Ambassador to the stars

October 3, 2010

Literally. The United Nations has appointed a Malaysian astrophysicist to be Earth’s representative when the aliens finally land:

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN’s little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before – and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.

“When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

Two observations: first, I hope this isn’t a paid position. Second, given the abominable track record of the United Nations, do we really want them handling our first contact with extraterrestrials?

Okay, one more: What? Dennis Kucinich wasn’t available?

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Beware the racist toddler, revisited

October 3, 2010

More than two years ago, I wrote about a mind-numbingly offensive UK government program to spot early signs of racism in infants and pre-school children:

Does your three-year old sometimes refuse to play with others? Does he occasionally turn his nose up at new foods? Could it be that, rather than simply being behavior normal to all toddlers, these are early-warning signs that your baby is a racist??

Well, two years and a quarter-million children later, we now know the vast size of this generation of tiny Klan members:

Three-year-olds being labelled bigots by teachers as 250,000 children accused of racism

Teachers are being forced to report children as young as three to the authorities for using alleged ‘racist’ language, it was claimed last night.

Munira Mirza, a senior advisor to London Mayor Boris Johnson, said schools were being made to spy on nursery age youngsters by the Race Relations Act 2000.

More than a quarter of a million children have been accused of racism since it became law, she said.

Writing in Prospect magazine, she said: ‘The more we seek to measure racism, the more it seems to grow.

‘Teachers are now required to report incidents of racist abuse among children as young as three to local authorities, resulting in a massive increase of cases and reinforcing the perception that we need an army of experts to manage race relations from cradle to grave.

‘Does this heightened awareness of racism help to stamp it out? Quite the opposite. It creates a climate of suspicion and anxiety.’

There’s an old saying: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Convinced that racism is everywhere, these multicultural loons are tarring thousands of young children as little proto-fascists. Are they now to be watched throughout their school years? Counseled against the dark racist thoughts that lurk ever within them? Taught to suspect the culture and the parents who must have instilled these hateful prejudices in them? Why not just take them away from their parents and indoctrinate raise them in community creches?

Maybe, just maybe, if a three-year old doesn’t want to eat curry, it’s because he doesn’t like it, not because he hates Pakistanis.

Dear British educators: WTF??

(via theblogprof)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Peace at last! World War I is over!

October 3, 2010

Today Germany makes the last payment on the debt imposed on her by the Treaty of Versailles, thus marking the end of the First World War after 92 years:

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the ‘war guilt’ clause, accepting blame for the war.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

(…)

“On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany,” said Bild, the country’s biggest selling newspaper.

It can be reasonably argued that the crushing burden of the debt was a significant barrier to Germany becoming a stable democracy after the war. Indeed, Hitler made resentment of Versailles one of the centerpieces of his rise to power, and he ceased payments once he became Chancellor.

Of course, in my opinion, Versailles really didn’t end the shooting war: it merely created a long armistice, a timeout before the firing started again in 1939. Indeed, much of the 20th century was dominated by one long war , hot and cold, for control of Europe. Though the primary actors changed over time, the war that started in 1914 really didn’t end until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But, whether one considers the World War to have ended in 1918, 1919, 1991, or today, the great question that’s been asked since it began has been “Whose fault was it?” Who was responsible for the devastation and carnage? Some saw great impersonal forces at work as the Great Power system of the 19th century headed toward an inevitable crisis. Others point fingers here and there, desperate to find individual devils, or even blaming it on one ruler’s overcompensation for his withered arm.

In the end, I agree with David Fromkin’s conclusion in his “Europe’s Last Summer.” Seeing Germany at the apex of her power, from which she could only decline vis-a-vis France, Britain, and especially Russia, the Imperial German General Staff used the crisis created by the regional war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to generalize it over the whole Continent in order to smash Germany’s rivals then and there and establish her as the unquestioned predominate power of Europe. Thanks to this one Pandora’s Box moment, the world suffered 37 million dead and wounded in World War I, the rise of totalitarianism, over 60 million dead in the second round from 1939-45, and the crushing of Eastern Europe under the Soviet heel in a decades-long Cold War that periodically threatened the world with nuclear devastation.

And that’s just the quick list.

Gee. Thanks guys.

(via Big Peace)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)