— Megan (@m_emps) April 8, 2014
When I moved out to Silicon Valley from New Jersey in 1997, Internet fever was just about to peak (literally so, in the form of the bursting tech bubble that decimated the NASDAQ three years later). Silicon Valley was seen as the next big thing, ushering America into the wonders of the 21st century — and possibly saving the increasing bloated state government of California in the process. Wired magazine, based in San Francisco, was still owned by founder Louis Rossetto, and maintained its quirky but libertarian vibe, before Rosetto sold the magazine to the mammoth reactionary left Conde Nast publishing empire four year later. For those of us who had started computing on Altair 8800s and TRS-80s twenty years earlier, the mid-to-late 1990s was quite a ride.
It was fun while it lasted.
In his latest USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds writes that these days, “Silicon Valley Scares Americans:”
Silicon Valley has a trust problem, and it’s growing. Some of this is the result of National Security Agency spying — and the tech community’s cooperation with same — and some of it is based on other things tech leaders are doing. But the worst of it is based on who our tech overlords have become.
The NSA spying has already done harm enough. As Glenn Derene warned in Popular Mechanics when the story first broke, fear of NSA spying is giving a boost to offshore competitors, as companies and users seek hardware and software without back doors and compromised security standards. Some foreign customers feel betrayed by Google, Facebook, and other tech giants.
But even at home, the tech community is hurting. According to a study by Harris Interactive last week, people are actually reducing their Internet usage because of the Edward Snowden revelations and general fears about privacy. The study found that 47% say they have changed their behavior online, and 26% say they’re doing less online shopping. Among younger users, aged 18 to 34, the online shopping number was 33%. The Wall Street Journal quotes Stephen Cobb of information security company ESET: “In the technology industry, companies are finding that the sales cycle is getting longer, as customers ask questions such as whether an Internet router is NSA proof. ‘People are asking questions they didn’t ask before. To be in this place now, given the history of this industry, is just amazing. There is a level of suspicion and confusion we haven’t had before.'”
The California far left has always been confused — but their suspicion regarding their fellow high-tech mavens in Northern California is reaching new and paranoid heights, which Richard Fernandez explores in his latest Belmont Club post here at PJ Media, titled “Vanishing Point:”
There was an interesting postscript to the Eich saga in the bizarre protest held against Internet entreprenuer Kevin Rose. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters stood with signs and flyers outside of the Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a ‘parasite’ and a ‘leech.’ Techcrunch has a copy of the flyer:
‘As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.’
The flyer claims to speak for the service workers who “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors” and goes on to complain that most techies are “just like Kevin Rose,” though again, it’s short on specific criticisms, aside from pointing out that techies make a lot of money.
A supposed manifesto from an organization called “The Counterforce” makes demands believed to be related to the protest.
To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.
There is no direct relationship between the Eich and Rose incidents, besides the sheer outré character of the events, but one can’t help get the feeling that they emanate from the same strange universe, whatever universe that might be. But it’s all shadows with nothing besides fantastic flashbacks of “Scorpio” from Dirty Harry and the People’s Temple crowds bellowing for an airlift to Russia to lend it shape.
Business Insider suggests the protests were something more prosaic. It’s social unrest. It’s poor people fighting for their share of the hipster pie outraged at the high rents in the Bay Area and the outrageous pricing of goodies beyond their reach. It’s the rebellion of “social equals” who find they are financial inferiors. It’s the outcry of people who thought they were part of a great movement who discover they are, after all, only menials. That makes it all the more pathetic.
Transportation seems to be a curious obsession with the anti-tech California left. For several months, they’ve been fixated upon the so-called “Google Busses,” corporate busses which transport Google and Yahoo employees around the Bay Area. It’s an interesting equation — mass transit, which the left once viewed as an unalloyed good, versus a comfortable vehicle (well, relatively comfortable: at 6’2″ and all legs, I have to scrunch to fit into most bus or coach airline seats) used solely by corporate employees.
Which the San Francisco left view as bad. Very Bad. So Incredibly, Stupendously, Intolerably Bad, it can make you throw up:
A protester so aghast with Silicon Valley’s impact on the Bay Area has gone as far as to vomit on a Yahoo shuttle bus.
The mystery demonstrator was among a group of protesters picketing the buses that ferry employees of the big tech corporations to work, deeming them indicative of everything wrong with the hyper-gentrified Silicon Valley.
On Tuesday, the group blocked an intersection in San Francisco’s Mission area, and protestors consisted of dancers in clown suit onesies.
But Valleywag.com reported that in Oakland, almost 50 ‘rebels’ blocked a pick up zone for tech buses and one apparently vomited on the windshield of a Yahoo bus from its roof.
I guess there weren’t any police cars around to poop on.
As we’ll explore after the page break, the Google Bus’s polar opposite vehicle, the tiny Weeble-sized Smart Car, is also under attack in San Francisco.
The local NBC affiliate reports that at least four Smart Cars were recently flipped onto their sides, or onto their rear bumpers in San Francisco. In a lengthy post on the angry Luddite tendencies of some San Francisco leftists, Ace of Spades ponders the San Francisco NBC affiliate fixating on one of the cars having an Obama bumper sticker as a red herring; in his comments section, PJM columnist Zombie writes:
Ph come on, I’ve been following the car-tipping story and the vomit-on-google story for weeks.
There is a 100% chance that the car-tippers are the same anti-tech protesters blocking and attacking google buses. No question.
They dress like the same anarcho/Occupy idiots that do all the same kind of shit every day. They are filled with irrational hate toward tehcnology — essentially they are Luddite anarchists. There are thousands of them around here.
Everyone knows this. The Obama bumpersticker is a ridiculous and irrelevant detail. Hell, ALL OF GOOGLE is pro-Obama, and the protesters have been protesting Google itself. Ooooh, does that meant they’re right-wingers?
The media’s attempt at bias here is feeble and ignored. Everyone in the Bay Area knows these anarcho types. They cause about 75% of the problems.
Another of Ace’s commenters describes the Frisco kerfuffle as “a left-wing protest against ‘Gentrification:'”
Here, gentrification is embodied by the rich Googlers that tool around in electric cars and take the special Google buses to their Google campus.
The artsy/druggie Left is angry that the rich Googlers are pricing them out of San Francisco. They feel they should be able to live in the cool parts of SF while being a semi-employed busker while sponging money off mom and dad in the burbs. San Francisco is so expensive now that they increasingly cannot do that. They are angry about that.
Speaking of the angry anti-Google left and their transportation obsession, it was back in January that Ars Technica.com reported, “Protesters show up at the doorstep of Google self-driving car engineer,” taking yet another tip from Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals.
And we can’t do a post about Silicon Valley today without noting that OkCupid CEO Sam Yagan has recanted his thoughtcrimes:
“A decade ago, I made a contribution to Representative Chris Cannon because he was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversaw the Internet and Intellectual Property, matters important to my business and our industry. I accept responsibility for not knowing where he stood on gay rights in particular; I unequivocally support marriage equality and I would not make that contribution again today. However, a contribution made to a candidate with views on hundreds of issues has no equivalence to a contribution supporting Prop 8, a single issue that has no purpose other than to affirmatively prohibit gay marriage, which I believe is a basic civil right.”
No word yet on Yagan’s thoughts on Laurence Harvey.
In an email to me (I wanted to confirm that the Zombie who posted at Ace was indeed my fellow PJM columnist) the mysterious Zombie adds:
I feel that there is a Great Convergence between three leftist worldviews happening:
2. “Social Justice”/income inequality/communism.
3. Slacker/pothead/trustafarian goof-off-ism. Each three is distinct in its origins, but somehow they have combined forces to create the great Anti Google Backlash.
A Civil War between the grassroots Left, in other words, which is occurring simultaneously and intersecting with the ongoing battle for control among the party’s elite, and connected by Henry Hazlitt’s 1966 definition of Marxism:
The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others.
A segment on the radical anti-progress, success-envying Luddite anarcho Bay Area Left sounds like it would catnip to a TV news network struggling in the ratings and looking to break the cycle from the one story it’s been obsessing on for an extended period.
Related: “OKCupid Founders Promoted ‘Dis’ Generator with Gay Insults,” John Sexton writes at Big Government:
Brendan Eich was ushered out the door over a 6-year-old donation to a campaign which garnered a majority of the vote in California (and also over a 22-year-old donation to Pat Buchanan). His choices weren’t a joke or a satire. They also weren’t part of his work behavior. By contrast, the “Deliver the Dis” app was a product promoted by The Spark. It was always intended as an obscene joke aimed at high school kids, but does that make it okay?
As the recent “cancel Colbert” incident has demonstrated, saying something is a joke or satire isn’t always enough. Suey Park, who got the #cancelcolbert hashtag trending last week after the show’s Twitter account sent out a joke mocking Asian stereotypes, told the New Yorker, “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.” Jay Kang, who wrote the piece, says Park “does not defer to white liberals who point out that the joke was meant to satirize white racists, nor does she believe that a debt of gratitude is owed to the good intentions of white liberalism.”
I contacted OKCupid to ask if they saw any of this differently today, especially in light of their stand against Brendan Eich. I also asked if they thought it was fair for people to judge their fitness to run a tech company based on something they had done years in the past. No one at OKCupid offered a response.
Perhaps they’re waiting for Mother Jones to pick up on the story.