The Man Who Terrifies Wall Street

Bharara argues that publicizing criminal behavior is a public duty, for the purpose of deterrence. “It’s not my job to put out a ten-point program to fix corruption in New York State,” Bharara told me. “Prosecutors alone are not going to solve the problems. But we do want the problems to be solved. I can say that when you have an overabundance of outside income for legislators, when you have an overconcentration of power in the hands of a few people, and when you have a lack of transparency about how decisions are made and who makes them—that it is our job to point that out. We can give these issues a sense of urgency. A lot of people wake up to the possibility of better government when you start putting people in prison.”

→ The New Yorker

Disgraced Trader’s Struggle for Redemption

“It’s not necessarily about money, it’s about winning,” he told a visiting group of American college students. He told them that to understand trading, they needed to forget everything they learned in economics class and envision the amoral, take-no-prisoners world of “The Hunger Games.”

“The only time when people cooperate is to prolong their own lives,” he said. When rivals are no longer useful, “you stab them in the back.”

He told students he had accepted the fact that he was a rogue trader—but in his telling, it didn’t sound all that sinister.

A rogue trader, he said, “is a risk taker. It’s not a crime. It’s violating the mores established by the institution that you work for. It’s a rebellion against institutional controls that deny individuals opportunities for self-actualization.”

→ The Wall Street Journal

The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Stuck up on the wall were charts of the history of a Caribbean town he called Macondo and the genealogy of the family he named the Buendías. Outside, it was the 1960s; inside, it was the deep time of the pre-modern Americas, and the author at his typewriter was all-powerful.

He visited a plague of insomnia upon the people of Macondo; he made a priest levitate, powered by hot chocolate; he sent down a swarm of yellow butterflies. He led his people on the long march through civil war and colonialism and banana-republicanism; he trailed them into their bedrooms and witnessed sexual adventures obscene and incestuous. “In my dreams, I was inventing literature,” he recalled. Month by month the typescript grew, presaging the weight that the great novel and the “solitude of fame,” as he would later put it, would inflict on him.

→ Vanity Fair

Sean Parker : Hacker Philanthropist

Not your average pharma bro’ :

Hacker philanthropy is meant to be the antidote to what Parker calls the conservative, incremental work of most charitable foundations; a timidity he says is borne of institutional self-preservation and a need to assuage philanthropists’ “deep-seated anxiety that their capital may not be accomplishing anything”.

Hackers, by contrast, are iconoclasts drawn to fix the holes in big, complex systems, and they are willing to make bold experiments and embrace failure as a learning experience. Since the world’s billionaires lists are increasingly populated by computer programmers who have built insanely large tech companies, it is only a matter of time until their hacker mentality is brought into the world of philanthropy.

→ Financial Times

Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups” Challenges Hollywood to Do Better

It reminds me of Claude Lelouch :

For Malick, the cinema is also a matter of the unconscious, of indeterminacy, of tension between decision and accident. Most of the movie’s images are done with a handheld camera, and most of them involve so much motion, on the part of the actors and the camera alike, that they would defy, in the rapidity of their complexity, any attempt to calibrate them in advance to the exact framing and composition. Malick creates the circumstances under which Lubezki can make these images; Lubezki, untethered to storyboards, roaming freely around and past the action, collects images that embody Malick’s ideas and emotions without being overdetermined by his intentions.

The Knight of Cups is a good movie, but unfortunately not a great one.

→ The New Yorker

The Art of Larry Gagosian’s Empire

Larry, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1985)

One of Gagosian’s particular talents is conjuring complex, chesslike transactions that offer elements more enticing than cash. “He’s like a block trader,” says collector and Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, referring to the financial practice of making high-risk, fast-moving private deals on large quantities of shares. “He’s in the matching business.” When Schwarzman, for example, was seeking a rare Twombly “blackboard” painting for his apartment, “Larry found someone in Korea who owned a painting and found another painting that was larger and more important,” Schwarzman says. “So they sold their painting and bought another from Larry. That’s a classic Larry Gagosian execution—where everyone’s happy and Larry makes tons of money.”

→ WSJ Magazine

Who Funds the Future?

“The biggest outcomes come when you break your previous mental model. The black-swan events of the past forty years—the PC, the router, the Internet, the iPhone—nobody had theses around those. So what’s useful to us is having Dumbo ears.” A great V.C. keeps his ears pricked for a disturbing story with the elements of a fairy tale. This tale begins in another age (which happens to be the future), and features a lowborn hero who knows a secret from his hardscrabble experience. The hero encounters royalty (the V.C.s) who test him, and he harnesses magic (technology) to prevail. The tale ends in heaping treasure chests for all, borne home on the unicorn’s back.

→ The New Yorker