I can't quite draw a line between all of these stories, but it feels like I should:
Finally, a million-liter aquarium in a central Berlin hotel collapsed spectacularly today, causing millions of euros of damage. No people were hurt but 1,500 tropical fish drowned or froze to death in the aftermath.
Theodore Schleifer examines the intellectual and ethical upbringing of Sam Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old indicted yesterday for perpetrating one of the biggest frauds in history:
Of all the potentially unanswerable riddles underpinning the Sam Bankman-Fried saga—why did Sequoia invest in a mop-topped kid who played video games during a diligence call; were Alameda and FTX ever really separate?—perhaps the most vexing is how the mastermind of this whole legal and ethical imbroglio was the offspring of two beloved legal scholars who were obsessed with ethics, in an effective-altruist Petri dish focused on analytical rigor, civic-mindedness and, crucially, consequences. How could a family so committed to doing the greatest good for the greatest number end up depriving so many people of so much happiness—and then see their son get arrested?
The optics are complicated for Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, who flew to The Bahamas amid the collapse of FTX and have remained there to counsel their son, almost as if he were a therapy patient or a legal client. Meanwhile, people on The Farm have been gossiping about how neither parent has any courses at Stanford next year: Joe canceled the one class he was slated to teach over the winter semester, and Barbara is listed as an emerita professor. (She has written that she “hopes” to make a return to teaching in the future.)
Sam has gone out of way to absolve his parents of any culpability in his financial misdeeds, telling Andrew Ross Sorkin at last month’s Dealbook conference that they “bore no responsibility” for the collapse of FTX. “Anyone close to me, including my parents and employees and co-workers who fought with the company to push forward, they were hurt by this,” he said. “I feel really grateful for the support my parents are still giving me throughout all of this.”
And yet the truth is that both parents, whether they bear responsibility or not, are deep in the barrel with Sam. As Reuters has reported, official property records show that Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried were the named owners of a $16.4 million beachside “vacation home” in Old Fort Bay, part of a broader real estate portfolio owned by FTX and senior executives totalling hundreds of millions of dollars. “They may have stayed there while working with the company sometime over the last year,” Sam told Sorkin, though he denied knowing any details about the $300 million worth of real estate that FTX and his parents bought in the Bahamas. (Joe and Barbara have said they’ve been working to return the property to the company for some time.)
I mean, all the ethical rigor in the world won't help if your son is a sociopath.
Clearly, I have to get my priorities in order. I've spent the afternoon in the zone with my real job, so I have neglected to real all of this:
Finally, because only one guy writes about half of the songs on top-40 radio, modulations have all but disappeared from popular songs.
Meteorological winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere today. In Chicago right now we have sunny skies and a normal-for-December 2°C. And any day above freezing between December 1st and March 1st works for me.
Finally, on a whim I looked back at my posts from 10 years ago, and I came across this painful memory of debugging an Azure 1.8 deployment. And 15 years ago we got our first snowfall of the season. Ah, memories.
Despite coming in "later and cost[ing] more than originally expected," construction on a new Terminal 2 and revamped Terminal 1 will start soon:
Under the latest plan, two new remote satellite terminals will be the first to open, in 2027 and 2028, off the existing Terminal 1, where most United Airlines flights are located.
Once that is done, full-scale work will begin on the centerpiece of the project: the demolition and reconstruction of Terminal 2, which will be converted into a combination domestic and international terminal. That will locate customs and related facilities at the center of the airport, and not at the exiting, somewhat remote Terminal 5, as is the case now.
Officials had estimated the project's estimated cost at $8.5 billion—but that's in 2018 dollars, when the plan was unveiled and approved by the City Council under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In August, the city had new estimates, with the original $8.5 billion plan projected to cost $9.8 billion. Along with other previously approved and additional projects, the total for O'Hare's overhaul was slated to cost $12.1 billion.
Fortunately, Federal money—not my city property taxes—will pay for it.
I just hope it takes less time to build than the railway platform by my house.
Josh Barro explains the FTX collapse in simple terms:
[T]his is not a technology story, because FTX was not a technology company. Sure, FTX’s business relied on technology, but so do most businesses. FTX has an app; so does Fidelity, and so does Chipotle, and that doesn’t make them tech companies. FTX was a brokerage, and there were two things that set them apart from a regular brokerage. One is that they dealt principally in nonsense financial products with no underlying economic value, and the other is that the owners either lost or stole the customers’ money and then lied about their resulting insolvency.
Because cryptocurrency assets have no fundamental economic value — unlike stocks and bonds, they do not reflect a claim on the cash flows of some business creating real value in the economy — there can be no such thing as fundamentals-based investing in them. When people invest in crypto, they out themselves as marks for scammers who might believe any nonsense about what something is worth. And therefore it’s the least surprising thing in the world that someone would open up a crypto exchange, offer implausible interest rate terms in order to hoover up billions in customer deposits from the gullible masses, and then misappropriate the proceeds.
He also provides some rules of thumb for dealing with cryptocurrencies, the first being, "any crypto-related business is a scam." Quite so.
I'm just finishing up a very large push to our dev/test environment, with 38 commits (including 2 commits fixing unrelated bugs) going back to last Tuesday. I do not like large pushes like this, because they tend to be exciting. So, to mitigate that, I'm running all 546 unit tests locally before the CI service does the same. This happens when you change the basic architecture of an entire feature set. (And I just marked 6 tests with "Ignore: broken by story X, to be rewritten in story Y." Not the best solution but story Y won't work if I don't push this code up.)
So while I'm waiting for all these unit tests to run, I've queued all this up:
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced today that she will step down from her party leadership role when the 118th Congress meets on January 3rd.
- This came on the heels of a loser Florida retiree trying to get his old job back. Tina Nguyen looks at who might challenge the loser retiree for the same job. One thing I know: this won't end well for the Republican Party.
- Maybe that's why 12 Republicans in the US Senate crossed party lines to vote on moving the Same-Sex Marriage bill forward?
- Aaron Gordon investigates why American transit projects cost so much more than any other country's (hint: they have stronger anti-corruption laws).
- And yet, Washington got a Metro line to Dulles after waiting only 60 years, just slightly longer than we in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood have waited for the inbound Metra platform to open.
- Speaking of corruption, Kelsey Piper got a phone call from Sam Bankman-Fried, the guy who made a couple billion in crypto go *poof* last week, so he could clear the air. On the record. With pending litigation. (Seriously, who's his dealer?)
- For no reason anyone can determine, certainly not the recent dismissal of half its workforce including the only engineers who know where the bolts go, Twitter has experienced some intermittent problems with its multifactor authentication setup. Even better, "a researcher contacted Information Security Media Group on condition of anonymity to reveal that texting 'STOP' to the Twitter verification service results in the service turning off SMS two-factor authentication." Oh my!
- Speaking of that dying company, Elon Musk has done his utmost to hasten the exodus of engineering talent by giving everyone until (checks watch) two hours from now to choose a lifetime of misery or a three-month severance. Because we software engineers do our best work for narcissists with whips. (There simply isn't enough popcorn in San Francisco for this shit show.)
- Sadly, Republican speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has died at 58. I didn't agree with him much, but he remained one of the sane ones till the end.
Finally, one of Chicago's last vinyl record stores, Dave's in Lincoln Park, will close at the end of this month. The building's owner wants to tear it down, no doubt to build more condos, so Dave has decided to "go out in a blaze of glory."
All right...all my tests passed locally. Here we go...
I mean, why? Just why?
- The XPOTUS, as predicted, announced his run for the 2024 election, despite looking like a total loser in the 2022 election. But narcissists gonna narcise.
- The Illinois Worker Rights Amendment passed, and will now become part of the state constitution. I think this will have a bunch of unintended consequences not beneficial to workers, so I voted against it. We're stuck with it now.
- Boomer Kathleen Parker spends her column today tut-tutting Boomers for not understanding Millennial jobs, picking "influencer" as just one example. I'm an X-er who completely understands "influencer" (i.e., children monetizing their own narcissism) and "change manager" (i.e., operations flunky) just fine, and suggests that the problem lies not with the Boomer parents but with the Boomer executives. (Longer post, maybe?)
- Pushwoosh, a Russian software company that writes spyware has pretended to be an American company, for reasons left as an exercise to the reader. About 8,000 apps use their stuff. As Bruce Schneier has said, supply-chain security is "an insurmountably hard problem."
- Bloomberg laments that "the wrong Americans are buying electric cars."
- Julia Ioffe cautions that Ukraine's re-taking of Kherson could lead to dangerous overreach as the war goes on—and a difficult diplomatic situation for the US.
Finally, the Missouri Department of Transportation proudly announced the 50th anniversary of their engineers killing downtown Kansas City, and the Internet let them have it.
The Federal Trade Commission, which has become the de-facto enforcer for Silicon Valley shenanigans, has decided the smell coming from Twitter HQ can no longer be ignored after their top privacy and security people have left:
It marked the second time in two days that a federal official has expressed concern about the chaotic developments at the company, coming less than 24 hours after President Biden said Musk’s relationships with other countries deserved scrutiny.
The agency said that it was “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern” and that it was prepared to take action to ensure the company was complying with a settlement known as a consent order, which requires Twitter to comply with certain privacy and security requirements because of allegations of past data misuse.
Twitter was first put under a consent order in 2011 and it agreed to a new order earlier this year. If the FTC finds Twitter is not complying with that order, it could fine the company hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially damaging the company’s already precarious financial state.
The FTC is the only government agency that could act through its consent decrees as a check on Musk, whose first two weeks at the helm of Twitter have been chaotic. The federal government has only limited oversight of social media companies, but the FTC has used its oversight of consumer protection and competition to establish itself as the country’s top data privacy regulator. The agency has used consent orders to hold some of the country’s largest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Snap, accountable for alleged privacy missteps. In 2019, the agency reached a $5 billion settlement with Facebook for its alleged violation of a prior order.
I wondered if there were a deadpool on Twitter...
I'm running all 538 unit tests in my real job's application right now after updating all the NuGet packages. This is why I like automated testing: if one of the updated packages broke anything, tests will fail, and I can fix the affected code. (So far they've all passed.)
This comes after a major demo this morning, and a new feature that will consume the rest of the sprint, which ends next Monday. Oh, and I have two opera rehearsals this week. Plus I have to vote tomorrow, which could take 15 minutes or two hours.
So it's not likely I'll have time to read all of these:
Regardless, I'm setting an alarm for just past 4am to see the total lunar eclipse tonight. NOAA predicts 17% sky cover, so I should get a good view of it. Unless I go back to sleep.