Monday 30 January 2006

My Perfect Major

At Uni, I majored in Pure Maths and Computer Science - though that wasn't so much Science as Engineering. A lot of Physics, a smidgin of Chemistry, and as much Philosophy as I could fit in. I loved it.

You scored as Philosophy. You should be a Philosophy major! Like the Philosopher, you are contemplative and you enjoy thinking about the purpose for humanity's existence.





























What is your Perfect Major?
created with

Sunday 29 January 2006

Unthinking Partisanship Literally True

Via Entirely Madd, an article from Science Daily that fits both under "politics" and "brains".
Emory University scientists say political partisans of both parties apparently don't let facts interfere with their judgments on political issues.

The researchers wanted to discover why Democrats and Republicans can hear the same information, but reach opposite conclusions.

The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to study a sample of committed Democrats and Republicans immediately prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

The participants were asked to evaluate threatening information about their own candidate while undergoing fMRI. The scientists say what they found was striking.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory who led the study. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up."

Once partisans reached completely biased conclusions -- essentially ignoring information that couldn't be rationally discounted -- they then got a blast of activation in circuits involved in reward.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," he said.

The findings are to be presented during this week's annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, Calif.
Something all political bloggesr should be aware of.

Recently, I've become rather intrigued by the role of Hormones in the functioning of the human brain. Funny that, can't think why...

Anywa, here's some intersting data about the hormone Oxytocin. First, from Science Daily :
Oxytocin Molecular StructureScientists at the National Institute of Mental Health have discovered how a brain chemical recently found to boost trust appears to work.

A brain imaging study suggests the hormone reduces activity and weakens connections in fear-processing circuitry.

Scans of the hormone oxytocin's effect on human brain function reveal it quells the brain's fear hub, the amygdala, and its brainstem relay stations in response to fearful stimuli. That suggests new approaches to treating diseases thought to involve amygdala dysfunction and social fear, such as social phobia, autism and possibly schizophrenia

Dr. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg and her NIMH colleagues detail their research in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
And from :
Because oxytocin is released in men and women during sexual orgasm, it may be involved in adult bonding, said Turner. There is also speculation that in addition to facilitating lactation and the birthing process, the hormone facilitates the emotional bond between mother and child.

"Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense that during pregnancy and the postpartum, both a woman's body and her mind would be stimulated to nurture her child," said Turner.

Oxytocin may also play a role in the higher levels of depression and interpersonal stress seen in women, said Turner. According to most psychiatrists, women experience depression twice as often as men and tend to be more affected by relationship difficulties.

More over at Wikipedia.

Friday 27 January 2006

Today Israel, Tomorrow Spain and Vienna

I see that Hamas has won the Palestinian Elections. Genuine Moonbats, Nazis in all but name. Actually, I take that back :
Among the more contentious candidates in Gaza was the Mother of Martyrs, who sent three of her sons to be suicide bombers. Mariam Farhat's campaign video includes footage of her helping her son, Mohammed, 17, to prepare his bomb belt and advising him on techniques that killed five Israelis. In the West Bank, a candidate appeared on the ballot as Hitler, a nickname he picked up because of his virulent hatred of Jews.

If you think I'm exaggerating, or being guilty of fanatic partisanship, just read what Hamas has to say about themselves.

There's a good article, larded with quotes from the "Hamas Charter", over at The Command Post, by a guy who's no longer with us.

I'll give you the gist of it. Again, I must emphasise, this is not what their enemies say about them, what they say about themselves.

  • Islam is the Master Religion, it is the duty of all other religions to peacefully submit to co-existence under the benevolent rule of Islam
  • Spain, Most of France, Israel, Europe east of Vienna, and India should be under Sharia Law
  • Until this is achieved, in full and in every particular, there can be no Peace
  • And any violence (as well as the French and Russian Revolutions, WW I and WW II) is all the fault of the Zionists, and their puppets, the Freemason, Rotarians, Lions Club, and 800-year-old Crusader Conspiracy against Islam
By this act, as well as many others, the Palestinians as a people have forfeited any right to existence as a nation state. They have stated that there can be no peace : very well, it's war then, until they are extinct as a political and sociological entity. Palestinians will still survive, as Germans did in 1945. But just as the Germans were de-Nazified by force, so will the Palestinians have to be thoroughly de-Hamassed. Hopefully not many innocents have to die before this happens, but I fear my hope is forelorn.

Self-Healing Spacecraft

Take an old idea - the self-sealing fuel tanks found in combat aircraft during WWII - and update it. That's what the European Space Agency did. Back in the late 30's, aircraft started to be made with fuel tanks that had an "inner" and an "outer layer. Between these was a latex rubber compound that solidified on contact with fuel. So poke a hole (say with a bullet or shell splinter) in the tank, the rubber would ooze out, and the tank would be sealed again.

From the European Space Agency :
"When we cut ourselves we don't have to glue ourselves back together, instead we have a self-healing mechanism. Our blood hardens to form a protective seal for new skin to form underneath," says Dr Christopher Semprimoschnig, a materials scientist at ESA's European Space Technology Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, who oversaw the study.

He imagined such cuts as analogous to the 'wear-and-tear' suffered by spacecraft. Extremes of temperature can cause small cracks to open in the superstructure, as can impacts by micrometeroids - small dust grains travelling at remarkable speeds of several kilometres per second. Over the lifetime of a mission the cracks build up, weakening the spacecraft until a catastrophic failure becomes inevitable.

The challenge for Semprimoschnig was to replicate the human process of healing small cracks before they can open up into anything more serious. He and the team at Bristol did it by replacing a few percent of the fibres running through a resinous composite material, similar to that used to make spacecraft components, with hollow fibres containing adhesive materials. Ironically, to make the material self-repairable, the hollow fibres had to be made of an easily breakable substance: glass. "When damage occurs, the fibres must break easily otherwise they cannot release the liquids to fill the cracks and perform the repair," says Semprimoschnig.

In humans, the air chemically reacts with the blood, hardening it.
Really? Not As Such. I hope their materials science is better than the author's knowledge of biology.
In the airless environment of space, alternate mechanical veins have to be filled with liquid resin and a special hardener that leak out and mix when the fibres are broken. Both must be runny enough to fill the cracks quickly and harden before it evaporates.
Any vacuum-rated low viscosity 2-part epoxy would do. Such stuff exists, and is used in spacecraft at the moment, as well as part of s shuttle-crew's repair kit.
"We have taken the first step but there is at least a decade to go before this technology finds its way onto a spacecraft," says Semprimoschnig, who believes that larger scale tests are now needed.
The hollow glass tubes are only 30 micrometres in diameter. Filling alternate layers with expoxy would be tricky, but glass fibre is a great construction material when embedded in epoxy anyway.

This could be useful - but I'm not so sure. Most spacecraft structure is honeycomb aluminium, or titanium struts, not fibreglass. And for good reasons. As long as it retains structural strength, microcracks and micrometeorite holes make no significant difference.

Reading through the 174 page report (PDF) there's this :
A commercially available two-part epoxy resin system (Cytec Cycom 823) was successfully used for the repair of internal matrix cracking and delaminations through the thickness of a 16 ply glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) laminate.
Aha! I was right!
It was found that once healing of the damage site was undertaken the laminate had a strength recovery of 87% compared to the ultimate failure strength of an undamaged baseline laminate (and 100% when compared to the ultimate failure strength of an undamaged laminate containing hollow fibres with no healing function).
So the self-healing comes at a cost : the laminate is only 87% as strong as one that can't self-repair, but the self-repair completely restores it when damaged.
The report continues:
A two-tier hollow filament selfhealing approach is recommended with UV-activated and vacuum-activated resin systems being employed for the repair of surface damage whilst two-part systems (resin and catalyst) are recommended for the repair of internal laminate damage. Existing commercial resins are proposed for both scenarios, and hence for further evaluation.
Neat. Makes sense.

Finally, the bit that allays my fears that this is a solution looking for a problem :
Advanced fibre reinforced composite materials offer considerable scope for stiffness-critical space structures, such as bus structures and solar array structures, and for dimensionally stable space structures, such as optical benches and antenna systems.
So although GFRP and similar materials aren't much in use today, they're suitable for the future. Good. I can easily imagine a situation where a 1/8 decrease in strength would be a good trade for self-repair. But just as often, an extra 1/8 increase in thickness might make repair un-necessary. Still a useful tool to have available. Duralumin and similar metal alloys are better in most cases, but often have really nasty coefficients of expansion, and tend to "sing" or vibrate.

You just need to be used to ESA's way of doing things, and be able to pick the important bits from the mass of ESA boilerplate. And that really is the hardest part of Rocket Science, trust me.

Thursday 26 January 2006

Cooking for Engineers.

Yummy Goodness - with project plans and timelines too!

Wednesday 25 January 2006

Ms January

Or Maybe "Miss" January, because I'm certainly no Hit. Not yet. But then, it's only been 5 1/2 months since I started HRT, so by all the normal rules, I should only just now be seeing subtle effects visible in a photo. Did I say "Subtle"? Ye Gods.

This is the first picture I've published since leaving the old life behind which shows my real hair, rather than an artificial enhancement. It shows the effects of not quite 10 months after my old "short back'n'sides", which, while simple and easy to manage, doesn't fit very well now. Well, my hair always did grow rapidly. Like a girl's in fact.

This as I've found is fairly typical of people who are TS. There's often (not always) many minor anomalies, things "not quite right" when it comes to gender, but individually not nearly enough to be abnormal.

Only to be expected really, given a biological cause. The masculinisation that should have happened (or shouldn't have happened for guys in female bodies) due to the chromosomes was badly awry in one area (neurological development), so minor glitches in other areas are more likely than not.

One weirdness though, proving yet again that I'm a bit unusual even for someone born transsexual. My latest blood test. I was expecting the oestrodiol (oestrogen - female sex hormone) level in my blood to be on the order of 350 picoMoles/Liter, probably somewhat higher, perhaps 450, due to my originally high (195 pMol/L) pre-HRT level. People with the normal average male level of 50 pMol/L on this dosage usually get about 300 more.

Instead, the level was 185, a drop compared to pre-HRT levels!

The best theory that fits the data is that my system, for whatever reason, was "aromatising" a truly huge amount of testosterone (the male sex hormone) in my blood into oestrogen. This happens to some extent in everybody (or every body), but nowhere near to this degree. This would explain the pre-HRT low testosterone levels, and the high oestrogen levels.

But now, due to the anti-androgens I'm taking, I'm producing only a female level of testosterone, so the oestrogen level from aromatisation has plummeted. The 350 pMol figure was always +/- 50% depending on individual metabolisms, so +175 is possible, as is +525. Assume an abnormally low base level of oestrogen, usually (over)compensated for by aromatisation of testosterone, and the 185 pMol/L figure is just within the bounds of normality.

Trying to figure out what the heck is happening continues to provide me which much harmless amusement. Certainly my individuality is only enhanced by being the woman whose oestrogen levels actually dropped as the result of feminising hormone replacement therapy. I have a perverse sense of pride in that.

Oh yes, the photo: my bust development is nowhere near as large as it appears to be. I just have a large ribcage, and a B-going-on-C cup. Still unusually good going for anyone undergoing transition, and very good indeed for a newbie like me. I could easily end up quite normal looking.

I'm happy with it, anyway.

Might just update the Blog Icon again.

Tuesday 24 January 2006

Church and State (and the IRS)

IRS Rules Heterosexual Sex is not a Proper Function of the Body

In a ruling (PDF) quoting an outspoken article by the Vatican's advisor on Sexual matters, Dr Paul McHugh in a Catholic Religious Journal, the IRS has ruled that the ability to have heterosexual sex is "not a proper function of the body".

Dr Paul McHugh is best known for once saying that Johns Hopkins' Sexual Disorders Clinic, which treats molesters, was justified in concealing multiple incidents of child rape and fondling to police, despite a state law requiring staffers to report them.

This IRS ruling stated that construction of a neovagina that allowed a transsexual woman to have heterosexual sex was "cosmetic surgery" that does not "meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease."

Furthermore, the IRS Counsel, Don Cassano, stated that "there is nothing to substantiate that these {surgical} expences were incurred to promote the proper functioning of the taxpayer's body and only incidentally affect the taxpayer's appearance."

According to the Catholic News Service,
After years of study, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation has sent church leaders a confidential document concluding that "sex-change" procedures do not change a person's gender in the eyes of the church.

Don Cassano's number is 202-622-7900

Sunday 22 January 2006

Iranian Memorial Site

Via Normblog

OMID, a work-in-progress, and a memorial to the tens of thousands of victims of the Mad Mullahs of Iran.
A young girl in Tehran in 1981:

...Arrested for swimming in her home pool in a bathing suit, she was found guilty of causing "a state of sexual arousal" in a neighbor from whose house she could be seen. She was sentenced to sixty lashes in April 1981, but she died after the thirtieth lash.

There are 125 Teenage Girls alone known to have been executed, some as young as 13.

Just another case...
A writer in 1998

...He had protested censorship and translated the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and a book entitled Human Rights: Questions and Answers into Farsi. His wife and daughter never saw him alive after he left for work one winter morning. The day of his execution had been chosen carefully; his body was found on December 10, 1998, the day his book was released, and the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Just so we got the message.

And coincidentally, in Melbourne's North :
Four swimming pool staff have been beaten in an attack in Melbourne's north.

Stunned witnesses said about 30 youths had punched and kicked staff, including a young woman, on the grass at Oak Park Aquatic Centre about 4pm yesterday.

One witness, Alex, said families had recoiled in horror at the bashings.

"I've never seen anything like it," Alex said.

"I thought, 'Not another Cronulla'.

"There seemed to be dozens of people involved, with most wading into the staff and people trying to help them.

"They all appeared to be Middle-Eastern youths.

"It was very upsetting and scary. There were hysterical children everywhere."

Nicholas Burt, leisure manager at Moreland Council, which runs the pool, said the riot had occurred after a male lifeguard had tried to calm two teenagers arguing on the grass embankment.

Mr Burt said a third youth had butted in and when the lifeguard had escorted him to his belongings, after asking him to leave, a struggle had broken out.

"That's when up to 30 other patrons started to physically attack staff," Mr Burt said.

Three male lifeguards and one female security guard had been set upon by the group.

Mr Burt said that amid "blows to the back of the head and around the face", the staff had been driven into the pool's reception area.

He said the attack had continued until police arrived.
Message received there too.

Saturday 21 January 2006

Funniest Things I've seen for ages

Over at Silent Running.

Or just look at the Wikipedia article.

Then there's the Leftist who started a joke - and fell for it himself. Talk about believing your own propaganda...

Friday 20 January 2006

Brains, Geometry, and Justice

From Reuters :
Amazonian hunter-gatherers who lack written language and who have never seen a math book score highly on basic tests of geometric concepts, researchers said on Thursday in a study that suggests geometry may be hard-wired into the brain.

Adults and children alike showed a clear grasp of concepts such as where the center of a circle is and the logical extension of a straight line, the researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Science.

Stanislas Dehaene of the College de France in Paris and colleagues tested 14 children and 30 adults of an Amazonian group called the Munduruku, and compared their findings to tests of U.S. adults and children.

"Munduruku children and adults spontaneously made use of basic geometric concepts such as points, lines, parallelism, or right angles to detect intruders in simple pictures, and they used distance, angle, and sense relationships in geometrical maps to locate hidden objects," they wrote.

"Our results provide evidence for geometrical intuitions in the absence of schooling, experience with graphic symbols or maps, or a rich language of geometrical terms."

Geometry is an ancient field and Dehaene's team postulated that it may spring from innate abilities.
"The spontaneous understanding of geometrical concepts and maps by this remote human community provides evidence that core geometrical knowledge, like basic arithmetic, is a universal constituent of the human mind," they concluded.

And from the Pretoria News :
Fairness, empathy and retribution are fundamental drivers of society, helping to shape laws, the judicial systems to carry them out and also individual relationships.

But where do these powerful forces come from?

Neuroscientists at University College London believe they have found evidence in the brain which helps answer this question - and may also explain a distinction between the sexes when it comes to the business of punishment.

Men, they believe, are likely to take pleasure when they see someone punished for an unfair act, but women are likely to feel badly for the culprit.

In a clever two-phase experiment, the researchers recruited 32 male and female volunteers, as well as four others who were undercover actors hired to play the role of volunteers.

In the first part of the experiment, the group played a game of mutual investment in which they had to give money to one of their number. The recipient could decide for himself how much to give back from the profits.

He or she could hand back up to triple the investment, but at little reward to himself; or he could hand back little or nothing, thus maximising his own gains but at the investor's cost.

One actor was cast in a generous role, always giving lots of money back to his partners, while another actor was cast as a mean person, giving back little and sometimes nothing at all.

Body language by the volunteers, confirmed later in questionnaires, showed that they did not like the actors who had cheated on them. "Fair" players, in contrast, were rated as more agreeable, more likeable and, remarkably, more attractive.

In the second phase, the same volunteers were each placed in a magnetic resonance imaging scanner, a device which shows blood flows within the brain.

The volunteer was then given a demonstration of a mild shock - the equivalent of a short beesting - and then watched as the actors, standing next to the scanner, got the same painful treatment. When a "fair" actor received a shock, the scanner showed empathy among all the volunteers.

In males and females alike, the images showed activation of the anterior insula/fronto-insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. Previous research has showed that these parts of the brain cause the feeling of distress when one sees someone else in pain.

When an "unfair" actor got a shock, the anterior insula/fronto-insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex lit up again among most female volunteers.

But in men, these empathic areas showed no increase in activity. What was activated in a big way, though, was the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain associated with the satisfaction of reward. This activation was not seen in most female volunteers.

The study appears in the British science weekly Nature. Author Tania Singer said the results showed that fairness in social situations "shapes the nature of the emotional link we have to other people".

Singer said: "We empathise with others if they co-operate and act fairly. But in contrast, selfish and unfair behaviour compromises this empathic link."

These fundamental responses at individual level have played a key role in social evolution, believed Singer. They would explain for instance why communities everywhere draw up laws or codes to punish or sideline those who cheat and freeload on the majority.

Thursday 19 January 2006

Manslaughter, Marriage and Medicine

From a support group I'm on :
Late 1997, I was corresponding with a girl called D..... She wrote to me about the HBSOT, when I queried the typo, she replied it wasn't a mistake, the "T" stood for torture. She was attending Charing Cross. She took her own life after they insisted she spend at least one year of RLT in employment before they would prescribe hormones.

Early 1998, another girl C...., said she had been with Russell Reid for two years, but following unemployment, and being unable to afford Russell, had transferred to the Nottingham Gender Clinic. A Dr F.... told her she had to stop all treatment whilst they assessed her, which could take a year. She also took her own life, mid 1998. These are not unsubstantiated rumours, I have the archived messages from both.

HBIGDA - Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association - the international group that has determined how Transsexuality should be treated.
HBSOC or SOC - The "Standards of Care" put out by the HBIGDA. Basically they state that before treatment can begin, there's a 3-month+ psychiatric evaluation, then perhaps treatment with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and a 12 month + long "Real Life Test" (RLT) (usually 2 years in Australia) before any surgery is authorised.
RLT - "Real Life Test" - living successfully 24/7 in the social role of the desired gender. That means inter alia in gainful employment, fulltime study, or doing volunteer work.

To insist that someone even before hormone treatment, and so looking unmistakeably male (OK, I'm an exception) should start a "RLT" looking like an obvious "transvestite freak", and that they somehow keep down a normal job while doing so... is sadism of the worst kind. It is a perversion of the already restrictive SOC that could only have been dreamt up by a sick mind.

To insist that someone who had previously been under the care of a private hospital discontinue the treatment that was keeping them functional for a whole year - at least - while they were being "assessed" to see if treatment could be allowed to continue, that is bureaucratic incompetence and inhumanity of the worst sort.

These people were slain, just as surely as if they had had their throats cut in surgery.

Now I'm no activist. I just want to live my life as best I can. I'm not about to complain overmuch about legalistic trifles that affect a tiny minority, when there are more important issues to be resolved. Things like the liberation of 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Or disarming the Iranian Mad Mullahs before they start lobbing Nukes Hither Thither and Yon. Neither am I going to complain overmuch about well-meaning and highly professional people who are genuinely doing their best, however paternalistically, to help others.

But there comes a time when you have to say ENOUGH. To point out the petty injustices that wreck people's lives. To plead that legal insanity should cease.

Case in point:

In Australia and the UK, some people's legal sex depends entirely on whether they're married or not.


Difficult to believe, I know, but true.

A Transsexual woman who has been made somatically female can have this fact recognised, and a corrected birth certificate issued, in all states of Australia. She is recognised for all purposes as legally female.

But not if she's married. Then she's legally male, and cannot change that status, no matter what treatment she may have.

In the UK, in order to "protect the sanctity of marriage", they have a special procedure, where a couple (legally male and female, respectively) who are married, but where one partner has an "interim gender recognition certificate" can get both divorced and "re-married" (still legally male and female) in a "civil relationship" AKA "Same Sex marriage" on the same day, without having to go through the pain and nausea of division of property, children's custodial arrangements, etc.

They have to destroy the marriage to save it, you see.

Then, and only then, can the transsexual partner have their actual gender legally recognised, also on the same day.

This is not protecting the sanctity of anything, it is making a mock of it. A farce, a grotesquerie, involving happily married couples having to formally part just so they can stay together, and reality be legally recognised. See Guidance For Married People Or Those In Civil Relationships (PDF).

Of course in Australia, the couple don't have this option. The only grounds for dissolution of a marriage is "irretrievable breakdown". One partner or the other must formally swear to the Court that the marriage had broken down beyond hope of repair, and evidence must be presented that they had formally separated at least 12 months previously. To then immediately request that they be re-married in a "civil partnership" would be a legal, as well as actual, nonsense. So instead, legally, black is white, 2+2=5, and someone obviously and medically of one gender is legally of the other. This has very real and terrible implications should they be arrested in a case of mistaken identity, or attempt to travel overseas with a passport with obviously false information on, or a host of other matters.

Currently, to the Australian Department of Health, I am legally Female, as evidenced by the code number on my Medicare Card.
To the Australian Electoral Commission, I'm Female, as evidenced by my Electoral Registration.
To the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who issue Australian passports, I'm legally Male, and would be unable to change that status while still married.
To the UK Passport Office, on the other hand, I'm female. Good, I can use a UK passport to travel to Thailand in November for my corrective surgery. Of course, getting back into Australia is another matter. I'm still awaiting a reply from DFAT on that one.
To the Australian Capital Territory Registrar General, who regulate marriages, I'm Male.
To the Australian Tax Office, as evidenced by my Tax File, I'm Female again.

Transition is hard enough, spiritually, psychologically, socially and medically, without this legal insanity. My partner and I are by no stretch of the imagination still Husband and Wife, yet we remain together, still just as much in love as we were the day we married, and co-parents of a little son who means more to us than life itself. She's not Lesbian, and neither, to my discomfort, am I now. I really was a "Lesbian trapped in a Man's body", but neither is true any longer.

The solemn vows we took "in sickness and in health" could not reasonably be expected to include fantastically rare and ill-understood medical conditions that cause one partner's body to partly change gender without external intervention. Yet we're staying together anyway, at least, as long as we can. The Law in its Majesty, and its Insanity, is not helping one little bit.

With the Law as it stand now, should we divorce, I could get re-married. But only to another woman, as I'm legally male. The pressure groups attempting to preserve the sanctity of marriage, and prevent same-sex marriage, have by their efforts and legal convolutions achieved exactly the reverse.

Meanwhile, in a Universe not very far away from this one....

The HBICPA Standards Of Care are being attacked.

"Hawing a Cweff Pawar iw wor a wenaw iwneff" said one sufferer.

Another, who had had "The Op" stated "Why should we be stigmatised for what is basically a physical problem easily surgically correctable"

Historically, Cleft Palates have been treated by a combination of analysis and psychotherapy to make those who have this condition become comfortable with, and adjusted to, their situation. Proponents of the psychiatric causal theory point out the high incidence of co-morbidity of depressive illness, substance abuse, and body dysmorphia. They also refer to "denture fetishists" who usually secretly insert prostetic palates for eating in the privacy of their own homes, sometimes concealing this for many years from their partners.

Cleft Palate Sufferers themselves assert that many of their problems stem from feelings of rejection by society at large, and in particular lack of socialisation during their formative school years. Their "body dysmorphia" they see not as a psychiatric illness, but a natural consequence of having an opening from their palate to their sinuses, and a disfiguring gap from their nose to their mouth. They see this as being wrong and uncomfortable. When surgically corrected, the body dysmorphia has been shown to disappear in more than 95% of cases.

Religious groups have countered with arguments that such "corrective surgery" is in fact, only cosmetic. "Nothing can replace the teeth that God in His Wisdom has seen fit not to provide" said one. "The artificial constructs of jawbone used by some so-called 'surgeons' will never replace real teeth: they are a mockery."

But most of those CP Sufferers who have had reconstructive surgery differ. "It's not just about eating, or being able to speak normally", said one. "It's about being able to look in the mirror and see someone whole, and normal. It just feels right".

Many CP suffers have critised the HBICPA "Standards of Care" that require 12 months of "Real Life Experience" wearing a prosthetic denture, and demonstrated success in chewing and speaking normally, before surgery is authorised. "Thome people can never 'path'" said one. "Our Lithp never quite goeth away. Thure, plenty of NP's altho have thlight speeth imperfecthions, but to a Thee Pee Thufferer, being 'clocked" ith devathtating. But we live with it. Why thould thith preclude uth from Thurgery?"

Some radical CP support groups have stated that in an ideal world, CP should be treated in a similar way to another common developmental anomaly whose cause isn't clear, Trannssexuality. Infants are routinely screened at age 5 to determine their gender, and any necessary corrective surgery performed before they incur social stigmatisation. This is covered by normal health insurance. Yet many insurance providers have specific clauses excluding treatment for CP as being "cosmetic" or "experimental". Many people today are asking "why the difference"?

Even without such discrimination, the life of the CP sufferer is not easy. Some whose operations resulted in physiogamy that looks so normal, only a dentist can tell, live in 'Stealth', concealing their past, and always afraid that they will be "outed" and suffer shame and humiliation. Others just live their lives, neither concealing nor emphasising that once they had a Cleft Palate. "No one cares if you were born with innappropriate genitalia" said one "I treat my former Cleft Palate state in the same way - part of my life history, nothing to be ashamed of, just a little unusual, that's all."

Other still are "out and proud", activists in the cause of CP rights, braving the scorn and derision of much of society in order to agitate for change.

But the attitude of most CP sufferers can be summed up by one so-called "pre-op" : "I jutht want to live thomething like a normal life. Not a freak, or a weirdo, just a normal human being. To be myself."

(c) 2006 Zoe E Brain.

Tuesday 17 January 2006

Space : The Long Haul

To do anything useful when swanning round the solar system rather than just the local area, conventional rockets just don't cut the mustard. You need an Ion drive.
From Space Daily :
The European Space Agency and the Australian National University have successfully tested a new design of spacecraft ion engine that dramatically improves performance over present thrusters and marks a major step forward in space propulsion capability.

Ion engines are a form of electric propulsion and work by accelerating a beam of positively charged particles (or ions) away from the spacecraft using an electric field. ESA is currently using electric propulsion on its Moon mission, SMART-1.

The new engine is over ten times more fuel efficient than the one used on SMART-1. "Using a similar amount of propellant as SMART-1, with the right power supply, a future spacecraft using our new engine design wouldn't just reach the Moon, it would be able to leave the Solar System entirely," says Dr Roger Walker of ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, Research Fellow in Advanced Propulsion and Technical Manager of the project.

The new experimental engine, called the Dual-Stage 4-Grid (DS4G) ion thruster, was designed and built under a contract with ESA in the extremely short time of four months by a dedicated team at the Australian National University.

"The success of the DS4G prototype shows what can be achieved with the passion and drive of a capable and committed team. It was an incredible experience to work with ESA to transform such an elegant idea into a record-breaking reality", says Dr. Orson Sutherland, the engine's designer and head of the development team at the ANU.

Any bets that the team will be broken up and dispersed before the year's out? But perhaps I'm too cynical.
Then again, no. That's what the historical record of space technology in Australia has shown, consistently.
Once ready, these engines will be able to propel spacecraft to the outermost planets, the newly discovered planetoids beyond Pluto and even further, into the unknown realm of interstellar space beyond the Solar System.

Closer to home, these supercharged ion engines could figure prominently in the human exploration of space. With an adequate supply of electrical power, a small cluster of larger, high power versions of the new engine design would provide enough thrust to propel a crewed spacecraft to Mars and back.

"This is an ultra-ion engine. It has exceeded the current crop by many times and opens up a whole new frontier of exploration possibilities," says Dr Walker.

What the heck. Maybe this will be an exception. I'm going to go to Dr Walker's team at the ANU when I start there and give them my congratulations, anyway. To let them know that someone actually cares, and appreciates their outstanding achievement. Something that will help a lot in the long haul to explore the Solar System, and beyond.

Saturday 14 January 2006

In their Own Words

Abu Hamza :
Quoting the prophet Mohammed he added: "The blood and destruction is the destruction upon you kaffirs."

He said democracy was crumbling and laid out a two-stage plan to replace it with a Muslim nation.

The first he said meant "bleed them from their sides, their heads, their economy, everything until they surrender."
After that he claimed: "The people who called you terrorist before, they will call you khalifas (Muslim rulers) and the scholars who used to call you khawarij (rebels against Islam) yesterday, they will write poems about you."

The second stage involved taking control of the whole world, he added.

"Don't be a shield for the kufr because we will get you," he added. "Even if you are not a target and you are in the target area. If you fear them, you should fear Allah more. It's a bloody way."

Hamza told his followers they would eventually see a Muslim ruler in the White House and added: "The whole earth, it will be for Muslims, this is a promise from Allah.
Today Arabia, Tomorrow the World! Hmm, I'm sure I've heard that line before. Or one very much like it.

Here he is again :
The jury saw pictures of Hamza's home in Shepherd's Bush. It contained boxes piled with blank tapes and others labelled "master", suggesting they were being prepared for distribution.

The tapes included sections on the evils of adultery, drink and e-number additives in food.
Preserving the Purity of our Bodily Fluids.... Right.
In one speech, delivered to a meeting in Whitechapel, east London, in 1997 or 1998 Hamza said the role of women should be to encourage their husbands to train children as young as 10 so they could become mujahadeen (holy warriors).

In a tape aimed at young people he said: "When you meet Allah you will be asked who was killed at your hands?"

Britain and Western nations were "100 per cent anti-Islam", he said in another tape, calling on his followers to spread Islam "by the sword" and adding: "European leaders only respect those that are strong."

He said: "Killing the kafir for any reason is OK, killing the kafir for no reason is OK...
Hamza added: "We like blood and are addicted to it. When they say they love Allah they must ask themselves how much fafir blood they have spilt for Allah."

Describing non-believers as "germs and viruses" in another tape he added: "There is no drop of liquid loved by Allah more than blood of Serbs, Jews or any other enemy of Allah."
The court heard Hamza was calling for a worldwide "caliphate" of Muslim Shariah law and for a Muslim ruler in the White House.

Hamza claimed Jews were "blasphemous, traitors and dirty" and added that "Hitler was sent to torture and humiliate Jews", the court was told.

Yes, that's just one man's view. Except that it isn't, far too many similar sermons and exhortations along the same lines are found in far too many mosques around the world these days. And from the leaders of a nation which has just broken the seals (not to mention solemn agreements) put in place to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

I see no common ground with these people. We've seen this sickness before. The Ubermenschen with their divine right to rule. Those who see themselves as the natural born artistocracy, cheated out of their rightful place by cunning Jews. There can be no negotiation, no co-existence. We are in the middle of Diplomacy at its most coarse: Saying "Nice Doggie" while carefully reaching for a suitably large rock.

I hope that regime change in Iran happens through internal, and peaceful, means. But with the Basij and Revolutionary Guard around, I can't see that it's possible.

Now please go read Victor Davis Hanson on the subject. Those are the only options left.

Friday 13 January 2006

Calling All Feminists

From Iran Focus :
An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

From Middle East Times(Egypt) :
The European Union and international human rights groups have been pressuring Iran to stop executing those under age 18, and the UN General Assembly has adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing the practice of executing minors in Iran.

Iran's ultraconservative judiciary has responded to critics by saying that minors are not executed in the Islamic republic. It has also proposed a law that would prohibit the death penalty or flagellation for those who were minors at the time of the crimes.

According to Iranian law, a boy can be executed from the age of 15, and a girl from the age of nine. However, the execution is carried out when the offender is over 18 years old.

From the admittedly highly partisan and definitely not objective National Committee for Resistance in Iran:
The state-run daily Etemad reported that the clerical regime’s judiciary has condemned an 18-year-old girl for killing a man who attempted to rape her.

The victim, identified as Nazanin, was attacked when only 17 by three men who attempted to rape her and her niece. In the scuffle that followed, Nazanin acted in self-defense which resulted in the death of one of the attackers. She testified in court: “I only committed homicide while trying to defend myself and my niece. I had no intention of killing that man. At that moment I didn’t know what to do because nobody came to help us.”

The murderous judges ignored Nazanin’s testimony, the facts in the case and the testimony of eye-witnesses that corroborated her version of the incident, and condemned her to death. The assailants were reportedly members of the suppressive paramilitary Bassij force in the city of Karaj (west of Tehran).

Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the National Resistance Council of Iran, condemned the death sentence for this young girl who had acted in legitimate defense of herself and her niece. Ms. Chitsaz said: “The regime’s own penal code states that an individual, who ‘commits an act that would constitute an offence while defending the life or dignity of her/himself or of another person… is not liable for prosecution or punishment.’”

Ms. Chitsaz added: “The tragic plight of Nazanin is only one instance of the thousands of transgressions against the rights of Iranian women under the mullahs' misogynous rule in Iran.” She called on all women’s rights and human rights organizations to condemn the criminal sentence and act to prevent the execution of the young Iranian girl.

Women’s Committee of National Council of Resistance of Iran

Who are the Bassij / Basij / Baseej ? They're the Morality Police, charged with upholding Islamic Law. A lot like the men of "Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance" who have been calling women "whores" and threatening them with rape in Sydney recently. Or assaulting them with baseball bats.

More on the Islamic Law they're upholding, this time in Pakistan, from the BBC :
"Hudood laws are a tool in the hands of men - with these laws they can rape women and be totally unaccountable.

Under Hudood if a woman makes a rape allegation she must provide four pious male witnesses or face a charge of adultery herself.

So a woman is in the ridiculous position of having to produce four Muslim adult male eyewitnesses, men who just stood there and watched.

If sex by force is not proved, this woman can be charged with "zina" - sex outside of marriage.

About 60% of women in our jails have been imprisoned as a result of Hudood laws."
Of course in Iran, they'd be stoned to death instead.

I eagerly await various Feminist groups, and even the Women's Electoral Lobby (if it still exists - that's the trouble with people whose shrill posturings are so vapid, no-one except the insiders really cares) - to do something. Issue a statement. Lobby parlimentarians. Even form a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy, Id join. Maybe even a magazine article or ten.

But I'm not holding my breath.

I refuse to tar Islam and all Muslims with the same brush. But anyone who doesn't immediately and in the strongest possible terms, without equivocation, condemn these actions and all who partake in them, anyone who ums and ahs and makes excuses, they are as barbaric and uncivilised as the thugs who commit them. They have made themselves my enemy, me, and my children, and my grandchildren. They cannot be allowed to continue to exist.

The only question is how long will it take us, and how high will be the cost in innocents slaughtered. And how many of the majority, the decent ordinary Muslims, will stand with us, how many will fence-sit, and how many will regretfully side with the thugs and barbarians in the name of "Muslim Solidarity".

They're stuck between a Rock and a Hard Place : Morality and Religious Conviction.

Judaism and it's prodigal offspring, Christianity, have both quietly pushed into dark corners the bits of their sacred texts that conflict with common decency and humanity. The Levitican laws about stoning people to death for violating the Sabbath, or the bits about hating your parents and only loving God. Or the bits about the world being created in 6 days. They've been "misinterpreted", being only the work of fallible humans, or are "allegorical", "days" being not days as we know them, but some eons instead.

Yeah, right. Whatever works.

But the Koran is the literal word of Allah : it says so on the label, not subject to interpretation or cavill. The Islamofascists are right there, the purity of Islam has been corrupted by common decency and Humanity, more like a "Religion of Peace" than a world-dominating movement to force Goodness on the world through slavery and conquest. Muslims must choose: believe in the Koran in its entirety, or close their eyes to the pieces of inherent inhumanity in it, and live according to the many very humane principles of decency throughout that work, ignoring the bits that don't fit, just as ordinary Jews and Christians do all the time. The trouble is that, as it says on the label, it's supposed to be the Literal word of God. No getting around that.

For those of other religions that do take things literally - well, the Fundamentalist Christians rarely go further than opening up Anti-Evolution Theme Parks. Fundamentalist Jews usually just try to lead a quiet life so as not to get Pogrommed (again) and condemn the premature creation of Israel as the Messiah still hasn't shown up.

Fundamentalist Muslims hang girls for defending themselves against rape, and work on Nuclear Weapons so they can render Jews extinct as a people.

Slight difference, isn't there? They've gotta go. The world truly isn't big enough for both of us. The only question is how long, and how. And that's a much more intricate problem, for which I have no easy answer. But causing regime-change in Iran is looking good.

Thursday 12 January 2006

All the News that Fits

From a NYTimes e-mail to subscribers:
Here are the 10 Most Read Articles on from 2005.

* 1. Maureen Dowd: What's a Modern Girl to Do?
Published: October 30, 2005
Burning your bra or padding it. Demanding "Ms." or flaunting "Mrs." Splitting the check or letting him pay. Playing it straight or playing hard to get.

* 2. Maureen Dowd: United States of Shame
Published: September 3, 2005
W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives.

* 3. Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World
By KURT EICHENWALD, Published: December 19, 2005
A 13-year-old was drawn into performing sex acts for an online audience in a tale of the dark collateral effects of technology.

* 4. How Personal Is Too Personal for a Star Like Tom Cruise?
By SHARON WAXMAN, Published: June 2, 2005
Tom Cruise is puzzling associates and members of the public with his behavior while promoting the Paramount movie "War of the Worlds."

* 5. Officials Struggle to Reverse a Growing Sense of Anarchy
1, 2005
Bodies floated in stagnant floodwaters, and food and water supplies dwindled for thousands of trapped, desperate residents who had not yet managed to find a way out.

* 6. Thomas L. Friedman: Osama and Katrina
Published: September 7, 2005
If President Bush goes back to his politics as usual, Katrina will have destroyed a city and a presidency.

* 7. Macabre Reminder: The Corpse on Union Street
By DAN BARRY, Published: September 8, 2005
It is remarkable that on a downtown street in a major U.S. city, a corpse can decompose for days, like carrion, and that is acceptable.

* 8. Editorial: Waiting for a Leader
Published: September 1, 2005
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life Wednesday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom.

* 9. Cheney Told Aide of C.I.A. Officer, Lawyers Report
Notes of a previously undisclosed conversation between the vice president and his chief of staff appear to differ from I. Lewis Libby's federal grand jury testimony.

* 10. Paul Krugman: A Can't-Do Government
By PAUL KRUGMAN, Published: September 2, 2005
America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job.
Yes, what Anti-Bush bias?

And in news that the NYT didn't think was so important, not enough to publish at any rate.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) joined President George W. Bush and other lawmakers in a bill signing ceremony at the White House during which the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (HR 972 or TVPRA) became law.

Smith authored the legislation to strengthen the nation's current trafficking law (which he also authored in 2000), authorize new funds for investigation and prosecution of domestic trafficking within the United States and to help the young women and children who are most often the victims of human trafficking operations. Trafficking is a $9 billion industry, the third largest source of income for organized crime and the second fastest growing criminal activity in the world, equal with illegal arms sales.

The TVPRA is now the third human trafficking law to be authored by Rep. Smith, who began investigating and working to end the human trafficking epidemic in the mid-1990's. According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill will provide $361 million over the next two years to combat trafficking.

"The 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act provides law enforcement with the necessary tools to continue the liberation of the unfortunate women and children who are forced into horrific, abusive conditions," said Smith, who was the author of that landmark trafficking law (Public Law 106-386). "Make no mistake, this law will protect women and young girls at home and abroad and is a victory for victims of this abhorrent crime."

Each year, an estimated 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders. It is estimated that millions more are trafficked internally within the borders of countries. In the past four years, twice as many people in the United States have been prosecuted and convicted for trafficking than in the prior four-year period. Worldwide, more than 3,000 traffickers were convicted last year -- an increase from the previous year. These numbers reflect an increasing number of countries acquiring the laws necessary to combat trafficking and having the political will to implement those laws.

Smith's bill reauthorizes and expands appropriations for anti- trafficking programs in the United States and abroad and offers solutions to specific scenarios where additional initiatives are needed to combat trafficking problems, such as in peacekeeping missions. For the first time, programs geared toward reducing the demand for commercial sex in the United States and preventing human trafficking of US citizens within our own borders are authorized, and new funding will be provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to combat both domestic and international trafficking.

Smith worked with Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) to craft an amendment creating a $25 million grant program for local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute human trafficking (and related offenses) including initiatives to attack the demand for prostitution, which fuels sex trafficking.

"We thought it was essential to target the criminals -- slaveholders -- who force these young children and women into unimaginable horrors," said Smith, whose original law was recently the focus of a Lifetime miniseries starring Mira Sorvino entitled 'Human Trafficking.'

The TVPRA, in its entirety, enables prosecution in the United States of trafficking offenses committed by federal employees and contractors and amends the United States Code to strengthen the use of money laundering, racketeering and civil and criminal forfeiture statutes against traffickers. In addition, the Department of Justice is directed to conduct a biennial analysis of trafficking and commercial sex acts statistics inside the United States.

"Contrary to common belief, human trafficking is not a criminal activity exclusive to foreign countries -- it happens within our own borders, within our own communities," said Smith, who noted that U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in New Jersey has been a vigorous prosecutor of criminals involved in human trafficking. "It is essential that the United States takes the lead and that includes within our own borders, particularly with a crime as abhorrent as human trafficking."

Smith's bill also addressed the American and foreign victims of human trafficking and includes provisions to help reintegrate them to a normal life. It authorizes a grants program for non- governmental organization victim service providers, establishes programs for residential rehabilitation facilities and promotes access to information about federally funded services for victims.

"The 2005 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act strengthens and expands our efforts and allows law enforcement to continue to liberate the women and children who are forced and coerced into slavery and provide them with hope," said Smith, who has fought for human and victims rights since coming to Congress. "With this new law, the victims of this terrible crime know they are not forgotten."
Just Google on "Trafficking Victims Protection Act", there's lots of news on it. But not in the NYT. The image of Bush and a gaggle of Republican politicians being anti-slavery doesn't fit. Fictional accounts of cannibalism in New Orleans do.

Tuesday 10 January 2006

More Miscellanea

M.C.Escher's Concave and Convex (and considering what I've got planned for November, that's appropriate)

These and many other images over at Imagenetion. Cheesecake lovers should have a Ball, and there's lots of comic afficionados too.

From Latin For The Masses
Ne auderis delere orbem rigidum meum!
In other words, "Don't you dare erase my hard disk!"

From Science Cartoons Plus, the work of S.Harris, such as the one on the right.

Finally, from Frogstar, a selection of songs, such as the classic 30's hit "Shaving Cream".
And now Folks my story is ended.
I think it is time I should quit.
If any of you feel offended,
Stick your head in a barrel of....
Shaving Cream,
Be Nice and Clean,
Shave Every Day
And you'll always look Keen.

All the World's Submarine Bloggers

Available over at Chapomatic.

I'm not sure if the pun was intentional (but I suspect it was, Submariners have a low and wicked sense of humour), but this blog's at "Marker Buoy Release". Which is quite appropriate, since I'm releasing all the "Boy" markers as fast as I can.

Sunday 8 January 2006

Australian "Black" Defence Projects of the 70s

The Submarine Aircraft Carrier

The Royal Australian Navy Skyhawk, being an all-purpose aircraft, was the subject of a 1970s experimental sea trial of an A-4 on board a Royal Australian Navy submarine. There was no objection from the aviators to operating the Skyhawk from the somewhat limited deck space of the submarine. A problem with the Skyhawk's turbine cavitating while underway submerged was overcome. The diesel catapult worked just fine. However, the experiment was abandoned when the submarine's XO objected to the jet blast burning the paintwork off the sail.
The greatest difficulties were caused by having to provide a rescue helo as well. This caused conditions on board to become rather cramped.

But there was some serendipity from this project. The solutions to the problems of keeping the pilot dry, and especially the ability to launch while submerged, were found to give the vehicle a limited exo-atmospheric capability, when fitted with external boosters.

The vehicles so equipped were not capable of lunar landing, and had to rely on lunar slingshot effects for Earth Return orbit.

Re-entry profile was similar to the shuttle's (whose wings are similar in plan to the A-4's), but cooling was provided by an ingenious spray mechanism (the tanks under the wings), where a cryogenic gas/fluid mixture (Bionic Evaporative Environment for Re-entry) was injected into the boundary layer, preventing much of the frictional heating, and conveying away the remaining heat by convection. An additional spray was installed on the nose, clearly visible in the photo. Also visible are the additional internal spray coolant systems for the tail and wing leading edge, shown with the pop-out panels open during vacuum operations, a precaution taken after one system stuck in the closed position, and only unjammed after a risky EVA manouvre just before re-entry.

The flights were successful, but the experiments were abandoned after the fighter pilots reported nothing worth shooting at up there. It was also found that the ground crew often emptied the self-pressurising BEER storage in order to "check the contents" rather too often.

Pictures and quoted text are from the RAN Shyhawks page. Photographs courtesy of the Australian Naval Aircraft Museum: Mark Clayton, Director;, Windy Geale, Curator

By the way... should some advertisements appear to the left for "Moon Landing Hoax", just remember that
a) I have no control over what adverts appear. Some automated system looks at the posts that are visible, and returns adverts that may have something to do with the content.
b) But I do get a few cents every time someone clicks on one. More to the point, I get it from the purveyors of such egregious BS, so it's a twofer. Especially if someone clicks multiple times.
c) Of course, sometimes something useful appears. Not every advertiser is a totally mendacious snake-oil merchant relying on Idiotarian gullibility and the overly-credulous, in fact, very few of them are. Just the ones trying to propagate the "Lunar Landing Hoax" myth.

Currently, as I'm writing this, no such advert is visible, so I can talk about it. Because part of the terms of service are not to draw attention to existing ads, nor encourage readers to click on them just for the sake of it. Just saying, that's all.

More Weirdness

I've been Memed again. This time by a mutant variant of a meme I sent to Ninme, and which she's now sent back.

5 Weird Things about myself (as opposed to 5 weird habits)

1. I'm Transsexual. That's weird enough, in itself. Not that unusual, but weird, certainly.

2. But not merely am I Transsexual, I'm one of the 4 people in the world I've located so far, who started the "transition" as we call it, ideopathically. That is, our bodies started changing without treatment, and for reasons unknown. There's got to be more - from what little I know there are many different mechanisms that could cause something like this, none of which would be rarer than 1 in a few million.

3. But not merely am I one of that select group, I seem to be holding a record for the sheer speed of the physical transformation. Usually it's at normal, pubescent rates, or slower. Everyone it's happened to was about 45, and at that age, cell division is far slower than at age 14. Kathy Noble in Queensland's transition took 7 years, but was delayed because medicos tried to reverse it. Kate in Los Angeles has had changes going on for 3 years, and will probably take another 1-2. Samantha in Canada, I don't know her details, I'm not in contact with her. She's woodworked, gone Stealth, and I don't blame her. Half her luck she was able to.

4. I like life on board submarines. It's the having to burn or bury your clothes afterwards, as your sense of smell slowly recovers, that's difficult.

5. And my surname is Brain. Really. Initial used to be A.Brain too, and that caused all sorts of credibility problems. I expect to enjoy a temporary hiatus there, before it's Dr Brain, and again having to produce my drivers license etc to prove it's not a nickname. Assuming I can do the difficult double trick of transitioning and doing a PhD simultaneously, something akin to juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle on a tightrope.

Rather than nominate 5 others, I'm leaving this one open : I invite the first 5 people who comment to either take up the gauntlet on their blogs, or write the 5 ways they're weird in the comments. Being a regular reader of this blog counts as one, of course.

Saturday 7 January 2006

Dr Brain

Well, in 3 years time, with anything like luck.

Yeterday, I got the unofficial word that I'm to be offered a ~ USD 20,000 p.a. scholarship to do research at the Australian National University, in the field of embedded systems in Automobiles. Safety-critical stuff. Formal Provability. Cutting-Edge Development.


And I may be able to do 6 hours a week of one of my favourite activities - Teaching!

It doesn't get much better than this.

Of course there's the little matter of various medical procedures I have to attend to over the period. I'm looking at scheduling The Op in November, when I'll be able to have the 2 months "light duties" healing time after a month in hospital. After that, the extra hormones can be reduced, and the rate of change will probably accelerate.

It would be nice to be... consistent. No longer ambiguous.

With just a smidgin of luck, and no unexpected dramas (as if they ever happen...) , I'll be able to complete both projects by early 2009, at age 50.

Oh yes. One of the possible PhD candidates I may be working with on the project is an alumnus of the Saudi Space Research Institute. If so, I hope he's broad-minded. You see, we're bound to swap war-stories. Working with a female is one thing, working with a transsexual female another, but working with a transsexual female who's done work on Israeli nuclear-equipped submarines... could be tricky. But he may not be in the project, there's a few candidates to choose from.

Egregious Dr Brain link.

Friday 6 January 2006

Mirror, rirroM

The True Mirror

A True Mirror is made from putting two mirrors at a right angle, such that the two mirror images bounce off of each other. This mirror arrangement isn't a new concept (actually, it was first patented in rather crude fashion in 1887). Try this in your home - just hold two mirrors up to each other at right angles, and you can see the effect. Of course, you'll have to ignore the large line that runs down the middle of your face, which is probably why you never paid much attention to this mirror arrangement before.

That bothersome line down the middle isn't there with a True Mirror Within its stylish cabinet resides two crystal-clear, space-age mirrors joined perfectly at 90 degrees using special materials and bonding techniques that eliminate that line optically. The image you see of yourself is both actual size and in focus. The seam is invisible in the center, so you can look eye-to-eye to yourself just as in "real life." The effect can be very powerful.

Thursday 5 January 2006

Gender Vocabulary

Female: Any part under a car's hood.
Male: The strap fastener on a woman's bra.

Female: Fully opening up one's self emotionally to another.
Male: Playing football without a helmet.

Female: A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male: Not trying to pick up other women while out with one's girlfriend.

Female: The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Male: Call it whatever you want just as long as we end up in bed.

Female: A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male: Anything that can be done while drinking.

Female: The body part that every item of clothing manufactured makes "look bigger."
Male: what you slap when someone's scored a touchdown, homerun, or goal. Also good for mooning

From JumboJokes

Wednesday 4 January 2006

The Male View

A first for this blog - a guest article, this one from "Mr X". It's a follow-up to a previous post, trying to explain what Gender really means when it comes to people who are born transsexual. So, without further ado, here's The Male View.

When Zoe asked me to write this, I said, "Sure. It's my Honour. But it may take me a couple of days. Work's pretty busy you know." I sat and looked at the first couple of paragraphs for a while, then the exercise became cathartic and work just had to wait....

Where Zoe has used analogy to explain, I've tried to describe a journey. For those that prefer analogies see here and here.

"I have never met you, Zoe, but every time I read your comments, I tend to think of you as Alan - sorry, but I just cannot help it."

A few months ago, I received an email from a friend. It wasn't the only similar email I received last year, but this friend was a particularly close one.

"X, Don't know how to say this. You can run away screaming if you want, I won't blame you. You see, I'm a girl."

My immediate thought was *Hug*. My next thought, was, well I'm not going to push... but I wonder if she's picked a name yet (I soon found out that she'd had it picked since she was 10), I can't very well go calling her by a guy's name.

For me the switch was that easy. I trust someone's mind more than their body. I know how the body can say one thing, while the mind screams the opposite - even if no-one can hear. But then again, I'm finally in the process of changing my body to match my head. Oh, running away screaming wasn't an option. I've seen people do that and it's SCARY.

Imagine yourself as a small child. Your body, apart from those bits normally concealed by your undies is sexually ambiguous. And the hidden bits don't do anything anyway - they don't really bug you. But you know what Dad looks like - that thick, hanging thing. In your dreams, you have one too, but it's always gone when you wake up. You get used to it.

You start growing up. You hit puberty, your breasts start to grow and are extremely painful. One morning you wake up and your bottom sheet (normally blue) is bright red and your legs and hands and face are blood smeared. You knew this would happen eventually, but you thought that your head would change at the same time - that you'd no longer feel like a boy. Instead you're more a boy and kinda scared. But you know that if you act like a boy, you'll get a talking-to from your parents. You sit and bear all the reminders (more frequent now that you bleed and have things on your chest) to act like a lady, wondering when you'll feel like a lady and when someone will tell you how to act like a lady. It's hard work looking at everyone and cataloging their actions, working out how women are meant to behave. And it feels so wrong when you do that stuff.

Around about the same time, you realise, rather suddenly, that when what's happening to you finishes, IT LOOKS REALLY GOOD! Not to put too fine a point on it, you Like Girls. Well that explains everything then. You're a Lesbian. You guess all lesbians feel like they're really boys in disguise - that's why they like other girls right? Because they're only sort-of girls? It's normal for a lesbian to hate wearing a bra - because it makes her chest shape all wrong. It's normal for a lesbian to feel embarrassed and hate her body below the waist. And above.

Then the real test comes: You've never really had any romantic attachment before. For some reason it has always felt wrong and you've avoided it. Sure sometimes you take special care, go out wearing a shirt and tie, bind the chest and uh. something in the trousers. It feels good but as soon as you start talking to someone, your voice gives you away as a pretender, a wannabe.

But someone comes along, someone that you could talk to forever, hold forever. She's a beautiful woman and God, you Want her. She's keen on you too and before you know wht's happening, you're lying, naked, warm and relaxed in a mutual embrace. But even in ecstasy (and that's hard enough), you can't fully suppress the screaming in your head. Your body is wrong.

Is there any way to fix it? Whose idea is this anyway? Making you walk around for your entire life with the wrong shaped body. Why do people look at you and say "Yeah, right" when you say that you're a guy?

You find out that there is hormones and surgery. In the first, you're lucky: In a hormone fight, Testosterone wins. In the second, not so good, they can fix your chest such that it's flat, they can remove the parts that make you bleed (though that'll stop anyway with T), but you'll never have the penis that you can feel.

Once you consent to going through puberty again, you're on your way to becoming the guy you've always been - and it's only a few years too late. But there's a problem. People you love, people you work with, people you socialise with. They were all dependent on having a daughter, a sister, a female colleague, a female friend. I mean you had a female name right? Even though you never acted like a daughter, a sister, a girl, a woman. Somehow the fact that you were badged, when you were barely self aware is meant to define you forever. They reject you. They know your body will never be complete enough to reproduce and so they condemn you to be a girl forever. They'll never accept you as anything but.

There is hope though, some people, even if they don't really understand what it's like for the head to say something different to the genitals, care. And you'll go on in life and meet people that never knew you as a wannabe girl. They'll just see, and work with and share with the man you are. You'll care a bit more about women too - people you work and live with - because once, you faced the same challenges as they do. For you it was harder - you weren't wired for it, most of them are. They always could bear to look in the mirror, they always felt right when someone they loved loved them, they always woke up with all the right bits attached, all the right clothes in the wardrobe. Now, so do you.

The same journey, just opposite directions. Guys reading this blog might now understand a bit better, when I said
The more people understand this strange phenomenon, the more they'll accept transsexuals as people of their actual gender, not their formerly apparent one.

Because imagine if you had found yourself in this position? You could have done. Lots of other guys do.

Tuesday 3 January 2006

How Surprising - Not

You scored 36 masculinity and 83 femininity!
You scored high on femininity and low on masculinity. You have a traditionally feminine personality.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 5% on masculinity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 96% on femininity
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

The picture above is perhaps a little unfortunate, given recent events. Namely, a kitchen fire, using a stove very much like the one illustrated. And I'm not blonde, though sometimes I have to wonder. (I have to say.. she looks as if someone's just switched on the remote control of something she's wearing under that apron.. Bad Zoe! Bad! Must be the hormones.)

To take the curse off, time for a new Blog Pic. Things continue to happen, and my appearance still changes sufficiently to warrant a new picture every month. This one's nearly a month old, but what the heck. I'll get a new one done in a few week's time.

Maybe.. one day... I might qualify to appear here. Well, a girl can dream, and I have to tell you, weirder things have already happened. Trust me on that.

This one's with me and a satellite, where I'm more in my element. Not heating elements..

Hat Tip: Matt's MaddBlog

A Reply to Alisa

Over at Silent Running, Alisa wrote a comment that deserved to be replied to at length.

So I did. In fact, my reply was so long, I decided to make it a blog entry instead.

I think most people tend to see transsexuals as people of their former gender.
You're absolutely right, Alisa. That's why so many transsexuals are forced to abandon their former lives, dissappear, and re-start from scratch with a new Identity, in order to love a normal life. It's called "woodworking" or "going full Stealth". Constantly living with the fear that some minor slip will destroy their new lives.
Of course, most have already lost family, friends, and employment as the result of Transition, so the price is not as high as you might think, their old life is eesentially gone anyway.. One good thing about being at rock-bottom: there's nowhere to go but up.
I was in a different situation from most. Stealth was never an option, I just have to live as a woman with a past history. Just like thousands of others. I'd prefer that things were different, but have to live with Reality, not Wishes.

I have never met you, Zoe, but every time I read your comments, I tend to think of you as Alan - sorry, but I just cannot help it.
Your graceful and honest "sorry" took all the sting out of your painfully honest words. Thanks for both the "sorry", and the respect shown to me by your honesty. And how could I blame you for your honest opinion, when I had far more evidence than you, and still thought of myself as "Alan" for 35 years?
Had my body not started changing, I'd still be me, Zoe (with a few minor personality changes due to hormones), but still appearing as Alan to the outside world. I never would have considered transition. Not (quite) every female-brained person in a male body has to transition in order to live, and as many as 2/3 of all male-brained people in female bodies cope quite well too.
You see there's no such thing as a "Sex Change". There's only bringing the body approximately into line with what the brain's physical structure was always set up for.

Here's a thought experiment that might help you understand.

Imagine you're an actress, allocated a male role. Now it's a tough audience, do a poor job and you face physical violence from them. You must learn to walk with a male swagger, suppress all hard-wired feminine gestures and body language. But I'll make it easier for you: one Zap with a magic wand, and you get a male body too. Of course that doesn't change you, your personality, the things that make up Alisa. You still have all those hard-wired mannerisms, as all girls do. But now you physically can't cross your legs in a natural position, your pelvis is set up wrong, muscles get in the way, your brain's hard-wired body-mage doesn't match reality now. Another Zap to change your hormone levels, to keep your oestrogen at the lowest level of your cycle, but to increase your testosterone level by at least a factor of 10, and you lose interest in Boys completely - except as rivals. You still won't understand Men, you'll still think like Alisa, and indeed like all other women, but you'll understand male competitive urges, having them yourself now. You won't be able to cry when you get upset, hiding emotions will be easy. Another Zap, and we'll make it retrospective. At school, other girls won't play with you (as you look like a boy), but boys are so icky and puerile you want nothing to do with them. You don't think like they do. Maybe you'll be lucky like me, and find some tolerant girls who will let you play hopscotch with them - as long as no-one else knows.

But now to make it harder: you're never off the set, your role is 24/7. Your new name - Zachary. You'll still want a husband and kids, a normal family, but you're no longer equipped to be a mother, and boys don't interest you at all, remember? But now your very best girlfriend finds you strangely attractive, and love soon becomes falling in Love, as you're not immune to the effects of Testosterone. You have the body appropriate to be her husband, it's the only way you'll have kids, you're both very much in love, so why not?

OK, so the body feels awfully, horribly wrong, you can never relax and act on instinct, even walking takes an effort, and I won't mention how disconcertingly disorienting sex can be when your brain's hard-wired body image doesn't match your genitalia. No matter how good an actress you are, some things require hard-wired reflexes, and your brain isn't set up for the male ones.

After just a few days for the neurotransmitters to find a new level in your brain, and you'll find you have far better abilities at visualising spatial relationships: but you become dyslexic when it comes to reading body language.

Zachary's a nice guy : he has many female friends, who often come to him when they want advice on how Guys think. Not that you know, but by trying to fake being one, you've had to study them, and know what they think without understanding how they can think that way. Because you think the same way as you always did, the way your female friends think.

Now... do this for 30 years....

Then the enchantment wears off. Nothing will get your female reproductive system back, even though the male one is pretty much faded out now. You can never be a mother - but you are a father, you have children. Your partner - because she's not your wife any more, you're Alisa now, not Zachary - well, she always was your best friend, you've been married 25 years and are still in love, but neither of you are Lesbian.

Some of the enchantment's effects are permanent, you'll need surgery and hormonal therapy to correct them. But most can be completely corrected.

Then someone writes
I have never met you, Alisa, but every time I read your comments, I tend to think of you as Zachary - sorry, but I just cannot help it.
And you have to try to explain that yes, you're still Zachary, but that was just a persona you had to don, really you've always been Alisa, trying to do the best she can under really strange circumstances.

It's such a small developmental abnormality, less severe than a hair lip. Just a brain that doesn't get masculinised when the rest of the body does - or does, mostly. To grossly over-simplify, in my case the masculinisation was close to 100% complete, but certainly not 100% permanent, and no, we're not exactly certain why. It's rare, but it happens - I'm in contact with two other women it's happened to, all had the change happen at about 45, all had female brains in male bodies. I know of the existence of other cases from the Gender Center in Sydney, but not their details, nor even how many there are. None of the cases has made PubMed, not even Kathy Noble's, where the mechanism is comparatively well understood and well documented.

Hope this helps. The more people understand this strange phenomenon, the more they'll accept transsexuals as people of their actual gender, not their formerly apparent one.
I was thinking of writing a version for my male readers, but I don't think I'm quite up to the task. I might ask a guest FtoM to write one for me. Never did understand Men.

Monday 2 January 2006

Waiting For the Pictures

Drink Warning!

Just read this and the comment immediately following.

And after rolling around on thwe floor for some time, I needed surgical glue to re-attach a part of my anatomy as well.

Sunday 1 January 2006

Brain Intersex

Well, the first post of the New Year (and Happy New Year to all my readers).

Now onto something a bit meatier than usual. The subject is the Human Brain, and Intersex.

Does Brain Intersex Exist

Background Data:

1. Anomalies during foetal development sometimes happen. This can give rise to all sorts of somatic variations.

2. These anomalies can be due to genetic, environmental, or a combination, of causes. Very often they happen for no apparent reason. Sometimes we can strongly correlate them with environmental factors e.g. ingestion of thalidomide during early pregnancy. Often the correlation is weak.

3. Observation of low-technology societies suggests that some degree of somatic variation is good for the society - the person who is colour-blind can sometimes see animals in vegetation when others can't. Abnormalities that may not be good for the individual can be good for the group.

4. Some harmful Genetic variation is also useful - Tays-Sachs gene provides protection against Typhoid IIRC, Sickle-cell Anaemia gene provides protection against the Malarial parasite. 2 copies, you die, 0 copies, you probably die of disease, 1 copy, you're fine. Evolution will sometimes positively select for a small amount of variation in somatic norms.

5. There's a mountain of evidence that boys and girls think differently. There's evidence from dynamic MRI that they use different parts of the brain. There's evidence from autopsy that their brains are different morphologically.

6. Intersex conditions exist, some genetic, some environmental, some ideopathic (ie we have no idea what causes them). These result in sexually dimorphic parts of the body being abnormal, feminised in a masculine body, masculinised in a feminine body, or just plain mixed.

7. (Emphasis Added) The Brain is a Sexually Dimorphic Organ If people with male brains in female bodies, or the reverse, didn't exist, we would have to ask, why not? Why should the brain, alone of all organs, be somehow 'protected' against being Intersexed, in a way no other sexually differentiated part of the body is?

8. My studies have indicated that far more of our behaviour is "hard wired" than is commonly believed, in particular, gestures, mannerisms, and "body language". There is a societal component, but girls everywhere, from Tierra Del Fuego to Newfoundland, toss their hair, and twiddle with their ear-rings or hair when looking at someone they're interested in. Pupils dilate in both sexes when an "object of sexual interest" is seen.

My chain of logic is inductive, and as follows:

1. We know (P=1.0) intersex conditions occur in all sexually dimorphic organs except the brain [1]
2. We know (P>0.9999) that the brain is sexually dimorphic [2],[3],[4],[5]

Hypothesis : Intersex conditions happen in the brain too. (Or why is it a special case?)

Test of Hypothesis:
1. Figure out what the consequences of an Intersexed brain would look like.
2. Look for observations in the Real World that match those consequences, for which there's no other good (ie with reasonable evidence rather than mere supposition) explanation.

If we find them, then the Hypothesis is proven (P>~0.9).

Corollary : The consequences that have been observed are the consequence of an Intersexed brain (P=~0.9).

Consequences of an Intersexed Brain

So, what would be expect from a hypothetical person, such as a female-pattern brain in a male pattern body?

First, the same "gender dysphoria" shown by both natal females and natal males who have hormonal abnormalities, natural or therapeutically induced. For example, many men prefer to die a horrible death rather than partially feminise from hormonal treatment and a bilateral orchidectomy as a treatment for unresectable prostate cancer. The suicide rate in women with hirsutism is very high.

Such cases of clinical depression occur even when there are no visible somatic effects : it is not societal pressure, it is either psychological, biochemical, or both.

Treatment of such a hypothetical person with Hormone Replacement Therapy would be likely to reduce symptoms of depression from having the wrong hormonal mix for the brain's neuro-chemistry.

Second, the Identification of the hypothetical person as someone of the opposite somatic sex. This would be due to them thinking differently from their peers: a female-brained "boy" would think like a girl, a male-brained "girl" would think like a boy. It would be likely that neither group would accept the hypothetical person as a societal member, they would be ostracised and isolated from an early age. "Loners".

This would probably lead to an almost obsessive need to "blend", to become "one of the herd", "part of the crowd", after treatment to make the body and brain congruent. Societal sanction, which would tend to threaten anyone too far outside societal norms with violence, would only increase this tendency.

Objectively, such an obsession with "Stealth" may seem pathological: but given the years of misery, and the very real danger to employment, life and limb, such an obsession may in fact be neccesary for survival, as well as being a quite undrestandable coping mechanism for past psychic stress.

Third, some degree of body dysmorphia, where the instinctive and hard-wired gestures and mannerisms are eiether impossible to implement due to the wrong body shape, or societally discouraged. For example, a female-brained male-bodied person may not be physically able to cross their legs in the "natural" way, due to being musclebound, having the wrong-shaped pelvis, less supple cartilage, and having external genitalia that the brain's body-map insists shouldn't be there.

Adoption of a different societal role (thereby "allowing" certain gestures and mannerisms), and HRT to somatically change things like cartilage suppleness, and fat and muscle distribution, would allow the hypothetical indiidual to act more on instinct, and with less discomfort due to constantly having to censor natural impulses that are hard-wired.

Body dysmorphia, and discomfort with physical appearance, could also lead to a greater than normal pre-occupation with personal appearance post-treatment. Again, societal sanction against anyone looking too "different" would reinforce the perceived and sometimes real need for "heroic measures" such as plastic surgery as part of the therapy. Psychologically, most would require genital correction, both for personal and practical reasons so they could have a "normal relationship".

Fourth, some degree of sexual preference skewing. One estimate is that approximately 10% of males are exclusively Homosexual, and another 10% behaviourally bisexual. The rate for females appears to be 5% exclusively homosexual, and 30% behaviourally bisexual. The mechanism for determining sexual preference is not well-understood, but it's reasonable to assume that it is well-correlated with both brain morphology and hormone levels.

We could expect about 65% of female-brained male-bodied individuals to be apparently "homosexual", 30% to be "bisexual", and 5% to be "heterosexual", ignoring the effect of both societal pressure to conform, and masculinising hormones. Taking those into account, it would be reasonable to expect 40% to appear homosexual, 20% bisexual, and 40% heterosexual, with the proportions reverting to 65/30/5 after hormone and other therapy. Similar arguments for male-brained female-bodied individuals apply, but the vast majority of these would appear Lesbian before therapy, perhaps 25% being attracted to Men beforehand.

Fifth we would expect these symptoms to not be amenable to change except by extensive brain-washing techniques, and then only partially or temporarily. They would also tend to vary with the individual : "male-brained" or "female-brained" is a simplification, in fact, there's a spectrum with two distinct maxima, the traditional bimodal distribution.

We would expect many of the bisexual or seemingly heterosexual female-brained male-bodied individuals to marry and have children, due to the normal female maternal urge. This would contrast with relatively few male-brained female-bodied individuals.

This could lead to a distinct differentiation : those female-brained male-bodied individuals with an unshakeable heterosexual or very mildly bisexual orientation (40-50%) would tend to request treatment early. Those at least partly bisexual or lesbian would seek treatment later, if at all, and mostly only after having had children. This could be reasonably expected to peak at Andropause, when the decreased support of male hormones reaches a critical threshold, so many such people seeking treatment would do so between 45 and 55. Many ( ~50%) such people would find their sexual orientation changing after treatment.

Sixth Some degree of brain anomaly found during autopsies or high-definition dynamic MRI scans. People with the symptoms reported above would, in general, have gross brain structures corresponding to those of the gender oppsite to their body. As the Hypothalamus appears to be associated strongly with sexual identity, that would be a good initial place to look for any differentials.

Seventh Because of the abnormality of brain development, a greater than normal incidence of other minor brain developmental abnormalities could reasonably be expected, such as Asperger's Syndrome or Autism, Ambidexterity, and/or Dyslexia. Hyposmia or Anosmia may be correlated too, as in Kallman's Syndrome.

Speculatively, there may be some Evolutionary advantage to offset the disadvantages of decreased fertility for the individual. Homosexuality appears to be correlated with a 1 SD increase in IQ. Brain Intersex may have a similar correlation with high IQ or other talents.

Summary That is what we could reasonably find should there exist the expected "Brain/Body Gender Mismatch".

There may be other expectations I haven't included, but this seems a reasonable list to begin with. I may easily have included unwarranted suppositions, or missed out important psychological considerations that an expert in the field would consider crucial. Nonetheless, the list would seem plausible as a first approximation.

If we can find a population of individuals with all or most of these symptoms clustered together, the individual symptoms in isolation otherwise being rare, then the case for Brain Intersex existing is very strong: and its corollary, that this population is Brain Intersexed, is also strong.

Does Such a Population Exist?

Any Psychologist or Psychiatrist with knowledge of Gender issues will immediately recognise that the description matches perfectly with one population - those suffering from "Gender Indentity Disorder" with "Gender Dysphoria", namely, Transsexuals.

Trnassexuals, being individuals, do vary: but a surprising number of features are common, so much so that they themselves are astounded that so many others have similar life stories and personality quirks.

The only thing not predicted would be the phenomenon of "CrossDressing", which some 80% of somatically male and 20% of somatically female transsexuals indulge in, ostensibly as a coping mechanism to relieve distress. Apart from that, it's word-pefect. From the otherwise unexplained "primary" (early-transition and "homosexual") and "secondary" (later-transition, and "heterosexual" but with 50% of them changing sexual preference) sub-groups, through to the anomalies in the BSTc layer under the hypothalamus reported in autopsies of transsexuals with or without treatment. Even the consistent reports of intensification of the sense of smell when male-bodied transsexuals start hormone therapy, and the existence of such Yahoo groups as "transsexual-PDD", specifically for the comparatively large number of transsexuals who have Asperger's or similar conditions, "FFS", "trans-surgery", and even individual surgeons' support fora for transsexuals "obsessing" about surgery.

The counter-hypothesis, that Brain Intersex does not exist, but that a population which coincidentally has exactly the expected characteristics of someone Brain-Intersexed (but from another unknown cause) does, and at the same rate as other Intersex conditions (1 in ~1000 to ~10000), defies credulity.

Well well.

I've made many assertions without adducing the evidence (such as the proportions of Hetero/Bi/Homo-sexuals in a given male/female population), and to make this a reasonable scientific paper, I'd have to add an awful lot of cross-references and studies. It's not in anywhere near a final form, and will have to be revised before I could consider submitting it to a peer-reviewed journal. Nonetheless, despite being open to challenge on the details, I'm very confident my methodology is sound, and only slightly less confident in the conclusion. Add the cross-references, supporting evidence, arguments pro-and-con on each point, and I think a Jury would convict. Or at least fund additional research to confirm or otherwise.

Good enough for a blog entry, anyway.