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May 10, 2012

The Show Notes

Ask George 
     - Guitar squeaks? from Dave
     - Past works? from Jim
     - Racist friend? from Matt M.
     - Vinyl? from Alec in Ohio
     - Live performance? from Jacob A.
     - Christian ice cream? from Chris B.
     - Learning a tune? from Elliot S.
     - Keith Moon? from Joe
     - Standards? from Bruce Press
     - Circumcision? from Joe
Geo’s Mom Reads Jay Z Lyrics
     - "Lift Off" from Blue
Show close


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eleven and a half years ago

Re: Christian ice cream? from Chris B.

I have purchased photographic equipment online from B&H Photography.

One saturday I went to order something only to find I could not due to it being the sabbath as the company is run by Orthodox Jews. Aside from this notice on the sabbath their website has not overtly religiousness to it so I had no idea until then.

I just waited until the next day as B&H have good prices and offer excellent service. I cannot recommend them too highly.

J. D. Mack
eleven and a half years ago

Regarding Jacob and his nervousness about performing. Everything you told him is correct. But I know from experience that sometimes the clearest mind in the world cannot connect to the part of the brain that controls hand shaking. For that, I recommend that he ask his doctor about prescribing the beta-blocker Propranolol, sometimes known as the stage fright drug. Also, I would suggest never ordering a drink with ice while waiting to perform, as holding a cold glass tends to numb the fingers. Stick to good ol' room temperature water with lemon.

eleven and a half years ago

Two comments on different questions asked:

First off, for the guitarist who asked about performing, you probably should have mentioned that your correspondent shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes, but more importantly, if you do make a mistake, don't stop and draw attention to it. This is a good attitude in any performance method, not just musical. Usually, you are the only one who will know when you make a mistake on stage.

Second, regarding circumcision, I know a lot of people ask the question of where the procedure/ritual came from in the first place. Protection from STD's or other infections seems to be roughly looking for a justification after people started doing it.

Then I started to formulate a hypothesis about this. I will be the first to admit that I'm not entirely sure how best to test this, but I'd like to think that this makes sense: it's both Jewish and Muslim tradition to perform this "ritual". And we know that if a god commands it, it's kind of easy to get people to do it.

I have found that a lot of Jewish rituals might have origins in either attempts to subvert other cultures (e.g., the prohibition on tattoos), or to solve for a very real problem that the culture had to face (e.g., bury your dead as quickly as possible; in the heat of the desert and absent any modern embalming methods, you want to dispose of the body before it starts to stink). So the question of why such a patriarchal culture would even consider doing this, it leads me to think that the latter is the reason for circumcision.

I can't imagine it being an easy life, being a nomadic tribe in a desert. Even worse, knowing that underwear technology was probably non-existent for the better part of the last 5000 years, I would imagine that it would be extremely painful to get sand between the foreskin and the glans.

When faced with this problem, it does seem to make sense to chop off the foreskin. I'm not saying that makes it right or even necessary in this day and age but it at least seems like a reasonable explanation.

So to the guy who asked the question about whether or not allowing his sons to be circumcised is reasonable, I'd just ask if they're planning on wandering through the desert for the better part of their lives, or not.

David H
eleven and a half years ago

I loved the chat with your mom - especially the part where you were both considering how performing in different circumstances gives you different sorts of nerves. As someone who has both taught teenagers (briefly), and performed (public speaking), I can very much vouch for that difference. Your mom sounds like she's a natural performer, though :)

eleven and a half years ago

Re: Keith Moon. Totally agree with everything you said about him. It shouldn't work on any level, and yet it somehow does. It wouldn't have worked in any other band, but on the same token the band wouldn't have worked without him.

I just wanted to bring up the only other guy I know that kind of falls into the category of "shouldn't work, but it still does": Carter Beauford from Dave Matthew's Band. He somehow manages to play incredibly intricate and busy grooves and fills with loads of double bass drum action and make it work in a band that's essentially a folk jam pop band.

Now, Carter is a much more technically proficient drummer than Keith ever was, but he's really the only guy I can think of who plays in a way that just somehow works even though it really should be a huge turnoff.

Just my $0.02


eleven and a half years ago

I have been waiting for the Geo's mum, since I started to listen to your podcast. Wohoo!

eleven and a half years ago

Hey George,

On the same page as you on the circumcision issue - In reality this is no more than cosmetics as there is little evidence that circumcision significantly prevents transmission of STDs. As you said, there may be a statistical difference for the transmission of HIV, but it is not known if those data (collected in sub-Saharan Africa) translate to the developed world. Indeed, HIV prevalence in Scandinavian countries, where circumcision is almost absent (less than 1%) is some of the lowest in the world. Interestingly, Scandinavian countries have some of the earliest ages of first sexual encounter (16.2-16.5 years) in the developed world. Also interestingly, if one compares Israel with that of Sweden (or Norway, Finland), the prevalence of HIV is around 0.1% for both locales. Since Israel has an ostensibly higher rate of circumcision (greater than 90%), but a similar socioeconomic, education level, and age at first sexual encounter (16.7 years), one would suppose that these factors are more important than circumcision for HIV transmission. In the US, where circumsion is more common (~70% depending on region), HIV is six times higher than in Scandinavia or Israel. Incidentally, age of first sexual encounter in the US is around 18 years.

Second, circumcision does not seem like a good way to prevent STDs when compared to condoms. If we take latest the studies at face value, circumcision reduces HIV transmission by about 50% or about one in two. Condom use reduces transmission by over 99% or about one in 100. The difference then is that condoms are approximately 50 times more effective than circumcision at reducing HIV transmission. Coincidentally, the decrease in transmission rate due to circumcision is approximately equal to the percentage of skin that is removed from the penis. Since HIV infection is dependent on the surface area of epithelium exposed to virus, one would think that the benefit is derived not from removing foreskin per se, but by merely removing the total available surface for infection.

Finally, there are non-cutting alternatives to a bris that usually involve a pin-prick to shed some blood but do not involve amputation of skin. That said though, if Joe’s wife is secular, why would one go through the religious part of the ceremony anyway?

PS George, Polish tradition also has the jello-fish at Christmas Eve (as do Jewish folk, though I suppose they don’t eat it at Christmas!). Once a year is more than enough for me! Pickled herring on the other hand…yum!