Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quotes of the day

Hugo is the ultimate kid’s movie, in a sense, because its director, Martin Scorsese, turns out to be the ultimate kid. It’s a movie about movies, and the ways in which they came to occupy people’s hearts and minds. There’s a pair of inquisitive children, a hazardous quest, and a wondrous treasure. But the child at the center of the story, looking back more than a hundred years to the wellspring of his art, is Scorsese himself.--Kurt Loder

When Teddy [Forstmann] got to one [Croatian refugee] camp where all the kids seemed to be down with colds and the flu he was distressed. How could such conditions exist in civilized Europe? He pledged a few million dollars to rebuild the camp with proper sanitation. And just before leaving, Teddy spotted a very fetching young lady and gave her his coat. He figured she would need it in the winter. If there was a pretty woman present Teddy would spot her. He was fun in a good cause or a great deal. There was no one else like him.--R. EMMETT TYRRELL, Jr.

... a wave of firings that has washed away more than 200,000 jobs in the global financial-services industry this year, eclipsing 174,000 in 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg show. BNP Paribas (BNP) SA and UniCredit SpA (UCG) announced cuts last week, and the carnage likely will worsen as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis roils markets.--Max Abelson and Ambereen Choudhury

The text of the Second Amendment is maddeningly ambiguous. It merely says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Yet to each side in the gun debate, those words are absolutely clear.
The Founding Fathers instituted gun laws so intrusive that, were they running for office today, the NRA would not endorse them. While they did not care to completely disarm the citizenry, the founding generation denied gun ownership to many people: not only slaves and free blacks, but law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the Revolution.
For those men who were allowed to own guns, the Founders had their own version of the “individual mandate” that has proved so controversial in President Obama’s health-care-reform law: they required the purchase of guns. A 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia. Such men had to report for frequent musters—where their guns would be inspected and, yes, registered on public rolls.
Justice Scalia [the foremost proponent of constitutional originalism], in other words, embraced a living Constitution. In this, Heller is a fine reflection of the ironies and contradictions—and the selective use of the past—that run throughout America’s long history with guns.--Adam Winkler

In the twentieth century philosophy of mind became one of the central areas of philosophy in the English-speaking world, and so it remains. Questions such as the relationship between mind and brain, the nature of consciousness, and how we perceive the world, have come to be seen as crucial in understanding the world. These days, the predominant position in philosophy of mind aims at equating mental phenomena with operations of the brain, and explaining them all in scientific terms. Sometimes this project is called ‘cognitive science’, and it carries the implicit assumption that cognition occurs in computers as well as in human and animal brains, and can be studied equally well in each of these three forms.--Laura Weed

Do you see the problem with [Ronald] Green’s assertion? He asks us to believe that just because obesity is 80% genetic, it can’t also be 80% due to laziness. But why? What are those two hypotheses viewed as mutually exclusive? Is it because genetic characteristics are viewed as “not one’s fault,” whereas laziness is viewed as a character flaw? But why shouldn’t character flaws be genetic?--Scott Sumner

Students want not knowledge, but certification. Future employers only see your grade and diploma - and the less a professor teaches, the less students have to learn to get the grade and diploma they want. So, human capital extremists, what gives? Do you deny that canceling class makes students happy? If not, how can you reconcile your theory with the facts?--Bryan Caplan

The tax attacks on Republicans therefore look like this:
  • Republicans refused to raise taxes as part of a deficit deal. No longer valid.
  • Republicans refused to buck Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. Invalid.
  • Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich. No longer valid.
  • Republicans would not raise taxes enough.
  • Republicans would not raise taxes on the rich enough.
As you follow the deficit reduction debate over the next year, it will be important to remember how significantly the Super Committee Republicans changed the negotiating playing field during these negotiations, and how their offer has changed the nature of the fiscal policy debate.--Keith Hennessey

In short, the modern revolutionary, being an infinite skeptic, which he must be, is always engaged in undermining his own mind.  In his books on politics he attacks persons for trampling on morality, but in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on persons.  Therefore the modern rebel has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt by rebelling against everything, he has lost his right to rebel against anything…  There is a kind of thought that stops thought, and that is the only kind of thought that ought to be stopped.--G.K. Chesterton

I could summarize the employment environment of the times this way:

Lots of jobs for people who were willing to relocate
Low entry-level pay
Company-paid healthcare
Company-paid training, including external degree courses
Inexpensive cost of living
Clear opportunities for advancement

How's that different from today? The quick answer is that every part of what I described is different. And you need the whole system in place or else the economy can't be a sustained job creation machine. So I don't think we can tweak the current economy, or stimulate it, enough to make much difference. What we need is Cheapatopia.--Scott Adams

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