Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote Of The Day

Don Boudreaux from Cafe Hayek:

So it dawned on me. Infomercials are the closest phenomenon that the private-sector offers to politics. Fraudulent clowns, skilled at lying, promise gullible audiences something for nothing.

The difference, of course – and it makes all the difference – is that no one is forced to buy (either figuratively or literally) whatever it is the infomercial clowns are selling. And those of us who don’t buy these clowns’ offerings aren’t forced nevertheless to suffer the consequences of the fact that large numbers of our fellow citizens do consistently, even eagerly, fall for the idiotic claims and promises and assurances offered by these greedy imposters posing as our friends.

Yep. Nailed it.

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Quote Of The Day

Why we should go after the online poker vendors:

There are plenty of victims of (allegedly) illegal online poker, starting with the desperately-short-of-cash federal and state governments which are deprived of all the taxable revenue ($3 billion, say the feds) from the now-suspected operations. And just ask casino and horse racing executives what they think of the way online poker operators have taken advantage of Congressional fecklessness on the topic.

I can just imagine the response: “It cost a lot of good goddamn lobbying money to to set up these legal gambling monopolies, and now these poker sites want to get in on the action without ponying up the green? F’ em.”

Oh, that’s actually the response from Congress. My bad.

Quote Of The Day

In my post on alternate voting systems, I called the Republicans and Democrats the “beast with two asses”, making an allusion to the old “making the beast with two backs” euphemism for sex. However, I think I’ve got an, ahem, more colorful example that works better:

American democracy is a threesome where the Republicans and Democrats are fingercuffing the American People.

YMMV — Insert “eiffel towering” if it’s your preferred innuendo.

Quote Of The Day — MS-DOS Causes Improper Foreclosures

HuffPo is writing on a new Fed report that of 500 foreclosures they investigated, they couldn’t find a single one where the borrower was not significantly delinquent on payments. Thus, the Fed declared that no improper foreclosures occurred.

This doesn’t matter to those who think bankers are raping angels in their spare time, and who want to see the bankers riddled with papercuts and dropped in a vat of lemon juice. They want to stop foreclosures by any means necessary, and anything that casts doubt on the “paper trail” [as quite a lot of doubt already legitimately exists] looks good to them.

But this is a bit too far:

Citing Wednesday’s briefing, Rangan said the Fed review found numerous flaws in banks’ procedures and internal mortgage operations, and that the Fed’s bank examiners directed the firms to fix those problems.

One firm was found to be using Microsoft DOS, an outdated computer operating system, to handle home mortgages, Rangan said.

Oh no, DOS! Because Windows has just a strong track record of reliability, right?

As I’ve said before, I’m an engineer. I’ve spent a good portion of my career working with customers in the “embedded/industrial” market space. I’m talking about computer equipment that goes on oil rigs, locomotives, industrial control [assembly line] PC’s, etc. For most of these companies, things have to be nearing “outdated” to be well-understood enough to be trusted for the types of tasks they need to complete. And yes, some of those folks are still using DOS, though most have moved on to other RTOS products. Only where a major user interface is needed do we see people using an OS such as Windows, and even then they use a specific embedded version of Windows XP that allows more control over what is and is not included in the final package.

My dad always used to say, when talking about the fast pace of technology progression, that “a computer will never do *less* than it did when you bought it.” I.e. if you need something new that newer technology offers [including performance enhancement, of course], it might be time to upgrade. But it’s pointless to do so simply for its own sake, because something newer exists. Hearing that a bank is still using DOS doesn’t bother me at all, because they have a known, tested, proven system. It does exactly the same thing today that it did when it was purchased and installed. And as long as it meets the bank’s needs, there wouldn’t be any reason to upgrade.

Quote of the Day: Beware of “Kook Tests” Edition

Popehat writes:

Here’s the thing: people with unscientific, irrational, and foolish ideas about evolution and global warming might still have something worthwhile to say about other topics. Take, as one example, Senator Tom Coburn. Coburn doesn’t believe in global warming. He also thinks that lesbian gangs were terrorizing Oklahoma’s school bathrooms. But he’s a been a vigorous critic of earmarks. He’s right to attack earmarks, and no less right because he’s a nut on other issues. If he’s the lone voice in the wilderness on earmarks, and we refuse to engage his criticisms because they’re coming from a lesbo-potty-phobic global warming denier, then we’re being lazy and cowardly. On the other hand, there are plenty of people, and groups, that believe firmly in evolution and global warming, but can’t be taken seriously as bastions of science or reliable political analysis. You won’t find much creationism or global warming denying at the Huffington Post, but you will find it to be a cesspool of junk science and assorted twittery.

Honest people — people who care about issues, and not crass group identities — ought to resist the strong human drive to construct rationalizations for ignoring competing viewpoints. “We can safely ignore and marginalize any blog where most of the authors or commenters don’t believe in evolution or global warming” is lazy tribalism, just as surely as “we can ignore any bloggers and blogs that don’t support Sarah Palin” or “we can ignore any bloggers or blogs that don’t oppose the War on Drugs.” It’s all a cheat, a form of shorthand — a quick way to separate, in our mind, people who belong from people who don’t. It may unclutter your RSS feed, but you’re not going to learn much that’s new, you’re not going to challenge yourself.

Personally, I’m quite skeptical of man-made global warming but like Popehat, I admit that I’m by no means a climatologist nor anything remotely close. He does make very good points here about writing someone off because they believe something kooky on one subject or even a assortment of subjects. There is always the temptation to ignore individuals like the “Truthers,” the “Birthers,” and “Creationists” – just to name a few. It’s quite defensible for me to tune someone out who goes into the whole “Obama is a secret Muslim hell bent on America’s destruction” nonsense if that is the topic of discussion but the same person might be quite rational and knowledgeable on other issues.

Also consider the founders of this country. Many of them either owned other human beings or defended the practice in the name of property rights even as they eloquently made the case for liberty. Thomas Jefferson, in The Declaration of Independence, scribed “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” yet himself didn’t find it “self-evident” that owning slaves inconsistent with this philosophy.

Should Jefferson be condemned by historians for being a slave owner?

Absolutely!

Does this make his arguments or his founding brothers’ arguments any less valid?

I think not.

Quote Of The Day

Barbara Boxer, on what apparently is the greatest outrage she’s ever seen in Congress.

A lot of them are sleeping in their offices. You tell me one other person that you know Mr. President that is allowed to sleep in the office of their corporation that they may work for. As far as I know, there is nobody. They don’t pay any rent. They sleep in their offices. So they do all these things. They don’t help the housing crisis and they sleep in their offices.

You know, I often give comedians who get into trouble for offensive non-PC jokes a lot of slack. Comedy is *hard*, after all.

Who knew that manufactured outrage was even more difficult to do without sounding tone-deaf?

WTF Quote Of The Day: Hillary Clinton Edition

Via Jacob Sullum, here’s a truly bizarre comment from Hillary Clinton during an interview with Mexican media:

Maerker: In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?

Clinton: I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.

Hillary, perhaps you’re spending too much time saving the world to realize this, but the reason there’s so much money in the illegal drug trade, is because it’s illegal. Think about that one for a second.

Quote of the Day: Mandating Change Edition

In 2008, a U.S. senator made a very good point in arguing against government mandates for individuals to purchase health insurance:

“[I]f a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.”

Who was the senator who said this? Answer below the fold.

» Read more

Quote of the Day: Why We Should be Skeptical About the Tea Party’s Commitment to Liberty Edition

Alex Pareene writing for Salon.com in an article entitled: Tea Partyers don’t actually care about “liberty” :

[V]arious New Mexico Tea Partyers booed one of the movement’s superstars [Former New Mexico Governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson] for daring to suggest that a wasteful and — let’s just say it –tyrannical government campaign [the war on drugs] be ended.

[…]

If ending the disastrous, expensive, immoral and racist drug war gets booed at a Tea Party rally in liberty-loving New Mexico, there is absolutely nothing remotely libertarian about the movement besides a visceral hatred of taxes and the conviction that undeserving Others are benefiting from them.

When people ask me what I think about the Tea Party generally, my response is that I’m glad it’s out there shaking things up and challenging the establishment, but I keep them at arm’s length (where were these people during the Bush years?). This article not only deals about Tea Partier attitudes about the war on (some) drugs but also other liberty issues such as gay marriage and free trade (among many other issues not mentioned in the article).

I have been skeptical about the Tea Party’s commitment to liberty all along but the 2012 presidential primary will provide an opportunity to prove me wrong. If the Tea Party overall supports Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, then I would be happy to admit I was wrong. If, however; the Tea Party backs someone like “Tax Hike” Mike Huckabee, Sarah “the Quitter” Palin, or “Mandate” Mitt Romney I can safely say my skepticism was validated.

I so hope to be proven wrong but if the response from the New Mexico Tea Party is any indication…

Quote Of The Day

The “Wild Bird” estate off Hwy 1 near Big Sur, CA.

Owings built ”Wild Bird” as a permanent home at Big Sur in 1958. In the early 1960s, he and his wife joined neighbors in organizing to limit development along the scenic highway of California Route 1. This small step into the world of political activism led to Owings further involvement in conversation and preservation campaigns.

“I got mine; the rest of you can go screw yourselves. I don’t want you encroaching on my view.”

Pretty well sums up the preservationist movement, doesn’t it?

H/T: Jim the Realtor

Quote Of The Day

From Bruce Schneier, who suggests that because the Washington Monument would be very difficult to secure against terrorist attack, it deserves a more fitting response from our Feckless Feds:

I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.

An empty Washington Monument would serve as a constant reminder to those on Capitol Hill that they are afraid of the terrorists and what they could do. They’re afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism — or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity — they will be branded as “soft on terror.” And they’re afraid that Americans would vote them out of office if another attack occurred. Perhaps they’re right, but what has happened to leaders who aren’t afraid? What has happened to “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”?

An empty Washington Monument would symbolize our lawmakers’ inability to take that kind of stand — and their inability to truly lead.

RTWT, as they say…

Quote of the Day: 4th Amendment Be Damned Edition

“Nobody likes the 4th amendment being violated when going through the security line, but the truth of the matter is we are going to have to do it.”-Former. Asst. TSA administrator Mo McGowan

So when the friendly TSA agents pull you out of the line for a groping or full body nudie scan as you try to make your way through the airport to fly to grandma’s house this Thanksgiving holiday don’t bother pulling out your pocket Constitution to inform them they are violating your 4th Amendment rights. They know they are and they don’t give a shit.

Hat Tip: Say Anything via Boortz

Quote Of The Day

The WSJ, on the *injustice* of paperwork snafus in the process of foreclosing on squatters:

The New York Times appeared to have produced a front-page victim on Friday—a woman fighting eviction from her $75,000 home at the hands of lender GMAC. The woman has not paid her mortgage in two years while remaining in the house. Some may view this as a case of rough treatment, but we doubt New York Times subscribers can receive the paper for two years after they stop paying for it.

Yep. It’d be like someone who quit paying for the NYT complaining that they accidentally started delivering it to his neighbor after two years of receiving it for free.

Hat Tip: Irvine Housing Blog

Quote of the Day: No, Cops Do Not Have Any Expectation of Privacy Edition

Anthony Graber, the man who was charged for violating Maryland’s wiretapping law for recording on his motorcycle helmet cam and posting a video to YouTube of an undercover cop who pulled a gun on him during a traffic stop will not spend the next 16 years of his life in prison. Hartford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr. dismissed the charges explained (correctly) that the police do not have an expectation of privacy while on duty and in public.

“Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. ‘Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes’ (“Who watches the watchmen?”).” – Judge Emory A. Pitt Jr.

Just a gentle reminder to public servants that they work for us and are accountable to us, not the other way around.

Hat Tip: Hammer of Truth

Related: Cato Presents:Cops on Camera

Quote Of The Day

From The Big Picture, on whether he [Barry Ritholtz] is a Republican or Democrat:

Here’s why:

I am not a Democrat, because I have no idea what their economic policies are; And I am not a Republican, because I know precisely what their economic policies are.

Indeed, the entire left/right debate is false, an artificial framework for analyzing policy. In my mind, the real debate is the corporatocracy versus the individual.

Tweet Of The Day

I’m not normally I huge fan of Fred Thompson as a politician, but he is a bit witty. Here is his take on Christina Romer:

Obama Econ Adviser: spend more stimulus money. Bet she repeatedly pushes the elevator button trying to make it come faster, too.

I’ll admit, I got a chuckle. But then, since I was reading this at Kevin Drum’s blog, it turned around quick when Kevin said this:

Of course, what Romer really wants to do is reopen one of the elevator banks that’s been out of commission for a while and replace some of the broken magnets for the motors so they run a little closer to their normal speed, which would get more people to their destinations faster than before.

His mistaken analogy pointed out a flaw both in his and Thompson’s ideas — they both suppose that someone wants to ride the elevator! It’s a demand problem, not a supply problem.

The government’s response is to fix the broken and unnecessary elevator, and then you’ve got one more elevator rising and falling each day, empty. Or, to pay people to ride up and down the elevators for no reason.

Quote (& Chart) Of The Day

From Ezra Klein:

“The revenue loss over the next 75 years just from extending the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 — the top 2 percent of Americans — would be about as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over this period,” write Kathy Ruffing and Paul N. Van de Water at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts for people at the top are affordable while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat.”

There are a whole host of issues with this approach, but I might consider this option… AS LONG as we change the name from “Social Security” to “Welfare From The Rich To Old People”.

Might as well call it what it is, right? Trying to refer to this program as “insurance” is getting tired.

Quote Of The Day

The Economist’s Babbage, on computing education:

That, for me, sums up the seductive intellectual core of computers and computer programming: here is a magic black box. You can tell it to do whatever you want, within a certain set of rules, and it will do it; within the confines of the box you are more or less God, your powers limited only by your imagination. But the price of that power is strict discipline: you have to really know what you want, and you have to be able to express it clearly in a formal, structured way that leaves no room for the fuzzy thinking and ambiguity found everywhere else in life. The computer is an invaluably remorseless master: harsh, sometimes to the point of causing you to tear your hair out, but never unfair.

As many bloggers and blog-readers are internet-adept nerds, I suspect that his piece will resonate with you as it did with me. As many of you may know, I’m an electrical engineer. But what many do not know (though it may hardly surprise) is that in college I chose to minor in philosophy. I did this because I’d had some exposure to philosophy in high school, and because I thought it would be a good way, being in the School of Liberal Arts, to meet women. Sadly, philosophy was not quite as blessed with the fairer sex as I’d hoped.

What am I waxing self-referential? Because computers, engineering, mathematics and philosophy are fundamentally similar. All work as systems of basically fixed rules, where you “build” products based upon the inputs and structure of your system. In engineering, it is materials and the laws of nature. In computers and digital electronics, it is all a complex structure for deciding rules for how to make transistors turn on or off. In mathematics, as in philosophy, it is starting with premises (or mathematical axioms) and deriving from those premises and the laws of logic/math a conclusion.

What weaves these disciplines together is not the inputs and structure — it is the mental process of working within the structure. Much of the educational system involves teaching a student what to think. Math and philosophy teach a student HOW to think, and for students less suited to the abstract, subjects like engineering or computer science provide a much more tangible feedback loop than math.

Though I hadn’t realized it in advance, engineering and philosophy are not so unnaturally paired. In fact, I had signed up for one class without realizing I hadn’t completed the prerequisites, and when I spoke to the professor to drop it, he cautioned that often engineers to very well in philosophy, because we’ve already internalized many of the rules. When I later took a class on “Introduction to Logic”, I exactly saw his point: everything we were doing was a slight variant on what I’d covered in digital logic courses 2 years before.

Sadly, I think this is a portion of education that is widely overlooked. These are the very building blocks of reason. These are the skills that can help humans weed the truth from the bullshit. A good grounding in logic and critical thought might help see through corporate marketing campaigns — and of the bread and circuses of American politics. It makes one wonder if there’s a reason these subjects are neglected – it makes us all better subjects.

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