The initial promise of computer technology was to remove the intermediary from the financial market, or at least reduce the amount he could scalp from that market. The reality has turned out to be a boom in financial intermediation and an estimated take for Wall Street of somewhere between $10 and $20 billion a year, depending on whose estimates you wish to believe. As high-frequency-trading firms aren’t required to disclose their profits (with the exception of public firms, like Knight, which have disclosed profits in the past), and big banks like Goldman that engage in the practice are assumed to hide their own profits on their balance sheets, no one really knows just how much money is being made. But when a single high-frequency trader is paid $75 million in cash for a single year of trading (as was Misha Malyshev in 2008, when he worked at Citadel) and then quits because he is ‘dissatisfied,’ a new beast is afoot.
And so despite my esteem for the high challenge of writing, for the reach of the writerly life, it’s not something anyone actually wants me to do. The American mind has made that very clear, it has said: ‘Be a specialised something — fill your head with the zeitgeist, with the technical — and we’ll write your ticket.’
Amazon, which recently entered the world of original broadcast content, has subverted television’s traditional “pilot season” by forgoing a staggered release schedule in favor of plunking all fourteen of its pilots onto its website at once. The idea is for audiences to watch the eight comedies and six animated shows for free, and then help the company decide which options are the most promising for long term development. Just a tip: Alpha House features appearances from John Goodman and Bill Murray.