Monthly Archives: December 2011

Speaking of videos… SLEIGH-ER!

I’ve seen plenty of musical animated Christmas lights before and usually they’re pretty corny… But this? This I like. The singing snowman is my favorite part.

PS. It can do some other tracks too

BoingBoing goes censorship crazy again!

So BoingBoing (you’ll recall I got banned ages ago), a site which regularly criticizes other sites, corporations, and entities for censorship and abuses of free speech and other basic human rights, once again fell victim to its all-too-common hypocritical nature and went censorship crazy on its users when they dared disagree with a post’s rather politically-extremist content. As much as BoingBoing paints itself as an ethical player and a promoter of cyber-rights, they have a long history of heavy handed moderation and abuse of commentors who disagree with them. Sometimes this takes the form of simply silencing single posters, or posting snide and insulting responses (while killing the person’s ability to reply), but when the overwhelming opinion of the readership disagrees, they outright kill comments altogether. Many have left the site due to what they see as a cowardly and fascistic unethical “do as I say not as I do” modus operandi.

Anyway, today’s “problem” post (made by Cory) was “Little boy talks to Michelle Bachman about his gay mom” which contains this video of a shy little eight year old boy very quietly telling Michelle Bachman, after much prompting from his mom, that “My mommy’s gay but she doesn’t need fixing”. The overwhelming response from viewers both on BoingBoing and around the net, even those who completely agreed with the sentiment, was that using children as a political weapon is reprehensible.

Obviously I am 100% pro-gay rights and pretty much 100% anti-Bachman. That said, I think using an eight year old to advocate for your sex/love life is extremely dangerous to their psyche — it’s analogous to the damage that can be done to a child that’s been caught in a divorce. It’s doubly dangerous when the child is being asked to share or shoulder the burden of the parent’s pain. It’s wrong how American society treats gay people. Gay people know this better than anyone — and I’d have thought that this would make them understand how important it is to protect their child from all this pain. Willingly making a child feel like their family are unwanted outsiders is extremely troubling. Worse yet, it plays into the hands of hateful fools like Bachman who will use this as ammunition against gay parents — “see, they even drag their children into their sex lives!”

And that doesn’t even begin to consider the collateral damage that can occur from the posting of the video, which as I write this has been viewed approaching three million times. The kid is a celebrity of the moment — a celebrity that many people will have extremely negative attitudes about. Why put a kid in that position willingly? And what if the immediate situation had become hostile? What if people in the crowd had started screaming at the mother or worse? Why put a kid in the middle of that? It’s terrible parenting in my opinion.

Now, some people are saying “it was the kid’s choice!” I don’t doubt that if Bachman made some “gay people have a sickness that needs curing” that the child would have disagreed if they’ve spent their life being taught that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality — which there isn’t of course. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to turn the child into a political weapon at the rally let alone in front of the whole world via YouTube. Nor does the fact that the child has healthy views about sexual orientation mean that they should be brought into an environment that’s so negative toward his family and his sense of security and home. He’s already going to have stresses that so-called “normal” family children do not. Why many it harder for him?

Anyway, none of that is really my point for this post. I’m not trying to argue about whether the end justifies the means. Is it acceptable to put a child at risk to make the world a better place? Maybe, I don’t know where that line should be drawn. But I do know that IT SHOULD BE DISCUSSED! My point and revelation in this post is that when people expressed this view — completely politely I might add — BoingBoing chose to censor it. At first I thought it was a technical glitch because it seemed so outlandish that BoingBoing would get worked up about people taking what I assume is the “obvious” response, but then it became clear that it actually was another censor party. Now the entry is completely devoid of comments and none may be added. Incidentally the YouTube video was similarly stripped of comments. Shame on everyone involved. And double shame for doing it silently, without commentary. I think that’s what makes BoingBoing’s incessant censorship especially dangerous — the fact that they go out of their way to hide it and pretend it doesn’t happen.

I did however take a screen cap of the whole thing before Ken Snider (it is hard to not sink to their childish level and comment on his unfortunate avatar) or whoever was in charge of BoingBoing’s censorship team managed to kill it off — although if it is Ken, I wonder if Cory et al tolerate this embarrassment simply because they’re afraid to bite the hand that feeds him since as far as I know he’s in charge of making them their all-important advertising revenues. But hahahaha on you, wannabe censor king, you were too slow! If anyone wants to see what was so incredibly offensive that BoingBoing thought that they should stop the world from seeing it, click the picture above. Be warned that it’s a giant one meg 1050×12158 pixel image that may well crash your browser. Sorry about that if it does.

I used to really enjoy and even “look up to” BoingBoing so it really made me sad when I realized that the emperor wore no clothes.

Update: I just noticed that since writing this BoingBoing has banned my name from posting new comments to BoingBoing. So…. in addition to all of the above, it seems that BB’s policy is that if you say something critical about their policies on another site, they ban you whether or not you’ve been a problem commenter on their site. I guess that’s what you call a “preemptive strike” in the censorship world.

Comic book utilties and new skull ring designs

I wrote two utilities today that are primarily intended for the management of collections of CBR/CBZ files. Those are comic book archives — essentially ZIP or RAR files containing sets of images. An annoying thing I’ve noticed is that often people are sloppy and they’ll call a ZIP-based archive a “CBR” file instead of a “CBZ” like it’s supposed to be, or vice-versa. Many viewers will automatically detect the error and ignore it, but other viewers crash and won’t let you read the comic. So my first utility scans through your collection and corrects any files that are misnamed. To run it, just go to the root directory of your comic book folder and run it. It will check all the files in that directory as well as those in any subdirectories. It’s a [win32] command line utility so it’s intended for people who are somewhat computer savvy. To give you a sample usage, imagine that you have your comics in “N:\comics\” and you’ve placed this program in “C:\bin\nounder.exe”. After you open a command window, first navigate to the comics folder (ie. “N:<enter>” and “cd \comics<enter>”), and then run the program (ie. “c:\bin\nounder<enter>”). That’s all there is to it.

Download link: http://www.zentastic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/nounder.exe

Edit: There’s some sort of bug in this that makes it not always rename files successfully. It doesn’t do any damage but sometimes files get missed. I think it has to do with the request to rename failing for some reason, rather than it not being made. If I bother fixing it I will update this entry.

The other utility is similar but perhaps has broader function. Often downloaded files use underscores instead of spaces. All this program does is scans through a directory tree and renames both files and directories so that all the underscores are replaced with spaces. It will skip renaming files that would cause two files to collide (ie. where a files of the target name already exists). Usage is the essentially same as the above program.

Download link: http://www.zentastic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/fixcbtype.exe

These programs should be safe to run but I admit I haven’t used them extensively other than running them here on a rather massive test archive. So use at your own risk. PB/CC5.0 source code for both utilities are here: nounder and fixcbtype. Public domain. Free software. No warranty. Yada yada yada.

On to the physical world.

Because the first ones I made sold out so quickly, I cast four more of my new skull ring design this afternoon. Top left picture is how they look straight out of the mold (after finishing of course, but without any customization). The other three are all customized using a soldering iron to weld more metal to the rings and then by carving that extra metal with my Dremel. I made a new pirate ring (by request), a horned ring, and I also mounted a pair of Spider Jerusalem (Transmetropolitan) glasses on one that I’m extremely pleased with. Feel free to click on any of the pictures for a zoomed in photo. I finally got a battery charger for my old (but still very nice) Rebel XTi so for a change my jewelry pictures don’t look like total junk.

I do really enjoy making these custom versions of my existing designs, so if you have an idea for something you’d like — or even something you think someone else would like — don’t hesitate to play the muse!

A few new pieces

I feel so crazy bad lately, so sorry about not posting! I have a theory that when I’m on vacation that my body goes into some sort of “ignore all warnings mode”, but then when I get back home, it lets go and all the pain and sickness that has been building up without showing symptoms suddenly gets released and I get knocked on my ass. Since my walking experiment made me feel a little better last time (I’m told it’s some sort of trick where inducing site-specific pain can cause more “whole body” pain to lose focus). Well, yesterday I walked around the city, from my house, across Bloor to Yonge, then down to Queen, and then eventually up Lansdowne and back home. I think it’s about 15km in all, and that was way too much because today I can’t even take a single step without extreme agony.

The question is, should I hair-of-the-dog it and try and force myself to do it some more tonight? On one hand I don’t want to make it a whole lot worse but on the other hand I worry that if I just give up now that it’s just going to settle into this wrecked state and heal slowly, stealing away a week of my life. To say nothing of the fact that I really don’t want to “give up”. I quite desperately need to know that I can force myself to do things if I want them badly enough. So I think later I will try push myself up to a two-day total of 20km. I wanted to write about some of the neurological effects I’m struggling with but I’m not ready for that yet. I find them too humiliating to public admit to so consider this me dipping my foot in the water. And that’s it for now.

Before I start working up the courage to do that I wanted to quickly post some pictures of some of the new jewelry I made this week. None of this is in the shop yet but there’s nothing stopping me from posting it there so I suppose it’ll be there in a day or two. All orders made while I was gone are shipped by the way. Anyway, here are a couple of face rings, one a crude face that I just made as a joke and the other a ring of tiny faces of various expressions:

I also took my “evil clown” ring and made it into a pendant or keychain. I like the way I made the attachment point for the keyring using the gore in the neck…

I also made some “protest rings” that I think turned out well. They’re in two sizes, one large, one small. They come out of the mold blank, and these two below have been carved/engraved with their slogans and then had enamel put into them to highlight it. They can also be painted with slogans since the pewter holds the paint nicely without even needing to be primed (but I like the engraved ones better personally).

The bands are engraved as well, with the large one saying “IDEAS WON’T GO TO JAIL” and the small one saying “SINNING BY SILENCE MAKES COWARDS” (paraphrased from Lincoln to fit better). Similar to those ring, and also in large and small sizes (look carefully and you’ll see they’re different), I made a pair of TV rings. They could also be painted or even just have stickers applied for the mood of the day, or are nice left as-is…

And perhaps inspired by my recent vacation (although it’s not really the right region of Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations), I made some Day of the Dead inspired winged sugar skull rings. The wings fit really comfortably over the fingers and even though these are massive rings they are surprisingly comfortable to wear. I’ve tried to make them look like handmade ceramic, and these ones below are both slightly plated with copper and bronze although they also look quite nice painted (click these links for photos by the way).

Finally, I made some “fan art” rings. Because these are based on other people’s art — other people that I hugely respect and enjoy — I can’t in good conscience add these to my shop unless they give me their blessing, but I still wanted to share them here. First of all, I made some Transmetropolitan (you can read the first issue at that link) rings based on Spider Jerusalem’s glasses. I can’t recommend this comic highly enough, and if you like this blog you’ll love that comic because there’s a lot of overlap — similar politics, futurism, body modification, etc… I am a huge fan of it and almost everything else Warren Ellis has done.

I just hope I’m more like Spider than like Fred Christ. I am worried that Fred Christ has the same hope.

The other fan art is for Canadian author Jeff Lemire‘s Sweet Tooth (again, click that to read issue one). I was actually introduced to this comic by my eight year old daughter Nefarious, who was a fan before me, but now I can’t put it down as well, and every time she sees me she asks if I have any new issues for her to read. I’m hoping that she likes this ring because I made it with her in mind. The ring on the right is copper plated if it’s not obvious.

Anyway… Now to seek some salvation by breaking my body some more.