Monthly Archives: September 2002

Fundraising time!

This is long, but it is important, and I don't make these sorts of entries often. I would consider it a personal favor if you at least go to the effort to read it… Thank you.

OK, I think that most of you who read my page regularly know that both Andrew and Saira do radio shows on CHRY college/community radio, as I did as well when I was still there. Now, I think it's important that people understand WHAT they are supporting when they donate to stations like CHRY, who is currently in the midst of their fundraising week.

Saira does what is known as open format radio. That means that she's not limited to a particular genre or even a “list of demands” (that is, high rotation factory songs) from the record labels. She has the freedom to simply play good music of all sorts. In addition, she has a mandate to play new music and local music that might not otherwise get airplay… So as a result, listeners who don't live in that sad aural prison of listening to factory music get to hear something great.

Now here's the scary thing: open format radio is dying off. When I was still doing a show, they were the norm, and they were why people loved college radio. Now there are less than a dozen open format shows (across I think three stations) in the Toronto area, and those are being threatened. Even though they have listeners, these stations are volunteer staffed (Saira and Andrew have worked there for about a decade without being paid) and funded by donations from listeners.

The station told Andrew they expected him to raise $500 on his show; I think that less than 30% of that was reached. Saira's show is longer and she's expected to raise over $1000. It's important that we at least come close to send a strong message to the station that people value open format radio.

Also, CHRY 105.5FM is just a little station — 50 watts — broadcasting to northern Toronto and the burbs. However, they have what's called an “unprotected” frequency, which means that a large commercial station, say broadcasting at 105.3FM can literally drown out CHRY legally. Without successful fundraising, stations like CHRY will cease to exist.

Many of you have even listened to her show before — you can click here to go to the CHRY site and listen to a live streaming broadcast. Anyway, if you have a credit card (you can mail in a m/o too, but we all know no one does that), please consider donating. The minimum is just $5 or so Canadian — that's only about $3 for Americans. If you think you can spare that, please call (Saira's show is between 11PM and 2AM EST today, so if it's not during those hours make sure that they know you're donating for Saira Chhibber's “Superfly Show”):

416-736-5656
Help if you can!

If it's busy, please try again — a little station can't afford to put in megabanks of phones like you see on public TV. I should also mention that all donations are tax deductible and you will get a receipt (so consider throwing in a dollar for the mailing cost if you can afford to). Also, there are “rewards” for donations like cool CHRY t-shirts (if you have been to BBQs over the years, I'm sure you've seen me wearing mine) and records and other cool stuff — just ask when you call.

Oh, and when you call, let them know that you're an internet listener. I'm sure they'd be glad to know that there are people all over the world that support them, plus there's a lot of pressure to kill internet broadcasting. Thanks!

Poll stolen from Johnny

  • Drum solo or bass solo? “Bass solo, take one.”
  • Boring sex, often or mind blowing sex yearly? Boring sex is miserable and not worth having, so why even bother asking the question?
  • Ever eat dirt? Not as a main course, no.
  • Do you like the smell of your own farts? Doesn't bother me, maybe it's a science experiment if you look at it the right way.
  • Your own pits? Socially I understand it's not appropriate, but I have to agree with Johnny: “Absolutely”. In the right context, body odor — as long as it's clean and healthy of course — is incredibly sexy. But remember that sexual body odor is there for a biological reason — to let your partner know what your state of health (and arousal) is… So… If it's right, it's VERY right, but if it's not, things will be way worse.
  • Eye for an Eye or Turn the Other Cheek? Turn the other cheek a few times, and then total annihilation.
  • Does church make you horny? Church? No. Religious imagery? Hell yes.
  • Gwen or Pink? I have no interest in either of them.
  • Maiden or Priest? Maiden, but I'm biased.
  • Fred Durst or a brick? Bricks are at least useful, so I'll take the brick. The only thing Fred Durst is good for is another skull to put on the front of my Jeep.
  • Al Goldstein or Hugh Hefner? Al Goldstein, no doubt there. But again, I'm biased.
  • Wood floors or shag carpet? Wood floors. Shag carpet is cool, but I hate cleaning.
  • Ever buy a bootleg recording? Not that I can remember, if I did it was a long time ago.
  • Sold one? No, but I've given them away for free.
  • Shave or wax? Wax.
  • Would you orally pleasure yourself if you could? I'm sure I could find a spare moment.
  • Guys?/Girls? Would you swallow? I guess it depends on what kind of show you're putting on.
  • Ever shoot a gun? Yes, of course.
  • Do you own more than 3 dildos? Nope, but part of me suspects that will be changing real soon (sorry, in joke).
  • Do you remember your first kiss? Barely. As with most, it's not worth the neurons it's recorded on.
  • Do you let your canine/feline on the bed during sex? I don't let the dog on the bed ever, so no.
  • Beach or Mountains? Definitely a hard question. Probably beach, but mountains are generally more free and defendable and that is important to me.
  • Heaven or hell? Well this is really just a definition game… I want a place where I am both free and content.
  • Short hair on women or long? Obviously I can handle either, but in a perfect world, long and interesting (that is, with some flair, be it color, curls, whatever).
  • On men? Again, I have to agree with Johnny: “LONG LONG LONG. If he don't have longhair, hit the fucking highway…” But then there's something subversive about guys with short hair that play the field, so if you're into the parked car in the dark park at night anonymous gay pickup, maybe there's something to be said for short hair too.
  • Armpit hair on women? No way, and not on guys either.
  • Shaved chest on men? I'm not a fan of body hair on either sex, so yes, I guess so.
  • Ball hair? Definitely not. But I do have the sticker.
  • Favorite soap? It makes no difference to me.
  • Fave Shampoo Again, it really makes very little difference, but I like mint scents.
  • Aren't these quizzes stupid? I'm killing time until 11 PM, so it's helping.

"All the way with LBJ"

First of all, sorry, this isn't very well written so I apologize in advice if it's a bit disjointed and/or boring. The news is weird right now. It's literally all over the place and totally contradictory. I assume that implies that this is all still up in the air and no one is really quite sure how it is going to turn out.

We've got numerous stories about Gore (who has always supported regime change in Iraq) doing his speech about how Bush's Iraq war makes the world more dangerous. He says, “If you are going after Jesse James you ought to organize the posse first… We should focus first and foremost on our top priority — winning the war against terrorism.” That said, Senator Tom Daschle has said that Democrats would fully back Bush on the war. As that article points out, short of largely ignored newspapers, there's been essentially no public debate on this — at all. As is pointed out in this editorial, congress — and America — needs to remember the lessons of Tonkin*.

That said, reading Gore's full speech (it's more thoroughly quoted in the first link), it's very much an “on the fence” speech. As Buchanan points out, Democratic presidential hopefuls are pretty scared of “being on the wrong side of a popular war.” He brings up another interesting point, which is that time is running short — US troops are simply not trained in summer desert war and would be at a massive disadvantage should Saddam manage to push things back by six months.

Let's see if I can dig up some good news in the region. Does nine Israeli women's groups coming forward to support resolutions to have the butcher Ariel Sharon tried for war crimes? (No, not for his current crimes, but for truly bloody and horrific massacres where he murdered about 1,700 Palestinians). It must be quite sobering for Israelis, and probably even more so for Israeli-Americans (I'm sure there are many on IAM), when they wonder how different the world would be today if Sharon had lost the last election…

Since the US has a history of international betrayal, they have zero support from the rebel forces in Iraq, who also seek to overthrow Saddam. Remember, in the 1980s the US stocked Saddam with germ warfare ingredients in order to attack his enemies, but now it's a new administration and suddenly they're threatening to end him for it. So you can see why countries are wary to make deals of any kind with the US.

The CIA on the other hand has a very interesting story as to what it's all about:

Oil, Black Gold, Texas Tea!

All of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (who backs Bush's attack) have oil interests in Iraq, most notably France and Russia. The US has been very clear that the new regime will not honor any of the oil agreements, but that if those companies help in overthrowing Saddam they might be allowed to continue doing business.

Anyway, getting back to the contradictions, while the Arab League has said war with Iraq will “open the gates of Hell in the Middle East”, most Arab nations are either quietly helping the US or staying silent. But then also, probably thanks to a “image makeover“, Saddam is enjoying support from the Shiite Muslim community. Now the Saudis are saying that it's the US, not Iraq, which threatens regional peace. Even the British are backing down on regime change support, and the Germans have just elected an aggressively anti-war government — this is a big deal because there are currently about 70,000 US troops in Germany, and they may be banned from German airspace, dramatically altering US military presence in Europe.

But why regime change? There are no viable leaders who could be put into place, and there's no reason to believe that any new regime wouldn't be worse — at least the current one is stable. The reason is simple: The US doesn't care about terrorism or non-existent weapoons of mass destruction. They care about their corporate interests, which are achieved by war and political control of the region (which means regime change). If anything, the constant call for regime change is proof of the hidden agenda. Then of course we've got the Israelis and their lies and attrocities and genocidal rages and very clear and unhidden agenda…

And then it just starts getting silly. Psyops


* The Tonkin incident was a fabricated attack (a la “he has weapons of mass destruction”) by the Vietnamese on American ships which was used to have congress give LBJ a black cheque, and look how well the illegal war on Vietnam turned out for both the citizens of America and of that entire region of Asia. (Hence the quote at the top).

Interview

I just did the following interview with Heather about the development and evolution of IAM for an essay she's writing. I think she's also writing a few other people who helped in latter development (client software, iam.code, etc.). Anyway, here it is:

When was IAM created? Where did the idea come from? What is IAM meant to accomplish?

IAM was created in late 2000 — we're nearly at the two year anniversary. I don't think I can fully take credit for the main idea as blogs (web logs, online journals) were starting to take off, and, in fact, my very early notes refer to the core engine as “BME blog”. Basically, I wanted a place to keep track of my life and thoughts (and online diary) as well as a couple minor features.

I'd never actually even considered that it could be a community site — yes, it was meant to be a collection of people's diaries, but the original design had no messaging system, and I think even forums were added as an afterthought. That said, it was clear literally within days that this was going to balloon quickly and that people wanted it to serve not just as a journal but as a home of sorts. I think that now there are many people on IAM who have no other online page of their own, and there are many, myself included, who spend most of their time online with a window to IAM open.

I have tried my hardest to listen to what this community has asked for and implement it. I don't see myself as a leader or anything like that, nor do I particularly want to be, but I have fallen into a position where I get to lay out a foundation, and I really hope that I have honored all the wonderful people who have taken part by doing what is no more and no less than my fair share of the work to make this world a decent place.

How many people are currently using IAM?

Over its life IAM has had approximately 20,000 members and I think it currently has a number that hovers in the 6,500 range (a good number; manageable, but still large enough that nearly every part of the planet has enough members to have in-real-life meets), with at least 85% of those people using IAM every few days.

I tend not to look at the numbers that much because they are rather sobering — it really costs me a lot to host, both in dollars and in time. But it's more than worth it.

Was BME affected by the introduction of IAM? How so?

That's a complicated question — I've always thought of BME not as my work, but as the byproduct of a community much larger than anything my (admittedly massive) ego could encompass. IAM has absolutely clarified and, to me, proven that theory.

As far as effect on submissions, IAM has had little effect. I think that maybe people who spend a lot of time on IAM tend to contribute to BME less simply because it slips their mind, but now that I've integrated the submissions engine into IAM, I don't think that's a problem any more. As far as memberships, it's had very little effect since the “pay” aspect of BME serves a different goal than IAM and is “marketed” as something separate.

If I was a person who was profit oriented I believe I could easily charge a small amount for IAM (or host advertisements), but ethically it makes me very uncomfortable. As long as I can afford to personally pay the bills I will. Whenever I've needed to ask, people have been very generous with me, and I think it would be an enormous violation of trust for me to choose to try and profit from that.

What about BMEshop, BMEbooks, ModCon, etc?

ModCon significantly predates IAM, so there's probably not much interaction there besides peripherally. BMEshop on the other hand, while having started long before IAM, definitely has grown thanks to the IAM community — although it is so hard to tell. We probably could have made similar sales by simply advertising heavily on BME, but I think that the type of product we retail is better appreciated by the IAM audience, which I believe on the whole really represents the “top 10%” of this community (because of the screening process).

BMEbooks exists outside of BME and IAM on the whole, since it distributes internationally both through sites like Amazon.com and through bookstores that don't even know IAM exists. That said, BMEshop regularly sells half of any run of books we publish, so it's definitely a convoluted “one hand washes the other” scenario.

How many people were responsible for the initial creation of IAM? How long did the prototype take to build?

IAM, both as a prototype and in its current state is entirely written and designed by me (although with the feedback and beta testing help of many, many individuals). The prototype was written over two days — that had all the diarying features, the forums, the image galleries, the main indexing. Messaging (the IM system) was added over about three hours a few days later if I remember right. After that, development has never stopped.

Was the overall design process divided into major phases? What were the major steps?

The core engine and interfaces were designed in a (paper) sketchbook that I would take with me to the laundromat. I find that brainstorming and designing on paper is far less limiting than designing on a computer. Of course, I was born in 1973, making me about four years too young to have grown up using a computer as a universal design tool.

Other than that, there's just the programming and testing step. Once the core engine was built (as I said, in two days), I just kept cobbling on piece after piece and don't have any serious plans on stopping.

What tools & technologies were used to create the basic model of IAM?

IAM runs on a standard IIS (Windows) server, although one that's been absolutely stripped down to make it. I chose Windows simply because that's where more of my experience as a programmer exists, and, to be honest, a properly written program on a properly stripped down OS runs just as fast under Windows — and the fact that IAM outperforms the Linux-based competitors should lend credence to that claim.

As far as the languages, it's actually written in a language called PowerBasic. I want to make it clear that this is not Qbasic or VisualBasic. PowerBasic is a stunningly fast console compiler (no GUI by default), and I believe that under Windows it is the most efficient compiler for writing CGI applications. Database drivers, spell check modules, mapping engines, and so on were all written from scratch by me in my spare time.

From your point of view, what were the things that helped or hindered the success of IAM? What would you have done differently?

I wrote IAM because I wanted to use it. It's not a commercial product, and I have never thought of it as such. Any time I needed a feature for myself, because I wanted it, I added it. As such, IAM is incredibly fast and easy to use, but at the same time is far more feature rich and powerful than any other comparable system out there (including the clones of IAM). IAM has certainly had challenges from time to time, but nothing that wasn't fairly easily resolved.

Elaborating on that, what were the top few challenges that had to be overcome; what made designing and implementing IAM particularly difficult, or put it in danger of not being completed? How were these issues addressed?

There were four major stumbling blocks that I faced. I'll start with money. When I first started IAM, it was totally open to the public. Anyone that wanted to could add a page (and they did). I didn't want to restrict access, but at the same time, I couldn't afford not to. At that point I simply cut access back to people who have (at least when they added their account) BME access either by sending in photos or stories, or by purchasing a membership. IAM is still definitely draining my resources, but now at a rate which I think is more fair, and, I think that this has changed the dynamic of the members for the better.

The second stumbling block was security. Especially once IAM became restricted access, people started seeking out holes in its security system. Not having any real experience in this sort of thing, I made some monstrous mistakes — it's actually quite surprising that no serious violations never happened. Thankfully I believe that now — and really only quite recently — those holes have been addressed. In addition, there are a handful of members who are very good about finding various holes and letting me know their details so I can fix them without issue.

The third and fourth issues are both related to fighting on the site. Yes, fights do happen between members regularly (it would be weird if they didn't). The general decency of the people here as well as the TOS limit the damage that a small fight can do, but there have been two site-shaking fights that could have ended IAM (and nearly did). The first of those was September 11, 2001. It's no secret that I have very anti-big business and anti-tyranny beliefs, and I did not hide my belief that these factors were the direct cause of the attacks. Nowadays, such a viewpoint is almost the norm on IAM, but back then most Americans (which make up the bulk of IAM) had never had to face such issues and took enormous offense at — or at least found crass and hurtful — some of my commentary and news analysis.

The site dissolved into the most hateful fighting I'd ever seen — pages were flooded with everything from racist diatribes to quite serious calls to organize a “posse” to come up to Canada and end my life. At its peak I turned off IAM for a day or two, and then when IAM returned I called for a two-week voluntary moratorium on political discussion. Thankfully most people agreed to make IAM a “safe space” and we made it through it.

The fourth and final hindrance was the dissolution (at least as far as most IAM members were concerned) of the CoBM (Church of Body Modification). I don't think this problem is entirely over yet, but the key point was that many members of IAM felt that the CoBM had misled them and in many cases actually stolen and misappropriated money from them. The CoBM made some very unpleasant accusations in return, both against members and the general IAM population and against me, and things got particularly nasty and hateful. A large percentage of the CoBM's members and ministers quit the CoBM in disgust, and the majority that didn't left IAM for the CoBM's own community site (which today has I think a bit under 180 members, with very few logging in according to their usage details). All that said, I have no desire at all to fight with the CoBM. As long as IAM isn't used to promote the CoBM, that's just fine by me and I hope that a state of “quietly disagreeing” can continue (since there are a number of CoBM members and ministers on IAM, a number of whom I consider friends still).

Those last two megafights are very sad because they resulted in the termination of a number of very old and dear friendships, and it makes me sad to think about. Yes, there was a terminal difference of opinion, but I still miss many of the people involved. If I could change anything, it would be how that was handled from the very start.

As far as other things I'd do differently, while I'm sure that two years of hands-on experience would save me some time and cost, ultimately things have turned out for the best and I have no complaints.

Overall, to what extent would you consider it a success or failure?

IAM has definitely been a raging success.

What standards do you use to define its success?

There is one standard alone that has value — do people enjoy using it and has it improved the life of those people in a measurable way? I believe that this is definitely a big yes. As far as other things like features and quality, IAM dramatically outperforms any similar system on the market, but as I said, that's irrelevent. At least indirectly, it has made people happy, and really, what else is there?

I need a title

My plan for today:

  • Try and do an image update, at least a small one, to test the upload procedures over the satellite. My first test is going to be simply zipping up the entire update and uploading from here (that should deal with most of the latency issues) and then uncompressing it on the server.
  • Work on the Scrapbook some more (on that note, check out the awesome photos newaddict just posted of both the Dallas and Toronto BBQs).
  • Go down to CJLX-FM, the local community/campus/alternative station and see what it takes to get a show.

Josh posted this a few days ago but I felt it should be mentioned again: Woman nearly dies of papercut — a good story to reference any time you need to “defend” the safety of piercing and people bring up far-out medical possibilities (like brain infections).


In the less fun news, the US has apparently identified about 80,000 terrorists worldwide, with two thousand more being added every month. Now, if that is a true number, the US population is, well, fucked. If (assuming we believe the “official story”) and 25 or so people can, given some money, organize attacks on the scale of 9/11, think what 80,000 psychos can do. The obvious response of course is that these people are not in fact terrorists.

And if they are, it's not like they can be stopped. Osama bin Laden has absolutely disappeared (and may or not be dead, point is no one has any idea) — and mention of him has all but disappeared from the media — “Whosama” or “bin Forgotten” seem to be his new media monikers. It's not like they ever caught the Anthrax killers either — if you remember, they hung Hatfill out to dry but he seems to have successfully shown himself not guilty.

In any case, who needs the war on terror when you've got the Zionist war (I should warn people that link will upset and inflame many people; unfortunately most sites on the subject are of a “conspiracy theory” nature). After all, that's what this really is about — and has been from day one — and it's become painfully clear that Americans have very little control over their country. What is clear is that what parts of the country aren't run my extranational megacorporations (oil companies, defense contractors, etc.) is controlled by the Israeli lobby.

"If you think the Shias in Lebanon are capable of fantastic acts of suicidal terrorism, the Jewish underground will strike targets that will make Americans gasp: 'How could Jews do such things?'... [My allies are] desperate people [who] don't care if they live or die."

Victor Vancier, Jewish Defence League

Anyway, although it's looking like the US may not get its way now on the “regime change” demands thanks to Saddam Hussein's capitulation on the inspector's demands, check out this article on the thug list that Bush can pick from… Do you want General Nizar Al-Khazraji, the man who poisoned and burned 5000 Kurdish civilians (under US command), and is now a friend of the US? Or maybe Brigadier-General Najib Al-Salihi, commander of the Republican Guard, key player in the Kuwait invasion, and the person who successfully made homeless 1.5 million people during the uprising at the end of the Gulf War (and now a US, well, CIA, buddy)? Or maybe Ahmad Al-Chalabi, who embezzled millions in Jordon and then went on, with the assistance of the CIA, to set up and embezzle millions more from various organizations, and a US buddy?

Well, at least the Vatican is taking a stand against the attack on Iraq… Of course, they're not fools, and they realize that in this chess game of religious domination, that it's not in their best interests to continue strengthening the Israeli cause, since once the Muslims are eliminated from the region that they all consider holy, the Christians will be next.

Well, there hasn't been much action in the forum in the last few days. Maybe this'll spice things up.