Wednesday 30 November 2011

For Andrew

I was only a little older than he is now, when I was at this concert.

Sunday 27 November 2011

It's time.

This makes the case far clearer than mere words can. It's time.

Friday 25 November 2011

The Meaning of Christmas

From a mailing list I'm on.
In the last 24-36 hours, I've seen our community come together from different parts of the world to help one of our own, and I am truly thankful.

Long story short, an 18 year old trans girl, kicked out by her parents, was unsafe and on the streets of a small town in Kentucky. No food, no money, no phone, no friends. She was able to borrow a computer long enough to contact me through email, and what I can only call a blessing began to unfold.

Through the power of Facebook and online networking, people from all over, including the UK & Mexico, came together to get this young gal onto a Greyhound bus, and enough food & beverages at various bus stops along the way to make it through to Phoenix where she will arrive in the early morning hours tonight to live at H.O.P.E. House.

This is not the first time we've brought someone to Phoenix on a Greyhound, nor even the first time we've had people help us; in the past it was with donations to pay for her bus ticket. This time, however, people stepped up and gave their time and energy to continue networking until contact could be made with the girl to get her something to eat during the trip at stops along the way.

So many of us lose our families and friends simply because we are trans. We reach out to our only true family, our "Chosen Family" - other trans men and women who are there to help support us and give us faith.

Thank you to everyone who has been, and continues to be through today, involved in making this journey to Phoenix a very special one. Thank you for stepping up and being there for someone in need. You are ALL AWESOME!

TransMentors International will continue to help trans men, women and youth for as long as there's a need. We provide emergency assistance, safe housing, mentoring, support, and resource referrals/connections. Your donations help make it possible. You can donate through our Cause page, our website, or even monthly through your checking account.

Contact me if you want to become involved in TransMentors International at

TransMentors International Inc.
2942 N. 24th Street, Suite #114-337
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Phone: 877-366-3888
Fax: 866-755-2514

Facebook Page

OK, so Christmas has come a little early this year. And you don't have to be Christian to take part. Nor Trans for that matter. Merely Human. Moving the mountain one teaspoonful at a time.

Monday 21 November 2011

Urogenital sinus

Adrenogenital syndrome showing masculinization of the lower urogenital tract as seen on VCUG.

Urogenital sinus, the most common appearance of the lower urogenital tract in adrenogenital syndrome. A well-developed vagina with a well-defined impression of the uterine cervix on the vaginal vault (arrow) joins the distal end of the urethra to form a long common sinus tract (urogenital sinus) that ends in the perineum at the base of a prominent phallus. Barium paste was applied on the perineum to show the distance between the vagina and perineum.


Might explain a few things. Anomalous events when I was 14. Or might not - the ultrasounds are invonclusive.

Sunday 20 November 2011


UC Davis, California, 2011

Birmingham, Alabama, 1963

Saturday 19 November 2011

TDOR 2011

The Transgender Day Of Remembrance, November 20th.

I have been so very, very fortunate. Looking back on the TS and IS people around the world I have corresponded with - some of them on TDOR lists of the slain - I'm reminded that I've had it so much easier than every one of them that I can think of.

From those to who much is given, much is expected. Amidst the tears of grief - muted this year for, unlike some past years, I don't know any of the victims personally - I dedicate myself to continuing the battle, in blogs, in newspapers, in articles, on TV programs, on political and religious and academic and social sites, on the scatological UK Army Rumour Service NAAFI bar and the genteel Catholic Quarterly, in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Nashua Telegraph, in the Malta Times and UK Guardian, everywhere I can.

It's not much. But it's something.

The full list for this year is over 200 names in length.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Just Because

Another Step in the Long March to the Moon - and Beyond

From Popular Mechanics : China’s Space Docking: What Does It Mean?:
On Tuesday, Nov. 1., China launched the Shenzhou-8 space capsule into the same orbital plane as its Tiangong-1 prototype space station. Over the course of several Earth orbits, the capsule performed a rendezvous maneuver and slowly caught up to the space station. Eventually, when it got close enough, Shenzhou-8 made some final burns to precisely match its velocity and location with the Tiangong-1, and the two spacecraft docked, temporarily becoming one. It was the first successful space docking in China’s history.

As milestones go, this could be seen as a small one. After all, China merely performed a feat that Americans achieved more than 45 years earlier (and its space station is about the size of the Salyut 1 Russia flew about 40 years ago). There was a key difference, though: While the first American docking was with a manned Gemini capsule and an unmanned Agena upper stage, the Chinese performed the entire operation with unmanned spacecraft—a feat that the U.S. had never actually performed until recently, and a tribute to the intervening decades of technological development. The question now is: What does China’s recent success say about its goals in space?
Read the whole thing for their answer, but I think it's pretty obvious. This was the next step to a lunar colony. There are many more. Progress isn't being rushed, this isn't a botched job, it's a firm foundation.

As I wrote this time last year about the "Chinese Tortoise" :
Not a new species; a description of the robust and long-term space program that China is quietly executing. One that means that the next human to land on the Moon will speak Mandarin - as will the first Lunar colonists.
This isn't a space exploration program for prestige purposes.

It's about sustainability.
It's about the long term.
It involves a commitment.
It refuses to take short cuts to meet artificial deadlines.

All the things that are lacking in the US space program.

As for the Chinese? They're right on schedule.

Thursday 3 November 2011

OII(Australia) on Homophobia

OII Australia (Organisation Intersex International - Australia) nails it with a very perceptive comment:
The fear of homosexuality, homophobia, is the prime motivation for the worldwide persecution of intersex people. In a remarkable feat of fact-free magical thinking, we are perceived as somehow being born intrinsically homosexual. We are not, but popular belief is seldom trumped by reality and so the intersex fetus abortions, intersex infanticides, intersex genital mutilations (IGM) and refusal of fundamental human rights continue unabated.
I've been accused of being a gay man, and a lesbian woman - sometimes at the same time - by the same people. The contradiction escapes them, logic tends not to be the strong suit of homophobes. Many don't know what "Intersex" means, even if you patiently explain it to them, with references. A few don't believe it can exist, that like Evil-ution, it's all a giant anti-Christian conspiracy by (quite possibly demonically possessed) "scientists", who they view as The Adversary. Well, in some ways they're right, as Rationality is contrary to their beliefs. "Fact-free magical thinking" describes their superstitions perfectly. Others of course, the majority, are merely religious. Their beliefs are based on faith, yet not impervious to facts and rational argument. They, not being Fanatics, often have their voices of reason drowned out by the True Believers - those so sure that God is on their side, that they don't think it's necessary to ask themselves whether they're on His. Whether God is a literal Deity, or the mystical "Forces of History".

Belief in an invisible Sky Policeman is not in itself a bad or harmful thing. It all too often leads to beliefs in whole pantheons of supernatural beings though, demons and devils and evil spirits.

Here's an example:
In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture's account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God's handiwork.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities -- sexual difference and same-sex attraction.
Trying to reconcile Catholic Belief with Scientific Evidence often gets people into trouble - just ask Galileo. He's since been forced to retract his article and issue a Mea Culpa.
"Statements made in my column, 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused."
Just (as opposed to Unjust) discrimination is fine though - and the USCCB have decided that discrimination against Trans and Intersex people is just fine. As they've stated in writing.

At least he made a Good Faith attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable; superstition and reality. The problem is, by invoking the Work of the Devil as being responsible, the next step is all too easy. Inevitable really. The belief that some are possessed, or the spawn of the Devil, not really human at all. Thus witchsmelling and charlatanry, persecution of the different, and all manner of barbarities.

The USCCB appear to have recognised that, and pulled him up short. At least, I hope that's what they did. I try to think the best of people.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

The Journal of Chemical Physics

Not to be confused with the Journal of Physical Chemistry of course..
Optimization of a genetic algorithm for searching molecular conformer space Zoe E. Brain and Matthew A. Addicoat J. Chem. Phys. 135, 174106 (2011)
We present two sets of tunings that are broadly applicable to conformer searches of isolated molecules using a genetic algorithm (GA). In order to find the most efficient tunings for the GA, a second GA – a meta-genetic algorithm – was used to tune the first genetic algorithm to reliably find the already known a priori correct answer with minimum computational resources. It is shown that these tunings are appropriate for a variety of molecules with different characteristics, and most importantly that the tunings are independent of the underlying model chemistry but that the tunings for rigid and relaxed surfaces differ slightly. It is shown that for the problem of molecular conformational search, the most efficient GA actually reduces to an evolutionary algorithm.
Dr. Matt Addicoat's the Chemist; I'm the Computer Scientist. But he knows more about Computer Science than I do about Chemistry. He should do - he was one of my CompSci students at ADFA.

"When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master"

Just call me Zobie-wan.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

The Submarines of October

From The Submarines of October, how close we came to Nuclear war in 1962.

Very close. Very close indeed.

Soviet submarine commanders were highly disciplined and unlikely to use nuclear weapons by design, but the unstable conditions on board raised the spectre of an accident. Orlov himself believes that the major danger was not from the unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon but from an accident caused by the interaction of men and machines under the most trying of circumstances. Captain Joseph Bouchard, the author of a major study on Naval operations during the missile crisis, supports this point when he suggests that the "biggest danger" was not from "deliberate acts" but from accidents, such as an accidental torpedo launch.
Possibly even more dangerous was an incident on submarine B-59 recalled by Vadim Orlov, who served as a communications intelligence officer. In an account published by Mozgovoi (see document 16), Orlov recounted the tense and stressful situation on 27 October when U.S. destroyers lobbed PDCs (practice depth charges - they make a loud noise, but that's all) at B-59. According to Orlov, a "totally exhausted" Captain Valentin Savitsky, unable to establish communications with Moscow, "became furious" and ordered the nuclear torpedo to be assembled for battle readiness. Savitsky roared "We're going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all." Deputy brigade commander Second Captain Vasili Archipov calmed Savitsky down and they made the decision to surface the submarine.
While the four Soviet Foxtrot submarines did not have combat orders, the Soviet Navy sent two submarines, B-75 and B-88, to the Caribbean and the Pacific respectively, with specific combat orders. B-75, a "Zulu" class diesel submarine, commanded by Captain Nikolai Natnenkov, carried two nuclear torpedoes. It left Russian waters at the end of September with instructions to defend Soviet transport ships en route to Cuba with any weapons if the ships came under attack.
Another submarine, B-88, left a base at Kamchatka peninsula, on 28 October, with orders to sail to Pearl Harbor and attack the base if the crisis over Cuba escalated into U.S.-Soviet war. Commanded by Captain Konstatine Kireev, B-88 arrived near Pearl Harbor on 10 November and patrolled the area until 14 November when it received orders to return to base, orders that were rescinded that same day, a sign that Moscow believed that the crisis was not over. B-88 did not return to Kamchatka under the very end of December.
The weapons to be used in the attack? Nuclear-tipped torpedos to be fired into the harbour. 15kt yield each, about the same as the weapon used in Nagasaki.

If that had happened... if nuclear torpedos would have been used by the Russians - and what the USA didn't know was that nuclear-tipped anti-ship missiles were operational in Cuba, and would have been used in such a case... then if Pearl Harbor got nuked as well....

Russki would be a dead language. The US had bombs big enough to not just vapourise a city, but make vast areas lethally radioactive. They had delivery systems too, while the USSR had very few rockets, and even fewer bombers capable of attacking the USA. The US SIOP - Single Intergrated Operational Plan - involved everything from unreliable missiles, through to inaccurate cruise missiles with miss distances in miles (but with a 5 Megaton warhead, that didn't matter), down to propellor-driven Skyraider aircraft launched from carriers to attack port cities in semi-suicide attacks "lobbing" small nukes nearly vertically in a half-loop, and hoping to escape before what went up came down. And lots and lots of B-52s, each with two 5-megaton warheads.

The quote from Dr Strangelove is accurate regarding US likely losses:
President Merkin Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!
General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

Sounds about right.

The Cold War sucked. I was 4 years old at the time, and with the high-priority targets we knew about (a nuclear weapon manufacturing & storage facility, a regional centre of government, and a US bomber base) all within 10 km... the fireballs would have overlapped where I lived. The USSR had plenty of weapons capable of hitting the UK, just not many that could reach the US.

We didn't know about the ROC secret bunker buried deep under the fields behind our house. That would have been a target too: we would have been in the crater for that one.

So think about it: no matter how bad things are, if the Many-worlds explanation of quantum mechanics is correct, there's quite a few high-probability universes not far from here where things are a heck of a lot worse. And take comfort from the fact that we dodged that particular bullet in this one.