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Thread: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

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    Tom Paine's Avatar Mr Common Sense

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    Jun 2005
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    Default Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    State of the Thema Devia by [user]Aristophanes[/user]
    Vestigia Vetustatis by [user]Scorch[/user]
    Circus Maximus by [user]Darkragnar[/user]
    Despatches from the Curia by [user]Ozymandias[/user]
    The TWC Wiki by [user]makanyane[/user]
    Reporter Wanted

    Welcome to another Helios, as expectedly overdue as ever, in this case due to a personal tragedy on the part of the Editor - that is, me. Don't send condolences; as appreciated as they would be, I don't want them now. After setting off to that downnote I think it only appropriate that I hand over to Aristophanes with the mayhem of the Thema Devia, to see if he can raise the mood!
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    State of the Thema Devia

    Political Mudpit:

    The Audacity of Temerity

    Kanaric has the scoop! Apparently a Japanese politician is working on some sort of ‘cinematic masterpiece’ glorifying ‘divine winds’ suicide bombings by insane fighter pilots. Which, when you consider the Japanese affinity for dying horrible deaths, isn’t that surprising at all.

    As many have pointed out, a return to Japanese militarism would be terribly unfortunate, much like Germans going back to goose-stepping and the dreaded ‘Heisman’ salute.
    Danzig notes that most Japanese politicians still haven’t come to terms with the evils of their decade and a half of militarism between 1930 and 1945:

    “Japan for all its done still has never acknowledged its wrongness in the slaughter and evilness they brought to Asia during WW2 especially when compared to their Germany counterpart. How about before honoring something a bit of apologizing first. “

    As many as 30 million Chinese died due to the occupation of Manchuria and Japanese attempts to control their country, and we all know how much respect the Japanese military had for the laws of war. (not having signed the Geneva Convention and all)

    Kiljan tries to derail the beat down by drawing a hopelessly erroneous moral equivalence (as so many are wont to do these days):

    “How would the Japanese feel if we made a movie honouring the crew of the Enola Gaye.”

    How would the Japanese feel if we started a war, occupied every Asian nation, killed 30 million civilians, and subjected the rest to appalling conditions? I don’t know, but they might not feel so bad about dropping an atom bomb or two on us.

    The Great Islam Debate #8: Bayoneting the Survivors

    Wherein I merge two fairly parallel threads about issues in modern Islam. The first, ‘tempers flare in German mosque dispute’, tells the sordid tale of attempts to construct a super mosque in Cologne, one of Germany’s most Catholic cities and a hotbed of Christian monuments. Many of those replying have noted that an enormous new Christian centre of worship would not be allowed in most majority Muslim nations, particularly the infamous Saudi Arabia. (not, of course, that one would be needed. The Economist reports that the Middle East’s Christian populations are rapidly vanishing)

    T’is an extremely rare occurrence, but Erik and ErikinWest appear to be agreeing. They both think that the mosque should go ahead, and you’re pretty much a Nazi to think otherwise. Erik, demonstrating his vast perceptual powers, observes that Germany isn’t Saudi Arabia, and EiW defends the property rights of Muslims. I’d say that EiW has somewhat of a point, but I think Erik is hopelessly out to lunch. Germany isn’t Saudi Arabia…yet. It is one thing to tolerate intolerance, such as exists in the current creed of Islam, but it is quite another to aid and abet it; of course, if you lose your tolerant society because you tolerated intolerance, you’re not much of a hero.

    None of this would be necessary, of course, if Germany had a more inspired immigration policy. (or if Germans had more children)

    If you aren't bored by these topics yet, and you should be, come here

    In ‘What ever happened to the separation of church and state” Rush asks whether groups such as the ACLU have set a double-standard in protecting some people’s rights (or attempting to extend them), but not others’. It isn’t exactly news to me, although I suppose the ACLU was set up to assist the downtrodden, and not mainstream society. We just have to be comfortable with the notion that we can push the other way.

    Not Quite the ‘Rocket’s Red Glare’, But Still Does the Job

    There’s been quite a heated discussion of flag burning in the mudpit, having migrated from (or to) the questions and suggestions forum as well. There are many members who are of the opinion that flag burning should be banned. This would represent logical consistency if the site already had a policy to prevent attacks on images people hold dear; however, I’m not sure that’s really in the minds of those in favour of the ban.

    To be quite frank, I like neither side of this debate: I think burning one’s own flag, or anyone else’s, to be shameful showmanship; but, at the same time, I don’t approve of banning something which is, at the bottom of it, rather harmless to people secure in themselves.

    (Oh, crap, I’ve been exposed! Apparently the thread merely asks whether it is ‘offensive’. Well, I may have jumped the gun a bit (Ready. Fire. Aim.) on this one.)
    Whatever. The point still stands that no person ought to be offended by the action, although I think one ought to be highly disapproving...on principle. We don’t, after all, want flag burning to get out of hand, and wind up seeing flag poles as barren as trees after a hurricane.

    One really ought to show a modicum of respect for the national symbol.

    Thema Devia:

    The End of the Beginning

    According to some guy that Chandrashekar Azad quotes,

    “There are prophecies and oracles from around the world that all seem to point to December 21, 2012 as doomsday. The ancient Mayan Calendar, the medieval predictions of Merlin, the Book of Revelation and the Chinese oracle of the I Ching all point to this specific date as the end of civilization. A new technology called "The Web-Bot Project" makes massive scans of the internet as a means of forecasting the future... and has turned up the same dreaded date: 2012. Skeptics point to a long history of "Failed Doomsdays", but many oracles of doom throughout history have a disturbingly accurate track record. As the year 2012 ticks ever closer we'll speculate if there are any reasons to believe these doomsayers.”

    These sorts of things entertain me, if nothing else. I don’t believe in the occult, and I’m pretty sure that the uncertainty principle has something to say on this subject. Of course, with all the predictions of doom that are made, one of them is bound to get lucky…eventually. At that point, people always forget the legion of failed prophecies, and point to the single occasion where the odds trumped the odds.

    I don’t care enough about the opinions of my fellow members to quote anyone.( It’s either that or I’m hopelessly late on my writing piece for the Helios, and need to cut corners. See previous article.)

    To Live is to Hurt Others, and Through Others, to Hurt Oneself!

    I have to thank Camus for the title of this next bit. (I’m all out of cliched, newsy plays on words)
    In 'worst injury you have got', Phalanx_15 begins a lively discussion on the manifold ways people dream up to hurt themselves. If you’ve ever done anything really stupid that you’re really proud of, and have the scar to prove it, come here and we’ll give you props! You shouldn’t have to endure all that pain for nothing!

    One of my personal favourites, one we can all live vicariously over and over again, is Lord Condormanius’ telling of a former girlfriend’s woes. It’s succinct, it’s petty, and you really begin to feel for the poor dear:

    “I did have a girlfriend once (for about 4 years) who was hit in the forehead by the front bumper of a pickup truck that came through the windshield of her car (it was attached to the truck at the time). Needless to say, she is not my girlfriend anymore.”

    (Heartless quote of the day)

    Arts and Crafts:


    In “Scenes in movies that really disturbed you”, Farnan asks us to recount ‘scenes from movies that really disturbed you.”

    He cites some pretty good ones, although I have to admit they’re not in particularly short supply:

    “From Road to Perdition: When the son of the mob boss kills the main character's wife and young son. That just disturbed me to see a 6 year old, completely innocent just gunned down. Whats worse is that less than a minute ago that kid was just playing with his mom and there was no sign of danger.

    From Taps: When the main character's best friend goes insane at the end and shoots at the National Guard troops with the .50 cal. Just seeing that insanity disturbed and scared me.”

    Rhah brings up what is, for me, one of the worst scenes ever recorded:

    The "curb stomp" scene in "American History X".

    I simply can not watch that part of the movie. It makes me sick. It makes me sick. It makes me sick. I don’t joke about curb stompings for that very reason, and have a hard time not puking when someone brings them up. Also, I hated the scene in Blood Diamonds where the villagers hands were chopped off. It was simply haunting. I knew it had happened, but I didn’t want to see it.

    Oh Tempora, Oh Mores:

    Weighed, Balanced, and Found Wanting

    In “The Burden of Proof”, Talbaz tries to determine the degree of critical thinking that should be avoided before attempting religiosity. Most people, however, seem to think that believers ought to have a little evidence to back up their claims. No surprises here folks!

    David Deas points out just how laughably easy it is to discredit major religions…with their own holy books. For example, the bible, Torah and Khoran are all rife with inconsistencies, contradictions and easily disprovable falsehoods. I hope I’m not offending anyone reading this, but if I am, feel free to head to the flag burning thread. It’s a gong show!

    The Sports Forum:

    (I couldn’t think of a clever name for this one because ‘Universitas Ludus Olympus’ has already been chosen, and that was my backup plan.)

    So, anyways, there are absolutely no threads about anything that interests me in this forum, but if you’re of the opinion that I’m a rather dry, over-worked pedant, come here to peruse the varied offerings.

    I would like to take this opporunity to point out that Canada is currently hosting the under-19’s FIFA championships, and that, as per normal, the Canadian soccer team just isn’t up to par. Amazingly (or not), the Americans are doing really well. I think I might hitch my lofty expectations to their bandwagon.


    Science Fiction

    Kiljan wonders why ‘they don’t build tanks with two guns’. They do honey, just not in real life. The most informative response was given by Daovonnaex:

    “For a modern main battle tank, it makes no sense

    To begin with, a modern MBT can typically only carry about 60 shells or so

    Secondly, the armament of medium, heavy, and later main battle tanks has always been designed to penetrate the armor of its opponent

    In case of inadequate power, firing two guns at once would be useless...they'd both just bounce right off

    Being able to fire a second shot after a first shot is similarly useless, as the recoil of the shot is absorbed by the turret and the the time it takes the tank to stabilize sufficiently to fire another shot, the main gun is reloaded

    Adding a second barrel would just add needless cost, complexity, and weight to the system.”

    I’m still searching for the most scathing response!

    There is a good reason I entrust that sort of thing to him and Seneca. Sadly the latter cannot be with us - his worklife and TWC moderation leave him little time for frivolities like the Helios; however, I appreciate all he's putting in elsewhere, and the columns that he can get in.
    Now onto the past - seems somehow contradictory that - in the Vestigia Vetustatis; in his normal whistestop manner, we have Scorch to take us through recent events!
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    Well, welcome to another VV report for this edition. I'll kick things off by pointing you all to a thread that has raised a fair amount of discussion and intrigue:

    Which was the best allied army during the WWI? -
    Interestingly enough, I can't provide an accurate answer here. Of course, every nation has been mentioned, and it is out of sheer nationalism that I might propose the Australian contingent.

    Not really, that is, to the nationalism bit. The Australians were, from what I've heard, extremely effective shock troops, as were the Canadians. I know that it was the tactics of General Monash that helped break the stalemate, though that has little bearing on the quality of the troops themselves.

    Most efficient empire in history? -
    Well this is also an interesting one. I'm caught between saying the Roman Empire or Achaemenid Persia. The Roman Empire was, well, it manage huge amounts of land with precision (for most of its history) and its legacy speaks for itself. The Persian system of Satraps influenced the Roman system to a degree, and was, in itself, a great way to manage a mind-boggling amount of land. True, a lot of that land was unoccupied, or vastly empty, but it took organisational efficiency nonetheless.

    What would have happened if the American Revolution wasn't surpressed? -
    Well to complete my round-up of the VV, I'd like to point you to this thread. An interesting question, some would say. I think the differences would be astounding, well depending on certain factors.

    Britain would have had access to the vast resources of the Americas as European culture expanded there, and it possibly could have stopped the Empire from slipping into the decline that it did, inevitably impacting upon the fates of many other nations.

    Anyway, that's it for me, enjoy yourselves, and I'll see you round.

    Now we move from the seriousness of historical debate to the seriousness of gaming debate, where the sober Darkragnar will tell us what's been going on in the Circus;
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    Welcome to another hard hitting, bone crunching, jaw smashing , skull raping article of the Circus Maximus.


    The Half-Life2 Mod Insurgency has been released, its made by the same people that made Red Orchestra and its got the same dedication to Realism so don't expect any unreal fights like you see in the movies , this is a great mod that sees you playing as the US occupying forces or the Iraqi led Insurgency, try it out if your hankering for a realistic multiplayer experience.

    Watch the awesome trailer

    A 4:00 min In-game movie, fact to note the guy recording the video is an complete douche bag who dies a lot so rather watch the movie to see the game not the player.

    For more information, Click here

    When liberty comes with hands dabbed in blood , it is hard to shake hands with her- Oscar Wilde

    Now the Helios dosnt normally mention user reviews but i am afraid I would be doing a grave injustice by not mentioning the reviews by VOP2288 on Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War and its two expansions, check his reviews out (link below) nows thats what i call a user review, VOP2288 sets a very high standard for others who wish to write reviews.

    The Review

    For all you people who play Mount & Blade i would like to inform you that the Last Days Mod has been released for the latest version of M&B (.808) and its one hell of a mod.

    Sorry no good movies of the mod worth showing but watch the LOTR moive to get you in mood to play the great mod, music by Nickelback, one of the best LOTR video.

    For those of you that don't know what The Last Days mod is then its a Mod based on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy , the books not the movie , although it does borrow some weapons and armors from the movie but the rest are original creations for the mod based on descriptions in the books. It is the most "complete" experience and its highly recommended, in fact its a more complete experience than the original game.

    If you don't know what Mount & Blade is then its a Medieval Combat simulator with the best fighting dynamics for any sword and shield game and is a very fun game to play ,which only costs you $22 until the next update.

    Screen from the Upcoming Holy War mod.

    Sadly resident techie Shaun couldn't write for me, swanning off to some exotic locus I believe, and so I'm sure all whose computers crash without the benefits of Shaun's Basement articles and technical knowledge will curse their luck at the timing; however, you do get a report on the Curia from myself, shorter than usual...
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    Consilium de Civitate

    The first thing of note is the arrival of 7 new councillors to the Consilium; well, I say new Councillors, but this includes the return of Fabolous who was elected to replace… himself, Obi Wan Asterix and scottishranger who, through their Curially held posts, have been instrumental in the post-January Consilium de Civitate and are very familiar with its workings, Lord Rahl who again returns to active service after an extended period away from the Consilium of which he is a former member, as has Ragabash; Hader and Mimirswell are the only two new faces, and Mimirswell’s Hex access to the CdeC makes him less so anyway – though his vote-topping 40%, or over ¾ of voters, shows a serious popular mandate.
    Two disciplinary cases have ended since the last report, when I reported that two were ongoing – there is, of course, an overlap there. One of these, as highly publicised, resulted in a permanent loss of rank; the other I shall not comment on. Another action is, sadly, ongoing, and its conclusion shall be reported next Helios, I expect.
    And onto the happier note of promotions. Although one medal proposal failed, with an abysmally low votecount, we do see a lot of new citizens entering the Curia through the gateway of the CdeC; 11, in fact, including the re-entry of -BulletproofTurban-, the arrival of mirage41, and (this one interests me especially) the entry of my own newest client; congrats to the 11 of you, as well as to the only new Patrician, Leonidas the Lion; on the other hand, my condolences to the one failed new citizen. Better luck next time, sir, and don’t go off the system!

    Closed Votes

    I want first to hand out congratulations to the winners of honourary ranks, notoriously hard to squeeze from the Curia; first, let me congratulate that CA Employee, ex-admin, and all round nice God, Lusted, on his democratic apotheosis. It was well deserved. We also pay tribute to the modding work of Ramon Gonzales y Garcia, voted Opifex by the Curia as leader of Invasio Barbarorum; I’m sure its deserved, sir!
    We also see a new Curator around the place; the Black Prince was elected to replace scottishranger on the expiry of the term of the latter, who has now been elected alongside 6 others to the CdeC; on both of these elections I say many congratulations to the 8 electees, and my condolences to those who were not elected, but don’t give up hope; there’s always next time, lads. The same may be said of Hader’s re-election to Modding Registrar, not that the opponent actually wanted the post, as they specifically said. Not a good way to win elections that, though it worked for the first Speaker…
    Speaking of the Speaker as we were, the Curia voted to foreshorten the term of the rank to three months, cutting it literally in half; a far more manageable length of term I think, and one more likely to be completed. And, just so the Helios can have a serious scoop, I herein announce my resignation from the position of Speaker, effective from August the 5th on which day an replacement shall have been elected – that may well be me. Basically, whilst legally not retroactive, I’m making sure that in practice this amendment will apply to this term.
    To rapidly run through some ratifications, sapi, Sher and Hex Khans, Annaeus, Shaun, and Raven Darkwing were all ratified by the Curia as Tribounoi, and therefore joined the moderation team; I’m sure they are having fun with their new banhammers!
    Just as they were being ratified, the Curia turned down a proposal for elected moderators; a decision I am clearly disappointed with as proposer of the idea, but I can understand the reasoning behind it, for all that I disagree… such is life in the end, no?
    They also rejected a notion to overhaul the Symposium, related simply because it failed and because it was meant to be an area of excellent posters without reference to Citizen ranks or other notes, and less moderated than any other area; an attempt at revitalising the Symposium that was, I suspect, doomed from the start to failure in its aim, but will now never be tested.
    On the other hand a re-organisation of the Common Community was requested; whilst Hex have not put it into practice, they have not only taken it on board but are openly discussing, with the wider membership, the best form of organisation of the Common Community in a thread here.
    Finally, anyone who completes or teaches a University course, is now to be granted a medal – and those medal names are, of course, the ones for degrees awarded in (at any rate) the English system; so prepare for Bachelorhood, you University students!

    Ongoing Prothalamos Debate

    As usual, medals and ranks are a controversial matter, and Mimirswell waded in with his fix. This respected Hex member and ex-Curator gave a comprehensive working over of the present system, which he classed as confusing, unsecure, and unconsistent; some strong terms. Since then the debate has raged, and even the normally taciturn Simetrical has weighed in on the issue with his own interpretation, which is now apparently the one Mimirswell supports; we wait with anticipation to receive a draft of the proposal, since this has not been produced yet.
    Opifices needn’t be inactive in the Curia; Ramon Gonzales y Garcia, he of the promotion noted above, proposed some new usergroups. Thus far his only response has been from Scorch and a rather scathing one, but I await to see if the matter develops into something more – and to see if Mr Gonzales will remain Curially active; we can but hope.
    Tacticalwithdrawal, in a move likely to be popular with a certain cadre of the noncitizen community, proposed laxer moderation in the Mudpit; the proposal has fallen by the wayside, for some reason, but even before it did it was being watered down from the original. A good effort to fix a perceived problem, but I tend to disagree that there is a problem in the first instance…
    We also see a proposal to extend the Vote of No Confidence; whilst it has garnered much support and see no dissension, it never got moved to the vote – an absent minded proposer can easily kill a proposal. Oh, I proposed it? Well… sod. Heh, I’ve asked for it to be moved now tho’, no worries.
    Finally, an American-style term limitation for the Speaker has been proposed, alongside the shortening of his term; thus far it hasn’t garnered enough support to get to the vote, sadly, and has also fallen by the wayside, again in part due to a slight degree of apathy by the proposer. Again, that’d be me to blame. Ooops.

    Ongiong Vote

    Okay, somehow, the Curia managed to have only one vote going at present; this must be some sort of record. Closing on July 13th, the vote on SignifierOne for Opifex – or should that be the other way round? – is alone, so please, go and vote on it. Not like there’s owt else to vote on…

    And now that you have read this Despatch from the Curia, have a good fortnight, and… good politicking!

    The lovely, lovely makanyane continues her attempts to outsource the Wiki article, and her failures thereat, and so we have another contribution from the Wiki's very own elected editor;
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    Recent attempts to outsource the writing of this article have been met with great enthusiasm....

    ....of the enthusiastically running in the opposite direction variety

    So Mak's personal Wiki blog continues...

    A wide variety of people have been making a wide variety of small alterations and additions to the Wiki, which is great, that is the way it is meant to work. The combined effects of a lots of individual contributions should make for a great overall 'product' without any one person being overwhelmed by the task. Though that does make it a bit difficult to point you towards any specific new areas...

    Some contributors have clearly taken a special interest in specific types of topics. Jebus for example has been been developing not only the faction pages for Rise of Persia but also helping with the Medieval 2: Total War Factions category. See for example a recently expanded article on Hungary as a faction. The Med2 faction pages are actually an area that could usefully expand further - anyone fancy doing unit rosters for the vanilla factions?

    If you followed any of the links to the Wiki given above you should have noticed that it is currently rather more TWC coloured than it used to be. Simetrical has been doing some great work recently on the technical side of things (that most of us mere mortals don't understand). There might be more refinements to the skin coming later to help define different areas of the Wiki. To view under other skins you need to log-in to the Wiki then you can select other ones in 'my preferences' (MonoBook was the one in use previously, TWC is the new default skin and the others are MediaWiki defaults currently.)

    To keep up to date on changes that might effect Wiki contributors and to discuss policy and design matters on the Wiki you are now also welcome to join us '"down the pub".

    Happy editing,

    And now the moment you've been waiting for. Reports are over, all read, all wondered at. Now, editorials - yes, that's right. its time, lads, for you to think.
    A variety of interesting pieces on a variety of interesting topics; normally I run in alphabetical order, but this time, I want to do something special. Something mirroring last time. We had a Helios debate on Law and Order in the War on Terror last time, to refresh your memories; this time, its on hate crimes - Oldgamer, below, responds to tBP's article in Helios 13:
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    Olgamer Reporting for Duty ...

    Hate Crime? Or just plain crime ...

    NOTE: I am writing this in response to tBP's editorial in Helios 13, in which he wrote passionately about hate crimes.

    I don't think there should be such a thing as a hate crime. I believe that there are crimes, and they should be punished as such. But “hate” adds a dimension to the criminal justice system that is reminiscent of Big Brother, and mind control. It is an attempt to make people love each other by threatening them with punishment, if they don't. It doesn't work.

    If a crime has been committed, the perpetrator should be punished for the crime, if he is convicted. But adding 'hate” to the mixture allows even more severe punishments to be handed down. Indeed, in some jurisdictions in the United States, a person might be acquitted of the actual crime, but convicted of hate, and sentenced accordingly. This, to me, would be a crime ... in and of itself.

    It was the early 1980's, when it happened. Erik was a young man from the hill country of NW Arkansas, and had joined the Navy. His father and grandfather were part of the Ozark Mountain moonshining culure ... grandpa made the stuff, and dad ran it over the mountains, avoiding the Feds, to their customers.

    Erik did the worst possible thing that any seaman can do, when in port. He went out on the town, alone. He was looking for a few drinks and company. Unfortunately, he found it.

    He saw a likely-looking place, and walked in looking for girls. He didn't see any, but there were plenty of men, in the place. One of them took a single look at Erik ... a tall, 19-year old man, fair skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, and ruggedly good-looking, in uniform ... and it was love at first sight. At least, it was lust at first sight.

    Poor Erik, without the benefit of friends with him, had stumbled into a gay bar ...

    A couple of years earlier, I went up “on the mountain” to visit my grandfather and my uncle. In the late evening, Erik came home from work and saw me, grinned a toothy smile and asked if I wanted to go fishing. I assented and we headed for the farm's pond.

    After about a hour, completely out of nowhere, Erik started talking.

    “I gotta tell ya', I really do hate them fags.”

    I smiled at him and replied, “How many of them have you met?”

    He said, “That ain't it. I haven't met any of 'em, but I know they're a bunch of perverts.”

    “Erik, you take people on an individual basis. Get to know a person before you judge him.”

    He thought for a while, then said, “That might work up at the university you go to. But it doesn't work for me. I really do hate them fags.”

    I quickly replied, “What are you going to do about that?”

    He stated, flatly, “I'll leave them alone, if they leave me alone. But if one of 'em touches me, I'll kill 'em.”

    At this point, it might do well to tell you a little bit about Ozark hill country culture. These people are Old Country, and many centuries past “Old Country”, to a tee. They've lived in relative isolation for many generations, and their outlook on life is a mixture of absolute liberty, tempered by Christian ideals, and strong beliefs on a variety of subjects. They celebrate life in a variety of ways, with dances (usually clogging, which is a mixture of Arkansas bluegrass music and Dutch forms), and the traditional drink of the hills, moonshine. And, they don't like outsiders, like the Federal government.

    Some people call them "Hillbillies", but that term assumes ignorance, laziness, and stupidity. Hill country people are intelligent, they have a strong work ethic, they are religious (in their own way), and are strong-willed.

    But there's one thing that you can take to the bank, when you're dealing with them. Their word is their bond. If they say they will do something, they mean it.

    Erik followed his statement up by telling me that he was going into the Navy. I was appalled, because I knew that the Navy and Erik would be a volatile combination. I tried to get his father (my uncle) to talk him out of the Navy, but he said that “the kid will do what he wants”. It was a disaster waiting to happen ...

    ... The man who had taken quite a fancy to Erik walked over to him, and asked him if he wanted a drink. Erik, still not understanding the situation, said that he did, and they went to the bar. After a couple of drinks, the man started delivering his “lines” to Erik. Much of what followed is taken from the official transcript.

    The man put his arm around Erik a first time, and Erik said, “Take it down.” When he didn't comply, Erik took his hand and forced it off of him.

    The man put his arm around Erik for the second time, and Erik stated, “You don't stop touchin' me, and I'm gonna get really mad.”

    He didn't stop touching him.

    Erik got up, and the man got up with him, placing his hands on Erik's chest. In response Erik, shoved him back with every bit of strength he had, which was considerable. He then started walking out of the bar.

    After he left the front door, the man followed him, and asked him to come in the bar and have a couple more drinks. Erik waved him off, and started walking. This is when it happened.

    The man came up behind Erik, and reached for his crotch, groping him. By this time, several people were gathered outside of the bar, to see how the incident would play out.

    Erik turned several shades of red, and shouted “G-D fag!”, and hit him. The man dropped to the ground, but Erik pulled him to his feet and shoved him against a brick wall, beating him against his head, chest and abdomen. When the man dropped a final time to the ground, Erik continued the pummeling, adding kicks to the head, stomach, and groin. Sometime in the process, the man died.

    Not one of the man's “friends” lifted a finger to help him.

    After Erik walked away, shooting hostile glances as the crowd, someone finally decided to call the police. The investigation didn't take long, since the crowd identified the “killer” as a Navy man, and Erik had already been detained by the Shore Patrol, when he turned up with blood on his whites.

    In most US jurisdictions, First Degree Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life, with premeditation and with intent to effect the death of the person or of another.

    Second Degree Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life, with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation.

    Third Degree Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life, by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.

    Manslaughter in the First Degree is the intentional and unlawful taking of a human life in the heat of passion provoked by such words or acts of another as would provoke a person of ordinary self-control under like circumstances, provided that the crying of a child does not constitute provocation.

    Manslaughter in the Second Degree is the intentional and unlawful taking of a human life by the person's culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.

    In my estimation, the incident I described between Erik and the man he killed constituted Manslaughter in the First Degree. It was intentional and unlawful, and happened in the heat of passion provoked by words or acts of another. In the jurisdiction where the incident took place, Erik could have received up to 15 years imprisonment, and a fine of not more than $30,000.

    However, the incident took place in an area where gay people were politically active, and had a great deal of influence on local government, to include the courts. Heavy pressure was put on the District Attorney, and he responded by charging Erik with murder in the first degree.

    It's true that Erik had talked to me about “killing a fag” if one ever touched him. But he had not consciously premeditated the killing of the man whose life he took. It is clear to me that the incident took place in the heat of passion, and was provoked by the continual sexual advances of the the victim.

    Erik was duly convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is still in prison, and will not become eligible for parole until he is 56 years old. He was 21 when he was convicted. He was also dishonorably discharged from the Navy.

    This incident took place in the days before “hate crimes”. I don't deny that Erik hated homosexuals, but what he did was to kill a man. Also, in my opinion, the District Attorney charged him with the wrong crime, in response to an increasingly powerful and politically-active minority that wanted Erik's blood. Had "hate crimes" existed at that time, Erik would be "paroled" at 56, and then immediately start serving his second term of life imprisonment.

    Understand, my friends, Erik committed a crime and deserved to be convicted (though not of first degree murder). His imprisonment was just, but excessively long. But was his crime “hate”?

    No. His crime was manslaughter, and he was punished for it.

    What are hate crimes, anyway? A hate crime is, at least in the United States, the doubling of a penalty when there is reason to believe that the person who committed the crime did so when motivated by “hatred”. In Erik's case ... if it happened today ... someone would remember him shouting “G-D fag!” at the man he killed, before the beating began. That would be all the justification necessary to charge him with a “hate crime”. Had he been convicted today, he would have been sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment ... the first one for the actual killing, and the second for his “hate”.

    But did Erik commit an crime called “hate”, or did he simply commit a crime?

    In my estimation, all Erik did was commit a manslaughter, and he was punished excessively for it.

    A person's mental attitude should be considered during the investigation and prosecution of crime, but he should not be punished for that attitude. He should be punished solely for the crime, and to the degree that others have been punished for the same offense.
    And as usual, the Dogs of War couldn't be kept apart long, and so we have this thread with a response from tBP - get debating people!
    Next I will introduce a related article by your very own Helios editor Ozymandias; as I am sure some of you are aware a report was released recently that got certain members of the TWC community rather angry, well here's my perspective on it;
    Click to view content: 
    Bullying is, I am sure we can all agree, among the worst things that can happen to a child, especially within the confines of the school environment. I won’t say the worst because, sadly, worse things – sexual abuse (but see below) and death can happen, and have happened, in schools – but clearly, bullying is amongst the worst.

    Now, I want to break from the general “bullying” heading into a specific area, more close to my heart; that of homophobic bullying. Those of you who read educational papers (eg, Times Educational Supplement) or view education news on the internet (eg, BBC News Education section) may have heard about something called ”The School Report”. Sponsored by Stonewall (or more specifically their Education For All arm), and researched by the School's Health Unit, the report delves into an area we hear little about, but that appears to have a serious problem; a very serious problem. Well, Europeans might be saying, “how does it concern us? I mean, it must be about America – its not like we’re homophobes.” Apparently, we are. This report is about British schools, not American ones, and comes up with some pretty terrifying facts.

    In British schools, some two thirds of homosexual children (this is secondary schools and colleges, so children might be the wrong term, but it is what I plan to use) experience homophobic bullying. If we assume that around 7.5% (7.7% of people being gay is the most common estimate now, but makes the maths harder) of children are gay, around 5% of children experience homophobic bullying. Not too bad, hey? Well… I disagree; that’s a shocking figure, really, especially if we accept the common ground I proposed earlier that bullying is “among the worst things that can happen to a child.” And it gets worse; we have 75% of homosexual children in faith schools being bullied – that’s three quarters. And in case you want to say its their choice to go to a faith school, no, its not; its at best their parents choice, and potentially a choice based on it being the least-worst option available.

    So, we know there is lots of homophobic bullying going on. What forms does it take? Well, the obvious – name calling, exclusion, and so on; physical bullying, damage to property; but also some serious stuff – serious to the point of actively illegal in fact; to quote one of the findings of the report, “Of those who have been bullied, […] 17 per cent [have received] death threats.” That is, actual honest-to-God death threats by school“mates”, in school, for their sexuality. And we aren’t just talking nebulous, vague death threats here – the report includes testimonials such as the following;
    I’ve been stabbed because of my sexuality

    Once a girl in my year pulled a knife on me and said all dykes should be shot.

    I was once threatened by a friend’s brother over an instant message that he would beat me to death on the streets if he saw me or torch my house whilst I’m sleeping in it

    We are talking serious violence and death threats here – that’s actually quite terrifying, to be honest. But even less severe forms of bullying are pretty rife; the report found that “two fifths of boys, and over a third of girls have suffered physical homophobic bullying” and this physical bullying took, in some cases, serious forms – once more to return to testimonial,
    Beaten up, unable to walk for nearly a year, only recovering after an operation

    And we have verbal bullying, including cyberbullying – over 40% of homosexual children are bullied using the modern technology that you are using to read this, using MySpace, using text messaging, and so on; and this is of course, especially bad, as it never occurs in front of teachers, massively adding to the deniability – not that that’s particularly needed, as we shall see. The final, and honestly ironic, form of bullying is sexual assault – homosexual sexual assault of homosexuals for being homosexual. Over 10% have suffered this appalling and humiliating form of bullying, and this includes sexual assault by school“mates” and by adults.

    Now, on that note, I want to move to another serious point we have to consider; adults, teachers, are highly complicit in it. Over half of homosexual schoolchildren have heard homophobic language from teachers and other adults in schools in positions of responsibility; think about this one – the people who are supposed to deal with bullying, who are supposed to be the people protecting these children, who are responsible for the wellbeing of these children, are themselves homophobes; well, maybe that doesn’t matter much – I mean, its only words, right? Well, it would be, if a third of homosexual children didn’t report that it was adults responsible for homophobic incidents in school; again, remember the type of person here – those responsible for the wellbeing of these children, are engaged in and actively inciting the bullying of those selfsame children, in lessons as well as out of them; again, testimonials…
    PSHE was about AIDS – the teacher didn’t contradict that it was a ‘gay disease’ and implied what gay men did in bed was disgusting

    The teachers join in on the joke

    Just two examples, remember.

    Well okay, maybe this all doesn’t matter – I mean, surely these incidences are responded to and dealt with swiftly and effectively when they are reported? Two problems here. The first, is that not all the problems are reported; there can be various reasons for this – clearly, telling someone that you are being bullied on a homophobic basis involves a coming out that people might well be scared to do; for various reasons, many children still, sadly, do not feel able to be open with schoolmates and parents about their sexuality, and homophobic bullying simply reinforces this whilst taking advantage of it, to the point where three fifths of homosexual pupils never tell anyone about being bullied for homophobic reasons – the figure, interestingly, is higher for females than for males; and those attending faith schools are less likely still to do so, again for various reasons. Some testimonials;
    I can’t tell anyone because, basically, no-one knows that I am gay… I got punched in the corridor today for example, and I can’t tell the teacher because it will involve coming out

    I go to a Catholic school. I would more likely get told off for being a lesbian

    Well, now the second reason – you can tell someone, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll doing anything about it. You can be bullied in front of a teacher’s very eyes, but it doesn’t mean they’ll touch the bully. You can go to a teacher with incontrovertible evidence, and it doesn’t mean they’ll give a damn. Scaremongering? An incitement to the various members of TWC not to tell teachers if they are being bullied? I wish, how I wish that’s all that was. Rather, it’s a demonstration of some sad facts; half of teachers not responding to homophobic language at all, when they hear it, for instance – but that’s not so bad. I mean, dealing with homophobic language… when does calling someone or something “gay” become homophobic? And if I, as a queer, was to casually refer to a gay friend as a “queer” or a “fag”, is that homophobic (one thinks not!)? But this also includes, remember, a bully calling a victim a “queer faggy arse-bandit” and similar; that is, clearly homophobic language, that are ignored. Okay, but surely they deal with physical bullying, and similar occurrences, right? I mean those can’t go unchecked. Well actually, almost two thirds of cases of homophobic bullying saw nothing done about them, when reported; albeit this includes verbal and exclusionary bullying, but all the same. Furthermore, the basic punishment for bullying is meant to be severe – a series of detentions at least, and even up to expulsion; well, not for homophobic bullying, where you have to be unlucky to get even one detention – 10% - or even a telling off with no attached other punishments – 25%. And this includes the aforementioned cyberbullying and death threats, let’s bear that in mind. Maybe some more testimonials on the actions of teachers will go some way to driving the point home;
    The response from friends was supportive, but the school teachers did absolutely nothing about it

    I reported it and teachers said they couldn’t do anything, and when they saw verbal bullying happen they’d just stand and watch then walk away. On the few times they saw physical bullying they’d either pretend not to notice or tell them off

    I told the librarian about it, she told me it was my fault for admitting to being bisexual. I pointed out she wouldn’t tolerate racism or religious bullying and she said it was ‘totally different’

    They push me in corridors and teachers have seen but they act as if they haven’t seen anything.

    Note that these cover both physical and verbal matters. And, if you thought this wouldn’t stop people talking to others about being bullied;
    The last person I told about homophobic behaviour was my drama teacher who was as much help as a chocolate fireguard

    But all this, of course, can be written off, if it has few consequences, or little. But what defines each of these? Is not one child committing suicide from bullying about their sexuality, one too many? Well, even if its not, the consequences of this sort of thing are definitely grim; over a third of homosexual children “do not feel safe at school” – that is, a place where they have to feel safe, if they are to learn anything and garner any benefit from going to school, and in fact, over half of homosexual children stated that homophobic bullying – whether they or others were being bullied – had a negative impact on their school work, with over seven tenths of those experiencing it reporting an impact on their schoolwork. But that’s just schoolwork quality, right? Oh, it’s got some (but not many, if we’re honest) long term implications; and its got some, but not many, other implications; but at the end of the day its just schoolwork, right? Well, some of those bullied are also skiving school; half of them, in fact, have done it at least once; and a fifth have, because of homophobic bullying, skipped school more than 6 times – remember that every year, every lesson, we learn something which we’ll need in a GCSE exam later on in the current English school system, exam-saturated as it is. And over a third of homosexual children don’t like going to school; this, of course, has a link to the 45% who feel that their school is not “an accepting, tolerant place where they feel welcome” – again, remember that if they don’t feel welcome at school, where should they look for welcome? And if they go to a faith school, this last is, perhaps unsurprisingly, even worse – almost half of homosexual pupils attending faith schools feel their school is not “an accepting, tolerant place where they feel welcome”. Again, we have to assume a link here to the half of homosexual children who feel that it is hard for them to be accepted at school, and feel, importantly, that they cannot be themselves – that is, they are forced to create a false persona, rather as we do here but for different and less comfortable reasons, in order to survive their school experiences. And of course, let’s just reinforce all this with a testimonial or two;
    At one point it really got to me with all the stuff that was going on, and to be honest I really couldn’t take it anymore. So I had to change my phone, and be taken from some of my lessons because it got so bad

    A lot of the serious bullying was at my previous school in the GCSE years – years 10 and 11 – so I left the school early and went to a different 6th form college

    So we note some very, very serious consequences, but what can be done? Well, the report itself contains some recommendations, again based on its finding; the .pdf file linked above has these on pages 18-21, that is, sections 7 & 8; not only are they simple, they seem to be highly effective, and pretty cheap (in the main, free, in fact) to implement. So all this heartache, and its so easy to deal with – so do it, and urge the schools you have any involvement with to do the same, I beg of you.

    Links of Interest

    The School Report
    TWC thread on the report
    Stonewall on the report
    BBC News article on the report

    Rather linked, clearly, to the Queer Corner. So let's move thematically onto that, where tBP is stepping out of his normal realms to deal with trans issues in an interview with another TWC member...
    Click to view content: 
    Queer Concern

    Talking T

    This editorial is headed Queer Concern, but I suppose its only natural, writing from my own perspective, that these articles should deal with issues that really only affect gay people, or are written from a gay male perspective. One of the age old problems with LGBT identity politics is that everything focused on the gay issue, and ignored the lesbian take. “Gay marriage” is a perfect example of this, since the biggest proponents of gay marriage are actually Lesbians.

    This week, the editorial is different. Over the last couple of months we’ve had a few threads come up that have debated trans issues. Whatever the subject of the thread, it was impossible not to note the shocking lack of knowledge people displayed when talking about this. It goes without saying that a lot of peoples prejudices stereotypes and misconceptions regarding the Tran community stem from a lack of knowledge and understanding. This editorial will, I hope, go some way toward to addressing that.

    Being a gay man, writing from a gay male perspective is obviously easy for me. Writing about trans is harder. While my experiences and contact with trans people are perhaps greater than those the article is aimed at, I certainly wouldn’t consider myself either knowledgeable or indeed an expert. So rather than write something that might well be wrong, I decided to call out for some help. You’ve no doubt seen her getting involved in the debates on the forums already, so I’d like to welcome to my little corner of the Helios, [user]ZoeB[/user]. I sent her a few questions on the issue, and this is the incredibly informative result.

    There are many names being used for Transgendered people, I've always considered Transgendered to be the most appropriate, and Transsexual to be the medical term used for those goes through the operative procedures of a sex change. How would you best define people or would you prefer no labels at all?

    "Transgender" was a term coined by Virginia Prince to differentiate those Psychos who got their bodies mutilated from the normal Men who dressed and socialised as women, often as a harmless hobby for a few hours a week. It did not include Transsexuals, who he thought were literally insane, letting a harmless pastime become an obsession.

    Since then, depending on which part of the world you're in, "transgender" has been anything from "a person of one sex living as the opposite sex" (the Australian Passport Office's definition - which is based on documentation not body shape), to the US definition meaning anyone not strictly conforming to the binary male/female divide. This it includes fetishistic dressers, drag queen entertainers, and those whose bodies are Intersexed - congenitally neither 100% male nor 100% female. The latter category (Intersexed) has recently been found to most likely include Transsexuals too.

    A good taxonomy is at

    How do I define myself? As a woman with a transsexual medical history. Most formerly transsexual people just want to blend in. Most of us are not proud of having our medical condition ameliorated (not wholly fixed alas, we're sterile), any more than someone born with a cleft palate and subsequently treated by maxillo-facial surgery is proud that they were born that way.

    Formerly transsexual women like me may take part in Pride marches - but usually as Lesbians, or part of a "Gay-Straight Alliance", rather than in a Transgender section. Those others who are Intersexed are invisible too, many strongly object at being categorised by others in some great conglomerate. Some of us are Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual, but this has nothing to do with being Transsexual, any more than being red-haired or tall does. Some transsexuals are tall and have red hair, after all.

    What terms in particular would you avoid as offensive?

    She-male is always offensive. "Tranny" is often worse, but may be acceptable. When used by one Tranny about another, it's like one N****r using it about another. See how offensive it can be?

    But really, it's all in context. We have enough problems with violence and legal persecution in various jurisdictions to worry too much about names. When sticks, stones, bricks, baseball bats, and tyre irons are breaking our bones, we don't worry too much about being called "trannsexual" as opposed to "formerly transsexual".

    Transgender is often considered to be a mental condition and treated as such, do you believe this to be the most appropriate manner in which to deal with the trans community?

    As a computer scientist, how the heck can I be qualified enough to answer this? Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts, and whether or not "transgenderism" is a mental condition or not is a matter of fact. What I will do is quote the Australian Family Court, via

    _At paragraph [247]_: ‘In my view the expert evidence in this case affirms that brain development is (at least) an important determinant of a person’s sense of being a man or a woman. No contrary opinion is expressed. All the experts are very well qualified. None was required for cross-examination, nor was any contrary evidence called’.

    _At paragraph [248]_: ‘In my view the evidence is, in essence, that the experts believe that the brain development view is likely to be true, and they explain the basis for their beliefs. In the circumstances, I see no reason why I should not accept the proposition, on the balance of probabilities, for the purpose of this case.’

    _At paragraph [252]_: ‘The traditional analysis that they are "psychologically" transsexual does not explain how this state came about. For example, there seems to be no suggestion in the evidence that their psychological state can be explained by reference to circumstances of their upbringing. In that sense, the brain sex theory does not seem to be competing with other explanations, but rather is providing a possible explanation of what is otherwise inexplicable’.

    _At paragraph [253]_: ‘In other words (as I understand it) the brain of an individual may in some sense be male, for example, though the rest of the person’s body is female’.

    _At paragraph [265]_: ‘In my view the argument in favour of the “brain sex" view is also based on evidence about the development and experience of transsexuals and others with atypical sex-related characteristics. There is a vast literature on this, some of which is in evidence, and I can do no more than mention briefly some of the main points’.

    _At paragraph [268]_: ‘It seems quite wrong to think of these people as merely wishing or preferring to be of the opposite sex, or having the opinion that they are’.

    _At paragraph [270]_: ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely "psychological factors", and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.

    _At paragraph [272]_: ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.

    _At paragraph [136]_: ‘I agree with Ms Wallbank that in the present context the word "man" should be given its ordinary contemporary meaning. In determining that meaning, it is relevant to have regard to many things that were the subject of evidence and submissions. They include the context of the legislation, the body of case law on the meaning of "man" and similar words, the purpose of the legislation, and the current legal, social and medical environment. These matters are considered in the course of the judgment. I believe that this approach is in accordance with common sense, principles of statutory interpretation, and with all or virtually all of the authorities in which the issue of sexual identity has arisen. As Professor Gooren and a colleague put it:-

    “There should be no escape for medical and legal authorities that these definitions ought to be corrected and updated when new information becomes available, particularly when our outdated definitions bring suffering to some of our fellow human beings”.’

    A lot of the problems faced by the transgendered community are perhaps caused by a severe lack of understanding among wider society as to what being Transgendered means and is all about. Could you perhaps summarise what being Transgender is and what causes it?

    We know some causes of Transsexuality. For example, genetic males whose mothers were administered the anti-miscarriage drug DES have a 1 in 5 chance of being Transsexual to some degree, as opposed to the 1 in 500 in the general population. Only about 1 in 7 of those who are Transsexual to some degree will require surgery BTW.
    There are many possible causes of classic somatic Intersex, and the same causes apply to Transsexuality. The cause can be environmental, genetic (repeated codons have been implicated), or timing defects of hormone levels that "just happen".

    I'm a bit of a heretic, inasmuch as my judgement of the meagre evidence indicates that Transgender (not just Transsexuality), and Homosexuality also have similar biological causes. A proportion of the population will always be born Intersexed, or Transsexual, or Homosexual, simply because their bodies and/or brains were formed that way, it's not a matter of "choice" to be Gay or Straight, it's what you are. Intersex is emphatically not Homosexuality, and Intersexed people can be Transsexual as well, or Homosexuasl as well, just as Transsexual people can be Gay, or Intersexed, or both.

    I surmise that it's all in the head alright: but that means in the way the brain was formed in the womb. Many Straights and some Gays are potentially Bisexual, but cultural background means their behaviour might be universally straight - or far more rarely, universally Gay. This pleases no-one, as it shows that for some, being Gay or Straight in behaviour is a matter of choice. But for most, it is inate and unchangable, and this should be the assumption unless strong evidence against it is found.

    People who are "part time", or comfortable with a normally gendered body but incomfortable with a normally gendered social role have the same condition as Transsexuals, but in a much milder form. In theory, the same cause, but so different they should be treated differently. Both the Common Cold and Ebola are both caused by virusses, yet no-one thinks the two diseases are "the same".

    This is an extremely unpopular view with Transsexuals, most of whom are Transphobic and often Homophobic due to their upbringing. I am too - both Trans and Homo-phobic, but those are feelings. I can't control feelings, but I can control actions, and I believe that Homophobia is just plain wrong, as is Trans-phobia. So though I distance myself from being categorised as Gay or Transgendered, I STRONGLY support Gay and Transgendered rights, as I think all human beings should do, be they male, female, gay, straight, whatever. Besides which, my Homophobia melts away when I'm amidst Gays and Lesbians, I see them as individuals, as people, rather than stereotypes.

    In my defence, I was born in the UK in 1958, not exactly a very Gay-tolerant society. I'm a prisoner of my own background, prejudiced and bigoted, but doing my best to overcome those handicaps. I've never let feelings get in the way of actions, and fortunately those people I know who happen to be Gay have tolerated my odious personal flaws. Often they don't even notice.


    Related to the last question, because its seen as a mental disorder, rather than say, a facet of personality like being gay is, sex change operations are considered by some to be indulging the "disorder" rather than an effective way of treating the condition. how would you respond to people who make these claims?

    The only good, scientifically valid data I know is from the Scottish Office and a survey of transgendered or gay youth in Northern Ireland. 50% had self-harmed by age 25. Figures for suicide attempts are more rubbery, but one survey suggested that 90% of transsexuals attempt suicide at least once. The suicide (not just suicide attempt) rate is thought to be 30% by age 30, but this does not count the many deaths from self-destructive behaviour such as substance abuse or engaging in unprotected sex work.

    A reasonable estimate of mortality from being TS is 75%., mostly before age 50. A very conservative estimate would be a 50% mortality rate over a lifetime. It is a horrofically uncomfortable condition, and although societal prejudice accounts for much of the causation, it would be nasty even on a desert island.

    Better, more reliable figures for the success of SRS are available. 97% of FtoM and 80% of MtoF SRS's result in significant improvement of the patients position. Much of the "failure" can be accounted for by poor surgical outcomes.

    For any other condition with a 50% mortality rate, and a surgical procedure with an 80% improvement rate to be called "unneccessary" would be laughable.

    The specialists in the area agree that SRS is the best therapy for some, often the only therapy that will keep the patient alive and functional. Those who are ignorant of the research, or relying upon long-discredited texts based upon falsified data usually disagree.

    One point: is someone who thinks they are Blind suffering a "Mental Disorder" if their eyes are normal, their optic nerves are normal, but the visual cortex in the brain is under-developed? How about those born with a chronic serotonin deficiency (causing chronic depression), due to a problem with their brain's cellular receptors?

    In my view, "mental disorder" and "physical disorder" are mutually exclusive. Physical disorders can be so uncomfortable that mental disorders result, disorders that can remain long after the trigger has been successfully treated, but are amenable to treatment via psychotherapy. The two conditions I alluded to above cannot be cured by any amount of psychotherapy: the first in untreatable, the second manageable by SSRIs. Transexuality, being caused by a congenital anomaly in the brain, is similar. It cannot be cured, but hormones, surgery, and sometimes psychotherapy can ameliorate the discomfort.

    Is there anything substantial behind the common perception that transgendered people are gay?

    Yes, but only in one area. Many late transitioners from MtoF end up being lesbian, far greater than the general population. One hypothesis is that women have a greater gender fluidity (more likely to be Bi), and 40+ years of socialisation in a male role encourages this natural trait. Another (one I prefer) is that any woman whose brain has been bathed in a male hormonal mix for 40 years will be changed sexually by this awful experience.

    The rates for FtoM and younger transitioners are about the same as in the general population.

    The trouble is, many consider MtoF women to be Men, so the lesbians are considered straight, and the straight gals considered Gay.

    The perception possibly isn't helped by the inclusion of transgendered people among the Queer community, the LGB and T. Do you think it right that transgendered people are counted alongside Gay and Lesbian people?

    It makes slightly more sense than counting Aleut Eskimos and those born with one eye brown, the other red. Slightly. All are minority groups. One view is that it doesn't matter to those who want to beat us to a pulp, to them we're all the same. GLB, Transsexual, Transgendered and Intersexed people are quite different. Heck, even Gays have different concerns from Lesbians for that matter. If 'twere me, I'd put GL in one camp (pardon the pun), TS and IS in another, and TG/Bi/Queer/Pan in a third. Then have all three gather with straights to press for human rights.

    I'm not happy with the GLBITTQ conglomerate, and I think it drastically disadvantages the Intersexed by spreading misinformation. It disadvantages the Transsexed to a slightly lesser degree. It probably disadvantages the TGs too, I'm not sure. But there are advantages in Unity too. So even though I'm not comfortable with the situation as is, it may be for the best.

    Remember, Gays get disadvantaged too. They're MEN, and should not be conflated with those women born with male bodies.

    Whats the biggest issue affecting the transgendered community at the moment?

    Education. It's not what people don't know that is the problem, it;'s what they know that ain't so. Once the existence of the Intersexed is recognised, that these people are victims of a congenital condition and deserve extra respect, not derision, then the first battle will be won. Then we can move on to the Transsexuals, and then the Transgendered. But my priorities might be influenced by my transphobia, so take them with suitable NaCl.

    How hard is it to gain acceptance among the wider community?

    Once people are aware of the medical situation, not hard at all. But then, I look ugly but normal. Those whose appearance is that of a "Drag King" or "Man in a Dress" have it far worse.

    What is the Goal of Transgendered people?

    Same as for non-TG people. No-one wants to be anathematised, stigmatised, or have the crap beaten out of them for what they are, be it ManU supporters, Gays, or Dubliners.

    A massive amount of thanks to ZoeB for some incredibly informative answers there. I know this is long but I strongly urge you to read, and learn from it, you might just become a better more knowledgeable person.

    For me, a medical or scientific fact is a fact, and you can’t argue them. Its like debating whether wood is wooden. Its not a matter of opinion, its something that is. Sadly, a lot of people seem to disagree with this, and try to disprove scientific and medical fact with theology and personal moral values. So long as such idiocy persists, I guess debates will always continue, but on this forum, we’ve always prized intellectualism and informed debate. So read the above, and then come debate these issues from a solid base of fact and knowledge. Then we’ll really have some fun!

    the Black Prince

    Quote of the Week

    "I just wish more of my fellow queers would come out sometimes. It's nice out here, you know?" – Elton John

    Moving back to more general themes, I am proud to present a not-so-exclusive report by roaming Helios editorialist and ex-editor GrimSta, an interview with the leader of Aberdeen SSP, on all sorts of things - a great read by a great writer.
    Click to view content: 

    An Interview with a modern day Prole.

    Imagine if you will a pub located in the heart of the middle of nowhere. The Pub is warm, it also has a slot machine, cold beer, and the Chelsea versus Wycombe game is playing in the background. Someone… presumably from Wycombe is crying as Chelsea score their goal. This is the backdrop to my interesting and genre spanning interview with Sam Beaton. As a quick warning to all those preparing to read this article I must just say that the depths of Sam’s mind are complicated, odd and downright scary sometimes, and the amount of different topics in which he has an (outspoken) view on is immense. That said I’ll bring in Sam.

    My interview started with Sam and I driving from a retreat in the back and beyond to the Panmure Arms hotel for a couple of beers, a smoke and a finally a chat.

    My first impression of the clean shaven bloke in front of me was that he didn’t look like a political extremist but he did look like he played an instrument so when I probed him he did indeed respond in the affirmative. Apparently he is a guitarist and quite a good one at that although from what I heard his singing leads a lot to be desired. Sam used to sit in his room by himself, playing Guitar because it apparently relaxes him. He also cited his biggest influences as post punk bands and also mentioned The Smiths.

    When I asked him why it was the guitar in particular that attracted him and the response was simply that he liked jamming. He also likes gigging and gigging by yourself is easier when you play guitar than say drums.

    We then took a leap topic wise and started talking about his political ideals and it turns out that Sam is not only a raving left wing looney but also head of the Aberdeen Scottish Socialist Party movement which is quite an achievement for an 18 year old.

    Sam became a hardcore socialist back in 2003 when he participated in an Anti-War march to protest against the invasion of Iraq. One thing lead to another and our hero Sam began to start reading Trotsky, Lenin and Marx and gradually became an SSP member and from there he became leader of the Aberdeen branch of the SSP.

    As you can see, Sam is pretty hardcore when it comes to leftist philosophy and that impression is reinforced by his wealthy understanding of all things “left” especially his view on Marx’s comments about Russia’s inability to cope with Communism – Russia wasn’t ready for it. They skipped out an important stage in the evolution of the proletariat – Capitalism, a very important stage as it created the proletariat. In Sam’s humble opinion the Proletariat in Communist Russia were not Prole’s more Pseudo-Proletariat as without Capitalism then the Proletariat cannot exist.

    I then asked a question that caused Sam to pause for a couple of moments, presumably trying to formulate his thoughts on the subject because, lets face it – Cuba is a big bone amongst all those operating on the left of the political spectrum.

    Sam responded with admirable aplomb on the matter – “Cuba is a mess” – yes it is, and he also gave reasons why which impressed me although most of them where centred around Che Guevara’s many visits to foreign places such as The CCCP (as Sam called it…) and also Korea. Guevara built up a workable knowledge of military revolution and applied the principles to Cuba becoming a leftist hero and also an important part in the role Cuba was to play for a long time – He was a military genius when it came to revolutions.

    When I picked out the words Korea I got a pretty vicious response which has to be quoted as I cannot get the venom into any other format!

    “Korea is ****ed up. In a big way. It's sort of a perverted semi-religious nation that totally arse-****ed the whole idea of socialism. I don't like Korea”

    Not a fan of Korea is our Sam.
    ?I actually finished the Interview on the dubious topic of drugs as Sam is a well known user of many kinds of substances deemed illegal…

    Apparently he has a favourite one in Cannabis – one of the UK’s most popular recreational drugs but he has also done other more damaging and also more stupid drugs which I’m not going to name here because this has to get published – suffice to say they where Class A.

    Of course he does not advocate taking drugs and he did say that he wouldn’t touch Heroine or Acid with a 10 foot barge pole and from my pretty extensive interview and the small insight into his character then I would believe him.

    And so, with the barmaid staring at us in a rather uncomfortable way (either at us for talking about socialism and drugs or staring with unhealthy contempt at my pashmina) we made our merry way back to my car just as Wycombe slotted home the equaliser and the depressed man on the sofa in the bar started jumping and screaming with Joy.

    Now equally politically, we have the charged matter of the Bipartisan immigration bill, or whatever its called - the Amnesty Bill, as Lord Rahl labels it in this editorial;
    Click to view content: 
    For once, Americans have something to cheer about. It isn't very often when the American citizen can look towards the Congress and say, "Well done", but Americans can say such a thing today. On the 28th of June, the United States Senate rejected the so called "bipartisan immigration reform bill", or as some of us who are educated on the bill and the history of such bills in the past like to call it, the "amnesty bill". The Senate needed a 3/5 majority in order to pass it and they didn't even get half, with 46 yeas and 53 nays (with 1 no vote. The official record can be found here.

    First, I'd like to talk about the history of immigration legislation. Bush isn't the first US president to face an immigration problem. In the 1950's, the 34th president of the United States of America, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had to deal with millions of illegal immigrants, mainly from Mexico, and dealt with it swiftly and efficiently. With approximately 1,075 border patrol agents, which is less than 1/5th the number of agents on duty today, began arresting and deporting illegals. "Operation Wetback" started in the middle of June in California and Arizona and with 750 agents, 1,000 illegals were arrested a day, and by the end of July 50,000 were arrested. Hundreds of thousands of other illegals fearing arrest fled themselves out of the US. Several states were involved and Texas was the most effected, with 80,000 arrested and over half a million fleeing from the law. Unlike today where some illegals are simply placed right over the border, under Eisenhower's policy, the illegals were taken by buses, trains, and even boats hundreds of miles south of the border to discourage reentry. This policy against illegal immigration is praised by veterans in the border patrol. One may ask, "what kind of a policy on immigration do we have today?". If you want that answer, why not ask Ted Kennedy. This gentleman has been the center of immigration "reform" since the 60's. The current policy in place is from 1986. Kennedy for years has been behind immigration "reform", and with each bill of his that is passed, the more lenient, the more troublesome, and the more amnesty is given to illegals in the United States. Kennedy guaranteed citizens of the US that illegal immigration would never surpass 250,000 a year in 1965. Today we have one million a year and it is growing. Ted Kennedy, along with presidential hopeful John McCain (and very hopeful he is indeed), tried to push the recent immigration bill through Congress without the American public knowing. Once again the American public was promised a crackdown on immigration. Funny how that could have been the truth since the proposed (now rejected) new bill is less strict than the policy of 1986 gave.

    Not too long ago America was promised thousands of miles of fence along the border between the United States and Mexico and more border agents. Then we were told that only several hundred miles. And then we were told that the new immigration (amnesty) would help. Why would lessening security on the border stall or halt illegal immigration? There are a lot of problems with the bill. Senator Jeff Sessions, a senator from Arizona produced a report finding twenty loopholes in the bill. His report can be found here. The problems with the bill were so varied and consistent that it is a wonder how this bill could have made it through to being law. Let me highlight some major flaws. First off we have a 24 hour window for immigration to conduct a background check on someone coming in the country. 24 hours to do a background check? The system is backlogged quite a bit already and giving someone in immigration a mere 24 hours to perform a background check and decide whether they should be allowed in or not just makes it worse. The agents at the border are rewarded not by their good decisions of allowing or disallowing persons through, rather, how many they allow. Let me quote straight from Senator Sessions' report,

    Amnesty benefits do not wait for the “enforcement trigger.” After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full “probationary benefits,” complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card. Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never “approved,” the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked.
    By the way, these are all flaws in the FIRST loophole. Let's give a round of applause to the Cape Cod Orca, aka, Ted Kennedy, and John McCain for their brilliant piece of legislation.

    Ok, that's enough griping about the idiocy of the bill. I'm supposed to be talking about the victory that was won on the 28th of June. For once our senators listened to us. A grass roots revolution was kindled and brought to an inferno very quickly and very decisively against Congress and they listened. Thousands of faxes, emails, and phone calls were made to dozens of senators. Some listened, some didn't pick up their phones, and some disconnected their phones but some took the events to heart. For once those who represent us learned that we, the American citizen, are their bosses. The senators work for us, not themselves. Some of the senators voted "nay" just to appease their constituents and hopefully they learn that their positions are very temporary if their constituents choose them to be so. For those who voted "yea" even with their constituents wanting the "nay", their seats should be replaced. The rejection of S. 1639 in the 110th Congress - 1st Session is a great victory for those who believe in the rule of law.

    So how can we fix immigration? Well, I think there are some easy and simple solutions. First, secure the border. Build the damn fence! A physical barrier that stretches the entire border will be just one more obstacle for any illegals to cross. Make it high, make it have a lot of barbwire, and put some cameras on it. Put up something that will be physically demanding to get across and technologically hard to approach without being spotted. Securing the border also means giving law enforcement the ability to do their jobs. We keep putting border agents in jail for doing their job. That needs to stop, now. Second, streamline the immigration system. That is, make legal immigration easier. While cracking down on illegal immigration, at the same time making legal immigration a big incentive would take care of the problem easily. Don't make immigrants have to wait ten years to become a citizen. Cut it down to five. Third, punish employers who hire illegals. It is obvious why some will employ illegals. They are cheap. However, they cause a multitude of problems which do not benefit society. Cheap labor at the cost of the healthcare and education system? I don't think so.

    So tonight ya'll can rest easy knowing that an idiotic bill proposed by idiot senators was rejected by not only you, the American citizen, but was heard and also rejected by our senators. Rest easy tonight so tomorrow we can win the next battle!

    Lord Rahl

    Some philosophy on Socratic nonsense, or that's how he ends up classing it, from the clearly well named Setarcos Aneist;
    Click to view content: 
    What one doesn’t know can’t harm him.
    How wrong the man who first said that statement was. I can use TWC as an example. tBP was removed from adminship by Siblesz and Boris long back in TWC history. The reason? Not really one that’s easy to answer, given to say that he was being troublesome and hampering the forum. The result was a coup. It could be said this helped tBP in the long run, as Boris was later to leave the forum permanently and Sibs is inactive, whereas tBP is very much here with us. But at the time it was a blow.
    TWC didn’t know what was going on in the sidelines. But what it didn’t know couldn’t hurt it right? Wrong. In a bizarre twist of confusing circumstances, the coup led to the deletion of the boards…

    What don’t I know? Socrates once very fairly said, “The one thing that I know is that I know nothing”. It was a groundbreaking statement from a simple Athenian citizen. of the time. However, I would disagree. The statement itself is more a representative one then a statement of absolute truth. The one thing I am absolutely sure of is shown by another scientist, Descartes (a far better mathematician then philosopher) who wrote the absolute statement “I think therefore I am”.

    As far as I have found there is no adequate counter-point to this statement, and remains my only absolute truth. And it’s basis is quite simple.
    I think. This proposition is itself obvious to me. As far as I can tell, all else may be a figment of my imagination, or not. But whatever it is, there has to be something channelling all this information, processing it, and placing it on this page. It is this channelling which forms the basis of Hume’s empiric philosophy. (As a side note, his piece on miracles is well worth reading). He correctly points out that all that we can think has to first be placed there by something we have perceived, so that our thoughts are just re-constructed memories. If I cannot think, then I cannot be writing this, as I would not have been able to construct the words themselves in my mind, and so the proposition becomes circular. And however much circular reasoning is irritating, all reason points towards it.
    I am: This is a necessary step from I think, as the ‘I’ is true to both statements, and necessitates existence. The proposition can only be challenged by challenging my innate ‘me’, and so challenging my very existence. To do that, according to this statement, you must challenge that I think, which itself is impossible if you are asking for a reasoned response.

    If you follow the above reason and do not disagree, then we have established that you exist (you have no guarantee that I do). That however, is the limit, you know nothing else for certain, as all else is subject to your mind’s (sometimes faulty) processing. All which you see, hear touch or calculate is only so due to laws which themselves are improvable (mathematics is a logical creation only in the universe as you perceive it, and your perceptions are a creation of your mind, which itself cannot be trusted to produce everything truthfully).

    So, that leaves you with…well… everything as something you do not know. Kind of makes a ridicule of “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” doesn’t it…

    Finally a very short piece from Farnan;
    Click to view content: 

    I'm sorry for not writing any articles lately. My best friend, who is like a sister to me, shipped for Basic Training today and I have spent the last few weeks more worried about that.
    I am sure all our hearts go out with him, and with them go wishes for the safety of the friend in question.

    Click to view content: 
    As if this wasn't long enough already, I have realised we have some distinct gaps in both reportage and editorialists. No one covers, dedicatedly, Sports, Arts, Science, or the Coliseum; and game, book, and music editorials are sorely lacking. If you think you can write vaguely to a schedule - the editor of this thing being worse than Douglas Adams with deadlines and whooshing sounds - and can write well on any of these topics, PM me with a sample article; all submissions gratefully received!

    So that's us done here; thanks for reading, see you again in a fortnight, and now go and rep my reporters; they deserve it all over again.
    Last edited by Ozymandias; July 12, 2007 at 03:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Tom Paine's Avatar Mr Common Sense

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    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    The Curse of the Helios strikes again; a post to note that a new Helios is present. Come look!

  3. #3
    Libertine's Avatar Neptune eats planets
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    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    booh yah, metaphysical rep for all the peeps involved!
    Heir of Kscott
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    Finland had unusually little to do with the whole New World gig. - Watchman

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  4. #4
    Jiraiya's Avatar Libertus
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    Niigata Prefecture

    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    Marvelous; you got me hooked with this Helios its a shame not to be congratulated on your hard work,with the apparent lack of interest, but you have my appreciation and thanks , looking forward to the next months Helios.

  5. #5
    Freddie's Avatar The Voice of Reason

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    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    So you need someone to cover the basement? I think I’m suited for it as I only read the gutter press.

  6. #6
    TAG's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    Its the third Helios i read and i must say it is quite enjoyable.
    Seems like the elections are the "hottest" thing in Thema Devia so why ain't you journalists covering it? I think its may even bring more readers to the Helios.

  7. #7
    Lord Rahl's Avatar Behold the Beard
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    The stars at night are big and bright!

    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    That's a good point. Nothing against Aristophanes's article. I guess he just isn't interested in our great political race!

    Patron of: Ó Cathasaigh, Major. Stupidity, Kscott, Major König, Nationalist_Cause, Kleos, Rush Limbaugh, General_Curtis_LeMay, and NIKO_TWOW.RU | Patronized by: MadBurgerMaker
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  8. #8
    Tom Paine's Avatar Mr Common Sense

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    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    Um... one of you could always cover it and hand in an article on the matter, you know.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    Sorry guys! I don't mean to disappoint. I typically choose two or three articles at random. How I missed the elections is beyond me though!

    * I was wondering what that whole 'man party' thing was about *

    Amount of time Aristo spends in Thema Devia per fortnight: 5 minutes

    When not looking for a post to scorn or satirize: 0 minutes
    Last edited by Aristophanes; July 12, 2007 at 03:49 PM.

    In Patronicum sub Siblesz

  10. #10
    Lord Rahl's Avatar Behold the Beard
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    The stars at night are big and bright!

    Default Re: Helios 14: A Full Fortnight!

    Haha! Need not worry!

    Um... one of you could always cover it and hand in an article on the matter, you know.
    Hell, I don't know how to do that! I just work here!

    Patron of: Ó Cathasaigh, Major. Stupidity, Kscott, Major König, Nationalist_Cause, Kleos, Rush Limbaugh, General_Curtis_LeMay, and NIKO_TWOW.RU | Patronized by: MadBurgerMaker
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