Philip Roth and the Roots of American Rage


220px-philip_roth_-_1973

RIP Philip Roth.

Roth, who died Tuesday at age 85, never had children. Yet he wrote perceptively and with great empathy for Seymour “the Swede” Levov, the novel’s protagonist, whose love for his daughter, Merry, knows no bounds and is utterly unrequited. Handsome, affable, responsible, and wealthy, the Swede does everything right by the standards of the midcentury American bourgeoisie. He manages a successful enterprise, procures a trophy wife, owns a tasteful estate in the Jersey suburbs, and fathers a girl who brings ruin to it all. There is a rage within Merry, which, as she grows older, explodes (quite literally) in political radicalism before she smothers her inner flames under Far-Eastern asceticism.

The complete article

Sohrab Ahmari — Commentary

Image source

The Reporter Who Took Down a Unicorn


dcdyasmx0aenyiw

Another Theranos story.

That first Carreyrou story reported that Theranos’s blood-testing machine had significant accuracy issues and had been used for only 15 out of a claimed 240 tests. Subsequent stories revealed that the machines never really worked, would often malfunction, and could lead to inaccurate diagnoses. Today, the investors are gone; Holmes and the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos, Sunny Balwani, who was also her secret boyfriend at the time, are both facing federal criminal investigations, and they have been charged by the SEC with running an “elaborate, years-long fraud.”

The story of Theranos may be the biggest case of corporate fraud since Enron. But it’s also the story of how a lot of powerful men were fooled by a remarkably brazen liar. It took just one reporter, and three former Theranos employees, to expose her.

The complete article

Yashar Ali — NY Mag

Image source

Best Investment Books for Beginners recommended by John Kay


220px-book_cover_random_walk

John Kay is a person with very clear views. His recommendations definitely carry weight.

Let’s get into the books you’ve chosen. As it’s the one you’ve traditionally recommended, let’s start with Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street (1973).

Yes, that’s the book I recommend when asked by people who are highly intelligent, have a little bit of money, but feel at sea. I’m not very impressed by financial advisers—for pretty good reasons. But there is very little you can read on investment that’s not insulting to the intelligence. As you know, there are lots of ‘how to become rich by day trading’ books around, but intelligent people know what to do with those kinds of books: namely not to open them.

The complete interview

John Kay — Five Books

Image source

The rise of the pointless job


bullshit-jobs-9781501143311_lg

It is like digging the trenches and filling them back. Maybe even worse.

The defining feature is this: one so completely pointless that even the person who has to perform it every day cannot convince themselves there’s a good reason for them to be doing it. They may not be able to admit this to their co-workers – often, there are very good reasons not to do so – but they are convinced the job is pointless nonetheless.

Bullshit jobs are not just jobs that are useless; typically, there has to be some degree of pretence and fraud involved as well. The employee must feel obliged to pretend that there is, in fact, a good reason their job exists, even if, privately, they find such claims ridiculous.

The complete article

David Graeber — The Guardian

Image source

Why atheists are true believers too


john_gray_1

He makes this point again and again. These modern atheists’ view of the world is “inherited” from Christianity. Their belief in progress is “a secular avatar of a religious idea of redemption”. Jacobinism and Bolshevism were “channels” for the millenarian myths of Christianity. Bolshevism was in a “lineage” going back to medieval millenarianism. The apocalyptic myths of radical Christian movements “renewed themselves” in secular, political forms.

The complete article

Noel Malcolm — New Statesman

Image source

Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203


bradbury-plan-2b

INTERVIEWER

Does science fiction satisfy something that mainstream writing does not?

BRADBURY

Yes, it does, because the mainstream hasn’t been paying attention to all the changes in our culture during the last fifty years. The major ideas of our time—developments in medicine, the importance of space exploration to advance our species—have been neglected. The critics are generally wrong, or they’re fifteen, twenty years late. It’s a great shame. They miss out on a lot. Why the fiction of ideas should be so neglected is beyond me. I can’t explain it, except in terms of intellectual snobbery.

The complete article

The Paris Review — Sam Weller

Image source

Factory Made


Workers put the finishing touches to new

As per Wikipedia, “Wage slavery is usually used to refer to a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.”

Moreover, the word “factory” itself was connected in its etymology to the slave trade. In the early modern era, distant commercial outposts were known as “factories,” after the “factor,” the presiding merchant. The most notorious “factories” were the castles and prisons operated by Europeans on the coast of West Africa, where the African slave trade met the transatlantic slave trade, and whence many millions of enslaved people began the Middle Passage to the Americas. In Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World, Joshua B. Freeman doesn’t dwell on the bleak fantasies of slaveholders or the connections between early-modern colonial slavery and the rise of industry.

The complete article

Padraic X. Scanlan — The New Inquiry

Image source