Monday, May 09, 2011

Quotes of the day

It’s funny to me that honesty turns one into a dissident in global development.--Jessica Mack

One of the most unfortunate (and surprising) side-effects of the triumph of computer-generated animation was the death of the female protagonist in children’s movies. Think of all the female protagonists in Disney musicals. There are quite a number, almost as many as there are males—Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas, Mulan… the list goes on. Now think of female protagonists in Pixar movies. There aren’t any. Not a single one.--Stefan

I don’t look at [high frequency algorithmic trading] it as in any way evil … I don’t think the guy who’s trying to hide the supply-demand imbalance [by using an execution algorithm] is any better a human being than the person trying to discover the true supply-demand. I don’t know why … someone who runs an algo-sniffing strategy is bad … he’s trying to discover the guy who has a million shares [to sell] and the price then should readjust to the fact that there’s a million shares to buy.--unnamed New York broker

Whatever view one takes on its ethics, algo-sniffing is indisputably legal. More dubious in that respect is a set of strategies that seek deliberately to fool other algorithms. ... Systems that are both tightly coupled and highly complex, Perrow argues in Normal Accidents (1984), are inherently dangerous. Crudely put, high complexity in a system means that if something goes wrong it takes time to work out what has happened and to act appropriately. Tight coupling means that one doesn’t have that time. Moreover, he suggests, a tightly coupled system needs centralised management, but a highly complex system can’t be managed effectively in a centralized way because we simply don’t understand it well enough; therefore its organization must be decentralized.--Donald MacKenzie

In San Francisco, one of the toughest places in the country to find a place to live, more than 31,000 housing units — one of every 12 — now sit vacant, according to recently released census data. ... Invoking the Ellis Act would also mean that any new tenant to the unit, should Murphy decline the chance to return, would also be entitled to Murphy's old rent amount for many years to come. So the Koniuks would likely opt to just leave it vacant. Increasingly, small-time landlords ... are just giving up. ... Perversely, that is hurting the city’s renters as well, as a large percentage of the city’s housing stock is allowed to just sit vacant, driving up rents that newcomers pay for market-rate housing.--Elizabeth Lesly Stevens

[Mayor Bloomberg's] strategy adds up to one thing: twisting himself in knots to acknowledge the city's untenable fiscal situation while avoiding a head-on fight with labor. But sometimes peace -- and cognitive dissonance -- is unaffordable.--Nicole Gelinas

My gripe is with the Universe. If I were running the Universe, there’d be some level of accomplishment that confers immunity from death, deterioration and obscurity. I’m not sure exactly where I’d set that bar, but I’m sure Dan Quillen would have cleared it.--Steve Landsburg

The more dogmatic and determined the leader, the less likely it is that they’ll face any opposition. Leaders who quash dissent are virtually certain to be able to make any decision they feel like virtually unopposed. ... The danger of the fundamental attribution effect when applied to CEOs or securities analysts or investment gurus or the apparent internet insider with the hot tip is that they’re as mentally hamstrung as we are. If we have to lose money on the markets we can at least do it through our own errors, rather than at second hand.--timarr

... [F.A.] Hayek’s skepticism about government was NOT based on his certainty, as [Francis] Fukuyama would have it, but on his awareness of his ignorance. (and everyone else’s) We public intellectuals who are communicating ideas of Hayek to a broader public are NOT fond of ideas that highlight our own ignorance, so one prediction that can be made with a higher degree of certainty than usual is that Hayek will continue to be misunderstood.--William Easterly

World population grew by almost 300% during the twentieth century; over the same time period, world per capita incomes grew by about 400%.--Gary Becker
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