Friday, December 03, 2010

Quotes of the day

The repeated lies become history, but they don’t necessarily become the truth.--Colum McCann

A lie flies halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on.--Winston Churchill

Overall, the book is not too bad if you ignore that it’s based on climate science that is almost 15 years out of date and that it has multiple errors that would make Wikipedia blush. The fact that this textbook has over 20 percent of the market shakes my faith in capitalism.--Yoram Bauman

If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents.--Will Wilkinson

Compare these two theories and tell me which one sounds more likely:
1. U.S. Diplomats are the only group of people on Earth who are all doing a fine job. And they never write down anything that is worse than just baaarely embarrassing. And someone risked being executed as a traitor to release this non-news.
2. The U.S. government leaked the information itself, after taking out the good parts, because somewhere buried in the pile is an idea that they want "accidentally" released to the world.
I give this theory a 60% chance of being true because it would be easy for the government to pull it off, there's a good chance it would be useful, and it is well within the normal political bag of tricks. If you see a "leak" revelation in the next few days that seems to help the government's strategy more than it hurts, I might raise my estimate.--Scott Adams

The specter of bank runs, high funding costs, default and social unrest might not seem so scary in today’s conditions: some countries are already vulnerable to these. Efforts to ameliorate these problems have so far proved inadequate (see article). Therein lies the danger for the euro. The cost of breaking up the single currency would be enormous. In the ensuing chaos and recrimination, the survival of the EU and its single market would be in jeopardy. But by believing that a break-up cannot happen, the euro zone’s authorities will always tend to stop short of the radical measures needed to hold the project together. Given the likely and devastating chaos, it would be a mistake for a country to choose to leave. But mistakes occur in times of stress. That is why some are beginning to contemplate the unthinkable.--The Economist

An empty Washington Monument would serve as a constant reminder to those on Capitol Hill that they are afraid of the terrorists and what they could do. They're afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism -- or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity -- they will be branded as "soft on terror." And they're afraid that Americans would vote them out of office if another attack occurred. Perhaps they're right, but what has happened to leaders who aren't afraid? What has happened to "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"? An empty Washington Monument would symbolize our lawmakers' inability to take that kind of stand -- and their inability to truly lead. ... We can reopen the Washington Monument when we've defeated our fears, when we've come to accept that placing safety above all other virtues cedes too much power to government and that liberty is worth the risks, and that the price of freedom is accepting the possibility of crime.--Bruce Schneier

The CEO is often a compromise between conflicting groups. He must be blithely ignorant about the inconsistent objectives articulated to the team, such as trying to simultaneously prioritize innovation and tradition, a meritocracy that aggressively promotes racial bean-counting, or a strong sexual harassment policy and a really fun Christmas party. People who are really good at logical puzzles, who excel at something, are often not very good at managing people because they can not, or will not, suffer fools well. Thus, in spite of conspicuous examples where the highest IQ person is both an idea generator and the boss such as Larry Ellison or Bill Gates, in general the functions involve different skill sets. The result is a leader in a modern reverse dominance hierarchy who is paid to keep the peace and make people feel good, as opposed to make really important strategic and tactical decisions. It's a skill, but not one worth tens, let alone hundreds, of millions of dollars. We don't mind inequality when we know it is for true alpha. What bothers people, and I think rightly, is when people are getting paid when they really do not have alpha, in that their ability to chair meetings, spout cliches at group functions, or golf leisurely, is something anyone could do. In contrast, if we played shortstop for the Yankees we know the team would suffer. It's a problem I don't have any solution for.--Eric Falkenstein

Pity the person whose self-identity and hope rest on transient things. Ten billion years into eternity, it will seem a little daft to puff yourself up over the car you now drive, the amount of money or education you have received, the number of books you owned, the number of times you had your name in the headlines. Whether or not you have won an Academy Award will then prove less important than whether or not you have been true to your spouse. Whether or not you were a basketball star will be less significant than how much of your wealth you generously gave away.--D.A. Carson

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