Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Quotes of the day

I never make predictions and I never will.--Paul Gascoigne

I thought the people who wrote off Tiger — depending on what we mean by “write off” — were more likely right than wrong, and anyway I never thought Tiger Woods has done well in an “us against the world” scenario. I don’t think he’s a guy who feeds of disrespect. I think he likes it best when everyone knows that he’s the best player going. At that time, my opinion was a pretty distinct minority. I certainly wasn’t alone on the “Tiger will probably never be the same” airplane, but I do know there were plenty of empty seats and plenty of overhead storage available. In the last year, though — a year in which Tiger spit on the green, threw clubs, blew a four-shot lead in his own tournament … when his average finish was 25th (not even counting the time he missed the cut or the time he withdrew) — the conventional wisdom has certainly shifted. ... The years tend to go in only one direction.--Joe Posnanski

... children are forced to go to school. In other words, school goes beyond child labor. It is forced child labor. ... my conclusion is that the law against child labor is really a law against children making money. Thanks, government.--David Henderson

There is nothing wrong with being tough. There is something wrong with only looking out for No. 1 when you pretend to be a team player.--Michael Lissack

Democracy can be a contact sport, but policy should be decided by legislative officials - not the judiciary. This is the fundamental difference between liberal and conservative judicial philosophies. A constitutional conservative jurist does not decide a case based on policy preferences—an honest liberal jurist admits to it. --Carrie Severino

A large, growing and diverse group of allies interested in consumer, small bank and credit union protections are pressing Congress to delay and study the Durbin amendment. We are encouraged that Congress is taking a closer look at the regulation and examining the unintended consequences. ... Remember, the Durbin Amendment was never debated publicly or the subject of a hearing before being adopted as part of the Dodd-Frank bill. As a result, the potential harm to consumers, small banks and credit unions is not known. If the regulation is implemented as written, consumers will likely see higher costs, fewer choices and reduced benefits—as consumers in Australia have experienced after similar regulations were imposed there.--Credit card insider

Detroit’s population plunged by 25 percent over the last decade, according to data recently released by the Census Bureau. This means fewer people are shouldering the nearly $3 billion of debt that Detroit, its public schools, the surrounding Wayne County and Wayne County Community College have accumulated. It works out to around $4,137 per person, according to the bond research firm MMA-Research. The per capita income of Detroit is just a little over $15,000.--John Carney

A lot of people think of janitors as a group that’s not particularly well paid. Those people might be surprised to learn that in the last five years alone, American janitors earned over $250 billion! That’s billion! With a B! Despite that enormous income, janitors pay no taxes whatsoever — or at least no taxes whatsoever over and above the taxes that are paid by you, me and other ordinary Americans. And shockingly, it appears that the U.S. Congress would rather cut spending than institute a new tax on janitorial income. ... The problem with democracy is that these people get to vote.--Steve Landsburg

... I think it's no longer credible to complain that the GOP has not put forward any sort of meaningful solution for the budget. At this point, they're the only ones who have put forward a detailed outline; the Democrats still seem to be hoping that if they kind of mill around long enough, eventually an angel will float over the horizon and deposit a plan that doesn't annoy anyone (and/or allows them to pay for the entire thing by raising the marginal tax rate on the Koch brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife to 110%). ... What the Ryan plan really shows is not where we're going, but how long it's going to take us to get there. The vengeful, partisan spirit of the times is not conducive to coming to any sort of bipartisan agreement, however grudging. And it is going to have to be a bipartisan agreement. --Megan McArdle

Everyone knows that what the president and his allies really want to do is raise taxes. They might agree to some tinkering around the margins on entitlements for show. But in their heart of hearts they believe the solution is higher rates of taxation. The problem is they don’t have the guts to say so in public. They know that’s the surest way to permanent minority status. And so they are hoping for a more indirect route to their goal, using guile to lure gullible Republicans (see here) into agreeing to their approach without ever having to sell it to a tax-averse electorate. The Ryan plan blows this kind of plotting by Democrats to smithereens. There’s no tax increase in the Ryan plan, and there’s no debt crisis. What’s required is far-reaching entitlement reform and serious spending discipline. By staking out that position, Ryan and his comrades have improved their leverage immensely. There’s no need to agree to tax hikes to solve the budget problem. What’s needed is for Democrats to get serious about spending reform, as Ryan has.--James Capretta

You do not have to like the long-term budget that Paul Ryan and the House Republicans have released this morning. There’s plenty in the plan for liberals to hate, moderates to doubt, and conservatives to question. But you do have to respect it. As my colleague David Brooks writes today, it is “the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes.” It puts flesh on the bones of the standard-issue conservative pledge to limit government’s growth, and it does so not with evasive pledges on process (like the risible idea of a balanced budget amendment) or dishonest suggestions that the deficit can be erased by defunding N.P.R. and slashing foreign aid, but by attacking entitlement spending deeply and directly. ... This is how we should want all our legislators to approach the people’s business, whether they’re liberal or conservative or somewhere in between — putting what they consider good policy above what everyone else in their party considers good politics. Too few of them do. But for the ones who try to make real substance their touchstone, rather than just partisan advantage, today should be a hopeful day.--Ross Douthat

Although [John] Milnor is famous for many results, the one for which he is best known is his construction of a seven-dimensional “exotic sphere”. This means a differentiable 7-manifold that is homeomorphic to a 7-sphere but not diffeomorphic to a 7-sphere.--Tim Gowers

Sequencing the human genome isn't really like being able to read the assembly instructions for the human body. The instructions are in a nucleic acid code that gets acted on by lots of different agents to turn them into a final product like a protein, and we don't really know the code yet. Sequencing the human genome was more like getting an instruction manual for something important--in a dead language for which we have no Rosetta Stone. But I didn't have that skepticism at the time, and neither did a lot of people in the biosciences. The human body keeps turning out to be way more complicated than we hope or expect.--Megan McArdle

In a symbiotic union more complete than any previously found in vertebrates, the common spotted salamander lives with algae inside its cells.--Brandon Keim

Why is Sean Penn doing so much better than his ex-wife? Can comparing their stories provide any lessons for aspiring celebrity humanitarians? ... While Madonna visited Malawi for some photo ops, she wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operation of the project. From the Times: “She and her aides offered no explanation of why, given her high interest in the project, she had not noticed the problems as they began unfolding.” In contrast, Sean Penn appears totally hands-on, living in Haiti and learning by doing--Laura Freschi
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