I know of several males who were circumcised in adulthood. One was a non-religious person who had it done in the army primarily because of the teasing he received from the other soldiers who were circumcised. Most boys in the 1950s were circumcised in the hospital for reasons of hygiene rather than religious reasons. He did not feel that there was any lose of pleasure experience. Another male married a Jewish woman and had a religious circumcision. He exclaimed that his pleasure was enhanced but I am convinced that his experience was psychosomatic in origin. I myself was circumcised in the hospital. At age 10 I was in the hospital for hernia surgery. I saw the boy in the room next to me who was NOT circumcised and I became quite alarmed that he must have been injured. The nurse explained to me that he was not injured but simply uncircumcised. That was the first time in my life that I became aware of the difference. I do remember that the Russian Orthodox Christians were adamant about leaving their boys uncircumcised. I did sense a high degree of anti-Semitic sentiment among Russian Orthodox. I know one woman who has had several partners one of which was uncircumcised and she commented that she preferred circumcision simply because it seems more sanitary to her. Also, studies show that incidence of certain types of cervical cancer is lower among women who have only circumcised partners. Uncircumcision does seem to be a more likely vehicle for transmission of virus and bacteria.
Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category
Stephen Hawking: I believe that the long term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.
I see great dangers for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully. But I’m an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space.
If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue. But we are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth, are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long term survival, is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space. We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space. That is why I’m in favor of manned, or should I say “personed,” space flight.
Bryan is posing a question to fellow finance dorks: Why do so many people still insist on saying “what goes up must come down” in reference to the markets? As in, why do people still insist on the idea that the markets are subject to Newtonian physics, when the markets have proven to be a social science?
I personally feel that unending prosperity and growth is not feasible. Too much of the world’s growth over thousands of years depended upon such things as non-renewable mineral and fossil fuel resources, upon conquest and exploitation of less developed civilizations which are now vanishing with modernization. Slave labor and genocide also played a role in expansion and prosperity. Entrepreneurs are more enticed by high risk high yield of very unstable financial instruments which are now more closely controlled and scrutinized. War and reconstruction have played a deceptive role in periods of prosperity and dominance. The tendency towards internationalization of currencies creates situations where the Euro must balance the frugality of nations like Germany with the prodigal nature of nations like Spain and Greece. The US model of private enterprise which seeks to reduce the influence of big government is being overshadowed by the growing success of nations like China where central government control and long term planning dictate the economy.
I have listened to old villagers in China who remember Mao’s revolution of the 1940s speak their stump speeches of “the empty belly now full.” The young generation of China has no memory of such years of hardship. Their great shift is from an agrarian village life with simple needs to an urban manufacturing and service economy where they demand cars over bicycles and increased power consumption. India and China each reach the 1 billion population mark. Gorbachev allowed the Soviet Union and the cold war arms race to dissolve because he finally saw that the underlying agricultural business model of the kalhoz collective commune was no longer competitive. No empire has lasted more than 1000 year if even that. Around the 11th century Ibn Haldune of North Africa realized vast cyclic changes in history and economy which were then forgotten for centuries. Our ecosystem is perhaps irreparably damaged and global warming is irreversible. This means that the wealth of the ocean flora and fauna will not be something that future generations can count on. Conservative political philosophy means literally conservation of wealth, power and status quo. Even the sudden emergence of open source as something superior to proprietary software is a stunning change in business models from older conservative competitive to progressive socialist liberal. Ideological strife between religious right and humanist left among Christians, and between secular vs conservative Muslims with the terrorist element present not just in Islam but in North Korea and among Kurdish nationalists are all dynamics of great instability, whereas business-as-usual conservative speculative models depend upon predictability.
Ecologists estimate that the Earth could support a maximum of 1 billion with a stable ecosystem. But Earth is now approaching 7 billion with an estimated 20 billion by 2030. Unless humanity unites in a world global government that is more secular and humanist in nature then the future and our survival does not seem promising. Unexpected plagues like HIV (and the Bubonic plague of the 13th century) are always possible. And in an ecosystem suddenly stressed by oil spills, nuclear waste, warming, genetic engineering and biological weapons, the chances of a catastrophe are heightened.
I was at SJC 1967-1971, read Darwin’s Origin of the Species and Descent of Man and still have my copy. When Darwin went to press with it, he honestly expected that only a few thousand scholars/teachers around the world would buy it. He was totally shocked when every butcher, baker and candlestick maker bought it. I suspect they bought it because in the mind of average John Q. Public it cast doubt upon establish religion and established religion caused guilt and repression in the average person. According to many PBS documentaries (Nova and others) the theory has been proven by subsequent observations. Its funny that several passages in the Bible explain that God is totally incomprehensible (“as far as the heavens are above the earth, so far is my mind from your minds, my ways from your ways). Then we spend a lot of time talking about what God likes and hates and would and would not do, and how God does it. Why couldn’t God use evolution to evolve various specials of living beings which change and adapt. And whatever God really does, he couldnt even begin to explain it to the simi-literate putty heads who roamed the earth with their sheep 5000 years ago.