The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'california'

2014/7/26

Who is John Galt?, a rant-cum-manifesto for the disruptive-innovation alpha-bros of the Bay Area tech scene's bacon-wrapped economy:

I'm gentrifying the neighborhood. I'm adding special bus service for my employees. I've figured out a way for white people to make money from taxi cabs again. I'm replacing your favorite restaurant with a reptile park. I'm driving Filipino fusion food trucks on your kid's basketball court. I got next and I'm taking all the vowels out of this shithole.
It's time we divide this state into eleven smaller states with Galt's Gulch consisting of this city and the various gate communities to the north. If you don't like it you can just move to one of the other states like Hoboland and whatever we call the desert where we force all the cholos to drive their low riders.
The last part is a reference to the recent proposal to split California into six states, allowing them to race each other to the bottom on tax rates, deregulation and labour costs. (Or, “take all the poor people who used to live in this cool 'hood before we gentrified it, declare them to be Not Our Problem and let them fend for themselves”.)

Meanwhile, a piece by Mark Ames (formerly of The Exile) on the US Libertarian Right's courting of the Bay Area techno-elite at a libertarian-themed conference named Reboot, yet somehow inexplicably booking a theocratic hatemonger to give the keynote, and the sometimes uneasy fit this highlights between Californian-style libertarianism (think along the lines of Robert Anton Wilson's Guns And Dope Party—a bit wild-eyed for the average North London Guardianista, let alone the highly regulated yet highly contented citizens of Jante-law Scandinavia, but moderately cuddly, in a Californian hot-tub kind of way—and you won't be far off) and the older and more unsavoury US Libertarianism that grew out of a reaction to Roosevelt's New Deal and, along the way, took in local strains of fascism and white-supremacism:

And then there’s the uglier, darker side of the Kochs’ libertarianism on display in Reason’s archives: the fringe-right racism and fascism that the movement has tried to downplay in recent years to appeal to progressives and non-loonie techies. Throughout its first two decades, in the 1970s and 1980s, Reason supported apartheid South Africa, and attacked anti-apartheid protesters and sanctions right up to Nelson Mandela’s release, when they finally dropped it.
The two libertarianisms — the hick fascism version owned by the Koch brothers, essentially rebranding Joe McCarthy with a pot leaf and a ponytail; and Silicon Valley’s emerging brand of optimistic, half-understood libertarianism, part hippie cybernetics, part hot-tub-Hayek — should have met and merged right there in the Bay Area. And yet — they really were different, fundamentally different. The libertarianism of the Kochs is a direct descendant of the Big Business reaction against FDR’s New Deal, when the DuPont oligarchy created the American Liberty League to undo new laws establishing Social Security and labor union rights. Their heroes are the America Firsters led by Charles Lindbergh. And they haven’t stopped fighting that fight to dismantle the New Deal and everything that followed, even though most Americans have only a dim understanding of what that political war was about, and how its redistribution of political power still shapes our politics today. For the Kochs and their die-hard brand of libertarianism, that war with FDR and the New Deal is fresh and raw, and still far from resolved.
Finally, here is a quite decent biographical comic about Ayn Rand, which manages to be somewhat sympathetic whilst not hiding that she was a generally awful human being across the board. (And isn't that her appeal? Not that she was a decent person, but that she gave assholes permission, with the diploma-mill authority of the language of philosophy, to be assholes and regard themselves not only as decent human beings but superior to the losers around them.)

ayn rand california gentrification libertarianism rightwingers san francisco usa 0

2008/11/5

A few stories from the US elections:

  • Barack Obama's acceptance speech. And here is McCain's concession speech; and a gracious and dignified one it is too.
  • It seems that prejudice against less-religious folks no longer cuts it in the US; North Carolina Republican senator Elizabeth Dole lost to a relatively unknown Democrat challenger, Kay Hagan, after an attack ad accusing Hagan of being the choice of the "Godless" backfired spectacularly.
  • Prejudice against gays, alas, is alive and well in California, with a ballot proposition amending the constitution to ban non-heterosexual marriage looking set to pass narrowly. I wouldn't have a problem with this, as long as couples civil unions had exactly the same rights and responsibilities as married™ ones—and such civil unions were available to heterosexuals. If religious traditionalists want to claim marriage as a trademark, that would be fine as long as those who don't agree with their agendas can opt out. At present, though, this discriminates against not only against gays but also against heterosexuals who don't wish to be lumped in with the bigots.
  • It's not all doom and gloom in California, though, with the proposed high-speed rail link between LA and San Francisco looking set to win approval. The proposal to rename a San Francisco sewage plant after George W. Bush, however, didn't pass.
Also, last night's BBC coverage of the election count was pretty gripping. Especially when they got neoconservative hawk John Bolton in. Bolton, a gentleman with the appearance of a retired British Army colonel and the persona of an pugnacious cowboy, seemed to gradually fall apart as the bad news came in, and started lashing out at people (at one point calling on the BBC to sack one of its reporters for not knowing enough about the electoral history of Colorado). Then, fellow panelist and historian Simon Schama pointed out that the Republican Party had shrunk to the old Confederacy, and Bolton looked as if he might have a fit. I wonder whether the BBC chose him precisely for his amusement value.

california culture war gay politics railway religiots usa 6

2005/12/9

A group of Republican Party activists in California, disenchanted with Arnold Schwarzenegger for being too left-wing, are planning to recruit Mel Gibson to run for Governor:

"He's shown himself to be both fiscally and socially conservative," said Mr Spence, "and the success of The Passion of the Christ shows that he has the ability to reach out to people".
Should they succeed, it raises the bizarre prospect of Californian voters being faced with a choice between Warren Beatty and Mel Gibson for governor.
Did California pass a law requiring Governors to be celebrities or something?

arnold schwarzenegger california celebrity mel gibson politics usa 0

2005/3/14

Only in Southern California would you see hipsters driving around in coffin-shaped hotrods. (from bOING bOING)

UPDATE: More details on RAT-U-LA, the coffin-shaped hot rod. Apparently it's modelled on DRAG-U-LA, the hot rod from The Munsters, and was built by Brett Barris, son of custom-car maker George Barris (the man responsible for the original DRAG-U-LA and the Batmobile).

art california cars hot rods 0

2004/11/15

The US religious right is up in arms about a recent film about sexologist Alfred Kinsey, because it does not demonise the man enough:

"Alfred Kinsey is responsible in part for my generation being forced to deal face-to-face with the devastating consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, pornography and abortion," said Brandi Swindell, head of a college-oriented group called Generation Life that plans to picket theaters showing the film.
"Instead of being lionized, Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele or your average Hollywood horror flick mad scientist," said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute.

Meanwhile, according this article (via 1.0), many Evangelicals believe (a) that God personally put Bush in the Whitehouse to give America another chance, and (b) if bad things happen on Bush's watch, it's not his fault, but rather divine wrath for the excesses of liberalism (i.e., America not being a proper Talibanic theocracy). (Which paints a rather unflattering portrait of the God of the Bible Belt; either He is a sadistic bully and a psychopath, or else His creation is of no more serious concern to Him than a game of The Sims is to computer gamer. As flies to wanton boys, indeed.)

And those reading this in California, and in the confidence that they're well outside those barbarous Red States, don't be so sure. Apparently, according to former Democratic strategist, the Republicans stand a good chance of picking up California, and its 54 electoral college votes, in 2008; this could turn the US into a one-party state; or perhaps it could be just what the Libertarians or Greens need.

Voting patterns have been steadily moving California back to the midwest in recent years - a trend that is likely to continue. Democrats can rely on Los Angeles county and the San Francisco Bay area, but these concentrations are now surrounded by Republican territory.
The same cultural conservatism that is reshaping America is also alive and well in California. Sixties-era liberalism may still radiate from the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco to the Bay area, but today's California is much more a capital for the Christian right than for the progressive left.

alfred kinsey california culture war film god religiots usa 0

2004/5/17

Bad news for the neo-conservative pipe dream of making Iraq the start of a domino chain of neo-liberal democracies across the Middle East, too busy eating Big Macs, watching MTV and monitoring their Halliburton shares to consider annihilating Israel or supporting international terrorism, thus ushering in a new age of peace and contented consumerism across the entire Middle East. The US Government have indicated that they will accept a theocracy emerging in Iraq. I'm sure John Ashcroft wouldn't object.

Meanwhile, two cities in southern California are designating themselves no-communist zones; very retro.

california cold war communism iraq islamism theocracy 0

2004/2/22

California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger moves against gay marriages, which have been taking place in San Francisco. Make your own Terminator reference here.

arnold schwarzenegger bigotry california majoritarianism 0

2003/10/8

In other news: accused serial sexual harrasser and alleged Enron kleptocracy accomplice Arnold Schwarzenegger has been elected as governor of California. It looks like the incumbent's sucking up to Big Copyright with promises of tougher DRM mandates didn't help him in the end.

arnold schwarzenegger california politics usa 1

2001/2/7

I'm not making this up: Esteemed Hollywood thespian Arnold Schwarzenegger says he may take a break from blowing shit up and run for governor of California.

arnold schwarzenegger california politics usa 0

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