Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quotes of the day

There is something attractive about the idea of becoming a terrorist in response to being terrorized.--Jessica Stern

A lot of older men and women think I’m talking about Playboy from 15 years ago: a centerfold or a woman with no clothes on smiling in a cornfield. They think, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, that was bad enough in the way it objectified women, but we’re on a whole new level now with this kind of imagery. How it got to this point is the Internet. It made it more accessible, affordable, and anonymous. You’re seeing a massive rise in use, and the users are getting younger and younger. Children who are 11½ years old are now looking at pornography because it comes straight into the home. There’s no limit on how much you can access. It used to be you had to steal father’s Playboy or Penthouse. Use was limited to how much you could actually pilfer. Today it is unlimited. So what happens is that desensitization sets in that much quicker and that much earlier. In order to keep the consumer base going, the pornographers have to keep upping the ante. They make it more violent, body-punishing, or abusive as a way to keep men interested. When you think about it, if you’re exposed to it at age 11 or 12, you’re jaded by 20. You’re certainly jaded by 30. Pornography bleeds sex dry of intimacy, emotions, and connection. Once you do that, then there’s not much left. It becomes boring and mechanical. So you have to keep feeding newer and newer ideas just to keep [the audience] interested.--Gail Dines

... the FBI must have been clapping its collective hands when it discovered the primitive radio techniques the Russians were using: high speed "burst transmissions.” The Cold War-era technique requires the sending party to record a coded Morse code message on a tape, then shoot it through the air in a millisecond. They were easy picking for the FBI, once it knew where to listen: Bugs in the defendants’ residences picked up “the irregular electronic clicking sounds associated with the receipt of coded radio transmissions,” its affidavit states. Likewise, you’d think the Russians would have moved beyond buried paper bags to pay their agents. Moscow Center did supply them with ATM cards, according to the FBI’s affidavit. But it also seems stuck with the old ways.--Jeff Stein

One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring ‘peer-reviewed science’. Yet oftentimes, peer review is a nonsense. As anyone who has ever put his nose inside a university will know, peer review is usually a mode of excluding the unexpected, the unpredictable and the unrespectable, and forming a mutually back-scratching circle. The history of peer review and how it developed is not a pretty sight. Through the process of peer review, of certain papers being nodded through by experts and other papers being given a red cross, the controllers of the major scientific journals can include what they like and exclude what they don’t like. Peer review is frequently a way of controlling debate, even curtailing it. Many people who fall back on peer-reviewed science seem afraid to have out the intellectual argument.--Alexander Cockburn

Trade increases income. The more that people consume goods that they do not produce, the better off they are. Our measures of economic activity take this proposition to extremes. If I cook my dinner and you cook yours, then the value of our cooking does not count as GDP, and my work does not count as employment. However, if I pay for dinner in your restaurant and you pay for dinner in my restaurant, then our cooking does enter into GDP, and both of us are counted as employed. ... Or, to put it another way, a common view is that if wages were fully flexible, then the labor market would clear, and we would not have unemployment. In the dishwasher story, the labor market clears in the sense that everyone is employed, but the economy is generating a low level of output and income, and workers are not fully utilizing their skills. We see that simply increasing the willingness of workers to accept low wages is not a cure-all. Still, it may be that wage stickiness in high-skill labor markets might be the problem that lies in the background in the dishwasher story.--Arnold Kling

Perhaps one could argue that though the aim of Nazi Germany’s stimulus was misdirected towards the armed forced; it still had net effects on economic growth. A different policy which matched the Nazi drive for stimulus, but which redirected it towards public goods, may have worked equally well without the war side effects. Perhaps—though Tooze cautions us on this score as well. The reality is that many different governments, each following different economic policies, ultimately recovered from the Great Depression. It is impossible to know the counterfactual policy—but scholars such as Barry Eichengreen and Christina Romer have convincing work that suggests that monetary boosts, in the form of exiting the Gold Standard, formed the primary basis for international economic recovery. This is not to say that further fiscal stimulus now would be a bad idea. But the lessons of 1930s Germany are not exactly an ironclad defense of the wisdom of spending your way to prosperity.--Arpit Gupta

Barbados was leading 2-0 until the 83rd minute, when Grenada scored, making it 2-1. Approaching the dying moments, the Barbadians realized they had no chance of scoring past Grenada's mass defense, so they deliberately scored an own goal to tie the game at 2-2. This would send the game into extra time and give them another half hour to break down the defense. The Grenadians realized what was happening and attempted to score an own goal as well, which would put Barbados back in front by one goal and would eliminate Barbados from the competition. However, the Barbados players started defending their opposition's goal to prevent them from doing this, and during the game's last five minutes, the fans were treated to the incredible sight of Grenada trying to score in either goal. Barbados also defended both ends of the pitch, and held off Grenada for the final five minutes, sending the game into extra time. In extra time, Barbados notched the game-winner, and, according to the rules, was awarded a 4-2 victory, which put them through to the next round.--Wikipedia

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