TOTD 2018-6-12: 負けるが勝ち–Proverb

It is Japanese lesson time. I will share the meaning of two Chinese characters used in Japanese and from that come up with the meaning of the proverb in the title of this post.

In the title there is 負ける-makeru that has the character for loss. 勝ち-kachi that has the character for win or victory. ... [Read More]

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Why the West is Dying

Recently, Professor Niall Ferguson was brought to the attention of the many members of Ratburger, so I naturally like the post and professed my great admiration for Prof. Ferguson. Among his many intellectual pursuits is his insistence that the West overcame the Rest by originating, developing, and implementing what he calls “Six Killer Apps.” These killer apps are Ferguson’s way of intimating scholarly ideas to a world that speaks in emojis. These apps are competition, science, property, consumerism, work ethic, and modern medicine. (Modern medicine was an add on to his list a few years ago. I frankly think you could throw it into the science category.) Ferguson’s theory rests, not on the West’s quest for empire or geography, but on the power of ideas, and these six ideas are what made the West the premier civilization of the past 500 years. Unfortunately, the West has now began to uninstall, or at the least not update, these apps while the Rest has decided to install them, or at least a good portion of them. Western Civilization is in trouble and Prof. Ferguson thinks that the solution is for the Rest to adopt all the apps, not just some, and for the West to update them.

Ferguson begins by dispelling right off the notion that empire and geography is why  there was this great divergence 500 years ago between the backwater city-kingdoms of say Paris and London and the great imperial capitals of Beijing and Mumbai. Prior to this divergence, the armies of the Ottomans repeatedly defeated the armies of the Christian world. European trade was restricted to land routes that had to deal with the Muslim world and the great Asian Steppe. But around 1500, Europeans began putting out to sea in great vessels capable of handling the rough waters of the Atlantic, opening up new markets of trade and raw materials. Europeans armies battled back at the gates of Vienna and closed out the Ottomans from Eastern and Central Europe for the remainder of the millennium. These events that began roughly at 1500 were the products primarily of reason, and specifically those six attributes that were borne out of that reason. Ferguson’s two biggest test cases to dispel the theory of geography being the reason are post-War Germany and the Korean Peninsula. Both occupied the same geographic area and the same cultural norms, but when it came to separating them by economic and societal systems, two completely different scenarios played out. And the theory of empire is relegated to the trash heap because, as Ferguson puts it, “empire is the least original thing the West ever did.”... [Read More]

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Robert De Niro Gets a Standing O

Robert De Niro got a standing ovation for cursing the president at the Tony Awards. A few years ago he would have been booed for doing that.

I am sure Robert De Niro thinks he is elevating the conversation. Where is the “Love Trumps Hate”? I guess that was only when they thought they would win. Now it’s “Hate, Hate, Hate” because respecting the democratically elected leader is not a part he plays well.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-6-11: Public Housing

Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary, is trying to change public housing.  Before people were kicked out of apartments because they worked. This incentivize not working. He proposes to calculate eligibility every three years rather than every year to help people to have more reasons to work. What do you think? (The video is 10 minutes long.)

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On Fairness

Fairness is a big subject and this will be a small post. I think fairness is allowing the other person to have the same deal and not complaining. If you consider the other party doing the same thing as you as unfair then your way of doing things is unfair.

I will change the deal in this list. Let me know which one you like or don’t like.... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – Otto Kretschmer

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.... [Read More]

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