Monday, March 21, 2011

Quotes of the day

Idleness is not inertness, for example. Inertness is immobile, inattentive, somehow lacking potential. Neither is idleness quite laziness, for it does not convey disinclination. It is not torpor, or acedia—the so-called Demon of Noontide—nor is it any form of passive resistance, for these require an engagement of the will, and idleness is manifestly not about that. Gandhi was not promulgating idleness, nor was Bartleby the scrivener exhibiting it when he owned that he would “prefer not to.” Nor are we talking about the purged consciousness that Zen would aspire to, or any spiritually influenced condition: idleness is not prayer, meditation, or contemplation, though it may carry tonal shadings of some of these states. It is the soul’s first habitat, the original self ambushed—cross-sectioned—in its state of nature, before it has been stirred to make a plan, to direct itself toward something.--Sven Birkerts

Pause for Sabbath for 24 hr. each week (Stop, rest, delight, contemplate).--Pete Scazzero

... an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking. There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, solitude experts say, so can being alone.--Leon Neyfakh

... is Mark Zuckerberg really the center of The Social Network? This audacious super-student who wanted to get into elite clubs makes quite a subject. But the film is also about Zuckerberg’s business partner, Eduardo Saverin. Saverin gets caught up in the rush of Facebook’s juggernaut success, only to realize that success is sucking the life out of his friendship with Zuckerberg. It’s also leading him into a world of business in which words like “loyalty” and “ethics” are fantasies. If the audience sympathizes with anybody in this movie, it’s probably Saverin. And Andrew Garfield’s performance anchors Saverin as the film’s true, broken heart. He’s the one who wants to believe that good business can be done without sacrificing conscience.--Jeffrey Overstreet

For when [Alexander the Great] had asked the [pirate] what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, "What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor."--St. Augustine

This exalted view of [government's] scope, character, powers and autonomy is fundamentally false.  A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men….  Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general, have come to a degree of puissance in the world that is unchallenged by that of any other group.  Their fiats, however preposterous, are generally obeyed as a matter of duty, they are assumed to have a  kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom, and the lives of multitudes are willingly sacrificed in their interest.--H.L. Mencken

Even if some government program is proved effective, that is not a good enough reason to protect it. Is it more effective than other uses of the money, including leaving it in taxpayers' pockets? We are still a rich country and can afford to finance a high school essay contest on peace, or any other luxury — if we're willing to pay for it.--Michael Kinsley

The funding for outsized government health benefits and pensions just magically appears, rather than being stripped from private investment.   So why not then put everyone on a government job and solve all our economic woes?--Heather MacDonald

Maybe you could make a case that spending on interest is mandatory. But spending on Social Security and Medicare is not. Congress could vote to end them. If Congress can vote to end them, they are not mandatory; they are discretionary. The spending does occur automatically unless Congress votes not to spend. So most of what is called mandatory spending should be called automatic discretionary spending. What about entitlement spending? The term is a non-starter because you shouldn't start by using value-laden terms. If someone is entitled, then he's entitled. And don't underestimate the hold such terms have on the public, most of whom think about these things way less than the usual blog reader. I would bet that many people think Congress should not cut entitlement spending because people are entitled.--David Henderson

To think that Barry Bonds took steroids, but not knowingly, seems ridiculous, absurd on its face, and it seems an insult to the question and the people asking it. For seven years now the U.S. government has been trying to nail him for this unconvincing bit of nonsense. So, on the one hand you have someone who is probably lying — and obviously we should not stand for people lying to grand juries. On the other, you have what seems an extreme use of government power and money and shaky methods to nail him for this lie.--Joe Posnanski

... as I read about the Obama administration’s evolution in support of military action against Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, I couldn’t help but notice an important distinction in the line up of senior officials. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and White House chief of staff William Daley all argued against a no-fly zone in Libya. ... it was senior women in the administration who pushed the process toward military intervention. That included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and National Security Council senior aide Samantha Power ...--Brad Knickerbocker

Tokyo Electric Power Co. was reluctant to use seawater because it worried about hurting its long-term investment in the complex, say people involved with the efforts. ... "This disaster is 60% man-made," said one government official. "They failed in their initial response. It's like Tepco dropped and lost a 100 yen coin while trying to pick up a 10 yen coin."--NORIHIKO SHIROUZU, PHRED DVORAK, YUKA HAYASHI and ANDREW MORSE

... while the fear is understandable, this may turn out to have been an overreaction: history suggests that, despite the terrifying destruction and the horrific human toll, the long-term impact of the quake on the Japanese economy could be surprisingly small. That may seem hard to reconcile with the scale and the scope of the devastation. But, as the economists Eduardo Cavallo and Ilan Noy have recently suggested, in developed countries even major disasters “are unlikely to affect economic growth in the long run.” Modern economies, it turns out, are adept at rebuilding and are often startlingly resilient. The quintessential example comes from Japan itself: in 1995, an earthquake levelled the port city of Kobe, which at the time was a manufacturing hub and the world’s sixth-largest trading port.--James Suroweicki

When Anne Hathaway makes headlines, the stock for Warren Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway goes up.--Dan Mirvish
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