Bad Leadership Produces Bad Results
"They’re all a bunch of cowards."
In Foreign Policy, S. Nathan Park told the story of one conservative provincial governor in South Korea who got in a snit about Legoland and tanked the entire nation’s bond rating. Park concludes that “the same lesson applies to Britain, South Korea, and everywhere: Electing bad politicians leads to a bad economy.” This is correct but too specific—let’s restate it as “bad leadership produces bad results” and the evidence is all around us because baby, we are in living in a golden age of bad leadership.
Free speech maximalist Elon Musk, for example, who has progressed from firing whole teams of engineers indiscriminately to firing specific engineers who dare to contradict his dumb misunderstandings about the code they wrote and embarrass him in front of his weird nerd fans.
When Forbes reached Frohnhoefer by phone on Monday afternoon from his home in San Diego, the engineer said he had received no formal communications from the company at all about his sudden dismissal.
“Nope, nothing,” he said. “They’re all a bunch of cowards.”
Musk’s Folly is probably already in violation of European data protection regulations according to Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch, because picking a fight with the US government alone wasn’t enough for him. But at least we’ve reached the part of the Twitter news cycle where someone like David J. Roth can take a wider look at it and relate Musk wrecking Twitter with quants wrecking baseball and the “rich dullards” of Silicon Valley wrecking everything else as they:
…lend each other money, back and forth, in re-skinned pursuit of what these people always want done for them—to be served by strangers, promptly; to get over on everyone else and each other; to get richer even as they sleep.
The New York Times is At It again about The Transgender Question™, with Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett exploring what the newspaper of record explicitly states are the two sides of this purported debate: Doctors vs. Republican politicians.
Predictably, the Children’s Hospital bomber brigade loved it. Don’t read that garbage, though, instead read Lauren Theisen in Defector, who asks “How Many Trans People Does The New York Times Believe There Should Be?”
The Times also dropped a fluffy interview with Sam Bankman-Fried yesterday, in which the FTX fraud kingpin says so little of substance that writer David Yaffe-Bellany had to vamp about how SBF’s “ambitions exceeded his grasp,” how he was too busy “pushing an ambitious regulatory agenda,” and advancing his “ambitious philanthropic operation.” Here’s the kicker:
Shortly before the interview, Mr. Bankman-Fried had posted a cryptic tweet: the word “What.” Then he had tweeted the letter H. Asked to explain, Mr. Bankman-Fried said he planned to post the letter A and then the letter P. “It’s going to be more than one word,” he said. “I’m making it up as I go.”
So he was planning a series of cryptic tweets? “Something like that.”
But why? “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m improvising. I think it’s time.”
Cute! An irresistible quote! I am reasonably sure that the whole story was an excuse to publish this quote, but regrettably it was a blatant lie. What Bankman-Fried was actually doing was swapping new tweets for deleted tweets to avoid triggering bots that watch for crypto bros deleting tweets, because that’s such a reliable indicator of upcoming collapses. It worked, in that the bots didn’t notice, but also didn’t work, in that it was such bizarre behavior that humans noticed and very quickly figured it out. The Tie archived the deleted tweets, you can probably decide for yourself which ones he was trying to scrub.
If you want authoritative coverage of FTX and Alameda, I’m afraid the Times can’t help you. You’re going to have to read @0xfbifemboy, whose blog milkyeggs.com has what I think is the most convincing, complete, and best-researched explanation about what happened at Alameda Research that I’ve seen. Milky Eggs also archived Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison’s deleted Tumblrs, where she chronicled her Matt Levine fandom and wrote this mindblowing take on the third Scholomance novel:
Whereas if I had to sum up the moral message of the third book I might go with “there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism.” It turns out the world economy is built on systemic exploitation of the vulnerable, and everyone who participates in it is complicit, and the way to be a good person is to burn the system to the ground and replace it with one that’s less problematic even if it requires a substantial decrease in global standards of living.
And like I think that’s likely true in the Scholomance universe? But I think it’s a bad analogy for the real world.
IS IT? IS IT, CAROLINE????? IS IT A BAD ANALOGY? I S I T T T T T T T????????
Let’s have a warm MTV Beach House welcome for: Radiohead!
How are we supposed to share our jokes after Twitter implodes?
12. While petting your dog, whisper your joke into his fur. Stroke his ears. Whisper, “I was today years old.” Whisper, “Is this anything?”
The Spyplane made a very convincing case for not being yourself. I’m thinking about Caroline Ellison’s “Scholomance” review again and wondering how to not be anyone. The UK Treasury tried to make a read-only Discord, and it went as well as you’d imagine:
Others have embraced the fact that letters are included in the list of emojis, and more than 100 people have apparently coordinated to attempt to write out the chancellor’s name, “Hunt”, underneath the post. Unusually, however, every one of them seems to have made the same typing error, accidentally spelling out a vulgarity instead.
Alex Hern, folks. Private equity vultures rumored to be circling Vox Media. Protocol appears to be dead. I barely did better than chance on The New Republic’s “Who Said It: Elon Musk or Mr. Burns?” quiz. Jesus simulator dropped. This struggling gameshow’s clue was bizarrely and unnecessarily gross. NH Senate loser Don Bolduc, already Chotined once, went in for a second Chotining:
You said that it was too soon to know how to judge Trump. I am reminded of the story—perhaps apocryphal—of Zhou Enlai saying the same thing about the French Revolution, that it was too early to tell.
Right. Absolutely. It’s too early to tell.
You have to start to wonder if this is a kink?
Today’s Song: No it isn’t “Creep” at the MTV Beach House in 1993, that was just a desperate effort to pry my eyes out of the abyss before it was too late. It’s actually Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand” (thx Daisy!)
Now more than ever: You Can Always Quit. Follow me on Metafilter.