Wednesday, 31 January 2007

A Load of Hot Air

Or rather Helium. But no laughing matter, this incident will be added to the long list of Islamic grievances against the Jews. People will die as the result.

From SANA, the Syrian Arab News Agency :

Four Israeli poisoned balloons found in South Lebanon
Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 09:20 PM

Beirut, (SANA)-Citizens in some regions of south Lebanon on Thursday found four poisoned Israeli- made balloons.

"The balloons are of Israeli origin with multi colors… and the phrase / Happy Year / was written on one of them… the balloons triggered an atmosphere of fear and tense among the families," Lebanese National News Agency reported.

The four balloons were found near the official school of the border town of Marcaba.

Last week a number of Lebanese people were hurt by suffocation and poison cases as a result of exposing themselves to those balloons.

From the Associated Press :
A Lebanese municipality official holds an orange balloon in the shape of plastic bag as he walks with two policemen on the shore in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007. Mysterious balloons drifting in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against touching them. (AP Photo)
From the Associated Press and Hezbollah Media Office (difficult telling the two apart sometimes) :
In this photo released by the Hezbollah's media office, green balloons with Hebrew writings were found in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. Mysterious balloons drifting in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against touching them. Hebrew on the balloons reads 'Ha-Ir' which is the title of a Tel Aviv weekly magazine. (AP Photo/Hezbollah Media Office, HO)
From the AP again :
A Lebanese municipality worker places a balloon with Hebrew writing, on the shore in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007. Mysterious balloons drifting in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against touching them. Hebrew on red balloon reads ' For Silvi, from all my heart.' (AP Photo)

So the bext time some "Anti-Zionist" (oh no, not "ant-semitic") protest talks about how the dastardly Joos are sending poison gas to kill innocent Arab Children, you know where the story comes from, and the depths of irrationality and Jew-hatred involved. Think I'm exaggerating?

From Al

Israel dumps suspicious green balloons on Lebanon
1/28/2007 9:00:00 AM GMT

Media reports and security sources revealed on Sunday that Israeli planes dumped 10 suspicious green balloons over the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on Saturday.

Sources also said that at least eight people, who attempted to touch the “suspicious green balloons,” are suffering from nausea and dizziness and were taken to the hospital.

The coast of Tyre had been sealed off to prevent people from touching the 'suspicious balloons', believed so far to be poisonous.

The Lebanese National News Agency reported that among those who were rushed to hospital were a Lebanese staff sergeant, a recruit and An Nahar reporter Rana Jouni.

Officials at a hospital in Nabatiyeh confirmed that similar green balloons were dropped over the market-town of Nabatiyeh, 54 kilometres south of the capital.

This is not the first time Israel violates Lebanese airspace since the ceasefire that followed its summer war in the country against Hezbollah fighters.

The Israeli army violates the Lebanese airspace on a daily basis since the end of the 34 day war, during which it’s believed to have dropped over 1 million cluster bombs most of which during the last 3 days of the conflict.

This behaviour is now defined as Terrorism. From the Lebanese Daily Star :
Spooked Beirutis fear new 'balloon-borne' Israeli plot
Hysteria reaches capital after weekend panic in south
By Rym Ghazal
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

BEIRUT: Renewed panic spread among some Lebanese Monday, as a black balloon with a spider drawn on it landed in the heart of a Beirut neighborhood, a day after Israeli balloons landed in South Lebanon. "It is a terrorist act against our peace of mind," Khaled Qamaryeh, owner of a store in the neighborhood of Salim Salaam, told The Daily Star.

His shop is located just a few meters away from where the balloon landed.

The panic over balloons began over the weekend, when several fluorescent green and orange balloons branded with the Hebrew word Ha'ir (The City) drifted into the South from Israel. Five civilians were allegedly hospitalized with nausea, breathing difficulties and dizziness after coming into contact with the balloons, but tests have thus far turned up no toxic subtances and an Israeli newspaper said they were part of an advertising campaign.

"I didn't go near it as I was worried it may be filled with poison," Qamaryeh said of the balloon found in his neighborhood. "I don't trust the Israelis."

Around 9:30 a.m. on Monday, a handful of residents discovered what they called "an unidentified balloon," near one of the roasteries in the area and immediately called in the Internal Security Forces and the army to investigate its contents.

"The balloon in Salim Salaam did not contain poison or dangerous substance," the head of Internal Security Forces, Ashraf Rifi, told The Daily Star.

Police and forensic experts were sent to the site and quarantined the area as they tested the balloon for dangerous gases or other substances.

"We don't know where the balloon came from, but it is different in color and style from the earlier balloons discovered in the South," said Rifi.

While there is no evidence of poison, Rifi said there is a question over the "timing."

"Israeli balloons never used to drift over to Lebanon, so why now?" he asked. "I believe it is an intentional act by Israel to cause further panic in a country already on edge," he added.

Resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh slammed Israel Sunday for what he called, "a creative" new way of violating Resolution 1701, and called on the UN to put a stop to it.

"It wasn't enough that they violate our skies daily with their drones and warplanes, now they sending over their balloons to terrorize the Lebanese people," he said.

Residents interviewed in Salim Salaam by The Daily Star are now suspicious of balloons, with many still believing the one that was placed in their neighborhood to be "poisonous."

"Israel is capable of anything, and whether or not there are actual toxins, they are always waging a psychological war against the Lebanese," said Mohammad Sharqawi.

Sharqawi also believed that the officials "would lie" to keep the people from panicking.

"Israelis have a history of targeting the civilians, and so why not now through balloons?" he asked.

Preliminary tests run by Italian troops in the UNIFIL and by experts in the Lebanese Army tests showed "no evidence" of dangerous substances in the balloons.

"There is a sort of panic now in the country from any balloons," the army source told The Daily Star.

"Now every time a child has a birthday party and some balloons are released," the source added, "we get a call or two of panic from nearby residents."

A white balloon was found in the southern town of Jouwaiyya near Tyre, with the words "you are the first," written in English.

The source said more comprehensive tests on the Israeli balloons will continue for the next two days to check "for chemicals and minerals" that the balloons may be carrying or are made of.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the balloons were part of a promotional campaign for a Tel Aviv based newspaper.
According to many in the Ultra-Left, this is terrorism. This, on the other hand, is merely the desirable result of a legitimate act of resistance against the terrorists.
Israeli religious Zaka rescue collect body parts at the scene of a suicide bombing that killed three people in the southern city of Eilat, Israel, Monday. Jan. 29, 2007. A Palestinian suicide bomber attacked a bakery in this southern Israeli resort town on Monday, killing himself and three people, police said. It was the first suicide bombing in Israel in nine months and the first ever to hit Eilat, Israel's southernmost city. The writing on the sign say in Hebrew city of Eilat. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

And the stories are already starting to bear their bitter fruit. From the comments at Al Jazeera:
There is no depth that israeli's will not stoop to. In this world of humanity they are by far the most vicious "animals" of all races. There wil be no tears shed around the world when israel finds Iranian missiles raining down on it.
This will not be the first or last time Isreal uses chemical warfare on muslims. With America backing all actions of Isreal and UN endorsing that as legal, Isreal has a free hand to test all its chemical nal on Muslims and muslim lands. When is the American people going to wake up and see in reality that they are associates of this genocide, sytemetic annihilation of millions of people just because they need the land to expand. American people term muslims as terrorists. What do you call this??
Israel will get whats coming soon. they are nothing but unlawful murderess of human being. They keep complianing about how much they suffer in the holocaust but thats nothing now because thats the same thing they are doing. HYPOCRITES.
ven the zyynstt readers that come here every day know them selves that there breed became more fowwl then saytin him self. its time the world gathered to put isrrl to sleep once and for all.
These incidents generally go unnoticed since most of the news media are run and controlled by the jews on this planet. So, obviously, most people will not read about it. Those people have it all figured out: bombard the planet with holocaust propaganda to attract never-ending sympathy; brainwash elementary school pupils and fill television viewers with vile images of bad, bad arabs in general. Remember, they also own and run the cinema business in Holywood. So folks, I wonder what's in store for the next generations.
couldn't understand why people from allegedly civilized countries like Rogue States of Occupied America and United Kingdom of Occupied Britain, and other European countries also colonized and re-colonized again would support and even condone the use of biochem weapons in a race war, but I think I do now. These posts mostly come from either people safe at home whose country has troops or mercenaries (essential for illegal ethnic cleansing ops) in one of the countries currently suffering. Otherwise they can only be posted by soldier or mercenaries using their precious internet usage to post on Al- instead of contacting their families or friends who no longer respond... Just a hypothesis, but only soldiers, mercenaries, or corporate profiteers seem to condone such activities. I say look into your hearts and ask whether it is alright to use the techniques of the Nazis against Arabs/Muslims/Persians. Civilization Clash? The Insurgency? Al-Qaeda? Conspiracy Theories or PR lies.
They are looking for another 'CROSS BORDER ATTACK' which will no doubt come with another defeat to israel. These cowards find it out VERY difficult to confront Hezbollah face to face and they are thirsty for blood that is why they are through this systematic way. Just live them, Hezbollah is watching and waiting for the time to retaliate just as it happened last time. Hezbollah is equal to the task.
we cannot expect israel to observe the internationally accepted rules against the use of banned war materiel coz of its close ties with the united states of america whose jewish forefather-leader backers could not simply say no their brethren. no jewish funds,no america's wall street investments!
Who is Israel after, the children who will see a balloon and want to catch it, and then be harmed by the posin? Does this country's government have no ethical or moral standards? I am from America and so ashamed that our government here condons this childish behavior and does not tell its politcal country in the Middle East, that enough is enough.
I believe that Erz and Georgecheneytony Regime are the danger to this world. They wil use other uren wepons and many new wmd to desotroy nations and peeple all over the world. Pregnant women babes, babies, children, women, elders and adults have already and more wil be slughtered by these wepons. To bring justice and free this world of these mruderous warmongulars, we must make examples of them and they must be impeach and sent to the world court now for thier cr1mes agaisnt humanity.
Was anyone surprised with Israel's actions? I was not. Israel's actions only affirms what I have been writing all along:Israel is a fundamental extremist Jewish terrorist state...
I am tired of Israeli/Zionist lies. A country concieved because of lies, it continues to abuse its neighbours and get away with it. Doing what they have done in Lebanon this last weekend is an act of war.
The Erz Gov are liars and slughter mruderers. They shot a ten yr old Palistian girl in the back of her haed the other day. They even have child slave labor camps where they rype youths. They have used cluster, nepelm and thousand lbs uren waste bombs to kil Pals and Lebanon babies, children, women, elders and adults.
Balloons from parties do NOT cause medical conditions, vomiting and other symptoms, do they? These balloon were full of Jewish terrorist gas filled by fundamental Jewsish extremist terrorists from Austria, Lithuania, Latvia occupying parts of the ME since 1948.
The voice of sanity is akmost drowned out by the Judenhass. Almost, but not quite:
An Israeli newspaper released green balloons during a promotional event on Saturday in the North. Some of the balloons were carried by the wind across the border to southern Lebanon. Residents of the towns of Tyre and Nabatiyeh notified the Lebanese army of the strange balloons, and were warned not to touch them. The balloons were gathered into a cluster and destroyed in a controlled explosion. Lebanese official media reported that the balloons were poisoned, and were part of an Israeli attack. Residents claimed that the balloons were dropped from IDF aircraft. Those wacky date farmers are what gave “retarded” a bad name
So be on the lookout for any organisations or demonstrators who protest the "use of chemical weapons by the Zionist Entity". For they are dangerous Loonies, indistinguishable from Nazis.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Spaceship Sizes

An interesting URL : Jeff Russel's Starship Dimensions. How big is the Death Star? Or rather Death Stars, v1 and v2 are of different sizes. And how big is an Imperial Star Destroyer compared to the old original NCC-1701 USS Enterprise? Which is bigger, Babylon 5 or the Vorlon Planet Killer?
Here's the Vorlon:

And here's B5 to the same scale:

I had no idea.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Purely in the Interests of Science, Of Course

From Dr. Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, and as published in MSN-Maidichi :
I couldn't drag the fight on any longer and looked at the issue from the point of view of a columnist. I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "sex is all in the mind." It's true, because sex is not just something that happens between the legs, but instead involves all the senses -- sight, sound, smell, touch and taste -- stimulating the brain (and specifically, the frontal lobe). Just as heroes are said to love sex, the more developed a person's frontal lobe is, the more active their sex life is going to be.

When it comes to the difference between male and female sexuality, it's impossible to rule out some sort of connection between the sex nerves in the hypothalamus, where sexual dimorphism (or distinction between the sexes) makes men twice as large as women. It is perhaps this difference in the brains that sees men seek direct stimulation while women need more touching. Even though men can reach climax with incredible speed, they also cool down rapidly, occasionally making it very irritating for them to be touched after ejaculation. This is a major difference from women, who take a long time to get back to normal following orgasm.

So, how do I answer my old classmate's question about why good sex for women feels so much better than good sex does for men? There's a hint hidden in the brainwaves. And I'll turn to another friend, in this case Ryuichi Kaneko, who joined me as one of the co-authors of "Sex no Subete ga Wakaru Hon (Everything You Need to Know About Sex)."

When an orgasm has been achieved through sex, you can measure theta waves. These are also said to cause the "running high" feeling of euphoria experienced sometimes by marathon runners. If theta waves are taken as a criterion, the entire brain emits theta waves when women reach an orgasm that are close on 10 times stronger than when men climax. So, if theta waves are an indication of an orgasm's strength, then women experience an orgasm that is physically impossible for men to go through. Putting it a little crudely, if the intensity of a woman's orgasm was played through a man's brain, there's a danger that the shock to his system would kill him. That risk makes it impossible to experiment on a man at the moment. And men can never become women. But my co-author, Kaneko, used the experience of people who have undergone a sex change (either a woman born with a man's brain or vice versa) to explain the pleasure women feel.

There is a very strong correlation between nerve transmitters called dopamine and pleasure. Arousal causes the pulse to rise, turns the face red and makes the eyes misty because of the effects of dopamine. There also appears to be a link between this and a woman's tendency to become prettier when she falls in love. If it becomes possible to measure dopamine, it may also become possible to measure a woman's pleasure.

I must try some experimentation one day. Purely in the Interests of Science, Of Course.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Aye, Robots

An interesting conjunction. From Space Daily :
U.S. scientists say they plan to create a new class of technology designed to produce completely soft-bodied robots. Tufts University researchers say such robots -- based on biological materials and the adaptive mechanisms found in living cells and organisms -- could repair space stations, conduct safer surgical procedures and work in hazardous environments such as landmine fields.
Clearing Landmines? Perhaps not. From the BBC :
Robots could one day demand the same citizen's rights as humans, according to a study by the British government.

If granted, countries would be obliged to provide social benefits including housing and even "robo-healthcare", the report says.

The predictions are contained in nearly 250 papers that look ahead at developments over the next 50 years.
The paper which addresses Robo-rights, titled Utopian dream or rise of the machines? examines the developments in artificial intelligence and how this may impact on law and politics.

The paper says a "monumental shift" could occur if robots develop to the point where they can reproduce, improve themselves or develop artificial intelligence.

The research suggests that at some point in the next 20 to 50 years robots could be granted rights.

If this happened, the report says, the robots would have certain responsibilities such as voting, the obligation to pay taxes, and perhaps serving compulsory military service.

Conversely, society would also have a duty of care to their new digital citizens, the report says.

It also warns that the rise of robots could put a strain on resources and the environment.
20 years? Even 50? Barring some totally inherently unpredictable breakthrough (like discovering FTL and contacting aliens who are thousands of years agead of us) No Way.

I've blogged about brains, cyborgs and hybrots since the first day this blog was published, back in July 2003. We've made enormous strides in understanding how individual neurons work, and even small subassemblies of the brain. Dynamic MRI promises to increase our understanding of how the human brain works enormously.
But as for the nature of consciousness? How do you train an Artificial Intelligence to become a person, what mixture of hardwired instinct and learned behaviour do you need... that's another matter. There are human bodies with brains that are almost normal, yet they are not people, they're vegetative, with no higher cognitive functions, they don't even think as much as an earthworm does. Until we can understand what happens in these cases, and how to fix it, we can't train an AI into personhood. For an AI is not made, it's grown.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Kim's Mirror Image

From Spiegel Online International ("Spiegel" is German for "Mirror") :
Kim P. is 14 years old. She wears light eyeshadow, a navel-baring top and embroidered jeans. She plays with strands of her long hair as she describes her dream of going to Paris one day to be a fashion designer. Her attic bedroom in her parents' house is a girl's paradise in pink, with the requisite fashion magazines, a makeup table, a sewing machine and even a clothes mannequin near the window.

She's had enough of psychiatrists who ask weird questions. She's had enough of doctors who reject her case because this fashion-conscious girl -- previously called "Tim" in her patient file -- unsettles them.
Well, I know that feeling!
The family was at a loss when it came to seeking medical advice. "If your child has a heart defect you send him to a specialist," says Kim's mother, "but when your child is transsexual everyone seems to have an opinion."
"Hormone treatment! Gender adjustment! How could you possibly do this to the child?" the family's pediatrician barked at the father -- in Kim's presence. Then came the sessions at the state psychiatric hospital, where Kim would sit in green rooms with high ceilings, playing with experimental blocks, while her parents answered endless questionaires.

Sitting in the waiting room, Kim thought to herself: Does this mean I belong in an insane asylum?

The family's whole life up that point was suddenly in question. "Are boys unwelcome in your family?" they asked the mother. "Have you ever considered, instead of manipulating the child, sending him to be cared for by others for a while? Putting him in a closed children's psychiatric institution, for example?"

"What's wrong with being a real guy?" a doctor in a white coat would ask Kim. "Have you ever tried it? What do you think about your mother? Were you ever in love? With a boy or a girl? Do you like your penis?"

Kim answered their questions to best of her ability, but the whole thing felt humiliating. "All of a sudden I had the feeling that it was my fault, that there was something dirty going on."
Enough. Look, late transitioners like myself often feel sorry for ourselves. We envy the girls who transition early, almost as much as we envy the girls with 46xx chromosomes. But we forget the helplessness of the youngsters, the powerlessness. If their parents are supportive, it's wonderful - though even then the general ignorance in the medical profession is astounding. But if the parents aren't supportive, it's hellish.
From a purely medical standpoint we are dealing with the mutilation of a biologically healthy body," says Meyenburg. "We face a real dilemma. If we do something about it, it's irreversible. And if we allow nature to take its course, that too is irreversible."
That's why the treatment of choice in cases like these involve gonadotrophins. Drugs that delay puberty, rather than reverse it. It's not easy even for competent medics, for example, the ideal is to let puberty proceed far enough so some sperm can be collected for artificial insemination later. This is the only way an early transitioner can have children. Great if she's Lesbian, but most aren't, and that involves heartache too. They can never bear their husbands' children.
But in Kim's case, says Meyenburg, "it would have been a crime to let her grow up as a man. There are very few people in whom it's so obvious." It takes a great deal of experience to be able to differentiate between a temporary gender identity disorder and "true" transsexuality. Meyenburg recently met a 15-year-old girl who didn't want to be a woman. It took a while, but he discovered that the girl had been brutally abused by her father when she was seven.
The trauma of the experience had triggered a deep identity disorder, but not transsexual development. In the end, the girl chose not to undergo a sex change.

Based in part on such experiences, Meyenburg says "psychotherapy is always worth a try -- not because being a transsexual is such a bad thing, but because it is probably easier to go through life as an effeminate dance instructor than as someone who has had a sex change operation."
Probably. Easier still to go through life looking like an overweight ex-rugby player, one who would look terrible as a woman. That's what I thought anyway. But was it Really easier? I was so looking forward to an early and honourable death.
Even if the process goes on to indicate a sex change, most adolescents also benefit from psychotherapy. "After all," says Meyenburg, "there are also parents who attempt to beat it out of their children."
They are the lucky ones. The unlucky ones "run away from home", at least, that's the cover story. They're actually buried nearby. The really unlucky ones are often thrown out on the streets, to peddle their bodies in order to survive. Most die from drug-related illness : HIV, OD, hepatitis. Some die from violence. These are normal kids, just children, yet anathematised and rejected, having to earn big money just for the hormones to keep them sane.
Two years ago, Tanja Pfeil says, she wept uncontrollably after a TV report about a girl like Kim. She mourned the girl she could have been, and the life she'd missed as a woman. The girl on TV looked perfectly female and showed no male characteristics at all, said Tanja. At that point, to the outside world, she was a businessman from northern Germany, in her mid-forties and named Michael. "I attribute it to my sunny personality that I didn't fall apart," she says now. "Being transsexual is something for people who are completely healthy."
Oh I know that feeling! I was lucky, my denial was so strong I literally could not have watched such a program. If I'd seen part of it, I would have forgotten it within minutes of seeing it, forgotten that the program even existed. Ironically, it was when I healed that I transitioned.
As a 13-year-old, Tanja asked her grandmother where people came from. "They're made by our dear God in heaven," the old woman replied. "And when will I finally be a girl?" Tanja asked. "Never," her grandmother said, "God made you a boy." Her first thought at the time was that something had gone wrong in the cosmic factory: God had cobbled her together wrong.
He forced himself into the role of a man. He met a woman, fell in love, married and fathered a son. When the boy was born, Michael wished that he himself had given birth.
And there we have an example of how even well-meaning jounalists get it wrong. It should have been
"She forced herself into the role of a man. She met a woman, fell in love, married and fathered a son. When the boy was born, Michael wished that she herself had given birth ."
See what I mean? That corrected sentence shows how perverse it feels to be transsexual, how abnormal and uncomfortable acting according to societal expectations feels. Honesty compels me to say that when Carmen was actually giving birth - and it was not an easy delivery - when the obstetrician did the epesiotemy with surgical scissors (and there was still terrible tearing), my feelings were decidedly mixed. Most of me wished it was me simply because I'd rather have the pain than it be inflicted in someone I loved. Part of me was very glad it wasn't me! It was only beforehand, and afterwards, that I wished it had been me that carried Andrew and gave birth as a woman. Even now there's a pang, but I've known that couldn't be in my fate for 35 years. You think I would have gotten used to it by now.

Anyway, please go and read the whole thing. I don't believe that God (if he exists) makes mistakes. If a child is born with a hole in the heart, there's a reason for that - but we should fix any congenital problem to the best of our ability, that's part of His plan too.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Fire in the Sky

The Filksong - now a Video.

At SF Conventions and other places, peculiar people, SF Fans and Space Cadets, gather round to sing songs of longing, fantasy, low humour, or all three. "Banned from Argo" comes to mind.
Then they leave, and go about their humdrum lives. Some as clerks, some as satellite technicians, some as truck drivers, some as researchers on quantum teleportation.

Some do more than dream, you see. And some of the clerks are gaining qualifications part-time. Some of the truck-drivers too, if they're not transporting booster components. I'm not saying everyone, if they want something badly enough, can get it. But more can than you think, and the first step is to try, with all your heart and soul.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

The Canberra Night Sky

A map visible here.

View the Night Sky from the City nearest you or from a Lat/Long entry.

Also available at the same site, the Solar System Live: interactive orrery..

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Cyborgs Within A Decade

From the January issue of Neurosurgery, via Space Daily :
"We're at a junction now of developing a new approach for a brain-machine interface," says senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at Penn. "The nervous system will certainly rebel if you place hard or sharp electrodes into it to record signals. However, the nervous system can be tricked to accept an interface letting it do what it likes - assimilating new nerve cells into its own network."

To develop the next generation of prosthetics the idea is to use regions of undamaged nervous tissue to provide command signals to drive a device, such as an artificial limb. The challenge is for a prosthesis to perform naturally, relaying two-way communication with the patient's brain. For example, the patient's thoughts could convert nerve signals into movements of a prosthetic, while sensory stimuli, such as temperature or pressure provides feedback to adapt the movements.

The central feature of the proposed interface is the ability to create transplantable living nervous tissue already coupled to electrodes. Like an extension cord, of sorts, the non-electrode end of the lab-grown nervous tissue could integrate with a patient's nerve, relaying the signals to and from the electrode side, in turn connected to an electronic device.

The difficult thing is going to be decoding the sensory data from parts of the body below the break. But simple control of a prosthetic, that is at worst only a decade away.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Space Symbology

Of Planets
China National

Someone's a Trekkie. Or Trekker. Or even Trekette.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Statistics and Sex Changing

Transition is not about changing Sex : it's about changing the body to match the Gender. But part of Gender is Sex. Not the most important part, but neither can it be ignored.

Sexual AttractionSexual Experience
Before SRSAfter SRSBefore SRSAfter SRS
Neither males nor females27 (12%)21 (9%)12 (5%)54 (24%)
Females exclusively59 (26%)21 (9%)103 (46%)44 (19%)
Females primarily
Males incidentally
64 (28%)36 (16%)58 (26%)16 (7%)
Females mostly, but
also Males
32 (14%)16 (7%)23 (10%)7 (3%)
Females and Males
about equally
17 (7%)26 (11%)4 (2%)12 (5%)
Males mostly, but
also Females
7 (3%)30 (13%)7 (3%)6 (3%)
Males primarily,
Females incidentally
10 (4%)41 (18%)9 (4%)14 (6%)
Males exclusively11 (5%)36 (16%)10 (4%)73 (32%)

From Sexuality before and after Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery (PDF) by Anne Lawrence.

Now Dr Lawrence has some ideas I don't agree with, but as a scientist she's quite reliable, her data is trustworthy even if her theories aren't.

As always when dealing with TS issues, the sample size is small (n=232).
Survey participants were MtF transsexuals who had undergone SRS between May 1994 and March 2000 with Toby Meltzer, M.D., a surgeon practicing in Portland, Oregon. All participants had undergone SRS using a consistent surgical technique, consisting of penile-inversion vaginoplasty and clitoroplasty using a portion of the glans penis on a dorsal neurovascular pedicle.
Thereby shackling some very important variables. Same Surgeon and Same Technique might not lead to Same Surgical Outcome, but it comes as close as we can get.

What conclusions can be drawn from this data?

The figures scotch the common misconception "Transsexuals are just Gays who want sex with Men". Only 1 in 10 are attracted to guys beforehand. 7 in 10 have sexual relations exclusively or nearly so with other women, though only just over half are attracted to other women exclusively or nearly so. The pressure of societal expectation makes itself known.

After SRS... 4 in 10 end up in normal, heterosexual relations, though only 1 in 3 are exclusively attracted to men - societal expectations again. About 1 in 4 continue to be Lesbian, often with their previous partner, though many find guys sorta interesting now.

But there's one sadness. Before surgery, only 1 in 20 didn't have some form of Love Life. But afterwards, that becomes 1 in 4. To Transition is very often to condemn oneself to a life of loneliness. Tragically, the proportion of asexuals decreases : just at a time when they look for love rather than doing what society expects, that's the time their newly awakened desires are thwarted by grim Reality.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

New Hat?

Should be useful come magpie season.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Out of the Shadows

Not every child who is confused about their gender is Transsexual. But whether TS, Gay, or just "going through a phase", they have rights to Love and respect.

Quite simply the best movie on the subject I've ever seen. And while Gender is a bimodal distribution rather than a spectrum as such, the latter term is a pardonable simplification in this context.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Unpublished Works

In the conversion to the New Improved Blogger, I found a post I'd composed, but due to a connection problem never actually published.

It's from the 20th of June 2005, right when the somatic changes were peaking, but before all the tests had been completed. I decided it was a bit too revealing, I'd publish it later, then things rather overwhelmed me, and it fell through the cracks. Now Published : What the Heck...An Announcement

As it turned out, my chromosomes were 46xy. My chest developments decreased the next week, and didn't reach the same stage again until September, a month after HRT started. The situation was weirder than anyone thought. And my sexual orientation has changed, I'm no longer Lesbian. Right now I really don't want a sexual orientation, but I suspect it's something you don't have any choice about. What will be, will be.

The psychological effects on my partner, and the likely effects on our 25-year marriage where obvious even then. I'm just really good at self-deception, it's what kept me alive for 35 years. There comes a time of reckoning though, and Reality slaps you in the face with a Herring.

Anyway, please go read the previously unpublished post.

There will be another Song for Me

There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm
And never let you catch me looking at the sun
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
You'll still be the one

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
I'll be thinking of you
And wondering why

I'll be OK. There's now periods of up to 3 hours when I'm not in tears.
Unfortunately I have a paper that has to be in by the 20th, so am rather busy. It's inconvenient when you want to do work but you're crying so hard you can't see the screen.

Thanks so much to everyone for the e-mails, the comments, the phone-calls and SMS's. I'll reply to each when I'm able to.

Each day is a little... easier. Not better, I'm just more functional. Though Macarthur Park is still melting in the Dark a lot of the time.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

The 'D' Word

I love you but I must Divorce you she said this morning, as we cuddled.

Well, the odds always were against us. It's really just a recognition that our relationship isn't a marriage any more. Isn't it?

So how come I'm crying?

Someone left the cake out in the rain, I guess.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Fun and Games

In a day which has been entirely too serious - involving many tears - some totally frivolous URLs.

The Docking Module, home of a great simulation - ok, the only simulation - of how to run a space programme resulting in a successful Moon Landing.

Of course, it only runs under DOS. But there's an emulator for XP.

A Series of games about the Eurofighter, ranging from the sublime (mission planning) to the ridiculous (parking it after flight).

Spiders On Drugs. What it says.

And an unofficial Map for Serenity/Firefly.

Sorry, today was not a good day. I may blog about it later. Suffice to say I inadvertantly hurt someone terribly, and am trying to make amends.

Thursday, 11 January 2007


I'm not nearly as good a person as I'd like to be. I'm angry at some people on the other side of the planet who I've never met, people who have done me no harm, people who I'm sure are basically thoroughly decent human beings, who have suffered a tragic loss.

I have a friend, a woman who I've never met in person, but who helped me through some tough times with messages of grace and happiness. I helped relay her condition when she was hospitalised for SRS to a support group - we were in contact by phone. She sent me many good wishes and helpful tips when it was my turn for surgery.

Recently, her Father died, after a long illness. It wasn't unexpected, but tragic all the same. She loved her Dad very dearly.

Her Mother let it be known that she was not welcome at the funeral, no matter what clothing she wore. She was a shame to the family.

Now this woman very unobtrusively attended, not in the family row where she belonged, but furtively at the back. Wearing dark glasses to complement her sombre attire.

In the Eulogy, the names of her brothers and sisters were mentioned as her father's offspring: but not hers. Not even her previous name. She had been.... erased.

And that is why right now I'm trying very very hard to live up to my own ideals. To forgive. To excuse them, to tell myself that the people concerned are suffering through terrible grief, they're not in their right minds... except I think they are.

I've seen far too many good, decent people do evil, obscene things to their children and their brothers and sisters. Just because the children, the brothers and sisters were born with this congenital anomaly, and had the courage to get it treated instead of killing themselves.

This Mother is treating her daughter abominably. All people who are transsexual, or were formerly transsexual before treatment, have led thoroughly hellish lives for decades, unless they've been lucky enough to be treated early. They've exhibited great fortitude and courage, they've had to just to stay alive for so long, They should be treated as heroes and heroines, not as pariahs. Given extra consideration, not less.

But they worry "What will the neighbours say?". And so they do these apalling things.

I'll try to take a page out of the book of a very great man, who died a most unpleasant death, yet whose teachings are valued by many on this planet.

"Father Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do".

I'm all too human, I'm trying to forgive this family for what they've done to my friend, one of the finer people on the planet. Wish me luck, please.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Meganeura Flies Again

Or at least, a remotely-controlled robot version.

As I'm sure all my readers are aware, Meganeura (pdf file) was of the largest insects ever to fly; it had a wingspan of over 50cms!
Its wings were heavily veined with many cross braces to strengthen them – not at all like the delicate wings of dragonflies today.

A Fossil (courtesy Kendall Bioresearch of a specimen with a wingspan of 70cm.

Now go over to the Popular Mechanics site to see a Video of the modern equivalent - the world's first remote-control ornithopter.

The Dragonfly, winner of a Popular Mechanics Editor's Choice Award here at CES — though it's on display at the smaller, more innovative Sands expo — features four wings and a tail rudder, which help it fly at up to 18 mph just by flapping. The big thing here, though, is how easy and intuitive it is to control. A beginner mode helps you take flight and move on to expert mode for sharper turns and faster speed. And no need to re-power during your learning curve; the remote control doubles as a charger.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Cursing a Blue Streak

Also a Black Knight, a Blue Steel, a Black Arrow... Videos of the UK Space Programme.

This and much more at A Vertical Empire, the story of the UK Space Programme from 1950-1971.

And as an added bonus, have a look at the Victor Incident story over at the Blue Steel Developers page.

I was only a small child at the time, but in my early career 25 years ago I had the privilege of working with some of the engineers who'd worked on these projects.

Wikipedia gives an incomplete guide to UK Cold War Project Names. Some examples:
# Blue Water - air to surface missile
# Brown Bunny - see Blue Peacock
# Green Bamboo - nuclear weapon
# Green Cheese - nuclear anti-ship missile
# Green Flax - SAGW (Surface-to-Air Guided Weapon) - surface to air missile - see Yellow Temple
# Green Granite - nuclear weapons - Green Granite (small) & Green Granite (large)
# Green Light - SAGW - surface to air missile - see Short Sea Cat
# Green Mace - anti-aircraft gun
# Green Palm - airborne voice channel jammer
# Green Satin - airborne Doppler navigation radar unit

Monday, 8 January 2007

One Page Explanation

This is a 1-page article, necessarily simplified, which I've found useful in helping TS people explain their circumstances to their families. It's got no hyperlinks or references to sources, it's designed to be a simple explanation, not an academic thesis or even blog article. Nonetheless, it's helped many, and despite its flaws, I think it's saved a few lives.
What is Transsexuality? An Explanatory Guide
First, I'll have to explain "Intersex". Although 98.3% of people are born normally male or female, 1.7% aren't, quite. Of those, about half have trivial, insignificant differences from the norm, but some of the rest have significant differences. Some people are genetically male, but have female bodies, or the reverse. Others have their genes screwed up, so instead of being 46xx (female) or 46xy(male), they are 47xxy, or even a mix of 46xy and 46xx cells.

Now, I'll explain "What is a Transsexual". Some people - the Intersexed - have normal bodies, normal neural (brain) development, but cross-gendered genitalia. But others have normal bodies, normal genitalia, but cross-gendered brains. Genital development happens in the middle of the first trimester, neural development at the end. Little boys "know" they are boys before age 6, little girls "know" they are girls before age 6 too, and this has nothing to do with their body shape or upbringing, it depends on the neural development that was programmed in long before they were born.

Sometimes - about 1 in 500 according to Professor Lynn Conway, things go wrong to a greater or lesser extent. It's possible to end up with a wholly male body, but a female brain, and a female mind. The opposite happens too, but as we all start with a basically female template, it's easier to have a glitch that stops the masculinization of a male than to introduce extra masculinization in a female. That's why only 1 in 4 transsexuals are "Female to Male", men literally trapped in female bodies.

Many transsexuals whose "glitch" was partial can live with it, in various degrees of discomfort. But in at least 1 in 7 cases, or about 1 in 3500 people, the "glitch" is not partial, it's complete. These people, normal men or women who happen to have the wrong shaped body for their brains and minds, get a very severe degree of discomfort indeed. And it gets worse with age. Their brains just don't work very well with the hormonal blood chemistry they have, and their instinctive behavior is all wrong. Oddly enough, this has little to do with their sexual preference : many such women actually become ostensibly "lesbian" as the result of all the male hormones in their system, and the outside world thinks they're normal, straight males.

There's no "cure" for this congenital condition, but there is an effective treatment that's got a 97% improvement rate. That is to alter the sufferer's body with Hormones, and largely change it so it conforms to the brain's setup. But HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) can only do so much, some surgical "detail work" is usually required so that the sufferer can look normal, and resume their place in society, but as a member of the opposite sex. The one they've always truly been, inside, since long before their birth.

It's just a minor, and quite common, congenital abnormality. Unfortunately, it has far-reaching societal effects. Today, the problem is often picked up early enough so that intervention occurs during or shortly after puberty. But our knowledge of this syndrome is relatively recent, and due to the maternal instinct, a lot of transsexual women (those with male bodies) who were born in the 40's, 50's, 60's or even 70's are married and with children. As the discomfort gets worse with age, many are forced to "transition" at average age 45 no matter what the effect on their loved ones or careers, or suffer permanent and crippling psychological damage. But 45 is an average, some can last till 60, others have to transition before 30.

(C) 2006 Zoe E Brain - may be reproduced freely for non-commercial purposes

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Peculiar AristocraticTitle

Another interesting URL, this one found courtesy of Dispatches from TRJICistan, a suitably Geeky and quirky blog.
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Imperial Majesty Zoe the Ingenious of Hopton Goosnargh
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I rather like it.

Personality Tests Revisited

My results from the Brutally Honest Personality Test:

Freak- INFJ
13% Extraversion, 86% Intuition, 46% Thinking, 60% Judging
Well, well, well. How did someone like you end up with the least common personality type of them all? In a group of 100 Americans, only 0.5 others would be just like you. You really are one of a kind... In fact, I do believe that that's one of the definitions for the word "FREAK."

Freak's not such a bad word to describe you actually.

You are deep, complex, secretive and extremely difficult to understand. If that doesn't scream "Freak!" I don't know what does. No-one actually knows the REAL you, do they?

You probably have deep interests in creative expression as well as issues of spirituality and human development.

You've probably even been called a "psychic" before, because of your uncanny knack to understand and "read" people without quite knowing how you do it. Don't fret. You're not actually psychic. That would make you special and you'll never accomplish that.

You're also quite possible the most emotional of them all, so don't take this all too hard. Nevertheless you most definitely have the strangest personality type and that's not necessarily a good thing.


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...

Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Loser - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging
Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving
Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging
Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving
Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging
Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving
Dictator - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Same as the previous results back in late June 2005, the time when it was obvious my personality (as well as body) had changed, and that there was no direction for me other than forward, to "go with the flow", not fight the change, but accept it joyously. OK, I was terrified too, but the point was, there was no choice.
Contrast with the previous consistent Myers-Briggs results I'd had, documented just before the change in March 2005.

How Useful or accurate is Myers-Briggs? Good Question. But pragmatically, many recruiting organisations use it, as do HR departments in many firms. As I'd mentioned back in March 2005, I'd had similar results from similar tests administered by HR departments when I'd been an employee of large companies.

I can't vouch for its accuracy : but the Myers-Briggs test does appear to give consistent results over time.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Lunar Libration 2006

An extremely cool video animation of lunar libration throughout 2006. This shows not only how the Moon comes closer and recedes in its orbit, but also the "wobble" or Libation it has.

Yes, not only does the apparent size of the Moon change, but so does the centre of its disc.

Lunar Libation <a href="">here</a>


In the previous post, I mentioned "Fundies say the Darnedest things" and indeed, some who claim to be both Christian and Fundamentalist do.

But one of the larger contributors to my medical expenses, those of a Transsexual, is a Fundamentalist Christian in the True sense, and wishes to remain anonymous.

Some people do "get" Christ's message, after all. They just don't tub-thump about it, they quietly do good.

Just thought I'd mention that, in the interests of Justice if nothing else.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Things of Wonder

The Methane Lakes on Titan, radar images taken by the Cassini-Huygens probe in July last year.

And the Top 100 of Fundies Say the Darnedest Things . Example:
"No, everyone is born Christian. Only later in life do people choose to stray from Jesus and worship satan instead. Atheists have the greatest "cover" of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims."
Which is a very heretical statement by the way.

And in the "I Turned Over A Rock And Look What Crawled Out" department, there's a contribution from the Tight Rope forum, showing that old-fashioned White Supremacist Jewbaiting Nazism is not dead yet. I don't know how many are trolls, but I've seen far too many equally earnest Lunar Left Moonbattery to think it's not mostly genuine.

But then there's people providing free of charge a much needed public service.

It is truly a thing of wonder that the same species, even the same era could be responsible for all these things.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007


First, an addictive timewaster : Air Hockey.

Now, from the same site, a marvelous trick to play on telemarketers.


Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Strangely Appealing

I always was a softie. A Romantic, who cried during chick flicks. Thank goodness people just viewed it as an eccentricity. Darn it, the male act was hard sometimes.

Anyway, this cartoon strikes a chord in me, it's the type of thing a Geek Girl in love would do. Interesting that a young guy, the cartoonist, shows so much insight into human nature, a bit scary too. He understands far too much of the female psyche for comfort.

From XKCD - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Top Rated Game

In Iraq, anyway.

Actually, Orbiter is more my cup of tea. I'd recommend you have a look at the tutorial though, first.

Unfortunately, it seems 2006 was the first year in living memory that I didn't play any computer game more complex than Freecell - and that only when waiting for downloads to complete.

Well, I have been kinda busy.