Friday 30 November 2007

Today's Battle

Get a free repair under warranty, paying for postage and packing, and a 3-month minimum delay, or have my laptop reconditioned and repaired for $20 from the firm that sold it to me, YNZ, in just two days... tough choice. Not.
So thanks to YNZ - you'll find an unpaid advert for them on the left, simply because of their fantastic after-sales service - I'm back in action.

On with the motley, today at FrontPage Magazine. Moving the mountain one teaspoonful at a time.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Interruption of Service

My laptop has had a few problems, due to a dodgy power recharger. Well, it looks like the internal power gubbins have been damaged by it, so I'm using my old, clunky Win98 machine at the moment.
I made the mistake of upgrading to Firefox 2.0 from 1.5 on it, and now that doesn't work. Opera is dodgy too, which leaves IE. Ewwww
Anyway, until I get my laptop back, I won't be able to reply to the many e-mails 've had over the last few days, as they're all on the laptop's hard drive. Blogging will also be intermittent.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

China, Space, Education and Obama

As blogged about previously, Hilary R Clinton, one of the two Democratic front-runners has been distinctly unenthusiastic about the US manned space program.

Now it seems the other one, Barak Obama, is even less enthused. From MSNBC :
Obama unveiled an ambitious $18 billion plan to expand public education from
pre-school through 12th grade while at Central High School in Manchester, New Hampshire this morning.

Calling education "the currency of the Information Age," Obama stressed the need for expanding public programs to help American competitiveness with other nations. He said that a child in Boston now needs the training to compete with the kids getting an equal or better education in Bangalore or Beijing.

"In this kind of economy, countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” Obama said. “Already, China is graduating eight times as many engineers as we are. By 12th grade, our children score lower on math and science tests than most other kids in the world."
So far, so good. The US education system, especially in the inner cities, is in a parlous state. It's by no means unusual to have high school graduates being functionally iliterate, and permenently unemployable. Anything that emeliorates this situation has to have something said for it. But is this strategy the cure?
Obama's education plan calls for: (1) full funding for educational programs from birth to 5 years old; (2) increasing the number of teachers through scholarships and incentive grants for taking challenging assignments; (3) prioritizing math and science education; and (4) focusing on parental responsibility in education.
Better and better.
Though Obama called for a renewed investment in math and science education, his plan would actually pull money from the federal government's greatest investments and achievements in math and science. Obama would delay funding for the NASA Constellation program for five years, though he would maintain the $500 million in funding the program would receive for its manufacturing and technology base, in order to help fund his education policy. The campaign did not say how much money delaying the program would provide.

The plan would also be paid for through the auctioning off of surplus public land, closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole, reduce costs of standardized procurement and through the some of the money that would be saved by ending the war in Iraq.
As said by NASAWatch :
Let's see, the gap between Shuttle retirement and Constellations' first flight is approaching 5 years. Now Obama wants that to be ten years. I guess that means that the only way for America to reach the ISS for a decade will be aboard Russian spacecraft.
From MSNBC again :
The Constellation Program is NASA's $104 billion effort to send astronauts back to the moon in the 2018-2020 time frame, as an initial step toward wider space exploration and settlement. Although the policy paper doesn't lay out the figures, our own First Read political blog said Obama would keep Constellation on a $500 million-per-year maintenance diet during the five-year delay - with the implication that the timeline would be shifted to 2023-2025 for the first 21st-century moon landing.

The first years of an Obama administration would be particularly critical for NASA, because that's the time frame during which the shuttle fleet is due to retire. The schedule already calls for the space agency to hitch rides into orbit on other people's spaceships for up to four years, and if Obama follows through that gap could go for years longer - even assuming that Constellation goes into hurry-up mode if and when the budgetary spigots are opened wider.

USA Today quoted the Illinois senator as defending his plan to put NASA's vision on hold: "We're not going to have the engineers and the scientists to continue space exploration if we don't have kids who are able to read, write and compute," he said.
I expect that they better start studying Manadrin though if they want to work in the area. From CNN :
If all goes well, and so far it has, the Chang'e 1 will spend the next year orbiting the moon, mapping the surface and looking for resources. Next, the Chinese hope to send an unmanned rover to the moon by 2012, with a robotic mission to bring back samples by 2017. Officials have recently backpedaled from goals of putting a taikonaut (the Chinese version of an astronaut or cosmonaut) on the moon by 2020, but analysts believe that is still a pressing ambition.

"If China can go to the moon, eventually with a manned program, it will represent the ultimate achievement for China in making itself essentially the second most important space power, accomplishing what even the Soviets had not," says Dean Cheng, a China military analyst for CNA, a private research corporation
According to Cheng, the Chinese are now embarking on a systematic space program the world has not seen since the 1960's and for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States is facing real competition. That may explain why the head of NASA, Michael Griffin, recently warned that "China will be back on the moon before we are . . . I think when that happens Americans will not like it"

But there could be a lot more at stake than just lunar boasting rights. It's unlikely the Chinese will land at Tranquility Base and pull down the Stars and Stripes. But the goal could be mining resources. One powerful, potential fuel source is helium-3. Helium-3 originated from the sun and was deposited in the moon's soil by the solar wind. It is estimated there are up to two million tons on the moon, and virtually none on Earth.

"If we can ever get helium-3 and helium-3 to fuse together it is what we call nuclear power without nuclear waste -- there is no radioactivity associated with that reactor," says Professor Gerald Kulcinski, an expert in helium from the University of Wisconsin.

The key though, says Kulcinski, will be developing a fusion reactor, which he says could be done within 15 to 20 years, in tandem with a program to establish a permanent human presence on the moon. Just four tons of helium-3 would be enough to supply all the power needs for the United States for a year, two shuttle payloads according to Kulcinski.
Interesting Times.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Today's Battle

At the Detroit Free Press.

Is her next step going to be giving child molesors special rights? How about those who are into necromancy?
The things she is trying to protect is perverse behavior. It isn't like skin color that can't be changed. Nobody should get a special status because they behave in a certain way.
There was one of those of those trans guys in a Ford plant I did business with in Canada. It was gross to say the least, and it was a disruption for many of the men and women in the plant.

The plant management had to create a bathroom and a private dressing area for this freak. And trust me, it was creepy being near this thing. It had that heroine addict look or of someone carrying a deadly communicable disease.

And for all of you out there that support this type of perversion in the name of rights, you are one sick group of puppies. This is just one more example of the left lowering our once high moral standards and acceptable behaviour to that of a sewer rat.

This is a complete waste of time and money for the state of Michigan with the current circumstances we all face. What a bunch of rubbish, no wonder things are the way they are here. I guess you could say we are feeling the wrath of God for supporting such perversion, kinda like Sodom and Gomorrah. A group that the Democrat party would surely support!

You know, I love a Challenge.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Remembering Our Dead

I've said many times on my blog how I've had it easy. And compared to many, very easy.

It happens to guys too.

That's why I do my little bit, very little sometimes, on forums, on online newspaper comments sites, on blogs, in e-mails to politicians and religious leaders, in places you wouldn't think of. To try to keep the number of names on the list of remembrance from growing too fast.

The list is so very long, you see.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Monday 19 November 2007

The World Turned Upside Down

HDTV image from Lunar Orbit, from the Japanese Satellite "Kaguya".

Friday 16 November 2007

Today's Battle(s)

At NolanChart and Americablog's comments.

At least the opposition from the Chistian Taliban is overt, even if not exactly honest. You don't get things like this :
The endlessly repeated rhetoric about "throwing trannies under the bus" is not only unfair, it is particularly tasteless as we approach the Transgender Day of Remembrance commemorating victims of actual, savage, murderous attacks. To associate an honest disagreement over strategy with anti-trans violence is obscene.
The House’s passage of H.R. 3685 is an historic victory, albeit not the final victory. Those who refuse to celebrate it were never tossed from any train, but deliberately left the train and tried to derail it.
First take a figure of speech, and imply that it denigrates those of us who were murdered by Transphobes. Then use exactly the same kind of language himself, in a breathtakingly hypocritical way that literally "blames the victim" for not being overjoyed at being betrayed. Gay Transphobia personified. There are times I'm very glad not to be in the "progressive" camp.
Richard J. Rosendall is a freelance author based in Washington, DC. His work has appeared on and He is a contributor to Independent Gay Forum and Liberty Education Forum.
And a person not on my Christmas list, shall we say. God save us from our "friends".

Corrected Map of the World

here. Equal area, so relative sizes of countries are correct. Two countries that look the same size on this map really *are* the same size. Viz Brazil, Australia, USA, China for example.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Music To My Ears

File this one under "Interesting URLs". About time I had one of those, I've been entirely too stodgy recently.

eFolk Music. Bluegrass, Blues, Celtic, Kids, Country, Gospel, International, Modern Folk, Old-Time, Post-Modern Folk (!), Roots Rock, Swing, Traditional Folk. Sample Free, as in Beer.
Here's an easy way to get a taste of some new music: Twelve tracks from twelve efolkMusic artists, download any or all, save 'em, swap 'em, burn to CD, give 'em to your friends. All tracks are full-length stereo 192 or 256kbps MP3s. Enjoy!

I downloaded the Sampler Vol 3, and was pleasantly surprised.

A friend tipped me off to listen to Deborah Hord's "Lean in for a Kiss", and she was right. The rendition was a little raw and unfinished, no "production values" to speak of, just a well-crafted song with some really good lyrics.
efolkMusic has always been way ahead of the curve. They created a thriving online community by carefully filtering thousands of recordings looking for the best & brightest. They believed in downloading music when it was still being eschewed by the mainstream record companies. And they stand up for independent musicians. Getting the word out. Getting the music out. Making the world a better place. Meaningful music does that. It enriches our lives and makes the world a better place.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

ENDA the line: Part Two

In which we meet the 800lb Gorilla, the Human Rights Campaign. Not to be confused with the Human Rights Commission, as I did the other day.

From Wikipedia :
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equal rights organization in the United States, with more than 700,000 members and supporters.
The Human Rights Campaign is a visible entity in U.S. politics. It lobbies Congress for support of LGBT-positive bills, works to build an LGBT-friendly Congress by funding those politicians that support the LGBT community, mobilizes grassroots action amongst its members, and encourages members to employ their right to vote in every election.
The Human Rights Campaign Fund was established in 1980 by Steve Endean to raise money for gay-supportive congressional candidates. Within three months time, the HRC was registered with the Federal Election Commission as an independent political action committee.
In January 1989 ... the HRC reorganized from serving mainly as a PAC to becoming a lobbying and political organization.
From January 1995 until January 2004, Elizabeth Birch served as the executive director of the HRC. Under her leadership, the institution more than quadrupled its membership to 500,000 members and purchased an office building for its Washington, DC headquarters.

The headquarters building was purchased from B'nai B'rith International in 2002 for $9.8 million. A large national capital campaign raised over $28 million for the project. After extensive renovations of the mid-century modern structure, the building is currently valued at over $18 million.
Birch's successor, Cheryl Jacques, resigned in November 2004 after only 11 months as executive director. In a statement released by the organization, Jacques resigned over "a difference in management philosophy". Incidentally, Birch's partner, Hilary Rosen, former chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, was named as interim replacement.

On March 9, 2005, the HRC announced the appointment of Joe Solmonese as the president, describing him as one of the "nation's most accomplished and respected progressive leaders".

As an unreconstructed RWDB, "progressive" for me is not necessarily a compliment. I agree with the assessment of Mr Solomonese, and not to his credit. But I get ahead of myself.

As can be seen, the HRC is rich, well-connected, powerful, and did I mention rich?

But saying they have campaigned for GLBT rights might be just a teeny bit inaccurate. GLB certainly, T not so much.

From TransGRiot:
In 1979 Janice Raymond poured more gasoline on the fire with her virulently anti-transgender book The Transsexual Empire. Raymond also took it a step further in 1981 and penned a quasi-scientific looking report that was responsible for not only ending federal and state aid for indigent transpeople, but led to the insurance company prohibitions on gender reassignment related claims. Germaine Greer’s anti-transgender writing combined with Raymond’s led to involuntary outing and harassment of transwomen in lesbian community settings. It also sowed the seeds for the anti-transgender attitudes in the lesbian community that persisted through the late 90’s.

So what does this have to do with HRC since it didn’t get founded until 1980?

The problem is that the senior gay leadership is still influenced by the Fouratt-Raymond-Greer negative attitudes towards transpeople. That sentiment is concentrated disproportionately in California and the Northeast Corridor. The early gay and lesbian leadership also sprang up from those areas as well.

The transgender community around the late 80’s renewed its organizing efforts to fight for its rights. The early leadership was also concentrated in the Northeast Corridor and California as well and regarded the gay community as natural allies.

One thing they didn’t take into account was how deeply entrenched the anti-transgender attitudes and doctrines were amongst gay and lesbian leaders. Barney Frank (D-MA) is a prominent example of it. They still persisted in holding the view that transgender people were ‘crazy queens’ who would cost them their rights.
According to legal scholar Kat Rose, such laws have the effect of creating a regime in which the same gays and lesbians who fought to prevent trans-inclusion have the de facto right under the resultant non-inclusive law to discriminate against trans people. It also allowed them to keep their leadership ranks and employee populations in these organizations transgender-free without fear of facing discrimination lawsuits.

When transgender leaders would balk at those demands or point out the hypocrisy of leaving us behind, they would state they would ‘come back for us’.

So far the only states in which the gay and lesbian community has ‘come back’ for transgender people are Rhode Island (2001), California (2003), New Jersey (2006) and Vermont (2007). In New York they are still having a difficult time passing GENDA after transgender people were cut out of SONDA by gay rights advocating the same 'we'll come back for you' incremental rights spin.

The first gay only rights bill, passed in Wisconsin in 1982 has been that way for 25 years now. There's no indication by the GLB leadership in that state if they'll move to rectify the omission of their transgender brothers and sisters or if they'll assign it a priority as high as the one they place on marriage equality.
One of the people most responsible for excluding transpeople from an attempt to pass a gay rights law in Minnesota in 1975 was a gentleman by the name of Steve Endean, who in 1980 would leave Minnesota to help found the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the proto organization that later became HRC. Some Minnnesotans assert that it's not a conicidence that the same year HRCF was born in DC, Minnnesota's gay rights proposals became T-inclusive and eventually lead to the first T-inclusive law in 1993.

In 1995 Elizabeth Birch took over as Executive Director of HRC at a time when there was an epidemic of gays and lesbians cutting transpeople out of civil rights legislation.

In many cases gay people who sat on various HRC boards either nationally or regionally led the efforts. In 1999 Dianne Hardy-Garcia, who was the executive director of the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby (now Equality Texas) at the time and an HRC board member, led the successful effort to cut transpeople out of the James Byrd Hate Crime Bill
Elizabeth Birch for a while eclipsed Janice Raymond as Transgender Public Enemy Number One when she was quoted at a Chicago GLBT event as stating that transinclusion in ENDA (the Employment and Non Discrimination Act) a top legislative priority of transgender leaders would happen ‘over her dead body’.
But wait, it gets worse:
During a meeting that lasted several hours, we presented the transgender community's case. Rep. McKinney was very familiar with our struggles with HRC and the GLB community. As the meeting came to a close Dawn and I ended up with invitations to the approaching Congressional Black Caucus ALC (Annual Legislative Conference) in Washington DC. The major purpose of me and Dawn's trip was going to be teaching Transgender 101 to CBC congressmembers.

Being that we were only a few months from the 2002 midterm elections, and the ALC was happening in late September, one of the provisos for our invite was that we keep it secret until after the event concluded.

The meeting concludes on a high note, we go back to Marietta to do the post mortem debriefing, cross check our notes, and we go back to Louisville to begin working on the most important Transgender 101 presentation in U.S. history.

But that Power Point presentation Dawn and I created for that Transgender 101 session is still on my computer because a caucasian transgender leader leaked the details to her paymasters at HRC.

Once those details got leaked, HRC lobbyists barged into CBC offices demanding to know why the trannies got an opportunity to make that type of presentation and the CBC had shied away from allowing them to do the same thing. The CBC offices were pissed at the HRC lobbyist's arrogance, and told them in no uncertain terms that THEY would decide who they talked to as the elected representatives for African-Americans.

Dawn and I got a shocking phone call a few hours later that our CBC presentation had been cancelled. I spent the next hour after hanging up the phone crying about it because I knew what the cancellation meant.
Now for a quick commercial break, as we go to the state of New York in 2002, and the rough passage of SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. From GayCityNews:
Senate Minority Leader David Paterson (D-Harlem), in a shift, said that despite his deep desire to include the category of “gender identity,” if the bill comes to the floor without that category, “I will vote for it as I would vote for any bill that extends protection.” He said that up until the vote, he will be talking to Bruno and his Senate colleagues about transgender inclusion.
“Once they realize it is a vote about rights and not about liking people or approving of the way people conduct their lives, perhaps we can get some people who are going to vote for SONDA to take the extra step to include transgender people,” Paterson said, but added, “I''m not feeling a very good spirit in the air about tolerance and sensitivity.”
Duane was attacked by Jonathan Capehart, the out gay deputy editorial page editor of the Daily News, this week for what he called Duane’s efforts to “kill” SONDA by raising the transgender issue.
Capehart wrote, “Let’s be honest: Transgender issues are difficult for most people to understand.”
The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy continues not to support a non-inclusive SONDA, but not to oppose it either
Remember those words. They'll come in handy again shortly.

Now back to our original program, and a happy ending? Except that Transgendered people never did get covered by a companion bill, they've been waiting for 5 years now, but I digress.

From HRC's own website :
October 2 2007 WASHINGTON – Last night, the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Directors voted to reaffirm the 2004 policy supporting a fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Therefore, HRC will not support the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill. The board’s position articulates a process for continued dialogue with House leaders about strategies that have been put forth to, in the end, achieve passage of a fully inclusive ENDA.

“We are now faced with definitive Congressional action to move forward a version of the bill stripping gender identity. Though we support a fully inclusive ENDA, we acknowledge the legislative strategy put forth by Congressman Frank and the Democratic leadership to obtain a clear path towards an inclusive bill in the future,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We look forward to working with them to accomplish the goal all of us share – ending workplace discrimination against the entire GLBT community.”

“Since 2004, HRC has had in place a policy that supports only a fully inclusive version of ENDA and the Board of Directors voted to reaffirm that position,” Solmonese continued. “Therefore, we are not able to support, nor will we encourage Members of Congress to vote against, the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill. And will continue working with our allies in Congress to support a comprehensive, legislative strategy to achieve passage of a fully inclusive ENDA as quickly as possible.”

Told you those words would come in handy.

In 2004, during the sort-lived tenure of HRC President Cheryl Jacques, the HRC decided that they really had better do something about the perception that they were GLB-without-the-T. So there was an official policy change, in writing, at the highest level. And there was much rejoicing. Well, not exactly much rejoicing, because of the 20 year record of sabotage and betrayal beforehand. Frankly, they weren't trusted by many Transgendered people.

All that mistrust vanished at the Southern Comfort Conference just 2 weeks before the Employment Non Discrimination Act was introduced by Representative Barney Frank. Because of the clear and unequivocal commitment to hundreds of Transgender people present, many of whom had finally put aside their doubts to donate heavily to the HRC, by HRC President Joe Solmonese.

Here it is, you can see for yourself:

"We absolutely do not support, and in fact oppose, any legislation that is not absolutely inclusive. And we have sent that message Loud and Clear to the Hill".

But wait, what was that in the October Press Release - that said "we are not able to support, nor will we encourage Members of Congress to vote against, the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill." Isn't that a complete volte-farce in just 3 weeks? But for that story, we'll have to wait till I've finished writing "ENDA the line : Part 3 - The Debacle".

Monday 12 November 2007

Veterans Salute Westboro Baptist Church

From The Mountain

First, here's the Westboro Baptist Church, who greeted marching veterans as follows:
They were singing "God hates America" ... they were yelling about our troops raping little boys before they murdered them.

Whereupon the Veterans gave them the salute their activities so richly deserve:

Westboro Baptist Church, I salute you.

I've gotten many visitors to this page directed from the God Hates Fags website.

The one that hilariously confuses the Sidney Herald (of Sidney, Montana) with the Sydney Morning Herald (of Sydney, Australia) .
'Australia loves those ugly, mouthy be-otches (hey they were founded by same) ' - 2007-11-13.
Er, if you say so, Mr Phelps, though what that has to do with a story from Montana isn't terribly clear to me. The link to this site is labelled
"Photographic evidence for the Judgment Day - 2007-11-12".
So I guess I got off lightly.

I welcome all visitors - even the Phelps clan - to this site, and invite them to have a look at this post. Maybe the Almighty might be trying to tell them something.

There is one thing I have to say in the WBC's defence though. As far as I've been able to ascertain, not a single member of that organisation has ever been involved in significant acts of violence against those they hate. OK, that means most of the Human Race, but still.

I salute them once more in the same spirit.

Saturday 10 November 2007

ENDA the line : Part I

I've been getting an education in US Federal politics recently. Two things struck me: it's actually even dirtier than Australian politics, but far, far less competent. I mean by that that the treachery is unsubtle, the dirty tricks unsophisticated and really quite crude. Frankly, I think any Australian politician at state or federal level could subtly insert daggers in the appropriate backs, and have them thanking him for the privilege. Australian politicos could run rings around this mob of amateurs.

Now let me take you through a long, long story. Now it happens to be about TS Human Rights, but really, the same kind of shennanigans are played out every day. Just have a look at Instapundit's Porkbusters campaign, to see what happens when corruption on a blatant and massive scale isn't an exception, or even the norm, but almost universal.

I'll have to split it into 3 parts. Two describing the main players in the drama, and one the events in their historical context, as they have unfolded over the last three months.

Dramatis Personae:
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat, Massachusetts
Human Rights Commission, the 800lb Gorilla of the "Gay Lobby"
Bit parts played by other GLBT - that is, Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered - lobbyists, Speaker Pelosi, and sundry others.

Part I

Now Barney Frank is openly Gay. He's also from Massachusetts, the most "progressive" of all US states, and also one of the most politically if not financially corrupt since time immemorial. It's a fiefdom wholly owned by the Kennedy family ever since Joe made his pile during Prohibition. But it works, and on the whole, results have been as good or better for residents of that state than less odious, but less competent, regimes nearby.

Mr Frank had a little problem in the late 80's. Basically, his apartments were being used by a prostitution business involving underaged boys and men run by a personal assistant. Of course he knew nothing about it, and threw the scapegoat to the wolves as soon as he could - well, that's one view.
From the Washington Post:
Frank, one of two openly gay members of Congress, confirmed Friday that he paid Gobie for sex, hired him with personal funds as an aide and wrote letters on congressional stationery on his behalf to Virginia probation officials, but Frank said he fired Gobie when he learned that clients were visiting the apartment.
By all accounts, the only thing Frank did wrong was hiring such a low-life scumbag as his paid lover. Poor judgement, but not actually evil. Still, because he's a Democrat from Massachusetts, he could even have left someone to drown and still been re-elected. As Kennedy did.

Since then, Rep Frank as being an openly Gay but really quite straight-looking conservative congressman has worked very hard for gay rights. His main success though has been in the time-honoured tradition of all successful politicians, doing little things for little people. Making sure things get done, consideration is given, maybe a little favouritism. He looks after his Clients, as Roman politicos did 2000 years ago. It may not be kosher, but it works, and probably does more good in relieving human misery than all the fine acts and bills in the legislature put together. He has made a lot of friends, not just the rich and powerful, but at the grassroots. He also has the reputation for being one of the most intellectually gifted US politicians, and I can believe it.

Like me though, he's uncomfortable around the flagrantly different. Those who don't conform to the conventional norms of behaviour. Sure he's attracted to men (as am I, now), and has xy chromosomes (as do I), but other than that is really just ... normal (as I try to be). Unlike me though, he hasn't learnt that these misfits and oddities are Human Beings like myself. That's a gift that my peculiar situation has given me, a cure of my priggishness. Some of it. I'm still uncomfortable around Flaming Drag Queens, I will never march in a GLBT Pride parade, I feel I've been drafted into a GLBT movement I support, but am not a part of. I'm Intersexed, formerly Transsexual, and that's a medical and gender issue, not one of unconventional sexual preference. Never mind, those who oppose my existence on the planet don't see the difference, so maybe neither should I.

Barney Frank though really does not "get it" when it comes to transsexuality. Worse, because transsexuals are such a minority, they have been conflated with the much larger groups that make up the Transgendered. That is, the Transvestite men who get a sexual thrill out of dressing up. Not that there's anything wrong with that she says, sniffing in her best schoolmarm "tolerant" manner, implying that of course there is as far as she's concerned... Sorry, being honest with yourself sometimes means admitting feeling things in your heart that your head says you really shouldn't. Oh yes, back to the Transgendered... many Transvestite men are rich and powerful, and they outnumber Transsexuals significantly. To cut them out of rights we are seeking is not just ethically dubious, it's dangerous. They stay in the background, but woe betide you if you cross them. Then there are the Crossdressers, and they are a bit of a conundrum. Their peculiar behaviour has nothing to do with sex, but a lot to do with gender. Some are Transsexuals in denial, as the old joke says: "What is the difference between a Crossdresser and a Transsexual? About 5 years." But many are normal, straight or even hyper-masculine men who have not integrated the male and female sides of their persona. Anyway, they like their bodies just fine the way they are, thanks. They just like the idea of being the opposite sex some of the time, abandoning that whenever it becomes inconvenient. I really don't understand them, but they're harmless.

Then there are the Transsexuals. Women or Men with the wrong shaped bodies. The majority can get sufficient relief by changing their bodies with hormones, not needing the dangerous, painful and expensive surgical reconstruction of genitalia, so they are difficult to differentiate from cross-dressers.

In any event, Barney Frank cannot identify with them. The TVs are straight for one thing, as are many (though not all) of the CDs and TS's. Though for the TS's, being straight means appearing to be gay initially, before they transition.

Barney Frank really, really, really does not like to think of these...things... as being a part of His Group. His Group consisting of conventional, normal looking men who live normal, conventional lives. But who get a thrill from being in bed with a guy.

As Miranda Stevens-Miller wrote:
Some of you might know Barney's reputation for being transphobic. But I felt, with his recent actions in congressional committee, in which he publicly advocated inclusion of transgender women in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), that he may have seen the light. Besides, it was important for Barney Frank and other politicians to see people like us as part of the legitimate political process.
A little while later, I found Barney without a group of people around him, so I once again engaged him in conversation. "So," I said, "does your support of transgender inclusion in the VAWA mean that you might be changing your mind about inclusion of gender-variant people in ENDA?" An innocent enough question, but you would have thought that I was threatening him with a loaded weapon. He got red in the face and started shouting, "Never." His problem was that until we could answer the question of "people with penises in [women's] showers," there is no way that he would support it. The conversation got rather heated to say the least. And with Barney speaking very loudly and repeatedly about "penises in showers," we attracted a lot of attention in the restaurant.
I can imagine.
There was no way to win this argument. In fact, it was déjà vu, recalling a similar conversation we had almost two years ago when Barney was in town for a meeting of the Stonewall Democrats. At that time, it was "men in women's bathrooms."
So it was with a little trepidation that Transgendered people read that it was Barney Frank who was the main sponsor of ENDA - the Employment Non Discrimination Act, that would have protected people from being discriminated against due to sexual orientation or gender identity, the way they are when the discrimination is due to race, creed or colour. Would he really follow through, or would he find a way to make it "Gay Only"? GLB, without the T?

Next Chapter, on the Human Rights Commission, follows shortly.

Friday 9 November 2007

Brains, Genes, and Sexual Orientation in Men

Dipping my toes into controversial waters yet again...

One of the earliest studies is described in Science
News, August 31, 1991
A comparison of 41 autopsied brains has revealed a distinct difference
between homosexual and heterosexual men in the brain region that controls
sexual behaviour. The finding supports a theory that biological factors
underlie sexual orientation, although it remains unclear whether the
anatomical variation represents a cause or result of homosexuality, says neurobiologist Simon Levay, who describes the study in the Aug. 30

LeVay, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, found
that a particular cluster of cells in the forefront of the hypothalamus
was, on average, less than half as large in the brains of homosexual men
as in their heterosexual counterparts. Although scientists have yet to
identify the precise function of the clump, called the interstitial nuclei
of the anterior hypothalamus 3 (INAH 3), the hypothalamus is known as the
seat of the emotions and sexual drives.

LeVay obtained brain tissue from autopsies performed at seven hospitals in
New York and California. His study included 19 homosexual men, 16 men
presumed heterosexual, and six women presumed heterosexual. All of the
homosexual men died of AIDS, as did six of the heterosexual men and one of
the heterosexual women.

As a group, the heterosexual men had larger INAH 3 regions than either the
homosexual men or the heterosexual women, LeVay reports. The size
difference remained statistically significant whether or not the subjects
died of AIDS, ruling out the possibility that it resulted from the disease, he says.
Analysis presumed heterosexual... and only one female in the control group... sorry, indicative perhaps, but not ready for prime time.
Witelson and LeVay speculate that atypical levels of sex hormones may shape the brains of homosexuals in the womb or during childhood. This
explanation does not rule out environmental influences, Witelson notes.
"A certain brain structure could be a predisposition to homosexual
behavior that requires a certain environment to be expressed," she says
Maybe. Certainly worth investigating in light of later data.

From Brightsurf, this year :
November 08, 2007 - Is sexual orientation something people are born with - like the colour of their skin and eyes - or a matter of choice"

Canadian scientists have uncovered new evidence which shows genetics has a role to play in determining whether an individual is homosexual or heterosexual.

The research was conducted by Dr. Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, and colleagues at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto who studied the brains of healthy, right-handed, 18- to 35-year-old homosexual and heterosexual men using structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

About 10 years ago, Witelson and Dr. Cheryl McCormick, then a student of Witelson's, demonstrated there is a higher proportion of left-handers in the homosexual population than in the general population - a result replicated in subsequent studies which is now accepted as fact.

Handedness is a sign of how the brain is organized to represent different aspects of intelligence. Language, for example, is usually on the left - music on the right.

In other research, Witelson and research associate Debra Kigar, had found that left-handers have a larger region of the posterior corpus callosum - the thick band of nerve fibres connecting the two hemispheres of the brain - than right handers.

This raised the hypothesis for the current study - whether the anatomy of the brain of the sub-group of right-handed homosexual men is similar to that of left-handers.

They found that the posterior part of the corpus callosum is larger in homosexual than heterosexual men.

The size of the corpus callosum is largely inherited suggesting a genetic factor in sexual orientation, said Witelson "Our results do not mean that heredity is destiny but they do indicate that environment is not the only player in the field," she said.
The researchers also undertook a correlational analysis which included size of the corpus callosum, and test scores scores on language, visual spatial and finger dexterity tests. "By using all these variables, we were able to predict sexual orientation in 95 per cent of the cases," she said.
Note that it's not the Corpus Callosum alone, but a whole range of symoptoms indicative of brain structure. But 95%? Yes, Good Enough for me. And yet another case where MRI is proving an tool far more powerful than all of the strictly psychological tests that have been used in the past, put together.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Nineteen Years

That's how long a "temporary filling" lasted.
I was told back in 1988 that I better start saving for a crown, as the repair job was a strictly temporary band-aid solution.

Saturday, the filling came out. Along with the titanium screw that had been used to give it structural strength.

Monday I saw the dentist, he took one look and started to get out the extraction implements.

After 5 minutes of using dental pliers, he resorted to scalpel, bone saw, gouges and rasps to scrape out the rest. It was strongly embedded, but as brittle as glasswear. Every time he got a good grip, it shattered.

30 minutes later, I was one tooth and $275 the lighter. And for the very first time with this dentist, it hurt a bit, the anaesthesia wasn't complete. However, when your jaw is being ground down, and mouth filled with various dental appliances, you can't really let them know at the time. Usually an extraction from this guy, even a hard one with knotted and tangled roots, lasts less than a minute. This time over 30, plus the time to put in the stitches.

So I'm a sad sore and sorry Zoe at the moment, lacking inspiration to blog. Maybe I should take a photo of the Cat that adopted us recently, Schrodinger... I'm not certain though.

Monday 5 November 2007

Opposite Direction

From the SMH, a tale of Intersex, Medical Blindness and Ostracism :
A champion shot-putter and discus-thrower, Rabei has photos of himself as a woman towering over other female competitors, which prompted sporting authorities to raid his home looking for performance-enhancing drugs.

But his build was not enough to prompt doctors to entertain the idea that he was not a woman.

"Every time I went to hospital, they told me I was a woman," he said, adding doctors routinely failed to diagnose a lack of internal female reproductive organs. Staff at one clinic laughed when he went for tests to determine his genetic sex.

Doctors instead prescribed pills to induce menstruation and suggested an operation to open the hymen when Rabei could not consummate "her" marriage.
Rabei's lawyer, who is fighting to have his sex and name changed on official documents, said her work was not easy.

"People have been attacking me personally, asking me why I encourage sex correction. According to them, this is haram, or forbidden in Islamic and Arab society," Fouzia Janahi said.

Rabei's employers have demanded his resignation and psychiatrists have declined to counsel him for life as a man.

"I'm not saying I'm not under intense pressure, but as long as what I'm doing is right medically, religiously and legally, I don't care what people say," he said. "Praise God, I feel like I'm a man, I feel like I'm myself."

I feel like myself. I took a different route, and in the opposite direction, but I know exactly how he feels.

Friday 2 November 2007

M.C.Escher's Car

Stolen from the Australian Sceptics Mailing List

Thursday 1 November 2007

Blind Alley

The Reply from the UK Registrar of Births:

Thank you for your recent communication concerning your birth registration.

The birth register in England and Wales is an historical record of a birth rather than one of current identity and the law only allows the Registrar General to authorise a correction to the statutory record if she is presented with evidence that can confirm that an error was made at the time of the registration.

When someone is alleging that they are not of the gender that was recorded for them in the birth register we would need to be presented with medical evidence to that effect.

As we are not medically qualified we would then in turn refer the matter to our medical advisers to see if they are satisfied by the evidence that an error was indeed made at the time of the registration.

I would also add that corrections can only be carried out in the way the law prescribes by means of a note in the margin without alteration of the original particulars upon receipt of statutory declarations made by two persons with first hand knowledge of the facts of the case.

In a case such as this one of the declarations would have to be made by someone medically qualified the other by the original informant of your birth, normally your mother or your father.

In your first mail to this office you made reference to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. As you may know when a transsexual person is issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate the Registrar General must create a new record for that person in the Gender Recognition Register.

I appreciate however that you may not consider this to be appropriate to your particular condition.

If you send any papers to this office they would have to be original documents and they should be sent to:

GRO Corrections
PO Box 476

The reference number (REDACTED) should be quoted in any correspondence.

I hope this is useful to you.

Interesting. An official statement that the UK BC is of historical value only, and does not necessarily reflect current identity.

Of course the reply doesn't actually help me, but they did their best, and I'll be sending my sincere thanks to them.