Flat earth

Net worth? Not a tremendous amount

WE Flat Earthers are a sceptical lot: how else could we have tuned out all these people who insist the planet is round? So we have remained immune to the fashionable hysteria about the Internet, whose motto, slightly adapted from the "Nation Shall Speak Unto Nation" of the BBC World Service, should surely be "Nerd Shall Speak Unto Nerd".

Even that is a promise not easily fulfilled, as Ted Koppel, the Lancastrian famous in the US as host of ABC Television's Nightline programme, discovered last week. Invited to chair a discussion on peace among world leaders in three continents, using "revolutionary" software which transmits sound and pictures on the Net, he called it "one of the great technological breakthroughs". But after President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and ex-president Jimmy Carter talked across each other while their pictures blurred or went partially blank, Koppel moaned: "There may be 40,000 or 50,000 people on their computers watching me make a fool of myself."

Nearly right: the organisers later admitted that a grand total of 16 people, mostly in Britain and Sweden, were actually able to watch the dialogue on their computer screens. As Koppel said in the final throes of his conversion from Net-junkie to Net-apostate: "We're still dealing with an infant technology here."

Faithful servant

IN THE crime-ridden new South Africa, we read, the haves - otherwise known as whites - are retreating into walled-off suburbs to protect their property and lives from the have-nots, or blacks.

These fortified enclaves demonstrate perfectly the inequality that still plagues South Africa. But they are nothing new: I first came across the phenomenon in the Philippines a few years ago, when I was invited to dinner by an expatriate businessman and his Filipina wife. After passing between miles of high walls, the chauffeur-driven limousine swung off the teeming highway through tall gates into another world, where sprinklers nourished wide lawns surrounding unfenced mansions.

Over dinner my hosts talked anxiously of the armed robberies, kidnappings and corruption endemic in the Philippines. So great was the gap in wealth, they said, that civil war might be unavoidable, and told me of the following exchange between a society hostess and her major domo:

Hostess: "Ronaldo, when the revolution comes, you would not murder the master and me - would you?"

Ronaldo: "Heavens, no, madam, I could never think of doing such a thing! You are like my family to me ..." and so on, before adding: "I would go next door and kill them, and their man would come and kill you."

Far from exhibiting suitable horror, I am afraid I laughed, having heard the same tale in at least three other countries, including South Africa. It seems that social injustice propagates the same urban myths.

Misguided

"AFTER Nabatiye, take a minor road which later branches ... left to Arnoun and Beaufort Castle, where there is not only a Crusader castle but also a superb view ... The castle, high on a rocky hillside, is brilliantly placed for defence or for viewing breathtaking scenery, so is a delight to the active and the contemplative. It is currently in use, so it's not yet reopened for visitors ..."

No tourist could object to the detail in Lynda Keen's new Guide to Lebanon. The only problem is that if backpackers - active or otherwise - follow this piece of homely advice, they are likely to end up dead. For the minor road is mined, the southern portion controlled by Hizbollah guerrillas, the northern end by snipers of Israel's proxy South Lebanon Army militia. The castle is indeed "currently in use" - by the Israeli army as an artillery position.

It's just the latest example of what UN officers in Lebanon call "dangerous tourist guides", aimed at the visitor to supposedly post-war Lebanon. Ms Keen also suggests a quiet jaunt along the road from Sidon to Jezzine (mined and covered by Israeli artillery) and from Marjayoun to Rachaya - a highway that forms the front line between Israelis and Hizbollah and regularly sees ambushes and suicide car bombs.

Ms Keen - who proposes a visit to the scene of the Sabra and Chatilla massacres - does at least suggest visitors to the Palestinian refugee camp in the south should check the news before going too close. "These places," she warns, "are often subjected to Israeli air raids, which means bombs are dropped here."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz