how do you solve a problem like Peter?
October 26, 2016 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Peter Thiel[readme] (Paypal inventor, venture capitalist, libertarian, vampire, techno-optimist, futurist, tranhumanist, lawsuit-machine finanicier and inflation-predicting billionaire) is supporting Donald Trump for President of the United States, and thinks America made a (one of many) wrong turn granting women the vote. Why?
This has made some of his compatriots in Silicon Valley (and New York, but not Chicago) anxious.

Thiel was made a partner at Y Combinator, the prestigious SV startup seed accelerator, drawing them into a feud and losing backers - like Facebook!

So why is Thiel supporting Trump? "I think Peter Thiel supports Donald Trump because he believes it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to weaken America's attachment to democratic government."

As
a devotee[possibly down, try Archive] of Rene Girard and Things Hidden Since The Foundation Of The World, maybe it's Silicon Valley's Scapegoat Complex -
While not wholly unprecedented in the “money is speech” era (Republican billionaire Frank VanderSloot attempted to destroy Mother Jones in court, for example), the proxy war against Gawker feels like a novel application of modern day Silicon Valley thinking to that time-honored oligarchic staple, the libel lawsuit. It’s easy to imagine Thiel conceiving of his attack on Gawker not as a petty vendetta, but rather as a litigation moonshot — yet another instance of the same sort of audacious, “can do” solutioneering that gave us seasteading and Uber. As with a lot of innovations that come from Silicon Valley today, it can be hard for the outside observer to decide whether to be impressed or terrified. On one hand there’s a vague patina of social benefit (“Taxis are bad and corrupt — let’s disrupt them!” “Gawker is gross — let’s make sure they can’t hurt anyone else!”); on the other there are layers of indirection that obscure who really benefits in the long run and how.
Peter Thiel gave a speech at the RNC, too.
Thiel has announced a speech on Oct 31.

Should you care? Anyway, if you don't so business with a guy who supports Trump, where would this neverending slippery-slope lead us?

More on Silicon Valley culture, at OMNIVORE
posted by the man of twists and turns (107 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's startling to realize, upon telling in the motley band of Trump surrogates and backers we've discovered under the rocks of this election season, that virtually all of them are much crazier than Trump himself.
posted by selfnoise at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2016 [20 favorites]


how do you solve a problem like Peter?

Circle of salt. Construct a Chernobyl style shroud around it once he's trapped there. Possibly also one of those "this is not a place of honour" style nuclear waste indicators around the whole structure once it's done.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2016 [81 favorites]


how do you solve a problem like Peter?

Progressive taxation, good regulation, unionization, and teaching critical thinking and metacognition skills in the schools to the level needed to inoculate most of the population against Engineer's Disease.
posted by kewb at 3:16 PM on October 26, 2016 [185 favorites]


Weirdly, IIRC one of the doomsday scenarios that the group who came up with the nuclear indicators was concerned about was "Anti Science Matriarchy".
posted by selfnoise at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm betting that if when Trump loses in two weeks, Thiel will try to run for president himself in four years.
posted by octothorpe at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


So ridiculous. I have no more notches left on my SO AFRAID OF TRUMP belt, but there are still idiots like Thiel left to trot out?

What do they want me to do, vote for Hillary nine more times? How many landslides does she need?

(Also, get serious. Not even a Republican Senate would approve a Supreme Court nominee like this.)
posted by rokusan at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want, just as I am allowed to vote Democrat. I see no reason for stupid drama and witch-hunts.
posted by w0mbat at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


In a who's worse tech billionaires competition I never know if i should put money on thiel or Travis kalanick. Maybe thiel as he's been around longer. What was the tag line for alien vs predator? Whoever wins we all lose?
posted by Carillon at 3:18 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm betting that if when Trump loses in two weeks, Thiel will try to run for president himself in four years.
He can try all he wants:

Thiel was born to Germans Klaus Thiel, a chemical engineer, and Susanne Thiel, in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


The specific thing about Thiel that sticks with me is: would you want him on your Board of Directors? He's not just voting for Trump; he spoke at Trump's nomination, he's giving outsized amounts of money. Even after we have video evidence that Trump is a sexual predator and long after we know Trump is racist and anti-Muslim.

So a big part of being on a Board of Directors is helping advise a company on hiring. Would you want Thiel advising you on hiring? Silicon Valley already has an enormous problem with hiring women and underrepresented minorities. Is Thiel going to help a company fix that problem?

FWIW I have a bunch of friends in the YC orbit. The destroying democracy theory is pretty close to their understanding of Thiel's support for Trump.
posted by Nelson at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2016 [32 favorites]


More fodder to continue my boycott of PayPal.
Recent events in Oregon have caused me to swear off beef.
What's next? Bridgeport Beer?
posted by dubwisened at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want

Ok, sure--

and thinks America made a (one of many) wrong turn granting women the vote.

Guess I'm not allowed to vote Democrat or otherwise?
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2016 [25 favorites]



I'm betting that if when Trump loses in two weeks, Thiel will try to run for president himself in four years.


I look forward to Hulk Hogan's Presidential run in 2020, bankrolled by Thiel. He's already got the perfect theme song!
posted by Karaage at 3:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want, just as I am allowed to vote Democrat. I see no reason for stupid drama and witch-hunts.

Even if his "vote" is about a million times more effective than yours?
posted by danny the boy at 3:23 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want, just as I am allowed to vote Democrat. I see no reason for stupid drama and witch-hunts.
Thiel is somewhat unique in that he has given a large amount of money to Trump, has previously expressed reprehensible beliefs regarding women's suffrage, and is actively funding startups.

I'd be happy to take the guy's money for a project that I'm 100% certain will fail. I don't want a single cent from him if I think I have any chance of success. The issue isn't about voting Republican, it is about giving large sums of money to a very dangerous demagogue and advocating political positions that are clearly harmful.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:26 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm betting that if when Trump loses in two weeks, Thiel will try to run for president himself in four years.

I hope it is VERY expensive.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on October 26, 2016


Let's dispel the notion that Peter Thiel is a "tech" guy or an "engineer". He was trained at a school, one well-known for harboring conservatives (Stanford), in philosophy, got a law degree, and spent his initial years working in finance.

Unless his fingers actually touched code and his brain had to wrestle with algorithms and programming paradigms, his primary relation to Paypal was merely being a co-founder. That's the Steve Jobs vs Steve Woz distinction.

Saying he has "engineer's disease" or is a "tech billionaire" when his role was primarily a capitalist CEO misrepresents him as a person, misrepresents the social problems and controversies around his actions, and misrepresents the problems that challenge real engineers and technologists. Peter Thiel has Capitalist's Disease.
posted by polymodus at 3:26 PM on October 26, 2016 [227 favorites]


It's startling to realize, upon telling in the motley band of Trump surrogates and backers we've discovered under the rocks of this election season, that virtually all of them are much crazier than Trump himself.

I mean, that's a natural consequence of cults of personality. You don't have to Godwin to look at a lot of historical examples of ideologues with advisors who were wackier than the man- almost always a man- in the center. Or just look at the cast of the Reagan administration.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:29 PM on October 26, 2016


Don't forget that one of Thiel's favorite ventures is figuring out how to make him a vampire.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who made news this summer for endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican convention, is a man who has sex with other men. But is he gay?

Link.
posted by jpe at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


b1tr0t: "He can try all he wants:

Thiel was born to Germans Klaus Thiel, a chemical engineer, and Susanne Thiel, in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany.
"

I didn't realize that, good to know.
posted by octothorpe at 3:36 PM on October 26, 2016


Oh god. Give him the immortality he seeks and send him off to Mars.
posted by peripathetic at 3:37 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Don't forget that one of Thiel's favorite ventures is figuring out how to make him a vampire.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar


Donald! I reject my humanity! With your blood!
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:38 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Godwinned by his own parents. No wonder he's so bitter.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Thiel, and others of his ilk, (not necessarily Valley types, I'm talking neo-reactionary types) are actively anti-democracy. The idea that ordinary people who are not wealthy, priviledged, educated, etc. have a say in how the country is run is an affront to these people. Certain members of the neo-reactionary sect adore Trump not for his policies, but because they feel he is the best option to end democracy, and institute a new system of government more akin to a corporation where you buy your stake in how the country is run.
posted by SansPoint at 3:41 PM on October 26, 2016 [28 favorites]


Oh god. Give him the immortality he seeks and send him off to Mars.

I think I fought Thiel in the recent Doom. He was naked and vomiting all kinds of crap.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Are his ilk reptilians? Cause I've been hearing they're reptilians. People are saying it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:46 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Florence Henderson: Neo-reactionaries, also known as The Dark Enlightenment
posted by SansPoint at 3:50 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you'd like a deep cut of Thiel awfulness, here's something about him speaking at a conference for libertarian white nationalists which was, for some reason, held in Turkey. I think he eventually cancelled, but the libertarian fringe he supports is still home to some of the absolute worst people on earth.

He's also funded James O'Keefe, confirming his affinity for awful, awful people.
posted by Copronymus at 3:51 PM on October 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


Vox also covers neo-reactionaries in their guide to the alt-right.
posted by SansPoint at 3:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thiel is pretty gross but I don't get why he gets so much press vs all the other conservative billionaires out there funding campaigns against access to abortion or climate change denial. A lot of rich people are terrible and try to make other people heave-to.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thiel's brand of "no regulation" can only be relevant in an abstract way. I work in the regulation of medicines, and absent regulation the companies that develop them have shown time and again that they are absolutely willing to harm their consumers in pursuit of profit. Surely Thiel takes an Advil from time to time, or even some prescription medication. In his quest for immortality, he will take more. Is he concerned with the evidence used to support the claims companies make of these drugs? It's the same question for every division of capital markets that deal in metabolically-active substances: pesticides, herbicides, medical devices, contact lenses, lubes, you name it.

I don't trust an open market for these products because I see how these markets attempt to evade regulation now. This isn't an abstract position. Browse through the warning letters FDA sends to companies if you have any doubt about what I've written. Thiel and those espousing an unfettered market are abundantly and willfully negligent of issues like these (and these questions aren't restricted to toxicology).

Thiel is pretty gross but I don't get why he gets so much press vs all the other conservative billionaires out there funding campaigns against access to abortion or climate change denial.

He held his coming out party at a GOP convention, for one. Out of the shadows, into the streets.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2016 [40 favorites]


On reading the Techcrunch piece I basically have the same attitude as Connie Loizos:"There’s no reason to think that because Peter Thiel is a good at founding companies or investing in startups that anyone should care who he’s supporting for president, or what he thinks about anything other than business for that matter."

And honestly he, like many founders, mostly got lucky. I'm not even sure he's that great at founding companies.
posted by GuyZero at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just want them to try their damn sea-steading and shut up about it. I, personally, don't think it will work as anything close to a functioning society (playground for the mega-rich? Sure. Place where middle class families can live and have kids and get jobs and such? Not seeing it), but I might be wrong and watching it succeed would be almost as much fun as watching it fail.

The problem I have with him is not that he thinks democracy is a failed experiment (I find that view bizarre, but whatever), but that he wants to try other experiments here. And he's unlikely to feel any negative effects if the experiments don't work. Pollution goes out of control? He'll move to a part of the country that isn't polluted. Or to his private yacht. Quality of life drops for most Americans? Doesn't affect him. US foreign relations are damaged in a way that will take decades to repair? So? He might not care, but I sure will.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:06 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Thiel is pretty gross but I don't get why he gets so much press vs all the other conservative billionaires out there funding campaigns against access to abortion or climate change denial. A lot of rich people are terrible and try to make other people heave-to.

I think I big part is the SV connection; slagging on Silicon Valley is the current hotness (e.g. "engineer's disease", tech-bros, etc.)
posted by MikeKD at 4:16 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh tush and bibble. It's because he's a cartoonish Bond villain who wants to live on an oil rig. People hate him more than (e.g.) Zuckerberg and they positively love Woz. It's not because we're all being mean to Silicon Valley millionaires. It's because he's an enormous fucking bellend.
posted by howfar at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2016 [80 favorites]


Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who made news this summer for endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican convention, is a man who has sex with other men. But is he gay?

ok um I am a man who has sex with other men and am not gay, but I guess thanks a lot The Advocate for implying that this is a weird case specific to Peter fucking Thiel?
posted by zokni at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not even sure he's that great at founding companies.

And to be more accurate, with the exception of PayPal, he doesn't found them. He funds them, with mostly successful results (there are different analyses of the returns on Clarium Capital).

It's the part where he thinks that he is therefore qualified to dabble in politics, fairly reactionary politics, that is creepy.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think I big part is the SV connection; slagging on Silicon Valley is the current hotness (e.g. "engineer's disease", tech-bros, etc.)

Sort of, but I think some of the press attention is a result of voices within the tech industry pressuring Y Combinator and Facebook to distance themselves from Thiel. That's what prompted Zuckerberg's memo, and if the head of Facebook feels compelled to address it, that makes it news.
posted by figurant at 4:24 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


that article is weird as hell, like it was beamed in from a world where critical theory was invented but somehow nobody discovered queer or bi people yet
posted by zokni at 4:25 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want, just as I am allowed to vote Democrat. I see no reason for stupid drama and witch-hunts.

Witch hunts, huh? Is this some kind of attempt at disrupting the English language?
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Gotta wonder what Brendan Eich thinks about all this.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am not gay. I also do not have sex with other men. But I am willing to learn.
posted by delfin at 4:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]



Recent events in Oregon have caused me to swear off beef.
What's next? Bridgeport Beer?
posted by dubwisened

What is wrong with Bridgeport beer? have you tried it? where?
posted by Postroad at 4:34 PM on October 26, 2016


Thiel is pretty gross but I don't get why he gets so much press vs all the other conservative billionaires out there funding campaigns against access to abortion or climate change denial. A lot of rich people are terrible and try to make other people heave-to.

There's a certain novelty to Thiel specifically with his interest in wacky stuff like seasteading and using blood transfusions to extend lifespans. I'm sure other billionaires are blowing money on dumb crap like that, too, but they're a little less open about it, whereas Thiel has made himself into a public figure precisely because he wants to tell everyone how wise and powerful he is. Sometimes that means people look into what exactly you're supporting.

He is also most currently notable for his feud with Gawker and it turns out there is some truth in that adage about fighting with organizations that buy ink by the barrel, especially one with dozens of alumni spread across several media outlets.
posted by Copronymus at 4:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


Re:slagging on engineers. I am an engineer (software), I work with engineers. You can and should continue to slag us with regards to engineers disease. It is more than deserved.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 4:41 PM on October 26, 2016 [39 favorites]


Compatriots? He's making Germans in Silicon Valley anxious?
posted by QuietDesperation at 4:42 PM on October 26, 2016


really makes one want to go back and root harder for gawker dot com
posted by listen, lady at 4:42 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


This just in: Pile of shit still pile of shit.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:44 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Witch hunts, huh? Is this some kind of attempt at disrupting the English language?

Hey, at least it's better than the us-vs-them politics of which hunts.
posted by rokusan at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Re:slagging on engineers. I am an engineer (software), I work with engineers. You can and should continue to slag us with regards to engineers disease. It is more than deserved.

I'm not sure where this came from, but please no. Most engineers aren't like this and armchair quaterbacking is hardly a hobby reserved for engineers.
posted by GuyZero at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


there is some truth in that adage about fighting with organizations that buy ink by the barrel, especially one with dozens of alumni spread across several media outlets.

Yeah, it seems like Thiel has permanently got a new byline on every article that mentions him reminding people that he indirectly sued a press outlet out of business. It may end up on his next driver's license.
posted by GuyZero at 4:47 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


would everybody PLEASE stop hurting silicon valley's feelings :(:(:(
posted by invitapriore at 4:48 PM on October 26, 2016 [29 favorites]


Other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want, just as I am allowed to vote Democrat. I see no reason for stupid drama and witch-hunts.

Peter Thiel: "I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm a vampire."

never forget Christine O'Donnell
posted by sallybrown at 4:50 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anyway, if you don't so business with a guy who supports Trump, where would this neverending slippery-slope lead us?

Just fancy, Scott Aaronson having opinions about how terrible life might be if being a giant asshole had repercussions.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Re:slagging on engineers. I am an engineer (software), I work with engineers. You can and should continue to slag us with regards to engineers disease. It is more than deserved.

I'm not sure where this came from, but please no. Most engineers aren't like this and armchair quaterbacking is hardly a hobby reserved for engineers.

I think he means software engineers, and in particular those in Silicon Valley who are so influential in the industry. Just check out Hacker News (and the criticism of that culture from Model View Culture) to get a general idea of what these folks are like. I'm a software engineer and all my contact with Trump supporters is from my family in the Deep South...and white male software engineers who come from the most privileged of backgrounds. The whole field is full of "deplorables" of different stripes.

I'm not saying we are all awful (I'm only a little bit awful, probably due to avoiding the Silicon Valley set as best as I can), but the culture is by and large one of neo-reactionary male entitlement and white supremacy.
posted by melissam at 4:54 PM on October 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think he means software engineers...

I know what he means I just don't know where this came from in this thread. It seemed to kind of go from maybe a single tangential mention to dumping on engineers.

Just check out Hacker News...

I know what Hacker News is.

I'm a software engineer and...

Please stop making it harder to me to tell people this is a non-useful stereotype.
posted by GuyZero at 5:07 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't think this was linked above, but Julia Carrie Wong had a good piece in the Guardian about Silicon Valley's reluctance to disavow Thiel. The article features some choice quotes from Maciej Ceglowski of Pinboard, who's been tweeting a lot of righteous snark about the hypocrisy of tech leaders who condemn Trump as a threat to democracy, but are happy to maintain partnerships with someone bankrolling him.
posted by karayel at 5:20 PM on October 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


Peter Thiel was the only subject in the study who preferred the wire mother
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on October 26, 2016 [121 favorites]


Thiel has announced a speech on Oct 31.
I was going to go see a Freddie Krueger movie marathon for Halloween, but that sounds much scarier.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


He was just sorry it wasn't a razor wire mother.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2016


Damn, The Whelk, that is the harshest burn since the "demon core" incidents at Los Alamos.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


how the shit did a thread on a man with a law degree and no technical accomplishments turn into a forum for everyone with an axe to grind about engineers?
posted by indubitable at 5:36 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm not saying we [software engineers] are all awful (I'm only a little bit awful, probably due to avoiding the Silicon Valley set as best as I can), but the culture is by and large one of neo-reactionary male entitlement and white supremacy.

This is so true it hurts. I studied literature but found myself in IT as a software tester, and omigod. The culture is traumatizing in its entitlement and white superiority complex. Capitalism is used as a shill for their mindset, which, honestly, I'm surprised no one here yet has pointed out that link with misogyny. Money-making is somehow seen as a validation that white men can do whatever they want. See also: a certain presidential candidate bragging that he can do whatever he wants, up to and including sexual assault, because he's rich. These guys don't exist in a vacuum.

how the shit did a thread on a man with a law degree and no technical accomplishments turn into a forum for everyone with an axe to grind about engineers?

It's not just about the engineers, it's about the widespread mindset (not all engineers, but the exceptions will assure you it's the rule) being purposefully used as tools by guys like Thiel. I live in France, right? Who do you think gets quoted as geniuses by the more superiority-minded white dudes in our IT company? Especially by management, up to top director level? Elon Musk. Peter Thiel.
posted by fraula at 5:43 PM on October 26, 2016 [21 favorites]


Well, engineer-worship (and engineer self-worship) is a big, big part of Silicon Valley. It's also probably a big reason why such a hotbed of tech innovation is simultaneously such fertile ground for some very frightening politics.

It's not just Thiel, it's venture-fueled tech in general.
posted by rokusan at 5:47 PM on October 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


how does thiel deal w thatcher?
posted by PinkMoose at 5:49 PM on October 26, 2016


he's a problem because he supports a reality show has been running for President?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:49 PM on October 26, 2016


No, he's a problem because of the Gawker thing, and then this.

However, after the Gawker thing, Peter Thiel is the most awesome man on earth and I will literally do anything he says no matter what it is, for Thiel Is Always Right(TM).

pleasedon'tsueme.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not even sure he's that great at founding companies

He doesn't found companies. He funds them. And he doesn't have to be that great, because he got big early and now he gets to sit there at Y-Combinator and select applicants and then cherry pick its successful startups for A & B rounds, etc.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:52 PM on October 26, 2016


Who will rid us of this turbulent oligarch?
posted by monotreme at 6:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I, personally, don't think it will work as anything close to a functioning society

The norovirus outbreaks will be brutal.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:33 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not entirely sure how Thiel is a problem, other than he has a bit of money. All sides have people with money.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2016


not all sides have people with money who fund numerous third party lawsuits against media organizations
posted by edeezy at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


Not entirely sure how Thiel is a problem, other than he has a bit of money. All sides have people with money.


Well I think "side" might be a false???? what doyoucallit? Dichotomy??? but aside from that if we are talking Nazis vs Pol Pot, I think the Pol Pot People's wallets are a little threadbare. When it comes to well funded extremists I'll bet dollars to donuts that all of them are on the right side.
posted by Pembquist at 6:41 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]




Let's dispel the notion that Peter Thiel is a "tech" guy or an "engineer". He was trained at a school, one well-known for harboring conservatives (Stanford), in philosophy, got a law degree, and spent his initial years working in finance.

I suppose I have to say about my alma mater that, although it is more conservative than Berkeley (a low bar) it is not a conservative place. Because it's its own town-like thing, the politics of the college itself are known: political registrations run 54% Democrat, 15% Republican (low percentage because young people tend not to register). D. Klein notes a 7.6:1 D:R ratio in the faculty.

As for the philosophy department, I can personally vouch for the typical academic liberalness of basically all the faculty and a solid supermajority of the students. I don't know about the law school.

You can't talk about this guy being too typical of any class.
posted by hleehowon at 7:10 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Never stop talking about Peter Thiel and his thirst for young peoples blood. It is the crimson shadow looming all of his other shenanigans.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:39 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Are his ilk reptilians?

Of a sort.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:42 PM on October 26, 2016


Most engineers aren't like this and armchair quaterbacking is hardly a hobby reserved for engineers.

It's not just engineers, but most narrowly professional people with high incomes. Doctors have this issue too - see Ben Carson. I don't think it's that hard to fathom: intelligent people with successful careers assume their knowledge applies to domains they have no experience with. Intelligence does not equal self-awareness.
posted by elwoodwiles at 7:49 PM on October 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


Also according to reports Pete only serves ice cold chicken soup with the belief it has life extending properties.

I don't have the heart to tell him that particular scam goes back to Joan Crawford and beyond.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ugh, Peter Thiel is batshit crazy, and is poorly regarded even in the transhumanist community.

That said, you can want to extend healthy human lifespan without being evil or crazy. Zoltan Istvan, the Transhumanist Party candidate this year, was a strong HRC supporter before he started running.
posted by stolyarova at 8:43 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


#notallengineers #onlytheonesiworkwithandwenttoschoolwithandamsurroundedbyeveryday
posted by klanawa at 9:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


I suppose I have to say about my alma mater that, although it is more conservative than Berkeley (a low bar) it is not a conservative place.

OTOH, it is home to the Hoover Institution.
posted by asterix at 9:31 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm only surprised the Koch Brothers haven't jumped on the Thiel sue-the-media-outlets-you-don't-like train yet.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:52 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Peter Thiel was the only subject in the study who preferred the wire mother

literally cackling
posted by en forme de poire at 1:15 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not entirely sure how Thiel is a problem, other than he has a bit of money. All sides have people with money.

Soros. The Dems have Soros, unless you want to go all-in and tag the Gates Foundation's aspirations of eliminating malaria as an insidious liberal plot. Meanwhile, have you seen the shitposting on Trump-supporting sites lately? They've apparently funneled all their graphic design resources into photoshopping Soros into progressively more undead-looking glory. A month or two back, he passed late-Empire Palpatine. He's now headed firmly into Skeletor territory. It's really something to behold.

Meanwhile, I think I could name you half a dozen investor-turned-political-hack billionaires who are actively working to undermine the tenets of democracy, just off the top of my head. I'd be willing to bet the Bond-supervillain-wannabe-billionaire demographic breaks 90% Republican, if only out of naked economic self-interest. We're not morally obligated to step back and say "To each his own" when these motherfuckers are actively trying to ruin the country. I'm not saying we NEED to bring back the guillotines, but... have we TRIED bringing back the guillotines?
posted by Mayor West at 5:39 AM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


I just want them to try their damn sea-steading and shut up about it. I, personally, don't think it will work as anything close to a functioning society (playground for the mega-rich? Sure. Place where middle class families can live and have kids and get jobs and such? Not seeing it), but I might be wrong and watching it succeed would be almost as much fun as watching it fail.

The sea-steading thing is just talk and they know it. Because they're smart enough to know that their super mega yacht filled with rich people and gold would be the instant target of every pirate, thief, and kidnapper on the planet. Their "security forces" would be overwhelmed and their shit stolen and their big yacht sunk in record time.

And the governments of the world would watch and laugh. "Sorry assholes, you declared yourselves to be independent of our evil big government influence, hope the pirates are nice to you!"
posted by sotonohito at 7:00 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


So they'll never do it for real. It's the billionaire asshole version of the little kid yelling that they will run away and then mommy and daddy will be sorry.
posted by sotonohito at 7:01 AM on October 27, 2016


In my mind Thiel is the mirror universe version of Elon Musk. Not that Musk is necessarily a good guy, but the "lets try to do futuristic shit" stuff he does comes from the optimistic side of scifi. Missions to mars, self driving electric vehicles and a pneumatic high speed train from LA to SF. Stuff that comes from the golden age of scifi. And while the golden age had numerous problems (lack of representation unless you were white, male and at least middle class to start with), there was a relentless optimism that things would continue to get better (for at least the white, male, at least middle class citizens of these stories). Thiel pulls from the dystopian part of cyberpunk. Lawless corporate states, rich people living forever and a company that helps provide ubiquitous surveillance. The stuff that helps the corporate overlords further oppress the people. And while I love me some cyberpunk, I want to see an inclusive version of the golden age scifi actually come true. (I want manly men and womanly men and genderqueer men and manly women and womanly women and genderqueer women and people from every continent who speak things other than American English going forth and doing amazing competent things that save the world and push us to the stars.)

I'm kind of sort of friends with a semi-big name in the rationalist community (I was friends with them when we were both members of the skeptics scene in a certain city, they're living elsewhere now, and I'm trying to be as vague as possible here). This person runs an organization has received funding from Thiel and had him speak at stuff they've been part of and is friends with people who are in similar situations. And the rationalist community has been tying itself in knots trying to figure out how to respond. They recognize that Trump is crazy and dangerous and to their credit, they are decent at getting past the lies thrown out by the 4chan part of the alt-right (even if some of them are members of the dark enlightenment). These people tend to be transhumanist, so the "I will cheat death" thing that Thiel is going for is something they like. And they've been willing to endure the cognitive dissonance that comes from his beyond reactionary views before. But now they're faced with Thiel supporting someone who is not rational in the slightest for the sole reason that this person will help further Thiel's super reactionary agenda. I am seeing this through the lens of facebook, so I'm only seeing a little bit. But for every one of them who says "well, he's said he's against democracy and equality and rights for women, so of course he's supporting Trump," there's three who are trying to preserve the idea of Thiel as a rationalist who made it big. I'm dubious of this community to begin with and I have to admit a good deal of schadenfreude in seeing the contradictions they have been studiously ignoring come to bite them in the ass. (I'm sure there are similar contradictions in my world view that would do the same, but they're not at the moment.)

Thiel is a half decent investor who does not recognize the degree that luck played in his rise. (A problem that besets both investors and engineers in SV and other concentrations of capital.) He also is an odious human being who wants to be god-emperor over all of us. It's not his views so much, but the fact that he has the money and at least a modicum of intelligence in his attempts to use his money to reshape the world into a neo-feudalist society that make me want him out of power in SV. If he was content to sit on his money and say stupid shit, I wouldn't mind.

He knows he'll never become president. He's gay, which means he could never win a Republican nomination and he hales from the extreme right of the spectrum which would keep him from getting a Democratic nod.

On Preview: anyone who wonders about Sea Steading should read China Mieville's essay on it (FPP from 2007).
posted by Hactar at 7:18 AM on October 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


As an aside, one should remember the 18th amendment was prohibition while two years later the 19th was women suffrage. It's clear the prohibition and women's suffrage movements were tightly linked because women were otherwise so restricted by society. Just fifteen years later society had integrated women voting just fine, given women more social freedom, partially due to wars, etc., and abandoned prohibition. In short, prohibition and women's suffrage were brought about by the same people, but women's suffrage derived from their better nature, while prohibition derived from the harmful ways society had twisted their viewpoints.

Also, I wonder the degree to which Peter Thiel might be motivated by envy of Elon Musk and others. Peter Thiel and Elon Musk both became billionaires off PayPal. Elon Musk went on to became much much richer taking massive risks to do stuff that actually matters. Peter Thiel just gains wealth at the slower rate our rigged rentier economy naturally grants billionaires, while throwing his money as cheap and safe but useless and unimportant web silliness. Also, he lacks the dedication, social skills, temperament, etc. that enabled the Koch brothers to conquer the Republican party. It's like he has all this money but does not have the sense to do anything vaguely relevant with it.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:35 AM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


and thinks America made a (one of many) wrong turn granting women the vote.

Well no wonder there are so many issues with the tech/startup sector! All the initiatives for inclusion won't make much of a difference as long as Thiel is a top influencer.
posted by A hidden well at 8:16 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jeff Bercovici's destroying democracy theory sounds interesting, but kinda crazy pants. If you're a billionaire who want to influence politics, then you should "buy" the democratic party in the same way the Koch brothers bought the Republican party. In other words, you should do the ground game, and sponsor local races, but make sure all those upcoming candidates support your views. It'd require too much patience for Thiel though, so sure maybe he believes in some crazy pants do it quickly schemes around Trump.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:17 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


We COULD just stop pimping for Peter, Peter's peter, and the incredibly lubricating, amplifying money. One pathetic misogynist at a time, please.
posted by Oyéah at 8:43 AM on October 27, 2016


What is wrong with Bridgeport beer? have you tried it? where?
Bridgeport IPA is the beverage against which I measure all others. So far they're hanging in there under big corporate ownership, but not sure I would want to live in a world without it. I can live without PayPal and beef, however.

I have tried it many places, including the brewery.
posted by dubwisened at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2016


Peter, Peter's peter, and the incredibly lubricating, amplifying money

Please don't put those words in my brain in that order. Because... ew.
posted by rokusan at 1:07 PM on October 27, 2016


I saw someone on Twitter point out that while Y Combinator refuses to break ties with Thiel now, back in 2011 Y Combinator was fine with shunning all companies who were supporting SOPA. So, yeah, there's that.
posted by mhum at 2:20 PM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


w/r/t YCombinator and Thiel, I think the bigger reason why Altman and co. won't disavow Thiel is that they're worried he'll sue YCombinator into oblivion.
posted by SansPoint at 3:47 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ha ha ha that makes me cackle to think of Zuckerberg weighing getting sued every time he opens up his mouth or taps to keyboard in reference to Thiel.
posted by bukvich at 4:54 PM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


IANAL. Also, I do not believe the "fail fast" investors like Y Combinator and Thiel contribute much to tech. Yet, if Y Combinator can fire Thiel for supporting trump, then one needs impossibly tricky arguments why another company cannot fire another person for supporting a Democratic candidate.

There are legal principles that give famous people like Thiel less rights than normal people, like say less right to privacy. It'd be insane to say that famous people have less right to speak their mind then non-famous people though.

About the only avenue one could apply would be arguing that money should not be speech. I'm okay with that argument in the abstract, but if Y Combinator applied it then arguably they're hypocritical for not withdrawing their donations to Clinton, which might cost them legally. If you apply this across techies who listen to Y Combinator, then Clinton likely losses big.

There is no connection to opposing specific laws like SOPA though. You might fire a corporate subcontractor for supporting SOPA, but that's purely an issue among corporations. If you fired an employee for support or opposition to legislation, that sounds like abridging free speech.

As a company, I think Y Combinator's only reasonable move against Thiel here would simply be to endorse Clinton, which presumably they mostly do individually anyways.

In fact, there is a reason for Y Combinator to establish the precedent that Thiel alone cannot obstruct the company taking a political action : Thiel is bad shit crazy enough that he might support some future SOPA-like law or trade agreement that Y Combinator wishes to oppose along with the rest of the internet. They could avert that scenario now by endorsing Clinton over Thiel's objection.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:46 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, I wonder the degree to which Peter Thiel might be motivated by envy of Elon Musk and others. Peter Thiel and Elon Musk both became billionaires off PayPal. Elon Musk went on to became much much richer taking massive risks to do stuff that actually matters. Peter Thiel just gains wealth at the slower rate our rigged rentier economy naturally grants billionaires, while throwing his money as cheap and safe but useless and unimportant web silliness. Also, he lacks the dedication, social skills, temperament, etc. that enabled the Koch brothers to conquer the Republican party. It's like he has all this money but does not have the sense to do anything vaguely relevant with it.

Silicon Valley season 4 sounding good
posted by Apocryphon at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]




2012: Peter Thiel on The Future of Legal Technology - Notes Essay
Once you start to suspect that the status quo is quite bad, you can ask all sorts of interesting questions. Are judges and juries rational deliberating bodies? Are they weighing things in a careful, nuanced way? Or are they behaving irrationally, issuing judgments and verdicts that are more or less random? Are judges supernaturally smart people? The voice of the people? The voice of God? Exemplars of perfect justice? Or is the legal system really just a set of crazy processes?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suspect Peter Thiel's view that the legal system is crazed and arbitrary come in large part from our idiotic intellectual property law that stifles startup. I'm sympathetic of course.

Appears his audience's questions were mostly inane, but his answers made sense :
I spoke with high-ranking official fairly recently about how Facebook is making things more transparent. This person believed that government only works when it’s secret—a “conspiracy against the people, for the people” sort of narrative. His very sincerely held view was that our government essentially stopped working during the Nixon administration, and we haven’t had a functioning government in this country for 40 years. No one can have a strategy. No one can write notes. Everything is recorded and everything becomes a part of history. We can sympathize with this, in that it’s probably very frustrating for officials who are trying to govern. But normatively, perhaps it’s a good thing if we no longer have a functioning government. All it ever really did well was kill people.

If you believe the stories that most people tell—the government is doing public good, and there’s a sense of superhuman rationality to it—transparency will shatter your view. But if you think that our system is incredibly broken and dysfunctional in many ways, transparency forces discussion and retooling. It affords us a chance to end up with a much more tolerant, if very different, world.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:03 PM on October 31, 2016


The San Jose Mercury news has printed Text of Peter Thiel speech on Trump and the “crazy condition of our country”.
posted by bukvich at 6:07 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Any bets on whether Trump will keep his promise of a SCOTUS appointment for Peter Thiel?
posted by jeffburdges at 2:35 AM on November 9, 2016


Hell of a turn in fortune for Thiel, eh? He could have potentially become a pariah for backing Donald Trump. Now his options range from the Supreme Court to being the man Silicon Valley has to go to to access the president.

Relevant articles yesterday from the New York Times:

"Peter Thiel’s Bet on Donald Trump Pays Off"
Mr. Thiel was denounced by much of Silicon Valley. There were calls for Mr. Thiel to step down from Facebook, where he serves on the board, and Y Combinator, a start-up incubator where he is a part-time adviser.

But now that Mr. Thiel’s bet on Mr. Trump has paid off, he seems to be in a position to reap some rewards.
"Silicon Valley Reels After Trump’s Election"
The deeper worry is that tech is out of step with the national and global mood, and failed to recognize the social and economic anxieties roiling the nation — many of them hastened by the products the industry devises.

Among techies, there is now widespread concern that Facebook and Twitter have hastened the decline of journalism and the irrelevance of facts. Social networks seem also to have contributed to a rise in the kind of trolling, racism and misogyny that characterized so much of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

And then you get to the economic problems. Unlike previous economic miracles, the tech boom has not led to widespread employment. Much of the wealth generated by the five biggest American tech companies flows to young liberals in California and the Pacific Northwest, exactly the sort of “global elites” Mr. Trump railed against in his campaign.
posted by riruro at 5:12 PM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Much of the wealth generated by the five biggest American tech companies flows to young liberals in California and the Pacific Northwest, exactly the sort of “global elites” Mr. Trump railed against in his campaign.

Isn't this a failure of government, which used to be much more active in breaking up big companies and redistributing wealth?
posted by en forme de poire at 7:21 PM on November 10, 2016


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