Saturday, July 6, 2013
UPDATE FOR A NEGLECTED BLOG
I’ve enjoyed reading a few blogs over the years but almost all blogs I’ve read end abruptly or sputter along with long intervals of silence. That includes me. Why does this happen? Partly it’s the lack of response to blogs. After putting these on line and getting zero response I begin to wonder if anyone is bothering to read these and if they aren’t, why should I continue? They are not diary entries meant just for my own record of my life. I suspect something like that goes on in the minds of the “sputtering” blogs I’ve read. There is also the tendency to shift ways of communicating. As a youth I wrote a lot of letters and I could even mail a letter in the morning to a friend in Brooklyn and he would receive it later that afternoon (those were the good old days of the US Post Office). Few poor people had phones during the great depression and for the few who wanted to contact someone who didn’t have a phone, they would call the local candy store public telephone and the proprietor would ask a child to run to the apartment of someone down the block and they would answer the call or call back from that phone. In more recent times (the 21st century) people have Facebook but the comments are generally no more than one paragraph. Twitter (which I have not yet used, since I am an 81 year old Luddite and technophobe) is limited to fixed space so comments are pithy and filled with abbreviations. It’s a bit like stenography to me. Each new technology for communication has a way of eclipsing the older way of communication and the trend is to brevity of response and brevity of sharing ideas. Blogs do not have that limitation and allow more reflective pieces to be written. To my surprise, even my moribund Blog gets an occasional inquiry and I have used it to reconnect to distant relatives, to hear from colleagues I have not had any contact with for decades, and even one person doing genealogy who shares a relative of Nedra’s from the American Revolutionary War. So that has inspired me to equate writing a Blog with tossing a note in a bottle into the ocean and waiting for a response. I left off in the Blog in 2011. Since then another of my books has appeared -- The 7 Sexes. Biology of Sex Determination. IU Press published it in February but so far no reviews have appeared. It is a history of how the components of our sexuality (seven of them) came to be known and how the past interpreted such things as hermaphrodites, same-sex orientation, gender roles, or how boys or girls came into being. I show how little we knew until recently. Sex hormones were virtually unknown until the 1920s. Fertilization as the union of a sperm and an egg came about in the 1870s. In older anatomies of the 1700s the ovaries were described as female testes. In antiquity it was almost pure guess work on what causes male or female offspring or how the sexual apparatus functions. I have also written articles on the history of genetics for the journals GENETICS and Mutation Research Reviews. I’ve done lots of book reviews for the Quarterly Review of Biology. I continue to write and have about a dozen books unpublished that exceeds my output of published books (13). I am also doing a book on the history of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington and serve as their historian. That has been fun to do and I have followed the evolution of religion from animism to the present and compared it to the history of rationalism from antiquity to the present. I have identified eight different types of Unitarian ways of looking at religion. The UU Church of Bloomington started as a fellowship in 1948 and it helped integrate the IU campus and county which was segregated and racist then. It is now a large creedless church with about 500 members ranging from Wiccans to atheists with most being a more socially committed group who like discussing meaning in their lives and commitment to making the world a better place. Nedra continues to do her volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity and she is involved in the local quilting guild. We enjoy IU theatre, its musicals, and occasional concerts.