Friday, October 21, 2011

Quotes of the day

Dirty tricks were not invented by Nixon; they stretch back to the Fall. Blessed is the Christian whose life is so transparent, who is “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Dan. 6:4), so that the only way he or she can be destroyed is by making Christian conduct and conviction a crime. ... no legal system can ensure consistent justice. Corrupt people will always find ways of exploiting the system to oppress others and advance themselves. Hidden behind the slogan is a deeper issue. Historically there has long been a tension between positive law theory, in which the only law to be obeyed is that enacted by government, and natural law theory, in which some fundamentals are thought to be discoverable by human beings. In the name of equity and justice, British courts, until fairly recently, would sometimes set aside positive law in favor of natural law where it was pretty obvious an injustice was otherwise being committed. Both in Britain and in the United States, such considerations are now rare. In Britain, what must be obeyed is what Parliament says; in the United States, what must be obeyed is what the Supreme Court says. In both instances, positive law largely prevails, as in ancient Persia. The matter has become increasingly difficult here since Western states have come to think they have a therapeutic role in society, defining the “illnesses” that must be confronted and the “therapies” that must be imposed as they go along. The potential for injustice and inequity multiplies.--Don Carson

Our tax dollars at work… a half-billion dollar loan (actually $529 million) from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a hybrid toy for the wealthy and/or celebri-licious (like Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the first customers) that, in real world driving, won’t get much better mileage than your average crossover utility vehicle. Not only that, but the cars are manufactured in Finland — that’s right, Finland – and shipped here for sale, where their purchasers will then receive a $7,500 tax credit for buying one (the “cheap” base model starts at $96,895, with the full-zoot Eco Chic model going for a bargain $108,900). ... Those Occupy Wall Street-types in their tents at MacPherson Square? If they really, truly are bugged by corporate welfare, they need to schlep their signs and their chants and their anger over to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Right now. Because the Fisker Karma is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to corporate welfare. I have no problem with a group of entrepreneurs raising money from private investors to build a hundred thousand dollar toy for rich folks who want to flaunt their eco-consciousness. When and if that’s the case, may they have all the mazel in the world. But damn, it steams me up when my family and every family in America are forced to pay for it.--Andrew Fox

The more people helping each other out, the better.--Pietro Poggi-Corradini

Earlier this year, a report from Standard and Poor’s indicated that of the 1,485 stocks making up the S&P 1500 index, not a single one had a consensus sell recommendation from Wall Street analysts. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t the odd sell recommendation, it just means that there were no stocks that most analysts agreed had less than rosy prospects. Meanwhile, the S&P 1500 is down 2.77 per cent including dividends to Oct. 19, with the financials sector down 19.97 per cent. --Preet Banerjee

One of the running jokes of Mr. Chandor’s [Margin Call] script  is that the higher a person’s [corporate] rank, the less he is likely to understand what the firm is actually doing. This ignorance is almost a point of pride. “I don’t get any of this stuff” — this line is repeated about Peter’s discovery by Will, then Sam, then Sam’s boss, Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) and then Tuld. In a further absurdity, one person who does get it, Peter’s mentor, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) has just been downsized out of the company. As a security measure his cellphone has been disconnected, which means that his increasingly desperate former colleagues are unable to find him when he might be of most use.--A. O. SCOTT

I thought, This is a very dangerous person.--Sidney Lumet, on meeting Pauline Kael

Parents, you may be onto something: A small new study suggests that teens' intelligence, as measured by the IQ test, may fluctuate throughout adolescence. The changes -- in both verbal and nonverbal IQ -- ranged to as much as 20 points and were correlated with specific brain areas. IQ has long been thought to remain stable over a person's lifetime.--Amanda Gardner

[Steve Jobs] tries to treat [his pancreatic cancer] with diet. He goes to spiritualists. He goes to various ways of doing it macrobiotically and he doesn't get an operation. ... I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want something to exist, you can have magical thinking .... We talked about this a lot.--Walter Isaacson, Jobs' authorized biographer

Ohhhh. That cake looks so good.--Kim Kardashian

Italy is house rich, somewhat cash poor, and has a miserable recent history of growth. If you look at the wealth side of the balance sheet, you can easily work up a heady optimism for Italy. If you study public choice theory, it is harder to do so. How many people in that country are either paid to do the wrong thing, or paid to do not so much at all? [The Great Stagnation] reigns. Italy’s privileges and distortions are so often so local, and so concentrated in inefficient professional services, that it is hard to imagine clearing them up quickly in the form of a big bang, in the way that say New Zealand or Chile or Thatcher’s England did. And even those successes took some time to pay off and underperformed for years. Note that if Italy could credibly be expected to grow a mere 2 pct. a year — maybe less — the entire eurozone crisis probably would be messy but manageable. It’s not.--Tyler Cowen

Brian Moynihan is here tonight. He’s the C.E.O. of Bank of America. As many of you know, Brian’s brother Patrick runs a Catholic boarding school in Haiti. Their parents must be so proud to see two of their boys running an underfunded, nonprofit organization.--Steve Schwartzman

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