Sam, I Am Rehired
Wham, Bam, You're Rehired Sam, Hostage Deal in Place
The only thing that could have made the weeklong, OpenAI board-led attempt to oust Sam Altman any more Shakespearean would have been if it has been performed in iambic pentameter. FWIW, I repeatedly tried to get ChatGPT to rewrite the saga in that format and it kept coming back with lines that were 11 or 9 syllables instead of ten. I guess this week took a toll on everyone, even the machine. Maybe it was more soap opera than Shakespeare, anyway. But at least it offered us a respite from much more important and much more depressing news stories. And it is a topic that has been certified safe for discourse around your Thanksgiving table. From The Verge: Sam Altman to return as CEO of OpenAI.
+ "For many people, especially those working in the A.I. industry and the social and professional ecosystems that have grown out of it over the last few years, the news on Friday afternoon that Sam Altman had been fired as C.E.O. of OpenAI--and his subsequent re-instatement late Tuesday night--marked a world-historically shocking turn of events, reverberations from which will be felt for centuries--a turning point on the order of Brutus assassinating Caesar ... But for many others, the phrase 'OpenAI has fired Sam Altman' is ... a collection of words that carries no emotional or semantic weight, an example sentence that exists to demonstrate syntactical rules, language that rolls off the brain like water from a duck’s back." The interested normie's guide to OpenAI drama.
+ "The central tension coursing through OpenAI in the past year was whether the company should commercialize, raise money, and grow to further its ambitions of building an artificial general intelligence—a technology so powerful that it could outperform humans in most tasks—or whether it ought to focus its efforts on the safety of its potentially dangerous innovations. Altman represented the former faction, and his aggressive business decisions appear to have been a key factor in his dismissal." Charlie Warzel: The Money Always Wins. (Or as Falstaff said, "Money is a good soldier, and will on.")
+ "If this seems dizzying, the next bit might require Dramamine. [Board member Ilya] Sutskever played the key role in firing Altman over Google Meet on Friday, then declined to rehire him on Sunday, and then signed the letter on Monday demanding the return of Altman and the firing of his own board-member co-conspirators. On X (formerly Twitter), Sutskever posted an apology to the entire company, writing, “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions.” Altman replied with three red hearts. One imagines Brutus, halfway through the stabbing of Caesar, pulling out the knife, offering Caesar some gauze, lightly stabbing him again, and then finally breaking down in apologetic tears and demanding that imperial doctors suture the stomach wound. (Soon after, in post-op, Caesar dispatches a courier to send Brutus a brief message inked on papyrus: “<3.”)" Derek Thompson: The OpenAI Mess Is About One Big Thing. (That one thing is either board governance, or the the fall of Rome. All the Shakespeare references make it difficult to tell.)
Bring Them Home
"The one thing that we all hold on to is that hope now that Abigail comes home, she comes home by Friday. Friday is her 4th birthday. We need to see Abigail come out and then we will be able to believe it." That's just one of the comments from the families of Israeli hostages, some of whom are likely to be released this week as part of a deal between Hamas and Israel. The pause in fighting is scheduled to begin on Thursday at 10am. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and Times of Israel.
+ "American hospitals may be maddening in many ways, but at least heavily armed thugs aren’t generally trying to bully doctors in the hallways. At least gun battles aren’t regular occurrences." That quote is from the NYT more than a decade ago. The use of hospitals for military purposes in Gaza has been covered for years by the very outlets that cast doubts on that behavior when it was confirmed by Israel. Yair Rosenberg with the thread.
Hiding in Plain Sight
"But as night fell on Forest Service Road 39, political arguments did not matter. There was only a boy who needed protection, a woman who needed rescuing, and a man who appeared to be their only hope." A Thanksgiving story: A migrant crossed the border and found a scared, 9-year-old Arizona boy alone in the desert. The encounter changed them both. "He’d been hiding for days. But now his priorities had changed. Manuel was doing all he could to draw attention from the American authorities."
What to Watch: It seems an odd thing to write, but the new movie about the Gamestop stock saga makes for a pretty good holiday weekend movie. It's a fun, entertaining watch, but it's also about the deeper story of the American divide and the widespread feeling that the system is rigged. It might make sense to brush up up on what it means to short a stock ahead of the movie. It's in theaters and on streaming services. Here's a trailer.
+ What to Doc: The reenactments are a bit dizzying and for some reason, the subtitles move from top to bottom in random ways, but even with those flaws, the story itself is amazing enough to make the documentary series,The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend, worth a watch.
No Shelter From the Storm: "It began, as many modern love stories now do, with a swipe on a dating app. It ended, a little over a year later, in a roar of exploding glass and concrete from a Russian missile strike." A reminder of the invasion the world has forgotten over the past month. Love and death in the shadow of Putin's endless massacre. WaPo (Gift Article): He proposed in a bomb shelter. They died together in a Russian strike.
+ The Empire Has No Clothes: "With no hourly compensation system in place for garment workers, there’s also no tangible record of a worker’s labor, such as pay stubs. Bilma’s daily routine extends from 7 am to 7 pm, yet she describes feeling like a ghost as she navigates her day, her labor nearly invisible. On top of it all, the conditions in the factories she works in are deplorable: She describes sewing threads tainted with rat urine, poorly vented rooms with dusty air, and unstable chairs on which she must perch throughout the day." And in the end, her product is stamped with a label. Made in America.
+ All the Rage These Days: "One of those two candidates faces relentless newspaper columns and TV pundit ‘takes’ arguing that he should drop out of the race. (Spoiler alert: It’s somehow not the racist authoritarian sexual abuse fraudster facing 91 felony charges.)” Thomas B. Edsall in the NYT (Gift Article): The Roots of Trump’s Rage. "The man who, as president, incited a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to overturn an election is again openly fomenting political violence while explicitly endorsing authoritarian strategies should he return to power. That is the story of the 2024 election. Everything else is just window dressing." Plus, from Peter Wehner in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Have You Listened to What Trump is Saying? "Trump’s rhetoric is a permission slip for his supporters to dehumanize others just as he does. He portrays others as existential threats, determined to destroy everything MAGA world loves about America. Trump is doing two things at once: pushing the narrative that his enemies must be defeated while dissolving the natural inhibitions most human beings have against hating and harming others." (I somehow got on a text list for GOP candidates, and it's incredible how many of them warn of the threat of Democrats trying to destroy America. I've seen less projection at a cinema multiplex.)
+ Love Reigns in Plains: "But perhaps more than anything, many who knew the Carters and many who did not shared their sadness over the end of a marriage they admired for its endurance and the evident strength of the bond between the two people in it. 'The closeness of it,' said Stephanie Young, who lives in Plains and owns a trophy-and-gift shop. 'Their love story is the most important thing they have achieved, in my opinion.'" NYT (Gift Article): The Carters’ Hometown Mourns for the Love of a Lifetime.
Bottom of the News
"Moose typically only roam in northern Minnesota, making the now-famous moose’s visit to south and central Minnesota a rare treat ... The young moose is likely looking for home territory or other moose and is expected to continue moving north." Whatever he's doing, a whole lot of people are watching. The journey of Minnesota’s Rutt the moose is tracked by a herd of fans.
+ A kiss is decidedly not on their list. Daryl Hall Gets Restraining Order Against John Oates in Hall & Oates Legal Battle.
+ OK, folks. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.