letters

Comments: Week of December 5, 2022

1.

“The ­Virtue Was the Con,” November 21–December 4

Photo: Sasha Arutyunova

New York’s latest cover story explored the $32 billion collapse of the crypto empire of Sam ­Bank­­man-­Fried. CoinDesk’s David Z. ­Morris wrote, “A lot of mainstream media getting shit on for their kid-gloves treatment of SBF, but I want to shout out really good work by @NYMag. Their package title is an accurate representation of their rigor and seriousness.” Journalist and crypto skeptic Jacob Silverman added, “A big improvement over the ‘normie’s guide to becoming a crypto person’ that they published almost exactly a year ago.” Rachel Lin, CEO of the trading platform Syn­Futures, said it was “the best piece on FTX I’ve read so far from mainstream media, at least trying to deep dive into SBF’s upbringing, social and political network, marketing and PR tactics, among others, to help us understand the ‘why’ ­behind.” The feature included dispatches from 11 New York reporters and columnists, ­including a primer by Lane Brown (“What
H-A-P-P-E-N-E-D?”), which Karrie Jacobs called a “wonderfully lucid explainer for people like me who Just Don’t Get It.” Bridget Read wrote about the CEO of Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund, Alameda Research (“Was Caroline Ellison a Main Character or the Fall Girl?”). “The media is all ‘girl boss’ and ‘women are the future’ until a woman does something bad,” Carol Roth wrote on Twitter. “Then the narrative changes to how she was duped by some guy. If you want equality, that means accepting the bad with the good.” Elizabeth Weil explored ­Bankman-Fried’s Silicon Valley upbringing and his introduction to utilitarian ethics (“Wait, Weren’t His Parents Law Professors?”). Computer scientist Kat Scott said, “There is a type of ­person in the Bay Area who not only went to Stanford but grew up there. In my experience these people are extremely strange. It is like they grew up in an affluent bubble where everyone talks like a VC.” And Richard W. Painter, a chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, tweeted, “Two problems with extreme iterations of utilitarian philosophy: 1. Even if you’ve been brought up to think you’re a genius, you may not know what is the greatest good for the greatest number. 2. How you get there matters. For example, not by going to jail.” ­Following a livestreamed conversation with Bankman-Fried and Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York published a previously embargoed interview that Jen Wieczner conducted with the former CEO (“What Does Sam ­Bankman-Fried Have to Say for Himself?,” ­December 1). “Now this is how you interview SBF,” wrote ­Kevin Kennedy, adding, “She asked him direct questions, and you can see how he deliberately doesn’t answer them.”

2.

“The Day I Moved Out”

After her apartment building was put on the market, New York’s design editor, Wendy Goodman, wrote about leaving her home after 27 years. Critic Alexandra Lange said, “There’s a lot of design journalism that’s about finding the perfect things … this is about letting things come to you, and letting them go.”@m1chael0 tweeted, “Most of us will never have the amazing stories that Wendy Goodman does but relating to the bittersweet vibe of this great piece is for everyone.” Actor Lindsey Broad said, “I’ll never get over the apartment my landlord decided she wanted back during the peak of the pandemic. So traumatic to feel home and realize you never really were.” And @disorganization tweeted, “You know the housing situation in New York is catastrophic when Wendy Goodman has to move to a studio.”

Photo: Miriam Berkley

3.

“The ­Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler”

E. Alex Jung wrote about “The ­Spectacular Life of Octavia E. Butler.” Magdalena Zapedowska ­described it as “a fantastic piece about Butler’s career. Informative and compassionate, affirming and heartbreaking.” @_regaining said, “In this essay on the life of the great science fictionist Octavia E. Butler, I cried and re-learned that writing is a product not so much of one’s ­Muses but of deep, personal, and complicated commitment. God I love her and her worlds.” Literature professor E. A. Fredericks wrote, “Butler’s archive at the Huntington is amazing, going by the bits of it I saw when they ran an exhibition. So pleased to see such a good writer doing (essentially) public scholarship with it to bring her to life for readers now.” Adrian Howard asked, “Is it just me—or did ­Octavia Butler only get popular in mainstream media ­after she was conveniently dead, and so silent?” But Imani Mixon said, “Can’t express how beautiful of a read this is. Octavia is so (rightfully) well-known in today’s Black literary circles that it’s easy to forget what an anomaly she was and continues to be.”

Send correspondence to comments@nymag.com. Or go to nymag.com to respond to individual stories.

Comments: Week of December 5, 2022