Friday, October 31, 2008

"Houston, we have a problem. There is probably no artefact in the history of space exploration more precious than the first television images of the Moon captured by Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts as they disembarked from their lunar module in July 1969.

Unfortunately, the magnetic tapes of those images have gone missing. Worse still, they appear to have been missing for at least 30 years - and nobody, until now, even noticed."

-- Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, August 13, 2006.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"I am in a very sensitive profession. I am a quack. Which is to say, I'm ahead of my time in the field of psychic treatment."

-- Jules Amthor in Murder, My Sweet

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Some of the information required on this worksheet may seem to be irrelevant or even unwarranted. Please know that the California State Bureau of Records consider each item to be important."

-- Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center Birth Certificate Worksheet

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"I could almost fancy that I saw him standing in the shadow of my room, so well had Shakespeare drawn him, with his golden hair, his tender flower-like grace, his dreamy deep silken eyes, his delicate mobile limbs, and his white lily hands. His very name fascinated me. Willie Hughes! Willie Hughes! How musically it sounded! Yes; who else but he could have been the master-mistress of Shakespeare's passion,1 the lord of his love to whom he was bound in vassalage,2 the delicate minion of pleasure,3 the rose of the whole world,4 the herald of the spring5 decked in proud livery of youth,6 the lovely boy whom it was sweet music to hear,7 and whose beauty was the very raiment of Shakespeare's heart,8 as it was the keystone of his dramatic power? How bitter now seemed the whole tragedy of his desertion and his shame! -- shame that he made sweet and lovely9 by the mere magic of his personality, but that was none the less shame. Yet as Shakespeare forgave him, should not we forgive him also? I did not care to pry into the mystery of his sin."

-- Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Mr. W.H.

1 Sonnet xx. 2. 2 Sonnet xxvi. 1. 3 Sonnet cxxvi. 9. 4 Sonnet cix. 14. 5 Sonnet i. 10. 6 Sonnet ii. 3. 7 Sonnet viii. 1. 8 Sonnet xxii. 6. 9 Sonnet xcv. 1.

Monday, October 27, 2008


-- sign on former location of Albert Andonian Jewelry at 1312 Wilshire

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Late-filing syndrome, sometimes known as nonfiling syndrome or failure-to-file syndrome, is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A spokeswoman for the American Psychiatric Association said that the group does not recognize it as a psychiatric condition. But legal experts said that it is not uncommon for tax evaders to claim they suffer from such a syndrome, because it can shield them from criminal penalties."

-- New York Times

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"The difficulty in early warning, among other things, is that if you give correct warning and act in response to that warning, the attack will likely not materialize (i.e. if the US knew Japan was about to attack Pearl Harbor our defensive preparations would prevent Japan from following through). This means that successful warnings are under-counted because the catastrophe never emerges. This tends to weaken early warning systems as they are perceived to be ineffective even though they may have averted serious problems.

The economic analogy is regulation. Regulations were seen as unnecessary and dismantled because there had been no crises, but policymakers failed to consider that there may have been no crises precisely because of the regulation."

-- Jamison Davies

Friday, October 24, 2008

"The financial press and policymakers have made four claims about the nature of the crisis.
  1. Bank lending to nonfinancial corporations and individuals has declined sharply.
  2. Interbank lending is essentially nonexistent.
  3. Commercial paper issuance by nonfinancial corporations has declined sharply and
    rates have risen to unprecedented levels.
  4. Banks play a large role in channeling funds from savers to borrowers.

Here we examine these claims using data from the Federal Reserve Board. At least
based on data up until October 8, 2008, we argue that all four claims are false."

-- V.V. Chari, Lawrence Christiano, and Patrick J. Kehoe, "Myths about the Financial Crisis of 2008," Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Working Paper 666, October 2008.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"We have just won a war with a lot of heroes flying around in planes. The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all."

-- General Henry "Hap" Arnold, VJ Day, 1945.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"He [Barack Obama] had some discretion as president to exercise an element of choice for certain of the positions on the masthead; it wasn't wide discretion, but he had some. And I think a lot of the minority editors on the [Harvard Law] Review expected him to use that discretion to the maximum extent possible to empower them. To put them in leadership positions, to burnish their resumes, and to give them a chance to help him and help guide the Review. He didn't do that. He declined to exercise that discretion to disrupt the results of votes or of tests that were taken by various people to assess their fitness for leadership positions.

"He was unwilling to undermine, based on the way I viewed it, meritocratic outcomes or democratic outcomes in order to advance a racial agenda. That earned him a lot of recrimination and criticism from some on the left, particularly some of the minority editors of the Review."

-- Bradford Berenson on Frontline

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Because other waters don't have magical powers, and these kind of do."

-- Ad for water at Whole Foods.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd."

-- Justin Kruger and David Dunning, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 77, No. 6, pp. 1121-1134.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"In the past, a female Tasmanian devil could expect to live to four or five. She’d start breeding at two, and have a litter every year. But in places where devil facial tumor disease has struck, life expectancy is short. Hardly any animals live beyond age three, and most females have only one chance to breed.

"Interestingly, many females are now starting to breed in their first year. Although, before the disease, a few first-year females would manage to breed, most wouldn’t. This has changed. In some populations, more than 80 percent of females are breeding in their first year. But in the absence of animals able to resist the disease, whether this will be enough to save the species from annihilation remains to be seen."

-- Olivia Judson

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"We felt ourselves necessarily carried back to the time when the schistus on which we stood was yet at the bottom of the sea, and when the sandstone before us was only beginning to be deposited, in the shape of sand or mud, from the waters of a superincumbent ocean. An epocha still more remote presented itself, when even the most ancient of these rocks, instead of standing upright in vertical beds, lay in horizontal planes at the bottom of the sea, and was not yet disturbed by that immeasurable force which has burst asunder the solid pavement of the globe.... The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time."

-- James Playfair, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. V, pt. III, 1805.
[quoted by Margaret Carruthers, Natural History, June 1999]

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Unfortunately, the IR Montgolfière concept encounters a very serious problem in outer planet environments, in the form of convective losses. IR Mongolfière balloons operating successfully on Earth suffer only small heat losses through conduction-convection, but on all the planets considered here, convective losses are large because of the low molecular weight of the atmosphere."

-- Phillippe H. Adam, Olivier Duchemin, Richard Mason, and Muriel Noca, "Autonomous Parafoils for the Exploration of Outer Planet Atmospheres," 14th Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Conference and Seminar, San Francisco, CA, June 3-5, 1997, AIAA-1997-1428.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"By 1952 the number of [UFO] reports coming in was so large that the CIA was concerned that an actual attack on the country might not be immediately recognized."

-- George Kocher, UFOs: What to Do?, RAND document DRU-1571, November 1968.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"More importantly, in our society people do not satisfy their biological needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense social machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. [sic]"

-- The Unabomber Manifesto

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community."

-- David Brooks

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Chosen for an experiment in education, he was crammed with learning by his father and his father’s mentor, the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The aim was to produce a mind distended out of all proportion—force-fed facts, as unlucky geese are force-fed corn. The foie gras of the boy’s mind was then to be dined on by a grateful nation; the boy’s life, like the goose’s comfort, was secondary."

-- Adam Gopnik, "Right Again: The Passions of John Stuart Mill," The New Yorker, October 6, 2008.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"You'd think they would realize after the first 82 times: Don't try to surprise each other."

-- Maribeth on I Love Lucy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy.... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago."

-- Sir George Porter, The Observer, August 26, 1973

Friday, October 10, 2008

"The school color is crimson, which is also the name of the Harvard sports teams and the daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The color was unofficially adopted (in preference to magenta) by an 1875 vote of the student body, although the association with some form of red can be traced back to 1858, when Charles William Eliot, a young graduate student who would later become Harvard's president, bought red bandannas for his crew so they could more easily be distinguished by spectators at a regatta."

-- Ivy Sport

Thursday, October 9, 2008

“I had a guy say to me: ‘Look, I’ve voted for you before, I’ll probably vote for you again. But not this time. I’m sorry, but you’re just collateral damage,’ ” [Republican Congressman Tom] Davis told me. He recalled another voter telling him: “ ‘I like you, you’re good. But I’ve just got to send a message to Bush.’ I said, ‘Look, give me a letter, I’ll take it to him for you personally.’ ”

-- Peter Baker

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Francis Buckley of the Parish of St. Mary Islington , was likewise Indicted for Felony, for that he being above the Age of 14 years, was seen to wander up and down from the 10th of June to the 12th following, calling and counterfeiting himself to be an Egyptian . The Evidence for the King was very positive, that they did hear him say he was an Egyptian, and king of the Egyptians. He was taken in a Barn, at Hampstead, covered over with Straw, and two Egyptian Women sitting upon him; and they being made to rise, they discovered his Legs, and so pulled him out of the Straw. There was found upon him a Pistol, with a Scinsteer, and Rich [Text unreadable in original.]. He had a Mare likewise hard by that was worth 20l. The Prisoner had little to say, but that he never declared he was an Egyptian. The Evidence fully proving it against him, he was found guilty of Felony." [and sentenced to Death]

-- Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Peter Lawman of the Parish of St. Mary Islington , was Indicted for Felony; for that he, being above the Age of 14 years, was seen to wander up and down, calling himself an Egyptian, from the 10th day of June last, to the 12th of June following . The Prisoner alledged for himself that he was a German, and no Egyptian; nor that he did say at any time he was an Egyptian; but the Evidence for the King being very positive against him, the Jury brought him in guilty of Felony."

-- Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Angry Robot should publish 2-3 books per month from July 2009. _Ansible_ imagines a corporate brainstorm session which -- after noting that Paranoid Android had been used by some other guy -- considered Mad Mechanoid, Grumbling Golem, Enraged Replicant and Surly Cyborg before inspiration came."

-- Ansible

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"In [financial regulators'] sights are a peculiar brand of speculators known as `long-buyers' who buy assets not to live off the income they generate but to profit from rising prices. [...] Particular criticism has been reserved for people dubbed `naked long-buyers', those who try to buy homes without putting up a deposit."

-- The Economist, September 27, 2008 (dateline September 26, 2021).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"The Dr. Doom to my Mr. Fantastic, the Dr. Octopus to my Spider-Man, the Dr. Sivana to my Captain Marvel... You know, it's amazing how many supervillains have advanced degrees. Graduate school should probably do a better job of screening those people out."

-- Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

Friday, October 3, 2008

"Sometimes at Edwards they used to play the tapes of pilots going into the final dive, the one that killed them, and the man would be tumbling, going end over end in a fifteen-ton length of pipe, and he knew it, and he would be screaming into the microphone, but not for Mother or for God or the nameless spirit of Ahor, but for one last hopeless crumb of information about the loop: `I've tried A! I've tried B! I've tried C! I've tried D! Tell me what else I can try!' And then that truly spooky click on the machine. What do I do next? (In this moment when the Halusian Gulp is opening?) And everybody around the table would look at one another and nod ever so slightly, and the unspoken message was: Too bad! There was a man with the right stuff."

-- Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"In my opinion what has gone wrong in the last several years is that a lot of people who don't understand mortgage credit risk have been taking mortgage credit risk. And Paulson and Bernanke, for all their knowledge (and they know a lot more about a lot of things than I do) do not understand mortgage credit risk, and nobody involved in pushing this plan understands what they're getting into, and how difficult it will be to value these mortgage securities. They all just assume that they can hire some technical person, someone like what I was ten or fifteen years ago, to take care of it, and as the person who would be tasked for doing this, I'd say it's not possible to do it. The securities are too complex and they're too sensitive to potential scenarios for house prices. The core task of this bailout is going to be valuing these mortgage securities, and that is an impossible task, and the bailout is bound to fail for that reason."

-- Arnold Kling

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Disturbing to builders is the fact that some banks are enforcing personal guarantees that make them personally liable for repaying the debt."

-- Emmet Pierce