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US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the listen-up dept.

News 101

sciencehabit writes "If you happened to catch any of the news coverage of Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea last week, you might have spotted in the big man's entourage a white guy with an Amish-style beard, as in clean-shaven cheeks and no mustache. That's Joseph Terwilliger, 48, a statistical geneticist who splits his time at Columbia University and the University of Helsinki. He's now visited North Korea three times with the basketball star. He sat down with Science Magazine for a Q and A about how he got involved with Rodman and whether the trips are helping--or hurting--U.S. relations with the country."

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101 comments

Meh... (-1, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 months ago | (#46017423)

The write-up tends to make him look like a celebrity whore. Much like Kim Jong Un

Re:Meh... (2)

macraig (621737) | about 3 months ago | (#46017807)

No, it doesn't. Didn't read the whole thing or even most of it, did you? I didn't get much whiff of pretense in it. I'm a hardcore cynic, yet I expect I'd like the guy if I met him.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017855)

Do you also play the Tuba?

The article was complete fluff about a guy whose only remarkible quality seems to be that he thinks things like the Genome project are a waste

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017929)

Call the dude up and offer your services as a "fluffer". I know you want to...

Re:Meh... (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46018399)

I read the whole thing, and it absolutely does.

There was an entire anecdote attempting to describe how nice the citizens were by risking their lives to prevent him from flying off of a cliff while he was having fun sledding. But of course he completely misses the irony that he and the rest of the North Korean elite were enjoying a newly build *ski resort* (quite literally "trampling" the workers in the process) while a significant portion of the population is near-starving, and any citizen who points that fact out is sent to a forced labor camp. If that isn't a perfect metaphor for the North Korean situation I don't know what is.

And of course he makes no mention whatsoever of Kim Jong Un or any of this colossal waste of the little resources NK has because he doesn't want to jeopardize his future fun...

Re:Meh... (0)

ACE209 (1067276) | about 3 months ago | (#46018639)

But of course he completely misses the irony that he and the rest of the North Korean elite were enjoying a newly build *ski resort* (quite literally "trampling" the workers in the process) while a significant portion of the population is near-starving, and any citizen who points that fact out is sent to a forced labor camp.

Patience. Western elites are working on evening out the situation.

Re:Meh... (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about 3 months ago | (#46019169)

Of course none of your *ahem* observations while reading the article could possibly be due to personal bias or cynicism?

Re:Meh... (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46019767)

No, *observations* are based on facts (e.g. he described an anecdote in the interview, he was at a new ski resort, NK citizens are some of the most oppressed in the world and just went through a horrible famine, and he didn't mention anything about this or the massive numbers of NK human rights violations even though it was a big controversy during Rodman's trip).

*Opinions* can be based on bias or cynicism. Though in this case the metaphor of workers being injured while the elites play is such a great metaphor for the NK class hypocrisy it mostly just wrote itself.

sorry but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017453)

..what is this doing on Slashdot?

Re:sorry but.. (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 months ago | (#46017545)

..what is this doing on Slashdot?

Is this the current Slashdot meme? Can't you find some subtile but helerious (in a geeky way) tie-in with Natalie Portman? Good grief, put some effort into it, man!

But to answer your question, the man is not just a geneticist, but a statistical geneticist, so that qualifies for the minimum needed geek factor for a poorly edited Slashdot "story".

Re:sorry but.. (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 3 months ago | (#46021123)

I'm just amazed to discover that the name "Terwilliger" actually exists in the real world. I had always assumed it was invented by Dr. Seuss for his classic song, "My Uncle Terwilliger Waltzes With Bears."

Re:sorry but.. (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#46017675)

Must be a slow news day. I don't think nerds give a fsck about either Rodman, or the 2 bit dictator of NK
Its certainly not stuff that matters

Re:sorry but.. (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#46018989)

No, but sledding accidents by statistical geneticists with funny beards, now that is important nerd business!

Re:sorry but.. (5, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 months ago | (#46017817)

1. North Korea is probably the most interesting bit of foreign policy, which does appeal to nerds.
2. Look at the picture, the guy is clearly a nerd.
3. More importantly, from TFA: “Most of my work has been on trying to identify natural experiments that mimic experimental conditions in a way that might help us to understand the genetics of normal human variation in health and disease." The article is focused on stuff that has a more general interest, but North Korean genetics are absolutely interesting to a bio nerd as a "natural" experiment in the sense that it's not setup specifically to be an experiment.

It would be very interesting, for example, if you could show rapid human "evolution" in response to the shit that's going on there. I've heard that north koreans are on average a foot shorter than South Koreans. They've only been separated by two or three generations. Presumably a lot of that is due to malnutrition, but it's not too hard to imagine that some of that is due to people who are genetically predisposed to being shorter would survive better. How fast is that happening? Are there genes which correlate to "speaking out against tyranny" that are being selected against?

There are definitely very interesting questions that can be answered by north korea. It goes without saying that I wish this experiment were not occurring, but since it is, may as well collect data from it (though there are issues with informed consent probably).

Re:sorry but.. (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 months ago | (#46017955)

So, you are saying he's interested in North Korea because it's the only place he can get away with human experimentation?

Re:sorry but.. (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about 3 months ago | (#46018241)

I think it is a bit different. He's interested in N. Korea because human experimentation has been happening, and sees an opportunity to get data that would be otherwise unavailable, even unethical. His acquiring the data however, is not the cause of that unethical treatment and if he abandoned his studies, that treatment would continue unabated.

In a similar way, medical scientists study the effects of people's habits, for example, what happens to people who smoke, who run, who work in coal mines, who eat only vegetables, etc. etc. The scientists aren't the ones inducing people to engage in any particular behavior, but they see an opportunity to gather data by looking at various groupings. So while it would be one thing to set up an apparatus that made a person breathe coal dust for a decade, it is another thing altogether to acquire data from people who for some other reason unrelated to the scientist or the study, breathed coal dust for a decade.

Re:sorry but.. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46018529)

In a similar way, medical scientists study the effects of people's habits, for example, what happens to people who smoke, who run, who work in coal mines, who eat only vegetables, etc. etc.

Except it *is* unethical if the scientists know that the activity is harmful, they might be able to help, and they lie or don't mention the risks (see, Tuskegee Experiment). Or at least if it happened in the past and they feel like they need to use the data, to state disagreement/disgust with how it was collected (see, Axis WWII human experimentation).

But this guy hasn't made any statements against the practices of the North Korean government because he doesn't want to lose his access. And THAT is as good as condoning it (actually, it's pretty much the definition of condoning it).

Re:sorry but.. (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#46019011)

Nobody in North Korea is a volunteer, so informing them of the risks of having an autocratic dictator is kinda... out there.

Re:sorry but.. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 months ago | (#46019279)

"They might be able to help"? Pretty sure that does not describe this guy and North Korea's continued behavior, so he's in the clear as far as that goes.

Re:sorry but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46021261)

Um... what on earth makes you think that anyone - except a well-positioned sniper - "might be able to help" the victims of North Korea's ruling psychopaths?

The Nork government is basically the equivalent of Vernor Vinge's Blight from A Fire Upon The Deep: Its lifestyle consists in creating a mess so awful that no one else wants to destroy the regime because no one else wants to be left implicitly owning the task of cleaning up afterwards. If South Korea, China & the US are willing to let them continue to exist, nothing Terwilliger says will have any positive effect on what goes on there. The only likely outcomes are the norks ignore him, or become even more evil because... pychopath reasons.

Re:sorry but.. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 months ago | (#46018219)

It goes without saying that I wish this experiment were not occurring, but since it is, may as well collect data from it (though there are issues with informed consent probably).

"issues"? You might want to at least skim the rather large collection of information on what most people would consider ethically appropriate experimentation, and for a fun contrast you can start by reading this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_human_experimentation#Modern_ethical_issues [wikipedia.org]

Re:sorry but.. (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#46019049)

It isn't that sort of experiment. The "experiment" is that the North Koreans kill or remove from the breeding population a large number of people, using different selection factors than normally exist in the human population. This is not some sort of set-up experiment; it is a political situation with real consequences where the data is simply the result of the political situation, not some "experiment" set up by the researcher.

You might want to slow your skimming down, and think about the difference for a minute.

Re:sorry but.. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 months ago | (#46019245)

I have, but since the question was "Why is this on slashdot" not "What potential ethical problems do people see with this," I just acknowledged that there are some issues and left it at that.

With the nazi human experiments, there was no informed consent. There was pretty clearly opposition on the part of the victims to the experiments. North koreans would be able to agree to the study, but some issues I'd immediately be concerned about:

-If the NK government agrees to it, how likely is it that they're forcing these people to say yes
-Education is so shitty from what we know of it, that would they actually be informed of anything relevant

Re:sorry but.. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 months ago | (#46019863)

If I'm not mistaken, France lost 1.4 million soldiers in WW1. If only the strongest and hardy among Frenchman served in the military at that time, it would stand to reason that the remaining decedents in France to this day may not be as strong or fit if the gene pool was substantially impacted. But then again, i'm not a geneticist. Perhaps it would take an onslaught of multiple generations to have any measurable effect on future populations?

Re:sorry but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46020485)

If I'm not mistaken, France lost 1.4 million soldiers in WW1. If only the strongest and hardy among Frenchman served in the military at that time, it would stand to reason that the remaining decedents in France to this day may not be as strong or fit if the gene pool was substantially impacted. But then again, i'm not a geneticist. Perhaps it would take an onslaught of multiple generations to have any measurable effect on future populations?

Or maybe the reason the French are a bunch of pansies who got their lilly asses kicked by the Nazi's is because they weeded out all the good genetic material when Napoleon was running the show.

Re:sorry but.. (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 months ago | (#46021553)

That's not a selective force though: bullets and bombs kill you no matter what your genetics. They don't provide an advantage to any genes, since no one has "bulletproof" genes or anything like that. It's fairly arbitrary in terms of genetics.

You could make the case that only the cowards who ran from battle survived, and so the french are now more surrender prone... but that would only be a joke.

The North Korea situation on the other hand, people DO survive famine and prolonged periods of malnutrition. Those genetically able to survive on little food could in theory survive and reproduce better.

Re:sorry but.. (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 3 months ago | (#46019983)

It's already well studied in Japan that the significant increase in average height over the last 2 - 3 generations is entirely down to diet - specifically, increased protein intake. It isn't difficult to guess that post-war South Korea has followed post-war Japan in their dietary trends, while North Korea is going in the opposite direction with their frequent famines.

Re:sorry but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46025349)

It would be very interesting, for example, if you could show rapid human "evolution" in response to the shit that's going on there. I've heard that north koreans are on average a foot shorter than South Koreans. They've only been separated by two or three generations. Presumably a lot of that is due to malnutrition, but it's not too hard to imagine that some of that is due to people who are genetically predisposed to being shorter would survive better.

People who are genetically predisposed to being shorter survive better when food is rationed without considering the height of individual children. More tissue that needs to grow = even less nutrition for that tissue = death from starvation before reaching adulthood is even more likely. Thus if - hypothetically - none of the North Koreans who died of starvation had never been born in the first place and the entire population been well fed and thus grown normally, there would still be a difference in average height compared with their Southern counterparts.

Geneticist needed... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017513)

...to confirm if Rodman is actually human or really from another planet. Recent evidence suggests he is, in fact, not from Earth.

Re:Geneticist needed... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 3 months ago | (#46017587)

Yes he's from earth, it's just all the years of drugs and booze have taken its toll. He now has more holes than the Comstock Lode with all the piercings. That's why he has a geneticist with him to try and stabilize his DNA so he doesn't do a trick like on X-Men and turn to water and dissolve.

Re:Geneticist needed... (1)

gnick (1211984) | about 3 months ago | (#46018035)

He hasn't publicly showed off his birth certificate. Therefore, he must be a Kenyan. Kenya's on earth (I think - I've never visited.)

Re:Geneticist needed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46018389)

According to "Men in Black" 2 he is not from Earth...

Re:Geneticist needed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46020803)

I always suspected he was the result of a coupling between a brother and sister.

Sideshow Joseph! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017517)

Tonight I am going to kill Kim Jong Un......

We can learn a lot from NK about ski park design (4, Funny)

Z8 (1602647) | about 3 months ago | (#46017575)

From TFA:

I then kept moving in the tube and five other Korean men also were knocked to the ground in their effort to stop my tube from going off a 100 foot cliff that was located at the bottom of the bunny slope.

Let me guess, the water park slides all end in shark tanks?

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017611)

Who needs safety barricades, when you have an unlimited supply of cheap disposable minions happy to smash their own bodies to protect VIPs?

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017695)

"Every medical expense you suffer for the good of our international image will be paid for by our glorious Republic and an equal share sent to your family, and possibly yourself if you live."
--Kim Jong Un

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017731)

"Great news! Your medical expenses cost absolutely nothing, because all the doctors joyfully agreed to work pro-bono (except for that one, who subsequently accidentally fell off a 100 foot cliff during special medical ski training)!"

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017757)

So a group of North Koreans potentially save someone's life, a visitor from a hated enemy no less, and someone on slashdot derides them for it?

American propoganda at its finest, I guess...

Also I'd think that the Korean War, economic sanctions, etc., have done more harm to US - NK relations than these visitors ever will.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

Tailhook (98486) | about 3 months ago | (#46017987)

So we're propagandists here. Poasting our propaganda. To influence world politics on behalf of the State Department.

o_O

Also, wtf is wrong with US ski resorts that they don't have tackle-gangs lining the slopes to prevent injuries? Our resort operators are just using landscaping and safety barriers to avoid paying sacrificial slope guards. Greedy capitalists.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#46018853)

Also I'd think that the Korean War, economic sanctions, etc., have done more harm to US - NK relations than these visitors ever will.

You're right. After all, we started a war of aggression, attempting to unify the country at gunpoint. Once we were defeated by the free and brave North Korean people we spent the next half century engaging in terrorist attacks against them. We even sent commandos across the border [wikipedia.org] in an attempt to assassinate their President once upon a time. Heck, just a few years ago a United States Navy Submarine torpedoed and sank [wikipedia.org] a North Korean ship on the high seas, killing dozens of innocent North Korean sailors just to make a political point. That's not the only hostile action on the high seas, one time we captured [wikipedia.org] a North Korean ship in international waters, then held the crew hostage and tortured them for nearly a year before releasing them.

The history of American aggression towards North Korea is truly astonishing. Thank you Anonymous Coward for bravely stating the truth, which shall set us all free!

Re: We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desi (3, Funny)

um... Lucas (13147) | about 3 months ago | (#46019861)

Dude, you need to use a sarcasm tag or something... I wasted thre of my lifetime quota of clicks following your links, thinking "he's got it completely opposite"

Re: We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46044939)

It's OK. Clicks are a renewable resource.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46025071)

Note to readers: today is Opposite Day.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (2)

goto11 (116604) | about 3 months ago | (#46017637)

They build a bunny slope with a 100 foot cliff at the bottom and this guys comments on how kind they are to have stopped him from going over in his inner tube. I do not think I would have seen it that way. I'm pretty sure I would have called them a bunch of morons.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017681)

Hey, it's not like NK has the budget for pools of laser-sharks. If you need a convenient way to dispose of undesirables, a "free ski lesson" on the bunny slopes of doom is a fine low-cost alternative for the thrifty (not-quite-so-)supervillain.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46018309)

Actually, this is the real reason that North Korea wants nuclear weapons. They're trying to build a double black diamond slope. I hear it's going to be a killer.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | about 3 months ago | (#46018679)

I agree - I read that part about a 100 foot cliff at the end of the bunny hill and immediately thought "design fail..."

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (4, Insightful)

ttucker (2884057) | about 3 months ago | (#46017669)

I then kept moving in the tube and five other Korean men also were knocked to the ground in their effort to stop my tube from going off a 100 foot cliff that was located at the bottom of the bunny slope.

North Korea, the only country where humans are cheaper than a fence.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46020149)

Fuck yea. This is what we need more of on slashdot: knee jerk prejudicial opinions. Now we need to have a comment about how this visit is wrong because he is white, and we all know white privilege has no place in today's politically correct society. Has anyone thought that perhaps the N. Koreans have a more highly developed society than the West does. Perhaps all their propaganda is true. You will never know unless you go there. However you will never go there because you know that place is full of crazy inferiors who do you share your enlightened view of humanity that you do.

50 years ago it was cool to make fun of the supposed minorities (blacks, communists, etc) because they were not like you.
Today it is cool to make fun of minorities (whites, racists, etc) because they are not like you.

It is funny that the world is up in arms about the attempted genocide of the Jews, yet no body cares about the successful genocide of the Canaanites. Yet everyone thinks the Jews are different from the Germans. They are not; they are exactly the same.

Humanity never changes.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46020815)

2million people dying in a famine suggests that they don't have quite the level of society that would be called "more highly developed than the west".
Based on the scale of: "Number of people that die due to a lack of food" scale of "highly developed". That's just me though.

Perhaps more people dying is a sign of higher developed...In which case: you are right! how did we get it so wrong!!

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about 3 months ago | (#46025203)

Don't forget about the concentration camps, where they will take three generations of your family for committing a crime.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about 3 months ago | (#46025169)

No, the post is not prejudicial against Koreans, but rather a commentary on the political situation there. How dare you cry genocide anywhere else, while ignoring the concentration camps and famine in DPRK? Unlike you, I have at least bothered to inform myself about the situation in any way. Start here: http://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pd... [hrnk.org]

Perhaps all their propaganda is true. You will never know unless you go there. However you will never go there because you know that place is full of crazy inferiors who do you share your enlightened view of humanity that you do.

Not even Kim Jung Un is stopping you, just don't leave the official tour group!

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

emag (4640) | about 3 months ago | (#46017705)

Sounds like Mr. Wiggin designed the place. At least there were no rotating knives...

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017777)

And let's face it, the reason those guys risked injury to stop him was the thought of what would happen to anyone who let a guest of the Dear Leader fall off a cliff...

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#46019079)

I know, right? At least he took the time to understand their accent, though.

Re:We can learn a lot from NK about ski park desig (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#46018369)

Well, what you said is a more humorous version of my thoughts. What I was thinking was that if they didn't stop his tube and he did go over the cliff, 6 Korean men would find themselves living in a prison camp.

Further, the guy keeps talking about how nice the Korean people are to him and Rodman. Is this because if they were not nice they would be in the gulag? I'm sure that my views of DPRK are biased, because they mostly come from a biased media. That said, I have read reports from South Korea from people that escaped, so my view is not _that_ biased.

Kind of delusional? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017607)

He goes on for a bit about opening up "scientific exchanges" with North Korea. Seriously? You could find more science to exchange on one hallway of one dorm on one campus in Seoul than in the entirety of North Korea.

Re:Kind of delusional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46018841)

I think you're missing the point... lol

Re:Kind of delusional? (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#46019139)

They can't possibly be moving their missile program forwards without some solid scientific training, at least for the technical elites. Look how many other countries, with more money and less sanctions, have so much more trouble pushing that tech forwards. I doubt they are investing a lot of time in "pure" science, but in that case they probably have a large number of scientifically-minded engineers who are ripe for exposure to western scientific culture.

A lot of what he says is totally bogus stuff, and I'm sure he knows it. They (him and Rodman) are probably correct that individual exposure to friendly Americans in non-political settings is a good thing.

There is very little danger here, because if you watch the media coverage, lil Kim doesn't really get any sort of political advantage out of it. He ends up looking a bit like a big spoiled kid. So it doesn't help the baddie, it doesn't really hurt much else, and other than the people who have to throw themselves under buses to save these schmucks, everybody else comes out ahead.

I also agree with the US response, to mildly criticize it without trying to interfere.

Re:Kind of delusional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46020561)

Kim doesn't give a shit what the rest of the world thinks. All they care about is what their own population thinks.
I have no doubt that celebrities like Rodman showing up all the time are used as an example of how everyone in the world absolutely loves NK and their Dear Leader, and it's just those asshole power mongers in Washington who hate them and want them all to die, but Fear Not!!! For as you can clearly see, even the American Public is joining together in support for the North, so remain Strong and tighten your belts as the rations are reduced yet again, for soon the Evil South Korean hoards will fall and the Evil American government will be overthrown by the general public who will then come back to NK destroy the Rebel Scum to the South.

Yes, that's a half-assed, batshit crazy rambling speech. It's pretty typical of what you see in NK's state-run media.

Re:Kind of delusional? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 months ago | (#46020145)

No, there are definitely things a population geneticist could study in North Korea. Some of them involve horrible things the regime has done to large numbers of people.

I have an idea the IRB (Institutional Review Board, basically the research ethics review body for each of the colleges he works with) would look very closely at any data he or arrangements gotten from there.

Some things would be ethical, but it would be awfully easy to go beyond the bounds of what's ethical in studies involving humans.

It's probably not the case, but there have been cases where researchers have gone far beyond the bounds.

Neckbeard (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 3 months ago | (#46017683)

Amish-style beard, as in clean-shaven cheeks and no mustache.

That's the proverbial (on slashdot anyways) "neckbeard". It's also the Muslim beard style (i.e., beard with mustache shaved). Maybe it's a biblical thing?

Re:Neckbeard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017821)

It's been my personal experience that this is the only way to look contemplative while also not getting Cheeto dust in your facial hair. YMMV.

Re:Neckbeard (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about 3 months ago | (#46017829)

I don't know about Muslims, and I don't have a reliable source for this. But I always heard that the Amish shave like that because in olden-days Europe, a moustache was a sign of military rank or status. They would keep their beards because it was a sign of being a man (they keep themselves clean-shaven until their wedding day, the day they become a man, and after that they never cut their beard), but as a symbol of pacifism they would specifically shave off their moustaches.

Re:Neckbeard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46018071)

Sorry, but the dud *does not* look Amish, he looks like a typical geek "neckbeard". North Korea is clearly the only place he can get laid.

Re:Neckbeard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46027593)

Agreed. Calling that unwashed scruff "Amish-style" should be a firing offense for a professional writer. I've seen more "clean-shaven" cheeks on Ron Jeremy.

Nazi regime (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 3 months ago | (#46017749)

DPRK is basically Nazi regime. Visiting this crazy fat asshole is equal to friendly visits to Adolf H. in 1938.

Re:Nazi regime (3, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | about 3 months ago | (#46017813)

Beside "both are really nasty regimes," the comparison isn't particularly apt. The NK regime is highly internally repressive (to a level only dreamt of by Nazi security forces), but also extremely isolationist (compared to the aggressive expansion and conquest used by Hitler to secure internal support for his programs). Visiting this crazy fat asshole is more like visiting Kim Jong-Il in 2010; the NK dynasty represents its own unique variety of crazy.

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46017863)

Perhaps a better fascist regime to compare NK to would be Franco's Spain?

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46021641)

Yes, but... Where can North Korea expand towards? All of its neighbours are clearly stronger (or have stronger allies) than them.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 3 months ago | (#46018081)

Except Nazi's were a threat to the world and ended up attempting multiple genocides.

DPRK is more like a Nazi Germany who never tried to invade Poland and just focused on running Germany. The DPRKs atrocities are in the past, they're still doing massive horrible repression, but they've purged all the people they want to purge so the sense of urgency is gone.

I think there's a serious question of where to go from here. War is BAD. Notwithstanding their nukes of dubious quality the cost in lives would be immense. Internal change also seems unlikely, Kim Jong Un was pulled out of foreign university because his older brother seemed too affected by the experience. The DPRK's philosophy seems to be to keep dangerous ideas out as much as possible.

I'm not a Rodman fan and I'm really disturbed by his relationship with Kim Jong Un, but suspect it has a positive impact and I'm not where else potential change could come from.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#46018533)

The DPRKs atrocities are in the past, they're still doing massive horrible repression, but they've purged all the people they want to purge so the sense of urgency is gone.

You have an interesting definition of "past", given that they JUST purged some poor bastard less than a month ago, continue to hold a US Citizen without charges (though that dumbass voluntarily went there, so I have little sympathy for him, what kind of idiot willingly goes to North Korea?), and have anywhere from 1% to 5% of their population locked away in gulags for political crimes.

I think there's a serious question of where to go from here.

Not really. It will collapse sooner or later, with some subtle help from the South, Japan, the US, and perhaps even China as they tire of the antics of their client state. Since we're talking about Adolf, might as well quote him: "We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down" (Double irony points: He was referring to another Stalinist state with that quote.)

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46019615)

That "poor bastard" (and all his associates, who were also purged) was one of the men responsible for past purges and a political elite. While I'm sure there are still plenty of ordinary people being purged, tortured or enslaved, I shed no tears for that particular "poor bastard" to which you refer.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#46020649)

Beria was a scum-sucking asshole too.... that doesn't mean he deserved a bullet to the temple simply to make Khrushchev's life easier.

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46021373)

"and have anywhere from 1% to 5% of their population locked away in gulags for political crimes."

Unlike America, Land of the Free, where the percentage of Americans imprisoned or forever marked as second-class citizens thanks to the war on some drugs is merely 3-5% (No, seriously, it is). Luckily, in America, when we realize how fucking stupid prohibition is we can at least put an end to it (which is slowly happening right now).

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | about 3 months ago | (#46026569)

"You have an interesting definition of "past", given that they JUST purged some poor bastard less than a month ago"
while the US "purges" criminals all the time via the death penalty

" continue to hold a US Citizen without charges"
*cough* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

" and have anywhere from 1% to 5% of their population locked away in gulags for political crimes. "
while the US has the same amount locked away for the same thing, aka the war on drugs.

"Not really. It will collapse sooner or later, with some subtle help from the South, Japan, the US, and perhaps even China as they tire of the antics of their client state."
as will the US with some subtle help from China as they buy our debt and then change currencys.

thought i'd put some contrast up there for ya, seemed fitting.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46018605)

DPRK is more like a Nazi Germany who never tried to invade Poland and just focused on running Germany. The DPRKs atrocities are in the past, they're still doing massive horrible repression, but they've purged all the people they want to purge so the sense of urgency is gone.

They did try. Ever hear of the Korean War? The difference is they were smacked down for it before they could get very far. It would be like the rest of the world coming in and smacking down Germany as soon as they thought about annexing Austria.

And to claim DPRK atrocities are "in the past" is ridiculous http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/north-korea [hrw.org]

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#46018899)

Ever hear of the Korean War?

You mean the War of Imperialist American Aggression, right? ;)

Re:Nazi regime (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 3 months ago | (#46020257)

They did try. Ever hear of the Korean War? The difference is they were smacked down for it before they could get very far. It would be like the rest of the world coming in and smacking down Germany as soon as they thought about annexing Austria.

And to claim DPRK atrocities are "in the past" is ridiculous http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/north-korea [hrw.org]

The Korean War was essentially a civil war. Germany's claim to Austria wasn't nearly as strong though the Austrian's were at least partially supportive of it.

As for the current state of DPRK actions, no one contests that they're horrible, but they're sustainable which is what I was getting at, the things you list are the cost of maintaining a horrible repressive government. But as for atrocities, supposedly 11% of the North Korean population died during the Korean war (most not DPRK's direct fault, there was a war), that's not sustainable. I don't know a lot about the initial consolidation of power before/after but I doubt the upheaval was sustainable either. That's what I mean by the difference between horrible repression and atrocities.

North Korean is a horrible place to live, but that doesn't mean we can't make it worse. If we try a serious intervention of any kind and it goes badly things could get a lot worse, just recently a marginally reformist member of the government maybe did push too far and it did get a little worse.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46027345)

The Korean War was essentially a civil war.

No, the Korean War was essentially a proxy war between China & USSR and the US. In fact, China had fully planned to invade Taiwan at the time, but had to cancel it and shift all of those troops to bail out North Korea before they disappeared entirely. If it hadn't been for the UN action in Korea, China/USSR/NK probably would have dominated a large part of Asia in the cold war...

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46025841)

DPRK is more like a Nazi Germany who never tried to invade Poland and just focused on running Germany. The DPRKs atrocities are in the past, they're still doing massive horrible repression, but they've purged all the people they want to purge so the sense of urgency is gone.

They did try. Ever hear of the Korean War? The difference is they were smacked down for it before they could get very far.

They did get very, very far. NK held pretty much the entire peninsula (thanks to assistance from China) except the city of Busan on the Southern coast and only then did the US intervene. NK was forced to retreat to pretty much the same position as it had held before the war and thus the end result was just that all the infrastructure on the peninsula had been destroyed and numerous people killed.

Re:Nazi regime (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 months ago | (#46027413)

They didn't get very far in terms of regional domination. In fact, NK had to retreat all the way to the Chinese border until China entered the war. The whole thing was really a proxy fight between China (and somewhat USSR) and the US over control of most of East Asia. It's pretty clear if the UN/US did nothing USSR/China/NK would basically have made half of Asia puppet states, RoC would be part of China, etc. So the analogy is still pretty apt.

Re:Nazi regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46025793)

Except Nazi's were a threat to the world and ended up attempting multiple genocides.

DPRK is more like a Nazi Germany who never tried to invade Poland and just focused on running Germany. The DPRKs atrocities are in the past, they're still doing massive horrible repression, but they've purged all the people they want to purge so the sense of urgency is gone.

Is that why the prison camps are growing? This has been verified by human rights organizations by carefully studying satellite images available online. And the camps have been in operation for decades already. Furthermore, plenty of "undesirable" people live outside the camps in much worse conditions than the "lucky elite" in Pyongyang and the entire system is based on family trees. NK has a sophisticated system with secretly held records of whose great-grandfather "bravely fought with Kim Il-Sung" and where and what you subsequently deserve to study. Upon graduating primary school bright children there might face the sad reality that they will never be allowed to study further because of such a family tree but prior to graduation no such information is given (and if the parents know, they don't dare to talk about it).

Visiting Hitler (1)

Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) | about 3 months ago | (#46018979)

21 teams went to Berlin in 1936 to play basketball [wikipedia.org]. The US team got the gold medal. 7 of the nations playing were invaded by Germany in the following war. Spain withdrew before and saw Luftwaffe action that same year.

Re:Visiting Hitler (1)

Pulzar (81031) | about 3 months ago | (#46021109)

Thanks for the link. The score in the finals was 19-8, as the played in the rain on a muddy court and neither team could dribble the ball!

Awesome :).

It's a big question who is more nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46022841)

Have you been there or you're just translating media nazi memes?

This guy is no dummy (1)

kencurry (471519) | about 3 months ago | (#46017895)

"...In April of 2013, I saw an online auction for charity where people could bid on the chance to play H-O-R-S-E with Dennis Rodman. So I bid and won, ..."

Wow, pretty shrewd, that he saw this opportunity to meet with Rodman and capitalized, furthering his own agenda. A pity that the article only soft-balled some lame questions and didn't get him to comment on the advisory role he played to Rodman's entourage.

Yet another ambiguous headline (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#46017933)

US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman

I expect they probably did have a chat about it at some point, yeah.

Honestly, I thought that J. Random Geneticist had scooped an interview.

USA prevents reunification of Korea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46018271)

For decades your press told you Yanks that East and West Germany would NEVER reunify, and even if they began the process, it would take 30+ years. However, once Russia withdrew from the picture, German reunification happened almost overnight, and today some very nasty individuals from the old East German regime are actually in dominant control of the new Germany.

So, what about Korea. You need to know that the Far East still has unfinished business dating back to long before WW2. America still occupies South Korea for one reason, and one reason only- to prevent the reunification. And, believe me, the reunification would occur faster than even happened between East and West Germany, if the US war machine was removed from the region.

So why does the USA PROHIBIT reunification? The answer is very disturbing. Japan. Japan will wage another massive war against a reunified Korea rather than see Korea become the other dominant force in the area (second to China). Japan is an incredibly racist and fascist State. It pretends that, despite the rise of China, Japan is still 'top dog'. It will NOT allow its old slave colony of Korea to gain greater power than Japan itself, not least for fear that Korea will eventually seek revenge for the deplorable history of crimes against the people of Korea by the Japanese.

Japan, forced by America, is actually a military NUCLEAR power. Japan is covered in fast-breeder nuclear power stations designed entirely to produce weapons grade plutonium for warheads. Fukushima was the world's worst nuclear disaster by far, because a plutonium containment facility exploded, scattering unprecedented amounts of particulate plutonium all over the surrounding areas. If America allows Korea to reunite, there will be a small window while the former South rushes to exploit the nuclear expertise of the former North, and build up a nuclear arsenal to discourage a Japanese attack. Japan will seek to destroy Korea's military nuclear capability during this window- which means massive military strikes by the Japanese military against Korea the moment US forces leave.

However, the USA is in Korea to CREATE this situation, not protect against it. By ensuring that post WW2 tensions have never been resolved in this key part of the globe, the USA seeks to maintain power and influence. However, the rise of China as another Superpower (definition= State that has the ability to destroy the USA, thus will not fear its war machine, no matter how large America makes it) changes everything, and informs us that the US occupation of South Korea is coming to an end.

You the sheeple read nonsense in your mainstream media about 'tensions' between Japan and China, but this is just laughable propaganda for the highly credulous. Japan KNOWS China is an unstoppable juggernaut, and that messing with China means an automatic death sentence. So, Japan partners with China in every practical way, and seeks to be the upstanding no.2 boos in the region. Japan 'pride' can withstand this, because of the geographic 'mass' of China. But Japanese national pride will never stand for being an irrelevant No.3 behind Korea.

World Wars usually begin in places the media tells their sheeple readership NOT to consider. Remember how when WW2 began, Russia was an aggressor (and partner of Nazi Germany in the invasion of Poland) and NOT a victim. In truth North Korea threatens no-one. When re-unified, neither will Korea, but Japan won't care about this.

hey, let's feed the troll (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 3 months ago | (#46018751)

Japan will wage another massive war against a reunified Korea rather than see Korea become the other dominant force in the area (second to China). Japan is an incredibly racist and fascist State. It pretends that, despite the rise of China, Japan is still 'top dog'. It will NOT allow its old slave colony of Korea to gain greater power than Japan itself, not least for fear that Korea will eventually seek revenge for the deplorable history of crimes against the people of Korea by the Japanese.

Japan has far more to worry about from the PRC than Korea, unified or otherwise.

Population of Japan: 127.6 million
Population of South Korea: 50 million
Population of North Korea: 24.7 million

A unified Korea starts off with less human capital than Japan. That's without accounting for the generations long project of bringing North Korea out of the stone age. It cost trillions of dollars and took more than a generation to bring East Germany up to West Germany's standard of living. North Korea starts out from a much worse state than East Germany. East Germany had a relatively educated population, a decent industrial base, and preexisting trade relationships. North Korea has none of those.

Bottom line, Korea isn't going to overtake Japan in any meaningful measure of power (hard or soft) within the 21st Century, unification or not. Japan has a fairly deplorable history in Korea that they still haven't owned up to, but their actions in China during WW2 were arguably worse, and China actually has the soft and hard power to give Japan a run for her money. Of course, Japan + the United States + Australia + the Philippines + New Zealand + Korea is a different story. Beijing will be contained the same way the USSR was contained, by an alliance of like minded Democratic counties.

Remember how when WW2 began, Russia was an aggressor (and partner of Nazi Germany in the invasion of Poland) and NOT a victim.

The Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Poles, and Lithuanians are sympathetic to this argument. Of course, you've vastly oversimplified matters. Hitler had designs on the Soviet Union before he ever came to power (read Mein Kampf) and one could easily argue that Stalin's ruthlessness towards his small neighbors bought needed strategic depth that saved Moscow in 1941. Germany was coming regardless of Stalin's treatment of his smaller neighbors.

The bigger lost opportunity was the chance the Western Powers had to enlist Stalin in a containment alliance directed against Germany, France tried to make this happen, but the UK was ambivalent about dealing with Stalin for obvious reasons. Whatever slim chance existed evaporated after Munich, when Stalin concluded that the West lacked the backbone to stand up to Germany. Once the balloon went up Eastern Europe was screwed regardless of what happened on the battlefield. The UK couldn't impose its will on the USSR, France was a spent force, and the United States wasn't going to absorb another million battlefield casualties for the sake of Poland and the Baltic States.

Population of Japan (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 3 months ago | (#46035987)

Not to enter the argument, however one point to make is about the population of Japan. They may have about 130 million people, however A) they are one of the few countries with a demographic of more older people, B) They have few kids, C) as a nation they appear to be a bit anti-immigration.

Not exactly a great combination. Over the next 20 years their population will be in decline as a result.

N.K. genetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46018591)

Personally, the man sounds like a dictatorship whore. I mean, look at the countries he has been to. if you read his stuff, you see what amounts to praise of all the places.

I can see it now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46019183)

I bet Kim Jong-un smoked Dennis Rodman in a game of 21 with a score of 37 million to 0.

Amish? (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 3 months ago | (#46020361)

The summary says a white guy with an Amish style beard, but the first image on the link just has a dorky unshaven stubble nerd.

Who's the spy? (1)

sabbede (2678435) | about 3 months ago | (#46034581)

Rodman is a ridiculous character. The CIA has used ridiculous people as intelligence assets in the past. Rodman gets to hang out with the leader of the most infamously impenetrable nation in the world and nobody questions it.

Am I the only one who thinks the CIA was knocking at his door the instant he got the invite? He's a crazy dick, who would suspect?

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