The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Tuesday night round-up

In other news:

And finally, a glimmer of hope that the 10-year project to build one damn railroad station near my house might finally finish in the next few weeks.

Actually, I did remember what this feels like

The Arctic air mass has arrived:

We didn't actually get that much snow, though:

On her evening walk last night, Cassie wanted to run around in the snow in circles for a bit, so I let her. But even with her double coat, after 4 minutes she was shivering, so we had to go in. She will not enjoy today at all.

One other thing of note. I got myself one of the coolest and geekiest toys I could ever have imagined:

That shows the location of every CTA train running right now. I might have to get one for London, too. And in a couple of days, it might become a practical toy, when the weather gets warm enough to go outside and ride the CTA again.

Second day of sun, fading fast

What a delight to wake up for the second day in a row and see the sun. After 13 consecutive days of blah, even the -11°C cold that encouraged Cassie and me to get her to day care at a trot didn't bother me too much.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast says a blizzard will (probably) hit us next weekend, so I guess I'll have time to read all of these stories sitting on the couch with my dog:

Finally, one of my college music professors died this month. Herbert Deutsch co-created the Moog synthesizer and taught at Hofstra University for 40-plus years.

Is it post-empire time yet?

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.

Where did SBF come from?

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.

Anals (?) of bad URLs

Crain's reported this morning that a company I used to work for has laid off 180 workers, about 10% of its workforce. I hope none of the people I'm still friends with was affected.

Also unfortunate is the URL that Crain's content server generated, which makes the story seem much more complicated than the news would otherwise suggest:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/technology/west-monroe-lays-180-workers

really hope that (a) none of my friends had that happen to them, and (b) some prankster gamed the system to produce that URL. Because in a way, yes, some employees definitely got screwed.

Stories to roll your eyes to

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.

Laptop for sale; gently used

One of Inner Drive Technology's old laptops—actually, the most recently purchased—can be yours along with a few accessories for only $300:

That's a Dell E6440 laptop with 12 GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7 2.4 GHz processor. It has a 97 W/h battery, and I'm including a docking station, 130 W power supply, and a DVI cable to connect the docking station with a monitor. It does not have a hard drive or software. (I originally had a 512 GB SSD. It'll take a standard 3½-inch laptop drive.)

But hey, $300? I've seen just the laptop advertised online for $200-250, so with all this extra stuff, why not?

As an added incentive, here's a photo of Cassie fast asleep on my lap Tuesday night:

Tick tick tick

I always find it interesting when a literary magazine takes on technology. In that spirit, the New Yorker does its best to explain the Network Time Protocol:

Today, we take global time synchronization for granted. It is critical to the Internet, and therefore to civilization. Vital systems—power grids, financial markets, telecommunications networks—rely on it to keep records and sort cause from effect. N.T.P. works in partnership with satellite systems, such as the Global Positioning System (G.P.S.), and other technologies to synchronize time on our many online devices. The time kept by precise and closely aligned atomic clocks, for instance, can be broadcast via G.P.S. to numerous receivers, including those in cell towers; those receivers can be attached to N.T.P. servers that then distribute the time across devices linked together by the Internet, almost all of which run N.T.P. (Atomic clocks can also directly feed the time to N.T.P. servers.) The protocol operates on billions of devices, coördinating the time on every continent. Society has never been more synchronized.

In N.T.P., [David] Mills built a system that allowed for endless tinkering, and he found joy in optimization. “The actual use of the time information was not of central interest,” he recalled. The fledgling Internet had few clocks to synchronize. But during the nineteen-eighties the network grew quickly, and by the nineties the widespread adoption of personal computers required the Internet to incorporate millions more devices than its first designers had envisioned. Coders created versions of N.T.P. that worked on Unix and Windows machines. Others wrote “reference implementations” of N.T.P.—open-source codebases that exemplified how the protocol should be run, and which were freely available for users to adapt. Government agencies, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (nist) and the U.S. Naval Observatory, started distributing the time kept by their master clocks using N.T.P.

A loose community of people across the world set up their own servers to provide time through the protocol. In 2000, N.T.P. servers fielded eighteen billion time-synchronization requests from several million computers—and in the following few years, as broadband proliferated, requests to the busiest N.T.P. servers increased tenfold. The time servers had once been “well lit in the US and Europe but dark elsewhere in South America, Africa and the Pacific Rim,” Mills wrote, in a 2003 paper. “Today, the Sun never sets or even gets close to the horizon on NTP.” Programmers began to treat the protocol like an assumption—it seemed natural to them that synchronized time was dependably and easily available. Mills’s little fief was everywhere.

This being the New Yorker, one could describe the article as the author explaining how he met this programmer Mills and the politics around Mills' retirement from computing. It's better-written than the Wikipedia article, anyway.