Category Archives: Editorial

Peter Leyden’s wishful thinking and the Silicon Valley Bubble

image credit: New York Times

Trump’s inauguration is the canker sore that won’t go away

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. If it weren’t for the antiquated electoral college, she would be president today. Even though I felt Hillary was the wrong democratic party presidential candidate at the wrong time. I never imagined she would lose to Trump. But now that we’re forced to live with it, what are we to make of the 60+ million people who voted for Trump? What are we to make of a media that openly gave a billionaire real-estate developer oodles of free publicity for the sake of profits? I would like to agree with Peter Leyden’s assessment that the ascent of Trump is actually the end of an era but upon reading his Medium essay, I found him to be too representative of the Silicon Valley bubble, and I’m not sure what sufficient value technology brings into the equation if it can’t educate and influence the minds of Red state voters.

Dysfunctional American democracy

The majority of Trump’s voters are not college educated. They are disaffected, though affluent, predominantly white men and women,  and get their information from right-wing media sources, such as Fox news. They are part of a segment of the American population that has fallen under the sway of the Republican party, a political organization that continues to fan the flames of anti-government ideology. Republicans feed the minds of voters with the premise that government regulations and taxation are bad and hurt job creation. The majority of Southern states, along with the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, & Wyoming, remain republican party strongholds. These are states that lack any significant type of “Silicon Valley cultural mindset” with a majority of voters who have little reason to believe that technology is going to create new employment, especially when technology and automation continue to eliminate jobs.

While Peter Leyden is correct in how easy it is to whip up fears about globalization and digital technologies that are or will replace human employment, where I believe he’s mistaken is thinking that Trump’s ascendancy to the White House will alienate so much of the republican party agenda that there will be a backlash. Actually, the Republicans, if they are shrewd, can actually do some manipulation of Trump on their own, and when they are ready, pull the trigger.  While Congress may ultimately impeach Trump, the Republican party will continue its ugly tirade against government spending and foment resistance to new regulations. This is a principal reason why democracy is so dysfunctional in America.

We have one body of thought that embraces government as a force for good and devoted to the public interest and one that is contemptuous of government and views it as a constraint on personal freedom. This is what keeps the United States from flourishing as a democracy because this cultural divide prevents the country from tackling complicated problems in a progressive manner. In addition, the lack of quality, heavily invested public schooling across the nation promotes extreme ignorance and a myopic understanding of the role government plays in a democracy.

Transformational leadership and changing minds

I agree with Peter that Hillary Clinton, if she had won the electoral college, would not have been the transformational leader that our country so badly needs. Bernie Sanders was and remains that person (for now). I also previously wrote about the terrible damage done by this country’s 4th estate in giving a man like Donald Trump so much free publicity leading up to the actual election. In a democracy, the press must act on behalf of the public interest and not its corporate stakeholders. It failed.

While California may be filled with progressive democrats that is not the case in Southern states or in regions of the upper midwest. I don’t think the evidence is there that the “next economy,” as Peter describes is working for everyone. It certainly isn’t working for those deprived of the skills necessary to take part in it. We live in the software age. In order to flourish and thrive with gainful employment, it is advantageous to know how to code and learn other software-related skills. You don’t see the start-up world headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi.

I like that Peter has created an organization that seeks to alter the political dynamic in our country. Peter’s company, Reinvent, seeks to further conversations within the Democratic party and with progressives on how to overcome today’s Trump and any future Trumps. I’ve fine with that. But what is missing, or what needs to happen is a deep level engagement in those Red states where progressive change is next to non-existent. It’s painful to read how some of these Red states openly rejected President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, legislation designed to encourage more citizens to get health insurance and do so affordably.

How does one stay hopeful in the face of a country that is so badly polarized?  How do we once and for all do away with the Republican party mantra that government is the problem? How do we sway the minds of those voters who get their information from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, or Newt Gingrich?  When you listen to some of the reasoning behind Trump voters, it’s enough to make you shutter for the future of our nation’s democracy.

Obama’s place in history

What of Obama’s achievements will still remain in existence if the country is forced to endure four years of Trump?  One week into his administration, Trump has already signed a series of executive orders, attempting to undo Obama’s legacy. I believe it is too early to say whether Obama’s achievements as president will have laid the groundwork for a sustainable civilization. I wanted Obama to aim higher and fight for even greater achievements, such as Medicare for all and a reversal of Citizens United. But he did not champion either of them. Without getting money out of politics, it’s hard to imagine how democracy will not continue to erode under its own corruption and greed.

If we are to achieve what Peter describes as “the all-digital, fully global, sustainable civilization of the 21st century,” then there needs to be an American body politic that is not engaging in open warfare over the purpose, role, and function of government in a democratic society. We must be uniform in our thinking that government, while not perfect, can be perfected to fulfill the dream that democracy remains the best choice to improve the quality of life for the people it serves.

Trump Obama

Trump: A final post-mortem on Donald’s presidential victory

Donald Trump’s self-fulfilling prophesy

Most of you should be familiar with Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist of the New York Times. In his most recent newsletter, he offered a mea-culpa. Earlier this spring, Nicholas argued that U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be as strong a candidate as Hillary Clinton when facing Donald Trump.

Now, looking back at the election results, Nicholas admits he was wrong. Voters did not want the traditional political establishment candidate and perceived Hillary as the opposite of change. Looking at hypothetical match-ups, Nicholas admits that Sanders or even Joe Biden would have defeated Trump. I wrote about why Bernie was a superior candidate back in February during the primaries and it’s gratifying to know I was right.

Nicholas believes that this election was about nominating the wrong candidate at the wrong time (not to mention, of course, that Hillary was the victim of terrible sexism and unconscious bias). Voters who voted for Trump wanted to see a man as president.

Corporate Mainstream media’s promotion of Trump

I take satisfaction from Nicholas’s mea-culpa because it validates my own personal observations about the collapse of mainstream media’s obligation and responsibility in reporting news and information objectively, with as little bias as possible. The New York Times overtly pushed for Hillary’s campaign throughout the primaries and it disgusted me as a Bernie supporter. That’s just one example.

The majority of mainstream media gave Trump oodles of free publicity in order to maximize their own profits. It’s painful, however, to have known this throughout the campaign and yet you had columnists like Kristoff who so openly advocated for Hillary, even though she was the wrong candidate at the wrong time of this country’s political history. Yes, she did win the popular vote and if we didn’t have the antiquated electoral college, then Hillary would be president. But poll after poll showed Bernie winning against Trump by a higher margin of victory than Hillary. It’s just such a painful and difficult pill to swallow.

For those of you who supported Hillary in the primaries, I truly hope Trump’s victory inspires you to help create the badly needed 3rd political party in this country; a party that is not beholden to a corporate millionaire class but a party that represents working-class people, people who can afford to donate $5 or $10 to a party that advocates Medicare for All, an end to the electoral college, an end to Citizens United, a belief in government spending to invest in a crumbling infrastructure, a belief that human caused global warming is a fact and not a fiction, and a party that believes and wants to invest in public schooling.

Hillary supporters apologize to Bernie supporters

I’ve seen some Hillary supporters post apologies to Bernie supporters on Facebook. Yes, an apology is always welcomed. But what is needed now is a political revolution. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has created a new organization called It might not be perfect but it’s certainly a fresh start as we prepare to unseat President Trump in the 2020 election.

Thank you for reading and I wish you all good health and peace of mind.

twitter sold

Twitter will be sold to Google for a tweet

twitter sold

When will Twitter learn its lesson?

I blogged that Twitter must reinvent itself back on October 21 of 2015.

In the aftermath of laying off more than 300 employees, now it is at it again. This time it will lay-off another 300+ employees.  And this time, it seems that Twitter will shrink its sales force. Sort of ironic when you think about it. The company needs to boost sales and what does it do? Cut its sales staff. No matter.

Twitter is not going to make it as a for-profit company on its own. It needs a buyer and if I were CEO Jack Dorsey, I’d be looking for one. The fact is, the millions of its users don’t purchase sponsored ads. And the corporations that should be buying sponsored ads are losing faith in Twitter because their targeted consumers aren’t responding to sponsored ads. Twitter’s ad model is not working. I wrote last year that Twitter needs to reinvent itself. It needs to disengage itself from Wall Street. Maybe it’s too late. But proving itself as an earnings machine to satisfy the craven lust of its stockholders is not a model the company can sustain. I re-iterate that Twitter must become a public benefit corporation should it want to continue to try and succeed on its own.

It would make sense for Google to purchase Twitter but it can wait. Twitter will continue to bleed until it becomes desperate. Google once featured Tweets when it worked out an arrangement with Twitter to do just that. But then disagreements ensued and Twitter vanished from the Google feed. It would be advantageous for Google to buy it and play catch-up to Facebook in the social media game. But how to make Twitter profitable would be the problem and as I already suggested, Twitter’s value lies not in its profitability but in its public utility. It is valued by journalists and media and heavily used by various people around the globe to express opinions and receive updates. It would make a great PR move for Google if it acquired Twitter and kept it running as a free service without the need for sponsored ads.

In the end, Twitter is a another great example of a product that should never have gone public and only did so at the behest of greedy investors, and certainly its founders. Does anyone remember what Twitter was originally created for?  Noa Glass founded the platform for podcasting. Then Jack Dorsey came into the picture saying the product needed to work as a “status” product, meaning you could use it to inform people of where you are. Twitter needs to go back to its roots and ultimately serve the public as a means to deliver important information fast. It is not for social media. It’s utility lies in helping people get necessary and important updates on events that impact anyone in around the world. It’s been corrupted by capitalist, corporate greed.




LaCroix water is a hoax and a gimmick


LaCroix flavored carbonated water appeared on sale at my local grocery store. It cost $5 for an 8 pack. Apparently, LaCroix is all the rage. I had never heard of it before but when I stopped to look at it, I must admit, I was taken in by the ZERO carbs, ZERO sugars, ZERO calories and pretty much ZERO everything. It contained sparkling water that is “naturally essenced.” I have no idea what essenced means and neither does, other than the word “essence,” which means “can be a physical detail, or, just as commonly, the abstract idea or meaning of something.”

I wondered what a beverage that contains ZERO everything with just a little “natural essence” might taste like. I bought the flavor Melon Pomelo or Cantaloupe Pink Grapefruit. And what is the verdict?  I took one sip. First off, it takes like nothing. There’s barely any flavor to what is essentially carbonated water and not much more. I did not like it. I was hoping for the sweetness of the fruits listed but really couldn’t make out any of them. Why then has this drink become a hit among the trendy? What I did discover and maintain is that the so-called “naturally essenced” description is nothing but a gimmick.

lacroix water

The above is a screenshot taken from the LaCroix website. Talk about LOL!  What exactly is “water sourced from the USA?”  I mean, are consumers that stupid to drink this beverage without knowing where the carbonated water they are consuming comes from?

LaCroix water source
This above screenshot taken from the LaCroix website reads that the water they use is “locally sourced at various locations throughout the U.S.”  How is that local?  And why are the various locations anonymous?  The water being used, regardless of the “triple filtration system” could be taken from just about anywhere, including a polluted pond or lake or underground stream. Is the average American consumer too dense to not inquire further about where the carbonated water they are consuming is actually sourced from?

Now I recently came across a study that purportedly shows that “oral perceptions of coldness and carbonation help to reduce thirst.” According to one of the researchers, “”Our results confirmed what people tend to naturally do when they are thirsty: drink a cold and often carbonated beverage to feel a sensation of relief.”  OK, maybe so. But I maintain that LaCroix is a hoax. I’ve since thrown out the remaining cans that I purchased. I’m posting this story as a way of alerting those who are drinking this beverage to please educate yourselves. Don’t assume that a private corporation has your health in mind when producing its product. LaCroix beverages are distributed by the National Beverage Company. Good luck trying to contact this company and getting any concrete answers about why they keep their water locations anonymous.

The CEO of National Beverage Company is Nick Caporella. The guy has made a killing buying flavored beverages. Why do you want to support this capitalist tycoon?  The market for sparkling beverages continues to soar, according to Nielsen. According to Forbes, Caporella has an estimated $1.8 billion net worth. Caporella doesn’t give a damn about who you are, your health, or what is in the public interest. By purchasing LaCroix products you continue to enrich this man who frankly puts out a terrible product. If you happen to like LaCroix, I pity you.


No, Carl Nolte, booming San Francisco has lost its soul and wallet

I have it on good authority that San Francisco once was a sleepy town, spoiled by copious amounts of cheap, demoic-free Dungeness crab, lots of low rent apartments, and minimal street traffic. I hear it all the time from people who came to this city some 40,50, 60+ years ago. “When we came here, we purchased a home for 50K and we paid a fixed 3% mortgage,” say my parents, both immigrants. “It’s the most expensive city I’ve ever lived in,” say the transplants. “And I’m only here for work and will eventually leave.”

Now many cities are experiencing what San Francisco has undergone, only San Francisco finds itself in a peculiar situation given its proximity to Silicon Valley. The city is booming but its boom attracts only the most skilled of the job market. The city experiences hellacious traffic and average rent is through the roof. In order to qualify for these high-tech jobs, you’ve got to have the right skills. Want to code for a living?  Or be a Broadcaster Partner Marketing Manager? Or a SEO Content Strategist? Or a Clinical Science Research Specialist? Or a Hardware Engineer? See Carl Nolte, the Silicon Valley explosion has put the pinch on San Francisco, making it impossible for those who make less than 100K in salary a year to live comfortably in the city. And who are the people earning less than 100K a year? Teachers, social workers, artists, receptionists, administrative assistants, marketing coordinators, baristas, service workers, etc…Some of them are still able to live in San Francisco, because living with three or four other roommates makes for an idyllic stay. NOT.

At least you admitted that you conducted an “unscientific study.” You walked the streets, rode some Muni buses, talked to a select group of San Franciscans to get their assessment of Baghdad By The Bay. Well, I did the same thing. I spoke to some of my fellow workers and a few strangers to boot. And what was their conclusion?

“I find the cost of living in San Francisco to be so oppressive that my days are numbered living here,” said Frank Lesalle, an administrative assistant. “It’s a city that works best for those who fit the tech economy.”

It all began to dawn on me back in the mid 1980s. I was out of high school then but I noticed something different about the city. It’s like, coming out of the “no rush 70’s” it seemed like San Francisco had indeed skipped a beat. Suddenly, there was more traffic, the cost of living spiked upwards, and the cost of Dungeness crab and seafood down at Fisherman’s Wharf climbed into “rip off” territory.

Oh yeah, I grew up near Forest Hills in San Francisco. Where did my family go out to dinner back in the 1970s?  Family-style restaurants were once plentiful in neighborhoods like North Beach. Yes, there were fewer restaurants in the 1970s but there were also few foodies.

So what do we have today in Potrero Hill? Let’s see, we have expensive restaurants like Serpentine, Piccino, mediocre French food at Chez Papa, expensive Sushi at Umi, and OK, reasonably priced sandwiches at Hazels on 16th street. Yes, we still have Farley’s, but we also have Plow, the most outrageously expensive breakfast joint on Potrero Hill patronized by foodies from every neighborhood in San Francisco and beyond.

You see, it is a yin and yang thing but it’s the pace of that yin and yang. Back in the 70s, you didn’t have restaurants opening and closing every 3 months. Take Radish, Grub, Market & Rye, Artis Coffee Roasters, Saha, April Calf, Saha, The New Spot (one of the more affordable delicious restaurants near Potrero Hill), Mazza Luna, La Rondalla, Pig & Pie, and so, so many more have all closed this year alone.

I don’t know of ANYONE who takes the array of food choices in San Francisco for granted. How could they? The only ones supporting these uber expensive restaurants are the ones working at Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Twitter, etc…These are the ones who are getting paid near or above the 100K salaries, or it’s those who are mooching off of those who can afford to eat out more than 5 nights a week. Back in the 70’s, I didn’t hear people complain about the lack of food choices in San Francisco. I saw people go out to eat and afford what they could eat. Small, “hole in the wall” Chinese restaurants were popular. Food tasted good and it was cheap! Gentrification was not a buzz word because the destruction wrought by Silicon Valley remained somewhere far off into the future and people seemed to appreciate the slowness of San Francisco, and the ability to live in a single one bed room apartment on a salary of 40k.

Today’s San Francisco soul is mired in glitz and glamour. That’s what Silicon Valley has done to our fair city. Yes, I’m grateful for developments like the San Francisco Jazz Center, the renovated DeYoung and Modern Art museums, the full flowering of the Yerba Buena Gardens, the Asian Art Museum, etc…But the biggest news made today is how Mayor Lee coddles to the high-tech industry, giving tax breaks to lure these companies into staying in San Francisco and thus exacerbating the city’s gentrification. It’s about the new fancy restaurants, charging preposterous pricing that caters to the well-paid high-tech crowd. And that is due in no large part to just how expensive it is to do business in San Francisco, hurting those who simply can no longer afford to live here.

Do you know why so many of the shopping crowds are more Asian than ever? Because it’s the very wealthy Asians who have moved to California, in particular, the SF/Bay Area and they can afford to and are spending lavishly. But guess what? Chinatown was still Chinatown back in the 70s and earlier. And were wealthy Asians filling downtown Union Square back in the 70’s? It was once a mixed city. No more. Asians constitute nearly 40% of San Francisco; the largest subgroup is of Chinese descent.

San Francisco is a city that caters to the glitz, the foodies, the 100K+ salary wage earners, and is a reflection of our country’s extreme concentrated wealth, all of which the high-tech revolution spurs in its demand for a whole new skill set that is now filled in no small measure by Asians, Indians, and others from outside the United States.

I’d like to give one shout out, if I may, to a place that does give one a reminder of long-time gone bohemian San Francisco.  It is the Red Poppy. It features artists and musicians from different walks of life and from around the globe to locals eager for something different. I encourage you to drop by for an event and get a dose of old San Francisco.

I spoke with Freddie the freeloader, forever searching for the fountain of mindful peace.

“I came here in the 1980s with nothing but a guitar and my knapsack. I came because I heard through the grapevine that San Francisco was still one of the grooviest places to hang and meet with like-minded artists and creative-types. I met a number of young runaways. Now, I’m a recovering heroin-addict, grateful to those who keep feeding me, and who help me to get through the day. I do see a lot of young people here. But they are jacked into their smart phones on what seems like 24 hours a day. I see endless lines at Starbucks of caffeine-driven zombies who seem incapable of actually making a cup of coffee at home. Yeah, I do see mixed cultures and a variety of different people. But the homeless remain destitute. And the contempt shown by some of these young start-up entrepreneurs of those who live in the streets grates at me. If I’m in hell, I’d rather be flying among the clouds.”

harambe, ape

Poor Harambe…Must apes die to save humans?


The tragic death of Harambe, the 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo set the social media world ablaze. Millions were rightly angry at the Zoo’s decision to kill the ape to save the child. Was his death preventable? Many attacked the parents for their poor parental supervision. Were adequate safeguards in place at the zoo to prevent just such an accident? Why not attempt to tranquilize Harambe? Zoo officials say they didn’t want to take the chance of possibly aggravating the ape, causing it to be violent towards the child. In the end, while we saved a child, humans murdered an endangered species for just being itself. This is the worst scenario possible. It leads to the greater issue of whether humans are of greater importance to life on the planet than that of an endangered species.

Think about it. With 7 billion + in total population, humans are not endangered. Silverback mountain Gorillas are the most endangered of their species with less than a thousand left in the entire world. Now equate the loss of just one mountain gorilla (in a zoo or in the wild) with that of one human being. One gorilla is the equivalent of some 30,000+ human beings!  Consider the horrible massacre in Orlando. 49 people murdered. And yet that loss of life has zero baring on the fate of the human species. Primatologists raised Harambe with the express purpose to breed other apes. And according to Zoo Director Thane Maynard, “it’ll be a loss to the gene pool of lowland gorillas.”

Human beings are the only animal we know of that knowingly and purposefully destroys its own habitat. Humans contribute to global warming and decimate ecosystems for the sake of profit. As a species of animal, humans contribute to the extinction of thousands of animals. Approximately 800 are listed on the IUCN Red List. And Australian scientists now say that human caused climate change has caused a population of small mammals from the Great Barrier Reef to go extinct.

Have we reached a point where it is just possible that there are circumstances where the life of an endangered animal is more significant than the life of another human being?  Of course, if I were a father and my child somehow fell into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo, I would want the zoo staff to do everything possible to save the life of my child. And that is exactly what was on the minds of the Cincinnati zoo staff when trying to decide whether to kill Harambe or not.

But when you watch the video of Harambe, other than dragging the child, he doesn’t seem to take any threatening action towards the child. He appears dumbfounded, trying to understand why the child is there to begin with. Keep in mind, the child never sustained any major injuries. The screams of the people from above agitated Harambe, no doubt. The child himself was of no threat to the ape. But we will never know how Harambe would have behaved if zoo officials had shot him with a tranquilizer instead.

We are living in a time where environmental changes on Earth are aggregating in such a way and at a speed to indicate a planetary tipping point is just ahead.  Nature consists of a complex web of interconnection. Any time a living creature of that web goes extinct, it impacts directly or indirectly the living circumstances of other creatures. The more connections, the greater likelihood of a system that will remain stable. Remove one single connection and you set off a chain reaction that ultimately has no positive ending. Reduce species and you negatively impact the survival prospects of human beings.

I can imagine a not too distant future where the life of an endangered species is deemed more important than that of the human. By saving the life of the child, we have harmed the survival prospects for not only the endangered species but that of humanity itself. Harambe’s demise at the hands of human intervention symbolizes a now faster moving train wreck. As a civilization we must begin to carry out policies that elevate the role of endangered animal species over that of humanity itself. Otherwise, all we are accomplishing is our own undoing. We are actively contributing to our own inevitable extinction.

The world does not belong to man. And our taker civilization is destroying what is left of what was here before humans arrived. With gorilla gone, will be there be hope for man?