Content Advisory

Content Advisory: Whereas: this blog occasionally employs "colorful language,"

may also occasionally contain implicit and explicit references to

tobacco, alcohol, and other substances, as well as sexuality,

and favors logic over dogma, any or all of which may offend some,

and whereas I may occasionally give disclaimers,

but I do NOT give "trigger warnings,"

therefore, be it resolved that: this blog is intended for mature readers.

However, this blog is not age-restricted.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mephistopheles: A Possible Etymology

Mephistopheles:  A Possible Etymology
by Liviana (SuccubaSuprema)

I recall reading Faust when I was 13, in a delightful edition which had the original German on one page, and the English translation on the facing page.  Within a year, I had come across some source (I believe it was Richard Cavendish, 1967) claiming that the name "Mephistopheles" was derived from "Lucifuge Rofocale," which I thought dubious, even back then before I was a language geek.  Over the years since then, I've encountered assorted other claims for an etymology of the name, some of which were also dubious, while others had a semblance of greater credibility.  Suggested origins for the name have included Mefitz-tofel (K.J. Schröer, 1886), Mephitis ("Philologos," 2010), Megist-Ophiel (Julius Goebel, 1904), and others.  I must admit that I've not actively sought out these discussions, and have actually done very little investigation, because the origin of the name "Mephistopheles" has not been a fascination for me, and I would only encounter such discussions incidentally as I was researching other matters.

As might be supposed (by someone familiar with the folklore and legends of southern Europe) from the handle I use here ("SuccubaSuprema"), I do have an interest in the pre-Christian myths and legends of the Italic peoples concerning those beings who started off as woodland spirits, became spirits of the field, then night spirits, and finally dream spirits known as "Incubi" and "Succubae" (before the Church came along and perverted the legends into the idea that a "Succubus" was actually an Incubus in false female form, because, in the patriarchal view of the Church, of course no spiritual being could possibly be female ...).  These dream spirits naturally were said to be involved in the wholly natural phenomenon known as a "wet dream."  When the Church came along, this association was predictably seized upon as evidence that the spirits in question were "evil" and so on.  Having already distorted the original meaning of the Greek word "daimon" into a concept of "fallen angel," this Latinized term "daemon" was (also predictably) applied to the Incubus (and the very existence of a Succuba was denied, except insofar as an Incubus was, according to the Church, able to engage in deceptive illusion in order to appear female).  As such, when researching these folkloric beings, the student or scholar will encounter references to other beings alleged to be "demons" by the Christian religion.

As I have also made plain several times in the history of this blog, I am not only a language geek, but also a gamer.  I started playing RPGs in the late 70s, when the hardback rule books for the first edition of AD&D were still being published.  With the newer editions and expansions and so on, the mythical aspects of what is now D&D have been expanded, including the "Powers" (Gods, Demigods, Devils, Demons, etc) of the "Outer Planes."  Three or four years ago, I came across a mention of the "Succubus Queen" in D&D (who didn't exist when I started playing, or at least had not been named or implied by the literature available then), known as "Malcanthet."  I did a little research on this character then, and filed it away for future reference.

This afternoon, I was talking with a friend and referred to Shendilavri (the home of Malcanthet), and this occasioned my revisiting the information I had already collected about Malcanthet, as well as looking around to see what new information I might find on the internet.  In the process, I noticed that her current consort is named as "Mastiphal the Hunting Sovereign."  Many of the names found in what was once The Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia were based on (or taken directly) from actual real-world myths and legends, so I thought to see if this "Mastiphal" might have some such real-world origin.  After some digging around in search engines, I eventually came to a pdf file of the 1902 translation by R.H. Charles, D.D. (Professor of Biblical Greek at Trinity College, Dublin) of a text (generally regarded as apocryphal) known as "the Book of Jubilees" or "The Little Genesis," which, quoted by the 11th century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos, was supposed to be the origin of the name "Mastiphal."  On searching the text of the work, however, I could find no instance of that name.  A less precise search provided the reason for the lack.  Somewhere along the way, someone had apparently mis-rendered the name as given in Syncellus and Kedrenos ("Mastipham" or "Mastiphat," and called "the archon of the demons") as "Mastiphal."  The Ethiopic text from which Doctor Charles made his translation gave the name as "Mastêmâ."  In his note 8 at page 80 of the text proper, Dr. Charles states:

Mastêmâ.  In the Latin version this name appears as Mastîma, and in the Midrashic Book of Noah as [Hebrew letters which read ShR HMShTMH, that is, Sar ha-Mastemah, or "Prince Mastemah" -- although more likely intended as "Prince/Ruler of Mastemah," since "Mastemah" as a name would be a feminine name].  Hence the form in which it appears in Syncellus and Cedrenus as [this next is my rendering into Latin characters of the Greek letters:  Mastipham, ho archOn tOn daimoniOn, meaning "Mastipham, the Archon of the Demigods" the latter word which most will incorrectly translate as "demons" -- which is probably what Dr. Charles understood it to mean, and almost certainly what Kedrenos intended], or Mastiphat is less accurate.  Outside the Jubilee literature, as Römsch has remarked (p. 418), this word is not found as a proper noun except in the Acts of Philip (ed. Tischend., p. 98):  [more Greek I'll render into Latin characters as:  ho de MansEmat, tout' estin ho Satanas, hypeisElthen eis ton Ananian kai eplEpOsen auton thymou kai orgEs, which means something like "the  Mansêmat, which is the Satan,  entered into Ananias and seized him with wrath and anger"].  As a common noun it is found twice in Hos. ix. 7, 8 in the sense of "enmity."  The word appears to be the hiphil of [Hebrew letters which are ShTM (= ShTN)], i.e. [Hebrew letters MShTIM], and is therefore the equivalent of [Greek letters ho Satanas] in point of meaning and derivation.
   [Boldface floral lavender notes inside square brackets are mine, including the transliterations from Hebrew and Greek into Latin letters, as well as the translations given from Hebrew and Greek into English. -- Giovanna]

While reading all of this, the idea of a connection with the name "Mephistophiles" did not occur to me until after I had sorted and made some sense of the Hebrew and Greek and began then to wonder how "Mastiphal" had come about from these references.  I looked more closely at the name and these references, and decided that the spelling "Mastiphal" was most likely a Latin scribal error for "Mastiphat," and suddenly the connection hit me.  "Mastiphal" might be confused with some kind of Greek shorthand by someone who knew no Hebrew and was reading Syncellus or Kedrenos in Latin.  From that, "Mastiphiles" could easily be chosen as the probable name intended, which would mean "friend of scourges" or "lover of scourges."  Transposition of letters being an intentional practice when dealing with alleged names of spirits has a long and not unfamiliar history, and so "Mastiphiles" could naturally become "Maphistiles."  From that name, the change to "Mephistophiles" is rather obvious.  Many variants of this name have shown up throughout history, including (but not limited to) Mephistopheles, Mephistophilus, Mephistophilis, Mephostopheles, Mephisto, and Mephastophilis.

If the Muse has breathed in me as a result of these (admittedly somewhat cursory) investigations, then the mysterious "Mephistopheles" would have his name from "Mastiphiles" ("lover of scourges"), which in turn was derived by erroneous reading of "Mastiphat," itself an inaccurate rendering of "Mastêmâ," Hebrew for "enmity" or "hatred" and considered to be another name for ha-Shaitan, "the Adversary," originally viewed in Iyov (the book of "Job") as the Hebrew God's Prosecuting Attorney.

Copyright 2014 by Giovanna (SuccubaSuprema).  All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason

The Right Wing and Allegations of Treason

by Liviana (Giovanna L.)

Representative Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, joins a long list of Far Right Wing Extremists in branding with the "traitor" label those perceived as "liberals":

GOP's Duncan blasts Feinstein as a "traitor"

There’s been far too much of this sort of garbage rhetoric. The week before, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said of the torture report, “[I]t’s almost treasonous, and it borders on treasonous.”

Remember, these far-right lawmakers aren’t concerned about torture; they’re concerned with the Senate Intelligence Committee publishing a report documenting torture.

... Duncan was more direct in calling Feinstein a “traitor” – all because she had the audacity to work with her colleagues from both parties on a report documenting U.S. activities.

Duncan, by the way, is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s oversight panel, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s panel on counter-terrorism.
After World War I, liberals and leftists were accused of treason by Far Right Wing Extremists in Germany.  These allegations were also embraced by a certain Far Right Extremist political party in Germany, known as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or, in brief, as the Nazi Partei.  The Nazis had a lot in common with the Far Right Wing Extremists in the United States today:

  1. Intense nationalism
  2. Pro-capitalism
  3. Anti-communism
  4. Glorification of War
  5. Appeal to Patriotism
  6. Appeal to the Middle Class
  7. Appeal to Traditional Values

Note those last three say "appeal to ..." for a very good reason, one we can find in various writings of Niccolò Machiavelli.  In Il Principe (or The Prince), he states rather plainly that it is important for a leader to seem to be religious, and says:  "Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are."  Elsewhere, he offers an observation which is astounding for its accuracy:

... perché lo universale degli uomini si pascono così di quel che pare come di quello che è: anzi, molte volte si muovono più per le cose che paiono che per quelle che sono.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Libro Primo, Capitolo 25.

My translation:

... for the general mass of men are satisfied with appearances, as if they exist;  indeed many times they are most moved by the things which seem to be rather than by the things that are.
-- Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the first Ten Books of Titus Livius, Book 1, Chapter 25.

Something similar is attributed to Jesus in the sixth chapter of Matthew, verses 1-21, wherein is stated that those who pretend piety publicly in order to win the respect of other humans have only the reward of such human respect, but those who are pious in secret will have a heavenly reward.

Making an appeal to patriotism is not the same thing as being patriotic;  it means that the one making the appeal is exploiting the patriotism of those he or she seeks to influence.

Making an appeal to traditional values does not necessarily mean that the one making the appeal agrees with those values, but rather that he or she is willing to exploit the beliefs of those who do in an effort to influence them.  Accompanying this tactic is a not-very-subtle insistence that anything which challenges those beliefs is somehow disloyal and should be silenced, which is of course a practice antithetical to any free society.

Promising tax relief to the middle class while giving massive cuts to the upper class -- well, we need not even point out that the small cuts in income tax were subject to compensation by other taxes on the middle class, nor point the finger at the absurd government bailouts of mega-corporations and mega-banks which began, it must be stressed, under the administration of George W. Bush, even though Obama is subjected to the blame game by these Far Right Wing Extremists who never admit that their own party is equally guilty, and in fact endorsed such acts until they were done by a member of an opposition party (which, you know, is kind of par for the course;  Republicans railing against Democrats for things they themselves have done, or would have done in the same position -- and vice-versa, let it be stated, for the Democrats have likewise contributed to this fallacious polarization in the American political climate, albeit not so eagerly as have the Republicans).  Let me just say that the Far Right cares nothing for the middle class, except insofar as they can exploit the emotions, values, and needs of the middle class in order to obtain, or maintain, political power.

Tied into many of these features is the practice of scapegoating as a means of misdirection.  Blaming homosexuals for an alleged "moral decline," blaming Jews for economic woes, blaming immigrants for "taking jobs" (usually jobs nobody wants), blaming labor unions for economic woes, blaming "liberals" and "leftists" for publicizing the criminal acts of Far Right Wing Extremists, ... the list goes on.  And of course, always with the intent of diverting the attention of the public from issues which are actually relevant and important.  "Let's make an amendment to the Constitution in order to 'protect the flag', a symbolic gesture easy to rally the masses, rather than addressing issues which are more challenging to solve, and more pressing."  Or "Let's try President Clinton for getting a blowjob in the Oval Office instead of taking on the more challenging and more important business of making laws to better our nation and improve the living conditions of our citizens."  Or "Let's sue Obama for making health care insurance available to all, rather than addressing the appalling state of education in the nation."  Or any of a number of other examples.

Indeed, to accuse a patriot of being a traitor is the most outrageous of such obfuscations.  While I disagree with Senator Feinstein on many questions, her actions in bringing this information to the public, while embarrassing for American citizens, is the act of a patriot, and not a traitor.  Anyone who loves America ought to be tenacious in rooting out the rot which would turn our Democratic Federal Republic into what it has historically fought with the blood and tears of our people.  Our nation took part in prosecuting those guilty of crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials and on other occasions.  Such crimes ought never to besmirch the reputation of America, but if they have been committed by Americans in the name of America, then we must admit as much to the world, and those responsible need to be held accountable in our own legal system.  Such admission and prosecution are the only way forward.  Those who would put their party or their ideology above the good of the nation are themselves far more worthy of the appellation of "traitor."  I'm talking about you, "Representative" Duncan.

See further:

Fascism Anyone?

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #5

I got slimed by Rush: The real story of how Stephen Colbert schooled Limbaugh on U.S. history, patriotism

Stab-in-the-back legend

Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and the Political Utility of Religion

Platform of the National-Socialist German Workers' Party (1933)
(Note point number 23 in particular, wherein the Nazis say:
"We demand laws against trends in art and literature which have a destructive effect on our national life, and the suppression of performances that offend against the above requirements."
It does sound very familiar, does it not?)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Khaaaaaaan!!!

On this 25th day of November in the year 1920, Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino (known to the world as Ricardo Montalban) was born in Mexico City.

He went on to attain fame as an actor in movies, television shows, and commercial advertisements, roles far too numerous to list here.

Some of those roles for which is is most well-known are Khan Noonien Singh, first in "Space Seed," a first-season episode of Star Trek (The Original Series, or, as I like to call it, "Trek Classic"), and again in the cinematic film Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, the mysterious host "Mister Roarke" of Fantasy Island, and the spokesman for the Chrysler Cordoba.

He was also a co-founder, and the first president, of the Nosotros Foundation, which advocates for Latinos and Latinas in the television and cinema industry.

On the 14th of January 2009, Ricardo Montalban passed from this world;  the cause of death was congestive heart failure.  He is remembered fondly by many who knew him and many more who were familiar with his work.

To learn more about this legendary actor, please see the Wikipedia article here, check out this article about him at Memory Alpha, and see a listing of his television and movie roles in this entry at the Internet Movie Database.

No copyright or trademark infringement challenge is intended in the use of the images or video presented here.  I believe they meet the standards of Fair Use as laid out in Title 17, Section 107 of the US Code.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Note about Role Playing in Online Games

In response to those who advocate "playing the villain" in online RPGs (MMO or otherwise):

Sure, it's all fun and games to Role Play a villain, until you realize that such behavior can have real-world consequences such as encouraging groups and individuals who are guilty of outrageous crimes against humanity. I would rather be responsible for encouraging heroism in the cause of liberty and human progress such as demonstrated by this young woman and this young man.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sequel/Update to my earlier post: "LastChaos-USA Publication Rights Transferred from Aeria to Gamigo"

Sequel/Update to my earlier post:  "LastChaos-USA Publication Rights Transferred from Aeria to Gamigo"

Hi, people.

Back in December I posted that with the official news published by Aeria included (by permission) and some waxing nostalgic about my time in LC as player and Game Sage, and ended it with:

Before the transfer had even begun, I set up an account at Gamigo, and I plan to continue to play LC-USA there.  While the game has its bugs and glitches, and could use some improvement in various particulars, it remains very captivating to me, and it has been a major part of my life for over five years.  I have made some good friends through the game, and through Aeria -- players, Game Sages, Forum Moderators, and Staff members.

 I have maintained some professional silence since then, although I believe the LC community at Gamigo knows that I soon changed my mind, and I believe that they know why.  I did discuss it with a few former colleagues who had also been Volunteers or Staff (or both) involved with LC at Aeria.  I did not speak in confidence, although these were private conversations between people who were simultaneously friends and colleagues.  I have continued, however, to be a Game Sage for DKO at Aeria, although that currently means that I do very little in the role due to the continuing status of the game in hiatus, and am not active on the fora or in the ShoutBox as I was when the game was up and running.  I do look in from time to time, to try to keep the fora and SB clean to the best of my ability, to see if there has been any progress, to look and see if my presence is needed.  More recently, however, Aeria sold its European holdings to a German company, and among those holdings were the English-language publishing rights to DKO.  The transition is still going on in some respects, and I have had no news from the Staff as to the status of the game or any progress.

I have spent most of my time online in recent months playing Star Trek Online through PWE.

As for LC and my decision not to play as I had intended, I need say very little.  A patch came which limited stacks to a total of 999 items.  In the same patch, additional inventory space, so long needed and requested, was finally added, for a price.  Some people lost items which were not supposed to be affected in this way.  A policy to disallow afk pet-leveling and afk affinity farming by use of the P2 Pet AI was declared.

Games should be fun.

LC stopped being fun.

Some who continue to be involved in the LC community I miss, but I cannot in good conscience partake in the game lest it give the impression of condoning things such as what I have related.  To those friends, I will say that you know how you may reach me, and I wish you the best.

I continue to be a GS for DKO.

I continue to play STO.

And then there's this blog and my Google Plus.

Give me a shout once in a while, huh?  :)

American Rushes to Sudan to Save Pregnant Wife From Hanging

Pregnant Woman to Get 100 Lashes, Then Hanged for Marrying a Christian

I long for the day upon which all people realize that enforced conformity is an intrinsic impossibility and that diversity is among other things also a sign of a healthy society.  Religion cannot be forced, or it is false, feigned, a failure.  Currently it is "the Silly Season" in the United States, with politicians opportunistically blathering their rhetoric and slogans as they pander to the sentiments and prejudices of the public.  Among things being said often are words like "values" and "common sense" and "Christian faith."  These are pimps who would prostitute the people to the highest bidder in pursuit of personal benefit.  Self-proclaimed guardians of morality have a long history of being hypocrites.  Religion cannot be legislated.  Those who attempt to do so are inwardly insecure in their own religion, and feel threatened by dissent and diversity, afraid that their views are false and that they have given up opportunities in an effort to be faithful to what they believe their religion teaches for nothing but a lie.  Here's a thought:  if you're so afraid your religion is false, then it might be more Just to allow others to reject that religion.  Morality is neither patented to nor dependent on any particular religion or religion in general.  I sincerely believe that Gene Roddenberry was a visionary artist and prophet.  Among the things he said is this pearl:

“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.”

To this I respond:


In Koine Greek, this means "May it become."

#Religion #Theocracy #Intolerance

Friday, April 25, 2014

Star Trek Online, Season 9: A New Accord ((***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!***))

Star Trek Online,
Season 9:  "A New Accord"

The year in Terrhain reckoning is 2410.  A recounting of recent history is in order to ensure understanding.  In early 2409, peaceful colonies of the Romulan Star Empire were attacked by the Tal'Shiar and the Elachi.  Refugees of these attacks mostly joined with what was then named "the Romulan Republic," a faction vying for power in the wake of the destruction of Romulus and Remus in 2387, made up of a number of personnel from the Romulan Star Navy who had become stridently opposed to the overweening authority of the Tal'Shiar and the abuse thereof by Tal'Shiar agents.  They elected one of their own as their leader, a Romulan by the name of D'Tan, who had studied the teachings of the Vulcan philosopher Surak and joined the Reunificationist movement as a youth, under the leadership of Ambassador Spock of Vulcan.  Spock gave his life to save other worlds from the fate of Romulus and Remus, destroyed by the subspace spread of energy from the Hobus supernova -- a supernova caused, it was learned later in 2409, by the Tal'Shiar.  While still a Reunificationist, D'Tan did not push his personal views on others in the movement.  At the beginning of 2409, "the Romulan Republic" was merely a schismatic faction of Rihannsu, without any real territory to claim as their own.

In early 2409, the Romulan agricultural colony on the planet Virinat was involved in life as usual.  The Virinat variety of Romulan Ale had been brewed and had fermented in the casks long enough;  it was time for the Festival of the Tapping, when the Virinat Romulan Ale casks would be tapped and the colonists would spend the evening in revelry.  The Virinat style of making Romulan Ale had led to a popular variety throughout the Romulan Star Empire;  the colonists harvested nectar produced by Khellidir, insects native to the planet Virinat, and added it to the mix when the brewing process was completed, after which the ale would be poured into wooden casks at the time of the fulness of the Virinat moon and then left to ferment for five cycles of the Virinat moon.  Then the casks would be tapped, and a festival would ensue before the work of distributing the product to buyers throughout and beyond the Romulan Star Empire.  In the afternoon before the first Festival of the Tapping of 2409, colonists noticed that the normally peaceful Khellidir were strangely aggressive.  Investigation led to the discovery of machinery bearing a resemblance to Borg technology, but somehow different.  One of the elders of the colony suggested a connection to a race called "Elachi," who live in subspace.  The machinery having been disabled, however, and the Khellidir back to their typical behavior, further investigation was to be put off until after the festival.  As Malem, the Maiori of the Virinat colony, had just finished his oration at the opening ceremony and the fireworks were beginning to flash in the night sky, the colony was rocked by an explosion, and then another, and another ...

Virinat was under attack.  Colonists were abducted or killed.  A fortunate few managed to escape the planet's surface in shuttles, only to be confronted by Tal'Shiar drone ships and Tal'Shiar light warbirds.  Some colonists managed to get to older light warbirds in the system, relics of past service by the Maiori and other elders of the colony.  These colonists would fight off the Tal'Shiar drone ships and light warbirds, and even a more powerful Tal'Shiar vessel commanded by Colonel Hakeev, the Chief of the Tal'Shiar, the latter with assistance from warbirds of "the Romulan Republic" which warped in at a critical moment.  An Elachi vessel was also destroyed by the Colonists and the warbirds of The Romulan Republic.  Many of the Colonists chose to throw in their lot with the schismatic faction at this point.  Not long afterward, the unwarranted aggression was repeated in another place;  the peaceful Reman mining colony on Crateris was also attacked by Elachi and Tal'Shiar forces.  Fortunately for the Remans of Crateris, however, they had vessels in orbit, and some vessels from the Romulan Republic were also present to lend support, including ships commanded by refugees from Virinat.  A few months later, the Reman Resistance, under Obisek, allied themselves with the Romulan Republic.

Investigations conducted by the Romulan Republic's Militia Intelligence revealed the depths of Tal'Shiar crime and corruption;  a repetition of the offenses would be extensive, and is not necessary in this place, having been recounted elsewhere already, but among them is a practice of indoctrination and brainwashing using various chemical, physical, psychological, audio-visual, and other techniques.  The sycophancy, passive-aggressive tendencies, cruelty, capriciousness, and incompetence which result from successful indoctrination is very similar to symptoms of Damaged Personality Disorder, with an unhealthy dose of Paranoia tossed in.  Deprogramming efforts to liberate the psyches of subjects have not always been entirely successful.

In the first half of 2409, an expedition of vessels from the Romulan Republic rediscovered Dewa-III, a planet to which their ancestors had come after The Sundering and which they had settled before settling on the Two Planets in the Eisn System which became ch'Rihan and ch'Havran.  Important and symbolically potent artifacts from the first settlement by the ancestors were discovered and a new conference was called at Khitomer, where, after attempts to sabotage the proceedings were made by the Tal'Shiar and foiled by elements of the Romulan Republic's Star Navy and the Klingon Defense Force, the Romulan Republic was formally recognized by both the Klingon Empire (and thus the Orion Syndicate, which now secretly runs the Klingon Empire) and the United Federation of Planets.  Territory, including the Dewa System, was recognized as held by the Romulan Republic.  The planet Dewa-III was renamed ch'Mol'Rihan, or "New Romulus," and a Capitol City was constructed on the planet with assistance from the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  Although the Federation and the Klingons were still officially at war, the situation had come to the point of being primarily a cold war, with occasional minor territorial skirmishes, raids, and the like.  The two powers, and what was now "the New Romulan Republic," were faced with far more dangerous enemies, including the Tal'Shiar-Elachi alliance, the Hirogen, the Tholians, the Borg, the Breen, the True Way terrorists, the Undine, and the silent puppetmasters sitting concealed in subspace:  the Iconians.

With the discovery of a functional Iconian Gateway beneath the surface of ch'Mol'Rihan, a new season came.  The New Romulan Republic chose to power up the Gate and open it.  Representatives of both the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets were present for the event, which was almost a catastrophe, but that potential was averted.  In the process, several persons from the three powers had to escape through the active Gateway.  They found themselves inside a Dyson Sphere.  A solanagen-based lifeform was present in the Sphere, as were Voth, a reptilian race which had originated on Terrha and was bent on exterminating anyone who challenged their fundamentalist pseudoscience.  The Solanae Dyson Sphere, as it came to be called, was capable of amazing things.  Among the discoveries was the fact that connecting to the Jenolan Dyson Sphere was possible.  Unfortunately, the Undine invaded the Jenolan Dyson Sphere and began plans to launch an attack on the powers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.  The three major powers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, namely, the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire (Orion Syndicate), and the New Romulan Republic, banded together to fight off these attacks, but Earth Spacedock and the Qo'noS Orbital Shipyard were destroyed.  A number of Undine who had infiltrated the Federation were revealed and died trying to kill citizens of the three major powers.  An Iconian appeared with a warning.

Following these events, the Klingon Empire (Orion Syndicate) and the United Federation of Planets agreed to call an end to their hostilities.  The Federation-Klingon War was over.  The threats to the peace of the three powers, and indeed the plenitude of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, from the Tholians, the Tal'Shiar-Elachi Alliance, the Hirogen, the Borg, the Voth, and the Undine continue.  The Tal'Diann stands ready and vigilant to these and any other threats to the security and freedom of the citizens of the New Romulan Republic.

Join us and fight for the New Romulan Republic.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fads in Mental Diagnoses Revisited

In an earlier post, I made some observations about what I called "fads in mental diagnoses," and the epidemic of over-diagnoses of certain conditions.  New evidence has now been published, which may put this phenomenon in a new light.

From Salon:

There has been a lot of public agonizing lately about the steep rise in diagnoses of ADHD over the last two decades. There is growing, and justifiable, worry that a lot of kids are being put on stimulant medications who don’t need them.

What there hasn’t been is a plausible theory about what’s driving this explosion of diagnoses — 40 percent over the last decade and more than 50 percent over 25 years. The CDC now estimates that 12 percent of school age kids, and as many as 20 percent of teenage boys have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Blame has been directed at parents, for being so poor at discipline that they reach for a pill to make unruly kids settle down. Teachers are blamed for being so inept at maintaining order that they want students medicated into submission. Psychiatrists are blamed for being the pawns of drug companies peddling ADHD meds. But blaming doesn’t explain it. ...

Now comes a book that, finally, offers a data-based analysis that could begin to account for an increase on this scale. “The ADHD Explosion,“ by Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler, considers all kinds of factors that may contribute to the surge, from diagnosis by undertrained and harried pediatricians to pharmaceutical advertising. But the eye-opening insight from Hinshaw, a clinical psychologist, and Schleffler, a health economist, who are colleagues at University of California, Berkeley, is the correlation between educational policies and the prevalence of ADHD diagnoses.

Using Centers for Disease Control surveys, Hinshaw and Sheffler found that when rates of ADHD diagnoses are broken down by state, it turns out that there are dramatic discrepancies. ...

What the team found was that high rates of ADHD diagnoses correlated closely with state laws that penalize schools when students fail. Nationally, this approach to education was enacted into law in 2001 with No Child Left Behind, which makes funding contingent on the number of students who pass standardized tests.

Read more:
The truth about ADHD: Over-diagnosis linked to cause championed by Michelle Rhee

SuccubaSuprema writes:
Many worthy criticisms of "No Child Left Behind" have been provided since 2001, but this newly published data may finally help to successfully euthanize the inane law.  Why would the Federal Government throw more money at schools which need it less in the first place?  It seems counterintuitive.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Where I've Been and What I've Been Doing Lately

A little update

Some of those who read this blog may have noticed that I haven't been very active in posting this month, and may have been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing, and so on.  Fear not, I have not abandoned this blog, and will return to posting here in the future.

However, I've also been working on a website for my fleet in the Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), Star Trek Online (STO).  For those not familiar with the game, a "fleet" in STO is the equivalent of what some MMOs refer to as a "guild" or "clan," that is, a group of players of the game, organized through the game's mechanics, into an association.  Ideally, these groups should function in a tribe-like manner, cooperating for the betterment of the group as a group, and for the members of the group as individuals, with each member contributing to the group itself and helping other members get ahead in the game.

The fleet I started in STO is named "Tal'Diann," which is the name of the Military Intelligence organization in Romulan society.  Some of us are fans of the writings of Diane Duane, and the language which she created for the Romulans in her novels.  As such, use of the doaege Rihan (Romulan language) is welcome and encouraged within the fleet, although not required.  I'm also using the language quite a bit on the fleet website (with translation provided, of course), and have two pages on the site which provide resources for the language.

For those who might find any of this interesting, please feel free to have a look around the site (which is still growing;  my two current projects for the site are a discussion of history and culture pertaining to the Romulan people, and a biography of my main character in STO, G'essatra ir'Virinat t'Prell, the Fleet Admiral of the Tal'Diann -- neither of these writings is currently visible to the public, but they should become visible within a relatively short period of time, once I'm satisfied enough with the presentation).  Here's a link:
Tal'Diann (Phi'Tlaru Rihan)
Llea-u (Enjoy)!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sotomayor Temporarily Blocks Obamacare "Forcing" Some Religious Groups to Provide Birth Control Coverage

From The New York Times:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Obama administration from forcing some religious-affiliated groups to provide health insurance coverage of birth control or face penalties as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Acting at the request of an order of nuns in Colorado, Justice Sotomayor issued the stay just hours before the requirement was to go into effect on New Year’s Day. She gave the Obama administration until Friday to respond to the Supreme Court.

... Religious opponents of abortion have objected especially strongly to the requirement to provide emergency contraception pills, like Plan B, although most studies show that the drug works by preventing fertilization, not by inducing abortion. ...

 The Obama administration has repeatedly defended the birth control requirement. “The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said last month.

Read more:
Justice Blocks Contraception Mandate on Insurance in Suit by Nuns

SuccubaSuprema writes:
Jehovah's Witnesses oppose blood transfusions.  Scientologists oppose psychiatric treatment.  Will businesses affiliated with these religious groups also be given exemptions for those specifics?  If an exception is made for religions with a large following like the Roman Catholic Church or the Southern Baptist Convention, but not for religions with a smaller following such as the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Church of Scientology, would that not be a clear case of the government giving preferential treatment to specific religious groups while denying such privileges to other religious groups, and thus a rather blatant violation of not only the letter, but also the spirit, of the First Amendment's non-establishment clause?  Upon what basis is an employer entitled to make health decisions for his/her employees?  If a person believes that abortion or contraception is morally wrong, that person is free to refrain from having an abortion or using contraceptives, but that person has no authority or right to impose such beliefs -- or the practical application of those beliefs -- on anyone else.

More to the point, why does any employer have a right to know the medical history of any employee?  Is it not the usual operating procedure for any insurance provider to accumulate a resource pool from which to cover the medical expenses of any given subscriber, whether or not that subscriber or any other subscriber ever makes use of specific coverage?  And do insurance companies have any requirement to tell every subscriber the medical history of every other subscriber?  Is this not really about the typical capitalist desire to maximize the intake of wealth while decreasing any expenditures, rather than any sort of religious conviction?  If not, then is this not simply a case of religious imperialism?