Happy New Year - assuming we survive :)
Happy New Year - assuming we survive :)
To everyone I met today claiming the world was about to end within the next 24 hours like they were some sort of expert, to every news media outlet trying to start a minor panic with sensationalist reporting, and to everyone who's just innocently confused or misinformed:
The LHC is not going to bring about the end of the world. Go back to whatever it was you were doing and stop worrying, and most of all stop annoying me. The sun will rise tomorrow and the planet will still be here. As much fun as it is to toy with the idea of how things might go wrong, in reality, it's just not going to happen.
So put down the conspiracies, back away slowly, and get on with your lives. Thankyou.
This message has been brought to you by Silent Paranoia, where flirting with disaster is just part of the fun.
I only caught wind of this in the last few hours, and it is seriously pissing me off:
July 1st: The 11th commandment - "though shalt not offend the Catholics"
Under new laws introduced today, police now have the power to arrest anyone they deem as an annoyance or nuisance to those attending the World Youth Day proceedings in Sydney, Australia, later this month.
An excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald article:
"Powers approved by the NSW government allow for people who continually annoy or inconvenience pilgrims during the event, to be staged in Sydney from July 15 to 20, to be arrested and possibly fined $5,500.
Protest group, NoToPope Coalition are concerned the regulations will be used to stop demonstrations during World Youth Day events, but that they could also effectively ban things like wearing a T-shirt with a slogan considered to be anti-Catholic.
NoToPope spokeswoman Rachel Evans said the group was seeking legal advice on whether it could challenge the "thou shalt not offend" laws. "We are not anti-religion," Ms Evans said. "We expect the police will allow us to distribute condoms to the young pilgrims and talk with them about human rights issues."
The NSW Bar Association said the laws attacked the right to freedom of speech and appeared to be completely unnecessary."
Full story: Sydney Morning Herald
Other links: ABC, Associated Press
Now, for those who don't know, Catholic World Youth Day (or rather Youth Week) is an enormous Catholic event, held every few years around the world, and this year it's the turn of Sydney, Australia. Anywhere up to 300,000 pilgrims are expected to descend upon the city to attend the series of scheduled events, such as parades through the city, a re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion, and an enormous mass held at Randwick Racecourse, just across from my university, to be held by Pope Benedict XVI himself. It's bringing the city to yet another standstill (although a somewhat more justified one than APEC last year), and it's costing the taxpayer millions of dollars to run.
All in all though, I personally don't really mind the fact they're having this gathering. It isn't going to affect me all that much, and while I'm not crazy about Catholicism, I've got nothing against them having their celebration. It does annoy me though that they're having it in large part at out expense, and that it's causing so much inconvenience for everyone else, while our government bows to almost every whim. I've got friends who simply aren't going to be able to get to Uni or work because the roads will be blocked and the trains will be jam-packed. But these laws have got me seriously ticked off, so it's probably best if I summarise:
- So there's a law in place to prevent us from "annoying" the Catholics? Where's the objectivity in that? How does one define "annoyance" or "being a nuisance"? Does it just include people throwing slurs and being actively anti-Catholic? Or does it extend to people who might, say, be wearing the wrong clothes? What if a gay couple happen to walk by the parade and someone gets offended? Laws need to be clear cut and offenses strictly defined, and that's seriously lacking here.
- It's bad to offend Catholics, but what about other social groups? Where were these anti-annoyance laws for events like, say, the Mardi-Gras? If we can't offend one group of people, surely then, if we live an equal society, it should be against the law to offend anyone! And that includes anything the Catholics might say! If I'm offended by something the Pope says during his sermon at Randwick, or if I'm annoyed that he's cutting off access to my University, then why shouldn't I be able to have him arrested and fined?
- What the hell happened to free speech? If the Pope and 300,000 Catholics are allowed to spend a week spreading their opinions and expressing their beliefs, then why should the rest of us be censored from expressing our beliefs, even if they are different and just might be offensive to them? While I'm not sure about handing out condoms, I agree entirely with the sentiments expressed by the NoToPope Coalition - everyone should have the right to express their opinion, so long as they aren't forcing it down people's throats. They should be allowed to express the idea that contraception is okay. Someone should be allowed to wear a t-shirt that says "World Youth Day is a waste of money" and not be arrested for it, because that's his opinion and he's got a right to have it and say it, and I don't care if the Vatican screams and throws a tantrum 'till they're blue in the face, our government should not pull shit like this and bend to a request like this! And yet they have!
The one line that really gets me though is this, from State Premier Morris Iemma:
"People have the right to protest, they can do so, they can do so peacefully and lawfully."
What sort of crap is this he's trying to feed us? How can we protest peacefully and lawfully when any and all protests are now against the law?! Not only that, but now he's trying to pass off the laws as "having nothing to do with World Youth Day" (link). It's a joke.
Anyway, that's all I've got to say. To close, I leave you with a very well spoken press release from the NSW Bar Association: link. Ms. Katzmann, I tip my hat to you. Although I haven't really got a hat, so I suppose lowering my sunglasses will have to do.
Anyway, to the news of the day:
June 19th: Hundreds of nuclear components lost, Pentagon admits to weakness in nuclear records.
In a recent report released by the Pentagon, the US military is unable to account for anywhere up to 1,000 nuclear weapons components, after an inventory ordered by Admiral Kirkland Donald showed up large discrepancies between records and stock actually stored at various US bases. This follows an incident in late 2006 where four fuses used to trigger nuclear warheads were accidentally shipped to Taiwan as helicopter batteries. In an excerpt from USA Today:
"The Pentagon report, by Adm. Kirkland Donald, concluded that both incidents had a “common origin” which was “the gradual erosion of nuclear standards and a lack of effective oversight by air force leadership.”
The FT quotes a military official as saying that the report had “identified issues about record keeping,” but that there was no suggestion that components had ended up in the hands of countries that should not have received them."
Yeah, I guess they just rolled behind the sofa...
The story originally broke via the online edition of the UK Financial Times, of all places, and slowly disseminated across various news websites. I tried (and am still trying) to find a copy of the report in question, but so far the Department of Defense's homepage (www.defenselink.mil) isn't making things easy. I mean, the frontpage is literally dripping with spin, with links to special reports on "heroes" and how the US military is making the world a better place, how we're winning the war in Iraq, all that sort of stuff. No mention of the number of dead, military or civilian...and any page bearing the phrase "weapon of mass destruction" has probably been purged from the server by now... scanning their news page too reveals almost complete positivity, with any possibly negative story thrown into the nicest light possible.
Sorry, I'm probably being extremely cynical. But taking as rational and as objective a stance as I can, the distortion on that page is something of the like I've never seen before.
Now, the fact that this has happened, and these nuclear missile components could potentially be anywhere, isn't actually that disturbing, because it's sort of old news. Rogue nuclear components have been out on the black market for years now, and besides that, if someone wants to build themselves a nuclear bomb, they don't need sophisticated components to do it - you can build a crude nuclear device with stuff you've got lying around the house at home. However, this slip-up by the US will certainly make things easier, if indeed the parts are actually missing (they might be behind the sofa, you never know). But more than that, it's the attitude. This is the world's nuclear superpower, and although the presidential finger is no longer on the button as it was in the days of the Cold War, they're got more than enough nukes to blow anyone they want off the face of the planet. This technology needs to be taken extremely seriously, but as this latest demonstration shows, that extra level of care is being forgotten more and more. And Russia is guilty of this too - their nuclear facilities are even less secure. But even worse than that, instead of just saying, "right, we screwed up, now let's see if we can find any of these parts and fix the problem", so far the only response has been to fire two staffers and play the whole thing down.
So yeah, that's my say, such as it is. I find it hard to write my opinions down, and I find it even harder to have an opinion that means something useful. I'm working on it :)
EDIT - Well what do you know, there are 2 people watching this journal other than myself. My bad, I thought my email got notified in the event of a new watcher, apparently it doesn't.
This journal is intended to be a sister project to the Silent Paranoia segment of the Taking Up Space podcast based out of Canberra, Australia, which airs roughly fortnightly (give or take a week). I will be your host, Raymond Liehm, a rather paranoid fox hailing from the nearby city of Sydney. The way I see it, there's much more going on in the world that you need to know about than will fit into a three minute audio segment, so this journal will contain all of the most up-to-date information I can find (give or take a week), plus further explanations of what gets covered on the show in case you want to know more. For those who already listen to Taking Up Space, you're probably familiar with my usual subject matter, but for those who aren't, subjects typically include things like conspiracy theories, apocalyptic prophecies of doom, and the occasional side rant if something pisses me off enough. However, anything is fair game. Including Scientology, on that note.
So sit back, relax, open your minds and let the world fall apart beneath your feet. You're about to enter a world where nothing is safe, nothing is solid, there's no one to trust and no one to save you.
And it's going to be awesome.
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Shorah b'shemtee and welcome to Silent Paranoia. The contents of this journal are currently classified and will be released as they become available. Thankyou for your patience.
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