Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quotes of the day

Peter over at Cleveland Frowns has a passionate post about Manny Ramirez and the Hall of Fame, and it made me think about Lyndon Johnson. This, I suspect, gives you a pretty good idea about how my ridiculous mind works and why I didn’t get many dates as a young man. In truth, I’m reading Robert Caro’s amazing and mesmerizing “Master of the Senate” about Johnson … and so just about EVERYTHING I hear at the moment makes me think about Lyndon Johnson, which makes it hard to read children’s books to the kids:
”And then the guy who wouldn’t eat Green Eggs and Ham, um, arranged for a filibuster by promising to vote with the pork states and then raised trumped up charges of Sam I Am being a communist.”--Joe Posnanski

As the NFL lockout enters its second month, players from at least 16 teams have already sought out extremely aggressive short-term loans with high interest rates, has learned. According to a financing source, these interest rates range from 18 percent to 24 percent, and upon default, they can rise as high as 36 percent.

The ability for bankers to run the show has long been an obvious flaw in the ratings system for structured products. Investment banks create the securities and benefit when they receive generous ratings. Banks pay the agencies that supply the ratings. Yet the agencies are somehow supposed to hold the line with the people who are responsible for their paychecks. ... So who is Mr. [Michael] Kanef? Before he was the head of regulatory affairs and compliance, he was in charge of ratings on residential mortgage-backed securities. Did such an executive deserve a promotion? And then there is Raymond W. McDaniel, the chief executive throughout the housing boom, the bust and the entire financial crisis. He remains at the helm. And he had to swallow the bitter pill of more than $9 million in compensation last year. Indeed, most of Moody’s top management has been in place through the crisis. --JESSE EISINGER

Two key questions are whether the credit agencies — which benefit from a unique series of government charters — enjoy too much official protection and whether their judgment was tainted.--Roger Lowenstein

According to market research, 1 out of 6 marriages that are happening in the US right now originated online, and these days nearly 30% of couples meet on the internet. But, as great as those stats sound, online dating is also utterly time consuming and competitive. The authors of “Freakonomics” discovered that 56% of men that create an online dating profile do not even get one single message while Jupiter Research found that 97% quit within 3 months.--Katherine Blodget

Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record. The bad economy, an aging population and a plateau in women working are contributing to changes that pose serious challenges for financing the nation’s social programs.--Dennis Cauchon

As more Boomers retire, even a smaller percentage will be working (while more retirees will be collecting entitlements). This is why any plan to raise revenue by raising tax rates is irrational. It is all about reducing entitlement spending in the least painful way. There will be pain.--Cav

Republican won 24 of the 37 Senate contests last year, giving them a head start not only on winning a Senate majority in 2012 but possibly winning a 60-seat supermajority two years later. They will need to net 26 or 27 of the remaining 67 contests over the next two cycles to win a majority in 2014, or 36 of the next 67 to get to 60 seats during the next midterm elections. The Senate is always a different kind of numbers game than the House. With unbalanced classes, Senate control — to say nothing about a filibuster-proof majority — hinges on which party has more seats up for election in a particular election cycle. When one of the political parties has a huge election night, as Republicans did last year, it automatically gives that party an opportunity to take over the Senate, whether two years later or four. The 2012 Senate class includes 23 Democrats and only 10 Republicans, and the stunning imbalance means that Democrats will be on the defensive throughout the cycle unless the political environment shifts dramatically to their party.--Stuart Rothenberg

Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty four hours until the quarters were entirely burned the main gates destroyed by fire. The gorge walls seriously injured. The magazine surrounded by flames and its door closed from the effects of heat. Four barrels and three cartridges of powder only being available and no provisions remaining but pork. I accepted terms of evacuation offered by General Beauregard being on same offered by him on the eleventh inst. Prior to the commencement of hostilities and marched our of the Fort Sunday afternoon the fourteenth inst. With colors flying and drums beating. Bringing away company and private property and saluting my flag with fifty guns.--Major Robert Anderson, April 14, 1861

My 5-year-old apparently hates social justice. Have you ever had a moment like that, when you tried to teach your kids a lesson and it backfired?--Jon Acuff

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. Making a great screen comedy is darn near impossible.--Christian Toto

Since Twitter was invented, Internet behemoths have been clamoring to buy it in the belief that it is the one social service with the potential to compete with Facebook. Last fall Microsoft, Google, and Facebook itself all considered buying the company. Microsoft never made an offer, according to sources, but Facebook is believed to have offered $2 billion for Twitter, and Google, by far the most serious, offered as much as $10 billion.--Jessi Hempel

I think it’s fair to say that Zuckerberg is lacking in conscience. Certainly, someone who had a strong conscience would feel somewhat guilty about the way he treated the Winklevoss twins and his best friend [Eduardo Saverin] when he tried cutting him out of his shares. And you never see signs of guilt over anything. ... He’s certainly chosen great talent [to surround himself with over time], but all of Facebook’s ideas seems to come from other people. There are people who passionately want to change the world for the better. I don’t hear anything like that in Zuckerberg.--Michael Macoby

... you can think about the whole capitalist system as being designed to get us to take actions and spend money now – and those businesses that are more successful in that do better and prosper (at least in the short term). And this of course continuously tests our ability to resist temptation and exercise self-control. It is in this very environment that it's particularly important to understand what's going on behind the mysterious force of self-control. ... It seems that Ulysses and kids ability to exert self-control is less connected to a natural ability to be more zen-like in the face of temptations, and more linked to the ability to reconfigure our environment (tying ourselves to the mast) and modulate the intensity by which it tempts us (filling our ears with wax). If this is indeed the case, this is good news because it is probably much easier to teach people tricks to deal with self-control issues than to train them with a zen-like ability to avoid experiencing temptation when it is very close to our faces.--Dan Ariely

A true bubble is when something is over-valued and intensely believed. Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus. ... If Harvard were really the best education, if it makes that much of a difference, why not franchise it so more people can attend? Why not create 100 Harvard affiliates? It’s something about the scarcity and the status. In education your value depends on other people failing. Whenever Darwinism is invoked it’s usually a justification for doing something mean. It’s a way to ignore that people are falling through the cracks, because you pretend that if they could just go to Harvard, they’d be fine. Maybe that’s not true.--Peter Thiel
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