Weekend Reading: Optionality, Pangaea, and Regulatory Disappointment
A 2017 commencement address from Mihir Desai, critiquing the phenomenon of infinite optionality and lack of commitment pushed by modern universities:
I’ve lost count of the number of students who, when describing their career goals, talk about their desire to “maximize optionality.” They’re referring to financial instruments known as options that confer the right to do something rather than an obligation to do something. For this reason, options have a “Heads I win, tails I don’t lose” character—what those in finance lovingly describe as a “nonlinear payoff structure.” When you hold an option and the world moves with you, you enjoy the benefits; when the world moves against you, you are shielded from the bad outcome since you are not obligated to do anything. Optionality is the state of enjoying possibilities without being on the hook to do anything.
Nice paleocartography here. India abuts Antarctica, South Africa up against Argentina, and Iran was a peninsula.