Fair-Trade Disagreement

helladowntrialls

Bitcoin might be up and coming, but information will always be where the money’s at.

Seems like every other day I’m getting emails with free trial offers. Those Netflix free trial ads, those “30 free days” Spotify ads, those annoying Wrapp deals, Amazon Prime, etc. The catch is I have to trade my info for ’em. More trouble is I have to remember to cancel those shits, because they don’t care and will charge you if you forget (I kinda need my 75 dollare refund, dude). It’s easy money for the corporations. Of course, if one does rememeber to cancel those trials before they expire, then one can come out like a bandit, scott free. Thanks for that free 2 day shipping! And the free gym playlists! But, if one thinks about it a little harder, those trials aren’t actually “free”. See, that month long Sons of Anarchy binge you enjoyed on Netlifx’s dime wasn’t really free, in a real world sense.  You actually got tricked into paying with private capitol (or sensitive and private information).

Let’s imagine I am some bored (maybe stoned) guy reading through promo emails and Netflix has managed to convince me that the 30 day trial is a fair trade for my Name (even Middle Name), Address, Email, and Credit Card Info. Say I bite, like most people do, since usually a month of service is 7 bucks and the trial is asking for 0 bucks. After all, this information stuff of mine isn’t turning into 7 dollars any time soon, so it’s an easy trade to make. I get what I want (shows for days) and they get no money in return (just some worthless information and a temporary subscription that I’m smart enough to cancel when the time comes). I come away happy without losing money.

helladownredbull

Problem is, when we go for those free trials and get excited about temporary free shit, we’re actually paying a hefty fee. Most people undervalue their privacy and sensitive data, handing over a lot of valuable intel in return for 30 days of reruns (viewership patterns, geographical relevance, etc.) that otherwise would fetch a high price in the hackers’, retail chains’, e-commerce’s and marketing firms’ version of the black market. Some companies negotiate to buy the information from others in order to help preemptively rain down product placement on the people who fall into their target demographics. Sometimes companies are even  hacked and robbed of the private information. Hell, the government pretty much stole Google’s databases (which include your porn searches, amongst all other private stuff). If the government wants it, you know it’s gotta be valuable. So while others are investing thousands of minutes and millions of dollars to secure this info, we’re over here trading it for 7 dollars worth of Sponge Bob episodes. Crazy devaluation on our part, and they’re the ones who end up coming out like bandits in these trades.

To be fair, sometimes free really is free. Nowadays, companies fight pretty tough for your time, attention and space. Free trials and samples are shoved in our everyday line of sight (through emails, magazines, flyers, etc.). But there are times when those Red Bull backpack girls pull out the goods and just hand ’em away. For free. You don’t have to offer any information, just a few seconds of attention, and you get to enjoy a crackinated beverage. Awesome, I’d say, and a fair trade at that. Super brief marketing, pretty harmless and no one becomes indebted to, or robbed by, yet another company.

Other times, people might want to take an offer because they value the gain significantly more than the loss.  If you personally highly value getting those DBZ DVDs and want them tomorrow, then, in this case, maybe handing over your private capitol for that free 2 day shipping seems like a fair trade. After all, it’s all about you, ultimately (and your need to go SUPER SAYINAHHHHHHHHHH) and value is subjective. You might not even really care what information companies know about you. Fuck it. You value this nostalgia more than they value your marketing helpFuck em.

helladowntrials

But my long-term fear is that eventually the free-flow of information will lead to the loss of personality and privacy all-together. If a company knows everything about you, and there is nothing left to hide, then it’s almost like you don’t own your self anymore. For example, Macy’s could gather all this info on you (either by consent or by other means) and could email you exactly what you want to read. That is, Macy’s knew that your birthday was coming up, that you watch Blue Crush over and over, that you like the color red, that you like to travel in the summer, etc. Macy’s, through algorithms, predictions, context, and research, could email you the perfectly fine tuned item (in this case a red bikini). In this way, you’d never have to even search for an item yourself because the company already has a perfectly calibrated and fine-tuned version of you in their database and they know what you will think to want, based on the sum total of the intel gathered on you. Macy’s just knows you that well. It’s this kind of unsettling loss of sovereignty that strikes me as a real possibility. Go ahead and log into your email, browse your forums and look at the advertisements on the sides and tops of your screen; its already happening. What’s scary is that it’s still going to get more dangerously perfect in the near future. Think less, buy more.

My take on it all is that we sometimes forget the bargaining chips we have in our own back pockets. As we’ve seen, though, there are groups of people out there who even more greatly value the information (this private capitol) we’re giving up than we could ever value whatever we’re getting in return. So many of these companies’ long-term livelihoods rest on our willingness to trade valuable stuff for much-less-valuable stuff. Are we really so willing to forfeit our sovereignty when we hand over all our data? Usually. Most people tend to think with a bias towards the near future and want the good stuff now, rather than think about the consequences that might not show themselves until much later. It’s a hard human intuition to over come, for sure, and the companies are smart to take advantage of it. I just think we need to be a little less trigger-fingered with our clicks. The internet has made it too easy to become complacent with giving up information. So think twice before you sign up for that bangbros trial. Don’t let them penetrate your privacy so easily.

Advertisements

Fair Jordan

HELLADOWNJORDAN

Michael Jordan was an asshole then and he’s an asshole now.

I was in and out of the shoe game within a few years. Always a kid who liked what Nike offered, but never a full on sneakerhead until when I had a little cash to play with. While in college, I took up the challenge to find all my grails (or my favorite pairs) and I did it. Within a couple years, I hustled tough to get my OG Bordeaux, OG Maroons, OG Raptors, OG Concords, ’99 Cement IVs, ’99 Fire Red Vs, and a bunch others (you get the picture). I retired after I found my favorite grail (those Maroons) and haven’t lost sleep over any quickstrike, or sample, or collection pack, or new trend since then (who the fuck made Roshes a thing?). I went after the designs that I thought were most creative and eyecatching (Tinker was on top of his artistic game during that ’85-’96 run). None of that hypebeast stuff for me.

But every year, like clockwork, the same shoe comes out for Christmas and everyone wants it. I mean, a bunch of the same shoe come out every year and people go ham for em. But end-of-year releases are different. Everyone is still in Black Friday mode, getting hyphy for 2 dollar discounts and what not. People are really out here getting buck over a fake ass lookin pair of XIs though. I used to surf ebay a ton back then, and I’d always stumble upon fake colorways. The XI is probably the most faked shoe out there. Funky colors and everything. I could’ve sworn I’ve seen the Gamma Blue colorway back then. No one was fighting for that shit then, but now people are pulling out the burners for these  shoes. Might as well go on ebay and buy em there, seeing as how the quality is equal, if not better, on the fakes (Nike has been cheap on the production quality for a long time now).

But the quality and lack of creativity in the shoes is only part of the problem. With new Jordan releases come the  fights. It’s not even a question; someone is getting two-pieced on the way out of the store for those shoes. Worse, people are getting shot for shoes that have been on ebay for years. Funny thing is that it’s been this way for decades. The shoe game really hasn’t changed all that much, it seems. Stick up kids still find ways to ruin it for everyone. Michael Jordan himself couldn’t care less, though. He’s the guy who punched his teammate in front of the rest of the team. Now, he gets to watch people punch each other in front of the world (thanks, Worldstar). I would think that by now, with all this money invested into Air Zoom, Lunar tech, Dri Fit, and all that other shit, Nike would’ve figured out how to organize a shoe release. I mean shit. People are really dying out here for this stuff. Too much chaos at the stores.

Part of the problem is that the shops themselves aren’t trying hard enough to find solutions to the violence. The current systems suck. Raffles only make people feel cheated. There are people who are sincerely devoted to this stuff and have Jumpman and 23 neck tattoos. They want their shoes fair and square. Raffles aren’t really fair. Midnight releases can be tricky, because that’s when the madness starts. It’s pretty easy to get jacked under the cover of darkness. Even killed. Which would suck cause how are you gonna post your “gone mine” instagram pics and you wear shoes to the function now? The shops are trying to make a quick buck based on the hype and would rather not piss people off by getting too involved, I guess. But until someone gets shot buying that water-resistant spray shit then it’s gonna be too late.

helladowngamma

One fair solution that could work is to offer pre orders and ship those out to the houses that ordered em. The stores would have a midnight pre-order release date, everyone has the same chance to snag a pre-order purchase and then the shoes just ship out when they’re supposed to release. No harm, no foul. Most shoe stores allow people to buy shoes the day of release (Eastbay usually works), but for more limited releases, this could help spread out the traffic and avoid the site-crash problems that tend to ruin it for everyone. Or maybe let people pay for a premium membership at whatever store. That gets you VIP treatment and release info. Priority service, or whatever. Some way for the really devoted to separate themselves from the chance of murder. I mean damn, I can only imagine what it was like in Chicago back then. I don’t even wanna imagine what it’s like now.

Next year my grails (dem Maroons) get a retro release. If they do end up coming out next year, I’ll be getting those through the internet. I don’t need another hospital visit. I don’t need the hype. I don’t want the instagram pics. I don’t want the daps. I just want the shoe that retired me from the game, in minty fresh condition. But give it a few weeks and everyone and they’re mom (literally) will be wearing the Maroons. I’m gonna have to make a few calls to some Niketown homies and work against the hypebeast waves of destruction. Man, if I can’t get my shoes because all of a sudden everyone decides my shoes are the next hipcool shoe worth dying for, I will be angry. So, uh,  the Maroons are ugly. I don’t even want them anymore. They’re not even popular. Who would want those? Jordan said he hates those the most. Stay away from them. Forever.

Pain & Gain

HELLADOWNMRI

Pleasure now and pain later or pain now and pleasure later?

I tried to walk this stupid injury off. Did an OK job of it, too.  For 5 months I was convinced that it was a better idea to gain money now, rather than later. Afterall, who knows what would happen if I were to choose to take time off from work and pursue surgery. I could lose out on making money, even lose my job, and limit my ability to pay off that dumb debt (I’ve since cut it in half). That would be a pain in itself, wouldn’t it? So long as I can secure some kind of financial safety in my present situation, I was content to limp from home to gym to bar to home to sleep. Wasn’t particularly fun having to put my socks on very uncomfortably (bad leg gets extra attention and awkward bending), or having to shower with one straight leg and one sort of bent leg (left vastus lateralis/medialis and rectus femoris got mighty strong at this), but I managed. The goal was to avoid surgery and to live as normal as possible, in spite of the injury. I chose to put off the ultimate pain (surgery) until later, so that I could enjoy whatever security I had now (money, approximately normal quality of life, etc.).

Looking back, maybe it was a bad investment of resources (time, energy and money) to try and put pain off to later, rather than sooner. I could’ve chose to have the injury right then and there (in the present then), rather than put it off into the future (what happens to be the present now).  I could’ve been healthy by now (had I taken care of it then). By now, I’ve managed to become a certified personal trainer, a blogger, and more (that stuff will be shared later). But because I’m pretty much crippled for another few weeks (really up to two months, according to the Doc), my worries now are that I can’t really engage in the things I would like to (gym time, writing time, project time, etc.). I mean the surgery would have truly handicapped me at the time and would have restricted me from doing anything (where as at the time I was able to do most things). But now, it seems I’ve really handicapped myself at the moment (like a time bomb blowing my legs out from under me). Who knows how much money I could be making now had I just chose to go under the knife 5 months ago.

It’s the same thing with drinking. Living here in the City, it’s a challenge just staying sober for more than a few hours. We’d rather get fucking wasted now, fully understanding the looming pain. We know this 30 pack of tecates is gonna lead to a 30 turds. But we don’t care because we want the good company, funny shit, hook ups, etc. now, rather than who knows when. People will invest money or whatever to make sure that a positive experience is secured. It would be painful to know that all your buddies are out at ol’ Pop’s while you’re doing dishes instead. Better to have fun than not fun, right? So better to drink than do dishes. Of course, what happens is that a negative experience is also secured, but for later. That Jameson doesn’t taste as good coming up, does it? Those bottles of Beringer should’ve stayed in the kitchen, not on the living room carpet. That pregnancy test should never have come into play. Lots of painful shit comes not long after all that pleasure. But for most people, that pain which sucks so bad in the moment (hangover, fight injuries, car window smashings, etc.), soon gets left in the dust and it’s like it never happened and lets to it all again next weekend. In other words, always prefer pleasure to pain, and whatever pain you do experience try to put it behind you.

helladowntoilet

I’m trying to point out how instincts, attitudes and beliefs are time-sensitive. For example imagine someone is asked to drink an entire bottle of Patron for 1 million dollars. One option is, I give the person a 1 million dollars now, but a month from now that person would have to drink the bottle. The other option is to drink the bottle now and get the million dollars immediately after. It’s a difficult position to be placed in, but after reconciling the present with the future, a person could go either way. Some people could use the money to pay off debt now and be relatively worry free (that looming torture, though…) and maybe even buy a fixer upper and set up shop for the family. Not a bad rationale. Of course, the person could go full retard and drink the damn bottle now, suffer the greatest hangover of all time, and stumble out with money. That person would have nothing at all to worry about a month from now (just focus on recovery). Ultimately, which option is “better’ depends on how close or how far someone is to that pain.

After choosing the full retard option so many times, maybe its time to choose the slightly less painful option of taking the money and running far away. That stupid YOLO, live everyday like its your last bullshit only gets you so far. So maybe living everyday like its tomorrows yesterday is a good change of pace. Maybe staying sober and not spending as much money getting drunk will be good in the long run. Yeah, maybe you won’t get laid as much (not that you’d remember, anyway), but you could live to see another day (a painless day). Also, choose surgery right away rather than not at all. Don’t be the guy at the gym showering like a flamingo. Getting healthy now will give you more healthy days in the future. That’s what matters, after all. Choose good health and run away from pain. Don’t let it find you. Be afraid.

That concludes this Public Service Announcement.

P.S. Once I’m healed we out here regardless. YOLO.

Replies (Smart Money)

Replies:

(1) Isn’t that 44%unemployed-graduates figure misleading, seeing as the economy has played a role in unemployment at large and how most people have about a 50% chance at anything anyway?

&

(2) Wouldn’t crashing courses further devalue, or cheapen, education, especially for those paying top dollar?

 

(1)

Let me start by being hyper charitable and say maybe there’s more to why the unemployed grads figure is what it is. Maybe it’s possible that, not only are college graduates limited by the  draught on jobs, but grads are also skewing the numbers by limiting themselves with their own restrictions (avoiding McDonalds, Petco, etc.). Maybe there are  jobs out there (not ripe jobs, but good enough), but grads are avoiding them due to their expectations and preferences. Sometimes a Stanfurd grad just doesn’t wanna sell Levi’s (even though it’s an option). Whether that’s because of pride (thinking one might deserve more) or because of powerful marketing (holding on to the promise that “better” will come), it’s totally possible that aversion to whatever other job options are out there throws the unemployed numbers off. But again, it’s all the fault of the colleges for drilling in our heads that we are “too good” for McDonalds and wanting to bide our time until Office Job comes along. Now, realistically how far-spread the pride issue is remains to be seen. Like I’ve mentioned, there are plenty of people working odd jobs, so maybe this isn’t right.

Of course it’s probably just the inhospitable economy that’s skewing the numbers and limiting the amount of ripe fruit (or good jobs) available to everyone. Fair, but it’s not like the cash-hungry reagents are doing their due diligence in letting students know life might not be so easy after graduation, even with a degree. I mean, some of the numbers colleges bombard us with (earn 1 million dollars more over your life time!) are pretty misleading, too. A sale’s pitch is a sale’s pitch, after all, so I can see why certain negative selling points (roughly only 50% success rate)  would be left out. I mean, no one would buy your fishing poles if you told people they break half the time. But still, to withhold information is kind of prickish, and that’s my beef with the whole thing. I can’t tell you how much propaganda was thrown around to me and my classmates, calling for us to invest in the “prestigious” (or marked up) educational institutions because it’s “the bomb”. Higher earnings, higher success ceiling, moremoremore and higherhigherhigher; it’s too good to be true, really. Granted, eduction itself is invaluable (more precious than any price-checker machine can comprehend), but if it’s 1) expensive and 2) not always dependable, then the colleges should at least say so in those pamphlets, next to those “stay away from McDonalds” ads. The right thing to do is to let students make the choice for themselves, hard facts in hand, about whether to invest 4-6 years into college or into a job right away. Maybe there would be lower unemployment figured if a kid were told what the options actually are, heading right into a job that might be cool now, instead of avoiding certain jobs completely in the future.

 

(2)

Now, maybe crashing classes or reading wikipedia devalues education itself, making it lose its luster. Some hard working people might even be insulted to know that some shmuck who hasn’t paid a dollar of tuition is sitting next to them, taking in a free show on Plato. People don’t want their academic efforts to be undersold, not to mention all the work needed to pay for it all. So it’s possible that you, a non-paying guest (or auditor), sitting next to a hard working student in a lecture throws the valuation off.

One problem with that perspective is in believing that the high price of education is fair and that anyone who pays anything less than what you paid is a criminal, or less worthy than you. Obviously, education is priceless; anyone you ask will say they believe that. Why should anyone care about what price you pay. Like people who wear ripped jeans. Some people wear them for fashion (it’s cool again, again) and pay a lot. Some people buy cheap jeans and rip em themselves. Side by side, seat by seat, those kids probably couldn’t tell the difference between the two. They’d probably think, “Maybe I should’ve ripped my own jeans?” or “Wow, my jeans are that expensive for some people?” Point is, education is like jeans, some people pay a higher price than others, and some pay a lower price, but it’s all the same thing and everyone can respect both the creativity (self-made) and merit (high price tag) it might’ve taken to get it (education),

So I don’t think it’s gonna rub most students the wrong way. The only one’s who would feel hustled are the reagents. We know most things shouldn’t be that expensive, but a business is a business and the schools want to stay in business. Well, there’s only so much profit you can ask of your audience before people stop buying into your product (college degrees) and look for creative measures to get it for cheaper. Like with other businesses, over-pricing your product will lead to people finding ways to work around your business model. Take Sony. They came out with the Playstation and sold their games on CDs (see where I’m going?). The games were sold at 50-70 bucks a disk. Crazy prices (even now). Of course, computers we’re coming equipped with the relatively inexpensive power to burn disks (and burn Sony). People started burning the overpriced games at a fraction of the cost, reminding Sony how cheap and easy it is to manufacture the disks and how much they marked them up for retail. Sony learned and we haven’t seen 70 dollar disks since (prices of games are now dictated by other costs, not disk manufacturing). I don’t remember people being too angry about their buddy getting Street Alpha 3 for 5 bucks, but having paid 50 bucks themselves. I’m pretty sure everyone took advantage of the system, once it was figured out. So maybe once more and more people start playing the loophole game, education reform will be forced to come sooner rather than later. Everyone force the reagent’s hand and go to every class, just because. Revolution and stuff.

Smart Money

Maybe calling the job market’s bluff and dropping out of school isn’t as bad a move as it seems.

I just spent a whole night looking through my old college websites and catalogues. I made sure to scavenge and save-as all those PDFs, Power Points, finals notes and readings from most of my classes. That’s precious stuff, after all. I can lay down with my soon-to-be repaired knee and re-learn every hard-to-come-by lesson at my leisure. It’s pretty hilarious that all this college curriculum is now chillin inside my computer somewhere. This already pricey MacBook’s worth just went up 70,000 thousand dollars! Or did it?

College education is, of course, highly valued by society. So this stuff I have is pretty valuable, by most accounts. People are fighting to go to college, not just in this country, but around the world. Families put all their eggs in their children’s college-chances’ basket to try and secure a seat at those lecture halls. Students get sent to school and are told to work hard to get into college (lots of effort invested). Families work multiple jobs to cover tuition, spread themselves thin to makes ends meet, and sacrifice the present well-being of the family all for an even better future. Just earning the chance to get into college (considering the efforts on the parts of the students, and the families) is remarkable. Well, here I am with all this precious college education stuff just stored away in files within my computer. Highly accessible to me at 0$ (now, anyway). I did, after all, put in 4 years of brute work (mid-terms, papers, projects, finals, etc.) to accumulate all that information (or college education). To earn all the information (the college education itself; the stuff in my computer) is also remarkable, then. More clearly, the work needed to earn a bid at a college education (the work), and the college education itself (the information), are what’s valuable when talking about college.

But while college education itself is valued highly (the actual blood, sweat, tears, final exams, and information), the final product of it all (your college degree) appears to be much less remarkable. That is, the English degree you worked to even have the chance to get, and worked to actually earn, seems de-valued by the market (or just isn’t as highly regarded in the real world as you were mislead to think it would be). Some figures show that 44% of college grads (circa 2012) are unemployed. In other words, a person’s full 100% investment into college generates a return of about half that. Some of my friends (college grads) are like me and have been pushed into doing odd jobs here and there (serving, babysitting, retail, porn, cleaning, etc.). Most of us just aren’t doing the things our younger selves set out to eventually do. Sure, any job is a good job, but if you’ve invested years worth of time, money and energy, it’s because you’d probably expect at least an even-return, not something (an oddjob) of value you probably could’ve gotten without giving up all this capitol (time, money, energy, etc). It’s like building a 1000-square-foot sand castle in exchange for a pet rock; not the payoff anyone would honestly expect. A risky venture, that college degree.

Inversely, while college degrees are losing value, college education itself seems to have seen a growth in market value. Let’s go back to 2003 (freshman year of High School for some of us; college-prep time). Tuition at Cal in 2003 was $4,336. Now (2013) it is up to $12,834 per year. Over 10 years, that’s a rise in value of of $8,498 (a 296% increase indicative of the unilateral tuition hikes in colleges all-over). At first glance, one might think, “Wow that there college education must have been a great investment, because that’s a huge rise in value!” In reality, that’s only half true. Sure, college education (the opportunity and the actual information) is advertised as becoming more and more valuable every year (people still want it and fight for it, despite the rising price), but once actually acquired, it doesn’t seem like the investment pans out.

It’s like going to a Babe Ruth baseball auction, and I buy the ball at a high price (because I know it’s hard to come by and baseball historians keep telling me it’s highly valuable). I have the opportunity to come in contact with history (chance to observe Babe Ruth’s baseball, something most can’t claim) and also to own that piece of history (the ball itself). Then I decide to cash in on the investment and put it up for auction, and see people are bidding, but they’re only bidding about half as much I did. That is, it seems like I overpaid for something others are under-appreciating now that I have it. In hindsight, a bad investment, that Babe Ruth baseball (relegated to serving as a receipt for my investment, rather than an actual investment itself). In this way, a college degree (or proof-of-purchase) actually seems to lose a good chunk of the value that was put into it (probably collecting dust at home). It seems there is an inverse relationship, if you will, between the rising cost of college education and devaluation of college degrees.

Just trying to make sense of the exchange, it turns out the investment of time, money  and energy for college degree is a risky move. To draw it out, a student first works hard in High School, earns scholarships, high grades and support from the parents, then trades all that time, money and energy in for some college education. That college education transforms into more time, money and energy (meal points, sleep deprivation, and finals). The student finally gets to trade all that in for a college degree. The degree should carry the same value as all that’s been invested, but that just isn’t the case. Much of that predicted value is lost the second the student opens that cardboard letter (remember, only about half of college grads receive their career in return), kind of like opened collectible baseball card packs or condoms. While its easy for us to respect their value and appreciate college degrees for what they are (representations of all the investment that goes into em), it seems like a good portion of society does not (they’re just the receipts, on their view and not the actual buildings, professors, final exams, , informationetc.). Which leads me to question whether one should even invest any resources into education in the first place (avoid risk completely) or if one should simply opt to invest far less into it  (minimize the risk).

A less risky solution would be to invest less.  One could simply take their chances with community colleges (much less taxing on the resources). Some students will tell you they feel they came out of CCSF just as well-read as other Uni kids, at a fraction of the investment. I mean, there are only so many ways to read and interpret Frankenstein, anyway. Everyone comes to the same conclusions (only lecture duration may vary). Unfortunately, CCSF will probably lose it’s accreditation, but apparently that doesn’t matter in the real world right now anyway, so who cares about that. Just get that there education.

A risk free solution is the true free-ride education. Say, by admitting yourself as a guest to classes, at least some college education can be had, and you get to use your 4-6 years of time, money and energy for something else. I tell people all the time, “Hey, you can go crash any class you want and just absorb the knowledge, even do the assignments, if you’re really dedicated.” It’s true, head to Cal and stumble into Wheeler or Dwinelle and learn up on some Logic or some James Joyce. There aren’t bouncers outside the halls waiting to look up your college registration or whatever. If you really commit to it and attend enough of those lectures, you can claim your own semester-seat down in the front. Ultimately, whether paid student or special guest, everyone in attendance gets the same exact show. Open-to-the-public education, whodathunk?

Two options that, once reconciled with the reality of things, don’t look to bad. At the end of the day, its all about how one prefers to look at it.  It’s sort of like the difference between choosing to invest in Flying Pig Farms (which maybe no one would care to bid on) or choosing to invest in Pokemon cards (which only about half of weirdos, like me, would care to bid on). Obviously, if all education were free of charge all the time, no one would lose anything, and everyone would get a pay off. But of course, that’s not happening. Gotta remember, college is like any professional sport. If you want a seat at the game, you gotta pay (unless you sneak in, or watch at home). The cost of the ticket (tuition) gets you a seat at the game (or lecture hall). But that’s all you get; a chance to sit and watch the game. You don’t get to own anything of value (seats, faculty, or rings) when you pay for your ticket (you keep the ticket stub, though). You just gotta be happy with the memories, anguish and celebrations themselves. In that sense, college degrees are purely-mental championship parades at the end of a season (or semester).

Crazy Talk

San Francisco has become the home of weirdo psychopaths. Even the homeless are scared of ’em.

In what has become my morning routine, I read another controversial bit of news (or gossip, really). Mr. Greg Gopman was caught posting under the influence of egotrip and wondered out loud, “Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash.” and goes on to claim he “[has] no clue” why it is this way. Oh, brother (here’s the link: http://valleywag.gawker.com/happy-holidays-startup-ceo-complains-sf-is-full-of-hum-1481067192?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&utm_source=gawker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow).

First off, he goes on to claim San Francisco as his city. Or more importantly, their city. Let’s get the obvious issue out of the way. The sense of entitlement that some Goobers, outsiders, techies, whatever you wanna call them, just quite frankly irks me. When a kid, who is born and raised in the City,  claims SF to be their city, I accept it. The kid might not even understand the history of the City, or have a good world sense of what makes it their City, but I understand there isn’t some kind of malice or hidden agenda on the kids part. But when a dude who hasn’t lived here for more than a few holiday seasons (came from Florida) wants to claim the City as theirs, merely because they have a hipcool website, I’m gonna be tempted to have a stern talk with that person. Wealth, websites, and stock-options does not beget one the ownership of a city. It’s a toxic belief to hold; that I can waltz on into any restaurant and demand a burger at a sushi spot simply because I have an enterourage, hundreds in my pockets and a nice ride. I’d get kicked out of every resutaurant acting like that. Just doesn’t work that way. Certain privileges are make-believe (childish demands, really) and Mr. Gopman seems to think playing house in SF makes the city his, or theirs. Sorry bruh, but nah.

Second, this guy has a problem with the supposedly crazy homeless folk in the city. He’s afraid of them. He would rather avoid having to rub elbow to bloody elbow with them. But let me be charitable here and say most people don’t like getting along with their local hobos. It’s true. Not everyone is kind enough to strike up a convo and find some interesting advice on the streets or buses. People tend to get up from their seat on the bus to move to a far away (less stinky) seat. So maybe this Mr. Gopman (or Gooberman) is not a bad person for being afraid of them.

But my problem is he believes them to be crazier and more unwanted than he is, and I think there’s a fair bit of irony in that belief. Mr. Gopman mentions a crazy homeless lady who goes around kicking people. Now, that seems unpleasant, right? Unwanted, even (shin kicks hurt). But is she all that crazy compared to someone who has the capacity to not only kick back (if he wanted), but to mandate his entourage to go around kicking all homeless people (including kicking lady) out of the City by money-funded force? Here’s a lady who is probably out of a job (no money), out of a home (no friends, famaily or entourage) and has no access to the world (no hipcool blog or start-up). By all accounts, this lady is of no harm to me. But here’s a guy (Mr. Goober), who most likely has way more money than most homeless people, a way bigger network of friends and influence, and has the means to advertise his thoughts (and rally the troops) on the internet. We’ve seen how the non-homeless entrepeuners (some of them, at least) machinate. If they want someone out, they can make it happen. Honestly, I’m less afraid of a kick to the shin than a kick to the curb. A genocide of vagrants sounds crazy and scary, doesn’t it? No homeless lady is gonna decide to claim the City as hers and start buying up apartments, homes and local buisness just to make a point, but I’m afraid a psycho like Mr. Gopman would.

Finally, Mr. Gooberman ties his statement up with a bow and claims he “has no clue” why San Francisco isn’t his city. His sense of entitlement has him so confused. Poor guy. Like any good villain in a movie, novel or video game, he can’t believe he hasn’t assumed ultimate power yet. I mean, he has it all, money, goons, and an audience. Of course, villains always lack the respect of the people they try overpower. It’s what causes the dissent, the battle, the war. It just seems to me he is out of touch with what San Francisco really is. There’s a reason he is the villain (or one of them). The people you’re trying to conquer aren’t exactly gonna just lay down, vacate the city and remove themselves from your red carpet (there is no red carpet, that’s just Market St, just so you know). So long as people like Mr. Gopman exist, who have the belief that things should always go their way, there will always be angry people to oppose them. A hero doesn’t want to allow the bad guy to assume maximum power and control of the universe. Just doesn’t happen that easily. So get a clue, dude. Those under the 7-figure salary line aren’t just gonna excuse themselves out of your way all like that.

Now, whether this guy merely ended up just kicking his foot straight into his mouth (a one-time mistake) remains to be seen. Who knows, he might just be trouble-shooting his brain so that he could eventually arrive at sanity. He did, after all issue some sort of apology (it’s a kinda weak-sounding one, to be honest). Still, my assessment remains: people like Mr. Gopman are way crazier than the homeless people on Market St. Not only is this guy (probably) a kleptomaniac, he’s also too powerful for his own good, and delusional. Like Bowser, Ganondorf, Team Rocket, or any fictional super-villain, this guy is way more dangerous than a merely-mortal homeless person. Be afraid of people like this guy, who speak recklessly and have the potential to follow through on their threats. Don’t be too afraid of the people waking down Market street. Some of them are really just the ghosts of the people who were, too, outcasted by the wealthy, and who are cursed with the task of haunting the privileged rich. If anything, they’re the closest thing to being the City’s guardian angels.

Just my take.

Replies (Ride Share)

photo (15)

Replies:

(1) “Woah woah, Mr. Escobar, you support the start-ups in the war on cabs (blue-collar workers)?

&

(2) “Hey Eric, why would you prefer a private business over homegrown MUNI?”

… 

(1)

So, yeah I tend to think stuff like Lyft and Uber is revolutionary. It’s empowering for us people who have been screwed out of other jobs, to be able to contribute in some kind of way. I got a job at Postmates a while back (bad idea, considering my knee), because I wanted to try and make a little extra dough. Did it for only one day because my knee got way too sore after riding around town pretty fast. Nonetheless, that’s a great opportunity for people trying to get on their feet.

It might seem like blue-collar workers, like cab drivers who have been driving for decades, are getting the short end of the stick. But what’s wrong with competition? Remember wrestling? WWF versus WCW? Both companies were competing for your Monday night time. Back then, they were putting a great product on television. Ratings we’re reaching 7 million viewers a night. Meaning, there was a huge market for wrestling (at the time) and the two companies had to out-do each other for people’s business, putting in more work and keeping honest in their efforts. Now, wrestling draws 2-3 million viewers. The product, quite frankly, sucks. It’s not creative, performers are phoning it in, and the bosses don’t care to improve the working conditions of its workers (which, in turn, affects the quality of work). The reason the bosses don’t’ seem motivated to do better is because there’s just no competition. They can get away with weak efforts because no one is competing and keeping them on their toes.

helladownwwf

I’m not saying the cabby job market is in the same quagmire as the WWE (really, it sucks; watch it sometime), but I am willing to believe that competition can help, in the long term. Lyft gets great reviews all the time. Hell, look at this video (http://youtu.be/VNM7Z7hir_I). Doesn’t that make you wanna think Lyft rides are cooler than cab rides? Until cabbies earn that business back, I can’t be mad at others trying to generate inclusive business models. One day, cabs might turn out to cleanly win the war. Or one day, services like Lyft will win out. In which case, cab drivers could just become Lyft drivers (it is, after all not just inclusive for patrons, but also for potential drivers; rides for all and jobs for all). I don’t see a loss here.

(2)

Wouldn’t you agree that, hypothetically, a competition between, say, Google and MUNI would eventually lead to something better for all? As of right now, everyone hates MUNI (but conveniently use those bustops as a vector to carry anti-techie agendas; fickle). Everyone wants something faster than 8mph (sometimes even slower  than that). No one likes the yearly nickel-and-diming on the fares (I’ve paid my fair-share of 35 cents, 50 cents, 100 cents, 150, cents, 200 cents, 45 dollars, 72, dollars; you get the picture). Somehow, though, I see new buses rolling out yet again. What was wrong with the old ones? These new ones are still slugging along at 8mph according to my eyes. Maybe they’re a tad bit greener, but I’m not sure the trade off was/is worth the investment. Whatever money Mr. Lee is funneling into the buses isn’t dissolving anyone’s complaints. What probably would help are better routes (try catching the 27 around 5pm during rush hour), or automated fare checks (imagine a metal-detector style system at all doors that detects high-tech Clippers and reconciles check ins with the weight of the people getting on the bus; if the weight-to-check in ratio is off, the bus just shuts off on its own until the fare is collected or the people scan in; a high-tech honor system). Something, man. I could do so much with 10 billion fucking dollars.

Fact is, everyone is stuck on that MUNI going nowhere fast, getting left behind in the nation-wide war for public-trans supremacy. If a company like Google wants to take the challenge, I would welcome it. There is no reason to believe Google’s own workers (needed for other stuff) will be the one’s driving those public buses, therefore killing opportunity for blue collar drivers who would, hypothetically (at worst case) lose their jobs. I don’t see why that should be the case. In my possible reality, Google Buses becomes a thing, is a public service (or is cooperative effort with the SFMTA to redo MUNI; imagine the tech upgrade!) and hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs open up. Those blue-collar drivers get first dibs (either as part of a transfer program or because the SFMTA and Google would be in cahoots anyway). It’s a win-win in my eyes. Everyone gets a better product and those blue-collar drivers get cooler-looking jobs.

I believe in the upside.