[FoRK] Africa...

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Fri Jan 8 01:59:28 PST 2010

Jean Jordaan wrote:
> This debate probably doesn't have an answer, but ..
>> The thinking was that the atomic bombings were likely to save many
>> more lives than they took.
> I've also heard that they couldn't pass up the opportunity to
> test/demonstrate the bombs, even though they weren't necessary and Japan
> didn't have any effective army left at that point.

Everyone was pretty sure that they would fight to the death of every 
single adult male, or as close as they could get.
>>  It seems plausibly true even now although not provable either way.
> Yes.
>> The West tried not to do more than it took to bring the most efficient
>> end to the barbarism they felt they were combating.
> How about Laos, the most heavily bombed place ever, sown with cluster
> bombs designed to explode when you touch them, still making large areas
> uninhabitable and killing daily?

They weren't "designed to explode when you touch them", they were 
designed to explode when first deployed, but didn't work very well.  Not 
that long ago, it became a problem that the cluster bomblets had similar 
plastic packaging to MREs or candy, which were also being distributed by 
air or something.  Now that is a first class screw up.

Worse, everyone who used mines and didn't have a plan to completely 
clean up afterwards was really stupid and careless.
>> Additionally, we, generally speaking, work hard to shield the young
>> from things that would traumatize them.  There's plenty to quibble
>> about, but we don't take toddlers to public hangings or let children
>> play soccer with heads or whatever.
> Hmm .. kids are completely immersed in and desensitized to video
> violence, as are we of course. The news in South Africa is a slough of

We are desensitized only to a certain extent by pretend violence.  It is 
good to some extent I think in that it probably helps to prevent some 
lasting trauma by avoiding PTSD.  It is also probably cathartic a lot of 
the time.  Some of it goes way too far I think.  And kids are drawn to 
it, perhaps too young, perhaps not.  However, being properly 
desensitized while avoiding trauma is good in many ways.  It is only if 
you think that some will be more prone to violence or less likely to 
help someone that it is an issue.  I would argue that only trauma is a 
risk factor for someone becoming violent / criminal, not simple 
exposure, and not desensitization of a healthy person either.
> murders that beggars belief. It's not as hands-on as a hanging, but it's
> still making a hypnotic spectacle of death. Whole satellite TV channels
> are dedicated to gloating over natural disasters, or wars, or live

Many broadcasting and watching are not gloating.
> coverage of suicide bomb aftermaths, re-enactments of school shootings,
> etc. I think even a viking did not live with the relentless barrage of
> carnage that we consume in the background.
They had more real, immediate violence with constant personal danger.  
We are "educated" on what is happening.  Often that is good, although it 
is bad when the publicity is feeding more violence.  That happened long 
before the Internet though, such as with outlaws in the Wild West.  
Being on a poster or having a story written about you was a big draw at 
some point.  We definitely have too much of the fear of personal danger, 
even when it is clear that there is almost none in reality.


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