Friday, March 18, 2011

Quotes of the day

If you feel like living a more meaningful story, then go for it. If not, there’s always television. I hear Sesame Street is interesting.--Don Miller

The [Google] PageRank algorithm can not only rank pages for search engines but the exact same algorithm can be used to determine which species are about to go extinct. This paper describes it in detail. But basically, a “back link” is similar to “species that another species can eat to survive”. The more “back links” in this sense that a species has, the more likely it is to NOT go extinct. Interesting. ... Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally wanted to be academics. They didn’t want to build a business. They developed their initial search engine and then tried to shop it around. They were actually willing to sell it for $1 million in 1997.--James Altucher

Don’t buy what someone is trying to sell you. Buy what you have researched and want to buy on your own.--David Merkel

In my view, a low rate of interest on Treasury securities indicates a high chance that the investors will be paid back. That is all it means. It is not a market signal that the government output should be produced. ... Under Ceausescu, Romania could borrow at low rates, but that just meant the government would pay you back. It didn’t show the outputs were properly matched to risk or to the wealth of the society.--Tyler Cowen

It’s true it would be silly to respond to lower clothes prices by making more of your own garments. But it would be equally silly always to buy more shirts when they get cheaper. It’s nice to have more shirts than fewer shirts. I like choice. But it would be a mistake to keep expanding my stock of shirts just because the price of shirts goes down. At some point, even though shirts are cheaper and more choice costs me less than it did before, the benefits of additional choice is offset by the cost of the other things I give up when I acquire another shirt. When interest rates are lower, borrowing to finance public spending is cheaper. So what? It’s also cheaper to finance future private consumption. Brad is implicitly arguing that another bridge or road or bigger payments to farmers or expanding the US military doesn’t mean less of something else. He also seems to forget that the world is an uncertain place. Buy the bigger house or spend another trillion and you may find yourself in an unexpected situation that is not pleasant.--Russ Roberts

When the Titanic was sinking everyone eventually rushed to the stern of the ship. That didn’t mean that that part of the ship was actually safe.--abUWS

The more readers migrate online, the more valuable advertising there should become.--Agnes T. Crane

... following the global news coverage over the last few days, you would think that a reactor meltdown, should it occur, will be the gravest threat to the devastated nation so far. And that the incident was calling into question the safety of nuclear power altogether. This is balderdash. Yes, appalling disasters occur, technologies fail and people die. Buildings, bridges and even whole cities can crumble in the face of nature’s fearsome onslaught. So why would we expect nuclear facilities to be any different? When an aircraft accident kills scores of people, we don’t hear calls for an end to air travel. When collapsing buildings crush victims in an earthquake, we don’t question the wisdom of building skyscrapers near fault lines.--Wilson da Silva

I believe the science behind news outlets distorting journalism is connected to the increased opportunity to sell advertising to higher viewership. Just a dumb guess, mind you.--Cav

The results of [Donald] Rumsfeld’s failure to heed alternative views (such as those voiced by Senator McCain and legions of other critics) are by now well known. He stayed on a disastrous course in Iraq, which was not reversed until he was removed from office in 2007, along with two senior generals whom he had appointed. Less understood, even now, is that Rumsfeld inflicted a similar disaster on Afghanistan. By refusing to increase troop levels after 2001, he allowed the Taliban to get back on their feet and to mount a major offensive, beginning in 2006, that is only now starting to be checked by another troop surge that he undoubtedly would have opposed were he still in office. ... As if Rumsfeld, with his more extensive experience, did any better. Such a condescending attitude must have grated on Rice—and on many others. Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, are also major targets of Rumsfeld’s ire. Powell’s State Department, he writes, “seemed to remain skeptical about President Bush and less than eager to implement his policies.” This may be true, but the same criticism applied to Rumsfeld himself. A few pages after having excoriated Powell for disloyalty, Rumsfeld explains that he opposed Bush’s freedom agenda ... Now his name will be inextricably bound up with the unraveling of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 foreign policy—with Abu Ghraib and “stuff happens.” Bush seems to be enjoying a rebound in public affections, thanks in large part to the vindication of two of his most controversial strategies—the surge in Iraq and the “freedom agenda” across the Middle East. Rumsfeld, who opposed both policies, is unlikely to enjoy any such redemption.--Max Boot

When Aaron Barr, the now-former CEO of software security firm HBGary Federal, claimed in a press report that he could identify members of the Anonymous collective through social media, ["Kayla"]and four other hackers broke into his company’s servers in revenge, defacing his Web site, purging data and posting more than 50,000 of his emails online for the world to see, all within the space of 24 hours. Kayla played a crucial role, posing as HBGary CEO Greg Hoglund to an IT administrator (who happened to be Nokia security specialist Jussi Jaakonaho) to gain access to the company’s servers. Read their email correspondence here and here. In the fallout, Barr’s emails revealed HBGary had proposed a dirty tricks campaign against WikiLeaks to a law firm representing Bank of America. Other security firms distanced themselves. Kayla and her buddies had opened a can of worms.--Parmy Olson

To update Aesop, a girl in a convertible is worth five in the phone book.--Warren Buffett
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