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Sunday, February 23, 2014


An image of a happy family.


Female Genital Mutilation is generally practised in some 27 sub-Saharian countries, Asia, and some parts of the Middle East. Typically it is carried out on girls before their fifth birthday, and involves the cutting away of all or part of the clitoris and clitoris hood, that part of the vagina when gently massaged can bring intense pleasure to the woman, resulting in orgasm. In more extreme cases of the practise the inner and outer parts of the labias are removed.

The procedure is most likely done without anaesthesia, with only a verbal caution to the girl to be brave and not to cry out. An unclean knife or razor blade is the intstrument and the circumsizor will themselves be unclean.

Wikipedia reports that more than 125 million girls have been put through this experience by their mothers who regard it as a matter of honour, as it establishes the mother's authority to bring up her daughter as she should. There is no medical reason or benefit to be gained, therefore it simply comes down to tradition, and the fact that the mother never enjoyed sexual intercourse, so her daughters likewise will never know the joy.

Clearly, this is the activity of ignorant people engaging in barbaric practise, and only education will eradicate it.

I tried to imagine the experience from the girl's point of view and I have to tell you that it absolutely turns my stomach. You are surrounded by everyone from the village and there you are, strecthed wide open to the world with some unclean old hag or man approaching you with a dirty razor to cut away what we instinctively think of as our private parts. The person holding you down will be your mother, the one you rely on to protect you. She is the ring leader saying yes, I want you to have this done! The background to all this is down by the river in the back of beyond.


As people have immigrated from the original countries to places like Europe, including England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and also to the United States, they have retained many of their cultural beliefs, including FGM. Why would they do this? Perhaps because in such countries they find that MGM, or Male Genital Mutilation takes place, mostly in hospitals.


Circumcision, or Male Genital Mutilation is a shared religious belief between Muslims and Jews, but is rarely practised in Europe, Latin America, parts of Southern Africa and Asia. It generally has no medical benefit eexcept in extenuating circumstances, and the routine procedure to blindly follow tradition, especially if it is not religious, is to place one's neonatal child in excruiating pain needlessly, and perhaps significant risk. Perhaps the father had been circumsed as a baby so he thinks I'll have my boy likewise done. This is something that is better considered in the light of rational thought, and most of all, without haste.

The male evoled to be born with a foreskin. The foreskin is there for the purpose of enclosing the head of the penis and to keep it protected against dust and dirt. Humans developed clothes that now provide that protection, so the foreskin might be considered surplus to requirements, but as long as the man keeps his penis clean, having a foreskin is no liability. The main consideration is that if the baby grows into a man and decides for himself that he wants the foreskin removed, he can check himself into hospital and take the snip under proper surgical conditions.

The world is a constantly evolving place and there are a lot of outdated old fashioned ideas still in practise today, such as what we have been discussing, along with not allowing women to venture outdoors without a male relative, or to deny them the ability to drive a car. Education is the absolute key to changing such views and time to absorb the joys of learning.

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Extreme Weather-The new normal!

Fearsome weather in motion.

It started with the most powerful storm in living memory that hit The Phillippines. We just felt it in our bones that no matter where in the world we lived, that Typhoon (Haiynan) affected us all. It was a sign that awful change was taking place that would eventually encompass the entire world.

For the past two months the people of North America and Canada, Portugal, Spain, Western France, Holland, Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland have been living the nightmare that was beyond our imaginations-conveyor belt massive storms without seeming end. This past week, courtesy of Sky News, we have been locked to our television as they have concentrated on the storms and the effects on the South-West of England. That's my wife's country where we visited last summer. Then, the weather was mostly lovely, and that allowed us to visit Poole, Lyme Regis, Bridgewater, Somerset, and Cornwall. All are now under water with so many places described as such and such on Water, now being under Water.

I grew up on an island that was subject to occasional hurricanes with the attendant stress and loss of property, but usually due to only one passing storm at a time, or a season. Over the many years stress levels are automatically raised upon hearing that a weather depression has formed off the coast of Africa. At that point you start to think, "Oh boy, here we go again!" Now take that attitude and overlay it with the type of experience the people in the countries I have noted above have undergone, and are probably still having to endure and it becomes readily apparent that the worst damage of all is likely to be pyschological. Imagine yourself trying to contain or clean up the damage from storm number one only to realise that another is one the way, and after that there is an endless line of storms coming. How do you not lose your mind?  That is the question?

I am a little embarrassed to say that I live on the eastern coast of Spain, where at times, we have had very sunny and reasonable days while others have suffered so much. However, we can only say that this time we have been lucky, but we know our time is coming.

When we reflect on the history of the changing nature of the world, where in the beginning earth plates were joined up that are now split apart, and where there are now deserts there was once seas, we have to realise that no where is it written that that process of apocalyptic change is over permanently. The problem now is that there are seven billion people everywhere on the planet and when such changes take place they usually result in loss of lives and property. However, Mother Nature does not use the same accounting system that we humans use. She can only sustain just so much in human development. The rest She will destroy as fast as we can build it.

I agree, this is no way to end a column! Sorry about that!

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene  Carmichael 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Evolution of Women

Possibly the most beautiful woman-ever!

These days, my favourite pastime is to sit in the sun at a sidewalk cafe over a cup of coffee, thinking about nothing in particular, and watch the world go by. A short while ago a young woman came into focus, and lingered while she talked to a friend, as well as talking on her smartphone. She shifted around some, thereby giving me a 360 degree view of her. She was perfect! However, there are many women who are beautiful, but it got me thinking of how a man's perspective of women has so evolved from the days when I was a child.

I come from a society where women, all women were revered and respected, at least on my small island. Starting with my mother, the god-like figure in our household, to my sisters and my aunts and cousins. As a mere male I felt my place among the females. All we males automatically placed them on a pedastel. I'm not sure why we did that. We were probably manipulated in doing so, but no female ever insisted that we place them there.

I once stepped out of line. Our household routine was that we children who were old enough would have to wash the dishes, but when it came to my turn I balked. Washing dishes is woman's work, I ventured. My father was reading the newspaper at the time. He closed the paper in a very loud crumpling sound and I immediately went down on both knees, closing my eyes and making myself as small as possible. Incoming!!!

Needless to say, I never did that again. Even today my wife can say that she has an automatic dishwasher. That's me, you'all.

There was only one man in our neighbourhood back then, that we ever heard of who mistreated his wife. He was a drunkard, but one day he arrived home and gave his wife a wad of money, saying, perhaps you would like to buy yourself something nice. She said that she was so surprised she closed her eyes to thank the Lord. When she opened her eyes both he and the money were gone. Oh well!

That was then, this is now.

Now, we can expect a really nicely turned out woman to use foul language. Women who are confident and successful can enjoy sexual lives on their own terms, with a male partner, or someone from their own gender. A man on the prowl has to expect that the lone woman at the bar might be looking for the same thing he is.

Playboy and Penthouse, and their competition did us all a disfavour, although from their viewpoint they would argue the opposite. However, while those magazines promote beauty in a woman, the women shown to us might best be appreciated from afar, because up close and personal we may find that beauty is indeed, only skin deep. These are simply people, with possibly all manner of  what the stranger might consider as faults. Some of those faults should be avoided at all costs, so the watchword is, "Approach with caution.!"

I make no secret of the fact that the one woman most admired by me is Halle Berry. I sit through most of her films, and I enjoy her photos, and I wish her well in her life. However, I never ever want to meet her in person because I am fairly certain that my lofty opinion of her would be smashed.

Has the evolution of women been all positive? Probably not, but where it has meant their freedom and removal from the ridiculous  pedestal, where they didn't belong in the first place, that is good. Now they are free to simply be themselves, and that will mean the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the very ugly in character.

If we all are not free, then none of us are free! (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Living with Evolution

Evolution: The most complex subject !

By simply opening this topic I know I have entered into a very controversial matter, with supporters of equal passion for, and against the philosphy. I have looked down into the well of data and what I see is truly mind blowing, so I will not go there. I do not intend to get into any of the details of why I believe in evolution. In fact, I hope to reduce the mass of computations into a single word: change! Evolution is change, and change that is happening right in front of our eyes.

I was born in 1939, and for the first ten years of my life there did not appear to be any change. But change happens constantly, whether we can see or feel it. Just as the globe is constantly revolving, so is change happening. Example: for the person who suffers a coma for 50 years, the whole world will change around them, to the extent that before entering into the coma, the world that they knew would simply not exist when the awakening took place.

Charles Darwin's evolution challenges the Bible's version of the beginning of mankind. Adam and Eve versus today's mankind's beginning from the humble ape through to the brilliant things we are.

The reason I have chosen this subject at this time is because I found myself musing about the radical changes that have taken place in every aspect of our lives. There are lifestyle, morality, diet, physical makeup changes, especially as concerns the Southern Europeans and the Chinese, who have moved from being of short and squat stature to some being quite tall, such as the Spanish prince, and the Chinese government leader. There are also striking changes in industry; amazing changes in health care, to the extent that due to stem cell reasearch we are now being given the choice of living forever, or at least not having to die from simple old age.

Then, there is technology, and how that impacts on our ability to communicate with one another. From the beginning of the first computer and IBM the world took a quatum leap forward. There can be no turning back. To a child in his crib, he has entered a world that is manifestly much smaller than that of his parents. With a smartphone to play with a person on the other side of the world is the same as the one in the house next to his own. If the rate of change simply stayed the same in the computing world, by the time the baby of today reaches adulthood I shudder to try to imagine the power that person will hold in their hand.

Equality among humans has already advanced massively, and will continue to advance. For instance, there was a time that if you had a gripe that you wanted to get other people's opinions on, you were at the mercy of the controllers who had the printing press to give you the publicity. No longer! You simply use your own desktop to spread the message via twitter, and any of the other social sites, around the world in seconds.

Evolution/ Change is not always for the good, but it is like the ocean and the tides, and night and day. These things will happen and there is nothing that any human can do to stop them. True, we can, and probably will erase ourselves from the planet, but that will simply be the elimination of yet another species, like the dinosaurs, but the world will go on evolving, into the future.

Evolution, like it or leave it, believe in it or not. It  affects all aspects of human and animal life, and where humans have added to the evolutionary process by giving nature a helping hand that still counts as evolution.

Evolution. Change by another name.

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael