All posts by Gus The Realist

Corporal Punishment

To beat or not to beat! That is the question.


Corporal punishment was recorded as early as the 10th Century BC in Book of Proverbs attributed to Solomon:

“He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes. Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” 

Over the years, this method of disciplining miscreants has gradually fallen out of favour and has been systematically curtailed by generation after generation, but there has never been such a worldwide attempt to completely disbanded it until recent times.These days, using a switch or belt to correct children is a define no, no. In some places, it is considered a criminal offence and even where it isn’t, the consequences for such actions can be detrimental to one’s reputation. In fact judging by events highlighted in the media recently concerning a number of prominent athletes in the USA,  it can even affect a person’s employment prospects and way of life.In this post therefore, I will try to look at both sides of this burning issue in an effort to determine whether the discontinuation of this long established practice is really a step in the right direction.

The common arguments for and against this practice can be found on many websites but I have chosen the ones listed below from “” as this site doesn’t attempt to pass judgement on the subject, but simply states the reasons for and against the practice, and leaves it up to the reader to decide if corporal punishment is right or wrong.

Reasons Supporting Corporal Punishment

  1. Deterrent: Corporal punishment is usually an effective behavior deterrent.
  2. Compliance: Increases immediate short-term compliance.
  3. Cost: With little or no cost, corporal punishment is affordable to everyone.
  4. Quick: Corporal punishment is both quick and saves time, therefore allowing both parties to return to their tasks (such as a child returning to the classroom to resume learning).
  5. Right/Wrong: Corporal punishment definitely teaches both right and wrong.

Reasons Against Corporal Punishment

  1. Self Esteem: Corporal punishment can lower self esteem to both the punisher and punishee, and may have longer term psychological impact too.
  2. Unnecessary: There are other means of education that are effective too. A common alternative is to educate why the action was wrong to the point of invoking empathy or shame.
  3. Hostility: Those people receiving punishment are more like to be instilled with rage and hostility even into adulthood.
  4. Violence: Are you familiar with the old adage: “monkey see, monkey do”? Well, corporal punishment trains children to be violent to other children and educates them that it is an acceptable means of education. This will carry on into adulthood too.
  5. Child Abuse: For corporal punishment to typically continue working, more punishment, pain, or force maybe be necessary. As a result, child abuse typically starts as corporal punishment.

 My Experience & Observations.

I grew up in a large family during the fifties and sixties and got my fair share of licks both at home and at school for all sorts of things such as, not doing my home work assignments, being disobedient at home, for fighting, lying, cheating and all things naughty.   Was I abused? I don’t think so. But maybe I was and just didn’t know it.

So did it act as a deterrent for me?

Let me put it this way. When I was still a child, I remember having quite a bad temper. One day my dad had reached his limit with my constant display of bad behaviour and I got the “cut arse” of my life. That was the last time I remember throwing a temper tantrum, I was cured for life and today, it would really take something extraordinary for me to lose my cool.

Am I resentful for the occasional licks I received?

Absolutely not. I am convinced that had I not received the correction that I got while growing up, I would not have been the type of person I am today. I loved my dad very much and looked up to him as the best example of what a man should be; what fatherhood is all about.

Am I a more violent person because of it?

On the contrary, I am the most peace loving person you could find on this earth. That is not to say that I am a “Turn the other cheek” type of guy. I am more of a “stand your ground” type of individual. If you do not try to take advantage of me, I can be the sweetest thing you ever did see. But I don’t stand for nonsense or unfairness, I am no pacifist. Perhaps it’s my innate nature, and some traces of the anger and fight that was beaten out of me on that fateful day still remains, and will rear its ugly head if you rile me up enough.

Do I consider it to be a form of child abuse?

As I said before, I didn’t feel that I was abused, but  I agree with the opinion expressed below by Diana Baumrind, PhD (Univ. of CA at Berkeley), Robert E. Larzelere, PhD (Nebraska Medical Center), and Philip Cowan, PhD (Univ.of CA at Berkeley)

“Baumrind et al. suggest that those parents whose emotional make-up may cause them to cross the line between appropriate corporal punishment and physical abuse should be counselled not to use corporal punishment as a technique to discipline their children. But, that other parents could use mild to moderate corporal punishment effectively. “The fact that some parents punish excessively and unwisely is not an argument, however, for counselling all parents not to punish at all.”

To put it in perspective, drinking the occasional glass of wine may be beneficial to your overall health, but if you are going to consume a whole bottle every day, then you need counselling. We don’t need to outlaw wine drinking because some people can’t control themselves do we?

Did it teach me to know right from wrong?

You betcha. Because of the discipline I received when growing up I have a very deep sense of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

Has it affected my self esteem?

That one I cannot answer because I don’t know what my personality would have been like, if this trait of mine was not beaten out of me. It was like breaking a wild stallion. Sure I might have grown up with the sense that I was the most important person in the world and I must always get my way. Many successful people have that attitude today, which could be the result of ineffective deterrent methods used by their parents to stamp out such characteristics when they were young, But many criminals and murderers also seem to have such traits. Who is to tell? All I can attest to is that I have grown up to be a well rounded individual, very family oriented, reasonably successful and most of all a very happy and contented person.

So now comes the big question. Was it necessary? could my dad have achieved similar results without using the strap?

Hmmmm. Before resorting to Corporal punishment, he  always tried to use reason and the softer approach such as confining us to bed etc.  But in a large family. a quick and effective solution is often necessary if you are to maintain any semblance of order in the house, and without a doubt, corporal punishment achieves the desired result in little or no time. 🙂

Which brings us to the million dollar question; How effective are the more humane methods of disciplining children which are being espoused today? Do they really work?

It could be said that the jury is still out on this one, after all, the generation that was brought up on these new methods are just beginning to show their true colours. We need however, to seriously consider whether they are as disciplined if not more so than the youth of yesteryear. Are they kinder to their peers? Are they more respectful of their elders? Are they more helpful, and productive? Sometimes it seems that the current generation have lost all sense of morality. It’s as if anything goes. I have witnessed on numerous occasions, little children being obstinate and rude to their parents and the parents appear incapable of establishing any sort of control over these unruly brats. All attempts at reason and threats of “Time Out” appear to fall on deaf ears and I think to myself, This would have been sorted out so quickly in my day.

But such is the nature of change and sometimes we just have to accept it and hope that it will all work out in the long run. Times have changed; The environment in which children are brought up has changed; Humans as a species has continued to evolve and these changes have brought about a considerable shift in our temperament. We now accept things that a generation ago would simply not be tolerated. Correction and punishment which previously went hand in hand a few years ago have now parted ways. Even in the judicial system, judgements imposed for the most heinous crimes are now so much more lenient with all efforts being made to rehabilitate the perpetrator rather than punish him. Correction seems to be the way to go; punishment? soon to be outlawed.


Life is like a relay where all we can do is to run our leg and pass on the baton of our values, experiences and knowledge to the next generation. They will run their leg and in turn, pass on their values, knowledge and experiences to the next generation. In doing our part however, we should ensure that we are setting the right course, the right example for each coming generation, otherwise, we could be setting the foundation for a downward spiral for our species, towards total anarchy.


Public Speaking : Get Rid Of Stage Fright And Shyness

The Confused Young Adult

Everybody loves to share their experiences, interesting anecdotes and incidents from daily life. We love to talk to our friends, family, neighbors, strangers,..anybody, everybody..! We feel good when people listen to our stories and appreciate it or relate to it. If we can talk to two or more friends, why can’t we talk in front of a 100 people?

Public Speaking - Get Rid Of Stage Fright And Shyness

If you had read my previous post – Take The First Step, you would know how disastrous my first at attempt at public speaking was. I didn’t speak even a word. My head was empty with no words to utter. My mouth was dry. For a moment the earth stood still. Totally blanked out. That’s Stage Fright. I know it, I have experienced it. But I got rid of it .

How did I overcome? How did I handle my fear and shyness? 

Public Speaking - Get Rid Of Stage Fright And Shyness 4

I did a few things. I followed some…

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How to Build a swimming Pool (or not)

For a long time, I fanaticised about having a swimming pool in my back yard. The yard was certainly big enough and I even knew exactly where I would build it. The problem was money or more specifically, the lack of it, so when I retired, I said to myself, “It’s now or never.” Sure it was going to take a bite out of my retirement funds but since I was now going to spend much more of my time at home, I might as well make it as comfortable as possible

Now understand this, I am no engineer, in fact I worked for most of my life in banking so my expertise was more in handling money than in construction, but somehow I felt I was ready to take on this project. What could be so hard? after all, isn’t a pool nothing more than a concrete box with plumbing? You drain the water out of the bottom of the box and pump it back in through jets at the top right? This isn’t rocket science is it?

Well it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that and I learned quite a lot about the inner workings of this seemingly simple and straightforward operation. While this isn’t meant to be a complete, step by step set of instructions in how to build a swimming pool, my hope is that by sharing the knowledge and experience that I gained during the construction of my pool, this dream can also become a reality for many others who might also be thinking about doing something similar for themselves and their families.

 Planning/Approvals etc.

Before you start, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with your local laws and regulations regarding pool construction. This I am told can vary greatly from state to state and country to country so make sure you will be able to comply with all of the requirements.

Designing the pool

The next thing is to decide on the overall design of the pool. For this I perused books on pool designs and searched the internet looking for sites that featured swimming pools. There were many and some beautiful ones at that, some luxurious, some simple, they came in all shapes and sizes, some with fountains, some with waterfalls, some had Jacuzzis that cascaded into the pool, some were completely enclosed while others had a “vanishing edge”, where the water seems to fall off the edge of the pool.

Ok, back to reality.

What can I afford and what size and shape would fit into the space I had allocated for this pool?

After discussing the various options with my wife and my eldest son, the only one of my children who was still living at home, (This is a necessary step if you value peace and harmony, additionally, they had some pretty good ideas of what should and should not be included), we finally decided that we would go with a rectangular pool, approximately 24 ft long and 14 ft wide. I liked the idea of a Jacuzzi at the top flowing into the pool and my son wanted the vanishing edge at the deep end. My wife wanted a seat at the deep end just before the water fell over the edge. No waterfalls or fountains for me as this pool was not meant to be a showpiece but a practical and functional family space that we can all enjoy.

Obtain technical drawings

Having decide on the basic layout and features of my pool, I got out the graph paper and with pencil and paper, drew a crude and somewhat amateurish outline of how I envisioned the pool would be. It looked good and I was satisfied. From these crude drawings, I then got a professional draftsman to produce the necessary technical drawings. I was now ready to find a suitable contractor to actually build this pool.

Find honest, reliable and experienced contractors

Some of you may prefer to just give one contractor the whole job and just write out the checks and that’s fine if you are a trusting soul and have lots of cash. If however you are like me and prefer a more hands on approach, you can break down the project into its different components and hire individual contractors to complete each phase which turned out to be.:-


A couple of things to bear in mind:-

  • It’s important not to over-excavate the site as you would either end up with a pool that is deeper than you originally wanted or you would have to use extra concrete to bring the floor to where it should be.
  • There is going to be a lot of dirt so make arrangements for the disposal of the soil.

Build the shell or what I would call, “the concrete box”

There are a couple ways of doing this I am told.

  • You can build the frame work for the floor and side walls, get all the steel work in place and pour the concrete so that the floor and walls are all cast together. If this is the approach your contractor is using, the drain pipe(s), the pipes for the jets to return the water at the top of the pool as well as the pipe for the vacuum line all have all to be in place before pouring the concrete. There is no room for error here.
  • You can also just cast the floor and build the side walls afterwards. This allows for a bit more flexibility and control in ensuring that you get the plumbing right, which brings me to the next phase, but before that, a brief word on the electrical works

Electrical work

 Any qualified an competent electrician should be able to install the electrical infrastructure needed for this operation so I won’t spend too much time on that, except to warn that you do not want any electrical wires etc anywhere near the water. If you are putting in pool lights, ensure the wiring is properly grounded and the voltage powering these lights is very low.


The plumbing to me in one of the most critical aspects of this operation and I will spend a bit more time on this section as it needs to be well planned and executed.

In my case, I wanted the water to be:-

  • drawn from the bottom of the pool,
  • pumped through the filter,
  • passed through the chlorinator, then
  • channelled into the Jacuzzi which would then
  • overflow into the pool about two feet below.

Since I was also putting in a vanishing edge, water would also need to :-

  • fall over the edge of the pool into a trough,
  • Be collected in a reasonably sized holding receptacle,
  • be drawn from this holding receptacle, filtered, chlorinated and re-circulated back into the pool.

One also has to consider that when the pool is in use, the body mass of the people in the pool at any one time displaces quite a lot of water which falls over the vanishing edge. If the holding receptacle doesn’t have sufficient capacity, some water will be lost and when the fun is over and everyone gets out of the pool, the water level will be so low that it would no longer be able to flow over the vanishing edge.

This would soon be rectified as the pump continues to draw water from the holding receptacle and pour it back into the pool via the Jacuzzi, if however the holding receptacle isn’t properly sized to hold the excess water when persons are in the pool, it will run out of water before the pool is topped up sufficiently for the cycle to continue and the pump will simply be sucking air, and that’s not good.

I made mention earlier of a vacuum line when building the walls of the pool. You can build a pool without one but take it from me. DON’T. This small feature has proven to be an invaluable asset in maintaining the pool. The plumbing for the vacuum line is simple. You just need to connect it to the intake line of the pump via a valve so that you can open and close it by just a turn of the valve switch. The intake should be just below the waterline in the pool, ideally about two maybe three inches from the top of the water. On the surface, it looks like just another one of the jets that return the water to the pool but in this case it works in reverse and draws water out. You won’t believe the amount of debris that accumulates at the bottom of your pool during the day from leaves to just plain dust particles. and the vacuum is about the easiest way sucking up all the debris from the floor of the pool.

Talking about leaves, if you are going to have trees close to the pool, be prepared to be constantly removing the leaves. If you leave them in the water for any length of time, they begin to discolour the finish. Which brings me to the finish.

Tiling and finishing

You can now finish your masterpiece in the way that is most pleasing to you. A popular finish for the inside of the pool is to use “Diamond Brite”. You can also use tiles or a combination of the two.

It’s now time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Here is a picture of my finished project with my grandson in the foreground. He really enjoys this new addition to the home.



When I was building my own pool, I found the following website which proved to be extremely helpful. Actually helpful is not the correct word, it was invaluable and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this topic.

There is a lot of free information on this site, but if you really want to get into the nitty gritty details of pool building, you can register with the site and get full access to all of the information. I did and never regretted the small fee that was charged