Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quotes of the day

The U.S. spent $10,498.66 on each public school student in 2009, according to the U.S. Census. The figure is a high as $18,126 in New York and as low as $6,356 in Utah. Surprisingly, Utah’s high school graduation rate is higher than New York’s.--Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre

Not surprising to a parent in New York. Have you ever taken a close look at schools here?--Cav

Because big-time college football and basketball are so entertaining, most people prefer to ignore the cesspool that recruiting has become, and could care less about the academic abilities of the players who represent what we like to refer to as institutions of higher learning. It's the hypocrisy of it all that is nauseating.--Jim Donaldson

Unfortunately, Medicare illustrated an immutable law of economics: Cut the marginal price and demand will skyrocket. With Medicare services seemingly free, the elderly used far more services. Costs raced upwards. In 1967 Medicare debuted with a cost of $2.5 billion. The same year the House Ways and Means Committee predicted that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. Alas, that turned out to be an $86 billion underestimate. Medicare first exceeded $12 billion in 1975.--Doug Bandow

If the minimum wage is a good idea, shouldn't unpaid internships be illegal as well? If not, why not? Name the main arguments in favor of the legality of unpaid internships. Aren't all of them equally good arguments for allowing people to work for wages greater than zero and less than the minimum wage?--Bryan Caplan

If ticket scalping laws that make it illegal to sell a ticket to a concert or sporting event above face value are a good idea, shouldn't selling a coin, bond, car, or house above face value, sticker price or list price also be illegal as well? If not, why not? Name the main arguments in favor of selling a coin, bond, car or house above face value/list price. Aren't all of them equally good arguments for allowing people to sell tickets above face value?--Mark Perry

[Steve] Jobs is inflicting his own version of personal revenge by causing major nightmares for traditional PC vendors with the new products and services that he has brought to market since he returned to Apple in 1997. While his moves are all business, his intentions are clearly to make sure that this time he wins the battle for producing the next big thing in personal computers.  ... he realized that just creating a hardware device and a great OS is not enough. In his long-range planning way of thinking, he spent the last decade building out a rich service component that includes iTunes, the App Store, and the soon to be announced cloud service. These services combined with the new personal computing device give users a richer experience. To Jobs, perhaps the more important aspect of this is that the whole package is hard to replicate.--Tim Bajarin

There's one problem with this global-warming chicken little-ism. It has little to do with reality. National Weather Service data on weather-related fatalities since 1940 show that the risks of Americans being killed by violent weather have fallen significantly over the past 70 years. The annual number of deaths caused by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, of course, varies. For example, the number of persons killed by these weather events in 1972 was 703 while the number killed in 1988 was 72. But amid this variance is a clear trend: The number of weather-related fatalities, especially since 1980, has dropped dramatically.--Don Boudreaux

Harold Camping — what an idiot! He predicted the end of the world on May 21. Last week, the Christian radio station owner said he was kind of right, though no one else noticed, and anyway the judgin’ will continue until (new date!) Oct. 21 of this year, when the world really and truly will be destroyed, probably. What you didn’t know is that after his loony prediction, Camping was promoted to full professor at Stanford and rewarded with adoring mainstream press coverage, more than a dozen appearances on “The Tonight Show,” prestigious awards and praise from the Obama administration’s chief science advisor. Sorry, I got one detail wrong. It wasn’t Camping who reaped those earthly rewards for his cosmic wackiness. It was Paul Ehrlich. In his psychedelically doomy 1968 catastrophe tract, “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich argued that birthrates were out of control and would cause worldwide crisis. ... Ehrlich has groused that he was kinda sorta right, and the worst you can say is that, like preacherman Camping, he was a little early. President Obama’s point man on science, John Holdren, is an Ehrlich man. A text version of a speech Holdren gave in 2006 was accompanied by a footnote in which he praised Ehrlich’s call to end population growth “a key insight . . . the elementary but discomfiting truth of it may account for the vast amount of ink, paper and angry energy that has been expended trying in vain to refute it.” There are Ehrlich-men everywhere, and that ehrlich is German for honest just makes it so much richer, doesn’t it? ... All Harold Camping has to do to be treated as a genuine visionary is to change the words at the beginning of his doom sermons from “the Bible says” to “science says.”--Kyle Smith

I was shocked by Ms. Warren’s blatant sense of entitlement. She was apparently under the assumption that she could dictate a one-hour time limit for her testimony to Congress, and that we were there at her behest instead of the other way around. This is just further example of her disregard for Congressional oversight.--Patrick McHenry

... telecoms are capturing most of the wealth being generated from the Internet. For all the new world hype, the old world has a major role to play. And sometimes focusing on what is not changing help us figure out how to best master changes. We still need to find, delight, and excite customers. We need business models that pay people fairly for their work. Businesses must make a credible case to government that they act in the public interest. And the best asset for mastering change is still that old classic: leadership.--Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Email is a task list created for you by someone else.--Chris Sacca

... the other day I decided to try a game called Angry Birds just to see why it's so popular. I wasn't expecting to like it. I was wrong. The game is instantly addictive. But why? Or more generally, what makes one game a hit and another a dud? My hypothesis is that we humans have a dozen or so natural impulses that evolution has provided. When we exercise any of those impulses, we feel most alive. For example, a first person shooter game primarily appeals to males, probably because it taps into a man's most primitive urge to eliminate other males as reproductive competition. And more generally, we males have a natural impulse to fight. A well-designed shooter game allows males to spend hours per day unleashing the urges that are socially inappropriate. You can see in almost any successful game the elements needed for hunting, gathering, self-defense or reproduction. Puzzles probably use the part of our brain designed to figure out where the food is. Lots of games require us to gather up resources. And any game that requires you to quickly spot abnormality is the same skill you need to identify healthy mates. I would argue that Tetris and Mahjong are good examples of games where you have to quickly spot abnormality. And it is no surprise that both games have attracted female gamers.--Scott Adams

The Mets came up with a buyout plan: Beginning on July 1, 2011, they would pay Bonilla $1,193,248.20 per year for 25 years, or $29.8 million. The payment was based on the return Bonilla would've received had he invested the $5.9 million at an interest rate of 8% (which was just below the 8.5% prime rate at the time). Why would the Mets make such a deal? The Bonilla money would be invested with Madoff, from whom the Mets expected the usual 10 to 12% return, or two to four percentage points above the rate they guaranteed Bonilla. "We were going to make money on Bobby Bo's $30 million," says one official who was at the meeting. "I remember the chuckling in the room." By deferring the money to Bonilla, the Mets freed cash to fortify their roster for the 2000 season. On Dec. 23, 1999, they traded for pitcher Mike Hampton and outfielder Derek Bell in a deal that added $8.1 million to the payroll. Eleven days later they officially released Bonilla. The 2000 Mets would win the NL pennant. The Madoff fund made the roster moves possible.--Tom Verducci
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