Thursday, 31 May 2007

All This And World War Two

I was born less than 13 years after the end of the second world war. My earliest memories are being bathed in the kitchen sink, at age 2. But not long after, I remember being shown a film at the seaside. How to recognise mines - most of the patterns from 1940 looked like old rusty drink cans, with a wire coming out of one end.

Drink cans were made of steel in those days, not aluminium, and were much thicker.

There were still Bomb Sites where buildings hadn't been rebuilt in the 60's. Not many, but some. Many air-raid shelters, abandoned, rank, flooded and foul. Some craters in the countryside where 1-ton high capacity land mines had scooped out enormous craters. Maybe some were from V-2s, but I don't think so, we were too far west of London for that.

My childhood was surrounded by the reverberating echoes of the great conflict begun only 25 years previously, and there were still Spitfires and Hurricanes in flypasts. Some nations - such as Spain - even used WW II vintage aircraft, Messerschmits and Heinkels, in front-line service.

There seemed little difference between the Supermarine Spitfires that intercepted Dornier 17 Recon aircraft over the Channel, and the English Electric Lightnings that intercepted the Tupolev 95 recon aircraft over the North Sea. The one difference was that Civil Defence was pointless. There were too many targets too close, the fireballs would overlap near us, if ever the sirens wailed again.

Those were also the days of John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Silver Beatles. They soon dropped the Silver though.

In 1976, the Film "All this and World War II" came out, which mixed some war footage, some clips from vintage and contemporary films (notably "Tora Tora Tora") and the music of the Beatles - though not performed by them. Although flawed, it's a film that resonates with me, and the 60's. For although it was made in the mid 70's, it was a film fragrant with the atmosphere of the mid 60's. With goods still marked "for export only", or clothing still labelled with the number of clothing coupons required, though these restrictions were 10 years out of date then.

It's never been released on DVD. But here is the trailer, and below it are hyperlinks to the film, split into 7 parts (unfortunately truncated) and posted on YouTube.



Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

The film has rare clips from the defence of Midway - the obsolescent TBD Devastators going out on the attack on the Japanese Fleet from which none would return. The equally venerable SB2U Vindicators in their first and final combat action. More of interest too, the long deserted streets in California where Japanese-Americans used to live. It was all recent history then, as recent as Iraq War I is to us.

I remember those days in the 60's, England Swings, Carnaby Street, the Mersey Beat, the days when I thought I'd have a normal teenage girlhood. An innocent time, no security checks at airports, almost no drugs in schools. More and more families were acquiring Cars, and Telephones, and even Televisions.

They were also the days where within 3 minutes of the attack warning we would be froth on top of a mushroom cloud, where homosexuality and paedophilia were punished with the same severity, and where Coloured People had to use separate drinking fountains in much of the USA. Days where to have Cancer meant you would die. Where Polio still crippled many, and where we all had to have our smallpox vaccinations. And where people like me were tortured (aversion therapy), given shock treatment, or lobotomised.

Those Innocent days sucked. Today, even though there is the same "Master Race" Inferiority-Complex that led to Auschwitz within Islamofascism, and even though we have troubles enough, 2007 is far better than 1967. Not just technologically, but the kids are better educated, more understanding, more tolerant. We just have to show them that Evil exists, that we have seen it before, and that it must be confronted at the earliest opportunity. Or we'll have all this and World War Three.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Disintegrata

From the links list of TCotrel, Attorney At Law, Disintegrata.

Disintegrata

Go nastily amid the peace and tranquility, and remember what satisfaction there may be in genocide.

As far as possible, without surrender, move into other people's space.

Lie often, and loudly; and listen to the lies of others, even the slow and incompetent -- examples can be made of them later.

Seek out meek and inoffensive persons; they are annoying, but fun to kill.

Do not bother comparing yourself to others; those greater than you will eventually be eliminated, and those lesser than you are dead already.

Fart in airlocks.

Assassinate your superior as quickly as possible; your own career, however exalted, is not worth a plugged millo if one of your junior officers gets it over your dead body.

Exercise caution if one of your course changes suddenly produces a sensor ghost; for the Galaxy is full of Federation vessels.

But let this not blind you to the happier side of things; many Starship captains are swaggering, tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood, and everywhere life is full of incompetence.

Advance yourself.

Especially do not feign meanness, neither be cynical about hate; you are not likely to run out of either.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the joys of defenestration and evisceration for more mature pleasures.

Nurture a deep-seated suspicion of small furry creatures that purr; you never can tell.

File your teeth regularly.

Discipline is important; practice holding it in between planet falls.

You are a scourge of the universe, no less than your average interstellar plague or black hole; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is going to pieces in a most laudable manner.

Therefore do your utmost to annoy the Destroyer, however you may conceive of Him, Big Bang or Entropy Death; and whatever your plans of conquest, as you wade through the morasses of peace with fire and sword, annoy your soul.

With all its truth, high resolve, and courage, the world still has its ugly spots.

Be thoughtless.

Strive to be miserable.

Found scratched on the Energy Barrier - Stardate 2832.4

Also a TCotrel's site, a link proving that every car in existence is within Seven Degrees of Separation from an Austin 7.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Pain in the Hip Pocket Nerve

And other places too.

As I've mentioned, I've had a few complications after my surgery.
Yesterday, my OB/GYN surgeon tried to take a shortcut. If we were lucky, this would have saved me time, expense, and considerable pain. Chances were pretty good, maybe 50/50, but chances were also good that the attempt would have to be abandoned. I'd been kept fully informed, and had given assent to everything so far. If we were just slightly lucky, instilling of local anaesthetic would be successful, and the area could be treated on an outpatient basis, avoiding thousands in hospital and operating theatre bills.

Alas, it didn't work. The injection of the anaesthetic was excruciating - the worst pain I've had since age 20 - and the anaesthesia was almost nonexistant, so the diathermy afterwards was unpleasant too.

Basically, a lot of the skin graft borders have broken down, and are now granulation tissue. This is not the fault of the surgeon, it just happens sometimes. In my case, an area that had been treated by a full-thickness skin burn a month ago was only 1/3 the size that it used to be - but was again granulation tissue. So it's just my peculiar metabolism again. Sometimes an advantage, sometimes not.

Now my Surgeon in Thailand really is probably the best in the world. In order to give, er, full functionality, he re-plumbs a lot of the nervous tissue to the right places. Most female sensor tissue is under the clitoral hood, but there's ancillary nerves at the anterior vaginal vestibule too.

Well, I've found out that I'm fully sensate there, as well as "under the hood". Unfortunately, I've found that out by having needles stuck in there, then an electrode used to burn away part of the area.

Anyway, it was obvious that this technique was never going to work - my OB/GYN tried one of the easier areas first, and it hurt just far too much. I'd had some diathermy before in an area of incomplete anaesthesia - it just wasn't possible to numb that area at all - and although it hurt (A LOT!) it was over very quickly - my OB/GYN completed it in less than 5 seconds - and it was no worse than, say, having a burn on your arm from a hot soldering iron. Or having a cigarette stubbed out on you, an experience I had a few times in my teens. Not wonderful, but with self-hypnosis, you wouldn't scream.

This time I screamed. I couldn't help it. A leather strap to bite on might have worked, nothing less.

So it will require certainly one, probably two, possibly more general anaesthetics. A day or two in hospital. None of it covered by Medicare. $2000 a treatment, maybe a little more. Ouchies.

Going over to Chonburi and getting it "fixed under warranty" might be financially better, perhaps $3000 overall. If I can arrange it. Right now, it's 38 hours after that experience, and only now have I screwed up the courage to dilate - thereby stretching the affected area. Unpleasant, but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. That was truly Torture. Hence my post of yesterday, I know how the victims felt. For only a minute, thank Goodness.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Torture

Amnesty International's Stop Torture page strongly condemns... the USA. No-one else.

From the BBC, this is the kind of thing they're complaining about:
Afterwards, Mr Khan's personal representative read out a written statement, in which he alleged psychological torture.

"I swear to God this place in some sense worst than CIA jails. I am being mentally torture here," he said.

"There is extensive torture even for the smallest of infractions."

Mr Khan complained about how US guards had taken away pictures of his daughter, given him new glasses with the wrong prescription, shaved his beard off, forcibly fed him when he went on hunger strike, and denied him the opportunity for recreation.

This led him to attempt to chew through his artery twice, Mr Khan said.

Later, Mr Khan produced a list of further examples of psychological torture, which included the provision of "cheap, branded, unscented soap", the prison newsletter, noisy fans and half-inflated balls in the recreation room that "hardly bounce".

Cheap, branded, unscented soap. Worse than the CIA. Right.

This is the real thing. Illustrations from a "How To" Al Qaeda manual recently captured.



Also found and liberated were some prisoners who were being victimised by such techniques.



Pictures from The Smoking Gun

As the Belmont Club states:
The problem with the fake is that it is always shown up by the arrival of the Real Thing. The difference between the two is often so manifest that it seems ridiculous to think that anyone could have been fooled -- even momentarily -- by the counterfeit.

The problem with the word "torture" is that it has been so artfully corrupted by some commentators that we now find ourselves at a loss to describe the kinds of activities that the al-Qaeda interrogation manual graphically recommends. Now that the term "torture" has been put in one-to-one correspondence with such admittedly unpleasant activities as punching, sleep deprivation, a handkerchief pulled over one's face and loaded with water, searches by women upon sensitive Islamic men or the disrespectful handling of Korans -- what on earth do we call gouging people's eyes out?

Answer: we call it nothing. My fearless prediction is that not a single human rights organization will seriously take the matter up. There will be no demonstrations against these barbaric practices, often inflicted upon Muslims by other Muslims, in any of the capitals of the world. Not a single committee in the United Nations will be convened nor will any functionary in the European Union lose so much as a night's sleep over it. The word for these activities -- whatever we choose to call it -- will not be spoken.

Start Listening. All you will hear is the Sounds of Silence.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Rancid Joke

Not everything on various TS support fora is doom, gloom, triumph, tragedy, or melodrama. Sometimes you get things like, well, this. From a woman in South Africa.
Two Prawns


Far away in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, two prawns were swimming around in the sea, one called Justin and the other called Christian. The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks that inhabited the area.

Finally one day Justin said to Christian, "I'm fed up with being a prawn; I wish I was a shark, and then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten."

A large mysterious cod appeared and said, "Your wish is granted." Lo and behold, Justin turned into a shark. Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate. Time passed (as it invariably does) and Justin found life as a shark boring and lonely. All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them. Justin didn't realize that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight.

While swimming alone one day he saw the mysterious cod again and he thought perhaps the mysterious fish could change him back into a prawn. He approached the cod and begged to be changed back, and, lo and behold, he found himself turned back into a prawn.

With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes Justin swam back to his friends and bought them all a cocktail (the punch line does not involve a prawn cocktail - it's much worse). Looking around the gathering at the reef he realized he couldn't see his old pal.

"Where's Christian?" he asked.
"He's at home, still distraught that his best friend changed sides to the enemy & became a shark," came the reply.
Eager to put things right again and end the mutual pain and torture, He set off to Christian's abode. As he opened the coral gate, memories came flooding back. He banged on the door and shouted: "It's me, Justin, your old friend, come out and see me again."

Christian replied, "No way man, you'll eat me. You're now a shark, the enemy, and I'll not be tricked into being your dinner."

Justin cried back "No, I'm not. That was the old me. I've changed........."
(You're going to love this.....)

"I've found Cod. I'm a Prawn again Christian."

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

A Film Everyone Should See

It's an hour long, and starts very slowly. But everyone should see it anyway, so we don't forget. Nie Wieder.

Nazi Concentration Camps (1945).

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

X, Y and Z

From Scientific American :
Today the 40-year-old French native is one of a handful of geneticists on whom parents and doctors rely to explain how and why sex determination in an infant may have taken an unusual route. In his genetics laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, Vilain's findings have pushed the field toward not only improved technical understanding but more thoughtful treatment as well. "What really matters is what people feel they are in terms of gender, not what their family or doctors think they should be," Vilain says. Genital ambiguity occurs in an estimated one in 4,500 births, and problems such as undescended testes happen in one in 100. Altogether, hospitals across the U.S. perform about five sex-assignment surgeries every day.
...
Instead of turning on male development directly, SRY works by blocking an "antitestis" gene, he proposes. For one, males who have SRY but two female chromosomes range in characteristics from normal male to an ambiguous mix. In addition, test-tube studies have found that SRY can repress gene transcription, indicating that it operates through interference. Finally, in 1994, Vilain's group showed that a male could develop without the gene. Vilain offers a model in which sex emerges out of a delicate dance between a variety of promale, antimale, and possibly profemale genes.

Because researchers have long viewed the development of females as a default pathway, the study of profemale genes has taken a backseat. Over the past few years, though, geneticists have uncovered evidence for active female determination. DAX1, on the X chromosome, seems to start up the female pathway while inhibiting testis formation--unless the gene has already been blocked by SRY. With too much DAX1, a person with the XY complement is born a female. Vilain's group found that another gene, WNT4, operates in a similar way to promote the formation of a female. The researchers discovered that these two work together against SRY and other promale factors. "Ovary formation may be just as coordinated as testis determination, consistent with the existence of an ovarian switch,' " report geneticist David Schlessinger and his collaborators in a 2006 review in the journal Bioessays.
...
Lately Vilain has been exploring molecular determinants of sex within the brain and whether they may be linked to gender identity. Despite classic dogma, he is certain that sex hormones do not drive neural development and behavioral differences on their own. SRY is expressed in the brain, he points out, suggesting that genes influence brain sexual differentiation directly. His lab has identified in mice 50 new gene candidates on multiple chromosomes for differential sex expression. Seven of them begin operating differently in the brain before gonads form. Vilain's group is testing these findings using mice and is collaborating with a clinic in Australia to study expression patterns of the sex-specific genes in transsexual people.

This work, like much of Vilain's efforts, treads on fairly touchy ground. He copes by sticking to his findings conservatively. "You also have to be aware of the social sensibilities," he explains.
Sounds Wise.
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
There are, of course, some people saying harsh and trashy things about the transgendered candidate for the job of Sarasota city manager.

One outraged chest thumper, while explaining that it would be insane to even consider such a person for the Sarasota city manager position, called Stanton an "emasculated drag queen," and handled the pronoun confusion by calling Stanton "it."
...
It remains to be seen how many defenders of public morality of the kind quoted above will surface when Stanton and the other five job candidates -- whatever their names may be -- arrive next week at City Hall to begin interviews with commissioners, staff and the public. But commissioners have already heard similar sentiments, if they have been reading their e-mail, though most are more restrained.

"What message will we be sending our children?" asks one.


From the Forum discussing the article

Richard wrote:
At the most it will make a mockery of Sarasota and get us mentioned with the looneys of San Fransisco, and Key West. In other words if you are a Freak, Welcome to Sarasota. If you are a Christian Too Bad.

dadeda wrote:
only sick freaks, hmmmm its a new day what will i be today? a girl a guy or a IT?


You have to laugh. Looks like we've still got a ways to go.... never mind, people like myself have two things going for us.

The first is that we've seen the depths of human despair in others, we've seen and experienced the heights of human folly, and yet we still can see the essential goodness that is in the great majority of human hearts.

The second is that we don't give in easily. Time to start writing some replies...

Monday, 21 May 2007

Do you like Kipling?

"I don't know. I've never Kipled".

Another hidden treasure in the web : OnlineLiterature.com's collection of Kipling's works.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Dedicated

Over at Shrink Rap. A Podcast, featuring no less than the head of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit and the Center for Sexual Health, Chris Kraft, PhD. I thought it was rather nice of them to dedicate it to me (BLUSH!!), a pleasant gesture in a world where small kindnesses are all too rare.

Now if anyone had told me 25 months ago that I would have had an audio programme starring not one, not two, but three American psychiatrists, plus the head of the Johns Hopkins etc etc etc dedicated to me.... I'd say they were crazy.

Of all the nearby multiverses, this one is definitely one of the weirder ones. But it has its charms.

Friday, 18 May 2007

A Reply from a guy I used to know

Over at LGF, a reply by a guy I used to know. Or be.

I've quoted it (slightly edited) because it's typical of the questions I get asked, and the answers I give, in comments in many places. It's useful for me to have the URLs of the scientific articles handy.
I'm curious---how is a "male" brain different from a "female" brain, and how can doctors tell this? (Especially since brains are not easily examined from outside?)

Easy, you cut people up during Autopsies.

Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality. (PDF)

See also
Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus (PDF)

I mean we have it pounded into us, over and over, that there are no real differences between males and females.

Well, who are you going to believe, Post Modernist Gender Studies Professors who know nothing of biology, or Dynamic MRI Images?

Hamann S, Herman R.A, Nolan C.L, & Wallen K. (2004)
Men and women differ in amygdala response to visual sexual stimuli (PDF)

Of course say that in public, and even presidents of Harvard can get fired for political incorrectness.

As I understand it, sex is determined very early on during gestation, by one's DNA. DNA don't lie.

And thus there are no children born with cleft palates, nor heart defects, the Thalidomide kids did not exist because the DNA don't lie... The DNA is a plan, like an architect's drawing or a blueprint. But things can go awry during construction. Thalidomide caused terrible defects in development of limbs. DiEthylStilbestrol (DES) caused 1 in 5 male children to have feminine brains. But kids are born with such problems randomly anyway.

From the Benjamin's Syndrome Info site (see TS Stuff link list to left):

The embryo's DNA is essentially the blueprint from which it knows how to develop. This blueprint contains much more information than the embryo will actually use. Genetic abnormalities can cause errors in the parts of the blueprint that the embryo is using, or tell it to use the wrong parts of the blueprint. So some parts of the body might not know they're supposed to make certain changes when they're exposed to testosterone, for example. Also, the presence of various hormones at various stages during the embryo's development helps regulate which parts of the blueprint are followed. If the wrong hormones are introduced at critical times (eg by the mother taking pills), or something prevents the right hormones from being present, the embryo will not develop as expected.

Abnormalities in sexual differentiation as a group are known as Intersexuality. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) is a good example. Embryos with Total AIS do not recognise testosterone, so their external genitalia is female. However, they are affected normally by AMH, so if they have XY chromosomes they will not develop female internal organs (eg the uterus).

Benjamin's Syndrome is a form of intersexuality in which the brain of a person with XY chromosomes fails to masculinise for some reason, or the brain of a person with XX chromosomes does masculinise (there may be many ways in which this can happen). It is often (but by no means always) accompanied by other signs of mild atypical sexual differentiation, eg a particularly large clitoris or small penis, unusually pronounced proto-labial seam, late or minimal puberty, etc. It can also coexist with other types of intersexuality, though if another kind of intersexuality is present then an additional diagnosis of Benjamin's Syndrome would generally be considered superfluous.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Children of the Sky



One of my favourite tunes from "The Hunting of the Snark". Somehow it used to bring tears to my eyes, at a time when crying was almost impossible for me. Bittersweet, and I can't really explain it. Now I have a future to look forward to, full of bright shiny novelty, scary and wonderful too, a journey of discovery. And who knows, maybe even a Snark.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Superstition

You know there are tribes so primitive, that they drive out anyone who is "cursed" lest the Sky Gods strike the community down, and tell other tribes to have nothing to do with them, or the Sky Gods will be angry at them too.

Then there's the Lighthouse Baptist Church. From the Miami Herald :
A local newspaper questioned Stanton before he had a chance to put the plan into place -- and before he had a chance to tell his teenage son.

Within days, all but two of the seven city commissioners voted to fire him from his $140,000 a year job overseeing roughly 1,000 employees.

Several pastors within Largo's close-knit religious community passionately called for his ouster.

''It's an abomination, and a bad role model for young people. It confuses them,'' said the Rev. Ron Sanders, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, who said he feared Largo could face punishment of biblical proportions if the city kept Stanton in office.

Sanders, who believes Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were ''wake-up calls from God,'' said he will pray for Sarasotans if Stanton is chosen.

''I would be a little worried about them,'' he said.
How ... Charitable ... of him.

I wonder if, since he believes Susan Stanton should not be employed, if he's be willing to personally pay for her upkeep? You know, true Christian Charity? Or perhaps he hasn't thought of the consequences, he doesn't sound like the sharpest knife in the drawer.

I know Christians just as Fundamental in their beliefs as the Reverend Sanders, yet who get Christ's message, as he obviously doesn't.

In view of his opinions on 9/11, I wonder if he'll be affiliating with the Westboro Baptist Church soon.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

CandyFab 4000

From Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, a 3D printer that produces objects in glazed sucrose.



This gets Zoe's Coolest Site of the Month award.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Then and Now

Following on from some previous posts, here's a story in 2 pictures. It's what Transition is all about.

THEN



NOW



Transition.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Hamouse

From the AP:
A Hamas-run television station defied Israel and the Palestinian government on Friday by continuing to air a controversial children's puppet show with a Mickey Mouse lookalike preaching resistance.

Israel and Jewish groups have slammed the Al-Aqsa programme over calls made by the copycat mouse named Farfur and by a little girl for resistance against Israel and the United States, and for its overtly Islamist message.

Complete with Islamic songs and calls for cities in Israel to return to Palestine, Friday's episode apparently sought to prepare children for their end-of-year examinations -- with Farfur being told that cheating is forbidden.

Asked why by an Al-Aqsa television reporter, he looked left and right to see what his friends were writing and answered: "Because the Jews destroyed my home and I left my books and notes under the rubble."

"I'm calling on all children to read more and more to prepare for exams because the Jews don't want us to learn," Farfur then said after being told he had failed the test.
Fairly Harmless - a little antiSemitic propaganda, Judenhass straight from the schoolbooks of Nazi Germany, but not too bad, right?

Now see the video. The AFP omitted the bits about the Arabs being the Ubermenschen who would reconquer the world (they used to own it, you see), and make sure every Jew on the planet was exterminated.



"We've said more than once that becoming masters of the world requires the following : First to be happy with our Arabic language, which once upon a time ruled this world"

Please, don't just read the AFP whitewash of this Nazism. Look at the original sources. Read the Hamas Charter. Look at what they're teaching their kids - to be human bombs so as to "commit martyrdom".

Just Look - at Hamas a Lebanese Falangist party, at Hezbollah, and the Nazional Sozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (NAZIs).



This one is of Hamas (and thanks to an eagle-eyed but anonymous reader for spotting my error in the above)



And this one shows the origins of the whole thing.

(Hamas Guiding Light Haj Amin Al-Husseini shaking hands with Heinrich Himmler)

Do your Homework.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Stephen King Does "Mary Poppins"



And Walt Disney does "The Shining"



Both shamelessly stolen from a post over at LlamaButchers, where there's far more of that quality too.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

More Fandom

Comments on the previous post expressed some disbelief that these could be Fen. Some even implied they looked more like the Temperance League Tubercular Choir.

Here's some more typical snaps of the same era. First, my Favourite Giant, Cary Lehahan, AKA Hrolf Halfhand AKA Hrolf Herjolfsen in 1980. Whose device is a double-headed chicken and two fried eggs. Well, that's what it looks like! And yes, he is that big, and looked just the same when I last saw him, at the National SF Con in Canberra last year.



It was at Cary and Marjory's New Years Eve bash in 1979-80 that I fell in love with Carmen, my partner. She arrived with Gordon Lingard, and left with me.

This one is of a typical Fannish activity, date 1983. Jane now lives in Canberra, and filled in a few gaps in my memory of the time when I had Encephalitis in 1979. I wasn't sure that my memories of the time hadn't been corrupted. Generally OK, some gaps, but what was remembered was accurate.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

22 Years Ago




Look at the top right. I was 27 then. I've changed a bit since then of course.

Picture from A Fannish Archive, a pictorial pot-pouri of Australian SF Fandom in the 70's and 80's.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Slain By Spam

Alas poor BackBlog....
May 3 , 2007
Due to the massiv interest and use of the system, but not enough server capasity, we have been forced to shut down this service until futher notice. Users wishing to claim their data, can log in and use the "Export to CAIF" option.

Further more, this site is for sale. Bids starts at 1000$, please send an e-mail to sj(a)scor.dk

I used the CAIF functionality to recover all the comments - and was astounded to find that there were 100+ spam entries for each non-spam one. In fact, there were whole threads containing 99 spam comments, and nothing else.

No wonder the system is useless. Without a filter program in the front end, the whole thing is at the mercy of the first DOS (Denial Of Service) spammer to hit it.

Anyway, I've recovered all the comments, cleansed out the spam, and now must figure out a small program to sort the threads in date order, convert the XML to HTML (OK, I could use a style sheet...) and integrate them with the posts they pertaine to.

Maybe not today.

That's why BackBlog as been removed as a commenting system from here. Before Blogger offered its own, it was the only (free) game in town. Now the terrabytes of data (and gigabytes of valuable information in it) is for sale for $1000. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

A Cat With Very Large Ears

And a 100% authentic genuine original Chinese Duck


From the Hong Kong Standard :
With its slogan "Disneyland is too far," Beijing's Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella's Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters.

None of this is authorized by Disney - but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.
And from Japan Probe:
Some have claimed that the park is illegally copying Disney’s Minnie Mouse. However, the park’s operators have insisted that the character on the right is not a mouse. It is a cat with very large ears!
This rather reminds me of the US's rather lax attitude to foreign copyrights back in the 19th century, when their economy was not so much expanding as exploding.
However, there are some firms - NCR and IBM come to mind - whose creative business practices may well be adopted in the US.
People buy Chinese goods because they are extremely cheap, and while not always of the best quality, aren't rubbish either. I wouldn't be surprised if someone starts making "Made in China" goods which are even cheaper, but of the shoddiest possible quality. Just to put the mockers on the competition. It's been done before, you see.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Year Two

It is now 2 years since my transition started. The first year is described in Annus Mirabilis, a post I authored 12 months ago.

This one summarises what's happened in my transition since then. It's all a bit of an anti-climax. We now have a working hypothesis for a biological cause, but a definitive answer eludes us, and likely will in future.

Yes, I've had "the op", but that was a necessary minor detail rather than some wonderful spiritual event. I was a woman before, I'm neither more nor less of a woman after. It just feels far more comfortable, no longer being disfigured, if you can understand that. And the accent was definitely on the necessary!

The biggest problems in my life during this period have been my relationship with my partner, figuring out my sexuality and what to do with it when I do figure it out, and the ongoing saga of my Passport. The latter is something of a Magnum Opus, and I'm gathering strength to go to round two.

So here are the relevant Blog entries for year Two. Some are autobiographical diary entries, others articles of interest where I've contextualised them by baring pieces of my soul.

http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/hormonal-weirdness-part-ive-lost-count.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/buyers-remorse.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/not-funny.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/disappointment.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/surgical-care.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/behind-times.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/05/nearly-over-now.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/legal-impedimenta.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/education.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/june-photo.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/it-starts-with-kiss.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/another-part-of-puzzle.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/06/recommendation.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/memories-again.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/passport-issues.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/skirting-issue.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/welcome-to-visitors-from-normblog.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/ad-that-tickled-my-funnybone.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/mad-scientists-of-anu.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/bit-upset.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/threes-company.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/passport-war-return-salvo-1.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/one-year-of-zoe.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/07/four-pieces-of-good-news.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-1st.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-2nd.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-3rd.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-4th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-7th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-8th-10th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/multimedia-personality.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/my-new-career.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-18th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/great-passport-fiasco-august-21st.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/sometimes-you-win-and-sometimes.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/ive-been-certified.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/08/possible-answer.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-september-1st.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-september-5th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-september-7th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-september-8th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/short-intermission.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/upsetting-telephone-conversation.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/acting-on-legal-advice.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-september-13th.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/light-at-end-of-tunnel.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/alternate-victory-conditions-achieved.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/road-to-hell.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/great-passport-fiasco-summarised.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/you-have-to-laugh.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/usual-medical-weirdness.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/dear-john.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/t-51-and-counting.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/credit-where-its-due.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/09/thanks.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/good-news-for-some.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/disturbing-image.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/outgoing-mail.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/great-passport-fiasco-victory-for.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/tooth-or-consequences.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/electrolysis.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/thoughts-on-gender.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/landed-immigrant.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/diversity.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/yet-another-data-point.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/10/un-conventional-story.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/24-hours-to-go.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/thanks-to-everyone.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/fit-to-be-thaid.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/examinations-and-elephants.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/mooching-elephants.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/as-close-as-i-can-get.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/t-minus-60-minutes-and-counting.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/complete-at-last.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/self-portrait.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/unsung-heroes.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/gosh.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/thanksgiving.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/new-study-material.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/11/dial-eight.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/keeping-busy.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/graduation.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/activation-of-suppressed-genes.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/all-good-things.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/over-achiever.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/four-weeks-later.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/going-home.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/out-of-my-depth.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/home-again-home-again-jiggety-jig.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/let-me-rephrase-that.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2006/12/bad-reaction.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/01/d-word.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/01/there-will-be-another-song-for-me.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/01/unpublished-works.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/01/kims-mirror-image.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/02/best-medicine.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/02/26th-anniversary.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/03/geraldine.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/03/31-today.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/03/savage-nation.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/04/warning-time-waster-ahead.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/04/interview-for-cosmos.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/04/time-for-new-look.html
http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2007/04/remembrance-of-things-past.html

That's it. 2 years of transition from a standing start, blogged. I haven't said everything. For example, I'm having nasty complications from the surgery that requires me to endure full-thickness burns on much of my vulva. Neither have I talked about Carmen's split with Ray, them coming together again, splitting yet again, rejoining yet again, then splitting once more. I haven't said anything because it's not my place to invade their privacy, and I won't say any more on the matter.

I do hope my partner finds a man to marry though, one who's worthy of her. I think, no, I know I've always been a fairly decent human being, but she needs a Man, and that is something I could never be. I gave it my best shot, after all.

Until my painful and messy medical condition is healed, I'm not even able to walk very much, let alone have a social life. My PhD has suffered too. But hopefully in 2-3 months I'll be pain-free and mobile.

It was still worth it even if not. The surgery, I mean. It was a detail, but it was necessary.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Army Way

From Recently Promulgated (US)Army Regulation 530-1 (pdf) from April 19th. Not April 1st, as you might suppose.
All Department of the Army (DA) personnel (active component, reserve component to include U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard, and DA civilians), and DOD contractors will-
...
g. Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.
(1) This includes, but is not limited to letters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards or other forms of dissemination or documentation.
So every e-mail, every instant message, every communication requires censorship.

Now fortunately I'm not a US Army contractor or DA civilian. Or I wouldn't be able to say this. You see, this regulation is "For Official Use Only", and not everyone who has to obey the regulation is allowed to read it.
"Even though it is supposedly rewritten to include rules for contractors (i.e., me) I am not allowed to download it," e-mails Perry Jeffries, an Iraq war veteran now working as a contractor to the Armed Services Blood Program.
Wired

Al Qaeda can see the reg - I gave the URL to it above. The regulation doesn't cover US Navy, Air Force, or Marine personnel either. It has everything to do with stopping the justified criticism of incompetents and mainly Democratic politicians on military blogs, and nothing to do with operational security.

It also appears to be an attempt to throttle the main source of unspun news emanating from the war zone. MSM reports nothing but jihadi propaganda, gloom'n'doom. US CENTCOM, which almost no-one knows about, produces nothing but bland happy flowers and fluffy bunny stories that would have sounded twee in WWII. Of the two, at least CENTCOM stuff has a factual basis, but the saccherine coating of "Our Brave Boys And Girls In Green"-ery tends to induce nausea.
Despite the absolutist language, the guidelines' author, Major Ray Ceralde, said there is some leeway in enforcement of the rules. "It is not practical to check all communication, especially private communication," he noted in an e-mail. "Some units may require that soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting."

But with the regulations drawn so tightly, "many commanders will feel like they have no choice but to forbid their soldiers from blogging -- or even using e-mail," said Jeff Nuding, who won the bronze star for his service in Iraq. "If I'm a commander, and think that any slip-up gets me screwed, I'm making it easy: No blogs," added Nuding, writer of the "pro-victory" Dadmanly site. "I think this means the end of my blogging."

Active-duty troops aren't the only ones affected by the new guidelines. Civilians working for the military, Army contractors -- even soldiers' families -- are all subject to the directive as well.
Wired again
Not just the end of Army Blogging, the end of e-mails home as well. Because who can tell what some proud parent would quote in a letter to the editor, data extracted from an e-mail? Obviously with hundreds of outgoing e-mails a day from those under his direct command, no officer has time to vet them all. So e-mail will be forbidden.
Back in WWII, at least there were people sopecially trained to censor mail, and the postal service was good. Now neither applies. Communications from US Soldiers have just leapt from the 21st century to the 19th. Go Army!

Yes, I really do think those responsible for this situation should be held personally accountable. If not for MilBloggers, we would have no idea of the actual situation in Iraq (many who rely on MSM still don't). This will now change. Well, it will appease the incoming Democrat administration I guess. Lord save us from political Generals.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Shhh! It's a Secret

09-s9-11-02-9q-74-r3-5o-q8-41-56-p5-63-56-88-p0

Don't worry, it's encrypted in a super secret cypher to avoid any legal issues.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

The Year 2000 - From 1900

Seen on Paleo-Future, "A look into the future that never was", some chocolate-marketing cards put out by German chocolatiers "Hildebrands Deutsche Schokolade".



TV and Radio - still to be invented. Many more in the same vein. Read the whole thing!