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The Collected Wisdom of Jeffrey Epstein

The Collected Wisdom of Jeffrey Epstein

“Epstein’s First Law: Know when you are winning.”
Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

According to the new indictment charging Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking, in 2004, the financier “enticed and recruited multiple minor victims … to engage in sex acts” at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, paying them “hundreds of dollars in cash for each encounter.” Also in 2004, Epstein was spewing pseudo-intellectual online advice in a forum run by the Edge Foundation, a salon of sorts where editor and literary agent John Brockman invited members of the “digerati” to render “visible the deeper meanings of our lives.”

With its high-minded attitude, excess of platitudes, and a heavily male list of contributors, Edge’s “annual question” series was a sort of hybrid between a TED Talk and the dorm-room musings of the intellectual dark web. Occurring annually from 1998 to 2018, impressive thinkers like Brian Eno, Nick Bostrom, Nicholas Carr, and Carl Zimmer would answer big-picture questions like “What is your dangerous idea?” and “What have you changed your mind about?” According to its criterion for choosing contributors, Edge looked “for people whose creative work has expanded our notion of who and what we are. A few are bestselling authors or are famous in the mass culture. Most are not.”

One was Jeffrey Epstein. Along with contributors like Whole Earth Catalogue founder Stewart Brand and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, “financier and science philanthropist” Epstein got in on the 2004 query — “What’s your law?” — answering with a short, venture-capitalist koan.

Epstein’s First Law

Know when you are winning.

Epstein’s Second Law

The key question is not what can I gain but what do I have to lose.

At the Edge Foundation’s “billionaire’s dinner” in 2004, Epstein also gave his shot at some cosmic wisdom. MIT “quantum mechanic” Seth Lloyd recalled that:

Jeffrey Epstein joined the conversation and demanded to know whether weird quantum effects had played a significant role in the origins of life. That question pushed me way out of the sumo ring into the deep unknown. We tried to construct a version of the question that could be answered. I was pushing my own personal theory of everything (the universe is a giant quantum computer, and to understand how things like life came into existence, we have to understand how atoms, molecules, and photons process information). Jeffrey was pushing back with his own theory (we need to understand what problem was being solved at the moment life came into being). By pushing from both sides, we managed to assemble a metaphor in which molecules divert the flow of free energy to their own recreational purposes (i.e., literally recreating themselves) somewhat in the way Jeffrey manages to divert the flow of money as it moves from time-zone to time-zone, using that money for his own recreational purposes (i.e., to create more money). I’m not saying it was the right way to describe the origins of life: I’m just saying that it was fun.

These 2004 contributions were compelling enough to bring him back a second year. For the 2005 question — “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” — Epstein responded with some ontological gibberish that would give Rust Cohle a run for his money.

The great breakthrough will involve a new understanding of time…that moving through time is not free, and that consciousness itself will be seen to only be a time sensor, adding to the other sensors of light and space.

Epstein was booked up for the next few years, dealing with an FBI investigation into his predation in 2006, communicating with a legal team that struck plea-deal gold in 2007, and going to prison six days a week beginning in 2008. Still, he was able to answer the 2008 question: What have you changed your mind about? Why?”

The question presupposes a well defined “you”, and an implied ability that is under “your” control to change your “mind”. The “you” I now believe is distributed amongst others (family friends, in hierarchal structures,) i.e. suicide bombers, believe their sacrifice is for the other parts of their “you”. The question carries with it an intention that I believe is out of one’s control. My mind changed as a result of its interaction with its environment. Why? because it is a part of it.

Perhaps it’s telling of Epstein’s character that — facing jail time for molesting children — he responded with a few sentences about the limits of one’s agency. Certainly it’s telling of the circle that Epstein ran in — presuming the 2008 question was asked in 2008 — that the Edge Foundation contacted him to contribute to the project after his 2007 indictment, in which one detective described Epstein as running a “sexual pyramid scheme.” (Or, for the conspiracy-minded, they could have been too intimidated not to reach out to the power broker.)

Also telling is Epstein’s philanthropic relationship with academic and medical institutions, which kept accepting his money, even after he registered as a sex offender, and his conspicuously lenient plea deal was made public. According to BuzzFeed News, gifts from Epstein in 2016 and 2017 included a $225,000 donation to the Melanoma Research Alliance; $150,000 to MIT; $50,000 to the University of Arizona Foundation; $25,000 to NautilusThink; $20,000 to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation; and $10,000 to the Icahn School of Medicine. (Not to mention more personal examples: One of Epstein’s foundations reportedly made a $250,000 donation to Arizona State University professor Lawrence Krauss’s Origins Project after its founding in 2010. Krauss and Epstein’s relationship goes back to at least 2002, when he flew with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on Epstein’s private jet; In 2014, Krauss and Pinker were pictured having dinner with Epstein. In 2011, Krauss, who recently retired from ASU after allegations of sexual misconduct, defended their relationship: “I don’t feel tarnished in any way by my relationship with Jeffrey; I feel raised by it.”)

Though the Edge Foundation’s series wanted to provide answers to life’s big, stoned concerns, it did raise one major question about Jeffrey Epstein. Multiple accounts from academics and financiers peg him as a genius. His benefactor, Leslie Wexner, told Vanity Fair in 2003 he was “very smart with a combination of excellent judgment and unusually high standards.” “Jeffrey has the mind of a physicist,” biology and math professor Martin Nowak told New York in 2002. “It’s like talking to a colleague in your field.”

Was the acumen displayed by Epstein at the Edge Foundation the same one that inspired his friends in finance and academia?

Read Jeffrey Epstein’s Galaxy-Brain Philosophical Advice

jeffrey epstein

Read Jeffrey Epstein’s Galaxy-Brain Philosophical Advice

By Matt Stieb

Epstein’s answers to Edge.org’s “annual questions” aren’t exactly clear-minded, but they help explain his former bond with the public intelligentsia.

A fun day in the Rose Garden

President Donald Trump celebrated a variety of right-wing personalities, meme-makers and conspiracy theorists at his so-called “Social Media Summit” on Thursday, bringing new respectability to the right’s online fringe. 

“The crap you think of is unbelievable,” Trump said, as he welcomed some of his most dedicated social media partisans to the White House. 

While the event was aimed at the social media companies, no representatives from the social media giants were invited to the summit. Giant signs around the summit explained terms like “doxxing” and “shadowbanning.” 

Trump spent much of the event, which was meant to showcase conservative allegations that the social media giants are biased against them, complaining about his own social media metrics. 

jeffrey epstein

An Expert Thinks Jeffrey Epstein Built His Wealth Through Fraud and Blackmail

By Benjamin Hart

A professor working on a book about the mysterious financier believes he acquired his wealth through shady means.

2020 census

Trump Caves on Census Citizenship Question, But Hints at a Broader Fight Ahead

By Ed Kilgore

It was a classic Trumpian retreat, disguised in a cloud of obfuscation, lies, and threats.


the national interest

the national interest

President Trump Says Only Trump Supporters Deserve Free Speech

By Jonathan Chait

“To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad.” Uh, yes it is?

Politics


unsolved mysteries

unsolved mysteries

Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing

By Michelle Celarier

He claimed he was one of them, but the people who know the business best don’t believe it. They see something else instead.

The important thing here: there will be no citizenship question on the census

Trump says he is pursuing a “new option” over the citizenship question because litigation would take too long: he’s ordering federal departments to “provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country.”

@ddale8

Infighting for everyone!

Rep. Lacy Clay just unloaded on @AOC , her chief of staff and Justice Democrats in the Speaker’s Lobby, calls them “juvenile,” says “their ignorance is beyond belief”: “You’re getting push back so you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable.”

@JonEasley

jeffrey epstein

Epstein’s Lawyers Say Not Giving Him Bail Would Be Anti-Rich Discrimination

By Benjamin Hart

Hasn’t the guy been through enough already?


satire

To Win Red States, Dems Must Move Right – Then Left – Then Apologize

By Eric Levitz

Amy McGrath took two different positions on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a single day. That’s the kind of spinelessness Kentucky voters crave.


jeffrey epstein

What We Learned From James Patterson’s Jeffrey Epstein Book

By Adam K. Raymond

According to Filthy Rich, Epstein has odd physical characteristics, used a camera hidden in a clock, and rejected a 23-year-old as too old.


the national interest

the national interest

Why a Climate Debate Is a Terrible Idea

By Jonathan Chait

Once you start with the single-issue debates, there’s no end.

A big win, even if nefarious maneuvers are likely around the corner

EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump is expected to announce he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead instruct the Commerce Department to get the data through other means, sources tell @ABC News. https://t.co/uj8bbAlMUy

@ABC

vision 2020

Why Are Governors Doing So Poorly in the 2020 Race?

By Ed Kilgore

In reality, the governors-run-best assumption hasn’t been accurate for years. And many senators in the race have other things going for them.

Will Epstein get another swanky, rich-person deal?

New: Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers have proposed a bail package that would put him in home detention – at his UES residence, one of the largest in Manhattan, & valued at $77M, per court docs – and have him monitored electronically by GPS. He would also agree to deregister his jet.

@eorden

Another member of “the squad” weighs in

Asked Ayanna Pressley if she agrees with AOC. “In my district we have had 18 shootings since July 3rd, I’m heading into oversight and a child trauma hearing I’ve been advocating for. .. I’m not giving this any more oxygen.” She wouldn’t answer whether she still supports Pelosi

@mkraju

The AOC-Pelosi tensions certainly don’t seem to be abating

Just asked @aoc if she stands by her comment that Pelosi singles out women of color. “Well I think it’s really just pointing out a pattern, right? We’re not talking just about progressives, it’s singling out four individuals and knowing the media environment we’re operating in..”

@mkraju

A note of caution on today’s census announcement from a law professor

Careful about those expectations of what Trump’ll do today. He won’t defy a court order, nor issue an executive order directing the Bureau to add the question. Eventually, Sec. Ross will issue a new directive with a new rationale, and *that* will be subject to legal challenge.

@marty_lederman

Buttigieg, struggling mightily to win over black voters, unveils bold policy proposal

Countering skeptics who doubt he can win crucial African American voters in the 2020 Democratic primary, Buttigieg rolled out the details of his plan to combat systemic racial inequality, named for legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“If you’re a white candidate, it is twice as important for you to be talking about racial inequity and not just describing the problem — which is fashionable in politics — but actually talking about what we’re going to do about it and describing the outcomes we’re trying to solve for,” Buttigieg told NPR.

His “Douglass Plan” aims to establish a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, invest $25 billion in historically black colleges, legalize marijuana, expunge past drug convictions, reduce the prison population by half and pass a new Voting Rights Act to further empower the federal government to ensure voting access.

Not what the state needs

AP: Louisiana braces for slow-moving possible weekend hurricane

@JesseRodriguez

Another way in which Epstein skirted the law

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein never once checked in with city cops in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so every 90 days — and the NYPD says it’s fine with that.

After being labeled a worst-of-the-worst, “Level 3” sex offender in 2011, Epstein should have reported in person to verify his address 34 times before he was arrested Saturday on federal child sex-trafficking charges.

But the NYPD hasn’t required the multimillionaire financier — who owns a $77 million Upper East Side townhouse — to check in since he registered as a sex offender in New York over the controversial 2008 plea bargain he struck in Florida amid allegations he sexually abused scores of underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

Not an auspicious beginning for the McGrath campaign

Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath flip-flopped on supporting Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the span of several hours Wednesday.

McGrath, who announced a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week, tweeted that she would have opposed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination several hours after she told a local newspaper she probably would have supported him.

“I was asked earlier today about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and I answered based upon his qualifications to be on the Supreme Court. But upon further reflection and further understanding of his record, I would have voted no,” McGrath tweeted Wednesday evening.

Later she added: “I know I disappointed many today with my initial answer on how I would have voted on Brett Kavanaugh. I will make mistakes and always own up to them. The priority is defeating Mitch McConnell.”

Trump’s latest census maneuver is likely to run into the same kind of problems as the last one did

JUST IN: President Trump expected to take executive action to put citizenship question on 2020 census, but this move is expected to face immediate legal challenges and Administration officials have expressed skepticism about viability of this path. @CBSNews

@PaulaReidCBS

the law

Acosta’s Legal Explanation for Epstein’s Plea Deal Doesn’t Add Up

By Barbara McQuade

As a former U.S. Attorney, I found the Labor secretary’s defense woefully inadequate. Now, a state prosecutor claims he’s trying to “rewrite history.”

Trump’s deportation sweep is back on

Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.

The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include “collateral” deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.

When possible, family members who are arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But because of space limitations, some might end up staying in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. ICE’s goal is to deport the families as quickly as possible.

The officials said ICE agents were targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported — some as a result of their failure to appear in court — but who remain in the country illegally. The operation is expected to take place in at least 10 major cities.

the top line

It’s Time to Stop This Ridiculous Hotel Pricing Practice

By Josh Barro

“Resort fees” and “destination fees” are used to mislead consumers about room rates. Washington, D.C., is suing to keep operators honest.

Trump’s media diet isn’t exactly healthy, but there’s potential for it to get worse after this

President Donald Trump is scheduled to host several right-wing internet personalities at an event Thursday that the White House said was intended to “share how they have been affected by bias online.”

While the Trump administration has generally embraced the far-right social media sphere, Thursday’s event will be one of the first to bring that digital ecosystem into the real world. Disinformation researchers who spoke with NBC News said the event further legitimizes a network of social media personalities who repeatedly target politicians and social media users with disinformation, trolling and harassment campaigns.

Conspiracy theorist Bill Mitchell, an online radio host and frequent guest on Infowars who has promoted the Qanon conspiracy theory, has tweeted that he will attend the event. Tim Pool, a YouTube personality who has pushed the false conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich leaked hacked emails to WikiLeaks, also plans to attend the event.

Right-wing commentator Ali Alexanderalso received an invitation. Alexander made headlines in recent weeks for questioning Kamala Harris’s ethnicity in a tweet that was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son. Harris was born in Oakland, Calif., and her father and mother are immigrants from Jamaica and India, respectively.

jeffrey epstein

Everything We Know About Jeffrey Epstein’s Private ‘Pedophile Island’

By Matt Stieb

All the mysterious details, from the security guards to the Japanese bathhouse — and the temple that appears to lock from the outside.

Read More

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