Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quotes of the day

Such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness.--Thomas Paine

Good looks can kill a woman's chances of snaring jobs considered "masculine," according to a study by the University of Colorado Denver Business School. Attractive women faced discrimination when they applied for jobs where appearance was not seen as important. These positions included job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor. They were also overlooked for categories like director of security, hardware salesperson, prison guard and tow-truck driver.--Belinda Goldsmith

Put more sex in your life: It slows aging. A Scottish study found that thrice-weekly action stripped at least four years off participants' faces, and getting busy even boosts immunity and reduces heart disease. There are beauty bonuses, too — sex perks up your appearance instantaneously.--Marie Claire

We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized.--Political Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 6, 2008

I am skeptical of Paul Ryan's roadmap. Not because it's dishonest, but because it's hard. Really hard. As in, I-don't-see-how-it-could-possibly-survive-the-legislative-process hard. ... Nonetheless, I think it's a really, really important document. Why? Because it is the most honest attempt I've seen by a politician to grapple with the challenges ahead of us. Strike that; it is the only attempt that I'm aware of to grapple with what lies ahead of us. Others have been willing to discuss things piecemeal, or delegate the nasty job of balancing a budget to a commission, but as far as I know only Paul Ryan has come forward and said, "Here's how all the moving parts are going to fit together." ... The people complaining that he hasn't spent all his time highlighting the least popular aspects of his roadmap are making ridiculous demands that they would never deliver to their own side. They might as well claim that true honesty demands that he campaign in his birthday suit and open every speech with his unvarnished feelings about his mother in law. Don't get me wrong, there are fair criticisms, and I'm trying to make some of them. But I'd love to see the people kvetching about his plan offer an alternative plan of their own. How much tax revenue would it take to pay for the welfare state that Democrats want us to have? How deeply are they willing to cut military spending? What politically difficult choices are those sniping at Paul Ryan willing to make? His plan may have flaws, but I'll take it over people who have vague plans to deal with the problem by raising taxes on the rich, "closing the loopholes", or, um, ending our wildfire epidemic of unnecessary amputations.--Megan McArdle

Health care now approaches 20 percent of the economy. With health insurance included in compensation, that means that 20 percent of compensation is determined not by your skill level, but by the median cost of health insurance. If the value of your skills has been rising faster than the median, then maybe that is not a problem. However, if the value of your skills has been rising more slowly than the median, then your skill level is no longer enough to overcome the health insurance hurdle.--Arnold Kling

Imposing a 20% income tax is not the same as cutting your wage by 20%. That’s because the income tax grabs not just a chunk of your current wages, but also a chunk of the future interest and dividends those wages enable you to earn. So a 20% income tax will, in general, discourage work more effectively than a 20% wage cut. This is important if you’re using data on wage cuts to predict the effects of income taxes. ... Nobody, not even the most way-out leftist, thinks that the goal of tax policy should be to maximize government revenue. We also care about things like, you know, the quality of life. Asking “what tax rate maximizes government revenue?” is like asking “what conscription rate maximizes the size of the army?”. Who cares? The right question is: What tax rate, and what conscription rate, will make us happiest in the long run? There is more to life than feeding the government.--Steve Landsburg

In order to reduce China’s excessive dependence on export surpluses and investment, it is vitally important that household consumption, which in China represents probably the lowest share of GDP ever recorded, rise significantly. To that end Beijing has implemented a number of policies aimed at boosting Chinese consumption. Are these policies working? On the positive side, automobile sales surged last year. For most analysts, this was immensely good news and they argued that this increased demand signaled a major shift in the consuming and saving behavior of Chinese households. But skeptics like me disagreed. We claimed that the surge in demand for automobiles was caused mainly by government subsidies, and that these were not sustainable. The same thing happened, by the way, to durable goods, which were also subsidized and which also saw a surge in retail sales. More importantly, we argued, any current increase in automobiles sales and durable goods would be reversed in the future as households absorbed the cost of the subsidies. Remember that subsidies are not manna from heaven. They must be paid for, and ultimately it is the household sector that pays for them, usually in the form of higher taxes but sometimes, and certainly in the case of China, in the form of financial repression.--Michael Pettis

Most terrorists come from fairly prosperous backgrounds, and though the Internet does help disseminate hate, a close look at terrorism shows that, almost invariably, a necessary step in the process to radicalization occurs in a place of worship. This doesn't mean that all mosques are bad, of course, but it does mean that some have played an important role in the West's decades-long struggle with radical Islam. The mosque that was closed on Aug. 9 is a good example. It's better known around the world by its old name, al-Quds, where Mohamed Atta and two other of the 9/11 pilots worshipped. (It was renamed in 2008.) When the attacks took place in 2001, I went to Hamburg along with many other journalists and tried to talk to the people who ran it and worshipped there. Everyone we met said that they didn't know the plotters and that their radicalization must have taken place elsewhere. That turned out to be exactly wrong, as police investigations later showed. In 1998, in fact, the al-Quds mosque showed up in a German police investigation. A Sudanese man, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, had been arrested in a Munich suburb, charged with conspiring to build an al Qaeda network in Germany. ... When deciding whether a mosque should exist on public property, simply look at the people involved, figure out what they've done, and look into where the money comes from. Radicals leave a trail, and it really isn't that hard to find it. The hard part is acting when you find the evidence.--Ian Johnson

Google and Verizon announced Monday, as part of their bilateral net neutrality trade agreement they want Congress to ratify, that open wireless rules were unnecessary. “We both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wire-line world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly,” the joint statement said. “In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless-broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the [Net Neutrality] wire-line principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement.” That’s fancy language for: Verizon and the nation’s telecoms have yet again won, Google officially became a net neutrality surrender monkey, and you — as an American — have lost. Google defends its reversal, saying through a spokeswoman: “We have taken a backseat to no one in our support for an open internet. We offered this proposal in the spirit of compromise. Others might have done it differently, but we think locking in key enforceable protections for consumers is progress and preferable to no protection.” Compare Monday’s statement to this one, from a post on Google’s official blog in 2007: “The nation’s spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC’s auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers — for the first time — to use their handsets with any network they desire, and and use the lawful software applications of their choice.” Back then, Google figured it would need those rules to catch up to Apple’s iPhone dominance in the mobile world, and its interests and the American people’s were aligned. It created the “Open Handset Alliance” with handset makers — not carriers.--Ryan Singel

It's typical of the morons at UC irvine that they would think Bill Lerach is the right guy to teach an ethics course of any sort. The guy did jail time and was disbarred for gross ethical improprieties.--Steve Bainbridge

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