Monthly Archives: September 2006

Censorship Continues

So thanks to idiotic companies like mailpolice, which many ISPs outsource their blocklists to, customers of various ISPs (and you may not even know you're being blocked — here are some recently blocked domains:,,, and are unable to receive mail from BME because their ISP is actually blocking all mail they consider “adult”. They don't suggest anything else is wrong with BME, just that they don't like the content and they won't allow you to read it.

Big brother is like a vampire. You have to invite him in. Good going.

But seriously, if you're not getting your email from BME as expected, be sure that your ISP is not doing political blocking of entire domains due to content.

(Original forum unavailable, sorry)*

HDR experiments

I took a brief break to go for a walk today, and because I wanted to try some HDR experiments I took along my camera (just a cheap, half broken Canon PowerShot SD550) and a little tripod. There's a break in the fence around the tracks across my street so I figured that taking a picture of the old ironwork Toronto Junction bridge was as good an experiment as any.

The photo on the left is a combination of six shots, and the photo on the right is actually just a single photo with heavy level adjustment. The camera has a pretty good dynamic range as is, so with a bit of hand-tuning you can certainly “fake” HDR results. Both of them were done manually, rather than using Photoshop's HDR merge functions (because either I'm too dumb to figure them out, or I'm too good at doing things manually to respect them — plus on my main computer I'm restricted to GIMP and WINE/PhotoShop 7 which doesn't have those features anyway).

The main difference from my point of view in doing it the two different ways is that on a single image, you have zero issues with camera or scene motion between shots, but on the other hand, with a single image, digital noise (which can be reduced with multiple shots) can become a problem.

Well, back to the real work that I've been dreading… Rebuilding a database. I'm hoping I can just abort this process that's crashed, move everything back into my buffer directory (BME has four stages of image processing — unprocessed, processed and buffered, ready to be posted, and posted) and hope I can just restart the build.

Be yourself. Literally.

So the news originally reported that the Liberals here had won by a wide margin and with an early lead. I found it odd, because almost every sign was for Cheri, but this is an odd riding that has pockets of wealth and pockets of poverty, so I thought maybe that the people who really needed the win (the poor and the disenfranchised) were simply fighting harder, but in lesser numbers.

When I called Saira this morning to commisserate the loss, I found out that the original DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN! news was incorrect, and in fact, Cheri and the NDP had won the election by a huge margin, smashing past the Liberals and Conservatives once again. I hope this trend continues.

Our BME update work crashed today, so either Saturday or Sunday I'll get it fixed and post a huge update, along with finally some great new content for BME/News care of Swirly EDIT: Sarge (I guess I have Swirly on the brain) and Marisa. I'm really sorry about neglecting that part of the site — it's in part from spending so long in a drug stupor (I am very happy that seems to be over), and in part from dedicating myself to writing on ModBlog.

Other than that, my friend James is working on a series of interviews with people with tattooed faces. He did a practise interview with me that I figure I'll share here. If you feel like helping him out on this project (he's looking for both facially tattooed people and tattoo artists that work on faces), drop him a line via an IAM page.

WARNING: If you don't feel like believing that I'm some ridiculous new age flake, you may want to skip the rest of this entry. I have no illusions that my ideas about the way the universe works may seem completely ludicrous and delusional to others, and to be honest, it doesn't bother me one bit.

I wanted to add one thing to the interview though that I forgot when I was chatting with James; not only do I believe that the universe is in essence and immense neural net, but I believe that like many active neural net, that it dreams, and that these dreams are in part what create our reality.

Well. Interview follows. Like I said, be on flake alert.

James: So What made you decide on getting your face tattooed?

Shannon: I originally tattooed my face as part of my Church of Body Modification experience. In the end, there was a lot of disillusionment (I feel fine about it now and value having taken that journey, but at the time it was quite hurtful when it started to collapse) from that experience for social/political reasons, but I think it made me a lot hungrier to learn how I interpreted my relationship with the universe, or better yet, to understand the universe's nature. I felt that I was part way there already from my experiences with body ritual and modification, but that I was only scratching the surface of what could be seen.

An admittedly drug-induced “spiritual” vision; an extreme moment of clarity (or distortion) showed me the true nature of the universe (or I hallucinated it; it doesn't really matter). I wanted to commemorate that on my face, completing the small start I'd done earlier, be that vision an ultimate truth or simply one of the most intense experiences of my life, one that I want to remember forever. From the moment I got it done, I haven't been able to disconnect my sense of self-identity from it — when I look at old pictures (before I had the tattoo), I barely recognize myself…

James: The white ink used was a nice touch, was there a personal reason for this?

Shannon: Because it represents energy nodes or energy connections; it needed to be as “pure” as possible. White was the only option. Plus I like the way white ink looks, and the tattoo had been started in white ink. I believe the tattoo would look VERY different if it was in black or in color.

James: The design is something of orginal concept, what came to mind when you were thinking of this design for your face?

Shannon: My facial tattoo represents a series of energy nodes and connections between them. It stands for my belief that we are all small pieces a sentient, omnipresent, omniscient single entity; that together as a whole we become god in a really beautiful kaleidescope of interconnected and co-operative life. A giant neural net of energy that spans the entire existence. I believe that unhappiness is due to “infections” and lapses or disconnects in this energy field.

James: Being a popular figure in the bod mod community, has your facial work inspired people to pursue their own goals of facial work? I guess what Im saying…….have people came up to you and said “Your facial work inspired me to pursue goals for myself in facial ink?”

Shannon: Well, I'm an amnesiac and do not remember most details of my life… So I'm not sure; I don't remember. I'd like to think so though, if it was my choice… It would be wonderful and very flattering if someone had said that. I hope that people take what they feel they want to communicate with the world and make it a physical part of who they are — become what you believe.

James: What public reaction do you get to your facial art work in general? Have you been harrassed or verbally assaulted for your artwork?

Shannon: I've been treated almost exclusively well because of my facial tattoo… I don't know if it's because it's white, or the design is subtle and works with my face, but it's never caused a problem that I perceived (I'm sure people have said lots of nasty things behind my back, but to be honest, my stretched ears are more “offensive” to the average person's sensibilities). I'm also quite friendly and open about talking about my body. A couple times when I was in the Caribbean I was asked by groups of kids which religion or tribe my tattoo meant I was from, which was funny.

James: Who was the man who did the nice artwork on your face? Its very well done.

Shannon: Thank you. All of my facial tattoos (and most of my tattoos) were done by Shane Faulkner at King of Fools in Toronto, Canada.

James: What is your opinion on bolder face work for instance… people getting words like “Stupid” tattooed on their forehead or their whole face covered with no skin in sight with biomech?

Shannon: It's not my place to say what or how people should control their visage… As long as someone is consistently happier due to their facial tattoo (for whatever reason, be it goofball stunt or be it something they consider serious and divine or just tough looking or anything else), I am in full support of it, no matter whether I can personally relate to it or not. People need to express what's inside them as much as possible.

James: What statement does your facial artwork make for you Shannon?

Shannon: Well, I gave my “real” answer already, but little kids seem to like it, and think it looks like a crown. But seriously, my main reason (to express my beliefs about the nature of existence) seems to be working because I've had hundreds of conversations about it's meaning, and discussed how that relates to the viewer's own beliefs about life with seemingly agreeable people.

When you tattoo your face, you're also forced to be an “ambassador” for tattooed people because others will notice and remember you, so you always have to be cognizant that your behavior is going to affect the way other tattooed and modified people are treated.

James: Lets talk about laws, I'm from Kentucky… in Tennessee I believe, maybe I'm wrong,but I think its the law to not allow tattoo artist to tattoo faces. Is their similar laws up their in Canada? Also what is your opinion on laws restricting people from facial work?

Shannon: Laws restricting people doing ANYTHING to their bodies are ridiculous and offensive. I mean, does our body belong to us, or does it belong to the government? If we don't own our own bodies, we're slaves.

If we're going to think about the tattoos in this context, tattooing one's face is a statement of fundamental freedoms, a giant but friendly FUCK YOU to anyone who wants to take away our ownership of the self. You can never be enslaved entirely once you've tattooed your face (short of destroying your face I suppose, but you know what I mean).

James: Besides laws restricting people, There are ALOT of tattoo artist who refuse to tattoo faces or will only tattoo them under conditions, or intense screening processes. Your opinion on that?

Shannon: Tattooing a face (and having one's face tattooed) is an enormous responsibility. A good artist always SHOULD treat something like this with the utmost caution, because their actions will permanently alter (for better or worse) the course of the individual's life. Screening and patience is very reasonable.

James: Whats your opinion about people stealing other peoples facial artwork? For example, the Moko tattooing process which was far more personal to a mans heritage, to a people outright stealing peoples designs for their own faces even thou that person has the same design on their face?

Shannon: It's not something I would do. I think the tapestry of life looks better when there is as much variance in the design as possible. So personally I like to see original work built around the individual themselves. But again, it's really not my place to decide for someone else what improves their life. Who am I to say that someone can't be happier emulating something they admire or relate to? Music is best with more than one note, but there's nothing wrong with notes or even melodies repeating from song to song if it suits it.

James: This is going to sound funny, but with your facial work or at least for me, when I walk in to most tattoo shops… tattoo artist seem to show more special treatment towards me because of my face being tattooed. I know its odd, but why do you think artist or some artist do this?

Shannon: I think when you have your face tattooed, most tattoo artists know you understand how they feel and why they do what they do. Even if you can't express it, you're cut of the same cloth on some level.

James: And before I let you go, What do you want to say to people who have the desire to get their faces tattooed?

Shannon: Be careful and have a sense of humor. It's supposed to be fun. Life isn't supposed to feel perfect, so if it does, be grateful for your good luck, and if it doesn't, enjoy the experience… Enjoy the experience either way. No matter how life turns out, simply being alive and being aware of it is a gift worth enjoying.

(Original forum unavailable, sorry)*


(Assuming your riding is having a by-election like mine)

So I just got back from voting (Survivor and UFC aren't the only voting I'll be enjoying today). I was right at the front of the line as always. I hope everyone else who's eligible today goes out and does the same. There's a sign on the front of my house, so I have no problem telling everyone who I voted for:

Really, if your priorities include things like free speech, gay rights, poverty reduction, and so on, the NDP (and in my case Cheri DiNovo — probably the only minister I've ever voted for) is the only party that truly stands for that. And, with the Liberals taking heavy corporate bribes behind closed doors, and the Conservatives taking heavy corporate bribes in public, I'd rather vote for a party that stands for the people rather than corporations.

At Nefarious's school I heard some people complaining about the NDP not supporting the upper and middle classes enough, but you know what? As someone who does well for themselves, I say that's bullshit. Our only priority should be that the “lower class” (I hate these terms by the way), because that's ultimately where all of us can randomly end up, and it's the foundation our entire society is built upon. If and only if the least priveledged among us live fulfilled lives can we have any chance at universal happiness.

Or to put it in a more Vulcan form, the good of the many comes before the good of the one.

Luckily I think my neighbors agree, and with the Liberals pulling a lot of dirty tricks (going after Cheri because she admits she did acid when she was younger, spray painting “STUPID” on tons of NDP signs, canvassers openly harassing NDP members, etc.), I think there's a very good chance that this riding will swing left.

That reminds me, I got an incredibly nice letter in the mail yesterday (seriously, it was really emotionally wonderful — I really almost started crying) with some great CLASSWAR stickers and a shirt as well.

Down the street from me there's a big “zoning” sign warning people that the building on the corner of Bloor and Dundas is going to be converted into a nuclear waste storage facility. It's a marketting stunt by a clean energy advocacy group.

Other than that I'm going to watch Easy Rider while I work this morning. For about the hundredth time. At least. I always enjoy it and always have. But I just heard something in the commentary from Dennis Hopper about using popular music in the movie that struck me as worth quoting,

“It was funny, in those days all you needed to use the music in the film was the artist's permission. Times have sure changed. It's more expensive now to use found music than it is to make a school.”

That's unfortunate I think. But who knows — maybe things like MySpace music and the upsurge in independent music will take us back to a time where being an artist doesn't have to be backed by immense mountains of cash. Oh, and to pull it back to the election, a large part of the reason that the Liberals lost this riding is by taking (and hiding) bribes from Canada's versions of the RIAA.

Well, back to work!

(Original forum unavailable, sorry)*

Don't ever buy a new house

So my landlords (first time homeowners I think) paid somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000 for the house I'm currently renting. It's a new house, built just a few years ago. To the best of my knowledge, its “warranty” expires this year. There are a myriad of problems with the house, from minor stuff (cheap toilet fixtures breaking internally, dishwasher failure, barely functioning central air, and so on) to larger problems like the fact that every time it rains water leaks into the walls and pools in the basement ceiling and leaks out — the deck appears to be the culprit, but parts of the roof are coming off as well, and the top story has a massive crack along the roof seam running the full length of the house.

I've kept the landlords (who moved to the UK) updated, as well as their property manager. However, the property manager hasn't bothered to come an see the problem, or event to get their mail (which includes tax information, banking information, and more), nor to even come and pick up the lockbox that contained the key when I moved in. So anyway, even though I've been telling them for months and months that these issues need to be fixed or the house will start to have real damage soon, nothing has happened.

Eventually a contractor was sent over, and we spent about a month and a half of them not showing up for appointments. Then that got cancelled, and another contractor (as far as I know, the guy who built it, and would thus be responsible for repairs under warranty) showed up. He didn't think it was really a problem, and thought that maybe a sheet of plastic should just be laid over the deck (not that he's returned to do so, and for all I know that could make the problem worse). I mentioned that the neighbours were all having similar problems with their houses leaking, and he just started insulting them. It was humorous, but sad as well, because my landlords (and neighbors) really seem like nice people.

My feeling is that the builders went cheap and are just trying to stall this until the warranty is up, and that the property manager is not caring for the house. A few years from now this place is going to be in rough shape if the problems continue to escalate and aren't dealt with. Part of me wants to tell the landlords that they should strongly consider selling this house while it still has value… I know if I ever buy a house (I'm planning on building), it would be an old house that's solid and has stood the test of time.

(Original forum unavailable, sorry)*