Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quotes of the day

I noticed one person missing in all the media mentions of NFL ceremonies running up to and during 9/11. Maybe it's because his death, and the ensuing coverup, were so shameful and messy. But he gave up his career -- and his life -- because of 9/11 and because of his sense of honor and duty and idealism. And while everyone was waving flags yesterday and all that, I was hearing him screaming his last words on that ridge in Afghanistan: 'I'm Pat ----ing Tillman!--Fred Fried

Why do the microwave and frozen dinner inexorably lead to obesity? According to the economists, the cheapness of calories (both in terms of price and time) has led us to dramatically boost consumption. Food stops being something we make and create — it doesn’t require very many lever presses, so to speak — and becomes something we simply ingest. Eating just gets easier. And then we get fatter. But maybe we’re not just consuming more calories because they’re available at such a low cost. Maybe we’re also consuming more calories because each calorie gives us less pleasure. The lesson ... after all, is that when we don’t work for our food — when it only requires a single press, or a few whirls of the microwave — it tastes much less delicious.--Jonah Lehrer

As for you punctuation nuts - relax. It's a blog not a dissertation.--buddy_girl

On September 12 President Obama sent his American Jobs Act to Congress. He called on Congress to pass a bill with additional spending of $447 billion, with an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, more infrastructure spending, and additional aid for state and local governments. Temporary tax reductions have limited effect in stimulating investment and economic growth. Since consumers and businesses know that the tax cuts are temporary, they do not make permanent changes in their behavior. This finding won Professor Milton Friedman the Nobel Prize in economics. In order to inspire confidence and change behavior, tax cuts have to be permanent. Similar solutions to unemployment were tried in 2009, as part of the $825 billion “stimulus.” The “stimulus” failed to spur GDP growth significantly and create jobs, despite record low interest rates and monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. If an $825 billion stimulus—plus cash for clunkers, auto bailouts, and mortgage forgiveness programs—resulted in an annualized GDP growth rate of only one percent two years after the end of the recovery, and succeeded only in raising the January 2009 unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, why would a package that is half the size reduce an unemployment rate that is now 9.1 percent?--Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory, newly obtained e-mails show.  The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean energy technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget. The August 2009 e-mails, released exclusively to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressional investigators.  Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.--Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig

The White House also noted to ABC News that the Bush administration was the first to consider Solyndra's application and that some executives at the company have a history of donating to Republicans. The results of the Congressional probe shared Tuesday with ABC News show that less than two weeks before President Bush left office, on January 9, 2009, the Energy Department's credit committee made a unanimous decision not to offer a loan commitment to Solyndra. Even after Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, analysts in the Energy Department and in the Office of Management and Budget were repeatedly questioning the wisdom of the loan. In one exchange, an Energy official wrote of "a major outstanding issue" -- namely, that Solyndra's numbers showed it would run out of cash in September 2011.--MATTHEW MOSK, BRIAN ROSS, and RONNIE GREENE

Legislators get more power when they define crimes more broadly because they reduce the role of judges in deciding who is guilty; and prosecutors have more power because they have more discretion about what and how to prosecute. As a result, legislators and prosecutors tacitly cooperate with each other, leading to both more law and less: more on the books, and less on the street, in the sense that the laws are so broad the police and prosecutors get to decide whom to go after and find guilty. Those decisions are about power. In the “rule of too much law,” [William] Stuntz advises, “too much law amounts to no law at all.” His solution to this set of problems is to replace the vicious cycle that creates them with a virtuous cycle based on cultivating a relationship between those who break the law (or are tempted to) and those who enforce it. For most of the twentieth century in the Northeast and Midwest, the ratio of police officers to prison inmates was two to one. Today, it is less than one to two. “More than any other statistic,” Stuntz writes, “that one captures what is most wrong with American criminal justice.” More cops mean more deterrence. More deterrence means fewer arrests and fewer convictions. In the 1990s, New York City had the biggest drop in urban crime during the decade. It also had the biggest increase in its police force. ... His hunger for more justice and mercy and, as a result, less crime and punishment made his work great. In this brave book, as contrarian as it is utopian, he constructs a powerful explanation about the vast and costly failure of the American criminal justice system and why the quest to reform it must be a high priority. He left an inspiring model of how.--Lincoln Caplan
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