Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Quotes of the day

What I want to do now is to prevent another me. Last thing I want to happen is for someone to replace me as a cautionary tale.--Ryan Leaf, former NFL QB

Success is the result of randomness, effort, and ability.--Eric Falkenstein

Poverty isn't about money; it's a state of mind. That state of mind is low conscientiousness.--Bryan Caplan

Two powerful forces are threatening to drive America from a meritocratic equilibrium to a nonmeritocratic one. Recall that to survive in a democratic country, a meritocracy must enjoy a welcoming culture and offer large, widespread benefits to citizens. In the United States, both of these factors are being challenged: the first by a spreading belief that markets are a bad method of rewarding the meritorious; the second by a reduction of the benefits that most people derive from those markets.--Luigi Zingales

Bud Selig: Tear down this intentional walk.--Joe Posnanski

When he took office, Barack Obama promised "an unprecedented level of openness in Government." As a major part of that commitment, he pledged fidelity to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which he called "the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government." It is hard to reconcile these lofty memos with the Justice Department's proposed rule instructing federal agencies to falsely deny the existence of records sought under FOIA. But at least the Obama administration is open about its desire to mislead us.--Jacob Sullum

The President’s argument is, in effect, “We can’t wait for democracy.” The Constitution gives the power of the purse to the Congress, not the President. If the Congress doesn’t want to enact his proposals, then it shouldn’t, and that’s how the system is supposed to work. I am not surprised that the President is using the legislative flexibility he has to maximum effect. I am a bit surprised that he sees a political benefit in framing himself as an Imperial leader who can and should ignore democratic processes. This seems inconsistent with Democratic party rhetoric in recent years. Democracy is so inconvenient when your party controls the Presidency and the opposition can block your legislative agenda.--Keith Hennessey

It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I'm not saying I'm sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn't have gotten them without that. But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it's one target, it's easy to blame them and congress certainly isn't going to blame themselves. At the same time, Congress is trying to pressure banks to loosen their lending standards to make more loans. This is exactly the same speech they criticized them for.--Mayor Bloomberg

The Olympus scandal exposes the all-too-cozy nature of Japanese business that was subject to so much praise in the 1980s. Japanese corporations are dominated by insiders, and companies are often run for the benefit of these insiders rather than shareholder interests. Because of the keiretsu and cross-holdings, shareholder pressure and oversight have traditionally been minimal. Hostile takeovers are almost nonexistent, as is shareholder activism. Though there has been increased government scrutiny of business practices, Japanese regulators have been slow to force changes. ... the fact that United States authorities rather than Japanese regulators appear to be taking the lead in investigating the Olympus transactions speaks volumes. ... Right now, the discourse is about Chinese domination. The Chinese economy is what economists term command and control. The state directs industry and has profited greatly by doing so. In the United States, meanwhile, there is an outcry over a relatively small loan guarantee to Solyndra, the solar company. China has clearly benefited from its cheap labor and huge investment. But it also has cronyism, state protectionism and hidden debts at the local level. This sounds like Japan in the 1980s.--STEVEN M. DAVIDOFF

Occupy Wall Street has raised more than $500,000 in New York alone to support anti-greed demonstrations and, seven weeks into the movement, protesters are finding that having money creates headaches. The challenges have included how to become a non-profit entity, how to deal with credit card companies withholding donations, choosing a bank that shares the movement's philosophy and budgeting what to spend cash on. The totals raised -- more than $500,000 in New York and around $20,000 in Chicago, Richmond and other cities -- have surprised everyone from the protesters to those overseeing their finances.--Ben Berkowitz and Chris Francescani

... the NBA is a monopoly and operates in a manner (it monopolizes!) that would be illegal outside the sports world. Unlike in Silicon Valley, there are no NBA “start-ups.” You cannot create a new NBA team without permission of the incumbent owners. The league also has to approve changes in teams’ location and ownership. What does this mean? The owners can get together and agree to jointly cut expenses, that is, the player salaries. Players have limited opportunities to play professional basketball in other countries, but realistically, if you are a world-class professional basketball player, you probably want to be in the NBA. ... As human beings, we are programmed to reject one-sided deals, even when surrender might be the rational choice.--Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier

The person who wants to get you fired is not your friend.--David Henderson

If multiple people can't reproduce what's supposed to be a scientific result, then there may well be something wrong with it. And if someone that you're working for or with won't show you raw data, then head for the door, because nothing but trouble can ensue. The alarm bells have at that point gone off, whether you can hear them or not.--Derek Lowe

Even when science shows time and again that it’s not so, we continue to persist in believing that sugar causes our kids to be hyperactive. That’s likely because there’s an association. Times when kids get a lot of sugar are often times when they are predisposed to be a little excited. Halloween. Birthday parties. Holidays. We may even be causing the problem ourselves. Some parents are so restrictive about sugar and candy that when their kids finally get it they’re quite excited. Even hyper. This does not mean that there aren’t a ton of great reasons why our kid should not ingest large quantities of sugar. As almost any parent knows, sugar has been linked to cavities and the obesity epidemic. Just don’t blame it for your child’s bad behavior.--Aaron Carroll

It’s not just that Jobs’ refusal of treatment is “crazy,” as former Intel chief Andy Grove put it to Isaacson. This tragedy sprung from the very thing that made him so great: his unwillingness to believe that technology needed to be clumsy, ugly, or difficult. In consumer products, this led to the MacIntosh and the iPhone. In animation, it created the Pixar canon. But biology and medicine are messy, and demanding a magic solution doesn’t always produce one. ... I’m haunted by a story I heard once about a biotech industry lobbyist who went to see a congressman and was told, “You guys don’t do innovation. The iPad. That’s innovative.” As a society, it seems to me, we say that a lot. We value the magic box built out of many more basic innovations much more than what came before – and as a result, we overlook the work that is actually foundational. And I worry that were this less true, medicine could have done even more for Steve Jobs.--Matthew Herper

But if the apparently timeless appeal of Disney World is symptomatic of the spiritual malaise of contemporary culture, it is also an important indicator of its spiritual hunger. Disillusioned by the lies of our culture, millions choose to escape to a kinder and more magical facsimile of hope at Disney. As C.S. Lewis once observed, the potency of fantasylands are their ability to break the "evil enchantment of worldliness" and arouse a dim longing in us for something unreachable within the drab flatness of wonton perception. Millions visit Disney World for a chance to walk through the looking glass, to be transported to another, more whimsical world where our imaginations take flight. While the happiness it offers is ephemeral, the profound feeling of disenchantment that draws visitors to momentarily withdraw is not.--Chris Cuthill

Surprisingly to me, but maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, [film documentarian Ken] Burns is quite confident that he would not have been successful without government funds. I think this could be an example of a phenomenon that Milton Friedman often noted: that people who are used to something have trouble imagining the world without that thing, in this case, government funding of Burns's documentaries.--David Henderson

I never saw this side of Ken when we were in our kids' classroom.--Cav

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