Categories
Culture

Day 877 and Punch The Nazi Nerd

I want to rant too much today as it’s a holiday weekend and it’s all sunshine, apfelsaftschorle and pretzels but I need to rant a little bit.

Anyone with too much focus on the esoterica of life; the nerds, the dorks, the dweebs and the outcasts, has some baggage. I never felt particularly uncool as a kid because I moved around enough that I didn’t have a lot of past embarrassments to hold me back.

But I’ve met plenty of genius in my time and a lot of them carry deep hurt from how they were treated as kids. The trauma isn’t always healed. And hurt people hurt people.

We used to expect an even trade from our nerds. You’ve got righteous technical skills and understand how those changing tools will affect the culture of the world. You see a future and hack at it because you’ve seen the rules of the game. We need those rule breakers because they keep us honest. But we’ve got to keep them honest too. Life is a team effort and it takes all kinds of skills to pull off something great.

But if you are playing on easy mode, and the nerds have been on easy mode since we needed whiz kid scientists to fight the Nazis, then you don’t handle rejection too well. Everyone thinks they are owed something on the internet for being barely above a midwit. And they are probably right as we are living Idiocracy out there right now.

But you’ve got to have boundaries. Nowhere is that truer than with someone with a deep hurt. Probably why we have company politics and project managers and deeply angry women in startups who spend their whole ass lives managing the feelings of man-babies. It ain’t great for moral.

I don’t know why nerds are such children. Sometimes. Maine you had someone to clean up the hurt for you. Mommy mostly. Sometimes the head of NASA or maybe a spook. I don’t know where the bodies are buried in this land but I know they are somewhere. I know I enjoyed being a spoiled bitch more when I didn’t realize the enormous cost. Rationalize and reconcile what you can.

I don’t mind when nerds deliver us energy and weapons and the stars and whole new ways of self organizing. I’ve sided with them my whole life and nerds are my ancestral people. Witches and rocket scientists and trailer trashy.

But if a nerd pretends the consequences of living with others don’t apply to them you better be skeptical. But sometimes you do in fact need to punch a bully. Punching Nazi nerds in particular. The nerd bullies may need it the most. Remember it’s dweebs with delusions of grandeur who commit genocide and raise army for fascists. Banality of evil and all that. Happy Memorial Day.

Categories
Aesthetics Community Finance

Day 863 Abstract The Pain Away

When I was a small child I attended meditation retreats with my parents. Hippies amirite? The particular branch practiced was some variant of Kashmir Shivaism, but I’ve got to imagine it was heavily edited for the consumption of white Boomers.

Who else would take a vacation to sit in silence, chant the Bhagavata Gita at 5am and practice sevā, all while having six year old children? Silicon Valley’s syncretic culture produces some weird hybrids. Seventies counter culture gave us some of the best religious revivals in American history.

If you didn’t catch the word sevā earlier it’s actually going to be the anchor of the post. Sevā as it was explained to me as a child at the ashram is selfless service. It’s work you do without expectation of reward. It is a dedication to others.

Practically it meant that anytime we lived at the ashram everyone contributed some set of work, mostly unskilled labor but not always, in the form of sevā. I did everything from food preparation and dish washing (working a commercial kitchen dishwasher is actually fun) to caring for some donated horses. I had fun summers as a child.

But the point was that everyone participated in some way to the functions of the ashram no matter who you were. And we did have some weird celebrities but that’s not the point. Sevā applied to us all. Though I’m sure glad I never looked too hard at the politics of finances of these ashtrays. Childhood innocence. As a child I just thought it was fun to contribute to the adult world.

But what I remember now is a sense of connection. That no aspect of these retreats was ever abstracted to far from me. The service was meant to bond you to an experience of a world bigger than yourself. And by recognizing that, you’d somehow connect more with others.

I try to remember that now when I am in lonely cities where every aspect of living with others is transaction. A food delivery service whisks you a meal in an hour in a country where you are an outsider without ties, bonds or service beyond the basic civilizational contract of capital markets.

The global cosmopolitan gloss of mobile applications have abstracted service away to the point where we can have an entire day of discourse about a man being sad a house cleaner washed a cast iron skillet but we can’t admit that we all pay for service as it cracks the facade.

We’ve got no sevā because that’s an expectation too great to hear. We can barely manage to pay a fee for service anymore. Imagine if we had to operate without intangibles. We can barely make Uber Eats function with taxes, tips, and services fees. Bless the markets for this freedom and curse it in the same breath.

Fuck the pain away? No, we abstract the pain away. No need to see who contributes anything. You can complain to a faceless chatbot cum customer service artificial intelligence about how some man on a bicycle didn’t deliver your order on time. The service lives below the machine now and has patience for frailty.

And yes I’m writing this because my Korean fried chicken and kimchi order got lost in a side street in Frankfurt for an hour or two.

Don’t worry the corporate entities that intermediated between me, the restaurant and the courier decided in my favor. The customer is always right as long as they have paid the fees to pretend that are lords.

All pain in the above transaction was abstracted away into some governance structure that decided it was worth 25 euro or so. One presumes some public market agreed on the price. I guess I did too. We all did.

Categories
Community Startups

Day 854 and Silicon Diaspora

Silicon Valley is a place in Northern California. It’s also accurate to say that Silicon Valley is also a mindset that knows no geographic boundaries. If you will indulge me I’ve coined a term for this syncretic network state. I’m calling it the Silicon Diaspora.

While my family is from Boulder Colorado and I was raised there, because of my father’s startup ambition I ended up being born in Fremont California. It was a low rent neighborhood in Silicon Valley back then. Now it’s got a Tesla factory.

But we didn’t stay. My family and many others. Silicon Valley was such an inspiring landscape we sent missionaries to other cities and our diaspora took hold.

There are many types of nodes of varying sizes cities that include the Silicon Diaspora. And these nodes have a few key ingredients in common which attract the diaspora to them.

It’s worth getting to know some of elements that have allowed previous diasporas to thrive as it tells you how tight knit Silicon Valley social capital systems remain even in decentralized form.

BOULDER

I will start with Boulder. In the 90s, a movement was afoot to turn my hometown into a startup hubs as it was already benefitting from its proximity to several defense & aerospace industry players like Lockheed but also crucially was home to federal science labs like NIST, NCAR and NOAA.

The technical talent was then nurtured by investors at home. Boulder owes a great debt to Brad Feld and everyone at Foundry Group for this community. Boulder was and remains a crucial node in the diaspora.

MIAMI & AUSTIN

We’ve seen Austin and Miami rise during the pandemic years as founders and venture capitalists scrambled from Silicon Valley. Keith Rabois and Mayor Suarez willed Miami’s tech scene into existence almost overnight.

Austin’s history as a startup hub has its roots in semiconductor and hardware like Dell and Texas Instruments. Watch Halt and Catch Fire’s excellent depiction of Texas as a nexus for the Comdex years.

NEW YORK CITY

And lets not forget New York City as the hub in the late aughts and teens. This is where I spent most of my entrepreneurial career. We associate New York with more financial technology but it was a consumer company Foursquare that put New York on the map for venture. They also has a hometown hero fund Union Square Ventures’s theory of network effects. We had political support too. A very helpful mayor in Michael Bloomberg facilitated the growth of the New York node.

NEW NODES

I’m even seeing it now in Montana. Bozeman has a thriving startup scene buttressed by its popularity with some unique demographics like ex-military founders and retired venture capitalists. My husband goes to the weekly Bozeman Startup Slack meetup every Thursday.

Silicon Diaspora has many of its citizens in the mountain west (both Wyoming and Idaho have scenes) as those values align well with crypto, privacy and defense startups. I hope to be a part of nurturing Montana as a future node of the Silicon Diaspora.

Categories
Community Startups

Day 847 and Erasure

I hosted an interactive town hall for Consensus this afternoon. The topic was the path forward for building communities online, offline and IRL with cryptocurrency, decentralized autonomous organizations and maybe even network states.

I’ve been working on this town hall for several months. I worked with Marc Hochstein to refine the thesis question, build the flow and topics, bring together speakers from unique ecosystems and projects, and horse trade the various bit of social capital required to get interesting content out the door. I worked hard on it. I felt I was one of the owners of the panel.

Builders of new types of communities – online, IRL, and hybrids – roll up their sleeves and discuss how they’ve addressed challenges from 60,000-foot strategy to immediate on-the-ground tactics in a zero-trust world with high trust expectations. Topics include: governance and accountability; organic scaling through consensus (who and what decides on whether it is achieved); the architecture of sustaining and driving loyalty; navigating regulatory hurdles; uncertainty around novel governance structures; and managing information and workflows around who and what is trusted.

I was proud of my first question as I felt qualified to ask having once been the founder and leader of an organization. Conway’s Law is a familiar adage in software design. Simply put, what we build is a reflection of who we are and how we communicate with each other. So I opened the town hall with this as the thirty thousand foot view.

If what we build is a reflection of the organizations that build it, then crypto is a reflection of this room. Assuming you believe our goal is to economic and monetary solutions for everyone willing to align with our reformation, are we living up to this ambition?

We had a lot of ground to cover. Issues of institutional distrust, transparency, governance, and decentralization’s promises for inclusion. But reactivity means we go to base emotions. An older woman asked the panel (not me though) why there weren’t more women on the panel. Needlessly to say I took that personally. Ain’t I a panelist?

I just brought the hammer down on this poor woman who wanted to call my panel a “manel” because lady it’s fucking erasure I worked for months to bring this group together, I’m on the stage as an expert, and you think don’t I count?

She said I was the moderator. Which like yeah it’s my fucking show because I have the expertise to bring the leaders together as I’m a peer. I shut it down as we had deeper questions on what inclusion than Boomer feminism or Girlbossing woke-ism can manage.

The beauty of Bitcoin and Ethereum and the ecosystem of L2s like Stacks is any of us can validate what’s going on. There is no “man” or patriarchy or systemic oppression keeping you out of learning and using the tools. Maybe they reflect their builders who haven’t always been inclusive but now all of us together can earn and build like anyone else. We can make our tools reflect us by insisting on being seen.

I regularly have my background and expertise and existence questioned by everyone. And I just keep showing up. So I’d like to say sticking a girl on a panel does nothing for inclusion. But being a woman who organized a serious (ly) weird town hall on community should also mean my experience counts as much as anyone else’s.

I want everyone to count. You count. I count. Your gender or sexual orientation doesn’t discount you unless you discount yourself first. I regularly make sure I’m seen and I want you seen too.

The way to count is by speaking up and making sure that men aren’t the only ones who contribute. Don’t want to make your gender or sex a thing?

Go ignore gender & sex and & identity entirely and be an anon with a Milady pfp. I came to crypto to be a sovereign of my own body and choices. It’s your choice. None of us are victims.

I was amused as dozens of women came up to me after with enthusiasm about how we do inclusion in crypto because we don’t need to be restricted by Girlbossing or Boomer feminism. We include ourselves as the system is inclusive by design.

Decentralized systems include us all. And that’s a future they can’t exclude us from. Do you want to categorize every identity into perfect little corporate identities and slogans. I don’t. We can build a future where we are free to be you and me. Ok Boomer?

Categories
Startups

Day 846 and Serendipity

Last night I arrived in Austin for my favorite annual cryptocurrency event called Consensus. If you are participating please consider coming to my interactive town hall on Thursday at 1:30pm where we have an hour of panel & audience discourse on the future of trust & community.

I am excited for this panel as I feel like I’m ready to own my experience as a professional community builder. It’s been a job in the social media era for a bit. But it’s only recently that we’ve realized the ecosystem of builders is tightly knit together by a tapestry of overlapping passions and competencies. It’s lots of different kinds of nerds.

We arrived earlier than expected which enabled us to go to an event with Jon Stokes (I was slightly more excited to see his wife Christina but Jon knows I adore him too). While we had lots of folks discussing heady issues like the network state, it is most joyful for me to discuss the more human aspects of life in a community. Who was looking after the kids and which one of our neighbors is housesitting. Practical daily living things felt like the natural connection of humans beings working together.

From there we went to a dinner with one of our most cherished real ones Ben Huh. The man knows food so I was thrilled to be feeling healthy enough to stay out and enjoy a meal with a table of deeply weird unabashedly themselves people. When we did introductions the question was “what is something you are obsessed with right now?”

The answers were wide ranging. High temperature cooking, textile pattern making, reality dating shows on Netflix (not for the record me but I am also obsessed), showing up as you are, sewing the perfect custom dress shirt, raising goats, riding tractors, reading science fiction mind bender The Three Body Problem, and mastering nervous system regulation (this one is me).

I felt like everyone I saw that night was one of my fellow travelers. The serendipity of overlapping passions and curiosity showed me so many ways I connect with diverse humans. I encountered politics as disparate as reactionary fascist and shitlib standard as everyone comes to grip with a future that feels as yet unwritten. There is a lot of serendipity on the frontier. It’s nice to be reminded that the future is built together.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 831 and Apocalypse Meow

I’m starting to enjoy the AI doomers. It’s a relief to have someone else be calling chicken little. It’s usual my job to be a Cassandra but for once I am not aligned with an apocalypse. I don’t think we can stop the future from arriving. And I am a fuck around and find out type. It’s just my nature. I think we need to build for optimistic futures. But that doesn’t mean bad shit won’t happen even if we halt all progress. I wish.

When people say “apocalypse” you get the sense that it’s a one time event for most people. That bad things happen all at once and life is in an instant forever changer. Looks like it does in the movies. But I’m not sure the future changes like a bankruptcy. Slowly and then all at once. I think the future is what we make of it and it takes an enormous effort to make things better.

Maybe your people already survived an apocalypse. Maybe your ancestors wiped someone else out. Who knows what apocalypses your people lived through that others didn’t. I’m an American.

I bet if you could talk to your great grandmother you might find that real life is complex and she lived through hell. So why would you assume you’d even know if you were in an apocalypse right this moment.

To assume we can make things better is an ambition humanity shares. It’s kind of a wild leap into the unknown own and yet we have to do it all the time. Maybe it’s not the end of the world.

But what I do know is humanity comes from a long line of survivors and we often figure shit out and leave behind history. And even if this time we don’t well I’m sure some bit of humanity survives in one form or another.

Maybe I’ll be better adapted to this future. Maybe I’ll be dead. Either way I’m ready to get on with living my life even if the apocalypse is right meow.

Categories
Startups

Day 817 and RIP SVB

I hadn’t expected to grieve the death of a bank. It sounds so preposterous. Who the fuck feels sad about a bank failing? But I am genuinely sad that the Silicon Valley Bank name doesn’t appear be living on with its new owner First Citizens Bank.

I guess I look forward to banking with First Citizen. They seem like nice enough folks. And maybe a bank is just a bank. But as I look back on the firsts that Silicon Valley Bank gave me I realize I will miss it. I’m sad they are gone.

The first check I saw with more than one comma was from Silicon Valley Bank. My very first company was acquired by a startup that banked with them. Ironically, right before the 2008 crisis was beginning to come onto the scene. I had a small window of fleeting security where I enjoyed a steady paycheck every two weeks with payroll done by Silicon Valley Bank. I remember thinking I was so rich. Even though I was super pissed my cofounder had a better salary than me as Silicon Valley culture dictated at the time that engineers make more.

If you are a fan of history then you will enjoy knowing that yes I did get fired during the infamous RIP good times affair. Thanks Sequoia! They were our main investors. Still I appreciated the opportunities as I was so young I wasn’t very good yet. I’ll forever have loyalty to my CEO for having treated me much better than I thought I deserved.

I also I also really loved the steady paychecks from Silicon Valley Bank. Now I think to myself why didn’t I take any pictures of it? Why don’t I have that moment recorded anywhere but my memory? Why am I now recounting this fifteen years later.

I’ll never get another check from Silicon Valley Bank again. I just didn’t have the expectations in life that I’d be the sort of person with a bank account with more than a million dollars. Let alone that I’d be in control of one and entrusted to do something responsible with it. Which has now happened multiple times at Silicon Valley bank over the years for me. Guess no one wants to have more than $250,000 in a bank right now though huh?

So goodbye Silicon Valley Bank. I’m so sad I’ve got nothing to remember you but. I didn’t take a screen shot of the bank app on the day Stowaway’s first round closed but I should have. I spent a lot of time in their banking application over the years running my cosmetics startups P&L. I remember being so proud to be the sort of person that even needed to deal with the bank. And I trusted Silicon Valley Bank with my employees because I’d seen it treat me well when I was an employee.

It seems so silly to mourn not taking a picture of a check or a screen shot of a mobile banking app but I don’t really know how to mourn a bank that failed. We failed them. They failed us. And it’s dead and I’ll never ever get a chance to do it all over again, and even if they are a villain, I remember when they were the hero in my life.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Startups

Day 815 and Kayfabe

Here is a mindfuck for you. Pretending works. The mimicry of the thing occasionally, though not mostly, can lead to having the real thing. Fake it till you make it” works if you’ve got a long enough runway to allow for take off. If you’ve judged the resources correctly is more art than science but you should still be able to do the math.

There are, of course, laws of physics to account for in all of this but your reality is more fungible than you realize. I wouldn’t try manifesting a whole fantasy world, but if you are Brandon Sanderson you might have a shot. That guy rocks.

In discussing whether it is better to fire founders or product managers on Twitter today I got to see a lot of the cargo cult culture of Silicon Valley coming off a high. A lot of people can perform innovation and we’ve maybe even got it down to being well liked by financial markets. But sometimes you actually do have to go and do the thing. And you can’t fake it.

If you aren’t familiar with kayfabe, it’s a term used in wrestling. It means you don’t break character loosely. You keep the secret even if everyone is in on it. You can take things a bit too far and the blending of fiction and reality has now given us a reality tv president.

But what happens when you don’t make the jump? Does reality crash in? Will the market punish you for not delivering on a convincing enough value proposition? Do you have to keep your ambition within some scope that can exist in our agreed upon reality? Yes of course. Fuck you it’s called civilization. But every once in a while someone goes from vapor ware to the Revolution. Don’t be so sure you can spot the difference though. Kayfabe doesn’t just fool rubes.

Categories
Chronic Disease Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 803 and Killing Strangers

I’ve been one of those types that absolutely has no problem taking a shot at the Christo-fascists dorks at CPAC mincing words about eradicating trans people from public life. Fuck you, you fucking fucks, you absolutely would be fine if state sanctioned violence eliminated trans people. It’s not you being metaphorical or cute or whatever justification you used. It’s killing strangers.

I wasn’t any more amused when folks decided it was alright to discuss a cost benefit analysis of keeping the disabled alive within the context of state benefits. No thanks I am not interested in a mercy killing because I’m expensive. Oh it’s a mercy killing for children? Yeah no still good thanks. Fuck you Canada. Medicare for all sounds good up until you decide to put me on palliative care via the metaphorical ice flow of opioid addiction.

So you might imagine I am equally sensitive about someone making jokes about euthanizing people who pays their bills by investing in early stage startups. Oh it was just a joke about how Keynes didn’t like the rentier class? Hilarious.

I am just rolling on the ground laughing at your erudition. Yes, benefits of a classical education. Har har. It’s so much smarter than the CPAC guy who wants to kill trans women. Definitely smarter than those segueing to mercy kill sick Canadian children. Oh wait, no it’s fucking not you sick fucks. Stop killing strangers in your rhetoric for shock value and clicks.

Perhaps I could interest the Jacobin audience members in a trip back to the Opium Wars, funded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s grandfather, just so we understand the gruesome reality that the New Dealers saw first hand in their own family trauma. Or if we are pluming the depths of the historical animosity towards finance and it’s intense hypocrisy, I’ll send you back with a copy of my favorite conspiracy text Creature from Jekyll Island. Then we can have a nice big chuckle about blood libel if you make it back.

I cannot believe that I am writing about any of this social media blood lust but perhaps we could all listen to Marilyn Manson’s Killing Strangers together and decide that there is no clever or enjoyable way to advocate for the killing of strangers. That it’s not cute to joke about killing people you don’t know just to further your political or economic aims. I’ll try to stop joking about how it’s ok to punch Nazis.

I am baffled that I keep ending up in groups that become the target of the genocide curious. I know being a hysterical disabled white bitch is a pretty commonplace “kill them all fetish” and smarter minds than me can untangle how all roads lead to disability. Witches and bitches.

But I’m getting unsettled seeing how it piles up and I keep getting lined up in other people’s sights. I’m married to a Jewish man. I’ve got queer family members. And yes I make a living investing capital (that I raised from weirdos) into other weirdos. Don’t worry my AUM is small enough I can’t live off management fees. Ironically because I’ve got medical bills because I’m disabled.

If you don’t know what that means and you still want to kill m perhaps it’s you that is the psychopath. Just a thought. Not that psychopaths are bad it’s just that I’m worried you will act on it. It’s not always clear if we are the baddies but advocating for blanket euthanasia is probably a helpful marker. Just like as a baseline for civilizational norms.

Either way, I’m not letting any of you kill my queer disabled Jewish rentier bourgeois family members. I don’t care if you a Jacobin or a CPAC member or a pissed off narco-trafficker running Fentyl out of Toronto. If you want to kill me because I’m a stranger and you don’t want to hurt the ones that you love. Ok. But I’ve got no intentions of making it easy for you.

Categories
Finance Politics

Day 802 and Vengeance

You can’t stare into the abyss without letting it stare back at you. And I did a little too much abyssal observation over the course of the weekend. I feel overwhelmed with grief. I saw in the abyss a roiling cauldron of rage and hate and fear and despair. And I saw my own grief reflected back. The boiling blood that demands punishment flooded the news.

I feel grief for the inner child who lived through the turmoil of past market dislocations. I feel grief for my father who suffered through the bankruptcy of 2001. I feel grief for my mother whose teacher’s pension was decimated in 2008. I feel all the pain and sadness and anger and unfairness. I feel it all in my own family.

He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.

Moby Dick

I see the desire for vengeance. I feel it myself. I never saw any kind of justice for my father or my mother. My inner child will never know that peace. And I will have to be an adult and accept the disappointment of a world where far too many little children suffer for sins of their fathers. Many of us pick them up and carry them on. The churn is largely amoral and uncaring.

I see how satisfying it must be to give in to Ahab’s roiling anger. I saw many hot heart shells bursting on the time line over the weekend. A few were directed at me. I can’t be sure that my own didn’t explode on innocents. We are all culpable in ways big and small.

I am doing what I can to dust myself off and carry on because work must be done. We’ve not yet finished building a better future. We’ve barely even built the outlines for a tolerably decent present. I pray it’s too soon for us to find out how hot our hate burns.