Sunday, September 16, 2007

History in a Tortoise Shell

On the surface, history is just a record of social contact and/or conquest. Take condoms, for example. Condoms are as old as civilization, having turned up in Egyptian artifacts from around 3,000 B.C. in ways that aren’t clear whether they were used in religious ceremonies or for personal hygiene. The early condoms were made of linen or other fabric and were intended to protect men from catching a venereal disease. They were never intended to prevent pregnancy.
In Japan, condoms were made of leather (kawagata) and other materials, even including tortoise shell (ouch) and animal horn (Maybe that’s where the expression ‘’I’m horny’’ originated?). History suggests the sayogoromo, or ‘’small pajamas,’’ the early condoms used in Japan, were brought from China.
In 1848, the first ‘’rubbers:: were made of latex, and they were first advertised in The New York Times in 1863. By the early 1920s, artificial latex was discovered and as the roaring ‘20s gave way to the swinging ‘30s, more than 1.5 million condoms a day were being made in the United States.
As I noted in the earlier Blog entry, condoms now come in colors and flavors, as well as having different shapes, textures and clever little appendages, with the aim of making condom use more appealing to protect against a groundswell of STDs.
In Japan, the world’s biggest per-capita consumer of condoms, more than 600 million are sold in Japan annually, and more than 5 billion are sold annually worldwide. One little bit of trivia is that Fuji Latex, the biggest of Japan’s ‘’Big Three’’ condom makers, has its headquarters building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward shaped like a giant condom (or like something that could be covered by a giant condom, at least.)
Japan’s modern condom industry had a slow start. Around the turn of the 20th century, most condoms were imported from the United States, and did not catch on until the Showa Era was well underway. A specialist in forensic medicine, Dr. Giichiro Takeda, wrote that condoms then, as now, were rejected because they limited sexual satisfaction (which I have to say is not true.)
Japan:s first manufactured condom was the Heart Bijiin (heart beauty,) made by Hosaburo Inoue in northern Tokyo by dipping sections of bamboo into latex, drying them, inflating them and dusting them with mica. The early ones often broke, we are told.
For all the condoms purchased in Japan and the rest of the world, though, there is still a scary amount of sexually transmitted disease around. I did not feel particularly relieved to read last week, for example, that there seems to be a global epidemic of risky sex planned over the internet. I already know more about that than I wanted to know. The newest report is from Melbourne, where doctors say they are fighting a reemergence of syphilis, according to Kit Fairley, director of the Melbourne Sexual Health Center. And syphilis is an STD we thought was among the diseases of the past. It turns out that it is, however, alive and spreading, among non-condom-wearing people who have vaginal or anal sex, or even during oral sex and mutual masturbation. I hope it is a coincidence that about 90 percent of the Koalas in Australia have a disease very similar to human forms of syphilis.

Good Grief

Another footnote on depression is that it’s not always easy to tell when a person is actually afflicted by bipolarism or is just going through mood swings and denial. Often, people who need help the most are those who are the most reluctant to admit it. This is not just me ranting again. If you wonder whether your mood swings are going to make you go crazy, just remember that many people have nowhere else to go.
The more I read on bipolarism, the more depressed I feel. No, that is not a joke. My depression in this comes from the fact that I couldn't really help someone dear to me overcome some serious problems that are usually associated with bipolar disorder. Of course I am not a specialist, and the fact that I am not a specialist is another reason i feel so frustrated about this.
I've written about bipolarism, which used to be called manic depression, because some of the mood swings associated with it are just what we all go through now and then. But for some people, these swings are excruciating, and can lead to or be associated with even worse problems. But don’t listen to me. Learn more about grief, guilt association, bipolarism and the causes and effects in this straight-up information presentations: It’s also worth noting that when more common medications don't seem to help, there are more scary ways to treat depression:

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