Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quotes of the day

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.--Seneca

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.--George E.P. Box

Reporters typically don’t coordinate their questions for the president before press conferences, so it seemed odd that Obama might have an idea what the question would be.--Michael Calderone

But [Bill Keller's] decisions and those of his colleagues at the [New York] Times indicate pretty clearly whose side they are on. They are determined to protect their brave and admirable colleagues from danger. But they are not concerned to protect the people of the United States and friendly nations from dangers which, while perhaps more remote, have proved painfully real, and not only on September 11, 2001. They seem to see themselves as transnational journalists, with responsibilities to their colleagues and their profession, but with no particular responsibilities as American citizens.--Michael Barone

People in democracies will continue to have access to independent and often quite accurate, reports on events in their own countries and most other parts of the world. In fact, the populations of undemocratic countries now have much greater access to what is happening in the world than they had in the past because it is far more difficult to suppress access to the Internet and other electronic forms of communication than it is to suppress newspapers.--Gary Becker

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.--Richard Posner

This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.--Kate Carraway

For grownups fated -- or maybe even compelled -- to see "[Transformers:] Revenge of the Fallen," a few bright spots and oddities may relieve the sustained-release idiocy. Henry Ford's Model T was, it turns out, a Decepticon in disguise. So was the supersonic SR-71 Blackbird, though a Decepticon that came over to the Autobots' side. The ranks of the Autobots are rife with General Motors product placements, and in the current climate anything that may sell a GM car can only be seen as a plus. In a movie not distinguished by dramatic focus, the camera's concentration on Mikaela's lips, breasts and behind is unwavering.--Joe Morgenstern

We argue that a simple preference for a taller husband (or shorter wife) can explain part of the gender-specifi…c asymmetries across ethnic groups in the propensity to outmarry. Blacks are taller than Asians, and their height distribution is closer to whites. Because they are taller, black men have better prospects on the white marriage market than Asian men. For women, the reverse is true. Because Asians are relatively short on average, women fare substantially better on the white marriage market than black women.--Michèle Belot and Jan Fidrmuc

Signals are forever, because we can always change. Yes, she might have been very sure that he loved her last year, but today there is a small nagging doubt about whether he still loves her. So he must continue to signal to reassure her.--Robin Hanson

The Wachowski brothers offer further proof “The Matrix” was a glorious fluke. If you’re gonna make a bomb, why not make it as color-saturated as this box office calamity [Speed Racer].--Christian Toto

... as a marketing gimmick, the [MBA] Oath is pretty slick, but as a way to generate trust among others, it sucks. For one thing, it is voluntary and self-selected. Attila the Hun, Joseph Goebbels, and Caligula could all have signed the Oath, and for all anyone knows their modern-day MBA equivalents did, too. In fact, bad guys with zero ethics have the greatest incentive to sign up to such schemes, because they hope whatever good juju accrues to the thing will rub off on them and blind victims to their misdeeds until it is too late. Everyone pays lip service to good ethics, you know, especially the bad guys. Just wait until a signatory blows up the next Enron or Madoff Securities, and then see what your precious honor code is worth.--Epicurean Dealmaker

Do you want the poor people to become rich? ... Then give me your car.--11 year old Liberian plastic bag salesman

Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers. You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development. ... Fannie and Freddie have always been political creatures under the best circumstances. But we don't remember anyone electing Mr. Frank underwriter-in-chief of the United States.--WSJ Editorial Board

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