Oaklash

On May 19th 2018, the first Oaklash Festival took place. Oaklash celebrated drag queens in Oakland at Classic Cars West.  Many lewks were served.

My favorite performance of the night was probably a lip sync of So Emotional by Whitney. Kimora Campbell of Tragic Queendom killed it, complete with fake bags of coke thrown to the crowd. Everyone was stunning though, and it was really a great event that brought together all the weird-o queer-mo’s.

Here are some snapshots from the night.

Live Work Work Work Die

I am a bit obsessed with work and productivity. I work at a tech company…what other choice do I really have? In the tech industry there is a dangerous faith in technical positivism, a strain of philosophy that prizes instrumental rationality and leaves something to be desired in terms of social value. With that in mind, do I have any choice other than to be a bit obsessed with my own instrumental value in the Bay Area?

Enter Live Work Work Work Die by Corey Pein. The world is not short on books critical of Silicon Valley and Pein’s “Journey Into The Savage Heart of Silicon Valley” is no different. Pein sets out to understand the vainglorious character of SF’s tech scene through a large cast of characters and venues: wise and jaded venture capitalists, entrepreneurial eccentrics, engineer-drones whose personal missions are to solve the same problem: what doesn’t your mom do for you any more?

This motley crew of characters is united by their belief in technology to better the world and to better their bank accounts. Pein starts to unravel Big Tech’s ambition to change the world to reveal it for what it really is: a program that seeks to further capitalism’s extraction of value from the world . Of course, of course, but that isn’t the hottest take these days. While I loved chapter titles like “Slums as a Service” and “Gigs Set You Free,” the book’s shining moments pick up on the fascism and bigotry that pervades the intersection of scientific innovation, economic power, and cultural capital.

James Demore, Mencius Moldbug, Peter Theil,  Steve Bannon, Donald Trump … all are part of a neoreaction to social progress that have made it okay to be non-white,  non-male, non-heterosexual. Of course the tech industry, which for many reasons already props up straight white men, is a hot bed for this dross. Video games are the chosen art and recreation of the tech drones and so when a woman was recognized for achievements in the industry: GamerGate. GamerGate was a terror campaign hidden in plain sight meant to recruit men who believed their ‘technically superior’ video games were being robbed by the women who (in their minds) both use their sexuality to receive recognition and demand preferential treatment via the convenient vehicle of social justice.

Today it feels like all of this has spun out of control. The Alt Right’s shrieks about their freedom of speech and their bullying toward “snowflakes” is a great cover for a fascist mind game that attempts to re-secure supremacy for those who have only recently had to share the privileges of equal rights. The world is scary these days and this book puts in some work to connect that scary world to the less marketable side of Silicon Valley.

My treatment of this book in this post, I know, is brief. Maybe even a bit off the rails. Maybe the pockets of fascism present in tech aren’t obvious based on my light review, but I recommend you pick up the book to find out more.