What a delightful, lively group you are! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the last post – and I hope this post will answer the big question ultimately hanging over my head like an annoying thought bubble… what in the Sam Hill were you getting at lady? (Which is, actually, a common question posed by my spouse almost daily for numerous subjects!)

When cliveden posted a link and a question in another comments section, I casually strolled across the web to have a sticky beak (that means take a look for you mainlanders). I found the photo, captured it and reposted it here to get all your opinions. The next day I went back to the site and began perusing the other entries. By the third one I was sitting straight up in my seat, alarmed and uncomfortable.

I immediately removed the link from my comments and sent cliveden an email explaining my reasons. I asked her to please not post it anywhere else until I’d had a chance to show it to a professional, get his opinion, and capture certain information that might otherwise disappear (like some myspace accounts) should the quiet blog suddenly be the recipient of heavy traffic.

To be perfectly honest, my initial impression of the photo was that it had been photo-shopped by the blog author. The post read like a quiet occasion shared by two close friends. But in reading further it began to feel more like the long, melancholy letter one would write to a lover at sea, referring to one of the Palin women as ‘my sweetness’ and reading the posts felt like such an intrusion of privacy I had to stop. On the advice of a friend and professional, I’ve sent the link to Alaska authorities. On the advice of a friend and a blogger, I’m not going to release the link here and sincerely hope that any of you who might be privy to the web address will not make it public, either.

We have a responsibility – all of us – on all sides of the political aisle – to ensure we have a place to conduct deeply passionate, heated discussions about our policies, our elected officials, our elected-wannabes and in these rooms we share some pretty adamant, unyielding and differing opinions of people. But one thing we need to always agree on and that is we mean no one actual physical harm. I am genuinely concerned that the author of the blog I read is troubled, pathologically focused on the Palin family and neither I nor any of my readers need to be the catalyst for putting this poor soul over the edge.

And then I had an email exchange with Gryphen from tIM in which he not only confirmed my reactions but had this profound statement to add as well:

As things with the Palins start to die down there are a few VERY unhinged people, on both sides of the spectrum, who seem to be having an especially hard time letting things go.  Just recently  Shawn Christy decided to plead guilty (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/sarah-palins-stalker-plead-guilty) which is good because he was another one who was becoming increasingly scary.

Sarah and Todd Palin may very well be genuine phonies who grifted their way to fame and fortune, cheating the general public out of millions of dollars – but as disingenuous as they might be, stalkers are very real. And unfortunately we can’t always know who they are because – well, for one thing, they don’t wear name tags. So for now, at least, I’m taking the high road and not releasing the blog link.

But that said… a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Commenter Carolyn stepped forward to identify the photo in question and if nothing else, her knowledge of the event convinced me that the melancholy blogger is not responsible for any alterations which may have befallen our wedding mystery photo of Sarah & Todd – so that event and this photo are – in my humble opinion – up for grabs, topic wise. The link is off limits, but the photo is still in play.

A short tutorial in photo-shopping:

Behold the following photo of Todd Palin taken by a professional photographer with a high quality resolution of 300 pixels (dots) per inch (.dpi). When you lighten or enlarge this photo, the image (in particular the shadow on his cheek) doesn’t lose integrity. That’s because at 300 dpi there are enough pixels (dots) in each square inch to maintain the original image as it stretches. The image is left with clean, undistorted lines.

(Click image to enlarge)

Now we have a photo of Todd taken with a lesser quality camera and uploaded to youtube. The end result is an image resolution of 72 dpi – which is normally suitable for most images but the conversion to a youtube format added another process called compression. I found this answer on a forum to be the most comprehensive:

Image compression, like what is used for JPEG files, does just what it sounds like it does: it takes all of the data recorded by the sensor … and eliminates redundancies to create a smaller file size. In practice, this process takes the form of reducing the number of recorded colors to those specifically found in the image, and combining data from closely-colored pixels sitting near each other. The more heavily you apply this process the smaller the file will be, but the more details will be lost.

(Click to enlarge)

Simple shadows taken at a low resolution and then compressed lend a gritty look to normal shadows. In the case  of the August 17 youtube clip, the normal shadow on Tod’s cheeks appear darker than in the original image. When that same image is subsequently sharpened to pull it back into focus, a shadow can appear so gritty it gives the appearance of being a creeping beard.

The image of Todd in the wedding photo – to me – looks like a compressed photo that’s been shopped into a bigger picture. The image has been changed probably in size and then had a sharpening tool applied to compensate for the small distortions left behind. Interestingly enough, someone commented earlier on Todd missing his right ear. As you can see in the above image, compression and/or alteration can leave rough-looking, jagged edges which then need to be erased to hide or painted over to blend into the parent image. In either case, Todd is looking ‘almost’ straight on into the camera and – imho – at least a portion of his right ear should have been visible.

I can’t imagine this is a genuine photo of Sarah & Todd, even though I told Carolyn I would bow to her knowledge of this event – so I will bow out of this now with just one final observation…

What on earth did Todd do to ‘chubby up’ so dramatically in only 8 days?


============   UPDATE   ============

I am truly sorry the original conversation of the last two posts got derailed but will attempt to respond to a couple of things here. I am remiss in not having been more clear to begin with so allow me to backtrack:

A commenter sent me a photo and asked if I thought it was shopped or not. I had no stake in an outcome either way. My initial reaction was that yes, I thought it had been, although for what purpose I had no clue. Then I revisited the site of origin and became alarmed at the intimacy of the writing. It felt as if I’d opened a door to a room where I had no business being. Like a kid who accidentally walks in on his parents having sex – even though there were no parents here and no sex – just a style of writing that went well past a sense of correctness in blogging from a simple ‘fan’ in my opinion. So I pulled back and sought professional advice.

In the meantime Carolyn came on board and offered to share the original of this photo, knew the event it represented, some of the people involved and her knowledge answered a few of our questions. I have no evidence to support the suspicion that she lied when telling us the photo was genuine – but I also have no evidence which might support her claim of its authenticity, either. A couple of people dug around and located flickr accounts of this wedding event but not a single photo of Sarah & Todd appear in either of the flickr slideshows of the ceremony and reception, or in the newspaper account of the event which got a decent sized write-up in a local paper. Carolyn did provide a photo of Willow and Trig that I was delighted to receive because many of us have been disappointed by the lack of public photos of Trig growing up. But supporting photos of Sarah and Todd at this event? Not one.

I am not obsessed with this photo – I’ve just tried to be thorough. And the reason to even go down this avenue at all is because of the preponderance of evidence that has surfaced over the past three years showing how Sarahs initial quest for political power was riddled with false scenarios deliberately set up to make her appear more than she is. The release of emails alone showed Sarah to be rather deceptive and conniving inasmuch as she actually stooped to writing her own letters of praise and then had staff sign and submit them to local newspapers as if they represented the voice of the average Alaskan citizen . It was also discovered through these emails that Sarah had to locate and borrow a jogging stroller so she could be photographed with it in a national magazine ‘as if’ running with Trig in tow was a part of her normal routine. So in that vein, if this wedding photo is yet another phoney ploy concocted by the Palins for whatever reason, then we have every right to persue those facts.

Turning to my blog – it’s time I think to make a public commitment to all you reading my blog, whether you feel I’m one of the unhinged or not… everyone is welcome at Oz Mudflats. I have never and will never chastize a commenter or delete a comment because it is critical of my writing, my opinion or the subject of the post. A very wise professor once told my class – If we were each the same – one of us would be unnecessary. We need to praise and correct each other and be willing to take both as well. We need debate and differing opinions and opposing viewpoints to create and maintain a healthy balance in society and I do not preach what I do not practice. You may not get me to bend to your point of view but you’re welcome to try and I may do handstands to get you to see my side of an issue. I may clean up some of the more colourful language from time to time in the comments if I feel the cussing is overdone and could offend one of our more gentle readers but I will not ever delete the contribution itself or in any way attempt to humiliate the person behind it. In three years I’ve shown only one person the door and not for the thought behind the comment but because of the harsh language used to deliver it – but even that comment was left up after editing out a few of the fucks and suggesting he didn’t know me well enough to call me a slut.

This of course doesn’t mean I won’t challenge anyone who waves a red flag under my nose. I am half Irish after all. And I proudly voted for President Obama. It just means everyone is welcome here. No one of you will ever get a post, comment or email from me, belittling you, calling you rude or telling you to go away.