Saturday, December 17

Terrible Beauty

So true.

To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase ‘terrible beauty.’ Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it’s a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else’s body.”
- Christopher Hitchens,

How US Universities actively discriminate

This post was very interesting. I quote:

Comparing schools which can and cannot legally discriminate suggests a lot of discrimination. At Yale the class of 2013 is 15.5 percent Asian-American, at Dartmouth 16.1 percent, at Harvard 19.1 percent, and at Princeton 17.6 percent. These figures are above the Asian share of the population but compare:

The California Institute of Technology, a private school that chooses not to consider race, is about one-third Asian. (Thirteen percent of California residents have Asian heritage.) The University of California-Berkeley, which is forbidden by state law to consider race in admissions, is more than 40 percent Asian — up from about 20 percent before the law was passed.

Interestingly, the Obama administration has recently reversed Bush era rules and interpretations in order to promote race-based admissions:

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

Friday, December 16

High Performance Teams

This is an interesting graph. This purports to be a way to create innovation strategies. But here’s one thing that I disagree with, this isnt the way to get high performance teams. Given that I am a project manager, I have to usually create high performance teams very quickly and get them to start delivering very quickly. Innovation is a very woolly subject, but to create it? this kind of simplistic modelling is a challenge although I suppose some simplistic chaps might be taken in. So I get the question? How to get innovative?

ha! as if I knew. But look at the nodes, nothing other than basic management theory. Quite how that will suddenly produce innovation is not explained.

Thursday, December 15

Flying is cheap - Ask the Pilot

Dear Son
I like this fellow. He writes here.
fascinating fellow, the kind of information he gives and his opinions, brilliant.
Having flown a shed load of time, it makes sense to know about what's happening with your mode of transport.
Have a read on his website, very amusing.

Flying is cheap - Ask the Pilot -

Thursday, Aug 11, 2011 20:30 ET
Flying is cheap
Some of you aren’t buying it, but even with those dreaded extra service fees, air travel is affordable
Patrick Smith

I’m telling you that flying is cheap. That was the message of my July 27 column, in which I cited data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. According to BTS, the cost of the average airline ticket, adjusted for inflation, fell 21 percent between 2001 and 2010, despite soaring jet fuel costs.

This is fairly remarkable, I noted, in light of people’s relentless hostility toward the airlines. “Say what you want about delays, airport security hassles, etc.,” I wrote, “the fact is that flying remains astonishingly safe, mostly reliable and increasingly affordable.”

Well, that didn’t go over so well.

“This article amounts to nothing more than a commercial for the airline industry,” complained a reader. “… not only misleading but outrageous.”

The primary point of complaint, brought up several times in the letters section, was my neglecting to account for those add-on fees that have become so popular: fees for checked luggage, fees for a bulkhead seat, buy-on-board food, and so on. In airline lingo, these supplemental fees are known as “unbundling.”

“Bottom line is that it does not seem that airlines are lowering the cost of flying at all,” posted one reader. “They are just moving the cost from base fare to additional fees.”

But are they?

Last year, U.S. carriers reportedly earned $5.5 billion in extra service fees. That sounds like a lot, but only a fraction of passengers actually purchased these extras. Even if we spread the total among every single person who flew, it works out to only around $6 per passenger. In other words, supplemental fees do not come remotely close to closing the gap on that 21 percent. (And contrary to what several posters and emailers have contended, the BTS data does include fuel surcharges and taxes.)

And remember, this is all about the average fare. If you check three suitcases, opt for a particular seat, and purchase an $8 veggie wrap on your flight from Los Angeles to Miami, then sure, this particular ticket might wind up costing more than it did 10 or 20 years ago. (Just as fares in certain markets, to and from certain cities, have indeed gone up. While many others, of course, have gone down.)

As I’ve pointed out previously in this column, people feel nickel-and-dimed by unbundling, but it helps keep overall fares down by allowing people who desire certain extras — those wishing to check a bag, make a reservation change, purchase an on-board snack, etc. — to absorb a higher share of the cost. Those who don’t want such things don’t have to buy them.

It’s funny, because if fares today were equivalent to what they were in the days prior to deregulation, many of the same people who whine about unbundling would probably think it a great idea: “Hey, how about this: I don’t check a bag, and you knock $50 off my ticket? And I don’t need an in-flight meal, so how about another $10 for that?”

Am I changing your mind at all?

Probably not. To some extent this is a fruitless exercise. There is a segment of the population that simply will not accept anything positive when it comes to flying.

“I find those numbers hard to believe,” voiced one reader How do I respond to that? At a certain point this is like arguing religion or conspiracy theories.

Or how about this letter, from somebody using the moniker “TeslaCoil”:

“Someone might ask Salon to address the question of having a paid employee of a major airline writing a column about air travel … this kind of disingenuous shilling is on the same level with the old, ‘cigarettes are good for you!’”

Really? Is that the legacy of this column, nine years on: disingenuous shilling? And would it truly be better for Salon to pull the plug on me, leaving you to get your air travel insights from TV news?

And I love the equating of airlines with, of all entities, tobacco companies. I learned long ago to never underestimate people’s contempt for airlines, but this is simply ridiculous. I realize that flying can be a less than pleasant experience. But it’s reasonably dependable and, as I noted earlier, astonishingly safe. While a carrier might lose your suitcase or leave you stranded for the night in St. Louis, one thing it is all but certain not to do is get you injured or killed. Commercial flying has never been safer than it is right now, and the past 10 years have been the safest in aviation history. This hasn’t been a fluke. It’s safer because the industry, together with regulators and other concerned parties, made it that way. TeslaCoil’s comment insults me, because I am an important part of the safety chain. I am sitting at the front end, doing the best I can to get you where you’re going promptly and safely.

Writing for Salon, my intent has never been to excuse airlines for bad behavior. Any number of my past columns attest to this. I’ve given carriers their due over dirty planes, delays, poor communications and otherwise irresponsible customer service numerous times. But I’m also prone to pointing out the positive — if for no other reason than doing so is virtually unheard of. For all of its hassles and inconveniences, global air travel remains an exciting, technologically remarkable realm that too many people take for granted.

And yeah, it’s an affordable one too. Time again, maybe, to drag out that old American Airlines ticket coupon that I keep on a bookshelf here at home. A friend of mine found it in a flea market a few years back. It dates from 1946. That year, a man named James Connors paid $334 to fly each direction between Shannon, Ireland, and New York City. Using the Consumer Price Index conversion, that’s equivalent to well over $3,000 today.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Lastly, a nod to Nicola Clark, correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. Clark’s Times story on the Air France 447 findings was one of those I singled out for ridicule in my column on Aug. 4.

In speaking with Ms. Clark, I’ve learned that most of what irked me about the story was the result of a poorly worded lede and some editorial cutting and trimming. Based in Paris, Clark has been covering the Air France mystery for more than two years, and has spent much time with the investigators. I would like to make it clear that her understanding of the recently published findings is considerably more complete and nuanced than readers — mine and perhaps hers as well — have been led to believe.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Do you have questions for Salon’s aviation expert? Contact Patrick Smith through his website and look for answers in a future column.


Patrick Smith’s Ask the Pilot, a long-running feature on Salon, is the Web’s most trenchant and insightful source for all things air travel, from safety and technology to airline culture and airport security. Send questions to and look for answers in a future column. -

(via Instapaper)

Ineptocracy (in-ept-oc-ra-cy)

New Word

Ineptocracy (in-ept-oc-ra-cy) System of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Wednesday, December 14

Attractions: U.s. Journal: Pinellas County, Florida

My dear Kannu
here is something that is an interesting read about how two adults take their young child to Disneyland. As you remember, we have been to Eurodisney twice, once with you and once with you and Diya. I have to admit that I loved both the visits, even though at the second one, we had to sit and watch ManUtd lose to Barcelona which took some of the shine off. It was fun and games, i really enjoyed the time with you kids and loved seeing how you kids enjoyed yourself.
Disneyland makes people happy and as the old quote goes, Walt Disney has been responsible for more of human happiness than all the religious leaders of the world combined. Which is true. Disney cartoons, the amusement parks, the movies, they make people happy. And that's a very good life aim to go for, be happy.
As you read this article, you will see that both the parents are dripping with cynicism. I suggest you be careful of this feeling, son. People who are cynical are basically miserable people. You will notice that their cynicism is soul destroying and screws up everything else.
Look at the parents below. Their little child is having oodles of fun, playing with Mickey Mouse and having fun with eating ice cream or going on the merry go round. What is the predominant feeling of the parents? They are busy worrying about economics, about racism, about demographics, about liberalism and so on and so forth. They see every interaction with suspicion, every cheery wave with doubt and every smile as a hidden mechanism to exhort money. So instead of enjoying with their child, instead of looking at mickey mouse with the same wide eyed amazement like their child does, or running through the fountain of water or imagining the castle as a real one and telling their little girl that she is a princess and you are an ogre, they are miserable characters.
Try not to be cynical, son. While there is something in the philosophical school of Cynicism (, this cynicism is different, it involves going around assuming the worst in everything and not having fun and not being happy.
Be happy son, life is fun and good, being cynical and constantly being miserable is best left to others, at end of the day, you want to be happy in your life. Cynical people make a hell out of a heaven.
Anyway, be happy son.

Attractions: U.s. Journal: Pinellas County, Florida Attractions : The New Yorker

The first thing I did at Walt Disney World was to take an oath not to make any smart-aleck remarks. A Disney public-relations man had told me that attitude was everything. So I placed my left hand on a seven-Adventure book of tickets to the Magic Kingdom and raised my right hand and promised that there would be no sarcasm on my lips or in my heart.

“And do you further swear or affirm,” I asked myself, “that you will not concoct any of those theories about how Disney World may reflect the escape fantasies of American Society or about how Disney World may be the symbol of the Final Plasticization of All Life, or any of that kind of thing?”

“I do,” I replied. “I certainly do. We’re just going to have a good time.”

I mention this ceremony in order to make it clear that I was committed to taking Disney World on its own terms even before my three-year-old daughter, Abigail, became a personal friend of Mickey Mouse—the two of them having become acquainted while posing together for a Paris-Match photographer and then, a day or two later, Abigail having been snatched by Mickey from a gaggle of children and taken on a private parade around the lobby of the Polynesian Village, one of the two resort hotels already built right on the grounds of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. My wife, who had not taken the oath, reacted to the picture-taking by expressing concern for whoever it was who had to earn his living by walking around inside a Mickey Mouse suit in eighty-five-degree weather making cute gestures.

“He’s a very nice mouse,” Abigail said when the posing was over.

We agreed that he seemed nice, but once Abigail had run ahead to investigate more of what she insists on calling Dizalee World, my wife was whispering about Mickey behind his back—pointing out that his face was a lot flatter than the faces of real mice, which can be taken as a corroboration of the flat-face explanation of Disney’s cartoon method. (“The human face is flattened, compared with most animals, and any species that resemble man in this way are at an advantage,” Ramona and Desmond Morris wrote in their book “Men and Pandas.” “Walt Disney has always made use of this fact when creating animal heroes. They are given exaggeratedly flattened faces, whereas the animal villains are given dramatically elongated snouts.”)

I knew, though, that she was still more concerned with who was inside Mickey than with how flat Mickey’s face was. All of the employees we had encountered at Disney World—the Lodging Hostesses, the desk clerks, the Serving Hostesses (my wife persisted in calling them waitresses), the newsstand cashiers, the street cleaners (I believe my wife wanted to call them Litter Hosts)—had been the kind of well-scrubbed, wholesome, eternally smiling young Americans whose reaction to being within fifty yards of any other human being is to shout a cheery hello and ask him if he’s having fun. Into the spirit of things from the start, I smiled whenever they smiled, and I said I was having lots of fun whenever I was asked. But my wife insisted on analyzing the hiring policy. She wanted to know, for instance, why an enterprise that had seven thousand new jobs available in central Florida hadn’t tried to retrain some underemployed black migrant workers instead of soaking up every clean-cut middle-class kid between Key West and Philadelphia. As she went on about how hot it must be inside a Mickey Mouse suit, I suddenly realized what she was thinking. Knowing that Disney would have to hire a certain percentage of blacks to avoid trouble, and being acquainted with the theory that too many black faces would spoil the fantasy of escape into the safe old days, she had figured out the logical place to put any black migrant worker who actually was hired: in the Mickey Mouse suit. My wife had probably been thinking that the Mickey Mouse who roamed the Magic Kingdom, waving and bowing and shaking hands, always remained silent not because speech would have broken the mood (the supposition of most of the people who feel compelled to analyze) or because mice can’t talk (my belief, under oath) but because visitors to Disney World would have been shocked to discover that Mickey Mouse had a heavy Southern Negro accent. Attitude is everything.

A lot of the customers at Disney World seemed too attraction-wise to have the proper attitude for enjoying Disney World. On our first day, we went to see the Mickey Mouse Revue, which turned out to be Abigail’s second-favorite Adventure in the Magic Kingdom—partly, I suspect, because of her personal contact with the star. After we had watched an introductory film about the history of Mickey Mouse animation—my wife poking me all the while to remind me about the flatness of the faces—some doors on our right opened automatically and a voice with what I can only describe as a Kappa Kappa Gamma accent came over the public-address system instructing us to move into the main theatre for the revue. Walking parallel to the stage, we stopped at seats directly in the center, but then the voice came again, asking that everyone fill up the seats as far to the right as possible. A woman sitting next to us started to rise, but her husband put his hand on her arm and said, “Don’t move. It’s only a tape.” A few minutes later, as we were all enjoying the overture led by a magically mechanized Mickey Mouse, who looked almost as realistic as he had with an alleged migrant worker inside of him, someone behind us said, “I bet Disney’s got five hundred grand tied up in the technology of this one alone.” What kind of talk is that for the Magic Kingdom?

From then on, I tried to keep Abigail away from strangers, afraid that one of them would try to persuade her that her favorite Adventure, It’s a Small World, was not nearly as impressive as the Hall of Presidents, since making automated figures that seem like dolls is not nearly as much of a technical triumph as making automated figures that seem like Presidents. (Abigail happens to prefer dolls to Presidents.) I tried to insulate Abigail from that kind of thinking—I avoided the temptation to refer to Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel as a merry-go-round, and I shouted “Hiya, Donald!” every time we got anywhere near Donald Duck—but my wife was a consistently non-magical influence. Although I had been able to assure her, after making inquiries, that the man in the Mickey Mouse suit was a white ex-jockey rather than a migrant worker whose growth had been stunted from too much bending in the fields, and that the people wandering the grounds inside the skins of hairier Disney characters were cooled by a form of dry-ice air-conditioning, she persisted in viewing Disney World as if it were an enterprise constructed by a corporation rather than the magically ordained Vacation Kingdom of the World. As the sun grew hotter every day, she suggested that a truly forward-looking firm would have thought of doming Orange County. She constantly pointed out that the cars of the futuristic monorail system that was available to whisk us from the Adventures of the Magic Kingdom back to the Polynesian Village hotel were not as modern as those in the shuttle trains of the new Tampa airport. When we were entertained by a fine banjo group during a twenty- or thirty-minute wait for the monorail train one day, she did not attempt to lead everyone in a sing-along—as I had seen a woman do in a similarly entertained line in front of the Country Bear Jamboree, my own favorite Adventure in the Magic Kingdom—but merely sighed occasionally and mumbled something about the wait for the downtown I.R.T. local. I said, “Nice of them to entertain us while we’re waiting to be whisked,” but it sounded lame.

She did not seem to react well to the ferocious friendliness of the young Disney World employees, particularly when it came in conjunction with the service problems that any tourist operation is bound to have in its first few weeks—problems complicated by the fact that the young people manning, say, the Polynesian Village seemed to owe their cheerfulness partly to not having had enough experience in hotel work to have been turned sullen.

“But attitude is everything,” I tried to explain to my wife one morning as we had breakfast at one of the restaurants on the old-fashioned Main Street of the Magic Kingdom. “For them and for us. The next time our Serving Hostess asks me if I’m having fun, I’m not just going to say yes—I’m going to say, ‘I sure am, Serving Hostess! It’s real great to be here in the Magic Kingdom!’ ”

My wife stared at her plate. “If one more of those cute little girls smiles at me and asks me if I’m having fun as she serves me cold eggs, I’m leaving,” she said.

My attitude was bound to be affected by that kind of talk. I began to find that when I was dealing with a Walt Disney World employee my cheerfulness varied inversely with his cheerfulness. When I asked a shining young thing outside the Mickey Mouse Revile about the wait inside and was told, with a smile, that the show was continuous—a statement that I knew from a previous visit was somewhere between an evasion and a falsehood—I found myself resenting the smile more than the misinformation. One afternoon, I spent a few hours trying to prevail upon somebody at the Polynesian Village to fix the television set in our room, and I found it more and more difficult to answer that I was having fun as a series of talks with relentlessly friendly young people at the front desk resulted in nobody showing up at our room except a man who said he had been sent to fix the air-conditioning. Returning from one of my negotiating sessions late in the afternoon, I had to admit to my wife that I did not trust myself to return to the front desk. In my final conversation with one of the smiling young clerks, I had caught myself as I was about to pound my fist on the desk and shout, “I demand to see a grownup!”

I had to guard my attitude while standing in line. If we were standing behind a few hundred people who wanted to see the same Adventure, I would try to brighten things up by commenting that it was thoughtful of Disney to provide strolling mariachi bands that were free of those occasional sour trumpet notes and drink-cadging episodes found among mariachi bands in places like Mexico, but secretly I wanted to be in a shorter line to another Adventure—any Adventure. I found myself thinking that if Walt Disney Productions really does take over the country or the world (a possibility my wife kept raising), the way it would solve, say, the welfare problem in New York would be to put a huge line in front of the welfare office and have no waiting at all at the office in which people were signed up as busboys—signed up by smiling young things who assured everyone that busboy jobs almost always lead to middle-management positions. “No theories,” I had to remind myself.

By our second day in Disney World—a Sunday—I had devised a scheme by which we might take Abigail on the Skyway to Tomorrowland, a kind of ski lift across the Magic Kingdom, without having to wait in the line that always seemed to stretch halfway through Fantasyland. The key to my scheme was for us to be at the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom when it opened, at ten o’clock. I knew there were relatively few people actually staying on the grounds at Disney World, since the two resort hotels were still not ready for complete occupancy. Very few people from the outside world could arrive early, I figured, because they all had to drive some distance and then face what I had heard was at least an hour’s wait at the main gate. At exactly ten o’clock, we rushed through Cinderella’s Castle into Fantasyland and headed past Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel toward the entrance of the Skyway to Tomorrowland.

Abigail stopped walking. “I want to ride the merry-go-round,” she said.

“But we can always ride on Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel,” I said. “Now is the best time to go on the Skyway to Tomorrowland, because the Skyway to Tomorrowland is even more fun if you don’t have to stand in line for an hour before you get on it.”

“I love the merry-go-round,” Abigail said.

People were streaming past us. I could feel my entire scheme threatened. “Why aren’t these people in church?” I said to my wife. “What’s this country coming to?”

I turned to Abigail and tried to explain the problem. “Look, Abigail,” I said. “Here’s the plan. We ride the Skyway to Tomorrowland over to Tomorrowland. Then, while we’re in Tomorrowland, we ride the cars on the Grand Prix Raceway before those damned little boys have a chance to line up for eight blocks in front of it. Then we trot over to Adventureland and take the Jungle Cruise—unless it looks very uncrowded, in which case we pop into the Swiss Family Island Treehouse and then take the Jungle Cruise. That still may give us time to hit Peter Pan’s Flight back in Fantasyland if a lot of those people take their time coming up Main Street.”

I looked at Abigail. She was thinking it over. “Then we go on the merry-go-round,” she finally said.

“Exactly,” I said, proud that my daughter understood how a little scheming might be necessary even in the Magic Kingdom. As we hurried off toward the Skyway to Tomorrowland, I looked forward to a cheerful afternoon in the Magic Kingdom—the rest of them lined up at the Skyway or the Grand Prix or someplace while Abigail and I rode the merry-go-round, almost as carefree as we are when we ride the merry-go-round in Central Park and don’t have to worry about how long the lines in front of other Adventures are getting while we’re going round and round.

Early the following morning, I happened to be in the Magic Kingdom without Abigail or my wife. Business hours had been more effective than church in keeping the early-morning quiet, and it was possible to take a peaceful stroll down Main Street. Our no-line sweep the previous morning through what I had dreaded as the most crowded Adventures had been great for my attitude; as I walked toward Fantasyland, I answered a popcorn vender and a street sweeper and the driver of an old-fashioned car by saying I certainly was having a good time. I knew I would soon have to turn more analytical in order to defend Disney against any criticism my wife might have that morning after she and Abigail had been whisked over from the Polynesian Village.

“This reproduction of an old-fashioned Main Street is just a way to get people to buy things,” she would say.

“But that’s what an old-fashioned Main Street was,” I would reply. I stopped in front of the old-fashioned Emporium and wondered if I had enough time to stop in and buy Abigail a Mickey Mouse luggage tag.

“If they want to be so authentically American,” she would say, “why do they have frozen orange juice instead of fresh orange juice in the Florida Citrus Growers’ stand and ‘Indian crafts’ from Hong Kong instead of real Indian crafts at the Frontier Trading Post?”

“Because there’s a bigger profit margin on frozen orange juice and Hong Kong Indian crafts,” I would say. “And a bigger profit margin is authentically American.”

As I walked through Cinderella’s Castle into Fantasyland, it started to rain. I suddenly realized that I had an extraordinary opportunity. It was a rainy Monday morning, the relatively few people in the Magic Kingdom were seeking shelter, and I was only a couple of hundred yards from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage, normally known as the Adventure with the most fantastic line in Fantasyland. There was bound to be practically no line at all. I would be able just to toss an E coupon from my seven-Adventure book at the attendant and walk right aboard. On the other hand, I had been on the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland, in California, and I remembered being so bored that halfway through the voyage I had considered asking the captain if I could possibly be shot to the surface. But could I pass up the opportunity to avoid a two-hour line? I walked slowly over to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage. “Sorry, sir,” the cheerful young man at the gate said to me. “We’re closed until noon.” Thank God.

Abigail arrived shortly after that, and, forgoing the opportunity to walk casually into a lot of Adventures we hadn’t seen—Abigail, it turned out, prefers old familiar Adventures—we returned to It’s a Small World and then had some more carefree rides on the merry-go-round. ♦

(via Instapaper)

Tuesday, December 13

Now this is how Bibliophiles celebrate Christmas

Acid Picdump (147 pics)

Foreskin issues

This was an interesting aspect which i recently learnt about, people wanting to do something about their circumcision. This is the technology that we are taking about. I wasn't sure why people wanted to do this, till I came across this medical peer reviewed article. I personally think that we shouldn't circumcise babies, its a barbaric custom, akin to FGM. And to say that it reduces AIDS is stupid, there are quite a variety of ways that one can beat AIDS. And why take the choice away from babies? They aren't sexually active are they? And if they want to avoid aids by having their foreskin removed, they can do it when they are sexually mature and can take proper decisions.

I quote:

If a man is circumcised, he faces an increased risk of experiencing delayed orgasm, and his female partner has an increased risk of not feeling sexually fulfilled.

This is the clear-cut conclusion of a new Danish research article, which has received international attention.

Some 5,000 sexually active men and women were surveyed about their experiences and possible problems with their sex lives. With a specific focus on circumcised men and their women, the results are startling.

“Circumcised men are three times as likely to experience a frequent inability to reach an orgasm,” says one of the researchers, associate professor Morten Frisch of SSI, a Danish research, production and service enterprise.

Research into the effects on women is unique

This is one of only a few studies of the sexual consequences of male circumcision, and in one area in particular it is groundbreaking:

“Previous studies into male circumcision have looked at the effects it has on the men. But scientists have never really studied the effects this has on the women's sex lives,” says Frisch.

“It appears that women with circumcised men are twice as likely to be sexually frustrated. They experience a three-fold risk of frequent difficulties in achieving orgasm, and an eight-fold risk of feeling pain during intercourse – also known as dyspareunia.”

Circumcised men prefer it rough

The study has received international attention. Politicians from California, for example, have been in contact with the researchers because they want to ban circumcision in their federal state. (Photo: Colourbox)

There appears to be a very simple reason why circumcised men and their partners are having problems with their sex lives.

The circumcised man develops a thin layer of hard skin on his penis head, which decreases the sensitivity. This means that in order to reach an orgasm, he needs to work harder at it, and that can lead to a painful experience for the woman.

“We conducted a survey, but the data does not explain why these problems occur. There are, however, some good suggestions in the scientific literature,” he explains.

When the penis enters the vagina, the foreskin is pulled back. And on its way out again, the foreskin goes back to cover the penis head. This way the foreskin stimulates both the man and the woman.

The gliding in-and-out movement of the foreskin, combined with the in-and-out movement inside the vagina, constitutes what is known as ‘the gliding movement’.

“When a circumcised man moves in and out of a woman without 'the gliding movement' caused by the foreskin, it can have a painful effect on the woman's mucous membrane. This could explain the pain and the tendency towards dryness that some women with circumcised men experience.”

Sources of error were filtered out

A vast majority of the circumcised men in the study were circumcised based on a doctor's estimate.


In the U.S. some 50 percent of all boys are circumcised.

Circumcision is – or rather has been – common in many English-speaking countries. This is due to a trend from the Victorian age where doctors recommended that boys should be circumcised as this would make it more difficult to masturbate.

At the time, masturbation was thought to lead to a long list of problems, including mental illness and typhus.

“Only five percent of all Danish men are circumcised, yet we have statistically valid evidence that male circumcision can be associated with sexual problems.

The study did not involve many religiously circumcised men – Jews and Muslims, for example. But even with these factors taken into account, the data pointed in the same direction. The statistical analyses also took a long list of additional relevant factors into account, including:

  • Age
  • Cultural background
  • Religious background
  • Marital status
  • Levels of education
  • Household income
  • Age at first intercourse
  • Number of sex partners
  • Frequency of sexual activity with one partner in the past year

“We adjusted for all these factors in an attempt to ensure that circumcision is the actual cause, and that the link isn’t attributable to other factors.”

Bottom-line results were clear

Frisch mentions an example of how things get muddled up if researchers do not adjust for possible sources of error when they work with statistics:

“If, for instance, you look at people who drink lots of beer, you'll see that they face an increased risk of developing lung cancer, compared to those who don't drink much,” he says. “But it's not the drinking itself that causes the lung cancer. There just happens to be a correlation between drinking and smoking, and it is actually the smoking that causes the lung cancer.”

These kinds of error sources were taken into account, and the bottom-line results were clear:

“We’re seeing a consistent picture. Even though most circumcised men – and their women – do not have problems with their sex lives, there is a significantly larger group of circumcised men and their female partners who experience frequent problems in achieving orgasm, compared to couples where the man is not circumcised.”


Narrowed foreskin is popularly known as ‘Spanish Collar’ and scientifically as ‘phimosis’.

For half a century, large surveys have shown that problems with phimosis sort themselves out in childhood for up to 99% of boys. Nevertheless, this condition is still being used as a major argument for routine circumcision in many countries.

In addition, there are significantly more women with circumcised men, who experience vaginal pains during intercourse or feel that their sexual needs are not met.

Further studies needed

Frisch hopes this new study will be replicated by researchers in other countries and cultures.

“That way we can ascertain whether this phenomenon applies to Danes only or whether it extends into other cultures too,” he says. “All in all, I have a humble approach to our findings, so I would also like to see whether other Danish studies would reach the same conclusions.”

Study resonates internationally

According to Frisch, the study has received a great deal of international attention. For example, he has been contacted by politicians in California, who are very pleased with the results of the study because they want to ban circumcision in their federal state.

Others are less excited, saying the research is controversial.

“This is a highly sensitive issue, and some people oppose the publication of this kind of research. Some people have actually tried to stop the publication of our article,” he explains.

A question of ethics

Certain groups and individuals are lobbying in favour circumcising all men, explains Frisch. Not necessarily out of religious concern, but because they believe that circumcision has a health-promotional effect. In Africa, for instance, there are indications that circumcision could reduce the risk of HIV infection.

Monday, December 12

Facts of life

Dear Son
Here is an interesting email that I got referring to facts of life. One thing which you will notice is that this is quite brutal. As you would know, i am an incurable optimist and dreamer, wishing impossible wishes and dreaming impossible dreams. In terms of challenges, son, I have rarely come across anything that I couldn't do if I put my mind to it. But there are some limitations definitely, like my naval career due to my medical issues etc. etc. But these facts of life are interesting if brutal. Worth remembering son, because this provides you with rules which you can live with. I wont disagree with anything that's written here. Lets see, first the rules and then i will note my views on these rules which you can ignore if you wish. But its surprising how many people do not believe in these rules. That's because people don't know themselves. If you know yourself, then you will be one in a million.

  • Life is not fair.
  • No one is exempt from death.
  • Physics rules the universe and biology rules life.
  • The universe does not care.
  • The only constant in life is change.
  • There is always a choice.
  • Wishing never makes it so.
  • A person can't exceed their limits.
  • A person is responsible for their own happiness.
  • It is impossible to change the character of another.

So my views.
  • Life is not fair. Indeed its not. And never expect it to be fair. You can be fair to others, but don't expect things to be fair. Kids die. Innocents are destroyed, earthquakes happen. People are left without jobs and are poor. We have to deal with it, no whining. Nobody said that life is fair.
  • No one is exempt from death.Another brutal rule, but straightforward. I know when we are young, we don't expect death to happen, but it does, son, and I have experienced it first hand way too many times to be surprised.
  • Physics rules the universe and biology rules life. It does indeed, fairly straight forward. The sun doesn't rise in the west and we are, at end of the day, animals with a thin veneer of civilisation. So when push comes to shove, the biological imperatives will take over.
  • The universe does not care. This is a follow-up from the first one. The universe is a big old place, we are a tiny piece in it.
  • The only constant in life is change. Now this is something that i life and breathe. Never expect anything to remain constant, nothing, everything changes, son.
  • There is always a choice. Yep, there is always a choice, question is, whether you are happy to pay for the choices.
  • Wishing never makes it so. Wishing never makes it so, but wishes combined with dedication, passion, energy and enthusiasm will make it so.
  • A person can't exceed their limits. Recognise your limits son, know what you don't want to do or what you cant do, and you will be more successful.
  • A person is responsible for their own happiness. Absolutely right. People are usually the cause of their own unhappiness. If you are happy with what you have, if your desires are controlled, you will be happy. But you will frequently see people blaming others for their own unhappiness. That is utter bollocks. You have a choice, remember? You have a choice and since you have a choice, you also have a choice to be happy or unhappy. Personally speaking, always go for the bit that makes you happy, staying unhappy, moaning, whining is boring and people get turned off by people who moan and whine. Be happy, stay happy, keep others happy.
  • It is impossible to change the character of another. Oh! yes, character cannot be changed on the say so of anybody else. But people still try, lol.

Hope these help, Son. I know you are smart and you think, I know you will be a success and I love you and am proud of you for it.

Mark of the Beast Evil Symbols in Afghanistan

Michael Yon, one of my favourite photographers, came across this poster on a wall in Afghanistan.

My Persian (which is related to Dari) or if this is Pushto means that I cannot translate it but I found it fascinating that all these symbols, usually related to Christianity, ancient Egyptian and some hand symbols are all considered to be signs of the devil.