Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Quotes of the day

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.—Jane Austen, Emma

This is why I like reading about science and epistemology in general because it's all well and good to say science is all about the evidence and people being 'reality based', and only idiots or bigots are prejudiced. Everyone only sees what they believe, and beliefs are not easily moved by contrary data: observations are theory-laden.--Eric Falkenstein

There is no way around phenomenology one way or the other; it is the necessary connection between theory and experiment.--Sabine Hossenfelder

Google’s frame is the browser window. Apple’s frame is the screen. That’s what we’ll remember about [yesterday's Steve Jobs] keynote ten years from now.--John Gruber

... under the likely scenario that healthcare spending keeps rising faster than GDP, the Center for American Progress would give government the power to prohibit people from buying expensive health plans with their own money. That is not my idea of progress.--Greg Mankiw

I have concluded at my late age that, sadly enough, women are no better than men. Different, to be sure, but no better. Men, consider your opinion of what men are like. A sobering reflection. Then consider that that's what women are as good as too. Appalling, but there it is. Many men are creeps and many women like those creeps. Look at the garden of Eden. Eve was talked into eating the apple by a snake, so she was stupid enough to believe a snake. But then Adam was stupid enough to believe Eve. What if Eve had not been there? I'm no theologian, but I believe Adam would have tried to have sex with the snake. It's that bad. The only innocent in this whole mess is that poor housekeeper in Manhattan who fled to New York from whatever African hellhole it was, not any, please observe, primitive paradise, only to be attacked by Le Scumbaguette, the very pinnacle of French Civilization. The Calvinists have this doctrine called total depravity which avers that well, we're all just totally depraved, unless saved (I think). As a Catholic, I do not subscribe to this doctrine but I admit they have the makings of a pretty strong case.--Tom Smith

Paul Ryan's proposed "premium support" structure is in some ways similar to the plan put in place under President Obama's healthcare reform law. In both cases, an individual would shop among competing private insurers, on an exchange overseen by the government regulators. In both cases, the government would provide financial support for the "needy" (low-income households in the case of Obamacare, the elderly in the case of Ryancare). Why don't we see this parallel pointed out more often? The left wants to demonize Ryan, and the right wants to demonize Obama. Pointing out the similarities of their plans might make each of them seem, well, reasonable.--Greg Mankiw

The long-standing myth of a wildly activist, reactionary Supreme Court imposing a grossly unpopular laissez-faire ideology on the American people on behalf of large corporate interests—with little concern for precedent, constitutional text, or individual or minority rights—is far removed from historical reality. The academics who invented the prevalent mythology likely sought, consciously or not, to justify their preferred political outcomes.--David Bernstein

George Orwell wrote that to control the past was to control the present, and the future. The false narrative of Lochner has controlled the past for decades, but Bernstein’s clear and incisive work may wrest that control away and move us back to the truth. And if readers recognize that much of what they have been told about Lochner is wrong, perhaps they will employ an informed skepticism toward many other things in constitutional law that “everyone knows.” Such skepticism, it seems, is entirely warranted.--Glenn Reynolds

But while some Democrats are touting the ethics probe as a bold and significant step, one Republican source calls it "hollow." The GOP source said it is noteworthy that Pelosi called for an investigation but did not demand Weiner step down -- as happened with former Rep. Chris Lee. The married Republican from western New York resigned in February, following a report that he had tried to meet a woman on Craigslist.--CNN Wire Staff

Unlike Maddow, many journalists, including the politically liberal, were not surprised at all. They had gradually become skeptical of Weiner’s innocence as the days passed because they could recognize the fluttering of a politician in trouble. It was Weiner’s bizarre response that led them to suspect the truth. When the moment of confession came it did not come as total shock to everyone except the true believers. Those journalists were cumulating the facts. Whatever their political inclinations were, these had not yet completely overwhelmed their logical faculties. Whether they were willing to admit it or not, they knew which way the story was tending. The one person who had more facts than anyone else except Weiner — was Andrew Breitbart — and he used it to great advantage. He selectively timed the release of information in his possession in order to force his opponent into terrible dilemmas. His Big Government site provided a Chinese water torture of gradual disclosure, each more tantalizing than the last. The problem Weiner’s defenders faced was simple: how much did Breitbart ultimately know? When it became clear that Breitbart knew enough to show that the tweets had been sent by Weiner, then the confession was forced to create a stop line. Weiner held a defense line until it was obvious that Breitbart could flank him. Then he fell back to the next position. The trouble is, Breitbart may not yet be done. But that’s for Andrew to know and for Anthony to find out.--Richard Fernandez

Maybe taking full responsibility is, in the end, about making amends. While Weiner's constituents were certainly ill-served by all this, what amends can be made to them? Never lie again? Does choosing not to lie when you weren't supposed to do it in the first place constitute making amends? For Weiner, full responsibility seemed to mean apologizing profusely, declining to qualify his regret or explain away his behavior, and answering the same questions until the press finally began to tire of asking them. But really being fully responsible is difficult. It's not as if Weiner can redirect the consequences to himself, like a criminal who takes the fall so the innocent man can go free. Responsibility and consequences are severed here: His wife, his family, and his staff have no responsibility at all, but there are consequences for all of them anyway. This won't change that. Maybe "I take full responsibility" is ultimately something that's said simply because it must be said. Maybe it's an incantation. Maybe it's a vow to do better. Maybe it just means: I'm sorry, and when I say I'm sorry, I don't mean I'm sorry if you were offended. I don't mean I'm sorry but someone drove me to it. I don't mean I'm sorry but I was in pain, but I was drunk, but I was angry, but I was taken out of context. Maybe "I take full responsibility for my actions" is an add-on we only need because of the poor-quality apologies we so often get in public that have transformed the concept of contrition into something that can be used to subtly deflect attention away from yourself. Maybe if public apologizers were better at just being sorry, we wouldn't need "I take full responsibility for my actions" in the first place.--Linda Holmes

If there is one thing that confuses me the most about scandal coverage, it’s how the media pretend that there are only like three sins in the world and the chief one is hypocrisy. Come on, people.--Mollie Hemingway

According to The Washington Post article on the Bush loan, the incoming president called Bush’s action a “necessary step . . . to help avoid a collapse of our auto industry that would have had devastating consequences for our economy and our workers.” Under the administration’s math, the U.S. government will receive $11.2 billion back from Chrysler, far more than the $8.5 billion Obama extended. Through this sleight-of-hand accounting, the White House can conveniently ignore Bush’s loan, but even the Treasury Department admits that U.S. taxpayers will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment when all is said and done. The White House justifies not counting the Bush money because, it says, that money was completely spent when Obama was making a tough political decision on whether to extend another loan. In other words, a decision to do nothing at the time would have resulted in the immediate loss of the $4 billion that Bush had extended. This is chicanery. Under the president’s math, Chrysler paid back 100 percent of Obama’s loan and less than 70 percent of Bush’s loan. A more honest presentation would combine the two figures to say U.S. taxpayers got back 90 percent of what they invested. In fact, that is how the Treasury and other administration officials frequently portray it; it is just when Obama speaks that the numbers get so squishy.--Glenn Kessler
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