I visited San Francisco for the first time in a year last week. Someone turned up the dystopian dial 20% while I was away.
I stayed in a hotel downtown. At about ten on the night I arrived I decided to walk to a wine bar for a glass of California Pinot Noir. I walked six blocks to get there.
On that six block walk I witnessed multiple homeless people crawling on the streets. Crawling. Someone shot up heroin right in front of me. Three separate women dressed like ’70s LA street prostitutes propositioned me. Then I got to a very nice wine bar where I had an unreasonably expensive glass of Russian River Valley Pinot. It was great but the juxtaposition not great at all.
The next morning I noticed that there are more self-driving cars on the street than there had been a year ago. There are also more people living in tents and in shanty towns. More people shooting up on the street. There are also more companies reinventing the world than ever before. Many of them are investing heavily in automation and eliminating human workforces.
I witnessed the worst of human destitution as self-driving cars rolled past.
One evening I had meetings in Palo Alto and dinner in San Francisco. I took a Lyft from Palo Alto to the Mission for dinner. It was cheap, easy, convenient. A little piece of the future.
Once we got off the highway we turned into the Mission. At around 19th and Folsom we were blocked by a house in the street. The house was a one room shanty built out of 2x4s and Plywood. It had a door and windows. It was on dollys and someone was pushing it down the street.
My driver flashed his headlights and pulled around the house. He dropped me off a few minutes later at Tartine Manufactury, which served my friend and I a very good but unreasonably expensive meal. The man pushing his house could have used the money we spent on that meal. The juxtaposition, again, was uncomfortable.
William Gibson will tell you that “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
San Francisco is in the future. San Francisco’s future isn’t pretty. It’s cold, hard, technological. It’s fueled by both extreme poverty and extreme wealth. By technology and heroin. It is the future of dystopian novels. It is the future of Gibson and Philip K. Dick. It is the future of Blade Runner.
Someone needs to take hold of the dystopia dial and turn it back down. Quickly. Before it becomes too late. The city needs to take better care of its poor and seriously examine what’s happening in its midst. It’s not enough to say that other cities hide these problems at their peripheries. There is something seriously disturbing about the situation in San Francisco that must not be ignored. Everyone has to come together, take responsibility, and move forward… (more)
A goo description of a look into our country’s future if we don’t stop the “progressive future ” being crammed down our throats by our government. Believe me you don’t want to go there.
: thedailybeast – excerpt
The U.S. State Department announced it would stop authorizing visas for Cubans before actually finalizing the details on how to implement the suspension, The Miami Herald reported Friday. One official said that Cubans could possibly apply for American visas in other countries, but did not explain how such a procedure would work. The U.S. is also withdrawing some of its staff from its embassy in Havana, but says it will still officially maintain diplomatic relations. The announcement comes after mysterious sonic attacks damaged the health of around 20 diplomats, causing symptoms ranging from hearing loss to brain damage…
Reactions in the Washington and Miami have been mixed.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the administration for not going further. “Shameful that State Department withdraws most staff from the U.S. Embassy in Cuba but [Raúl] Castro can keep as many as he wants in U.S.,” the Florida senator tweeted…(more)
One of our favorite cultures deserves some mention as it once again goes out of government favor. The old one step forward and one step back US dance.
: nymag – excerpt
The author lays out his perception of Zuckerberg’s quest to discover exactly who is a part of the community he developed and what the company’s responsibility is to that community. A possibly good read on the morning after the largest single mass killing in America’s history.
The same company that gives you birthday reminders also helped ensure the integrity of the German elections.
Mark Zuckerberg had just returned from paternity leave, and he wanted to talk about Facebook, democracy, and elections and to define what he felt his creation owed the world in exchange for its hegemony. A few weeks earlier, in early September, the company’s chief security officer had admitted that Facebook had sold $100,000 worth of ads on its platform to Russian-government-linked trolls who intended to influence the American political process. Now, in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on September 21 and subsequently posted to his profile page, Zuckerberg pledged to increase the resources of Facebook’s security and election-integrity teams and to work “proactively to strengthen the democratic process.”
To effect this, he outlined specific steps to “make political advertising more transparent.” Facebook will soon require that all political ads disclose “which page” paid for them (“I’m Epic Fail Memes, and I approve this message”) and ensure that every ad a given advertiser runs is accessible to anyone, essentially ending the practice of “dark advertising” — promoted posts that are only ever seen by the specific groups at which they’re targeted. Zuckerberg, in his statement, compared this development favorably to old media, like radio and television, which already require political ads to reveal their funders: “We’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency,” he writes… (more)
In 1967, protesters filled the streets of Oakland to stop the draft. Seven faced serious charges — and their message still resonates today
With great fanfare PBS is airing a 10-part series about the Vietnam War. Critics charge that under the guise of being even handed, series producers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick say the US and Vietnam share equal blame for the war. Foreign correspondent Reese Erlich offers a different historical perspective.
October marks the 50th anniversary of Stop the Draft Week, the largest militant anti-Vietnam War demonstration up to that time. Ten thousand people jammed into the streets of downtown Oakland to shutdown the federal draft induction center.
Demonstration organizers, who became known as the Oakland 7, faced an 11-week conspiracy trial. In a major victory for the anti-war movement, a jury acquitted them of all charges…
In October of 1967, the U.S. war effort in Vietnam was failing. In just a few months, Vietnamese rebels launched the Tet Offensive, a political defeat that proved to be a turning point in the US war.
Throughout 1967 President Lyndon Johnson sent more troops to South Vietnam, and that required bigger draft calls. The sons of the very rich and well connected always avoided the draft. Donald Trump received a medical deferment due to “bone spurs” in his heels. They didn’t prevent him from a lifetime of skiing, however…
We didn’t consider ourselves hippies, but the anti-war and counterculture movements were intertwined. Both groups used drugs, listened to rock, dressed unconventionally and engaged in the kind of sex that outraged our parents. But hippies tended to protest society by “dropping out.” We wanted them to “drop in” to the anti-war movement.
We also sought to broaden the anti-war movement by including workers and allying with black, Latino, and Asian activists. Dave Harris and his pacifist allies believed they could do that with an appeal to conscience and traditional, nonviolent tactics.
Others of us argued that working class youth were turned off by traditional pacifism. It was time that anti-war demonstrators become more militant and defend ourselves against police attack.
Our call for militant action was hugely controversial. Of course local politicians, university administrators and business people were opposed. But even most leaders of the mainstream peace movement were hesitant. Our rejection of non-violent tactics ran against the grain of protests at that time. Few leaders and no traditional peace groups endorsed STDW.
But we picked up grassroots support. I still remember walking the streets of Berkeley in early October and seeing scores of houses displaying Stop the Draft Week posters in their windows.
Our timing was spot on. “Our political antennae picked up something out there,” Oakland 7 member Terry Cannon told me years later… (more)
How the mighty have fallen. An unofficial Summer of Love celebration did squeak by with little fanfare in the fall of 2017 in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park Bandshell, with Wavy Gravy and some die hard local bands and their fans.
It is a sad day when San Francisco officials nix the 50th anniversary Summer of Love concert that ushered in the peace movement, especially now that we are dealing with a clash of cultures and political upheaval.
To add insult to injury, Silicon Valley officials and the 49ers Management want to extend a 10 PM noise curfew to allow for later performances to make up for the poor ticket sales at Levis Stadium. Money is king in the the former home of the peace and love movement.
Pay to play or just pay, as California turns itself into the most valuable real estate with the highest rate of poverty and one of the worst education systems in the country.
By Oscar Pascual : sfgate – excerpt
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch intends to support more research on medical cannabis with equal parts legislation and hack comedy.
The Utah lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan bill to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuana research with a pun-laden written statement, reports Forbes’ Tom Angell.
“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” says Hatch in his unveiling of the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, or MEDS Act.
According to the rest of Hatch’s statement:
“Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”… (more)
We need some good news this week in the wake of the hurricanes as our friends are struggling with the aftermath. We can read this as good news.
By : newrepublic – excerpt
How the aspirational class expresses its status in an age of inequality.
The term “yuppie” now feels so dated that it occasionally seems an entire social class has vanished. If the suit-wearing Patrick Batemans of the 1980s no longer embody affluence, what has come to replace them? “Hipster” reigned, briefly, as the label of choice for certain irritating would-be members of the bourgeoisie. But while hipsters were, like the yuppies before them, young and urban-dwelling, they weren’t exactly professional. Often rumored to be living off their trust funds, they spent their time as layabout musicians or bike messengers, milling in coffee shops and craft cocktail bars. Yuppies, on the other hand, were seasoned careerists who owned yachts and luxury SUVs and talked in public about their stock portfolios. Yuppiedom described a specific oily demeanor and pattern of consumption as much as it implied affluence…(more).