Sunday, 31 October 2010

Christine O'Donnell Halloween Public Service Announcement (1999)



That's the (Christine O'Donnell) Reality. People falling victims to human sacrifice.... like Christine McKinney's 5,000 bodies of black prisoners dumped in the swamps after Hurricane Katrina...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Under Reported

From Reddit:

Reddit, your opinion on what a man-turned-woman (naturally) should do. : self
Nearly two years ago, my father was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition - what it is exactly, doctors are not sure of, possibly a mutation of Klinefelter syndrome - in which his endocrine system started producing more estrogen than testosterone. This resulted in a massive reversal of his gender - he now has softer and smoother skin, actual breasts, curvy hips, the whole nine yards. This was not something he willing underwent - it entirely occurred naturally and without warning....

I've always suspected my unusual syndrome is under-reported.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

E-Voting - How NOT to do it



In the systems I've been involved with:
  • Software - Open Source - not just the Electoral Commission has access to it, it's published on the web for anyone to verify. Operating system and compiler are also open-source.
  • Spot-Checking - Conducted by the Electoral Commission, who may invite 3rd parties such as Universities to check.
  • Background Checking - all those involved held security clearances at various levels.
  • Equipment Certification - Commercial Off-The-Shelf Hardware is used - and certified by the Electoral Commission
  • Dispute Resolution - handled by using alternate paper ballots, with Electoral Commission quarantining hardware for 3rd party inspection. In theory. as far as I know, there's been no disputes.
An electronic voting system that is not as secure as a poker machine is almost as easy to subvert as a paper ballot box.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Homophobic Bullying in US Schools

A snapshot of a Facebook page - since ineffectively covered up - courtesy of the HRC.



The author is Clint McCance of the Midland School District Board in Arkansas.

We know of at least 9 gay or apparently gay (but actually straight) or otherwise gender-nonconforming kids who have killed themselves due to mistreatment as schools in the US in the last few months. And 5 in the last few weeks.

Those are the ones we know about. And those who bully them, including teachers, principals and school board members make no distinction between "gay", "trans" or "intersexed". If anything, the latter two get more persecution, not less.

While many secretly rejoice at these deaths, very few say so openly, being content to shed some crocodile tears, before laying the blame on "Gay Activists" for, well, encouraging these kids not to lie. To have integrity.

These Holy Haters only say what they really feel when they're amongst those of like mind. The 6 who "liked" the post, for example, because this was supposed to be a private page, shared amongst friends.

UPDATE: It appears Mr McCance is up for re-election... and is running unopposed. Mr McCance ran unopposed and his term doesn't expire until 2015.

UPDATE: He has resigned, with an obviously sincere apology. A genuine one, not the faux "I'm sorry you were offended" variety that's fashionable these days.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

International Intersex Awareness Day

Today is International Intersex Awareness Day. Now with a Handy Pamphlet to print out and share (PDF).

Monday, 25 October 2010

Gaming the System

The Solar System, that is.

V1.0 is dead tree. V2.0 digital. V3.0 Actual - but that might be out of most people's price range.

Friday, 22 October 2010

(In)Actions speak louder than words

It's been nearly two years since I posted about former US Marine Jennifer Gale's death from exposure on the steps of a Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas.

From Planetransgender:
Two years have passed since transgender woman and former mayoral candidate Jennifer Gale died on the steps of a Austin Church. Jennifer's serenades often preceded council appearances and her notoriety spurred a outcry and a memorial was held. It was so very, very cold at her memorial on that grey Austin day but sadly her death has yielded no concrete results. The publicly funded homeless city shelter the ARCH, still offers no overnight accommodations to transgender woman.
...
In a email response Charles Kemp, Office of the Director, Austin/Travis County HHSD stated that the city funded homeless shelter ARCH does not allow transgender people to overnight, have a transgender written transgender policy or separate facilities to insure safety of transgender people should they take advantage of the 'day sleepers' program.
The Eulogies and tears shed at her death were most moving. From the Austin Statesman:
All seven members of the Austin City Council gave personal tributes to Jennifer Gale today is what was a touching and sometimes funny goodbye to the transgendered homeless woman who was a regular speaker — and singer — at council meetings. She also ran and lost numerous races for the council and other elective offices.

Gale had made her last three-minute appearance at a council subcommittee meeting Tuesday evening, spooling out her typically crowded list of concerns — health care, Iraq, abortion — and singing an on-tune and lilting version of “Silent Night.” A tape of her performance was played at council chambers today, with most of the audience and several council members joining in the singing.

“She’s always been an incredibly sweet person,” said Council Member Brewster McCracken, who recalled sitting with Gale for about 30 minutes not that long ago and asking about her life story. She told him about living in the Carolinas, about serving in the Marines, about working at a Stuckey’s.

The outpouring for such an unusual person, McCracken said, ” is a reminder of the better angels of all of us as Austinites. But the idea that she died alone on a park bench on a cold night is a reminder that we have not lived up to our better angels as a community.”

Council Member Mike Martinez pointed out that Gale had a particular problem finding proper shelter. She couldn’t go to a male shelter because she lived her life as a woman, but couldn’t go to a woman’s shelter because she was “anatomically” a man, Martinez said. He pointed out that the homeless residential facility that the council briefly considered months ago might have provided a place for someone like Gale.

Council Member Laura Morrison recalled that Gale was among the six who ran for the seat Morrison won. Gale came in fourth, Morrison said. Her favorite memory, Morrison said, was a Real Estate Council of Austin election forum when Gale “led about 500 suits and their guests at the Four Season’s ballroom in a rendition of “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.”

Mayor Will Wynn said he had the “distinct honor of running twice for mayor with Jennifer. You didn’t run against Jennifer, you ran with her.”

“Jennifer will be sorely missed,” Wynn said. “Semper fi.”
And in 2010, 2 years later...
According to Natasha Ponczek, Homeless Program Coordinator at City of Austin to the best of her knowledge there are no plans to make facility changes at the ARCH to accommodate transgender people.
No action. No plans for action, now or in the future.

Spare us the crocodile tears. It's easier to fight against honest malice than unctuous mouthings and deliberate neglect.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Day in the Life of Zoe Brain

I don't often post personal content on this blog. But today, I thought I might just give readers an idea what my life is like. I've already posted one article that's actually of interest, so feel free to skip this one.

Thought for the Day:

(Facebook Status) Zoe Ellen Brain hopes she never gets so angry that she loses her compassion. Hopes she never gets so sad that she loses all sense of hope. Hopes she remembers that she may never know if her words and actions have helped others.

...Stolen from Jude Stevens


Ego-Boo from a reply to a comment about Ms Lana Lawless and the LPGA's illegal discrimination:
"Well, thank you, Zoe for the kind words ... I have had my eyes opened and my mind broadened because of the information you have provided, but moreover by the way you have done so ... "

‎"I'm happy you are so forthcoming, because, I, for one, would never have had the opportunity to have my eyes opened in such a gentile[sic] manner as you have done ... I thank you for that and am indebted to you !!!"
Moving the Mountain, one teaspoonful at a time.

Today's Battle
- I was a little less gentle with another article on The Bleacher Report.
Lawless and her attorney apparently insist that her birth certificate says she was born a woman. Well, I suggest somebody was paid to create a false identity. Maybe there are penalties for that kind of misrepresentation.
Grrrrrrr..... Ignorance. Arrogance. I rather lost my cool unfortunately, and was rather sarky.
There are certainly penalties for libel. And even the most superficial research of the law would show that in 47 of the 50 states, trans women are entitled, once they provide evidence (the details vary between the states) to have their inaccurate birth certificates corrected. In some states, they issue a new one. In others, they just amend them. This has been the case in some states since 1955 - it's not something new. So to suggest that "someone was paid to create a false identity" may not be deliberately malicious, but it certainly shows a reckless disregard for the facts.
Yes, Zoe, you could have phrased that with a rather less confrontational tone. Still, I am human. I apologised for the tone though in a later comment. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
I appreciate your point about ability - Ms Lawless' drive of 335 yds is astoundingly good, though not as good as some womens'. The record in 362 yds is it not? Or are you saying that the record-holder must actually be male?

Maybe if you compared the average drives of a group of trans women, with those of other women, you might find the difference is less than you think, and possibly not in the direction you think, either. I can understand your alarm at viewing someone who's exceptional, and naturally assuming they're average, as you have no experience with that group.

The thing to do then is to look at such studies though. Those comparing the two groups. They show that after two years on hormones, the abilities are similar comparing those of similar builds.

Kathy, I know that with your passionate commitment to the game, you don't want any outsider spoiling it, under the cover of "Politically Correct" laws. I can't possibly blame you for that. From what I've read about you and your work, you've done so much to help other women, and encourage young girls, to take up the sport, that no-one has the right to criticise, least of all me.

Looking over my posts, my words are far too confrontational - that bit about "fraudulent birth certificates" really got to me, I'm afraid. I apologise for the tone I used, it was inappropriate and unfair.

What I'm saying though is that the laws aren't just PC touchy-feely stuff that ignores biological realities.

I too have a passionate commitment. To Human Rights, even though my politics are conservative. I've seen too much - Intersexed women denied the right to marry, or fired simply because they had genital reconstruction at 6 months old (Wilma Woods vs C.G Studios) so were not "real" women. I've seen superstition and ignorance substitute for science and objective reality. I've seen too many women discriminated against because they weren't "pretty" enough, weren't "feminine" enough, and I'm even old enough to remember when they had to be "white" enough too. Some were Intersexed or Trans, but most were not. And should anyone like that dare to excel, their whole identity gets called into question, not to mention the malicious accusations of fraud, bribery and so on.

That is the reason for my inappropriate tone in my comments. It doesn't excuse them though, and I apologise.
An apology is worthless if not sincere. I meant what I said. I'm still livid about the birth certificate comment, but no excuse. The facts should speak for themselves, not be garnished with bile.

For my son Andrew. Added this video of hints to my YouTube favourites. The game is rated MA (Mature Adults), not even PG (Parental Guidance Recommended) but in reality, 9 year old kids are not immune to the effects of war. Better to expose him to them now, and discuss the ethics of killing people, executing prisoners, war crimes, and why shooting people is allowed, but flamethrowers are not any more. And what makes us and not those we fight, the Good Guys. It's the way we fight, not just the cause.

They're people too, Zeddie! he said, wondering at the discovery that the Enemy were human like him. Yes, my darling boy, my only child, my whole world, they are. And if you're forced to kill them, as you may be, recognise that those who massacred the villagers aren't Demons, they have mothers too. "Do unto others" and all that. We say "Tango down" to depersonalise them, to see them as targets, because that's necessary in warfare. But never forget that they're just like you. It could be you who explodes in a shower of blood when hit by a burst of fire, not them. I pray it never will be. But I pray even harder that you do not dishonour yourself by becoming who you fight against.



PhD work. I'm preparing a poster for the Supercomputer Conference I'll be attending in New Orleans shortly. It's based on this one, but with more data. Work continues... we have enough data now to predict the average number of calculations for each length of molecule - and have done a length 20 one. That's 3 orders of magnitude harder a problem than anyone else has ever attempted. And a length 17 one had an energy lower than the crystal form (determined by X-ray crystallography). So we know something no-one else on the planet knows.

Admin - Travel. Booking confirmed, but not going via LA after all.
Thursday 11-Nov-10
United Airlines. Flight: UA840. Confirmed
Depart: Sydney Kingsford Smith Apt at 15:25.
Terminal: TERMINAL 1 INTERNATIONAL.
Arrive: Chicago O`hare Intl Apt 11-Nov-10 at 18:04.
Terminal: TERMINAL 1.

Thursday 11-Nov-10
United Airlines. Flight: UA655. Confirmed
Depart: Chicago O`hare Intl Apt at 21:06. Terminal:
TERMINAL 1.
Arrive: New Orleans International Apt 11-Nov-10 at
23:31.

Saturday
20-Nov-10
United Airlines. Flight: UA239. Confirmed
Depart: New Orleans International Apt at 07:19.
Arrive: San Francisco Intl Apt 20-Nov-10 at 12:06.
Terminal: TERMINAL 3.

Saturday
20-Nov-10
Air United Airlines. Flight: UA863. Confirmed
Depart: San Francisco Intl Apt at 22:37. Terminal:
INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL.
Arrive: Sydney Kingsford Smith Apt 22-Nov-10 at
08:10. Terminal: TERMINAL 1 INTERNATIONAL.
Arriving just before midnight, and checkin at the hotel is 2pm the next day. Oh great. I won't be leaving the airport, at least, not before daylight. Then a shuttle to the hotel, and see if I can check in early - or at least leave my luggage there. Never mind, cross that bridge when we come to it. Oh yes, and a 10 hour wait in San Francisco. Maybe enough time to see something of the place.

Teaching - a student who was really struggling managed to get 10/11 in his first assignment. He's probably the hardest working of any of them, it doesn't come naturally to him. But yes, the lecturer and I go the extra mile for him, because he's going the extra light year just to pass. I think he may just get a credit, through sheer determination.

Dinner - Rare Roast Beef sandwich, mustard, Cos Lettuce from the garden. Food of the Gods. And a cup of tea from my partner of nearly 30 years. She also brought me a few squares of dark chocolate... We do things like that for each other.

Today's Embuggerances
: My primary anti-virus program AVG's latest version (2011) is incompatible with Zone Alarm (my Firewall). So after diagnosis, wasted time uninstalling, rolling back to previous version, updating that to the latest pre-2011 release... restarting every half hour or so. Then the Registry was corrupt, so I had to use my Registry Repair tools. Tuned up, checked for spyware (just a few tracking cookies), and handed it over to my partner for her to use while I was at Uni. Oh yes, and one of my earrings broke. Drat.

Meh. While that's the worst thing that happens in a typical day, I'd say I was pretty darned fortunate, wouldn't you?

Blogging
- You're reading it.

Now to have a bath, maybe read a book while soaking. So much to do, so little time. Answer some e-mails, then sleep.

Monopole!

Lyle Lanley:
Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Electrified,
Six-weber
Monopole!
What'd I say?

Ned Flanders: Monopole!

Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

Patty+Selma: Monopole!

Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monopole!

From Physorg.com
Scientists have captured the first direct images of magnetic monopoles which were theoretically conceived by the British-Swiss physicist Dirac in the early 1930s who showed that their existence is consistent with the ultimate theory of matter – quantum theory.

The image at the right represents a 12 micrometer x 12 micrometer chunk of artificial magnetic metamaterial where monopoles can be seen at each end of the Dirac strings, visible as dark lines. The dark regions correspond to magnetic islands where the magnetization is reversed. (Image courtesy of Paul Scherrer Institute)

Quasi-Monopoles were first observed in 2009. They weren't true monopoles, just arrangements of molecules under certain conditions that behaved, um, monopolistically.
Jonathan Morris, Alan Tennant and colleagues (HZB) undertook a neutron scattering experiment at the Berlin research reactor. The material under investigation was a single crystal of Dysprosium Titanate. This material crystallises in a quite remarkable geometry, the so called pyrochlore-lattice. With the help of neutron scattering Morris and Tennant show that the magnetic moments inside the material had reorganised into so-called 'spin-spaghetti'. This name comes from the ordering of the dipoles themselves, such that a network of contorted tubes (strings) develops, through which magnetic flux is transported. These can be made visible by their interaction with the neutrons which themselves carry a magnetic moment. Thus the neutrons scatter as a reciprocal representation of the Strings.


Image of Dirac String "Spin Spaghetti" (Credit: HZB / D.J.P. Morris & A. Tennant)



So.. what's the Big Deal, if independent monopoles can be formed?

From Applications of Magnetic Monopoles by Hans P. Moravec (1979):
Monopole technology - Magnetic monopoles are predicted by some quantum field theories of atomic forces. Although they have not been found yet, there is good reason for that since they would be very heavy and therefore hard to make. If they could be made in quantity, there would be a complete revolution in our technology. Efficient electric motors, high density energy storage, high temperature superconductors, ultra-strong fibers and armor plate, and high density matter, are just a few of the many possibilities.
...
Combined with increased attraction due to the magnetic quantum being (68.5)^2 as strong as electric, the tensile strength of monopolium is (2,000,000)^4x(68.5)^2 = 10^29 as high as normal.

The strength to weight ratio is thus about 10 million times as high.

This reflects the fact that monopole chemistry is a energetic per unit mass as nuclear fusion and fission of conventional matter.

The first quantum jump in a monopole electron orbital involves a hard gamma ray. Thus at mild temperatures (anything less than a million degrees, say), monopolium should be a potential superfluid, superconductor, etc.

It should be possible to overlay structures of conventional matter with a thin (very very thin) veneer of monopolium to protect them against virtually everything except a projectile of monopolium moving at very nearly the speed of light. (general products hulls!).

Superconducting monopole mirrors probably reflect everything up to the the energy of proton-antiproton anihilation gamma rays.

The extreme density permits very small and very fast (about 10 million times as fast as conventional) monopole integrated circuits and computers. The RF frequencies involved would be in the gamma ray range.
Of course there's a little matter of getting them into large-scale production, making monopolium etc. That problem might take some time to solve - maybe tens of thousands of years. The thing is - if we can separate them from the lattice (something that may be as difficult as extracting the electron holes from transistors ie impossible by definition), those applications are possibilities now. Inevitabilities, unless we get zapped by an errant dirty snowball in the meantime.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

And in other news....

Post Congress Live Operative Workshop on Hypospadias and DSD
AIIMS, New Delhi. October 25-26, 2010
Scientific Program
Tuesday
Case presentation and Live Operations on Hypospadias ( OR 10 and OR 11)
(Cocktail Dinner : 7 pm onwards),

Wendesday
Live Operations on Female Genitoplasty- Citoroplasty, vaginoplasty, UGS
It's unlikely that any of the children they're going to operate on are at the age to consent to it. Note however that I authorised such surgery for my son before age two, as he was in increasing pain, and urinary function was starting to be compromised. I'm not fanatically against such surgery - only against the purely cosmetic kind that compromises fertility and sensation, and results in scarring that may limit future reconstruction.

From PinkNews (UK)
Senior managers at the BBC and Channel 4 recently admitted that transgender storylines can be inaccurate and are frequently lacking in breadth and substance.
...
Sarah Lake of TMW (said)...“We do not believe most of the constant casual abuse and ridicule of trans people in broadcasting is deliberately intended to be malicious. In our meetings so far we've not come across a single broadcaster who had ever consciously had a meaningful conversation with a trans man or woman."
That they knew of.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Alice Dreger on Caster Semenya



I'm not real thrilled about Intersex conditions being described as Disorders of Sexual Development. I prefer Milton Diamond's Difference of Sexual Development, as many Intersexed people don't see their natural state as being disordered, just a natural variation, like red hair.

But I'm not fanatical about it. Words matter, but some matter more than others.

More from ESPN here.

Here's an interesting tidbit from history. After the success of a number of Black women in athletics events in 1948, according to “Coming on strong: gender and sexuality in twentieth-century women’s sport” by Susan K. Cahn p 111
…Olympic governing bodies of the 1950s once again considered eliminating several women’s track-and-field events because the competitors were “not truly feminine”.
In the discussions that followed, Olympic Official Norman Cox sarcastically proposed that rather than ban women’s events, the IOC should create a special category for the unfairly-advantaged “hermaphrodites”, who regularly defeated “normal” women, those less-skilled “child-bearing” types with “largish breasts, wide hips [and] knocked-knees.”
This wasn't based on chromosomes, or hormone levels, it was based on Race. He was talking about Black women. It was based on them not appearing feminine enough by the white standards of the time. Competitors were complaining.

The Olympics committee decided not to pander to prejudice, in 1948 mind you. In 2010, are we to retreat from that?

Monday, 18 October 2010

How Close Is a Workable Brain-Computer Interface?

From Technology Review:
Scientists led by Eduardo Iáñez of Miguel Hernandez University have for the first time combined a number of desirable features into a single brain-computer interface that is noninvasive, spontaneous and asynchronous.

About that asynchronicity: it turns out that, because of the bandwidth limitations of recording brain activity through EEGs -- external electrodes placed on the outside of the head -- previous attempts at noninvasive brain computer interfaces required that users only direct the computer during certain time slots.
...
Iáñez and colleagues' approach gets around this limitation by using four different models, each with assumptions that are sometimes the opposite others. This way, however a subject's brain happens to be wired up, all the computer has to figure out is whether they mean "left" or "right" in order to direct a robot arm in two dimensions.


From Iáñez, E., Furió, M. C., Azorín, J. M., Huizzi, J. A., and Fernández, E. 2009. Brain-Robot Interface for Controlling a Remote Robot Arm. In Proceedings of the 3rd international Work-Conference on the interplay between Natural and Artificial Computation: Part Ii: Bioinspired Applications in Artificial and Natural Computation (Santiago de Compostela, Spain, June 22 - 26, 2009). J. Mira, J. M. Ferrández, J. R. Álvarez, F. Paz, and F. J. Toledo, Eds. Lecture Notes In Computer Science. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 353-361.
This paper describes a technique based on electroencephalography (EEG) to control a robot arm. This technology could eventually allow people with severe disabilities to control robots that can help them in daily living activities. The EEG-based Brain Computer Interface (BCI) developed consists in register the brain rhythmic activity through a electrodes situated on the scalp in order to differentiate one cognitive process from rest state and use it to control one degree of freedom of the robot arm. In the paper the processing and classifier algorithm are described and an analysis of their parameters has been made with the objective of find the optimum configuration that allow obtaining the best results.

And from José L. Sirvent, José M. Azorín, Eduardo Iáñez, Andrés Úbeda and Eduardo Fernández P300-Based Brain-Computer Interface for Internet Browsing, Trends in Practical Applications of Agents and Multiagent Systems, Advances in Soft Computing, 2010, Volume 71/2010, 615-622L:
This paper describes the implementation of a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) for controlling Internet browsing. The system uses electroencephalographic (EEG) signals to control the computer by evoked potentials through the P300 paradigm. This way, using visual stimulus, the user is able to control the Internet navigation via a virtual mouse and keyboard. The system has been developed under the BCI2000 platform. This paper also shows the experimental results obtained by different users.


More please, and faster.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The US Mortgage Debacle

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
The fact that the Judge prejudged the case, so much so that she entered conformed copies of a Final Judgment before the hearing even began, requires disqualification.
Actually, I think life in jail would be more appropriate.

It's one thing to have sausage-machine "justice", verdict first, trial afterwards - but one should at least obey the forms.

From Naked Capitalism:
These new foreclosure-only courts are special creations of the Florida legislature, funded separately from the usual court system. They are manned by retired judges, which means in many cases they are not familiar with real estate law.

But perhaps most important, the explicit objective of these courts is to clear up the backlog. And that is coming to pass not by the Legislature having thrown enough resources at the problem (that is, having greatly enlarged court capacity to process more cases in parallel) but by pushing for faster resolution. The problem is that an accelerated process runs roughshod over due process and allows banks to foreclose when they may not be the right party, or worse, when the foreclosure is the result of servicing error.

Let’s look at one example of banana republic faux justice in the US, via a speech by foreclosure court Judge Roger Colton to his court on how the day was going to go. It’s simply breathtaking. He says that if the bank is foreclosing, he’s not going to consider any evidence that the foreclosure is in error (servicing errors, plaintiff can’t provide proof it owns the note, which means it might not be the right party and procedurally, means it lacks standing to take action). He says he has already heard everything, there is a lot of unemployment in the area; he is going to schedule a court date, but that is merely a deadline for negotiation. In other words, he makes it abundantly clear he has no interest in hearing evidence. When he gets to seeing a defendant after his speech to the court (p. 13), he rubber stamps what the bank wants without even considering the evidence. And apparently his entire day went like that. The summary from an attorney who was representing a client before him that day:
On 8/30, I had a Summary Judgment Foreclosure hearing on Palm Beach County’s “Rocket Docket”. The judge spoke for 14 minutes to the crowd, of mostly pro se defendants, about how they should just agree to the summary judgment and the plaintiffs, (whose attorneys (Shapiro & Fishman had a dedicated courtroom and to whom he referred to as “my attorneys”) would be gracious (Ha!) enough to allow them to stay in their homes for 120 days if needed (even though the statute says he only has to give them 30). When it came to hearing arguments which were fully briefed and provided to the court (pursuant to the instructions of the Divisions head judge) he only allowed 30-60 seconds for argument, failed to read any of the papers, failed to review the plaintiff’s foreclosure package,flatly ignored the Affidavit filed in Opposition, ignored my plea for a trial, signed the judgment and dismissed me. I never was permitted to even read the proposed judgment or to examine the “newly discovered” allonge which Shapiro’s counsel said I had no right to see.

Newly discovered allonges (separate documents with endorsements on them) are fakes; this is the new preferred method of document fabrication. Per the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code), an allonge is to be used ONLY when all the space that could be used for endorsement of a note has been used up. That means margins and the reverse side. And when an allonge is employed, it has to be so firmly attached to the original as to constitute a single document. Hence, no way can it travel separately and suddenly be discovered if it were legitimate.
The Laws, it appears, are for the little people. Documents are being blatantly fabricated, and the courts staffed by "retired Judges" who aren't actually superannuated. The usual reason for "retirement" in such cases is such blatant corruption or sheer incompetence that it can't be ignored, and the offender quietly eased out before too much more scandal is caused.

The whole mess that's caused the need for such sausage-factory systems is explained at Rortybomb in Foreclosure Fraud For Dummies.

In summary, Property Law in the US relies on title, proof of ownership, to be proved by physical pieces of paper, notes, with annotations and changes all witnessed. These legal requirements have been ignored. Mortgages have been bundled, securitised, commoditised, into more marketable packages suitable for large scale investments. Have a $200,000 mortgage, it's not particularly saleable. Have a package of 200 or more mortgages, worth in aggregate $50 million, and large-scale investors become interested. While default may happen on one or two, requiring expensive foreclosure and recovery costs, in aggregate the risk is lower. Unless the market collapses, and then they're up the creek.

But carrying around notes and pieces of paper, notarising all the changes of ownership as packages are aggregated, split, sold, re-sold etc was just too hard. It would require thousands of such notarisations per day, and to do it properly, checking title and making sure there was no mistake, that might take a good legal person several hours on each one. Far too expensive. So they didn't bother actually doing any of that, they just employed junior "robo-signers" to systematically perjure themselves and state under penalty of law that it had been done.

That's if they had the notes in the first place. Often they didn't. The firm they bought the mortgage from never received them from the previous owners - who are now out of business.

See Laws, little people, relation to.

Now the whole system would collapse if the courts didn't just cut corners, but make the circles rounder. This has been attempted... but there have been people evicted from their homes who never had a loan, and others who have paid it off but suddenly find half a dozen financial institutions each claiming sole ownership. Sometimes the banks have sold property they didn't own, and sometimes they've sold the same property multiple times to different buyers. This judicial attempt to take short-cuts and ignore mere laws to regularise an irregular situation has resulted in disaster, and some states now have moratoriums on all foreclosures until things are set to rights, and the mess sorted out.

From the Daily Caller:
Tomorrow, a bank—not your bank, but any bank—could evict you from your home. Even if you didn’t know the bank was foreclosing. Even if your mortgage is paid off. Even if you never had a mortgage to begin with. Even if the bank doesn’t hold a single piece of paper that you signed. And major banks not only know this fact, but have spent millions of dollars to defend it in court. Why? The answer starts with a Jacksonville homeowner named Patrick Jeffs.

In 2007, Deutsche Bank sued Jeffs for his home, which is a necessary step in the process of foreclosing on a homeowner in the state of Florida. Curiously, despite the fact that he immediately hired a law firm to defend his property when he found out about the foreclosure, neither Jeffs nor his attorneys were at the trial. That’s because it had already happened. Deutsche won by default because Jeffs wasn’t able to travel backwards in time to attend, even though the trial featured a signed affidavit indicating that he had been served his court summons.

The only problem with the summons Jeffs supposedly received was that it had been conjured out of thin air.

In June of this year, a Florida court ruled that the document was fraudulent, as the person who was supposed to make sure Jeffs was served had mysteriously received a copy of the summons before the lawsuit had even been filed, and Jeffs never even saw the copy. The text of that ruling was posted on various financial news websites in September. The lawyers that Jeffs hired to defend his case say that fraud such as this is not uncommon. It’s a widespread problem, and it has cost countless families their homes.

“I think it’s safe to say that 95% of the foreclosure cases in Florida involve some form of fraud on the part of the bank,” David Goldman of Apple Law Firm, PLLC told The Daily Caller in a phone interview. “It’s probably closer to 99%. And the court system is helping them get away with it.”

A 95% rate of fraud sounds preposterous, but the number was repeated by a paralegal familiar with the case, Lisa Beasley, as well as Michael Redman, who was prompted to create a website called 4closurefraud.org after enduring personal experiences with the matter.
...
Earlier this year, Goldman worked with Jane Doe, an elderly woman whose real name couldn’t be disclosed for legal reasons. She had just spent several weeks outside of her home state of Florida visiting relatives, and she was current on her mortgage payments, which she had been paying for the past 15 years. She even called up her bank during her trip to ask about the best way to send in her latest payment. The bank told her that it wasn’t allowed to discuss the mortgage with her because her husband was the property owner, not her. But the bank couldn’t discuss the mortgage with her husband, either. Why? Because he was dead. And he had been for five years. Confirming this fact would have taken mere minutes.

Instead, when Jane returned home, the locks to her house had been changed and all of the property inside the house was gone. She still hasn’t recovered that property, and the bank hasn’t even told her where it is. According to Goldman, the wrongful repossession was first admitted, and then, inexplicably, the bank actually changed its mind and tried to make the outrageous claim that the homeowners’ association was actually the entity which had ultimately decided to change the locks and empty the house.
...
Earlier in the year, Bank of America “foreclosed” on Charlie and Maria Cardoso, removing all of their property and changing the locks even as a realtor employed by the bank itself told it that there was no mortgage on which the Cardosos could skip payments. Eventually, the papers used by Bank of America were shown to have the wrong address. Someone, somewhere guessed.
...
On September 23, the bank “foreclosed” on a Ft. Lauderdale house owned by Jason Grodensky. Phone calls and emails elicited no answers, and the problem was only resolved after Grodensky took the story to the media and received national attention. There should have been no way for Bank of America to take control of the property. Instead, Grodensky discovered that the title to that property had already been sold. The bank recovered the title at its own cost.
...
This week, Florida television station WFTV reported Nancy Jacobini’s story. JP Morgan’s lawyers had sent a contractor to change the locks on Jacobini’s house. She actually happened to be sitting on a couch inside that house at the time, which means that she could have simply opened the door for the contractor in response to a simple knock—and it also means, according to Jacobini’s lawyer, that changing the locks was illegal, because the house was still occupied. Instead of a knock, Jacobini heard someone breaking through her front door, grabbed her phone and hid in her bathroom, where she called 911. The breaking and entering was just an extra helping of crime. And here’s the kicker—not only was Jacobini occupying the house, but JP Morgan hadn’t even foreclosed. At every step along the way, the rule of law simply didn’t exist.
...
A man named Jeffrey Stephans testified on September 14th that he had signed off on affidavits which he didn’t actually examine. Those affidavits were used in thousands of Ally foreclosures, and the properties involved were subsequently bought and sold. The previous homeowners can now sue the banks that foreclosed, and the “they were underwater anyway” argument isn’t holding up in many states, where both civil and criminal penalties are being discussed. By admitting his actions
, Stephans instantly invalidated all of the repossessions and sales that were based on those actions. And Stephans said his practices are common in the industry. They’re so common, in fact, that a term was developed to describe them: “robo-signing.” This is being performed at law firms that process thousands of documents a day, which have become known as “foreclosure mills.”

Tammie Lou Kapusta, a former paralegal for one of those mills, testified on September 22nd that she was instructed by the attorneys at the firm to officially notarize hundreds of documents a day with a notary stamp that she wasn’t legally allowed to use. When complaints started rolling in about stamp dates that didn’t match other dates within the documents, she and all of the other paralegals doing the same thing at the firm were instructed to make the date of the stamp match the other dates, no matter what day it actually was. The documents would then be signed with the name “Cheryl Samons” by three different people, only one of whom was actually named Cheryl Samons. Kapusta said she drew the line when she was instructed to use random Social Security numbers assigned to people who might not even exist in order to falsify documents regarding each hypothetical person’s military status.

At least she drew it somewhere. She told the court that others didn’t.

The fact that there has been fraud and theft on a massive scale, sometimes by organisations long gone, that's been ... ignored. The Dishonesty has been so universal that we can't do anything else without rocking the boat till it capsizes.

Again, see Laws, and Little People.

What this means is that few titles that have changed hands in the last decade are unimpeachable. Even those who bought for cash may not be able to prove ownership, so cannot sell, not for any price. Unemployment is now close to 10%, and the traditional remedy for that, moving to where the jobs are, that's not always, or even usually, available now. People can't sell their homes, or if they can, may not be able to buy any of the millions of foreclosed homes now standing empty, because no-one can be sure who legally owns them.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the Australian dollar is now worth more than the US dollar. Why those in the US real estate market are selling for any price they can get, and why gold is going up and up and up. Because it's not just the Real Estate market. It's the attitude that if a corporation is large enough, it is effectively beyond the law. Judges can be bought, and Congresscritters rented, quite cheaply. The system worked while the illusion was kept up, but now the rubes are starting to get wise.

The US economy has so much inherent strength that it will survive even this. But we may see the days of million dollar bills being insufficient to buy a cup of coffee first.

See Quantitative Easing.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Silly Walks - Military Edition

First, Greece:



Consider this - not so long ago, an improvised explosive was found near a place the Evzones were guarding. Everyone else was evacuated, but they remained on guard until it went off.

Because remaining at their post, ready to die in the explosion required less courage than wearing that gear in public. When they guard a place - it's guarded.

Onto the India/Pakistan border.



I don't think they like each other very much

Finally, some drill straight from 18th century Prussia, preserved by Peter the Great, and still practiced in Russia today.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Extent of the Problem

Report reveals discrimination against transgender people by health providers, high HIV rates, lack of access to necessary care | National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
"My experiences in dealing with police and hospital personnel after my rape was not pleasant and lacked a lot of sensitivity to trans issues." — Survey Respondent

"Finding doctors who will treat, will prescribe, and will even look at you like a human being rather than a thing has been problematic. Have been denied care by doctors and major hospitals so much that I now use only urgent care physician assistants, and I never reveal my gender history." — Survey Respondent
While I've not had experience of the first, and managed to locate an extremely competent and kind medical team for myself - not without a few false starts - yes, I've experienced the second.
Usually it's just cluelessness. Sometimes... not.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) reported being refused care outright because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • Survey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination and disrespect (28 percent).
  • Harassment: 28 percent of respondents were subjected to harassment in medical settings.
  • Significant lack of provider knowledge: 50 percent of the sample reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care.
  • Despite barriers, the majority has accessed some form of transition-related medical care, but only a minority has had any surgery, despite the fact that a strong majority stated wanting to have it someday.
  • Respondents reported more than four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64 percent in our sample compared to 0.6 percent in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76 percent, and with those who are unemployed (4.67 percent) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32 percent) even higher.
  • Over a quarter of the respondents reported misusing drugs or alcohol specifically to cope with the discrimination they faced due to their gender identity or expression.
  • A staggering 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.
I'm one of the few I know in a similar situation who have not attempted self-destruction. If anything, this figure is likely to be understated. Three of my friends are only alive because the gun didn't go off when they pulled the trigger.

And I've had to teach all of my medical team about some of the finer details of this issue, even the experts. How did they become expert? By listening to their patients. That's how they maintain their reputation and proficiency too. They just don't have the time to go through all the myriad medical papers giving the latest findings. We do.

As regards the substance abuse and sex work - I can believe that too. I know all about the feeling you get when you think your life is in the toilet, there's no way out.

I made the decision to endeavour to be the best man any woman could be. And to gain a victory over cruel fate by helping others, those who were in a better position that myself, to salvage their lives. I could never be more than a fake male. I could never be the woman I was supposed to be - barring some miracle. But I could still be a decent human being, I could win by helping others, and be an asset to myself, and the world, rather than a liability.

Others dive into pill bottles, or booze. I can understand that. All too well.

Another study showed that the average age that Trans kids are ejected from their home by "loving" parents is thirteen and a half. Think about that.

Thirteen and a half. And that's an average, some are younger. To be put out on the streets, no home, no education, nothing but the clothes on your back...and all too often, refused admission to the few shelters and help programs for homeless youth, because "they don't deal with your kind here". And to have one asset - a fresh, unspoilt, innocent body that's much in demand by some with exotic tastes in sex.

And you don't care about yourself. Why should you? You're society's refuse, not fit to exist.

There but for the Grace of God - and loving parents, and the fact that I was able to hide - go I. Oh yes, I can believe those figures.

Which is why I blog about it. You see, although my life is worth living now, I got into the habit of doing what I could to help others more fortunate than myself. Once you get into that habit, the urge to do something, however small, to help others less fortunate is something I find overwhelming. It's as much a part of myself as, well, my sex. And it's not as if I do much, nothing compared with many others who devote their lives to this work.

So, having read this post... what are you going to do to help?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Canine Intersex

From the UK Telegraph:
A dog abandoned by its owner after it was born as a hermaphrodite is looking for a home after having a sex change operation.
...
Now surgeons have transformed the dog by removing her male organs and turning her into a bitch.

Lisa Graham, 35, manager at the home, said: "People would see her and were quite attracted. When we explained the condition she had and that she would have to come back to us for surgery, they were repulsed – it was not the surgical aspect, it was the condition."
Abandoned...Surgery without consent... and people "repulsed" by the condition.

Why, this dog could be human. For that's how Intersexed children that age are treated too.

And on a personal note... our cat, Schroedinger, had been suffering congestive heart failure, possibly due to parasites picked up from a rat he'd caught. The heroic medical measures to reduce the oedema unfortunately resulted in no improvement, so we had him put to sleep before he became too uncomfortable. I miss him terribly, now's about the time he used to jump on my bed and snuggle up next to me, as I was working on my laptop.

I'm not a cat person, I'm a dog person. But for him.. I made an exception. We lost a member of our family today.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Inflation and the Military Budget

BBC News - Russia inflates its military with blow-up weapons

An S-300 long-range anti-aircraft missile system.



The idea is not new. Military History mavens will recognise this M4 Sherman from WW II.





Of course, it can go the other way too... a WW II British Churchill tank pretending to be a common-or-garden AEC Matador 4x4 truck.




In 1943 Winston Churchill reportedly told Joseph Stalin that "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies".

Monday, 11 October 2010

Surgery on Intersexed Newborns

A segment from ABC's "Hungry Beast" programme.



The lighting is such that you can see where my sinus was crushed in an attack on me before I was 10. The lump on my forehead is still there, 44 years later. Bullying of Intersex and Trans kids happens, even if their genitalia appears normal. You don't prevent that by changing their genitalia, you do it by changing society. In the process, you'll save a lot of other kids too.

BTW - it wasn't until I had my skull PET-scanned for a chronic sinus problem about ten years ago that I found out my left brow sinus had been crushed. It seemed at the time no worse an injury than others I'd received.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A 30 years review of congenital adrenal hyperplasia in Northern Ireland

A 30 years review of congenital adrenal hyperplasia in Northern Ireland
Thirty-seven patients (22 female, 15 male) from 30 families presented with CAH over this time period giving an incidence of 1:23,092 live births. Eighteen (49%) were diagnosed shortly after birth (83% virilised females); 13 (35%) presented in the first few weeks of life with adrenal crises (85% male); and 6 (16%) presented with virilisation in later childhood.
...
In the first 16 years reviewed, 8 (80%) girls had perineal surgery in childhood, compared with 2 (16%) in the second 18 years. Two (9%) women had adrenalectomy. Eleven (58%) of those transferred to adult services have been lost to follow-up.

The "perineal surgery" in such cases would often be clitoridectomy. Amputating the clitoris for being too big. It's likely that the surgery performed in later life, on consenting adults, was likely to be less radical, and more concerned with preserving sensation.

Two had their adrenals removed. This tissue from Intersexed children was often used in early research into birth control pills.

These days, such surgical procedures are reserved for the most severe cases, where there is essentially no benefit from the completely dysfunctional glands. In such cases, the results can be very good. From ADRENALECTOMY FOR CAH Summary Research by Van Wyck and Ritzen:
We believe that these long-term studies document that bilateral adrenalectomy is a safe and efficacious method of managing patients with severe forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. It should be considered in patients who have repeatedly escaped from adrenal suppression and who are now suffering from progressive signs of both androgen and glucocorticoid excess.
As a last-ditch procedure when all else fails, there's usually an improvement. Not a good situation, certainly not a cure, but better than not performing the surgery, and often far better. It can make a real difference, when there's been a history of severe problems.

There are certain disadvantages though...
Adrenalectomized patients will require close medical supervision for life since they will remain at risk for serious consequences or death if not given adequate substitution therapy. Prophylactic adrenalectomy of young patients should be limited to academic centers with established research protocols.
Where at least the do good science when experimenting on Intersexed newborns. Which is what "Prophylactic adrenalectomy" is, because at that stage, we can't know whether the symptoms will be mild or severe.

The rules are different for Intersexed people.

Friday, 8 October 2010

ADHD, Genes, and Neurology

A Brain post, this one.

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. First, an explanation of what we know about it:


The excellent necroblog on the subject, ADHD and More, has a very good article on it.

From MSNBC
:
British researchers compared the genomes of 366 white British children from 5 to 17 years old with attention deficit hyperactivity, or ADHD, to those of more than 1,000 similar children without the disorder. The scientists focused on a sequence of genes linked to brain development that has previously been connected to conditions like autism and schizophrenia.

In children without ADHD, about 7 percent of them had deleted or doubled chromosomes in the analyzed gene sequence. But among children with the disorder, researchers discovered about 14 percent had such genetic alterations. Scientists also found that 36 percent of children with learning disabilities in the study had the chromosomal abnormalities, compared to those with a normal IQ.

"This is the first time we've found that children with ADHD have chunks of DNA that are either duplicated or missing," said Anita Thapar, a professor at the MRC Centre in Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University who was one of the study's authors.
They got it factually wrong when the referred to "chromosomes" - we're talking about sequences of DNA, usually multiply-repeated ones, that we have good evidence are important in neurological development, not chromosomes as such. To use an analogy, like anomalies in the tread-pattern of a tyre, rather than a car with a missing or extra wheel.

As is typical, the effect is subtle. There is no "ADHD gene", just some sequences that make it more likely that a smaller-sized random hormonal glitch will cause real effects, rather than requiring a larger one - which happens sometimes too.
Peter Burbach, a professor of molecular neuroscience at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, was surprised some of the genetic defects found for ADHD were identical to ones for autism and schizophrenia.
...
"This is not a structural abnormality in the brain, it's just the last phase of development that's gone wrong," he said. "It could be the brain just needs to be fine-tuned."
Perhaps. But I think not - we can certainly provide work-arounds and neural circuitry that will attenuate some of the worst effects, even convert them into advantages under some circumstances. But the basic structure will remain, even if asymptomatic due to deliberately induced anomalies in the more plastic parts of brain structure.

I don't think it's the last stage that's gone wrong. More like a very early one. Still, if we get a good result at the end by coarse-tuning of the plastic neurology during childhood, the effect is close to normal, and may be superior in some ways.

The corollary is that if the child is exposed to a malign environment when growing up, the symptoms of ADHD may be induced, even with a normal basic brain structure. Coarse-tuning the wrong way.

This may be a general rule (to a greater or lesser extent)in much neuro-atypicality.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Chinese Tortoise

Not a new species; a description of the robust and long-term space program that China is quietly executing. One that means that the next human to land on the Moon will speak Mandarin - as will the first Lunar colonists.

From Space Daily :
Subsequently, China announced plans to launch the back-up orbiter on an independent mission, to expand on the discoveries of Chang'e 1.

The new mission was dubbed Chang'e 2. Its launch on China's national day (October 1) went smoothly. If the performance of the first mission is any guide, we can expect a satisfying set of outcomes from this orbiter over the course of its six-month mission.

The numerical designations of the landers underwent a short-term reshuffle. The rover-lander was now dubbed Chang'e 3 and the sample-return mission was Chang'e 4.

But there seem to be more missions planned than this. Evidence in the Chinese media increasingly supports the concept that China plans at least four lunar landers.

In an earlier article this year (China's Lunar Twins, SpaceDaily August 19, 2010), I drew attention to a small fact table published in the Global Times, a state-run newspaper aimed at an international audience. The table spoke of Chang'e 3 and 4 as being part of the second stage, or "landing" missions and Chang'e 5 and 6 as the third stage, or "returning".
U suspect we may be seeing a pattern here, a template: build two of each, so if the first, conservative, mission fails, the second has a good chance of meeting the minimal requirements. And if the first succeeds, the second can be a little more adventurous, stretching the envelope. The chance of one failure may be one in ten; but the chance of two, one in one hundred.

Chang'e 2 will make a very close lunar approach, and directly to lunar orbit instead of a transfer from geosynchronous orbit first. In this close approach, it will take photos to determine the best landing sites, in the Bay of Rainbows.

From Xinhua
XICHANG, Sichuan, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- If lunar satellite Chang'e-2 sends back high-resolution photos of the Bay of Rainbows, the mission can be deemed a complete success, said the chief designer of China's lunar exploration program Friday.

Wu Weiren said Chang'e-2 would take high-resolution photos of the moon's Bay of Rainbows area, the proposed landing ground for Chang'e-3.

Wu said four to five areas had been chosen for a landing ground for Chang'e-3, but the Bay of Rainbows would be the first choice.

"The geological structure in this area is diverse, so a probe there would have greater scientific value," he said.

"Other places on the moon have already been landed on, so we want to choose one that has not been explored before," he said.

"Previously, most lunar programs landed around the equator of the moon, an area easier for monitoring and control maneuvers, but Chang'e-3 will take on greater challenges."



The Bay of Rainbows, or Sinus Iridium, is located at about 43 degrees north latitude and 31 west longitude with a width of 300 kilometers.
Some remarks in Space Daily hint at the future:
"The most fundamental task for human beings' space exploration is to research on human origins and find a way for mankind to live and develop sustainably," said Qian Weiping, chief designer of the Chang'e-2 mission's tracking and control system.
...
Chang'e-2 is China's first unmanned spacecraft to be boosted from the launch site directly to the earth-moon transfer orbit, vastly reducing the journey time from that of its predecessor, Chang'e-1.

To acquire more detailed moon data, Chang'e-2 will enter a lower lunar orbit about 100 km above the surface, compared with the 200-km altitude of Chang'e-1, according to the control center.

Qian pointed out that China's pursuit of lunar probes and manned space flights was more out of a sense of responsibility than the need to follow in the footsteps of other countries.

"Once our mind is made up, we will do it no matter how many years later," Qian said. "However, we can never go beyond scientific rules and find a shortcut."

"What we're doing now is what some others already did 40 years ago. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we're lagging behind by 40 years," Qian said, adding that the country's levels of telecommunication, networks and scientific understanding, based on the progress in science and technology, were much more advanced than what they were decades ago.

"And we will shorten the gap fast," he added.
...
Qian said that China's space talents were outstanding and young. The average age of the design team for the country's manned project and lunar probe project was just a little over 30 years old, he added.
This isn't a space exploration program for prestige purposes.

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

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

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

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

An Unexpected Reverse

Here's a letter I've just written to the Federal Member for Fraser. Similar letters have gone to both ACT Senators, and the Attorney-General.

From:
Zoe E Brain
(address redacted)

6 October 2010

Dear Mr Leigh

May I draw your attention to section 62 of the SEX DISCRIMINATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010

62 After subsection 40(4)
1
Insert:
2
(5) Nothing in Division 2 renders it unlawful to refuse to make, issue
3
or alter an official record of a person's sex if a law of a State or
4
Territory requires the refusal because the person is married.


The above section is directly contrary to the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission. It also enshrines for the first time in Federal Law the concept that someone's sex depends on their marital status, as opposed to their marital status depending on their sex.

Yes, which sex they are depends on whether they're married or not. Or which country they were born in. Yes, it is that bizarre.

This kind of surreal legislation will bring the Gillard Goverment into disrepute - frankly, it will make them a laughing-stock. While the state and territory legislation may have been explainable in the past as a regrettable relic of prejudice against Intersexed and Transsexual people, to introduce it into new Federal legislation whose avowed purpose is to get rid of discrimination, rather than legitimise it, sends a most unfortunate message. The Australian Human Rights Commission is working towards ending such practices - not giving them additional legitimacy.

Consider - two Intersexed people, equally situate in all respects - but one is married, another not. So under your Government's new law, they become different sexes, though biologically identical.

In fact, it's worse that that: for you can have two identical cases, one born in Australia, one born overseas, and the one born overseas can have the federal "cardinal documentation" changed, and the one born in this country cannot. So which sex they are for the purposes of Federal law depends on where they're born.

I remind you - this is not some relic of a discriminatory past; the Gillard Government is for the first time, enshrining this situation into Federal law. Judges in various administrative appeals decisions (e.g. Imbruglia vs Dept of Foreign Affairs) have commented that this situation is not just wrong and inhuman, but insane. Until now, there has been some latitude for judicial discretion to mitigate the worst effects. This legislation would remove that, by making parliamentary intent to discriminate clear.

This situation also undermines the whole concept of Marriage being between a Man and a Woman, and will be used as such to attack your Government. Because you will be making it plain in this legislation that the whole concept of man and woman is entirely arbitrary, and independant of biology.

Only about 200 people per year will be affected by this, at most. Please consider though the effects on them.

Without a birth certificate or other documentation that matches the biological reality, I think you can imagine the effects. Documents proving Identity that obviously contradict reality will often be deemed forgeries.

In order to avoid these, married couples who wish to stay together are compelled to do one of two things; either to perjure themselves before the Australian Family Court, manufacturing false evidence and witness statements to the effect that they are separated; or to actually separate, to physically split, something not even the most fanatic religious groups in parliament dare to impose on same-sex couples. Unlike the few other jurisdictions where marriage is an impediment to having documentation corrected, there is no method of converting marriage to a marriage-like arrangement in this country. Finances must be separated, and separate custody arrangements made for children.

I therefore ask you to urge removal of section 62 in its entirety. This will enable the Australian Human Rights Commission to move forward slowly, haltingly, in urging the rolling back of such inhuman legislation at state and territory level, rather than suffering a giant and wholly unexpected setback.

Ideally, section 62 should say "Nothing in Division 2 renders it lawful to refuse to make..." as that is what the AHRC recommends.

I draw your attention to this AHRC recommendation:

Sex Files: the legal recognition of sex in documents and government records
Concluding paper of the sex and gender diversity project
March 2009

ISBN 978-1-921449-10-9

Available at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/genderdiversity/sex_files2009.html#Heading180

The very first recommendation:

Recommendation 1: Marital status should not be a relevant consideration as to whether or not a person can request a change in legal sex.


For the first time in Federal Law, the Gillard Government will explicitly make it so that it *is* a consideration. This is not just not a step forward, it's a giant leap backwards when it comes to human rights for Transsexual and Intersexed people.

It is one thing to ignore a human rights report; quite another to deliberately do the opposite of what is recommended - and in a bill that supposedly is against discrimination. That adds insult to injury. I hope it's inadvertant, and not deliberate, a taste of things to come in the Gillard Government.

Yours Sincerely,
Zoe E Brain
Now to write to the Greens. I suspect they may have some words with their coalition partners... at least, I hope so.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Well, that would explain it...



But how to explain the phenomenon of Christine O'Donnell, and her strange reluctance to accurately state where she was educated. Not forgetting her claims about Mice With Fully Function Human Brains!!!!

She an alumna of Miskatonic. It's the only thing that makes sense.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Fasten Your Seatbelts...

An imaginative and artistic way to deal with flight safety instructions.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

Exemplifying the Problem

From Transgender Europe:
The 3rd European Transgender Council, organized by Transgender Europe in conjunction with a local organizing team in Malmoe brings together more than 200 activists from 35 different countries.

The largest European Human rights event on transgender issues deals among other topics with hate crimes and violence faced by gender variant people. In the last 30 months 33 transgender people were reported of being murdered in Europe according to TGEU's TvT-project. 79% of trans people are subject to negative comments, harassment, physical and sexual abuse and violence according to the European Hate Crime Study published by Press for Change last year.
Yes, well, statistics are suspect. Surely the problem can't be that severe?
In the night of September 30th two delegates from Turkey of the Third European Transgender Council were attacked by a group of five to seven people when leaving a restaurant. The trans activists have been harassed verbally and subject to physical violence.

“There is no safe space for transgender people in Europe. Last night's attack showed once more that transphobia and racism are not only a problem of certain countries in Europe. Transphobia is everywhere”, says TGEU Vice chair Julia Ehrt.
Ah. Maybe it is.

I don't identify as an "Activist". But as one woman said to me, as we were discussing my appearance on a Radio show, "You're forced to be". For yourself. And, it must be said, for the children now being born, so they don't face the same kind of used food that you did.

Things are better now. But they need to be better still. I can't help the girl I was back in the 70's - she survived alright, did pretty well all things considered, in fact; but she hurt. And many like her did not survive, let alone prosper.

So here am I, a conservative, prim, and in many ways a private person, not given to rocking the boat, certainly not involved with anything remotely outre or unusual - and I have to help. Not out of altruism, I have too much insight into myself to think I'm saintly. But for the girl I was. An Activist for the working day, if only to dry her tears, and tell her that things are going to be alright.

Maybe a little altruism too. She was always like that, you see.

UPDATE via Bird of Paradox, an account by one of the victims:
we were entering a restaurant when this group of guys started harrassing us worbaly [sic], we couldnt really understand what they were saying as they were speaking swedish. but they kepted shooting [sic] and making hand signs when we entered the restaurant. it was really obvious that they were disturbed that we were trans and foreigners. we didnt really give any attention to them, and after a few more minutes of shouting they left. we left the restaurant after 15-20 min, and found out that they were waiting for us outside by the next building.
they kepts shouting, the only word we could understand was “sexy”. then they throw an egg to Selay, and another egg to Sema, hitting her in the face really hard. one guy picked the broken egg from the floor and put it again in Selay’s face. then the guys run away going in different streets.

we asked the market guy to call the police, and he refused. 2 girls passing by called the police, and the police came around in half an hour. 2 other girls which we saw before in the party were telling us that “malmö is not like this” which didnt really made sense right after what we have lived.

we told the police what happened and also told them that we want this to be recorded as a transphoobic and a xenophobic attack.

the police droped [sic] us in the hotel, and for now we are fine.
It could have been a lot worse. For many, it is. But think about it - for those readers of this blog who are not, well, weird like me. How many of you would have an initial reaction to having someone you know - a friend, a colleague - waiting outside a restaurant to attack them as being "well, it could be worse"? How many would expect as a matter of course that the proprietor would refuse to call the police?

I have to remind myself sometimes that this is not "normal" for most people. That what happens to us in incidents like this is not natural, or inevitable - or acceptable - just because so much worse happens sometimes.