Monday, May 18, 2015

Thanks to the U.S. obsession with chopping baby penises, my blog has gone viral!

I've also had a lot of amazing feedback, including emails, a few of which I'll proudly display here.
One of my initial fears in writing an article like The Foreskin: Why is it such a secret in North America? was that I wouldn't be taken seriously -- especially in the U.S. Skeptic community.

Two years later, I'm now in the habit of stirring heretical and counter-cultural thoughts among the Skeptics, and now on my blog as well. I'm far from worried that I'll be derided as "not skeptical enough".
` I received lots of praise when I finally got the chance to finish the post, not only from skeptics, but from other people the world over! No wonder this article got 211,288 views in the week preceding April 18:

Only ten days after that, the total number of pageviews was over 600,000.
Yes, the article itself is dated May 8, 2013, but that was merely the date which I saved the first draft. I'm not above retro-publishing blog articles, especially when none of the adjacent articles had been published either, and most of the intervening time has been astonishingly insane.

Now that I have my health, my own Internet connection, and even my own space to write, blogging and getting my facts straight has been easy enough to take on this enormous task.
` After all, it is heresy in America to talk about the foreskins' sexual functions, for the man and his sexual partner. Or to say that smegma is the normal fluid coating the various folds of female genitalia, and in larger amounts than in males.

Perhaps most shocking of all is that every day in the U.S., there are medical professional who diagnose a boy's normal foreskin as a birth defect called "congenital phimosis".
` A baby's foreskin is supposed to be attached to the head of the penis, which protects it from infection and debris, and it doesn't usually retract for several years.
` Some doctors consider this normal development to be an ailment which must be 'treated' by tearing the membrane that keeps the foreskin in place, and repeatedly washing beneath it.
` This causes severe pain and further problems, which are then blamed on the foreskin instead of the doctor's incompetence.

Just like most of the other mythical "problems" with foreskins, this belief stems from moral and so-called medical claims which became popular in the late 1800s. Of course, I've explained how all this came to be in my article.
` Persistent belief in such myths is a serious issue, but one that is not likely to end unless significantly more awareness is raised. And I have already done some of the work!

Here's a screen grab of my weekly stats for today, a whole month later. It seems I've had only 19,934 views this week, along with more views and comments on other posts!
Over two hundred comments on the same post!? WHAT!?!?!!
That's another thing -- comments! I've never gotten so many! (The numbers are much inflated by one very dedicated troll, however.) So far, none of the replies I've written have shown up in the comments section. I'll no doubt address them soon enough.

Also in that graphic, you can see my next article's title, Child Circumcision: Culture-based ignorance, fetish, and pseudoscience. It delves even deeper into the insanity, from inaccurate anatomy books and ignorant doctors.
` It even contains my discovery of circumcision advocates who are motivated by a particularly sick brand of pedophilia. These are the guys behind the website "CircInfo", as well as "BoyGuard".
` It is also filled with comments from people who were raised in various cultures, which demonstrate the cross-cultural comparisons I've been making.

My next three posts essentially wound up getting deleted, and one of them was about my blog going viral. So, now I'm doing it again!

Although I "thanked Blogger" for this apparent malfunction, I thought I should take the time to mention that I am thankful that Blogger is really easy to use, hosts my blogs for free, and even tells me my stats.
` I'd also like to thank everyone for their genuine feedback (i.e., not trolling). Some people even helped me to make a few improvements past the first version of this blog post.
` First of all, some commenters were in confusion over my gender, so I added a disclaimer mentioning my girly bits. I also got many emails, and here are several that shaped the various versions of this post:

Jen B
Fascinating, well-researched article...but I have a suggestion:

It's a long piece; the graphics help "break it up" a little bit, but I think it would be easier to read/digest (more people would read it in its entirety) if it were divided into sections with headers.  

Great job, though!
So, I re-read the article, found the 'natural' divisions in subject matter, and added the various bold headings. I also decided to add more information about the efficacy of condoms in preventing HIV.
` Many more emails came into my inbox, including this one:
For all the reasons you describe, we opted not to circumcise our son. We have a great pediatrician who told us never to let anyone retract his foreskin. When he was about three years old I was giving him a bath and he was playing with his penis. He pulled the foreskin back and the head of his penis popped out. He made a cute remark like "look what I can do" and I said "neat" and that was that. There was no blood, pain, or crying. He did it one more time after that but never again. ...
Part of your blog concerns me though, because it sounds like that shouldn't have happened until he was a teenager and that he could have somehow done some damage to himself. Again, he seems fine. He hasn't had any urinary tract infections nor does he complain about pain. He does touch his penis sometimes and I ask him why and he says because it feels good, which seems normal enough to me. Do you know if him popping the head of his penis out is normal or can you refer me to someone who would know? 


I wrote back to P. and also added some more info to my blog, mainly that it's possible for a child this young to be able to fully retract his foreskin. It isn't likely, but it happens on occasion, just as it can take as long as age 18.

Then, to my surprise, I received an email from Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo. I felt a bit strange accepting his request to allow him to reproduce my article on his website of interesting claims -- but I did.
` Even more comments and emails poured in, and later I found my article re-posted on yet another website! Ji forwarded me an email message from Frank, who wrote:
I congratulate you and Ms. Quine for her fine, informative article on the human foreskin. But one point, please, that is not so insignificant as one might be tempted to think: The article states categorically that the foreskin retracts upon erection (and, incidentally, spells out the obvious: that retraction exposes the glans). Autonomous, no-hands-needed retraction indeed sometimes does happen---BUT VERY, VERY FREQUENTLY IT DOES NOT...!!! I have not been able to find any statistics whatsoever on this phenomenon---but I know for a fact, from myself and from NUMEROUS other men's experiences, that even a moderately longer foreskin will continue to cover the glans DURING and AFTER full erection. ~~ That's important for two reasons: (1) it is a physiological FACT, and (2) its misrepresentation can make some men without autonomous retraction believe that they are somehow not normal. Heaven forfend that it should impel them to circumcision..... ~~~ Thanks for your attention.
And so, I went back to spell out this fact in my article. And, just to be rigorous, I gave it a little editing once-over, such as removing excessive instances of the phrase "to point out" near the end of the article.
` Now it's better than ever, including copies that had previously been made of it! Besides adding a link to this post at the bottom, will I make any further changes? Only time will tell!

I've also gotten a few responses from people who want me to know that the HPV vaccine is evil, and I wonder if I'll get sucked into a cycle writing about such things and any of Ji's claims as well?

In the meantime, I have a lot to take care of in my life. Another post is on the way. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thanks, Blogger, for NOT SAVING my last three posts!

Now that my blog has gone viral, I've spent countless hours writing a lot of new material to keep my readers coming back.
` Unfortunately, my drafts weren't being saved when I clicked 'Save' on Blogger, so I have almost nothing to show for it. Except for some photos I edited for the purpose of making my blog look more colorful and exotic:

In March, my laptop was treated to a new Linux operating system, as well as an Internet connection via my new Android phone.
` My immediate thought was -- I must go back and finish some of my old drafts!

Partly due to a particularly asinine Facebook comment at the time, the first draft that sprang to mind was one I had left for almost two years, called The Foreskin: Why is it such a secret in North America?
` It's so secret that many doctors in America don't even know that the foreskin of infants doesn't retract (because it is fused in place), and so wind up damaging and even removing it because they believe this is abnormal.
` As for the population in general, the foreskin is popularly maligned as causing disease and hindering sex, when in fact quite the opposite is true.

People from most other parts of the globe are horrified and shocked when they hear about such ignorance:
` They would never assume that such a large swath of Westerners would think to impose such senseless brutality to their own unconsenting and screaming newborns, nor would it occur to them to believe such patently false myths.

Why do Americans chop infant penises, and what's up with all the misconceptions and misinformation about the foreskin? Why is it not represented, properly or even at all, in U.S. anatomy books?
` That's a history lesson that my article covers, along with the medical and biological facts. In great detail. Such great detail that many people report becoming upset upon learning these facts from my article. As they should!

On top of that was yet more interesting stuff that I couldn't fit in this article, such as a video showing the detailed anatomy and function of the foreskin. It is accurate, just like medical textbooks in Europe!
` There were also inaccurate portrayals I have found in American anatomy books, for contrast. I even found a video of a doctor claiming that the foreskins she tears off of screaming infants are not fused in place -- outrageous!
` Not to mention, I included pro-circumcision doctors who invented false identities and studies in order to promote circumcision of children, including for the purpose of preventing boys from masturbating. In this day and age! Really sick stuff.
` Also, I had further anecdotes and Facebook comments that show the cultural differences in people's opinions -- including the one commenter that prompted me to finish this article.
` So, I put that all into my last published post, Child circumcision: Cultural-based ignorance, fetish, and pseudoscience.

Blogger seemed to be working great at this point, so I went right into writing another article about hypnosis, an article about some cool photos I took (but never so much as posted to Facebook), and one about how my blog went viral.
` Each of these has mostly disappeared -- I say 'mostly', because only the first version was saved, whereas the almost-finished versions were not. Why? Partly because I was foolish enough to not check whether or not my laptop was plugged in, and it ran out of battery.
` When I plugged it in and turned it on, I could only recover the first draft on Blogger.

Why had it not continued saving my posts? And why had I not thought to save my progress on my laptop instead of on Blogger?
` I actually had been saving on my laptop before I had my own Internet access, and yet could not recover my files after my laptop would shut off unexpectedly. So, either way, I would lose my posts.
` Perhaps a memory stick would work better? The fact that this happened twice (once when I was working on two posts at once) should be a clear message to me that I'm the one ultimately responsible.

Even so, WTF, Blogger?

Really, I am disheartened by these losses, especially since I expected to greatly increase my blog production since getting a better operating system, my own Internet connection, and an excess of 700,000 hits!

As I've mentioned a while back, it's immensely easier to blog when I have Internet access and a place to sit that doesn't cause intense physical cramps, which themselves trigger serious emotional unplesantness.
` I not only have a chair in which I can sit without causing these problems, but I have two! I found the second one in the same yard as the first, and it's an adjustable office chair with a back support attachment!

In fact, I would like to announce that not only am I fairly well physically rehabilitated (particularly my back-side), but that thanks to these chairs as well as the rehab, the cramps take a lot longer to develop if I sit down in a chair that's too low for me.
` So, at least I've gotten my Internet and sitting situation well taken care of!

Of course, in the past three years there has been a lot of interference with blogging that really has had an enormous impact on my ability to keep up production.
` Besides the brain-destroying insanity, illness, and instability of crazy-making life for over two years, there was also the fact that the "Edit Posts" page didn't like to load up on Blogger a lot of the time.
` Until I started to be able to access it more consistently, this was a serious hindrance to my finishing anything I had started and saved online.

As of late, things have been busy and I've been having adventures, as well as moving my stuff in and out of storage. Not content with 50 square feet, I've been trying in vain to find a place where I can unpack and move into.
` I'll be back soon enough, typing more frantically than ever to keep this blog well-stocked with new material. Just as I have been.
` Except this time, I will make damn well sure that my laptop doesn't shut off before I can make sure it really has been saved.