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."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
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
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

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law