North Korea and the Status Quo

It could be argued that North Korea qualifies as a failed state. The regime is so unstable and insecure it requires a totalitarian grip on every citizen in order to survive. The government aspires to control every aspect of life to ensure the perpetuation of its power. It mainly achieves this by indoctrinating its citizens from birth and maintaining an atmosphere of fear and constant battle against invisible foreign enemies.

In reality, the allegedly perfect regime is ludicrously incompetent and inconsistent. Supposedly, there is housing for everyone, but no citizen can choose where to live. Supposedly, there is schooling for everyone, but no one can choose what they want to learn. Supposedly, there is universal healthcare, but there are no medicines to cure patients. On the one hand, individual initiative of any kind is stamped out, on the other hand, the government cannot provide basic necessities for its citizens, most importantly, food. On top of that, dissenters, nonconformists, critics and others who are considered traitors to the regime are regularly imprisoned, tortured or executed, often together with their entire family. (The list of known human rights violations is too long to go into any further.)

This begs the question, with such a tenuous grip on power, how does the North Korean regime manage to survive?
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In Longyearbyen, Norway, it is illegal to die.

After sex, a ladybird’s orgasm can last for 30 minutes.

The Latin palmo means ‘to print the palm of the hand’ or ‘to tie up a vine’.

People with a rare genetic disorder known as immigration delay disease have no fingerprints.

The United States of America maintains a military presence in 148 of the 192 United Nations countries.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Competing Religions and Peace

‘The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a fantasy, and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge. It is not at all clear how we should proceed in our dialogue with the Muslim world, but deluding ourselves with euphemisms is not the answer. It is now a truism in foreign policy circles that real reform in the Muslim world cannot be imposed from the outside. But it is important to recognize why this is so—it is so because most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith. Muslims tend to view questions of public policy and global conflict in terms of their affiliation with Islam. And Muslims who don’t view the world in these terms risk being branded as apostates and killed by other Muslims.

But how can we ever hope to reason with the Muslim world if we are not reasonable ourselves? It accomplishes nothing to merely declare that “we all worship the same God.” We do not all worship the same God, and nothing attests to this fact more eloquently than our history of religious bloodshed. Within Islam, the Shi’a and the Sunni can’t even agree to worship the same God in the same way, and over this they have been killing one another for centuries.

It seems profoundly unlikely that we will heal the divisions in our world through inter-faith dialogue. Devout Muslims are as convinced as you are that their religion is perfect and that any deviation leads directly to hell. It is easy, of course, for the representatives of the major religions to occasionally meet and agree that there should be peace on earth, or that compassion is the common thread that unites all the world’s faiths. But there is no escaping the fact that a person’s religious beliefs uniquely determine what he thinks peace is good for, as well as what he means by a term like “compassion.” There are millions—maybe hundreds of millions—of Muslims who would be willing to die before they would allow your version of compassion to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula. How can interfaith dialogue, even at the highest level, reconcile worldviews that are fundamentally incompatible and, in principle, immune to revision? The truth is, it really matters what billions of human beings believe and why they believe it.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 27-28

Historical Rhetoric Twitter Style

What if Twitter had existed for over two centuries? Mankind might not have experienced the beautiful prose, witty quips and moving rhetoric produced by some of the world’s foremost speech writers. Here are some examples of the most famous English speeches of the past two hundred years as they would have been written on Twitter.

“Less is more.” – Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto

Abraham Lincoln
“The Gettysburg Address”
19th of November 1863; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States

This nation is conceived in liberty. All men are created equal. Government of/by/for the people shall not perish from the earth. #Gettysburg

Winston Churchill
“We Shall Fight on the Beaches”
4th of June 1940; House of Commons, London, Great Britain

We shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be! We shall fight on the beaches, landing grounds, fields, streets, hills. #neversurrender

John F. Kennedy
“Ich Bin Ein Berliner”
26th of June, 1963; Rathaus Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany

Freedom is indivisible. When one man is enslaved, all are not free. Free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin. #IchbineinBerliner

Martin Luther King Jr.
“I Have a Dream”
28th of August 1963; Washington, D.C., United States

I have a dream that black&white boys&girls join hands as sisters and brothers. My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. #freedom_ring

Barack Obama
“Yes We Can”
4th of November 2008; Grant Park, Illinois, United States

Hope of a better day. Change has come to America. We’ve never been a collection of red&blue states. We are&always will be the USA. #YesWeCan

Niles: What happened to the concept of “less is more”?
Frasier:  Ah, but if “less is more,” just think of how much more “more” will be.
Frasier (1999) Season 7, Ep. 13; “They’re Playing Our Song” [No. 157]

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Michael Sata, the president of Zambia, previously worked as a cleaner at London Victoria railway station.

The longest duck penis ever found was 17 inches (43 centimetres) in length.

Under extreme high pressure, diamonds can be made from peanut butter.

The film Grease was released in Mexico under the name ‘Vaselina’.

In the autumn of 1940, students at Oslo University started wearing paperclips on their lapels as a non-violent symbol of resistance, unity, and national pride. When the occupying German forces caught on to the fact, wearing a paperclip promptly became a criminal offence.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On Non-violence

I first learned the concepts of non-violence in my marriage.

– Mohandas Gandhi

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Squirrels are from the family Sciuridae meaning ‘he who sits in the shadow of his tail’.

At the start of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro boarded a ship called the ‘grandma’.

Jiang Qing, the wife of Chairman Mao had a pet monkey who was her constant companion. She dressed it in silk, fed it fine foods and trained it to attack people as they walked through her garden.

Mafia means ‘beautiful’ in Sicilian dialect.

Currently, the Dutch spend about 5% of their national budget on defence every year. Nevertheless, the Dutch have never successfully defended their land territory in their nation’s existence.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On Gun Legislation

Guns save lives – in the sense that if we all have guns, we would all be safe. Such is the logical fallacy: if we all have guns, there is less gun violence; along the same lines that if we all have a disease, there is less illness; if we are all right-wing, there are less fascists; if we all own a car, there are less traffic jams.

If you feel like you want to own a gun because you tend to feel safer, freer, less insecure, or just good in general, just say so, but do not pretend it has any beneficial use in civilised society.

If you want to save lives, you remove the things that cause deaths, you do not hand everyone a piece of the lethal problem. That is to say, if you are concerned about saving lives, and you find that alpha causes deaths, you do not hand everyone an alpha. Less guns in society equals less gun-related violence in society. This is a claim which is factually sound. Sometimes it is that easy.

If you need a gun to feel safe, you might just not live in the safest society in the world.

Now, as societies become more prosperous, equal, highly educated, liberal, et cetera, you will find that the need for every individual in that society to own a weapon slowly diminishes. We can observe this tendency in many modern societies today. It is important that we are aware that more often than not, proponents of the sale of arms on quite a large scale – people who also often tend to regard the last resort, i.e. self defence with a firearm, as some sort of a reasonable first response – are not very often individuals who were raised in these societies.

If you need a gun to feel free, you might just not be the most independent person in the world.

There are a number of societies which have – because of several socio-economic reasons like relatively high levels of general prosperity, equality, liberalism, education, et cetera – moved beyond the need for the possession of a firearm. As societies become more prosperous, happy, and secure, people tend to become less scared, insecure, and mistrusting of other people in society. You will also find that those societies have a lower rate of violent firearm-related crimes. This is not a coincidence.

If you need a gun to feel less insecure, you might just not have the strongest personality in the world.

Now, in another country, it may well be a legal right to own a gun. Again, that’s all very well. However, there is no reason to make the mistake of regarding this as a timeless universal human right that has been written in some cosmic rulebook; nor is there any reason to be so narrowly minded or misinformed to deny the fact there are more highly developed societies (highly developed, that is, for the reasons listed above) which function perfectly fine, arguably, perhaps even better, than the societies in which people generally feel the need to be armed when they appear in public.

If you need a gun to constantly re-establish your freedom, you either have very uncivilised neighbours, or you might just not live in the most libertarian society in the world.

The ironic thing is, there may well be societies in which it is indeed virtually suicidal to walk around in public unarmed. However, we shall always need to advocate changes in society that move towards better economic standards, less criminal activity, and higher standards of general human well-being instead only trying to ‘shoot’ our way out of problems. And at some stage, for reasons that have been already mentioned, this means introducing some kind of gun legislation. Any other conviction is nothing short of dogmatic.”

– Willem Etsenmaker