Ed Hudgins

Light Up the World for Humans

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Yes, but while they are starving to death, they can appreciate the beauty of the night sky free from the light pollution!

"Subject: North Koreas Army of Starved Soldiers

James Dunnigan 3/10/2004 9:03:56 PM

A decade of famine in North Korea, which has killed about ten percent of the population, has also stunted a generation physically and mentally. Until a few years ago, the North Korean army rejected any young man who was not at least five feet three inches tall. No more. Visitors to the north note that more and more of the young soldiers they see appear to be the size of children (under five feet tall.)

More worrisome to South Koreans, and something that is not discussed publicly, is the effect of malnutrition on IQ. It is known that children who suffer malnutrition when they are young, do less well in school and have more discipline problems as well. Some 500 North Korean children have made it to South Korea since the famine began, and a disproportionate number of them have had trouble in school. North Korean refugees who go to South Korean universities, drop out 80 percent of the time, a much higher rate than South Koreans. Some of this poor academic performance can be attributed to the disruption to the education system, up north, by the famine. But the North Korean kids score lower on all sorts of tests.

The South Korean government won't release statistics, but observers estimate that the Northern children born since the famine began a decade ago are three or more inches shorter than their counterparts down south. South Koreans fear that, when reunification comes, the northerners will feel inferior because of their shorter stature and weaker intellectual powers. As a result, the northerners will be less economically productive, which will require southerners to come up with more money to rebuild the north. The South Koreans are well aware of what happened in Germany after their reunification in the early 1990s. It cost West Germany over a trillion dollars, so far. The West Germans didn't know exactly what they were getting into. But the South Koreans do have a good idea of what they face, especially since North Koreans are much worse off than East Germans were. South Koreans won't admit it, but many wish the North Korean nightmare would just go away. But it won't. It just gets worse. And eventually South Korea will have to deal with it, and pay for it.

But not all North Korean children are stunted. Aid workers estimate that sixty percent of the children up north were severely malnourished (and stunted) at the height of the famine in the late 1990s. But since then, massive amounts of foreign food aid has reduced that to 40 percent. A major complaint of the foreign aid workers is that a lot of the food aid goes to the military, or is sold overseas to provide money to buy weapons and luxuries for the communist party elite.

The military impact of the famine is harder to measure. Smaller, and less bright, soldiers will not be as effective on the battlefield. Most North Korean troops are infantry, trained to walk and run through the steep mountains and hills that form the border between the two Koreas. The North Korean soldiers have gotten smaller, but their weapons have not. Perhaps the most significant military impact will be on morale. News of the outside world is beginning to reach the north, where for decades most of the population was literally cut off from the outside world. One can imagine what the North Korean soldier will think, and do, when he finds that the South Koreans are all well fed giants. But before that happens, the malnourished North Korean soldiers may decide to turn on those who starved a generation."

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My broader point is with the logical consequences of intrinsicism. In this case, the more people take seriously the notion that the Earth has a value above and beyond its value to humans, the more we will see of the pathologies I highlight in the piece: a self-torturing asceticism; calls for population reduction, government thugs enforcing environmental dictates.

Further, these threats are not in the future. They’re happening now.

Further still, those threats are based on taking seriously wrong ideas such as the intrinsic value of the environment. By the time these ideas are ingrained in a large part of the population—with young people who’ve been brainwashed becoming adult voters, politicians, journalists, teachers—it will be too late to stop the threat for a generation.

This is a very astute point, and perhaps it has a psychological ring to it. In cases where the self is not valued, objects perceived with intrinsic value are perceived as more valuable than the self. According to Objectivist literature, valuing humans generally begins at valuing the self. Therefore, intrinsically-valued objects take priority over humans in the minds of low self-esteem individuals.

It makes a lot of sense why self-esteem is a necessity for rational awareness.

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We need to fight the battle with many audiences, on many fronts, with many different tactics!

Ed,

It is so very gratifying to hear an Objectivist say that.

Who knows? If more people start thinking along these lines, this philosophy might grow up one day and become mainstream...

(But I do wonder if Islamist terrorism, President Obama's election, the current global financial mess, government entitlement chaos and the invasion of the drug cartels from Mexico are because of the Brandens... :) )

Michael

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Ed, I believe we have good middle ground here (it's nice to discourse w/ you again, btw).

I guess the deeper issue with me is in fact tactics, specifically old Objectivist ones. There is a tendency (I know this because I have read it, seen it) for those fairly involved, new ones for sure, some others, to make the presentation look like Angry Old Testament God bullshit. It scares the locals.

You've always been much more elegant in delineating and generally opening up ideas. But I think you know what I mean; the knee-jerk judgments, condemnations. In the end I think a lot of these kind of folk end up terribly alone.

As to the broader picture, well, I haven't seen new tactics in years--heck, you can run with anything if you get all evangelical about it. Look what Perigo gets away with just in how he mutilates newcomers.

Thanks,

r

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We need to fight the battle with many audiences, on many fronts, with many different tactics!

Ed,

It is so very gratifying to hear an Objectivist say that.

Who knows? If more people start thinking along these lines, this philosophy might grow up one day and become mainstream...

(But I do wonder if Islamist terrorism, President Obama's election, the current global financial mess, government entitlement chaos and the invasion of the drug cartels from Mexico are because of the Brandens... :) )

Michael

Wonder?

Should I comment about what your lack of certainty reveals about your psycho-epistemology?

Regards,

Bill P (smiling)

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Yes MSK and Rich, we need always to consider our audience and goals when acting and communicating. Sometimes this will demand some fire and brimestone. But we're trying to change minds, emotions, and the moral sense. Thus, as Objectivists we understand the importance of context. The goal is to get people to listen to us and see our points, not to turn away in disgust.

Cheers!

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Michael; How dare you suggest that all of the problems aren't due to the Branden's.

Do I need to tell you I'm joking.

On an earlier post that satellite picture of Korea says so much.

Edited by Chris Grieb

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Whether or not to have children is a very personal matter. Don't want kids. Fine! But it's truly a manifestation of the spiritual sickness of the environmentalists if someone really wants to have a family but decides not to because it would harm the environment. Here's another form of guilt these moral midgets are spreading.

"Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-...o-friendly.html

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I do not have and don't expect to have any but I do like to see people with them. Anti-natalism makes me ill.

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It's like buying bad seasoning at the dollar store. Meaning, dumbasses are dumbasses, and there are a lot of crappy flavors. I am patient, and I educate when I can, but there's always a line. Sometimes, you just run into real, livingbreathing a-holes.

That is the simplicity of it; further circumspection of the topic will bring a man no closer to it.

I try not to let it make me more world-weary. Mostly, I am a happy person, and that stuff I walk from. I mean, I can get that shit anywhere--go to 7/11 and have a dick with a time machine cut in front of you in line. It just doesn't bear good market value. Heh.

rde

Hates dickheads.

Edited by Rich Engle

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We need to fight the battle with many audiences, on many fronts, with many different tactics!
[W]e need always to consider our audience and goals when acting and communicating. Sometimes this will demand some fire and brimestone. But we're trying to change minds, emotions, and the moral sense. Thus, as Objectivists we understand the importance of context. The goal is to get people to listen to us and see our points, not to turn away in disgust.

Cheers!

Speaking as a frontlineman, changing others' minds about this issue is really, really tough, Ed. I see you have a tough time yourself persuading even the denizens on here. It demonstrates how difficult the task is merely to present the problem to any audience. How disappointing that not many have understood you!

Though your success rate is low, your tactics are admirable.

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Thom,

It might seem frustrating, but letting people think for themselves is the only way that will endure. Some people will take a long time to agree, others will only agree with parts, and others will simply go away or become enemies.

The upside is that when a person has thought through an issue with his own mind, he is almost immune to group-think and peer pressure. (I did say "almost"... :) )

I caution you against people who agree too soon on the surface. In the same manner they agree with you, they will so agree with another against you later. I have seen it happen over and over.

The only real standard I have found useful so far is to listen to a person's words and evaluate them against his acts.

I place high value on good character. In my experience, a person of good character (i.e., who performs good acts) will ultimately come to agree with me on certain fundamentals (or show me my errors), irrespective of his rhetoric—even when he promotes ideas diametrically opposite of mine. His true value, what he seeks, is to be good and do good in life. He wants to realize his potential. He merely needs to find a good path to tread.

People seek. I still seek. That is human nature.

A person too quick to agree (or disagree), but lacking character, has a hard road to travel in the future—and a long voyage that often ends up in some kind of mental hell on earth. The strange thing is that such a person is no longer a seeker. In his acts, he acts with certainty (i.e., does scumbag things :) ). He is on his path irrespective of what he says.

Short term, I want distance from these kinds of people. Long-term, I pity them.

I used to be fooled by them. I even imagined myself finding a way to turn them around. I still might, but for the present, I just tell one who asks to go to a church. These places are used to overhauling "sinners." I believe a person has to choose to want to be good before a commitment to reason will result in good. Unfortunately, I have not found much that is practical in Objectivism to encourage a person to transform from a scumbag to a person of honor.

At least nowadays it's harder for them to fool me.

So, for the time being, I have found it best to encourage people to think for themselves and I look for the good in each person while keeping a keen eye on the bad, especially with respect to his acts. I believe I can build good things on this premise. And I can build them alongside independent individuals.

Those are the best kind.

They think for themselves.

Michael

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I don't know if there is a thread specifically for this, but I just noticed that Ed who replaced David Kelley as the Executive Director of TAS a few years back has now been replaced by him again.

I remember several years ago, when David stepped down to free up more time for his book. There was an understanding expressed that his strengths were those of a philosopher, not an administrator. That was not his career, not his experience, not his forte, not his background.

So I don't understand why he has resumed control. And, several years lated, we still have no book (Logical Structure of Objectivism). Even though there was already a first draft in existence (the Beta version.)

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(snip)

I caution you against people who agree too soon on the surface. In the same manner they agree with you, they will so agree with another against you later. I have seen it happen over and over.

The only real standard I have found useful so far is to listen to a person's words and evaluate them against his acts.

(snip)

Well put.

"Want to know what X thinks? Find out who he just met with!"

I worked with someone like that for a while. It was very frustrating. You would think you had him persuaded. But in truth . . . you were just the most recent person who had presented their case...

Regards,

Bill P

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Hi Phil! Good to hear from you again!

I've been wanting to spend more time on my strengths--advocacy and writing--for some time, and have gotten my wish, but with some additions. At last year's Summer Seminar our executive committee trustees along with David and me discussed our future plans, for focusing more on promoting open Objectivism, for integrating all our efforts, including TNI, more tightly to that purpose, and for putting more resources into web-based promotion. The latest TNI reflects these changes, with more Objectivist context while retaining a lot of the fun cultural stuff. Any thoughts on that issue? The next issue’s in the works and looks real good.

Our consultant Jim Jeck has been working with us and the trustees on our plans for the past year. It made sense for David, as board chairman, to simply step in to carry through on the board plans. In the issue of Logbook, our newsletter for paid-up TAS members, that is in the mail right now, we spell out in detail what’s going on here. The highlights:

Jeck has been brought into TAS in a quasi-managerial position, to share the tasks with David. We've also taken on Nadia Espinoza who's handling a number of administrative tasks.

I'm still involved in the strategic planning and, especially, in fundraising, as before. But, as you have seen, Will Thomas and I, along with Brad Doucet, are producing new material every week for the website and sending out regular email updates. We have other things in the works you'll be seeing soon. I also carry the esteemed and I hope not too-pretentious title of senior scholar, which reflects some of the other things I'll be doing.

David has been completing a revision of his Art of Reasoning book, which his publisher wants to push hard to get into more classrooms. And we’ve brought in Laurie Rice, an extremely intelligent young woman, as an administrative assistant and to work closely with David in his book revision.

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Thanks Ed, for explaining some of the things that are going on. I think it's useful for potential as well as current contributors to know a bit of the reasons behind things and to know the roles of various staff and associated people.

> The latest TNI reflects these changes, with more Objectivist context while retaining a lot of the fun cultural stuff. Any thoughts on that issue?

I haven't seen it yet (haven't read every issue), but will want to look it over as soon as it's up on the website.

Best wishes!...and hope to be able to attend another conference and see you again at some point.

Phil

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