy charge while up in this observation area, just with enough time to snap the pics before I had to go.

If any of you get through MSP with some extra time, bring your lunch, kids, what-have-you, up there and get some peace and quiet. (Well, OK, the whole airport was pretty quiet ritght now minus the TSA recorded BS, which does not come through up in there - only the gate last-call for passenger announcents override the classical music.)

Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 10:11AM MST
PS: Mr. Federalist, I get where you are coming from. I'll say here that I have some long-term Vietnamese friends that are as American (redneck, in some ways) thinking as Americans, and nowadays, maybe more so. They were truly assimilated WAY back. That does not mean I think we need 10''s of thousands more, though.
Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 10:09AM MST
PS: Mr. Ganderson, that might be so, but I'd have to look back at your comments on Mr. Hail's blog in which you noted the COVID stuff going on in MN. I wouldn't have had the time, unfortunately, but that would have been great!

I really wish the iSteve guys could get together in Los Angeles sometime. I'm sure it would be fun. We'd have to get Steve out of the closet first, and I mean that totally literally people, NOT figuratively!
Adam Smith
Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 7:57AM MST
PS: Good morning Mr. Moderator and friends...

Photos 1 and 2 have exifdata.
Looks like you wiped the data from photo 3.
None of them have xmp data, as far as I can tell.

There is no GPS data.
Your flash did not fire.
Orientation:Horizontal (normal)
Focal Length 2.9mm
35 mm equivalent: 28.0 mm
Plus a bunch of other mundane stuff.

It looks like you did not set the time or date on your Samsung Galaxy J3. It appears that you took photo 1 and 2 on new years eve of 2015 at 7:37:50pm and 7:38:23pm.

There is a field called "Image Unique ID" in both photo 1 and 2, but they are the same 23 character string (if you count the space in the middle). Seems to me this ID might be used on all(?)/many(?)/some(?) Samsung Galaxy J3 phones, as these three pictures share the same "Image Unique ID", (unless your camera was used to take these photos, of course.)...

It seems there is nothing in the metadata that would link these pictures to you. If you like I can upload .txt files with the exifdata that I found, for your viewing enjoyment.

Obviously, as Robert said, feel free to edit or delete any or all of this.

Hope you have a nice day.

Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 5:35AM MST

...Mr. Dinh (obviously Vietnamese) as a foreigner writing about America, though perhaps he has lived here his whole life...

Either way, still a foreigner.
Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 5:30AM MST
PS. Mr. Moderator- I think we were in the Twin Towns at the same time. We could have gone out for a Juicy Lucy and an ice cold Grain Belt, provided Matt’s or the Blue Door had not been burned down.

I took a drive down Lake Street to survey the damage. Now, I’m a burly he-man, but I was on the verge of tears- all in memory of a career criminal.

Jacob Frey, Melvin Carter, Tim Walz, and the rest of the gang responsible for driving Minnesota into the ditch (I’d include the Presidents of Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services as well) need to serve long prison terms. They have blood on their hands.
Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 3:53AM MST
PS: I forgot: Robert, did it have the geographical coordinates, from the GPS chip in the phone? (It ought to pin-point that observation deck.) If you type them in, it'd be fun for me to go check.
Wednesday - July 22nd 2020 3:52AM MST
PS: Thank you, Robert. Yes, that old phone had to be woken up out of a multi-month slumber, so that's probably why the date was completely off. This was not near yesterday..

Could you check the other 2? I'm just curious if you'll see any without any data.

I downloaded GIMP a few years back. I'm sure it is a good program, but once I got into doing this blog, I ended up using simple MS Paint for the basics. Do you know of a good simple (like Paint) image-processing "app" for the ipads? I could really use one. There is a photo editor built in, but it can't do the 2 simplest things I want to do, cropping and changing size (usually with the same aspect ratio).

Tuesday - July 21st 2020 8:53PM MST

For image one (I did not check the others):

There is a pile of meta-data there. You used a Samsung model SM-REDACTED and you seem to have the date set in the future by at least one day. Time X:YZ A.M. but this is suspect. Perhaps the date and time are correct for GMT or J. A. Pan? No location data as far as I could tell.

I used ImageMagick, a whole suite of very geeky image manipulation programs. (identify -verbose )

A more 'friendly' program, which I don't currently have installed, is GIMP --- Gnu Image Manipulation Program.

Feel free to edit any of this.
WHAT SAY YOU? : (PLEASE NOTE: You must type capital PS as the 1st TWO characters in your comment body - for spam avoidance - or the comment will be lost!)