Daily Bafflements

The BafflerAugust 12, 2015
Now the preserve of hoity-toity hipsters, vinyl was once a / Acid Pix

Vinyl: now the preserve of hoity-toity hipsters. / Acid Pix

• Over at the MIT Technology Review, Amanda Schaffer writes that outmoded “great man” versions of history have been dropped in most fields, but still abound in the tech industry. Our willingness to indulge the concept of the mountain-moving tech celebrity (people like Elon Musk and, previously, Steve Jobs) allows said men to surf by on a wave of other skillful, unrecognized people—“the steady hands that will forever be expected to stay in the shadows.” What’s more, Schaffer notes Musk’s reluctance to acknowledge the importance of public service support: “If tech leaders are seen primarily as singular, lone achievers, it is easier for them to extract disproportionate wealth. It is also harder to get their companies to accept that they should return some of their profits to agencies like NASA and the National Science Foundation through higher taxes or simply less tax dodging.”

• In the UK, the beleaguered Labour Party is giving anyone willing to pay £3 the unusual chance to vote for the party leader. Today, on the last day to register, there was surge of enrollment driven by grassroots support for the much-maligned, sensible, anti-austerity candidate, Jeremy Corbyn—including by right-wing “infiltrators” who don’t consider him credible opposition. This left the voting website flooded, and not working at all.

• It’s national vinyl day, so journey with us into the past to the rackety birth of the CD, the onetime innovation that made costs “both higher for consumers and lower for record labels.”

• BBC Future thinks you should read David Graeber’s salvo on our contempt for cowards. We agree!