Strong opinions, weakly held

Category: quotable (page 1 of 6)

Bill James on the human capacity for evil

In an interview with Chuck Klosterman on the subject of crime, baseball analyst Bill James talks about how a person becomes a murderer:

It is not as if we walk through one doorway and decide that murder is acceptable. You have to walk through many doorways. The first doorway leads to a party, where people are doing drugs and having fun. The second doorway leads to more partying. It’s a long, long series of doorways, until you end up in a room where a terrible thing happens. So the question is, “How many doorways away are you?” It’s not a question about a person’s capacity to commit a murder. It’s a question of how many doorways we keep between ourselves and that situation.

The whole interview is really interesting.

The currency of the Internet

The basic currency of the Internet is human ignorance, and, frankly, our database holds a strong cash position!

Christian Rudder describes the OkCupid user base at OkTrends.

The purpose of education

Roger Ebert, on education:

Of all the purposes of education, I think the most useful is this: It prepares you to keep yourself entertained.

Dave Winer on angel investing

I loved Dave Winer’s take on angel investors:

A bunch of guys (they’re almost all men) play at entrepreneurship the way other men play ponies. They’re not going to live the life of the 20-something. They couldn’t, it’s too much stress, and they have lives, and more important they have cash. It’s hard to push that hard when you aren’t betting it all. The young guy (he’s almost always a guy, too) is like a racehorse. The angels all get to hang around the stables, and watch the game closeup.

Quotable: Salvatore Giunta

This respect that people are giving to me? This was one moment. In my battalion, I am mediocre at best. This shows how great the rest of them are.

Medal of Honor winner US Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta.

Grasping for solutions

Andrew Brown, in writing about the practice of medicine during the Enlightenment, happens upon a universal truth:

The prestige of a project can survive any amount of failure so long as no alternatives are readily available.

The hidden costs of Apple’s app store

Derek Powazek talks about the burden that the app store approval process puts on iOS developers:

Appleā€™s App Store was a constant source of stress in the development process. Every time another story of Apple randomly booting an app from the store came out, the whole team quaked. The idea that we could do all this work and then Apple could deny the app, or even keep it in limbo forever, made us second- or third-guess every design decision. “Will this pixel hurt our chances of getting accepted?”

Richard Feynman’s advice to Stephen Wolfram

Richard Feynman gave Stephen Wolfram the following advice when Wolfram asked about starting his own research center:

Find a way to do your research with as little contact with non-technical people as possible, with one exception, fall madly in love! That is my advice, my friend.

Tyler Cowen on poor explanations

Tyler Cowen, in a post on why politicians aren’t more aggressively trying to stimulate aggregate demand, writes:

In general you should be suspicious of explanations which take the form of “if only the good people would all band together and get tough.”

The corollary is that attributing bad decisions to stupidity or evil doesn’t do much good, either. People make stupid and evil decisions for reasons, and it’s the reasons that matter.

The wisdom of Wal-Mart

Meeting social and environmental standards is not optional. I firmly believe that a company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and its chemicals in our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products. And cheating on the quality of products is the same as cheating on customers. We will not tolerate that at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott at a conference for suppliers in China. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Wal-Mart, but I can’t argue with Scott’s logic or principles in this case.

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