The Null Device

2002/9/6

Delegates to the recent Earth Summit, held to discuss solutions to environmental problems and poverty and ways to weasel out of actually doing anything about them have produced produced 290,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by flying to the summit, using electricity and driving around. A voluntary fund was set up to offset this damage, but so far, only 1/7 of this has been paid for. (via die puny humans)

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To commemorate the September 11 attacks and impress the might of America on all those who may seek to challenge it, a US radio talk show host has proposed moving the Prime Meridian to New York, and redrawing maps and calendars.

"I recommend that the Prime Meridian be moved to New York. Let's put it right down the middle of Ground Zero so all our enemies will know where our time begins. Instead of a polite English voice announcing the hour, we will use voices of the survivors of the terrorist attack. And every year, on the precise anniversary of the attack, we will stop time for a few minutes to honor the dead and force the whole world to mourn with us, whether they like it or not.

Which reads rather like Jonathan Swift combined with Ed Anger. (via bOING bOING)

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ArsTechnica has a long and very detailed review of MacOS 10.2, aka Jaguar; looking at performance improvements, new features, internals, and various random bits of skulduggery. Nonetheless, it looks quite doovy.

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OK, enough doom and gloom for now. Turkmenistan's massively eccentric leader, President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov (best known for renaming the months and legislating the Ages of Man), has punished a local TV station for being too boring. The head of the state-run TV station, most of whose coverage was of Niyazov's speeches or smiling children singing songs of praise to him, was docked one (appropriately renamed) month's pay over the "low quality" of programming.

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Nelson Mandela is not someone who is deterred easily. He phoned US president Bush. Bush didn't respond or return his calls, having no time for him. So Mandela called his father, asking him to have a word with his son about hastily invading Iraq.

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Read: Christopher Hitchens on Islamic fundamentalism, the marginalisation of moderates and humanists, and why the Saudis and their ilk are not our allies.

And he's right; moderate humanism isn't very popular in Washington either. Not long before 11 September, the Bush administration was advocating "faith-based government" and praising the Taleban as allies in the war on drugs. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan are still persona non grata with Washington, who preferred to back the warlords and rapists from the Northern Alliance. The conflict is not so much framed as "humanism vs. zealotry" as "our god vs. your god"; the God-given manifest destiny of America vs. the will of Allah. Which sounds like nothing so much as a debate between paranoid schizophrenics. Only the schizophrenics have armies and nuclear missiles and zealots willing to kill and die on their word.

The real conflict would be between enlightened, tolerant liberal (I'd say libertarian, if the word hadn't been taken over by the Ayn Rand cult and like-minded zealots) humanism (i.e., the values we should export to all who seek them) and the belligerent, atavistic ignorance of every thug, tyrant and dictator. Though our leaders have sided with the thugs too often.

Or, to quote an entirely different holy book, "Death to all fanatics!"

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As Bush and his toadies (Blair and Howard, to name two) push for war in Iraq, foreign ministers from the Arab League warn that it would severely destabilise the region; one likely outcome is the collapse of the pro-Western monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Mind you, former Blair cabinet member Mo Mowlam reckons that that may be the intention. Over and above putting Saddam in the supermax cell waiting for him since Bush Sr.'s days and getting a warm, fuzzy feeling, the plan may be precisely to give the tottering Saudi monarchy a push, justifying an invasion and a more secure pro-Western regime, based on direct control of Saudi oil assets with no uppity sheikhs spending your oil money on anti-US jihads.

Mind you, an invasion of Iraq could set off anti-Western hatred like we've never seen, at least not since the Crusades. And I doubt that even Ashcroft's ideal high-tech police state could protect America from the wave of terrorism that would arise then. (The Israelis have enough trouble doing that, and they have small borders and a highly militarised population.)

In short, we could soon be looking at World War 3 proper, in which there is no such thing as a noncombatant, and everybody is fair game; a war of spectacular genocide on a global scale.

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