Thursday 19 January, 2023

Icy Rorschach test

What is normally a muddy puddle on one of our regular country walks, took on a more enigmatic appearance yesterday. Can you see a face in it?

Quote of the Day

”The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences that never happened.”

  • Saki (H.H. Munro)

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Christine McVie | Got A Hold On Me


Long Read of the Day

It’s Time to Get Serious

A bracing post by Katherine Boyle on how “prevailing wisdom insists that your twenties are for extreme exploration—collecting memories, friends, partners, identities.”

TL;DR summary: it’s bullshit.

She has the good sense to start with Sam Bankman-Fried.

The biggest technology story of this past year involves a fraud perpetrated by a boy. Or so the press would have us believe. 

Just months before Sam Bankman-Fried’s unraveling, Fortune Magazine referred to the billionaire as a “trading wunderkind” a latter-day Warren Buffett only with a “goofy facade” and a penchant for fidget spinners. Even after his downfall and subsequent arrest in the Bahamas, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and Axios all referred to Bankman-Fried, or SBF, as a disgraced “crypto wunderkind.” 

Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times illustrated his boyishness best when interviewing him at the Times’ DealBook Summit last November. “When you read the stories,” Sorkin said, “it sounds like a bunch of kids who were all on Adderall having a sleepover party.”

SBF’s fate will now be decided by the Southern District of New York, but his media charade of aw-shucks interviews and congressional testimony laced with brogrammer idioms built a public persona that we’ve largely come to accept: SBF is just a kid. Indeed, he’s so young that his law school professor parents were involved in his business and political dealings. (In this, they embody the helicopter style of child-rearing favored by nearly the entire Boomer elite.)

The reality, of course, is that SBF is a grown-ass, 30-year-old man. He is twelve years older than many of the men and women we sent to Iraq and Afghanistan…

Great stuff.

Books, etc.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an experiment my wife and I are doing — reading novels before watching films based on them. My friend Gerard, who is also interested in the adaptation process, wrote to suggest we listen to one of the novelist’s Hilary Mantel’s BBC Reith lectures. So we did and found it interesting and insightful.

Worth your time.

My commonplace booklet

From WashPo:

For 25 years, the National Archives has been working to rid itself of government red tape — through its gift shop.

We’re talking about actual, physical tape: the red-dyed lengths of fabric that were used from the 1780s to the 1980s to bundle many of the nation’s documents, and that, according to the Archives, gave rise to “red tape” as shorthand for bureaucratic entanglements.

The “tape” the agency is selling off isn’t adhesive tape; it’s a soft, flat and narrow woven cotton that’s snipped from a spool. Red tape eventually was abandoned for white or undyed tape because of its tendency to bleed, but in its heyday, the government used vast amounts of the red stuff. For instance, in 1864, the War Department headquarters purchased 154 miles of red tape, according to the Archives. And even in 1943, the Treasury Department bought nearly 123 miles, a Washington Post article from the time noted. Quite a bit of that mileage landed at the National Archives among its billions of paper records…

Someone should tell the UK’s Brexiteers about this.

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