X-Message-Number: 7402
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: CryoNet #7387 - #7395
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 1997 23:39:54 -0800 (PST)

Hi again!

My, the literati show their colors well!

In discussing Mr. Merel's worries, I very carefully said that local
catastrophes were very likely. Desertification in Africa provides an example.
However I also went further than that: the main reason for such destruction,
when it's traced down to its heart, very often comes down to not the peasants
on the ground but the politics of their "superiors" who are restricting 

Given all its authoritarian governments, Africa provides an ideal example.
People aren't starving in Africa because of overpopulation or desertification.
They're starving because their governments do nothing but salt away as much

money as they can in Swiss banks. And then, of course, we have the missionaries,
who try to prevent the traditional means of birth control for "moral" reasons
while forbidding the modern means for the same "moral" reasons. 

I do not see any solution to this problem from the outside; at the same time
I do not believe it puts me or other citizens of Europe, many Asian and Pacific
countries, or the Americas in much danger. It's just going to be a horrible

Of course, the belief that these peasants don't know enough and need to be
managed provides much support for those very authoritarian governments. We,
the wise and intelligent upper classes, of course need no such management.

Here is an interesting experience, with I've shared with some people on

Cryonet but not all --- those who have heard it before may wish to stop 
reading.When I had just left grad school I wanted to travel, not to standard 
but to other areas entirely, such as New Guinea. (There was a period in college
when I flirted with the idea of becoming an anthropologist). And so I spent
a month, in the (southern) summer of January-February, in the mountains of
New Guinea, camping near a village of Chimbus. (The Chimbus intensively
cultivated their land, and still do ... it looks more like pictures of 
Switzerland than like wild jungle territory). One of the most interesting
thing that happened was the question I was asked when I first arrived,
with my camping gear, all taken off a truck bed. 

All these illiterate natives, most of them only speaking Pidgin English,
wanted to know one thing first of all. They wanted to know about the moon
landing. And, making it as simple as possible, I told them. And what is the
lesson in this? Those illiterate natives knew a lot more about what was
happening in the world than most people would give them credit for. Not only
that, but I could basically explain about the moon landing without any
incomprehension on their part: that we needed not a normal airplane but
a special vehicle, that there was neither air nor water on the moon, so
the astronauts had to wear special suits --- all of that.

I have mentioned their birth control methods before. Lots of changes have
happened between now and then; and the New Guinea government, though its
not autocratic, may not be the best (though I think it's still better than
most African governments). But so far the Chimbus do not seem to be
suffering any starvation or other such classic problems --- even though
they have filled up their valleys. Hmmm. And double hmmm.           

The real issue for us is not whether or not we'll be shielded from horrible
spectacles of other people screwing up one another's lives. The real issue
is whether they'll be able to screw up OUR lives. I worry much more about
the idiots responsible for French and British Columbian laws re cryonics
than I ever worry about Africa. Perhaps that is hard-hearted, but then
I also doubt we have any control over African governments for a price we're
willing to pay. They may well starve there, and die off from AIDS too, but
I doubt very much that their problems will impact us --- unless our own
government turns equally foolish and corrupt (it takes both, one or the
other won't be enough).

If this is a wildly optimistic, technophilic statement, then so be it.

			Happy New Year, and
				long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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