Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quotes of the day

By the time Shakespeare turned to writing, these “cultural paywalls” were abundant in London: workers holding moneyboxes (bearing the distinctive knobs found by the archaeologists) stood at the entrances of a growing number of outdoor playhouses, collecting a penny for admission. At day’s end, actors and theater owners smashed open the earthenware moneyboxes and divided the daily take. From those proceeds dramatists were paid to write new plays. For the first time ever, it was possible to earn a living writing for the public. Money changed everything. Almost overnight, a wave of brilliant dramatists emerged, including Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Ben Jonson and Shakespeare. These talents and many comparable and lesser lights had found the opportunity, the conditions and the money to pursue their craft. The stark findings of this experiment? As with much else, literary talent often remains undeveloped unless markets reward it.--SCOTT TUROW, PAUL AIKEN and JAMES SHAPIRO

I envisioned myself as the Great Carbon-Based Hope against a new generation of thinking machines—which, if Hollywood is to believed, will inevitably run amok, build unstoppable robot shells, and destroy us all. But at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Lab, an Eero Saarinen-designed fortress in the snowy wilds of New York's Westchester County, where the shows taped last month, I wasn't the hero at all. I was the villain.--Ken Jennings

I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.--Ken Jennings

A bettor playing Gulfstream Park's races last month cashed a ticket that was almost unprecedented in U. S. parimutuel wagering. He collected $221,677 for a winning combination that cost 10 cents. The wager, dubbed the Rainbow Six, represents an innovation sweeping the sport: the microbet. Whereas the $2 bet once was the industry's standard, and most exotic wagers have been sold in $1 units, many tracks have begun to offer smaller bets.--Andrew Beyer

Work on your impulse control. ... Just try and think things through a little bit before you do them.--Charlie Sheen's advice to Lindsay Lohan

Did I just quote Ben Franklin and Whitney Houston while thinking about the Bible? I am the worst parent ever.--Jon Acuff

I hereby dissent from the dissent from the dissent. My dissent is different from all those other dissents, which is why I am dissenting.--Michael Lewis

The mortgage people didn’t see any problems because there’d never been a default, except for one manufactured housing (mobile home) deal in the early 1990’s in California.--John Paulson

The reason I find this so striking is that this is the same sort of thing we’re now hearing about muni-bonds. The “muni people” are pretty much united in the view that munis are safe, that talk of large losses is irresponsible and the product of novice minds looking at a market they don’t understand. After all, investment grade munis never default. I’m worried that the same kind of tunnel vision that blinded so many of the smartest minds on Wall Street to the fragility of the mortgage market may be operating in munis.--John Carney

A homeowner has begun foreclosure proceedings on a local Wells Fargo Office in Pennsylvania.--Ash Bennington

In a small flat in the German town of Erlangen in February 2003, an out-of-work Iraqi sat down with his wife to watch one of the world's most powerful men deliver the speech of his career on live TV. As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west's intelligence services as "Curveball" — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell's main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new "Deep throat" — an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government. As Curveball watched Powell make the US case to invade Iraq, he was hiding an admission that he has not made until now: that nearly every word he had told his interrogators from Germany's secret service, the BND, was a lie.--Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd

The revolution in Egypt has reopened a long-simmering debate about the “freedom agenda” that animated George W. Bush’s presidency. Was he right after all, as his supporters have argued? Are they claiming credit he does not deserve? And has President Obama picked up the mantle of democracy and made it his own?--Peter Baker

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