Sunday, March 26, 2006

Women and Logic, Men and Emotions

I heard a woman say once that women don't think logically; her implication was that men wanting to communicate with women have to learn how to understand emotions, because women aren't capable of understanding logic.

I propose a counter-statement: men need to understand emotions because that is the way many women prefer to think. Women need to understand logic because that is the way many men prefer to think.

I think in today's world, often it is the feminine (note I carefully did not say feminist) viewpoint that is considered to be the correct one. The feminine viewpoint might think that considering the gap between the sexes, it is the man who should make most of the effort in crossing the gap. A woman, I have been told, likes to feel that her man understands her emotions even without her telling them, rather like Daniel interpreting dreams without being told what they were. And if a man can read the situation and correctly guess what she's thinking, all well and good. I'm happy for both of them. I do not think there is a biblical mandate for this, however. If a woman expects this all the time from her man, that places something of a heavy burden on him which he may or may not be able to fill. How is that being a helpmeet?

It seems to me that the really important aspect here is communication. Communication is much easier if both sides work towards the middle.

The Bible, I think, has loads more to say about logic than it does about emotions. I'm not saying the man's way of thinking is better or worse than the woman's. I am saying I don't think ultimately that logic is a masculine discipline, any more than I think emotions are solely feminine. Read how both David and Jesus wept!

In the end, since emotions are part of us, and men seem to have more trouble thinking about them, they should endeavor to improve their abilities in this area. However, emotions are highly untrustworthy when it comes to beliefs. All sorts of errors propagate out there because someone took a thought they were really excited about and forgot to compare it with all of Scripture. Therefore, I strongly believe that women should learn logic. They should know when a thing is proved and when it isn't. And if someone proves something from the Scriptures, using proper exegesis and correct reasoning, they should be prepared not only to believe it, but to change their way of life accordingly. Question the logic if you must, go over it with a fine-toothed comb, etc. But in the end, if it is correct, believe it.

I'll just do one very simple example to show you. All Christians, if they take the Bible seriously as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, must believe that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then preaching is in vain, and faith is useless. I absolutely positively guarantee that you will not find that exact statement in the Bible anywhere. But the proof of it is quite simple, using plain reason. So I ask you: will you believe it?

In Christ.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006


There's a Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Empty House, which was made into a film by Granada, and starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes. Brett is the only Holmes, of that I will ever be sure. In the story, the honourable Ronald Adair is shot by an expanding revolver bullet, and since the authorities do not know by whom or even how it was done, they have an inquest. The questioner at the inquest is examining a witness who knew Adair through school, etc. The questioner at one point asks whether Adair was, "A good sportsman, in fact?" And the witness answers, "Absolutely first-class sportsman. Straight as an arrow." That question and answer got me thinking: America loves sports, but do we really know what sports are all about, and do we know what sportsmanship is all about? I do not think we do.

As a further preface, I should like to quote C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, in Book 3, Chapter 5, where he says, "If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither." Emphasis added.

Why would Lewis put spoiling sport right up there with hatred? I would claim he does that because most instances of spoiling sport are simply thinly veneered examples of pride, which is most certainly the chief of all the sins.

So let us study this concept of sportsmanship and spoiling sport, and see if we can learn anything.

Dictionaries will only go so far here, but they are a start. Here is Miriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition:

sportsmanship n (1745) : conduct (as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport

So there we see several ideas involved with this concept. I think skill in whatever sport you are playing is also an element of the definition, but I should like to concentrate on the moral aspects. What does sportsmanship look like in practice?

Before the sport: respect for your opponent means practicing the skill yourself. You want to be a worthy opponent. As an example: I like chess. Gary Kasparov is one of the greatest players on the planet. At this point, I do not think it would be good sportsmanship to ask to play him. Why? Because it would be very difficult not to insult his abilities. To say that my poor skills are a match for his is chutzpah on quite a grand scale. Being a worthy opponent, while not impossible in the Kasparov example, is surely much easier when the skill levels are more even. So while I wouldn't say never play someone immensely better than you, be careful!

Contemplating playing the sport: consider it the greatest privilege to play someone better than you. That is where learning happens. Decide to play the best you can; doing any less is demeaning to your opponent. What if someone really good were to play you and let you win? Would you feel as though you had really accomplished something? Also involved is the idea of competitiveness. I say that it greatly depends on your reasons for competitiveness, as to whether it's a good thing or not. If you're just "into the game," then you're being a good sport. The goal is to win; let's have none of this modern nonsense of "making everyone feel good." Properly done, good sportsmanship knows how to handle losing. More on that later. If you're in it not so much to win as to make the other people lose, or not do as well as you, then you are committing the greatest sin of them all: pride.

Playing the sport: always have concern for the opponent's dignity. Play hard! And then help your opponent up if he falls. In Tae Kwan Do, this is more or less standard practice in sparring. At least, it should be. Fairness is important. I don't think any country has quite as well-developed a sense of fair play as do the English. It might be very well to study Marquis of Queensbury rules, for example, and other such examples of British fair play. I believe it was said of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that his sense of fair play was enough for him to be a referee in a boxing match, even though he never boxed.

What about winning and losing? A good winner is one who acknowledges the worthiness of his opponent. It is not what you see most of the time on TV, when a football player is asked to comment on the game after his team won: "Uuuuuh, wuuuhlll, we just, uhhh, played the best we could, and uuuuhhhh, everything came togethuuhh." That's like someone summarizing the War of Northern Aggression (as I prefer to call it) by saying that, "Problems arose." Good winners do not lord it over the loser, and parade around their accomplishments. It seems to me that usually, the winner is the first to extend the hand for the handshake. The loser should not hold it in anger that he lost, or bear a grudge against the winner. He should acknowledge the defeat. In sparring, there's one fellow named Calvin, who is not only the most accomplished martial artist I've ever seen, but is an impeccable sportsman. His ability to spar, even, allows him time to acknowledge any hits he receives by a quick pat on the hit area in real time. I wish I could do that. Alas, not yet.

One more idea I should like to bring forth, and that is the idea of kibitzing. By definition, this is someone who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comments, especially at a card game. This is bad. The worst examples of this are Little League moms; apparently, this is such a common phenomenon that my mom has transformed those words into a byword, as in, "That woman has a Little League mom mentality." It's the tendency of the spectators to be bad sports. Cheering the team is one thing. Cursing the referee, and trying to make the game unfair to the visiting team (or other team) is quite another. At Virginia Tech football games, if the opposing team has the ball and it's third down, that is the definition of a "key play." All the Hokie fans get out their keychains, and yell and rattle their keychains in the hopes of getting an off-sides or something. I used to wonder why teams had so many off-sides; now I know. I view this is as bad sportsmanship on the part of the fans. I have also seen the Hokie fans' attitudes after losing a game. Silence.

So there's some of my thoughts regarding sportsmanship. I think lots of folks have seen violations of these principles. Probably the very worst violation I ever saw was a whole person: John Macinroe. He was quite the tennis player, but his sportsmanship was appalling. Do not be like him!

Let me close with another quote from Mere Christianity, this time about pride. It seems appropriate, considering that spoiling sport comes from pride. I quote from Book 3, Chapter 8. "We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity - as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off - getting rid of the false self, with all its 'Look at me' and 'Aren't I a good boy?' and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert."

And at the end, after you contemplate all this shtuff, you realize that you can't really do it, can you? Good sportsmanship is impossible, because its opposite, spoiling sport, comes from the great grandaddy of sins: pride. You are most definitely going to need God's grace on this one. Pray for it, and read your Bible, and go to church. Employ the usual means of grace.

In Christ.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Recent Reuters Article on Nuclear Power

Here is an article by Jeremy Lovell, published on the Yahoo website. I am going to do as I do with Cucumberlandisland, and comment in regular type, while the article is in italics.

Nuclear waste: bury it and forget?

SELLAFIELD (Reuters) - It is the regular beeping that grates. But if it stops, prepare to be scared.

The signal audible every second in every corridor of the high-level toxic nuclear waste plant on Britain's sprawling Sellafield site is a sign all the alarms are working. If it stops, or changes tone, something has gone very wrong.

"The people who work here every day tell me they get used to it. But it tends to get on the nerves of everyone who visits the plant," Sellafield information officer Ben Chilton told Reuters on a tour of the site 480 km (300 miles) northwest of London.

That's an interesting fail-safe mechanism for alarms. If you lose power or something similar, the alarms stop. This idea is very much a British way of thinking, as opposed to the quite unsafe Russian way of thinking.

The alarms are crucial for an industry that believes it could be granted a new lease of life as the world searches for an alternative to fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, that produce carbon emissions, blamed for global warming.

The nuclear industry says its technology emits no carbon and does not cause global warming but for many, still wary after disasters like the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, the lingering fear is that the toxic waste might leak and kill.

This is a non sequitur on the part of both Jeremy, and the "many who are wary." Chernobyl has nothing to do with nuclear waste. I will explain more about nuclear waste below. If Chernobyl generates any fears, it should be that reactors might have containment problems like Chernobyl. However, the spent fuel problem is a different problem entirely.

Sellafield, and a plant at La Hague in northern France, can each reprocess 5,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel each year, accounting for roughly a third of annual global output.

That's interesting: two plants can reprocess a third of the annual production. Just build four more such plants and you're good to go!

But there will be more waste. China plans to build 30 new nuclear reactors by 2020, India has struck a deal with the United States to build several more plants, the United States is lining up tax incentives for new generators and Britain is considering new plants to plug a looming energy gap.

Ok, build yet a few more plants such as Sellafield. Still no issue.


The sludge that flows down the heavily armoured pipe into Sellafield's vitrification plant after plutonium and uranium have been taken from spent fuel rods for reuse is a hell's brew still emitting 40 times a lethal dose of radiation.

In shielded chambers with technicians watching through metre-thick leaded glass windows and using remote mechanical arms, the toxic stew is cooked down to a powder, combined with molten glass and poured into stainless steel urns.

These are cooled, closed and scrubbed before being sealed in insulated steel flasks and taken away for storage where, standing 10 deep in a concrete core and capped by a three-metre (10-foot) plug, the heat from the radiation is still tangible.

There are nearly 4,000 of these containers stored at Sellafield, which was the world's first commercial nuclear power plant when it opened in 1956, with room for 4,000 more.

There's better ways of disposing of it, actually. Breeder reactors come to mind.

Final disposal of the waste involves burying it in geologically stable formations. The half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years -- in other words, it would take up to 250,000 years before it degrades completely.

And here we come to a major misunderstanding concerning nuclear waste. One scientist put it like this: suppose you were required to choose between sitting on two boxes of firecrackers. In one box, there was a 50% chance that one firecracker would go off every 24,000 years, and in the other, a 50% chance that one firecracker might go off every second. Which one would you choose? It's not the long half-life radioactivity that is dangerous: it's the short half-life radioactivity.

Chilton said waste comes from Britain, which has 11 nuclear plants, and from countries as far away as Japan, the third biggest nuclear power user after the United States and France.

Sellafield's scientists are confident they have the answers on waste and believe nuclear power can help ease climate change.

"From a technical point of view we can deal with any waste that comes from nuclear plants," said Graham Fairhall of Nexiasolutions, the research arm of the British Nuclear Group.

But for the green lobby, nuclear waste is an unacceptable legacy, whatever the benefits of nuclear power.

Yes, well, the green lobby doesn't understand nuclear power very well, and they also misinterpret the nuclear accidents that have occurred in the past.

"Nuclear power is dirty, dangerous and expensive," said Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth. "We are only talking seriously about nuclear power again because of climate change. But it is not the answer."

Revealing his almost complete ignorance of nuclear power, we have Tony Juniper waxing ineloquent. Compared with coal power, nuclear power is clean enough for heart surgery.

Environmentalists say the costs of nuclear energy are not clear because of government subsidies and the toxic waste.

Gimme a break! Nuclear energy is vastly cheaper than coal.

The latest estimate on the cost of cleaning up the waste from the last 50 years is 56 billion pounds ($97 billion), Juniper said.

Ignoring breeder reactors, I see.

"There may be technical solutions to dealing with the waste that will be generated, but note that they are still trying to deal with the waste they have already created," he told Reuters.

The British government, which has covered the costs so far, says finance for new reactors must come from the private sector.

An energy review in Britain, which faces a 20 percent power shortfall within a decade as aging nuclear and coal-powered plants shut down, is due to be ready by the middle of the year.


It is not just the high-level waste from fuel rods that has to be dealt with. Intermediate-level waste such as the casings of nuclear fuel rods, and low-level waste such as that produced in hospitals also has to be processed and stored.

The waste in hospitals is negligible. That much radioactivity, due to the hormesis effect, is actually beneficial to human health.

Intermediate waste is chopped up and put in steel barrels that are filled with concrete and stored, while low-level waste is put in steel boxes that are crushed and put in a container, which is then filled with concrete and buried.

Industry experts say high, intermediate or low-level waste does not pose a security risk as one would need industrial-style resources -- like protective gear and surroundings -- to even approach the high-level waste, and the other two forms are either non-retrievable or non-lethal.

Public opinion in Britain is gradually swinging toward accepting nuclear energy to help combat climate change -- 54 percent were in favor according to a poll this year -- despite worries about the waste and security.

But while the nuclear industry says a Chernobyl-scale disaster could not happen here because the technology is different, some of the legacy problems remain a major headache.

They're only a headache because of the public's misconceptions about them.

At Sellafield, 49 years after a fire forced the closure of the Windscale I military reactor, scientists are still trying to work out how to dismantle the chimney-top filter that trapped the radioactive smoke and stopped a nuclear catastrophe.

My father, a former Navy Nuke, could give you chapter and verse about nuclear accidents in the past, and how safe American reactors are, especially Navy reactors which still retain a spotless safety record. Russian designs are pitiful.

This article merely revealed how ignorant the public still is about nuclear power, and how politically motivated the so-called "greens" are. There is very little attempt at objectivity, even if such a thing were possible. The greens are not willing to admit how politically motivated they are.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Bro's Post on Dominion

A while ago, I posted on overpopulation. Some of you were quite interested in that post. If you were interested in that post, you might also be interested in this post, by my brother Lane. I liked it immensely.

In Christ.

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Not Neglecting

I thought I would explain why I haven't been blogging on my blog much. It's partly busy-ness, but also partly contributing comments to Natalie's posts on Marriage, very interesting ones. They are A Nation of Adulterers, and How Long does Marriage Last?. Whether the comments are interesting is another matter...

In any case, have a look see if you like.

In Christ.

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