Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Woman Jumps From Tokyo Building Onto Man

(10-31) 10:52 PDT TOKYO, Japan (AP) --

A woman leaped from an 11-story Tokyo apartment Wednesday in an apparent suicide, striking and seriously injuring a passer-by, a news report said Wednesday.

The unidentified woman, who appeared to be in her 30s or 40s, appeared to have jumped from the building onto a busy Tokyo street and was declared dead at the scene, Kyodo News agency reported.

She hit a 47-year-old male pedestrian who suffered a brain injury, the report said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police said they could not immediately confirm the report.

Japan has one of the industrial world's highest suicide rates, with more than 32,000 people taking their own lives in 2006.

'Suicide blonde' kills three people while trying to kill herself

Last updated at 18:15pm on 31st October 2007

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A model who killed three people while trying to commit suicide has been told she faces up to ten years in jail.

Stunning Jeanette Sliwinski deliberately rammed her car into another vehicle that had stopped at a red light.

The three occupants of the car were killed instantly in the horror smash - while Sliwinski only suffered a broken ankle in the accident, which happened two years ago.

Scroll down for more ...

Jeanette Sliwinski killed three other people while trying to kill herself - and escaped with just a broken ankle

The trial of the former 23-year-old lingerie model has captivated America, with her model photos being posted on numerous blogs and websites.

She became known as the "suicide blonde" in reference to the INXS song of that title.

Sliwinski was depressed and delusional when she jumped into her car and raced through a Chicago suburb.

Prosecutors said she had jumped three red lights before slamming into a car containing musicians Michael Dahlquist,39, John Glick,35, and Douglas Meis,29.

The impact of the collision was so fierce their car was up ended and crashed down on the pavement killed all three instantly.

The men were in a Honda Civic waiting at traffic lights when Sliwinski's car struck them from behind.

Police said she was travelling at 70mph and made no attempt to brake.

The model was on her way to see a psychiatrist after a bust-up with her mum.

As a model she had appeared in adverts for Lee Jeans and Fredericks of Hollywood, the famous lingerie store.

She also featured in a calendar for Chicago's sexiest girls.

A judge found the model guilty on three counts of reckless homicide, but said she was mentally ill at the time.

Sliwinski will be held in a secure unit until she is deemed fit to transfer to prison.

Judge Garritt Howard told her she faces up to ten years when he sentences her next month.

The family of one of the victims told ABC News after the case that he was sorry she had not carried out her death wish.

"The one thing that would have brought this thing to closure would have been had she been successful in what she set out to do that day," David Meis, brother of victim Douglas Meis.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Adult-aid maker creates tool to give evolution a helping hand

"This product is going to change masturbation techniques across the world forever," Shigemitsu Moto, president of adult toy maker Daihaku, boasts to Asahi Geino (10/25). "I can say with all confidence that it's revolutionary."

Daihaku's Takumi is indeed unprecedented.

It works by exchanging electronic signals input into video images that trigger internal motors so the action on screen matches the way the masturbation aid moves.

Asahi Geino notes that Takumi is designed to be worn over the erect male organ. Takumi's six internal engines are designed to simulate as closely as possible ministrations that can be administered to that tool, including being gripped with fingers, having its tip licked, lapping along the stalk, powerful sucking and movement of the lips.

When Daihaku displayed a prototype of the Takumi at an adult exposition in Las Vegas last year, it got people raving about its effectiveness.

Daihaku's Moto says he has already had discussions with adult movie companies to put signals into their films that would activate the Takumi. That would allow Takumi users to attach the apparatus to their anatomy while watching an adult movie featuring their favorite fellating female and pretend it was her doing her dexterous duty on his digit while the tool copies her every move.

Moto says the Takumi will go on sale in Japan this December and will undergo further "evolutions" as technology improves.

"By placing electronic signals in movies and developing special software," Moto tells Asahi Geino, "we'll be able to provide the most realistic, most pleasurable virtual sex in the world." (By Ryann Connell)

Black pudding ice cream unveiled

An ice cream company has unveiled its latest mouth watering flavour - made with black pudding.

Dowson's Dairies Ltd of Clayton-le-Dale, Blackburn, Lancs, will serve it next month at the annual Black Pudding Festival in Bacup.

"Most people think we are a bit wacky but with the advent of bacon and egg flavour down south, it shows there is a market," said John Gardner of Dowson's.

The ice cream has small pieces of black pudding like chocolate chip ice cream.

'Unlikely ingredients'

Mr Gardner said the idea for the new flavour came from Master Chef Tom Bridge.

"Chefs tend to go off on their own tangents but unlikely ingredients can taste very good," he said.

The company had experimented adding black puddings to their basic ice cream mix but found a base with mustard added made a better flavour.

"The pieces of black pudding make it look like the chips in chocolate chip ice cream," said Mr Gardner.

He said in keeping with its policy of using local produce it has teamed up with The Real Lancashire Black Pudding Co which is hosting next month's festival.

Call for national pet blood bank

By Helen Briggs
BBC News science reporter

MAURO FERMARIELLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animal surgery is becoming big business
Leading UK vets say a national blood bank is needed to save the lives of sick and injured dogs and cats.

The blood would be used for emergency trauma cases and during complex operations such as open heart surgery.

Specialist centres are now offering pet owners hi-tech treatments pioneered in human medicine, including hip replacements and radiotherapy.

But they come at a cost - with some owners spending thousands of pounds to save a much-loved family pet.

Dr Jerry Davies, Council Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and founder of the largest specialist veterinary referral practice in Europe, said that pets were worth more than their commercial value.

"Animals do have a huge benefit to the human population so we should be striving to help the animal for the animal's sake and also for the welfare of the human attached to them," he said.

Mr Dan Brockman, an expert in cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, London, said he was now carrying out several open heart surgery procedures a year.

Other surgical procedures for dogs and occasionally cats - including heart valve replacement, heart valve repair, cancer operations, and knee-, hip- and elbow-replacements - are becoming routine.

The cost of between £3,000 and £10,000 is met by pet insurance policies or by the individual.

"Pets should be considered a luxury item," said Mr Brockman. "What we do is not for every owner. The important thing is that part of responsible pet ownership is to at least give thought to what you might do if your animal became ill."

Critical care

Many such operations relied on the "benevolence" of owners of large dogs who were prepared to let their pets donate blood, he said.

"One of the things that has held back critical care in the UK has been an unwillingness to develop blood banking in the UK," Mr Brockman told reporters at the Science Media Centre, London.

"It's not possible to have a well functioning trauma centre without having blood product support as in human trauma medicine."

I would like to see someone fund a non-commercial venture - that would be much better but it would cost money
Dan Brockman, Royal Veterinary College

Mr Brockman said it should be possible to create a central blood banking facility or several regional centres so that blood could be extracted, stored and moved to where it was needed.

"I think it is only a matter of time; I really hope one will be set up." he added. "Personally, I would like to see someone fund a non-commercial venture - that would be much better but it would cost money."

Large dogs of 25kg and above with a calm disposition are suitable as blood donors. The dog is made to lie down, has a needle placed in a vein in its neck, and 400ml of blood is collected over the course of 10-15 minutes. A typical heart operation would use three to four blood transfusions of this quantity.

Dr Jerry Davies said about 100-150 dog owners, and about 100 vets, had signed up to a preliminary blood donor scheme launched on the internet. Critics of the idea have raised commercial, legislative and ethical objections.


Grannies' kinky knitwear

A group of German grannies have turned their knitting circle into a company selling kinky knitwear.

A group of Germany grannies have turned their knitting circle into a company selling kinky knitwear /Europics

Their range includes lingerie, face masks and willy warmers, as well as conventional woollen clothing.

Manuela Buesch-Dankewitz, 45, who manages the group of lady knitters said: "The women love to knit, and it's great to earn something from it.

"Our oldest team member is 86. She makes willy warmers and other gear just like the rest."

Ms Buesch-Dankewitz came up with the idea after a US customer asked for a woollen bondage suit and since then has expanded her team to cater for ever more exotic tastes.

She added: "Since we put the items on-line we have been flooded with requests from all around the world.

"We make our wool products to order and there is a big demand out there."

The firm's products can be seen on their new web site at http://wolltraum.de

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Videos

Blondie Debbie Harry A Girl Should Know Better CBGB'S 1975

Blondie Debbie Harry CBGB'S New York 1977

The Fast featuring Jayne County "Max's Kansas City" 1979

The Slits- Tracks Arte

Siouxsie and the Banshees "Overground"

Berlin (Sex I;m A ....)

Garbage - Sex Is Not The Enemy

Gun Club - Go Tell The Mountain

Top Secret Man - The Plastics (on SCTV)

Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club) - Hey Juana

Dia psalma - Ack högaste himmel

LAUGHIN' NOSE / NO MORE HEROS

ECONOCHRIST - another lie

Icons Of Filth - Show Us You Care

THE CONTINENTAL KIDS / GET A GUN

Sub Humans - Religious Wars

Bras - a century of suspension

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The pretty lace bra, a seemingly simple undergarment, took a good 100 years to perfect.

"You'd be surprised how much engineering really goes into a bra; they really are a piece of technology, like a suspension bridge," says writer Teresa Riordan, who meticulously researched hundreds of beauty product patents in her 2004 book, "Inventing Beauty" (Broadway, 336 pages, $17.95).

The bra as a technological wonder was compared to the Golden Gate Bridge on National Geographic Channel's blog last month, in conjunction with its TV show, "Secret History of the Bra," on the history of this everyday, but mysterious, undergarment.

Exactly when the modern-day bra came to be is up for debate, but it's generally agreed that the first mention of the word "brassiere" appeared in a Vogue magazine ad in October 1907.

"Vogue magazine was important then, as it is now, so 1907 is as good a year as any," Riordan says.

So let's say happy 100th anniversary to the bra.

On the other hand, it wasn't really a bra as we know it. Back then women were still wearing corsets, which, in the era of the Gibson Girl, had dipped daringly low in front. What Vogue was referring to was basically a breast shaper and nipple cover-up, for modesty's sake.

Both modesty and rebellion would play their part in the bra's evolution. And it's still evolving. Designers Marc Jacobs and John Galliano brought lingerie out from under in their recent spring 2008 runway shows, treating bras and slips like accessories.

The first bra-like garments were born out of necessity. You can't ride a bicycle or dance the Charleston in a corset. During the 1940s, when satin and other lingerie materials became scarce and women were working in factories, bras were sturdy and durable. A decade later, it was all about sexy uplift.

In the rebellious late 1960s, the bra was finished! But of course, it wasn't. By the time Victoria's Secret came around in the late '70s to change the way we shopped for underwear, bras were pretty, practical and comfortable; you could opt for extra oomph or not. And they have stayed that way ever since.

The term brassiere, from the Old French bracière, means "arm protector" and refers to part of a military uniform (bras in French means arm). The word later became used for a military breastplate, and later for a type of woman's corset. (College students in the 1930s were the first to shorten the word to bra, according to Riordan.)

Corsets had been around for centuries. They supported the breasts from below. But how to lift the breasts from above while still providing support?

"There were a lot of crazy ideas out there at first," Riordan said in a telephone interview. Many patents were obtained by women. "This was one of the only areas where they could train their innovative energy," she said.

There were dozens of patents issued for bra-like inventions made of wire, cork, rubber, sheet metal or cardboard covered with silk. Early bras were designed to cover and flatten rather than lift and shape. Some of these contraptions looked like birdcages, armored vests or mummy bandages. Rubber breast pads were filled with the hair of horses, or elk and antelope.

In the late 1880s, as women began to become more active in sports, they demanded less confining undergarments. It was a seismic shift in bra history, much like the mid-'60s, when the girdle was finally abandoned for pantyhose. "It was one of the first times that a new product, the bra, came on the market not because the manufacturer was trying to sell something, but because women had demanded it," Riordan said.

It's almost impossible to attribute the modern bra - two cups, two shoulder straps and a torso band - to a single person or patent, Riordan says. But by the early 1930s, Maidenform was making a two-cup brassiere.

"For a long stretch, from the 1860s to the 1930s, dozens and dozens of inventors struggled with the same momentous design challenge: how to free up the waist to give women the ability to move easily while also supporting and individually shaping their breasts," Riordan writes.

The first really important bra moment came in 1931, when a rubber called Lastex came on the market. It was light, washable and resilient and had two-way stretch. It changed the bra industry.

It paved the way for the girdles and projectile-shaped bras that were right around the corner. Large breasts and hourglass figures were idealized in the post-World War II era, with Dior's cinched-waist "New Look," pinup girls, sweater sets and bra shapes so aggressively erotic, women were clearly meant to feel like women again.

Anyone watching TVs "Mad Men" on AMC, the impeccably styled serial drama about a group of New York advertising men and their families set in 1960, when women wore tight sweaters to the office, can see how just a few years later, women naturally rebelled against living up to this unreal fantasy.

It was the sexual revolution, and bras became a symbol of oppression. In a fun, pop-up book about bras, "Hoorah for the Bra," (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 48 pages, $19.95) author Cheree Berry titled the chapter on the '60s "Fear of the Brassiere," and included the somewhat famous quote by actress Marlo Thomas who told a national TV audience on her show, "That Girl," that "God created women to bounce."

Not for long, though. The tide turned again in the '70s and '80s, and by the time women were entering the workforce, the bra was back, though not nearly as aggressively as before.

San Francisco played a part in the bra's evolution from underwear to just another article of clothing, when Victoria's Secret, a company started by Roy Raymond of the Bay Area, opened its first store in the Stanford Shopping Center in 1977. Victoria's Secret took the bra out of the department store and into its own faux British Victoriana boutique environment, initially aimed at making men more comfortable shopping for their significant others.

The next big thing in the history of the bra was cleavage. Suddenly, everyone wanted some. The Wonderbra caused a sensation when it hit America in the mid-'90s. Instead of lifting and separating, which was the norm for decades, the rigidly constructed Wonderbra lifted and pushed the breasts together with the help of crescent-shaped inserts in side pouches.

Since the molded, seamless "T-shirt bra" has become a staple of most women's lingerie wardrobes in the past decade, there doesn't seem to be a reason to reinvent the bra or fix what seems at long last not to be broken. The new bra may now be more akin to a new shoe or bag, meant to be shown, not hidden.

E-mail Sylvia Rubin at srubin@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/28/LVEFSSDBD.DTL

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Bring on the lesbian vampires

With the Castro on ice, Violet Blue heats up Halloween with her top 10 retro, breast-baring vampire flicks

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween in the Castro is the stuff of legends, though it's highly likely that the fun legends pre-date my generation; for me, Halloween in the Castro has always been something to go near — but not into. It can be fun to watch masses of drunk and rowdy masked tourists streaming into my small-ish neighborhood looking for action, but only from a distance (usually a friend's front window or fenced-in cement yard). And between the usual ill-advised gay-bashings and last year's violence, keeping my distance seems ever more desirable, and Halloween seems way less sexy.

This year's solution is a hotly debated one: There's no party for the people. But that also means there are no Porta-Potties for the people, plus a lot more police — for the people. While I'll certainly regret the chance to see all the inevitable versions of zombie Anna Nicoles, bald Britneys and toe-tapping senators, this year I'm fine to stay in — and snuggle up with my favorite boob-a-licious retro vampire films.

This Saturday through the 31st, I'll be doing my best to get cozy with Countess Dracula and the Karnsteins — the ones that get naked, that is.

"The Hunger" was great, though "Vampyros Lesbos" is overrated. Terrified women running from serial killers and monsters are as over as that "sexy schoolgirl" in a bag outfit. In essence, our hunger is only appeased by movies which contain a mixture of lip-licking sexual perversities, delightfully taboo desires, warm and familiar occult influences, a dose of ritualistic sadomasochism whenever possible, powerful and wicked naked girls, campiness fit for any queen, and the satisfaction of knowing that being evil is way more fun than being good any day of the week. Feel free to peruse my list of favorite, unapologetically obscure and ultra-campy softcore vampire flicks from the last century. Join the forces of darkness (and don't forget the cocktails) for the comforts that an evening of pure feminine evil can provide.

10. "Vampyres" (1974). Directed by the Spanish Jose Larraz and starring Marianne Morris and Anulka , this enjoyable film is hailed as one of the rare treatments of vampirism as an explicitly male fantasy in which women are simultaneously objects of terror and desire. Two malevolently sexy female vampires live in a lovely, decaying old mansion and casually lure passers by into their lair for lunch. Their lunch, that is. One of the victims sports a woody for one of the vampires, and decides to stay, aware of the fact that he's just her favorite snack, all the while becoming weaker and weaker ... Chock full of that good old amour fou, this film lives up to being labeled with "hallucinatory eroticism" and delivers an artfully claustrophobic, sexually explicit tale difficult to forget.

9. "Countess Dracula" (1970). Starring stacked British siren Ingrid Pitt, this movie is enticingly hailed as "the most erotic Hammer film," presumably because it has more states of undress than any other made at that time. In it, Pitt plays the role of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the "Blood Countess" to the delicious and oversexed hilt. It seems that our poor little rich countess needs to bathe in the blood of unsuspecting virgins in order to retain her supple, uh, youth. Set in the colorful Middle Ages in perfectly gloomy castles and with those easy-to-remove period costumes a la Hammer Horror, it'll make you want to say "clean the tub tonight, dear, we're having guests ..."

8. "The Bare Breasted Countess," a.k.a. "Female Vampire" (1973). Jess Franco, a man with a reputation for many excesses himself, came from Spain to direct nearly 200 films. His style branded him as Europe's Ed Wood, with campy hit-and-miss, violent-erotic movies that are mostly miss and whose weaknesses lie sadly in production values. But when Franco is "on," you are captive to nothing short of offbeat, brilliant filmmaking. Such is the case with "The Bare Breasted Countess," starring Franco's fetish-actress Lina Romay. This nearly X-rated confection centers on the delectable Romay as the mute and mysterious Countess Irena Karnstein, taking a bloody little (then modern) holiday in Portugal. Apparently for our vamp, her sustenance is only satisfying when orally extracted from trouser snakes and sweaty little crevasses — arguably a display of nature at its best. Romay's portrayal of unconscious animal eroticism is pretty flawless, the story ends rather nicely, and the entire film is a pleasure to consume. Urp!

7. "Venus in Furs" (1968). "Man, it was a wild scene!" Yeah, baby, this is a far-out sadiserotic Jess Franco film, the idea for which is allegedly attributed to jazz musician (and Franco's friend) Chet Baker. Not surprisingly, the narrative is a distorted and haunting story about a jazz musician's surreal experiences trying to piece together his present role in a series of murders after witnessing the mouth-watering Maria Rohm extinguished at a party during a wickedly hot S/M scene with Klaus Kinski. (No safe words back then, we suppose.) It's widely said about this film that it makes little narrative sense, but makes perfect emotional sense — an idea which accurately conveys the way each scene feels, as though it is one intense feeling linked to another. But it does make narrative sense as it verges on giallo, and combines fetishistic images, an aesthetic verging on campy, a hip 'n' happenin' sexy '60s jazz scene, and cool-as-a-cucumber soundtrack by Manfred Mann to create an eerie erotic film.

6. "Nadja" (1994). Late-century goth camp, and unintentionally so. Joy! Produced by David Lynch and directed by Michael Almereyda (who brought us the quirky Crispin Glover vehicle "Twister" in 1989) "Nadja" is a fairly modern tale of vampiric existential angst. Sex kitten Elina Lowensohn portrays Nadja, daughter of Count Dracula, who self-absorbedly prowls the club scene in Manhattan's Lower East Village in search of a deeper meaning to her indiscriminately lusty feedings. Peter Fonda appears as Van Helsing, on a quest to kill her twin brother, Edgar, after doing away with their dad. Fonda excellently conveys the contrast of the terrified spiritual adolescence of straight male roles to Nadja's personification of physical temptation and evolutionary awareness. Still, this is a sexy vampire story, but with modern gothic underpinnings, innovative camera techniques, and emotional relevance for people living in the '90s. So cute! Did I mention the indiscriminately lusty feedings?

5. "Necronomicon" a.k.a. "Succubus" (1967). This blood-soaked caper was hailed as one of Jess Franco's most successful films, but it is up to you, the discriminating viewer, to decide what "success" is for a Franco flick. It shares with Franco's "Venus in Furs" the (then) present-day time frame of a wonderfully campy goth '60s atmosphere. In "Necronomicon," staged sadism thankfully becomes reality as the "stage performances" of sexually compulsive main character Lorna begin to blur reality and fantasy under the influences of (my favorite trope) a mysterious stranger. Lorna's character acts increasingly erratically as the film progresses, and this is quite entertaining, as our little performance artist is already a few sandwiches shy of a picnic basket and runs around in skimpy costumes. Whippings, murders, interpretive dance — what more can we ask for?

4. "Twins of Evil" (1972). Oh, how we want this Hammer Horror flick to be good — and it is, if you're into overacting '70s Playboy Bunny Playmates (and real-life twins) Mary and Madeline Collinson getting jiggy with the boob-biting, in costumes and sets most likely inspired by either a local high school drama club or the twinkle in Trannyshack's eye. "Twins of Evil" was intended to be the third installment in the Hammer lesbian vampire trilogy that begins with "Vampire Lovers," but came across as little more than a gratuitous excuse for boobs, blood, weak-willed men and, uh, twins and their jiggly bits. Which is why it's high on the list of bad as good, with all the fleshly requirements (and little of that pesky acting to distract from the action). It's easy: Twins arrive in village, there's a castle, vampires make it interesting, clothes come off, and everybody dies. Yay!

3. "The Vampire Lovers" (1970). Based on the novel "Camilla," this is simply one of the best retro tales of lesbian obsession, and the start of Hammer Horror's descent into lesbian vampire madness. An all-star lineup dishes out this rapacious tale of tasty lesbian obsession and savory graphic eroticism, excellently directed by Roy Ward Baker, starring an austere Peter Cushing and succulent succubus Ingrid Pitt. Our man Cushing plays the father of young, inexperienced Pippa, whose health only seems to fail as a beautiful and experienced countess is called in to care for her. It all becomes enough to make the maid wring out her panties with frustration and homicidally mad with jealousy. A real winner.

2. "Lust for a Vampire" (1971). No. 2 in the Hammer 1970s lesbo trilogy, but my top pick of the lot — it has the most breasts for the buck, and converts nicely into several variations of a drinking game. This mouth-watering gem takes place, to our delight, in a school for young ladies who are thoughtfully required to wear uniforms which are quite sheer. It's actually about a scrumptious new pupil whose preferred extra curricular activity is lesbian sexual vampirism of the other nubile students — she really has a problem with snacks after "lights out," and we thankfully get to see every inch and nibble. Add to this their erotically, er, challenged professor, who does everything possible not to hump the resurrected vampiress' leg while maintaining a sense of propriety when questions start getting asked about the sudden drop in enrollment. Feel free to take a drink whenever the girls giggle.

1. "Daughters of Darkness" (1971). My all-time favorite retro lesbian vampire film: eerie and less campy than the rest, but no less fun. Here, the vampire myth excels at its portrayal of woman as the ultimate predatory beast, a point eloquently illustrated in this classic from Belgian director Harry Kumel . With the hypnotic stare of a snake, the paws of a cat — and lethally protuberant breasts — the vampire domina (Delphine Seyrig) in "Daughters of Darkness" totally defines the masochistic male fantasy of the ultimate dominatrix, the goddess of erotic extremism. This heavily stylized, excellent vampire film centers around a honeymooning couple who meet up with the aforementioned vampire domina at a strange hotel by the sea. You can guess the rest. The entire mood of the hotel is evocative of "The Shining" (and similarly, shot mostly in natural light), the color scheme and lighting chosen specifically to achieve a dry, haunted look. Nothing ends well for anyone who gets a room here (especially the men), but as with all lesbian vamp romps, it's all about the curvaceous journey, and not the destination.

Industrial-Electronic-Punk icon dies at 46

Created On October 28th, 2007 by shunji

inthemix.com.au

Underground alternative star Paul Raven from Ministry and Killing Joke died expectedly this week, after suffering a heart attack as he was working with French band Treponem Pal in France. MTV reported that the 46 year old Wolverhampton born bass player had been out drinking the night before with the band, and was found dead in the morning by drummer Ted Parsons.

“I found Raven asleep in a chair the next morning in [a] living room,” Parsons wrote on his Myspace page. “I thought nothing of it, as Raven would sleep like this on the tour bus in the front lounge all the time. Then I looked closer at him, and he looked very gray. I checked his pulse and there was none.”

Chatting to US portal PunkTV.ca last year, Raven joked cheerfully about his rock & roll reputation describing himself as ‘a world-class antagonist, long time pit-bull breeder, part-time drug dealer (and) brunette lover.’

“I’ve been making records since 1977. I’m what we call O.P., like O.G., Original Punk Rocker,” he added, “Soon I’m going to be a punk-rock granddad. I’m 45 years old and still f**king you know, kicking ass,” he said.

Though numerous blogs immediately speculated that drugs might have been involved, no mentions of drugs except alcohol have emerged in subsequent press reports.

Thousands march against the war in S.F., across the country

Sunday, October 28, 2007

(10-27) 17:17 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- On cue from a bullhorn's blast, thousands of protesters fell to the pavement on Market Street in a symbolic "die-in" Saturday as part of a coordinated protest staged in cities across the country against the war in Iraq.

For three minutes the demonstrators lay on the pavement, representing what organizers said were more than 1 million Iraqis killed since the war began in 2003. The protesters then resumed their march from San Francisco's Civic Center to Dolores Park.

March organizers put their number at 30,000 - old, young, workers, students, religious leaders. Police declined to give a formal estimate, but onlookers said the demonstrators definitely numbered more than 10,000. They filled up Market Street for several blocks, shouting that U.S. troops should be brought home and carrying banners decrying the war.

At the head of the marchers was a band of Native American drummers who pounded a steady beat as protesters chanted, "No more war!"

Before the march began, demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall to hear speakers berate the Bush administration and call on Americans to stand up against the war. Organizers said part of the reason for staging this protest was to mark that it is now five years since Congress voted to authorize the use of U.S. force in Iraq.

"Silence shows compliance," Nicole Davis, a leader of the Campus Anti-War Network group, told the crowd at the San Francisco event, which was organized by the Oct. 27th Coalition of several groups, including ANSWER - Act Now To Stop War and End Racism. "If you disagree with this war," she added, "it is your duty to stand up and let the world know."

Sarah Sloan, an ANSWER spokeswoman, said her group estimated the size of the crowd "based on the number of blocks - about seven - that the march takes up and the density of the crowd."

In New York, thousands demonstrated in the rain, marching to Foley Square. In Chicago, thousands of protesters gathered at Union Park and marched to the Federal Plaza. Organizers said anti-war rallies, sponsored nationally by a coalition of groups headed by United for Peace & Justice, also took place in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Jonesborough, Tenn., Philadelphia, Orlando, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston and other cities around the country.

"It would be one thing if it were just San Francisco, but it's not," Jim Haber, a Bay Area chapter representative of United for Peace & Justice, told The Chronicle.

"We've helped organizers mobilize their communities in places like Jonesborough, Tenn., and Salt Lake City, which you don't typically associate with anti-war demonstrations. This underscores the broad opposition to the war in Iraq."

At Dolores Park, hundreds of black boots were placed in rows on a hillside in memory of the U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq. A tag bearing the name of a dead soldier was attached to each pair of boots, and many of the boots had daisies and other flowers placed in them.

At the park, demonstrators listened to an array of speakers, including American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks and anti-war activist and congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan. She asked people to vote for her instead of her opponent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in 2008.

Banks told his audience: "As I look out over this crowd, I see many young people. That gives me great hope." He recalled that it was the young - many of them students - during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s who took to the streets to pressure the United States to end that war.

Anne Roesler, of the group Military Families Speak Out, said her son was a U.S. soldier who had been deployed to Iraq three times and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. "This is Congress' war," she said. "They have the blood of this war on their hands - they are building their political careers with the blood of our loved ones and Iraqis."

Clarence Thomas, past secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, said, "We have to take a lesson from the civil rights movement. We have to wake up and understand we are all in this together."

In the throng of San Francisco demonstrators was a trio of Code Pink members, including one attired as the Statue of Liberty, who belted out, "I am going to sing until the world is free, down by the riverside." One group, the Raging Grannies, entertained the crowd with protest lyrics sung to classic songs such as "Anchors Away."

Labor groups made a special effort to get their members to turn out, with hundreds of workers showing up - among them sign installers, teachers, roofers, nurses, security guards and communication workers.

Sharon Cornu, secretary-treasurer Central Labor Council of Alameda County, said it would be the first time that seven Bay Area labor councils - San Francisco, Monterey Bay, North Bay, South Bay, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda - worked together to urge members to attend the protest.

Although Bay Area labor groups have been involved in earlier protests against the war, Cornu said, this was the biggest effort yet. "More and more union members are seeing the war's impact on our schools, transportation and health care systems because money is being spent abroad that could be spent at home," Cornu added.

"We are working people - we make things in this country, and we want to be heard," said Oakland roofer Leroy Cisneros, echoing Cornu's words about the pressing need for expenditures on education and health care.

Wendy Bloom, a nurse from Children's Hospital in Oakland, said, "Our priorities are distorted. We are spending billions on an unnecessary war instead of health care."

In the days before the protest, organizers used anti-war videos on the Internet to encourage participation in the rallies across the country. One video was a two-minute short by the Brave New Foundation in Culver City that invited viewers to be part of something "huge and meaningful."

Another two-minute video, "Confront the War President," featured a series of wrenching images of the Iraq war's dead and dying, grieving relatives and the wounded. It included film clips of President Bush in interviews - one in 2006 saying, "To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong," and another in 2004 stating: "I am a war president. I make policy decisions here in the Oval Office on foreign policy matters with war on my mind."

Chronicle news services contributed to this report. E-mail the writers at jdoyle@sfchronicle.com and ssward@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/28/BAJHT0ULT.DTL

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, October 26, 2007

Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, Murcia, Spain

Did Neanderthals have red hair? (Image: Michael Hofreiter/Kurt Fiusterweier/MPG EVA/Science)
Neanderthal genetics is revealing surprises
Some Neanderthals were probably redheads, a DNA study has shown.

Writing in Science journal, a team of researchers extracted DNA from remains of two Neanderthals and retrieved part of an important gene called MC1R.

In modern people, a change - or mutation - in this gene causes red hair, but, until now, no one knew what hair colour our extinct relatives had.

By analysing a version of the gene in Neanderthals, scientists found that they also have sported fiery locks.

"We found a variant of MC1R in Neanderthals which is not present in modern humans, but which causes an effect on the hair similar to that seen in modern redheads," said lead author Carles Lalueza-Fox, assistant professor in genetics at the University of Barcelona.

Though once thought to have been our ancestors, the Neanderthals are now considered by many to be an evolutionary dead end.

They appear in the fossil record about 400,000 years ago and, at their peak, these squat, physically powerful hunters dominated a wide range spanning Britain and Iberia in the west, Israel in the south and Siberia in the east.

Our own species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa, and displaced the Neanderthals after entering Europe about 40,000 years ago. The last known evidence of Neanderthals comes from Gibraltar and is dated to between 28,000 and 24,000 years ago.

Selective pressure

Until relatively recently, scientists could turn only to fossils in order to learn what Neanderthals were like. But recent pioneering work has allowed scientists to study DNA from their bones.

In Neanderthals, there was probably the whole range of hair colour we see today in modern European populations, from dark to blond right through to red
Dr Carles Lalueza-Fox

Genetics could shed light on aspects of Neanderthal biology that are not preserved in fossils. These include external appearance - such as hair, skin and eye colour - cell chemistry and perhaps even cognitive ability.

This will help scientists address key questions, such as why we inherited the Earth and not them.

Genes for skin colour and hair colour are obvious early targets for scientists engaged in these efforts.

In modern people from equatorial areas, dark skin and hair is needed to guard against skin cancer caused by strong UV radiation from the Sun.

By contrast, pale skin - along with red or blond hair - appears to be the product of lower levels of sunlight present in areas further from the equator such as Europe.

"Once you go out of Africa, the selective pressure from UV radiation disappears. So any mutation that falls into the MC1R gene is allowed to survive and spread through a population," said Dr Lalueza-Fox, speaking at the Climate and Humans conference in Murcia, Spain.

But people with fair skin are able to generate more vitamin D, which may have given them an evolutionary advantage in northern regions.

Altered chemistry

The latest research suggests that similar adaptations were evolved independently by Neanderthals and modern Europeans in response to similar environmental circumstances.

All humans carry the MC1R gene, but modern redheads possess an altered, or mutated, version of it.

This rare variant doesn't work as effectively as more common forms of the gene. This loss of function alters the chemistry of the cell, producing red hair and pale skin.

In the latest study, the authors retrieved fragments of the MC1R sequence from Neanderthal bones found at Monte Lessini in Italy and from remains unearthed at El Sidron cave in northern Spain. DNA is notoriously difficult to obtain from very old specimens such as these.

"This was a bit like finding a needle in a genomic haystack. I couldn't believe we found it the first time. I asked my friends to repeat the results. Eventually the variant was found in two separate Neanderthals in three different labs," said Dr Lalueza-Fox.

Unique variant

The researchers found that Neanderthals carried a unique variant of the gene not present in modern humans.

Reconstruction of Neanderthal man and boy (Image: AFP/Getty)
Until now, information on hair colour has been sparse

In order to test what effect it had on hair and skin colour, the researchers inserted the Neanderthal variant into a human cell called a melanocyte.

Melanocytes produce the dark pigment called melanin which gives skin, hair and eyes their colour.

The researchers saw the same loss of function in the Neanderthal form of MC1R as they did in modern variants of the gene which produce red hair.

"In Neanderthals, there was probably the whole range of hair colour we see today in modern European populations, from dark to blond right through to red," Dr Lalueza-Fox told the BBC News website.

To Dr Lalueza-Fox, the observation that the Neanderthal version of the gene is not found in modern humans suggests they did not interbreed with each other, as some scientists have proposed.

Primitive speech

Dr Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, commented: "It's extremely interesting - it makes us understand a bit more about who the Neanderthals were.

"It suggests there may be a propensity towards the reduction of melanin in populations away from the tropics. If the Neanderthal and modern variants are different, it may be a good example of parallel, or convergent evolution - a similar evolutionary response to the same situation."

"Neanderthal genetics is going to give us a lot more information. This is the tip of the iceberg."

In a separate study, published in the journal Current Biology, Dr Lalueza-Fox and colleagues extracted the DNA sequence for a gene called FoxP2 from Neanderthals.

Modern people have several changes in this gene that are absent in our relatives the chimpanzees. This suggests that FoxP2 may have been an important gene in the evolution of language, something which separates us from the great apes.

The researchers found that Neanderthals shared these key mutations in FoxP2 with modern humans, suggesting they had some of the prerequisites for language and speech.

An ongoing project to sequence the entire Neanderthal genome was recently hit by the discovery that samples had been contaminated with modern human DNA.

Prozac 'found in drinking water'


Prozac tablets
Many people choose Prozac over other antidepressants
Traces of the antidepressant Prozac can be found in the nation's drinking water, it has been revealed.

An Environment Agency report suggests so many people are taking the drug nowadays it is building up in rivers and groundwater.

A report in Sunday's Observer says the government's environment watchdog has discussed the impact for human health.

A spokesman for the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) said the Prozac found was most likely highly diluted.

'Alarming'

The newspaper says environmentalists are calling for an urgent investigation into the evidence.

It quotes the Liberal Democrats' environment spokesman, Norman Baker MP, as saying the picture emerging looked like "a case of hidden mass medication upon the unsuspecting public".

He says: "It is alarming that there is no monitoring of levels of Prozac and other pharmacy residues in our drinking water."

Experts say the anti-depression drug gets into the rivers and water system via treated sewage water.

Prescriptions increase

The DWI said the Prozac (known technically as fluoxetine) was unlikely to pose a health risk as it was so "watered down".

The Observer says the revelations raise new fears over how many prescriptions for the drug are given out by doctors.

In the decade leading up to 2001, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants went up from nine million per year to 24 million per year, says the paper.

The Environment Agency report concluded that the Prozac in the water table could be potentially toxic and said the drug was a "potential concern".

The exact amount of Prozac in the nation's drinking water is not known.

Barmaid crushed cans with breasts

An Australian barmaid has been fined for crushing beer cans between her bare breasts.

Police also accused Luana De Favari of hanging spoons from her nipples, reports the Daily Telegraph.

De Favari, 31, admitted twice exposing her breasts to patrons at the Premier Hotel in Pinjarra, south of Perth.

She was fined A$1,000 dollars (£440) after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Liquor Control Act.

Off-duty barmaid Tracey Leslie, 43, was fined A$500 (£220) for helping to hang spoons from De Favari's nipples, police said.

The hotel manager was also fined A$1,000 for failing to stop the pair.

Supt David Parkinson said: "It sends a clear message to all licensees in Peel that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour in our licensed premises."

Toying with doll lands man in hoosegow

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A man was arrested after a government agent allegedly found him in an office building restroom lying next to an inflatable, anatomically correct doll with his pants down. Craig S. McCullough, 47, was charged Wednesday with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.

The criminal complaint against McCullough says he was discovered in the public restroom by an agent for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which is one of the federal agencies that rents space in the Hach office building.

McCullough was arrested, and Cedar Rapids police took him to the Linn County jail. His arraignment was scheduled later Friday, police spokeswoman Cristy Hamblin said.

Another agency has an outstanding warrant against McCullough, but the reason for that warrant was not immediately clear, Hamblin said. He was still in jail Friday morning and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney.

McCullough's criminal record includes a 2004 conviction for burglarizing Just For Me bridal boutique. Shortly after the burglary, police officers found McCullough in a nearby alley, carrying a mannequin wearing a bridal dress.

Man jailed for urinating on woman

Anthony Anderson
Anthony Anderson was filmed urinating on Christine Lakinski
A man who urinated on a woman as she lay dying and shouted "this is YouTube material" has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Anthony Anderson also covered Christine Lakinski with shaving foam after she collapsed in a Hartlepool street.

The 50-year-old, who suffered from a number of medical conditions, was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Anderson, 27, and from Raby Road in the Teesside town, had earlier admitted outraging public decency.

The court heard how, on 27 July, Miss Lakinski was making her way home with a box of laminate flooring when she fell ill and stumbled into a doorway.

Totally shocked

Anderson, a former soldier, had smoked a cannabis joint and been drinking when he and two friends spotted her.

He tried to rouse her by throwing a bucket of water over her, before urinating on her and covering her with shaving foam.

A crowd had gathered around, watching and laughing, and the incident was filmed on a mobile phone.

She was later declared dead at the scene, the cause of death being given as pancreatic failure.

Magistrates in Hartlepool had referred the case to Teesside Crown Court so a longer jail term could be handed out.

Judge Peter Fox, the recorder of Middlesbrough sitting at Teesside Crown Court, said: "You violated this woman in an incredible way, and the shocking nature of your acts over a prolonged period of time must mean that a prison sentence of greater length is appropriate in this case."

'Sick and inhumane'

Outside court, Miss Lakinski's family said in a statement: "We remain totally shocked that anyone could behave in such an appalling way.

"The fact that Christine was dying makes this man's actions even more sick and inhumane.

"However, those who stood by and did nothing to stop Anderson are also guilty in our eyes.

"It beggars belief that these people chose not only to condone his cruelty, but also to walk away from a neighbour who was clearly in distress and needed help."

The family statement added that Christine had "faced immense challenges throughout her life", yet still had managed to "forge an independent life for herself".

Mother who shaved her daughter's head and pierced her genitalia acquitted

A U.S. woman who decided to pierce her 13-year-old daughter's genitalia to protect her from early sex life was acquitted of aggravated child abuse. The girl, now 16 years of age, testified at court that her mother was trying to protect her. In 2004 the woman asked her male friend to shave the girl's head to make her unattractive to boys. Afterwards, the woman apparently thought that it was not enough and decided to forcefully pierce the girl's genitalia.

A woman who had her 13-year-old daughter's genitalia pierced to make it uncomfortable for her to have sex was acquitted of aggravated child abuse. The girl, now 16, had testified that her mother asked a friend in 2004 to shave the girl's head to make her unattractive to boys and later held her down for the piercing.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding Thursday that the mother's actions did not involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement. The 39-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity, could have faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charges. The girl was not in court for the verdict. Her guardian declined comment.

"She was trying to protect me, but it hurt me," the girl testified earlier this week. "It not only hurt me physically, but it hurt me mentally. ... That's emotionally scarring. That's physical abuse." Prosecutors said the mother called on a friend to shave the girl's head and do the piercing after realizing that she had been having sex, including with the mother's boyfriend.

Defense attorneys told jurors that the mother had trouble with her rebellious daughter and that the girl agreed to the piercing to help rebuild her mother's trust. Child welfare officials were called after the girl became infected from the piercing.

Tammy Meredith, 43, who did the piercing in her home, was sentenced to a year in jail for her role. An arrest warrant has been issued for the mother's boyfriend on allegations he had sex with the girl.

Defense attorney Donald Day argued the mother had trouble with her rebellious daughter and that the girl agreed to the piercing to help rebuild her mother's trust.

"It wasn't torture or extreme violence," Day said. "It was, in the young girl's words, to try to save her. ... That decision was a last-ditch effort. In my client's mind, she had no other options."

Child welfare officials were called after the girl became infected from the piercing.

Judges have rejected two proposed plea agreements as too lenient. The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity, would have spent up to 30 years in prison if she had been convicted of the charges.

The Japanese ninja skirt that turns into a Coca Cola machine to ward off attackers

by DAVID GARDNER - More by this author » Last updated at 08:47am on 23rd October 2007

Comments Comments (2)

You've heard of hiding in plain sight.

Well, a fashion designer has come up with a more colourful way for worried women to blend into a busy street to elude a pursuer.

We've had mini-skirts, skorts, pencils and midis. Now there's the vending machine skirt.

It's definitely not the real thing, but Aya Tsukioka's skirt doubles as a disguise to make the wearer look like a Coca Cola machine.

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Coke dress

Aya Tsukioka's skirt aims to make the wearer look like a Coca Cola vending machine...

Ms Tsukioka, 29, unveiled her design in Tokyo by claiming she hopes it will help ease women's fear of crime.

She lifted a flap on the skirt to expose a large sheet of cloth printed with the familiar bright red Coca Cola logo.

By unfolding the sheet and stepping to the side of the street, she showed how a woman walking alone could hide behind it to outfox a potential attacker.

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Coke dress

Aya Tsukioka unveils her design in Tokyo. She hopes it will help ease women's fear of crime

Her deluxe model even boasts four sides for a more complete cover.

The experimental clothes designer has already sold 20 of the £400 hand-sewn vending machine skirts and it hoping to market the design worldwide.

She says the idea was inspired by a trick used by Japanese ninja assassins, who cloaked themselves in black blankets so they couldn't be seen at night.

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Coke dress

Tsukioka lifts a flap on the skirt to expose a large sheet of cloth printed with the familiar bright red Coca Cola logo

If the fizzy drink machine seems a little elaborate, not to mention impractical, she has also come up with the 'manhole bag' which is supposed to look like a sewer cover when you put it down so unwitting thieves walk right by without noticing it.

For children, she has a backpack that transforms into a fire hydrant.

While British women might prefer to take self-defence classes, Ms Tsukioka said: "It is just easier for Japanese to hide. Making a scene would be too embarrassing."

She admits that making the switch from skirt to vending machine might prove a little tricky "especially when your hands are shaking".

But she told the New York Times: "These ideas might strike foreigners as far-fetched, but in Japan, they can become reality."

Coke dress

Tsukioka says the idea was inspired by a trick used by Japanese ninja assassins, who cloaked themselves in black blankets so they couldn't be seen at night

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lee Jun Ki vs Leslie Cheung

Renowned Chinese director Chen Kaige’s gay movie ‘Farewell My Concubine’ may not be such a big success without late Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung’s perfect acting in the movie. Likewise, Korean movie ‘King and the Clown’ must owe its success to Korean actor Lee Jun Ki.

These two movies are undoubtedly the most typical Asian gay movies until now. The two actors have many things in common: beautiful faces, elegant behaviors, and feminine temperament. It must be really difficult to decide who is a better actor in gay movie.

Lee Jun Ki, Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung in movie ‘Farewell My Concubine’

Leslie Cheung

Lee Jun Ki in Korean movie ‘King and the Clown’

Lee Jun Ki

Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi in gay movie ‘Farewell My Concubine’

Leslie Cheung

Lee Jun Ki in gay movie ‘King and the Clown’

Lee Jun Ki

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Opus Comics, by Bloom County's Berkeley Breathed

Punk Globe Magazine

Rant & Rave With JAYNE COUNTY!!


Genetics And "Race"

Andrew Sullivan- The Daily Dish

20 Oct 2007 11:22 am

I hesitate to re-enter an area of discussion which, given my own intrepid experience of trying to foment a sane discussion of The Bell Curve over a decade ago, you'd think I'd know to avoid by now. But I find it fascinating, and one of the areas in which science is, I believe, going to challenge many assumptions of right-thinking liberalism. The comments of Richard Watson have revived discussion of the subject and you can find the conventional left-liberal view here, echoed by Crooked Timber. In general, when I read scientific accounts that include passages like the following, my eyes roll when they don't glaze over:

While acknowledging that science is often used for positive purposes, including ones that benefit communities of color, social justice advocates must remain vigilant. All technologies, including new genetic technologies, develop in a political, economic and social context, says Patricia Berne of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public affairs nonprofit based in Oakland, California. "The broader political left has not really grappled with the ways these technologies affect our claim to resources, our claim to rights, and the well-being of our communities," she notes.

Vigilance? Against science? Who knew? Left-liberals, of course, like the use of DNA to exonerate innocent suspects but they're not so happy when this kind of thing happens:

DNA led to the 2004 conviction of an African American suspected of multiple serial murders in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Initially, police sought a white suspect, based on eyewitness testimony and the assumption that most serial killers are Caucasian. But the case took a turn when a technology firm, DNA Print Genomics, offered to analyze the sample from the crime scene. Their test concluded that the suspect was "85 percent sub-Saharan African and 15 percent Native American" and therefore medium- to dark-skinned black, not white.

Hold on a minute. If race is entirely a social construct, how can DNA reveal it? The answer, of course, is that it isn't just a social construct all the way down. Our DNA is inherited; and that inheritance has complex patterns. You can, of course, define these patterns any way you like. And crude racial categories are not in any way supported by the data. But sophisticated, subtle DNA differences that can indeed reflect a constellation of factors in a human being can be seen in some respects as a racial category. And we can tell someone's genealogy from their DNA. The best layman's guide to this I've read recently is in a NYT piece two years ago. Check it out. The critical bottom line:

A 2002 study by scientists at the University of Southern California and Stanford showed that if a sample of people from around the world are sorted by computer into five groups on the basis of genetic similarity, the groups that emerge are native to Europe, East Asia, Africa, America and Australasia - more or less the major races of traditional anthropology... The billion or so of the world's people of largely European descent have a set of genetic variants in common that are collectively rare in everyone else; they are a race. At a smaller scale, three million Basques do as well; so they are a race as well. Race is merely a shorthand that enables us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences.

As I've noted, the variations within some of these groups are larger than many of the variations between them. But that race does in some way exist as an essential fact of human nature - that these differences render the assumption of an utterly homogeneous human race bogus - seems to me indisputable. The social and political ramifications of this deserve a different and deeper treatment - as does the IQ discussion as it relates to this. But that race exists in nature seems to me to be as obvious as the fact that genealogy exists in nature. We need vigilance against abuse of the truth, not against the truth itself.

Sinbad, Kobe & Sinbad



'A year ago I was Ian, 16 stone with 14-inch biceps, a Captain in the Paras. Today I'm Jan, 11 stone and size 12

By CAPT. JAN HAMILTON - More by this author » Last updated at 13:15pm on 21st October 2007

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2007/10_03/sexchangeMS2010_468x257.jpg

A year of painful surgery and Captain Ian Hamilton's sex change was complete

He was an elite soldier in the Paras and had served in every major conflict for the last 20 years - but Capt Ian Hamilton could not go on living as a man. Twelve months on and after painful surgery, the new Capt Hamilton tells HER extraordinary story...

It's the Airborne creed - "1000, 2000, 3000, check canopy!" - the litany that Paratroopers shout as they hurl themselves into the void, hoping and praying for the crack of the canopy as their parachute opens to bring them to Earth.

This time, as the chant left my lips, I wasn't jumping into a war zone with the world's finest fighting unit.

This time, I wasn't a Captain in the Parachute Regiment. This time, I wasn't part of the esprit of Britain's elite warriors.

I was alone, strapped to a hospital trolley halfway around the world in Thailand, and about to undergo 12 hours of irreversible surgery by a surgeon I had met barely 24 hours before. Surgery that would leave me, in the eyes of the world, a woman.

Gallery: More amazing pictures of Ian's transformation

From this day on, nobody would ever look at me and see a man. It was the culmination of the hopes and dreams of 42 years of secret longing. I was terrified.

As Ian, I had endured bullets, bombs and rockets, caused the death of men in combat and seen my own soldiers killed. I had been decorated by my country for serving overseas, endured the toughest selection processes the Army could devise and served in every major conflict of the past 20 years.

But nothing could have prepared me for the moral courage I've had to call on to make my transition from Captain Ian Hamilton, 16-stone Paratrooper with 14in biceps, to Jan Hamilton, an 11-stone, size-12 woman.

Just ten months earlier, I had been training troops for operations. The last picture taken of me in uniform is still painful to look at.

I sent it to a close relative, who surprised me by replying that she felt sorry for me.

She said: "Your eyes are dead.' She was right.

I had clawed my way back into uniform following six months of painful rehabilitation after returning, wounded by a roadside bomb, from Afghanistan.

I had done it all by myself – the Army didn't care if I got fit again or not.

My unit did not write to me once during that time. I'm afraid it's the same for any wounded serviceman.

Whenever you're off the radar, you get left to your own devices.

But I was forced to undergo endless physical and mental evaluations before they accepted me back. I gave them the answers they wanted to hear: "Yes, sir, good to crack on...Ready for anything, sir."

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Captain Ian Hamilton

Captain Ian Hamilton could not go on living as a man

I applied for, and won against nine other candidates, a job running media operations in Gibraltar.

I should have been ecstatic but I was deeply unhappy. I couldn't go on living as a man.

All my life I had fought against the knowledge that I was different. I had done everything I could to live up to the ideal of a tough action man.

I had even thought I was deranged not to be satisfied with my lot. I started therapy for my confusion – what was wrong with me? Why couldn't I be happy as I was?

The answer was simple, the consequences devastating. My only way to happiness was to become the woman I had longed to be.

My only other apparent solution was suicide. Over Christmas last year, I contemplated that awful act every day. I even tried to hang myself just before New Year.

In March, I told the Army that I had gender dysphoria, which means that while my brain was wired as a girl, my body was that of a man.

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2007/10_03/sexchangeMS2010_468x257.jpg
Enlarge the image

I sent them psychiatric evaluations and copies of the law. But they ordered me to report for a medical as Ian.

I refused to go as a man because legally that was no longer the case. I had changed my name to Jan by deed poll that same month.

The Army's response was to remove me from my post. Lawyers became involved and I waited for an answer.

But there was nothing, not even one phone call from my commanding officer in six months. No meetings, no offer of compromise.

Nothing – except a warning from him, delivered by letter, that I would be court-martialled if I appeared in the Press.

The feelings of emptiness that this rejection provoked are indescribable. I had believed in the Army and had served my country when asked.

I didn't want to leave. Yes, I knew I would be different, but surely my knowledge and skills could be useful.

There are at least three other transgender servicewomen in the Army.

I went to my Commanding Officer for help, but he didn't want to know. No one would speak to me face-to- face. Eventually a senior officer in my regiment rang.

"You've gone from hero to zero in one day," he declared angrily.

Even my parents turned their backs on me – they sent a box with my possessions by courier, and a letter signed by them and my two brothers.

It read: "Our son is dead – never contact us again."

I was devastated. It was a high price to pay for my personal happiness, but I drew on Ian's strength and courage. It was as if he existed separately from my new female persona, Jan.

Through days of pain – bad, bad days when I looked like a rugby player in a dress and was an object of ridicule – Ian's determination, honed and nurtured as a Parachute Regiment officer, kept me alive.

It took me to this basic but well-equipped Thai hospital, waiting for the operation that would begin his physical demise.

The body I had lived with for 42 years was about to be irrevocably changed by facial-feminisation surgery and breast augmentation in the first stage of my transformation into a woman.

I felt suddenly frightened. Jan, on her own, would not have had the courage even to get on the plane to fly here.

But the spirit of the man who had, by his sheer anger, drive and determination, sustained me through a lifetime of pretending, of hidden despair, was going to perish, too.

Plastic surgeons abound. But there are only about half a dozen in the world who can turn a man's face into a woman's. The male skull is so different – a man's protruding brow, the crook of the nose, the shape of the eyebrows, the curl of the lip, the heaviness of the features. A man's skull is designed for the hunt, for combat.

A woman's skull is designed for forage.

The forehead and orbital bones are flat, allowing greater width of vision, the better to spot roots, plants and fruits for gathering, to watch over errant offspring.

The features are softer, more curved, more open, more sexually provocative. Having decided on sex-reassignment surgery, I had opted to alter my face and breasts first because it was important for people to see me the way I saw myself. To show Jan at her physical best. After all, the face is one of the more obvious ways of identifying a person.

You can get away with different body shape – no one knows what's inside your underwear. But Ian had a very masculine face and it meant that people stared at me all the time. I wanted Jan to look the best that she could.

I spent several months researching doctors before the internet led me to Dr Suporn Watanyusakul.

A small man – he stands a mere 5ft 4in – he has worked on thousands of lost souls like me.

His clients are a melting pot of colours, shapes, sizes and accents from across the globe, all united with the visceral, yet almost inexplicable, desire to become women.

All so different, yet strangely all similar in our tales of despair, rejection, abuse, hurt and suffering.

Desperation is our common currency – desperation somehow to become who we believe ourselves to be.

The women, for that is what we believe ourselves to be, in Dr Suporn's clinic bear no resemblance to Danny La Rue or Lily Savage. We are not drag queens, we are not pantomime dames.

For us, there is no sexual kick to be had in dressing as a woman. This is not a fantasy to be exercised in the bedroom.

In every case, mine included, we have given up everything because we cannot exist in the body we were born with.

And so, six months after legally changing my name to Jan, six months after that memorable day when I received my passport as Jan, marked "Gender: F", I was about to become who I was always intended to be.

I had lost my job, my home, my career and my life savings. I had been disowned by my family and my Regiment, been attacked, beaten up, spat at, laughed at in the street. All of that was about to become meaningless, absolved, next to the prize I so desired.

I had arrived at the hospital clutching a picture of Sophia Loren, who has always been an idol because she is both glamorous and intelligent.

I said that I wanted to look like her. It was not an unrealistic request. Dr Suporn said that I already had her prominent cheekbones and that he could give me her striking almond-shaped eyes – but, sadly, not the nose.

Dr Suporn asked me to remove my top. He smiled his reassuring smile and marked my body with an ink pen to guide his scalpel.

He has the most gentle hands and the most caring nature. It was almost as if he was apologising for having to hurt me in doing his work. I have rarely met such an extraordinary man.

For all the fear, for all the bravado that had got me here, I felt God was with me, guiding the doctor's hand.

In the operating theatre, my arms and legs were strapped down, almost ironically for a Christian, into a crucifix position. Needles were inserted into my arms, monitors strapped to my fingers.

The anaesthetist asked me: "Why is your heart rate only 46?"

I replied: "I run a lot." As I did so, I saw Ian rise from my body. He turned and told me: "You've not been well but now it's going to be OK. You're going to be beautiful." And I went to sleep.

For 12 hours Dr Suporn and his nine-strong team laboured away. My face was literally removed, as in the sci-fi movie Face/Off, then my forehead was sawn off, reshaped and screwed back on with titanium bolts.

The orbital bones around my eyes were ground down, my nose broken, the bone shaved and reformed, the cartilage trimmed.

The skin was then reattached and lifted so that my original jawline is now basically on top of my forehead – the scar line runs, Frankenstein-like, from ear to ear.

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Like a car crash victim: Jan Hamilton after her feminisation surgery

To complete the look, my eyelids were cut in half and sewn back together, tugged into a feline almond shape. My flat lips were cut and squeezed into a Bardot pout. Hair wefts were transplanted to fill what nature and age had removed from my receding hairline.

Also, I had wanted to remove my tiny Adam's apple, but the surgeon said it wasn't necessary.

Apparently many women have one. Instead, he did extra work under my eyes. He decided, too, that my jawline, although strong, didn't need to be reduced.

Although I lost a lot of blood (I never asked how much), the surgery went well. In preparation for the operation I had lost five stone through diet and cardiovascular training.

I was, according to the medical staff, one of the fittest patients they had ever worked on.

I awoke from my surgical sleep the next day, feeling sore and a little groggy.

At first I thought I hadn't had the operation. I had no sense of the passage of time and was quite annoyed. Until, that is, Dr Suporn gave me a mirror. He had warned me before the operation that I would look like a car-crash victim.

He was right.

My head was encased in bandages. Only my eyes and mouth were visible, and both looked incredibly swollen.

My chest, too, was bound like a mummy – Dr Suporn had inserted breast implants through tiny incisions under my armpits, giving me a very womanly 36D cup size.

I remember laughing, more like a tortured grimace, and asking him: "So, what does the other guy look like?"

I spent five days on that hospital bed, too weak to move, half delirious on morphine and antibiotics, being gently fed spoonfuls of cold chicken soup.

I won't deny there was a great deal of pain to deal with, but nothing I couldn't handle. My eyes were fixed on the prize.

A good and dear friend sent me flowers, a wonderful display of white lilies – my favourite.

Nobody else phoned or sent messages of support. The staff, kind and solicitous as they were, spoke no English. I just lay there all alone. I did an awful lot of crying.

On the fifth day, I tried to stand with two tiny Thai nurses on either side to support me. I could barely raise my body off the bed.

A week earlier, I had been in the best physical condition of my life. Now, I couldn't even put one foot in front of the other.

They discharged me from hospital, much to my relief, after a week. Just seeing the outside world, smelling the air without a terrible antiseptic taint, lifted my spirits.

I spent a further three weeks in a hotel room, letting my body heal – and my spirit, too. I had never properly said goodbye to Ian. The tears flowed for hours as I remembered my life. Ian's life.

Now, as I looked at this new person in the mirror, I marvelled at Dr Suporn's skill. The bruising faded within days, the scars minimal.

My eyes suddenly seemed so open, my peripheral vision doubled. At first, I didn't recognise that reflection as me.

I looked back at a girl's face, somehow reminiscent of Ian.

It struck me that I looked like the sister Ian never had. We will always have that bond, even though he has gone.

Since returning home, my body and my spirit have continued to heal, though I still have numbness at the top of my head.

Finally, after so much longing, I know what it's like to wake in the morning and be centred in who I am. I no longer need to prepare for a daily acting job like no other.

My body is lapping up the female hormones I consume each day and slowly shaping into that of a woman's.

I have become curvy, my skin softer, and muscle has atrophied at a staggering rate.

It made me realise that it must have been a close call that made me a man. My hands have always been too small for a man – catching a rugby ball was always a joke for me.

My feet, too, are too small for normal male Army boots, although even they are starting to shrink.

I had told the Army what I was doing before I left for Thailand. I returned to find that the Parachute Regiment has barred me from its annual dinner this year. As the Regimental Association secretary put it: "We don't have women."

I have to leave the Regiment regardless – women are barred from the Airborne.

The dinner would have been the last I would have attended, my dining out enshrined as a departing officer's right.

It's hard not to be bitter but I suppose at least the Airborne have acknowledged me as a woman now.

The Army hasn't paid me, or enquired after my welfare, for six months. Yet I still can't quite let go. I still look for news from the war. I have lost two friends this year to add to the others who have gone.

I miss many of those I served with – the camaraderie and the banter. I've been told I was naive in expecting the Army to support me, but I can't let it go on breaking my heart. Enough is enough.

I am suing for constructive dismissal and gender discrimination.

I still pray someone senior in the Army will call to explain what has happened, to invite me back.

Until then, I have no choice. My reputation and integrity have been sullied.

It is what Ian would have expected of me.

A woman stopped me in the street last week, completely unbidden, and told me I had made her day because I was so elegant.

When I hear things like that, my heart fills with happiness. I am on my way to becoming a woman. The Army can continue to reject me, but it can no longer hurt me.

I will go back to Thailand early next year to have genital surgery. It will hurt again. It will take time to recover. This time, though, Ian has prepared the ground for me.

I have a picture of him in Afghanistan on my mantelpiece, all muscles, sweaty and grime-laden. I will take him to Thailand with me in my heart.

This will be the last journey, the last incision. It's a journey Jan will willingly take alone because, for me, the sheer joy of being a woman is worth any price.

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I'm a Black Lab mix w/ a curly tail.