Eminem and Censorship

A couple weeks ago I downloaded the new Eminem album, Recovery. I’m not normally a big rap fan, mostly because it’s too hard for me to understand the lyrics and when I do it’s rarely about anything that really stimulates my intellect. The new Eminem, however, has strangely touched me. His music seems to say more than just “Look at me; I’m a rap star with lots of money.”

The song on the album that I particularly enjoy, and which brings a tear to my eye, is called, Love the Way You Lie, which depicts an obsessive, abusive relationship. The song is what many, including myself, would describe as “sick and twisted”, but today I actually heard it on the radio and despite the fact that they cut out all the swearing, I was still surprised that such a graphic depiction of violence and the emotions leading to violence would be played on the radio. I still find it amazing that censorship is still mostly about individual words and not about the concepts being communicated.

Some people look past Eminem’s swearing to see the deeper offensiveness and want him entirely censored, or at least want people to stop buying his albums because of the twisted ideas that he depicts.

But I feel like artistic endeavors like Eminem’s have notable benefits to society that many people don’t recognize or appreciate. With a song like Love the Way You Lie, while it doesn’t offer any kind of solutions to the problem of obsessive/abusive relationships, the song does something that psychologists researching these kinds of relationships could never do. It helps people to really feel what it’s like to be an abusive, raging psycho.

As much as I support the science of psychology and all it’s doing to help society grow and improve, all the cause and effect analyzations, statistics and logical understanding just can’t make someone understand the phenomenon of wanting to kill your girlfriend.

So I believe that artistic endeavors such as Eminem’s may be really helping to reduce these kind of social problems. The psychologists can give us logical explanations and strategies to solve the problem, but people like Eminem put a human face on it, and hopefully, help give people a reason to want change.

This is why the most offensive pieces of art are the ones that should be most vehemently protected.

Can Anyone Test my PDF Creation Station WordPress Plugin?

So if anyone out there has a WordPress Blog, I built a WordPress plugin that I think is kinda awesome and would love you to test: Kalin’s PDF Creation Station that can be used to automatically build highly customizable PDF compilations of certain portions of your website, or to add a link to each page/post to download that page/post as a PDF. Plugins like this already exist for WordPress but none with nearly as many features.

According to the articles I’ve read about WordPress plugins, Kalin’s PDF Creation Station is probably safer than most of the other plugins out there. I was careful to implement all the recommended security procedures for all server calls. All my functions are properly prefixed to be unique and I have a full deactivate feature so that once deactivated, my plugin doesn’t leave any stray database garbage, something which, even in the big, professional plugins, isn’t always implemented.

However, despite my confidence in the solidity of my code, I’m still worried about jumping into this and simply posting the plugin to the community. Last time I released an application I had built to a community for free use, someone told me that I deserved to “rot in hell” because he had difficulty figuring out the user interface. That might be an extreme example, but I personally believe that even in the open source community, where no one is getting paid, we still have a moral obligation to provide decent quality assurance before release. If it’s not solid enough to work without making people scream at their computer, then it shouldn’t be released as anything more than an alpha test.

Unfortunately, my own testing and this blog post are really the only quality assurance systems that I have in place :(

So I know I probably won’t get any responses since I still have such a small reader base (though according to Google Analytics, my visitor count is growing rapidly), even so I was hoping someone would be willing to take this plugin and install it on their system and let me know if it’s usable and understandable and if anything blows up.

So here’s the plugin download.

Installation instructions are pretty much the same as any other WordPress plugin. Unzip the source code into your plugins directory in your WordPress installation then go into your plugins admin panel and activate it. PDF Creation Station then shows up in both the settings and tools sections in the left sidebar of your admin. The Creation Station Tool page is for compiling large PDF files of any portion of your site. The settings page is for setting defaults for automatic PDF generation for individual pages and posts.

Awesome Graduation Speech


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I’m a little late putting this up because I wanted to make some more comments, but decided just to put it up anyway. Someone posted this on FaceBook and I thought I should post a link to this High School graduation speech that I thought wonderfully expressed many of my frustrations with the educational system in the United States. I wish we’d had a speech like this at my graduation.

A couple of my favorite quotes from the speech:

doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

Here’s the full speech: http://blog.swiftkickonline.com/2010/07/valedictorian-speaks-out-against-schooling-in-graduation-speech.html

Batch File Actions – a sample Appcelerator/Titanium app with source code

Warning: Nerd Alert!

I’ve been playing around with the Appcelerator/Titanium development platform lately, finally developing an app I’ve wanted to write for years: Batch File Actions. (I think in a previous post I called it Batch Rename.) Appcelerator is a sytem similar to Adobe AIR to allow people to use web technologies like HTML, CSS JavaScript and PHP to build applications that are packaged with the Appcelerator runtime which works on Linux, Windows or Mac, and with a few tweaks, can work on iPhone/iPad, Android and BlackBerry support coming soon.

The app I’m putting together is a tool that allows you to parse through folders and files and commit an action (move, delete, copy, rename) on any file and/or folder that matches certain criteria. At this point, the app is functional and seems to work just fine. However, I still haven’t added all the features I need to ensure both safety and usability. For example, you can enter a regular expression (regex) into the “name contains” field to place extremely complex rules on which files to select. The only issue is that only my fellow coders will even know what a regular expression is. I want to add a utility to build those regexes based on choices and selection boxes and whatnot, but that’ll be a bit of an undertaking.

I also need to add a “parse recursively” checkbox so users can pound through sub-folders and add an unzip option since I think I’ve actually been in situations where I wanted to parse through folders and programatically unzip multiple zip files…

…a little bug testing would be nice too considering that a few mistakes in my code could potentially do serious damage to someone’s data.

So here is the source code that I have written so far. You will of course, need to get the Appcelerator development environment and copy the files into your app’s directory in order to actually compile the app.

And here is the actual Batch File Actions app. I hesitate to actually put up this link because I fear someone will trust me too much. My point of this is more to provide example source code for others getting started in Appcelerator. So please DO NOT actually use this unless you are certain you have everything backed up on a drive not connected to your computer. I’m not aware of any serious issues, but I do not have any kind of Quality Assurance team in my apartment.

One funny bug I did find happened when I selected a folder, left the ‘name contains’ field blank so it caught all files, then I set it to copy those files and folders into a sub-folder of the folder I had selected. This appeared to copy all the files recursively into the folder an infinite number of times. I clicked on each subfolder and on each level there was just another copy of all the files and folders. I kept clicking and clicking until I had gone down 20 or 30 levels and still couldn’t find an end to the copied files. How that didn’t cause anything to crash, I don’t know. It must have given up after 256 levels or something.

Oh, yeah, the other cool thing about this app is that it prints all your options out in a JSON string (originally I wanted to create my own SQL-esque language, but I think JSON makes more sense). Right now this is kind of useless, but eventually I want to allow people to save the string to a file so it can be re-run again simply by opening the file or pasting the string into the textfield. Unfortunately, that stupid regex escape character (\) gets converted whenever I try to print a regex to the textfield.

Anyway, hope someone gets some use out of this–or at least takes my code for use in something else. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally delete all your porn.

Thoughts on Dual Perspectives and the Hoarders TV Show


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I watched a couple episodes of Hoarders the other day, the documentary show about those people who refuse to throw things away and find themselves buried in trash, and found myself rather shocked. I didn’t know this psychological issue was so common. If I remember correctly, they claim that it affects 3 million people. That’s more than what the experts claim is the number of people in America addicted to cocaine. It’s strange that hoarding isn’t a criminal act, even though, judging from the show, it can destroy people’s lives and be a detriment to everyone around them, just like cocaine… well, okay, I guess it is a criminal act once it becomes ridiculous, but why do we not have a Partnership for a Hoarding Free America?

Anyway, the concept I was getting to relates to this one individual on the show: a 21 year old guy who lived with his alcoholic dad, both refusing to throw anything away. This kid had two interesting psychological hangups. The first was that he felt that every little thing was a memory that represented something spiritual. If someone bought him a soda, for example, he would feel like he was insulting that person if he threw away the can when he was done with it.

The other hangup was that he believed that his dog’s life was relying on the doghair that was accumulating on his floor. He truly believed that if he vacuumed up all that hair, his dog would die.

Normally when people have wacky spiritual perspectives, they tend to make excuses for them, come up with arguments to try and justify their logic or come up with distractions. This kid, however, seemed totally aware and willing to admit that he was crazy. He knew logically that there was no conceivable way vacuuming dog hair could be killing his dog, yet he truly believed it. It was like his emotional and logical brains were totally separate, yet still aware of each other. The normal logical cause and effect of the world held no sway over his beliefs, yet he clearly still had an understanding of that logic.

Dual perspectives. He truly believed that cleaning up was necessary and beneficial, and at the same time, truly believed the exact opposite.

Now, my belief is that this type of dual perspective is not nearly as uncommon or crazy as most people believe. The unique thing about this case is that the person recognized it.

But you can see the same kind of dual perspective in most religious individuals who say things like ‘only God can heal’ and ‘all things are possible with God’, but the moment they get sick they run to the doctor, searching for someone of science instead of faith.

It’s interesting, however, that the whole idea of dual perspectives is rarely used consciously. It seems like the idea could be used for balancing motivation with failure preparedness. If you have a difficult task, you want to be able to prepare for failure, but at the same time you want the confidence that comes from believing you can never fail. Why can’t you just believe both? One part of your brain prepares for failure while the other remains separated and totally confident of success. It’s an interesting idea that I’ve used over the years with varying success, but still it seems strange that it’s so difficult and rare to implement this consciously, when our subconscious minds seem riddled with it.

Religion vs. Drunk Driving


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I was thinking, why can’t drunk drivers use the same excuses for their actions as religious people do for their beliefs? For example, when someone like Isaac Zamora or Ted Bundy have extensive religious backgrounds, and even when the criminal actually says point blank that they did it for God, many people still become offended if you try to blame religion for their crimes. You can point out the fact that statistically religious people are significantly more likely to commit crime (some stats show more than %99 of violent criminals coming from religious households), but they still insist these stats are meaningless. On the other hand, MADD classifies any accident where anyone involved had been drinking alcohol, (such as someone in the back seat) as an “alcohol related accident”, yet those accidents still amount to significantly less than %99. By the same logic, any crime committed by someone who has a history of religion should be called a “religion related crime”. This would be going too far even for me, but I don’t understand why we can’t as a society, apply statistics in a fair and consistent manner.

There is one important difference between alcohol and religion. Religion openly claims to prevent crime. Alcohol companies, as far as I know, have never claimed that alcohol prevents car accidents.

Kalin’s Making Porn

Yup. I’m making porn now… I just posted a 3800 word short story called In The Ferns that takes place in some unspecified olden times about a lovely young lady, a persistent stalker and a night of forbidden passion. This is my first attempt at writing both erotica and historical fiction, though I’m not sure if you can really call it historical since the time and place isn’t mentioned. My goal with this was to make a good, hard porn that women would enjoy as much as men. I don’t have the slightest idea if I succeeded.

Faith and Foolishness – Scientific American


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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=faith-and-foolishness

This is an interesting article about the state of science and faith in the United States, and how there are fewer people in the United States who believe in evolution than in most other developed nations. It also addresses the unfairness involved when people criticize religion. We’re called intolerant if we make logical connections between religion and wrongdoing or mistakes. Religions often make statements, then present them as facts for people to believe in and act on. One interesting example in the article was the opinion of many religious individuals during the early 90′s that HIV was God’s punishment against gay people. As a result of this attitude, no one cared about the epidemic until it was too late, but for some reason it’s not socially acceptable to address this and we’re accused of being haters if we do.

But at the same time, if someone of science makes an honest mistake and states something as truth when it isn’t, nobody hesitates to hold them accountable. Look at how many doctors have been sued for malpractice, when they were doing the best job they could based on the information available.

If a church, however, gives someone bad advice no one is held accountable. The one example that gets to me is when my childhood friend, Isaac Zamora, went on a killing spree in the name of Jesus, the church that taught him those values was the first place to hold a memorial for the victims. However, nobody attacked Isaac’s childhood church or their theology. Instead, people attacked the state’s mental health system for failing to counteract what was ultimately the effects of his religion.

About Cops on Ice Story

I just posted another true story called Cops on Ice, though maybe that’s not the best title since it was only one cop. It’s pretty silly and pointless. I’m not trying to make any political statements with it or anything like that. In fact, I wanted to say that this story has not been a notable factor in my decision to be an anarchist, and has nothing to do with why I don’t support police. It’s just a funny little story that happens to involve a cop being a human. That’s all.