Friday, April 29, 2011

Quotes of the day

A people thus united and resolved cannot shrink from any sacrifice which they may be called on to make, nor can there be a reasonable doubt of their final success, however long and severe may be the test of their determination to maintain their birthright of freedom and equality as a trust which it is their first duty to transmit undiminished to their posterity.--Jefferson Davis

I think the birther issue is good for the country. A modern republic needs some simple and unimportant issues to keep its citizens invested in the process. The important issues of our time are far too complicated for the average person, and I count myself in that group. We need a few simple issues so we can be part of the political conversation without hurting anything. The last thing our system of government needs is regular citizens getting involved in Middle East strategy, healthcare reform, the budget, climate change, or anything else that might matter. ... The birther issue is sort of like letting your toddler have a toy steering wheel in his car seat. He feels as if he's doing something useful and you don't have to rely on him to keep you out of the ravine. ... The birther issue is educational too, as are many of the so-called distracting issues. The birther distraction teaches us that a president has to be a natural-born citizen. Readers of this blog already knew that, but I'll bet a third of the country learned it recently with the birther issue. And Monica Lewinsky taught us a thing or two about impeachment.--Scott Adams

Ahead of the company's long-rumored IPO, a group of Facebook employees and investors tried to unload $1 billion in stock at a $90 billion valuation but couldn't find enough investor appetite. Instead, they had to lower their asking price to an implied $70 billion valuation -- the high end of where Facebook has traded on private exchanges that traffic in the shares.--GARETT SLOANE

Venture capital has failed to produce viable investor returns since 1998, produced negative 4.6 percent 10-year returns, performed below the consumer adoption rate of technology in the same period, is being outperformed by corporate innovation and capital, lost public trust because of bad past conversion from valuation to value and does not make a dent in the 80% greenfield of technology adoption. The asset class is only statistically perhaps rescued by the success of Facebook, which managed to grow despite VCs’ traditional playbook (not because of it), and a few others (Twitter, LinkedIn) that quickly jumped into Facebook’s valuation slipstream.--Georges van Hoegaerden

It is not clear why we enjoy certitude so much – certitude being the subjective experience of feeling certain ... there is a serious cost to excess certainty. Whenever an analyst or academic presents a number or a conclusion with too much precision, they reduce the demand for better evidence. Why run a pilot, set up a proper survey, if the answer is already known to three decimal places? The fact is that our political system simply does not take evidence seriously. If I had to suggest one single reason for that, it’s our love of certitude. Evidence is the way to reduce honest doubts. Stuffed on a fattening diet of certitude, who has room for doubt? And if we have no doubts, who needs evidence? .--Tim Harford
Portrait link here.

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