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Schmidt, Daughter Talk About North Korea Trip 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-korea dept.
Eric Schmidt attracted headlines when he visited North Korea, but until now he has said little about the trip. Today he broke his silence with a Google+ post. He says in part: "As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear. Once the internet starts in any country, citizens in that country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do one thing: open up the Internet first. They have to make it possible for people to use the Internet, which the government of North Korea has not yet done. It is their choice now, and in my view, it’s time for them to start, or they will remain behind." His daughter had some interesting things to say as well, "The best description we could come up with: it's like The Truman Show, at country scale."
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Schmidt, Daughter Talk About North Korea Trip

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:33PM (#42642661) Homepage Journal

    Eric Schmidt visits a farm and tells the farmer than his cows would be far better off with internet access. The farmer looks at him like he is fucking stupid. Where is the benefit for him in doing that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816)
      Thank you so much for that terrible analogy.
      • by Cryacin (657549)
        You should have used a car analogy instead.
        • by SomePgmr (2021234)

          More accurately, Eric Schmidt and daughter tag along to talk about internet access and end up thinking, "these people should really start with heated structures."

          • Or "growing sufficient food".

            I really don't think their problem is "lack of internet" so much as it is "utter and complete dictatorship". Our first priority needs to be getting rid of the dictatorship, not bringing them internet. All they will do with modern networked computing is reinforce the dictatorship. For them, "1984" is an instruction manual.

            • by satuon (1822492)

              Access to the internet would bring outside information, which would help destabilize the dictatorship.

              • by tsa (15680)

                Which is why they don't have internet.
                Now we are full circle.

              • You must be naive in the extreme to believe that the dictatorship would allow anything resembling open internet access. Their censorship would make China look free and open.

                No, the norkies would use it as the ultimate tool for oppression. Take everything good about the internet and take it away, take everything bad and put it on steriods. That's what they would get. 1984 would just be the starting point.

    • Farmers in NK with cows?
    • by k-run (74865) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:51PM (#42642767)

      Farmers in India can get weather and crop pricing information via SMS on their basic 'feature' phones. It is progress, even if it seems painfully slow to those of us who live in the west.

      • This is the kind of stuff that they need. Even Iran- or China-level internet access (open by default but filter the crap out of everything & spy on the rest) would be a massive improvement for NK 'net users, which could be more aptly referred to as the "Kimternet". If it ain't on the NK propaganda network, they don't have access to it.

        Not that I'm advocating that model of course, but it'd be an improvement over what they have now.

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:11PM (#42642871)

      Eric Schmidt visits a farm and tells the farmer than his cows would be far better off with internet access. The farmer looks at him like he is fucking stupid. Where is the benefit for him in doing that?

      You are so right on.

      Most people here have never been to Korea and can't really understand the dynamics of what is going on in both South and North Korea.

      There is very little chance that Eric Schmidt or any of his "people" saw anything that the North did not want them to see... Which is most of North Korea, which is in a state of extreme poverty on levels that most American, most Westerners simply can not understand.

      This was a PR trip for the North Koreans, a way to leverage media in the West to believe that things are not as bad in the North as they really are.

      As the US Government said, this was not a "useful" trip, it was a PR trip for the North Koreans, who continue to develop Nuclear Weapons at the cost of feeding their people.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        it was a PR trip for the North Koreans, who continue to develop Nuclear Weapons at the cost of feeding their people.

        Like America? Ten aircraft carriers and crippling poverty in some parts of the country. Why would any government want their people to suffer?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          A navy that secures shipping routes for every trading nation on Earth vs nuclear weapons that do nothing except keep the Kim family in power. The more you "butwhataboutAmerica" posters bring up America, the more absurd you appear in the eyes of ordinary people.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:17AM (#42644089)

            Your 10 aircraft carriers are not securing shipping routes, and the US doesn't have a shortage of nuclear weapons sitting around not securing shipping routes either.

            There is a huge difference between the US and North Korea. This isn't it.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          of course. they're exactly the same. EXACTLY the same.

          if read another freaking north korean tweet about some first world problem they're having, honestly i'm going to unsubscribe.

      • by maugle (1369813) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:55PM (#42643105)
        I'm pretty sure they didn't mean for them to see the power outage in the subway system, and especially not all the NK citizens automatically pulling out their flashlights (indicating "yeah, this happens all the time").
      • by dbIII (701233)

        There is very little chance that Eric Schmidt or any of his "people" saw anything that the North did not want them to see...

        Some things are difficult to hide so I don't think you can write it off so easily.
        We've had a few interesting bits from journalists that had the same sort of highly controlled tour.
        Of course even the refugees that come from NK often don't have much idea of what is going on outside of their immediate experience due to how tightly information in that that utter basket case of a country

    • Where is the benefit for him in doing that?

      In order to stay wealthy, enjoy trappings, and stay in power, dictators need to placate people below them, and the people below them, and so forth. To do that takes money, and without an economy you don't have money - So the benefit is it helps give NK an economy, which helps keep the elite rich.

      • Where is the benefit for him in doing that?

        In order to stay wealthy, enjoy trappings, and stay in power, dictators need to placate people below them, and the people below them, and so forth. To do that takes money, and without an economy you don't have money - So the benefit is it helps give NK an economy, which helps keep the elite rich.

        The problem I see for the NK government is that expectations would rise faster than the economic benefit of openness, with the result that the government would try ways to selectively open the economy but in the process blow holes in their hold on power. It would be nice to think that this would lead to a cascading collapse but I personally think the government will keep the lid firmly on their country.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        The problem with closed and restrictive societies today is the leaders are pretty well disconnect from the civilian population. This disconnect goes far, far deeper than it ever did in the USSR. In the 1950s while everyone was trying to figure out if there was going to be a nuclear exchange between superpowers, in the USSR there were some leaders actually concerned about what would happen to the civilian population should such a nuclear exchange break out.

        In both North Korea and Iran it is highly doubtful

    • From the article: "Ordinary North Koreans [US Citizens?] live in a near-total information bubble, without any true frame of reference. I can't think of any reaction to that except absolute sympathy. My understanding is that North Koreans [US Americans?] are taught to believe they are lucky to be in North Korea [the USA?], so why would they ever want to leave? They're hostages in their own country, without any real consciousness of it. And the opacity of the country's inner workings--down to the basics o

      • I personally know several US families who have travelled to my country and chosen to stay here. They have plenty of freedom to learn about other countries.

        • Some North Koreans have escaped that bubble too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korean_defectors [wikipedia.org]

          What does that prove? Getting beyond a pervasive cultural way of thinking is also something other than learning a few tidbits of information... And most ex-pats will never have the quality of life abroad that native born citizens will in there host countries (with natives embedded in family and community and stories for generations, and with expats facing security risks if anti-Americanism rises). An extreme

          • And most ex-pats will never have the quality of life abroad that native born citizens will in there [sic] host countries (with natives embedded in family and community and stories for generations...

            That might be true if you'd said, "will never have the quality of life abroad that native born citizens will in their home towns".

            But you didn't, and so it's not.

            BTW, *my* quality of life here in Sweden is heaps better than anything I ever had in the States, so even with the correction, your contention is still wrong in at least one case.

            • Interesting points, thanks. I replied to another of your replies suggesting it is harder to globally escape the US ideological influence than the NK ideological influence, so I won't repeat that here.

              But I am curious, what do people in the USA you know think about your move? Do they understand it? Do they accept that the day-to-day quality of life (overall happiness) is better for most people in Sweden than the USA? When you talk about the Swedish policies about work or health care, do they accept that the

      • Americans still believe that creating artificial scarcity through copyrights, patents, and perpetual warfare is the path to abundance, and that draconian drug laws and draconian computer crime laws are the path to security... And many US Americans think there is little relation between what they eat and how they feel

        I don't know where you're getting this information. As far as I can tell, most Americans can't tell the difference between a copyright and a patent, don't believe in 'perpetual warfare,' and generally understand that "you are what you eat." Most people have heard that saying before. You might want to investigate your information gathering algorithms, they seem to be a little off.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Paul Fernhout (109597)

          There is some truth to what you say, unquestionably. Still, what I am saying reflects actual US policy and the behavior of most US Americans, whatever adages remain around from older generations... Most people in the USA may have heard "you are what you eat", yet most people still eat a lot of empty calories from refined starches and sugars and cruelly-raised nutrient-poor meat. That disconnect seems symptomatic of a bubble to me. And it is reflected in US corporate-shaped policy:
          http://www.seriouseats.com/ [seriouseats.com]

          • It's not clear to me what you are saying. When it comes to food, if you ask a typical person if they eat like they should, anecdotally most are aware that they eat poorly.

            It's hard to really grasp the character of the rest of what you say, but be aware that comparing the US to North Korea is silly, because gathering all those resources you linked to in NK would be impossible. Having this conversation would be dangerous. One account of a visit to NK [youtube.com].

            Some of your sources are bad, possibly purposely being
      • I moved away from the US nearly 12 years ago.

        I did not have to swim a river or crawl through barbed wire or a minefield under cover of darkness to do so.

        In fact, before I left, the US government even supplied me at my request and for very low cost with an internationally-accepted document confirming my citizenship (so I could come back if I wanted) and asking people in other countries to treat me nicely (and telling me where to get help if they don't).

        I don't see that happening so often in North Korea, do you?

      • Lemme guess, you're a HS dropout and you're bitter because nobody will buy your homemade shit, right?
      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:34AM (#42645293) Homepage

        Come off it, North Korea and the USA are nothing alike. North Korea is 1984 writ large, it's as if they thought Orwell wrote a textbook instead of dystopian fiction. Even in its worst moments the US is light years from that.

        I think what you're trying to say is that there are some small seeds of resemblance in certain things, in particular the way Americans are taught from birth to believe the USA is the greatest country in the world, that other countries just aren't as good, that they're lucky to be born there, and so on, as opposed to being taught that the USA is merely a good country, much like many other countries except larger. And in that case yes, there is a slight similarity.

        But it's only very slight. For one, many Americans are not brought up this way. For another, any who are can easily learn about the outside world, including by visiting it. Obvious exceptions: Cuba, Iran, any other country the administration currently has a hate-on for. And that's bad, but it's a blacklist of destinations not a whitelist. Anyone there who wants to understand the truth of the world can.

        For all its faults, the US has a strong economy, lacks a cult of personality (you might say the same cultish mentality exists around the constitution though), and is just generally better than North Korea in every conceivable way. NK is useful because it shows what can exist at the bottom of the slippery slope towards totalitarianism. Lots of people understand that which is why they get up in arms every time there's some new violation of civil rights.

        By the way, I'm a Brit.

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by Paul Fernhout (109597)

          The US may be farther from 1984 than NK (debatable given what US credit card information and internet communications reveals), but the USA sure is a lot closer to "Brave New World":
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World [wikipedia.org]
          "Social critic Neil Postman contrasts the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes: "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, fo

      • Note, however, that you were able to post the above, and (even if you live in the US) you haven't been "disappeared". That's one big difference.

        I can get solid information on a good many issues you mentioned, much of it from US government websites. (I can get proof that we don't have the healthiest population from the CIA World Fact Book, for example.) This is not an information bubble. I can get multiple viewpoints on a tremendous range of topics very easily. Try getting these viewpoints in North K

    • Affiliate links. That's how the farmers will get ahead.

      The cows will be able to buy their supplies online, and the farm will replace all links the cows have access to with ones that give the farmer a small cut of whatever the cows buy.

  • by bitt3n (941736) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:39PM (#42642703)
    "do I have to post this on google+? I wanted my friends to see it."
  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:40PM (#42642705) Journal

    They also demonstrated their software and technology based on open source (mostly Linux)

  • "Why didn't somebody tell us sooner?"
  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mullen (14656) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:52PM (#42642775)

    Eric Schmidt from Google goes to North Korea and tells them the path to prosperity is open up to the Internet? Are you fucking serious? Uh, Eric, you know what you should have told them the path to prosperity was; the North Korean government should completely and radically change from a multi-generational dictatorship to a representative Democracy and Capitalistic System, with the intent of reunification with their southern brothers. Close the Concentration Camps (Yes, I said Concentration Camps), get rid of the failed centralized economy, stop starving your citizens and stop trying to cling to power and accept that the citizens of NK probably would be much better off without the current NK government. Opening up to the Internet is probably about 15th on the list of things they should do.

    Flying to NK and trying to convenience them to use Android Smart Phones or Google Applications for Dictatorships is pretty naive and well, fucking selfish. People are really starving and dying and giving them a couple of pointers on how to use the Internet is, well, dumb.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:58PM (#42642803)
      "open up the internet" is something they will listen to. "stop being isolationist" isn't. The best advice, ignored, is just noise.
      • by Trepidity (597)

        "Open up the internet" certainly isn't something they're going to listen to.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:10PM (#42642861)

        No, it's not something they will listen to.

        North Korea is having an ongoing national psychotic episode. Not much anybody can do. That 'anybody' is mostly China BTW, but they let N. Korea continue for their own reasons.

      • Pointless advice ("open up the internet"), that they're going to ignore as well... isn't much better.

        Seriously, I'm with the OP here. Schmidt comes off as *seriously* clueless in this post.

        • by Mullen (14656)

          > Schmidt comes off as *seriously* clueless in this post.

          Totally agree and his daughter does not sound any better. I was not expecting any results from his visit, but I have to admit, I was pretty floored at how clueless he came off as. This guy runs Google.

          • I actually only just now read his daughter's post.... wow. Just, *wow*. Seriously disconnected from reality.

            • I actually only just now read his daughter's post.... wow. Just, *wow*. Seriously disconnected from reality.

              WTF? She merely reported what she saw, and made it clear from the beginning that's all she intended to do.

              And it looks to me like this is exactly what she did.

            • by hoggy (10971)

              I disagree. She seemed much more clued-up - or at least willing to admit the ludicrousness of their visit - than her father, and she quite clearly stated that almost everything they had seen had been staged for their benefit. I found her post to be fascinating.

              Yes, Schmidt visiting North Korea to talk to them about the benefits of being able to watch videos of cats on the Interwebs when the majority of the population live in grinding poverty and tens of thousands are held in forced labour camps is amazingly

        • by nick357 (108909)
          When your only tool is a hammer, all problems begin to look like nails...
        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          I agree. I hate those damn idealists, always trying to make things better.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Things like Alibaba help China massively with the capitalist reforms, and other internet services could help them become more democratic in the future.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prehistoricman5 (1539099) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:04PM (#42642845)

      So what will happen if NK truly opens themselves up to the internet (not like China) and gives its citizens unfettered access?

      The illusion will be shattered for the citizens of NK, they will begin to demand more from their government and openess will come.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

        by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @09:05PM (#42643163)

        The illusion will be shattered for the citizens of NK, they will begin to demand more from their government and openess will come.

        Actually, they will begin to demand less from their government. Like less defense from an imaginary pending attack from South Korea. Less in the way of starvation labor camps. Less in the way of grotesque mass-parade theater showing love for their various iterations of Great Leader, Dear Leader, etc.

        What they'll want more of is a chance for people outside of that hellish place to be able to invest money, material, and people into growing some actual businesses. Or they will want that, as soon as they realize that's what generates actual prosperity.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          Actually, they will begin to demand less from their government. Like less defense from an imaginary pending attack from South Korea. Less in the way of starvation labor camps. Less in the way of grotesque mass-parade theater showing love for their various iterations of Great Leader, Dear Leader, etc.

          I'm not sure it's correct to say the North Korean people demand any of those things, so much as put up with them, on account of their preference not to be thrown into a starvation labor camp.

          • by ScentCone (795499)
            I didn't say they are demanding those things now. Those things are inflicted upon them. When they ARE in a position to demand anything, what they'll demand is the absence of centrally controlled tyrannical socialist nonsense holding back in the miserable hell they're in now.
            • by Jeremi (14640)

              I didn't say they are demanding those things now.

              Here's what I was responding to:

              Actually, they will begin to demand less from their government.

              If you say that they will demand less in the (hypothetical) future, then it follows that you must think that they are demanding something now.

              • by ScentCone (795499)
                No. I'm saying that once they are in a position to demand anything, they're going to demand that the government become less involved in dictating their day to day lives. They can't demand anything now, because the government they have imposes upon them, by force, the entire relationship. This isn't complicated!
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      And opening up the internet will move the country towards those goals.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      (modding) -

      Eric Schmidt from Google goes to North Korea and tells them the path to prosperity is open up to the Internet? Are you fucking serious?

      Sure. Granting access to the world is a sure way of changing oligarchies and dictatorships. He probably didn't say that as it's a characteristic of state internet access and not the prime reason.
      The other point raised is the priority. The NK plebs want food first and internet 15th. Knowledge really is power in this case. Just imagine a few mobile/cell phone towers dotted around the place and people with smartphones! How long can a repressive dictatorship survive under those conditions? Also Kim

    • by ffflala (793437)

      you should have told them the path to prosperity was; the North Korean government should completely and radically change from a multi-generational dictatorship to a representative Democracy and Capitalistic System, with the intent of reunification with their southern brothers. Close the Concentration Camps (Yes, I said Concentration Camps), get rid of the failed centralized economy, stop starving your citizens and stop trying to cling to power and accept that the citizens of NK probably would be much better off without the current NK government.

      ...because that totally would have worked. Just telling them that would have caused them to have a change of heart and divest themselves of power they've spent lifetimes accumulating.

      However accurate your statements about what needs to happen might be (I think they are on the mark, if anything not comprehensive enough), who has ever responded positively to this kind of demand? To work with those who are both power-hungry and indisputably in charge of their domain, you need to appeal to their self-interest,

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Uh, Eric, you know what you should have told them the path to prosperity was; the North Korean government should completely and radically change from a multi-generational dictatorship to a representative Democracy and Capitalistic System,

      Uh, Mullen, most of the Capitalistic Systems in the world have been in a state of massive crisis for the last few years.
      A crisis that was self-inflicted, has been self-inflicted before and, because proper regulation never seems to last, will undoubtedly be self-inflicted again.

      The USA has just wrangled an agreement from China to allow the UN Security Council to expand existing sanctions. [indiatimes.com]
      The international sanctions might have something to do with the lack of prosperity in North Korea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      the North Korean government should completely and radically change from a multi-generational dictatorship to a representative Democracy and Capitalistic System, with the intent of reunification with their southern brothers

      NK: We don't want a representative democracy
      US: What if we meet you half way?

  • wtf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is Schmidt really so far out of touch with reality that he seriously thinks the rulers of the North Korean Orwellian police state give even the slightest shit that their pleebs don't have Internet access? Seriously?

  • by malloc (30902) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:04PM (#42642839)
    In that (quite interesting) post the author frequently wonders "WTF were they thinking?". E.g. did they think we would not notice that the screens on all the computers on both floors were identical? My wife is from China where not so long ago everthing was identical, down to the progaganda art on the wall. Her immediate answer when I asked her was "duh, they don't care what the delegates thought, the whole exercise is to show pictures to the local NK population about how the great foreign technical leaders liked the NK technical office". I think we tend to forget that: it isn't the delegates that Pyongyang is afraid of, its their own people.
    • Well I dunno (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:19PM (#42642913)

      They seem to go out of the way to try and impress foreigners with how awesome shit is, they just fail badly. I think it may be a case that they've been drinking their own kool aid for so long they forget the outside world doesn't buy the bullshit. They are used to their propaganda defining their reality, they don't have a good understanding of places where it doesn't.

  • Couldn't Schmidt's trip be construed as a violation of the Logan Act [wikipedia.org]?

    • by mpoulton (689851) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:19PM (#42642917)

      Couldn't Schmidt's trip be construed as a violation of the Logan Act [wikipedia.org]?

      I don't see how. He didn't engage in any sort of negotiation with the DPRK administration. Of course everyone he was in contact with while in-country was effectively a representative of the regime, but he didn't represent himself as an agent of the United States and attempt to engage in diplomatic negotiation. He just visited, smiled, and nodded.

  • by naroom (1560139) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:43PM (#42643039)
    Given how the whole Arab Spring [wikipedia.org] thing played out, I'm guessing the people in power in NK are not going to be inviting the Internet in any time soon.
  • I simply couldn't finish to read the text. Text over images, images over text. Two columns, no visible contuinity. No thanks.

  • by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @08:50PM (#42643067)

    I wonder who Eric Schmidt is preaching to here. Does he expect the people of North Korea to actually hear his words? (They won't). Are the government officials unaware of the impact of the internet? No. Are the people aware of what they are being denied? I don't think so.

    I remember when I was watching the 2010 FIFA world cup. During the NK national anthem, several of their players had tears in their eyes. They were proud to be representing their country. And these people are the relatively "better off" residents of NK. If they don't realize/care what a crazy country they represent, why should the majority of the population? I'm sure many people believe their government is a good entity. The ordinary citizens might have no idea that there is a better way to live. All their life, they have been listening to propaganda. And like most people in every other country, they believe the bullshit they are being fed.

    So when Schmidt says that NK should open up, does he really think anyone is going to change their behavior? He needs to show a different argument. Maybe start off by showing how technology can help the government. The only way you are going to make any inroads into NK (without actually using brute force) is via the government. Once people working there see the benefits of technology, it might spread to civilian life.

    • During the NK national anthem, several of their players had tears in their eyes

      They were probably told to tear up or their parents would be shot. Tears of terror aren't hard to produce.

      • by chilvence (1210312) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @11:31PM (#42643901)

        Actually, I don't think it had anything to do with that. I think it may possibly just be the fact that it is a very strong emotional thing to be charged with representing millions of your countrymen to the world; No matter what you may be thinking deep down about politics, your country is your country, end of. I think people read far too much into what is just one of the highly probable emotional responses when caught in the middle of such a moment.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:01AM (#42644013)

      I'm thinking Eric Schmidt was using North Korea as a way of saying : close the Internet and that's what you'll get. Maybe the real target of his message is the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @09:55PM (#42643405)

    ...it's also like a combination of the Truman Show and They Live. One massive reality distortion bubble that nobody is aware of.
    And the whole discussion, just as the voting choices, always revolves around two options that are only differing in something entirely beside the point, giving the citizens choices for all aspects of their life, except those that aren't meaningless. Everything is condensed down from picking a fuzzy varying area in a multi-dimensional gradient space to a one-dimensional binary choice. With you being called at least "Hitler" for picking the "wrong" one. Let alone trying to think outside that box.
    It's ludicrous.

    • "...it's also like a combination of the Truman Show and They Live. One massive reality distortion bubble that nobody is aware of.
      And the whole discussion, just as the voting choices, always revolves around two options that are only differing in something entirely beside the point, giving the citizens choices for all aspects of their life, except those that aren't meaningless. Everything is condensed down from picking a fuzzy varying area in a multi-dimensional gradient space to a one-dimensional binary choi

      • by russotto (537200)

        "In the case of the United States, the imposition of rules and limits on individual behavior to protect the commons is not, at present, a realistic prospect; the population is simply not having it. But how much longer before this freedom of choice is regarded as an impossible luxury?"

        And who is Mr. Berman comparing the US unfavorably to here? The social democracies of Europe? No. Actually, it's totalitarian China -- the immediately preceding sentences:
        "Of course, authoritarian systems don't have these pr

        • Yes, I guess Morris Berman is saying the USA is worse than China in that regard, and much worse than parts of Europe: "How, then, can excess be curbed in a free democratic system? For we can be sure that the intelligent frogs, who are really quite exceptional, are not going to be listened to, and certainly have no power to enforce their insights. True, there are certain countries -- the Scandanavian nations come to mind -- where for some reason the concentration of intelligent frogs is unusually high, res

  • Leave North Korea if you can. It is very, very strange.

    FTFY
  • by BaldingByMicrosoft (585534) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @11:59PM (#42644001)

    Shocking? Not even.

    NK hosts a staged visit for a famous US businessperson. It's a prestige move. Cue the Stuart skit from Mad TV -- "Look what I can do!"

    US businessperson visits NK. Sees through the eye of his personal reality tunnel, which ignores most everything except how he can profit. What must change so he can profit. How can he use what he's experiencing for PROFIT.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • His daughter had some interesting things to say as well, "The best description we could come up with: it's like The Truman Show, at country scale."

    Close, but not quite.

  • by joe545 (871599) on Monday January 21, 2013 @06:31AM (#42645507)

    I have actually visited North Korea in order to see the Arirang Mass Games. Although Truman Show is a good analogy of what it is like there, I feel a better description is like a human safari. While it is heavily locked down there to an amusing extent (my guide genuinely thought Madonna was man but had heard of her), every now and then you saw a glimpse of something that showed you that it wasn't entirely true.

    When I was leaving the country and passing through passport control, I was lightly grilled by the border guard. He asked me a few questions and then asked me what my job was.
    "Programmer", I replied.
    "Which language do you use?"
    "Java"
    He then leaned forwarded and whispered to me as he gave me my passport back, "Me too".

    • by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:25AM (#42645661) Homepage

      In my wildest dreams I don't envision the time when the name of Java programming language will be be whispered in fear by its former users who are permanently relegated to the jobs that have no effect on the rest of society.

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