Monday, February 20, 2012

Photo of the Day--February 21, 2012

I saw a very interesting video yesterday. I'm not one to post videos on Facebook, mainly because it's rare that I am so moved or impressed by a video that I want to share it with the world. Yesterday, however, I decided to make an exception to this, after having seen a video of Sam Harris speaking at the University of Notre Dame, and just spending 11 minutes and 16 seconds completely destroying the Catholic faith, as well as the set of morals put forward by William Lane Craig, a prominent philosopher/theologian.

Now am I a fan of raging, rampant atheism, and the personal quest that such people as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris seem (or I guess in the case of Hitchens, seemed...Rest in Peace you mad-dog) to be on to completely rid the world of all organized religion? Not really. I think that religion is a personal choice--if you want to be religious, fine, just don't you dare try to convince me that your beliefs are better than mine. What I do, however, not only endorse, but deem as absolutely necessary in order to ensure the long-term survival of humanity, is skepticism. The idea of blindly accepting something as fact just because it's told to you as such from the time you're born is one of the most dangerous concepts I can think of. Christopher Hitchens had a really interesting way of putting this, during an interview with Bill O'Reilly (or at least, it sounds like Bill O'Reilly's voice...)

O'Reilly: "What if God actually exists, sir? Would he not have been good to you?

Hitchens: "No, I don't think so. Because if that were true I would have an eternal, supervising parent. Who would never let me grow up, who would keep me under surveillance and supervision every minute of my life, and constantly asking me to be thanking and praising him. It would be like living in North Korea. It would be a horrible outcome."

O'Reilly: "Well I'm not sure if God is Kim Jong-Il"

Hitchens: "Well, ask Kim Jong-Il. He has a different opinion"

Just an absolutely brilliant/hilarious remark by Hitchens. And again, evidence that blindly accepting something that's being told to you since birth, without looking at dissenting opinions, is just like the most idiotic and devastating mistake you can possibly make. Now am I saying that the North Koreans are idiotic for not looking at dissenting opinions of Kim Jong-Il's divinity? No. They have no other options or opinions presented to them. You, by virtue of reading this blog, probably live in a country with decently free speech/media, and consequently have access to dissenting opinions on things that you've blindly accepted since birth if for no other reason than because it's the only thing that's been presented to you on a certain subject. I'm getting dangerously close to the realm of telling people what to do, which I despise, but I would suggest taking a look at yourself and your beliefs, and if you have many (or any) that are just completely baseless, at the very least have a good long think about it. Or not, I don't really care.

Anyway, now that I've bordered on politically incorrect, annoying, and religiously incendiary, without further ado, the Photo of the Day.

This photo is crap. I know that. Long story short, I was in the office for quite a bit longer than usual yesterday, and really didn't have time to go take a good photo. This photo was taken on the street I live on, Guihua Lu, walking towards Futian Checkpoint. Basically, this is the walk I take every morning. Between the arch, on the far left side towards the bottom, you can see the outline of Shun Hing Square, the 2nd tallest building in Shenzhen, 19th tallest in the world, and one of the ugliest structures you're likely to ever see.

Interestingly, the intersection at which I took this picture is like one of the most bizarre and dangerous places I've seen in Shenzhen. Basically, you have 2 lanes coming off a highway. These two lanes merge into Guihua Lu at the left of this photo. They are both one-way--that is, they are highway exit ramps. However, because this is China, cars frequently drive the wrong way down these lanes. Basically, imagine driving the wrong way up a highway exit ramp. Now imagine that taking place in a country with no real driving etiquette. I am amazed I have yet to see someone die in this way. It's also really funny to occasionally see a car drive up to these lanes intending to go down the exit ramp the wrong way, stop, have someone get out, take out two small pieces of like cardboard, and cover up both the front and back license plate so that the cameras do not catch them doing this blatantly illegal maneuver. Something I have seen happen a few times.

I've found the traffic laws in China to be pretty interesting--basically there are none, but it seems that people still get places very quickly and without issue. It's almost like a Wikipedian system--there is no governing body, people are basically left to make the decisions themselves about what is appropriate and what isn't, and rather than what any economist would tell you will happen, that is, the system will be an utter failure, it is indeed decently successful.

Rodney King update--I saw a small woman at that same street corner this morning selling what looked like omelettes in a bag (something which, at this point, seems pretty standard to me). She was using one of those same styrofoam boxes to carry them it's possible that the woman yesterday had something similar? Anyway, who knows. Odds are that woman has been shot in the head by now. Is that all?

Other than that, to leave you all with a very appropriate quote--

"If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we're up for grabs"

-Carl Sagan, 1934-1996

More to come tomorrow.

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