Brand New People

Around five years from now, a method is invented which allows saves the life of several infants who would have otherwise died during birth. However, they are born comatose. Doctors hope they will spontaneously awaken, but they do not. They are alive but unresponsive and unthinking for years. Their bodies mature and occasionally a researcher has a futile idea for how to wake them up. Years pass, until finally, 23 years on, a junior doctor has an idea that she gets permission to try on a patient.

This patient, in a coma from just before birth, 23 years ago, awakens. Eyes flutter open for the first time. A long-delayed wail reverberates down the care home corridor. Some newspapers offer the headline ‘Woman Awake After Spending her Entire Life in a Coma’. But is this right? Letters to the editor raise the question, ‘Is this patient, assigned female at birth, who menstruates, but has never participated in culture or had a sense of themselves until this morning: are they a woman?’

The doctor, eager to see if her cure works on others, awakens two additional patients: one assigned male at birth; one assigned female, but discovered years ago to have been born without a uterus. A local newspaper says, ‘Flush with success, Doctor X Awakens a Man and a Woman.’ Again, a debate debate on Comnet carries on: Are 23-year-olds who have been unconscious their whole life, who have never menstruated or had an erection – are they men and women?

Meanwhile, thanks to the therapy techniques developed over the next 30 years, the first patient is successfully learning to communicate and can now indicate words for generalised items, such as ‘food’ and for roles, such as ‘doctor’, ‘nurse’ and ‘therapist.’ The patient learns signs for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and, after seemingly grasping the concept, constantly refers to themselves as a ‘man.’ The communication therapists first attribute this to the fumbles of a new learner, but the patient has a high degree of accuracy applying this to others. When the therapist tries to correct the patient, they shake their head in vigorous disagreement. ‘Man!’ they indicate, with increased forcefulness. ‘Man!’

Appeals to genitals do not sway the patient’s assertions. The medical staff at the care facility have a meeting to discuss this.

‘She can’t possibly know she’s transgender’, a few say, ‘she doesn’t have the life experience.’

Others argue, ‘We allow patient B to say he’s a man, without life experience. We allow patient C to say she’s a woman. They have even less experience than A does, who’s been awake six months longer.’

Feminist texts are consulted. Someone leaks a broad outline of the meeting to the national press. A scandal emerges. But all the while, Dr. X’s new method gradually awakens patients around the world, all 21-23 years old, but brand new people.

Sound and Fury

I went to a noise show tonight. It was really really fucking loud. That was probably the primary adjective: loud. It was brilliant. I mean, most of my classmates did not fully agree with this assessment, but I think there’s a certain value to just hearing really fucking loud noise once in a while.
Also, there was a full room of people in the audience. A whole bunch of people turned out to hear really fucking loud noise. And there was a table selling records. I talked to the record people. There’s a local record company that just does noise music and dark ambient. Brilliant. I decided to purchase a record with the headline act on it. (It’s less fucking loud on my home system, but it would still be a wall ‘o noise.)
The record table was lit by candle light. The kind in those red glass containers you see at nightclubs and cabarets. I got the wrong CD. I didn’t notice until I got home. So I was slightly disappointed, but still popped it into my computer to put it into my itunes library. I started typing in the track names. “iii. is it wrong to love a transexual”
. . .
You know, I was in a really good mood. I had a couple of pints of beer. I hung out with people. I had some really good chips. I heard fucking loud noise.
. . .
It’s like somebody hit the pause button on my enthusiasm. I stopped breathing for a minute. I typed in the rest of the track names. And then I hit eject.
so if anybody wants a CD of dark ambient or noise, it could be yours. Unless I drop it in the trash first. I don’t think I have the energy to try to get a refund from the record company. Alas, I’ve had this conversation before.
It’s always, like, I’m excited about something and then all of the sudden, wham.
I was reading a scifi webzine. And wham. I spoke up. The editor literally told me not to worry my pretty face. The writer gave me a little lecture on what “passing” means, as if, possibly, I might not know (where would minorities be without white straight men informing of us of our own subculture?). And then explained he couldn’t transphobic because he’d had a transgender girlfriend once. Just like I could never possibly write or say anything racist because of my girlfriend. And why no straight guy could ever possibly be sexist.
I feel like the ur-queer lately. Somebody says something about gay men, and hey, I’m a queer man. Somebody says something about lesbians, and I was a lesbian. Somebody says something about about women, and I was a woman. I’m noticing sexism more than I used to. The scifi story I worried my little head about . . .. I got as far as a minor character sketch in which the main baddie was shown to be bad because he owned a woman that he used for sex. Your worst nightmare is just an aside.
Sci-fi can be dystopian. My favorites are. Sci-fi can contain slurs. Again, Man in a High Castle is slur-filled and completely dystopian. And it’s fantastic. But they’re not asides. If you’re going to have the third person narrator use a slur that’s currently in common usage and just throw in as an aside human trafficking, well, it’s fair to assume that the writer hasn’t really thought things out.
But, being ur-queer isn’t not all negative. I feel solidarity with everybody too. I feel like I can kind of fit in with any group of people. Well, as much as an Esperanto-speaking transsexual is ever going to fit in, if you know what I mean. I feel more at ease around people than I’ve ever felt. It’s a weird transition, to being much, much happier and at ease and, at the same time, a gigantic target for hate. So alien other as to not really even be a person anymore. And yet, I can go to the pub, have a pint and chat with anybody.
I need to toughen up and not let the little shit get to me. And I need to be prepared for it coming from any direction at any time from any one under any circumstance.
It’s a lot to get used to.

Back Online

I’ve been mostly offline recently. My laptop had some issues when I tried to upgrade to OS X 10.5. The install DVD couldn’t mount my hard drive. After some kung-fu, I got it to notice that my drive existed. It said things were bad. Bad indeed. (The more technical version (non-tech continues in the next paragraph): I booted single user mode off the DVD and ran fsck and the third try, it finally found my disk. It said I have a bad Master Boot Record. However, the installed operating system (10.4) still booted fine and it’s version of fsck reported no problems. So I went on my merry way until my concert, when the damn thing really didn’t want to boot. I briefly got a question mark on my splash screen. Gah)

But things still seemed fine with the previous system, so I resolved to ignore the issue until after my concert, which could have been a disastrous move, but wasn’t. Anyway, it’s almost certainly a software problem, fixable with disk warrior. So, a few days after the concert, when some audio software I was trying to use wouldn’t go, I finally tried Disk Warrior. It gave me some cryptic error messages, which it’s website revealed to mean that I should buy a new disk because the problems were physical. Ack!
Physical disk problems ALWAYS get worse! Or at least, you should assume that they will. Because one little free particle of disk that got rattled loose and is lurking there – that particle will eventually get hit by the read arm. Hard disks are a lot like records. The read/write arm is like the needle. And the bit of junk is like dust on the surface of the record. But instead of just making a popping noise, it’s much worse, because the disk is spinning much faster. The read/write head doesn’t just bounce over the debris in a friendly manner. When it bounces back down, that impact is at high speed, so it breaks lose another little bit of junk, which is then waiting to get in the way. So you start getting all these little bald spots around your disk where pieces have been knocked out and all of those pieces are waiting to get in the way and cause further damage. This process starts slowly, but once it gets going – yikes!
That was the second disk in that laptop! Grr. I speculate that it probably had it’s initial damage when I ran it into a pole on my bike over the summer. It’s generally bad for laptops to crash them into fixed objects.
Anyway, the laptop is 4 years old. I just replaced the power adaptor all of a month ago, but in addition to a new disk, it could really use a new battery and soon it will not want to run the latest and greatest software and it seemed like the most reasonable course of action was to replace it. So I waited until after the start of Macworld in case Apple wanted to announce price reductions. They didn’t. In the mean time, I read the His Dark Materials trilogy, of which The Golden Compass is the first book. The last two books are even more heavy-handed than C.S. Lewis. And the charges of it’s being anti-Catholic are true, alas. The first book is completely charming. But the other books seem more rushed and can’t stand alone as the first one can. They rely much more on cliche. I just don’t understand British atheists. They have a state religion, which they could be completely justified in railing against. But they never seem to pick the state religion. Instead they choose religions which their state is persecuting. They pick on Catholics, I guess because they support oppression in Northern Ireland. They pick Muslims, I guess because they support racism. Aside from them being colonialist asses, I can’t imagine what their reasoning could be. It really doesn’t seem like they take on very much risk by attacking the official church of their country. Is it misplaced patriotism? I don’t get it.
Finally, I want to declare a moratorium on non-programmers trying to write fantasy that involves computers. “She typed and words appeared on the screen. How could this be! She had no text editor open and was bypassing most of the operating system. The keyboard wasn’t even plugged in! the computer wasn’t even turned on! It was a cardboard display computer from a furniture store! It must be the aliens feeding it data directly from the USB cable that they helpfully brought with them from the Jupiter branch of CompUSA. What a lucky coincidence that they use exactly the same completely arbitrary sequence of voltage pulses to indicate different letters of the alphabet!” It’s also a lucky break that our alien heros brought with them a cardboard install disk with device drivers for their alien USB hardware – while bypassing most of the operating system. Maybe I’m too intolerant of extremely sloppy, ignorant writing, but really, if I’m going to read something, I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my time – time that the author didn’t bother to spend doing an iota of research.
Um, anyway. I got a new mac. I’m kind of concerned about how much 3 months of dog kenneling is going to cost, and plane tickets and at least I didn’t have to pay British prices for a new computer. I just sent email to the passport service again to ask what’s up with the consulate and my visa. I have a theory that they’ve written to ask my university for more information and the British postal service has inexplicably routed the mail through Poland via Nepal.
Um, anyway, reports of what software doesn’t want to work with 10.5 (Ardour, Gimp, etc) will be forthcoming.

Now that’s novel!

Instead of doing the many, many things that I need to do this week, I’ve been reading about premillenial dispensational estatology on wikipedia. Doesn’t that sound like something very scientific or researched and reasoned? See, esatology is the science of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Premillenial dispensationalists believe that normally only so many angels will fit, but due to certain prophetic circumstances, infinite angels can be accommodated. (This in contrast to postmillenialists who believe . . . I forgot joke I was going to make here. I can’t even satirize something already so outrageous.)

Ok, so those are a bunch of fancy words for trying to do sekrit magik with the bible. It’s got sekrit prophesies in it, which you can learn about in bible “college” or via wikipedia. Or via my coming potboiler end times novel. Thanks to my exhausting exhaustive research, I can now provide an very rough outline, including some character names and prophetically required plot points. It gets less structured as the tribulations drag on.


World Currency: Euro used for international trade
AntiChrist: Angel Caduto, head of UNICEF
Whore of Babylon – heads religion

Back story: ww3 expanded Israel’s borders and lead to the breakup of the US

Mary Sue is a very famous composer who teaches at the conservatory.
Ralph teaches art at the art academy.

  1. Ruso-Ethopian war (told in flashback, witnessed by Ralph)
  2. Rapture
  3. Dutch disaster services
    1. this is not ww4
  4. Caduto, head of UNICEF addresses world
    1. no human technology could have caused this
    2. “To be frank, we have no way of knowing what has happened or if the missing will be returned.”
    3. no country has been spared
    4. therefore, must be natural or alien – at least not originating on earth. Aliens!!!
    5. North America may have been hit so badly because it was facing the aliens
    6. Kids are smaller and maybe easier to transport (also, tastier)
    7. We don’t know why some people disappeared and others didn’t, but are looking into factors. Many did not drink alcohol. (not pre-marinated)
    8. We must unify to fend off possible invasion
  5. Ralph wonders why Jews weren’t spared. Mentions passover, Lot and Noah. Meanwhile, TV shows pictures of huge disaster in North America – crash planes, fires burning, whole government vanishes live in C-Span.

WOB commissions memorial piece from MS for the disappeared at world-wide interfaith memorial. Calls for spiritual unity.

Caduto calls for everyone to have an RFID chip implanted in them to make a better tracking system.

Ralph goes back to Israel and joins sect making sacrifice on temple mound.

WOB or Caduto reveals that all the adult disappeared were Christians and children. To insure the protection of those left, alcohol is required and xtianity is outlawed. “There is no heaven or hell, there is just survival!”

War breaks out (war and rumors of same)

giant earthquake (maybe change this to a meteor? “The sun goes dark, the moon turns blood-red, and meteors fall from the sky. “) 25% of those remaining die

illegal religious group gets radio implants and organizes black market

fire, smoke and sulphur hit

Caduto is murdered along with 2 underground religious leaders and another political leader

Caduto rises from the dead after 3 days – lightening storms. moves to temple

Those who have UN RFID chips get sick from them

Oceans turn to blood & rivers too and whatnot

sun scortches

darkness – (finally some relief from the sun. oh no, it’s dawn again and still august! augh!)

Rivers dry up – which is probably not such a bad thing,s ince they’re full of blood

giant hailstones (do these melt to restart the rivers?)

Jesus comes back and kills a lot of people. (The lion of god, the prince of war. Reveals the Beatitudes were a bunch of bullshit thrown in to fool people who couldn’t crack the sekrit code, just like dinosaur bones, but for pacifists.) All the disappeared and killed underground folks come back to life. Zombies!!!!

a bunch of other crazy shit happens. jeebus, USA foreign policy is based on this crap?

The end of the world

So there’s a whole genre of books based on some crazy idea called Darbyism. The Left Behind books are en example of this genre. They have a set of weird ideas about the end times and the books have to touch on all the plot points. I’ve been reading a great blog detailing some of the problems with the Left Behind series and I thought I could write better than that. so here goes:

Mary Sue bent over her bicycle, jiggling the key in the rusty lock. She kept forgetting to get grease for it. She kept running late. “Merde”, she mumbled.

A clean cut, blonde, broad-shouldered Dutchman approached her, pamphlet in hand. “Wordt u gered?” he asked.

Mary understood but pretended not to. “Ik spreek geen nederlands.” She mumbled. Half true. She had rehearsal and no time for Jesus freaks.

The man, mercifully, did not pester her, but instead approached a sprawled junkie nearby. Mary turned away from them and started towards school. The junkie closed his eyes and cursed softly as the young Christian shoved a pamphlet into his hand. He prayed a silent prayer that all the evangelicals with their weekly Thursday public prayer meetings would just disappear. When he opened their eyes, they had.

Mary biked past the Jesus houdt van u – Jesus loves you van with the top mounted speakers, out of tune hymns blaring out at evening commuters. And then the hymn halted all at once, mid note, like somebody pulled the plug from the speaker. But there was no click and pop of a disconnection, just the clunk of the microphone dropping to the ground. And then the whine of feedback.

Mary braked and turned to look back as a collective gasp went up. The only previous time she had ever heard the Dutch gasp like that was the time her dog had attacked a guide dog in the middle of the shopping district on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This gasp was even more shocked, but without the air of titillation.

All of the street preachers were gone. A moment ago, they had been witnessing and now they were just missing, piles of their clothes were on the ground. Mary’s mouth hung open, like mouths all over the GroteMarktstraat. A woman with a baby stroller glanced down into it and began to scream. The scream echoed across the city, across the country, across the world. Her baby was gone. All the babies were gone.

Mary numbly sat where she was on the ground. Around her, people frantically rushed around. Around her were sobs, cries and sirens. “Mijn baby!”

This can’t be happening, she told herself. I have got to quit smoking pot before bedtime, the dreams are too weird. But then she thought of something else, Ralph’s crazy story of going to Israel to visit his boyfriend during the Ethiopian-Russian war.

“I saw all the missles,” he had improbably claimed while they sat at the bar at Cremers, sharing a joint and drinking beers. “They were all over, coming from everywhere, right towards us. It was terrifying. I swear I peed my pants.” His eyes were bright, although glossy and red-rimmed.

“Hmm” Mary said, too high to trust herself to say much more.

“And then, like, all of the sudden, all the power went off everywhere at once. I thought it was like an electromagnetic pulse, from a neutron bomb or something. I thought I was dead. Everything stopped. Everything. Every mechanical sound or electric thing just stopped. And the missles, seemed to be going in slow motion. They pulled up and turned, passing each other in the sky. And they were gone. It was unbelievable. I looked at my watch and it had stopped right then. It said 4:20.”

Mary suppressed a giggle. That explains it.

“But then I looked down it later and it had restarted. Not only restarted, but the time was right. Everything was like that. Everything turned back on as if nothing had happened with the new correct time. All the radios came on at once. It was crazy, unbelievable, but we all just stood there. Nobody screamed. We all stood and listened, totally calm, like the most peaceful thing in the world had happened. And then the news announcer came on and said in calm, cheerful hebrew that Moscow and Ethiopia had been nuked beyond recognition. They launched pre-emptive strikes at each other at exactly the same time! How is that even possible? I felt the hand of G-d there. I really felt it.”

Mary swallowed another sip of beer. “So that’s why you converted?

“Jews really are G-d’s chosen people! How else can you explain that?” Ralph was getting loud, but didn’t seem to notice the now-widespread eavesdropping.

“Mass hysteria?” Mary flinched at the look Ralph gave her. “No seriously.” she paused. “Ok, I was in the big earthquake in San Francisco in 1989. One of my high school teachers was in the gym. He absolutely swore he had seen the sky when the roof of the building popped up and landed back where it belonged. He really, really believed it. But it was impossible, even he admitted it. If the roof had jumped up like that, the building would have collapsed. He wasn’t the only one to see it, but it just couldn’t have happened. None of the bolts were even out of place. He just thought he saw it because he was so scared.”

Ralph sipped his beer and considered. “But that analogy doesn’t work. He was scared because he was in the earthquake. If what I saw didn’t happen, then I wasn’t in anything. I had no reason to see anything. None of the thousands or millions around who saw the same thing. But we all did.”

The lights at the bar flashed on and off then, signaling the end of the evening. Mary hadn’t thought about that conversation for the last week. She’d been so high, she’d barely remembered it the next day. But it came flooding back to her now. But this felt nothing like the hand of God. This felt like a bad dream. She sat where she was and cried.