Tuesday 31 May 2011

Rights of the Parents; Rights of the Child

From a comment over at the Volokh Conspiracy, about the proposal in the county of Santa Monica to ban circumcision unless it's medically necessary:

rumpelstiltskin: Look up the statistics on botched circumcisions. You’re talking about something like between 2% and 10%, depending on what study you look at, with over a million circumcisions per year. Literally TENS OF THOUSANDS of cases of messed up circumcisions. You can’t possibly compare that to the future potential for a few hundred cases of penile cancer, many of which are also contingent upon lack of hygiene and STDs

leo marvin: Do we really want parents feeling like they need an opinion letter before they can risk exercising good faith judgment about their children’s best interest?

The issue of parental rights over their children as property is a fraught one. The assumption has been that unless otherwise proven to the contrary, the parental judgement about what is right for the child should prevail.

The question is about “unless otherwise proven”.


  • The removal of legs from children so they will have successful careers as beggars, a common practice in much of the 3rd world. It is for the good of the child.
  • The binding of the feet of little girls, breaking the bones so they will have “lilly feet”, more attractive to men, and so they will not be different from their peers.
  • FGM of course, ranging from a cosmetic nick to the clitoral hood, to complete removal of the external genitalia.
  • Circumcision.
  • Castration of boys so they will not be tempted into the sin of Onanism, and so imperill their immortal souls.
  • Sex-reassignment of Intersexed children, often sterilising them and leaving them with insensate genitalia, but at least it looks normal so they won’t be bullied at school and won’t be rejected by their parents.

All “for their own good”. All actually practiced in many parts of the world, some of them not just common, but nigh universal in the USA.

I’m currently involved in a Legal Reform effort in the Australian Capital Territory. Current thinking is that parental rights to alter their child’s body are conferred only by objective medical neccessity. If it does harm, it’s not permitted.

This puts us on a collision course with the religious beliefs of a significant fraction of the community. It may be that in a purely practical “harm reduction” model, that fewer problems would be caused by de-criminalising un-neccessary circumcision, in order to reduce complications from backyard, covert procedures. That should really be the test. The medical evidence against circumcision is overwhelming: it’s the complication rate that’s the problem, it’s many orders of magnitude worse than even the most optimistic claims for circumcision’s efficacy at preventing disease, a claim that is very debateable but I think has to be accepted given the deeply-held beliefs of many.

Ritual clitoral hood nicking may also have to be permitted, if we’re not to have backyard infibulations with broken glass.

“Normalisation” surgery on Intersexed children, which is often (1/3 of the time for most conditions) the “wrong way”, usually lumbering little boys with female bodies, should be forbidden. Only genital reconstruction to provide urinary and fecal continence, to reduce pain, or to remove an immediate (not long-term post-pubescent) cancer risk or similar medical neccessity is allowable.

The opposite side of the coin is that when the child is Gillick-competent, or reaches the age of consent, or is otherwise judged to be competent enough to make decisions (younger if supported by medical experts and parents), then they should be allowed such surgery.

I hope that it would be possible for circumcision in the Jewish Faith to be part of the leadup to Bar Mitzvah — a procedure performed (or not performed) with the boy’s informed consent between the ages of 12 and 13. A compromise between medical facts and religious belief.

I really hate arrogantly riding roughshod over others beliefs. But the ones that are most important are the children, and the record of parents when it comes to genital modification of their children is quite frankly bloody appalling.

Monday 30 May 2011

Begging the Question: Autism in Trans Men

From Medical News Today, an article based on research by a notorious transphobe,
Professor Baron-Cohen.

Whether he's transphobic or not I can't say, but he certainly has that reputation.

 UPDATE: From a comment below:
"I should state firmly that Prof Simon Barron-Cohen is not transphobic. We worked very well together and at no point did he show any signs of transphobia ... quite the reverse."

Nonetheless, facts are facts, regardless of who discovers them, and whether we want them to be true or not.
The researchers measured autistic traits using the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and compared AQ scores from transmen; transwomen (male-to-female); typical males; typical females; and individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS, a form of autism). They found transmen had a higher average AQ than typical females, typical males and transwomen, but lower than individuals with AS. The findings are published today in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Professor Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, interpreted the results:
"Girls with a higher than average number of autistic traits tend to have male-typical interests, showing a preference for systems over emotions. They prefer not to socialise with typical girls because they have different interests, and because typical girls on average have more advanced social skills. Both of these factors may lead girls with a higher number of autistic traits to socialize with boys, to believe they have a boy's mind in a girl's body, and to attribute their unhappiness to being a girl."

Rebecca Jones, who led the study with Professor Baron-Cohen, added:

"If such girls do believe they have a boy's mind in a girl's body, their higher than average number of autistic traits may also mean they hold their beliefs very strongly, and pursue them to the logical conclusion: opting for sex reassignment surgery in adulthood."
The problem here is that they assume trans boys are girls. Let's re-write that with the opposite assumption made, one at least as likely (I think more so, but let's say "equally" for the sake of argument).
"If such boys do believe they have a boy's mind in a girl's body, their higher than average number of autistic traits may also mean they hold their beliefs very strongly, and pursue them to the logical conclusion: opting for sex reassignment surgery in adulthood."
Well yes. Obviously. Not controversial. The only "pathology" here is caused by begging the question, and the circular argument that because they're girls, they must be disordered for thinking they're boys, thereby proving they're really girls who only think they're boys.

Let's look at Prof Barron-Cohen's statement in the same light:
"Boys with a higher than average number of autistic traits tend to have male-typical interests, showing a preference for systems over emotions. They prefer not to socialise with typical girls because they have different interests, and because typical girls on average have more advanced social skills. Both of these factors may lead boys with a higher number of autistic traits to socialize with boys, to believe they have a boy's mind in a girl's body, and to attribute their unhappiness to having a girl-shaped body."
Well yes, once more. See how this becomes almost tautological once the unspoken assumption is removed?

Interesting though that he found no increase in Autism-Spectrum Quotient in Trans women. That's not been in accordance with my observation of several hundred of them. Less than in Aspergic males yes, but rather more than in neurotypical females. Still, the data there's pretty clear.

So let's look at the actual article...Brief Report: Female-To-Male Transsexual People and Autistic Traits by R.Jones et al, Online First™, 30 March 2011
The ‘extreme male brain’ theory suggests females with Autism Spectrum Conditions are hyper-masculinized in certain aspects of behavior. We predicted that females with Gender Identity Disorder (who are masculinized) would have elevated Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) scores. AQ scores from five groups were compared: (1) n = 61 transmen (female-to-male transsexual people); (2) n = 198 transwomen (male-to-female transsexual people); (3) n = 76 typical males; (4) n = 98 typical females; and (5) n = 125 individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Transmen had a higher mean AQ than typical females, typical males and transwomen, but lower than individuals with AS. Transmen have more autistic traits and may have had difficulty socializing with female peers and thus found it easier to identify with male peer groups.
The rest is behind a pay-per-view wall, but here's what it says in part:
Given that in all the studies of ASC cited above, females with ASC are hyper-masculinized in specific aspects of behaviour and cognition, it may well be that they identify more readily with the other sex. A recent study of play by girls with ASC found they show masculinization in choosing toys that do not require pretend play (Knickmeyer et al. 2008), and women with ASC report higher rates of tomboyism in childhood (Ingudomnukul et al. 2007). Females with ASC may therefore feel that they don’t belong in a typical female peer group and in a minority of cases it may even lead to develop Gender Identity Disorder (GID). An elevated number of autistic traits would confer a rigidity on their perceived gender identity, similar to that which is observed in individuals with persistent GID from childhood to adulthood (Di Ceglie 1998).
Er... hold on...

That means I shouldn't exist. Neither should Prof Lynn Conway, nor Diane Schroer, nor Stephanie Lanfhoff, nor Amanda Simpson, nor any of the high-AQ Trans women of the world. The same traits that make Trans men, men, should prevent Trans women with those traits from existing. And half or more of the female engineers of the world, the non-trans variety, with high AQ should actually think they're male.

They don't. To state the obvious.

And that means the "hyper-masculine" theory of autism has a few holes in.

Observations by Blanchard et al have shown that late-onset Trans women, those who could live with their situation past their mid-20's without actually dying without treatment, tend to go into engineering, science, and computer science. So do early-onset Trans women, but there the correlation, while strong, is far weaker.

An alternate explanation is that the same hormonal glitch in the womb that causes Transsexuality, also tends to cause atypical neurological development in other areas too. While Trans men and Trans women aren't mirror-images of each other - there's certain differences in hearing for example, they're close when it comes to ambidexterity and many brain structures. Things that would appear normal in men are just normal in trans men too - and to some degree in trans women whose conditions are not as severe as early-onset cases.

Note also that it's high-AQ, not full-blown autism. There may be different causes, two or more syndromes with superficially similar effects, but with significant differences. I think they confuse correlation for causation: that we have two manifestations of the same underlying cause, hormonal anomalies in the womb that cause cross-sexed neuro-anatomy.

One area where they may grasp a part of the truth: that of two people, both with female bodies and somewhat male minds, the one with the higher AQ may identify as male earlier, rather than later. Just as with two people, both with male bodies and somewhat female minds, the one with the higher AQ may identify as female later, rather than earlier.

Sunday 29 May 2011

I've given up on saying anything's Impossible

Not when it comes to biology, and the science of sex and gender. All I can say is that some things are exceedingly unlikely - but probably inevitable, sooner or later.

Case in point (and thanks to OII science advisor M.Italiano for this one)

A case of combined hermaphroditism and autofertilisation in a domestic rabbit. Frankenhuis et al., Vet Rec. 1990 Jun 16;126(24):598-9
A true hermaphrodite rabbit served several females and sired more than 250 young of both sexes. In the next breeding season the rabbit, which was housed in isolation, became pregnant and delivered seven healthy young of both sexes. It was kept in isolation and when autopsied was again pregnant and demonstrated two functional ovaries and two infertile testes. A chromosome preparation revealed a diploid number of autosomes and two sex chromosomes of uncertain configuration.
The case of Petra Henderson has similarities, but as she lacked all the right equipment after falling pregnant due to botched hernia surgery causing auto-fertilisation, the foetus was re-absorbed.
Instead she was quickly asked to work on various defence products for and with "certain UK employers" including Marconi Space and Defence Systems Ltd., on specialised defence developments and systems from undersea to satellite systems.
She's a friend of mine, though I haven't contacted her recently. And yes, GEC-Marconi was a former employer of mine too, I still have one of their drink mugs.

Of course, I've also worked on "specialised defence developments and systems from undersea to satellite systems". An improbability factor of 8,767,128:1 against.

Friday 27 May 2011

Ugly Secrets of 2nd Wave Feminism

The spoken word has more impact than turgid prose. Please listen to this J'Accuse! video.

Yes, that is what was said and written. That is what is in textbooks today. That is what is still being taught in some places, including the Australian National University, in courses on Feminism.

The antidote to such hatred is not suppression - it's exposure.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Dangerous Knowledge

From NBC Bay Area:
Redwood Heights Elementary School, in Oakland, is in the hot-seat after the school decided to educate students about gender diversity.

On Monday and Tuesday, students of every grade were taught what the school called age-appropriate lessons about gender differences. Some lessons included all-girl geckos, a transgender clownfish, and boy snakes who act "girly" reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"That's a lot of variation in nature," Gender Spectrum trainer, Joel Baum, told the students. "Evolution comes up with some pretty funny ways for animals to reproduce."

Principal Sara Stone said the lesson on gender differences was part of a larger effort to control bullying in the school, something parents supported last year.

However, after the lessons began, several parents felt discussion in the classroom was too much.

The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative organization, said teaching children that there may be more than two genders, "does not represent the values of the majority of families in Oakland,"
Facts that contradict established Ideology must be hidden. Knowledge must be suppressed. It's vital that bullying be allowed to continue. Enforced Ignorance is a neccessity.

Children must not be allowed to know that some fish change sex. They certainly mustn't be allowed to learn that some humans do too.

From the comments:

John Juhasz · Top Commenter
your whole rant makes about as much sense as the Christmas light sets that say "for indoor or outdoor use only", y'know, warning us against that "third" option.

you want to define ALL of society, and force an agenda down the throats of 100% of students, over a very specific condition that is only present in far less than `1% of the total population.

If clownfish are such a stellar example of how humans should behave, do you advocate children mimicking the clownfish and staying underwater for long periods of time ? No ? Then maybe you have the wrong perspective.
My Reply:
John Juhasz - it's not about "behaviour", it's about biology. I'm not advocating that everyone should "behave" like clownfish any more than I'm advocating that everyone should "choose" to be born with white skin.

I happen to fit in the gender binary quite neatly. Female, knew I was as a child. But I'm too good a scientist not to recognise that obvious fact that not everyone is like me.

The Pacific Justice Institute wants to suppress facts in order to shore up their cultural beliefs; much as equivalent elements in Saudi Arabia want to suppress the teaching of astronomy, as it contradicts their cultural belief that the sun rotates around a fixed Earth. The Facts get in the way, so children must not be allowed to be exposed to them.


No one is talking about freaks of nature in any event it is natural to have mutations but not normal.

My Reply:
mymonkeydreams - actually, yes we are talking about "freaks of nature" as you call them. Those born with the mutation that causes blue eyes. Or the one that causes red hair. Or the ability to digest milk (after infancy). All those 3 mutations are very, very rare in people who don't have european ancestry, they are not "normal" for most of humanity. All are far rarer mutations in most places than those which cause a natural change of sex.

Which I did, in 2005, due to 3-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase deficiency syndrome.

Yes, we exist, we walk amongst you, far more of us than you imagine. Many thousands in the USA. We've tended not to reveal our history in the past - why should we? - but with the twin growth of more strict ID regulations, and growing ignorance in the Fundamentalist community, that's no longer an option.

As this story shows, many people object to us. Not what we do, they object to our existence, which contradicts their beliefs. Here's a quote: "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views...which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

The Pacific Justice Institute is a perfect example. Our existence violates their religious freedom to believe things that are not true.
Further research on the MC1R gene has shown it to be more common than I'd thought. See Evidence for Variable Selective Pressures at MC1R by Harding et al Am J Hum Genet. 2000 April; 66(4): 1351–1361.
Variation in human skin and hair color is largely explained by the levels and ratio of the two major forms of melanin—eumelanin, which is brown-black, and pheomelanin, which is red-yellow (Quevedo and Holstein 1998). The type of melanin produced is under the control of two genes, identified initially by the mouse mutations extension and non-agouti. These correspond to the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R [MIM 155555]), a G protein–coupled seven-pass transmembrane receptor, expressed on cutaneous melanocytes, and an antagonist ligand, agouti (Robbins et al. 1993; Jordan and Jackson 1998; Ollmann and Barsh 1999). The MC1R gene (chromosome 16q24.3) is the only gene identified, thus far, that explains substantial phenotypic variance in human pigmentation (Rees and Flanagan 1999).
There's remarkably little hard data on the number of redheads in the world - much as there is for those who are Intersexed. The latter certainly outnumber the former though, possibly by an order of magnitude. The number who have genes that can have the potential to cause a "sex change" is probably less. More than the number of redheads who can drink milkshakes with no ill-effects though.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Human Population Growth and Evolution

From Daily Galaxy: Hyper Evolution -- Human Population Growth is Accelerating Species Change
In a fascinating discovery that counters a common theory that human evolution has slowed to a crawl or even stopped in modern humans, a study examining data from an international genomics project describes the past 40,000 years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change, driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts.
A team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks estimated that positive selection just in the past 5,000 years alone -- dating back to the Stone Age -- has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution. Many of the new genetic adjustments are occurring around changes in the human diet brought on by the advent of agriculture, and resistance to epidemic diseases that became major killers after the growth of human civilizations.
In a fascinating discovery that counters a common theory that human evolution has slowed to a crawl or even stopped in modern humans, a study examining data from an international genomics project describes the past 40,000 years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change, driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts.
A team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks estimated that positive selection just in the past 5,000 years alone -- dating back to the Stone Age -- has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution. Many of the new genetic adjustments are occurring around changes in the human diet brought on by the advent of agriculture, and resistance to epidemic diseases that became major killers after the growth of human civilizations.
The human population has grown from a few million people 10,000 years ago to about 200 million people at A.D. 0, to 600 million people in the year 1700, to more than 6.5 billion today. Prior to these times, the population was so small for so long that positive selection occurred at a glacial pace, Hawks says.

"What's really amazing about humans," Hawks continued, "that is not true with most other species, is that for a long time we were just a little ape species in one corner of Africa, and weren't genetically sampling anything like the potential we have now."

"Five thousand years is such a small sliver of time -- it's 100 to 200 generations ago. That's how long it's been since some of these genes originated, and today they are in 30 or 40 percent of people because they've had such an advantage. It's like 'invasion of the body snatchers.'"
What drives the pace of evolution? Strong, and relatively rapidly changing environmental factors that will heavily benefit one genetic group over another. Speciation is driven by having isolated groups, but evolutionary change within a species is driven by having a large population size, with good communications to propagate advantageous mutations to a large part of the population.

Even non-beneficial mutations can propagate rapidly under those conditions, as long as they confer no disadvantage: Consider, 12,000 years ago, no-one had blue eyes - and apart from a few in one corner of the world, no-one could digest raw milk after childhood.

Of course, change isn't always advancement.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Collect the Set!

A fun game for all the family. See how many entirely independant, grass-roots organisations all run the same scare-campaign clip. Sometimes to show how Gays are a danger to children, sometimes against human rights for Trans or Intersexed people.

All entirely independant of course, no connection whatsoever between the Tennessee Family Values Coalition, Citizens for Good Public Policy, Kalamazoo Citizens voting NO for Special Rights Discrimination, Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government... it's just a coincidence.

Then there's this one:

Gainesville police are looking for a man who rode a purple bike to the Home Depot store in mid-February, followed a woman into the restroom and then tried to photograph her by holding a cell phone camera underneath a stall divider.
McCollum said that when the woman saw a hand holding the cell phone in a way that allowed it to be used to take pictures, she screamed and the man ran out. An employee saw the man fleeing and provided additional details about him.

The white man was about 5-foot-9, 140 to 150 pounds and had a thin build. He had thick, dark, collar-length hair and a well-trimmed goatee. His right arm was almost completely covered in tattoos. His left arm had fewer tattoos, but one that stood out – a black rectangle on the back of his left forearm.

The man was wearing a black, sleeveless T-shirt, dark baseball-style cap, cargo pants and white tennis shoes.

Not exactly the description of a trans woman, or someone pretending to be a trans woman, is it? The logical connection with the legislation a bit tenuous, maybe?

Maybe it was the fact that one of their supporters who owned a store was found to have left a phone camera in the ladies changing rooms - and saved the consequent videos for later perusal - that meant this got little air time.

Or that the perp, Timothy Malone, was caught a month later.

Monday 23 May 2011

Gender Diversity in the ACT

From the recent report in PDF format, Gender Diversity in the ACT(Australian Capital Territory)
Despite the limitations of the study acknowledged below, this research paints a clear picture of a community struggling with a number of key issues:
  • access to informed, respectfully delivered medical and psychological services
  • inadequate access to appropriate identity documentation and protection from discrimination
  • lack of social connection with family and the broader community
  • over-representation in low income categories despite above average levels of education.
A first step towards addressing these important issues is to prioritise discussion of the hurdles facing SDG (sex and gender diverse) individuals. This conversation, aimed at ‘speaking into existence’ the lived experiences of this largely marginalised community, must occur at every level – from informal social gatherings to local, national and international political and human rights forums.
It should not be a question of whether the needs of this section of the population are ‘significant’ enough to warrant human rights reform, legislative change and adequate medical and psychological support. It should be a question of how we, as a forward-moving nation, can prioritise and implement such reform.
The sample in this survey indicates unemployment levels within the trans community that are more than six times higher than those experienced by the general ACT population.

It is interesting to note the substantially higher educational qualifications of respondents compared to the general population. This is a trend that has been identified in other studies.

It is interesting to note the distribution of income amongst the trans population as compared to the general ACT population, with the SGD population being skewed to either end of the range. It is possible that the absence of trans respondents in the middle income brackets is a direct result of employment-related discrimination, making it very difficult for trans people to access or remain in employment. This would explain the large proportion of respondents in the lower income bracket.
The same kinds of figures have been reported in the USA and UK.

This survey though also looks at another issue:
Relationship status and living arrangements
The survey indicates that compared to the general ACT population, trans people are only half as likely to be in an intimate relationship, and more than twice as likely to live alone.
It seems possible that this is the result of high levels of stigma and discrimination within the community.
For the general population, the majority of social interaction is with a partner, housemates and work colleagues. The survey shows that SGD people are significantly less likely to have social interactions with any of these people. This would indicate that it is likely that SGD people are socially excluded from the bulk of the social interactions that the general population engage in.
Just a bit, yes. Though not in my experience - I'm so introverted I have many of the symptoms of social anxiety disorder, and avoidant personality disorder, only without the actual anxiety. The exclusion is entirely of my own making, and is far less now than it was before transition.

OK, yes, I addressed a political gathering recently, have appeared on national TV on Intersex issues... what you don't realise is that I learnt long ago to compensate. I find it no more uncomfortable to do that than to go to a movie - something I also do once or twice a decade, just to be sociable. Less if I can avoid it.

That might give you an idea of the scope of the problems. They will drive even someone like me to become an Activist.

Friday 20 May 2011

Sex Chromosome Variation in Denmark

A 20 year old study - but still good science.
Sex Chromosome Abnormalities Found Among 34,910 Newborn Children: Results From a 13-Year Incidence Study in Århus, Denmark J.Nielsen and M.Wohlert in Birth Defects: Original Article Series, Volume 26, Number 4, pages 209-223
Chromosome examination was made of 88% (34,910) of all 39,618 live- born children at the Maternity Hospital in Århus during a 13-year period from 1969 to 1974 (4 years, 5 months) and from 1980 to 1988 (8 years, 7 months).

This paper deals only with the sex chromosome abnormalities. Autosomal abnormalities will be presented elsewhere.

Klinefelter syndrome was found in 1 per 596 boys, XYY in 1 per 894 boys, triple X in 1 per 1002 girls, and Turner syndrome in 1 per 2130 girls. Other sex chromosome aberrations were found in 1 per 11,637 children. The total incidence of sex chromosome abnormalities was 1 per 448 children or 2.23 per 1000.

45,X/46,XY (male)1
46,XX/ 47,XX,del(Yq) (female)1
46,XX/46,XY (female)1
What was that about "boys are 46Xy, girls 46XX, and the others only one in a million" again?

Of course most Intersexed children don't have such obvious chromosomal variation from the norm. 1 in 500 girls have Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia(CAH). Then there's those with Persistant Mulleriam Duct Syndrome(PMDS), Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome(CAIS), Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome of various degrees (PAIS), 5-alpha-reductase-2 deficiency syndrome (5ARD), 17-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrognase-3 deficiency syndrome (17BHDD), 3-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrognase-3 deficiency syndrome (3BHDD) which can also cause CAH, Vaginal Dysgenesis, Gonadal Dysgenesis, and so on and so on, from minor mutations, environmental causes, or timing glitches.

None of those are counted in the above.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Living with a Choice others made for you

Living (with involuntary surgical alteration of your sex) in Germany

On last week's program, we met Anna and her intersex daughter - a child born with both female and male sexual characteristics. This week Living in Germany investigates how, once they have grown up, intersex adults have to come to terms with the choices doctors made for them when they were infants.
Audios and videos on the topic
"Listen to Living in Germany"
to play.

Enough already.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Sexual Orientation and the Brain

I'm far more interested in Gender Identity than Sexual Orientation. But I really have to look at the latter too, even though I have an irrational aversion to doing so. Anyway, here's a professional presentation on the subject. Enjoy.

Sexual Dimorphism of the Brain & How it Applies To Gays & Lesbians

Tuesday 17 May 2011

The Evolution of Altruism

From Scientific American, a story that has some bearing on my PhD work, in a peripheral way.
Each test consisted of 500 generations of eight robots. To mimic what might happen in nature, the successful robots from each generation were "randomly assorted and subjected to crossovers and mutations…forming the next generation," the researchers explained. And although the 33 "genes" were randomly distributed at first, "the robots' performance rapidly increased over the 500 generations of selection," the researchers noted. And along with acuity at collecting the food, "the level of altruism also rapidly changed over generations," with those robots around more closely "related" individuals becoming the most altruistic.

Aside from demonstrating Hamilton's rule in a quantifiable—if artificial—system, the work also shows that "kin selection does not require specific genes devoted to encode altruism or sophisticated cognitive abilities, as the neuronal network of our robots comprised only 33 neurons," the researchers noted in their paper.
Not only is altruism am inevitable consequence of evolution, we can even quantify it using very simple genetic and evolutionary systems.

We have two parameters - population size (8) and number of generations till termination (500). I'd be interested to see the mutation rate, crossover rate, and parental selection mechanisms though, to determine whether it is a truly genetic or a degenerate evolutionary algorithm at the end.

And I'd be really interested in using a meta-genetic algorithm to optimise those parameters.

Monday 16 May 2011

Transphobia: Not just for Straight People

From StandingWatch.Net, a short History of Gay and Lesbian Transphobia:
In spite of early transgender support and avid activism, GAA dropped transgender protections from the first omnibus anti-discrimination bill introduced to the New York City Council. Transgender issues were seen as “too extreme,” though the bill would fail anyway.

In 1971, gay men would adopt an assimilationist heteronormative position that excluded transgender persons. In 1973, lesbian groups would become radicalized, prefering separatism and an extreme brand of feminism that similarly excluded transgender individuals. It would be a very long time before transgender issues were taken seriously by gays and lesbians.

In early 1970’s, Beth Elliott was active in a number of organizations including the Alice B. Toklas Gay Democratic Club, which she co-founded, the Board of Directors of the California Committee for Sexual Law Reform working to repeal California’s anti-sodomy laws, and the Daughters of Bilitis. The Daughters of Bilitus had been a pioneering lesbian organization during the 1950s and ‘60s, but was losing membership in the ‘70s as the lesbian community turned to more radical organizing.

In ‘73 Elliott was asked to stand for election as the Vice-President of the San Francisco chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. Late in her term of office, her transgender status became a point of contention at the West Coast Lesbian Conference, where she was outed and vilified for being a MTF transsexual. In the weeks and months to follow she was further vilified and even betrayed by women who had once called her friend. The treatment she received led her to become “stealth” for many years after.

In July of 1973, during a “Gay is Good” rally, Sylvia Rivera was followed on the stage by lesbian separatist Jean O’Leary. She denounced transgender people as men who, by “impersonating women”, were exploiting women for profit. It was the beginning of a series of such high profile transphobic attacks from the lesbian community.

In 1977, at the height of the Right Wing / Anita Bryant anti-gay rights backlash, the lesbian feminist separatist movement was busy attacking an even smaller community that only wanted to work within the lesbian community, lesbian identified transsexual women. Central to the conflict in ‘77 was transsexual recording engineer, Sandy Stone, working at Olivia Records. When word got around that Olivia had a transsexual in the company, lesbian separatists threatened a boycott of Olivia products and concerts. Olivia Records was on the edge of profitability. Olivia supported Stone at first but eventually crumpled beneath the separatists demands, asking for Sandy’s resignation....
And much, much more. Janice Raymond, a Professor of Ethics of all things, had an influence that was more than baneful: it was deadly.
In the early 1980′s, the US Government commissioned a study regarding the topic of federal aid for transgender persons seeking health and rehabilitative services. Raymond’s part in that study, and in particular her report, resulted in the elimination of all federal and most state aid in any form for anything remotely related to transgender issues. That same study is also the basis for denial of health care services and coverage by nearly all private health insurance carriers. The numbers who have died as a result is purely speculation, of course. But, it is not uncommon for transgender persons to be denied care (and subsequently die from) cancers of the reproductive system, if they are living in the gender they identify as.
We're starting to undo some of the damage from this particular brand of Radical Leftist Lesbian Feminism now. I wonder how many Fundamentalist Right-Wing Fanatics realise that the causes they hold so dear were originally those of the radical Left? It's so difficult telling the two apart at times...

Friday 13 May 2011

Blackberries and Viruses

Neither Blackberries nor Viruses have anything to do with computers in this context though.

From Daily Galaxy, another example of how natural substances self-organise under random perturbations.
Researchers at Lehigh University have discovered high-level molecular self-recognition in dilute aqueous solutions, a level of “intelligence” previously considered achievable only by biological molecules. The researchers studied the structures of the two macroion clusters and discovered that in mixed dilute aqueous solutions, the clusters self-assemble into distinct blackberry structures (and do not form mixed species).
Despite being water-soluble and carrying the same type of charge, macroions tend to attract each other with surprising strength and to form very stable, uniform, single-layered hollow spheres known as “blackberry structures.” The structures are common when ions become large, and mimic some biological processes, such as shell formation in the capsid virus.

Life, don't talk to me about Life... except I will. The more evidence we have of how the Universe works, the more Life seems an inevitable outcome. Not just possible, not just probable, but inevitable. Self-organisation is a property of more molecules than we thought.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Intelligence Analysis

When trying to figure out what the heck is going on in the world today - or in any situation - one could do worse than read the CIA's Tradecraft Primer (PDF).
Using the analytic techniques contained in this primer will assist analysts in dealing with the perennial problems of intelligence: the complexity of international developments, incomplete and ambiguous information, and the inherent limitations of the human mind.
Understanding the intentions and capabilities of adversaries and other foreign actors is challenging, especially when either or both are concealed.
The first hurdle for analysts is identifying the relevant and diagnostic information from the increasing volume of ambiguous and contradictory data that is acquired through open source and clandestine means. Analysts must also pierce the shroud of secrecy—and sometimes deception—that state and nonstate actors use to mislead. A systematic approach that considers a range of alternative explanations and outcomes offers one way to ensure that analysts do not dismiss potentially relevant hypotheses and supporting information resulting in missed opportunities to warn.
Cognitive and perceptual biases in human perception and judgment are another important reason for analysts to consider alternatives. As Richards Heuer and others have argued, all individuals assimilate and evaluate information through the medium of “mental models” (sometimes also called “frames” or “mind-sets”). These are experience-based constructs of assumptions and expectations both about the world in general and more specific domains.
What in cognitive science is called "prejudices". Not a perjorative word, it allows us to fill in gaps in information with data that is generally correct.
For example, if I say the word "car", it's likely that the picture in your mind is of a vehicle with 4 wheels. Not all do of course, but it's a reasonable default, we are prejudiced to believe that unless otherwise specified, cars have 4 wheels. Moving right along...
These constructs strongly influence what information analysts will accept—that is, data that are in accordance with analysts’ unconscious mental models are more likely to be perceived and remembered than information that is at odds with them.
Mental models are critical to allowing individuals to process what otherwise would be an incomprehensible volume of information. Yet, they can cause analysts to overlook, reject, or forget important incoming or missing information that is not in accord with their assumptions and expectations. Seasoned analysts may be more susceptible to these mind-set problems as a result of their expertise and past success in using time-tested mental models. The key risks of mindsets are that: analysts perceive what they expect to perceive; once formed, they are resistant to change; new information is assimilated, sometimes erroneously, into existing mental models; and conflicting information is often dismissed or ignored.
I'm teaching a course at the ANU called "Software Requirements Elicitation and Analysis Techniques". The first part, the Elicitation, is essentially Intelligence-gathering. The second part is about figuring out what the data - always incomplete, often contradictory - means in terms of what the requirements of the system must be. What it must do. It matters not that no-one's trying to deliberately mislead or obfuscate the situation, there's enough miscommunication and mutual incomprehension between stakeholders that there may as well be deliberate deception.

The techniques in the Tradecraft handbook have general applicability to analysing incomplete data, not just in the world of spooks and espionage. Recommended Reading.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

A Personal First

I attended my first demonstration today, outside of Parliament House. OK, it was a Rally, but close enough. A group of people agitating as a group for political change.

I'll quote from the Press Release :
History will be made in Canberra on Wednesday, when Australia’s ISGD communities hold their first ever rally for equal rights.

Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse people (ISGD) are groups of people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, genderqueer, cross-dressers, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and/or gender culturally specific differences.

The rally – to be held at 1pm this Wednesday on the Parliament Lawn, Parliament House, Canberra – will mark the first time ISGD people have staged their own independent rally to call for equal treatment under the law.

Buses carrying campaigners are coming from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the rally, which has received the personal support and endorsement of CLOVER MOORE MP, Independent Member for Sydney; WARREN ENTSCH, Federal MP and Chief Opposition Whip; and SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, Australian Greens Senator.

TRACIE O’KEEFE, member of Still Fierce: Sydney Intersex Sex and/or Gender Diverse collective, which is organising the rally, said the protest was a response to various inequalities and injustices faced by ISGD people in Australia.

“Unquestionably, all ISGD groups of people in Australia are legally marginalised in every state in many ways,” she said.

“Many people cannot get their birth records or documents changed to the correct sex when it has been incorrectly stated or they have changed their sex status.

“Others whose sex and/or gender may be other than strictly male or female are unable to have identity documents that reflect their true identities.”

O’Keefe said the discrimination against ISGD people included serious instances of child abuse and denial of medical treatment.

“The practice of unwanted surgeries on intersex children without their permission to ‘normalise’ their genitalia is sanctioned under the sinister veil of enforcing normality, instead of being seen as child abuse,” she said.

“Many sex and/or gender diverse young people who want medical treatment are denied it unless they are intimidated into going through the court system to gain legal permission.

“Meanwhile, full Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits for those ISGD people who cannot afford treatment is still only a pipe dream. They are discriminated against in comparison to people who seek other health needs from Medicare.”

O’Keefe said that in addition to Wednesday’s rally, a list of demands (available on the Still Fierce website) would be handed to Federal MPs.
I'm as fierce as a guinea-pig. I'm straight, and staid, and prim, and priggish, and not at all like the genderqueer, the gender outlaws, the gender rebels, the trans sex workers, and all the rest of the diverse mob.

I'm not worthy of them.

I haven't suffered remotely as much as most of them. I didn't have the courage to be myself, I had to be forced into it by a peculiar endocrinal disorder. I've had middle-class white privilege, and for much of my life, male cis-sexual privilege too.

What do I have in common with them? I'm one of them. I'm human. I'm now being me. I'm now subject to hatred and bigotry and all the rest.

What do I have that makes me different? Power, if only because I'm erudite, a good speaker, and have an influential blog. Education. Confidence, and an Ego as big as all outdoors, proof against any attempt to humiliate me, because in extremis the only person whose opinion really matters to me is my own. Not much money, but way more than most. Objectively below the poverty line (just), but comparatively, with wealth untold.

To those who have been given much, much is expected. So I went well outside my comfort zone, even voluntarily took a mike in my hand as an unscheduled speaker and addressed the crowd, telling them that in the ACT at least, things were happening, wheels were in motion, and people like them had already made a difference. That this battle is winnable. That there is not just hope, but reason to believe that reform will come, and soon. That they should redouble their efforts now they're starting to win. "Energising the Base". What I said was just the truth though.

This is so not me. I mean, I'm Right Wing. The word "Collective" gives me the screaming meemies.

But I just can't stand by, not when I can help, not when I'm in a position to do something, however small, to correct injustice. Some of them had travelled a thousand miles and more by bus to get there. I just nipped over in my car after giving a lecture at the ANU nearby. Not exactly a great sacrifice for The Cause, was it?

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Three Medical References

None of the flawless, but all of them useful.

A Transgender Therapy Primer - The Body
The basics of Hormone Replacement Therapy. Especially useful is the partial drug interaction chart.

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Dummies Transgenders: Do's and Don'ts
This is a Powerpoint Presentation on "what is a hormone?". I disagree in some minor ways with some of the details, but close enough.

There's also a handy list of references for use in educating your GP and Endo. This includes not just articles, but lists of useful websites on the subject. Highly recommended.

(Draft) DSM-5
The latest version of the (draft) Diagnostics and Statistical Manual from the American Psychiatric Association. Compared to the previous draft, there have been quite a few changes in the area to do with Transsexuality.

Gender Dysphoria, as it is now called, rather than "Gender Identity Disorder", has its own section now. This emphasises its peculiar nature as the mental illness you have when you're not mentally ill.
Please find below a list of disorders that are currently proposed for the diagnostic category, Gender Dysphoria. This category contains diagnoses that were listed in DSM-IV under the chapter of Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders.
In response to criticisms that the term was stigmatizing, we originally proposed to replace the term “Gender Identity Disorder” with Gender Incongruence. This was accompanied by a re-definition of the condition, revised criteria, eliminating the previous subtype pertaining to sexual attraction, and introducing a new subtype categorization that does not exclude such individuals with a somatic disorder of sex development (DSD). We chose the new term, Gender Incongruence, as descriptive and to avoid a presupposition of the presence of a clinically significant acute distress in all cases as a requirement for the diagnosis. In part, this was based on more general discussions in the DSM-5 Task Force on separating out the distress/impairment criterion and evaluating these parameters as a separate dimensions.

We also debated and discussed the merit of placing this condition in a special category apart from (formerly Axis-I) psychiatric diagnoses to reflect its unusual status as a mental condition treated with cross-sex hormones, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender (particularly with regard to adolescents and adults). We chose not to make any decision between its categorization as a psychiatric or a medical condition and wished to avoid jeopardizing either insurance coverage or treatment access (Drescher, 2010).
Unusual? Try "Unique". Try "Sticks out like dog's..." um, you know. Try "obviously doesn't belong but if we don't put it here the consequences would be Bad News(tm) for the patients". Now Intersexed people with the wrong assignment of their sex by others at birth are included as not-mentally-ill-but-in-the-diagnostic-manual anyway too. Well, at least they're consistent...

With a disorder of sex development [14]

Without a disorder of sex development

14. There is considerable evidence individuals with a DSD experience GI and may wish to change from their assigned gender; the percentage of such individuals who experience GI is syndrome-dependent (Cohen-Kettenis, 2005; Dessens, Slijper, & Drop, 2005; Mazur, 2005; Meyer-Bahlburg, 1994, 2005, 2009a, 2009b). From a phenomenologic perspective, DSD individuals with GI have both similarities and differences to individuals with GI with no known DSD. Developmental trajectories also have similarities and differences. The presence of a DSD is suggestive of a specific causal mechanism that may not be present in individuals without a diagnosable DSD.
Maybe, just Maybe, hypothetically speaking of course, being castrated as a baby might just make one a tadge upset, so yes, there would be issues there. This is in addition to the problems of Gender Dysphoria (not Gender Incongruence now I think). I've seen no real difference in those with diagnosable Intersex conditions who transition, and those without. Often, and I'm starting to think it's the majority, the latter have sub-clinical IS conditions anyway, it's getting beyond a joke the number who do.

A work in progress. Or perhaps regress in some ways. Whatever, this document will have very real effects on tens of thousands of people's lives. Child custody arrangements for example - for who would place children in the care of a "nutcase"? Human Rights - again, it's easy to say that claims by the insane can be safely ignored. Especially since in the current DSM-IV-TR manual they - we - are classed in the same group as paedophiles, sadists etc.

At least there's an attempt at finding an evidential basis now. I wish they'd get off the fence and accept that the preponderance of evidence for biological causation is now beyond reasonable doubt.

Monday 9 May 2011

Two from the Canberra Times

Things are starting to happen here in Canberra. People are starting to notice how TS and IS people are being treated in society.

Transgender people most likely abused
The Human Rights Commissioner, Catherine Branson, has called on the federal government to introduce federal laws to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
State legislation is inconsistent and incomplete and it is unclear whether its reach covers those working in federal bodies.

Ms Branson said federal legislation, apart from providing uniform and comprehensive protection, would be an important symbolic statement which would help bring about attitudinal change.
Ms Branson said the most distressing and egregious examples of violence came from people who were intersex or who were transitioning from male to female or the other way round.

A 2010 survey found that 92 per cent of trans women and 55 per cent of trans men reported they had been the subject of verbal abuse, and 46 per cent and 36 per cent respectively had been punched kicked or beaten; almost 40 per cent of trans women reported having been attacked with knives, bottles or rocks.

The report, Addressing Sexual Orientation and Sex and/or Gender Identity Discrimination, also heard examples of discrimination in nursing homes, in the healthcare system, in sporting clubs, and in the use of toilets and change rooms.
As regular readers of my blog are no doubt aware.

Transgender people face 'social isolation'
Transgender and intersex people living in the ACT are six times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population and have difficulty accessing health services, a new survey shows.

The Gender Diversity in the ACT survey is the first of its kind and reveals high rates of social isolation and discrimination among the local transgender and intersex population.

Compiled by advocacy and support group A Gender Agenda, the survey reveals 78 per cent of transgender and intersex people in the ACT have had difficulty accessing medical care.

A further 21 per cent of respondents travelled interstate to access general practitioner services because local doctors did not have the knowledge to treat them or refused to provide appropriate treatment.
I'm in that situation myself. I have a marvellous GP, but I have to travel interstate for every 15 minute endocrinologist's appointment. 12 hours travel time, catching busses and trains, and at considerable expense. A 400 mile round-trip.
The survey findings coincide with the opening of Canberra's first place for the sex and gender diverse, which will be launched today by Deputy Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

In March, the ACT Government launched an inquiry into the legal recognition of transgender and intersex people living in Canberra which will be completed by the Law Reform Advisory Council.
With a little help from an advisory panel from the Australian National University, comprised of medical and legal experts in the area. And at least one member of staff who knows more about the law than the medics, and more about the biology than the lawyers.

I'm meeting with the chair of the Law Reform Advisory Council on Thursday, to discuss my role and other issues.

Friday 6 May 2011

The War Illustrated Archive

Click to access.

A record of the history of the second world war, as it was perceived at the time. 4d an issue.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Australian Human Right Commission Report

Addressing sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity discrimination/

Commission commenced a public consultation to canvas the experiences and views of people who may have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or sex and/or gender identity. The task was a listening exercise, and a lot needed to be said.
Participants revealed personal stories of discrimination, vilification and harassment that provide compelling evidence of the need for change. They also presented evidence of the negative impact discrimination has had on their health and wellbeing.
The experiences of discrimination shared during the consultation were nothing new. The Commission has previously reported on the stigmatisation and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements (2007) and Sex Files: The legal recognition of sex in documents and government records (2009).
Although the work of the Commission in this area was recognised throughout the consultation, many participants expressed disappointment that government has not yet acted upon many of the recommendations made in Sex Files. Many trans and intersex people continue to face substantial difficulties in obtaining legal recognition of their sex. We commend the Australian Government for the initial steps that have been taken to respond to the Commission’s recommendations regarding the process for changing legal sex. Significant further changes are required in this area.
The scope of the problem?
While a public servant I was referred to as “the freak” by several co-workers and received ongoing harassment by one particular employee after I had mentioned that I was Intersex. As I understood it then, there was no protection for harassment on the basis of being intersex as the sexual harassment laws only protected males and females, and not Intersex.

Then there's this simple statement, section 8.1 of the report:
8.1 Current federal protections from discrimination on the basis of sex and/or gender identity
There is no protection from discrimination on the basis of sex and/or gender identity in federal law.
Things are happening here, and without the Culture War Clash in the USA, or the partisan political machinations in the UK. We need them to.
Speaking Out (2010) found that of its survey participants:
92% of trans women and 55% of trans men reported verbal abuse
46% of trans women and 36% of trans men reported physical attacks without a weapon (punched, kicked, beaten)
38% of trans women and 9% of trans men reported physical attacks with a weapon (knife, bottle, stones).
The key to stopping this is education.
Education should be started early that there are males and females and some people do not fit into those categories. Discrimination is learnt. When I was in sex education in high school we were taught that there were males and females. It was confusing as I was obviously not male or female. (Participant, Sydney roundtable on sex and/or gender identity, 28 October 2010.)

Children are not taught about the occurrence of intersex births and neither are they taught about the occurrence of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse people. This ill-prepares children for the real world where they may encounter such people. Children themselves who are intersex, sex and/or gender diverse are marginalised in such circumstances and made to feel shame about [the] way they are. (Sex and Gender Education Australia and Australian Health Education Centre, Comment 73, p 15.)

A number of organisations stressed the importance of education on the needs of trans and intersex people for health and community service providers. (Freedom! Gender Identity Association, Comment 90; National LGBTI Health Alliance, Comment 112.)

The current lack of understanding in this field was reported to be a barrier to accessing health care:
The practical result is that some sex and gender diverse people in the ACT either do not seek medical treatment, or choose not disclose their full medical history for fear of facing potential discrimination from ill-informed medical practitioners. This raises serious concerns on an individual level but also from the perspective of the need to protect and respect the human rights of all persons in Australia today (Fiona David and Peter Bailey, Comment 147, p 3.)
Lots of work to do, isn't there?

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Stating the Obvious

AM - Rights Commission documents disturbing stories of discrimination 04/05/2011
The Human Rights Commission undertook public consultations in Sydney and Melbourne, calling on gay, lesbian and transgender Australians to tell their stories.

The commissioner, Catherine Branson says she was disturbed by what she heard.

CATHERINE BRANSON: We heard of people born intersex who were experiencing being called freaks in their workplaces and otherwise harassed and verbally abused, sometimes physically abused on the streets.
BARBARA MILLER: The commission says its report shows there's broad support for federal protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Is it a call to action do you think?

CATHERINE BRANSON: Look I think it's a call to everyone to reflect that there are people in our community who do not enjoy the rights that so many of us do enjoy.

All that the people we heard from wanted was to be treated in exactly the same way as most of us take for granted all of the time.

BARBARA MILLER: But you didn't hear from the rest of the population. What about the fact that some people argue that a lot of people in the community don't want these kind of rights to be afforded to this group?

CATHERINE BRANSON: Well look I'm not sure that that's right.

I think there is very broad support in the community for protections on the grounds of sexual orientation and sex and gender identity to be provided.

BARBARA MILLER: Corey Irlam from the lobby group the Australian Coalition for Equality welcomes the report.

COREY IRLAM: The beauty of this situation is both the Federal Government and the Federal Opposition in principle have agreed to introduce these laws as part of the national harmonisation process that's going on.
Australia, with 6 states and 2 territories, has a patchwork quilt of inconsistent legislation, with no good reason given by anyone for why these differences should exist. They're not so much an "accident" of history, as a train-wreck.

As part of this process, here in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the wheels of government are starting to turn. From the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety:
Transgender rights & legal recognition

The ACT Attorney General, Simon Corbell MLA, formally referred the issue of transgender legal recognition to the Law Reform Advisory Council for consideration in 2011. Mr Corbell asked the Council for detailed advice on whether any changes to the Territory’s current law are needed to ensure the protection of human rights.

The Council will provide opportunities for public comment as it undertakes the inquiry. Further updates and information will be posted on this website.

The terms of reference for the Council's latest inquiry are available online here:

LRAC Terms of Refence 2011 - transgender rights & recognition

As part of its inquiry, the Council will consider advice by the Human Rights Commission on the current state of ACT law. The advice reviews the requirements for registering a change of sex under the Births, Deaths, & Marriages Registration Act 1997, and includes some recommendations for legislative reform. The advice is available at the link below:

Human Rights Commission - Advice on gender identity

The Council will also consider the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission in its Sex Files: the legal recognition of sex in documents and government records report of April 2009. That report is available online at the following link:

AHRC Report - Sex Files
Members of the Legal and Medical professions from the Australian National University are taking part in this - and even the odd Intersexed Rocket Scientist too, as she has some specialised knowledge of both the medical and legal aspects that the others do not. Plus her personal story, which is a textbook case of just how bizarre the legal tangle is, exemplifying many of the problems in one neat package. As the chair of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council said "Thank you very much Zoe, for being available, and for the very informative message. We have a lot to learn."

Glad to be of service.

3:30 AM and still marking

The printer ate 6 assignments - so instead of 4 more, there were 10. Bleah.

I'm getting too old to pull all-nighters like this. Actually, I was too old ten years ago.

Normal blogging will resume ASAP. First I have to complete the re-checking of the marks, chase up those papers with no name on to figure out who submitted them, then work on the progress report presentation I have to give on Thursday. But I might do that tomorrow, after I give the lecture on setting requirements priorities.

If teaching wasn't so much fun, there's no way I'd be doing this. But it is, so I am.

Now 3:32am, better get back to it.

Monday 2 May 2011


Seriously so, PhDing and marking. Hence the one-week gap in posts. More later.