The Null Device

2004/3/15

Old computers donated to third-world countries are having unforeseen impacts:

"On a trip I made to the Gambia last year I was amazed to see on of the roadside carpenters was doing a roaring trade making a range of contemporary Swedish style furniture," he said. "When I asked him where he got the idea, you've guessed it, he told me he'd seen it on the Ikea website."

gambia globalisation ikea unintended consequences 0

The US Government is drawing up plans to conscript linguists and computer experts into the military. While the official line is that conscription is undesirable, the mechanisms for reinstituting the draft are slowly, quietly being put into place. I suspect that, sometime after Bush wins the next election, we'll see a sudden, "spontaneous" reappraisal of the feasibility of an all-volunteer military "in the light of changing geopolitical conditions" or something like that, and the draft machinery which has so conveniently been assembled will spin to life.

(Speaking of media management: you've probably heard the rumours that Osama bin Laden has been captured, and is being held somewhere to be publicly "captured" some time closer to Election Day.)

conscription iraq war usa 18

10th planet found in solar system; the new planet, which is further away than Pluto, has been christened Sedna, after the Inuit goddess of the ocean. (Perhaps Disney wanted too much in the way of royalties for naming it Mickey?)

astronomy planets sedna 2

If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything about the Madrid terrorist atrocity here, it's because everyone else has already written about it, and I had nothing to say that would have been any more profound than "that's awful", or "those scoundrels".

Things are geting interesting now, though; the right-wing Spanish government (a key member of the neoconservative Coalition of Willing) had tried to pin the blame on ETA, the Basque separatist terrorist group (previously known only for small-scale car bombings), going as far as to instruct embassy staff to blame it on the Basques. Taking a hard line against the ETA and supporting the US-led invasion of Iraq were two policies of the rightists; so, when it emerged that it was an al-Qaeda operation, the electorate swept them out of office. Presumably they didn't have Berlusconi/Murdoch-style media control on their side; it must be really frustrating to think that, had they kept the al-Qaeda link under wraps (or obscured it with spin and disinformation) for 48 or so hours longer, they would have probably won by a landslide. Children overboard, anyone?

Meanwhile, the new brooms about to form government are the Socialist Workers' Party (who sound like a bolshy lot). Whether or not they're going to abolish private property and herd everybody into collective farms to work according to their ability for the common good, they certainly have been outspoken opponents of the invasion of Iraq, and are likely to join the Axis of Weasels alongside France, Belgium and Germany. (Aside: have any right-wing pundits asserted that the Belgian paedophile scandal and the country's lack of support for War Against Evil are part of the same moral decadence and lack of values?) The Blair administration are putting on a brave face, but the neoconservative coalition in Europe appears to be down to what: Britain, Poland and Berlusconi's Italy?

Also, terrorism experts are predicting that bombs on freight ships are likely to be the next trend in terrorism. Doesn't al-Qaeda have something like 15 freight ships, most of them at unknown locations? (Load one of those up with radioactive waste and Semtex and detonate it in a harbour, and the surrounding city becomes the new Pripyat; in 14 years' time, some chick with a motorbike and digital camera will come along and post photos of the evacuees' abandoned, radioactive iPods and Razor scooters to her website.)

al-qaeda europe madrid spain terrorism 0