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US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
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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US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman

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  • by Z8 (1602647) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:46PM (#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?

    • by goto11 (116604)

      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.

      • by sjames (1099)

        PizzAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

      • 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.

      • by QuasiEvil (74356)

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

    • by ttucker (2884057) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:55PM (#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.

    • by emag (4640)

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

    • by s.petry (762400)

      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 peo

    • by hubie (108345)
      The picture I get in my mind is that scene [youtube.com] from History of the World, Pt. I.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.
    • by Aighearach (97333)

      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

    • by Hartree (191324)

      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 p

  • 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?

    • 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.
    • by leandrod (17766)

      it's a biblical thing?

      No.

  • DPRK is basically Nazi regime. Visiting this crazy fat asshole is equal to friendly visits to Adolf H. in 1938.
    • Re:Nazi regime (Score:4, Informative)

      by femtobyte (710429) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:11PM (#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.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      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 immens

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        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

        • "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

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        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]

        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          Ever hear of the Korean War?

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

        • by quantaman (517394)

          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 wa

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            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...

    • 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.

      • by Pulzar (81031)

        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 :).

  • "...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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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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