Monday, October 10, 2011

Quotes of the day

Today’s aged hippies no longer understand that there is a difference between the election of a black president and the creation of cheap solar energy; in their minds, the movement towards greater civil rights parallels general progress everywhere. Because of these ideological conflations and commitments, the 1960s Progressive Left cannot ask whether things actually might be getting worse. I wonder whether the endless fake cultural wars around identity politics are the main reason we have been able to ignore the tech slowdown for so long. However that may be, after 40 years of wandering, it is not easy to find a path back to the future. If there is to be a future, we would do well to reflect about it more. The first and the hardest step is to see that we now find ourselves in a desert, and not in an enchanted forest.--Peter Thiel

The first detailed conversation I had was with a middle-aged guy who was there "largely to exercise his first amendment rights" and the "rights embedded in the constitution". He did not really know what he was saying except that he had the right to say it and that it somehow involved good government. He did not like the libertarians (who he thought were rather silly) but he kind of liked the anarchy of the whole scene. And he gave me the quote of the day. The protesters were "anarchists for good government". ... A pretty young black woman I spoke to was about the most lucid person I found. She thought the American dream had been narrowed to a very small elite and that class distinction was rampant. She was at the protest because she thought that Wall Street was the most obvious bastion of elitism in America. I asked her what she wanted to do in life and she said she wanted to work in the fashion industry in New York. I looked at her puzzled and she sheepishly admitted that was another bastion of elitism. Then she told me she wanted to start her own company. I wished her luck. She was charming in her hypocrisy.--John Hempton

Who was Steve Jobs? Well, he was a guy who founded a corporation and spent his life as a corporate executive manufacturing corporate products. So he wouldn't have endeared himself to the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd, even though, underneath the patchouli and lentils, most of them are abundantly accessorized with iPhones and iPads and iPods loaded with iTunes, if only for when the drum circle goes for a bathroom break. The above is a somewhat obvious point, although the fact that it's not obvious even to protesters with an industrial-strength lack of self-awareness is a big part of the problem. But it goes beyond that: If you don't like to think of Jobs as a corporate exec (and a famously demanding one at that), think of him as a guy who went to work, and worked hard. There's no appetite for that among those "occupying" Zuccotti Park. In the old days, the tribunes of the masses demanded an honest wage for honest work. Today, the tribunes of America's leisured varsity class demand a world that puts "people before profits." If the specifics of their "program" are somewhat contradictory, the general vibe is consistent: They wish to enjoy an advanced Western lifestyle without earning an advanced Western living. The pampered, elderly children of a fin de civilisation overdeveloped world, they appear to regard life as an unending vacation whose bill never comes due.--Mark Steyn

Benny [-Jarvus Green-Ellis], he’s a great guy to block for. He’s going to read the play, he’s going to find the right hole. He’s not going to fumble. He’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a great guy to block for.--Logan Mankins

When a board of directors removes a CEO for poor performance, we don't expect the board to have a specific plan for how the next CEO will run things. The board's job is to remove the underperforming CEO and start a search for a new one. That model reminds me of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Some pundits are criticizing the protesters for not having specific demands, but I don't think that's a fair observation. The protesters are simply trying to fire the old CEO, metaphorically speaking. It's not their job to micromanage the next one. Some politicians have branded Occupy Wall Street as a class war. But I think that misses the point too. If the economy were humming along and creating the right kind of jobs, folks would see wealth as an aspiration and not an enemy. I see Occupy Wall Street as an effort to get rid of the system that brought us to this place. The anger is not so much about replacing politicians as it is a complaint about the nature of government and the corrupting influence of money. Our collective image of the protests is muddied by the media's fascination with the nut jobs in the crowds, allegations that George Soros is the puppet master, and references to evil bankers and capitalists. We humans like to put faces to evil, but sometimes the evil is simply the result of a mismatch between the system and the times.--Scott Adams

Consumers value the simplicity Netflix has always offered and we respect that. There is a difference between moving quickly — which Netflix has done very well for years — and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case.--Reed Hastings, CEO

... no one listens to a word the prime minister [David Cameron] says. But if Jonathan Ross or Simon Cowell had told us to stop shopping, that would have been a disaster.--Tim Harford

Europe is demonstrating that a sovereign nation without a true central bank is just an uninsured bank, liable to be tipped over by the markets.--James Saft, via Tyler Cowen

One of the [Obamacare] budget savings that the critics claimed was a gimmick was that a new long-term care insurance program, The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program or CLASS for short, was counted as reducing the deficit. How can a spending program reduce the deficit? ... So we have phantom savings from a zombie program and many people knew at the time that the program was a recipe for disaster. Now some people may argue that I am biased, that I am just another free market economist who doesn’t want to see a new government program implemented no matter what, but let me be clear, this isn’t CLASS warfare, this is math.--Alex Tabarrok

4 out of the last 5 econ laureates are anti-Keynesian, actually too anti-Keynesian for my tastes, but a lesson there in any case.--Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen tells you about Sargent and Sims. My reaction is, "eh."  Sort of like Bert Blyleven. Star players, but not historically important, unless you're from Minnesota.--Arnold Kling

Paul defends the IS-LM model. I agree completely!--Greg Mankiw

Smart people can be very clueless when they apply too much precision to imprecise problems.--Eric Falkenstein

Rather, as has been the case with most sociologists of religion, Habermas has looked at the world and concluded that secularization theory—that is, the thesis that modernization necessarily leads to a decline of religion—does not fit the facts of the matter. Beyond this acknowledgement of the empirical reality of the contemporary world, Habermas admits the historical roots in Biblical religion of modern individualism, and he thinks that this connection is still operative today.--Peter Berger

Al Davis was a great American sports villain, the best of his time, the best of all time. He was great, I think, because he played it big. ... He was the bad guy. End of story. Al Davis' life was not so black. He quietly did many good things, charitable things, he helped friends and strangers, but he did not want anyone to know. He was entirely color blind. He hired the first Hispanic coach in the NFL (Tom Flores), and the first African American coach in the NFL (Art Shell). But he never grandstanded about it. I don't' think this was because he wanted to avoid credit. I think it's because he did not want anyone to think he had a heart.--Joe Posnanski

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