Silicon Valley

The Unbearable Sameness of Cities

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The person who sent me Orianna Schwindt’s New York magazine piece on the “unbearable sameness of cities” asked if I had written it under a pen name. Indeed, she hits so many of my themes about American cities:  read more »

Food Porn

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What’s this now? A few acres of suburban gardens? Yes. And no. It’s the mini farm adjacent to The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley. Local. Organic. Seasonal. It’s the full expression of a particular trend in foodie culture. It’s strange to see so ordinary a thing – veggies growing in a suburban plot – elevated to near monastic tidiness. It’s illegal to grow food on the front lawn in many places these days, either by municipal regulation or private home owners association bylaws. Even where it is legal, most people simply don’t do it. Food is cheap. Gardening is a lot of work. Why bother?  read more »

‘Chinafornia’ And Global Trade In Age Of Trump

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One of the last regions settled en masse by Europeans, California’s trajectory long has been linked to its partners across the Pacific. Yet these ties could be deeply impacted by President Trump’s immigration and trade policies, as well as resulting blowback by the authoritarian regime in Beijing.  read more »

The New-McCarthyism Of Our Censorious Age

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“If my thought dreams could be seen

They’d probably put my head in a guillotine” — Bob Dylan, “It’s All Right Ma”, 1965

We live in a newly censorious age, where old crudities are never forgotten. To be sure, there are some clear malefactors, like Harvey Weinstein and many others, who should be punished to the extent of the law, but there’s clearly a distinct danger to free expression as the emboldened thought police steadily expand their domain.  read more »

The Hollowing-Out of the California Dream

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Progressives praise California as the harbinger of the political future, the home of a new, enlightened, multicultural America. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has identified California Senator Kamala Harris as the party leader on issues of immigration and race.  read more »

A Corporate Wealth Tax: Making the Oligarchs Pay

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It may be en vogue among a certain group to express concern about the influence of Russian oligarchs within our political system, but perhaps we should all be a bit more concerned about the home-grown variety, the Silicon Valley and tech billionaires. Given their huge wealth, influence and control over information, we need to start having serious discussions about how best to deal with their impact on our democracy, which they increasingly seem to want to co-opt with their money and power.  read more »

Watch Out! Here Come the ‘Woke’ Tech Oligarchs

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Once the rich protected themselves by aligning with Republicans who would protect their property from high taxes and their firms from regulation.

Some still do—notably the Koch brothers—but this breed of right-winger is gradually losing out to more progressive tilted plutocrats.  read more »

Is Mass Media Good or Bad For You and Your Family?

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Since the internet, and particularly smartphones, became household commodities, mass media's impact on people and societies has increased exponentially.

As you might expect, there is a swinging pendulum of public opinion which often shifts from decrying the ills of this trend to extolling the many virtues of on demand technology.  read more »

Subjects:

If the tech oligarchs can’t beat the bad press, they’ll just buy it

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What’s an oligarch to do? The putative tech masters of the universe now face unprecedented criticism from both left and right. The reasons extend from wanton privacy invasions of the people once described by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as “dumb f***ks” to President Trump’s typically hyperbolic assaults on Amazon’s success at tax avoidance.  read more »

What the Census Numbers Tell Us

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The most recent Census population estimates revealed something that the mainstream media would prefer to ignore—the slowing population growth of big cities, including New York. The New York Times, for example, trumpeted Gotham’s historically high population yet failed to mention that the city’s growth is not only dramatically slowing but also, in the case of Brooklyn, declining for the first time since 2006.  read more »