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February 16, 2009


by Don Rose

Love this image from the Obama Inauguration. The last picture of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney together in power, or should I say having just lost it. The Dastardly Duo are seen here sitting behind Obama as the new President delivers his Inauguration Speech. I must say, Cheney in the wheelchair and black hat looks part Snidely Whiplash, part Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life, with a dash of Dr. Strangelove. Meanwhile, Bush is in typical W mode, looking impatient with pursed lips and... what the... is he watching television? In the middle of Obama's historic speech? Sure looks like he's holding a smartphone here. Maybe it's streaming CNN, so he can see what he can't see live, since he's seated BEHIND the new Prez. Okay, that makes sense. Or is he texting? "I cnt b leev hw long ths is takng. I think Dik's asleep. Wish i was". Or maybe W's just holding Obama's Blackberry for him (or should I say Barackberry)...

FYI, this closeup was captured after zooming in on a longshot GIGAPAN image that is created by integrating many photos of a scene into a zoomable panorama. Start long and wide, then zoom in again and again; each time the image refocuses into sharpness. Quite fun to fiddle with. There are other similar technologies that also let you combine many images into one megaphoto or metaphoto or gigaphoto (pick your prefix) that you can pan and zoom. Microsoft's Photosynth is one such technology. Photosynth transforms a set of 2D shots into a kind of 3D navigable image. Their "Obama moment" megaphoto of the Oath garnered lots of attention (I'm sure Chief Justice Roberts has played with it many times, to relive that magic moment he made so memorable).

Final note: after zooming in for an even closer look, it seems the W-smartphone-holding theory may have been a bit premature. He might just be clapping and the "phone" may be a trick of the light and angle and that water bottle behind W's gloves. Guess we'll never know.