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How San Francisco Hazed a Tech Bro (backchannel.com) 653

An anonymous reader writes: In December 2013 San Francisco's tension with its surging tech class reached a breaking point. Protesters swarmed Google buses. They stood in front of Twitter carrying a coffin labeled "Affordable Housing." Google glassholes were on the rise. In the midst of this, the CEO and founder of AngelHack posted a rant about the homeless. "In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city," Greg Gopman wrote. He thought he was becoming a thought leader. Instead, the entire city turned against him. Reviled and suddenly unemployable, Gopman spent a quixotic year spinning up businesses to solve homelessness. His journey is weirdly emblematic of today's startup-fueled San Francisco.
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How San Francisco Hazed a Tech Bro

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2016 @06:56PM (#51876733)

    This is what's wrong with society - you can't point out the elephant in the room without the elephant feigning offense and everyone hating you until you buy it peanuts.

    I say we shoot the elephant.

  • by orledrat ( 3490981 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @06:58PM (#51876739)

    Stuff Those Matters!

  • As a tourist... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by x0ra ( 1249540 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @06:59PM (#51876747)
    walking down Market from Embarcadero to Castro brings up a few areas which indeed do look like shit, not to mention the awkward times when a delirious hobo get in a trolley. SJW are probably gonna mod me down, but that would be one more fact they conveniently ignore...
    • Re:As a tourist... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:16PM (#51876799) Homepage

      If you want to live in a curated life, move to Disney Land, buy the clothes they tell you to wear, work the job they tell you to work.

      Rest of us will be dealing with real life. You won't be missed.

      • Re:As a tourist... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:37PM (#51876869)

        If you don't like the "curated" life so much, stop taking all my money to distribute among those the government has decided is more worthy.

      • Re:As a tourist... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:09PM (#51877031)

        Rest of us will be dealing with real life. You won't be missed.

        San Francisco isn't "real life". It's an ultra-wealthy enclave that has chosen to turn itself into a filthy dystopia. It is San Francisco that is a "curated life", albeit the curators are doing a piss poor job. In real life, cities are neither as filthy as San Francisco, nor as wealthy.

      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        Disney World, and it's not in the park itself [mapquest.com]. Geez, you've got this all mixed up. Typical Californian, giving bad directions...
      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )

        If you want to live in a curated life, move to Disney Land, buy the clothes they tell you to wear, work the job they tell you to work.

        Rest of us will be dealing with real life. You won't be missed.

        Typical SJW asshole argument...

    • Re:As a tourist... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by afgam28 ( 48611 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:49PM (#51876935)

      First of all, Market St takes you right between the Tenderloin and the 6th & Market area, which locals knows to avoid. Clueless tourists however, don't.

      Second, everyone in SF knows it looks like shit there, no one's pretending it doesn't. But about a third or maybe even half of the homeless people there are mentally ill. It's fucked up that as a society, we'd leave sick people out there to die, and demand that they "beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way". We don't do that with people with cancer, or physical disabilities, and we shouldn't for the mentally ill either. You can look down on "SJW"s all you want, but the guy was acting like a cunt, and he got treated the way he deserved.

      • Re:As a tourist... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:11PM (#51877037) Homepage
        I'll readily agree that he worded it poorly and I disagree with much of the premise, but... Is the punishment in line with the offense here? He spoke his mind out, something Americans seem all too eager to do and say they have a right to, and then the backlash was not only severe, but persisted for years down the line and probably will for years further. That's a bit much, don't you think? That you can essentially destroy your life in a single act, one that is neither immoral nor illegal?
        • Oh boo hoo. "He said words and he was held accountable!!" That's life. If you want to be in the public eye be prepared to deal with the fallout.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by trout007 ( 975317 )

        It was the left that pushed to clear out the mental hospitals. You cannot be held against your will for long if you haven't done anything wrong. To be fair there were people held against their will when they posed no danger and were just odd or embarrassing for their family. There needs to be something in between. Maybe need a jury trial every year or so to see if the person can stay committed or something similar.

        • There needs to be something in between. Maybe need a jury trial every year or so to see if the person can stay committed or something similar.

          Or say a qualified doctor who does a professional diagnosis? Of course that doctor would have to funded by the state, which means someone somewhere will have to pay taxes to fund it, so that'll never happen...

        • Re:As a tourist... (Score:5, Informative)

          by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday April 10, 2016 @04:16PM (#51880775) Journal

          It was the left that pushed to clear out the mental hospitals.

          No, it was Regan.

          Over 30 years ago, when Reagan was elected President in 1980, he discarded a law proposed by his predecessor that would have continued funding federal community mental health centers. This basically eliminated services for people struggling with mental illness.

          He made similar decisions while he was the governor of California, releasing more than half of the stateâ(TM)s mental hospital patients and passing a law that abolished involuntary hospitalization of people struggling with mental illness. This started a national trend of de-institutionalization.
          http://www.povertyinsights.org... [povertyinsights.org]

    • Re:As a tourist... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:59PM (#51876979)

      Sadly I'm forced to agree. As an occasional business traveler I no longer feel safe in SFO. Go the wrong couple of blocks from the Moscone Center and you're in a very bad part of town.

      • Go the wrong couple of blocks from the Moscone Center and you're in a very bad part of town.

        Especially that intersection with Starbucks on three of the four corners.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:01PM (#51876753) Journal
    It is a tough cause for most to get behind because of the exaggerated distance the good citizen finds between his fate and the street.
    • Not really.

      Previously when the mentally ill were wards of the state, there was massive abuse, no means to really rectify it, and people thought One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was reality, and the ill were just free spirits who were really just misunderstood.

      They've never seen a man smear himself in shit or bash his face into broken glass because it seemed like the right thing to do.

      And so now we are here, where besides mental illness, we also have the results of a drug war that has failed miserably, an eco

  • by choke ( 6831 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:06PM (#51876771) Homepage

    Talk PC, act sociopathic.

    • Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:03PM (#51877005)
      these high paid tech folks still want and need services. They want teachers for their kids, police and fire dept to keep them safe. Housemaids to tidy up for them after an 80 hour work week and restaurant staff to cook food for them.

      What they do not want, it seems, is to pay for all that. See, it's not as easy as "Just move out of San Fransico". When your poor you live where you're born. You don't just move to where the work is, and if you try you're taking a huge risk. You have no savings because you're never paid enough for savings.

      What we have is servant class asking members of the merchant class to pay for their services. I don't see a problem with that.

      But hey, bashing people over the head with the "PC" moniker never gets old, right? So go ahead. I suppose it's a hell of a lot easier than facing the unpleasant consequences of a modern service economy.
    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      Screw millennials, they need a crash course into real life...
  • by DiSKiLLeR ( 17651 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:25PM (#51876825) Homepage Journal

    The situation in SF really is, pretty bad.

    I'm not even sure what the solution is anymore now that I lived here for a while and see it every day first hand.

    I've lived in large Australian and New Zealand cities, but the homeless epidemic here is just on a level you couldn't believe or imagine without being here and seeing it for yourself.

    Prices and rents won't ever go down again imo, and the homeless refuse to leave and only increase in number every ear... shit will get to a real breaking point before long.

    Not sure I want to be here when that happens.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:08PM (#51877029)
      but wouldn't the solution be to just give them homes to live in? I mean, we're the wealthiest country on plant earth. This shouldn't be a problem.
      • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:53PM (#51877167)

        No, because someone who is barely aware of their surroundings doesn't need a home they won't realize is theirs, they need to be institutionalized and forced into treatment. My friend's family's greatest fear when he had a mental break was that they wouldn't get a court order before he just ran out into the street never to be seen again. He's now on medication, engaged and living a perfect normal happy life, but when he thought he could fly and was barely aware of his surroundings he had no desire to stay or even consciousness of what wad real let alone what was best.

      • It's been tried in SF. If my memory is correct, the city spends around $60,000 per homeless person per year trying to help them (the current year's homeless budget is $241 million http://www.sfchronicle.com/bay... [sfchronicle.com]). In many cases, when they were simply given homes they then proceeded to trash them and make them uninhabitable (ie condemned). They were then back on the street again, and more money had to be spent making the home liveable again.

        The issue is that the homeless in SF are either mentally ill, addicts, or both. You can give them homes, but if you don't treat the underlying issue you're just throwing the money (and homes) away. But when treatment is a requirement for housing, they walk away and go back to living on the street. So what's the solution?

        Many of the people simply don't want help and would rather live on the street. Just the other week, one homeless guy who camps in the doorway of my building drank all day until he passed out. An ambulance was called, he fought them, but they ended up restraining him and taking him to the hospital. Two days later he was back again. The following day he was again passed out and unresponsive in the street, and the ambulance came again. Repeat a few days later. It happens a few times a week with several people, and this is just in front of my building across the bridge in the Oakland/Berkeley area. San Francisco is worse. I can't count the number of times I've seen people shooting up. So do you force these people into rehab? Arrest them? What's the solution? Simply giving them a home won't work.

      • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @09:48PM (#51877377) Journal
        San Francisco has done just that [sfchronicle.com], moving nearly 12,000 into free housing. Problem is, they still have the same number of homeless. And now the expense and burden of free housing for 12,000 people.
  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @07:31PM (#51876847)

    I used to live in San Francisco, and it used to be tolerant, interesting, welcoming, and a live-and-let-live kind of place. These days, it's a dirty dump, full of intolerant people and massive social problems. Of course, the homeless and drug addicts in the street aren't the cause, they are merely the symptom of a broken political culture and corrupt political class and machinery, a toxic mix of nouveau riche techies, public sector unions, retirees, and "social justice" activists. San Francisco demographics are against it: SF has largely destroyed its middle class, leaving the city to young party goers and retirees, neither of which are the kind of people who care about the long term health of their community. Having left SF, I just hope I don't have to bail these people out with my tax dollars, because SF will get a lot worse before it gets better. So, my recommendation: don't try to fix SF, just leave it. Unless you are a 20-something who likes to party, in which case put up with the stink and dirt for a few more years and have fun before leaving.

    • Come to NYC!

      We have the riff-raff, but for some reason it seems to be less of an issue than in SF. Maybe it's the weather that is less conducive to street homelessness, maybe a greater diversity of residents and commerce make homelessness seem like a smaller issue, maybe it's the police sweeping all of it under the carpet, maybe it's less publicly reported, or maybe (probably unlikely) we're doing something right politically. But overall, day-to-day living in NYC does not have the same level of problems w
  • "Degenerates" is over the line, but there is a problem here. Like any social problem the question of who contributes what share of the blame is in dispute.

    But I'll just leave this here: Human waste shuts down BART escalators [sfgate.com]. Clearly something is horribly horribly wrong.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @08:12PM (#51877043)

    The whole article reads like a package dropped from a PR firm with the sole purpose of rehabbing this guys rep.

    Call me when it runs in the Sacramento Bee or any paper that actually verifies what they print.

  • by rossz ( 67331 )

    They block new housing development, so there is a shortage. Then they throw a fit because rent keeps going up. Even if there wasn't a tech boom, this is the expected result when you strangle the supply. Have they stopped teaching basic economics in our schools?

    • They block new housing development, so there is a shortage. Then they throw a fit because rent keeps going up. Even if there wasn't a tech boom, this is the expected result when you strangle the supply. Have they stopped teaching basic economics in our schools?

      "Politics is the mindkiller." There are a lot of bright people here, but the politics is left-wing to the point of idiocy. We also finance what local wags call the "homeless-industrial complex" to the tune of $150-$200 million a year, and wonder why the problem never seems to get any better.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Saturday April 09, 2016 @09:48PM (#51877371)
    Thanks.
  • Drunk posts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taylorius ( 221419 ) on Sunday April 10, 2016 @05:00AM (#51878427) Homepage

    Gopman's first post "my love affair with SF dies a little" seemed ok (although his having "no clue" about why the homeless were there does smack of techie-arrogance). It was the drunk one after that that that did for him.

    In times gone by it would've just been shouting in a bar. Afterwards he could've apologised, laughed it off, and put it down to too many beers. Now - it's affected his whole life. For those living their lives online, every utterance is juggling dynamite. It seems to me that this encourages rather a strict, lockstep approach to discourse. No room to blow off a little steam, everything you ever say will be "googled" for evermore. It's a terrifying prospect, in my view.

  • by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Sunday April 10, 2016 @06:32AM (#51878567)
    I don't think I've ever read such a self-referential, vacuous pile of crap.

    "image", "startups", "city tax break", "hackathon host and startup incubator", "photos on Facebook of cash", "Valleywag", "Huffington Post", "the flavor of disruption", "crowdfunding", "Burning Man"

    I'm afraid that if you insist on living inside your own virtual reality you're eventually going to be confronted by the fact that the rest of the world neither cares about this parallel universe whose inflation is powered almost entirely by self-aggrandisement. Nor do they believe that warehousing your homeless in instagram-friendly workfare "decadomes" is a solution to the housing problem : it's simply a product of a mind that does not understand the lives of people in the real world and believes the answer is to sweep them under an attractive carpet.

    I've no idea who this guy is, nor do I particulalry care about his fate, but the unquestioning belief in the article that the narcissism of the internet should naturally just carry over into real life is breathtakingly insane.

"And remember: Evil will always prevail, because Good is dumb." -- Spaceballs

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