In their own words

I know all about it

“I think it’s torture when I have to ride in the car with my kids and they have loud rap music on.” — John Brennan, a former CIA official under George W. Bush and now a member of President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, explaining why he thinks CIA “enhanced interrogation” isn’t so bad.

Spending more, enjoying it less

“I’m better off today than I was before, but I am not more satisfied.” — A successful German business person, from East Germany, on life before and after reunification, quoted in Der Spiegel.

I thought seriously about my career

“I have not taken the decision lightly.” — Peter Garrett, former Nuclear Disarmament Party candidate and current federal Labor environment minister, announcing approval of another uranium mine.

In case of civil war?

“I’ve made clear that we will retain our deterrent capacity as long as there is a country with nuclear weapons.” — Obama, explaining that the US can’t give up nuclear weapons until after it has given up nuclear weapons.

Job opportunity: novelist

“It’s worthy of a Dickens story. These people are desperate. They know their home’s gone down in value. They’ve watched their neighbourhoods being boarded up.” — An assessor in California, on the growing number of people objecting to their property tax assessments.

Required qualification

“People who aren’t very nice are more likely to become managers.” — Michelle Tan, from the Australian National University, co-author of a study on links between personality and occupation.

Discovery

“If there’s a lesson of the last few years, it’s that the markets haven’t been functioning as well as they should have been.” — Edward L. Morse, head of research at a New York brokerage business.

Hollywood on the Potomac

“It sounds great in the movies, but when you try to do it, it’s not that easy.” — A US “former intelligence official” commenting to the New York Times on the Bush administration’s program to assassinate al-Qaeda members around the world.

Balanced

“I think that finding the right balance between providing new incentives to businesses, but not giving away the store, is always an art; it’s not a science because it’s never precise.” — Barack Obama, on a new climate-change bill that hands out hundreds of billions of dollars to polluters.