Pictures of Lebanon from the International Space Station

On Christmas Day, the International Space Station (ISS) wanted to show a different side of the region where Christmas came to be. For a place known to be war-torn, with blood-filled conflicts taking place every day, the astronauts at ISS wanted to show the world exactly how peaceful we looked from up there on a day that is all about peace, a time that is about anything but.

The pictures in question have been around for days now but they haven’t made the round yet. One explanation could be the caption with which they shared the pictures was the following:

Israel – completely clear – on Christmas morning from the International Space Station. Astronaut Barry Wilmore woke up early on Christmas to reflect upon the beauty of the Earth and snap some images to share with the world.

Obviously, that’s a big no-no around these parts. But seeing as how small the region is, a picture of space cannot contain one country alone, and I thought the way Lebanon looked on Christmas day from space, peaceful as it it, is always something nice to look at, which is quite is ironic given the situation and the additional rage we got from hellish traffic during that period.

For those who aren’t familiar with Lebanese geography, in order to find Lebanon just spot the snowy mountains. We are the only country in the region to have them. Those are the Cedar mountains in the North of the country. I’ve said over and over again that our best winter resorts are up there, but Beirutis just don’t believe me. Now you have proof.

Our country is the area around those mountains, with the very crooked coastline, from the Akkar in the North to the Naqoura tip in the South. The Eastern part is tougher to delineate.

You can also see Palestine, the Dead Sea, as well as parts of Syria.

The ISS has made it a habit of sharing wonderful pictures of Earth from space. A few weeks ago, upon a request from a Lebanese Twitter user, the ISS shared with him a picture of Beirut from space:

Beirut from ISS

You can check out pictures of other places on Earth on their Facebook page.

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The Rapture

It’s already May 22nd in some parts of the world, meaning the day the world should have ended has passed with nothing happening.

So let us recap about what some of us did today: got up, missed breakfast, went online for a bit, met up with friends, had lunch, got bored through afternoon, came up with Saturday night plans, executed those plans, got back home and now you’re on the verge of sleeping. Pretty uneventful end of world day, no?

How many end of world days did/will we have in our lifetime? We’ve had Y2K, May 21st 2011, and the Mayan calendar ending on December 21st, 2012. That’s a lot of world-ending dates, don’t you think?

The main problem with this rapture balderdash is that some people take it way too seriously, making it their job to come up with meaningless dates. I do not like to take scripture literally. I do not believe that God will descend someday and literally “save” everyone. Why? simply because the point of Scripture is not to make you believe in the end of days but rather to give you a way of life until that day comes, be it in your lifetime or some other time.  Therefore, this whole talk about analysis of scripture (regardless of what scripture it is) to come up with a failed date of when that’s supposed to happen is, for lack of better word, stupid.

Honestly, if anyone thinks the world ending will happen in our lifetime, they’re seriously delusional. I hate to break it to you people but in the grander scheme of things, we (and I do mean all of us) are irrelevant. How so? In a hundred years from now, even the brightest people among us, will have their legacy either disproved, or lightly used. Some people’s memories do survive into several generations but those are exceptions. Who of us knows anything about their great grandfather? I barely know anything about my grandfather who passed away a couple of years before I was even born.

The world will end someday. It is a scientific certainty. But the world is still young. There’s plenty of room to grow as well as destroy. You might think the current worldwide political situation (weapons race and whatnot) is bad, but if you look at the whole picture, it’s rather silly. No one will use those weapons of mass destruction against another country because, simply, no one has the guts to do so – even the countries that fake almighty strength.

I’m positive as well that each century has had its series of rapture dates. After all, it has been a constant pursuit for man to reach some sort of conclusion and what better conclusion to be reached than to the most puzzling question of our existence: what lies after?

So until the world ends, which is a time when we, our children, their children, their children’s children (I can keep going here) are dead, I don’t think we should be dancing as Britney Spears would say, but rather, maybe we should lessen focus on the development of weapons and maybe on ways to preserve the planet we call home, at least let us enjoy the natural wealth we have, until it all goes away.