Monday, June 27, 2011

Quotes of the day

The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed. But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.--MICHAEL BARBARO

Tracy Morgan recently got in trouble for saying in his act that if his son announced he was gay, Tracy would stab him. If we presume that this was one of fifty outrageously inappropriate things Tracy said on stage that night, all within character as the absurdly ignorant and selfish guy he likes to portray for laughs, it means a comedian was trying to be outrageous and funny and missed the mark. That's all it means, since no reasonable person believes Tracy would stab his own son or love him less if he came out. But reported out of context, as it was, one has trouble seeing the statement as anything but the worst kind of hate speech. I would argue that Tracy was 100% responsible for whatever psychological or social harm he caused to the audience that heard his remark live, and zero percent responsible for the harm that was caused when others spread the story. The spreaders became the authors (as far as responsibility) when they changed the context. They became the Authors by Relocation, a term I just made up.--Scott Adams

The spread of sex-selective abortion is often framed as a simple case of modern science being abused by patriarchal, misogynistic cultures. Patriarchy is certainly part of the story, but as [Mara] Hvistendahl points out, the reality is more complicated — and more depressing. Thus far, female empowerment often seems to have led to more sex selection, not less. In many communities, she writes, “women use their increased autonomy to select for sons,” because male offspring bring higher social status. In countries like India, sex selection began in “the urban, well-educated stratum of society,” before spreading down the income ladder. Moreover, Western governments and philanthropic institutions have their fingerprints all over the story of the world’s missing women. ... The American establishment helped create the problem, but now it’s metastasizing on its own: the population-control movement is a shadow of its former self, yet sex selection has spread inexorably with access to abortion, and sex ratios are out of balance from Central Asia to the Balkans to Asian-American communities in the United States. This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered. ... the sense of outrage that pervades her story seems to have been inspired by the missing girls themselves, not the consequences of their absence. Here the anti-abortion side has it easier. We can say outright what’s implied on every page of “Unnatural Selection,” even if the author can’t quite bring herself around. The tragedy of the world’s 160 million missing girls isn’t that they’re “missing.” The tragedy is that they’re dead.--Ross Douthat

Bon Temps is a world where it doesn't matter whom you love or how. A fantasy world that we are getting closer to all the time.--Molly Lambert

The process of selecting and securing a partner, whether for conceiving and rearing children, or for enhancing one’s socioeconomic standing, or for attempting motel-room acrobatics, or merely for finding companionship in a cold and lonely universe, is as consequential as it can be inefficient or irresolute. Lives hang in the balance, and yet we have typically relied for our choices on happenstance—offhand referrals, late nights at the office, or the dream of meeting cute.  ... Men want someone who will take care of them, make them look good, and have sex with them—not necessarily in that order. It may be that this is all that women really want, too, but they are better at disguising or obscuring it. They deal in calculus, while men, for the most part, traffic in simple sums. A common observation, about both the Internet dating world and the world at large, is that there is an apparent surplus of available women, especially in their thirties and beyond, and a shortage of recommendable men. The explanation for this asymmetry, which isn’t exactly news, is that men can and usually do pursue younger women, and that often the men who are single are exactly the ones who prefer them. For women surveying a landscape of banished husbands or perpetual boys, the biological rationale offers little solace. Neither does the Internet. ... One woman who has dated fifty-eight men since her divorce, a few years ago, told me that she maintains a chart, both to keep the men straight and to try to discern patterns—as though there might be a unified-field theory of why men are dogs. ... men exaggerate their income (by twenty per cent) and their height (by two inches), perhaps intuiting that women pay closer attention to these data points than to any others. But women lie about these things, too. A date is an exercise in adjustment.--Nick Paumgarten

There is a fundamental imbalance in the social dynamic. The most valuable asset is attractive females. As soon as you get them, you get loads of creepy guys.--Harj Taggar

Our social and sexual patterns have changed more in the last fifty years than in the last ten thousand. Our courtship rituals are rapidly changing, and we don’t know what to do.--Helen Fisher

Don't expect to buy the bottom - expect the market to torture you with some pain, and prepare yourself to deal with it - that way you won't find yourself unprepared and regret it.--Josh Brown's colleague

In raw numbers, New York has the greatest legal surplus by far. In 2009, 9,787 people passed the bar exam in the Empire State. The analysts estimated, though, that New York would need only 2,100 new lawyers each year through 2015. That means that if New York keeps minting new lawyers apace, it will continue having an annual surplus of 7,687 lawyers.--CATHERINE RAMPELL

Some observers are calling for a “repatriation holiday” on profits held by foreign subsidiaries. Some members of Congress, eager to stimulate our fragile economy, are listening. They shouldn’t. A tax holiday on repatriated funds is a proven failure — expensive in both direct and indirect ways. It was already tried in 2004 and didn’t work.--WILLIAM GALE & BENJAMIN H. HARRIS

On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries. From the beginning of the recession to April 2011, real personal income has grown just .9% compared to 9.4% for the same period in previous post 1960 recessions. The standard response from Obama apologists is that recession of 2008 and 2009 was different because, as former Clinton administration economist Robert Shapiro puts it, "this was a financial crisis, and these take longer to recover from." In fact, in most cases, the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery to make up for lost ground. That was what Ronald Reagan's critics said when the U.S. economy soared during 1983 and 1984 with quarterly growth numbers exceeding 7%. At the time, liberal Keynesians yawned and declared the good times nothing more than a normal snapback from the deep recession.--Stephen Moore

The southern San Andreas fault has not experienced a large earthquake for approximately 300 years, yet the previous five earthquakes occurred at ~180-year intervals.  ... We conclude that rupture of the stepover faults, caused by periodic flooding of the palaeo-Salton Sea and by tectonic forcing, had the potential to trigger earthquake rupture on the southern San Andreas fault. Extensional stepover zones are highly susceptible to rapid stress loading and thus the Salton Sea may be a nucleation point for large ruptures on the southern San Andreas fault.--Daniel Brothers, Debi Kilb, Karen Luttrell, Neal Driscoll & Graham Kent

I'm So Meta Even This Acronym.--Douglas Hofstatder

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