Monthly Archives: September 2004

Work in progress

This painting isn't done yet, but I'm fairly happy with the progress so far:


“A pig stole our bomb shelter!”

It's based on an illustration from an old British what to do if there's a nuclear strike handbook.

No-Mod Interview

I'm taking today off to paint, but I just did a really fun little interview about politics with a university paper in Montreal (more) which I'm going to archive here.


For the readers that dont know who you are, tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a computer programmer with two tongues and various other split bits, and run a website called BME (http://www.bmezine.com/).

In 25 words or less, describe yourself, politically.

I believe that people should be able to, without limits, do anything they want as long as they're not directly hurting someone else. That said, I think we have a moral responsibility to help our neighbors and be decent people.

As it stands, which candidate do you think will win the U.S. presidential election?

All of the objective polling I've seen conducted suggests to me that John Kerry has about 80% support by the US population and will achieve that in terms of votes received. However, Bush will win the election by a slim margin. Unfortunately, due to Republican-owned voting machines that are legally required not to maintain a paper trail, the real numbers in the election will never be known. Democrats will whine about it at the water cooler for fifteen minutes after the election and then go back to their slavery without ever raising arms.

Welcome to [insert sarcastic air quotes here] democracy… the best democracy money can buy.

What similarities or differences come to mind when looking at the platforms of the Democrats and Republicans?

In my opinion people should consider first whether they're happy with the direction America is moving. Is America a better place now than it was four years ago? Given that neither Kerry or Bush has permitted their military records to be fully released, they're probably both liars — just different flavors — so there's no point debating that. Given that you're seeing the Iraq war through pathologically dishonest American military media, and it's a social powderkeg that Westerners don't understand anyway, there's also not a whole lot of point in debating who's doing the right thing in Iraq. There's no way to know. What we do know about Iraq though is that Bush has been consistently wrong in his predictions and statements — not to beat an old drum, but mission accomplished?

The guy fucked up, and he fucked up over and over and over. Even if you think Iraq is a valid war, the fact is that Bush is handling it with total incompetence. Don't take my word for it — the commanders in Iraq have been very clear about their opinions.

As a general rule it's also very important for people to “follow the money”. Think about human nature — ultimately people understand best the people who are most like them, and, selfishly, those are the people they help. So try and vote for the person who you think is most like you; the one who understands your problems. Bush is endorsed by the big oil companies and other wealthy players. While Kerry also has no shortage of wealthy donors, he's also endorsed by most labor unions and civil rights groups.

Which candidate represents best the ideals the United States was founded upon?

Without a doubt the only candidate that represents the ideals that America was founded upon is Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party. Neither Bush nor Kerry even come close to standing for America or American values. They both stand for the rich and for big business far more than they do for the American people, let alone the American spirit.

And what chance do they have of getting elected?

Badnarik has zero chance of actually being elected, but the Libertarian Party has national representation and is a very valid party that continues to grow. I hope that Republicans who feel betrayed by the neo-con agenda and want to move away from big government, big business, and big war consider sending a message to the Republican party that change is needed by casting their vote for a Libertarian candidate. I understand that there are Republicans that hate Bush but can't stomach Kerry either — Badnarik may be the man for you.

What actions can we expect from America on the world stage after the election of Bush or Kerry?

If Kerry gets elected he'll basically be playing cleanup for the next four or eight years. Hopefully (it's a big “if”) with the financial support of other nations he'll move toward cleaning up the mess in Iraq and more importantly mending the damage done with other nations, especially those which could become dangerous in the future. The time under Kerry won't be pleasant, and I think it's safe to expect more policing, less civil rights, and increased spending as current problems are dealt with. However, Bush would have to spend the same money and commit the same social wrongs on the same problems — that game is already motion and there's no stopping it.

On the other hand, if Bush is elected, he'll “stay the course” in Iraq. However, after 3,000 Americas are killed (and 60,000 come back wounded), and there is less and less international support, public opinion will force him to withdraw. America will be crippled economically, become an international pariah, and Iraq will be an extremist powderkeg and terrorist staging area. Israel will be forced to launch preemptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and in response Iran will use long range missiles purchased from North Korea to drop nukes across Israel, leveling Tel Aviv and other Jewish civilian centers. Israel will launch a broad nuclear response, destroying most of the Arab infrastructure in the region.

This violence will spread to Pakistan, and nuclear strikes will start going off between it and India. North Korea starts turning Japan into rubble, China invades Taiwan, and Russian states begin attacking each other almost at random. As the world descends into chaos, Russian biological agents are released, leading us to a worldwide plague. As bands of mutants roam the streets, George Bush declares himself King and awaits the second coming of Christ.

Unfortunately only Satan arrives.

What represents the greatest threat to America? Terrorism, the decline of traditional American values, the rise of China, total economic collapse, or something else entirely?

Terrorism is not an independent threat to the United States. Terrorism is a response to US actions; therefore it can never be a threat since it is triggered by US actions. If a potential rapist doesn't want to get sprayed with mace, all they have to do is stop trying to rape people.

As far as the “decline of traditional American values”, I'm not even sure what's meant by that? Gay marriage? President Lincoln had a gay lover for most of his life, and in those days it was simply a non-issue because we had not yet created the social construct — or stigma — of “gay”. While I do have some concern about the breakdown of the heterosexual family, I don't believe it's particularly a threat to the United States. If you believe, as I do, that America is about “doing your own thing in your own space as long as you're not hurting anyone else”, then things like gay marriage, whether you're grossed out by it or not, are fundamentally a traditional American value.

Total economic collapse? That definitely sucks, but it's not going to destroy America any more than it destroyed Germany, Venezuela, or any number of other countries that have had their economy decimated at one point. It's a really crappy thing to go through, but America can survive it.

The rise of China on the other hand is a genuine threat, but not for the reason most people would assume. The biggest problem with China in my opinion is that it has a runaway pollution problem. America does as well, but I believe that in America (as there is in Europe) there is a rising awareness of environmental issues that should be able to catch it in time to avert the worst of the disaster. China though already has large stretches that are utterly uninhabitable due to the pollution, has nearly destroyed its freshwater system on a national level, and has very little safeguards in place to keep this from snowballing.

Skipping over the obvious (CO2 levels causing a fatal greenhouse effect), an environmental collapse which destroys the bottom of the food chain — microbial life on land, plankton in the oceans, and so on — doesn't just lower the biodiversity of the planet. Killing the bottom of the food chain is like destroying the foundation of a house — it all comes tumbling down, and by the time you see it starting to fall, all you can do is start talking to your bank about buying a new house.

Unfortunately buying a new planet is a long shot solution.

Yogic Tongue Surgery

Thanks to Cerra giving me a copy of The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (which I am very certain many people reading this have read), I've been able to add a better entry on Khecharimudra to the BME/Encyclopedia. The tongue splitting has had a little on it in the past, but this is the source.


Khecharimudra is a hatha yoga practice which involves surgically lengthening the tongue (and by some accounts splitting it as well). The tongue is then flipped back inside the nasal cavity for use in breath control related yoga. Svatmarama describes this practice in the still popular 15th century text The Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The following translation is from Brian Dana Akers. Notes in italics have been added by me.


Turn the tongue backward and insert it into the skull cavity. Direct the gaze to the middle of the brows. This is Khecharimudra. Gradually elongate the tongue by cutting, shaking, and stretching it until it touches the middle of the brows. Then Khechari is accomplished.

Take a smooth, stainless knife — very sharp, like asnuhi leaf [milk hedge] — and cut a hair's breadth with it. Then rub it with a powder of rock salt [naturally occurring salt] and yellow myrobalan [a powder made of an astringent fruit similar to a prune containing tannin; this powder stops bleeding by constricting blood vessels]. When the seventh day arrives, cut a hair's breadth again.

Practice regularly in this manner for six months. The tie of blood vessel at the root of the tongue disappears after six months. Turn the tongue backward and insert it into the path of the three. This is Khecharimudra. It is also called Vyomachakra.

The yogi who holds the tongue upward for even half a second is saved from poison, disease, death, old age, and so on. He who knows Khecharimudra is without disease, death, lethargy, sleep, hunger, thirst, and fainting. He who knows Khecharimudra is not tormented by disease, not smeared with Karma, not troubled by time.

The mind moves in space; the tongue enters space. Therefore the name Khechari ["moving through space"] was chosen by the masters for this mudra.

In his introduction Akers notes that there has always been disagreement over which yogic activities should actually be put into practice (this disagreement is noted even in this pradipika), and emphasizes, “some practices in this book I don't recommend at all.” In modern times (and quite likely five hundred years ago as well), surgical alteration of the tongue is seen as a fringe practice and is not accepted into the mainstream of yoga. That said, there it is, plain as day, in one of the most profound sections of one of the core texts.

Khecharimudra serves as an excellent example of the spiritual application of extreme body modification.

Hello


Welcome, future!

So this woman kept starting — and glaring — at me when I was getting my soy latte this morning. It was really quite hostile, not just curiosity. So I pointed at her from across the room, pointed at the baby lying next to her in the stroller, and make a throat-slitting gesture. That stopped the staring immediately.

The barista was making my drink. She speaks with a Ukrainian accent which I will entirely inadequately represent through the use of italics.

“So how is your day?”

“Good so far, the apocalypse hasn't come yet.”

“Oh, that's nice, isn't it?”

“Yes.”

Video killed the radio star

Hey? Do you know what open format radio is? It's where the DJ can play anything they want, and aren't given lists of what's in rotation by the cartel of labels, advertisers, and promoters… College radio is one of the few places left that you can find open format, and my friend Saira is one of those DJs. If it's between 11PM and 2AM EST (on the day I post this), you can visit CHRY and listen live. It's also the fundraising drive if you can help out.


File this in the “brave… or stupid?” department.
I've been meaning to post these pictures for a little while (I don't think I have yet). I found these underneath a heater while cleaning. I don't know who they're from or how old they are. I think it's a mix of pu gong ying, xia ku cao, chuan xin lian, and bai hua she she cao, but I'm not really sure…

Purges toxic heat, cools the blood, resolves inflammations, soothes the throat. Use for acute throat inflammations with swollen glands and fever, including strep infections. Being beneficial in viral infections causing fever (measles, flu, hepatitis); also, for toxic furuncles, mastitis, and abscesses.

If you had a chance to become a superhero, would you take it?
'Cause I could really use some of that real ultimate power.

Now we'll move on to the “oh, the irony” department.
When you're thinking about the upcoming US election, it might be easiest to frame George Bush with his own words, so we can ask, “what did George Bush promise, and what did George Bush deliver?” The following are some of his campaign promises and comments (more):

The fundamental question is, 'Will I be a successful president when it comes to foreign policy?' ... I will be, but until I'm the president, it's going to be hard for me to verify that I think I'll be more effective.

We should never undermine the right of a person arrested to have their rights read to them. I did believe, though, that voluntary confessions should be allowed without a Miranda reading. The court didn't agree with my position. I'm now going to uphold the law.

[Referring to accusations he was corrupt and working for big business] It's frankly the type of politics people in America are sick of, this kind of finger pointing, calling names and trying to divert attention.

I'm the person that can change the tone of Washington, D.C.. Just give me a chance to be the president.

Whether you think it was right or wrong, Bush certainly has “changed the tone of Washington”… The Iconoclast, Bush's hometown paper liked what they heard in those promises, and endorsed him in 2000. However, looking at his record, his own hometown paper has decided to endorse Kerry (more).

Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:
* Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
* Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans benefits and military pay.
* Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

(more)

Hey, it could be worse… he could be a Nazi like his granddad.


Oh, and saram got mefied (as did my latest article).