Let Them Eat Apps

Facebook Investor Says Site Really Takes the Edge Off Global Capitalism

Look, Silicon Valley, if you don’t want to be seen as entitled shitheels with a severe empathy defficiency, don’t let arch-libertarian and critic of women’s suffrage Peter Thiel off the Seastead, not even to talk to Forbes“I think generally there’s a trend toward equality in the sense that everyone has access to Facebook and Dropbox and LinkedIn and all these services.” He went on to argue that the depression in wages due to globalization is the real problem, not technology. I’d like to propose we’re getting fucked both ways at the same time.

Speaking of games that aren’t zero-sum: Pretty sure we can make fun of bros for their questionable fashion sense and their terrible ideas simultaneously as well. It’s called multitasking.

Thiel also had high praise for WhatsApp co-founder and likely billionaire Jan Koum for “heroically” escaping the “welfare trap,” which Forbes detailed in “The Rags-To-Riches Tale Of How Jan Koum Built WhatsApp Into Facebook’s New $19 Billion Baby.” Would you like another anecdote that’s not actually indicative of aggregate social mobility trends? Okay, how about Marc Roth, a formerly homeless man who found work with skills learned at TechShop, where “I was thinking this is where I’m going to sit and send out resumes and have coffee and warmth.” All due respect to TechShop, Marc Roth and, for that matter, Jan Koum—I’ve been as close to homeless as no one wants to be; I have relied on city, state and federal social programs; it is pretty shitty and you can’t fault anyone for wanting to escape—but a few blocks away the DPW is reportedly hosing people down again and the San Francisco Public Library considers increasing the penalty for having a “strong oder” at Mayor Ed Lee’s request.

So naturally it makes perfect sense that Greg Gopman is considering a run for political office.

Photos by David Orban and Flickr user The Pageman


Bill to Allow Local Bike Taxes Submitted to State Senate

 Yesterday State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, submitted SB1183 which would “would authorize a city, county, or regional park district to impose, as a special tax, a point of sale tax on new bicycles, with the rate of the tax to be determined by the local agency.” It would not apply to bikes with wheels smaller than 20”, and the money would be earmarked for improved cycling facilities like maintaining existing trails and creating new ones.

Cyclelicious votes nay, but it’s the Senate Rules Committee that will vote whether to move the bill along. Proponents, including DeSaulnier, argue that the funds can be leveraged for federal matching money to build out more bike infrastructure (similar to the strategy behind DeSaulnier’s AB391 for affordable housing). Goodness knows we could use more money for more improvements to neighborhood streetscapesadding bike capacity on public transportation like Caltrain, education campaigns to improve the safety of both cyclists and their cycles and even new traffic approaches like protected intersections for bicyclists if we’re going to both increase bike commute share and achieve zero cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

A more concrete bike tax bill was introduced in the Washington State legislature last spring as a symbolic gesture to ammeloriate conservative opposition to bicycle transportation spending as part of a $10 billion transportation funding package by offering to “pay its way,” with supporters like Representative Ed Orcutt arguing “the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”  From what I can tell, nearly a year laterit’s still being debated in Olympia. The issue comes up every few years, and similar efforts are currently underway in Georgie, Oregon and Vermont.

As for the fantasy of a San Francisco completely free of death machines? That’s still just a pipe dream. But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento just proposed a climate tax on fuel starting at $0.15 a gallon in an address to the annual Sacramento Press Club dinner, with funds going to mass transit projects and an earned-income taxed credit for Californians earning less than $75,000 a year (which, he noted, “most journalists will qualify” for). However, environmental lobbyists worry that it would undermine the cap-and-trade market created by AB32 which fuel producers are scheduled to join next year

Photo by Sergio Ruiz

All Hail Mammon

Accelerating Income Disparity Attracts Atlanta Boosters, New York Bankers

San Francisco’s extreme economic inequality is second only to Atlanta’s nationwide according to research from the Brookings Institution, but ours is increasing faster so naturally Atlanta has sent a delegation to Silicon Valley this week to learn the secret to marginalizing the poors. Though maybe they should have gone to New York to woo banker bros, instead?

Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer of the ferociously expanding Uber, has said that between 10 and 15 percent of his hires come from the financial services industry, with a full 5 percent coming from Goldman Sachs alone.


Big Pretzel

ConAgra, Trader Joe's Allegedly Conspire to Corner Peanut-Butter Filled Pretzel Market

As if keeping a steady supply of peanut-butter filled pretzels in your office kitchen wasn’t difficult enough already, ConAgra may have seized control of the preservative-free, marginally nutritious delight and with it the fundamental health of California’s economy. Because if the people powering our great state’s engines of innovation don’t have something to modulate their serotonin and blood sugar at the office they’ll no longer be able to work the ten hour days and six day weeks that have become commonplace and productivity will suffer across the board.

Aliso Viejo’s Maxim Foods originally invented the recipe for the savory-and-slightly-sweet snack and began selling the product to retailers including Trader Joe’s, headquartered in Monrovia. To produce the marvels of food science, the company contracted with Anderson Bakery in Pennsylvania, which was then blended into National Pretzel in 1999, which in 2011 was stuffed into Nebraska’s ConAgra before being liberally salted.

Coincidentally! Now that ConAgra owned the means of peanut butter filled pretzel production almost exclusively, it started fulfilling Trader Joe’s orders directly last year—leaving nothing but crumbs in the bottom of the big, business-sized jar, alleges Maxim. The lawsuit accuses ConAgra of violating confidentiality provisions in contracts with the original production contractor, delivering a product to Trader Joe’s in the same packaging, which the latter then sold to customers as the same price (currently $3.79 for a one pound bag, up from $2.39 when Ruth Reichl at the LA Times gave it a stellar review in 1990). Including treble damages under state anti-trust laws, Maxim is seeking $60 million.

People are already looking for alternatives if evidence of comparison shopping between the H.K. Anderson brand available form Costco (definitely ConAgra) and the Herr’s brand (pretty sure also ConAgra) is any indication. Snyder’s of Hanover, a subsidiary of North Carolina’s Lance, Inc. offers a peanut butter filled mini-pretzel sandwich, which looks messy and therefore work-inappropriate.  Good Health Natural Products, another North Carolina company, sells a whole wheat version that’s available at local Safeway stores, but good luck convincing your office manager to spend nearly twice as much when they’re already gone before the next delivery every week.

Taking 'Shot and a Beer' to a Whole New Level

Pop's Bar Used to Have a Gun Range

This month’s episode of Dirty Old Bar took a look at Pop’s, the 24th Street stalwart that was recently purchased by the owner of Madrone. And oh the things we learned.

“This bar has been around since God was a baby,” patron “John” told the folks behind DOB. “I’m talking the ’80s and ’90s.”

Sarcasm aside, he went on to detail how Pop’s used to be a Folsom Prison bar where cops and ex-cons used to hang out—and how they setup bales of hay in the back to practice their shot.

Give the whole episode a watch: it’s a great look back at one of the neighborhood’s most choice holes before renovations hit.

Hello Precita Park!

This Is Your Last Weekend in Dolores Park Before Renovations Begin

The weather is looking promising for a last hurrah of cheap beer drinking and inching away from terrible rap battles, as next Saturday will see the long-awaited park renovation groundbreaking, followed by a fence going up around the northern half of the park. Here’s the schedule:

9:00 a.m. –  The Dolores Park Volunteers and DPWorks will rake hipster hill on last time before the dust flies. This will be our moment to thank you, the neighbors, merchants, friends and supporters of Dolores. Coffee and pastry from Dolores Park Cafe.

10:00 a.m. - Welcome Remarks and Groundbreaking Ceremony.

We would also expect folks will make a run on the vendors, needing to stockpile an 18-month supply of weed truffles and other artisanal sundries, so you better get there early.

[Dolores Park Works]

Greg Gopman Gets His Wish

DPW Steps Up Alleged Campaign to "Wash Away" City's Homeless

The crack-cocaine users who sleep across the street from Victoria — or “bubble boys,” as she has nicknamed them, after a slang term for drug use — screamed when Department of Public Works employees sprayed them with high-powered hoses a few weeks ago, she says. 

It was about 4:30 a.m. in the Mid-Market area of downtown San Francisco, a few hours before the daily arrival of tech industry employees, whose firms recently moved into the neighborhood. DPW workers gave the sleeping young men four warnings and then started spraying, said Victoria, 52, who only offered her first name out of a mistrust of police common among San Francisco’s homeless people.

Victoria described herself as a “polite,” obliging homeless woman who picks up and leaves when asked by the authorities. She said the young men were given fair warning by the cleanup crew. But the sight of them being hosed was disturbing. “They were screaming,” she said.

Reports of DPW workers “washing away” homeless is nothing new—Street Sheet posted the above video back in 2008, and in late September, department employees told homeless around 16th and Mission to leave or be “sprayed out.”  However, Al Jazeera reports that hosing the homeless has reached new levels, with daily sidewalk washing happening since September that activists claim are a “very orchestrated campaign to gentrify the Mid-Market area and draw in tech companies and offer them a tax break to move into that area.”

“We’re doing a good job. I got Market Street cleared out,” a DPW employee, working with a police escort, told Al Jazeera while “his team cleaned a dead-end alley with an encampment of homeless people, just blocks from Twitter headquarters.”

Police ultimately asked at least one homeless man to relocate from mid-Market to 25th and Potrero in the Mission District, only to find himself ousted once again.

[Al Jazeera]

Bar Bathroom Slopestyle

The Tenderloin Winter Olympics

Meanwhile, at 6th and Market, where Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers recently hung up their apron in part because employees got “puched outside [the restaurant],” one neighboring coffee shop waxed whimsical on the state of sports in their adopted neighborhood.  They nailed it with “tech moguls” and “jaywalking,” but missed an opportunity with pedestrian slalom cycling.

Machine is looking strong for the gold, but judges are awaiting whatever “If SF Neighborhoods Were Olympic Sports” thinkpiece The Bold Italic has brewing.