Omnium Gatherum

Jacob Akey, Opinion Editor

This time of year is stuffed with college traditions: nurses celebrated pinning, Choir performed Easter Lessons and Carols, and seniors officiated “Wedding.” The relentless passage of time and the extraordinary finite-ness of Spring Semester compacts the memory-making process into a hectic few weekends. This weekend we made memories in rain and church, next we shall do so in cowboy hats.

Boston sports fans must’ve rooted for the guards in The Longest Yard, Spokane Warriors in Air Bud, Apollo Creed in Rocky, and the Bruins in 2023. America loves an underdog, but New Englanders have been supporting a collection of evil empires for years. Most notoriously, the Patriots enjoyed the longest streak of winning games in league history (2001-2019). Nowadays, the hard-cider-drinking ingrates are kvetching about their team being subjected to the ignominy of a seven-game series. Like the Brits voting out Churchill at the end of WW2, Bruins fans have ragged on Linus Ullmark after a few unfortunate games. How easily they forget the victories of this season. Even at 65 wins, they’re unhappy; TD was filled with Boston boos Sunday.

The Clowns of God, was written by Morris West, a prolific author, Vatican correspondent, and sometimes spaeman. In it he writes of a modern papal resignation, and before that, he spoke of a Slavic pope. I’d grabbed the book from a shelf in Geisel in a fit of procrastination and was drawn in by an apocalyptic and conspiratorial opener. The book reminded me how clear it has become that the literature of West’s heyday (the 70s) has become dated in both language and theme. Authors of the late 20th century are stagy; the accountant is not merely boring, he’s the greyest man in existence; tulips wilt at his passing. Women are either enrapturing or toadlike. There is no middle ground. Perhaps I only describe the ingratitude of youth, as innovation looks like cliché from my latter-day perch. The themes, however, are quite unfortunate. West and contemporaries, like Clive Cussler, had a Malthusian vision of the world. There was always some cult or cabal planning population control through plague or some other means of mass murder. If not that, nuclear was always around the corner. Given that I was born in this century, and not in some bunker, I can say with some confidence that the pessimism of the time was unfounded. I hope and pray that someday our successors will look at the climate-change references common to all contemporary lit, equally tedious.

The bookshelf above my desk is a graveyard of unrealized aspirations. My library habits even more so. This semester, I have checked out everything Geisel has of Leonard Cohen, a few books by Saint John Henry Newman, a Martin Buber library, and the complete poems of William Blake. If I read 100 pages of these borrowings, I’d be shocked. Same story with my Netflix queue. Someone probably finished Better Call Saul, Road to Perdition, and New Amsterdam (I can’t not hate Ryan Eggold after Blacklist), but it wasn’t me. Each semester, as summer approaches, I dream of finishing the backlog. I never do.

Hindenburg Research, the swashbuckling short-selling firm, has put Icahn Enterprise (IEP) under the focus of their solar death ray. On Tuesday morning, Hindenburg tweeted, posted, and emailed a bullet point summary of a larger report alleging that the investment vehicle of Wall Street legend Carl Icahn was running like a Ponzi scheme, “using money taken in from new investors to pay out dividends to old investors.” IEP, like Citadel, is for Ken Griffin, is a holding of the Icahn family (which owns 85% of the company). As such, it is tied to the reputation of its founder. Hindenburg’s report threatens this reputation, claiming that the firm has been buoyed, perhaps exclusively by the Icahn name. The report concludes that “Given limited financial flexibility and worsening liquidity, we expect Icahn Enterprises will eventually cut or eliminate its dividend entirely, barring a miracle turnaround in investment performance.” The report, and subsequent nosedive of IEP stock, is a signal of a new age in investment, where short sellers wield power over even the titans. No one is safe from Hindenburg, a 9-employee David to Wall Street goliaths.