July 15, 2006

Southern States Energy Board clueless about Peak Oil; N.Y. Times abets cluelessness

The SSEB outlandishly claims we can eliminate our dependence on imported oil and create 3 million new jobs with a few simple steps.

Those steps include making fuels from coal with the Fischer-Tropsch process, using CO2 to enhance oilfield recovery, making biofuels from waste biomass, and oil shale production.

Here’s part of why they’re so clueless:

First, the group ignores CO2 oilfield injection already ongoing, as though this will be a magic bullet that is suddenly newfound.

Second, it ignores the massive energy use, water use, earthen byproducts pollution, etc. of the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Third, when an article like this starts talking about oil shale as a realistic part of the solution, you know it has no anchorage in reality. In case the Times doesn’t keep up with news, when a company like Shell talks about heating entire shale fields in situ, or using underground nuclear explosions, to loosen shale oil, sensible people hang on to their hats.

Fourth, biofuels just don’t have that much potential. If made with waste from cropped agricultural products, there’s not that much waste. If used also with the food portion of those products, there’s not that much product without cutting into the food supply.

At least this shows the Times practices equal-opportunity cluelessness, rather than selectively on things like Iraq.

July 14, 2006

It’s a whole new Plame field

So, as people have been expecting to happen, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson are suing Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, along with Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby and 10 unnamed persons.over the leaking of her name while she was still a CIA operative.
The lawsuit alleged "a conspiracy among current and former high-level officials in the White House" to "discredit, punish and seek revenge" against Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for publicly disputing statements made by Bush justifying the war in Iraq.

No dollar amount, but both compensatory and punitive damages are being sought.

Will their suit have synergy with Libby’s trial? Or will they and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald get at cross purposes? As methodical as he’s been, I doubt he relishes this newcomer pair dealing themselves in at this point.

Second set of questions revolve around the pacing of this suit and how much happens before the November elections. And that’s the one that the GOP is surely sweating.

Rule No. 1 of civil suits is: There’s no Fifth Amendment.

Rule No. 2 is: Don’t ever forget about Rule No. 1.

July 13, 2006

Black colleges, white baseball players

USA Today’s Mike Lopresti reports on the continuing decline of African-Americans playing baseball.

I knew the numbers were down in the major leagues, primarly due to the continued surge of Latin ballplayers. But the decline is on the home front, too.

Lopresti says some historically black colleges are having to field lineups with as much as 50 percent white players just to fill out their rosters.

I agree that the inner-city surge of the NBA is part of it. Could it be that the NBA, which drafted high schoolers until this year, seemed a quicker, not just more glamorous, route to succees?

Sports Illustrated’s insightful Frank Deford says that the problem is in the eye of the beholder. Since sports are ultimately part of culture, this shouldn’t be made into such a big deal.

Now, at the MLB level, that’s certainly true. (On the other hand, will we hear shout-outs for the next “Great Black Hope”?) At the collegiate level, how “historically black” colleges square their tradition with this modern reality is another issue entirely. Of course, behind that is the yet-larger issue of integration vs. voluntary self-segregation.

Big box, big lot, edge-of-forest Westerners part of the problem, not the solution, with mountain lions

Just like people insisting on living at the edges of national forests have contributed to fire problems, so, the same type of people encroaching on wildlife habitat have contributed to mountain lion-human problems.

Of course, most of them are either too clueless about what the word “wilderness” is supposed to mean, or selfish in the “there ain’t enough room for both of us” sense. Here’s a prime example:
“I don’t feel like we’re living in a natural wilderness. Nothing about it is natural,” (Tracey) English said. “I believe the lions need to be managed.”

You’re always free to move back to Denver, you twit. Don’t let the pinecones hit you in the ass on the way out. Until you recognize that: A. Further human housing encroachment further stresses lions and B: “Wilderness,” in its most narrow definition, negates the idea of “management,” you will be part of the problem.

India names bomb suspects

Al Qaeda claims Kashmir branch, praises attack

India named two suspects in the Mumbai bombings.

India believes Kashmiri militants are likely behind the bombing. If the al Qaeda claim is true, though, it would be the first time it has actually penetrated into India.

Wal-Mart to cut ‘ma and pa’ shoplifters a break

Wally-World says that if you steal less than $25, and it’s a first-time offense you get just a warning, not an arrest.
Wal-Mart said the change would allow it to focus on theft by professional shoplifters and its own employees, who together steal the bulk of merchandise from the chain every year, rather than the teenager who occasionally takes a candy bar from the checkout counter.

It may also serve to placate small-town police departments across the country who have protested what the company has called its zero-tolerance policy on shoplifting. Employees summoned officers whether a customer stole a $5 toy or a $5,000 television set — anything over $3, the company said.

At some of the chain’s giant 24-hour stores, the police make up to six arrests a day prompting a handful of departments to hire an additional officer just to deal with the extra workload.

My city is one of those cities. In fact, urban legend has it that several websites even are available to let police chiefs of potential Wal-Mart towns calculate how many additional officers to hire.

Additional Wright Amendment details don’t sound so nice; more evidence of collusion rears its ugly head

The Dallas Morning News gives us the fine print.
Lawmakers from other states also raised concerns about the plan. Many were worried that other airlines would be locked out of Love Field because American, Southwest and Continental Airlines control all the remaining gates.

JetBlue Airways, among other carriers, has raised concerns that it would not have access to Love under the local compromise.

But the mayors and (Kevin) Cox, (COO of D/FW Airport), argued that there is plenty of unused gate capacity at Love and that entrant airlines could sublease from the existing carriers.

Puhleeze. You’re closing Love Field down to 20 gates, with only two gates not controlled by any of the aforementioned airlines.

Smokey Joe Barton, so wrong so often, is right about this:
In the end, Barton predicted North Texas would be viewed as having one superairport with terminals at D/FW Airport and Love Field that are only eight miles apart.

Exactly; to some degree, the Wright repeal deal is collusion between Southwest and American More evidence?
Among concerns (of some D/FW area Congressional members) is a provision that requires Dallas and Fort Worth to mutually work to bring new air service for North Texas to D/FW Airport. …

“That is a contractual agreement between the city of Dallas and the city of Fort Worth that says we will put all of our eggs into the D/FW basket,” said Cox. “That agreement will stand on its own.”

In other words, for all of Southwest’s bluster and studies alleging the area would eventually need a third passenger airport, they’re willing to throw that all under the bus to collude with American.

Remember, for all of Southwest’s PR, too, this deal is ultimately about what’s best for Southwest, first, and what’s best for D/FW air travelers, whether Southwest customers or not, second.

Yet another voice says Peak Oil is here now

Ali Bakhtiari, a former senior adviser for the National Iranian Oil Company, says this year is when we hit the peak. And, just like Cantarell, the North Sea, and some other spots are showing not gradual but sharp declines, he expects that to be the worldwide situation in the not-too-distant future.
”In the next 14 years, if my predictions are correct, one third of today’s oil supply will be gone,” Bakhtiari said. “Wait until you see these pressures that are coming up. They will come up one day.”

That sounds about right to me. And that’s a very concrete number, and percentage — about a one-third drop.

The Wal-Mart of computing slips a bit more

Firefox brower use is now about 13 percent of the total, with IE down to about 83 percent globally. And, Microslob is less liked elsewhere than here.
Usage rates for IE and Firefox in Canada and the U.K. are similar to the U.S. statistics. But in Australia, Firefox is much more popular and is used by 24.23 percent of Web surfers. Microsoft’s IE is used by 69.35 percent of Australian surfers, according to the study. In Germany, Firefox is even more popular: 39.02 percent of surfers there use it, compared with 55.99 percent who use IE.

Combine that with the European Union smacking Microslob with millions of euros in new fines for its deliberate foot-dragging in addressing the software bundling issue, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer company, at least this side of Wal-Mart.

One Cheney smackdown, courtesy of Vlad the Impaler

Russian President Vladimir Putin has basically just told Vice President Dick Cheney to STFU in his anti-Russian carping. And Putin has done so in a way to suggest he reads American newspapers and has a long memory.
Putin said that Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of Russia was “an unsuccessful hunting shot” — a reference to Cheney's Feb. 11 hunting accident in Texas in which he accidentally peppered lawyer Harry Whittington in the torso, neck and face with up to 200 shotgun pellets.

Peppered shotgun blast with a side of crow. Could be tasty, Dick; I hope you’re hungry.

July 12, 2006

Kos watch … don’t mess with the Kos, you pipsqueak activist

Richard Silverstein of Tikum Olam posted a Kos diary where he raised the old “consulting fees” question again.

Result? (As if I needed to tell you.)

His backside got flamed so hard he probably couldn’t sit down for a week.

And, some of the comments on his own blog are priceless.

Maryscott O’Conner, a definite Kos suck-up:
For the record, I am a longtime member of this site, I considerMarkos a warm acquaintance — but I see absolutely nothing wrong with this diary. It asks questions and posits theories — but the ludicrous extent of the defensive reflexive responses is absolutely embarrassing to me.

I wish I could apologise to you on behalf ofthe entire membership of DKos — but I fear most of them would be repelled by such temerity.

I can’t quite reconcile my vision of this community with this blind spot, this INABILITY to even accept the PRESENCE of questions about their putative leaderl. It freaks me the fuck out.

Maryscott, why don’t you stop handwringing and tell Kos to actually do something?

All I can say is, Markos doen’t endorse this behavior , and might be troubled by his moderator’s actions.

Sure he endorses it; he at least has tolerated it, and even the bannings, over Harry Reid voting in favor of Hayden heading the CIA, over Armando’s shysterism, and more.
It’s his lemonade stand

Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

There has really been an attempt at purging anything remotely close to some sort of “conflict” which is conveniently brought up by those on the other side of the fence, who would like nothing more than to see dKos and liberal bloggers go down, all while Malkin, Horowitz, Reynolds, and so many others have their heads right up the asses of Republican officials.

There’s more than one “other side,” Thad. I’m a Green-leaner, and I regularly got flamed over that before getting banned over Armando. Try again.

Mark Spittle gets it right:
Unfortunately, the lure of career and cash pollutes the left (even though it RULES the right.) Your points are dead-on accurate. Between DKos and MyDD, the conflicts of interest are mounting to levels which cannot be ignored. These characters must be held to change course or be derided. We as progressives must always be above suspicion, beyond reproach, and perfect in every way. The least little slip runs through the conservative echo machine and comes out at deafening levels. We have to TRY to be perfect.

And then, he gets it even more right:
Unfortunately, it’s clear to me that Kos and Armstrong and Stoller and Bowers and some others are trying to build a career in politics — and failing that, “journalism” — using buzzwords like “liberal,” “progressive” and “netroots” as building blocks. I’ve been regularly chastised for pointing out the hypocrisy in supporting Murtha and denouncing Lieberman (Murtha’s voting record is far to the right of Lieberman), and for supporting Republican-Lite candidates like Lamont or Warner or even Clinton. (You listenin’, Daou?) I was recently called a “Bolshevik” because I wouldn’t move to the center and support Warner.

Welcome, fellow traveler. (NOTE: As Mark pointed out in another post, Daou has his own Jerome Armstrong problem by planning on working for Hillary while still running his blog, Liberal Oasis.)

An “Anon” coward gets it all wrong:
I sure wonder whether you’re carrying water for your masters in NYT, AIPAC, THE NeoCons (Richard Perle, Wolfowitz et al), NONE of whom tell the US citiznery when they are privately or publicly pushing US policy one way, while being obedient to their M.E. masters the other way.

Fladem needs to open his eyes:
The truth is that there is a ton of dissent on Kos.

Only until you’re booted.

Go to the link and read for yourself, if you dare.

Should we be paying more attention to the Mumbai bombings?

That’s the word from Indian blogger Sepia Mutiny. He says this bombing may be the last straw in India’s patience with Pakistan’s apparent lies, ditherings and half-truths over its support for terrorists. He adds that India is more ready to fight than it was a year or two ago.

Ennis specifically faults blogs more than the mainstream media. He basically does a call-out on some of the larger blogs.

How did Foreign Affairs’ experts get to be, er, experts? Rather, how did they get to be clueless?

A Foreign Affairs roundtable about Iraq revealed cluelessness squared, with none of the four people even thinking to advocate a U.S. troop withdrawal, whether now or some semi-solid future date certain, whether slow or fast.

(See Washington Monthly for the background to this.)

Anyway, here’s my take:

Foreign Affairs’ experts responses to Biddle are mostly clueless. Kaufmann's "harm reduction" strategy would be OK, if accompanied by at least a partial drawdown if not the start of a withdrawal.

Leslie Gelb’s decentralization will work just as long as it takes the different Iraqi successor countries to start fighting over boundaries, as well as pulling in outside countries as part of this. See my comments on James Dobbins to show how this would likely play out.

James Dobbins is right on one thing: the Shia have no reason to concede anything. If civil war gets stronger, they know that Turkey will reign in the Kurds while Iraq, the most populous country in the area, will back Iran. Sunni Arab countries will have little chance of luring us (back) in, and most are too small individually to offer troops in support themselves.

The other thing Dobbins gets right is the number of troops needed to have done Iraq right.
The United States put 500,000 troops into South Vietnam, a country that in 1970 had a population that was little more than half the size of the population of Iraq today. Nato put over 100,000 troops into Bosnia and Kosovo, societies that in combination are around a fifth of the size of Iraq's. Coalition forces are currently not numerous enough even to suppress the Sunni insurgency; they are certainly insufficient to take on the much more powerful Shiite and Kurdish militias as well.

So, we really need(-ed) a million-man Army. No way of doing that without a draft. Does, or did, Dobbins favor that?

Other than that, with what he said, he STILL preaches “stay the course lite.” To justifiably continue a Vietnam analogy, that’s trying to get by with fewer ground troops and more “advisors.” They would be more liable to be kidnapped, just delaying the inevitable withdrawal and further complicating it.

And Larry Diamond is just parroting the Administration/neocon bottom line until he gets new instructions. But, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

Looks like the government might get to screw Native Americans again

Judge Royce Lamberth has been removed from trying the far-too-long ongoing suit by a number of Indian tribes against the Interior Department over its management of Indian trust funds. The suit touches on more than a century of alleged mismanagement.

The D.C. Appeals Court ordered the removal, claiming Lamberth had lost his objectivity. Why? In one ruling from the bench a year ago, he directly accused the government of being racist.
“We conclude, reluctantly, that this is one of those rare cases in which reassignment is necessary,” the judges wrote in a decision reversing two other Lamberth rulings.

So, Interior will likely continue to stall, unless some National Parks-related action shows that new Secretary Dirk Kempthorne really has turned over a new leaf. (Don’t hold your breath too long.)

Here’s a little case background:
Led by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell, the plaintiffs claim the government has mismanaged oil, gas, timber and other royalties from their lands since 1887 costing them tens of billions of dollars.

Her lawsuit was filed in June 1996 and was assigned to Lamberth, a conservative Reagan appointee from Texas. Over the past decade, Lamberth has surprised many with his severe rulings accusing the government of malfeasance and incompetence in its dealings with Indians.

The case has bounced between the district and appeals courts. Lamberth has held interior secretaries Gale Norton and Bruce Babbitt in contempt and twice ordered the Interior Department to disconnect its computers.

Many of his decisions have been overturned by the appeals court, including the contempt charge against Norton.

More GOP/fundamentalist suck-up bullshit — a planned ACLU monetary gag order

House of Representatives Bill 2679 would, if passed, prevent organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, and its clients in legal actions for religious discrimination from collecting damages.

Note the ludicrous précis paragraph:
To amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to eliminate the chilling effect on the constitutionally protected expression of religion by State and local officials that results from the threat that potential litigants may seek damages and attorney's fees.

This piece of moronity, and hypocrisy given the GOP’s unabashed opening of the federal hog trough to “faith-based organizations” for everything from prison counseling to Katrina aid and in between, has already acquired 50 cosponsors.

I see that among those 50 nutbars fighting the defense of religious freedom is one of the representatives from the coverage area of my newspaper group, the underwhelming suburban Dallas Congressman Kenny Marchant.

At the same time, I'm somewhat surprised that another Texas Republican, former Libertarian Ron Paul, is a cosponsor.

As a card-carrying ACLU member, I’m appalled. I’m also afraid some Democrats are going to jump on the bandwagon with this bill.

Ozone — worse than global warming?

So says Dutch scientist Frank Raes, who says that ozone-caused drops in agricultural productivity could turn out to be worse than global warming
(Raes) estimates that each year India loses five billion dollars in crops because of ozone, followed by China, with 2.5 billion dollars.

They are followed by Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the east and west coasts of North America.

By 2030, says Raes, India will lose 20 percent of its crops through damage, compared with less than five percent through man-made global warming.

As Raes notes, often the ozone problem is worse in the country than in urban areas, due to the time the chemical cycle in the atmosphere takes to produce ozone.

One of the worst ozone areas in the U.S. is arguably its most productive agricultural area — California’s Central Valley. The Yahoo story just has cropland ozone figures from the Midwest, but given that the Valley is one of the country’s 10 worst ozone areas, the problem has to be more severe there.

But, given California’s geography and wind patterns, along with booming population grown inside the Valley, this problem, if not intractable, is certainly not one of easy solution.

Peter Hoekstra, certifiably contemptible political liar

Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claims some of the recent leaks to the media about BushCo intelligence programs were deliberately done to help al Qaeda.
“More frequently than what we would like, we find out that the intelligence community has been penetrated, not necessarily by al Qaeda, but by other nations or organizations,” he said.

“I don’t have any evidence. But from my perspective, when you have information that is leaked that is clearly helpful to our enemy, you cannot discount that possibility,” he added.

I suppose Hoekstra could actually be dumb enough or Bush/Cheney-hypnotized enough to actually believe this, which would be scarier yet than political lying like this. But that’s more than scary enough. He’s quickly moving past people like Rick Santorum and Peter King and into a class all his own.

July 11, 2006

“Evolution’s Rainbow” a clear case of bad science

Because Amazon keeps deleting my full review — whether due to length or because I’m sounding too un-PC, my full review of this bad-science attempt at using science to propel changes in social policy, the book Evolution’s Rainbow” by transsexual activist Joan Roughgarden, is posted below.


A progressive says: Gender psychology/sociology prescriptions masquerade as evolutionary biology, with other mistakes & willfulness as well

A 1-star for bad science, arguably a 3/4-star for gender psychology/sociology/politics, but being presented as a work of science, ends as a 1-star

First, I put the “a progressive says” at the start of the title so nobody would think I’m conservative curmudgeon frozen in my thinking.

The rest of the title speaks for itself, as I’ll show with page citations. Research that remains open to question is always analyzed to the most envelope-pushing conclusions. Straw men are regularly set up, with beliefs about gender issues in biology that may be held by a majority of the general populace instead being foisted on stereotypical old-school evolutionary biologists.

And, Roughgarden makes clear this is part of an agenda.

Page 3: “I also wish to **destabilize** (emphasis added) the primacy of individualism.

Page 4: She calls the castrated priests of Cybele “priestesses.” (Adult castration does not normally diminish male sexual drive or identification, which she admits elsewhere. And, in light of the Attis/Cybele myth, it’s very arguable that the psychology of the castration/dedication is intended as either males, or as a “third gender,” which Roughgarden talks so much about.)

Then, when Roughgarden ventures into other fields, she shows an even greater tendency to misread, or misconstrue texts and information. For example, calling self-made eunuchs of early New Testament saintliness as “transgendered” is simply wrong. First, even if we could present these men with a modern idea of what being “transgendered” is, they would reject that this is what they were trying to become. Second, as noted above, men castrated as adults don’t lose their adult sexual drive. Since Roughgarden draws lines between “sex” and “gender” and insists on the large psychological and sociological comports of “gender,” she probably has good reason for running past this scientific evidence which shows that “eunuchs” most definitely are not “transgendered.”

And, speaking of the “sex” vs. “gender” distinction, it’s the most visible example of how she seems to be trying to play Wittgensteinian games with language, in the sense of trying to craft a new gameboard from the table of Procrustes.

So, it’s time to make some specific citations from the book.

Page 3: “Western culture discriminates against diversity.” First, this is a stereotype, of a straw man nature. Second, she doesn’t define what “Western culture” is.

Pages 19-20: She divides theories about sexual vs. asexual reproduction’s benefits into “diversity affirming” vs. “diversity repressing,” and claims the latter just doesn’t work. “A bad gene never gets going in an asexual species, and sex’s supposed pruning of the gene pool is unnecessary and mythical.” Well, “never” is pretty strong. She then goes off down a primrose path by claiming this view could eventually be used to justify discrimination. Even if that were true (which it isn’t) she commits the elementary logical fallacy of confusing “is” and “ought.”

Pages 27-28: Here’s where she lists stereotypes that may well be held by a majority of the general public as though they were held by the majority of biologists.

Those stereotypes include: An organism is solely male or female for life; females, not males, give birth; males have XY and females XX; males and females look different, etc. It’s intellectually dishonest of her, after spending her introduction tilting at the windmills of establishment biology, to not clearly spell out that she knows these are stereotypes held by the general public, not by fellow biologists.

Page 32: After having already said she specifically rejects Darwin’s theory of sexual selection lock, stock and barrel, she says of wrasses, who have large and small males: “Whether females prefer either type of male isn’t known.” Isn’t this a logical non sequitur from your point of view, Dr. Roughgarden? If you believe sexual selection doesn’t exist, how can you talk about a female preferring one type of male over another on sexual characteristics?

Pages 36ff: In talking about velvethorn male elk, and other species where she tries to insist partially intergendered males not only exist but are natural, she overlooks some HUGE alternative possibilities AND huge contraindicating actualities.

The biggest actuality she ignores? Fertilizer runoff, among other things, acting like an endocrine disruptor. Numerous field research trips have shown an alarming rise in hermaphroditic fish and amphibians in the farmland Midwest, for example. True, elk are vegetarian, but with other species, as we saw happen decades ago to bald eagles with DDT, fertilizer runoff, phthalate plastic byproducts, etc., may also be getting passed “upstream.” Beyond that, on the alternative possibilities, if you follow her logic, such anthropogenic hermaphroditism isn’t “wrong,” either.

Pages 78-79: Why not talk about “three discrete maturational stages” rather than three “genders” in looking at male sunfish? The three are all of different ages, their phenotypic differences seem to be readily explainable on an age basis, and the “gender” word here again seems Procrustean.

Here and elsewhere she talks about multiple genders per one sex, her illogical thinking rears its head again.

Sunfish have brains the size of a rifle slug with cortical convolutions per square millimeter one-thousandth of ours. They CAN'T have different genders because they don't have enough brain to have developed social learning and social structures. Ditto for other fish, amphibians and reptiles she cites as having three or more genders. ’Taint so; it’s simply impossible biologically.

170ff: She again trots out the straw man, in trying to demolish sexual selection. No. 5, she says, ”Females do not choose ‘great genes.’” If male altruism, nurturing, monogamy, etc. does contribute to the perpetuation of his genes (and therefore hers), the genes which cause tendencies toward this behavior are, by definition, “great genes,” and are certainly chosen for. No. 7, she says, “Social deceit is not demonstrated.” Oh, really? It’s been clearly demonstrated with both other primates and with corvids. Now, in those cases, the deceit hasn’t been sex-specific, but, if it enhances survival and therefore fitness, it will be selected for.

Pages 280ff: She then castigates modern medicine while also trying to make some of its definitions fit her Procrustean bed. She seems to believe that modern medicine hates diversity and wants to quash it, like some group of Nazi-like doctors, and therefore is all too ready to label diversity disease. Following on this, she takes a very strict view of population genetics and mutational frequency to ask whether “diseases” (her theoretical scare quotes, not mine) which occur with less than 1 in 10,000 or so frequency shouldn’t be relabeled as “diversity. I’m sure sufferers of muscular dystrophy, for example, wish their disease, and its symptoms, were just “diversity,” but sadly, that’s not the case.

Next, she goes on to fudge medical statistics, and the calculation of them, to increase estimates of the number of transsexuals in the U.S. and the U.K., and by extension, in population worldwide. She counts the number of male-to-female reassignment surgeries over a multiyear basis and then sums them up. She then divides by the number of adult males in the U.S. or U.K. at any one time, without making allowance for the number of new males entering the population from year to year. Now, this wouldn’t throw her estimates off by a factor of 10, but, it probably would do so by 50 percent or so, maybe 100 percent.

Then, she commits the “is”/”ought” fallacy throughout this particular chapter, assuming that identifying something as a genetic defect automatically labels it morally wrong.

Now, let’s look at her re-reading of the Jewish and Christian testaments.

Page 370: She seems to claim that Ruth and Naomi were lesbian, although the use of the phrase “loving partnership” is, at bottom, weasel language. Even gay rights activists, etc., who have claimed David and Jonathan were gay haven’t normally invoked Ruth and Naomi. (Of course, I’ve probably read more on gay studies than lesbian studies, but still, the point is — that’s a horrible misreading of the story.)

And, speaking of D & J …

Page 371: They’re gay, of course, in her reading. She also refers to the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew of I Samuel, which doesn’t always follow closely, and gives a forced reading of it, to try to justify her point. Besides, with her references to classical Greece elsewhere, she should know that the story of Damon and Pythias illustrates just as great a degree of fraternal love with even less sexual implication.

Finally, she basically tries to do an end run around the passages of Leviticus and Romans.

With Leviticus, she first implies that because Greek pederasty didn’t always involve penetration (though she may overstate that case too), that Hebrew homosexuality was exactly the same. Again, no proof, just a leap forward.

In jumping to the New Testament, she first says, Well, Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, so it must have been OK by him. But there are other interpretations. Perhaps it was such an abomination to him that he refused to mention it. Or, it was such an abomination in the Jewish mind in general that he knew it didn’t need mentioning as an abomination “coming out of the heart.”

Page 374: Finally, Paul in Romans talking about surrendering to unnatural acts.

First, Roughgarden engages in more linguistic semantics, insisting that acts don’t equate to relationships. Sure they do, when performed repeatedly with the same person. Now, people such as gays having sex on the “down low” would like to believe exactly what Roughgarden is saying, but somewhere inside, they know it’s not true.

Then, she pulls out a philosophical, and philosophy of science, laugher. “Followers of the Stoics, **the ancient counterpart of scientists,** state that nature functions according to ‘laws.’” It seems like she’s trying to gore two or three straw men at the same time, with this. First, there were ancient scientists, or close to it. They were called the Atomists. In traditional philosophical schools, the Skeptics, especially the Pyrrhonics, would have much more right to claim the mantle of “scientist” than would Stoics. The Cynics and Epicureans would have at least as valid a call on it as Stoics, for that matter.

Finally, she has certain philosophical assumptions about evolutionary biology that I don’t think are warranted. Above all is her total rejection of the “neutralist” position on mutations. Instead, she assumes mutations HAVE to be adaptive, not just neutral, else they wouldn’t remain in the population. Between this philosophical stance and her use of bad statistics to up the estimates on transsexual rate in the general population, she **insists** transsexualism has to be adaptive and will soon be proven so. Finally, she rejects the idea of evolutionary spandrels.

In sum, I view Dr. Roughgarden, a transsexual, or transgendered, if you prefer, with being hoist by her own petard. Although she never uses the phrase “dead white male,” or even “dead male,” in her diatribe against Darwin in particular and the majority of evolutionary biologists in general, it lies behind this book and around every corner of a page about to be turned.

She seems to have the evangelistic fervor of the recently converted, or in this case, the recently sexually reassigned. In addition to that, she has a Roussean (at least) view of the noble savage in most all multicellular species on Earth outside Homo sapiens, subspecies vir heterosexualis mortuus. Her assumptions about the degree of cooperativeness among animals, the lack of deceit, the fail-safe-ness of insemination producing fertilization, etc., are just the tip of the iceberg in evidence of this, this naiveté, willfully adopted, that she presents. That naiveté alone would disqualify this book from serious attention.

Does the book have good points? Yes, primarily in pointing out the varieties of diversity within sexual acts, intergendered and transgendered outside of Homo sapiens, and the isomorphism within male and female sex of many species. However, you can find much of this in other modern evolutionary biology books.