Monthly Archives: September 2004

World Poker Championships

I sincerely hope this person lives somewhere that does not require the use of shoes… Although even if that were the case, I think it's safe to assume this will join the ranks of other “kept it for three days, took a cool photo, and now let's never speak of it again” piercings*.

Meh, what do I know. Like I said before, I get photos of eyelid piercings on a regular basis. Maybe I'm getting old and out of touch or something… In all seriousness, I have been feeling a little out of touch; it's been a while since I've gotten a piercing and for the first time in years I'm really feeling the overpowering urge to do so again! (But it's not going to be a toe piercing, sorry).

* Although I am being informed that the person has had it for some time, wear it under socks, and it's doing just fine.

TV is funny

I tend to watch all the Bush cabal speeches and interviews, and one of the things that always strikes me is just how good they are at these “talking points” (more). You know, those canned responses that they have (ie. “America is safer, and the world is safer” or “Americans knew this was going to be hard work”)? What impresses me is not only that they all do it (even Allawi), but that they all do it exactly the same every time — same intonation, same hand gestures, impeccable timing with the same laugh at the same point ever time… It's very impressive.

Of course, it's also a classic brainwashing technique; this type of repetition effectively “tricks” your brain into accepting these statements as strong memories, even if you're only hearing it as background noise. It's why sometimes you can meet otherwise intelligent people who will just parrot these points in the face of any facts that they're presented with.

Anyway, I was watching CSI: Las Vegas last night, and Gil Grissom was talking in sign language. I'm pretty sure this exchange, ending with an Anabolic-style “two in the stink” shocker, got him slapped.

Let's see what else is on TV. Pretty funny coverage of Bush's lying over on ABC. Now, maybe you're saying “damn liberal ABC”, but realize that what you're actually doing is arguing for media to lie to cover up lies by a politician who you misguidedly believe is on “your side”. Anyway, this is what Bush said:

We agree that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. And that stands in stark contrast to the statement that my opponent made yesterday, when he said that the world was better off with Saddam in power. I strongly disagree.

Jennings steps in and says (actually intoning and emphasizing the word I'm presenting in bold), “And this is what Mr. Kerry actually said,” then cutting to the following clip of Kerry:

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in Hell. But that was and of itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction...that we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

Anyway, it was funny to see the media for once call Bush on one of his really blantant lies. Hopefully it'll continue as a general trend, but I doubt it.


So I was burning caps and set off the fire alarm. I was expecting my door to be bashed down by firemen, but luckily so such destruction occurred. Lesson learned? The smoke threshhold of my apartment is two rolls of caps. Never burn more than that inside a ten minute period.

In other “explosion and smoke” news, Israel has bought 500 of the big bunker-buster bombs (BLU-109) from the US (more). These have one purpose in mind: taking out Iran's nuclear facilities (which they built in response to Israel's 200 nuclear bombs; more). Israel doesn't tend to fuck around, so even though Iran has been parading around its Shahab-3 missiles (thanks for your help, North Korea) to deter Israel, a sandbox brawl is certainly in the cards.

But all of this is just a distraction from the real problems.

Since the 1970s, Arctic Ocean temperatures have risen five degrees. For the first time in known human history, the Siberian coastline is ice-free. This is largely because of our increased CO2 levels, which allow solar radiation to enter the atmosphere but then don't allow it to bouce back out. Even if we stopped CO2 emissions growth RIGHT NOW, we'd still be at 520ppm by 2100, and even with a sustained 3% growth rate (very low), we'll hit 1,100 ppm by 2100.

The threshhold point for run-away environmental collapse is estimated to be 450ppm. In order to keep from hitting this we need to stop our emissions growth by about 2010, and dramatically reduce it every year after that. This is simply not going to happen.

My advice? Buy a good mountainbike and a crossbow.


Just did this slightly repetative interview… Archiving it here.

What do you think of body modification in general (e.g. tattoos, scarification, piercings, suspension, etc)?

Well, I think they’re great of course!

What are the positive effects of practicing body modification?

First of all, it’s important to realize that body modification is a tool, rather than an end in and of itself. If they allow it to, practicing body modification can help an individual figure out who they are on their own terms. It’s an excellent way of getting to know yourself — very few people do! It can teach people to stand on their own feet and be proud of themselves because it helps show them how to take an active roll in defining themselves and altering themselves into exactly who they want to be — the small physical changes from body modification very often kickstart far larger changes under the surface. For other people it can be a cathartic spiritual act, for others it can make them feel attractive or enhance their sex lives, and for others it helps amplify the type of contact they want with the public.

Do you think a majority of peoples of different cultures out there practice body modification for a spiritual reason or to experience a feeling of spiritual enlightenment? Why? If any, could you please give some examples of body modification practiced for spiritual enhancement?

Yes and no… Historically body modification has been a way of oppressing people because the modifications were designed to physically force people into the way of living that their culture espoused. It’s not until the last five hundred years or so that the trend of modifications built around individual desires rather than group behavior evolved (and it’s still evolving). I’m sure I’m showing my own bias, but I just don’t see “forced” spirituality or culture as legitimate. I believe that people have to discover and explore God on their own to really understand — otherwise they’re just blindly taking someone else’s word for it and become spiritual slaves.

That said, all historical indications suggest that earlier body modification may have been constrained to empowering ritual acts rather than social order — the first modifications we know of (30,000 years ago) appear to be ceremonial digit amputations performed by shamans (more info). We also know that primitive man tattooed himself with the images of the animals he hunted, and that tattoos and cuttings were a part of early medicine in a way similar to acupuncture. Then of course there are things like suspension and related flesh rituals which are designed to cause the person to have a “break down” which knocks them out of reality long enough to have a spiritual journey.

These activities are all still practiced by modern cultures and individuals, and I believe that more people now than in all of human history are embracing these techniques to explore spirituality as they see it.

Has body modification reached a mainstream level yet? Should it?

America is probably the most modified nation in the world right now if we’re to limit ourselves to modifications done by the individual rather than group behaviors such as infant ear piercing and tribal tattoos and so on — it has something like a 15% penetration rate from the last stats I’ve seen on the number of tattooed and pierced people. While that’s definitely approaching mainstream, it’s not yet reached a saturation point where body modifications don’t negatively impact a person’s life in terms of employment prospects, education opportunities, and so on. I hope it does one day. The more individual freedom and expression we have the better off we’ll be.

Do you think popular forms of body modification like piercings and tattoos are over-popularized and have lost a ‘deeper meaning’?

My only concern is that body modification moves toward something more “mass marketed” or “mass manufactured”. One of the most important things about body modification in a modern context is that it has been an act of individual definition, rather than one that just “goes along with the tribe/crowd”. As long as we hold onto the individual interpretations of body modification, the more popular it is the better.


So as you probably know, Cat Stevens (former hippie singer now known as Yusuf Islam) caused an airplane to be diverted due to fears that he was a terrorist. He was flying from London (UK) to Washington, and half way through the flight the staff realized who he was and were told by the TSA that he was being denied flight privileges “on national security grounds” (more). The flight was diverted to Maine, and he's now in custody and should be deported back to Britain shortly.

Now, first of all, Cat Stevens is a dope (more). He's one of the best examples of why people should never convert to Islam or any other religion. He spent his musical career preaching peace and love and freedom. Then, in 1977, convinced by clerics that his musical career was wrong, changed his name to Yusuf Islam and moved on to life as a Muslim, ditching the Peace Train. He did a lot of good things of course, and spread a peaceful message most of the time (more), but then also donated a great deal of money to Hamas (more), and supported the fatwa calling for Salmon Rushdie's death — although he later “recanted” and said he only wanted to see literature of that type made illegal (more). Point is, after Allah came knocking at his heart (more), that he went from a peaceful open-minded love dude to a closed-minded repressive love dude with known financial ties to terrorism. In my bigotted opinion anyway.

That said…

Turning the plane around or deporting him is ridiculous. Do they really think Cat Stevens (or Mr. Islam) is going to blow up the airplane or otherwise cause a problem? The idea is laughable. Given that succubus Anne Coulter (more) has said far worse — hell, even I have said far worse — than Yusuf, I'm not even sure a convincing case can be made for denying him entry into the US (although I certainly don't blame Israel for turning him away as well). As much as Cat Stevens has become a misled or misguided fool that's an affront to the freedoms we care about in our culture, those very freedoms demand that we allow him to enter and speak freely. Whether you think Cat Stevens is enlighted or misled is irrelevant.

Last time Rachel flew she was aggressively boobie body searched. Not only that, but they even basically strip-searched Nefarious (our year and a half old daughter). However, because of racial quotas, once two had been searched, every “Middle Eastern looking” (fear the Arab menace) passenger was let on without even being particularly mag-wanded — but then to make sure “enough searches” had been done, brutal searches were done of babies, senior citizens (more), and other obvious non-terrorists. The whole thing is bullshit. It's not about stopping terrorists; it's about making a ton of money — it's not as if adding all this equipment and personnel is free.

But if you think Nefarious had a rough time getting through security, there was some poor bastard on the flight as well called Michael Moore — not the Millionaire Moore, but just a regular guy. A skinny guy too, travelling with his wife and kids — obviously not the same person. Millionaire Moore on the other hand, he's no skinny dude. However, this regular guy wasn't being allowed on the plane because he had the same name. He was almost in tears trying to get them to let him on, begging them to acknowledge that he wasn't the same Michael Moore that was on their terror watch list. Rachel had a chance to talk to him briefly and he's already filed the papers to have his name legally changed because of the hell he's gone through, including nearly daily death threats from people looking up the name in the phone book.

And in any case, why is Michael Moore grounded? Why is Michael Moore banned from flying on public airlines? Do they seriously think he's going to strap bombs to himself and take out LAX or something? Come on. They might be idiots, and they might even “hate America”, but neither Michael Moore nor Yusuf Islam are going to be flying planes into the Statue of Liberty any time soon.