Links for 2009-10-15

  • "[I]f a metal ring is very small - about 1 μm diameter or less - quantum mechanics says that its electrons should behave in much the same way as electrons orbiting an atomic nucleus. And in the same way that electrons in the lowest energy configuration of an atom maintain their orbits without the constant input of energy, electrons in such "mesoscopic" rings should flow forever. Indeed, a 1 μm diameter ring cooled to 1 K should support a current of about 1nA. "
  • "When airlines start doing stupid stuff like this, I try charting my way back to objective reality. And guess what? The airlines that added bag fees most quickly and on the most bags last year are exactly the ones that had the largest year-over-year revenue fall in this year's first quarter.
    "
  • "[T]here is also a theological and scientific struggle taking place at Christian colleges. Some professors, with support from prominent scientists, are trying to defend the teaching of evolution and to make it safe for those who teach biology and the Bible to talk about ways in which belief in evolution need not represent an abandonment of faith. Many Christian colleges have statements of faith -- which in some cases must be followed by all students and faculty members -- that endorse the literal truth of the Bible or of specific parts of the Bible (six literal days of creation, for example, or that Adam and Eve are the parents of all humans). So teaching evolution as scientific fact, which would just be taken for granted at many non-Christian colleges and universities, raises all kinds of delicate issues."
  • "So, it's not just about race, it's not just about class, and it's not just about gender. Then, what is it about being poor, black or Hispanic, and male that results in low male enrollment in college and a higher drop out rate?"
  • "Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening. That's what everybody wants, isn't it? Sex that's dangerous and safe at the same time, risky but comfortable, gooey and violent but also traditional and loving. In the bedroom, we want to have one foot in the twenty-first century and another in the nineteenth. "
  • ""Although the vast majority of Americans now get their news from the Internet or television, a small but loyal criminal element still purchases newspapers at a steady rate," study author and Columbia journalism professor Linus Ridell said. "The sober authority of the printed word continues to hold value for those attempting to extort large sums of money from wealthy people who wish to see their loved ones alive again, and not chopped into pieces and left in steamer trunks on their doorsteps."

    "These are sick, sick individuals," Ridell added. "God bless them for saving our industry.""

  • "The Prize isn't just a reward for successfully defeating the dark forces of Bush and Cheney, and their designated successors. It's a claim on our President's best intentions, a reminder to him that he hasn't succeeded yet, any more than Bishop Tutu had succeeded when he won. Tutu's award did help push the Reagan administration into backing a divestment campaign which crippled the apartheid regime, strengthening Tutu's hand domestically and internationally."
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Re: the Brancatelli piece

Somebody explain to me why the legacy airlines are paying their CEOs eight-figure compensation packages to run those companies into the ground. As with investment banks, I could run an airline into the ground just as effectively for a fraction of that price.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 15 Oct 2009 #permalink

I'm not a big fan of some of the practices around CEO compensation either, so offering a full-throated defense of this stuff is a little beyond me. However, two thoughts do occur.
1. Losses can occur for reasons beyond CEO control. No one would blame airline CEO's for the dramatic affects of 9/11 on their industry for example. If there aren't protections in the contract to make sure a good CEO gets paid well during a downturn, what incentive does he have not to jump ship to an industry in less distress? And unfortunately, it's pretty hard to write a contract that says "You get paid even during hard times unless you suck."
2. I grew up in Sacramento during some dark times for the Sacramento Kings. The same crack was made about their players. "I'll go out there and lose to the Lakers for HALF of what he's making!" There's a difference between losing to the Lakers 105-89 and losing 105-0, even if neither are ideal. As a CEO, you or I would probably run the airlines into the ground even faster.