Wisdom

There is a story in Jewish folklore which was made popular by Abraham Lincoln, strangely enough, in a speech he gave in 1859, which uses this phrase to sum up Solomon’s philosophy of life. In the story Solomon gave his trusted advisor Benaiah the task of finding a legendary ring, which had the power to make a happy man sad if he looked at it and a sad man happy. The man was given six months to search the kingdom for this ring. He searched and searched but could not find such a ring. Then the day before the deadline he was in the marketplace in Jerusalem and saw an old man, a merchant who was laying out his merchandise of jewelry on a carpet on the side of the street. Benaiah asked him if he knew of such a ring. “Have you by any chance heard of a ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” The old man said, “Yes, I can give you such a ring.” He took an ordinary gold ring from his collection and carefully inscribed on it three Hebrew letters. Beniah brought the ring to King Solomon the next day. Solomon asked him, “Well, my friend, have you found the ring?” Benaiah replied, “Yes, your majesty” and handed him the ring. Solomon looked at it carefully and saw the three Hebrew letters engraved on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yod. “What do these letters stand for?” asked Solomon. Benaiah replied in Hebrew “Gam zeh ya’avor.”— “This too shall pass.”

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Patterns

Intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns not talk them away. From an interview with physicist Brian Greene:

Do you think SAT scores define intelligence?
No. They define the capacity to answer questions on an SAT test.

How would you define intelligence?
Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world.

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HT: Dennis Prager

Progress!

From Theodore Dalrymple:

In these dark times, any sign of social progress is welcome. By social progress we mean, of course, equality between the races and sexes, or—as we must now call them—the genders.

The good news comes from Lyon, the second or third city of France, where last month a group of youths, generously outraged by the prospect that their elders and betters will not now be able to retire at 60, but will have to work until they’re 62, decided to throw stones through storefront windows and overturn parked cars as a gesture of intergenerational solidarity. Who says that youth are inconstant? They did it three nights running.

According to reports, mobile telephones and social-networking sites enabled them to coordinate their efforts. But what was really heartening was that, for the first time in the recent history of French rioting, la racaille (the scum), to use the president of the Republic’s judicious term, was racially very mixed, at least if the photographs published in the newspapers were anything to go by (which, of course, they might not be). Furthermore, again for the first time, members of the female gender participated fully and—according to reports—just as violently as the males.

There’s progress for you, and on two fronts—race and gender—simultaneously! What is more, to judge again from appearances, social justice is fun. The strugglers for justice were enjoying themselves immensely. Now all that’s needed is that the transsexuals should join in.

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Texas gets it right again

From the Wall Street Journal:

Republicans picked up 16 governorships and at least 675 state legislative seats in November, and some of them are using this new running room to get creative. One Governor out of the gate early is Texan Rick Perry, who wants to extend his state’s impressive tort reform record.

Most notably, Mr. Perry is proposing a British-style “loser pays” rule, which would require plaintiffs to pick up the legal costs of their targets if they lose their suits. Almost all of America’s economic competitors follow a similar standard, but trial lawyers and their Democratic codependents have blocked states from making this revolutionary improvement to U.S. civil justice.

Americans now spend more on tort litigation than they do on new cars. The courts are choked with such high crimes as the $54 million pair of pants that a D.C. dry cleaner allegedly ruined in 2007. A procedural reform like loser pays to deter junk lawsuits would make the legal system less of a drag on the economy and less of a political tool for redistributing wealth.

Mr. Perry’s proposal isn’t the pure version of loser pays, in which the losing party—plaintiff or defendant—is responsible for the winner’s attorneys fees. Instead, it adds an extra disincentive for the tort industry to bring suits that Texas law already defines as “groundless.” The lawyers and firms that file such claims would in almost all cases pay the penalty, a downside they’d have to weigh against their chances of personal enrichment.

At the same time, to speed compensation to genuine victims, Mr. Perry would create new legal channels to expedite smaller claims (below $100,000). Judges would also be barred from creating causes of action from the bench that haven’t been approved by the state legislature.

This Texas upgrade would build on reforms in 2003 and 2005 that have vastly improved the legal climate in what has not coincidentally become the country’s best state for job creation. Texas rewrote everything from class-action certification to product liability. One success was rationalizing the asbestos-silica litigation scam. Another was an overhaul of medical malpractice laws, ending the practice of venue shopping for friendly judges and putting a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.

Before the reform, Texas was a kind of holy place on the tort bar pilgrimage. Now it’s a Mecca for doctors, especially the emergency physicians, obstetricians and surgical specialists who elsewhere can face blue-sky malpractice premiums. Liability rates have fallen by 27.5% on average since 2003. The number of doctors applying to practice in Texas has increased 60%, even as the overall population grew by 14%.

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HT: Dennis Prager