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  1. #1
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    Does the world seem really screwed up at the moment?

    Well, more than usual. (Usual being my frame of reference which due to my age is the '90s onward.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1 View Post
    Well, more than usual. (Usual being my frame of reference which due to my age is the '90s onward.)
    The world seemed to go insane since 9/11. It lost a modicum of equilibrium that it has failed to regain ever since.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    The world seemed to go insane since 9/11.
    I would actually think that since about '01/'02, the world has quietened down far more than believable. The decade before 9/11 probably saw 200-300 times as many people dying in 5-10 times as many wars as the decade after 9/11.

    And it's not like the decade before 9/11 was anything special in that regard.

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    kato hits with usual German precision.
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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    As others have mentioned, increasingly widespread media coverage has contributed greatly to the popular perception that the world is going crazy and that crime (in the US at least) is getting out of control. When in reality the exact opposite is true.

    24/7 cable news channels bring live coverage of anything shocking, terrifying, or outrageous directly to the homes of millions of people in their eternal quest for ratings. The ubiquity of smartphones with video cameras, and social media has amplified that effect even more. No matter where in the world something tragic takes place, somebody is going to be there to catch it on tape and show the world in graphic detail.

    Back in the day when something like the loss of flight 370 might have resulted in a few articles in the newspaper, people would be informed about what happened, but not bombarded by it for months at a time. Thus the tragedy was real to people intellectually, but without the same level of emotional connection that makes them feel as if they experienced it first hand.

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    Some data about Asia and the Pacific, from “Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2013:”

    http://www.unescap.org/sites/default...AP-SYB2013.pdf

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ca. 1990 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Latest Data
    People in poverty (PPP1.25/day)_ _ _ 51.7% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 18.3% (2011)

    Share of global poverty population
    living in Asia and the Pacific _ _ _ _ _ _ 67.7% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 54.0% (2011)

    Living with food insecurity _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 22% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 13% (2010-12)
    Access to safe drinking water _ _ _ _ _ 73% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 91% (2011)

    Share of global population without access to safe drinking water
    living in Asia and the Pacific _ _ _ _ _ _ 69.6% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 46.4% (2011)

    Infant mortality rate _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 60% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _32% (2011)
    Child mortality rate _ _ _ __ _ _ _ 81.5/1,000 _ _ _ _ _ _40.3/1,000 live births (2011)
    Under 5 yr underweight child _ _ _ _ _ 32% _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _22% (2011)
    Maternal deaths_ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ 369/100,000 _ _ _ _ _ _142/100,000 live births (2010)
    Cases of malaria _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 200/100,000 (2000) _ _ _ 136/100,000 (2011)
    Cases of TB _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 167/100,000 (2000) _ _ _ _139/100,000 (2011)
    GDP per person, PPP % rise p.a. _ _ _ 1.4% (1990s) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 3.5% (2000s)

    And, the main reason for all this (IMHO)
    Merchandise Trade _ _ _ _ _ _ _ $1,506.2 bn (1990) _ _ _ _ _ _$13,407.8 bn (2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1 View Post
    Well, more than usual. (Usual being my frame of reference which due to my age is the '90s onward.)
    Conflict is as natural to man as breathing. History is made of things being generally shitty for man. Hardly is there ever a topic worth recalling in history that isn't calamitous. You can look back at literally any time in history and find somewhere that was going through some tough times. As with reports of casualties of war, the reality is that there are far fewer deaths in conflicts around the globe than ever in history. But, the flipside is that there is now a glaring disproportionate media coverage of these deaths. I would say in reality, the cold harsh reality of mankind, things have never been better.
    "We are all special cases." - Camus

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1 View Post
    Well, more than usual. (Usual being my frame of reference which due to my age is the '90s onward.)
    The short answer is 'not especially'

    I'll suggest a few reasons why you might think this & then make an observation or two:

    1) We are going through a period of relative turmoil as TH suggested, it does happen, but its not especially bad in comparative terms. it is no worse than the last....forever really....and better than most periods;

    2) We live in an era of 24/7 media with rapid if not instant access to trouble spots the world over. Further, every other person has their own camera on them at all times. It means that every little thing that happens not only gets reported, it gets those all important pictures & heart rending images. To give one example the Rwanda genocide of 1993 got minimal coverage & very little of it graphic or 'by the minute'. if it was happening now we would be getting hourly updates. Perception is reality. if a conflict happens & you barely see it your brain doesn't register it the way you do if you see something...anything.

    Your perspective is the 90s onward. I grew up in the 70s & 80s. For others here it was the 50s & 60s. One member was born in France in 1940 & can remember the church bells ringing when the war ended. I doubt any of us would think this was particularly bad time. Not the best, but not that bad.

    I was born during the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War and the concluding years of the Biafran War. By the time I turned 5 millions had died in wars & genocide Indochina & Pakistan and a famine in young Bangladesh. The Cultural Revolution was in full swing & the 'Red Terror' in Ethiopia began. I can recall the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam & Russian invasion of Afghanistan. In primary school we made 'Kampuchean jokes' about the famine that greeted the fall of Democratic Kampuchea, little imagining the scale & horror of the genocide that had taken place. Standing in Tuol Sleng 25 years later I shuddered at the callousness we can have toward people whose lives we cannot imagine. Add to that what was happening in parts of Africa. The 80s saw the Iran-Iraq war, civil wars in Africa & more. Not a great decade either.

    Overshadowing all of this was the knowledge that a miscalculation at any moment could just about wipe out humanity. If you want to scare yourself google 'Able Archer 1983'. Some people on our forum would have been among the first to die.

    Even the 90s, your frame of reference, were worse than now. Yugoslavia, Rwanda and worst of all, Congo. Few people realise that the most destructive war since WW2 (in human terms) was in the Congo in the 90s. That's just 3.

    Meanwhile peace & prosperity are more widespread than ever. Democracy has spread farther than ever before - the two largest democracies went to the polls this year & power changed hands peacefully...to 'outsider' candidates. More people are probably more free than they have ever been. China & India are jumping ahead. Africa is making huge strides (for it) and despite the doom & gloom the West is still the best place to live that has ever existed.

    Things are unsettled right now, but generally speaking they are pretty good.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    The short answer is 'not especially'



    Overshadowing all of this was the knowledge that a miscalculation at any moment could just about wipe out humanity. If you want to scare yourself google 'Able Archer 1983'. Some people on our forum would have been among the first to die.


    Took that advice. That was a close one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Repatriated Canuck View Post
    Took that advice. That was a close one.
    That it was. The rational party of me kept screaming 'but surely we couldn't have been dumb enough to actually let it happen'. The Historian in me just shrugged his shoulders & was thankful we got lucky. I work with a lady who was living in Germany at the time with here husband, who was with the BAOR. When I filled her in on the details of this she turned a rather odd colour.


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    A couple of cursory perspectives.
    Last edited by S2; 30 Jul 14, at 04:42.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    That it was. The rational party of me kept screaming 'but surely we couldn't have been dumb enough to actually let it happen'. The Historian in me just shrugged his shoulders & was thankful we got lucky. I work with a lady who was living in Germany at the time with here husband, who was with the BAOR. When I filled her in on the details of this she turned a rather odd colour.
    That was a near accident and the number of near accidents ain't small.

    The more scarier ones are the actual deliberate cocking of the nuclear trigger with the clear intent to start and fight a nuclear war and those are much scarier. It took very brave men to back down from something so stupid. And it ain't us in the West.
    Chimo

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1 View Post
    Well, more than usual. (Usual being my frame of reference which due to my age is the '90s onward.)
    As others have mentioned, 24/7 news blasting every single little incident into the household non-stop for the week can make the world look like it's going to hell in a hand basket.

    But think about this, what do these mean in the big scheme of things? Terror bombing? Few dozen to few hundred deaths. Mass shooting? A handful to a few dozen deaths. Current Gaza situation? A thousand deaths. Syria? Tens of thousand of deaths over 3 years.

    I don't mean to sound callous, but compare these numbers to wars in the past. Thousands of civilians die in every single small war. Up to hundreds of thousands would die in a major conflict. China and USSR lost close to 50 million in WW2.

    Of course man's handiwork is not close to what nature can do. Tsunami of 2004 killed almost 300k. An earthquake in China in 1976 killed almost 1/4 million. Flu pandemic of 1918 killed 3% to 5% of the entire world's population. Black death in the 14th century wiped out 30% to 60% of Europe's population.

    The world today is quite safe. Sure, terrorism is scary. It could strike anywhere at any time. But is it really scarier than the threat of nuclear bombs falling out of the sky?
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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