Sunday, 30 April 2006

Lunch For Three Bloggers

Mixed DipsI had the pleasure of the company of Morgan and his partner Andrew today. Just a spot of late Lunch at TurkOz, but really nice conversation, mixing with Friends.

Morgan and I first met at a Bus Stop at Central railway back in October. A charming guy, and I'm so glad that the two of them are such a wonderful match for each other.

Well, I always was a hopeless romantic. Despite my mild but ugly prejudice, which, I'm thankful to say, appears to be getting cured.

Finding out that you've been a Lesbian all your life tends to do that. If not, then having your sexual orientation start "straightening out" certainly will.

And besides which, it never interfered with the way I treated people, or recognising true love when I saw it. And now I can say that, not merely think it.

Turkish Pizza
As for the food - well, just two of the courses we had are pictured here. Add Lashings of Turkish bread, baked on the premises and served straight from the oven, various vegetarian delicacies, then some stuffed olive leaves and Zucchini Balls, some shish-kabob and bifteki for the omnivorous Zoe, the best rice and spiced salad I've ever tasted, a glass of wine or Perrier as appropriate, and all for just $75 between the three of us.

Yes, the place deserves to be packed in the evenings, and it usually is. But it was only half full on a Sunday Lunchtime. Canberra is mainly empty then, everyone departs on the weekend.

It's nice to be able to act as "native guide" to some of Canberra's best-kept secrets. And although I'll never be a social butterfly, for that never was my style, I am going out far more than I was. I no longer feel like a caterpiller.

Friday, 28 April 2006

Situation Normal

I'm still in tears over the previous post. It's not the mean-spirited and heartless decision, contrary to the child's welfare and any concept of justice. That's to be expected when the Courts (especially Family law Courts) deal with Transsexuals, it's par for the course.

I mean, what kind of mother could do something like that? She already had sole custody. This was just to deny her former partner any contact with the little boy that called him "Daddy".

What type of treatment is she going to give her son? How could any woman do such a thing? How could any Human Being do such a thing?

Ah me. I wish the little bloke all the best, I think he's going to need it.

I just saw my GP today, a marvellous guy who's helped over thirty women and a few men transition.

It's been about a year since I first saw him, 50 weeks exactly, and we had a quick review of all that's happened.

I asked him about what happened to me in the first few months.

His reaction?

"We don't understand any of it."

"The Prof's been doing this for over 30 years, I've seen dozens of his patients, and some weird hormone regimes, but nothing like yours. He's seen it all."

"I'm still learning."

"You're a Freak. Your FSH and LH levels are too low to measure, despite the changes in oestrogen levels. Your SHBG levels don't make sense, your androgens are all over the place. You've gained 8 kilos in 3 months, but you'd lost 10 over the previous 3. I just don't understand any of these results."

"You metabolism is weird, and none of the normal rules apply. We're playing this by ear, there's no precedents."

I left his office with a dirty great smile beaming on my face. Nice to know that things haven't changed.

I love it when I can trust my medics to tell me everything, good, bad, or indifferent. I'm in good hands.

Unlike a certain little boy in Illinois, who my heart goes out to right now.

The Law is A Ass - in Illinois, Anyway

From FindLaw's Writ, and quoted in its entirety as it's so convoluted.

Can a pre-operative female-to-male transsexual be a "father"? That was the question in In re Marriage of Simmons, a recent appellate decision in Illinois.

The Simmons case raises interesting questions about transsexual marriage and legal parenthood. It also reflects the continuing difficulties courts are having in attempting to reconcile traditional laws with nontraditional situations.

From "Bessie" to "Sterling": Born Female, But Certified Male

From a young age, Bessie Lewis experienced discomfort with having a girl's body. In psychiatric terms, he suffered from "gender dysphoric disorder" - a condition that occurs when a person's anatomical sex and gender identity are mismatched. (Throughout this column, I will follow the appeals court in referring to Sterling as "he" "out of respect," as the Illinois court did, - rather than to beg the questions this column will discuss.)

To ease his dysphoria, Bessie began taking male hormones, which gave him the outward appearance of a man; he had facial hair, male pattern baldness, a deep voice, and bigger muscles. In this transitional state, he married a woman, Jennifer Simmons.

Several years later, the couple decided to have a child with the help of artificial insemination. Before proceeding with the insemination, they entered into a written agreement with each other. It specified that "the husband" agreed that from the moment of conception, any children produced from the insemination would be his legitimate children; that he waived any right to disclaim parental responsibility; and that the children would have the same rights as his natural children. In short, Sterling agreed to take on all the obligations and rights of fatherhood, and Jennifer agreed to his doing so.

Shortly before the child was born, Lewis underwent surgery to remove his internal female organs; however, he retained his external female genitalia. A hysterectomy was performed to remove his uterus, and an oophorectomy was performed to remove his ovaries.

When Jennifer Simmons gave birth to a child, Sterling was listed on the birth certificate as the father.

Several years later, pursuant to a procedure set out in Illinois law, Lewis obtained a new birth certificate for himself. Once he presented an affidavit from his doctor that he had undergone "surgical operations," his sex was officially changed from "female" to "male." Lewis also officially changed his name to Sterling Robert Simmons.

The Issue in the Case: Was the Simmons' an Invalid Same-Sex Marriage?

Over the years, the relationship between Sterling and Jennifer deteriorated. When their child was almost seven years old, Sterling filed for divorce under Illinois law and requested sole custody of their child. Jennifer opposed the petition.

In particular, Jennifer argued that their marriage was invalid as a same-sex marriage. (Like a substantial majority of states, Illinois law expressly prohibits marriage between two individuals of the same sex.) And because their marriage was invalid, she contended, Sterling could not be the child's legal father. Moreover, since he had never legally adopted the child, and had no biological relationship to the child, he had no basis for seeking custody.

The trial court agreed with Jennifer. It decreed the marriage void ab initio (that is, invalid from the outset), because, in the court's view, Sterling was still female - so the marriage had been an invalid same-sex marriage throughout its tenure.

In addition, it awarded sole custody to Jennifer on the grounds that Sterling lacked parental rights and had no standing to seek custody. The court did, however, grant Sterling visitation rights.

Is Sterling Still Female? The Appeals Court Declines to Reverse the Trial Court

Under Illinois law, the question for appeals court was whether the trial court's determination that Sterling was still female was against the "manifest weight" of the evidence. In other words, unless the trial court had made a clear error in assessing the evidence, the appeals court, under the law, had to let the trial court's decision stand.

One might think that Sterling's new birth certificate, declaring him legally "male," would be the end of the matter. Even if Sterling was legally female when he married, the new birth certificate deemed him a male - and the new birth certificate was issued by the State of Illinois before the he sought dissolution of the marriage and before the question of custody arose.

But what about the trial court's claim that the marriage was void when it was created? The answer is that Illinois marriage law - like that of many states - provides that a defective marriage, even if initially void, can become valid when the "impediment" to lawful marriage is removed and the parties subsequently cohabit.

Here, the impediment was Sterling's femaleness. If one believes his new birth certificate, that impediment was removed. And he and Jennifer were living together after the new birth certificate was issued - fulfilling the "cohabitation" requirement. They were also living together when she gave birth.

Arguing About Which Kind of Surgery Is Truly Gender Reassignment

But can we believe the new birth certificate? At trial, expert witnesses divided on whether the certificate according with the facts.

Illinois, like 20 or so other states, permits birth certificates to be reissued following gender reassignment. In this respect, Illinois is more progressive than many other states. As I discussed in a prior column, some states simply do not permit birth sex to be legally changed at any point.

By Illinois statute, the Registrar of Vital Records can create a new birth certificate upon receipt of "an affidavit by a physician that he has performed an operation on a person, and that by reason of the operation the sex designation on such person's birth record should be changed."

Sterling's doctor did provide such an affidavit. But the operations he had performed were not those typically thought to effectuate a sex change.

Could the operations still accurately be seen as changing Sterling's gender? The plaintiff's expert thought so. He testified that Sterling was a "healthy male" - albeit one who had not had complete sexual reassignment surgery yet.

But defense experts thought not. Sterling, they pointed out had not had a vaginectomy and breast reduction to remove his external female genitalia and secondary sex characteristics. Nor had he had a metoidioplasty (a procedure that enables the clitoris to be transformed into what appears to be a small penis), scrotoplasty, urethroplasty, or phalloplasty, which would have created external male genitalia. Thus, in their eyes, he was still female.

The trial court sided with the defense. And the appellate court - which, again, was only reviewing the trial court's findings for clear error -- upheld the trial court's ruling.

The result that was that Sterling could not be deemed the child's father simply because he was married to the mother when the child was born - which would usually be the rule. Because Sterling was deemed always female, the marriage was always void, in the court's eyes - so Sterling could not claim any parental rights by virtue of the marriage.

Why Sterling's Claim Under the Illinois Parentage Act Also Failed

But was there another way Sterling might claim parental rights? He hoped sp - and tried to proceed under the Illinois Parentage Act (IPA), and the agreement he and Jennifer had entered into, in part in an attempt to comply with the IPA.

The IPA - which is modeled on a uniform act governing the establishment of parent-child relationships - provides rules governing legal parenthood in cases of artificial insemination. It makes agreements between married persons contemplating artificial insemination with sperm from a donor - agreements, that is, like the one Jennifer and Sterling entered into - legally effective.

The problem, though, the Court held, was that Jennifer and Sterling were never legally married, and so the IPA could not apply to them in the usual way. The fact that the agreement referred to Sterling as "the husband," the court held, did not mean he actually was one. (This ruling, then, to some extent paralleled the court's ruling that just because the new birth certificate called Sterling "male," that did not mean he actually was male.)

Sterling pointed out, however, that another provision of the IPA grants a presumption of parenthood when a child is born via artificial insemination to two married parents even if the marriage is subsequently held invalid. But the court pointed out, in turn, that under the law, the presumptive father must be a "man" - which, it repeated, Sterling was not.

Finally, Sterling argued that he should be granted parental rights under a common law theory of de facto parenthood: The child called him "Daddy," and believed him to be his natural father. But the court held that the IPA superseded any prior common law theories of parental rights. The court also held that for the IPA to cover "evolving social structures" and "nontraditional relationships," the legislature would have to amend it; the court wouldn't interpret the IPA to apply to these relationships unless the legislature said as much.

The Harsh and Unintended Consequences of the Appeals Court's Approach

Both the trial and appellate court rule seemed to embrace (or verge on embracing) a bright-line rule on sexual reassignment: Only complete, surgical reassignment effects a legal change of gender.

Like all bright-line rules, this one has the advantage of simplicity in application. But like all bright-line rules, it runs the risk of failing to encompass complex realities, and therefore leading to injustice.

Treating a person as one sex, when he has been living as the opposite, is bound to impose harsh results sometimes. Here, Sterling was living as a "husband" and raising a child as a "father," co-parenting the child he treated as his own from birth. But the court took away both statuses from him.

Since Sterling is separated from Jennifer, he may not care as much about losing the retrospective status of "husband," but he certainly cares - as his suit has proven - about losing the status of "father" - and therefore, that of "parent," for he cannot be deemed child's mother, either, even though the court sees him as female.

Ironically, Sterling does have one right left - but it may not be of value to him, as he seems to identifying as a heterosexual man. Presumably, since the court says he is female, Sterling could legally marry another man if he so chose. The two could, apparently, go down to the clerk's office - both, perhaps, with male pattern baldness, facial hair, and bulky muscles - and enter into a valid, opposite-sex union.

Suppose that occurred. And suppose, too, that Sterling then undergoes every operation necessary for the full surgical reassignment. Would his marriage be suddenly invalidated by virtue of the surgical procedures, as it would now be a same-sex marriage?

These ironies are not unique to transsexual law. The ban on same-sex marriage, which Illinois shares with at least 39 other states, and the refusal by most of those states to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere produces the potential for legalized bigamy. An Illinois court would no doubt refuse to recognize a Massachusetts same-sex marriage--and by doing so, it would be authorizing either partner to marry a person of the opposite sex.

The law's recognition that the right to marry is fundamental means that if civil marriage is generally available, it would be hard for a state to constitutionally designate any class of persons who could not marry at all.

Thus, in both situations I've described, the state would end up refusing recognition to a marriage it abhors, only to countenance one it probably abhors equally, if not more.

The Problem with Using Medical Expertise to Define Gender

Even beyond those ironies, there is an offensiveness - and an inhumaneness -- to the court's ruling.

Suppose Sterling had known -- during his marriage to Jennifer, and before she delivered the child - that the court would ultimately reach this ruling. He would then be put to an appalling choice: Acquire a penis, urethra, and scrotum, or else you cannot legally be deemed a "parent."

(Granted, Sterling had a third option: He could always have tried to adopt the child after it was born. But he might have wanted a more certain guarantee of parenthood - one about which Jennifer could not control by withholding consent, and one a judge would not later have discretion to approve or disapprove.)

What relevance do sex characteristics possibly have to parenthood? And how dare we ask persons to alter their bodies so profoundly in order to establish their status as parents? Worse, Illinois law picks out a subset of all persons - based on a psychiatric condition - to inflict this brutal choice upon. Illinois law has a dramatic, disparate impact on those who happened to suffer from this condition.

It may be time, now that this ruling has been issued, for that discrepancy to be separately challenged - as an infringement of privacy and due process. What is the "rational basis" for asking some persons to have irrelevant surgery so that they may become parents? In my view, there is none.

Here's the first part of the case opinion, that really says it all :
Petitioner was born a female on March 31, 1959, and given the name of Bessie Cornelia Lewis. At a very young age, he1 began experiencing a great discomfort with his female anatomy....

1. Throughout this opinion, we shall refer to petitioner as "He." This is done out of respect for petitioner and has no legal significance.
Respect for the petitioner? Seldom have we seen such blatant hypocracy! Lip-service and Crocodile tears.

To add insult to injury, the Illinois law has now been changed, and now requires that for sex reassignment surgery to be recognised, the surgeon must be licensed to practice in the US. It's not good enough to have a US expert testify that the surgery was completed. Anyone who had their surgery outside the US is out of luck.

Yet the real issue is even more profound, and is buried in the opinion.
Moreover, the Illinois Supreme Court has specifically held that no such liberty interest exists with respect to a child's psychological attachment to a nonbiological parent. See In re Petition of Kirchner, 164 Ill. 2d 468 (1995). Accordingly, the Public Guardian's argument here must fail.
In other words, the Guardian of the Child's best interests supported the petitioner's right to be a Father.

Far more important than "transsexual rights", a little boy has lost his Daddy.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

The Self-Fisking of Robert (again)

K.Bowman over at a comment on Tim Blair's blog gives what is exactly a distillation of Robert Fisk's latest pronunciamento on the Mass Media. I will quote it in full :
Look, Look, Look, Look. Fisk’s points are all very simple. Zarqawi is just a figurehead whom we just are encouraged to loathe, who, at the end of the day, is not a person whom we need to worry about. Although he is a problem for all of us (Fisk, too). The West bestializes Zarqawi, although he is genuinely a bad guy (no doubt about it). It is wrong for us to paint the Middle East as a fight between good and evil, although Bin Laden and Zarqawi are monstrous. We created Zarqawi, although he created himself, and we helped, although he used to exist as a fantasy figure created by American propaganda. The media perpetuates these myths every time it blames Zarqawi, although he is to blame, and it would be absolutely wrong for reporters to ignore the things he is to blame for. Zarqawi’s existence supports American propaganda, but his continued existence is also a severe blow to American credibility.
Now go and see the transcript and see if he's not right.

Then go over to Harry's Place to see what else he's been up to recently.

Here's a hint :

The article is available at The Independent, though the copyright for that cover design must surely belong to the Nazis : they used it often enough. A quote:
The two men have caused one of the most extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a liability in the "war on terror", that the biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress - so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there - and that the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel.
Well yes, it's obvious to some outside the US that the Jews control the USA. And the World Bank, and the UN, and caused the French Revolution.... along with the Rotarians and Lions Club.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Out with the Old...

On 26th April, 2005, exactly one year ago today, I had a medical examination which showed no signs of anything untowards about my physical state.

The photo on the right was taken 20 days before, and is the last known photo of the "old me".

Ye Gods.

I don't think anybody could say that the current situation isn't an improvement. A massive one. Remarkably few photos of the "old me" exist - I never liked having my picture taken, I always felt so ugly. This one was taken by my son, Andrew. I think he has talent, he was still 3 at the time.

I was as hideously uncomfortable as I appeared, yet happy, because what father wouldn't be when his little son takes his picture? Always looking like an unmade bed, clothing that never felt right, no matter what I wore. It wasn't the wrapping, it was the contents, you see. Obvious in retrospect.

Oddly enough, all I have to do is look at that photo and, no matter what my current trials and tribulations, I see things in perspective and say "Thank Goodness that is over!"


Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Anzac Day 2006

Today is Anzac Day.

91 years ago, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, British and French forces landed at Gallipoli. In the Fires of Hell, Three Nations were forged: New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey.

From the Gallipoli Association :
The plan, which has been termed the only truly innovative strategic concept of the entire war, met with approval from both politicians and military authorities; Kitchener's approval was doubtless greatly influenced by the fact that few military resources were envisaged, and thus the effort on the Western Front would not be compromised. He selected Ian Hamilton (his old friend and trusted colleague) to command and allocated him forces accordingly. Before the landings were sanctioned, the navy would attempt to blast its way through. However, the failure of the navy to force the Dardanelles (at a loss of 6 battleships; 3 sunk, 3 badly damaged) meant that if the plan was to succeed then the army would have to land on the peninsula. Hamilton's force comprised the British 29th and Royal Naval Divisions (17,600 and 10,000 men), the 1st Australian and Australian and New Zealand Divisions (30,500 men - although the latter included c.4,000 men of the 29th Indian Brigade) and the 1st French Division (16,700 men).

My Post from Last Year.

A lot has happened since then, both the original landings, and in my own personal life. Some things remain eternal though.

Lest We Forget

Monday, 24 April 2006

A Milestone

Today, I picked up my UK passport. Not a particularly Earth-shattering event, for most people, getting a passport.

But this is the first official documentation I have that explicitly recognises my Gender.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Zoe and the Freepers

Great name for a group, I think.

But no, I ventured into the hallowed halls of FreeRepublic, where the musky smell of radical not-so-Neo-Conservatism is too strong for the likes of me. And wrote a not-so-little comment on an issue dear to my heart.

It will be interesting to see what their reaction is.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

Homosexuality, Transsexuality, and Horror

It takes a lot to shock me these days, oddly enough. But this story did.

A lot of Religious groups, and a very few "old guard" psychiatrists, confuse Homosexuality and Transsexuality. This causes all sorts of problems. Up until 1997, for example, to be eligible for treatment as a Transsexual Woman, you had to be attracted to Men. Because if Transsexuality was a form of Homosexuality, then someone who was somatically male and attracted to females couldn't be Transsexual, could they? A "straight" homosexual was a contradiction in terms.

All those people who thought they were women, and had marriages and children due to a strong maternal urge, well they really had to be attracted to men as well, they were just supressing it. And if they insisted they weren't, they were mad.
Well, we now know (or at least, most of the medical profession knows) that there are Gay Transsexuals. They're the ones in female bodies who are attracted to men, but think like, and identify as, guys. The ones with female genitalia, masculinised brains, but a homosexual orientation. There's also Lesbian Transsexuals, and Bisexual ones, and Straight ones, and when their hormone levels are finally balanced and surgery completed, the ratios of each are comparable to those in the non-transsexual population.

But such medical evidence contradicts much religious doctrine. And in a Theocracy, that can mean unimaginable horror. Hence this article on Gender Identity in Iran, quoted in full.
This week I went to a Guest Lecture at the Harvard School of Public Health. Afsaneh Jajmabadi, a professor of History and Women's Studies gave a talk entitled: "Sexing Gender, Transing Homos: Travail of Sexuality in Contemporary Iran." I had no idea what that meant either, and so I went on my lunch break. I had bad flashbacks to the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" forum I went to earlier, as it was painfully obvious I was the only trans person in the auditorium. Amazing how all the eyes fall on you.
Professor Najmabadi began by saying she was planning on traveling to Iran this month to begin her research in earnest. She described what is happening now in Iran, and other middle east states with strict Islamic law. If you are reading this and are gay/lesbian/bi/transgender yourself, and you have not heard of this, this may be really disturbing. It was news to me, and I was shocked.
Iran allows gender reassignment surgery. It has even been sanctioned by the Ayatollahs to be within Islamic law. The same Islamic law that so strictly defines the relationship between men and women. How can this be, when even in more socially liberal states, religious doctrines forbid gender transition. The Roman Catholic Church being one example. The reason is because they see gender transition as a CURE TO HOMOSEXUALITY. They are taking caught gay men and lesbian women and FORCING them to undergo sex reassignment surgery. With no transition by the way. In the west, we have Standards of Care that generally call for at least a year of living in the preferred gender role before being allowed to have surgery. But this is for people who are truly gender dysphoric! Sexual preference is not the same as gender identity!! These poor people, to have their bodies mutilated in the name of Islamic law.
It is impossible for me to imagine what is happening there to these people. Homosexuality is not only a sin in Iran, it is a punishable crime. The proliferation of Sex Reassignment Surgery there (in the range of hundreds per year) is not a benevolent action by the state to assist those who truly are gender dysphoric.
I asked the professor about how she plans to conduct her research, and she replied that it will be very difficult and dangerous, as even though she is Iranian, she will probably be watched by police. Many people will not want to talk to her because of the fear that they will be raided by the police.
This is mind-boggling. I felt good at least being able to speak up finally and ask some pointed questions, and I told her that I wished to follow her research closely. But what can you do? I feel incredibly helpless, it's one thing to be active here in the states in fighting for transgender rights. But how is something like this going to be toppled?
I know that the transgender rights community has had a checkered past with many gay/lesbian rights groups. We have felt excluded and left out on issues. But the fight for human dignity is not about sexual preference or gender identity. And as trans persons, many of us who benefit from having the opportunity of gender reassignment surgery available to us, we specifically cannot allow this abuse. I dream of the day that I will finally have my surgery, but I cannot think of a more cruel form of punishment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Please spread the word, this fight must begin.
They're creating Transsexuals there.
I imagine most of my readership isn't personally acquainted with that condition, and most are straight males. Imagine being castrated, treated with feminising hormones that disorder your thinking, and forced to live the life of the second-class citizen that is the lot of females in Iran? Imagine being "married" off by your male relatives, and forced to engage in sex with a man?

Or for the women reading this, imagine having your breasts cut off, and being dosed with hormones that will forever change your voice, cause you to lose you hair, and grow a full beard? Losing much of your sense of smell, feeling your skin become leathery and insensitive, growing chest hair?

Speaking from personal experience as someone with TS, it's actually far worse than that, worse than you can possibly imagine. A masculinised brain bathed in female hormones, or a feminised brain bathed in male ones, doesn't work very well in the emotional department. It is intensely uncomfortable. If one has been born with the condition, you get hardened to it, and even though it gets worse with age, for some it is tolerable, just. At least, for a while. I think 70% of us attempt suicide at least once. I never did that, I had it comparatively easy. But quite bad enough, thanks.

For someone to be suddenly thrust into that position, and without even a period of transitional therapy going the "right way", it is utterly horrific.

I can imagine worse fates, just : some of the medical "experiments" by Dr Mengele and Co at the Nazi Extermination camps would qualify. But a fate worse than death? Oh yes, by far. I'd be very surprised if 50% of them survive a year without killing themselves. The survivors of those forced into this would be the ones whose husbands don't let them near sharp objects, make sure there's no ropes nearby, and keep a careful watch on them. Or those hopelessly catatonic, driven insane by their condition. A very few will be TS, and for them, they are released from Hell, not placed in it. But they'd be the volunteers, anyway.

I wish I had the words, the eloquence to portray this in all its utter abomination and evil. Or at least, I wish I could send the victims some razor blades so they could put an end to their suffering. It would be so much kinder.

From Moons to Moonbats

From US Newswire :
A former French military air traffic controller claims in a recently published journal article that UFO sightings can be correlated with nuclear weapons testing. Eric Julien served in the French Air Force for five years as an air traffic controller and later went on to become a senior airport manager in France. He analyses data gained from a number of sources available in France that point to UFO activity in the vicinity of nuclear weapons tests. He claims that a clear correlation exists between the 2419 nuclear tests on Earth from 1945 through 1998, and 140 cases involving radar and visual sightings of UFOs. In the article, released in the April edition of the Exopolitics Journal, he also studies the correlation between alleged UFO crash/retrievals and nuclear testing. Julien argues that the common view that UFOs pose a security threat to humanity is very likely misplaced. He concludes that it may be more likely that nuclear testing poses some kind of security threat to UFOs, and this is real reason for frequent UFO sightings on Earth.

Eric Julien is author of two books recently published in France dealing with UFOs and the scientific principles used by their extraterrestrial occupants to navigate through space and time; La Science des Extraterrestres (JMG Publications 2005), and Enfants des Etoiles (JMG Publications 2006). He claims that nuclear testing interrupts the space and time continuum in ways that makes humanity a direct threat to extraterrestrial civilizations that have the ability to navigate the corridors of space and time.
OK, just a harmless nut, right? Couldn't possibly be taken seriously?
Eric Julien will be speaking about the threat posed by nuclear weapons testing to the extraterrestrial inhabitants of UFOs and the implications for world peace at a conference titled "Extraterrestrial Civilizations & World Peace" in Kona, Hawaii, June 9-11, 2006. Other conference speakers include the former Canadian Defense Minister, the Honorable Paul Hellyer; and a former United States Ambassador, John MacDonald.
OK, so maybe he is speaking along with formerly powerful people left-of-centre. But that's a coincidence, right?

Again from US Newswire :
Eric Julien, a former French military air traffic controller and senior airport manager, has completed a study of the comet 73P Schwassmann- Wachmann and declared that a fragment is highly likely to impact the Earth on or around May 25, 2006.
Possible. As I've blogged about before, there's a lot of dangerous stuff out there, and without doing the maths, I can't say what the probability is. He may be right.
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann follows a five-year orbit that crosses the solar system's ecliptic plane. It has followed its five year orbit intact for centuries; but, in 1995, mysteriously fragmented. According to Julien, this is the same year that a crop circle appeared showing the inner solar system with the Earth missing from its orbit. He argues the "Missing Earth" crop circle was a message from higher intelligences warning humanity of the consequences of its destructive nuclear policies. He links this crop circle to May 25, 2006, and identifies the comet Schwassmann-Wachman as the subject of higher intelligence communications.
Er... right.
Julien argues that the kinetic energy of even a 'car sized' fragment will impact the Earth with devastating effect. He concludes the May 25 event is tied in to the Bush administration's policy of preemptive use of nuclear weapons against Iran, and the effect of nuclear weapons on the realms of higher intelligences.
So the "crop circles" and the forthcoming disaster are All Bush's Fault. Well, that puts him in good company, a lot of people quite genuinely believe that George Bush is responsible for all the world's ills, solar eclipses, the Black Death, and so on. He's the Anti-Christ you see.
Julien predicts that the comet collision will occur in the Atlantic Ocean between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, and generates 200 meter waves.
In the local vicinity, yes. But when Skylab (an object rather larger than a car, but with approximately the same mass as a car-sized chunk of ice) hit Australia, few people noticed. It's no big deal, except in the immediate vicinity, even though the comet is coming in with a higher velocity. Not a healthy place to be if you're within a few kilometres, but no 200 meter waves hitting Tokyo, San Francisco etc, 200 micrometres is more like it. That's assuming that the size is much larger, so a "car-sised" chunk actually makes it through the atmosphere, you'd need a 100 meter sized chunk to start with for that.

Taking a car-sized chunk to start with, and assuming worst case (50km/sec entry speed, 90 degree impact angle), let's run the numbers through the Asteroid Impact Effects Calculator, for a hypothetical observer 5 km away.

Your Inputs:
Distance from Impact: 5.00 km = 3.10 miles
Projectile Diameter: 2.00 m = 6.56 ft = 0.00 miles
Projectile Density: 1000 kg/m3
Impact Velocity: 50.00 km/s = 31.05 miles/s
Impact Angle: 90 degrees
Target Density: 1000 kg/m3
Target Type: Liquid Water of depth 10000.00 meters, over typical rock.

Energy before atmospheric entry: 5.24 x 1012 Joules = 0.13 x 10-2 MegaTons TNT
The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth is 0.6 years

Atmospheric Entry:
The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 97900 meters = 321000 ft
The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 61400 meters = 201000 ft
The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 46.9 km/s = 29.1 miles/s
The energy of the airburst is 6.38 x 1011 Joules = 0.15 x 10-3 MegaTons.
No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.

A Bang of 0.15 Kilotonnes, 150 tonnes of TNT, at 200,000 ft. Not exactly Earth-shattering.
Julien concludes that "each person with this information has to take responsibility to warn potential victims."
Consider Yourself Warned. There are Moonbats with Bush Dreangement Syndrome, and they share platforms with some powerful figures on the Left.

Friday, 21 April 2006

China's Lunar Plans

From Xinhua :
BEIJING, April 17 -- When can China realize manned moon landing? Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon probing project and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, indicated that at present, the United States and the European Space Agency plan to make a moon landing in 2018 and 2023 respectively, while China will not implement its manned moon landing test and joint lunar base construction with related countries until 2017.

Prof. Ouyang revealed that 10 countries including the US, Russia and Ukraine have instituted a plan to revisit the moon by now. When can Chinese astronauts land on the moon? "At present, we are still working on the initial planning of the moon probing project, which includes probing, landing and stationing; all are unmanned programs. During the second phase, China will strive to achieve the overall scientific goal of soft landing on the moon as well as inspection and exploration by a moon rover. The third step will serve to provide statistics for the follow-up manned moon probing and lunar base site selection.
Interesting timing. And a firm indication that the unmanned missions already publicised have the specific purpose of preparing for the establishment of a permanent base.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

People Like Me

Some stories from the past, with a minor token change.

Mich. Person of Colour murdered in Elk Grove Village
Autopsy results confirmed that a 31-year-old Michigan negress found Tuesday in a Motel 6 in Elk Grove Village was a homicide victim.
Chicago Sun-Times

Negro Tatoo Removal causes dispute
A Negress has been criticised for wasting taxpayer’s money after being approved NHS treatment for the removal of her tattoos. ...

Coloured Woman Flipped Over Will, Sez Mom
A trust-fund mulatto was branded a brute yesterday by her white elderly millionairess mother - who claimed her coloured daughter broke her arm in a fight over ...
New York Daily News

Europe : A Risk assessment
An unrelated risk is that you are more likely to encounter a Coloured Man in Poland than anywhere else in the world.
The Independant,UK

School Bd. Pres. Quits After Negro Row
The president of a school board involved in a bitter dispute with some parents earlier this year over the hiring of a coloured supply teacher

Church takes flap for not helping Negro
ST. FRANCIS, Minn. — A church that refused to care for a negress passing for white has found itself in the midst of debate over...
Deseret News, Utah

GOP Negro Takes On Powerful House Whip Roy Blunt
In many ways, Midge Potts is like other everyday citizens who feel the call of politics. ......

Bedford School cancels speach by Coloured Speaker
Town school officials canceled the appearance of noted negress Kate Bornstein at next week's Wellness Day at Fox Lane High following a...
The Journal News

From the past? 1950's perhaps? Well, one of those stories is several days old. And substitute "transsexual" for "Negro", "Negress", etc etc. They were the first 8 stories that Google provided for news about "transsexual".

Number 9 :
Sarah fell in love with Stephen. But Stephen was born black. Their wedding is one of hundreds involving mixed-race partners since a change in the law..
Sorry, did it again.

A NeoCon at the New Statesman

There's an article by Martin Bright, their political editor, which reads in part as follows:
However, one response from a self-confessed “NeoCon” from Australia genuinely took me by surprise. Zoe Brain wrote in the long sentences beloved of bloggers. But bear with her, because she hints at the possibility of a new political alignment.

“If the ‘genuine left’ are against the principles in the manifesto, rather than disagreeing on implementation; and are so blind that partisanship leads them to bed down with murderers and thugs; if their faith insists that nothing on the left can be bad and nothing on the right can be good, then I’m awfully glad to be on the opposite side after all. Call it what you will, NeoCon, NeoLeft, whatever, labels don’t matter.”

I e-mailed Zoe to say that her posting was a refreshing contrast to the depressing stock responses of the self-appointed “genuine left”. “How do you think it feels for me?” she replied. “I’m of the right, yet I find that this unashamedly leftist manifesto is far more in accordance with my beliefs and values than anything I’ve seen from my own side . . . It’s not so much depressing as disorientating and calls into question my whole political belief system . . .”. I can’t say the Euston Manifesto has had quite this effect on me, but progressives, whatever they call themselves, or each other, cannot afford to ignore it.

Here is the full reply, with Martin's comments to me embedded within.
Hi Martin!
So the first posting to genuinely engage with the argument (and the only one I have responded to so far) comes from a neo-con. This is what is so depressing for those of us on the Left trying to move the debate forward.
How do you think it feels for me? I'm of the right, yet I find that this avowedly and unashamedly Leftist manifesto is far more in accordance with my beliefs and values than anything I've seen from my own side.

I mean, Norm is an open Marxist, for goodness' sake! It's not so much depressing as disorientating, and calls into question my whole political belief system, everything I "know" about the Left that obviously isn't exactly true after all.
I think the war in Iraq was a catastrophe, (in human terms of course) but also because it has fragmented the Left.
There are those on the Right who would think this fragmentation is no bad thing, it's a desirable outcome.

After careful thought, I agree with them, but not for the reasons they give. They see it as an "Us" vs "Them" situation, Our Team vs Their Team, and an inter-tribal or sporting competition.

The Right has already split, you see. Broadly, there are Neo- and Paleo-con factions, we don't have the appearance of monolithic solidarity that has characterised the Left in the past, and that has given it such political power, but at such a terrible cost.

Note that I say "appearance" - I know that there's nothing on the Right that could compare with the "robust debate" between Trots vs Maoists vs Neo-Healeyites etc that are kept behind party doors. Or that happens at every UK Labour Party Conference.

The point is, we've managed to confine the KKKers, the Nazis, the Fascists, and the Fundies into their own little room, like crazy Uncle Jim who's in Broadmoor since he murdered ten people with an axe. Yes, there are embarrassments like Rush Limbaugh, Gerry Faldwell et al, but no-one, not even on the Left, could seriously suggest they were "Mainstream". At least, not yet - it's a constant battle we have to keep the Crazy Right safely pushed back into the Asylum. Not having a credible, sane opposition to compare them with makes that much harder.

I see their counterparts on the Lunar Left actually feted, and called heroes "speaking truth to power". And no one dare say that the Emperor Has No Clothes, because that would be criticism of the Left and and give ammunition to people like me. As if it was a zero-sum game, a team sport.

And it's not just confined to the Left. We should have had our noses rubbed in to dozens, hundreds of actual errors of judgment and execution, our occasional incompetence should have revealed and used to embarrass us so we cleaned up our own act. But instead, most MSM has, frankly "made stuff up" that was sexy and sensationalist and that fit a preconceived party line. Often we did good things, that were distorted and used against us, while our true screw-ups didn't see light of day. Why not? Because we didn't want to give ammunition to our enemies by
drawing attention to them.

The Left needs to separate the Moonbats from the Sane majority. If that means fragmentation, so be it. It can be healthy, a gain, not a loss.

And we on the Right need the Euston Manifesto at least as much as the Left does.
I feel strongly that means matter and that the neo-con solution to Iraq was wrongheaded.
Ah, but consider the alternative. Yes, too bad we screwed up what happened afterwards, though not as badly as some would make out (see
Chrenkhoff et alia), it's still far short of what we should have done.

But that's another issue, worthy of a different debate, and shouldn't be a distraction for either Right or Left. No doubt it will be used as one though, by reactionaries in both camps.
But the issues the Euston manifesto raises about universal human values are (by definition) fundamenatal and the Left writes it off at its peril.
As does the Right.

From a previous article
"Some of the Euston Manifesto items are less important than others, and arguably could have been omitted, or left to a subsidiary document, a "recommended methods" rather than "goals" one.

I'm personally not convinced that a "2-state solution" will ever be viable, and if things improve so much that it is, then it may not be necessary, with Palestinian self-determination and a secure Jewish Homeland both possibly provided for by the same state. But taking it as it's most basic, that "Israel has the right to exist", then yes, I'm for it.

I have minor quibbles. And I'm loath to adopt the word "progressive" to my own beliefs, for that label has been tainted irredeemably in my eyes.
Nonetheless, I have fewer quibbles with this manifesto than I have with the various brands of neo-conservatism that I admire, and in the main, follow. It remedies all of the fatal flaws that have made me unable to see myself as in any way connected to the Left.

I still think this is more NeoCon than Leftist, but no matter what you call it, I'm for it. I urge anyone to read the text in full, and to adopt most, if not all, of the principles espoused in it into whatever your platform your political party adopts. Especially the bits about how none of us is infallible, and how we should not let the partisan labels of Left or Right get in the way of our common goals.

I've signed up, anyway. I could do no other."

All the best, and I never in my born days thought I'd be writing to the
political editor of the New Statesman. Probably the second most
surprising thing to happen to me in the last 12 months.


I wasn't quite game to tell him what the most surprising one was.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Sweden and the 1930's Revisited

From the European Jewish Press :
It is a crime in Sweden to express derogatory statements about ethnic, racial, national, religious and sexual minorities or to incite hatred and violence against them
At the beginning of this year, the Chancellor of Justice*, Goran Lambertz, discontinued his preliminary investigation against the great mosque in Stockholm. Cassette tapes had been sold in the bookshop of the mosque with a violently Anti-Semitic contents. After a couple of broadcasts on the 26 and 27th November last year, the Stockholm mosque was reported to the police.

In his decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation Lambertz wrote that “the lecture at hand contains statements that are strongly degrading to Jews, among other things, they are throughout called brothers of apes and pigs.” Furthermore a curse is expressed over the Jews and “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers - celebrated as martyrs - are the most effective weapon”.
Lambertz thought that the “recently mentioned statements in spite of their contents are not to be considered “incitement against an ethnic group according to Swedish law”. His conclusions were that the preliminary investigation should be discontinued because this case of incitement against Jews could be said to originate from the Middle East conflict. That is, in spite of the calls for ”killing the Jews”, these statements are not a crime in the legal sense in Sweden, because of the current conflict in the Middle East, according to the Chancellor of Justice.
The same argument would have applied during WWII of course.
The hate website Radio Islam continues to spew forth its coarse Anti-Semitism, spread lists of Jews (real or imagined) and conspiracy theories on its site without the security police or the prosecuting authorities doing anything about it. When the radical right-wing party the Sweden Democrats on the other hand, had one of the Muhammed cartoons on its web-site, it was closed down after a quick and direct intervention by an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That's different.
The Chancellor of Justice is the Government's counsellor in legal matters. It is not a political post. One of his tasks is to ensure that the limits of the freedom of the press and other media are not transgressed and to act as the only public prosecutor in cases regarding offences against the freedom of the press and other media.
It's not the Government, nor even the bureaucracy. It's the European Neuveau Aristocracy. The EuroSocialist Nomenklatura. inheritors of the mantle of the Chattering Classes and the Cliveden Set.

As Glen Reynolds said in an uncharacteristic outburst :
Europe, except maybe Germany to some degree, is in the hands of a political class that is morally leprous, intellectually bankrupt, and financially corrupt. Antisemitism seems to come naturally to such people.
Well, yes. 'Twas ever thus.

The `Cliveden Set' was not pro-Nazi, yet neither was the MP in Hyde Park entirely wrong in complaining that foreign policy was decided not in Cabinet any more but at Lady Astor's country home. Waldorf and Nancy Astor and their friends (including the editors of both the The Times and the Observer) were idealists, believing that once the more reasonable of Hitler's grievances had been sorted the unreasonable could be despatched more forcefully - if they still remained.

But Winston Churchill was unimpressed. He could see, from the way the Führer was swallowing up the small states surrounding the Fatherland that there would be no appeasing Hitler, and once the popular press realized the same they turned on `Cliveden' with the self-righteous fury peculiar to those who feel they have been conned.
Nancy's political career was successful enough and her Christian Science faith - or her personal version of it - kept her in good health and spirits. She campaigned on social issues, particularly Prohibition which proved a great election liability, and she enjoyed it immensely, but one can't help feeling that it was an absorbing hobby for her. Her great friend and Cliveden habitué George Bernard Shaw described her approach: `She has no political philosophy and dashes at any piece of kindly social work that presents itself, whether it is an instalment of socialism or a relic of feudalism...'
Searching the Thames
No doubt she meant well. As do much of the Left these days.

From the NY Sun :
It looks like a political oxymoron, but Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front is poised to strike an alliance with France’s large immigrant Muslim community. A generation after France’s rightwing party began its surge with a tough anti-immigration campaign tinged with both racism and anti-Semitism, three factors are coming into play that could spell a strategic realignment.

These factors, which are still little grasped outside political circles in France but will have an enormous impact, include:
  • The Islamicization of France is largely a fait accompli. It is assumed that 6 to 8 million citizens or residents of France, 10% to 13% out of a global population of 62 million, are Muslim by now. And that the Muslim community, being more prolific, is much younger than the rest of the population: As much as 25% of French citizens or residents under 20 is Muslim, with the number reaching 40% or 50% in the big cities.
  • The National Front is surprisingly popular among Muslim immigrants or second-generation Muslim citizens. For all its campaigning about immigration, Mr. Le Pen’s party has always extended support to Arab and Islamic causes abroad, from Saddam’s Iraq to Arafat’s or Hamas Palestine, and from Al Qaeda to Iran. And it is as firmly anti-American and anti-Jewish as the Muslim community itself tends to be.
  • The attraction of the French far left, which accounts for another 20% of the national vote, toward Islam, rabid anti-Americanism, and even anti-Semitism, a phenomenon underscored by the emergence of Dieudonné, a former liberal music-hall humorist who has turned into an enormously popular French equivalent of Louis Farrakhan. Dieudonné, the son of a black Camerounese father and a white French mother, claims that Jews were the main European slave traders in the 17th and 18th centuries. He refers to civic and educational programs about the Holocaust as “memory pornography.” He has welcomed the electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine. According to the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, he is in moral terms “Le Pen’s son.”
Mr. Le Pen’s inner circle seems to have entertained such a strategy for quite a time. Back in 1999, Samuel Maréchal, one of Mr. Le Pen’s sons-inlaw, stated that France was becoming “a multiethnic and multireligious society,” and that “Islam was now France’s second religion.”

At the risk of being repetitious, the picture on the right is from The Command Post in November 2003.

It's a Belgian Nazi Propaganda Poster from 1944.

Well, a lot of things have changed in the intervening two and a half years. But this one would still not be out-of-place in many Leftist demonstrations these days in Europe.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, it's open season on the Jews, and increasingly, in the rest of Europe.


Thanks to the author of Sweden and the Jews, who should know, being both Swedish and Jewish, this little item, from The Local : Sweden's News in English :
Five percent of Swedes are anti-Semitic, according to a report published on Tuesday.

'Anti-Semitic attitudes and perceptions', a joint project between the National Council for Crime Prevention and the Forum for Living History, was based on the responses of around 3,000 Swedes aged 16 to 75.

The results, which appeared in Dagens Nyheter, showed that 26% believe that there is a 'Jewish influence' over the world's economy, and 15% consider that influence to be 'too great'. It also emerged that 14% believe that Jews use the Holocaust for political or economic ends.

One out of four of those questioned said they were negative towards the idea of a Jewish prime minister.

"What has long been a problem is the fact that antisemitism has in many ways been denied or trivialised, or that the problem has been seen as peculiar to marginal right wing groups," said historian Henrik Bachner, one of the report's authors, to Swedish Radio.

"What we now see, clearer than ever, is that that is absolutely not the case - rather it's partly general prejudice."

5%? I'd say more like 25%. One in 4, if you look at the mythical Jewish World Bankers so popular with the Nazis.

It's worse than I thought.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

DiEthylStilbestrol in the Dock

I mentioned DiEthylStilbestrol (DES) in passing in a previous post in December.

I've now seen a recent study from August 2005 that shows the effect appears to be far greater than I'd first thought.
For many years, researchers and public health specialists have been assessing the human health impact of prenatal exposure to the estrogenic anti-miscarriage drug, diethylstilbestrol (commonly known as DES or "stilbestrol"). The scope of adverse effects in females exposed to DES (often called "DES daughters") has been more substantially documented than the effects in males ("DES sons"). This paper contributes three areas of important research on DES exposure in males: (1) an overview of published literature discussing the confirmed and suspected adverse effects of prenatal exposure in DES sons; (2) preliminary results from a 5-year online study of DES sons involving 500 individuals with confirmed (60% of sample) and suspected prenatal DES exposure; (3) documentation of the presence of gender identity disorders and male-to-female transsexualism reported by more than 100 participants in the study.
(Emphasis added) 500 in the group : and 100+ with GID or full-blown TS. 1 in 5. If only 1 in 10 of those are TS, it's still 1 in 50.

I sound like a broken record, but there are still many psychiatrists who say that the biological basis for TS is not proven. Well, I think for women with male chromosomes whose mothers took DES in pregnancy, it's fairly likely, The contrary hypothesis, that by pure coincidence the number is between 50 and 700 times greater than average, is really remote on a sample of this size. Even if there's "self selection" and other flaws in the study, making it not truly random, such flaws typically give over-estimates by factors of 2 or less.

Now maybe the mothers who took DES were more likely to give the kind of environment that the psychological hypothesis says causes GID. It's not inconceivable that the two factors are not independant. But a factor of 50? That's clutching at straws.

Oh yes - despite the fact that DES was commonly used in the UK in 1957 as an anti-abortifacient, and I was born in early 1958, my mother didn't take it. No, whatever caused my condition, DES is not guilty.

Friday, 14 April 2006

What is a Man?

While researching the previous post, I came across an article in the Age on the programme.
In 2000, John Colapinto's book, As Nature Made Him, revealed the painful extent of the experiment's failure. The Horizon program includes interviews with David conducted in 2000 for a film about intersex babies. By 2004, both brothers were dead.

Scientists are still trying to determine what makes us male or female. Associate Professor Vincent Harley, head of human molecular genetics at Melbourne's Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research is at the forefront of research into the genetics of sex. "We're tackling (the question) at a number of levels. It depends on what kind of sex you mean, whether you're talking about their brains, their gonads or their role in the world," he says.

Some genes have already been identified as involved in controlling the development of testes or ovaries. Genes expressed differently in male and female brains, well before birth and before hormones come into play, are "a starting point to look for differences in gender identity".

Forty years after Brian became Brenda, Professor Harley says that "the search continues", adding that "people's gender identity is unlikely to be as malleable as was thought then".

A case like Brian Reimer's would be handled very differently today, says Louise Newman. "It's a terribly outmoded assumption, that being a castrated male means being a female," she says.

Gender identification would also be measured against different yardsticks. "What we have now are less rigid definitions of what's gender-appropriate behaviour," Newman says. "It wouldn't be a matter of 'You like Barbies, therefore you're a girl. You like trucks therefore you're a boy.' Children aren't like that. But in Money's day that wouldn't have been acknowledged."

David Reimer had his own theory about masculinity.

"What makes you a man is you treat your wife well, you put a roof over your family's head, you're a good father. Things like that add up much more to being a man than just 'Bang! Bang! Bang! Sex!'," he told author John Colapinto.

Well, on a personal note, I fell into a logical fallacy here. I believed that because I treated my female partner well, put a roof over my family's head, and was a good father to my child, I had to be a Man, no matter how I felt. Well, it's necessary, but not sufficient. I tried.

Now so I don't burst into tears, here's something else. Putting the Camp into Campari. See the Shockwave Flash Movie then read the Explanatory Notes in PDF.

Funnily enough, and again one of those hilarious, confusing and improbable things that sometimes happen in Transition, I know of a case which bore a feint resemblance to that advert. You see, an MtoF just starting her transition, still unsure about it and presenting as an adrogenous male, became attracted to a longtime friend of hers who was lesbian. Except the friend wasn't, (lesbian that is), he started his own FtoM transition shortly afterwards, when they realised the mutual attraction was heterosexual, not lesbian after all. An outside observer would have seen a guy hugging a girl, when it was actually a girl hugging a guy. And both bursting out laughing at the sheer absurdity of the Universe when they realised it. I can believe it, I know them both. Oh yes, it turns out, as it so often does, (!) that they were both borderline intersexed too, and each giving off and responding to both sets of pheremones.

What's On TV?

Actually, in the weird world I now inhabit, both "TV" and "CD" have very different meanings.

And neither should be confused with TS, and that link is to by far the best and most complete article I've ever seen on the subject.

But getting back to TV, that is, TeleVision on SBS for Sunday, April 16, at 8.30pm there's a programme originally made for the BBC's Horizon series.
Dr Money had used case studies of hermaphrodites to show that there was a window of opportunity for surgery - a 'gender gate' - which lasted up to the age of two. During that period, he argued, if the parents chose the sex of the child, the way they brought it up would determine the child's gender, not its physical characteristics. But until this point, Dr Money had never put his controversial theory into practice with a non-intersex child. Now he had the perfect and unplanned opportunity to do so: a set of identical twins, two biological boys, one of whom could be raised a girl.

Janet Reimer wrote to Dr Money of Brenda's progress and once a year the whole family visited him in Baltimore. When Brenda was five Dr Money started to publish her case - disguising her by referring to her as Joan/John - in his books. The case became a sensation. It was the proof that feminists in particular were looking for. It was proof, they argued, that there was no biological reason that boys are better at maths and that men should earn more than women.

Nurture not nature determines whether we feel feminine or masculine. Widely cited in many text books, the case was a landmark study - hailed as proof of the overwhelming force of nurture - in spite of increasing evidence that hormones both in the womb and throughout a child's life, play a huge part in an individual's perception of themselves as masculine or feminine.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, things were not so good for the Reimer family. Brenda behaved in a distinctly masculine fashion. She liked running and fighting and climbing and loathed playing with dolls. She had no friends and was increasingly lonely as her twin Brian was embarrassed to play with her in front of his other friends. She hated going to visit Dr Money.

He insisted that to fully understand that she was a girl, she needed to grasp the difference between men and women, and frequently spoke to her about her genitalia. He took photographs of her and her brother naked. He tried to persuade her to have a vagina constructed, which, at the time, would have been made out of section of her bowel or else from the skin of her thigh, which would then be inserted into the pelvic region.

He showed her graphic photographs of a woman giving birth when she was seven years old in an attempt to get her to agree to having a 'baby-hole' made. He also suggested strongly that she take hormone tablets in order to make her grow breasts when she was 12. Other scientists, including Dr Money's ex-students, argue that he did these things in the best possible interests for his patient - to make her believe that she was indeed a girl. Brenda however felt traumatised and became suicidal.

Finally when she was 13, the family told her and Brian the truth. Brenda was intensely relieved as she had felt she was going insane. Almost immediately she turned herself back into a boy and called herself David.

You might think, and I might think, that this is an unimpeachable argument for sex being determined by the brain, not the body.

Nope. It's the chromosomes that magically determine it. Or the original genitalia. Anyone claiming otherwise is mentally ill. Or so said Paul McHugh, the former Vatican advisor on Sexual Matters. Pardon me if I write the comments in bile...
The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing; they spoke about how they found themselves able to give vent to their natural inclinations for peace, domesticity, and gentleness—but their large hands, prominent Adam’s apples, and thick facial features were incongruous (and would become more so as they aged).
Well he got that right, just look at my picture. Apart from the high heels. And the copious makeup. And the flamboyant clothing. But you can see the "prominent Adam’s apple" and "thick facial features". Fortunately my large hands aren't visible. How exquisitely sensitive of him to point this out, and how they are consequences of my mental health. What's that again? Now Facial Feminisation Surgery is available to fix that of course, but it's unlikely I'll ever be able to afford it. It's "cosmetic" you see, not covered by health insurance.

It goes on like that, in great detail.
With these facts in hand I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.
Not that they or anyone else ever succeeded at that.
This information and the improved understanding of what we had been doing led us to stop prescribing sex-change operations for adults at Hopkins—much, I’m glad to say, to the relief of several of our plastic surgeons who had previously been commandeered to carry out the procedures.
Well, at least he was able to come to the conclusion he wanted in the first place. Johns Hopkins is noted for being the only hospital that has closed down its surgical program.

Possibly because much of the data from Toronto that he relied on turned out to be as bogus and deliberately faked as Dr Money's "John/Joan" book. There's been a lot of that in this field, people drawing conclusions first, then looking for the data.

As Prof Lynn Conway wrote :
Money for decades pushed sex reassignments of intersex infants, under a bogus theory of gender. Money insisted wrongly that gender is socially constructed and that intersex boys could be turned into girls if reassigned surgically early enough. He then deliberately prevented mounting counter-evidence to his theory from being widely revealed to his scientific colleagues. For several decades he pushed and promoted the practice of infant intersex surgeries, even in the face of mounting evidence that his theory was incorrect.

McHugh has for decades tried to stop transsexual sex reassignments, under a bogus theory that trans women are homosexual men or sexual paraphilics. By power of position and personality he stopped (not only the infant genital surgeries, but also) the transsexual surgeries at John's Hopkins. He then deliberately prevented mounting counter-evidence to his theory from being widely revealed to his scientific colleagues. For decades now he has pushed and promoted the idea that "sex changes are wrong", even in the face of mounting evidence that his theory was incorrect - evidence that transsexual transitions can work out extremely well.

And yes, McHugh's article is still being quoted, and was used as evidence in the last few months by the IRS to deny medical expenses associated with transition as deductible items.

But at least Dr McHugh came to the conclusion that genital mutilation (I use the phrase deliberately) of Intersexed infants before they had a chance to tell anyone what gender they actually were is a Bad Move.

Yet it still happens, every day, in Australia and elsewhere. I see the results nearly every day on various TS support fora. People who have been made Transsexual while infants, at the point of a scalpel blade.

It's still happening. It should be stopped. Hopefully the SBS program might make a few more people aware of the problem.

The Euston Manifesto

From Normblog :
  1. For democracy. We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures - freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion.....
  2. No apology for tyranny. We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently 'understand', reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy - regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so....
  3. Human rights for all. We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone.....
  4. Equality. We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations - as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality....
  5. Development for freedom. We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation....
  6. Opposing anti-Americanism. We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking.....
  7. For a two-state solution. We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution....
  8. Against racism. For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles....
  9. United against terror. We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries....
  10. A new internationalism. We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law - in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the 'common life' of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a 'responsibility to protect'.
  11. A critical openness. Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the 'anti-war' movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.
  12. Historical truth. In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.
  13. Freedom of ideas. We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas - even whole bodies of ideas - to which others are committed....
  14. Open source. As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders.....
  15. A precious heritage. We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth.

Some of the Euston Manifesto items are less important than others, and arguably could have been omitted, or left to a subsididiary document, a "recommended methods" rather than "goals" one.

I'm personally not convinced that a "2-state solution" will ever be viable, and if things improve so much that it is, then it may not be necessary, with Palestinian self-determination and a secure Jewish Homeland both possibly provided for by the same state. But taking it as it's basic "Israel has the right to exist", then yes, I'm for it.

I have minor quibbles. And I'm loath to adopt the word "progressive" to my own beliefs, for that label has been tainted irredeemably in my eyes. Nonetheless, I have fewer quibbles with this manifesto than I have with the various brands of neo-conservatism that I admire, and in the main, follow. It remedies all of the fatal flaws that have made me unable to see myself as in any way connected to the Left.

I still think this is more NeoCon than Leftist, but no matter what you call it, I'm for it. I urge anyone to read the text in full, and to adopt most, if not all, of the principles espoused in it into whatever your platform your political party adopts. Especially the bits about how none of us is infallible, and how we should not let the partisan labels of Left or Right get in the way of our common goals.

I've signed up, anyway. I could do no other.

Thursday, 13 April 2006

The Chinese Space Programme as at 2006

First though, let's look at the US lack of programme :
Another space news website has published a leaked NASA study called "LRA-0" which is spreading despair and gloom through the space community. Many people are surprised that the architecture for returning men to the Moon laid out in the famous ESAS report is declared to be totally unworkable in this new document.

But no one should be surprised. I pointed this out four months ago, and anyone who has followed the announced and rumored changes to the ESAS plan since its appearance could see that it was in serious trouble.

The 723-page ESAS report went to elaborate lengths to justify its particular choices of spacecraft, boosters, engines, and fuels. Many of these justifications were obviously phony. (My favorite was a long table of expensive modifications that would supposedly be needed to "man-rate" the Delta-4H or Atlas-5H.)

It was clear to many astute observers that the ESAS program was a political one. It was designed to mollify Congress by keeping almost every worker in the dying Space Shuttle program in his present job, performing the same task in the same factory in the same politician's district.

Little attention was given to financial or technical feasibility. Cost and schedule estimates by Shuttle contractors were accepted without any attempt to check them (even though those contractor estimates have proven wildly optimistic in the past).

The basic problem is lack of vision, of long-range planning. The US Space programme is more about allocating Pork from the Pork Barrel than doing anything constructive. Oh yes, the Scientific areas do very good work on an ever-shortening shoestring, but there's no vision of what should be done in the long term. As soon as the Administration changes, so does the world. Short-term fixes, compromises and re-use of existing systems whether appropriate or not are the norm. They're racing, not another super-power, but the next Congressional budget that might dismantle the project altogether.

Compare and Contrast:
From Space.Com :
In the human spaceflight arena, China has also made stunning achievements, Luo explained. In 1999-2002, four unpiloted spaceships were launched by China, followed in October 2003 by its first piloted mission, Shenzhou 5. “That was a historic breakthrough for China,” he added.

“We have become the third country capable of developing a spaceship by itself and launching our own astronauts into orbit and safely recover them,” Luo said. In October 2005 a two-person spacecraft rocketed into Earth orbit, achieving the first “attended space lab tests,” he said.

Luo said that, based on success in the manned mission area, they intend to establish an orbiting space lab by 2015. Leading up to this effort, he added, space walking skills by Chinese astronauts are to be honed, as will be the ability of space docking.

In the area of human spaceflight, Luo noted several times that China is open to the possibility for international cooperation.

China has drafted a multi-step program for lunar exploration.

Next year, the country’s first lunar orbiter/fly mission is to fly, Luo said. By 2012, China space planners will be landing a rover on the Moon surface. In 2017, that country’s lunar exploration plans call for robotic lunar sample return missions.

“We call these three stages the first step of our lunar exploration,” Luo explained. “The first step will be done purely robotically … with unmanned missions.”

And in the future, Luo stated, “China will also consider the possibility of manned mission to the Moon.”

But by far the most extensive element of China’s space plans is within the arena of Earth orbiting satellites – from oceanographic, navigation, and telecommunications satellite systems to constellations of Earth observing and disaster mitigation spacecraft – Luo outlined an impressive cadre of upcoming missions. Furthermore, in-space testing of high-tech components is also slated.

China’s focus, Luo emphasized, is on conversion of space technology to a variety of applications to further the social and economic development of the nation. Commercialization of space products is also a priority.

Slow, steady, planned.
“I don’t regard it as a threat…I regard it as a challenge,” said former Congressman and National Space Symposium leader, Robert Walker, in an earlier interview with “I think the Chinese have a very ambitious space program … that they are doing for reasons of national prestige.”

I don't think he could be more wrong. Oh yes, the prestige is good, especially when the Chinese Government meets to discuss space funding, but to see this as a giant publicity stunt is exactly wrong. That's what the US is doing, whether they realise it or not, it appears to be inescapable, in the nature of their funding system. No Buck Rogers, No Bucks.

I think the Chinese have both a vision, and a plan. The plan is mutable, and will no doubt be revised many times in the future, as circumstances change. The vision remains. As Europe colonised the New World, because the Ming Dynasty of China withdrew into isolationism, well, the Chinese have learnt their lesson, and won't let it happen again. At worst they wish to be equal partners, but it appears to me they're slowly and patiently setting up the infrastructure they need for this. There's no hurry. It's not a race, that requires at least two competitors, and it seems one of them doesn't realise where the finish line is.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

New Photo for March

OK, so it's a little late. What I looked like just after I turned 48, a few weeks ago, this time taken by the ANU's Photography department.

Changes continue, and will do for some time. It will be interesting to see how things turn out, in the end.

Monday, 10 April 2006

More Transition Fun

Today, I put in my application for a UK Passport. It had taken me some time to get all the ducks lined up in a row, but I did, and the application took less time than for most other, less complex cases. I'd done the research, found out what documents were needed, even phoned a senior consular official beforehand to make sure things went smoothly, and they did. I should have an 'F' type machine-readable passport in about 2 weeks. That's when they start introducing the Biometric ones, and that's a problem when your body is in the process of changing.

I had no problems, until I went to the cashier. She did a quick routine check of the documents, then something caught her eye. The name Change Certificate was from Alan to Zoe, and the sex was male. I saw her look at this, her eyes widened, she took a quick glance at me, then while still wide-eyed in disbelief and probably shock, entered the data for my receipt.

It's little things like that that not only do wonders for my confidence, they provide me with much harmless amusement.

Oh well, tomorrow I'll post on the Chinese Space Programme, as some intersting developments have happened in recent weeks.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

A Peek into Another World

There is a funny side to Transsexuality. It's hideously embarressing for everybody, but a sense of humour is a necessary survival skill in the difficult task of transition, and sometimes it can be difficult not to burst out laughing.

From the TSRoadmap Page on Self-Acceptance :
Wendy is living stealth and plans to keep it that way. Here are excerpts from two excellent posts she wrote on post-transition issues:

I transitioned a few years ago (three I think), I have had some cosmetic surgery, and had srs last year in Montreal. I work in designer fashion as a sales associate; my employer does not know about my past. I am constantly in contact with women in various states of undress- and they obviously do not know either.

I wear extremely expensive clothes (work around $1000 dresses and you get over the sticker shock), am constantly complimented on my figure, and am liked and appreciated by my female co-workers. My friends are all genetic females; I have little or nothing to do with the gendered community. So I've arrived, I'm done, it's all over. NOT!

In my opinion, one is never done with this process. We are saddled with a basic insecurity, and a past we often dare not discuss. The question "Do they know?" is never far from the front of my mind, although I know that is foolishness on my part. I had a date the other night with a guy who once hitched a ride on a submarine when he was in the Navy, and he proceeded to tell me all about it. I spent three years on the damn things, and found myself biting my tongue on more than one occasion.

I know of one former A-10 Fighter pilot, a veteran of the first Iraq War, who is an equally ironic situation. Of course, according to the USAF, there were no Female A-10 pilots in that little fracas - well, not that they knew of. And even she wasn't sure then. She works in the aviation areas, and her male colleagues have no inkling of her background. So when they do the normal unconsciously Boy thing of trying to impress the Girls with their exploits... I don't know how she can keep a straight face.

Of course, keeping one's sense of humour can be difficult at times. Frankly, the whole syndrome of Gender Dysphoria and the terrible effects of Transition on one's family and life is nothing to laugh about. Read the rest of the page, and you'll see what I mean.

But while we're all feeling a little sorry for ourselves, we must remember to keep a sense of perspective. Here's another quote from the page :
My department manager is 34 years old and just had a baby. She also was recently diagnosed with fourth stage lymphatic cancer. And you think you have problems, Karen?
Yes, exactly. There are an awful lot of quiet heroes and heroines out there, put in equally bad, or worse, positions. They may get societal sympathy rather than persecution and disgust, but that doesn't exactly help a baby whose mother is dying, nor a father who is losing the love of his life, his partner, the mother of his child.

I've said it before, but this whole thing has been immensely educational for me, and I'm even starting to value the experience. I mean, look at what I was blogging about just one year ago. I had no inkling of what was about to befall me.

(Quickly reaching for the Poetic Wax)

Waxing Poetic, I'm Alice who has fallen down a most peculiar Rabbit Hole, into a world I never knew existed, and which I'm trying to give my readers a peek into. Here I am, not drinking potions that radically change my body, for that's changing anyway, but I am taking big white pills marked "Androcur" and little blue pills marked "Progynova", which hopefully will speed up the process. Nothing like the months of May-July 2005, but at least in a controlled manner, those changes were far too rapid for comfort.

Here's another peek. Not a very comforting one this time. Thia is what often happens to people like me.
I went to Minneapolis with high hopes. Even after having some delusion that the fortune 500 company would be progressive enough to see me through my transition and they in fact fired my ass upon learning I was a transsexual. Then I get to Minneapolis only to find that the companies that would hire me did not because my previous employer had black balled me.

Then I wound up selling evening gowns and dresses in this ritzy department store to all the snooty overweight rich women in the Twin Cities but at a wage that I could about starve on. I wasn't going to live under some bridge or spend my life busted lookin working in some service industry job at barely enough to pay the rent.

I went to work for an escort agency rather than starve and in no time found that a lot of men pay a whole lot for a trannie to do very little. Then I realized that the guy I was working for was ripping me off, just like he was all the rest of the girls, who were all GGs and so I went back to the sex paper with all the sex ads and found this one looking for 'shemales' run by a shemale.

She came walking into the restaurant to interview me, we had met some months before but neither realized it till we saw each other. We were both so shady to each other that day that we each were just going to tell the other to go f*** off but for some reason we had this commonality and one thing led to another and I was working for her.

Each night I would get off of work at the department store and she'd have a couple calls waiting for me. I'd drive by her apartment after, stop out front, she or her boyfriend would come to the curb and collect their fee and I'd go home. Before long it was real hard to go to that day job any more. but I had this therapist that wouldn't give me the all important letter till I'd worked as a girl for a year. Laugh!

The hooking I did was pretty much an exclusive female oriented business as I saw all the same clients as my female friends. In no time I was making about 5 times what that therapist was and eventually my boss and I became close friends, then the shit hit the fan. Her other girl got busted and the PoPo were hot on her trail too. So we figured 'fu** this' and started working together. That Girl was none other than Diana. LOL

We set up an agency for all my GG friends so we all wouldn't have to work for some guy, we worked for ourselves. We were rolling in cash. Then as a result a few of the girls were able to quit trickin and move on with their lives. Diana and I traveled the country for 3 years, hitting every major city and went through money like it was toilet paper. I think thats the only way we stayed sane at all.

With the money came the means to transiton effectively for two people who at the time really didn't have other options. As soon as an alternative came along for each of us we moved and began living more on the vanilla road. But there still are obstacles, still are expenses and there still is that option and I won't lie and say I don't take it now and again.

It becomes like a drug, and like a real powerful rush and addictive drug, like a heroin that is about impossible to kick. It give you a sense of power whether it is there or not and the feeling is amazing. But the trade off I can not total even yet. I know I lost something, something real important, and I have this forboding feeling that sometime the realization is going to hit me right between the eyes.

So I won't fault anyone, any trannie, for being involved with the sex industry, I know about why. But I wouldn't recommend it, it is something the person has to deal with their own self. And if someone can do this while staying on their original job, or by finding some other means, go for it. But if someone is a ho all I can say is whateva, it is what it is.

(Names changed to protect the no longer innocent)

Now comes the hard part. If I was unemployable (and at one stage, that was a probability), and had to pay tens of thousands of dollars for treatment (which I do), and more importantly, keep up the payments into my son's educational fund, and even find the money every month for the hormones that would keep my mind from disintegrating.... in a similar situation, what would I have done? The same, most likely.

A combination of unbelievable good fortune, some good friends and academic connections, fantastic timing, a modicum of talent, and the fact that I have a face like the north end of a south bound camel meant that temptation was never thrust in my face. Nor anything else. For which I am eternally grateful, and I'll just stop gibbering in the corner now.

That's better.

Instead I can resume my life as the woman I want to be, Dr Brain in a few years, with luck, and as fine, upstanding and respectable member of the community as anyone can be in my situation.

But I too am losing something. Respect for the society I live in, that causes such things to happen. I'm trying to keep my faith in conservative values and societal norms, but there's something terribly, horribly wrong with things the way they are. I see good people whose bodies are being destroyed, but worse, I see their spirits being corroded. Society as it is is sometimes perverse, and quite insane.

You know that A-10 pilot? By court order, she is compelled to crossdress in male drag whenever she sees her child. That's sick.

Once more, this whole thing has been most educational. I've learnt things about the world, and myself, that I hadn't got a clue about 12 months ago. By giving a peek into the new world I'm living in, I hope my readers have been educated in some very uncomfortable facts too. Maybe you'll discuss it with your friends and colleagues. Maybe we can do something, not by revolution or demonstrations, shrill cries from special-interest groups, but in the name of normal human decency, working on the grass roots, shaping opinion at the level of the normal, decent societal member. God have mercy on us if we can't, because I have to tell you, my appreciation is that the situation is getting just a little worse every day in most respects.