Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Quotes of the day

On average, males have higher sociosexuality scores than females but sociosexuality scores for females vary widely across countries.Why might female sociosexuality scores vary? One hypothesis is that in cultures with low operational sex ratios (the number of marriageable men/number of marriageable women) female sociosexuality will be higher. The argument is that when the relative supply of males is low, competition for mates encourages females to shift towards the male ideal, i.e. when supply is scarce the demanders must pay more.--Tyler Cowen

We see Beyoncé specializing in music videos, which she trades to Bill Gates for his specialized production of software. We will get more of both music videos and software from Beyoncé and Gates than if each (without the possibility of trade) had been forced to supply their own needs for software and music videos. Beyoncé would be forced to take time away from videos to try to figure out her own software, and Gates would have to divert time from software to learning how to sing and dance in a swimsuit. Economists are often congratulated for their impressive grasp of the obvious. Yet if this principle is so obvious, why is it routinely violated in the aid world? It’s gotten worse with the Millennium Development Goals. Each aid organization tries to meet all MDGs and each fails to specialize. Therefore some aid agencies are forced to supply things they are bad at – the equivalent of Gates’ music videos – for which there is no demand. ... One could think of many political economy reasons why aid agencies resist specialization. From my casual experience in a large bureaucracy (the World Bank), the primeval bureaucratic instinct is to give a tiny piece of the pie to every possible lobby group (internal or external). But what’s most clear is that it shows aid agencies lack of accountability, because it is such a wasteful practice that also drives the aid recipients crazy with duplication of efforts by every aid agency in every sector in every country.--William Easterly

History is like the law. It offers raw material for anyone who wants to plead a cause or make some money. ... History is not bunk. It is a glorious seam of human experience from which leaders can seek guidance on their present conduct. But its parallels are never exact and are easy to distort, while its lessons are quarrelsome. Today we are not, anywhere, retreading the same foothills as we did on the outbreak of the second world war. If that is the best parallel we can draw to illustrate our discontents, we should ban history from public debate.--Simon Jenkins

Isaiah has learned, whenever he detects a strong odor, to say, “Phew! That stinky!” This seems to have universal application. In a greasy spoon with the strong smell of grilled onions: “Phew! That stinky!” After intruding on one of his brothers during a bathroom visit: “Phew! That stinky!” Near the dog: “Phew! Sadie stinky!” Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that this exclamation has near-universal application, because the last time I changed one of his stinkier diapers, he said, “Phew! That smell good!” Which is probably an extremely unsophisticated version of what lots of politicians and bankers were thinking last year. And here I was under the impression that this delusion begins in graduate school…--Tony Woodlief

Whereas psychoanalysis uncovers deeply buried impulses, Beck is interested in those thoughts that lie barely concealed beneath conscious awareness. Whereas psychoanalysis uncovers the historical motives behind troubling emotions, Beck scrutinizes the present-tense logic of his patient’s emotions. And whereas psychoanalysis is ultimately pessimistic, seeing disappointment as the price for existence, Beck’s approach is upbeat, conveying a sense that, with hard work and determined rationality, one could learn not only to tolerate but to stamp out neurotic tendencies. The patient is none other than Beck himself.--Daniel Smith

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