Monthly Archives: August 2005

Fight the power

I just did this brief interview about the body modification bans propsed by “Dr.” David Graham. I'm archiving it here so I have a record of it.

Briefly, could you describe the purpose of BMEzine and your role there?

BME is “body modification ezine”, an online publication that covers body modification in the sense of tattoos, piercings, scarification, and heavier work as well. I have run it now for over ten years and am the publisher and editor.

What is “skin braiding?” Does it exist?

Skin braiding is an urban legend and does not exist. It's a procedure involving cutting three or more strips of skin, braiding them, and letting it heal like that. Problem is, it doesn't work — and any scarification artist would know this, so to the best of my knowledge it hasn't even been tried. I believe that the source of the term is from misidentification of scarification of Celtic knotwork designs using traditional cutting.

How prevalent are complications/infections resulting from some of the practices (tongue piercing, nose piercing, scarification, etc.) that Dr. Graham refers to?

The complications from most body modification procedures are extremely limited, and the “studies” claiming the opposite are effectively fraudulent, making mistakes like confusing normal lymph and dead tissue discharge during initial healing for “infections” and so on, as well as using sample groups so small as to make the studies irrelevant. The statistical fact is that you are more likely to be hit by lighting then you are to get a debilitating complication from a body modification procedure.

Do you feel that aftercare instructions for body modification procedures are adequate at this point?

It's not as if healing a body modification is that complicated. Keep it clean, keep your and other people's hands off it, get plenty of rest, eat well, and it'll be healed before you know it. Very few body modifications stress the body particularly far. The biggest problems often come from too much aftercare, which can lengthen and complicate healing.

What do you feel is the motivation behind this proposal? Are you aware of any public concern regarding these practices?

The motivation behind bans on body modification is a mix of bigotry and ignorance, a knee-jerk reaction devoid in empathy to desires they don't understand. As far as public concerns, I'm sure there are people who want it banned, but it's really none of their business. I'm sure there are plenty of white folk that don't want blacks moving into their neighborhood either, and I'm sure there are plenty of Muslims who would rather that people not pray to Jesus. But people have a right to dictate the path of their own lives, so “public concern” is irrelevant in my opinion.

Do you see this as more of a health issue or a civil liberties issue?

It is entirely a civil liberties issue. The risks from body modification are miniscule in comparison to driving a car, playing football, smoking, and many other things that are perfectly legal.

Are there any forms of body modification that you feel would merit this form of ban?

If a person doesn't have the freedom to control their own body, then they are not free. No ban on body modification of any kind is acceptable.

If this ban were to pass, do you think that it would sufficiently deter practitioners from performing these modifications?

Banning body modification doesn't change whether it's done or not. It simply pushes it underground, which has the side effect of making it more dangerous by increasing the likelihood that the people doing the procedures are disreputable practitioners who don't care about things like minimum standards — so these bans claiming to protect the public actually harm the public instead.

Do you believe that the body modification industry should be regulated by state and/or local governments (certifications, safety standards, etc.)?

Minimum standards ensuring control of cross contamination and so on are essential, but they must be reasonable and they must be written with industry involvement so as not to restrict people's rights.

What is your stance on the usage of piercing guns for piercing?

Some modern piercing guns are in theory safe on earlobes. However, they're incredibly limited as a tool in terms of placement and jewelry options, and in my opinion are almost always the best way to identify an incompetent and inexperienced piercer.

Could we have a phone number/email address that you can be reached at for future reference?

Sammichtime, beat beat!

So I'm getting made fun of for my cooking. Tom says everything I cook looks the same, and Rachel teases me about always taking photos of it. But that's OK… Anyway, because I liked my previous avocado sandwich so much I decided to make another slightly different one:

There's a layer of sliced avocado, then a layer of roasted zucchini with a light brown sugar and garlic sauce, and on top of that are beets, which also make up the side salad. The beets are cooked in a tangy balsamic Dijon dressing (simple: vinegar, dijon mustard, and a little sugar). It turned out pretty well but I was impatient and probably didn't cook the beets quite long enough so I hope it doesn't give me a stomach ache. I have a few more beets left over so I think I may make borscht for supper.

Oh, and (after a bit of faxing confirmations to ensure that I'm not a credit fraud artist) I ordered the car part in the previous entry. They say it'll ship in two or three days, so hopefully next week I'll be out driving it finally! I really, really can't wait…

Manta Montage shift linkage issues

I took a brief break to sit under my car for a while today to think about why it's not shifting correctly and how best to fix it. I can get it into all the gears if I shift carefully, slowly, and precisely, but on the road it effectively can't shift at all.

Taking a closer look at how the current shift linkage works makes it clear that this car has probably never been driven with this engine setup. A “stock” Manta Montage has a transverse mounted V6, and this one has a longitudinally mounted V8 on a 5-speed Porsche transmission that now takes its shifting instructions via a rod at the rear that rotates and moves in and out. This is currently attached to a rod that does the same via the shift lever, about three inches below the transmission.

Seriously, WTF? Clearly this is not a compatible link, so to “solve” the problem the previous owner inserted a couple pieces of rubber into the linkage to give it enough play to just barely work. It's pretty nonsensical… when I first looked at it I assumed that the main rod was controlling the in/out motion, and that there must be a second one controlling the rotation, since the single rod setup that's there now is pretty much the worst mechanical cludge I've ever seen on a shift linkage.

My thought right now is to totally scrap the current set up and replace it with a shifter from a Fiero (which uses a pair of cables, which I could easily build brackets for to control the current transmission). Tim S has a very different engine setup in his Montage, but he's also used this shifter and the picture from his car makes it clear how easy a conversion this should be:

Anyway… unless anyone has a better suggestion, I think I'm going to look around for a Fiero shifter to graft in since that seems like the easiest solution. When I bought this car the guy told me “the shift linkage will need some adjustment”… Yeah, I'm pretty sure that “complete redesign and replacement” isn't the same thing as “adjustment”.

Update: Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think I have to replace the shifter… If I attach a pusher with a bearing/yoke between the bars, that would deal with the in/out motion without restriction on rotation, and then I could throw a matched pair of levers coming off the side of each rod to handle the rotation itself… A local machineshop could make those pieces for me for a few dollars so that's probably what I should try first.

Shift problem almost solved…

I think Part_Dog has found me the perfect solution to my transmission problem on the Montage. His idea is to use a nose cone replacement shifter designed for mid-engine VW applications (like a 550 Spyder kit car). Here you can see it in place on a 550:

Yay for easy solutions.

Bagel Time

Since August is National Sandwich Month, I thought that even though I rarely make them, I ought to do it today. This is a super simple toasted bagel with avocado and a topping of carmelized onion and green pepper in garlic, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar, with a little olive oil. It was so sweet and fatty and delicious — pretty much a desert sandwich.

I have to work on my presentation a bit, but I'm more into eating stuff immediately than serving it since no one here except maybe Nefarious likes the stuff I cook (and presentation isn't what sells her either)… Seriously though, it is not at all difficult to get fat on a vegan dishes!