Business Monoculture

And yet, as the journalist Emily Chang documents in her 2018 book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley technology companies have deliberately spent the last couple of decades progressively narrowing their culture. To a large extent, she blames the spreading influence of the Paypal Mafia. At Paypal’s founding, she writes, this group, which includes Palantir founder Peter Thiel, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and Tesla supremo Elon Musk, adopted the basic principle that to make a startup lean, fast-moving, and efficient you needed a team who thought alike. Paypal’s success and the diaspora of its early alumni disseminated a culture in which hiring people like you was a strategy. This is what #MeToo and fights for equality are up against.

—Wendy M. Grossman, The Fregoli delusion

Woke up this morning to find a crime scene on the road outside my house. Which, it turns out, is now possibly a murder scene. Area cordoned, forensic team working. Three cars written off. Road may be blocked for up to two days.

Oh, the places a banana will go in the sprawling card-data economy

Credit card privacy matters: Apple Card vs. Chase Amazon Prime Rewards Visa

Geoffrey A. Fowler, writing in The Washington Post:

I recently used my credit card to buy a banana. Then I tried to figure out how my credit card let companies buy me.

You might think my 29-cent swipe at Target would be just between me and my bank. Heavens, no. My banana generated data that’s probably worth more than the banana itself. It ended up with marketers, Target, Amazon, Google and hedge funds, to name a few.

The Future Looked Great Back In The 70s…

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Three space colony summer studies were conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. A number of artistic renderings of the concepts were made. These have been scanned and are available here as small, medium, large, and publication quality jpeg images. Scans by David Brandt-Erichsen.

Images are not copyrighted. Please credit photos to NASA Ames Research Center.

I remember seeing pictures like this when I was a kid, and thinking that this would happen in my lifetime.

Sigh.

Hell in a Hand-Basket…

As usual, Charlie Stross’s take on the news that Boris Johnson is going to ask the Queen for permission to shut down Parliament for six weeks (for reasons which, according to him, have nothing whatsoever to do with stopping Parliament from stopping him driving through No-Deal Brexit, oh no, not at all) is long and detailed. And very depressing…

To add to the fun and games, the political advisor at Number 10 who has the PM’s ear is Dominic Cummings, who is noted for being both an Accelerationist and a closet singularitarian (he keeps the latter out of the public eye but it’s on his blog). He can thus best be approximated to an ultra-capitalist rapture-of-the-nerds embracing Trotskyite, merrily intent on pouring gasoline on the bonfire of British constitutional traditions.

We are so screwed if this isn’t stopped…