Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quotes of the day

At least I’ll never have to apologize to the Singapore government, unlike certain newspapers.--Scott Sumner

No crop should get subsidies. But the politicians’ solution is to keep supporting meat production -- and then turn around and pay schools to serve vegetables.--John Stossel

Add it up and the government is counting on squeezing an extra $1.2 trillion over 10 years from a tiny sliver of taxpayers who already pay more than half of all individual taxes. It won't work. It never works. --Alan Reynolds

The GAO attached a feather duster to a space heater, sent the photo to the EPA, and got approval in just 11 days.--John Stossel

How on earth could this have happened? This is the sort of thing the government is supposed to be good at: providing transparency and certification for private efforts. Yet it seems they weren't even bothering. ... But I think this goes back to my belief that the government is simply doing too much. We want a program for virtually every single problem in human existence, and the incentive of politicians and bureaucrats is to create one. It doesn't matter so much whether it actually solves the problem, as long as it seems to. If the GAO just discovered this now, I suspect that manufacturers discovered this long ago. In effect, the government has enabled them--hell, encouraged them--to get millions of people to pay extra for a worthless label. The manufacturers, the politicians, and the regulators were all better off--but the rest of us were worse off.--Megan McArdle

Mr. President, this isn’t double-down.…This is all-in.--General David Petraeus

... Petraeus would testify that things had begun to improve—that the counter-insurgency strategy he had initiated eight months before was working, against all odds and expectations. Violent incidents had fallen off dramatically. Former Sunni insurgents had come around and begun to oppose al-Qaeda. Dangerous Shiite militias were putting down their arms. Instead of conceding futility and abandoning Iraq to chaos and civil war, there was a good chance the United States could stabilize the country enough to begin a relatively bloodless and honorable phased withdrawal. The general brought, in short, unwelcome news, at least to many Democratic lawmakers. ... Obama, Biden, and Clinton are now even more directly Petraeus’s bosses than they were on that day in September 2007. As they proceed to escalate the war in Afghanistan and dial down the operation in Iraq—and as they confront new dangers in Pakistan and Iran—they are now on the same team with the general, no matter how far apart they were back then. For them, and particularly for President Obama, the responsibility and consequences of wielding American power have become very real—as they long have been for the general. On the hard questions of war, the Obama White House is not just listening to Petraeus but heeding his advice. ... In the sorry three-year saga of events in Iraq after the invasion, there had been only one unequivocal success—the 101st Airborne’s occupation of Mosul, under the command of David Petraeus. If there is one basic reason he succeeded where others had failed, it was his enthusiastic embrace of nation building, which was anathema to the Bush administration. ... Petraeus believed the pre-9/11 soldier had been taught what to think. He wanted the post-9/11 soldier taught how to think. ... At the end of November, when Obama committed to a surge in troops, he pushed Petraeus to accelerate its pace. He wanted results to come sooner rather than later, so that he could offer the American people some prospect of an end. But the course he embraced was, in essence, the Iraq strategy he had opposed three years earlier—Obama had come full circle. And whatever the results in the short term, the strategy pre-supposes that America will be present in force for years to come. Successful counter-insurgency comes in only one size: long.--Mark Bowden

Ford completely destroyed the massive brand value that Volvo had built up over the years. Geely is getting Volvo for next to nothing. Ford might as well be giving the brand away.--Matthew DeBord

[Rupert Murdoch] is quite happy to have his newspapers express views contrary to his own when it sells papers. The media market determines media bias – and – as the above string of numbers show – the media market has a conservative bias and that bias is getting stronger. Media bias follows the money-making bias of media owners. People who proclaim liberal media bias are just not following the dollars.--John Hempton

Sheep is just as bad; pork and chicken are half as bad; cod or wheat are at least eight times less carbon-intensive; potatoes and herring are far better still. Organic methods reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but not by much. Yet this all looks modest relative to the costs of transport. Vaze reckons that steak’s emissions will get you about eight miles by plane, or 15 miles if you travel alone in a car. As for the tax, it should be on all greenhouse gases, not just cow burps. I suspect it would create a few vegetarians, perhaps better diets for cows, and headaches for the taxman. --Tim Harford

I suppose this dissonance is captured, for college basketball, in a single image: the spectacle of muscular, tattooed, seeming warriors strutting about in baggy silk culottes that might as well come with a matching man-purse. But even if you dress like a sissy, need you act like one? I understand it’s an important game, and that you desperately want to win, and that you yearn for victory with all your precious, over-inflated heart. But man up. The other team was better. Or maybe just luckier. Or maybe you should have practiced your free throws harder last summer. Whatever the reason, the gods of basketball have found you wanting. So pull up your big-girl panties and get over it. And if you’re going to cry like a big overgrown sissy, at least have the self-respect to do it in the locker room.--Tony Woodlief

Women's liberation is the liberation of the feminine in the man and the masculine in the woman.--Corita Kent

After crunching the data—including the women's facial preferences, their country of origin and that country's national health index—the Face Lab researchers proved something remarkable. They could predict how masculine a woman likes her men based on her nation's World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancy and the impact of communicable disease. In countries where poor health is particularly a threat to survival, women leaned toward "manlier" men. That is, they preferred their males to have shorter, broader faces and stronger eyebrows, cheekbones and jaw lines. ... A woman might be attracted subconsciously to a high-testosterone man because he'll give her kids an edge health-wise. But if health comes at the expense of fidelity and good parenting, how much does masculinity really matter? The apparent answer is not so much—if you're a woman living in a country with a decent health-care system and few harmful pathogens. While a masculine father's "good genes" may confer health advantages to children, so do good medical attention and a clean environment. ... generally speaking, the researchers found that a nation's health index explained more of the variation in women's masculinity preferences than did many culture-specific female norms identified in previous studies.--Jena Pincott

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