X_Zachary_Wright
My Journal


Slouching Towards Sand Hill
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (2)
Share on Facebook
Of course I am pleased as punch to be back in the US after a business trip last week to Costa Rica. On Tuesday last week I had lunch in a "nice" Peruvian restaurant with our partners. I had a shrimp dish, overlooking the obvious: never order seafood at a "nice" restaurant in a developing country, especially if said restaurant is not packed with people. The trouble: not enough customers to have fresh deliveries every day.

The shrimp dish was fair to middlin' and I told the attorney next to me that I was only eating it because I hate to waste food. Next, I got sicker and sicker in the afternoon and about three hours after lunch, I finally had to have our partners pull over. On a street corner in downtown San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica), everyone got to see my lunch again--and then some. But of course with food troubles, it's so much better to get it all out that way rather than the "up all night method." I rallied a few hours later and actually had a decent dinner at my hotel.

**

Catching up on The Daily Show upon my return, I was struck by TDS's piece on Sen Jon Kyl. Sen Kyl's statement was that 90% of what Planned Parent does is abortion...but upon being told later that the actual documented number is more like three percent, Sen Kyl (or maybe his spokeperson) said that the 90% statement "wasn't intended to be factual." Stewart then pointed out than Sen. Kyl spends 90% of his time in the Senate farting.

**

A couple weeks ago, I had lunch with an old friend who is in the VC business on Sand Hill Road. It seems we are getting back to times when a young engineer can drive down Sand Hill Road "flapping his business plan from the open window of his Prius" and "have a car full of cash by the time he gets to 280" (the highway at one end of Sand Hill Road).

We had lunch at the Rosewood Hotel there and it was great to see my friend who still has his values intact and a good head on his shoulders. But the place reeked of money and power and greed and hubris. It feels like you are a nobody if you don't work for a tech darling, or didn't start your own company in a garage. Holly saw someone wearing a Zynga shirt at Costco that said "Rewardsville," but she refrained from yanking the shirt off and stuffing it in the mouth of the young punk who wore it. But perhaps my reaction is mostly just jealously; I used to run down Sand Hill Road 25 years ago when it was somewhat bucolic. Now I am not a member of the club, so it's easy to get on my high horse and complain about greed. But you know trouble is brewing when you start hearing people resume their use of words like "a buck" for a million ("I made 10 bucks last year") or a "bilski" for a billion.

**

While the Sand Hill Roadsters wallow in hot tubs filled with $100 bills, Somalia is coming apart at the seams. (Okay, to be fair, a lot of the rich in Silicon Valley do seem to care about Africa.)

While many folks in the media are obsessing about Mr. Murdoch and the pie, or Ms. Anthony's rumored trip to California and assorted other nonsense, buried in the news cycle is another epic crisis in Somalia (if it happens every few years, can it be epic?) The situation there is dire, people are starving, their government-in-tatters has utterly failed them, and aid is routinely prevented by violent bandits. It all seems so hopeless and of course the "elephant in the room question" still needs to be asked: if we can somehow get emergency food aid to this generation, are we just bringing another generation into being, that will suffer from famine and die from starvation in the coming years? The swell cliche about teaching a person to fish doesn't seem to work so well in many parts of Africa. If we "teach people to fish" in Somalia, it seems that the most likely result is that someone with an AK-47 will probably take their "fish" from them and maybe kill them or rape them for sport.

The problems in Africa seem so intractable--some of the best minds in the world have been working on it for decades with horribly underwhelming results. Doesn't mean we stop trying, but good grief. I do like the "trade not aid" approach that is gaining traction in many countries in Africa. If only the US and other countries would rip down some of our worst protectionist barriers to trade. But even if "trade not aid" works in general, you still have the "roving violent bandits take everything" problem...to stop them you need a strong central government and real law enforcement agencies...and that seems to be a long way off in Somalia and many other African countries.












Read/Post Comments (2)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 JournalScape.com. All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.
custsupport@journalscape.com