Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quotes of the day

... voluntary activities vary systematically as a function of their consequences, where the consequences include benefits, costs, and values. ... according to Western legal traditions individuals are usually held responsible for those activities that are susceptible to the influence of their consequences and, conversely, individuals are not responsible for those activities that vary little or not at all as a function of consequences.--Gene Heyman

We consider the dating market decision problem under the quantum mechanics point of view. Quantum states whose associated amplitudes are modified by men strategies are used to represent women. Grover quantum search algorithm is used as a playing strategy. Success is more frequently obtained by playing quantum than playing classic.--O.G. Zabaleta, C.M. Arizmendi

Sexuality (or gender) is just as distorting when we fixate upon it as when we deny it.--Tony Judt

So I appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court to explain the complexities of academic harassment to a bemused jury of plumbers and housewives. The student’s lawyer pressed hard: “Were you not prejudiced against my client because of her transgendered identity preference?” “I don’t see how I could have been,” I replied. “I thought she was a woman—isn’t that what she wanted me to think?” The university won the case. On another occasion, a student complained that I “discriminated” against her because she did not offer sexual favors. When the department ombudswoman—a sensible lady of impeccable radical credentials—investigated, it emerged that the complainant resented not being invited to join my seminar: she assumed that women who took part must be getting (and offering) favorable treatment. I explained that it was because they were smarter. The young woman was flabbergasted: the only form of discrimination she could imagine was sexual. It had never occurred to her that I might just be an elitist. ... Why should everything be about “me”? Are my fixations of significance to the Republic? Do my particular needs by definition speak to broader concerns? What on earth does it mean to say that “the personal is political”? If everything is “political,” then nothing is. I am reminded of Gertrude Stein’s Oxford lecture on contemporary literature. “What about the woman question?” someone asked. Stein’s reply should be emblazoned on every college notice board from Boston to Berkeley: “Not everything can be about everything.”--Tony Judt

Clearly the CSE program was an abject failure: it could put together stress tests, but then the SEC and the NY Fed ignored the results. There’s obvious bad news here: that the Fed is such an incompetent regulator of systemically-important institutions that it can’t even get alarmed when one of those institutions fails its own stress tests. But there’s a possible glimmer of good news too: that the Fed had people capable of putting together a decent stress test, and that the SEC sensibly deferred to those people in terms of stress test design. In other words, the Fed has the ability to regulate; all that’s needed now (and was missing in 2008) is the willingness to do so and to bare teeth once in a while.--Felix Salmon

If there's a theme to my blog posts, it's something along the lines of Complexity is Killing Us. The complexity of investment options is why you're afraid to put your money anywhere but inside an old sock. Complexity is why the healthcare system in the United States is apparently unfixable. Complexity is why scientists can't convince a large segment of the public to believe in evolution or global warming. Complexity is why your computer spends all morning begging you for updates instead of just doing what-the-frakk you want it to do. And lately, I've noticed that routine conversations have become too complicated.--Scott Adams

... take a moment to remember Menaechmus, the geometer who first described the parabola in the 4th century B.C. He never made a layup, but he got game. --Washington Post Health & Science

Saint-making fatigue; who knew?--Alex Tabarrok

We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy.--Centre for Economic Policy Research

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.--Mark Twain

We're not sure American schools teach civics any more, but once upon a time they taught that under the U.S. Constitution a bill had to pass both the House and Senate to become law. Until this week, that is, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving to merely "deem" that the House has passed the Senate health-care bill and then send it to President Obama to sign anyway. ... We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn't want to vote for it. Fence-sitting Members are being threatened with primary challengers, a withdrawal of union support and of course ostracism. Michigan's Bart Stupak is being pounded nightly by MSNBC for the high crime of refusing to vote for a bill that he believes will subsidize insurance for abortions. Democrats are, literally, consuming their own majority for the sake of imposing new taxes, regulations and entitlements that the public has roundly rejected but that they believe will be the crowning achievement of the welfare state. They are also leaving behind a procedural bloody trail that will fuel public fury and make such a vast change of law seem illegitimate to millions of Americans. The concoction has become so toxic that even Mrs. Pelosi isn't bothering to defend the merits anymore, saying instead last week that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Or rather, "deeming" to have passed it.--WSJ Editorial Board

Had the idea of a government plan to shift the clocks back and forth twice and year been proposed today I am reasonably certain that I would have been against it. ... And yet, it works and I like it. It is good to be reminded of this twice a year.--Alex Tabarrok

Real, live Germans are not heartless ants, and the Greeks are not broke because they are giddy crickets who sing their summers away. Greece is a grown-up country with grown-up problems: rough, tough politics, and a lot of recent history, not all of it very nice. And it is precisely that recent history, and rough politics, that are at the core of Greece's fiscal woes today. Take the painful question of the huge public sector, and all those civil servants with jobs for life, and unusually generous retirement packages. The existence of those jobs for life is not a cultural quirk, in which Greek officials simply like coffee and backgammon too much to do any work. It is the end result of a brutal, multi-decade power struggle between the left and the right: a struggle that got people killed within living memory.--a.k.a. Charlemagne

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