Good morning. This Sunday, HEMNA covers news stories and other articles from Murmel.social.
The crypto industry is the weakest it’s ever been; the empty lies of their phony populist narrative laid bare, their debauchery and corruption exposed for the world to see. As is the theme in all my crypto analyses, we can learn the most about mania’s future from the past’s popular delusions. The FTX meltdown is nothing new in the history of financial manias, FTX was a Bahamanian shadow bank, and its collapse bears all the hallmarks of classic historical bank runs. Sam is unique in that his grandiosity stems not purely from unrestrained greed and narcissism-although there is plenty of that-but his philosophical north star of Effective Altruism, an extreme form of Benthamite utilitarianism which espouses the belief that we should extend our ethical locus of concern to all possible sentient beings that may exist in the future. Yet institutions like the New York Times run full-page stories declaring him as some secular saint who will herald in a new future that will reshape human civilization, and our elected leaders line up to kiss the ring – FTX: Greed, Grift and Grandiosity (Stephen Diehl ~ Blog)
Every startup has a startup story. Apple was two hackers in a Los Altos garage. Google was two grad students in a Stanford dorm room. Alameda Research was just one guy in a Berkeley apartment, making a single cryptocurrency trade. That guy was Sam Bankman-Fried, or SBF to his friends. Yet the trade he made, which eventually led to the crypto-trading platform FTX, is far from the standard Silicon Valley creation tale. In 2017, when he was merely 25, SBF collapsed the so-called kimchi premium, an anomalous delta between the price of Bitcoin in much of Asia and its price in the rest of the world. It was a daring feat of arbitrage—SBF is the only trader known to have pulled this off in any meaningful way—one which quickly made him a billionaire and achieved the status of legend – Sam Bankman-Fried Has a Savior Complex—And Maybe You Should Too (Sequoia/Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
In the movement’s early years, MacAskill said, “Every new pledge was a big deal, a cause for celebration.” As E.A. expanded, it required an umbrella nonprofit with paid staff. The Oxford philosopher Amia Srinivasan, whom MacAskill considers a friend, wrote a decidedly mixed critique in the London Review of Books, calling MacAskill’s first book “a feel-good guide to getting good done.” She noted, “His patter is calculated for maximal effect: if the book weren’t so cheery, MacAskill couldn’t expect to inspire as much do-gooding.” She conceded the basic power of the movement’s rhetoric: “I’m not saying it doesn’t work. Halfway through reading the book I set up a regular donation to GiveDirectly,” one of GiveWell’s top recommended charities. Last year, MacAskill contacted Bankman-Fried to check in about his promise: “Someone gets very rich and, it’s, like, O.K., remember the altruism side? I called him and said, ‘So, still planning to donate?'” Bankman-Fried pledged to give nearly all his money away; if suitable opportunities are found, he’s willing to contribute more than a billion dollars a year. Bankman-Fried had longtermist views before they held sway over MacAskill, and has always been, MacAskill remembers, “particularly excited by pandemics”-a normal thing to hear among E.A.s. Cremer wrote in a forum post, had attempted to thwart the paper’s publication: “These individuals-often senior scholars within the field-told us in private that they were concerned that any critique of central figures in EA would result in an inability to secure funding.” MacAskill responded solicitously in the comments, and when they finally had a chance to meet, in February, Cremer presented a list of proposed “structural reforms” to E.A., including whistle-blower protections and a broad democratization of E.A.’s structure – The Reluctant Prophet of Effective Altruism (The New Yorker ~ Annals of Inquiry)
In September 2018, my reader, Anthony, opened Swann’s Way, the first book of In Search of Lost Time, on our front veranda and read aloud the seemingly innocent opening line: “I used to go to bed early”. How can it be that deeply flawed and terrible humans have the capacity to create? That sense of awe came to me time and again in the four years that I listened to his words take form in the air around me, the stilled, but enormously rich sensation that enfolds us when something is about to stir into being. The reading pleasure was not to do with the narrative, which despite being at times, mind-meltingly slow, did eventually form an intricate pattern, nor the fascinating and often hilariously repellant characters, it was the sudden moments of what I can only call “satori”, the Japanese word for a sudden jolt out of the mundane surface into a the bright clarity of awareness of being. Once, I asked my reader why he reads, and he answered: “For the hum of human consciousness. So that I know I am not alone.” And that is the real brilliance of Proust – that he is one of the very few writers who are able to create that endless hum on the page. Our reading has not saved us from anything, and yet, I feel stronger for my lengthy sojourn with Proust – Reading Proust aloud: ‘How can it be that deeply flawed and terrible humans have the capacity to create?’ (The Guardian UK edition ~ Culture – Books – Marcel Proust)
For the better part of nine or so days now, I had the first line of a post which was going to be extremely dark and not at all fun to read and, well, you can thank the intensity of the Robodebt Royal Commission for consuming every thought and waking hour of my day such that I just haven’t had the mental bandwidth to write the next sentence, or the the one after that. Hit a new low last Sunday when I asked a soon-to-be five-year-old if I was invited to his birthday party and he literally sighed and said ‘of course, why would you ask me that’ and in my head I was like ‘f***, hope I am still invited’. Moore, not much a fan of the new postdoctoral degree, declared: “This is a work of genius but it otherwise satisfies the requirements for the PhD.” Anyway, I laughed out loud so hard I woke myself up and couldn’t get back to sleep properly. LOZ: You said you were going to give Charlie his needles. ME: F***, I am going to kill this cat aren’t I. LOZ: You are! ME: I’m going to have to find a cat that looks exactly like Charlie to replace him! I am going to turn it on and see if we can have some fun with it – I Am Now The Mayor Of Hindsight (Nervous Laughter/Substack)