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    John C.
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  1. It's so difficult for me to figure out what is going on with China. We're both mixed economies. A professor came to my school to give a lecture on her book "The Dragon's Gift"--China's decades long influence in Africa. She explicit said that Chinese foreign policy was "non-altruistic" and more of a business-like approach while ours was altruistic and detrimental to Africa and ourselves. A professor asked her to elaborate on her use of the term altruism and she just stuck to her argument and terminology.
  2. "If it tastes good, spit it out." "If man made it, don't eat it."
  3. I just had to share this:
  4. The Largest Ponzi Scheme of All On March 12, 2009, disgraced former NASDAQ chairman and Wall Street investor Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty to cheating investors out of $65 billion. Across America there was an eruption of public outrage, even greater than what accompanied the trials of the September 11th conspirators. He became the villain, the target, for us to direct all of the anger that has been building up inside of us. Since the early 1990s, he had been running a ponzi scheme, “ponzi” referring to the 1920s American immigrant and conman Charles Ponzi. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a ponzi scheme is when you “Rob Peter to Pay Paul.” The FBI reports that Madoff perpetrated the largest scam ever in history, but actually the largest scam is still going on, and it involves the government, the American people, and even you. What Madoff did was run an investment advisory business under the name of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, where he managed and invested the money of charities, businesses, and wealthy individuals. However, he never really invested their money—except in his own pockets. Whenever his clients sought to withdraw money or receive their quarterly returns, he would pay them from their own money or the money of new investors, as a fake profit. He had started doing this during a past recession, to satisfy his customers, who still expected high returns investing with him. In February, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, formerly known as “The Stimulus,” took $787 billion from the American people to stimulate the nation’s economy. Like Bernie Madoff’s scheme, it started in the midst of a recession, to keep the taxpayers, who expected their economic condition to continue to improve, satisfied. In March, a month later, the economy did show some improvement, with Wall Street seeing growth return to the markets, just like Madoff showed his customers making a profit. However, that purported growth was merely the taxpayer’s own money being put back into the economy as “growth.” Instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul, Peter was taxed to pay Paul. Wall Street did not become more profitable and productive all of a sudden. The increased earnings were merely the addition of the money that was handed back to them by the stimulus. In other words, the government siphoned fuel out of each of our cars, and then suddenly filled them back up, making the dial temporarily go up. While Bernard Madoff was able to keep his scam going for a decade, it is unlikely that the government will be able to perpetrate this fraud on the American people as long as that. Madoff only had a few thousand investors, while there are hundreds of millions of taxpayers in this country. Madoff’s fraud unraveled once he ran out of new clients and new revenue. Since the only source of revenue for the government’s scheme is our tax dollars, once the bailouts end, the economy will fall and unfortunately, be even worse than before. Imagine all of the pain and destruction that was wrought by Madoff, except on a mass scale. It is ironic and outrageous that while the government and the American people are prosecuting Bernie Madoff for his ponzi scheme, we are all participating in the biggest one of them all. There has been an excoriation against capitalism and greedy Wall Street businessmen like Bernie Madoff for causing our economic woes. But you know, all Madoff did was redistribute wealth, albeit his investors wealth. He did not allow his investors to make a profit, and just shifted their money around while it was in his hands, just as President Obama and Congress are doing with our money now. Bernie Madoff was a first rate socialist, and socialism is the largest ponzi scheme of all.
  5. Amivi Gama's violent rise to power in East Timor has proved that women are just as capable as men when it comes to brutality and oppression.
  6. Haha, God. (Just kidding) Thanks for reading it, Michael. You are very perceptive. This story was a prototype for something larger I want to do. Julian
  7. This is my first story ever. It is about a doctor that is faced with a tough dilemma. He is on his way to help a patient on an emergency call when he witnesses a murder in progress. He must decide who to save, and every second counts. Any comments or critiques are appreciated!
  8. In the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo included an article titled "This Will Kill That." It discusses how architecture was developed to record the ideas of men, its evolution throughout the centuries, and how the book will one day replace the edifice. I can't help but think that this may have influenced Ayn Rand in choosing architecture as a backdrop for The Fountainhead--and to record her ideas. I have never heard her say this though, so I was wondering if anyone else here may know? Otherwise, I guess we'll never know. Read the rest at: "I am an architect. I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built." - Ayn Rand
  9. Certainly not. Being more advanced often means also being more vulnerable. Bacteria that lived billions of years ago survived large numbers of far more advanced species. Cockroaches will probably survive us. How does it mean being more vulnerable? Advanced means improved. Something that is improved is less vulnerable, not more vulnerable. And I refuse to believe that a cockroach is more successful than me.
  10. Julian, Who said anything about feeling guilty? But let's look at it. As human nature stands, this is something most people who kill innocents in war are going to feel anyway. I dread to think what a person who feels guilty will do if he learns how to alleviate his tormenting guilt through the lesson (on a psychological and premise level) that killing innocent people can be a moral good. I'm not so sure his subconscious will be as discriminating as his conscious mind in choosing innocents the next time, especially if he is a person who likes to be good. I think a much more realistic thing is to say that it was a terrible thing that needed to be done under extraordinary circumstances and strong wishes that it should never happen again. And if the person feels guilty, that is merely a sign that he is a human being. I see that as much healthier for those who have killed innocents in war. Through that way they can find some peace. Ignoring the fact that most people who have killed innocents in war are going to feel guilty all by themselves is ignoring reality. Trying to program that out of people and dismissing it by saying they shouldn't feel that way in the first place (because they were performing a moral good) is a bit too much for my reality meter—in addition to the fact that it can be quite dangerous to peaceful society. Battles are not just fought on the battlefield in war. They are also fought in people's minds and souls. Within this context, I fully believe war is hell. Michael What do feelings have to do with thoughts? I just thought it would help me better understand what you were advocating, and it did. All of the abstract reasoning was getting a little much for me. You might find this interesting, Michael... From the play Think Twice featured in The Early Ayn Rand: "Ingalls: I've told you this because I wanted you to know that I don't regret it. Had circumstances forced me to take a valuable life--I wouldn't hesitate to offer my own life in return. But I don't think that of Walter. Nor of Serge...."
  11. According to that standard, bacteria would be a more advanced species than humans. "Advanced" is not the same as "succesful". Considering all living beings, self-awareness is certainly not a decisive factor for success, as the examples of bacteria, worms and insects show. However, in a narrower context it may be an important factor, as we're certainly doing better than many if not most of our closer relatives among the vertebrates. But we shouldn't judge too quickly, after all those dinosaurs that are often thought of as a failure managed to survive a thousand times longer than the human species did so far, so the jury still has a long wait ahead before we can claim our superiority in surviving. No, but they are directly proportional. The more advanced something is the more successful it will be.
  12. Bob, Right. Until the unsentimental rough men turn on the sentimental Good Guys who are sleeping in peace. No thank you. I prefer that thing about he who fails to learn from history is doomed to repeat it. Michael Michael, Do you think we should feel guilty for having to kill innocent people in war? As a human being I understand what you mean. I would hate that I would have to do it. I would feel intense indignation and outrage. I would even feel a sense of helplessness, because I would not want to kill these people; I'd just have to. But I would hate the people who make such horrible choices necessary, not myself. Sorry, if you already answered this. A lot of technicalities were being discussed, so I did not go through all of the posts.
  13. Good point. I've been reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, the famed evolutionary biologist, and in Chapter 6 (pgs. 248-9) he says, "The whole idea of the selfish gene, with the stress properly applied to the last word, is that the unit of natural selection (i.e. the unit of self-interest) is not the selfish organism, nor the selfish group or selfish species or selfish ecosystem, but the selfish gene. It is the gene that, in the form of information, either survives for many generations or does not. Unlike the gene (and arguably the meme), the organism, the group and the species are not the right kind of entity to serve as a unit in this sense, because they do not make exact copies of themselves, and do not compete in a pool of such self-replicating entities." Can you show that self awareness increases reproductive success? That is the bottom line. Bacteria are the most reproductively successful organisms on earth and they have little or no self-awareness. After them come the insects which have no self awareness. From a reproductive standpoint (which is the only one that matters for evolution) self-awareness is highly overrated. Ba'al Chatzaf According to that standard bacteria would be a more advanced species than humans.