Agnostic views & images I like

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After the previous post you would think that I would enjoy Peter Singer’s dire analysis

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Peter Singer speaking at a Veritas Forum event...
Image via Wikipedia

of the value of a new sentient being in this topsy-turvey world of ours. Here’s the link!

Singer asks at the end of his essay: What do you think?

Readers are invited to respond to the following questions in the comment section below:

If a child is likely to have a life full of pain and suffering is that a reason against bringing the child into existence?

To begin with, it seems to me impossible for any parent, unless they are confirmed pessimists, or optimists, to have a clear idea of the life their new child can have. It’s a throw of dice at best!

If a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life, is that a reason for bringing the child into existence?

I’m tempted to say that this is enough of a reason to give birth to a new sentient being. My wife hopes for a blue eyed baby boy to occupy her time fully. What to make of that wish, or reason to have a child?

Is life worth living, for most people in developed nations today?

Once again I am loath to say NO such a life is not worth living. For me there are really only moments of sheer joy which I celebrate with all the abandon of a 74+year old. It’s great when it’s happening and it makes a lot of shit go away!

Is a world with people in it better than a world with no sentient beings at all?

A world without sentient beings is not in any conventional sense a world. We are part and parcel of this world, sentient or not!

Would it be wrong for us all to agree not to have children, so that we would be the last generation on Earth?

Only another sentient being like Peter Singer could propose such an eventuality. Agreeing to become the last generation on Earth is a devil’s bargain! And I don’t believe in God or the devil, whatever that is!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/06/07 at 02:04

Why do Canadians persist in buying bottled water

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Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...
Image via Wikipedia

In the first place it costs as much or more than gas for the car and now CBC News reports thus:

High bacterial rates found in bottled water

In some Canadian water, results were more than 100 times U.S. limit

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | 5:29 PM ET Comments85Recommend51

CBC News

Sitting here in China where I drink tap water which has been filtered for chemicals and other undesirable stuff, I chuckle thinking of those Canadians who continue to drink “foul water” from plastic bottles, which foul the Canadian landscape also, and empty their wallets unnecessarily.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/25 at 14:46

The word Globish is very high on the Google Search scale

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Since Robert McCrum’s recent book about the English language phenomenon the world over is being reviewed in many parts of the world where English is used for everyday discourse, as for example in Malaysia, India, and hopefully in certain parts of China like Shanghai, a Google search this morning 2010/5/24 listed more than one hundred relevant citations which is something of a record for us.

Here are some of those links!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/23 at 18:42

I have posted a few times about Paris’ famed Boulevard!

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Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elys...
Image via Wikipedia

But this is a new kind of scenery for the fabled Champs Elysees snipped from the NY Times pre-paywall.

A bucolic scene in the middle of Paris!

This is the venue for the usual July 14 national military celebration march of military forces and vehicles. Whatta a contrast!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/23 at 13:28

The NY Times Lede reads “The end of the Open Web”

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Dozens of pop-up ads covering a desktop.
Image via Wikipedia

Since I spend so much time Webbing I had to read it and be surprised that the article put a new spin on the provocative idea that the “Open Web” is evolving to an end in some ways better and other ways less than democratic! Here’s the key quote:

But a kind of virtual redlining is now under way. The Webtropolis is being stratified. Even if, like most people, you still surf the Web on a desktop or laptop, you will have noticed pay walls, invitation-only clubs, subscription programs, privacy settings and other ways of creating tiers of access. All these things make spaces feel “safe” — not only from viruses, instability, unwanted light and sound, unrequested porn, sponsored links and pop-up ads, but also from crude design, wayward and unregistered commenters and the eccentric voices and images that make the Web constantly surprising, challenging and enlightening.

So things are a-changing even on the Web! What’s new about that fact of Web existence.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/23 at 03:14

I like to think that this blog showcases my eclectic interests, so …

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I couldn’t resist linking to this collection of the “most expensive real estate” in the world which is headed by La Leopolda on  the Cote d’Azur:

So, if you like to look at great pics of expensive properties then click here.

Cap Ferrat; Plage la Paloma, a beach on the Cô...
Image via Wikipedia
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/18 at 15:19

I guess philosophy is coming back!

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Bertrand Russell, Nobel laureate in Literature...
Image via Wikipedia

A few days ago I commented here about the connection I found between a Big Think video by Stephen Fry and Bertrand Russell‘s “History of Western Philosophy” . This morning I read a new blog hosted by NY Times, The Stone, that we are promised will offer us regular writings by a variety of philosopher’s curated by Simon Chritchley.

Image representing Big Think as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Chrichley begins the posts with the title “What is a philosopher?” in which he offers this succinct thought:

The freedom of the philosopher consists in either moving freely from topic to topic or simply spending years returning to the same topic out of perplexity, fascination and curiosity.

That thought reminds me of my attitude about a lot that I read on philosophy, history,  religion et al.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/16 at 15:55

How misconceptions about genetic engineering is reducing food in poor countries

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Here is an excerpt from an excellent opinion piece in Saturday’s NY Times:

In doing so, they have pushed up regulatory costs to the point where the technology is beyond the economic reach of small companies or foundations that might otherwise develop a wider range of healthier crops for the neediest farmers. European restrictions, for instance, make it virtually impossible for scientists at small laboratories there to carry out field tests of engineered seeds.

As it now stands, opposition to genetic engineering has driven the technology further into the hands of a few seed companies that can afford it, further encouraging their monopolistic tendencies while leaving it out of reach for those that want to use it for crops with low (or no) profit margins.

The stakes are too high for us not to make the best use of genetic engineering. If we fail to invest responsibly in agricultural research, if we continue to allow propaganda to trump science, then the potential for global agriculture to be productive, diverse and sustainable will go unfulfilled. And it’s not those of us here in the developed world who will suffer the direct consequences, but rather the poorest and most vulnerable.

Pamela C. Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis, is the co-author of “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food.” James E. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University at San Marcos, is the author of “Just Food.”

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Difficult to understand Schiffer nude photo

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Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yes Claudia Schiffer has done lots of photo shoots for Vogue et al. But this shot, snipped from a HuffPo gallery of Schiffer images doesn’t make much sense to me on any level, porn, novelty, sacrilege or what have you!

Reading the article posted on HuffPo with that image, one of 17 posted, it seems that it’s just a matter of showing a Supermodel in many different ways.

It’s difficult to think of a more thin explanation. After all the lady, as photographed, is pregnant and the image is probably offensive to many.

Oh well, art, or glamor, or whatever, seems to be very much in the eye of the beholder, unless the image simply offends you!

For me the image is nonsensical because it gives a ridiculous view of an otherwise beautiful woman

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/13 at 15:19

Genomes, humans and Neanderthals

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The Wikispecies logo created by Zephram Stark ...
Image via Wikipedia

Are you still wondering about the evolution of the human species?

Olivia Judson writes about the latest DNA analysis of Neanderthal bones and explains how that evidence tells us about the human/Neanderthal nexus.

In here usual way of teasing us about our human realities she writes thus to end her article in the NY Times:

Here, lots of ideas have been put forward — a sure sign that no one knows. Perhaps they died of mad Neanderthal disease, owing to a habit of feasting on one another’s brains. (This has been put forward as a serious hypothesis.) Perhaps they were victims of a changing climate. Perhaps they were “inferior” beings, unable to match our capacity for innovation in the face of adversity. Perhaps their populations became too small, and too sparse, for them to find mates. Or — and this is the most haunting possibility — perhaps they were eventually murdered by their puny cousins. That is, us.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/12 at 15:24