Assortments of Thought

Archive for 2009

As an issue involving the earliest of human life and death and the choices people make with regards to it, abortion is and will likely remain highly and passionately controversial for some time. And while many people on both sides will grant exceptions for special cases, they otherwise remain clear and firm in their beliefs. Those who believe pro-choice feel that women have the right to control their reproduction, while those who believe pro-life feel that women are duty-bound to protect their unborn children from harm. Hence the crux of the debate is whether embryos and fetuses have a right to life or not. By my own analysis then, the pro-choice position is the stronger of the two on the condition that abortion is never used on fetuses that have attained awareness of themselves and their environments, because never having awareness, there can’t be any harm. Yet even then, a little doubt is cast by the reasonable possibility that embryos and fetuses have souls, a possibility that can’t as yet be proven either way, so it’s impossible to fully confirm the pro-choice position even with all its strengths. Abortion must therefore remain legally and readily available to all, with neither pressure nor intimidation, so that individual women can reach their own decisions on this difficult and uncertain issue.

Continue reading “Abortion” …

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Theme parks continue to be among the more popular choices for summer fun by people everywhere. Yet while many parks are visited mostly because they’re close to where people live, others are visited in spite of their distance because they really are that good. Take, for instance, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana. Located in the southwestern portion of the state, far away from even the closest big cities and metro areas for the most part, one might wonder why many people would even bother going there. Between its three renowned wooden coasters though; a vast assortment of quality rides even for the really young; an exceptional water park; and a high degree of friendliness, cleanliness, reasonable prices, and even free stuff (like soda) that many other parks simply don’t match; its appeal becomes obvious. Indeed, of all the parks to travel to for an all-around enjoyable visit, Holiday World truly belongs high on everyone’s lists.

Continue reading “One Exceptional Theme Park” …

There seems to be a general sense that emotion is inferior to logic, that the results of being emotional are never any better than okay while those of being logical are never any worse. The thinking, presumably, is that logic can always be used to find good, reasonable courses of action, yet the best emotion can do is not derail them, or in other words, not prevent someone from thinking logically. In the end, it’s thought, being emotional just means being too irrational and impulsive for it to be as good and helpful as being logical. Yet logic is far from being infallible, and emotion serves positive functions that logic simply doesn’t and never will. So while being too emotional can indeed be problematic, so can being logical without being emotional enough. In short, without emotion, logic doesn’t enable true enjoyment of things; it doesn’t always lead to good moral decisions; and it can’t give full conclusions. Hence, far from being inferior to logic, emotion is its necessary counterpart, adding meaning and morality to life that otherwise wouldn’t exist even while making logic itself possible.

Continue reading “Emotion and Logic” …

A really good story often leads to interest in a sequel, probably because everyone that likes it imagines that whatever happens after it must be equally compelling. This of course applies regardless of the medium that it’s told through. In reality though, much to everyone’s disappointment, sequels often aren’t as good as the originals even if they’re good on their own terms. To understand why, and to see how sequels can be better written, it’s useful to consider what sequels are exactly as well as what makes a good story in the first place. It turns out, for instance, that a good story is so well-constructed that effectively using all the same characters in a new story is often extremely difficult. Therefore, many sequels aren’t as good as the originals precisely because they do this. Granted, that probably sounds odd because it sounds like I’m saying sequels as a concept are inherently flawed, but as it turns out, there are in fact many ways to construct sequels besides using all the same characters. Consequently, the key to writing better sequels is to recognize the sheer diversity of options available for writing them, and to choose a way that’s suitable for a particular sequel.

Continue reading “Writing Better Sequels” …

In science, as with any subject, there’re plenty of things a lot of people don’t know. Then there’re things they think they do know because they seem so intuitive, but which they’re actually wrong about. This is probably so more with physics than anything else, but it’s certainly so with other scientific fields as well. Therefore, in this post, I’d like to recount a few things that really surprised me personally when I first came across them, things that seem almost counter-intuitive at first. Specifically, I’ll discuss the notions of water only freezing at 0 ÂșC; people freezing in space; and one temperature that’s twice that of another being twice as hot.

Continue reading “Some Surprising Science” …

The inclusion of God by government and other public institutions has continued to stir controversy. For instance, public schools have even faced lawsuits over using the line “One nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and some activists continue to cross out “In God We Trust” on all paper money that comes their way. That anyone takes issue with these things, however, may seem surprising. If separation of church and state as mandated by the Constitution is maintained with the exception of such minor things, indeed we are all fortunate. Even so, that anyone in turn takes issue with removing God from public institutions is perhaps less surprising but far more concerning. For it isn’t just separation of church and state that’s involved, though that’s certainly very, very important. Even further, it’s discrimination on the basis of religion. After all, government and public institutions serve the nation, and in a nation with citizens of virtually every major world religion and more, just one or a few religions shouldn’t be endorsed over all the others. And it’s important that everyone realizes this, even if it’s not a particularly big deal as it stands, to ensure that it doesn’t become anything bigger in the future.

Continue reading “Religious Diversity and God” …

It is very difficult to permanently yet precisely define what is meant by biological life, at least in such a way so as to encompass all that we recognize as being alive, yet recognize life not yet discovered or even formed. This partly stems from the sheer diversity of life here on Earth. However, it also stems from the fact that we haven’t even seen all life that exists here, much less any that may exist elsewhere in the universe. Hence, in defining life by considering the fundamental commonalities of all known life, we face the drawback of making an induction from a sample. We can define life so as to include all that we are currently aware of as being alive, but any such definition may fail to account for what we may later discover, or even for something which hasn’t yet evolved. However, I believe that by considering a fundamental, chemistry-inspired difference between life and non-life, we may in fact be able to obtain both a more permanent and yet more precise definition. Rather than relying on an induction, we can instead define two single requirements for something to be considered alive based on chemistry. Namely, that living things contain their own descriptions as genetic material within them, and that they propagate through some form of reproduction and transmission of this material.

Continue reading “Defining Biological Life” …


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