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Friday, November 20, 2009

New York and Florida

OK, I know I've done posts on the differences between NY and South Florida. But that was more differences of the people that live in those places. This post is on the differences between the places themselves...and how very very very different they are.

Note: This is between NY (the city) and South Florida and not the states as a whole.

NY: Lots and lots of tall buildings.

SF: Buildings taller than 4-5 stories are unusual. Unless you're talking about downtown, which usually reminds me of NY in any case.



NY: Lots of leafy trees, and in the fall, the leaves actually fall...
SF: Palm trees, all different types, very few decidous trees.

NY: Lots of buildings made of brick witht he brick exposed.
SF: Buildings made of concrete, to keep the buildings cool.

NY: Public Transportation!!! (subways, trains, buses)
SF: None worth speaking of. Hard to get around without a car. See previous post about distances...

Monday, November 16, 2009

At Work...

"Hey, I have the right to remain silent, you hear me? Anything I say can and will be held against me in a court of law, pal. I have the right to an attorney, and if I cannot afford one, one must pe provided for me." - One of the boys, talking through the door.
"What are you doing?" - another boy passing by.
"Oh...hi! That was my twin brother...we were cloned."
"Riiiight." Other boy leaves.

Me - in the office trying not to crack up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Half-Birthdays

Who celebrates half-birthdays? No one I know does, certainly. Today is my half-birthday, and though I don't do anything to celebrate it (or even typically mention it) and it made me think. I am now halfway through my 22nd year on this earth. 22 and a 1/2 years, and looking back at everything Ive been through, everything I've done. Perhaps a better time to typically reflect on this kind of thing is on my actual birthday, but let's face it, who has time then? (Between the cake and the presents...) So I thought back on all of that, for all of about 5 minutes...then went back to thinking about other things...like trying to figure out where those files had gone...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jewish Geography and Working in a Jewish School

Yesterday, I forgot to pack a lunch, so I went to a CVS that's right across the street from my campus to grab a snack. When I went to get online I noticed a girl who had just paid. She wore a long sleeved, collared button down shirt, and a long khaki skirt. She saw me at the same time, smiled widely and waved me over. "Hey! Where're you from?" We introduced ourselves, and played a little Jewish Geography.
"There are so few of us that every time I see another frum Jew, it's like "Hey Frummy! Let's talk!"
We chatted for a few more minutes, then both went our seperate ways. It's nice to reach out and connect. Even just for a few minutes.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Call Your B.S.!!!!

This week in the Darwin class, I'll admit I mostly zoned out the discussion in class. One part which did draw my attention however was a discussion of respect of other people and other people's beliefs. One guy in the class argued that he shouldn't have to respect other people or their beliefs, specifically religious beliefs. He then sent out a letter after class to the entire class giving all his reasons. I figure I'll post this controversial letter, and let everyone comment on it. I think that it's obvious to all what I think...
Alright, here is the letter, in it's entirety. Names are left out to protect the....well, I'll let you fill in the blank.

It was suggested to me in class this week that I ought to respect thebeliefs of others, or, if not respect their beliefs, than respect them.This claim was made particularly with respect to religious beliefs. Iwould like to explain why I hold the position I do: namely, that notonly do I not respect the beliefs of religious people, but in manyinstances, I also do not respect those persons.
First I'd like to point out the irony and hypocrisy of people who giveme a hard time for my view - they aren't very respectful of it! If youhold to the principle that people and beliefs ought to be respected,then you are actually committed to respecting the view that otherpeople's views and those people themselves ought not to be respected -thus, if you do not respect me and my beliefs, then you arecontradicting the very position you object to my not holding. Universalrespect actually obligates you to respect disrespect - which is why itis a self-defeating and ultimately absurd principle. It is the verysame people who advocate "respecting" literally everyone who alsoinsist on "tolerating" everything - even abject tolerance. Suchpositions are absurd, self-defeating extremes born of ill-thought andunreflective ideality, not reasoned consideration.
Anyway, I will state this with particular regard to religiousauthorities, for whom I hold no respect whatsoever. This is why. One oftwo things is likely to be the case with a religious figure. In thefirst place, I would maintain that religious figures, because they aredealing with unverifiable information, are no more competent a judge ofreligious “truths” than anyone else, and, lacking any genuine insightinto anything within the confines of theology, they are no morequalified than a layperson to be an authority on moral matters,scientific matters, or any other matters. This being the case, suchpersons are, with respect to the claims that they make, incompetent.Insofar as they are incapable of understanding, or object to scientificconflict with their views, they are also incompetent, and representingthemselves as authorities when in fact they are not is irresponsible.
Second, they may recognize this fact, or understand full wellobjections to their religious beliefs, and yet reject them anyway. Ifthis is so, then such persons are not only exhibiting willfulignorance, they are propagating this ignorance by preaching what theyought to know to be false or at least dubious to others, which, again,is irresponsible, and, I might add, morally reprehensible.
In neither case do such persons deserve respect. In reality, there isno such thing as a religious “authority”, not in the Pope, not in arabbi, nor a priest, nor an imam. There are no authorities on God anymore than there are authorities on faeries or unicorns. Just as none ofus ought to respect silly and ignorant beliefs, neither should werespect those who actively defend and promote silly and ignorantbeliefs – we should not respect them either because, A) they areincompetent, in which case my “disrespectful” charge of their beingstupid is vindicated, or, B) they are competent, in which case theyought to know better and are doing a positive moral wrong bypropagating ignorance. No one would call a psychotic cannibal whohonestly believed he was doing good by eating others a “good” person,simply because his motivations were good; why, then, should we call apreacher good if his motives are good, if his actions are, in fact,harmful to humanity? And, I submit, preaching religion is preachingignorance, and this is harmful to humanity. And, as it happens, moreharmful than cannibalism.
I will add as an aside that the Judeo-Christian religions not onlypropagate ignorance, they propagate hate, discrimination, and a host ofevils and harms: Christian apologists standardly oppose gay rights,women’s equality, and the moral standing of atheists. They oppose manythings that may very well be good for society, at least in someinstances: abortion, science education, stem cell research, euthanasia,sexual liberties of various forms, and birth control.
The Catholic Church actively campaigns to spread lies andmisinformation to the poor folks in Africa, claiming that condoms areevil and don’t work. This has led to untold human misery by increasingthe transmission of AIDS and continues overpopulation, and, ultimately,starvation of children. And this is the largest church on earth – withsuch vile ideas promoted all the way up its hierarchy to its leader,who was complicit in protecting child rapists and the hypocrisy andextortion of their clergymen. If complicity in the molesting ofchildren isn’t something someone ought to lose respect for, then whatis? And given that the present pope, previous pope, and very likely allor many of the present cardinals were aware of their church’sactivities, then I submit that not only are such persons not deservingof respect, but we have a moral obligation to publicly and vociferouslydisrespect and scorn such persons, and the hypocritical, bigoted idealswhich they purport to represent. And that's not even going into thehistory of an institution that committed itself to purging the world of"heathens", made an art of torturing innocents, and aggressivelysilenced truth-seeking scientists and philosophers.
Now, there are some billion or so Catholics in the world, who activelydonate to a misogynistic, homophobic hierarchy of greedy old menactively complicit in covering up and protecting child rapists amongtheir own ranks, many of whom themselves are child rapists. I impugnanyone who tells me I ought to “respect” persons who hold religiousbeliefs: such persons are, if not actively, then passively complicit inthe propagation of ignorance, and ignorance is the principle enemy ofprogress.
If anyone wishes to engage in a dialog about the matter of respect, I'dbe happy to. I am able and willing to put forth a reasoned and robustdefense of why I not only don't respect other people or their beliefsautomatically, but why I feel we have a moral obligation to go aboveand beyond this, and actually oppose and ridicule such persons (whenthey hold bad beliefs). If you object to this, it is not enough merelyto say that I "ought to" respect others - you must articulatelegitimate reasons why. Anything less is intellectual apathy and merelytrumpeting social norms you have no justification for believing.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Prompt #14

I know, I haven't put up any prompts in a while. Mainly because I haven't done any in a while. But I did one a bit recently and since I can think of nothing better to post, I thought I'd put this up for your enjoyment. Feel free to comment!

I was on the plane, on my flight back from Houston where I had been spending the past few days fighting off a horde of savages, otherwise known as a family re-union. I was looking forward to getting back to the peace and quiet of my apartment in New York, when I started to overhear the conversation of the couple sitting in front of me. Having nothing better to do, aside from read the book I brought, which currently held no appeal, I idly listened in.
“What do you mean, you don’t think you can do this anymore?” the man’s voice was low, his tone was slightly threatening. “It’s getting too much, I think my husband might begin to notice.” The woman lightly sobbed. “So what? You don’t care, or you said you didn’t a month ago, why don’t you leave him?” She started to cry harder. “Because….because I think I might be pregnant with his child!”
I gasped, but not so loudly that they could hear me. While I was no stranger to the horrors of the world, this was the first time I had had such a drama played out in front of me. I leaned forward and held my breath. My morbid sense of curiosity aroused.
“What do you mean? How could that be? You said you hadn’t…” his voice trailed off. “Oh. Never mind, I see it now.” His voice had turned angry and bitter. The woman sobbed harder, and seemed to turn away from him. Her shoulders shook, and she covered her face, as if seeking an escape. The man instantly turned remorseful. “Hey, babe, don’t worry, we can work this out…”
I leaned back, my curiosity for the moment satisfied. I didn’t really want to get involved. This was not my problem, not my affair. And yet…something about it resonated with me. Something about the situation this (seemingly) young couple brought back to me memories…memories of what my mother had told me years ago. How she had had an affair, but dropped it, when she realized she was pregnant with me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I want cooler weather!!!!!

It's November 1st, and guess what? It's STILL in the 80's here. High 80's at that. OK, I'm sure that all the northeners that read my blog are going "Why are you complaining?! I wanna be down there!" OK, yes, I'm grateful that it's not like 40 degrees here, but it's starting to feel like an endless summer. I want a break! I want for the temp to go down to 75 for at least a few days, is that too much to ask? It would appear so.