The End of Silicon Valley


If you haven’t read last week’s Vanity Fair article on the institutionalized sexual exploitation going on in tech companies, you should.

This is on top of the realization that social media companies like Facebook are destroying the U.S., and former Facebook executives have been dissociating themselves from the company.

Further, news recently broke of what initially was reported to be an Intel flaw, but turned out to be a bigger industry-wide problem. Behind it was the report that Intel’s CEO dumped every share he legally could during the period when Intel knew of the problem but had not reported it. This may be an optics rather than an insider trading problem, but it does imply a severe lack of confidence in Intel’s future on the part of its own CEO (though it may be just a lack of confidence in the Trump administration).

I think we may be looking at a potentially catastrophic collapse of Silicon Valley. Given that the Valley supports the Democratic party almost exclusively, it doesn’t bode well for the 2018 mid-term election — which, before this, was expected to be a Republican rout. Individually, each of these events is bad. Collectively, they are catastrophic.

I’ll share some thoughts on that this week and close with my product of the week: an interesting way to keep your outdoor spa both warm and accessible during the winter months.

The Sport of Extreme Sexual Harassment
I get the need for the Valley to overachieve, but in this era of Harvey Weinstein and career-killing events, the concept of powerful men driving drug-induced sexual orgies seems to me to be suicidal. You need to read the linked Vanity Fair article, but in short what allegedly has been happening, is that the top Silicon Valley executives, bankers, VCs, and I’ll bet some politicians have gone a tad sex-crazy.

They have been holding and attending what appear to be orgies, where women are given drugs to make them receptive, and then they engage in group sex. Many of the women apparently work for some of the men, and many of their spouses attend. This is not a well-kept secret, and the drugs allegedly used are for the most part illegal.

Recall that Harvey Weinstein reportedly abused a lot of women before one spoke up, and the entire thing cascaded until he lost his job, his company, and his position on boards. The father of one of his accusers reportedly even threatened to kill him. A parent’s reaction to this kind of behavior, as Sorvino demonstrates, takes anger to the extreme. The Democrats, who have a zero-tolerance policy regarding this kind of thing, likely will run from these folks like they have the plague, and the Republicans have no love for the Valley in the first place.

All it would take is a trigger event — say an underage woman alleging drug-induced rape at one of these parties, or a Justice Department raid (or both) — to cost most of these folks their jobs, companies and much of their net worth. Granted, many likely could get on their jets and avoid immediate arrest, but you don’t recover from something like this. Just ask Roman Polanski. People don’t forget this kind of thing (but they all could move to Switzerland).

From women who are abused through this practice, to politicians who want to gut Democratic Party funding, to law enforcement that wants to stick it to rich jerks who are abusing the law, to countries like China that would love to cripple Silicon Valley, the number of people who might use this to cripple the U.S. tech industry are legion.

Social Media Meltdown?
When executives start treating past jobs as if they were criminal activities, it’s a sign of a serious problem. The combination of a growing realization that Facebook is doing massive harm to the country with ex-Facebook executives treating their time there as if they had a substance abuse problem suggests things aren’t looking good.

There already have been a massive number of social media-fueled tragedies, including suicide and murder. Just last week, a YouTube star became infamous for showing the body of a suicide victim in a video.

Given that I was almost killed myself during a rave organized on Facebook, I’m very aware of the risks surrounding the use and adverse impact of social media.

Personally, I find social media to be way too dangerous — particularly when it looks like your job prospects could be killed over posts taken out of context. The amount of false (fake) news generated on these platforms is incredibly troubling, and I find the arguments that social media didn’t corrupt the elections to be so poorly researched as to be laughable.

The realization that a poorly worded tweet might start a nuclear war doesn’t let any of us sleep very deeply now. (The idea of buttons on desks that could launch nuclear payloads is just wrong in so many ways.)

Maybe the words that will doom the world will be: “Damn it I told you not to put my breakfast on my desk, you’ve just launched World War III you covfefe!” In case you wonder what that word

Covana also makes smaller versions for hot tubs, and one of them has internal lights, privacy curtains, and a peaked roof that allows the snow to slide off.

It uses a solar-charged battery, so it is surprisingly easy to wire up (though you typically would have it professionally installed, which is what we did). We’ve been using it for a few weeks now and love it — not to mention it looks cool opening and closing, though I think I’ll rig a remote switch, so I can do that from inside the house.

One interesting feature is the escape hatch, in case someone closes the spa while you’re in it (which could come in handy with that remote switch). We all need to exercise more, and part of the fun of a hot tub is using it in the snow. However, the power bill for leaving it open takes a lot of the fun out of it. The Covana motorized spa cover does both (we got the Legend), so it is my product of the week.