Thursday 30 March 2006

Role Model

Back in April 18, 2005, I blogged about the South Park Character Generator. Well, now it's been updated to version 2.

Of course, an update of this software is by no means the greatest change since then. April 18th was just 16 days before my whole life was turned upside-down in a way I never guessed was possible. It's less than a year away, and yet it seems a lifetime ago.

But somehow, my life appears to be on a pre-ordained course.

Contrast this page with this one. And my BSc was a double major : Computer Science and... Pure Mathematics.

Well, that character always was a role model, I picked the name at age 10 because I so identified with her, rather than Jamie. He wore the skirt, she wore the trousers, just like I did back then.

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Near Misses in 2002

The various objects big enough to detect that came close enough to Earth to be of concern in 2002.

Near Miss Animation

Round Two

Andrew Barr
Chief of Staff
John Hargreaves MLA
Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services
Minister for Police and Emergency Services
Minister for Urban Services
ACT Legislative Assembly

Ms Zoe Ellen Brain

Dear Mr Barr,

I wish to bring to your attention the following letter, dated 23 March
2006, reference 06/1072, MC06/1210

Dear Ms Brain
I refer to your e-mail correspondence to the Prime Minister, the Hon
John Howard MP, received on 10 January 2006 concerning the recognition
of marriages where one of the parties is a transsexual person. He has
referred your letter to me for reply as I have the portfolio
responsibility for the Marriage Act 1961.

Whether or not a marriage is valid is determined at the time the
marriage takes place. If the parties to a marriage are a man and a woman
at the date of the marriage them, if there are no other grounds for
invalidity, the marriage will be valid. Events that occur after the date
of the marriage cannot affect that validity, so if one of the parties to
the marriage changes their gender the validity of the marriage is not
affected. If the two parties wish to remain married they are able to do so.

As you have stated in your letter, the legislation in the States and
Territories which provides for a change in the birth registration for
appropriate individuals who have changed their gender can only be used
by people who are unmarried. Registration of births is a matter for the
States and Territories and it is not appropriate for me to comment on
their legislation. You may wish to raise your concerns with the ACT
Attorney-General, Mr Jon Stanhope MLA.

I hope this information is of assistance to you.

Yours Sincerely,
Phillip Ruddock

To remind you of the relevant section of the ACT Births, Deaths and
Marriages Registration Act 1997 : A1997-112

24 Application to alter register to record change of sex
(1) A person may apply to the registrar-general for
alteration of the record of the person's sex in the registration of the
person's birth if-
(a) the person is at least 18 years old; and
(b) the person's birth is registered in the ACT; and
(c) the person has undergone sexual reassignment surgery; and
(d) the person is not married.

The relevant passages in the Hon Phillip Ruddock's letter are as follows:

"Whether or not a marriage is valid is determined at the time the
marriage takes place. If the parties to a marriage are a man and a woman
at the date of the marriage them, if there are no other grounds for
invalidity, the marriage will be valid. Events that occur after the date
of the marriage cannot affect that validity, so if one of the parties to
the marriage changes their gender the validity of the marriage is not

If I construe this letter correctly:

1. Under the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1967 the act or event of
contracting into a marriage can only be performed by a man and a woman
together. The situation of an existing valid marriage is unaffected by
any subsequent change of either partner's gender. Thus a "same sex" (act
of) marriage is invalid under commonwealth law, but a "same sex"
(condition of) marriage is valid, barring any other reason for invalidity.

2. Thus whether a state or territory recognises a change of gender or
not can have no effect on the validity of an existing marriage under the
Commonwealth Marriage Act 1967 (as amended). What a state or territory
legislature decides to do or do not do as regards gender recognition is
immaterial and a nullity as far as the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1967
(as amended) is concerned. It has been made unequivocally clear that
according to the Federal Attorney general, no gender change after the
date of marriage can affect such a valid marriage.

Hence as the result of this clear statement by the Federal Attorney
General, the ACT Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 Part
4, Section 24, 1 (d) is not required for consistency with the Federal
Marriage Act 1967 as amended.

Furthermore, the aforementioned Section 24,1,(d) appears to be
inconsistent with the over-riding Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act
1984, Section 6 (1).(a) and (2)

Section 6
Discrimination on the ground of marital status

For the purposes of this Act, a person (in this subsection referred to
as the discriminator) discriminates against another person (in this
subsection referred to as the aggrieved person) on the ground of the
marital status of the aggrieved person if, by reason of:

(a) the marital status of the aggrieved person; or
(b) a characteristic that appertains generally to persons of the marital
status of the aggrieved person; or
(c) a characteristic that is generally imputed to persons of the marital
status of the aggrieved person;

the discriminator treats the aggrieved person less favourably than, in
circumstances that are the same or are not materially different, the
discriminator treats or would treat a person of a different marital status.
For the purposes of this Act, a person (the discriminator) discriminates
against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of the
marital status of the aggrieved person if the discriminator imposes, or
proposes to impose, a condition, requirement or practice that has, or is
likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons of the same marital
status as the aggrieved person.

In view of this clarifying letter, and the inconsistency, I urge that as
a matter of urgency, ACT Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act
1997 Part 4, Section 24, 1 (d) be repealed in its entirety.


Yours Sincerely,
Zoe Ellen Brain BSc MInfoTech(Distinction)

Monday 27 March 2006

From the Attorney General

A letter just received from the Attorney -General, the Hon Phillip Ruddock MP, Dated 23rd March 2006.

Dear Ms Brain
I refer to your e-mail correspondence to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, received on 10 January 2006 concerning the recognition of marriages where one of the parties is a transsexual person. He has referred your letter to me for reply as I have the portfolio responsibility for the Marriage Act 1961.

Whether or not a marriage is valid is determined at the time the marriage takes place. If the parties to a marriage are a man and a woman at the date of the marriage them, if there are no other grounds for invalidity, the marriage will be valid. Events that occur after the date of the marriage cannot affect that validity, so if one of the parties to the marriage changes their gender the validity of the marriage is not affected. If the two parties wish to remain married they are able to do so.

As you have stated in your letter, the legislation in the States and Territories which provides for a change in the birth registration for appropriate individuals who have changed their gender can only be used by people who are unmarried. Registration of births is a matter for the States and Territories and it is not appropriate for me to comment on their legislation. You may wish to raise your concerns with the ACT Attorney-General, Mr Jon Stanhope MLA.

I hope this information is of assistance to you.

Yours Sincerely,
Phillip Ruddock

It most certainly has been of assistance. "Events that occur after the date of the marriage cannot affect that validity". This means that I now have advice that a change of gender after a marriage has been contracted cannot be contrary to the Marriage Act, an argument put forward by the ACT Attorney General as an excuse for why the law is framed as it is. No matter what they do or don't do, the validity of the marriage is unaffected by events subsequent to the event of marriage itself.

If I interpret it correctly, this is a very important document indeed.

Now to contact John Stanhope..... and maybe light a few fires...

You have to love a country where someone can write to the Prime Minister, and actually get a reply that's not just a form letter.

Saturday 25 March 2006

Mais Oui

From the Times :
When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”

Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned. They returned only after M Seilière had finished speaking.

The meeting was furnished with full interpretation services, and anyone in the room could speak or listen in any of the 20 official EU languages. Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.
English the language of Business? No Shit. Mais Oui though.


"Australia looked like this precious blue stone, surrounded by an ocean of a different shade. I saw it all through a storm, and I am still dreaming about it,"
- Valentina Tereshkova

Funny, because I look up at night, and I still dream of being in orbit.

Oh well, maybe one day. After all, stranger things have happened...

There But For The Grace of God Go I

There's an 8 MB Realplayer download that might explain much about my situation, available as a zip file.

I left England in 1968, at age 10.
I was so innocent then. I was so lucky I didn't tell anyone.

The practices as depicted were universal in Australia when I was 15. They were still the norm ten years later.

The actor playing the Charing Cross psychiatrist had it exactly right. I experienced a bit of that the day after I went fulltime in July, the aversion therapy too (minus the injections). The psychiatist in question had been in the business (practicing in England) for decades, and his methods were exactly those depicted in the film.

Nietzche was right : what does not kill us makes us stronger. It was touch and go for a while there though, it wasn't being told how disgusting I was, it was being told how I was ruining my little son's life. If I'd have believed him, and he had me more than half convinced for a while, I was ready to go, knew how to do it, how to get the pills. Never before or since have I had even momentary "suicidal ideation". It only lasted for a few minutes, but although I was in no danger of actually doing anything self-destructive, it was a terrifying experience to be seriously contemplating it.

The psychiatrist later apologised, and stated he didn't know to what degree he'd upset me.

How many other women have been killed in this appalling way? I know the therapists are doing their best, but does nothing penetrate that unbelievable arrogance? Have they no conception of how little they know, and how dangerous those games they play are?

Psychiatry is still more an art than a science. Psychiatrists do far more good than harm, and they're getting better all the time. But I have to say, when it comes to Transsexualism, the state of knowledge of many medical practitioners, psychiatrists included, is terribly primitive. It's not anyone's fault, we're learning more all the time, and we've come such a long way. But oh my stars, we have such a long way to go!

Download the movie, view it, and weep. That's the way things truly were, and I'm afraid, still are to some extent.

Wednesday 22 March 2006

Alien Loves Predator (Drink Warning)

Do not read the cartoon below while consuming any beverage you don't mind having sprayed nasally over your keyboard.

You have been warned.


Tuesday 21 March 2006

PhD Progress Report

Conditions are Perfect for Optimal Productivity.

Sunday 19 March 2006

Transsexualism, Transamerica, and Australian Law

High-Profile Lawyer Rachael Wallbank spoke about her legal situation in an article in the Age. Her experience are different from my own, but the parallels are striking.
Lawyer Rachael Wallbank turned 50 on Saturday. Among those sharing the family law specialist’s milestone were her grown children, Rebecca, Kate and James. They often refer to her as Rachael, but still think of her as — and sometimes still call her — Dad.
I answer to "Zeddie", but yes, "Daddy" too. I always will.
The lives of people with transsexuality, and their emotional, medical and legal battles have entered the mainstream’s consciousness with the release of firsttime writer-director Duncan Tucker’s groundbreaking film Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman in a critically lauded role. Huffman scored a Golden Globe in January for her performance and was favoured to win a Best Actress Oscar on Sunday for her role as Bree, previously known as Stanley, who was born with transsexualism.
Unfortunately, very few people in Australia will get the opportunity to see this film. Transamerica is appearing at the Dendy Cinemas - all four of them - and at a handful of speciality cult theatres such as Electric Shadows. There's one of the Village chain showing it, in Victoria, and one of the Greater Union chain in New South Wales. The dominant Hoyts chain isn't showing it at all. Not exactly huge coverage for a major Oscar nominee film in a nation of 20 million people. One would almost think that the film was too hideously embarressing for everybody to have it shown.
Wallbank was also impressed by Bree facetiously telling her psychiatrist how funny it is that cosmetic surgery can "fix" a psychiatric condition: a reference to the continued treatment in some medical and cultural quarters of transsexualism as a mental disorder, sometimes referred to as "gender dysphoria".
I found that scene particularly poignant too.
Wallbank’s views are noteworthy, and not only for the cause of the estimated 5000 Australians who live with transsexualism. Her efforts in the Family Court on behalf of her clients "Kevin and Jennifer" — not their real names — who wed in 1999, established marriage rights for couples where one partner has already had sex affirmation surgery.

Kevin’s sex had been "reassigned" in 1995. The full court of the Family Court affirmed the marriage in 2003, dismissing the Commonwealth’s objection that Kevin could not qualify as a husband because he was born with female genitalia. In doing so, the court significantly rebuffed the Howard Government’s views about who should be allowed to marry.

In Re Kevin is a very important milestone in case law. In particular :

"The words 'man' and 'woman' when used in legislation have their ordinary contemporary meaning according to Australian usage and that meaning includes post-operative transsexuals as men or women in accordance with their sexual reassignment."

Well, Hurray for common Sense.

This is exactly the opposite of opinion in many other places, for example West Virginia.
Fears that West Virginians who undergo gender-reassignment surgery might test the state’s ban on same-sex marriage prompted changes to the state’s vital records system that the House of Delegates unanimously passed Tuesday.

Among its numerous provisions, House Bill 4565 had originally allowed a court order to change a birth certificate following such surgery. But the House Government Organization Committee amended it to block such a change, even if approved by a judge.

Since birth certificates are used to obtain marriage licenses from county clerks, some committee members cited the 2000 state law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

"The question was, could they use a new one to get around the law," said Delegate Ron Walters, a Republican. "That raised some eyebrows."
Only three states — Tennessee, Idaho, and Ohio — refuse to provide residents with a new or amended birth certificate after gender reassingment surgery, said Shannon Price Minter, legal director of the California-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Minter, whose group also studies and advocates on transgender issues, called West Virginia’s legislation "very cruel and irrational."

"That is no more defensible than passing a law that is meant to harm someone with any other medical condition," Minter said Tuesday. "What is the harm if a transgender person who has completed sex reassignment surgery then decides to marry a person of the other gender?"
The West Virginia Family Foundation worked behind the scenes on the bill, executive director Kevin McCoy said.

"We think all of that is part of the homosexual agenda’s attempt to get away from the recognized, traditional, male-female relationship," McCoy said.

Minter said transsexualism is wrongly equated with homosexuality.

Oi Ve.

The depths of ignorance shown there are truly breathtaking.

Back to the Age article:
In essence, Wallbank helped to advance the understanding that sexual identity — as manifested in transsexualism — is biological and innate and not a psychological disorder or chosen.

Her case on behalf of Kevin and Jennifer introduced influential scientific expert evidence about "brain sex" into Australian common law. It means that the common assumption that genitalia automatically determine if we are a boy or a girl has been overthrown. Rather, as Wallbank puts it, sexual identity is "determined between the ears, and not between the legs".

But there are still many battles to be won. Wallbank likens Kevin and Jennifer’s actions to those of Rosa Parks, the woman who sparked the US civil rights movement by refusing to stand for a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.

I still think this is hyperbole, at least in an Australian context. But seeing the West Virginian story above, and many, many others like it, maybe not.
In the journal Nature in 1995, a team of endocrinologists and sexologists published a landmark paper that established the "brain sex" concept and challenged the gender dysphoria model.

In Kevin and Jennifer’s case, two of those experts, Dutch professor Louis Gooren and American professor Milton Diamond, gave evidence accepted by the court that some people are born with a brain that recognises them as a member of the sex opposite to that indicated by their chromosomes, genitals and gonads at birth. This is the proposition the Family Court of Australia recognised, concluding that transsexualism is a biological variation in human sexual formation, rather than a psychological disorder.

This proposition is contentious - the evidence for this is poor. But the other side was able to produce not a scintilla of evidence to refute it, nor even a shred to support an alternate hypothesis. In the three years since the ruling, nothing but supportive evidence has been found, though little enough of that.
Wallbank, however, says her own sex affirmation as a woman never stopped her being a father. James was five when his Dad "transitioned" from Richard to Rachael. As a little boy, James tried to correct the occasional stranger who referred to Rachael as his mother, telling them she was his father.

Yes, I know that feeling. My son Andrew had nearly turned four when the changes to Daddy's body became too noticeable to ignore, and had just turned four when I started transition (it's supposed to be the other way around, start transition then get changes, I know). I now answer to "Zeddie", but to "Daddy" too. I always will.
Wallbank thinks they (her children) had to mature sooner than their peers. But she does not think they have experienced any significant emotional difficulties as a result of her affirming her identity as a female and as their father. "I loved being a father. I really liked that role, and I still do."

Yes. I thought I'd have to give that up, and it was the one thing about the whole male schtick I really valued. I'm so glad that I can be a woman, and yet still Daddy too.
Becoming Rachael, in the mid-’90s, was tough, despite her children’s ready acceptance.

It's not exactly easy in the 2000's either. I'm incredibly lucky, I've had it far easier than anyone else I know. Of course "easy" is a relative term in a situation like this, "hard" is always fatal, quite literally and with no exaggeration.
While Wallbank has experienced her sexual identity as fixed, her sexuality or sexual orientation appears more fluid. She loved and was sexually attracted to her wife when they were married but, in transitioning to Rachael, a "light went on", and she became attracted to men. Some might describe this as bisexuality, but Wallbank says she wanted to have a sexual relationship with a man because she could do so with a female body.

(Zoe squirms in embarresment)
Yes, well, ah, um. This is the one area of transition I haven't gotten my head around yet. I don't want my sexual orientation to change, but it's happening anyway. I just have to accept what is. For a terribly strait-laced, conservative, slightly homophobic person like me, coming to terms with myself as being Lesbian was difficult enough, and I'm still not sure I fully accept that in anything other than an intellectual sense. It was a stumbling-block that kept me seeing myself as male, for how could I possibly be attracted to the same sex? Well, now there's far too much evidence that I've always been female for me to deny it, it doesn't pass the "giggle test". And now, like most women, I find guys really kinda interesting, and that is terribly distressing and confusing for me. How could something as fundamental to my personality as sexual orientation change? Still, I've seen greater and more fundamental changes elsewhere. Maybe it was always inside me, just repressed (though that doesn't ring true for me, I know what repressed parts of my personality feel like, and this doesn't feel the same). Maybe it's just a matter of proteins leaving receptors in my brain, the timing would support that.
We can't control who we are. We can control what we do about it though. At this point in time, celebacy looks good. Of course, my feelings may change after surgery, I'm told they usually do.
I have a lot to learn about Sex. Oh, I know the theory, but I can assure all my readers that having the wrong gendered body really makes the whole thing most uncomfortable. Cuddling, Lovemaking, close and loving intimacy is wonderful, but Sex on its own is not joyous, or natural, certainly not relaxing, it feels all wrong.
Still, there's something screamingly funny about a woman being both a 47 year old Father, and a terribly innocent, sexually inexperienced and repressed Virgin.
Discovering what is appropriate for me will be quite a challenge, one I have absolutely no idea how to face. I know this isn't Rocket Science, that I can do.

You may now laugh. I am.
The estimate of 5000 people with transsexualism in Australia is low, Wallbank says, as an unknown number suffer in silence, harm themselves or take their lives. Even trying to talk to a medical practitioner about such lifelong feelings is fraught with potential rejection and ignorance. "To be seen is sometimes to be destroyed," Wallbank says.

Oh Yes. One day I will blog about the first time I saw my family doctor (she's a fantastically good paediatrician) and told her of my problem. It didn't go well. Not al all. She did her best, but to say she was out of her depth is to put it far too mildly.
If pop culture is now making a mark — alongside internet home pages and blogs by people with transsexualism announcing themselves to the world
Hi There!
— the law is far from satisfactory in the eyes of many.

A person whose anatomical sex has been "reassigned" or rehabilitated by surgery can get themselves a new birth certificate under NSW or Victorian law. But people who get married first — as an opposite-sex couple according to genitalia — and then have the same treatment cannot have their legal sex changed unless they get divorced. Otherwise, state authorities believe, same-sex marriage would be effectively sanctioned.

So should two women ever end up married to one another through a medical oddity, one of them must be legally male. And this is supposed to protect the sanctity of marriage? Such a grotesequerie, a perversity, a nonsense can only bring the law, and the institution of marriage, into disrepute. Not since the days of Ancient Egypt, and Hatshepsut the transvestite female Pharoah has such an absurdity been seriously proposed as being "the law".
As well, Australian laws differ significantly from state to state, creating "needless inhumane uncertainty and confusion", Wallbank says.

Oh and it gets worse when someone was born in the United Kingdom, and is resident in the Australian Capital Territory. As I'm finding out.

You have to laugh.

Saturday 18 March 2006

The Laws of Magic

The Laws of Magic as a Ven DiagramSturgeon's Law says that 90% of everything is Crud. My addition would be if you're lucky, because it's usually more like 100%.

However, sometimes you can find interesting and useful nuggets of truth in a midden-heap of nonsense. A case in point is Isaac Bonewitz' "Laws of Magic", many of which are astoundingly quite useful for any Scientist or Engineer, no matter how, um, sceptical we may be of the whole neopagan edifice of Sturgeonosity.

Consider the following:

The Law of Knowledge

Essence: Understanding brings control; the more that is known about a subject, the easier it is to exercise control over it.
What is this, but the principle underlying scientific research with technological applications?

The Law of Cause & Effect

Essence: if exactly the same actions are done under exactly the same conditions, they will usually be associated with exactly the same "results;" similar strings of events produce similar outcomes.
Repeatability of experimental results is an essential requirement for the Scientific Method to work.

The Law of Synchronicity

Essence: Two or more events happening at the same time are likely to have more associations in common than the merely temporal; very few events ever really happen in isolation from nearby events.
Finding correlations between synchronous events, then determining any causal link : Did A cause B, B cause A, were both A and B caused by some event C, or is it all a coincidence - is a Science in itself, dealt with by the practice of Statistical Analysis.

The Law of Contagion

Essence: Objects or beings in physical or psychic contact with each other continue to interact after separation.
See Quantum Entanglement : "...measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it.
Quantum entanglement is closely concerned with the emerging technologies of quantum computing and quantum cryptography, and has been used for experiments in quantum teleportation."

The Law of Personal Universes

Essence: Every sentient being lives in and quite possibly creates a unique universe which can never be 100% identical to that lived in by another.
See the Many Minds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

The Law of Infinite Universes

Essence: The total number of universes into which all possible combinations of existing phenomena could be organized is infinite.
See the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

The Law of True Falsehoods

Essence: It’s possible for a concept or act to violate the truth patterns of a given universe (including an individual’s or group’s part of a consensus reality) and yet to still be "true," provided that it "works" in a specific context.
Anyone who has worked with physicis will have used Newtonian physics within its appropriate domain, Special Relativity when that's appropriate, and General Relativity in special cases. All are equally "true", inasmuch as they're all approximations to Reality which are good enough to work with within limited domains.

The Law of Perversity

Essence: also known as "Murphy’s Law," "Finagle’s Law," etc.: if anything can go wrong, it will — and in the most annoying manner possible.
Is there a single Engineer out there who doesn't have a deep and abiding Faith in this one?

The Laws are worth a read, anyway, if only as an intellectual construct that shows that some people have very different beliefs than others.

Thursday 16 March 2006

48 Not Out

Today, I had by far the Very Best Birthday Present Ever.

Andrew's now nearly 5, and when I told him today was my Birthday, he wondered why there was no cake. But he promised me one the next time I had a Birthday.

He then spontaneously started singing:
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Zeddie,
Happy Birthday To You!

So there I am. We still get to play Daddy games, I have everything I had before, and so much more now. I get to cuddle him and kiss him goodnight, and hold him next to my breast. Zeddie, that's me.

See what I mean about "Best Birthday Present Ever"?

Next Birthday, my body won't be so uncomfortably anomalous too. But that's a small matter in comparison. Motherhood, or as close as I could get to it, was always more important to me than Femininity.

Wednesday 15 March 2006

Walking Papers

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the circumstances described below, but this letter is very important to me.
I have been seeing Zoe Brain since 12 December last year. She is a 47 year-old woman with a gender identity disorder who is undergoing transition.
Zoe is married to Carmel and they have a four year-old son, Andrew, who is just starting preschool. This year Zoe is commencing a PhD in Computer Science.

On first meeting Zoe, she described having an epiphany of the fact she wanted to become a woman in May 2005 and dressed in women's clothing for the first time on 7 July. She said thare had been some unsuaual hormone-related changes occurring to her body before taking hormone therapy which had perplexed the issue. During these months Zoe told me her mood would fluctuate and she became distressed and depressed. Since I have seen her, Zoe's mood has been normal, although she has been very happy about undergoing transition.

There is no past psychiatric history, though Zoe reported mood swings occurring every month, though not severe enough to reach clinical awareness.
There is no history of overdoses or self harm, and she has never taken any psychiatric medication.
On reviewing personal history, it is clear that there had been issues of gender dysphoria not acknowledged (or repressed) since puberty and during their marriage.

On mental state examination Zoe presents as a woman and "passes" well.
There is no evidence of psychosis or any mood disturbance apart from reactive euphoria when discussing her change.

I consider Zoe has a gender identity disorder which is fuelling her desire for hormone treatment and surgery. I do not think there are any other conditions such as personality disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, or mood disorder implicated.

Yours Sincerely


To Dr Suporn Watanyusakul MD
CC Prof A.W.Steinbeck MD BS Syd PhD Lond. FRCP Lond. FRACP
CC Dr S Jamieson Cert. Fin d'Etudes Medicales (Geneva)

My "Walking Papers", addressed to my prospective surgeon, my endocrinologist, and my General Practioner.

Stating that I'm officially not sane, but only bonkers in a very particular way that can only be cured by hormones and surgery. Almost like a purely medical condition, like a hair lip.

Friday 10 March 2006

Brain Swapping

From The Scientist :
For more than two decades, Evan Balaban has honed his skills at manipulating embryonic tissue samples using tiny instruments of his own making. He can cut a small access window into a quail's egg, and using a scalpel no wider than a human hair, excise a few hundred thousand cells from the bird's developing central nervous system. This is only the first step of the intricate process required to place this minuscule brain into another animal's head. Some of these surgeries end in untimely death for brain-transplanted embryos, but Balaban says he has elevated the typical survival rate from less than 20% to more than 60%.
brain swapping is "really working at the right level for answering a lot of interesting questions about brain development and behavior," and techniques are improving all the time. Not until two or three decades ago did biologists understand brain circuitry well enough to make good scientific use of brain transplants, though they have been technically feasible since H.G. Wells' time. Since then, researchers have swapped the brains of various species of frogs and salamanders, as well as ducks, in addition to the quails and chicks that Balaban uses. He plans on trying it on songbirds too.

Transferring brain tissue between embryos has enabled Balaban to examine how birds with implants from different bird species innately prefer the other species' songs. "You [can] make chicken that prefer the quail sound, even more than normal quail do … as if in the chicken, the cells seize more behavioral control," he remarks. Another of his creations, chickens that bobbed their heads up and down like quail while crowing, provides further proof, he says, that some habits are innate rather than learned and can be traced to specific brain structures.

Balaban's work focuses on how nature and nurture blend together to create a seamless set of brain circuits. Other brain-swappers have focused on how brain structure makes males and females different, or how dysfunctional circuitry manifests itself in congenital abnormalities such as epilepsy.

Balaban estimates that there are four or five active brain-swappers worldwide and sees growing interest in the work among molecular biologists.

Emphasis added by me.

Some psychiatrists should really get out more. Do a bit of research outside their immediate discipline. They might find out all sorts of things.

Tuesday 7 March 2006

Depleted Uranium, Fisk and Numbers

Some people make decisions based entirely on "feelings". Others prefer facts. I myself use intuition as a guide, but then look for facts to either confirm or disprove what I suspect.

Others don't bother with that last step.

Here's Robert Fisk last week in the Independent, and picked up over at the Gulf Times and other papers:
A British scientist, Chris Busby, has been digging through statistics from the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment which measures uranium in high-volume air samples. His suspicion was that depleted uranium particles from the two Gulf wars – DU is used in the anti-armour warheads of the ordnance of American and British tanks and planes – may have spread across Europe. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but here’s something very odd.

When Busby applied for the information from Aldermaston in 2004, they told him to get lost. When he demanded the information under the 2005 Freedom of Information Act, Aldermaston coughed up the figures. But wait.

The only statistic missing from the data they gave him was for the early months of 2003. Remember what was happening then? A little dust-up in Iraq, a massive American-British invasion of Saddam’s dictatorship in which tons of DU shells were used by American troops. Eventually Busby, who worked out all the high-altitude wind movements over Europe, received the data from the Defence Procurement Agency in Bristol – which showed an increase in uranium in high-volume air sampling over Britain during this period.

Well, we aren’t dead yet – though readers in Reading will not be happy to learn that the filter system samplings around Aldermaston showed that even they got an increase. Shock and awe indeed.
As usual, the only rule in these things is that USA = Bad. No need for facts, mere "hunch" will do.

In the same article, he goes on to make parallels with the way the US and USSR covered up the fact that they'd caused the Earth to start "falling into the sun" - in a film, that is - and the fact that the weather has been alternately colder and warmer than average in various places. As it has been since records started being kept.
But I have a hunch that something more serious is happening to our planet which we are not being told about.

So let me remind you how The Day the Earth Caught Fire ended. Russian and American scientists were planning a new and joint explosion to set the world back on course. The last shot in the movie was set in the basement printing rooms (the real ones) of the Daily Express. The printers were standing by their machines with two headlines plated up to run, depending on the results of the detonation.

One said "World Doomed", the other "World Saved", As that great populist columnist John Gordon of the Sunday Express used to write: makes you sit up a bit, doesn’t it?


UPDATE: Over at Tim Blair's place, there's at least one commenter who knows his stuff :
According to sources found on Google, most of them moonbatty, 320 tons (320 thousand kg) of DU was expended during the Gulf War. Let’s do some physics.

DU has a half-life of 4.51 billion years = 1.42 10^17 seconds. Therefore its decay constant lambda is ln(2)/(1.42 10^17) = 4.9 10^-18 Multiply this by the number of atoms of DU, and you get the activity. A mole of DU has a mass of 238g, therefore we have about 1.34 million moles of DU. That’s N = 8.1 10^29 atoms, for an activity of lambda N = ~ 4 10^12 s^-1 or a little over 10.6 Curies (a Curie is the measure of bulk radioactivity and is equal to 3.7 10^11 disintegrations per second).

By comparison, the 1986 Chernobyl accident released 50 million curies into the environment; many of the radioisotopes released were significantly more bio-available than DU, and almost all with much shorter half-lives (and hence higher specific activity). Yet no more than 60 fatalities have been directly attributed to radiation from Chernobyl, mostly among site workers and first responders. No significant rise in cancers or birth defects have been recorded.

Think about that: the worst nuclear accident in history released five million times the radioactivity of the DU weapons used in the 1991 Gulf War, and yet the death toll over the next fifty years is projected to be below 4,000 (effectively indistinguishable from noise). DU doesn’t persist in the body long enough to dump significant radiation (and it’s primarily an alpha emitter, to boot). But the moonbats continue to insist that DU causes all manner of horrific complaints.

His next line is not factual, a matter of opinion only :
People that stupid should be put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit.

Too good for 'em, I say.

Monday 6 March 2006

Flying Submarine

From Popular Science :
Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, famed for the U-2 and Blackbird spy planes that flew higher than anything else in the world in their day, is trying for a different altitude record: an airplane that starts and ends its mission 150 feet underwater. The Cormorant, a stealthy, jet-powered, autonomous aircraft that could be outfitted with either short-range weapons or surveillance equipment, is designed to launch out of the Trident missile tubes in some of the U.S. Navy’s gigantic Cold War–era Ohio-class submarines.
The Cormorant does not shoot out of its tube like a missile. Instead an arm-like docking “saddle” guides the craft out, sending it floating to the surface while the sub slips away. As the drone pops out of the water, the rocket boosters fire and the Cormorant takes off. After completing its mission, the plane flies to the rendezvous coordinates it receives from the sub and lands in the sea. The sub then launches a robotic underwater vehicle to fetch the floating drone.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is funding tests of some of the Cormorant’s unique systems, including a splashdown model and an underwater-recovery vehicle. The tests should be completed by September, after which Darpa will decide whether it will fund a flying prototype.

Um. My initial reaction is that this is such an egregious violation of the KISS principle I have strong doubts it will ever be practical. But it would be soooo COOL!

Sunday 5 March 2006

Jovian Measles

Or... Son of the Red Spot

The official name of this storm is "Oval BA," but "Red Jr." might be better. It's about half the size of the famous Great Red Spot and almost exactly the same color.

Oval BA first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. Using Hubble and other telescopes, astronomers watched with great interest. A similar merger centuries ago may have created the original Great Red Spot, a storm twice as wide as our planet and at least 300 years old.

At first, Oval BA remained white—the same color as the storms that combined to create it. But in recent months, things began to change:
"The oval was white in November 2005, it slowly turned brown in December 2005, and red a few weeks ago," reports Go. "Now it is the same color as the Great Red Spot!"

Saturday 4 March 2006

Intersex Recognised - But Not Counted

From the Sydney Morning Herald :
The right of intersex or androgynous people to declare their identity in the August 8 national census has been recognised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Ticking one of the census's two boxes in response to the male/female question has previously presented a challenge for intersex people and androgynes, who have both male and female sexual characteristics.

As with all citizens, it is compulsory for them to fill in the census.

After lobbying from intersex groups, the ABS has said intersex or androgynous people don't have to tick either box.

"The ABS has no intention to force or coerce respondents to lie about their sex," said Dave Nauenburg, ABS director of Population Census Development and Field Organisation.

"My advice to intersex people is that they can complete the sex question correctly by ticking none of the boxes provided for the question, and writing in the word "intersex", or "androgynous".

However, the ABS is not keeping statistics on intersex people this year.

ABS spokesman Paul Williams said a computer program will assign a sex to the small number of people who fail to answer that question.

Unfortunately, it looks like they won't be told which sex they've been arbitrarily assigned. Pity. That would be useful the next time they apply for a Passport, or an Insurance Policy, or any of a number of other things where "All questions must be completed" and "the penalty for supplying false or misleading information are severe".

And of course, while such people count, they won't be counted. Because if they were, the extent of the syndrome might be revealed, and that would be terribly inconvenient for everybody. While they are viewed as a "tiny minority", only a handful in the country, everyone can get away with pretending that the strict M/F binary divide is not just a good approximation, but set in stone.

Imagine though if it was revealed that there were not just tens, but thousanda of people in this situation in the country? After all overseas figures show approximately 1% of people have some degree of Intersex.

Not XX and not XYone in 1,666 births
Klinefelter (XXY)one in 1,000 births
Androgen insensitivity syndromeone in 13,000 births
Partial androgen insensitivity syndromeone in 130,000 births
Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasiaone in 13,000 births
Late onset adrenal hyperplasiaone in 66 individuals
Vaginal agenesisone in 6,000 births
Ovotestesone in 83,000 births
Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause)one in 110,000 births
Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother)no estimate
5 alpha reductase deficiencyno estimate

Mixed gonadal dysgenesis
no estimate
Complete gonadal dysgenesisone in 150,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft)one in 2,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis)one in 770 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or femaleone in 100 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearanceone or two in 1,000 births

Why, if the Government knew that there are about 200,000 Australians who aren't "normally" male nor female, and tens of thousands of those who are severely affected, then they might have to do something about giving such people some human rights, allowing them to marry, change the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme (which allows some treatment only for males, other treatment only for females), and a host of other inconveniences.

So best not to ask - and not to count them.

Besides which, despite all the assurances of confidentiality and so on, how many people whose condition isn't too obvious to conceal would admit it?

Wednesday 1 March 2006


Yes, I've been told of the resemblance.