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The Intellectual Situation

Walk Away Like a Boss

Walk Away Like a Boss

Postcard from the cryptosphere

How tragic, I thought, to reduce life to a procession of microtransactions or contracts. How naive to believe that some agreed-upon set of values could be formalized into code, or that the problems of politics could be made irrelevant by computation.

Billionaire Follies

Billionaire Follies

Bezos as space conqueror, Gates as global vaccinator

As weirdos who have been appointed to positions of great social power and influence by nothing more than the accident of their wealth, billionaires cannot be trusted to fix the world’s problems. No matter how much of their money they want to give away, things won’t begin to improve until we take it from them. Not because we need it, but because they can’t be trusted to handle it without destroying the collective preconditions of common existence.

Living Inside

Living Inside

DON’T TAKE ADVIL!!

The virus tours my organ systems, wreaking havoc at each checkpoint. My girlfriend likewise personifies it, thinking of the virus as a sci-fi invader. She tells me she imagines it taking up temporary residence in her brain, the command center, maneuvering a joystick across her sensory receptors.

Epilogue for a Way of Life

Epilogue for a Way of Life

We were a sick society and getting sicker

The Decameron came to mind first, but as the weeks went on, our minds wandered to reruns of The Jetsons that we used to watch as kids. A smug depiction of an optimized society so stratified that its beneficiaries literally lived above the clouds, The Jetsons always made us wonder about all the people living below, on Earth, in cities abandoned by the techno-optimists of the future. Now we knew.

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms

Publishing in the 2010s

No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be as vapid as possible. But eventually you internalize the squeeze. Everyone down the chain adjusts their individual decisions to the whim of the retailer, or to their best guess at the whim of the retailer. If it’s Barnes & Noble, you may hear that a cover doesn’t work, that the store won’t carry the title unless you change it. If it’s Amazon, you may not hear anything at all. You go back and adjust your list of wildly optimistic comparative titles — it’s The Big Short, but . . . for meteorology!