I just found out that I will be in Fairfax until Wednesday working with the RNC on a political campaign. So if you try to contact me before then, I probably won't respond.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Last night was the "Hoedown." It is basically an old-fashioned country dancing party held in a barn and is one of the two school-sponsored social events held yearly. So as of Friday, I didn't have a ticket and wasn't going. This was mainly because none of my closest friends here were going. But, for various reasons, Daniel and I decided to buy our tickets and try it out. So your next question is...did Paul dance??? And the answer is: Yes I did, and it was a lot of fun! When Daniel and I arrived early, there were a few people that wanted to learn the Virginia Reel. We joined in and so I learned that one pretty quick. Throughout the night they always explained each dance so that those of us who didn't know what we were doing could join in. We did a lot of dancing in a circle and a few times I got pretty dizzy. It was great exercise though. The only dance I didn't join in on was the waltz, but I want to learn it and try it at some point. I can't wait until the Liberty Ball, and I might even try going to one of the contra dances they hold locally before then.
My Biology exam on Friday went very well. I got my grade on my Theology exam and it was very good. This weekend has been pretty slow on the school side because we don't really have any exams or papers coming up this week. On Monday I'm meeting with my advisor (Dr. Gruenke) to register for the Spring semester. Tuesday is my birthday, of course, and I'm looking forward to the start of 24 Season Three! Speaking of action drama television, we filmed some more Hitman scenes this weekend. I am actually in the next couple of episodes, and there are some really funny parts coming up. Well, I better get to church. We turned our clocks back this morning - what a stupid thing that is! I will admit that it was nice to get an extra hour of sleep. Later...
Thursday, October 23, 2003
I keep having this irrational fear before I take an exam that I will somehow bump my head and forget all the information I need to know. Thankfully it hasn't happened. :) I just came back from Logic and I'm very happy with my midterm grade. Logic and Latin are my best subjects right now I think. My last exam this week is Biology tomorrow. I feel pretty confident with the material. The only thing I'm a little worried about is the genetics word problems. We learned all about how genes are passed from parent to child, and we have to figure out what the chances would be of a trait appearing in a generation given the genetic makeup of the parents. It's interesting, but I don't have a good grasp on it quite yet. I will be going over that this evening in depth. Logic class was very interesting today. We analyzed the argument of Peter Singer in his article called All Animals Are Equal. He basically argues that modern philosophy has no justification for inherent human dignity, and so there is no real moral difference between humans and animals. Our conclusion as a class was that Singer's argument helps clarify the stark contrast between theism and atheism when it comes to the value of human life by cutting out the middle ground position that "human dignity" can exist without God.
The weather has been getting colder. Today has been really cold. In fact, right now it is only 48 degrees outside. Brrrr! This weekend is looking to be somewhat uneventful. Jeremiah is out of town at a debate tournament. Tuesday is my birthday. 21 years! :) And next weekend we get Monday and Tuesday off of school because of the election. It doesn't look like I'll get to go to Mississippi; I guess the RNC had too many applicants. So I'll probably hang out around here and help with local campaigns. Maybe I'll study a little too...
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Well, I wish I could say that my quizzes went fine, but in actuality I don't feel too good about them. Especially the History quiz. Oh well, at least it won't destroy my grade entirely. I know what I need to do to study History better. I just need to read Johnson more actively, highlighting the key points and creating my own study guide rather than depending on the ones that other people make. For Latin, I just need to spend more time reviewing the paradigms.
Last night, I went to Scott and Kim Walker's house for dinner. They are a local family who has "adopted" me, and three other guys here. John couldn't make it, but Kyle, David and I went over and had a great time. We met the Walkers' two kids. After eating chili for dinner, we each took a turn playing tag with their 2 year old son. Then, for most of the evening, we played two board games. The Walkers are huge board game fans and have some really cool games that most people don't know about. First, we played Settlers of Catan, which is a strategy game that reminded me somewhat of Risk except that instead of conquering nations we were building cities. It was complicated, but I enjoyed it. Then we played another game (the name escapes me) in which we tried to gain points by owning castles and farming lands. I won the second game.
This morning I got up early and worked all morning with other students at a home for elderly people. We did yard work and I just got back. I'm now going to lunch and this afternoon I will probably be working on my Latin workbook and studying Logic.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Well, I got an A- on the "Eating Meat" essay in Logic class. Academically, I'm doing pretty well. I have three quizzes tomorrow: in Latin, Biology, and History. Next week will be Logic and Theology midterms as well as a Biology exam. Research and Writing class has gotten a little better because we've started to work on our research paper. I'm writing about intellectual property rights, specifically the legal issues relating to pirating media on the Internet.
When I'm not studying, my friends and I have moved on from just watching movies to making them. My roommate, Daniel, and friend Matt have started a series of short, continuous, dramatic videos called Hitman. I'm one of the main actors, and it's been a lot of fun so far. I'm looking forward to quite a lot of twists in the story as we continue through the semester.
Naomi gave me an early birthday present: 24 Season Two!! Daniel, RJ, Jeremiah and I finished season one a couple of weeks ago, and we just started season two. The third season starts on my birthday (Oct. 28), and I'll definitely be watching. To be completely honest, 24 did inspire Hitman to some extent and Daniel has borrowed from it just a little bit.
Coming up in two weeks is election weekend, which means two days off of school. RJ, Jeremiah, and I applied to work for the RNC in Mississippi on the governor's race there. If we get accepted, the RNC will fly us out and pay all of our expenses while we help out on the campaign. Plus, we can earn a college credit for our major.
Today is Logic and Theology. Tonight is studying for the quizzes tomorrow. Tomorrow night I've been invited over to a local family's house for dinner. They've adopted me and a few other students through their church's "adopt-a-student" program. I'm looking forward to it. Saturday, I am doing ServeAmerica, which is a project to help out the local community. We'll probably also film another Hitman episode this weekend and watch more 24.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Eating Meat: Is it healthy?
Cooked animal flesh is a part of the diet of most human beings. Americans, in particular, eat a large amount of meat every day. In fact, the American culture is such that most people expect the main course of both lunch and dinner to contain primarily meat. However, there are many people who exclude meat from their diets entirely, and this practice is growing in popularity. Some of these object to eating meat because they care about animals and believe that killing animals is murder, while others simply argue that eating meat is not good for the human body.
My position is that eating meat is unhealthy. I will not argue that meat should always be excluded; rather, I will say that eating meat can be excluded from a human’s diet without consequence to health. Furthermore, I contend that meat contains harmful elements and since meat is both unnecessary and harmful to the body, it is therefore unhealthy. The following is my argument in standard form:
1) If a balanced diet that excludes a food still provides the body with enough of the nutritious elements within that food, then that food is nutritionally unnecessary.
2) A balanced diet that excludes meat still provides the body with enough protein.
3) Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
4) If a food often contains substances that harm the body and it is nutritionally unnecessary, then it is unhealthy.
5) Meat often contains substances that harm the body.
6) Meat is unhealthy.
Certain foods are not needed for a healthy body to function. Ice cream is a good example. While many people eat ice cream, they recognize that it is not a necessary part of a balanced diet. There are no special vitamins or minerals in ice cream that are essential to the human body. The same could be said for tomatoes or blueberries. Actually, most individual foods can be excluded from one’s diet without ill effects, as long as the nutrients found in those foods are gained by eating other foods. One of the blessings of God’s creation is the abundance of nutrients in a variety of foods.
While people realize that avoiding the ingestion of ice cream or tomatoes would not be harmful, they often believe at the same time that meat is essential to the body. This is simply not the case. The element in meat that our body needs most, protein, is present in many kinds of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains. The best sources of protein outside meat are beans, nuts, lentils, and legumes. These plant proteins contain the same twenty-three amino acids as animal proteins contain, which is evident when you consider that an animal’s body builds its protein from the plants it eats. So, animal proteins are in no way superior to plant proteins. As long as people eat a wide variety of healthy foods, their bodies will be provided with enough protein even if they do not eat meat.
Meat is not essential to health. Since the part of meat that the body needs, protein, is found plentifully in other types of foods, meat is unnecessary just like ice cream and tomatoes. Meat and tomatoes are different in that the term “meat” encompasses many individual foods, while tomatoes are a particular food. However the principle stays the same. Since no single meat contains any nourishing element that cannot be found elsewhere, there is no dietary reason that people have to eat any meat. There may be reasons to eat meat, but nutrition cannot be one of them.
Ice cream is distinguishable from tomatoes in that ice cream contains substances that can harm the body. This is why health-conscious people feel a twinge of guilt when eating ice cream that they do not feel when eating tomatoes. Most people know that ice cream is an unhealthy food because it is both unnecessary and harmful. Tomatoes, on the other hand, are not unhealthy because though they are unnecessary, they are not usually harmful to the body. But if a food is both unnecessary and harmful, it is considered unhealthy.
Animal flesh is a food that often contains harmful elements. Meat is usually high in both cholesterol and saturated fat. The body needs very small amounts of these, and so it is not very hard for us to provide our bodies with the necessary amounts. The average meat-eating person is eating too much cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which contribute to heart disease and obesity. Additionally, other chemicals such as pesticides and preservatives are found in most meat products which can have adverse effects on body chemistry. According to a study done by the American Cancer Society, harmful chemicals in grilled meats can increase the risk of cancer. Lastly, eating meat that is not fully cooked is risky because of diseases like E. coli. While nutritionists often differ on their recommendations, most would agree that meat often contains substances that harm the human body.
Since meat normally contains damaging materials and is not essential to health, it should be placed in the same category as ice cream. In other words, meat is unhealthy. Certainly, some types of meat are worse than others, but I am speaking generally of meat as a category. To summarize, animal flesh does not have to be eaten, and is generally detrimental.
Some may object to the idea that meat is harmful to the body. They might say that any food can be harmful to the body, if it is overeaten. Take the example of tomatoes. In and of themselves, tomatoes are not harmful to the body. However, if someone were to eat five pounds of tomatoes in one sitting, then his body would obviously react negatively. Eating small amounts of meat, just like tomatoes, is not a health problem.
In response to this objection, it is important to remember that I am speaking of the average meat-eater in America today. If someone were to eat only one small organic fish a week, the fish would probably not harm the person’s body. On the other hand, eating meat as the main dish in both midday and evening meals on a consistent basis is eating enough meat to cause adverse effects. If ice cream was the main course at a daily meal, most would recognize this as a health problem. Since meat is unhealthy like ice cream is unhealthy, there is a problem with the amount of meat being eaten.
Once again, my contention is that eating meat is unhealthy. Meat is unnecessary nutritionally because protein can be found in many other foods. Meat is harmful because it is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. These two facts combined lead me to conclude that eating meat is bad for the human body. I am a vegetarian for this very reason. However just because meat is unhealthy does not mean it has to be eliminated. Ice cream is unhealthy too, but people still eat it. I understand that many people enjoy the taste of meat and could not give it up entirely. But I hope that people will at least think about eating less meat as a result of the argument I have made.
 Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, “Harmful Chemicals in Grilled Meats,” 2003, <http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_11_1_Harmful_Chemicals_in_Grilled_Meats.asp> (7 October 2003).
Saturday, October 04, 2003
What is going on with me? Here's a synopsis by class:
Research & Writing - Wow, this class is boring. It's only one credit and all we've talked about is grammer and writing with "style." Some of the content has been useful, but most of the time I get the feeling that Dr. Smith isn't quite sure what to say next. We've written 2 one-page papers, corrected the grammer of a long list of sentences, and rewritten a paragraph. This Monday, the "research" part of the class starts so we are taking a field trip to the Library. I wish I could sleep in on Mondays...
Latin I - Latin is going very well. It's a lot to learn and sometimes confusing, but the language really does make sense once you understand the paradigms and memorize the vocabulary. Dr. Noe is a wonderful teacher and I always look forward to attending class. We've had 3 quizzes and an exam, and I've done pretty well. Actually, Latin is my best class right now when it comes to grades. The midterm is next Friday, so I know what Daniel and I will be doing on Thursday night. :)
Biology - This class has been very good. I really like Dr. Gruenke and I'm learning a ton of stuff. Most recently, we tracked the transfer of energy all the way from sunlight through photosynthesis, through aerobic respiration, to animal cells. It was fascinating. We had our second exam yesterday and I feel better about it than I did about the first. Bio lab has been fun also. We've used microscopes to see what's really in Lake Bob and last week we walked around campus gathering and identifying tree leaves. The Lab midterm is on Tuesday, and I really need to study for it...
History - This class is my focus this weekend, because the first exam is on Monday. My three quizzes have been OK, but I would like to do better. We just finished talking about the War for Continued Self-Government (a. k. a. American Revolution). I especially enjoyed learning about the importance of the Great Awakening. We have to write a critique of a book called Vindicating the Founders, which makes some good arguments defending the Founding Fathers against modern attacks by revisionists. I also have to write a research paper on John Jay, and I am looking forward to reading about him. Dr. Snyder is a good teacher, and this class rivels Biology in the amount of knowledge it is pouring into my head.
Theology - This class started slow, but has really started to get interesting the last week or so. Each student has to give a presentation on a particular doctrine, and we've started to touch on some controversial issues, like the age of the earth. Next week we will discuss God's providence, which I'm sure will be very interesting. We had our first exam already and I did pretty well. My report isn't due until December. It will be on the atonement and I wouldn't want to trade that topic with anyone. It's going to be a blast.
Logic - This is my favorite class right now. The homework is pretty easy, and the class time is very stimulating. We've learned the basics of streamlining and evaluating arguments and talked about how Christians should interact with culture. Next Thursday, one of the four assignments is due. I have to write an argumentative essay and I've chosen the thesis that meat is unhealthy. Here's my basic argument in standard form:
1) If the only nutritious element within a particular kind of food can be found in most other foods and a balanced diet excluding that kind of food provides the body with enough of the nutritious element, then that kind of food is nutritionally unnecessary.
2) The only nutritious element within meat, protein, can be found in most other foods.
3) A balanced diet excluding meat provides the body with enough protein.
Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
1) If a food often contains substances that harm the body and it is nutritionally unnecessary, then it is unhealthy.
2) Meat often contains substances that harm the body.
3) Meat is nutritionally unnecessary.
Meat is unhealthy.
That's all of my classes and as you can see, I'm pretty busy. Amazingly, I've still found enough time to squeeze in some fun times with my friends. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I went with a group of 7 others to see the movie Luther. It was very enjoyable. The story was historically accurate yet very compelling. The acting was good as well. It's one weakness was the editing; there were a few glaring mistakes. I recommend it highly, if it's playing in a theatre near you (that sounds cliched). Last night we finished 24 Season One. It was an awesome last episode. Too bad I don't have Season Two... Today is Daniel's birthday, so we'll probably go out and do something tonight and then watch a movie. Now I will go study History...