Thursday 30 September 2010

Ethics, Experimentation, and Social Services

From the New York Daily News:
In an attempt to test how well a one-stop assistance program is working, the Department of Homeless Services split 400 struggling families into haves and have-nots.

The "haves" get rental assistance, job training and other services through a program called Homebase.

The other half wasn't so lucky.

Those people - chosen at random - were dubbed the "control group" and shut out of Homebase for two years. Instead, they were handed a list of 11 agencies and told to hunt for help on their own.

The city will still be watching them, but for a whole different reason.

For two years, researchers will track the separate groups by their Social Security numbers to see how each "uses city services ... such as shelter, public assistance, foster care," city documents state.
This is how you run an experiment. You try to randomise the data, you pick a control group that matches those being experimented on, and you track what happens. You "shackle" all other variables, so that the two groups are identical - except in the one area under examination.

But first... when dealing with humans.... you get clearance from an ethics panel. They're there to make sure that you don't do things like leaving gangrenous limbs untreated, to see what improvement various medical interventions make. That particular experiment would be quite useful, by the way. Circumstances such as Earthquakes, War and so on that prevent effective treatment also prevent good monitoring and gathering of statistics. Much medical treatment is poorly evidenced, and it's possible we may be doing less good than we think by them.

Nonetheless... it's inhuman to do this. Anyone capable of doing it has let their (desirable) objectivity and (commendable) wanting to help more people get in the way of being human. Not a monster.

This experiment is a perfect example. The experimenters expect that by denying aid to some, it will cause those experimental subjects misery. They want to see how much difference - if any - their new intervention makes.

Perhaps this could be justified if it was for a short period, and if the control group were then provided additional resources afterwards, to make up for the hardship. Moreover, although it pollutes the data by introducing another variable, all controls should have been volunteers - told that in exchange for initial difficulty, they'd get compensation in the long term.

But they weren't given the option; the period of the experiment is two years, far too long; and there's no hint of compensation. No competent Ethics panel could have cleared it, and there's no sign that any were consulted. Such sloppiness gives me no confidence that the experimenters have good performance metrics for measuring effectiveness (or otherwise) of the new facility.
"These are real parents and children, not rats in a lab experiment," said Patrick Markee, a senior analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless.

City Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who heads the General Welfare Committee, said vulnerable New Yorkers "should never be steered away from the services and benefits for which they are eligible."

Starting in August, letters went out to 400 families and individuals applying to join Homebase, telling them they would be part of the study. Those picked make up about 5% of the 7,700 families that used the program last year.

The city defended the plan.

"We serve thousands of people through this program, and this study is only looking at 400 people," Deputy Homeless Services Commissioner Ellen Howard-Cooper said.

Researchers will watch both groups to see if the "control group" families find help through other agencies or wind up in shelters, officials said.
I propose another interesting experiment; find all those involved with conducting this "experiment" - who are bound to be of above average intelligence and education, compared to the indigent experimental subjects - confiscate all their assets but the clothes on their backs in lawsuits, saddle them with debt, a short prison sentence so they have a criminal record - then see how they fare, without assistance. Just to determine the effects of education and intellect in the programme.

Of course, such an experiment would never pass an ethics panel review, and I'm too good a scientist not to insist on one as a precondition.

She who fights monsters runs the risk of becoming a monster herself, you see.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Today's Battle

Once more, our intrepid heroine ventures forth, facts in hand, to do battle against ignorance and bigotry.

Mostly ignorance, and pardonable ignorance at that. While I've see cruelty, malice and spite, more often I've seen decent level-headed people who once they're made aware of the facts, have quite different views.

From :
MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Some Mona Shores High School students say administrators stole the homecoming king throne from the rightful winner -- a transgender senior.

The controversy is playing out in the school's hallways, and on Facebook.

Some classmates believe the crown belongs to Oakleigh Reed -- who was born as Oakleigh Marie, but who now goes as Oakleigh Marshall, or Oak for short.

In fact, friends have started a Facebook page, titled, "Oak is My King."

"It's the senior class that votes for their representative," Reed said. "What they did was taking away the voice of the senior class."

Assistant Superintendent Todd Geerlings said the issue is simple: The ballots gave two choices -- vote for a boy for king and a girl for queen.

And, in school records, he said, Oakleigh is still listed as a female.
He Wuz Robbed. Nothing too unusual there, though the fact that his classmates stood up for him is rare, and extremely gratifying.

I think there's 11 pages of comments now. But you can see people's opinions changing, as they get more and more credible data about it.

There's still a mountain; and I still am working one teaspoonfull at a time. But I can see visible progress now.

One more thing - about the previous post on Monday - I got the complete set when RightWingGirl uttered the stock phrase "God doesn't make mistakes". It's all so farnarckling predictable... and really quite funny too.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

The computers that power man's conquest of the stars - Atomic Rockets posterous

Over at Atomic Rockets, there's an excellent article on COMPUTERS IN SPACE!!!


The computers that power man's conquest of the stars - Atomic Rockets posterous

Well... we haven't "conquered" even one star, yet. But we're getting there.

See also this article, from 2002, on the requirements for Space qualified hardware. Including some quotes from a guy I used to know be - well, you know. A previous incarnation, so to speak.
In space no one can press Control/Alt/Delete."
Yes, Exactly. I'm rather fond of that quote.

Monday 27 September 2010

Today's Battles

At Central Florida Future :
Has anyone ACTUALLY been discriminated against because of this issue? If so, please cite examples.
So I did.

From the Dallas Voice:
A male suspect brutally beat a woman in San Antonio after learning she was transgender, KENS Channel 5 reports....after he learned she was transgender, he beat her badly in the face and dumped her off outside an apartment complex, where she knocked on a door begging for help.
But the San Antonio police are refusing to classify it as a "Hate Crime".

As I wrote:
Exactly how does this differ from a case where a gal is beaten up by a white racist when he found she was only “Passing for White”? Or because he found out her grandmother was Jewish?

Either she was beaten up for being Trans – in which case Federal law should apply – or “perceived to be” Gay, in which case both Federal and State law should apply. If the San Antonio police don’t act, the FBI should.
Don't hold your breath though.

From the Houston Chronicle, the deeply touching story of one Trans Woman in Texas. Some of the comments needed answering.... ones like these:
A lot of seriously, mentally disturbed people think that mutilating themselves will fix what's wrong between their ears - but it never works out.
It's just a way for surgeons to get money from the mentally ill.
The Conspiracy Of Evil Moneygrubbing Doctors comment. Check.
All of this talk of Transgender. What does Transgender really mean. It is a fancy word for counterfeit.
The "Trannies are Fakes/Liars/Deceivers" comment. Check.
I understand the feelings of this transgendered person. I, myself am a transracial person. I was born one race, but deep in my heart I know I am truly a member of another race.
While the government and society readily accepts transgendered persons for the sex they believe they are, the government totally ignores transracial persons like myself.
The "Transracial" comment. Check. This is all so stereotyped, it's always the same arguments. The "Giraffe" one is usually next.
With all this confusion over private parts it ain't no wonder women folks and kids have lost all their respect for the authority of the men in their lives - heck, we hardly know who is and who ain't a real man or one of these transexed men with all their inside out privates and lopped off boobies - it ain't what God wanted!
That's a rare one - the Patriarchal Privilege comment about "sissified males". Crossed with a dash of "Muscular Christianity". Though that last phrase is now unfashionable, as "Bishop" Long, who promoted it, turn out to have sent personal photos of his musclebound body in spandex to taut, handsome, youthful acolytes. And gifts of jewelry, cash etc, in return for erotic "personal services" that were wholly spiritual in nature, and not at all Gay, no siree.
Yes, it's almost a stereotype now that those most fanatically anti-Gay are "same sex attracted" themselves, but keep it a guilty, shameful secret.
ZOE, you are espousing nonsense, pc nonsense. I don't care how many years you researched it. You researched perversion put out by perverts.
The Dismissal of evidence comment. Check.
Does the DSMV not still call it a mental disorder? If not then why? That's what it is.
The "It's a mental illness because it's in the psychiatric diagnostic manual" comment. Check. One of the main reasons why it should be removed from there.
There's a reason trannies have a hard time getting don't pass as well as you think you do.
The "man in a dress" comment, with bonus points for using the perjorative word "tranny". Check.
John Hopkins University Hospital peformed studies on people before and after surgery, finding that post-op they had all the "MENTAL" and "EMOTIONAL" problems they had prior to surgery even if they were happy to look like the chosen sex.
How absurd to think a mental disorder can be fixed by plastic surgery. If I get fake boobs will I suddenly be happy all the time?
I actually think that perhaps I should become a cat. I have felt "different" my entire life. A layer of soft fur would make all the difference, along with some whiskers. I do say that if the trannies can have their way then why should my fantasy not be indulged too? I should be allowed to meow in public without any scrutiny. I also would require special accomodation for the potty, I prefer a litter box in the office, please.
A twofer. First, the Olde Venerable Johns Hopkins comment (Dr Paul McHugh has much to answer for for his perversion of science), then the Giraffe Argument. Or in this case, cat. Check and Check.
It hurts me deeply every time I read a piece of trash like I just read here that advocates that these people are simply born in bodies that are not right for them and a surgery could correct it. I had a wonderful family and dreams for my children that included staying together with the MAN I married. If only people knew the truth, ignorance would not be bliss. The truth is ugly.
I tried to show her the compassion she deserved. Regardless of provocation. She's a victim too, you see, GID doesn't just hurt the patient.
Now the Chronicle needs to look at the darker side of this transgender movement. They post this article showing sympathy for this group but never do an article on the sorrow, heartache and broken families these selfish people leave behind. ...Why not expose them for what they are doing instead of trying to make people feel sorry for these selfish liars? There is a dark and dirty side to this movement and I have seen it up close and personal!
Another rare one.. the Transsexual Menace comment. Check.
I have more important things to do than debate someone who wants to put up a bunch of documents to perversion on the web trying to justify perversion.
Another "dismissal of evidence just because" comment. Bonus points for "perversion", but no base mark, sorry.
Pretend all you want through surgery, but you can't change an "X" chromosome to a "Y".
Ah yes, Homochromosexuality had to be in there somewhere. Check.
This article and most of the posts I have read just go to show how far this country has fallen in it depravity.... What used to be called evil is no being called good and what used to be called good is now called evil....Read God's Holy Word and repent and turn from these evil and wicked ways....
And finally, the Rebellion Against God comment. Check. But loses points for not saying "God doesn't make mistakes".

I answered that one with the usual quotes - Matthew 19:12 and Isaiah 56:3-5. As I've done many times before when faced with the same, tired old argument.

I did get this though - from someone whose nickname is Palin_2012, so is unlikely to be a bleeding-heart liberal:
ZoeBrain, I commend you on your thoughtful, educated and incredibly patient responses. It takes a strong person to set aside emotions and speak candidly and logically in the face of flared tempers and injured spirits. As for Tim1242, my prayers are with you. I hope you'll come to see the world through a less angry lens despite what you've been through. Zoe makes a great argument for why it isn't your fault and for how what happened to you may not necessarily be all about evil, debauchery and deception. All my best to you.
"Not necessarily". Ok, I can work with that. Someone who's thinking about the issues. It takes time to show people the way, and they have to take it themselves. But progress? Yes, I think so.

Friday 24 September 2010

The "Tea Party" Candidate for the Senate Seat of Delaware - Christine O'Donnell

It's just a short step from believing "The Flintstones" is a docudrama - for she's a Young Earth Creationist who believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old - to believing that "Pinky and the Brain" is too.

She's not the only Right-Wing Politician whose views can charitably be described as "eccentric" though. There's also the (unfortunately not inimitable) Sally Kern.

Ho-kayyy.... So let's take a look on the Left. The Far Left. Until the Tea Bag movement started, the only credible third force in US politics, the Greens. And their Leader, Cynthia McKinney.

There are two possible conclusions: the first is that some US politicians have a few roos loose in the top paddock, so to speak. In fact, whole mobs of them.

The second, which I think is far more likely, is that they're telling the rubes what they want to hear. Nah, that's more of a Shellbyville idea....

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Subhuman in Afghanistan

From the New York Times, the obverse view of the parlous situation regarding women in Afghanistan, which I'd blogged about in a previous post. As I said then, this is "what happens when a Patriarchal society become Pathological".
Six-year-old Mehran Rafaat is like many girls her age. She likes to be the center of attention. She is often frustrated when things do not go her way. Like her three older sisters, she is eager to discover the world outside the family’s apartment in their middle-class neighborhood of Kabul.

But when their mother, Azita Rafaat, a member of Parliament, dresses the children for school in the morning, there is one important difference. Mehran’s sisters put on black dresses and head scarves, tied tightly over their ponytails. For Mehran, it’s green pants, a white shirt and a necktie, then a pat from her mother over her spiky, short black hair. After that, her daughter is out the door — as an Afghan boy.

There are no statistics about how many Afghan girls masquerade as boys. But when asked, Afghans of several generations can often tell a story of a female relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker who grew up disguised as a boy. To those who know, these children are often referred to as neither “daughter” nor “son” in conversation, but as “bacha posh,” which literally means “dressed up as a boy” in Dari.
It's an old tradition, you see.
Mrs. Rafaat had grown up in Kabul, where she was a top student, speaking six languages and nurturing high-flying dreams of becoming a doctor. But once her father forced her to become the second wife of her first cousin, she had to submit to being an illiterate farmer’s wife, in a rural house without running water and electricity, where the widowed mother-in-law ruled, and where she was expected to help care for the cows, sheep and chickens. She did not do well.
And neither will Afghanistan while they do that.
In an effort to preserve her job and placate her husband, as well as fending off the threat of his getting a third wife, she proposed to her husband that they make their youngest daughter look like a son.

“People came into our home feeling pity for us that we don’t have a son,” she recalled reasoning. “And the girls — we can’t send them outside. And if we changed Mehran to a boy we would get more space and freedom in society for her. And we can send her outside for shopping and to help the father.”
That's what you get when you treat half of humanity as worse than cattle, morally depraved and filthy by definition. Some have to "scrub up" to appear human; and others, real human children, have to behave and be used as sexual objects, ones that can be used without incurring the moral pollution of femininity.

Some cultures need culturally genociding.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

NASA as a Political Football

From the Washington Post :
As never before, NASA watchers say, an agency that generally is funded and directed through White House and congressional consensus has become the focus of a brutal, potentially crippling and politically topsy-turvy battle for control that is likely to come to a head next week.

NASA politics have always defied labels. But now a series of unlikely alliances and negotiating positions have left Congress in an especially difficult bind, with the distinct possibility that the fiscal year will end this month without an approved 2011 budget. The result, congressional negotiators and observers say, would be layoffs and a very unpredictable agency future.
*SIGH* Predictable, and predicted. Disappointing, nonetheless.
The House bill awaiting action would give twice as much money to Russia for transporting astronauts and cargo to the space station as it would give to U.S. companies working to build that capacity.

The Senate did pass a compromise authorization NASA bill before the August recess that provided far more funds for commercial spaceflight, although it still halved Obama's request. The bill directed the agency to instead immediately build a new heavy-lift rocket that can take astronauts to deep space by early 2017.

In doing so, it required the agency to design the project in a way that will benefit certain aggrieved companies and NASA centers
It's all about the Pork, you see. Spaceflight? That's secondary, if considered at all.

To see how un-seriously they're treating serious matters, there's this from Rand Simberg at AOLNews:
...Much of the funds meant to procure Russian space hardware instead went to dachas (country houses), Mercedes, yachts and Cayman Islands bank accounts of corrupt Russian officials, while the underpaid scientists and engineers continued to supply the Iranians with technical assistance and critical technologies such as guidance systems.

Frustrated, Congress passed, and the president signed, in the late '90s the Iran Nonproliferation Act, which placed sanctions on countries engaging in such technical assistance. The act was amended in the past decade to expand its reach beyond Iran and include North Korea and Syria as well. (It is now called the Iran/North-Korea/Syria Nonproliferation Act, or INKSNA).

Under the act, it is illegal for the federal government to purchase goods or services from the Russians as long as they continue to engage in such activities. Unfortunately, we have been dependent on the Russians for Soyuz capsules docked to the ISS as lifeboats ever since it became permanently crewed early in the decade, and when the shuttle retires next year, Soyuz will be the only means to get our crews to and from it.

So how has NASA gotten around the law? First, by pretending that Russia isn't in violation of it, as it has attempted to maintain plausible deniability for years on the issue. Unfortunately, almost a year ago, this became more difficult.
Because the Russians are blatantly selling advanced military hardware to Iran. Hardware whose development costs have been indirectly funded by the US taxpayer.

In many ways, this is the most dysfunctional US Congress and Presidency in living memory. Not least in Space Policy.

Monday 20 September 2010

Today's Battle

Over at the Orlando Sentinel : How should schools handle transgender kids?.
An outspoken Florida mom who goes only by the name Rene said she has been condemned for her decision to let her child, Jazz, who's biologically male, live as a girl. Several videos on YouTube feature Jazz, a confident youngster with long, dark hair, dancing, singing or explaining what it's like to live in the wrong body.

"I get some terrible e-mails — people that basically say that I am the worst parent, I am evil, I should be killed," Rene told "60 Minutes Australia" last year.

Some of the commenters might well agree, though most don't go nearly that far. There's little actual hatred, merely ignorance. The following is typical:
how about a psychological evaluation for the entire bunch. boy we are really going to hades in a handbasket. what kind of nut job would even entertain granting legitimacy to these fruitcakes? that's like calling a crack dealer an unlicensed pharmacist.
There are no transgender prepubescent children - only misguided parents, insane psychologists and profiteering quacks.
Typical liberal psyco-babble, Completely overthinking things, comes from spending over half your life in school, affraid to get out into the real world, and produce anything of value

I've tried to answer them as best I could, with facts. I can work with people like that.

Friday 17 September 2010

Catholic Thoughts For Today

From Monty Python:
KRASZT: But with certain exceptions, you accept his (Christ's) teaching?

VICE-POPE: Oh yes, it's been an invaluable basis for our whole operation really. Of course people accuse us sometimes of not practising what we preach, but you must remember that if you're trying to propagate a creed of poverty, gentleness and tolerance, you need a very rich, powerful, authoritarian organisation to do it.

From His Holiness the Pope, referring to the systematic pedophillic abuse by priests:
"It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly mission was possible,"
Because he (and others) helped cover it up.

He was the head of the Inquisition, charged with fact-finding. And he helped cover up what he found - while working against it - thereby providing an example that others beneath him learnt from. They too covered up, so that the Inquisition never found out about it. And they too never found out about the abuse their immediate subordinates found.

And that is why the Inquisitor was more like Inspector Clouseau rather than Sherlock Holmes. Clueless.

"Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live,"
Rather like His Holiness' reference to Intersexed people, who blur the line between male and female, as a "threat to the human ecology". Vermin by any other name.

But I thought a former member of the Hitler Youth would have recalled some of Der Fuehrer's speeches on the subject. Words such as:
"We have put an end to denial of God and abuse of religion."
-- Radio address October 14, 1933
National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The Church's interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against the Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles
-- Koblenz speech, August 26, 1934
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith."
That one's in the Vatican Archives. It's part of the Vatican-Nazi Konkordat of April 26, 1933

As the Nazi State Labour Leader, Reichsarbeitsführer Robert Ley proclaimed:
We believe that there is a Lord - God in heaven, who created us, who leads us, who directs us and who blesses us visibly. And we believe that this Lord—God sent Adolf Hitler to us, so that Germany become a fundament for all eternity.
-- NS-Schulungsbriefe, Heft 4/1937.

Yes, it was Godless. But not Atheist, it wrapped itself in the trappings of Religion, and often, Catholicism.

And yet.....

The Catholic Church is not just the hierarchy. Not just the Pope, or the Cardinals, the Archbishops or Priests. The Vatican collaborated, but some Germans in the Catholic Church did not. From Catholic Culture:
Senior clerics who challenged the Third Reich in its racist and anti-Christian policies included Bishop Clemens Count von Galen of Munster, Archbishop von Preysing of Berlin, Cardinal Bertram of Breslau, Cardinal Schulte of Cologne and possibly the most famous of all, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich. His series of Advent sermons, preached from the pulpit of St. Michael's Church aroused national and international interest. They became so popular that thousands listened, some even in the streets outside. In the first of the sermons, preached on December 3, 1933, Faulhaber defended Christianity by defending the people from whom it had sprung: the Jews. He reminded them that Christianity made no racial distinction between Jew and Gentile, but asked only that its adherents should possess faith.
His Holiness meanwhile joined the Hitlerjugend. He had to.

Not everyone did though. And they paid a price.

Maybe someone should give His Holiness a gift. Perhaps... a White Rose, with the words Mene, Mene, Tekhel, Upharsin.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Feeling Crook

I have the Dreaded Lurgy that's been making the rounds of the ANU. Aches, Pains, Coughing, Sneezing.... but just when I felt awful, some friends wished me well. I still feel like death warmed up, but I don't feel bad, if you can understand that.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Fire, Water, Earth and Air

The Classic Elements are Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Water and Earth should make Mud, and Fire and Water Steam... or maybe that's Air and Water? Find out by playing Doodle God. See how many of the 115 derived substances you can discover.

And meanwhile, a favourite of my childhood, by Julie Felix.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

A Horrible Example

From the Basingstoke Gazette:
A would-be transsexual is annoyed that a manager who was suspended over her discrimination claims is now back at work.

The YMCA suspended the manager of the shop in Winchester Street, Basingstoke, after former volunteer Philis King accused her of making derogatory remarks about her in front of colleagues and customers.

But Miss King, who is living as a woman in preparation for a NHS sex change, was never told the outcome and said she was shocked to learn the manager was working there again.

She also discovered that a volunteer who backed her has been sacked for ‘bringing the YMCA into disrepute.’

The sacked volunteer is Sharon Riley, a 48-year-old mother-of-five from Ferndown Close, Beggarwood, who, like Miss King, started working at the shop in May, having volunteered for various charities in the last 15 years.

She said she had not approved of the way Miss King had been treated and had said so. She added: “It’s soul destroying. It’s not like I have done anything wrong. I told the truth and said what I saw.”
Under the "Standards of Care", surgical treatment will be refused if the patient is neither employed, doing volunteer work, nor studying full-time for a period of 12 months beforehand. In the UK, it's two years. So the consequences to Ms King are rather more severe than a mere temporary loss of job.

The dismissal of Ms Riley is a warning to all others who might speak up about what they saw. And to state the obvious, it brings the YMCA into disrepute far more than anything any individual is capable of doing.

Monday 13 September 2010

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio..." Department

From New Scientist's Zoologger:
Changing sex is more common than you might think.
No kidding.
Many animals start out as one sex, and then change into the other part-way through their lives.
You don't say.
There are also plenty of animals that are both male and female at the same time.

But a few go one step further. They start out as one sex, and then transform into hermaphrodites.

The peppermint shrimp is one of these rare beasts. It gets its name from the red stripes that run along its translucent body, which make it look like a peppermint stick or candy cane.

It first matures as a male, and sometimes turns into a hermaphrodite with both male and female sexual organs. This lifestyle, named by an extreme-pronunciation enthusiast, is called protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism.
Protandrous, I think, but no matter. As in protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphroditism. OK, that's weird. Another one to add to the collection of Natural Wonders that disprove many religions' contentions about "Natural Law".

Wednesday 8 September 2010

See a pattern here?

From WJXT Jacksonville
Michael Maier had a sex change several years ago and became a woman. She is now suing the city of Jacksonville, claiming she was denied needed hormone treatment while in jail.

"I was placed into a solitary confinement cell," Maier said. "Not given any medication because I'm a post-op transgendered person."

Maier was arrested on charges of driving without a license and resisting arrest without violence. She said she had a valid driver license at the time and the State of Florida wrongly canceled it. Documents from the state show the Department of Motor Vehicles admitted Maier was not supposed to have lost her license.

Solitary Confinement - even though, because she's post-op, she's anatomically female. And arrested for a crime she should never have been charged with - then held for five days rather than a few hours, as with "normal" detainees.
She has been representing herself in the lawsuit so far and on Sunday was still looking for a lawyer.
A Trans woman in Jacksonville, Florida in 2010 has as much chance of finding a lawyer to accept the case as an African American woman would have in 1910. Oh yes, and it's Michele.

Trans Talk: Norfolk Virginia Police Officer Arrests 66 YO Transgender Elder After Diabetic Attack
I started feeling like my blood sugar was a little low while I was going through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. I continued driving but missed my exit at Granby Street. I continued until I reached Interstate 264 and was going westbound on I - 264 towards downtown Norfolk. I had evidently begun to drive erratically and started feeling like I wasn’t able to drive so I pulled over on the shoulder.
As anyone with low blood sugar level should do.
Someone else evidently called the authorities to report my erratic driving. There may have been more than one police car that responded; I am not sure. I was sitting in my car with my window down with the truck still running. Two police officers approached the car on the driver's side. Officer Glaubke asked if I had been drinking and my response was that I had not been drinking. I told him I am diabetic and my blood sugar was low. I needed something to eat.

He asked for my driver’s license and I gave it to him. Office Glaubke asked me to shut off the engine, which I did and left the keys in the ignition. He then opened the door and took the keys.
I told the paramedics I was diabetic. My blood sugar was low. The paramedics tested my blood sugar level. They told me it was 44, which is dangerously low.

Officer Glaubke told me I could go to the hospital, have someone pick me up or I could go to jail. I told them I did not want to go to the hospital. I called my wife at 8:05 PM to come after the truck and me. The other police officer did not come back near us.
I was going to open my truck door to sit and wait. Officer Glaubke had his leg resting against the truck door so it pushed his leg a little when I tried to open the door. Office Glaubke said “You pushed me” and he came around and grabbed my arm spun me around and threw me up against the fender of the truck. I turned around and tried to get him to let go of me. He tripped me. I knew he was trying to get me to the ground on my stomach where my elbow was heavily scraped. I did not resist. He said, “Stay down you son of a bitch.”

After he handcuffed me, he rolled me over, had me bend my right leg and helped me get up.

I realized there was a Virginia State Trooper in his car there.

Officer Glaubke took me to the fire truck to put gauze on my injured elbow. At this point, the fire truck and paramedics left.

I sat down on the ground. Officer Glaubke said, “Give me a couple of minutes and we'll talk about this.” Officer Glaubke went back to his squad car. When he came back, he said, “You're going to jail!”

Officer Glaubke said he was going to have to search me. He asked me if I was legally a man or a woman. I told him I was still legally a man. He had me stand up and did a pat down search from armpits down and between my legs. He was standing behind me. He then puts me in the back of the police car. I complained that the handcuffs were too tight. His partner loosened the handcuffs and said, “Now don't you try anything stupid or I'll push your head right through that seat.”
Upon arriving at the jail, she endured further indignities.
Standing outside the emergency room's entrance, why would Norfolk Police Officer Glaubke tell Dawn's spouse and son that Dawn had hit a guard rail and damaged her truck when there is no damage to her truck and there were no guard rails at the location of the arrest according to Dawn?

Why was Dawn forced to remove her bra in front of three male Norfolk, Virginia Police Officers because it contained under wires?

Dawn has a damaged rotator cup in her left shoulder. She had to remove her shirt in order to remove her bra. As noted below, another woman in custody was allowed to remove her bra in a bathroom. Why the double standard?
Dawn has been charged with a Class 6 Felony - § 18.2-10. For Class 6 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
A 22 year old police officer being "assaulted" - put in fear of his physical safety - by a 66 year old woman, still groggy from low blood sugar level. Because she "pushed" him.

Then there's the "Christian Charity" shown at Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Part Two | Catholic Exchange
Now I am going to say something that may seem harsh but remember I am talking to you about objective reality – where the rubber meets the road. It is better to die than to offend God. It would have been better for you to have given your life to stay in obedience to God.
For all you know, God may have given you peace and healed you. We can’t know that, but we can see some of the fruit of the course of action you did pursue.

For one thing you have greater physical health — but at the cost of being an example to others that physical health is worth breaking God’s law.
I’m not trying to beat you up with all this.
Well let us all be thankful for small mercies! The author has just told someone she'd be better off dead, that prescribed necessary medical treatment that saved her life should have been refused because.... well, just because. Because she think its "sinful", though she can't say exactly why. Better a dead body than a "mutilated" one.

See a pattern here? That this kind of thing, and far worse, happens every day, in all parts of the world.

Now look at some of the comments on the first story:

The only proper thing to do with a transgender is....shoot both of 'em

I wonder if it went to the lawyer or the doctor first when it got out of jail. I think the COJ should sue it.

As a gay man, and a tax payer, I do not want a single tax dollar spent on someone suffering from "elective" surgery. I'm choosing to deny support, because you chose to have this procedure done. The debate of mental stability still remains, so I'm not sold on their "need" to change.\

If shim needed his hormone treatments shim shouldn't have landed himself in jail. His fault.

I find it disgusting that you want MY tax dollars to go for sexual deviants and perverts so HE could get hormone pills to be something HE is not and NEVER will be.

I am so embarrased to read these comments from people in Jacksonville, it is disgusting in this day and age that these nasty and outrageous comments are still spoken. It is horrible, how about comments on the story itself instead of stupid name calling, grow up and behave like a human being.

NO, what is disgusting is people like this feeling the need to "DESTROY" something GOD created, God DOES NOT make mistakes. Then you having the "nerve" to defend IT! SO STHU you blabbering idiot!!!

I'm sure she would have been accepted in general population... with the men.

Im With JSO and the City On this one!!!!!!!!!!!! This world was made up by GOD!!!!! with Men & Women. Not 1/2 & 1/2..JUST B/C YOU WANTED TO MAKE YOURSELF INTO A FREAK AND AN ABOMINATION Dont mean the world needs to "Cater" to you.

Why should we, the majority, allow a small minority of misfits to bully us?
To avoid any confusion by those who are reading this comment, we will refer to Michael Maier as "it." When Michael Maier has it's day in court, I would like to see the judge dismiss the entire case and then throw it out the door (preferably without first opening the door). As for that transgendered freak's disatisfaction with the accomodations of the Duval County Jail, this situation could have been avoided by simply obeying the law.
And in a reply to a snarky comment of mine....
Like I said, I'll show you how much of a man I am and let you leave my place with a shiner
If you go to the site, you'll see that they removed the really bad stuff. The death threats and so on.

Saturday 4 September 2010


Sometimes you find the most terrifying comments in the most unassuming places on the Net. For example a blog on Buddhism, and a post called Buddhism & Bhikshuni Ordination: Why are Religions Scared of the Vagina?. A post on female ordination of Buddhist nuns, basically. I'll quote from Wiki:
The Vinaya (a word in Pāli as well as in Sanskrit, with literal meaning 'leading out', 'education', 'discipline') is the regulatory framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha, based in the canonical texts called Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Buddha, or Buddhadharma can be divided into two broad categories: 'Dharma' or doctrine, and 'Vinaya', or discipline. Another term for Buddhism is dharmavinaya.

At the heart of the Vinaya is a set of rules known as Patimokkha (Pāli), or Pratimoksha (Sanskrit). The Vinaya was orally passed down from the Buddha to his disciples. Eventually, numerous different Vinayas arose in Buddhism, based upon geographical or cultural differences and the different Buddhist schools that developed. Three of these are still in use. The Vinayas are the same in substance and have only minor differences. Buddhists in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand follow the Theravadin Vinaya, which has 227 rules[1] for the bhikkhus (male monastics) and 311[2] for the bhikkhunis (female monastics, though the female order died out centuries ago and recent attempts to restore it are controversial). Buddhists in China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya [3][4] which has 250 rules[5] for the bhikkhus and 348 rules[6] for the bhikkhunis. Japan technically follows this, but as many "monks" in Japan are married, they are more rightly considered "priests" (ie specialists in performing ceremonies). Other Japanese monks follow the Bodhisattva Precepts only. Buddhists in Tibet and Mongolia follow the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, which has 253 rules for the bhikshus and 364 rules for bhikshunis (in theory, as the female order was never introduced in Tibet). However, the Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns in traditions that have such ordination.)
It would take considerable imagination to see how such a thing could be associated in any way with something terrifying. But here's a comment on the post:
Just an opinion from East Europe.

The majority of Ukrainian society still cherishes traditional values on gender, marriage, sexuality. Some of them are, indeed, outdated, but others must remain, I believe.

Most of people I know (college, university graduates, other well-read people with close to Buddhist outlooks) view the coming of modern gender, feminist, gay-positive, transsexual as a destructive propaganda, which is promoted by certain circles aiming to corrupt and delude young peoples' minds.

Everywhere in the media they create an image of sexually deviant people as being "cool", advanced, romantic heroes (which they are not, of course). What a young, unsophisticated mind has to counter this? Nothing. It just takes on the cool gay image. I've seen this everywhere in Kyiv and major ukrainian cities. That looks disgusting, even to my Ukrainian Theravadin eye. I start missing a bit of Hitler, you know:)

The same story happened for all developed Western countries, sooner or later. And those at the wheel(Jews, Masons, Maras or whoever they are) with immense propaganda and brainwashing resources surely succeeded in changing European peoples' values.

Well, that's the worldly part of it. Where I'm heading to is that the quest for bhikkhuni ordination started perfectly in line with all this gay equality movement. Some see it as a just struggle for equality, but the forces behind the movement are undoubtedly trying to corrupt the Theravadin Sangha.

When|if they succeed, they will proceed with promoting ordination for transsexuals and hermaphrodites) (which was, in fact, prohibited by the Buddha in the Vinaya).

Later on they will demand the same for sexless aliens, for animals (why not - they are sentient beings, how can we deny them ordination!) Al of this will be done under the excuse: "The times are changing, so are the Vinaya rules. The Buddha surely wouldn't mind:))"

In part, I am a Theravadin due to this school's clutching to the Tradition and Buddha's original message. Whoever likes flexible new-age values, can switch to Mahayana at will.

Let Theravada remain a sanctuary for traditionally-minded people!

A bit about myself. My name is Yuriy. I am 34, half Ukrainian and half-Lithuanian, well-traveled, two bachelor's degrees, Theravada Buddhist|Nazi-Socialist, in 1999-2001 ordained and practiced as bhikkhu for 2 years.

And yes, I am scared of the vagina too, as is every unenlightened dick-possessing heterosexual:))
He seems an intelligent, educated and ethical individual, possessed of an unassuming wit. Quite a nice guy. But should he ever attempt to put into practice his views, it would be vital to prevent that, by whatever means necessary.

Theravada Buddhist|Nazi-Socialist. Good Grief.

Friday 3 September 2010

Panspermia, Red Rain, and Hot Water in Space

The abstract of Growth and replication of red rain cells at 121 oC and their red fluorescence by Gangappa et al
We have shown that the red cells found in the Red Rain (which fell on Kerala, India, in 2001) survive and grow after incubation for periods of up to two hours at 121 oC . Under these conditions daughter cells appear within the original mother cells and the number of cells in the samples increases with length of exposure to 121 oC. No such increase in cells occurs at room temperature, suggesting that the increase in daughter cells is brought about by exposure of the Red Rain cells to high temperatures. This is an independent confirmation of results reported earlier by two of the present authors, claiming that the cells can replicate under high pressure at temperatures up to 300 oC. The flourescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle planetary nebula and other galactic and extragalactic dust clouds, suggesting, though not proving, an extraterrestrial origin.
From MIT's Technology Review :
In 2001, numerous people observed red rain falling over Kerala in the southern tip of India during a two month period. One of them was Godfrey Louis, a physicist at nearby Cochin University of Science and Technology. Intrigued by this phenomena, Louis collected numerous samples of red rain, determined to find out what was causing the contamination, perhaps sand or dust from some distant desert.

Under a microscope, however, he found no evidence of sand or dust. Instead, the rain water was filled with red cells that look remarkably like conventional bugs on Earth. What was strange was that Louis found no evidence of DNA in these cells which would rule out most kinds of known biological cells (red blood cells are one possibility but ought to be destroyed quickly by rain water).

Louis published his results in the peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space in 2006, along with the tentative suggestion that the cells could be extraterrestrial, perhaps from a comet that had disintegrated in the upper atmosphere and then seeded clouds as the cells floated down to Earth. In fact, Louis says there were reports in the region of a sonic boom-type noise at the time, which could have been caused by the disintegration of an object in the upper atmosphere.

And from Wired Science:
Hot water discovered around a giant carbon star requires a new theory for the chemistry around stars to be explained. The new theory could significantly alter our understanding of what materials exist in interstellar space, and where water and life could exist in the universe.

“It makes us realize that the chemistry in all stars can be much more complex than we thought it was,” said astronomer Leen Decin of the Instituut voor Sterrenkunde in Belgium, lead author of the study published Sept. 2 in Nature. “If we don’t understand what is created from these old stars, we don’t know what the main ingredients of new stars and planets are made from.”

The star the water vapor was found around is much like our star will be in 6 billion years: nearing the end of its life, expanding outward, and with more carbon than oxygen in its atmosphere. Water vapor wasn’t expected around such a star, because it was thought that all the oxygen would be bound up in carbon monoxide, a stable molecule, and not available for making water molecules.

However, water vapor of unknown temperature was first discovered around this star in 2001. Astronomers proposed that the star had icy planets and comets that were vaporized as the star expanded outward. If this theory was right, the water vapor would be far away from the central core of the star, and cold.

With the launch of Herschel satellite in 2009, it was finally possible to test the theory because astronomers could collect information about the temperature of the water around the star. They found water vapor of all different temperatures around the star, which refutes the vaporized comet theory. Water could only get hot if it is closer to the star than where the comets and icy planets would have existed.

The new explanation for the water is that high energy ultraviolet light from nearby hot stars is penetrating the atmosphere of the carbon star and breaking apart the carbon monoxide molecules. Breaking these molecules apart would release oxygen that could react with the abundant hydrogen to form water.
The coincidence of these two papers may be just that - coincidence. Then again, maybe they're no such thing.

Previous posts on Panspermia - which I consider a more likely theory for the origin of life than a planetary one - at these previous posts.

I'll summarise why I believe an extra-planetary origin for pre-biotic and biotic substances is most likely by quoting myself:
Basically, look at the conditions on Earth when Life-as-we-know-it is believed to have formed. Water available, Carbon available, unfiltered sunlight available, and a clay or other substrate (floor) with regularities that would encourage formation of complex compounds.

The take a look at the conditions in the Oort cloud, in insterstellar gas clouds, and in infalling comets. A few quick mathematical calculations will show that theres heaps, piles, zillions more places where conditions like this exist in Space than on a planet's surface. The difference between a few flecks of paint on the surface of some very small marbles, and great vats of paint the size of Jupiter.
We're finding more all the time. I think the case for pre-biotic molecules is very strong, that for biotic material in membranes - cells - less so. But you'll have to Watch This Space.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Lord of the Rings

As written by various authors.

Jack Vance -
The party emerged from Mordor, each looking thoughtful. Aragorn spoke first.

'It is needless to say that we all regret the loss of Gandalf. He was truly a person of eminence and grace'.

'Yet', interrupted Legolas, 'The cynical and suspicious might find your heartfelt grief at his untimely demise perhaps lacking a touch of sincerity, given that his death at this time perforce elects you to leader of our little group'

' The implication in your words, Legolas, I find disturbing in the extreme', answered Aragorn.

'As do I, although the implication in question is perhaps a different one', said Boromir. 'Why is Aragorn, as you say, 'perforced elected' to leadership? Surely this matter should be referred to a larger referendum than just yourself, Legolas, intelligent though you may be'

'I used the specific appellation...', began Legolas. Gimli interrupted.

'Regardless, and I must say I find these small-minded squabbles of yours irksome and inappropriate, we are on the borders of Lothlorien, a realm whose inhabitants have certain unusual customs, which the unwary traveller often falls foul of. I suggest that our friend Frodo renders the Ring on to me until we are through Lothlorien and in a place of more condign safety, or perhaps an even greater period of time'.

Pippin frowned. 'Your suggestion has merit, although I would deem it wiser that someone more suitable, for instance I, should have the laborious and dangerous duty of actually carrying the Ring...'

Don McLean

A long long time ago
I can still remember how that Ring used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
I could make those Numenorians dance
And maybe they'd be off my case, for a while.
But Isildur made me shiver
With every digit he did sever.
Elf host on my doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I heard that my Balrog died.
But something touched me deep inside
The day the One Ring fried.

So bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove my hoards to the fords
But the hoards did die.
And them Elvin Lords were drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die.

Did you write the Book of Lore?
And do you have faith in Valar’s shore?
If the Elves tell you so.
Do you believe in the Hobbit’s role?
Can he destroy my immortal soul?
And can he reach me in Amon Sûl?
Well, I was not afraid of him
'Cause I thought the fellowship quite dim
But the Hobbits shook off pursuit
They left their all their friends en route.
I was an almighty evil fu*k
With a huge army and a lot of pluck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the One Ring fried.
And now I’m singin'

Bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove my hoards to the fords
But the hoards did die.
And them Elvin Lords were drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Now for Ages I was on my own,
And grew fat on blood and bone.
But that's just how it used to be.
When I whispered to Kings and Queens
My wraiths, they all rode unseen
And I gleefully poisoned those damn trees.
Oh, while Fingol was looking down
The Silmarillion was leaving town.
The Valar court was adjourned
No verdict was returned.
And while Bilbo wrote the Red Book
The orcs were driven off by Took
And Angmar sang dirges in the dark
The day the One Ring fried
We were singing

Bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove my hoards to the fords
But the hoards did die.
And them Elvin Lords were drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Helter Skelter in Orthanc’s smelter
The Ents pulled down Saruman’s fallout shelter
Eight fathoms deep and filling fast
It poured out foul on to the grass
The Uruk-hai tried for a forward pass
With some Hobbits on the sidelines with a cask.
Now the air was filled with sweet perfume
While hobbits smoked and Ents did “HOOM”!
The Orcs were handy with a lance
Oh, but they never got the chance
'Cause the armies tried to take the field
The Fangorn woods refused to yield
Do you recall whose doom was sealed?
The day the One Ring fried?
We started singing

Bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove my hoards to the fords
But the hoards did die.
And them Elvin Lords were drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
Armies meeting face to face
We were mighty sure we’d win
But, Baggins was nimble, Baggins was quick
Baggins survived Shelob’s prick
'Cause Gamgee was such a loyal friend.
Oh, and as I spied him on Orodruin
I knew this my day would ruin.
Who knew a hobbit from a dell
Could break my mighty spell?
And as the flames climbed high into the night
Just before I lost my sight
I saw Gandalf laughing with delight
The day the One Ring fried
He was singing

Bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove your hoards to the fords
And your hoards did die.
And us Elvin Lords are drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that you die
This'll be the day that you die

I met a Balrog who sang the blues
And I asked him for some happy news
But he just roared and turned away.
I went down to the hellish forge
Where I'd made the Rings years before
But the forge was cold, no longer fey
And in the skies the Nazgûl screamed
Wormtongue cried, and Saruman schemed.
But not a word was spoken
Mordor’s gates were broken.
And the three men I loathe the most
Aragorn, Elrond and the Wizard Ghost
They caught the last ship for the coast
The day the One Ring fried
And they were singing,

Bye-bye, Ring of the Eye
Drove your hoards to the fords
And your hoards did die.
And them Elvin Lords were drinkin' miruvor and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that you die….

...and many others.

Wednesday 1 September 2010


I think it would be best if the language of space was English rather than Mandarin though... but as long as it's Human, that's just a minor detail.