Monday, June 14, 2010

Quotes of the day

You’re not giving an interview; you’re having a conversation. Start by doing it. It’s like walking a tightrope, and it should be. The more it’s like walking a tightrope, the more admirable it will be, and the more interesting it will be to your reader or listener. A steno pad prevents you from meeting a person’s eye. And it prevents someone from meeting your eye. Don’t use notes. There’s a conscious and unconscious response when someone sees that you’re speaking to him or her from memory and you trust yourself. You may never know when the answer is going to end or where he’s going to stop, or she’s going to stop, but believe in the politeness of letting someone speak uninterrupted and don’t interrupt. My advice to you: sit forward, listen with all your might, and don’t ever be thinking of your next question.--Michael Silverblatt

Student evaluations are positively correlated with contemporaneous professor value‐added and negatively correlated with follow‐on student achievement. That is, students appear to reward higher grades in the introductory course but punish professors who increase deep learning (introductory course professor value‐added in follow‐on courses). Since many U.S. colleges and universities use student evaluations as a measurement of teaching quality for academic promotion and tenure decisions, this latter finding draws into question the value and accuracy of this practice.--Scott Carrell and James West

After the 2008 season, me and my agent approached the Patriots about an extension and I was told that Mr. Kraft did not want to do an extension because of the [uncertain collective bargaining agreement]. I was asked to play ‘09 out, and that they would address contract after the uncapped year. I’m a team player, I took them at word, and I felt I played out an undervalued contract. That’s the big thing. Right now, this is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on. Apparently, I was wrong. Growing up, I was taught a man’s word is his bond. Obviously this isn’t the case with the Patriots.--Logan Mankins

Because they all play, most of America's children assume that soccer will always be a part of their lives. When I was 8, playing center midfielder for the undefeated Strikers (coached by the unparalleled Mr. Cooper), I harbored no life expectations other than that I would continue playing center midfielder until such time as I died. It never occurred to me that any of this would change. But at about age 10, something happens to the children of the United States. Soccer is dropped, quickly and unceremoniously, by approximately 88 percent of all young people. The same kids who played at 5, 6, 7, move on to baseball, football, basketball, hockey, field hockey, and, sadly, golf. Shortly thereafter, they stop playing these sports, too, and begin watching these sports on television, including, sadly, golf.--Dave Eggers

Fascist host countries do really well; witness Italy’s win in 1934 and Argentina’s in 1978. Apparently creating a hostile and frightening atmosphere for opposing nations, and being able to threaten your players and/or the referees with horrible fates, helps your chances considerably. ... North Korea celebrated their first World Cup qualification in forty-four years by drawing three good teams that will crush them. It will be a struggle to find highlights to show on North Korean television.--Jeff Blum

Non-economists often get upset when they learn that someone has gotten rich by solving a problem. Economists, by contrast, worry when they think no one can get rich by solving a problem.--David Henderson

When the Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945, South Korea was poorer than its neighbor. Now its average worker earns 15 times as much as an average North Korean, according to cost-of-living-adjusted data. The number of defectors who make it through China to South Korea has steadily risen for a decade, hitting nearly 3,000 last year. Infant and maternal mortality rates jumped at least 30 percent from 1993 to 2008, and life expectancy fell by three years to 69 during the same period, according to North Korean census figures and the United Nations Population Fund. The United Nations World Food Program says one in three North Korean children under the age of 5 are malnourished. More than one in four people need food aid, the agency says, but only about one in 17 will get it this year, partly because donors are reluctant to send aid to a country that has insisted on developing nuclear weapons. The currency devaluation has only heightened the suffering. Its aim was to divert the proceeds of North Korea’s vast entrepreneurial underground — its street markets — to its cash-starved government businesses. The markets are the sole source of income for many North Koreans, but they flout the government’s credo of economic socialism. Theoretically, everyone except minors, the elderly and mothers with young children works for the state. But state enterprises have been withering for 30 years, and North Koreans do all they can to escape work in them. Farmers tend their own gardens as weeds overtake collective farms. Urban workers duck state assignments to peddle everything from metal scavenged from mothballed factories to televisions smuggled from China. “If you don’t trade, you die,” said the former teacher, a round-faced 51-year-old woman with a ponytail. She went from obedient state employee to lawbreaking trader, but could not escape her plight. She taught primary school for 30 years in Chongjin, North Korea’s third-largest city, with roughly 500,000 people. What once was an all-day job shrank by 2004 to morning duty; schools closed at noon. At least 15 of her 50 students dropped out or left after an hour, too hungry to study. “It is very hard to teach a starving child,” she said. “Even sitting at a desk is difficult for them.” --Sharon LaFraniere

As the political secretary to the Xinyang mayor in the late 1950s, Yu was an eyewitness to a mini-Holocaust in his hometown, its surrounding villages and even his own family. Mao had ordered Chinese farms to be collectivized in the late 1950s and forced many peasants who had once productively grown grain to put their energies into building crude backyard blast furnaces instead. As part of this “Great Leap Forward”, Mao’s acolytes predicted that food production would be doubled, even tripled in a few years and that steel production would soon surpass output in advanced western countries. The new rural communes began reporting whopping, fake harvests to meet Mao’s demand for record grain output. When the government took its share of the grain based on the exaggerated figures, little was left for ordinary people to eat. According to the most conservative calculations, one million people out of a population of eight million in Xinyang died between 1958 and 1961. ... Xinyang was generally blessed with good harvests, unlike much of Henan, known as the “land of beggars” for its history of impoverishment and famines. But any advantage the city had was undermined by the officials who ruled over it. At the time, Henan and Xinyang were overseen by radical leftists fanatically devoted to Mao who viewed the grain harvest solely through the prism of violent class struggle. Yu remembers vividly a series of surreal meetings in 1959, when the 18 counties in Xinyang city reported their harvest for the year. After a furious debate in which each county reported wildly exaggerated figures, they settled on a figure about three to four times the real size of the harvest. The distortion was more than enough to set in train the disaster that followed. It was not long before mass starvation began to grip the city and surrounding areas.--Richard McGregor

[China's party] system is decaying and the system is evolving. It is decaying while it is evolving. It is not clear what side might come out on top in the end.--Yang Jisheng

Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund. And, in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund — from the same pension fund.--Danny Hakim

In the ’90s, when [Ronald] Ericsson looked into the numbers for the two dozen or so clinics that use his process, he discovered, to his surprise, that couples were requesting more girls than boys, a gap that has persisted, even though Ericsson advertises the method as more effective for producing boys. In some clinics, Ericsson has said, the ratio is now as high as 2 to 1. ... Men dominate just two of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next decade: janitor and computer engineer. Women have everything else—nursing, home health assistance, child care, food preparation. Many of the new jobs, says Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress, “replace the things that women used to do in the home for free.” None is especially high-paying. But the steady accumulation of these jobs adds up to an economy that, for the working class, has become more amenable to women than to men.--Hanna Rosin

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