Venture capitalists are off hunting for unicorns in the startup world, with little attention to actual returns. / Yosuke Muroya
The Baffler,  July 31, 2015

Daily Bafflements

Venture capitalists are off hunting for unicorns in the startup world, with little attention to actual returns. / Yosuke Muroya


• In the mystical valleys of startup kingdom, V.C. firms are on the hunt for unicorns (startups with a valuation of a $1 billion or higher, even if those valuations are based on wild speculation). But as many have suspected, the unicorn whisperers are not necessarily the firms with the highest returns.

Slate offers a “Gentrification Calculator” to help readers avoid the pesky moral and political questions of modern urban life. Just enter your income, your zip code, and whether or not you have a family. No need to worry about the nuances of race, education, or class background—your neighborhood is just a seesaw balanced on the city’s median income.

• In yesterday’s Forbes interview, you can lap up oil-pipeline billionaire Richard Kinder’s recommended reading list. We feel completely confident taking our cues on Lincoln biographies and leadership styles from a man whose company was wise enough to suggest last year that the oil spills they cause could have positive effects on the affected regions.

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High on the Apocalypse

Jessa Crispin

Maybe we all just decided it was cooler to be George Orwell (who came from money) than H. G. Wells (who did not)—cooler to be the smirker saying, “Pah, it'll never work,” than to be the kid chirping, “Here is what we can do.” The H. G. Wells we find profiled in Krishan Kumar's Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times was someone who suffered greatly and wanted to help prevent the suffering of future generations. He was someone who cycled through great optimism and great despair, but kept coming back to optimism, believing that equality is possible without totalitarianism. He treated his ideal society—in which property would be held communally, the state would be run by the enlightened, and all would be free to express their eccentricities without being marginalized for it—as neither an impossibility nor an inevitability, but as something that could be willed closer by way of the imagination. Yet his critics, like Orwell and Aldous Huxley, felt free to mischaracterize his work and compare his vision to the vision of the Nazis. You know who has a vision of the future? Those actively working to destroy it.

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Further Reading

 April 4

Official oversight commissions tend to perform all of the trappings of democratic accountability while rarely resulting in lasting reform.