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  1. Dae Jang Geum (2003-2005)

    SERIOUS SPOILERS FOLLOW - DON'T READ IF YOU PLAN TO WATCH THE SERIES ****
  2. Dae Jang Geum (2003-2005)

    I mean Objectivism. The only sense that I meant the leadership of America is that if America sinks, it is unlikely that Asia will stand alone and lead a Renaissance, although I wouldn't rule it out. The more I see in Asia, the more I admire, in terms of values and economic achievement.
  3. Dae Jang Geum (2003-2005)

    I am so pleased to see fellow Objectivists pick up Dae Jang Geum. As far as I know I am the one who first introduced it to Objectivists on another forum, HBL, and on my own blog. On this thread I have enjoyed the great still photos posted from the series, and the great commentary. I have only read part of it so far, but I will read the rest. Incidentally, I am just finishing my second complete watching of the series. In some ways it is even better the second time around. I pick up different details I didn't see before, although some of the original, nearly painful suspense is not there since I know what will happen. I find myself telling my girlfriend *not* to mention what comes next, even though I already know it. I gladly try to "evade" (ha, ha) the knowledge of what will come next in order to experience the maximum suspense! Jang Geum is my hero, Min Jeong Ho is my hero, Lady Han and Lady Jung are my heroes -- all of them. And my favorite evil characters are the three members of the Choi family, especially tragic Keum Young. In some ways, she is the most interesting character of the series. My favorite hero, though, is the writer of the series. She is a great Romantic writer. The emotional intensity of the conflicts and the Romantic scenes are almost unbearable. Each character is so perfectly drawn and clearly motivated. We know *why* they do what they do, and every action they take is consistent with their characters. The writer amazingly preserved such characterization throughout the length of a 54 hour series involving dozens of characters. I give her the title "Dae," just like her lead character, Jang Geum. Just like Jang Geum, she is Great. On a separate note, the fact that a culture can produce Dae Jang Geum in today's age infuses me with great optimism. It is a tangible demonstration of why the Asian cultures have risen so fast over the past 50 years. These cultures still need the leadership of America and the rational philosophy that Objectivism provides, but there are so many good values in their societies. Those values made Dae Jang Geum possible, but did not necessitate its creation. That required the individual genius of Dae Jang Geum's author. Three cheers for Dae Jang Geum!
  4. Merciless

    Yes, thank you, for all your stories. I especially liked this one and "Good Job, Mr. Teller." Emotionally, this is the type of justice I want to see in the world today.
  5. Negative savings rate -- How is economy sustained?

    It is the growth in value of homes that has enabled individuals to have a negative savings rate. What matters to any individual is their total wealth. That consists of cash in savings accounts and real property such as homes. Because homes (until recently) have been rising in value, individuals discover that they can stop saving or even spend their savings, and still experience a rise in total wealth. One could look at the growth in value of their homes as a form of involuntary savings. I suspect that if home prices continue their recent decline in value, individuals will step up their cash savings rate.
  6. Negative savings rate -- How is economy sustained?

    The answer is that consumer savings is only one source of capital. The other is cash retained by corporations, which has been growing. Here is a June 2005 paper by JP Morgan entitled "Corporates are driving the global savings glut" that has a variety of statistics showing the rise in "corporate saving". The other source of capital for investment in the U.S. economy is foreign investment. Positive net foreign investment in the U.S. is the flip side of the "trade deficit" that news outlets such as CNN are constantly carping about. So, there may be a draw from savings by individuals, but this is more than made up for by corporate retained earnings and foreign investment.
  7. Would you ever let the enemy escape?

    I am curious when this incident happened. If it happened near the end of the war, I would agree with this statement. That seems like the most likely explanation. Of course, one can't know without asking the German pilot. In a war, it would make all the sense in the world to shoot down every enemy plane, even if it was in battered shape and did not pose an immediate, direct threat. A highly trained, skilled pilot is a valuable thing to the enemy. By letting him go, he may shoot you down in a future aerial battle. As an act of humanity by a German pilot who may have either never had or lost belief in the Nazi cause, I find it to be a very moving story from that horrific war.
  8. California ready to ban industry

    I wish it were so. I live in New York, and we pay even more for electricity than California! Alas, we won't even benefit from that cheap coal power California won't use. It's too far away to reach here!
  9. California ready to ban industry

    Well, not so fast. Higher electricity prices means less money for other life-sustaining uses, such as medical care, food, etc. There is a direct relationship between wealth and health. By reducing wealth, the health of Californians will also be negatively affected. As for electricity prices, California already pays 50% more than the national average (as they have been since the 1980s). With the banning of cheap coal power, the disparity between what Californians pay for electricity and everyone else in the country will only grow wider.
  10. N. Korea Shares Nuclear Knowledge With Iran

    Bush stands by while Iran gets The Bomb. Meanwhile, he pushes for more troops to die in a senseless occupation of Iraq...
  11. Does Anybody Out There Understand Economics

    "Does Anybody Out There Understand Economics, Please Remind Me of Why I Voted for Bush" Well, I didn't vote for Bush. Bush's one major economic achievement as President was the reduction in taxes on capital gains and dividends. This is a far more effective tax cut than a reduction in other forms of taxes, because it directly reduces the taxes on capital. I would contend that a good deal of the economic growth we have experienced during the Bush Presidency (but by no means all of it) stems from these cuts. Unfortunately, the tax cut was temporary. It is likely that in 2010 this tax cut will transform into one of the largest-ever increases in taxes on capital gains and dividends if it is allowed to expire by a Democratic Congress, which seems likely. Bush could only make his singular achievement in taxes temporary while enacting a laundry list of more or less permanent destructive policies, because Bush was a contradiction from the start. He was a "compassionate conservative." That, combined with pragmatism, just made him the second in a new breed of ugly "big government Republicans." (The first modern-day "big government Republican" was Richard Nixon. A "laundry list" of his economic crimes does exceed that of Bush.) So, what is the rest of Bush's economic legacy? * enactment of a major new welfare entitlement, prescription drugs for the elderly; * a permanent major increase in business regulation (Sarbanes-Oxley), and entrenchment of a hostile, anti-business regulatory stance at the SEC and other agencies; * new subsidies for economically destructive and politically-connected producers of energy such as ethanol, wind power, solar and "clean" (read: uneconomic) coal power; * new regulation and subsidies for public education; * new tariffs on steel and other products, and stepped up enforcement of so-called "anti-dumping" laws on foreign trade; * failure to advance the cause of global free trade in recent global trade negotiations, in part due to his hypocrisy on this issue (see above); and * vigorous antitrust enforcement, blocking many economically beneficial mergers. While doing all of this, Bush never once raised his veto pen except on the religious issue of stem cell research. As a result, under his watch, * federal spending grew at an unprecedented rate, resulting in large budget deficits; and * federal "ear-mark" spending for pork barrel projects reached levels not seen in any Administration of either political party. Bush managed to distort the traditional Republican image as being avowedly pro-free market into one that is simply seen as corrupt. The Republicans aren't "pro-business" as such, they are simply supportive of their politically-connected business friends. The energy subsidies, run-away federal spending and corrupt ear-marks that Bush either actively encouraged or did nothing to prevent, fostered this image. But more important than the specifics of Bush's economic failures is the ideological damage he did to the Republican Party by saying he believed in "compassionate conservatism" -- and meaning it. This "compassionate conservatism" made the Republican Party safe for the likes of Governors Romney of Massachusetts and Schwarzenegger of California and their efforts to socialize medicine. Under Bush, "compassionate conservatism" has become "Big Government Republicanism" with the result that, on economic matters, the Republican Party is hardly any different than the Democratic Party in the minds of voters. Because of this tarnishing of the Republican Party, Bush helped pave the way for the Democrats to grab more power. Contrast Bush's economic record with that of his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Clinton was no friend of capitalism. Yet, faced with pressure from an energized Republican House, he passed welfare reform. Faced with the same pressure, Clinton enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been a boon to the United States, Canada and Mexico (especially the northern maquiladora region). Faced with Republican pressure, he did not enact any major new regulatory programs, even going so far as to say that, "The era of big government is over." As a result, the 1990s was a prosperous period. Which is worse? A "compassionate" Republican President with his own party controlling Congress, or a Democratic President with an energized Republican Congress in opposition? I contend that the latter combination produces better policies. Unfortunately, the magnitude of Bush's failure is such that we may end up with a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress. If that transpires, I would argue that it was Bush's contradictory root premise that attempted to combine Christian altruism with egoistic capitalism (and leavened with pragmatism) that paved the way.
  12. Rob Tracinski on "What Went Right?"

    I find the discussion about motives a distraction from a discussion of the content of Robert Tracinski's argument and Robert Mayhew's rebuttal. I am not a scholar of ancient philosophy or history and do not feel qualified to comment in an informed manner. As a layman, I will simply say that Mr. Tracinski's Part V piece was provocative and interesting. Dr. Mayhew's critique appeared well-reasoned and based on a deep grasp of Greek thought. Weighing the two arguments, Dr. Mayhew's was convincing to me, especially for the reason emphasized by John Lewis in his comment that Mr. Tracinski did not pay enough attention to the philosophical ideas that were implicit in Greek culture. From my reading of their comments, I do not think Dr. Mayhew or Dr. Lewis unfairly disparaged Mr. Tracinski. Rather, they presented reasons to support their position. I am interested in whether Mr. Tracinski's claim that significant cultural advances can occur independent of philosophy is true or not. I am not interested at all in dissecting some allegedly disparaging remarks about motive made by Dr. Mayhew or Dr. Lewis or anyone else, for that matter. To me, this is a very interesting and important debate. I expect there will be a lot more commentary from both sides. I look forward to spirited discussion of the ideas. (In particular, I would love to see Dr. Mayhew or Dr. Lewis expand their comments!)
  13. Rob Tracinski on "What Went Right?"

    Might I suggest you read Tracinski's piece and judge for yourself? The only portion that Dr. Mayhew is addressing is Part V and it is available here.
  14. Rob Tracinski on "What Went Right?"

    This analysis of Tracinski's Part V piece bears reading. It is by professor of philosophy and Objectivist Robert Mayhew, available here.
  15. It's 11:55 PM

    Yes, global warming - that is the war I would rather fight now than the terrorists. Hell, the terrorists haven't even personally attacked me, but I can feel this warm weather all around me. It's scary!