Monday, November 08, 2010

Quotes of the day

My biggest regret is that I saw things going on that I should've known were wrong or I knew were wrong but then I rationalized them away. I didn't say anything. I should've spoken up a number of times and said, "Wait a moment, this isn't right," and I didn't. That's my greatest regret.--Chuck Colson

When Ken stands up to Lotso at the end of [Toy Story 3], Lotso yells that there’s a hundred million Barbies just like the one he’s fallen for. Ken affirms that he loves Barbie — that she’s special and unique to him; that she’s not replaceable to him. To be pretentious for a second, that’s a gesture Shakespeare uses a lot — putting wisdom in the mouth of a fool.--Michael Arndt

[Thomas] Schelling pointed out that toddlers and terrorists have a tremendous advantage in any negotiation because both are immune to reason. They can demand everything, and often get it. (I can’t advise on the subject of dealing with terrorists, but I can attest that most negotiations with two-year-olds go better if conducted at home, rather than in a restaurant, train or bookshop.) All this is very frustrating for those of us who advocate a bit of give and take in life, but there is a consolation: there’s good reason to believe that co-operative people tend to find each other and do very well sharing and sharing alike. As for greedy bullies, they can do well toe-to-toe with reasonable people, but not so well when they meet other greedy bullies. Two people who won’t back down is a recipe for a well-deserved disaster.--Tim Harford

[Istvan] Hargittai is a Hungarian historian who has written extensively on the Nobel Prize itself, Nobel laureates, and some of the greats who did not get the biggest prize in science. His 2003 book The Road to Stockholm includes eleven chapters on the prize and its winners, then a final (and best) chapter: "Who Did Not Win." I have heard Hargittai speak about the subject of this chapter. He is direct and devastating in his judgments on why some of the greats in science were passed over for the big prize. Hargittai puts a human face on science (very much warts and all), which is missing from so much scientific biography. Of course there has been a trend recently in scientific biographies to talk about lust in the lives of their subjects. We all know now that Einstein would not be named husband of the century. Erwin Schrödinger, known for the thought experiment "Schrödinger's Cat," created the Schrödinger equation, central to quantum mechanics, on a winter semester break. At the time he was having an affair with twin young women in one of his classes. He took one twin to the Alps and came back with the equation. But while sins of the flesh haunt the lives of the rich and powerful, Coffey leaves these sins in the background to concentrate on the sins of the spirit central to their success or failure. It is Pride, Envy, and Greed that often make the difference between who gets the big prize and who doesn't.--Neil Gussman

San Francisco officials strike a blow for “food justice” by barring the Happy Meal. I think the word “justice” has now jumped the shark. We already have economic justice, social justice, global justice, environmental justice, climate justice, housing justice, transportation justice, even — no kidding — judicial justice. The game seems to be that when you want to force other people to adjust their lives to better suit your preferences, you slap the word “justice” on the end of your slogan and it’s transformed into a golden ticket on the rail car running straight to the tippy top of Moral Mountain. Well, I’m agitating here for definitional justice, and my manifesto is simply that every person who associates the word “justice” with some economically ill-informed utopian fantasy ought to be required to wear a t-shirt that says: I’M GETTING IN TOUCH WITH MY INNER IRON-FISTED AUTOCRAT.--Tony Woodlief

The most important step in raising the growth rate is not to increase but rather to lower taxes on capital and entrepreneurship. This implies maintaining essentially all the Bush tax cuts, including those on capital gains and dividends, and those on incomes at all levels, including quite high incomes. The estate tax on very high levels of wealth could be reinstated if politically necessary, but it will only bring in a very small amount of tax revenue, and will be more costly than it is worth. Tax reform also implies a reduction in the corporate income tax, and especially reductions in taxes on incomes of small businesses. Successful small businesses that grow to become large companies, such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Apple, form the foundation of the American economy. They should be strongly encouraged. One goal of such tax reform is to eliminate as much as possible taxes on capital since economic theory basically implies that economic efficiency requires that capital not be taxed in the long run. For the supply of capital in the long run is highly responsive to after-tax rates of return on capital.--Gary Becker

Clearly the US needs to move aggressively to shift global demand in its favor because most countries are doing just that – that is what beggar-they-neighbor means, and in a beggar-thy-neighbor world whoever does not respond will bear most of the brunt of the pain. There is no point pretending that we are not in a world in which nearly every country is cheating on trade, and will continue cheating as long as it is able. But the wrong aggressive moves can easily make things worse. I guess this means that the whole trade problem really will best be resolved by an intelligent multilateral agreement, with no cheating and no free-riding, that involves a set of determined and coordinated policies that bring the imbalances down gradually over the next several years. But that is asking for a lot. My guess? Trade disputes will be resolved through more tariffs and currency interventions. No one out there, it seems, is willing to do more than wish the imbalances away. Actually to take the painful rebalancing steps is still not on anyone’s agenda.--Michael Pettis

Third-party apps and services can’t pull data from Google without allowing Google to do the same with their data. Think of it as a declaration of data reciprocity. ... To me, the contact info of my friends is *my* social graph — not Facebook’s social graph. I should be able to take it wherever I wish. My only criticism of Google’s move is that it has taken way too long.--Mathew Ingram

At the end of the day, the peculiar story of the downfall of Mark Hurd at the hands of Jodie Fisher remains a drama about what happens when only two people know all the facts, yet many others act on them—with momentous consequences.--Adam Lashinsky

But there were other matters weighing on H-P's board. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal into Mr. Hurd's sudden ouster reveals that the letter contained an explosive allegation: that in early 2008, Mr. Hurd told Ms. Fisher of a still-secret H-P plan to buy Electronic Data Systems Corp. Though directors had little reason to doubt Mr. Hurd's assurance this allegation was false, some fretted about it. That is because of what the Journal found was the ultimate reason directors ousted Mr. Hurd: They had lost confidence he was being honest with them about his relationship with Ms. Fisher.--ROBERT A. GUTH, BEN WORTHEN And JUSTIN SCHECK

Women assault each other twice as much as men do, and they fight one and half times as much as men do ...--Diego Gambetta

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