The picture above is the Ford entry in the 2016 24h Le Mans race. Ford famously won the race in 1966 – if I’m not mistaken – on the back of work done by Mr Shelby whose fame comes from the car carrying his name. They came back at the 50th anniversary, and won it again.
Outside of this car, however, this was the year of the future of automobiles – not the past. And the brands at the show would have had you believe that right around the corner, we’re all going to be in self-driving cars that we rent, and that parking, car accidents, and fuel consumption are things of the past.
But, even as a technologist, the last thing I want is for this revolution to come too quickly.
Autonomous cars represent for me the next major economic shift we’re going to take as a society.
We won’t need – truck drivers, taxi drivers, or parking attendants.
We will need – systems engineers, merchandise unloaders, and a whole new breed of mechanics.
We won’t have trucks competing with daily commuters at peak hours to get places.
We will have roadside motels shut down as their clientele becomes unemployed.
We don’t know what insurance looks like in this new world, and we do know that taxes, licensing, regulations, and standards will all have to be reconsidered.
And so while I want the technology to be built, and the regulations and licensing conversations to start, the bigger opportunity I want to challenge us to take is to build a framework in which we look for a win-win (Pareto Efficient) outcome for everyone who will be impacted by autonomous cars.
We have a chance to have the conversations that we didn’t when we built the interstate system and exported our manufacturing infrastructure.
How can we ensure that there is protection for those who will lose paid for by the economic gains and efficiencies of those who win?
How can we look at the industries impacted by this revolution – trucking, parking, construction, gas stations- and make sure that in preserving themselves they don’t stifle innovation?
And equally – that the technologists who will win in this new world don’t irrationally pull us into the future without being able to ensure our safety, our communities, and the new culture we will build on these capabilities?
After this election cycle, and this year’s CES, I’m realizing that policy is just as important of a deliverable for a disrupting business as the product that is doing the disrupting.
My key takeaway – we all want to get to the future knowing our dignity will be intact when we get there.
We should make sure we have the conversations to help as many of us achieve that goal as possible.
Today, after 8.5 years, is my last day living in San FranciscoÂ – a city thatÂ gave me so much:
- The love of my life
- The birthplace of my three children
- The only jobs I’ve ever known
- My first major sports championship I’ve experienced
- The first home that I bought
- The only place not named Cary, NC that I’ve ever called home
I’m really sad.
We’re leaving behind an incredible friend network, a fascinating school community, a gorgeous home and backyard we just settled into, and so much more.
Our new destination – Brooklyn, NYC, NY.
We’re gaining closeness to our old friend network, a phenomenal career opportunity for Micky, weekend trips to see family in the UK, train rides to see Doruk and Hanna, and an amazing adventure at a point in our lives where it feels perfect to take on this challenge.
And yet – tonight – as IÂ said good bye to Yenni for the last time, and, today, as IÂ said good bye to CDS for the last time all I could feel was sadness. My heart could only fill with tears.
And tomorrow, at 9am, we board our one-way flight to JFK.
If you haven’t seen the new Disney film Moana, then turn away. There are spoilers in this post.
Ok, I’m assuming that if you’re still with me, that you’re ok with knowing what happens in the movie, and jumping in on the conversation my brother and I had in the aftermath of seeing the film.
This ladyÂ probably thinks that the movie is about the Climate Change agenda. I could see why she would believe that. But that thread in the movie didn’t really make a huge political statement in my opinion.
In the movie, a young Chieftainess decides that her destiny requires she go outside the small island and reefÂ her family has called home for generations to undo the curse imposed on manÂ by the demigod Maui’s decision to steal the heart of creation.
I remember talking with Byrne Reese (one of the most interesting thinkers that I know) that the “bad guy” in Frozen was in fact the 1%. Sure it was actually Hans and the Duke of Weaslton in the physical form, but underneath the surface it was that insatiable desire to hold power even when it wasn’t yours to hold. In the shadow of the Occupy Wall Street movement which was happening down the street from the Pixar offices as the movie was being made, this made a ton of sense to me.
Equivalently, in Moana, the bad guy is the human ego and its insatiable desire to be worshipped. The physical manifestation of this is the demigod Maui. He’s the one who starts the curse, avoids the problem as much as he can, and then attempts to actually kill the entity who needs to be saved. Â But underneath it all is his origin story. Thrown away at birth by parents who didn’t want him, Maui needed to be saved by the Gods, and repaid this favor by constantly giving to man so that man would continue to worship him.Â He had to feel wanted because he started off life by being rejected.
He’s such a fun character. You want to love him. Having Dwayne Johnson voice him is perfect, and I think he does an incredible job giving the character an outsized personality. But as much as you want to root for him, you actually have to root against Maui. Because he represents everything that’s wrong about that handsome, likable, hometown hero figure. The bullying nature. The misogyny. The condescending tone. Running away in the critical moment.
It’s a good enough movie for kids. My trio all paid attention for the full 90 minutes. It was Theo’s first movie in a movie theater. There are two or so catchy songs you’ll hum when you see the movie advertisements around town.
But at the end of the day – the formula for the kids is pretty predictable and generic.
It’s the commentary on the hero worship culture that I think is worthy of conversation and analysis. When the guy you wanna love is really the bad guy in the room – what are we supposed to do?
When developing software, a Product Manager (that’s the job that I do) has to choose between whether to do the Cadillac version of a product (or feature) or the Accord version. Picking between one or the other is called making a tradeoff. Do you tradeoff completeness (which takes more time) or polish (which allows you to more quickly validate that the product has value to customers)?
When a feature that you’ve built doesn’t work the way you expect it to work, that’s called a bug. You’ve designed something a certain way to accomplish a specific task, but – in certain conditions – it can’t complete that task.
I’ve always thought racial profiling was a bug in the American justice system. I now realize that it’s actually a trade-off.
Let me tell you why:
In designing our justice system, we’ve decided that instead of having the hard conversations that we need to have as a society (building the Cadillac version of our justice system) around:
- The War on Drugs and its disproportionate effect on inner city, black and Hispanic men
- Our foreign policy as it relates to apartheid in Israel and the impact of that on Islamist aggression
- Our immigration policy and how it relates to an open border and the ideologies that come with that
that we would rather racially profile (the Accord version of our justice system), and then ask for forgiveness when it turns out we’ve reached too far.
If this were a bug, then we’d just say stop doing that police/TSA/FBI/ICE/etc. That isn’t nice. But the thing is – we can’t. Because if we stop doing it, then the wheels fall off our ability to avoid those conversations.
As a result, we’ve chosen racial profiling over humaneness. It helps us feel safer. It gives us an enemy against which to build our police state. And it blinds us to the human right abuses running rampant in some of our closest allies. We have too many hard conversations, and so this is one we’re happy to push into the future.
When you see that Arabs voted for Trump – it is because Hilary Clinton would have continued a blindly pro-Israel foreign policy that would leave Syrian and Palestinian children constantly looking over their shoulders for the next attack on their lives.
We see the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, and yet have seen no real movement to end the War on Drugs in 8 years of an Obama presidency (and we’ve just started to see a movement against the for-profit prison system that profits off of this policy).
And the inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform because both sides are afraid of losing future votes to the other is leaving the lives of millions in limbo, stalling our economic growth, and continuing to fan the xenophobic flames of nativism.
If we’re serious about this country being a melting pot, and if we’re serious about this country being a place of opportunity, then we need to have these hard conversations instead of settling for the trade-off.
Because the worst decision you can make when developing a product is the decision to do nothing at all.
One of the favorite refrains of the Tea Party element of the RightÂ is that the only way presented with the facts that I could ever holdÂ liberal positions is to be brainwashed by the mainstream media (MSM is how it’s abbreviated – I guess for more efficient Twitter character counts).
To this, I just need to say a few things:
(1) I know how to read. And because I believe in being an educated voter, I often read (or watch) the transcripts (or speeches) that the candidates make. I’m not watching any media’s version of the speech. I’m actually reading or watching what the candidate is saying themselves.
(2) I know how to research. I can follow the trail of who writes a bill. I can follow the trail of what an organization with a friendly name may or may not stand for. And so just because it comes from a group with a nice name like the American Family Organization, I know that it’s not a group that would accept me because I’m not Christian.
(3) I can find opposing views. And I actively look out for them. I really enjoy reading the TACÂ blog – not because I always agree with Rod Dreher, but because it helps me understand the first principles from which he builds his arguments.
Here’s another point to be very wary of. You’re getting your information from the mainstream media as well. The Mainstream Media includes – but is not limited to – the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, Huffington Post, Fox News, the New York Daily, Rush Limbaugh.
These are all for-profit organizations whose goal is to make people look at advertisements, listen to advertisements, and click on advertisements. Their goal is not to educate. If anything, it is to entertain. Sometimes entertaining requires informing, but informing is different than educating.
Please don’t take as gospel what you read in your mainstream media any more than I do in mine. Educate yourself. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to have the conversations we need to have to put this country back together again.
Dear Ms. Mary,
I want to reintroduce myself. My name is Melih Onvural, and we met almost 25 years ago in a small town called Cary, NC. I even remember how you introduced yourself – “My name is Mary. My husband’s name is Terry. And we live in Cary”. I was 9. And I don’t think you hated me then. Why do you hate me now?
If you remember, we were neighbors for 10 years. I grew up playing Monopoly and doing math homework at your kitchen table. The one time I remember my parents taking some time off for themselves, I stayed at your house. You might remember my parents. Muslim immigrants from Turkey who came to America and built their own American Dream.
You see, I feel the need to re-introduce myself becauseÂ over the last year or so, you’ve filled my Facebook feed with alt-right political rhetoric as if you’ve never known an immigrant; or a Muslim; or someone who scraped, crawled, and fought their way from the bottom to the top of the hill known as America.
But you have – me.
And – very consistently – over the last year you’ve posted your political rhetoric, and I’ve stayed silent. I figured that your candidate couldn’t win, and that I shouldn’t soil our relationship with political bickering. I was wrong about the former. And you didn’t give me the courtesy of the latter, and so I have to remind you of a few things tonight.
(1) Your candidate said that he wants me and my parents to not be a part of the American fabric. Either he actually means it, which makes him and you bigots, or he said it onlyÂ to rally up the crowd which makes him a liar.
If it’s the former, then your years of speaking down at me for not being Christian are a farce. Christ isn’t a bigot. And as a follower of Christ you must love all of His children, and leave judgement to our Creator on the Day of Judgement. These are the words He spoke in the Sermon on the Mount. These are things you taught me. In your kitchen. In the life we shared together. As neighbors.
If it’s the latter, then you’ve been conned. And you’ve allowed a con man to become your false prophet – once again betraying the very values you claim to live by.
(2) Your candidate has encouraged white supremacists to come out of the shadows in which they were hiding, and refused to repudiate them.
By supporting this man, you’ve made the world less safe for my children. Here’s a picture of my mixed-race children. They’re 5, 4, and 1.5 years old. They have a British mom, and a Turkish dad. Their last name is one that no one can pronounce. Instead of looking into my feed, and wondering about the world looks like for these kids when hate is allowed out of the shadows, you openly invited hate, and pushed us into the shadows.
How can I possibly bring them to North Carolina now knowing that the KKK has been empowered to stand back up? How can I send them to their grandmother’s house for the summer not knowing if they’ll be safe or not? You have grandchildren. Why would you create a world that is less safe for themÂ than the one in which your own children grew up?
(3) Your candidate has firmly laid down a layer of concrete over the glass ceiling of equal opportunity that every woman in my familyÂ has fought for.
Why should these women have opportunities closed to them? Why as a grandmother and a mother of an incredible young girl should they think that her opportunities will be less than those of the boys in their lives? Your candidate – and the masses who voted him in – make them believe that. Should your granddaughter have fewer opportunities just because she doesn’t have a penis?
I think somewhere along the line you forgot that the names and labels that you were raging against were people. People with lives, destinies, hopes, and dreams. My family. Your neighbors.
Your vote – and the votes of millions of other Americans – told these people – my people – that we don’t matter.
As much as I thought the best solution was to turn you off, I’ve realized that that’s wrong. I’m not going to unfriend you. I’m going to fill your news feed with the pictures, stories, accomplishments, and journeys of these people.
Because we’re not a faceless mass. We’re not Skittles in a fucking bowl. We are America – the best parts of it. And we want you to be part of our story too.
Things I’ve learned this year:
(1) Direct democracy is an AWFUL idea. If you don’t have 2 hours, and access to the right resources, then you have no idea what you’re voting for. It’s just awful.
(2) Our current two party system is broken, and there’s really no solution in sight
(3) California is obsessed with implementing liberal policies with conservative tax plans. It just can’t be sustainable, and is really worrisome.
And with all of that… my votes for the 2016 election up and down the ballot:
President & Vice President – Hilary Clinton & Tim Kaine
I really don’t like Hilary Clinton. Her foreign policy is too hawkish. She’s too old school for me on economics and taxation. But I don’t actually care. This is actually a protest vote against Donald Trump, and a world who would have him elected President. And so I’ve switched from leaving this blank, to voting for Hilary as a way to say that I can’t imagine a worse future for my children than one after 4 years of Donald Trump.
Senate -Â Â Kamala D. Harris
I think both women are strong candidates here. I think that Kamala Harris has put together a better vision of how she would fix the economy, and deal with immigration. Loretta Sanchez’s campaign seemsÂ to mainly be about her history and her experience, and less so about what she wants to do.
House ofÂ RepresentativesÂ -Â None
Preston Picus isn’t a real alternative. He seems to just be an angry citizen who got enough votes to get on the ballot. And I don’t think that Nancy Pelosi should go back. I just see her as part of a past generation who keeps trying to fix this country in the image of their parents and grandparents (same with Hilary I guess). I wish we could provide a real challenger here, but alas no luck.
State Senator – Jane Kim
If I were going to go by the inverse of the number of flyers I received this would easily go to Jane Kim. All Scott Weiner did it seems during this campaign is trash her. And he kept trashing her for policies she stood up for that when I read into them I also supported. So he in fact did most of my research for me here. What really tipped me in her direction though was as I was reading through her policies she spoke about how she wanted to fund her progressive programs. This is a theme I constantly see missing for Democrats. Sure they want to be progressive, but who’s paying for these progressive policies. Jane Kim seems to have that plan in place
State Assembly – None
The current Assembly Member – Phil Ting – doesn’t seem to have any ideas of his own. The challenger – Carlos “Chuck” Taylor – is too Tea Party for my liking.
School Board – Mark Sanchez, Rachel Norton, Stevon Cook, Phil Kim
The folks I knocked off of the list were either there too long (I think SFUSD is broken – so bragging about 24 years on the Board was a major turnoff), didn’t have plansÂ for how to fund their ideas, or had never before been involved in creating an education program.
These four seem to be focused on technology (including working in non-profits who have had to fund their ideas), teacher retention (with ideas about how to fix it), and curriculum (with clear ideas of where to focus).
Prop 51 – No
In reading the text, this is yet another excuse by California legislators to not take a hard look at Prop 13, and find a sustainable way to fund schools. We’re effectively saying that because we don’t have the political will to challenge Prop 13 we have to keep borrowing against the future to fund schools.
Prop 52 -Â Yes
This seems to be a program that’s working, and one that we should continue to let work. I think the lack of regular check-in by making the date indefinite is a bit sketch, but not so much as to vote No.
Prop 53 – No
The last thing California needs is more direct democracy. Definitely voting No here.
Prop 54 – No
This one looked great to me at first. But the more I read, the more I didn’t like it. So I asked the one person I know who has worked in the State Legislature, and he said vote No. Sometimes you just need to know who to trust 🙂
@monvural No on 54. Slowing down the Legislature is mostly bad for liberal causes. More about power than good government.
â€” Brock Winstead (@brockwinstead) November 8, 2016
Prop 55 – Yes
This is an extension to an income tax that will help fund schools. Unlike the construction proposition which I think will mainly help construction companies, this one puts the money into the education fund, distributes it locally, and then it gets spent locally. So on this one I’m voting yes.
Prop 56 – Yes
I’m anti-all things smoking.
Prop 57 – Yes
For this one, I think dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex is important. I also think that we need to take away from prosecutors the need to appear tough which incentivizes them to push for juveniles to be tried as adults. However, the case of Brock Turner demonstrates that giving this power to judges won’t necessarily turn out the way we expect it to. At the least, judges aren’t incentivized (I hope) the same way.
Prop 58 – No
I’m not sure what the long term outcome of this is, and the bi-lingual programs I know of in SFUSD are working for the folks who are in them. Just not convinced why we need this change.
Prop 59 – Yes
This is what my rant was all about, and so I definitely have to vote Yes here. Yes, I do want my state government which has the 8th largest economy in the world to use as much influence as it can to impact the federal government.
Prop 60 – No
This is regulation because someone wants to regulate. If you want to fix pornography, the issue isn’t condoms.
Prop 61 – Yes
I’m voting Yes here because I think the pharmaceutical industry has demonstrated in a few extreme cases (Martin Shekel and Epi-pen) that the system protects it enough without needing unfair pricing power. So if we can create a directive to drive costs down for pharmaceuticals, then let’s do it.
Prop 62 – Yes
Fabienne Gerard (my high school advisor) took me to an anti-death penalty panel when we were in high school. I’ve been anti-death penalty ever since. Yes, we should repeal the death penalty.
Prop 63 -Â Yes
I actually have no idea how this kind of move impacts the gun lobby across the nation, but at least in this corner of the country we can push back and create some sense of responsibility with gun ownership. Prop 63 is a definite yes for me.
Prop 64 – Yes
I think Prop 64 is another example of using the might of California to push change at the federal level. With most of the Western US legalizing the drug, we can create some momentum at the federal level to have a real conversation about the War on Drugs (also known as the War on Black America), and whether it’s time to end it.
Prop 65 – No
This is big industry protecting itself with a well worded proposition. No to more products made by oil.
Prop 66 – No
We don’t need to reduce the cost of the death penalty. We need to end the death penalty. No on 66.
Prop 67 – Yes
One of the simplest worded propositions I’ve seen in my time in California. We need to get rid of plastic bags. The less of our lives that is made by oil, the easier it will be to unentangle from the global obligations that come with an oil driven economy.
SF A – No
SF B – Yes
SF C – Yes
SF D – No
SF E – Yes
SF F – No -Â 16 year old shouldn’t vote. Come on.
SF G – Yes
SF H – Yes
SF I – No
SF J – No
SF K – No – Instead can we ask the technology industry to pay its fair share of taxes instead of giving Twitter a massive tax free zone?
SF L – No
SF M – Yes
SF N – No
SF O – No
SF P – No
SF Q – No
SF R – No
SF S – No
SF T – Yes
SF U – No
SF V- Yes – Take that soda companies :-p
SF W – Yes
SF X – No
BART RR – No – I just don’t trust the folks who run BART after the way the BART strike situation was handled.
They tell us that one of the marvels of the American system is that every few years power is peacefully transferred from one group to another. And that we should look at this in awe, and be impressed.
This is a lie.
There have been two transfers of power in American history, and we are living through the third. The first two were violent. My fear is that the third will be as well.
But first – some context.
The first transfer of power was the American Revolution. It was violent. It set up an incredible system – the US Constitution. This transfer of power was from a colonial system where the rules were set by someone else to a federal system (eventually) where the states (with the federal government as tie breaker) set the rules themselves.
Every four to eight years, the US Constitution supports a transfer of power from one group to another. This transfer of power that they tell us about in school isÂ specifically the transfer of government leadership. This feels like a big deal because historically it would have been. ThatÂ is because,Â historically, this has been one-to-one tied with economic power. But the magic of the system in the US is that we separated government leadership from economic power.
Oh sure, the only people who could be government leaders at first were the rich white men who had economic power. But within 75 years, Andrew Jackson fixed that for us (even though he was a massive racist). Shortly thereafter though there started to be a fork in the road for wealth generation.
The previously agrarian economy was slowly being replaced by an industrial revolution. Where before the only way to generate more wealth (in the agrarian society) was more land at a near zero labor cost (slavery), there was now an ability to generate wealth by building a factory, and then even more wealth by making it more efficient, opening more factories, or expanding into other opportunitiesÂ (either horizontally across new industries or vertically into a single industry). And with this new found industrial revolution came a new found desire to change the old models. Because this new model transferred economic wealth from the old model into the new, there was blood. A lot of it.
And with the end of the Civil War, the secondÂ transfer of power – as expressed in economic force – in American history was complete. The old agrarian system was neutered. The new industrial system was firmly in place.
It took another 150 years or so – and the foundations were laid 50 years ago with the Civil Rights movement, 40 years ago with the Stonewall Riots, 30 years ago with the launch of DARPANet, 20 years ago with the rise of China’s manufacturing juggernaut, and so it goes – for the next transfer of power to start. As we move from an industrial economy to a service economy, we are again seeing a true transfer of power.
Where before one had to own the means of production – land, access to resources, access to cheap capital – we’re transitioning to a system where the cost of production is dropping rapidly, the need to own the production no longer exists, and capital is so cheap everywhere that everyone has access to lots of it (well, not really, and that’s where the problem is going to come, but let’s go with it for a second).
The interesting thing is to really play in the service economy all you really need is the knowledge that it exists, and an understanding of the rules for how to play it. And it turns out that that makes wealth more meritocratic, but also makes lots of existing professions indefensible. It means more people can be part of the pie, but not everyone is seeing their share of the pie grow.
And if you came from the professions that are disappearing or if you don’t like that wealth is now meritocratic to individuals who were previously marginalized, then you’re really not excited about this latest transfer of power.
So when Trump says “Let’s Make America Great Again” what he really means is, “Let’s preserve the current status quo, and not transfer power to a new economy, a new culture, and a new America”.
Given all of that – I’m left wondering two things:
(1) Can this transfer of power be bloodless?
(2) Assuming not, are we willing to fight the fights necessary to make sure it happens?
I’m exhausted by our federal election process.
We have lots of problems locally. We don’t have public schools to whichÂ folks are excited to send their kids. We don’t have a public transport system of which anyone is proud. We can’t provide housing for our civil servants.
But IÂ send over one-third of myÂ income into a federal pot where it gets redistributed amongst rednecks and hicks whose elected officials deny climate change, attach women’s rights, and defend mass murderers right to mass murder. And there’s nothing I can do to change that. And so while we have problems locally, I feel as if there’s opportunity to get involved and be part of change. Federally I have no chance, and it’s tiring.
So for my vote for President in 2016 I’m going to leave all of the options empty. Here’s why:
Donald Trump is an idiot. No need to even discuss that point.
Gary Johnson has proven he doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.
Hilary Clinton will lead a compromise driven administration, and be rebuffed at every turn for at least two years until the Democratic Party’s ground game can attempt to flip the House in 2018. If they do, great, she’ll be in re-election mode already. If not, then great she’ll be out in two years for not being able to do anything.
If you’re equally frustrated then I invite you to join me in voting for no one. I would hope thatÂ if enough of us felt that way our representative in the electoral vote would equally choose to not vote for anyone in December when the formal counts are held. While I know that won’t happen, it would create an avenue for a true protest vote that our current system denies us.
Then, I’d like to take the banner for State’s Rights away from the racists spread out across Alabama, Mississippi, the Midwest, and Mountain West, and push the State of California to implement reform itself without the permission of the Federal Government. I have lost all faith in federalism. Instead, I’d prefer that:
- California demandÂ text books be written with a specific curriculum in mind exactly asÂ Texas is doing, and create a center-left tidal wave in education
- California write its own rules on immigration just like Arizona is doing, and establish immigration reform that has an amnesty option and opens the door for more highly skilled workers to come into our state
- California adoptÂ its own rules on gun ownership just like Florida is doing, and make responsible gun ownership a requirement and not an option
And if California won’t do it, then San Francisco should.
4 or 8 more years of compromise with people who think that the Federal government is evil while living off federally funded subsidies is idiotic. The only option I see is to vote no one at the top of my ballot, and hold the officials I’m electing locally responsible for building the future that I want for my children.
At least locally it feels like I have a chance.