Thursday 31 July 2008

Try this Quick Quiz

From a newspaper story:
He became angry and hit (victim) with his fist before grabbing a fire extinguisher and hitting her in the head twice, according to the affidavit.

(Killer) explained to police that he thought he "killed it," referring to (victim) but when she made gurgling noises and started to sit up, he hit her with the extinguisher again.
This was said when, where and who by...
  1. 1935 Germany, and by an Aryan who claimed they'd just found out that their date was Jewish
  2. 1950 Deep South, by a KKK member who claimed they'd just found out that their date was "passing for white"
  3. 2008 Colarado, by someone who claimed they'd just found out that their date was transsexual
HINT: From comments at
I don't believe in murder, but if I went on a date with what I believed to be a women and then later found out it was a guy I would beat the s*$t out of them.
Seriously how many guys do you know that if they had found out that their girl was a guy, how many of them would have beat the crap out of that person...........
He/She/It.....let him to think that He/She/It was a woman....then he felt the weenie....

Then he got really mad......Killing It was a bad idea...
If being a transsexual, or being Gay was something out of our control, than God would not have destroyed Saddam and Gamora for those same acts. He does not punish us for being blind, he does not punish us for being deaf. Those are things that most often happen in the womb. He DOES, ALWAYS HAS, AND ALWAYS WILL punish us for sleeping with the same sex. God does not make mistakes and he is a just and fair God. That means that he does not punish us for things we cannot help. Think about it. Don't take the Bible out of context.
For those of us who believe in the Christian God, we believe He does not make mistakes:
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
John 9:2-3
Substitute transgender or transsexual for blind and the Scripture are still valid. Angie was born in the wrong body, and it was evident enough to those who loved her that they referred to her as Angie and she/her. Those who have left comments otherwise are disrespected Angie and her family in this time of grief.
Now another question: did the victim do anything wrong by not telling? How about the "deceitful" victims in the other answers? I'm not asking whether it was wise, I'm asking whether it was wrong.

And today's battle is at Butts about it.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Today's Piece of the Puzzle

From the article A polymorphism of the CYP17 gene related to sex steroid metabolism is associated with female-to-male but not male-to-female transsexualism by Eva-Katrin Bentz M.D., Lukas A. Hefler M.D., Ulrike Kaufmann M.D., Johannes C. Huber M.D., Ph.D., Andrea Kolbus Ph.D. and Clemens B. Tempfer M.D.

Gender dysphoria is a mental state characterized by a conflict between a person's genetic sex and his/her gender perception. Gender dysphoria comprises several different entities, among them transvestism, cross-dressing, and transsexualism. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines transsexualism as the desire to be of the opposite sex or the assertion that one is of the sex opposite from the one assigned at birth. It is a rare condition, with incidence rates between 1:12,000 to 1:40,000.
Point of Order, Mr Speaker! Recent data indicates between 1 in 3000 and 1 in 12000. To continue:
The etiology of transsexualism is unknown, but it has been speculated that the influence of sex steroids on early brain development may play an important role. Transsexualism may also have a genetic component, based on rare reports of twin–twin concordance and families with several affected members. Chromosomal aberrations are not found at an increased rate among both male-to-female (MtF) and female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals based on a study in 30 and 31 affected individuals, respectively. In a small series of 29 Swedish MtF transsexuals, however, Henningsson et al. observed an association between MtF transsexualism and a CA repeat polymorphism in the estrogen receptor (ER) beta gene.

CYP17 A2 T>C is a functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with elevated serum and plasma levels of estradiol (E2), progesterone, and testosterone. In a case-control study, we assessed the genotype frequencies of the CYP17 A2 T>C SNP in a series of Caucasian transsexuals and compared these with controls. We hypothesized that the CYP17 A2 T>C SNP is associated with transsexualism and that mutant alleles will therefore be overrepresented among individuals with this condition.
In our patient population of 151 transsexuals, 102 (68%) were MtF and 49 (32%) were FtM, which is in accordance with patterns previously described elsewhere (13). The mean age at presentation of FtM transsexuals was 33.2 (±7.7 SD) years. The mean age of MtF transsexuals was 41.8 (±9.8 SD) years. This is also in accordance with previous reports indicating that the coming out of FtM transsexuals occurs significantly earlier compared to MtF transsexuals (3), (4) and 13 P.T.
Our study found that carriage of the mutant CYP17 −34 T>C C allele is statistically significantly associated with FtM, but not MtF transsexualism. The CYP17 −34 T>C allele distribution was gender-specific among controls. The MtF transsexuals had an allele distribution equivalent to male controls, whereas the FtM transsexuals did not follow the gender-specific allele distribution of female controls but rather had an allele distribution equivalent to MtF transsexuals and male controls.
We present the largest case-control study of Caucasian transsexuals to date investigating a sex steroid metabolizing gene polymorphism. In this series, the presence of the CYP17 −34 T>C SNP was statistically significantly overrepresented among FtM but not MtF transsexuals, thus supporting CYP17 as a candidate gene of FtM transsexualism.

The article is behind a pay-per view wall, but there's a summary at the New Scientist.

Warp Drive Invented

Money quote:
What the scientists were able to estimate was the amount of energy necessary, if the technology was available, to change these dimensions: about 10^45 joules.

"That's about the amount of energy you'd get if you converted the entire mass of Jupiter into pure energy via E = mc^2," said Cleaver, an energy far beyond anything humanity can currently envision creating.
A bit of a disadvantage, that. More at Discovery News.

Meanwhile Rockets and Such shows how I was too optimistic in my prediction that the USA will have
no manned space program for 10 years (apart from uncrewed ARES I shots to work out the bugs in the spacecraft, not the booster
. The proof-of-principle ARES-1 shot scheduled to impress Congress is turning out to be a schlemozzle too.

All is not lost though :
Virgin Galactic rolled out its White Knight Two aircraft, which is designed to loft the planned tourist spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of fifty thousand feet before launching it on suborbital flights with two pilots and six paying customers.
The White Knight Two aircraft, dubbed Eve in honor of Richard Branson's mother, is the world's largest all carbon composite built aircraft and has a wing space of 140 feet. White Knight Two has a maximum altitude of fifty thousand feet and can fly nonstop coast to coast across the United States. White Knight Two is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines. White Knight Two is approximately the size of a World War II era B 29 bomber.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Impostor Syndrome

It's described in Wikipedia as:
The Impostor Syndrome, or Impostor Phenomenon, sometimes called Fraud Syndrome, is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of a number of books and articles by psychologists and educators. Individuals experiencing this syndrome seem unable to internalize their accomplishments. Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study, or what external proof they may have of their competence, they remain convinced internally that they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are really frauds. Proofs of success are dismissed as luck, timing, or otherwise having deceived others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. This syndrome is thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers and is typically associated with academics.
Um. I wasn't aware there was a name for how I feel. Fortunately, my ego is as big as all outdoors, so it doesn't trouble me.

From a comment on EffectMeasure, the Science Health Blog :
For some people, the feelings underlying the Imposter Syndrome are a positive thing for the world at large because they constantly strive for some external validation of their abilities (e.g., having their paper cited, their blog recognized, their promotion come through, etc.). Of course they don't accept the outward evidence of success but just try to get more evidence, but the world benefits.
Well, I'd like to think so. But I feel that's just my arrogance speaking. Never mind, it works for me.

Curtsy to Legal Eagle who wrote on this originally.

Monday 28 July 2008


"Clothes make the man", as Marcus Fabius Quintillianus orated not quite 2000 years ago.

It's astounding that only 3 years ago I was trying to look like the guy my clothes made me out to be. That feels seriously weird from today's perspective.

More Latin phrases and quotes at, by the way. Melius tarde, quam nunquam and all that.

17BHDD, 5ARD, and CAIS Summarised

From 17β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency: A rare endocrine cause of male-to-female sex reversal by Silvano Bertelloni; M. Cristina Maggio; Giovanni Federico; Giampiero Baroncelli; Olaf Hiort. in Gynecological Endocrinology, Volume 22, Issue 9 September 2006 , pages 488 - 494.

Table III. Main clinical findings of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 3 (17β-HSD3) deficiency compared with those of 5α-reductase deficiency and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (cAIS).
17β-HSD3 deficiency 5α-Reductase deficiency cAIS
Δ4-A:   Δ4-androstenedione;
T:   testosterone;
DHT:   dihydrotestosterone;
N:   normal;
↑:   increased;
↓:  decreased.
Eponymus 17-Ketosteroid reductase deficiency Pseudovaginal perineoscrotal hypoplasia Testicular feminization syndrome
Karyotype 46,XY 46,XY 46,XY
Inhneritance Autosomal recessive Autosomal recessive X-linked recessive
External phenotype Female or ambiguous (rare) Ambiguous or female Female
blind-ending vagina Present (80% of patients) Present (50% of patients) Present (100% of patients)
Internal phenotype Ambiguous Ambiguous Ambiguous
Wolffian structures Male Male Absent
prostate Absent Absent or hypoplasic Absent
Mullerian structures Absent Absent Absent or rudimental (∼30% of patients)
Testes Extra-abdominal (80-90%) Extra-abdominal (100%) Intra-abdominal (70% of patients)
Hormone profile Δ4-A ↑; T ↓, T/Δ4-A ↓, T/DHT N, estrogens N or ↓ Δ4-A N; T N or ↑, DHT ↓, T/DHT ↑, T/Δ4-A N, estrogens N Δ4-A N, T N or ↑, T/Δ4-A N, T/DHT N or ↓, estrogens ↑
Gender assignment at birth Mainly female Female or male Female
Puberty VirilizationVirlilization Feminization
breast development Variable None Normal female
androgen hair Normal male Normal male Absent or scanty
Gender role change Present (30-50% of patients) Present (∼75% of patients) Not present

That last line should tell us something. The difference between 17BHDD and 5ARD is significant, even though the symptoms are so very similar. That should tell us something too.

We have many pieces to the puzzle. There are still many gaps though. Until we can settle the timing of what happens during neurological development in the womb, we have no idea why these differences happen. Given that children in all three categories (with the exception of some only mildly feminised by 5ARD) have the same sociological upbringing, it appears the "nature vs nurture" question is firmly on the side of "nature" here. It's certain though that we don't know the mechanisms.

It's also certain that very many of those who are against basic human rights for the "gender variant" can't, or won't, believe that medical conditions like this can exist. It's against their religion, I suppose.

Saturday 26 July 2008

Today's Battle

Over at The Conservative Voice.
Governmental conspiracy is a word that creates a negative connotation in most people's minds. Most people would deny a conspiracy theorist's opinion that the United States could become a police state or that Christians in America could encounter extreme persecution. Therefore, anyone who purports such conspiracies would be labeled a lunatic, someone who needs to be placed in an insane asylum because he or she has lost their mind.
I would not disagree with that too strongly. A good start.
But, the current bills that America's elected politicians are attempting to legislate into law could very well create a police state and or deny Christians their religious freedoms. Just take the time to scrutinize these new bills that are being proposed in Washington, D.C. and by some state general assemblies.
Finally, a very sickening "smoke screen" bill was enacted into law in the state of Colorado. State Senate Bill 200 was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter. Basically, the new bill will permit transgender men and women to use any public restroom that they desire. It would also require Christian businesses to provide their services to transgender men and women, too, even if it would require them to go against their personal religious beliefs . If not, these Christian businesses would have to pay large fines and possibly spend up to one year in jail. Ultimately, this abominable bill is a general attack on morality and a specific attack against Christians and their freedom of religion. It is just another governmental conspiracy to force the pro-gay rights’ agenda on American citizens, specifically the citizens of Colorado. However, some of these same type activities are taking place in Maryland and New Mexico. Therefore, if you do not want these godless situations to take place in your state, now is the time to investigate what your state legislature might be plotting to do to the citizens of your state. In fact, could the new laws in your state actually be worse than the outcome of Senate Bill 200 in Colorado? God forbid that this type of legislation would be able to pass in any other state.
As I point out, they already have done. In 13 states, in fact. Churches remain open, sacrifices of virgins remain unperformed, and Christians remain untroubled by the Secret Police.

But go read it. You see, hyperbolic words in themselves are not harmful. But when people believe them, and believe that the forces of Law and Order are out to get them, to steal their daughters and rape their sheep, well, they are forced to take matters into their own hands in sheer self-defence. And people die.

The count in Colorado that we know of is one with her skull and chest smashed in who is slowly recovering from brain damage, and one with her skull and chest smashed in who died. Same Modus Operandi in both cases, with the victim's car stolen to make the getaway.

I know the first victim, the one who survived, you see. Calm objectivity is difficult under those circumstances, yet is essential if we are to solve the problem.

Friday 25 July 2008

This one's a Six

The actual ordnance doesn't quite do that. According to the Good Folks who made this advert:
On January 28th, 2008 the Gainesville City Commission passed a (PDF)Gender Identity Ordinance granting special legal status to people who suffer from gender identity disorder.
The same special status that blacks, jews, christians and other humans have. The same protection that others have against discrimination based on "sexual orientation, race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, marital status or disability". It would add "gender identity" to that. That's all. You can read that for yourself, on their own website. They're betting that people will just look at the pretty pictures instead.

It's not just the bigotry: it's the hypocracy. Hence the award of BSS 6 to this video. Why not 7? They didn't make the guy black, or wearing a yamulka. It could always be worse, trust me.

Thursday 24 July 2008

The Bristol Stool Scale

Courtesy of ImpactED Nurse, I will now be classifying transphobic articles using the Bristol Stool Scale. So if I say an article is "BSS 3" you'll know what I mean.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Today's Battle

From the El Paso Times :
A former state employee claimed Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that top Georgia legislative officials fired her because she said she would come to work dressed as a female as she prepared for a sex-change procedure to transform from man to woman.

Vandy Beth Glenn said Tuesday she was illegally fired from her job as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly after she told her boss she was going to live as a woman full time.

She said Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby fired her because the gender transition would make her colleagues feel uncomfortable and would be seen as "immoral" by Georgia legislators.

And from the comments over at Topix....
this person is totaly sick and schould be put away for good.that is very imoral.
this freak is not a "her"....women don't have dicks.
This MAN is a freak. Before his sex "change" he was a man. After his sex "change" he is now a man with fake breasts and no pecker
When is the rest of the human race going to stop catering to these freaks ?

But note also, in reply to one of my posts giving evidence:
Thank that's an answer. I will review the links and get back. It is a serious question i ask...and you gave me a serious answer. If I'm wrong...then I have no problem admitting that. If you can prove to me there are physiological differences, then I'll listen.
That's all I can ask for, really. I claim no direct line to the Almighty, nor do I have the right to force my opinions on others. I do have the right to respectfully request they review the evidence, and come to an informed opinion of their own, even if it differs from mine.

It's a very ... conservative ... way of doing things.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

A Nose By Any Other Name Would Smell

There has been a lot of discussion about terminology, and words like "intersex", "transsexual", and phrases like "disorders of sexual development". Whether transsexuality is rightly classified as a mental illness or not.

Some of my thoughts, trying to regularise the matter, and fit in with the currently understood definition of "mental illness".

Intersex conditions can reasonably be called disorders, at least, inasmuch as they affect fertility, sexual function, continence etc. They are disorders the way albinism is a disorder. Some might call it a "natural variation", though.

The typically Celtic red hair/fair skin combination, universally recognised as a "Natural variation" could also be called a disorder, as it has real effects on health under some circumstances. It has significant health risks in high-sunshine climates, sort of Albinism-light.

Many Intersexed people who don't see themselves as "disordered" in any way, just a bit unusual, like people with blue eyes, object to the phrase "Disorders of Sexual Development", but they don't have a say in it. The Authorities Have Spoken. As usual.

As above, so below. I've been involved a little on a CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) support forum - CAH is an Intersex condition that masculinises females. And the majority of women that have it insist that their somatic anomaly is no worse than can be gotten from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which is not an Intersex condition, and so CAH shouldn't be either. They're not "Intersexed", they have no connection with those "weirdoes and freaks" who have "gender issues". *SIGH*

And some who have other Intersex conditions want nothing to do with those weirdoes and freaks", the Transsexuals, who have "gender issues". *SIGH* again.

My view is that Transsexuality per se is caused by cross-gendered neurology. And I classify it as one of many different Intersex conditions because of that. So it shouldn't be classed as a "mental illness".

On the other hand... the distress caused by severe transsexuality should be so classified, the same way that distress caused by other purely physiological conditions, some congenital, some not, should be. The distress over having the wrong-shaped body for the brain and mind is similar to the distress caused by removal of breasts due to mastectomy, or penectomy due to cancer or accident. And to the extent that that distress can be alleviated, and functionality restored, by surgery and/or hormonal treatment, then it should be. To the extent that it cannot, psycho-therapy may be useful in some cases to help the sufferer (and I choose that word advisedly), cope as best they can with it.

I find it monstrous that children who are arbitrarily surgically modified to have an appearance that conforms to genital norms, whether intersexed or not (and in the past, there have been some dark hints by surgeons that some normal boys were castrated purely because the parents wanted a girl child), and whose mind is not bigendered enough to be content in the new role, are labelled as "mentally ill". It seems the height of inhumanity that they be told late in life that psychotherapy to help them accept what others have tried to force them to be is their only option, that corrective surgery is unavailable to them because.... well, just because.

It is only slightly less monstrous that transsexuals should be treated the same way, especially since their discomfort is so intense that so many have "co-morbidities", ranging from chronic depression, through substance-abuse and other self-destructive behaviour, all the way to suicide.

It is inhuman that various religious groups have either done their best, but been ill-advised by superstitious psychiatrists (as in the Catholic church), or have adopted an anti-Science mentality and so are deaf to medical evidence. They see a physiological problem as a moral one, just as those born with harelip were once thought to be the Spawn of Satan.

More Parts of the Puzzle

CNN is now reporting on the same kind of research on opposite-sex twins that I mentioned in BiGender and the Brain.

And the latest issue of Cerebral Cortex has an article, Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids. by Berglund H, Lindström P, Dhejne-Helmy C, and Savic I.

As per usual, lesbian MtoF women are described as "nonhomosexual". One day, the penny will drop.

From the article itself (rather than the online abstract) :
Transsexuals have the strong feeling, often from childhood onward, of having been born the wrong sex. The possible etiology of transsexualism has been the subject of debate for many years (Benjamin 1967; van Goozen et al. 2002; Swaab 2004; Gooren 2006). Investigation of the genetics, hormone levels, gonads, and genitalia of transsexuals has not produced results that explain their status (van Goozen et al. 2002; Swaab 2004; Gooren 2006). In experimental animals, the gonadal hormones that prenatally determine the morphology of the genitalia are shown to also influence the morphology and function of the brain in a sexually dimorphic manner (Fels and Bosch 1971; Yalom et al. 1973; Baum 2003 2006). This led to the hypothesis that sexual differentiation of the brain in transsexuals might not have followed the line of sexual differentiation of the body as a whole and that transsexual persons may have sex-atypical cerebral programing (van Goozen et al. 2002). Such a scenario can be evaluated in humans by comparing transsexual and control subjects with respect to sexually differentiated cerebral functions.
In the quest for reliable in vivo methods to study sex differences in the neurobiology of the hypothalamus, we designed positron emission tomography (PET) activation experiments measuring changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during smelling of 2 steroidal compounds: the progesterone derivative 4,16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and the estrogen-like compound estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol (EST) (Savic et al. 2001, 2005; Berglund et al. 2006). AND is present in human male secretions such as sweat, saliva, and semen (Grosser et al. 2000), whereas EST has been detected in the urine of pregnant women (Thysen et al. 1968).
Several centers currently recognize essentially 2 types of MFTRs who can be distinguished on the basis of their sexual orientation (Chivers and Bailey 2000; Smith et al. 2005). The first type is homosexual transsexuals, extremely gender-transposed (feminine) men, whose sexual object choice is toward men instead of women. The second type is men, whose sexual object choice is interpreted to be toward the image of themselves as women. For this group, the primary motivation for changing sex is to become the object of their own desire (Chivers and Bailey 2000; Smith et al. 2005). In this respect, all our patients can be regarded as nonhomosexual (gynaecophyl) transsexuals (Chivers and Bailey 2000), although we used a more operative approach in our classification, taking into consideration also the sexual partners, sexual fantasies, and expressed attractions (Kinsey 1953Go).
They have a very diplomatic way of saying that Civers and Bailey are full of it. Because "men, whose sexual object choice is interpreted to be toward the image of themselves as women" would hardly have female anatomy, would they? If they did, then how could we classify them as "men", except arbitrarily? And the studies show pretty conclusively that they do have at least feminised anatomy, when it comes to parts of the brain.
The generated data relate to reports by Swaab's group of a female size of BNSTc in MFTRs (Zhou et al. 1995Go; Kruijver et al. 2000Go). Although structural and functional dimorphism are not directly translatable and the BNST is too small to be detected with the imaging methods applied, it is of note that this nucleus in animals mediates pheromone signaling and that it in humans has reciprocal connections with the anterior hypothalamus (Eiden et al. 1985Go). Both Swaab's and our findings may, therefore, reflect a common organizational deviation of certain sexually dimorphic circuits involved in human reproduction. Whether and how this links to the perception of sexual identity remains unclear and awaits further investigations.
I would have said "gender identity and sexual orientation", two separate concepts, but no matter.
In summary, albeit the present study does not provide conclusions concerning the possible etiology, it suggests that in transsexuals the organization of certain sexually dimorphic circuits of the anterior hypothalamus could be sex atypical. It adds a new dimension to our previous reports by showing that the observed effects are not necessarily learned and that a sex-atypical activation by the 2 putative pheromones may reflect neuronal reorganization.
Having had a look at the study, they went to extraordinary lengths to shackle all the variables. They even insisted on only right-handed subjects being included. All in all, extremely good Science.

At some stage... eventually... the American Psychiatric Association and others are going to realise that they can't continue to ignore the neurological data in favour of psychiatric conjectures.

And finally, for my own reference as much as anything else, their list of articles:

Allen LS, Hines M, Shryne JE, Gorski RA. Two sexually dimorphic cell groups in the human brain. J Neurosci (1989) 9:497–506.[Abstract]

American Psychiatric Association Task Force on DSM–IV. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM–IV (1994) Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Baum MJ. Activational and organizational effects of estradiol on male behavioral neuroendocrine function. Scand J Psychol (2003) 44:213–220.

Baum MJ. Mammalian animal models of psychosexual differentiation: when is ‘translation’ to the human situation possible? Horm Behav (2006) 50:579–588.

Benjamin H. The transsexual phenomenon. Trans N Y Acad Sci (1967) 29:428–430.

Bensafi M, Brown WM, Khan R, Levenson B, Sobel N. Sniffing human sex–steroid derived compounds modulates mood, memory and autonomic nervous system function in specific behavioral contexts. Behav Brain Res (2004) 152:11–22.

Bensafi M, Tsutsui T, Khan R, Levenson RW, Sobel N. Sniffing a human sex–steroid derived compound affects mood and autonomic arousal in a dose–dependent manner. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2004) 29:1290–1299.

Berglund H, Lindstrom P, Savic I. Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2006) 103:8269–8274.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

Blanchard R. The classification and labeling of nonhomosexual gender dysphorias. Arch Sex Behav (1989) 18:315–334.

Canli T, Gabrieli JD. Imaging gender differences in sexual arousal. Nat Neurosci (2004) 7:325–326.

Chivers ML, Bailey JM. Sexual orientation of female–to–male transsexuals: a comparison of homosexual and nonhomosexual types. Arch Sex Behav (2000) 29:259–278.

Cohen H, Forget H. Auditory cerebral lateralization following cross–gender hormone therapy. Cortex (1995) 31:565–573.

Cohen–Kettenis PT, van Goozen SH, Doorn CD, Gooren LJ. Cognitive ability and cerebral lateralisation in transsexuals. Psychoneuroendocrinology (1998) 23:631–641.

Eiden LE, Hokfelt T, Brownstein MJ, Palkovits M. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide afferents to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the rat: an immunohistochemical and biochemical study. Neuroscience (1985) 15:999–1013.

Fels E, Bosch LR. Effect of prenatal administration of testosterone on ovarian function in rats. Am J Obstet Gynecol (1971) 111:964–969.

Frackowiak RSJ. Human brain function (2004) Amsterdam (London): Elsevier Academic.

Friston KJ, Holmes A, Poline JB, Price CJ, Frith CD. Detecting activations in PET and fMRI: levels of inference and power. Neuroimage (1996) 4:223–235.

Friston KJ, Holmes AP, Worsley KJ. How many subjects constitute a study? Neuroimage (1999) 10:1–5.

Gooren L. The biology of human psychosexual differentiation. Horm Behav (2006) 50:589–601.

Gottfried JA, Deichmann R, Winston JS, Dolan RJ. Functional heterogeneity in human olfactory cortex: an event–related functional magnetic resonance imaging study. J Neurosci (2002) 22:10819–10828.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

Grosser BI, Monti–Bloch L, Jennings–White C, Berliner DL. Behavioral and electrophysiological effects of androstadienone, a human pheromone. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2000) 25:289–299.

Haraldsen IR, Egeland T, Haug E, Finset A, Opjordsmoen S. Cross–sex hormone treatment does not change sex–sensitive cognitive performance in gender identity disorder patients. Psychiatry Res (2005) 137:161–174.

Hillert L, Musabasic V, Berglund H, Ciumas C, Savic I. Odor processing in multiple chemical sensitivity. Hum Brain Mapp (2007) 28:172–182.

Jacob S, Garcia S, Hayreh D, McClintock MK. Psychological effects of musky compounds: comparison of androstadienone with androstenol and muscone. Horm Behav (2002) 42:274–283.

Jacob S, Hayreh DJ, McClintock MK. Context–dependent effects of steroid chemosignals on human physiology and mood. Physiol Behav (2001) 74:15–27.
Jones–Gotman M, Zatorre RJ. Olfactory identification deficits in patients with focal cerebral excision. Neuropsychologia (1988) 26:387–400.

Karama S, Lecours AR, Leroux JM, Bourgouin P, Beaudoin G, Joubert S, Beauregard M. Areas of brain activation in males and females during viewing of erotic film excerpts. Hum Brain Mapp (2002) 16:1–13.

Kimura D. Sex, sexual orientation and sex hormones influence human cognitive function. Curr Opin Neurobiol (1996) 6:259–263.

Kinsey AC. Sexual behavior in the human female (1953) Philadelphia (PA): Saunders.

Kruijver FP, Zhou JN, Pool CW, Hofman MA, Gooren LJ, Swaab DF. Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

La Torre RA, Gossmann I, Piper WE. Cognitive style, hemispheric specialization, and tested abilities of transsexuals and nontranssexuals. Percept Mot Skills (1976) 43:719–722.

LeVay S. A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science (1991) 253:1034–1037.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

Lundstrom JN, Goncalves M, Esteves F, Olsson MJ. Psychological effects of subthreshold exposure to the putative human pheromone 4,16–androstadien–3–one. Horm Behav (2003) 44:395–401.

Lundstrom JN, Olsson MJ. Subthreshold amounts of social odorant affect mood, but not behavior, in heterosexual women when tested by a male, but not a female, experimenter. Biol Psychol (2005) 70:197–204.

Lundstrom JN, Olsson MJ, Schaal B, Hummel T. A putative social chemosignal elicits faster cortical responses than perceptually similar odorants. Neuroimage (2006) 30:1340–1346.

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Monday 21 July 2008

The pyrophysiology and sexuality of dragons

From Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology
Volume 133, Issues 1-2, 23 October 2002, Pages 3-10

The pyrophysiology and sexuality of dragons

2S. T. Georgy1, J. G. Widdicombe and (with the assistance of V. Young)

Department of Physiology, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE, UK

Accepted 1 April 2002.
Available online 11 October 2002.

To examine the means whereby dragons produce fire and steam, we have studied a related species, the desert-lizard Lacerta pyrophorus. Morphological studies showed that there were in the snout three distinctive features: (1) a dorsal swelling in the pharynx, the Organ of Feuerwerk, consisting of brown adipose tissue with an extensive sympathetic innervation; (2) greatly enlarged lachrymonasal ducts, the Ducts of Kwentsch; and (3) asbestos deposits in the nasal skin, the Bestos Bodies. Physiological studies show that the Organ of Feuerwerk can, when the animal is excited, produce extremely high temperatures. We discuss how these mechanisms can produce steam and fire, and how the snout is protected. We also discuss and offer a solution to the problem of how, since dragons are invariably male, the species can be propagated.

Full Paper.

Curtsy to the Australian Sceptics Mailing list

Sunday 20 July 2008

Thirty Nine Years Ago

They so nearly failed. The 1201 alarm and 1202 alarm were indications of the landing computer overloading and malfunctioning. The "30 seconds" call indicates that that is how long they had before either landing or aborting.

The story of the Apollo Mission Computer makes fascinating reading. :
The LM and CM had identical computers on board, each the size of a shoe box. Each contained a total storage capacity of 36K of 14-bit words. This means total storage was roughly equal to the 64K bytes of a Commodore-64 computer. The LM's computer had a "memory cycle time" of 11.7 micro-seconds. However, virtually all cpu operations required at least 2 clock cycles making the effective memory cycle time 23.4 micro-seconds, i.e., it effectively ran at only about 43 kHz (0.043 MHz)! Note that the original IBM PC-XT ran at 4.77 MHz...
Allan, his friend Don Eyles, and about 300 others wrote their programs in the first high-order computer language, called MAC (MIT Algebraic Compiler), then compiled it BY HAND into assembly language, which they typed onto punched cards (there were no terminals or text editors).
The LUMINARY program consisted of many subprograms which were priority driven, i.e., they took turns executing according to their priority. Each program would move data in and out of the very small eraseable area of memory (2K in size). The biggest debugging challenge was to keep programs from erasing, or "overlaying", another program's data at inappropriate times. If too many tasks were demanding the computer's time, it would simply delay or THROW AWAY what it had been working on, issue an alarm, and start working on the new item.

Such frightening alarms occurred during the Apollo 11 landing (first moon landing). If you listen to recordings of the landing, you will hear the Capcom say "1201 alarm" and "1202 alarm." The astronauts' checklist had erroneously called for the astronauts to turn on the rendezvous radar before initiation of the descent. Subsequently, the program that managed the radar began demanding too much of the computer's spare margin of time. The power supply for the radar was not properly synchronized with the LM's main power supply. Consequently, as the two power supplies went in and out of synchronization, the rendezvous radar generated many spurious input signals to the LM's computer. In responding to these signals, the computer delayed some of its guidance calculations and left others unfinished.
LUMINARY was never completely bug free. Allan told me about a fascinating series of events that could have easily prevented the first moon landing and might have caused disaster. Allan was the principal designer of the LM's descent guidance program which steered the LM by gimballing and throttling the descent engine. Whenever the computer commanded the engine to increase or decrease thrust, the engine (and LM) reacted after a short time lag.
Allan's descent program needed a routine to accurately estimate the new thrust level, which could be accomplished by reading the "delta-V" (change in velocity) measured by the LM's accelerometers. He wrote a short routine that took into consideration, i.e., compensated for, the engine's lag time, which TRW's "interface control document", full of useful information for the programmers, said was 0.3 seconds. It took 0.3 seconds for the LM's descent engine to achieve whatever thrust level the computer might request.
The final version of the thrust routine, which was put into the LM, was written by Allan's friend Don Eyles. Eyles was sufficiently enthusiastic about the programming challenge that he found a way of writing it which required compensating for only 0.2 of the 0.3 seconds.
A guy at Johnson Space Center called Allan and informed him that the LM's engine was not a 0.3-second-lag engine afterall. It had been improved some time before Apollo 11's launch such as to lower the lag time to only 0.075 seconds. Correction of this item in the interface control document had simply been overlooked. Once this discrepancy was discovered, the IBM 360 simulator was reprogrammed to properly simulate the actual, faster engine. Running on the simulator, Don Eyle's thrust program, with the 0.2-second compensation, exhibited the surging that had occured on the real flights. But here's the most interesting fact: the simulator also showed that had Allan Klumpp chose to "correct" Don Eyles' program by compensating for the full 0.3 seconds that was printed in the document, the LM would have been unstable and Apollo 11 would never have been able to land. By pure luck, Don Eyles was creative enough to write the thrust routine in a way that kept the LM just inside the stability envelope and allowed successful landings!
Writing spacecraft avionics software is hard, and it's so very easy to get things wrong in minor ways, that have catastrophic consequences. Omitting updates to Interface Control Documents are one of the thousand and one ways where you can commit canine intercourse.

And on a personal note... I, along with the rest of class 6A at Newport Primary School watched that One Small Step in glorious black-and-white. Australia didn't have colour television then. It had been about 12 months since I picked the name "Zoe", and vowed that in 2001, I'd be working on a space project. I thought the first of those events was inevitable, but the last would be tricky. In a way I was right, just not quite in the way I thought. I managed both though. It took about as much luck, as well as the expected heroic efforts, to achieve as the lunar landing. Mostly luck, and I know it.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Buy Jupiter

39 years ago today, 3 men rode an enormous great stack of rocketry, on their way to the moon.

Each time a stage burnt out, it was like being in car that had just been rear-ended. The astronauts themselves described it as like "being in a train wreck".

Now this method, while simple in concept, using one honking great rocket to get all the bits, the lunar lander, the command module (or "people locker"), and the service module, well, it's not the best way of doing things. Really.

You see, there's two different requirements: one is a "failure is not an option" mission, to get the crew into orbit safely, regardless of cost. That requires a relatively small payload, a simpler, easier to build, and so safer booster.

The other requires huge quantities of raw power, but if it has a 95% reliability, not a 99.99% one, that's acceptable. Losing $100 million of hardware 1 time in 20 is not comparable with losing a crew. You can always replace spacecraft, and if you've got working space program, you'll be building backup hardware anyway, for future missions.

Making a booster "crew-rated" probably causes the costs to go up by a factor of 10. Perhaps more. One way you can get around some - not all - of the cost is to assemble a new booster from existing man-rated components. This was the idea behind the ARES-1 booster, below right. The concept was to use a Shuttle expendable strap-on solid fuel booster as the base, then add the new spacecraft, borrowing heavily from Apollo technology, on top. Except they had to make a few minor changes, and then a few more, and soon the cost savings largely evaporated. You ended up with something not as efficient as a new, purpose-built booster, yet costing almost as much, and with all sorts of new problems with vibration and other issues.

The 117-page report, posted Wednesday at, shows an $80 million cost overrun this year for just one motor and a dozen different technical problems that the space agency put in the top risk zone, meaning the problems are considered severe. The report put the program's financial performance in that category.

Technical problems included software that may not be developed on time, the heat shield, a dangerous level of shaking during launch, and a hard-to-open hatch door. The report also said NASA's plans would shortchange astronauts' daily water needs, giving them only two liters a day when medical experts say they need at least 2.5 liters.

The report showed technical problems in operations for Orion nearly doubling from May to July, with 24 items now on the most worrisome list.

Outside experts say it's too early to be too worried, but they have some concerns.

"It doesn't surprise me that there are these kinds of pains given the early stage (of development) and the long time since we did anything like this," said John Logsdon, director of space policy at George Washington University. "NASA is trying to do this with inadequate and uncertain funding."

The problem is mostly the political system for not coming up with budgets that are passed and signed by the president so that NASA can go ahead with its financial plans, said W. Henry Lambright, a technology and public policy professor at Syracuse University. The budget for next year still has not been passed.
Given that a Democrat President may just effectively cancel the whole thing, there's little enthusiasm, and technical problems that could be cured given enough effort may not be.

The political problems are endemic. But there may be a solution to the technical issues. Again from :
By day, the engineers work on NASA's new Ares moon rockets. By night, some go undercover to work on a competing design. These dissenting scientists and their backers insist they have created an alternative rocket that would be safer, cheaper and easier to build than the two Ares spacecraft that will replace the space shuttle.

They call their project Jupiter, and like Ares, it's a brainchild of workers at the Marshall Space Flight Center and other NASA facilities. The engineers involved are doing the work on their own time and mostly anonymously, with the help of retirees and other space enthusiasts.

A key Ares project manager dismisses their design as little more than a sketch on a napkin that won't work.
He's half right: it's only on paper. But to say it won't work at this stage is nonsense. It may not, but we can't know that, and anyone spouting such drivel is doing so for political, not technical reasons. The concept is shown below on the left. Compare with the official ARES system (grey background) next to it. ARES V, the heavy lift booster, is now even bigger and heavier than the Saturn V used to get to the Moon nearly 40 years ago. And it's growing bigger an heavier every month. So big, it's outgrown the Saturn V sized infrastructure, the transport crawler and vehicle assembly building, that have been waiting so long for a return to the moon.

As you can see from the diagram below (click to enlarge), the re-use of existing components on the Jupiter is extensive, more extensive than on the ARES system.

The Jupiter booster is part of the Direct 2.0 program, as the ARES is part of the Constellation program. For those interested in the justification and safety calculations, the lastest report (PDF) makes interesting, and plausible, reading.

Reading the tea-leaves... the ARES program will continue for a while, growing more costly and with more delays, until it gets less and less high a priority in the budget, and finally fizzles out when the ARES V becomes so elephantine it needs mending with a new concept. Later, around 2020, after the US has had no manned space program for 10 years (apart from uncrewed ARES I shots to work out the bugs in the spacecraft, not the booster), there will be a re-start based on the Jupiter booster concept, and the Constellation spacecraft. The USA will eventually return to the moon at about the time the Chinese are starting to set up a permanent presence there, maybe around 2030.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Thoughts on Obama

IowaHawk says it all:

A Message to American Voters
By Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)

My Fellow Americans:

You may have read recent news reports that suggest I have modified my position regarding the redeployment of American military personnel in Iraq. Unfortunately, these reports have been the source of much confusion and anxiety among the millions of voters who have supported my campaign, and I would like to take this opportunity to address their concerns.

Let me be crystal clear: if elected president, my first act will be to call for the immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq....
Or will I? As is obvious to all but the most deluded HuffPo retard, the surge in Iraq has produced dramatic improvements in security throughout Iraq, and the roots of a stable pro-American democracy....
See what I mean? That previous paragraph should be a signal to all of you in the progressive community just how committed I am to an immediate troop withdrawal. If that's the kind of shameless bellicose jingoism it takes to temporarily fool the neocons and extra-chromosome Jebus tards, I will do it....
And that there is exactly the kind of transparent commie crap that left wing lunatics eat up....
In conclusion, this should make it clear to the broad moderate middle mainstream of independent American voters that I am willing to reach out to both sides of the contentious war debate, and forge a new national consensus based on unity. Together, we can build a new era of hope, and bring an end to politics of cynicism.

Obama's website on Iraq, before this weekend:


Next Week:


Source : Gateway Pundit.

Now it's a mark of a reasonable person to change their mind when confronted with new facts, rather than ignore new evidence that conflicts with past beliefs. But it's the mark of a canny politician to be "all things to all men", tailoring what is said to become palatable to the audience at hand. Obama is a canny politician. I hope he's reasonable too. But if I shook his hand, I'd count my fingers afterwards.

Note that being a corrupt, unprincipled and utterly political animal is, contrary to popular belief, not a disqualification from performing a high office successfully. If it was, it's not just the USA that would have been in deep trouble before now. No, most of the damage has been done by those so convinced of their own righteousness that they become prisoners of dogma, ignoring facts and remaining uncompromising idealists. Give me a pragmatic scoundrel any day - as long as he doesn't have his fingers in the cookie jar too blatantly. Chicago politicians of all stripes tend to.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

SubHuman Rights and the Judgement of History

From the New York Times :
If you caught your son burning ants with a magnifying glass, would it bother you less than if you found him torturing a mouse with a soldering iron? How about a snake? How about his sister?
Such apparently unrelated questions arise in the aftermath of the vote of the environment committee of the Spanish Parliament last month to grant limited rights to our closest biological relatives, the great apes — chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

The committee would bind Spain to the principles of the Great Ape Project, which points to apes’ human qualities, including the ability to feel fear and happiness, create tools, use languages, remember the past and plan the future. The project’s directors, Peter Singer, the Princeton ethicist, and Paola Cavalieri, an Italian philosopher, regard apes as part of a “community of equals” with humans.

If the bill passes — the news agency Reuters predicts it will — it would become illegal in Spain to kill apes except in self-defense. Torture, including in medical experiments, and arbitrary imprisonment, including for circuses or films, would be forbidden.

The 300 apes in Spanish zoos would not be freed, but better conditions would be mandated.

What’s intriguing about the committee’s action is that it juxtaposes two sliding scales that are normally not allowed to slide against each other: how much kinship humans feel for which animals, and just which “human rights” each human deserves.

We like to think of these as absolutes: that there are distinct lines between humans and animals, and that certain “human” rights are unalienable. But we’re kidding ourselves.

In an interview, Mr. Singer described just such calculations behind the Great Ape Project: he left out lesser apes like gibbons because scientific evidence of human qualities is weaker, and he demanded only rights that he felt all humans were usually offered, such as freedom from torture — rather than, say, rights to education or medical care.
I've blogged about this before, at Kissin' Cousins and SubHuman Rights, and The Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Since I wrote the post on Ethical Treatment of Animals, quoting extensively from my Master's thesis on Ethics and Computing, my thoughts on the subject have, if anything, become more concrete. I stand by what I said then, and do so with even more conviction now.

It's not so much that the Great Apes are our kin. I would feel the same way for any entity which invented and used tools, formed their own schools to teach their children, kept pets, performed religious ceremonies, and created new words in a complex language to deal with new concepts. All of which various Great Apes have done, some demonstrably in the wild with no human intervention.

Because they are our close kin, it is easier to make a case for basic SubHuman rights for the Great Apes. Starting with the right not to be casually murdered. But the case is no easier than the case for Abolition of slavery round the turn of the 18th century, when natural philosophers disagreed on the extent to which Africans should be considered human - the equal of "people" anyway, meaning white Europeans. It wasn't just the difference in appearance, it was the difference in behaviour. Things we now know are the product of environment rather than inherent characteristics, but they didn't know that then.

SubHumans are by no means our equals in most respects. But they are in some important ones. From the viewpoint of intellect and emotional sentience, they are even more human than many damaged humans, the kind of entity any one of us could end up being as the result of illness, accident, or stroke. Rather than regurgitate all I said in the previous posts though, I'd ask you to just read them.

I admit that the sudden loss of many of my own human rights in various parts of the world in 2005 has hardened my attitude a bit, but only a bit.

With the archiving of this blog under the Australian National Library's PANDORA system, the odds have greatly increased that some future data archaeologist will one day have a look at these words of mine. They may not, of course, for the growth of information in the coming centuries will exceed my limited imagination. The only thing going for me is that I'm a relatively early, primitive, and therefore rare source compared to even the late 21st century explosion of information, let alone the supernova of the 22nd.

I wonder how they'll see me? I read some of the Ancient Greek philosophers of over 2000 years ago, at least in translation, and although there are certain jarring differences regarding Gods, Olympus etc, I can get inside their heads and identify with them. The same goes for writers of later times, from the 6th century to the 16th, and beyond. Some of their conjectures about the future seem enormously perceptive; others seem quaint. And some seem both, like the illustration on the right. Mr. A. Merger Hogg is taking a few days' much-needed rest at his country home dated 1903. Anyone who's taken a laptop and mobile phone on vacation with them can identify with it. It's from Paleo-Future by the way, a blog about predictions from the past.

I'm 50 years old, which may not seem like much, but in my day an age, few live to 100. People die, genuinely, no resuscitation possible, from the most trivial of causes, such as heart attack, bacterial infection, or cancer. It's as different a world from that of just a century or two hence as the 1300s are from here, where infant mortality greatly exceeded 50%, and people were old at 30.

I console myself with the fact that the hypothetical future reader (Hi, Future Reader!!) will no doubt seem as backwards and technologically primitive to someone a hundred years up the timeline as I am to them. Hi to both of you, anyway, I might even be a distant ancestor. Whether I am or not, we are all part of the human, and sometimes, subhuman family.

What I fear is that history will judge me harshly. For I don't have the excuse that I can't see that subhumans shouldn't be accorded basic rights. Yet I do nothing of any consequence to ameliorate the situation, merely write about it. I'm like those from the 18th century who I judge harshly, those whose intellect and conscience told them that slavery was wrong, yet didn't speak up loudly enough to have it abolished.

None of us get a User Manual on life. And to my judges, I plead guilty, and throw myself on the mercy of the court. With one observation - that in centuries to come, some of their moral views will be seen as equally flawed. Meanwhile, in my own niche in spacetime, I'll renew my efforts to see the Great Ape Declaration adopted. No matter where in time or space, we do what we can.

Even if my words get consigned to History's grand bit-bucket, lost in the mists of time, unread, I'll do this. Not so others will have a good opinion of me, but because I want to have a good opinion of myself. Sometimes conscience doesn't make cowards of us all, but if not heroines, at least people who get off their duffs and do something.

Monday 14 July 2008

Today's Battles

First, over at TruthDig, "Pregnant Man Puts the Trans in Gender" where reasonable people can disagree without getting their underwear into topologically complex configurations. I may not have persuaded anyone, but they should be, if not wiser, at least better informed.

Over at Hoax Forum, a sceptical look at Terry Wright's situation, where he's feminising for no apparent reason. There's the expected jokes about it at the start, but when confronted with credible evidence that it does happen sometimes, they're not just reasonable, but compassionate. I find that true of many sceptical people. It's only those committed to The One True Way, that won't be swayed by evidence, that tend to be heartless. Even there there are exceptions, of course. I wish there were more though.

In contrast, over at the Boston Herald, "Undercover ‘john’ takes on niggers trannies, pimps", detailing the heroic (s)exploits of a fine, upstanding Vice Cop cleaning up the seamier side of Boston.

Which leads to such fine, upstanding comments as
Transsexuals... the scourge of society's moral compass. Thank you Det. Fong for ridding us of these disgusting circus freaks.

#321771 - Jul 7, 2008 5:53 PM EDT
Needless to say, I have certain issues with that. It does remind me of the old joke though, one I've seen with several variations.
In 1936 an elderly Jew was walking down a lonely street in Berlin. Suddenly he was accosted by three Nazi Stormtoopers. One demanded angrily: "Isn't it true, old man, that the Jews are the cause of all the problems we now have in Germany?"

The old man replied, "Aber Natuerlich, Mein Herr. Of course they are. The Jews.... and the circus bicycle riders."

The SA-mann looked puzzled and asked "Why the circus bicycle riders?"

The old man shrugged and replied: "Why the Jews?"
The trouble is, some people see it as their duty to rid the world of "disgusting circus freaks", often by shooting them. Words such as these, while hurtful, are not harmful: but if allowed to remain unchallenged, if "journalism" such as this remains acceptable without demur, then a climate is created which positively encourages some fine upstanding citizens to give vent to their bottled-up hatred, secure in the knowledge of social approval of what would otherwise be seen as a sociopathic act. A sociopathic act with a 38 special.

And meanwhile over at Montgomery County, Maryland, there are those who are so anxious to exclude "disgusting circus freaks" from being allowed to enter theatres, or even use drinking fountains, that they see it their duty to sign false statements.

In the recent petition there, every page must be signed by the petitioner to say they have personally witnessed each signature on the page. Each entry must have the voter's full name, then a signature underneath, and each page must have a signature of the petitioner attesting to its validity. Well, as you can see from the petition sheet, not only are some signatures missing entirely, but several names are in the same handwriting. This is not a one-off, there are dozens of fraudulent pages like this.

Now you'd think this would be caught during checking. But as you can see from the next image, even blank lines have been certified as "OK", valid names an signatures, by those given the responsibility for verifying the petition is above board.

The election officials claim that their only responsibility is to check the names and addresses match up with actual residents of the county, not to be "handwriting experts". But it doesn't take a "handwriting expert" to see the massive scale of the fraud by "fine upstanding citizens" here. And OKing a blank line goes well beyond the pale.

This is the kind of thing we have to fight against. Hatred. Bigotry. Mendacity. Ignorance. They go together, don't they?

Sunday 13 July 2008

Kindergarten Game

One of the better simulations of any kind - Kindergarten.

And for the guys - just pretend you're Arnie Schwarznegger in "Kindergarten Cop", Ok?

Saturday 12 July 2008

It's Easier to make a Hole than a Pole

That's the infamous saying of one surgeon, when asked why so many Intersexed infants were surgically assigned as female shortly after birth.

Surgeons are not monsters, and if gender is completely malleable at birth, he has a point. It's far easier and more effective to construct approximately female genitalia from the ambiguous mess that sometimes results in some cases.

However... in some cases that means castrating a boy. Removing perfectly functional testes, simply because the third part of the triad of two testes and a penis is lacking. And worse, gender is most definitely not completely malleable, or significantly malleable at all. Some are BiGendered, but most aren't.

So how and when is gender determined? Good question. The symptoms of gender don't appear in the neurology until well past birth. But the tendencies, the pre-conditions that dictate (or at least steer) the later development come into play earlier.

Assuming that gender is set in neurology, and assuming also that it depends on hormonal environment in the womb (as indicated by other studies), we can make certain conclusions. For some Intersex conditions, those involving cell membranes and sensitivity to various hormones, any cross-gendering would happen ab initio, and likely affect the brain. For others, those involving abnormal glandular development, the timing of the cross-gendering would be too late to affect all neural development, only some. We would therefore expect two distinct groups - one with rather more likelihood of cross-gendered gender identity than the other, depending on the exact syndromes.

From Endocrine Today of July 10 2008, "Clinical news on diabetes and endocrine disorders":
Research has started to explain the correlation between specific DSDs and gender identity later in life. For example, more than 90% of patients with 46,XX congenital adrenal hyperplasia who are assigned female in infancy later identify as females. Other conditions are less concrete: among those patients with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, androgen biosynthetic defects and incomplete gonadal dysgenesis, approximately 25% go on to suffer dissatisfaction with their assigned gender.
As expected, and as regards the science, we can express some quiet satisfaction that we've added another piece to the puzzle.

As Human Beings though, we must be devastated. For it means that even in the best of cases, where we know the odds of neural cross-gendering are low, and so can feel comfortable taking a scalpel to an innocent babies' genitalia, we get it wrong one time in ten, and surgically create transsexuality. Worse, when the situation is more fraught, our results are not much better that tossing a coin: if not for some being BiGendered, able to function adequately (if not well) in either gender role, it would be hardly better than 50/50 - 55/45 or thereabouts.

I'll quote from the 2006 Summary of Consensus Statement on Intersex Disorders and Their Management, a result of the International Intersex Consensus Conference:
Psychosexual development is influenced by multiple factors including sex-chromosome genes, brain structure, social circumstance, family dynamics, and prenatal AE (ie Androgen Effect - ZEB). AE is apparently dose related (eg, childhood play behaviors in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia [CAH]) and associated with development of male gender identity (patients with 46,XY cloacal exstrophy who were gonadectomized neonatally). Androgen effect on genital development apparently occurs independently of effect on neural and behavioral development; genital appearance does not predict gender-role change. Outcome cannot be predicted by degree of prenatal AE for any DSD (Disorder of Sexual Development - Intersex - ZEB), with variability relating to both prenatal and postnatal AE differences (eg, 5{alpha}-reductase deficiency [5{alpha}-RD2]).

Emerging evidence suggests direct effects of sex-chromosome genes on brain and behavior, but behavioral roles for Y-chromosome genes have not been identified. A Y-chromosome and male-typical prenatal AE does not unequivocally entrain adult male gender identity.

Sex differences in brain structures have been identified across species. Human postmortem and neuroimaging studies have found that male brains are 8% to 10% larger than female brains. Sexual dimorphism in specific neural subcomponents persists after adjustment for brain size. The limbic system and hypothalamus are important because of roles in reproduction; specific nuclei show sexual dimorphism on postmortem studies (bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, suprachiasmatic nucleus, and the interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus ), although it is unknown when these differences emerge. Relationships between structural brain differences and psychosexual development are unclear.
Outcome data indicate that >90% of patients with 46,XX CAH and all patients with 46,XY CAIS who are assigned female sex in infancy identify as females. Two thirds of patients with 5{alpha}-RD2 who were initially assigned female sex who virilize at puberty, and all who were assigned male, live as males. Gender-role changes are reported for approximately half of the 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3-deficient patients who are raised as girls. The recommendations are to raise infants with 46,XY CAIS and 46,XX CAH as females, whereas for infants diagnosed with 5{alpha}-RD2 or 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency, a male assignment should be considered.
Which is in accordance with what I'd found, coming in from another direction, that of studying gender identity.
Sexual functioning, psychosocial adjustment, mental health, quality of life, and social participation are understudied. Attention has been toward dissatisfaction with assigned sex or gender self-reassignment. Dissatisfaction is found in ~25% of 46,XY patients with partial virilization regardless of assigned gender.
Exactly what would be expected if about a third of people are BiGendered.
Assignment should be made as quickly as thorough diagnostic evaluation permits. Influencing factors include diagnosis, genital appearance, therapeutic options, fertility potential, cultural practices and pressures, and parental views. Individual DSD outcome data regarding gender identity, quality of life, avoidance of unnecessary surgery, hormone replacement, and fertility preservation must be considered. Fertility-potential considerations include expected fertility in virilized females with a well-developed uterus and ovaries, unlikely fertility in undermasculinized males without assisted-reproduction techniques, and fertility in some patients with ovotesticular DSD. Appearance-altering surgery is not urgent. Somatosexual and psychosexual differentiation information and treatment options are needed. Balanced, technologically sound, Web-based information may be helpful.
It is important to realise that "assignment" emphatically does not mean surgical assignment, merely social assignment. Something that can be reversed, and which does not remove fertility or sensation in a quest for "normalisation".

Hopefully my posts can be classified in the main as "Balanced" and "technologically sound". That can be difficult when I've heard so very many horror stories of misguided, and in some cases, inhuman, surgery just to please parents and spare society the embarrassment of dealing with someone Intersexed.

Right now though, the standard treatment - treatment not in accordance with this consensus statement - can be described as follows:
  1. For Infants - surgery without their consent, and at the parents' and doctors' whim. Usually to female, as that's easier.
  2. As Adults - massive roadblocks or blanket prohibitions on surgery, with the patient being diagnosed as mentally ill if they don't conform to the gender they were arbitrarily assigned.
  3. For parents - little or no advice, and the power to dictate surgical alteration of their child to match their wishes for a boy or girl. Sometimes they are just told what will be done, and required to rubber-stamp it, with no knowledge or truly informed consent.
This is exactly the opposite of what should be. What we should do is:
  1. For Infants - only such surgery as is necessary for urinal functionality, to prevent pain, and to avoid cancer risks.
  2. For Adults, recognition that only they can state what gender they are, and support with advice on surgical and non-surgical options now they are in a position to give informed consent.
  3. For parents - guidance and advice on rearing, psychological support, and if need be, therapy so they don't reject or mutilate their child.
My son was born with a mild intersex condition, obviously male in genital appearance, but requiring surgery to gain urinary functionality and relieve pain. At the time, I was unaware of any of the issues, I just wanted my boy to grow up to be a normal man, rather more normal than his daddy. At age 7, he's a normal little boy, for which I thank all that is Holy. But... I now know that there was the possibility of another outcome. I should have been informed. I looked up everything I could about his particular condition, but not the issues in general. That I only did 4 years later, when my whole world changed.

I'm not about to blame parents who have to "wing it" without being given all the information they need to make a decision. I've been there myself. I can't blame the paediatric surgeons, who apart from a bad case of arrogance, are candidates for sainthood in my book. The paediatric urologist who operated on my son made the minimal possible reconstruction, allowing him to decide when older about further cosmesis, taking into account risks an benefits.

But the system has to be changed, and the doctors made aware of the terrible consequences of premature meddling. 1 ruined life in 10 is not an "acceptable outcome", when by waiting, we can remove the chance completely. 1 ruined life in 4 is not just unacceptable, but is criminal when done merely to cater to the parents' psychological hang-ups.

Further Reading: The IBIS (International Birth Defects Information System) Sex or Gender Assignment webpage.

Friday 11 July 2008

HREOC in Canberra - Date Confirmed

Thank you for your interest in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's project on sex and gender diversity.

I would like to advise you of a public meeting being held in Canberra.

Please forward details of the meetings to anyone who may be interested in attending.

If you have any questions, please contact me on 02 9284 9650.

Sex and gender diversity consultation - Canberra

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is looking at the human rights issues facing people who are transgender, transsexual or intersex.
For more information on HREOC's project see

The Australian Human Rights Commissioner would like to meet with people from the sex and gender diverse community.

When - Thursday 24 July, 6pm - 8pm.

Where - Griffin Centre, 20 Genge Street, Canberra.

RSVP and Questions - Sarah Winter, Policy Officer, HREOC on 02 9284 9650 or

The meeting will be an opportunity to explain the project, for participants to share some personal stories and to discuss human rights issues and possible solutions.
The Human Rights Commissioner is particularly interested in hearing about the difficulties faced by people in changing official documents.

Some food will be provided.

Kind regards,


Sarah Winter : Policy Officer, Human Rights Unit :
Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission :
( +61 2 9284 9650 : *

Thursday 10 July 2008

Missing the Point

The Washington Post has an article on International Space Programs, including the Chinese one - but misses the point.
China has sent men into space twice in the past five years and plans another manned mission in October. More than any other country besides the United States, experts say, China has decided that space exploration, and its commercial and military purposes, are as important as the seas once were to the British empire and air power was to the United States.
"The Chinese have a carefully thought-out human spaceflight program that will take them up to parity with the United States and Russia," Griffin said. "They're investing to make China a strategic world power second to none -- not so much to become a grand military power, but because deals and advantage flow to world leaders."

Ah, not as such.

The military side is almost irrelevant. Once you have a minimal capability there, some anti-satellite system, the ability to put up both recon and comms satellites into Low Earth Orbit, and some early-warning and comsats into geostationary orbit, that's really all you need. Forget space battleships, they're too vulnerable to neutron bombs going off within a thousand kilometres. I might post about that later.

Leadership? That and a few dollars will get you a cup of coffee.

No, the real reason is the long-term, and I mean over a century to a millenium, commercial aspects.

It's not a race. It's not about national prestige, though that does go a ways to soothing the national humiliations China endured in the 19th century. It's not about the great quest for knowledge, though that will accrue as part of the process.

It's about resources. The same reason Chinese commercial and diplomatic interests are so entrenched in Africa these days, and why at the UN they say "Bu-" (meaning the negative) so often when it comes to taking any action that might jeopardise their cosy agreements with kleptocrats and tyrants.

China needs resources, and in the 21st century, they will need more and more. But it's the 22nd and 23rd that they're really looking at. So while others are building experimental scientific missions, spectacular one-offs, they're building infrastructure, at a slow, measured pace, and taking advantage of new technology as it comes along.

From DailyGalaxy :
Earlier this year, shortly after Russia claimed a vast portion of the Arctic sea floor, accelerating an international race for the natural resources as global warming opens polar access, China has announced plans to map "every inch" of the surface of the Moon and exploit the vast quantities of Helium-3 thought to lie buried in lunar rocks as part of its ambitious space-exploration program.

Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, was quoted on government-sanctioned news site describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon for future mining of Helium 3: "There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons."

"Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments," Ziyuan added. "If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year."
The article is titled "Is Helium 3 Exploitation China's Hidden Lunar Agenda?". There's nothing hidden about it, they're quite open. So why does the WaPo and everyone else not notice?

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Today's Battles

I've just gotten back from a 2-day trip to Melbourne, in connection with my PhD. The first day was a "show and tell", where those who control the money at the AutoCRC get a look at what the PhD candidates they're so generously funding are doing. Basically, they've been acting on faith that we know what we're doing. This was our opportunity to show them that their faith was justified.

The second day was a workshop on "assertiveness", as the Ultimate Nerds, grad students, tend to be rather self-effacing - until they discuss their work.

The teacher decided that I was already assertive enough... funny that. I think part of it is hormonal. Right now I'm taking vast quantities of hormones to stop re-masculinisation, and the quiet, shy Zoe I became at the start of transition is long gone. Whatever the hormone is that's trying to masculinise me - and it isn't testosterone, my levels there are in a low female range - it appears to affect neurology too, to some degree.

And part of it is Darwinian. I'm assertive because in my struggles with the APO, I had to be. Not aggressive, quite conciliatory and trying to see their viewpoint, trying to get a "win win" and save the embarrassment. But in the end, their aggression was met with firm and implacable resistance. I couldn't be passive because I had nothing to lose.

Anyway, back from the flight, time to look at the 400+ e-mails in my in-box. That's not including spam, which is filtered out adequately, maybe a dozen, not more.

And some of the posts alerted me that Someone Is Wrong On The Internet again. So today's battles are over at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Right Side News.

Anyone who sees this mix as contradictory really hasn't grokked the surreal nature of the situation.

Monday 7 July 2008

One Meeting, Hold the Onions

The People at SAGE, Sex and Gender Education (Australia).

And while we're on the subject of education, here's the latest news:
Thank you for your interest in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's project on sex and gender diversity.

You may recall I emailed you to advise you about the public meetings held by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner in Melbourne and Brisbane in June. Thank you to everyone who participated.

I now would like to advise you of a public meeting being held in Sydney. A meeting is also being held in Canberra on either the 23 or 24 July 2008. I will provide more details on the Canberra meeting shortly.

We will not be holding meetings in other states or territories due to resource constraints. However, we are planning an online blog which we hope will be able to reach many people across Australia. We think it will be possible to continue many important discussions about the sex and gender diversity project online. I will have more information to release about this shortly.

Please forward details of the meetings to anyone who may be interested in attending.

If you have any questions, please contact me on 02 9284 9650.

Sex and gender diversity consultation - Sydney

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is looking at the human rights issues facing people who are transgender, transsexual or intersex.
For more information on HREOC's project see

The Australian Human Rights Commissioner would like to meet with people from the sex and gender diverse community.

When - Monday 21 July, 6pm - 8pm.

Where - Human Rights Commission at level 8, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.

RSVP and Questions - Sarah Winter, Policy Officer, HREOC on 02 9284 9650 or

The meeting will be an opportunity to explain the project, for participants to share some personal stories and to discuss human rights issues and possible solutions.
The Human Rights Commissioner is particularly interested in hearing about the difficulties faced by people in changing official documents.

Some food will be provided.

Kind regards,


Sarah Winter : Policy Officer, Human Rights Unit :
Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission :
( +61 2 9284 9650 : *
I intend being there - but then, I'm not Stealth. I know at least one person who won't be attending, merely making a written submission, as the social consequences of disclosure can be dire. I honestly can't blame them.

I do urge those who are either out, or semi-stealth like me, to attend and show the very human reality behind the dry statistics. To educate people who have shown open minds on the issue. That should make a change from the usual.

Sunday 6 July 2008

The Stupid... It Hurts....

Dark Dungeons.

And in other news, the American Psychiatric Association has announced the appointment of a member of the Vatican Council to its panel on Gender Identity Disorders.

VOTF means "Voice of the Faithful" by the way.

From the Catholic Herald:
No biological cause of transsexualism has been identified. Rather, the cause appears to stem from psychological development, and thereby transsexualism should be treated with psychotherapy. Interestingly, even after surgery, transsexuals need at least some psychotherapeutic support.

Finally, a transsexual will never be able to enter validly into the sacrament of Matrimony. A man who undergoes sexual reassignment will never really be a woman, or vice versa; rather, a man will be a man (or a woman will be a woman), except with a mutilated body and profound psychological disordering. Moreover, a transsexual will never be able to consummate the marriage in the fullest expression of love of husband and wife, and never will there be a real openness to life and the creation of children.

To destroy organs purposefully that are healthy and functioning, and to try to create imitation organs which will never have the genuineness and functioning of authentic organs is gross and lacks charity. Such surgery which purposefully destroys the bodily integrity of the person must be condemned.

Nevertheless, individuals suffering from gender dysphoria syndrome must be treated with compassion. They need spiritual counseling which will help them realize the great love of God who loves them as individuals who have been created in His image and likeness. They need proper psychotherapy which will help them to face realistically their human situation and the world, and the consequences of their actions on themselves and their relationships with family and friends. Such counseling will also direct them to spiritual, intellectual and social pursuits to realize their self-worth and divert their preoccupation with sexual identity.
Even though such treatment has a 0.0% success rate. What are mere facts against Faith? And now we have someone who has had such wonderful success, totally preventing any paedophilia from ever occurring in the priesthood, as an expert on "Gender Identity". Someone who hasn't published a single paper on the issue.

One hopes he will be confined to the subcommittee on sex offenders. No, perhaps not, in view of his spectacular lack of success in the area.

Will he be able to let his medical training and scientific objectivity over-ride official Vatican doctrine on the subject? One can be forgiven for entertaining doubts.

I feel in need of some psychotherapeutic support at the moment, because it seems to me that the Lunatics have taken over the asylum.

UPDATE - had it not been so late when I posted this, I would have cross-checked the reported facts - such as the allegation that he was a member of Opus Dei - with primary sources. And would have found this:
"As a non-Catholic, I was impressed with the deep, genuine concern about the issue, the willingness to be open and listen, and the proactive approach to doing the right thing," Kafka said. "I was very encouraged by this meeting."
I won't remove my post, but I will issue this correction. When I get things wrong, as I will sometimes, I shouldn't hide it. Otherwise how can others judge my credibility?