A Ship That Can Really Boogie

One of the questions that’s been occupying my mind lately, is if you have about 175,000 sentences made up of about 2.3 million words total (ie. the titles and descriptions for all the pictures in the main tattoo gallery on BME), how do you quickly generate a list of the most popular phrases between 1 and 6 words long? As a programmer, these are the types of problems I greatly enjoy because on one hand it seems like a difficult thing to do because there’s so much data, but on the other hand, it almost always has a fast and elegant solution… I need this function to do automatic keywording, so for example, once a subject becomes popular enough in the tattoo galleries, it automatically gets its own gallery.

It’s actually really very easy to do this type of analysis… In my case I use a quick parsing function (written in assembly so it’s very efficient) to create a giant array of every phrase in every entry (about ten million entries), which is then sorted with a shell sort function, also written in assembly. At that point it’s a simple matter of counting the repeats to get the answer to the question — the whole process takes seconds. Incidentally, in the tattoo gallery right now there are about 2,000 useful keywords, and about 12,000 that aren’t useful — drove myself bonkers sorting them manually, but luckily it only has to be done once. Later today I think I’ll post some themed entries here from that data.

The other question that’s been occupying my mind lately, as I read the ModBlog comment forums, is why y’all gotta by such haters? For that purpose, I offer up this sacrificial lamb.


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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

89 thoughts on “A Ship That Can Really Boogie

  1. Seeing how my mind doesn’t work like that.. I couldn’t tell you!

    haha Independance..

    I try to not be so nice, or if it’s something I wouldn’t say something nice about, I just look at it, read, and go on.. no comment-y. Now I USED to occasionally say something mean, but I found an old comment of mine, and it had merit… but still uncalled for. haha

  2. HAHA, im sry that looks like shit, im normally nice, but damn really. im actually sad to admit that i actually had an idea for a tattoo of a pirate ship with the name independence on it as well. but i actually wanted it to look good not like i drew it five sec before i walked in the studio. but if its supposed to look childish i guess it does have a child like charm about it.

  3. Haters. haha. I have been difficult, but not hating. Yet.

    And if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right? in regards to the tattoo.

  4. The script is what really gets me. I can easily look past the quality of work, or the spelling error(hell, maybe it was intended), but I see script like that and wonder, ‘Does it really have to be this way?’

  5. I don’t think people are hating I lthink people are expressing a -difference-of-opinion-
    Furthermore this is far more interesting and entertaining than 50 odd people ALL writing “Wow, so beautiful, so out there etc etc”.

  6. me/15 – See, I’ve never found “personally I find that disgusting” and comments along those lines particularly interesting, insightful, or otherwise worth reading.

  7. funny that.

    Its the second time today I’ve come across this new style of Dance.

    The first was on Post Secrets Valentines Video

    Oh well.

    *dances the indepen*

  8. Surely the tattoo is supposed to be that style and the person who got it loves it – look at Howies tattooing style to see that this is something that people like and want done nowadays – there is too much enthasis put on a tattoos quality and not its meaning, whereas for most people thats the most important factor. Either that or his tattoo is a big F you to conventional tattoos

  9. Chumming negativity?

    I’m going to need a fucking crash course on when it’s ok to make fun of someone’s choice in mods and when it isn’t. Maybe some enterprising youngster can come up with a check list to help determine the difference between “bleeding edge modification/pushing the norms of acceptability” and “poorly placed or thought out hack job.”

    Best I can tell, if this piece is placed where the client wants, they chose the artwork and approved the spelling and presuming a successful healing or at least within the realm of what the wearer is satisfied with….this here tattoo is “pro.”

  10. my mommy told me if i don’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all.
    I don’t know what people think they accomplish by trash talking on modblog entries.

  11. Christyn/#25 – I agree with your comment 1000%. How can one make a post saying “Don’t hate. Except on this.” and still be able to get all these supportive comments?

  12. Shannon,

    A few suggestions. Is there any way to edit our entries to there aren’t doubles. Cause I’ve done it. And perhaps that *disclaimer/TOS/read this* before a reader submits comments. To dissuade the casual haters.

  13. How is this person ever going to get a job or support themself with a tattoo like this? I think it looks disgusting also and probably was just done to shock and grab attention without much real thought as to the consequences. I certainly wouldn’t ever want to… Wait a minute… I think I’m in the wrong thread…

  14. christyn – When is it OK to make fun of someone… hmmm… how about… never!

    Why not just stick to intelligent discussion and supportive (when relevant) commentary? Personally that’s what I enjoy the most…

    M – Obviously this entry is humorous. I would hope “obviously” anyway.

  15. The humor in the post and the ‘sacrificial lamb’ comment seemed obvious to me.
    It seems that some people are just so full of hate it clouds their judgement. It’s a shame really. Be a lover not a hater… it’ll make you feel all nice and warm inside.

  16. This looks similar to the work of Carson Ellis (http://www.carsonellis.com/) who does the album art, etc., for The Decemberists.

    I must say, I admire it, even if it’s not the most technically “perfect” art out there. It appeals to me.

  17. Humorous, indeed. I get the smartassy tone of it – I assume the wearer of this tattoo or the artist who did it gave it to you to use to be a “sacrificial lamb” for the haters?
    Maybe I don’t get the difference between what’s hack and what’s acceptable.
    I fully agree with Christyn. I don’t get what you’re getting at…?

  18. Shannon, as I read your post, I started thinking about how I would approach this keyword issue. Then I read you were doing it in assembly (I was imagining something in C or C++, and it would have been painful, to me), and thus have nothing but love, not hate, for you. :)

  19. …I’m probably reading way too much into this, but if the person is into ‘catching’, “Independance” (or, as it’s actually written, “Independarce” could be read as ‘In the penned arse’. (Penned meaning inked, as in the tattoo.)

  20. Is it a guy or a girl?
    Who knows,but if its there first piece,im sure they were chuffed to bits with it maybe not so much now :P

  21. Lately it seems that any time someone expresses anything other than 100% support for what they’ve seen it’s counted as “hating.” It’s as if people expressing concern about piercings or procedures is no longer accepted as it once was.

  22. i thoughtit said independarce but i thin it does say independace the n’s just look silly weird i guess although i have seen art styles like this so possibly it looks like that on purpous? although anywho i believe in constructive criticism, but sometimes its not worded as such and can seem like an ignorant attack without being aware of so which can cause drama as seen before

  23. To me it reads: “Irdeperdarce” or: “Jrdeperdarce

    something tells me it was all freehand lol all I can say is I’m glad its not my tattoo, but the wearer likes it more power to em.

  24. Shannon – Well, you have to call it from somewhere, so I can’t blame you for a shell. That being said, the functionnality you speak of (and for users, to boot!) sounds very interesting. As if you didn’t already kick enough figurative asses…

  25. Shannon–I don’t find comments like “personally I find this disgusting” insightful or helpful in any way either. Nor am I interested in scrolling through fifty comments that all read “oh wow that’s so beautiful.” Why is boring, cliched, repetitive stuff okay when it’s positive? Why keep up the illusion of a vibrant, creative, open community if anything that isn’t a glowing appraisal is automatically filed away as “hating”? Body mods are deeply personal aspects of self-expression, but they are not sacred–and if they are, then our opinions and reactions to them should be sacred too.

  26. Xenia – How about just having some common decency and respect for others?

    These are real people, with real feelings. I’m sure that if people like what they’re doing, they’d be happy to hear it, even if you find it “boring” or “cliched” to be nice. But really, if a comment is just some pointless negativity, really, is it needed? I don’t think so, and I would say that it’s “hating”. Just because people have the right to be assholes doesn’t mean that it’s important to claim that right.

  27. My initial take on it, before going to C or C++, would be to try a few algorithms with a functional programming language like J to see how the whole thing assembles. Then do it in C, which is sadly as low-level as I know. Incidentally, I wonder if that link will post ok…

  28. Well it’s an interesting piece and it’s the thought that counts, but the red above the begining of independance looks a bit angry or just not done well.

  29. I don’t know why I’m putting my two cents in, because nobody really wants to read one more comment on this. . .but Shannon, I agree. I guess that’s all.

  30. when i say that this is horrible i hope it isn’t misconstrued as hating but rather that it is noted as a valid critique. Aesthetics in many ways rely on the participation of a viewer and when a viewer doesn’t want to continue looking at it the aesthetic element failed. (this is just an opinion) Any artist understands that their work will be critiqued and that more often then not the tough critiques are what push you to be better. I could say nice words about everything if i wanted but i’d rather say them when their true. This tattoo is horrible because the lines are week, the color is inconsistent, and the word isn’t clearly spelled. Let alone that there really isn’t much to keep my eyes moving or my mind engaged. That said, it isn’t my tattoo so maybe it has accomplished, with great success, everything it set out to do. Either way i can still say (because i can have an opinion on anything i want and so can you) that i don’t like this tattoo. this doesn’t change the fact that i don’t hate the wearer. i might actually really like the person! besides i thought that the purpose of forums was to voice ideas, opinions, critiques, support, etcetera. besides, isn’t accountability how a tribe keeps it’s members strong?
    –wow, sorry thats all a bit jumbled.

  31. Definitely there’s a world of difference between a reasoned critique (which I think is quite valid) and a needless statement of personal disapproval.

  32. honestly im not suprised that the red looks angry, i read that a lot of people are allergic to red ink so maybe its just some kind of reaction that the person couldnt control perhaps?

  33. 17 – Shannon. I’m sorry I have an opinion, and I’m not afraid to voice it. I suppose you missed the rest of my comment where I said that it was my own personal opinion, because I didn’t like the stretched holes, and was not meant to offend anyone, especially Toph.

    I’m also sorry you’re a pretty unprofessional person. I’m sure others will realise this soon enough. Oh but wait, if I mention that time I emailed you, you’ll probably completely ignore it. Quite similar to shoving your fingers in your ears and screaming “LALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

    I’ll be sure to become a lamb bleating to your tune and agreeing with whatever you say is right in future. Baaa!!!! Baaaaaa!!!

    By the way, this tattoo is shit, but not the worst I’ve seen.

  34. Ive thought long and hard before giving my thoughts on this tattoo, as I said above no way am I a hater and no way would I ever want to hurt someones feelings. I just dont get why you (Shannon ) posted this was it to prove to yourself that we are all haters? because no one can really say its a good tattoo can they, I have seen much much worse but I feel sorry for the wearer being used in this way. The lines are awful the colouring/ shading is not good.(Trying so hard here not to use hating words)
    I thought this forum was to share thoughts? I do wholeheartedly agree that none hould just post ‘its disgusting ‘ type comments but then again isnt that their right if its how they feel? Ive seen mods on here that I personaly think are sick and disgusting I dont comment because I dont know the full story and who am I to judge someones choices BUT other people may feel differently from me and that is their right too.If I gave permission for one of my mods to be posted here Id fully expect a mixed bag of comments ,thats life. Thats what not being a sheep is all about embracing our differences. Hope this didnt come out to jumbled.

  35. Dim – Why are you so obsessed with me acknowledging the fact that you emailed me a month ago about seeing tattoos in a male underwear catalog? Is this all because you’re pissed that I didn’t dedicate an entry to your observation??? Sorry if you felt left out, it was not my intention.

    But more importantly, why are you so obsessed with justifying what amounts to rudeness, whether it’s permitted or not? Is this really the type of thing you want to fight for your free speech for?

  36. Well, I’m afraid that’s the only email I seem to have from you where you’re identifying yourself by name or written from your normal email address.

  37. Ok, well to answer your question now that I have your email — which has been asked and answered many times before by the way — I will not be putting warnings on BME to tell people that the galleries that include cutting could be triggering. As I said before, I’m not about to have things devolve into a nanny site where everyone is treated like a baby, unable to handle the site’s content unless it’s masked in layers of warnings and censors. In addition, I personally believe that cutting is a perfectly valid form of expression and outlet in many cases and don’t feel comfortable labeling it an “illness” in absolute terms (and there are certainly many non-Western cultures in which it’s considered normal and healthy).

    My strong advice is that if you’re not psychologically stable enough to handle the content is that you not read it at all. Alternately, read the site through an RSS reader and exclude the categories that bother you. While I appreciate your concern that “mentally ill” people such as yourself read the site, the primary of the focus must be people with a healthy interest in body rituals, not people where it’s an “illness”. If someone is not in control of their own actions in a way that concerns them, they should be getting help, not sitting on the internet browsing sites that endanger them.

  38. It’s not about becoming a nanny, it’s about being responsible. Taking responsibility for the safety of not only the regular Modblog browsers (who are aware of the risk involved in viewing this blog) but also the people who randomly stumble across it and are unaware of the content.

    I wonder what would happen if a person read an interview, or saw a photo here on Modblog that triggered urges actually hurt, or even killed themselves. I wonder what their families would think, especially if they randomly stumbled across the blog, which you may note has no warning of its contents, and the risks associated with the content, anywhere on the main Modblog page. I wonder if BMEzine would be liable for putting those unaware people in danger, and it resulting in hospital admission, death and, ultimately, the heartbreak of a family.

    I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that a popular website that displayed self injury photos has been shut down because of the danger it posed to people who are triggered by photos of self injury.

    I also do not like your insinuations that self injury is not associated with “mental illness”, or that “mental illness” is worth taking seriously.

    Personally, I have my “mental illness” well under control and can handle photos of “ritual scarification” (read: a name to make self injury seem legitimate and not associated with the “mentally ill”), however many cannot. Those people who cannot also wish to view the Modblog for it’s non-triggering content (such as tattoos, piercings, etc), as well as the fact many unstable individuals may not be aware of the content posted here.

    Once again, it’s not about being a nanny, it’s about being responsible, and taking responsibility for the safety of these people who support you.

    However, after many weeks of browsing the Modblog, viewing your replies and the opinions you have chosen to display here, it has become painfully obvious that you do not care about the safety of anyone, let alone your supporters.

    Good day to you.

  39. If not plastering the site with warnings that accomplish nothing, but instead having coherent sections to discuss risks and such issues at length makes me irresponsible in your eyes, that’s fine by me. But personally I think that serious risk-issue content means a lot more than a bunch of warnings and censorship layers.

    Seriously, if people are unstable enough that seeing pictures of cutting makes then uncontrollably injure themselves in a way they’re unhappy with, me putting a little not that says “hey, this picture might make you cut yourself” isn’t going to do anything. The fact is that someone who’s that on the edge should NOT be reading BME.

  40. Did you completely miss the fact that I also mentioned people who stumble across this blog from another place and are unaware of the contents, or did that fly over your overstuffed head?

    It must have.

    Enjoy being up on your self righteous pedestal, become one day, karma is going to come back and kick you in the ass, and it’ll be a long way down off your high horse, Shannon.

  41. Dim – I didn’t miss it, I just don’t take seriously the suggestion that I need to stress over people who randomly fall right into the cutting section of BME. The only way I see that happen is if they’re actually searching for this type of material.

    You can have all the insulting tantrums you want, but really, I’m not going to plaster BME with warnings in a way that suits your need to abdicate personal responsibility. People need to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and their actions. The excuse of “no one warned me that I might lose control” is pathetic.

  42. well i suffer from mental illness, and if i am having a particularly bad day, i tend to concentrate on and stick to positive sites, i don’t even go near anything that might have some trigger in it….so as shannon says…a person who stumbles across the and ritual cuttings on BME are probably looking for it…..

  43. Shannon: “These are real people, with real feelings.”

    Offering their tats up for sacrifice is certainly a dignified way of honoring that.

    Caitlin@43: “Maybe their child tattooed it on?”

    A fine example of the dichotomy of hate/non-hate policy on ModBlog. Well said, Caitlin.

  44. Not to put words in Shannon’s mouth, but the phrase “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” has been used to describe his philosophy of life, and that’s one of the reasons people (and myself) admire him.

    That said, constructuve criticism is always always always better appreciated. People have the right to say “this sucks”. People have the right to say “please don’t say this sucks” too. But over all, I think many here would like to see more of “I think this sucks, because…” and some elaboration instead of just “this sucks”.

  45. Dimruthien. . .for someone who disapproves of Shannon and his efforts so vehemently, you’re certainly putting a lot of time and energy into trying to legitimize yourself here. Maybe you should spend that energy elsewhere.

  46. Christyn/#25: agree 110%.

    As long as the wearer is happy with the job, what else matters? According to the “golden rule” around here, aren’t we supposed to defend a person’s right to do whatever they want, from extreme surgery to what you may consider a bad tattoo? I understand the reasons for demonstrating a poorly executed piercing/implant etc, but tattoos are inherently art and art is friekin’ subjective!

    Personally, I see no difference in this tattoo compared to:

    1) the post-modern tattoos that have been featured recently (e.g. Lionel from Out of Step Tattoo)
    2) a tattoo given by your six year old
    3) tattoos by Howie/Cere
    4) any other tattoo that has personal meaning

    honestly, in reading posts/articles like these I shudder thinking about what you elitists would say about some tattoos that mean the world to their owners.


    (as a side note though: being a former cutter, seeing pictures of open wounds of other cutters actually *deterred* me from cutting myself.)

  47. Actually, were BME to post any such type warnings they would then be open to much legal meanderings. Much like “beware of guard dog” sign is a no-no.

  48. umm, that doesn’t say indepenarse..
    i think?
    because all of the n’s look the same.
    so its just independance? ..
    i’m not even sure if that’s spelled correctly.

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