Sunday 31 January 2010

A Picture Gallery

I'll just publish these without comment.

46XY Plus AIS 2-3: Sex Identity Male

46XX Plus CAH : Sex Identity Male

The Author: Sex Identity Female

46XX Homo Neanderthalis (reconstruction from skeletal remains)

Friday 29 January 2010

We Choose NOT to go to the Moon

From the New York Times (while it's still viewable) :
President Obama will end NASA’s return mission to the moon and turn to private companies to launch astronauts into space when he unveils his budget request to Congress next week, an administration official said Thursday.

The shift would “put NASA on a more sustainable and ambitious path to the future,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“My biggest fear is that this amounts to a slow death of our nation’s human space flight program,” Representative Bill Posey, Republican of Florida, said in a statement.

Mr. Obama’s request, which will be announced on Monday, would add $6 billion over five years to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget compared with projections last year. With the increase, NASA would receive $100 billion over the 2011 through 2015 fiscal years.
Mr. Obama’s proposal would further dismantle what remains of the human spaceflight initiative started by the Bush administration in 2004. Last year, $3.5 billion in spending was cut from President George W. Bush’s NASA budget projection for 2011 through 2013, money that would have been used to develop the lander that was to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

The proposed budget increase would also be much less than the $3-billion-a-year increase that a blue-ribbon committee appointed by the Obama administration said was needed for NASA to successfully pursue a human spaceflight program beyond low-Earth orbit.

Previous Posts on the subject:

And an article I wrote about the future...
Want a Job in Space Development? Learn Mandarin in just three months with our new interactive technology!

It was some 550 years ago that the first great age of exploration ended, when the Chinese Ming Dynasty stopped all intercontinental trans-oceanic expeditions - expeditions that had explored much of the Pacific, and reached all the way to Africa. A nation that had built up seafaring technology far ahead of anything the world would see for hundreds of years abandoned it because it had "better things to do with the money".

The USA had a commanding technological lead in crewed space vehicles in 1975. But, by 2015, it had no capability at all. By announcing the cancellation of the "Space Exploration Initiative", the Obama administration merely recognised that, while the technology was there, the whole space program had become merely a way to ration Pork from the Pork-Barrel, with project after project being cancelled half-complete, as the money was re-allocated to different Congressional Districts in turn. The money that was saved added almost one per cent to the funding of the new Educational Initiatives and every bit helped.

This did not mean a great deal to the average American, although it was a blow to national pride. But, by then, U.S.-based private corporations were starting to institute commercial space flights for the ultra-rich at first, sub-orbital hops and, ten years later, launches to hotels in Low Earth Orbit and trans-polar flights from New York to Tokyo for those to whom time was money and an hour worth a half million. Additional traffic was generated by the increasing number of Chinese orbital construction facilities starting in 2025. These were built with components ferried up by un-crewed Heavy Lift rockets - which still had a distressing tendency to explode now and then -but the crews were taken up in comfort and safety, mainly by American commercial spacecraft.

It was only with the first commercial fusion plants coming on-line in 2050 that the importance of the 15-year-old Chinese Lunar Colony became obvious. He3 was needed by the new technology as fuel and the only large-scale commercially practicable source was refined lunar soil. All that was needed to deliver the refined product was a simple-to-construct solar-powered magnetic catapult to launch the one-ton canisters back to Earth. The Moon became the new Saudi Arabia.

The Era of Space Exploration was over; the Era of Space Development had begun.

“In German - or English - I know how to Count Down…
And I’m learning Chinese,” said Wehrner von Braun…
That was published in December 2008. I didn't predict the Global Financial Crisis, but figured out that they'd find a way to allocate the money to more pressing needs anyway.

Maybe though there's cause for hope. With private enterprise being given the chance to see what it can do in getting us to LEO - as it is in Russia at the moment, remember - we could have a good baseline for a re-start.

But not in 2020.

From the BBC :
A major hurdle to producing fusion energy using lasers has been swept aside, results in a new report show.

The controlled fusion of atoms - creating conditions like those in our Sun - has long been touted as a possible revolutionary energy source.

However, there have been doubts about the use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the "plasma" they create could interrupt the fusion.

An article in Science showed the plasma is far less of a problem than expected.

The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.

Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser - by a factor of 20.

Construction of the National Ignition Facility began at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1997, and was formally completed in May 2009.
We might beat my 2050 prediction there though by a few years.

Thursday 28 January 2010

It's not Infectious

At least... I hope not. I don't think it is. Up until recently, I was 100% sure it wasn't. Now... 99.99999%

From Science Daily :
About 100 million years ago, the bacterium Wolbachia came up with a trick that has made it one of the most successful parasites in the animal kingdom: It evolved the ability to manipulate the sex lives of its hosts.
Exactly how the bacteria alters its hosts' reproductive systems to its advantage remains a matter for future study. But scientists have identified the bacteria's basic strategies. Depending on its host, the bacteria either:

* Kills infected males;
* Feminizes infected males so they develop as females or infertile pseudo-females;
* Induces parthenogenesis: the reproduction of infected females without males;
* Makes the sperm of infected males incompatible with the eggs of uninfected females or females infected with a different Wolbachia strain.
This particular bug only parasitises insects, mites, spiders and nematodes. That doesn't mean to say that it can't affect us though:
Although the ubiquitous bacteria cannot trick the human immune system, it does have an adverse impact on human health. For example, it infects many species of nematodes, including the filarial nematodes that infect more than 200 million people worldwide, causing debilitating inflammatory diseases, such as river blindness and elephantiasis.

In the last 10 years scientists have realized that it is actually the bacterium, not the nematode, that is responsible for most of the symptoms produced by these illnesses. Although Wolbachia can only survive about three days in the human body, the parasitic nematodes act as a continuing source of the bacteria that cause most of the damage. This surprising insight into the disease pathology has improved the treatment of these illnesses: They are now treated with an antibiotic that kills the bacteria and is less toxic than anti-nematode medications.
I'm not concerned about this particular bug. But what one bug can do to invertebrates, it may not be completely impossible for another bug to do to quite different species.

It would be an astounding coincidence though if such a hypothetical beastie - one whose existence may well be impossible - just happened to infect someone who was transsexual. So one wasn't involved. Any such change would be the result of just a particularly rare intersex condition. Something likely genetic. Probably. I think.

From Incidence of a new sex-ratio-distorting endosymbiotic bacterium among arthropods. Weeks AR, Velten R, Stouthamer R. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Sep 7;270(1526):1857-65.
Many intracellular micro-organisms are now known to cause reproductive abnormalities and other phenomena in their hosts. The endosymbiont Wolbachia is the best known of these reproductive manipulators owing to its extremely high incidence among arthropods and the diverse host effects it has been implicated as causing. However, recent evidence suggests that another intracellular bacterium, a Cytophaga-like organism (CLO), may also induce several reproductive effects in its hosts. Here, we present the first survey of arthropod hosts for infection by the CLO...
No, it's not the only one. *SIGH*

Wednesday 27 January 2010

"Right" Said Fred

The Lego version.

The original version from my childhood is here. I was four at the time, in 1962.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Some of my PhD work

Though actually, both these pretty graphics were produced by my co-author, not me.

That one's the peptide carnosine, a substance that's used in the biochemical process of meat digestion (amongst other things). It comes in two main forms, imaginatively named A and B, depending on whether a particular bond is rotated 180 degrees or not. We're working on determining the shape of the thing. You see, 8 of those bonds can all rotate to one of 3 different positions - 0, 120 or 240 degrees. That's 6500 odd shapes. If it takes a supercomputer 80 or so CPU hours just to find the energy of one of those shapes... you can see how it would be good not to have to find them all.

That illustrates how tuned Genetic Algorithms with various population sizes and mutation rates do. You can see that there's a roughly triangular area near the bottom, with populations 40 or less, and mutation rates of 20% to 45% (200/1000 to 450/1000) where the number of calculations needed to find the minimum energy (ie preferred shape of the molecule) in the gaseous state is minimised.

That is, the bluey-purplish bits.

Those are the results from using another Genetic Algorithm to find the best population size/mutation rate combinations when working on carnosine A.

The hollow squares have really good performance: trouble is, all the others found the right answer 100% of the time, and these three miscreants didn't, not within the maximum number of generations allotted, anyway.

We then tried the best 5 of these parameter pairs on carnosine B, and got very similar results.

In practical terms, it means that by using the recommended parameters, computational chemists working in this area will definitely be able to find what they're looking for in a month instead of half a year. And have a better than 50/50 chance of getting the right answer within a week.

In even more practical terms, by finding out shapes and the resultant electromagnetic fields from these molecules, we have some more of the necessary tools needed to find out how enzymes and drugs work. Eventually, we should be able to determine what shaped molecule we need to cause a particular effect in biochemistry, and then work out what the composition of that molecule has to be.

I'm over-simplifying all over the place, and I'll have real chemists coming after me with axes. But you get the general idea.

p.s. Did I mention that this is Fun? I love being Zoe Brain, Girl Scientist! And who knows, maybe Dr Brain by 2012.

Monday 25 January 2010

Thought for Today

Nie Wieder.

Click to enlarge.

Friday 22 January 2010

Today's Battles : Into the Belly of the Beast

From the Michigan Messenger:
State Rep. Paul Scott, (R-Grand Blanc), announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State just five days ago, but he’s already caused a shock wave.

Scott, who just completed the first year of his first two-year term in the state House, is rankling feathers with a promise he made in his Jan. 15 announcement letter, which listed four top policy priorities, including:

I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance

PaulScott In an interview with Michigan Messenger, Scott said the issue was about “values.”

“It’s a social values issue. If you are born a male, you should be known as a male. Same as with a female, she should be known as a female,” he said.

When asked to explain how such a mandate from the Secretary of State would benefit Michigan, he said it was about “preventing people who are males genetically from dressing as a woman and going into female bathrooms.”

While Scott is aware that federal courts have ruled that gender dysphoria, the medical diagnosis for transgender persons, was a disability, he said he did not think he would run afoul of discrimination laws. For the 27-year-old state representative, the issue is about biological gender.

He said his mandate would be in place even for those who had completely undergone sex reassignment surgeries.

“That’s who you are. You can have cosmetic surgery or reassignment surgery but you are still that gender,” he said.

So I ventured over to Rep Scott's blog. My comment is still to get through moderation, and it may not. So here it is, on the record. Nothing new, readers of this blog will have seen it all before.
Dear Rep Scott – I’ve been on the right since way back. I applaud most of your policies. But in one, you’ve gone badly astray, and your political enemies will have you for breakfast over it.

Bigotry is arrogance, ignorance, and malice.

You confess to being malicious “as a matter of principle”. That’s not always a bad thing – I bear considerable malice to those who beat children to death, as a matter of principle.

That you’re arrogant is obvious by the fact that you’re ignoring all the actual biologists and medics whose views contradict your own. You know better, obviously. Well, again, sometimes people do – but they better be prepared to prove it. Arrogance, while unpleasant, is excusable if you happen to be factually correct. I’ve been guilty of it myself sometimes.

Now onto the ignorance. Everyone knows that XY is male, XX is female, right? You get taught that in grade school. One problem: while that’s usually true, not always. The concept of “genetically male” is biological nonsense.

“A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis.” – J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9.

Look that up. It’s on the web.

While you’re at it, look at how many men labelled “transgendered” were born with the usual 46,XY chromosomes of men, but were surgically altered to look female shortly after birth, castrated, with artificial vaginas fashioned, because their genitalia was “ambiguous”, and as one surgeon famously put it, “it’s easier making a hole than a pole”.

The surgeons guess – and get it wrong, by their own admission, one time in 3. These men and women who revolt against this wrongness, and try to get it corrected as adults, are now to fall foul of what your opponents will call “this arrogant, malicious bigot’s ignorance”. Worse… they won’t be lying.

Such cases are the exception rather than the norm. But they exist. That’s why we have procedures, rarely invoked, that deal with them. People in this position already have a hard enough row to hoe. Now your opponents will be able to say “some bigot is trying to make their lot even harder – just because he can.” Just because of your pardonable lack of knowledge, but less pardonable arrogance in not bothering to have that lack corrected.

What about those people – as in this story by CNN – who are born looking female, but masculinise later? There’s thousands like them in the USA. It’s rare, but not that rare.

What’s next – requirements for a genetic test before one gets a drivers licence? You see, fully 1 in 60 people are Intersexed in some way. At least 1 in 500 have genes that don’t match their appearance.

You could well be one of them. You could have De La Chapelle Male syndrome, for example, and be “genetically female” with 46,XX chromosomes. Most don’t know, you see.

Finally, let’s look at the group you’re really targeting. Transsexual women.

Pardon me if I quote a few more medical articles. Just the titles. They’re all available on the web.

Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids
by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus.
Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041

A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality
by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity
by Garcia-Falgueras et al Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3132-46.

Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Hare at al in Biol.Psych. Vol65, Issue 1, Pp 93-96

“Intersex” means “having an anatomy neither wholly male nor wholly female”. And Transsexuals are Intersexed. Male brains in female bodies, or the reverse. Chromosomes may be 46,XX, 46,XY, or even 47,XXY. One in 500 people are 47,XXY, though only a few percent of those are Transsexual.

It’s as much a congenital condition as being born with a cleft palate. And as much of a choice as being born African-American.

I urge you to get a staffer to check what I say. All the data I gave is on the web. Please have a look at the presentations of seminar S10 at the recent American Psychiatric Association (annual meeting):

S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism
1. Brain Gender Identity Prof. Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Prof Milton Diamond, Ph.D.

This data doesn’t come from some “Gender Studies” or “Feminist” or “Leftist” group with a political agenda, but from fMRI scans and autopsies of neuro-anatomy.
Yes, another cut'n'paste job. Yes, saying the same old same old. Nothing new. A Tedious repetition of facts that have appeared on this blog many times before.

But that's only because the prejudice, the hysteria, the bigotry, the arrogance and ignorance and malice are nothing new. Tediously repetitive. The same old same old.

It never seems to end. Here is one guy who thinks it's vitally important that
transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance
A priority, in fact.

Just on the off-chance that he's not a demagogue who's picked demonisation of a convenient scapegoat as a road to political power... just in case he believes what he says... I wrote to him as I did. Will it be published? Doubtful, but hope spring eternal in the human breast. Will he read it? Perhaps. One can only hope. Will his views, and his policy change? Breath-holding is contra-indicated. I'm giving him a chance, that's all.

Now he can't say he wasn't informed.

On to another place - the Washington Examiner:
Loudoun County supervisors blasted one of their colleagues Wednesday for sending out a constituent e-mail referring to "cross dressing freaks" in response to the board's recent decision not to discriminate in hiring based on sexual orientation.

The e-mail in question was sent by Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, R-Sterling, on Jan. 5, the day the Board of Supervisors updated language in its hiring policy.

In 2006, Tim Kaine, then the Virginia governor, signed an executive order protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The board's move updated the county's equal employment opportunity statement to conform to the state's policy.

That "means that if a man dressed as a woman wants a job, you have to treat 'it' as a normal person," Delgaudio's e-mail reads.

you have to treat 'it' as a normal person

That is the idea, yes. As I wrote:
Rep Delagudio is not saying anything that many Good, Church-Going Americans aren't thinking. That Intersexed and Transsexual people aren't really human.

Many Good, Church-Going Americans thought that way about Blacks too, not so long ago. Some, a tiny minority now thank goodness, still do.

Thursday 21 January 2010

The Flaw in Women

From a support site I'm on:

By the time the Lord made woman, he was into his sixth day of working overtime. An angel appeared and said, "Why are you spending so much time on this one?"

And the Lord answered, "Have you seen my spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic, have over 200 movable parts, all replaceable and able to run on diet coke and leftovers, have a lap that can hold four children at one time, have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart -and she will do everything with only two hands."

The angel was astounded at the requirements. "Only two hands!? No way! And that's just on the standard model? That 's too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish.

"But I won't," the Lord protested. "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can work 18 hour days."

The angel moved closer and touched the woman. "But you have made her so soft, Lord."

"She is soft," the Lord agreed, "but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish."

"Will she be able to think?", asked the angel.

The Lord replied, "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate."

The angel then noticed something, and reaching out, touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak in this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one."

"That's not a leak," the Lord corrected, " that's a tear!"

"What's the tear for?" the angel asked.

The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her love, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride."

The angel was impressed. "You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything! Woman is truly amazing."

And she is!

Women have strengths that amaze men.

They bear hardships and they carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy. They smile when they want to scream.

They sing when they want to cry.

They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in.

They stand up to injustice.

They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. They go without so their family can have.

They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.

They love unconditionally.

They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding.

Their hearts break when a friend dies.

They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.

They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning. They bring joy, hope and love. They have compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends.Women have vital things to say and everything to give.

However, if there is one flaw in women.....
It is that they forget their worth.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

A Legal one for the Reference Library

If I were to set up a centre for dealing with transsexuality and intersex conditions, I'd have 5 separate people. First, a GP who would do the initial intake and diagnosis and deal with ongoing care day to day. Secondly, a Psych who would not just do assessments, but act as a "professional, experienced Best Friend" to help the patient through crises. Third, an endocrinologist, who'd be the prime health care member of the team. Fourth, a reconstructive surgeon, to help discuss treatment options.

And finally... a lawyer. Because so many of the problems trans and intersex people face are due to them not fitting the unchangeable, strict binary definition of sex in the eyes of the law.

Weiss, J.T. (2009). Transgender Identity, Textualism, and the Supreme Court: What Is the "Plain Meaning" of "Sex" in Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964? Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review, 18, 573-649.

Abstract: The Supreme Court, if it is true to conservative "textualist" jurisprudence, will recognize that the prohibition of sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers discrimination against transgender persons.
In which are quoted, inter alia, Sigmund Freud, Judith Butler, Thomas More, and Sherlock Holmes. (OK, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle if you want to be picky).

This one's worth reading as an "Interesting URL" in its own right.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Today's Battle - I'm Evil Sometimes

This one's over at NewsBusters.

In reply to:
Okay, so we've established that
January 18, 2010 - 21:56 ET by BO STINKS

GLAAD and NPR have paid you a heck of a lot of money to come and harrass us. Glad your accounts are getting fat, can you leave us alone now?

Go back and pretend that you turned all the conservatives. They will probably believe your tripe. We don't.

I wrote:

I wish!
January 18, 2010 - 23:37 ET by Zoe Brain

Um... I'm Australian. Doing a PhD in Canberra. Living below the poverty line on a subsistence stipend.

You think anyone would pay me enough money for me to endure the kind of rubbish that I've gotten here and elsewhere? The personal attacks, the remarks about my genitalia, how perverted I am etc etc? Oh yes, and the accusations of bribery, astroturfing etc based on notions people have plucked out of their... hats. Or other places.

This place is mild in comparison with some.

I just keep on plugging away, giving what evidence I can, saying what we can be sure of and where we might be wrong.

Some will never be convinced. But the more invective, the more shrill irrational fury that's thrown my way, replete with accusations made up out of conspiracist theory fantasy, and the more calmly I try to rebut with facts, the more convincing my argument.

Thank you for doing your part there, I appreciate it.

Careful, or some will accuse you of Mobying, of being my sockpuppet, to make me look good in comparison.

You see... it does get to me. A little. I pretend it doesn't, that I'm always the cool, calm, rational and objective Zoe. Very Vulcan.

Just sometimes though... I let a little bit of the Snark out. I deliberately try to hurt back. I'm not proud of that. Although what I wrote there was true, even the bit about Mobying, I didn't do it to try to convince. I did it to make the poster feel bad. I did it because I got fed up, and lashed out. If I was a better person, I wouldn't have, I acted out of malice because I'd been hurt.

So if anyone thinks I'm some kind of plaster saint, think again. When I say I'm a very imperfect human being, I mean it.

Saturday 16 January 2010

A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part VIII

On 15/01/2010 6:12 PM, Ronald Gold wrote:
Thinking that if you are still preparing your reply to my last email, what I'd like from you is a straightforward statement on your current "transgender" position. What do you now think is the cause of transsexual ideation, and what do you think personally is the proper curremt amd future remedy? Spare me the references to allegedly scientific research, and spare yourself the obligation to respond to every point I've made. I just want to know what your present point of view is, and maybe we can start over from there.

I'll leave aside the questions of whether what could be seen as a natural variation requires a "remedy", and whether destroying someone's personality is ethical.

The following only applies to Transsexuals, not the Transgendered in general:

Cause - hormonal screwup in the womb causes cross-sexed neuro-anatomy. Cross-sexed anatomy in turn leads to predispositions, biases towards crystallisation of a cross-sexed sex identity. Some gendered behaviour (a minority) is affected too.

Current remedy
- whatever works, The only thing that we've found is to modify the body in accordance with the sex identity.Otherwise premature death is certain in severe cases, likely in the rest (with severe misery certain) due to the body map problem. There are also usually gender issues.

Future remedies
- in order of ease

1. Complete post-birth body modification including functional reproductive anatomy may only be 30-50 years away

2. If we knew more about "phantom limb syndrome" and "lost limb syndrome" then even today we could surgically intervene after birth to change the body map. This could be done with current technology, if we knew just what parts of the brain to destroy. Then you'd just get Transgendered women and men, cross-gendered but not cross-sexed, and likely frigid or impotent. Add psychological intervention during post-birth sex identity crystallisation, and you'd get very butch women or very femme men instead. We don't know how to do that yet, Zucker's work on crude aversion therapy doesn't cut the mustard, but it should be possible by surrounding the child with nothing but cross-gendered people for the first decade of life - longer if sex identity crystallisation is delayed.

3. Early 'heroic" hormonal intervention to "force" the issue one way or the other before the natural path is known. But we'd need to know far more about development in the womb before we could do this safely. If we did, we could do this now. Parents (or Governments) could choose the desired sex of all children, ignoring chromosomes.

4. Make hormonal adjustments in the womb to give a body (fully functional reproductive system etc) congruent to the neuro-anatomy later than 13 weeks in gestation. This would require diagnostic technology we don't have, but would be relatively safe.

5. Use really advanced nanotechnology to modify individual cells, and rebuild the brain completely, either pre- or post-birth. This would require diagnostic technology beyond our wildest dreams.

Remedying undesirable sexual orientation is another matter, but would involve similar issues.

I must emphasise that this is only applicable to Transsexuals. The Transgendered don't require treatment, as there's no body-map issue to address.

Now I'm feeling nauseous after writing that. "Remedying" undesirable sexual orientation? Destroying parts of the brain? Killing a mind and building a new, more acceptable one? This is stuff only a Mengele would do.


Thursday 14 January 2010

Living in a Different Universe

I live in a Universe where there are no evil spirits lurking in dark places. No 4 year old children who are witches deserving of death. No ghoulies, nor ghosties, were the long-legged beasties are the Emus that you occasionally see in the bush, and where the only things that go "bump" in the night are the possums that live in our roof.

Others live in a Universe of the supernatural. A place where pacts with unclean spirits can free peoples, but at a cost of eternal misery. A place where witches have the power to curse, even if they're only two years old, and should be put to death by driving nails into their heads out of sheer self-preservation. A scary, dark, forbidding place. A place of unseen Powers and Dominions, Thrones and Fallen Angels. A place of totems, and idols, and rituals. A place with no rationality, where ignorance is a virtue.

It was Napoleon Bonaparte by the way, Napoleon I, not Napoleon III. But mere facts are never such people's strong point, they are to be discarded or made up as convenient.

An example of the "unremitting attack on Christianity" by the liberal media.

The real, as opposed to faux-Christians will be nauseated at this perversion of all they hold dear, more so than even I am. Their voices though are few in number.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Not Exactly Vermin, But....

To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism. Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America.
The mere existence of Intersexed people such as myself strikes at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. Just as observations by Astronomers struck at the basis of geocentricism and platygeanism.

The Earth really is flat, locally - it makes sense to treat it as flat if you're only travelling short distances. And it also makes sense for most purposes to talk of sunrise and sunset, as if the Sun went round the Earth. They're good approximations, useful models in the most simple situations. Similarly, the model of there being two absolutely distinct biological sexes, and that everyone is one or the other, works for most purposes.

At one time, long before the Galileo Affair, astronomical observations were treated with suspicion. All "Natural Philosophers" were considered only one step removed from magicians and consorters with unclean spirits - if that far. Echoes of this persisted into modern times, with the Nazi imprecations against "Jewish Science", the product of "Vermin" out to destroy the Nation and corrupt all that is Natural and Pure.
"At the end of the last century the progress of science and technology led liberalism astray into proclaiming man's mastery of nature, and announcing he would soon have dominion over space ... In any case, we shall learn to become familiar with the laws by which life is governed, and acquaintance with the laws of nature will guide us on the path of progress."
His Holiness isn't impressed with liberalism, science and technology. However, His Holiness doesn't exactly call Intersexed people vermin though. Not in so many words. Not quite.

He just states that the recent advances in granting us limited human rights in Europe and the Americas are an attack on the ecology, and the whole of God's creation. It's not the first time he's stated something like this either.

His Holiness is very ecologically-minded. After all, at the time he was a boy, the ruling regime had very strong policies about preserving the environment.
"The German countryside must be preserved under all circumstances, for it is and has forever been the source of strength and greatness of our people."
So wrote the Leader of the time. In fact, he wrote both sets of words quoted in italics. He wasn't impressed with either Liberalism or Science. He thought giving those such as me limited human rights was a bad idea too, for ecological reasons. As does His Holiness, though I don't think to the same degree. At least, I hope not.

It is alleged that St Francis Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus - the "Stormtroopers of the Counter-Reformation" - said "Give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man".

His Holiness was 6 years old in 1933, when State Chancellor Adolf Hitler came to power in his homeland of Germany. He is no Nazi - membership in the Hitlerjugend was compulsory. But the evidence is that he did absorb some of the Weltanschauung and the Zeitgeist.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Another for the Reference Library

Endocrine intervention for transsexuals A.Levy, A.Crown and R.Reid Clinical Endocrinology Volume 59, Issue 4, 2003.Pages: 409–418

In this review, we discuss predisposing factors to transsexualism, and the diagnosis, assessment and hormone treatment of transsexual patients. We also discuss the risks and organ-specific effects of cross-sex hormone treatment. We will briefly summarize the current legal position of transsexuals in the UK and recommendations for the culturally competent delivery of transgender health care
And in view of my latest anomalous blood tests - I failed them again - something of personal interest:
Risks - Pituitary

In a preliminary study of 142 male-to-female transsexuals treated with oestrogen and cyproterone for from 6 months to 9 years, variable increases in circulating prolactin but no specific risk of inducing autonomous prolactin secretion was found (Gooren et al., 1985). The same group reported a more extensive series of 214 oestrogen- and cyproterone-treated male-to-female transsexuals in which modest increases in prolactin were thought to be universal. In this population prolactin increased to over 1000 mU/l in 20% (Asscheman et al., 1988; 14% in the van Kesteren et al., 1997 series) and remained persistently elevated in 15 (7%). Of these, five (2%) were believed to show pituitary enlargement on computed tomographic (CT) scanning but again, prolactinoma development was not found (Asscheman et al., 1988).

Autonomous prolactin secretion in a 26-year-old male-to-female transsexual who in addition to the prescribed 100 µg oral ethinylestradiol daily surreptitiously injected herself with 100 mg oestradiol-17-undecanoate intramuscularly for at least 6 of the 10 months of treatment has been reported (Gooren et al., 1988), and a histologically proven prolactinoma reported in a 33-year-old male-to-female transsexual who had received exogenous oestrogen for the previous 17 years (Kovacs et al., 1994). Given the high frequency of occult prolactinoma formation (Molitch, 1997) and the apparent rarity of prolactinoma in genetic males during cross-sex hormone therapy, a direct link between exogenous oestrogens and prolactinoma induction in humans cannot be drawn. Contrary to early conclusions (Asscheman et al., 1988; Goh & Ratnam, 1990), safety data about adverse pituitary effects of oestrogens in genetic males are reassuring.
My prolactin levels, which had been increasing slowly and steadily since before I started HRT in a nice, smooth curve, suddenly went haywire in the last test. Which also showed at least double the expected result of E2 (oestrogen).

Cholesterol levels are down. "First Responder" white blood cells up - the kind that are the first symptom of both minor inflammation, and a neoplasm. So I'm now officially in uncharted territory once more. The increased oestrogen has had some quite beneficial effects suits me.

Anyway, I'm reassured. It's still not as weird a situation as in 2005. Moving roght along...

The article details a number of different treatment regimes from various clinics around the world. There's still not a lot of data on optimising techniques for determining the right dosage. It appears that individual variability means we can't give a dose, just a technique for finding the right dose, and adjusting it as circumstances change.

There's a surprising degree of lack of knowledge in all areas of Medicine. The Healing Arts are well-named, as the Science is, well, spotty. As regards Transsexuality and Intersex, distinctly Dalmationesque.

Sunday 10 January 2010

A Charitable view of Mary Daily

Mary Daly, one of the most notable Feminist Philosophers, died recently. Some quotes from her works:
“The Dionysian solution for women, which is violation of our own Hag-ocratic boundaries, is The Final Solution.”

“Dionysus sometimes assumed a girl-like form. The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face,” he incorporates the oppressed role without being incorporated in it. In the phenomenon of transsexualism, the incorporation/confusion is deeper. As ethicist Janice Raymond has pointed out, the majority of transsexuals are “male to female,” while transsexed females basically function as tokens, and are used by the rulers of the transsexual empire to hide the real nature of the game. In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale).”

- Gyn/Ecology.

Mary Daly’s pupil, Janice Raymond, was responsible for a Federal report on transsexuality that led to medical treatment being withheld for over 100,000 now merely “pseudo-female” people between the Carter Era and today.

Approximately 50,000 died directly because of that [1], and because of the philosophy that Daily and Raymond espoused. Some estimates put the figures of people affected, and the consequent deaths, much higher. Those figures are minima.

Gyn/Ecology was influential, profound and thought-provoking, not to say provocative. As provocative, influential and thought-provoking as another, similar great Utopian Philosophy text, “My Struggle”, written in the 1920’s.

It’s better known by its German title.

Here’s another reference:

“Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.””
– Gyn/Ecology.

Thus Transsexualism is Frankensteinian. And Necrophiliac.

I really think you should read “My Struggle” after this. The tone, language and symbology is too similar to be coincidental.

Consider these quotes:
“All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”

“Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Transsexual involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light – a Tranny!”

(the latter has 2 words changed from the original)

It is my thesis that Mary Daly deliberately adopted the style and technique of “My Struggle”, trying to use it for a Good purpose.

Because it was effective at opening people’s eyes, of radicalising them. As a tool, morally neutral: the morality depends upon the purpose.

Since she genuinely believed that Transsexuals were Frankensteinian and Necrophilliac, power-crazed individuals “who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses.” then they were perfectly placed to be described using the same language reserved for another group with similar attributes (as perceived by the author) in “My Struggle”.

And it worked. Not as effectively as the original, perhaps, but well enough. Many women were radicalised by it. An evil (as perceived by Mary Daly) diminished too, but that was a (probably unexpected) by-product, and I suspect not greatly to her taste in latter years from some accounts.

The problem with Utopian philosophies is the messiness attendant in taking them to their logical conclusion. Separatism as a pipe-dream is one thing: dealing with a mountain of *actual* decaying corpses, rather than the *idea* of them, another. Mary Daly was, in the end, far too human to take her extreme philosophy to its logical end. That says much to her credit. While her works have much in common with “My Struggle”, her resemblance to the author of that work ended there.

She saw a great wrong, and attempted to right it with the most effective tools she had to hand.

She wasn't too keen on guys either:
WIE: In Quintessence, your idyllic continent is inhabited by women only, but the rest of the world is inhabited by women and men.

MD: I didn't say how many men were there.

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article "The Future—If There Is One—Is Female" writes: "At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race." What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it's not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.
Not nearly afraid enough. I have a son. I'd be glad that anyone seriously espousing such views is dead. Any mother of a boy child would.

[1] The book is not the most damaging writing that Raymond has penned. Far worse is a United States federal government commissioned study in the early 1980’s on the topic of federal aid for transsexual people seeking rehabilitation and health services. This paper, not well publicized, effectively eliminated federal and some states aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals. It had a further impact on private health insurance which followed the federal government’s lead in disallowing services to transsexual patients for any treatment remotely related to being transsexual, including breast cancer or genital cancer, as that was deemed to be a consequence of treatment for transsexuality.

You have to take into account the rate of transsexuality, the birth rate in the USA, the proportion of Trans people living below the poverty line or in jail, the number of trans girls thrown out onto the street and into sex work to survive and afford treatment, the mortality rate of those, the suicide rate with treatment as opposed to without, etc. The 50,000 figure is based on 40 year old figures for rates in Scandinavia. More recent estimates based in actual counts of surgical procedure would suggest a figure ten times higher.

Friday 8 January 2010

WE Magazine's 101 Women Bloggers to Watch in 2010

It is an honor for me to share our annual list of 101 Inspiring Women Bloggers to Watch with the readers of WE Magazine for Women.

I want to thank all our readers for all your Women Bloggers recommendations. WE had hundreds of entries. And because there were so many, this list is by no means complete. Consider this the first round of women bloggers to watch for 2010. In fact, we will be creating several lists of women bloggers to watch this year. There are just too many good bloggers to showcase!

This blog is No 4 on the (alphabetically ordered) list.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Today's Battle : The Crucifixion of Amanda Simpson

At the Christian Broadcasting Network:
I know. I know. There will be those who say all that matters is whether or not Simpson is qualified for the job. And I know there will be those who will wonder why I am even writing about this considering there may be more important topics to discuss but here's a newsflash for you: The transgender thing doesn't play well with millions of conservative Evangelicals. Sorry if Biblical absolutes offend you or are so "1950 ish" but don't think conservative Evangelicals are apologizing for it.

I understand President Obama won't be after die hard conservative Evangelicals in 2012 but let's remember that moves like this don't play well with the million of conservative Independent voters and Catholics who will be up for grabs again in 2012 as well. A move like this could easily be part of a liberal ammunition package against the President in 2012. Hey, remember how he won North Carolina and Indiana in 2008? You think those conservative minded states may listen a little more closely when they hear the word "transgender?"

At Breitbart TV:
infinitefreedom January 4th, 2010 - 3:02 pm
Moral decay is the objective here.

Todd January 4th, 2010 - 3:03 pm

MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO January 4th, 2010 - 3:07 pm

Gandhi's Fist January 4th, 2010 - 3:21 pm
Can’t Obama just appoint one uber politically correct candidate. A one-legged, blind, black, transgendered, turret’s ridden, albino midget of Hispanic heritage ought to cover his bases.
What would be real neat is if he hired the most competent person for the job. I can guarantee that wouldn’t be this piece of work. America, hang your heads in shame.

Joseph January 4th, 2010 - 3:55 pm
What the hell is this crap? OMG…DRAG CULTURE?? Friggin’ sick!!

Doozer Dave January 4th, 2010 - 4:45 pm
This is just so typical. As Jacob said, it has nothing to do with how this thing does the job but what it is! And I mean thing and it, to be politically correct, transgender people should have rights, but they do have rights no matter if they are male or female. What they want is special status so they can sue everyone more and try to make themselves “normal” in the eyes of society. That is immoral in itself. This country was not based on a “groups” rights but INDIVIDUAL rights. I have every right not wanting this thing in the government as you idiots who parade your sexuality in the streets have. BUT, I am the only one who can be discriminted against because I am a White, anglosaxon, christian male. Kind of strange how it is reversed now a-days isn’t it?

Bill January 4th, 2010 - 5:32 pm
Is she/he from brazil, and how many films has she/he done?

Commieobamie January 4th, 2010 - 5:40 pm
He saved his wee wee and gave it as a Dec 25th muslim terrorist day celebration gift to barry.

Thor January 4th, 2010 - 8:43 pm
Wow, this is unbelievable. These deviants are held up and glorified and then put into positions of governance! These creatures should be exiled. Amazing that this he/she/it changes their gender and then parades it in front of everyone. Just goes to show that these creatures are sick and are really not interested in what they profess and that their aim is to shove it in everyone’s face and demand that they be accepted as normal-which frankly is as far from normal as possible.

Terry January 4th, 2010 - 9:21 pm
Every day it is made more clear that the US fought on the wrong side in WWII.

etc etc etc etc etc

I wrote in reply:
Some people here make me embarrassed to be a conservative, that’s for sure.

They don’t take matters of National Security seriously.

The Job this gal is taking on involves making sure US technology that can be useful for making advanced weaponry – or Furby dolls – doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. It requires absolutely the best possible person for the job, with extensive experience in defence technology, or one day a US city is going to be froth on top of a mushroom cloud.

But they’d rather see someone in the position who thinks everything’s in the Bible, that the stars are lamps set in a beaten metal shield over a flat earth, that rain falls when valves in the metal – the “windows of heaven” open to let the “waters above” in, because it says so in Genesis. Just so long as they’re not Transsexual. Or Jewish. Or Catholic. Or Black.
I used slightly different wording over at the NY Daily News :
And yet there are those who ignore the qualifications and experience. They'd rather see US National Security suffer than hire one of "those freaks". Better to have a Good Evangelical Christian there, even if they think Pi is 3 because it says so in the Bible
While we're at it... a sortie against an article critical of Chaz Bono, and transsexuals generally, at the Catholic Exchange. An article of the more unctious kind, brimming with "truly compassionate response"s and encouragement "to seek out healing, primarily spiritually, but also emotionally and mentally, both with Christ, and those who understand the Truth about the human person". One dealing with the Theology of the Body from a standpoint of invincible ignorance. I tried to be charitable - at the end. My last post, after comprehensively refuting the whole thing:
Please note that I can’t blame you for not knowing this. Much of the work (as can be seen by the dates on the papers) has only been done in the last 10 years, and even in the last 5.

I’ve been called on by professors of psychology and biology to lecture to their students on the issue, as they have managed to get to their final year of study without knowing any of this. So what chance has a Theologian or Bio-Ethicist?

There were of course hints and even some experimental data in support as far back as the 1960’s. But it was possible until recently to say that the evidence was insufficient, that there was the possibility of contradictory evidence surfacing if more work was done. Well, more work has been done, and the original conclusions strongly supported by all the evidence, and refuted by none of it.

As far back as 2003, the proposition was deemed true on the balance of probabilities, though not conclusively proven.

“‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.” - Justice Chisholm of the Australian Family Court, after a review of the scientific evidence available in 2003.
Another day, another battle. Now back to my PhD work, and optimising the parameters of a genetic algorithm to find the minimum energy levels of Carnosine, and other long-chain enzymes.... I may not be a test pilot, nor do I parachute over Mount Everest - unlike some women I know - but I am raising an 8 year old boy, as well as doing the PhD.

Life's busy - but pretty good.

UPDATE : More at ABC News.

And from Focus on the Family....
"Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama administration?" asked Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth. "How far does this politics of gay and transgender activism go? Clearly this is an administration that is pandering to the gay lobby."
Matt Barber, associate dean at Liberty University, said the appointment "boggles the mind."

"This isn't like appointing an African-American in order to try to provide diversity and right some kind of discriminatory wrong," he said. "This is about political correctness.
And on the Right-Wing Blogs : Notoriously Conservative :
I Don't Buy the Whole Transgendered Thing - Obama Appoints Shemale
Oh Dear.

And at Atlas Shrugs :
I think the big question here is how does this all look in the Eyes of our Creator?

How long before America is judged for all this wickedness?

And on Free Republic:
The self-mutilation advocates are sick. Its questionable if they're human at all.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Body Prints

From the Manyufacturer, Organovo (so they undoubtedly put the most optimistic spin on things) :
Bioprinters to be available to research community in 2010

SAN DIEGO, Calif. & MELBOURNE, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Invetech, an innovator in new product development and custom automation for the biomedical, industrial and consumer markets, today announced that it has delivered the world`s first production model 3D bio-printer to Organovo, developers of the proprietary NovoGen bioprinting technology. Organovo will supply the units to research institutions investigating human tissue repair and organ replacement.

Dr. Fred Davis, president of Invetech, which has offices in San Diego and Melbourne, said, “Building human organs cell-by-cell was considered science fiction not that long ago. Through this clever combination of technology and science we have helped Organovo develop an instrument that will improve people’s lives, making the regenerative medicine that Organovo provides accessible to people around the world.”

Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, based in San Diego, said the units represent a breakthrough because they provide for the first time a flexible technology platform for organizations working on many different types of tissue construction and organ replacement.

“Scientists and engineers can use the 3D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3D,” said Murphy. “Researchers can place liver cells on a preformed scaffold, support kidney cells with a co-printed scaffold, or form adjacent layers of epithelial and stromal soft tissue that grow into a mature tooth. Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand.”
The printer, developed by Invetech, fits inside a standard biosafety cabinet for sterile use. It includes two print heads, one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix. One of the most complex challenges in the development of the printer was being able to repeatedly position the capillary tip, attached to the print head, to within microns. This was essential to ensure that the cells are placed in exactly the right position. Invetech developed a computer controlled, laser-based calibration system to achieve the required repeatability.

Invetech plan to ship a number of 3D bio-printers to Organovo during 2010 and 2011 as a part of the instrument development program. Organovo will be placing the printers globally with researchers in centers of excellence for medical research.
Still experimental use only - for now. Whether it's 5, 10 or even 15 years away from operational use, we don't know, nor do we know its full capabilities and limitations. That's why it's being shipped to research labs worldwide, to find out.

Hmmm... must check... I think we may have some shares in Invetech. We have a few penny-packets in a number of long-shot high-tech firms in Australia.

The key to success is to find a foreign partner, usually in the USA, to overcome the NIH syndrome.

I know a number of guys though who'd be interested in this. The one great problem FtoMs have is lack of spongy scaffolding for erectile tissue. And that is exactly the kind of thing such a printer of body parts, even a primitive one, would be good at making. A lot of other guys injured in war or accidents would benefit too.

Monday 4 January 2010

Ms January Reprised

My weight waxes and wanes, as do my oestrogen levels. Currently, they're 5 times the previous record (or were, 3 weeks ago) for no apparent reason. And I've been losing some weight (Hurray!). the two may be connected: they're certainly correlated.

Back in 2006, I posted a picture of myself on my blog, at a time when I just started hormone treatment at full-strength doses, but before there could have been any effects visible from any hormonal treatment.

Hear I am, 4 years later, Age 51 not age 47. Looking a bit better than most of the pictures in between times, though I could look better still.

Now to go for another blood test at the end of the week. I've been off all oral hormones now for two weeks, but there's been few of the usual signs I get (skin oiliness, hirsutism) from oestrogen deficiency. Some PMT though... so we'll have to see what the next blood test brings.

I can usually forget that my metabolism is odd, and pretend that I'm just another woman with a Trans history. Not always though.

For comparison, the photo in 2006, in approximately the same natural pose (yes, I tried to shackle the variables, I'm a Geek Girl Scientist, remember, as well as being maybe a teeny bit vain... Ok, a lot vain...):

Hmmm.. could definitely do with losing a few more kilos... still, not too shabby for a woman in her 50's. That tum has got to go though.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Four Extraordinary Women

From The Right Perspective:

Barack Obama has chosen Amanda Simpson as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce...
Simpson has more than 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry, most recently serving as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona.
Simpson also holds degrees in physics, engineering and business administration along with an extensive flight background. She is a certified flight instructor and test pilot with 20 years of experience.
Simpson will be working in the Bureau of Industry and Security.
In 2004, the YWCA recognized her as one of their “Women on the Move,” and in the same year, she won the Democratic nomination to the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2005, she was given the Arizona Human Rights Foundation Individual Award.

From Get Surrey:

Kate Craig-Wood...was named one of the main winners at the NatWest Everywoman Awards.
Last week’s award capped off a hugely successful year for Ms Craig-Wood and Memset, which is the country’s first carbon-neutral internet service provider.

A fortnight ago, her enterprise was also recognised when she was chosen as the Young Director of the Year by the Institute of Directors.
She's made Management Today's 35 most successful women under 35 list, won the IBM-sponsored Demeter award at the 2008 NatWest Everywoman National Awards, was recognised as the IoD's South East Young Director of the Year, and recently became the youngest person and third woman to join the board of Intellect UK, an IT, telecom and electronics trade association.

She also recently participated in the world's first skydive over Mount Everest to raise money for Computer Clubs 4 Girls, which aims to attract more girls to the sector by improving their technology skills.

From the ACLU:

Schroer, 49, retired from the Army as a Colonel in 2004 after 25 years of distinguished service. As an Airborne Ranger qualified Special Forces officer, Schroer completed over 450 parachute jumps, received numerous decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal, and was hand-picked to head up a classified national security operation.
When she interviewed for a job as a terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress, she thought she'd found the perfect fit, given her background and 16,000-volume home library collection on military history, the art of war, international relations and political philosophy. Schroer accepted the position...

From Lynn Conway's site:

Lynn Conway is a famed pioneer of microelectronics chip design. Her innovations during the 1970's at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have impacted chip design worldwide. Many high-tech companies and computing methods have foundations in her work.

Lynn received her B.S. and M.S.E.E. degrees from Columbia University in 1962 and 1963. She began her career at IBM Research at Yorktown Heights, NY, in 1964, moving on later to work at Memorex Corporation, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and at the Defense Advanced Research Project's Agency (DARPA). Concurrent with her work at Xerox PARC, she served as Visiting Associate Professor of EECS at M.I.T. in 1978-79. She joined the University of Michigan in 1985 as Professor of EECS and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering.

Thousands of chip designers learned their craft from Lynn's book, Introduction to VLSI Systems, which she co-authored with Professor Carver Mead of Caltech. Thousands more did their first VLSI design projects using the government's MOSIS prototyping system, which is based directly on Lynn's work at PARC. Much of the modern silicon chip design revolution is based on her work.

By successfully simplifying and demystifying the previously extremely complex process of silicon chip design, the work of the Mead-Conway team was largely responsible for the rapid progress in VLSI chip design and design tools in the 80's. Taken together, Lynn's many diverse contributions to computer architecture, VLSI design and internet-based chip-prototyping have greatly enhanced later progress in microelectronics, computing and information technology.

Lynn went on to win many awards and high honors, including election as a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional recognition an engineer can receive.

What no one knew until recently is that Lynn also did earlier pioneering research at IBM in the 60's.
Professor Conway has received many major awards for her research contributions, including the Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Pender Award of the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Achievement Award, the Electronics Award for Achievement, Xerox Corporation's recognition as a Xerox Research Fellow, the National Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the GLBT Engineer of the Year Award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, election as a Fellow of the IEEE (Lynn was the 12th woman to be so elected), election to the National Academy of Engineering, and election to the Electronic Design Hall of Fame.

Lynn has also served on many significant committees and boards, including the Editorial board of IEEE Spectrum magazine, numerous committees of the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering, and the U.S Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. She has served on the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy (a Presidential appointment), as a Member of the Corporation of the Draper Lab, as a member of NASA's Office of Space Science Task Force on Technology Readiness, and as a Member of the Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) and also of the Air Force Science and Technology Board of the National Academies.

All of these women are transsexual though, so the following reaction at the Right Wing site Free Republic to Ms Simpson's appointment is typical:

I’d hit it:

148 gr at 200 yards sounds about right to me.
'Nuff said.

Friday 1 January 2010