This Day in History: January 31, 1988

Sunday, January 31, 1988. Twenty years ago. I was 14½. My then-youngest brother was 3 days old. And after 15 minutes of Super Bowl XXII, I was concerned, bordering on distraught, as the Redskins were down 10-0 to the Denver Broncos. Then the 2nd Quarter started:

In the first minute of the quarter, Williams connected with wide receiver Ricky Sanders for an 80-yard score. Four minutes later, the quarterback hit wide receiver Gary Clark with a 27-yard touchdown pass. After a 58-yard TD run by running back Timmy Smith, Williams struck again, this time on 50-yard pass to Sanders. The final score of the comeback quarter came on an 8-yard pass to tight end Clint Didier.

That was the greatest 15 minutes of football I ever expect to witness. Doug Williams put on a show. After scoring 35 points in the quarter, the Redskins won 42-10.

NFL Films offers the inexplicably incomplete video It’s bad enough to omit most of the record-breaking 2nd Quarter, but it’s inexcusable to omit Gary Clark’s touchdown. Gary Clark!

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Watch me torpedo my burgeoning Congressional campaign.

Rates of cancer¹ of the penis and prostate are higher in men who have intact foreskins, and rates of cancer of the cervix are higher in their female partners.

A range of other conditions of the penis are more frequent, including inflammatory conditions of the skin, and phimosis, a narrowing of the opening the foreskin that prevents it being retracted and makes sex painful.

There’s a one-in-three chance of an uncircumcised {sic] man developing one or more of these conditions over his lifetime, says [Brian] Morris.

That’s why circumcision is routine in infant boys in cultures all over the world (Hispanics, Europeans and Asians being a notable exception).

Normally I would tag an article like this under the primary category of “Circumcision“. Instead, I’ve linked this drivel where it belongs, under Propaganda. I’ve rarely seen a more flagrant example. Peter Lavelle is the propagandist here, as evidenced by trotting out the medical claim that “[m]ost women prefer a circumcised penis for appearance and hygiene.” He also mentions how males suffer from smegma, delicately omitting the fact that women also develop smegma if they don’t wash regularly. I can’t say I’m surprised, though, because he’s relying on Morris as his source. Morris is a propagandist, too, as I’ll highlight in a moment.

I haven’t seen his statistic for a two-in-three chance that an intact male will avoid one or more of those conditions in his lifetime. The risk of any of those problems is quite low, regardless of a male’s circumcision status. The true measure of whether or not circumcision is justified for potential medical benefits is the actual medical need for circumcision, not the risk of having something go wrong with the foreskin. Phimosis (not the same as a non-retractile foreskin) is the “one absolute indication” for circumcision². The risk that a male will medically need circumcision is roughly 1%. That’s a far cry from Morris’ irrelevant 33% statistic.

As for the last claim, that circumcision is common except among Hispanics, Europeans and Asians, that excludes more than 5,000,000,000 people from this “common” practice. That’s a convenient oversight. And of the remaining cultures who commonly practice non-therapeutic circumcision, many of them also practice female genital cutting. Unless Lavelle or Morris wish to justify that on the same majoritarian illogic, this statistic is not only damning to them, it’s intellectually worthless.

In addition to being a poor ethicist, he’s also a terrible historian. To pretend that circumcision developed as a result of concern for medical risks is to ignore facts. England and the United States, the initiators of mass non-therapeutic infant circumcision, concerned themselves only with the belief that circumcision would prevent the “medical” problem of masturbation. This desire included interference with female genitals. The medical excuses arrived later, but only to justify what was already occurring for the original and newer, xenophobic reasons.

As to Morris’ intellectual prowess, consider “Circumcision Prevents Infibulation” (link here:

Some ancient cultures and some even today practice infibulation (drawing a ring or similar device through the prepuce or otherwise occluding it for the principal purpose of making coition impossible) [517]. A foreskin was thus a prerequisite for infibulation. It is, moreover, the opposite of circumcision. Infibulation was espoused in Europe and Britain in previous centuries as a way of reducing population growth amongst the poor and, possibly for some, to prevent masturbation [517].

Got that? It’s okay to practice one ethical violation because it precludes another ethical violation. A journey through the rest of his site will reveal a similar lack of concern for ethics, with an equally robust disregard for inconvenient truth.

Those of us advocating against unnecessary forced genital cutting have no problem with adults choosing it for themselves, nor do we need to convince men who were circumcised as children who are now indifferent or happy about it that they should believe differently about their own genitals. Those who advocate for genital cutting (or at least illegitimate parental choice) always demand that we understand that circumcision’s desirability is objectively identifiable, which is a fill-in for their subjective tastes and preferences as the only valid tastes and preferences, including the evaluation of risk. I’m entitled to my opinion, as long as it’s theirs. Or more precisely, I’m entitled to my opinion as long as it’s my parents’ opinion. If I disagree about my body, I’m wrong. Manipulating facts to arrive there is propaganda.

¹ It is unethical to circumcise infants to not-necessarily prevent penile cancer in older adults? Particularly when the risk of penile cancer is approximately 1/100,000. The risk of serious complications from “routine” circumcision is higher. And the risk in intact Western countries is comparable. Foreskins aren’t the problem.

² As the link notes, this is unusual before 5 years of age.


Excellent news out of Virginia’s 11th Congressional District:

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III said yesterday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, …

“It’s time for me to take a sabbatical,” Davis (R-Va.) said.

Good riddance, although I’m sure he’ll still walk the halls of Congressional offices as a lobbyist. Whether he supported improper moralizing against civil liberties, improper moralizing against steroids in Major League Baseball, disregard for the basics of Constitutional justice, advocating for “democracy” over the plain text of the Constitution, or generally being awful at reading comprehension and constituent relations, he can’t leave fast enough for my liking. I hope the door hits him on the way out.

So, anyone want to support a small-l libertarian candidate in an independent bid¹ for Davis’ seat?

¹ I’m not necessarily joking. I’m constitutionally eligible, and I’m as qualified as any current member of the House of Representatives. Of course, your support will buy you nothing unless what you want is a vote against everything the Congress unconstitutionally does. So, almost everything it does. Then your support is just sponsoring what would already happen.

What’s the 411 976?

Something doesn’t add up here:

Takahiro Fujinuma – who is 37, single and unemployed – reportedly would whisper “darling” as he tried to start a conversation and then pleaded with female operators not to hang up.

He was arrested yesterday in Tokyo on charges of obstructing the business of service operator NTT Solco, part of telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.

He placed 2,600 calls to directory help – reached in Japan by dialling 104 – between early June and mid-November, a police spokesman said.

Single and unemployed, I get. I could’ve guessed that without the added confirmation. But how does an unemployed man afford that many calls to directory assistance? Is the Japanese system unlike directory assistance offered by American telecom companies?

Assuming the price charged by American companies earns a profit, it would make sense to answer his calls and inform him when he made any inappropriate advance that the call would terminate. The company gets his money, which should discourage excessive calling. If he verged from annoying the company by purchasing its services into lecherous harassment, charge him with that. But I can’t see how calling 200 times per night could disrupt a national business unless the service is free.

Again, I’m not condoning his apparently pervish advances. This just seems an odd conclusion to an odd situation.

Via Boing Boing.

Brief Thoughts on the GOP Debate

After American Idol and the few minutes of the idiotic insult from Lost’s producers that I could stand, I watched the last 8 minutes or so of the GOP debate in California. Aside from the laughable attempt at symbolism hammered on viewers by placing the stage in front of the President Reagan’s Air Force One, not one of these candidates is worthy of the presidency. In no particular order:

Mike Huckabee
He is slick and empty. He is made entirely of corn-pone, and only those who appreciate corn-pone politics could possibly buy him as credible.

Ron Paul
Not every question is an invitation to discuss the gold standard. I liked his answer that the president’s job is to get out of the way of the economy until he veered off the rails at the end into Iraq. It’s a valid point, but not in a question about the president’s role in the economy. Leaders don’t hyperventilate at every question. (Ron Paul’s problem, aside from too much of the message, is the messenger himself.)

John McCain
I couldn’t listen to anything he said. His smug smiles and attitude were insufferable. He thinks he’s pious and his presidency would attempt to make everyone exactly as pious as him. Why the media loves him is beyond me.

Mitt Romney
Does he ever stop to listen to himself as he rambles, making stuff up? His answer to the last question (something about “would Reagan endorse you for president?”) was a rambling, breathless collage of incongruent talking points. He will say anything. He can’t possibly be so stupid as to believe this statement, which demands to be quoted verabitm:

Ronald Reagan would say no to a 50-cent-per-gallon charge on Americans for energy that the rest of the world doesn’t have to pay.

In the United Kingdom, the fuel duty begins at £0.5035 per litre. The exchange rate is currently £0.5034 per $. Britons are paying $1 per liter in tax on gas. That’s approximately $3.78 per gallon in tax, excluding VAT. Gas in the Northern Virginia area is approximately $2.90 per gallon for regular unleaded. I’m fairly certain gas is not being sold at a loss, with businesses chipping in $0.88 per gallon in gas tax. Mitt Romney is an idiot, a liar, or both.

I’m more excited about the contestants on American Idol than I am about any of the Republican candidates for president.

Site Maintenance: Blogroll

I’ve (finally) added links in the sidebar. I have no idea why the links are in the order they’re in. They’re not in alphabetical order in my menu, but they’re not in the order you see in the sidebar, either. I’m using a not-particularly robust plugin for Movable Type, so this solution is probably temporary. But it will suffice for now. Add one more to the reasons I need to do a site refresh sooner rather than later.

If you’re link isn’t here, or another link you like is missing, let me know in the comments so I can build the list.

This Day in History: January 30, 1983

Sunday, January 30, 1983. Twenty-five years ago. I was 9½ and a die-hard Redskins fan. Still young enough to not realize that we wouldn’t win every year, I was excited that the Redskins faced Miami in Super Bowl XVII. I never expected this, the greatest run ever:

Down 17-13 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XVII and needing a big play, the Redskins turned once again to running back John Riggins, who had been making big plays for them all season. Washington faced a fourth-and-1 from the Miami 43. After taking a handoff, Riggins broke through the line and rumbled all the way for a touchdown to give Washington its first lead of the game.

Video can be seen here, with every goosebump-inducing second of The Diesel’s touchdown run.

Look before you leap is wise. We leap without looking.

Former Senator Bob Graham has an essay in today’s Washington Post detailing “how to end the gridlock” in Washington, as if that’s a wise goal. It’s not, because bipartisanship is a four-letter word that involves more expenditures on bad ideas. (e.g. economic stimulus packages) Among other reasons, partisan gridlock gave us a balanced budget in the ’90s. If sole partisan control of the government in the ’00s can’t maintain that, I’m hard-pressed to understand how some bipartisan consensus will improve the situation. Anger can be good.

In the essay Graham offers more than I care to challenge here. I’d like to focus on one problem and one solution he identifies. First, the example:

Gas prices remain high, but we still have no real energy policy.

We have an energy policy. It’s part of our farm subsidies. Sure, gas prices remain “high” (a subjective term), but our food prices are now rising as a result of our current attempt at an energy policy. Aside from generic constitutional concerns over what our government involves itself in, the appearances of unintended, though certainly not unpredictable, consequences should give us pause before we add more grease to the government engine in an effort to get more done. I prefer reality-based analysis using evidence.

Next, one of his solutions:

The media must insist that future presidential debates each focus on a single issue. Candidates can hide behind sound bites when a debate covers every and all subjects. But when candidates must spend a full 90 minutes discussing health care or national defense, voters will learn who is for real and who isn’t.

It’s nice to think this might improve our situation, but it won’t. First, politicians are liars. Second, the electorate isn’t interested in calling politicians on their lies. See yesterday’s post. The majority of voters in America aren’t interested in details. They’re interested in the sales pitch. Whoever promises to make the United States government a larger vending machine for the voter’s chosen goods, while adding in a little bit of organized hatred for the voter’s preferred target of derision, wins that voter’s heart. It does not matter if the plan is wise or even feasible. It only matters that it’s promised.

Look at the adulation Sen. Obama is now getting. What was the last policy proposal he discussed in any detail approaching 90 seconds? When he spent his campaign offering proposals, his campaign was in the toilet. When he started relying more on concepts like hope and change, absent any details, his campaign soared¹. If he gets the nomination, then, maybe, voters will start kicking the tires on his proposals. If voters genuinely cared for specifics, they’d engage in their fact-finding when the field is larger. But they don’t. The only rational response is to limit what they can do with the government, not require them to be more detailed about the extensive list of what they’d like to do.

¹ I’m putting a simplistic touch on this for effect. It’s more complicated than my statement, but not materially, I think.

People are confusing.

One of the more entertaining, albeit shallow, rewards from blogging is browsing the keywords people use to find Rolling Doughnut. Let’s consider a few from the last week:

the doughnut man who teaches about Jesus (link)

I do not know the doughnut man. What does he teach about Jesus? Now I want to know.

why capitalism must fail (link)

Because you hate liberty? Love poverty? Both?

jury duty system broken (link)

It is, for many reasons.

h play hose disney. com music feature:audio (link)

I can only guess that a robot wrote this. And that robot was high on crack.

Is cool whip vegan (link)


make decisions without thinking them through (link)

You’re looking in the wrong place. Try the experts here, here, and here.

Alas, I either haven’t talked enough about Nick Lachey recently, or people have stopped caring about his penis. Still, I hope you enjoyed these.

Post Script: It can’t be “all bitterness, all the time” around here.

Don’t believe everything you hear.

Listening to Howard Stern this morning, he briefly discussed the upcoming New York primary. One his listeners e-mailed to say that he hadn’t decided who to vote for between Clinton and Obama. The listener said he ultimately decided on Clinton because he liked Gary Dell’Abate’s reasoning that she was in the White House with Bill when he balanced the budget in the ’90s, so she probably knows how to do it again.

I fear for our country sometimes often.