Tuesday, May 01, 2007 6:50 PM

Shlashdot redeems itself

The comments suck, the story are often dups, and everyone's mantra is "Slashdot's been going downhill for years".


Monday, April 30, 2007 4:43 PM

Facial hair

We like it!

Especially when we get some. Yesterday, a couple of my collective-mates were convinced I had some, and they tried to convince me too. But earlier that very day, I'd wasted several minutes scrutinizing my face in the bathroom mirror and finding nothing.

Apparently, they were right, and I was blind. A very few, at the edge of the right corner of my lip, and this is at T + 161 days. Yay! (Some people are so easily pleased... and I'm one of them.)


Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:55 AM

The wait is over

The DC Circuit has ruled on the various suits on behalf of hundreds of prisoners (and why do we call them detainees, anyways? Is that so we can argue that their treatment is better?) and the result is no good: dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, thanks to the Military Commissions Act. I'm too agitated to read the opinion carefully just this minute, so instead I refer you to the posts at SCOTUSblog and at Balkinization.

I haven't read those posts carefully either, so I can't comment on them yet. But I can say one thing right now: when we wait for the courts to fix things that Congress *should have fixed*, as Arlen Specter knows full well, we wait in vain. And so does every prisoner being held in legal limbo.


Monday, January 01, 2007 1:51 PM

Who's your daddy?

These days I walk around staring at people's moustaches and hairlines and faces generally. I wonder: am I going to look like that guy over there? Or maybe that one who just walked by? Or maybe the one getting on the bus? It's a great guessing game, one that can't be resolved by looking at older pictures of your dad. There's too many other unexpressed chromosomes around for the body to choose from.

Moustache watching is pretty entertaining as a hobby though. There sure are a lot of choices, from scruffy and grizzly to bushy and pretentious. (Assuming always that one has the growth to realize one's particular choice.) A housemate is thinking about moustache wax for his, and so after a bit of surfing around on the web, we found that not only are there companies that sell moustache wax, in the 21st century, but that there is a World Championship for moustaches and beards. Here's a link to the U.S. Team. And the even more astounding, IMESHO, Handlebar Club of London. Enjoy!


1:41 PM

T + 6 weeks

Today, the first day of the new year, was the first self-administered injection at home. Easy, without anxiety or problems. The needle is 1 1/2 inches long, but I'm apparently not needle-phobic.

Changes noted: as all other sites predict, voice change is beginning to kick in. It's been hard to tell because I've had a bad cold/cough/almost pneumonia for just about... 5 1/2 weeks. But over the past several days the voice shift has become clear.

Other changes: a little bit higher energy level than without T; body scent as with earlier shots; genitalia growth (!)

Too bad they can't schedule puberty for a lot later in life. I'm finding this time around much more fun! Even better than a second childhood...


1:26 PM

A New Year: 2007

What are you doing this week, this day? As you welcome in the new year, you determine its course. I went someplace I'd never been, to hear live music, and then I came to another party to find I'd outlasted almost everyone there. Soon I'll head to another party, this one at the Alameda landfill, for a friend's birthday.

The trends for this year include, judging from the last couple of days and today, hearing lots of good music, playing some music, great parties, getting in touch with friends who are far away, and having a lot of good food around. For starters...

May your year be better than you desire!

Χρόνια πολλά και καλή χρονιά σε όλους/ες!


Wednesday, December 13, 2006 11:02 PM

Hamdan a harbinger of things to come?

The first results are in. Jurisdiction: D.C. district court. Ruling part 1: The MCA does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus generally; if that was the intent of Congress, then that attempt fails as unconstitutional, given that there is no rebellion or invasion at present (nor when the MCA was passed). Ruling part 2: Hamdan, as a non-citizen who was apprehended outside of the U.S. and is being held outside of U.S. territory in Guantanamo, has no constitutional right to the writ. Therefore, the court has no jurisdiction to hear his claims.

Summary: there may be due process claims that are valid, or equal protection claims that are valid, but none of them can be reached, because the MCA requires the case be dismissed. See the full ruling.

In the meantime, the federal government has subpoenaed a document in the ACLU's possession. A grand jury is apparently investigating the leak of this document, which is classified. But the government isn't asking the ACLU to produce the original, or to produce emails and notes in connection with the acquisition of the document; rather, the subpoena is for "any and all copies", including those in electronic form, presumably so that the document itself can disappear from public dialogue.

Apart from a certain lack of trust that I have in the current administration's use of classification to hide documents that could prove politically embarrassing, things like this spark my concern:

' The group’s lawyers have agreed for now not to disclose the contents of the document, but hyperlinks to the papers posted yesterday on its Web site include the word “torture.” '

(Source: NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/washington/14leak.html)

I am long past the point where I can believe that the government is not involved in something nefarious, and that this isn't related to another attempt to hide techniques related to torture, because they have already argued that torture is legal and they are now arguing in another case that all details of interrogation techniques must remain hidden from the public and from detainees' lawyers.

And so, at this point, I must believe the worst. On such days it is difficult to remember that the sun still shines, yes, on the just and unjust alike...


Thursday, December 07, 2006 2:25 PM

Plan for Iraq (not!)

Hey, I have an idea. Let's invade a country, overthrow its dictator, let folks loot various artifacts and trash the infrastructure, let's go door to door to root out the bad guys, making more enemies as we go, and let's help set up a government that will be responsive to us and our needs. As violence gets worse, let's impose some cray checkpoints, put all our officials inside a safe zone, hold over ten thousand folks in military detention centers for the indefinite future, and pay contractors way too much money for fraudulent rebuilding plans. When people make noises about us being an occupying force, we'll just ignore them; it's for their own good. Now...

Let's go tell that same government what to do, without checking *with the folks who actually live there*. Am I just wankers? Or don't the Iraqi people have some say in what happens to their country?

ISG report, my *ss. The Iraqis should just vote no confidence in the govt and tell *us* what to do. Although in the most recent poll I guess they already did: i.e., get the fsck out.


11:11 AM

Specter and Leahy get a move on (S. 4081)

You can't even find the text in Thomas yet. But it's in the Congressional Record. What text is that, you say?

Why, the text of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006, of course. Here it is, so you can read it and go notify your Senators about it:

S. 4081

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in 
Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006''.


    (a) In General.--Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking  
subsection (e).

    (b) Title 10.--Section 950j of title 10, United States Code, is amended by striking
subsection (b) and inserting the following:

    ``(b) Limited Review of Military Commission Procedures and Actions.--Except as otherwise 
provided in this chapter or in section 2241 of title 28 or any other habeas corpus provision, and 
notwithstanding any other provision of law, no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction 
to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever, including any action pending on or 
filed after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, relating to the 
prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges 
to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions under this chapter.''.


    The amendments made by this Act shall--

    (1) take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act; and

    (2) apply to any case that is pending on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

This bill was introduced by Senator Specter on Dec 5th, and Senator Leahy joined him as a cosponsor. Leahy's statement is available on his web site; Specter's statement is only in the Congressional Record for the moment, so here are a couple of highlights:

The administration has taken the position now that someone who is making a charge of having been 
tortured, which is a violation of U.S. law, may not be permitted to disclose the specifics of his 
interrogation which he says constituted torture because al-Qaida will find out what our 
interrogation techniques are and will move to train their operatives so they can withstand those 

   It is unthinkable, in my opinion, to have a system of laws where someone who claims to have 
been tortured cannot describe what has happened to him to get judicial relief because al-Qaida 
may be able to educate or train their operatives to avoid those techniques.

But that is just what the United States government argues, and will continue to argue, unless the laws are changed. And frankly, even if the laws are changed, I expect the administration will continue to insist that its views are valid until both Congress and the courts assert themselves through court rulings, oversight with teeth, and withholding of funds that can be used for the administration's various indefinite detention programs.

And, lest you believe that the tribunals that determine a detainee's enemy combatant status are sufficient, here's Specter's description of them:

Combatant Status Review Tribunals, commonly referred to as ``CSRTs,'' are not an adequate and 
effective means to challenge detention in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Swain 
v. Pressley (``the substitution of a collateral remedy which is neither inadequate nor 
ineffective to test the legality of a person's detention does not constitute a suspension of the 
writ of habeas corpus.'').

   CSRTs are not adversarial, but consist of a one-sided interrogation of the detainee by the 
tribunal members. The proceedings do not comport with basic fairness because the individuals 
detained do not have the right to confront accusers, call witnesses, or know what evidence there 
is against them. As Justice O'Connor wrote in her plurality opinion in the Hamdi case, ``[a]n 
interrogation by one's captor, however effective an intelligence-gathering tool, hardly 
constitutes a constitutionally adequate factfinding before a neutral decisionmaker.''

   According to the September 25, 2006 Judiciary Committee testimony of the former U.S. Attorney 
for the Northern District of Illinois, Thomas Sullivan, who has been to Guantanamo on many 
occasions and has represented many detainees. Mr. Sullivan cited hearings where individuals were 
summoned before the tribunal, but did not speak the language, did not have an attorney, did not 
have access to the information which was presented against them, and continued to be detained.

   For example, in the case of Abdul Hadi al Siba'i, a Saudi Arabian police officer who came to 
Afghanistan in August 2001 to build schools and a mosque, Mr. Sullivan described how Mr. Siba'i 
had no lawyer, spoke through a translator, and was read the charges against him, but with no 
access to the underlying evidence. According to Mr. Sullivan, his client was returned to Saudi 
Arabia after a prolonged detention without a trial, compensation, or apology. Mr. Sullivan 
received no notice that his client was to be returned to Saudi Arabia. 

Additional news: Senator Leahy has joined on as a co-sponsor of Senator Dodd's bill, described earlier. Still no word on movement to stop extraordinary renditions^W^Wshipping prisoners to other countries to be tortured.


Monday, November 27, 2006 8:09 PM

T + 1 week

100 mg shot, to last two weeks. Day 0: slightly metallic taste for about a half hour after the shot. Day 3: body scent more acrid and intense. After a week's consideration, I seem emotionally calmer and happier since the shot. (For those who know me, you may think that emotionally calmer = comatose. But it ain't so!) I didn't think I was all that stressed out to begin with; I know they say that a lot of folks who start hormone therapy are happier because it resolves some psychological issues for them, but I didn't think that would apply to me.

No 'roid rage, though, and nothing else to speak of, except *maybe* a slightly higher energy level. I'll be more sure of that if I have more than one data point.

In the meantime, I had two medical anxiety dreams about taking T, once about my doctor calling to say T was off the market and that avenue was closed to me (but in real life, later that day she in fact called to say it was available very very cheap!), and the day of the first shot, when I dreamed that I had missed my appointment and would have to wait a long time for another one. I was in some unpleasant institution in that dream, either military or prison (I've been in both in real life and can't recall which sort of unpleasantness it was).

I *never* have medical anxiety dreams. I didn't have them when I couldn't eat for three months; I didn't have them when I had limited mobility for three years because of my foot; but I had them about (not) taking T. Funny how the subconscious can let you know what's really going on.

Then a couple days ago I went to bed ruminating about how, or rather why, some of us have so much privilege to choose to change our bodies, and about adding muscle mass and short cuts and all that sort of second-guessing stuff, and I awoke from a dream of happily doing leg lunges with dumbbells to get stronger. Once again, the subconscious telling me to quit worrying and get on with it.

Guess I will :-)