Yay, I’m back for who-knows-how-long… For those who aren’t in the know; I have a bad back. To be precise I have two herniated disks in my L4 and L5 lumbar. So that means from time to time they go nuts on my spinal cord and I can’t do simple things like sit or walk. I had an operation once to fix this problem when I was 24 but the problem resurfaced a few years later. I could have another operation but the time needed for recovery is rather large so it’s just not an option at the moment.

So in practice what that meant was I had to spend a week in bed, which wasn’t as exciting or romantic as it sounds. Thank goodness I have a Macbook and an almost endless stream of movies to watch, not to mention the free wireless access through some kind neighbour’s unsecured network!

The funny/sad thing about all this is now I share my bed with a Macbook. Does that means I’m now cursed to never have a girlfriend ever again? At least I don’t live in my parents’ basement…

Another upshot is that the update I had in the works is now hopelessly out of date. But it’s refreshing to note that apart from a couple of celebrity deaths and a couple of aircrashes that nothing much has really changed in the news over the past few weeks – at least in the meta-stories that I follow…

I qualify for the free 12,000 yen from the Japanese Government! I have the form and will go down to the city office soon to stake my claim. No idea how I will choose to stimulate the economy… Any suggestions?

One interesting development in the Australian internet firewall fiasco is that iiNet has pulled out of testing the new system. They have cited the reason that the list clashes with their philosophy of supporting free speech and social responsibility. The list of banned sites was leaked onto Wikileaks and showed that the government was not just targetting child porn sites (the reason for the censorship) but also regular porn sites as well as some that discuss euthanasia, hate speech, even inocuous sites like that of a Queensland dentist. A big thimbs-up to iiNet for taking a stand, and hopefully if the other testers follow suit the government will have no choice but to abandon this ridiculous program.

You could also add the Australian government’s environmental program to the list of policies that need drastic overhauling. Rudd’s done a Howard and gone to ‘clean coal’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) instead of doing what the Europeans (and even Obama) are doing and that’s developing solar and wind energy.

Cracks are appearing in the mainstream media’s one-eyed hero-worship of Obama with a 60 Minutes interview taking the new President’s seeming callous attitude to the economic crisis to task. Public protests are also starting up across the country as it becomes clear that the bailout of the banks may well be doing more harm than good.

Obama’s empty rhetoric is justifyably getting an airing, and we need to keep supporting people researching what’s really going on behind the words of this charismatic man. Take closing Guantanamo for example. 200 or so of the prisoners (since they aren’t called ‘enemy combatants’ any more) are being moved to an expanded Bagram base in Afghanistan, where their situation won’t change. Another is the escalation in Afghanistan. Obama would do well to listen to the advice of the former Soviets – and that is, basically, don’t bother.

There was also the passing of legislation that could lead to the creation of a seven-million strong civilian “army” that could be drawn upon to keep the peace if the country goes to pot, or just become a default ‘draft’. This one can’t be blamed entirely on Obama as it’s been in the pipeline for ages, but it is happening on his watch, and with his approval.

One independent commentator is asking if Obama is really “dumber than a bag of hammers”. Another has declared that the USA has two solutions; either declare bankruptcy or start a war – a big one. That could well happen in Pakistan as the state looks to be very unstable at the moment – and they have nukes.

Regardless of the economic situation, Britain’s chief scientist has released a report claiming that due to food, water, energy and environmental problems getting out of hand, by 2030 the world is going to be in a desperate state, and people will respond by taking desperate actions.

With China and Russia calling for the world to abandon the US dollar as the default reserve currency, things are going to get very interesting indeed.

Meanwhile the top story in Australia the past couple of weeks has been over whether Pauline Hanson had nude pictures taken of her. No, I didn’t look, and I don’t think you should either (urrrgh!), but it gives you an idea of why I don’t read the mainstream press that much…

And it’s all over bar the shouting (and perhaps a lawsuit or two, if any past US elections are anything to go by…)

Hopefully it’ll be the end of Sarah Palin’s time in the limelight, but unfortunately I fear it is only the beginning. It seems certain that she’ll be running for the top job at the next election, and Americans may have to put up with her on their TV screens in the meantime. Another good reason not to live in the US.

I was chuffed to see the Canadians got her a good one though. Close the door on your way out, Sarah dear…

I joined a group on Facebook concerned with the effects on depleted uranium and within 24 hours I’d received a message from a certain Roger Helbig. This was what he said:

Mark,

Why are you a member of the anti-DU group? Do you know that the leaders of the anti-DU crusade are scientific charlatans and con artists?

These are the people who are behind the video “Beyond Treason” posted by Paul Haynes

Neo Nazi American Free Press/The Barnes Review convention http://www.chairmanofnordwave.blogspot.com

A good place to learn a lot about DU is http://www.depletedcranium.com

For a nice neutral Swiss view, go to
http://www.labor-spiez.ch/en/dok/hi/pdf/depleted_uranium_en_kurz.pdf

Roger .

Now I appreciate a lucid and intelligently written piece of argument as much as the next person. And if I’m going to be mistaken about something – especially when I think I’m on the right side of the argument – then I want to know. I had a look at the Depleted Cranium site (great name by the way) and I was on my way to replying to Roger when I noticed a couple of things that got my spider-sense tingling. So I Googled the guy – and voila – he’s an ex-Pentagon official who’s made a career out of hassling anything and anyone who’s shown an interest in depleted uranium and any negative effects of it. Replying to him would have opened up my Friends List to him for a month. Needless to say, I did not reply to him.

Another thing that has raised alarm bells this week has been the upcoming blanket censorship of the internet in Australia. The program that the federal government wants to implement will put Australia into the same group as Iran and China when it comes to online freedom of expression. Even though the heads of Australia’s major online providers universally agree that the negatives outweigh any possible positives of such a program, it seems that the government is determined to go through with it – sending the country back to the Dark Ages of the internet in one fell swoop.

Enough darkness. Next, there will be light, I promise.