The Null Device
All is not well in the happy kingdom of Wikipedia; it has now been revealed that Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has committed the cardinal faux-pas of editing his own entry; what's more, the edits involved him removing a reference to former Wikipedia employee Larry Sanger as a co-founder of the site and references to the porn business his previous enterprise, Bomis, was involved in. Other users have attempted to put back the deleted information, only to have their edits reverted as "vandalism"; some are hopping mad. Wales claims to have good reasons why both edits are objective and appropriate; though even if he is right, the fact that he made the edits himself can't help but reflect badly on them and the reliability of Wikipedia.
The successful Iraqi election, with its broad participation of all ethnic groups and relative lack of bloodshed, has sent Bush's approval rating soaring; however, looking more closely at the situation, the triumph of democracy looks rather hollow. The country is divided along sectarian lines, hardline Islamists dominate all three parts of it, and the pro-Western secularists Washington had hoped would prevail look like getting fewer seats in the new parliament than the hostage-beheading militants. In short, Iraq seems to be fissioning into two or three theocracies, with the Shia faction enthusiastically joining Iran's (Ahmadine-)jihad against Israel and the West and the Sunni part becoming an al-Qaeda fiefdom not unlike Taliban Afghanistan; either that or the whole country turning into Somalia.
"People underestimate how religious Iraq has become," said one Iraqi observer. "Iran is really a secular society with a religious leadership, but Iraq will be a religious society with a religious leadership." Already most girls leaving schools in Baghdad wear headscarves. Women's rights in cases of divorce and inheritance are being eroded.
When he wasn't purging perceived enemies or trying to build a pure Communist society, Stalin was trying to breed a race of unstoppable half-man, half-ape Stakhanovites and super-soldiers to bring about Soviet world domination and bring the five-year-plan back on track:
According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
Mr Ivanov's ideas were music to the ears of Soviet planners and in 1926 he was dispatched to West Africa with $200,000 to conduct his first experiment in impregnating chimpanzees. Meanwhile, a centre for the experiments was set up in Georgia - Stalin's birthplace - for the apes to be raised.
Mr Ivanov's experiments, unsurprisingly from what we now know, were a total failure. He returned to the Soviet Union, only to see experiments in Georgia to use monkey sperm in human volunteers similarly fail.
A final attempt to persuade a Cuban heiress to lend some of her monkeys for further experiments reached American ears, with the New York Times reporting on the story, and she dropped the idea amid the uproar.It makes one wonder where they got the human "volunteers". I'm guessing from the gulags.
Also, was this the only instance of a totalitarian state attempting to selectively breed a new citizenry to better suit its needs? I wonder whether, say, North Korea or someone has tried anything like that, using people from different ethnicities and races, lured or kidnapped from across the world, to breed the model citizen.
(via bOING bOING)