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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor