Saturday, June 22, 2002
Friday, June 21, 2002
"It helps men to communicate without making you fall over and beat up your wife and do other terrible things."
"Social Security as we know it is a system in which each generation's payroll taxes are mainly used to support the previous generation's retirement. If contributions from younger workers go into personal accounts instead, the problem should be obvious: who will pay benefits to today's retirees and older workers? It's just arithmetic: 2-1=1. So privatization creates a financial hole that must be filled by slashing benefits, providing large financial transfers from the rest of the government or both"
Not only doesn't everyone know this, but I doubt that it is very well known at all. From the first SS has been presented as a savings system where workers put in their money and expect to take it out at retirement which is why we are constantly being told about the fictional "Trust fund". It has been from the first an enormous Ponzi scheme with bad actuarial assumptions from day one. Without significant cuts in benefits or increases in taxes the system will be insolvent by 2029. That's the simple arithmetic that Prof. Krugman doesn't seem to understand. While market returns most likely won't repeat their 90s performance in the near future, even if market returns are only 4% (which is a very low estimate) over the next decade it is still far better than the less than 1% returns workers get from their current SS contributions. I guess he missed those classes on the effects of small return differences when compounded while getting his PhD in economics. (I feel the urge for a longer rant but not enough time now, perhaps I will expand on it later. I'm sure the main KrugmanWatchers will pipe in too).
"I am a compassionate mother to my children, and they are compassionate towards me and take care of me. Because I love my son, I encouraged him to die a martyr's death for the sake of Allah... Jihad is a religious obligation incumbent upon us, and we must carry it out. I sacrificed Muhammad as part of my obligation.
"This is an easy thing. There is no disagreement [among scholars] on such matters. The happiness in this world is an incomplete happiness; eternal happiness is life in the world to come, through martyrdom. Allah be praised, my son has attained this happiness."
"He set out for his operation with cold nerves, completely calm and confident, as if convinced that the operation would succeed."
"But I worried and feared greatly that the operation would not succeed, and that he would be arrested. I prayed for him when he left the house and asked Allah to make his operation a success and give him martyrdom. When he entered the settlement, his brothers in the military wing [of Hamas] informed me that he had managed to infiltrate it. Then I began to pray to Allah for him."
"I prayed from the depths of my heart that Allah would cause the success of his operation. I asked Allah to give me 10 [Israelis] for Muhammad, and Allah granted my request and Muhammad made his dream come true, killing 10 Israeli settlers and soldiers. Our God honored him even more, in that there were many Israelis wounded."
"When the operation was over, the media broadcast the news. Then Muhammad's brother came to me and informed me of his martyrdom. I began to cry, 'Allah is the greatest,' and prayed and thanked Allah for the success of the operation. I began to utter cries of joy and we declared that we were happy. The young people began to fire into the air out of joy over the success of the operation, as this is what we had hoped for him."
"After the martyrdom [operation], my heart was peaceful about Muhammad. I encouraged all my sons to die a martyr's death, and I wish this even for myself. After all this, I prepared myself to receive the body of my son, the pure shahid, in order to look upon him one last time and accept the well-wishers who [came] to us in large numbers and participated in our joy over Muhammad's martyrdom..."
Thursday, June 20, 2002
Here is my favorite, both because its funny and because it provides a nice free-market solution:
“And you know something, the American Civil Liberties Union, when they come out and say you never profile anybody who gets on an airplane. I say we create a new airline, called the ACLA, the American Civil Liberties Airline where you don’t check anybody, you don’t ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one, okay? The rest of us want to be protected.”
"We really don't know with any level of certainty what amount of warming would destroy the ice sheet or how quickly that would happen," said Dr. Oppenheimer. He and Dr. O'Neill wrote, "In general, the probability is thought to be low during this century, increasing gradually thereafter."
There is not even agreement among scientists on the amount of warming necessary to begin the destruction. But what is clear is that if the ice sheet were to disintegrate, the consequences would be profound. So you don't want to play around with this. You want to make sure it doesn't happen.
So, lets see, something bad might happen, we're not sure of the probability but currently it's low but we expect it to get worse after a century (assuming of course no changes in current technologies), we're not even sure exactly what the effects will be but we should spend massive amounts of money now to make sure it doesn't happen (but we're not quite sure how to insure that either because we really don't have a good handle on how these massively complex systems work but papers that suggest apocalyptic outcomes are more likely to get grant money than those that say we have no clue what the weather will be like next week to say nothing of next century).
Do I have that about right?
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Scientists are on the verge of creating "life in a computer" -- a simulation of a bacterium so detailed it could partly replace living cells in drug research, researchers announced Wednesday.
One possible application, he said, would be to use the electronic model to learn how to "re-program" living bacteria into what he called "smart pills," which could be used to deliver drugs to cure diseases.
In a recent study, Zizzo and Oswald ask, "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others’ Incomes?" "The short answer to this question is: yes," they report. "Our subjects gave up large amounts of their cash to hurt others in the laboratory."
Zizzo and Oswald found that nearly two-thirds of players happily paid for the privilege of impoverishing their fellow participants. Even as the price of burning went up, the percentage of people who chose to burn other players did not fall substantially.
"The FBI arrested Jose Padilla for training with al-Qa'ida to set off a dirty bomb
in Washington. He's a pretty sharp cookie. A few years ago,
he changed his name to Abdullah Al Muhajir so could enter and
leave the United States more easily"
" Let’s talk oppression. Let’s talk occupation. Let’s talk genocide, as Arafat likes to call any Israeli action. In college I fell in with a group of Ukes, and learned a good deal about the Soviet horrors visited on their nation. Churches: razed. Language: forbidden. Menfolk: off to the camps. Land: collectivized. Population: starved to death by the millions. You’d talk to the old men, the partisans who made it to America after the war, and their hatred of the Soviets was white-hot forty years later. Ukraine at the time was still under Soviet control, remember. And let’s pause a moment to remember all the campus protests over Russia’s illegal, genocidal occupation.
Didn’t take long, did it.
We housed a dissident who’d been kicked out of the USSR after spending a few years in a “psychiatric” hospital, where they’d done all sorts of horrible things to him and broken his health for good. Sixty years of occupation, oppression and mass extermination, and not one of these men would have taken the war to girls on a bus bound for a Moscow high school. Not one. If a Uke had burst into a home of a Russian official and shot his little girl in her bed, they would have been deeply ashamed that their cause had been corrupted thus - the Metropolitan of the church would have condemned it, the activists abroad would have denounced it, the children kept from the news lest they think that opposition to the Soviet occupiers justified splitting open a baby’s head in her mother’s lap."
"One hundred percent of the successful terrorist attacks on commercial airlines for 20 years have been committed by Arabs. When there is a 100 percent chance, it ceases to be a profile. It's called a 'description of the suspect.' "
Tuesday, June 18, 2002
"In the long run, al Qaeda's ability to force the United States not only to focus on it, but also to affirm its power and danger is what will make the group effective in the Islamic world. Therefore, its thinking is that as long as the United States is prepared to underwrite its credibility publicly, it can preserve resources and protect against security failures simply by biding its time."
In other words, by constantly making mauve and torqoise color coded warnings we eliminate the need for them to do follow up terrorist attacks since these warnings are creating enough terror already.
"Osama bin Laden's call for a global Islamic revolution against America and allies like Israel, as well as Muslim "puppet" regimes like the one in his native Saudi Arabia, may use religious rhetoric. But much of the resentment he appeals to is psychosocial. He may come from a privileged background, but his appeal is to the frustrated and the resentful. His thoroughgoing rejection of Western values jibes easily with those who have clashed with Western society's rules already, whether from outside or within.
The rhetoric of extreme Islam has become the dystopian ideology of our age. A century ago it was a potent mixture of Marxist and Nietzschean denunciation of bourgeois hypocrisy. It fed the self-righteousness of a criminal subculture that came to see revolution as justifying theft and worse, much worse, because the victim was the beneficiary of an unjust society and the criminal its true victim."
"One of my friends sent me an interesting mail about the world cup and I will use this equation to guess the world cup winner. Here is my equation, maybe it will be of some help to loser bet-placers like me: The last time Brazil won the cup is 1994 and 1970 is the year it won the cup prior to that. We sum up these two numbers; 1994+1970= 3964. We repeat this calculation with Germany: 1990+1974=3964 . For Argentina: 1986+1978=3964. Every time we sum up the year in which a country won the cup for the last time and the year it won prior to that, we get 3964. In this sense, to find out who the world cup winner will be, we do this: 3964-2002=1962. According to my equation the winner will be the country which won the cup for the last time in 1962 which is Brazil. So listen to me and place your bets on Brazil as the world cup winner like I will do."
"As for the second, as noted in this space, the salient characteristic of al-Qaeda's operatives is how dumb they are. As the number of incompetent Palestinian suicide bombers suggests, in this field it's hard, by definition, to get people with experience. If British shoebomber Richard Reid had invested a handful of euros in a lighter instead of relying on a damp, bent book of matches from the airport EconoLodge, he'd have detonated the plane over the Atlantic. Instead, he's destined to be the most pitiful footnote in terrorist history: a man who couldn't even blow his legs off when his loafers were packed with explosives.
It shouldn't surprise us that al-Qaeda finds it hard to recruit top-quality psychopaths willing to kill themselves to protest the fall of Andalucia in 1492 or whatever other ancient grievance is itching Osama's yak-wool undies. Nonetheless, certain distinctions in the organization's operational moron structure can now be discerned. Mohammed Atta and the other bigshot, wealthy, middle-class Saudi morons get the fun of ploughing the jets into the skyscrapers."
Monday, June 17, 2002
English R1A, "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance," which
will earn students four units toward their degree:
"The brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, [ongoing] since 1948,
has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian
people. And yet, from under the brutal weight of the occupation,
Palestinians have produced their own culture and poetry of resistance. This
class will examine the history of the [resistance] and the way that it is
narrated by Palestinians in order to produce an understanding of the
Intifada. . . . This class takes as its starting point the right of
Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination. Conservative
thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections."
Above is the description from a month ago, if you compare the current description in the link the final line was removed and some other softening verbage was added after complaints were made that Berkeley was perhaps not encouraging a diversity of viewpoints.
puncturing the "regulations are costless" myth that seems to be so prevalent among the we-need-more-government-not-less types these days.