I’m over tech people.

TL; DR: I started an “Ask Me Anything” account on Reddit and got hit by a 45+ account voting ring. Reddit is still investigating whether there is a connection between it at Y Combinator.

I’ll be honest about why I deleted most of my blog posts, this past February: I grew tired of the fight. For years I’ve been fighting to make the technology industry better, in spite of itself. Over the past few months, I’ve had doubts about whether any of the efforts were worth it.

It wasn’t a matter of the bad guys, in Silicon Valley, winning. They’ve lost. The lurid back story is that Silicon Valley’s leaders desperately want approval from mainstream society, which they haven’t received. They ridicule “The Paper Belt” because they want to replace it. People like Paul Graham view themselves not as New Gilded Age robber barons (which is what they are) but as statesmen and public intellectuals. They’ve failed to achieve the status that they want. Mainstream society looks upon their “unicorn” startups and chuckles, “Fucking dweebs”. They’re rich, but they’re not loved or even respected. For some reason, I’ve become a symbol to these people of their own failure to achieve that recognition. As to why that is the case, I haven’t a clue. What I do know is that they hate me and that a few have taken an active interest in trying to fuck up my life, career, and reputation.

They’ve lost. They’re losers. The fact that these people have viciously attacked a relative nobody like me just proves it. However, I’ve also lost. Opposition is an association, and why associate with losers in any way? I’m honestly embarrassed that I spent so much time on Hacker News and on Quora, trying to make this industry a little bit better, only to realize, in the end, that none of that effort was worth a goddamn shred of anything.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 24 months. The problem isn’t just “VCs” out in California. Paul Graham is a terrible judge of character, and Paul Buchheit is evil, but they don’t have that much power. Trust me on this; if they did, I’d probably be dead. As for the bad situation that we, as technology people, have found ourselves in? We let this happen. We fell for a materialistic, might-makes-right culture. We let it be imposed on us by the billionaires we work for. We stopped looking out for each other, decades ago. The pay-it-forward culture is gone. What we now have is a back-stabbing, catty, crab mentality culture. We can’t keep just blaming them as if we have no power. We do, collectively, have quite a bit of power. We’re just so easy to divide, and so stupid as a collective, that we spill it all on the floor.


I made a decision earlier today to start an AMA on Reddit. I wasn’t taking it that seriously, as one should be able to tell from the fact that I added “cat person, moralist, and white-hat troll” to my byline.

That was probably a mistake. I knew, of course, that I’d get some nasty comments. Those aren’t new to me. One person called me a “nobody” (not really an insult) and another called me a “mega-douche”. I expected that sort of thing. I also expected that a few people would accuse me of being other posters in the thread (which I wasn’t) because, well, I acted like a bit of an asshat back in 2004 on Wikipedia, and there are some tremendously worthless people who like to keep bringing it up as if it proves something.

I even got this lovely message from someone on Reddit:

I would encourage you to commit suicide. I can promise you that no one will ever love a person like you the way you want to be loved.😦 Suicide is the best way for you.

Sorry, idiot, but I’m loved enough and I like life.

None of the above, on its own, matters. Look, I’m a 32-year-old, 6-foot-tall male whose opposition to social injustices in the technology industry have put him in real physical danger. I’ve had a millionaire venture capitalist hire bums to accost me on the streets of San Francisco. Petty insults don’t bother me. Call me a “mega-douche”, tell me to kill myself, call me a sword-fucking pilonidal-cyst walrus-cunt if you want. I don’t care. I’ve seen far too much actual dangerous PTSD-inducing shit to be fazed by worthless assholes being worthless assholes.

What disgusts me is that so many of these worthless assholes were upvoted, and that these worthless assholes were cheered-on instead of opposed.

socialinjusticewar 182 points 7 hours ago

Why are you such a mega-douche?

How in the blue fuck did that get 182 upvotes, enough to put it far ahead of substantial discussion? [ETA: It looks like at least some of those votes did, in fact, come from a voting ring associated with Y Combinator. At least 45.] That number (unless they hacked Reddit) is far too many to blame on Paul Buchheit and his goons. I’m sure that they were involved– the sock puppet “zozo_hth” has clear marking of Y Combinator on it–  but that doesn’t get us to a hundred and eighty-two. 182 is far too many to blame on a small number of people. That number indicts a culture.

I’m not mad at this Reddit user, “socialinjusticewar”. I don’t care about him or the fact that he thinks I’m a “mega-douche”. I’ve been insulted more viciously, and far more creatively. I’ve said stupid things on the Internet. I’m just disgusted that over 180 people upvoted this piece-of-crap comment. I’d be disgusted if 180 people voted up one of my piece-of-crap comments (hey, I’m not perfect) instead of a piece-of-crap comment insulting me. It’s just very depressing that piece-of-crap comments are what we value as a culture.

What does this mean? It means that my original instinct, last February, was right. Why did I delete the old blog posts? Because fuck the tech industry, that’s why. We don’t defend each other; we turn our backs on each other, and we kick anyone who is down. I can’t count the number of people I’ve seen viciously attacked by their peers for no reason. Worst of all, unethical behaviors by technology executives are defended by their subordinates at every turn. We certainly don’t stand up for what is right. And those who fight to make the industry better, like I have, seem to get the worst of it. So why fight for it at all? Why fight for the cultural integrity of this industry, when it clearly doesn’t want to be fought-for?

To make it clear, I’m not issuing a universal condemnation. There are a lot of great people in the tech industry. The problem is that, over time, the bad people drive them out. I’ve seen it happen over and over and it fucking disgusts me. People perceived as vulnerable– women, minorities, people with disabilities, anyone pregnant if it’s an open-plan office– are usually driven out first. Who stands up for them, while this is happening? Almost no one does. Far too many people turn a blind eye. “Bad apples”, they say, when a highly competent woman is harassed so badly that she has to leave this career, as if it were a force of nature that nothing can be done about. Then the “old” are driven out– and in this industry, that starts at 35. Then it’s the “misfits” (usually, top performers if left alone) who can’t stand the infantilizing two-week “sprints” and “user stories” they don’t need, and the “not team players” who don’t like working with ten sweaty other people in a 15-foot radius. It’s the C-word, always the C-word, “Our Culture“. Cultural Fit.

It’s going to happen to all of us, whether because we become too good at our jobs to put up with the next generation of “Agile Scrotum” nonsense or because of a transient health problem or something else. And the system is set up so that people are attacked and removed not all at once, but singled out individually in series, while the rest smugly assume that it can’t happen to them. I’ve got news: it can. And remember our industry’s ageism. We’re all going to be old, unless we die before we get there. Not one of us is immortal.

… Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

That’s where it ends, people. That’s where it ends.


I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve fought for this industry’s cultural integrity. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, hoping to save it, and to no avail. For me, it was never about driving salaries up by 10 percent. Tech salaries are high enough; it’s our level of status and autonomy that are the problem. (When the market softens, salaries will tumble. Why? Because we failed to organize around our interests and protect ourselves, that’s fucking why.) It’s the fact that we’ve inherited a might-makes-right Sand Hill Road culture. We should be solving the global energy crisis or working to cure cancer. Instead, most of us are just helping rich pricks in California get even richer by unemploying people. We’ve failed to fix this, and now it’s probably too late.

I’m over tech people. Fuck the 182 people who upvoted “mega-douche” and the thousands who read that comment and didn’t downvote it. Emotionally, I don’t care anymore. I’m not angry, I’m not sad. I’m mostly just embarrassed that I used to care about this industry in the first place. Why fight, when it gets a person insulted rather than supported? Why care, when no one else does?

Silicon Valley’s moral and cultural failure just proves what insufferable assholes we become when given even a small amount of status and power. Our conquered, humiliated tribe isn’t worth fighting for. It’s not worth saving. Am I done working in tech? Nah, probably not. For now, it pays, and I’m good at it. I’m done with “us”, though. I’m done trying to save this godforsaken tribe of so-called “technologists”. We don’t fight for ourselves, and we oppose those who are trying to change it. So let this tribe be conquered by Sand Hill Road, then. Paul Graham and his army of high-socked little boys can have it.

“Did you call [female tech personality] a cunt?”

The answer is: No. Of course not.

So… just why was I ever asked such an odd question?


A few months ago on Y Combinator’s forum, Hacker News, I pulled a word out of Middle English: queynte. This word is neither profane nor sexual. It’s not used much today, but was pronounced identically to its extant adjectival form, “quaint”. The most faithful modern translation of the noun would probably be “ornament” or “device”.

Saying queynte would have been a non-event if I were a civilian. However, my half decade of opposition to Silicon Valley’s social injustices has made me somewhat of a public figure, and it has taken some time for me to adapt to that. This puts a lot of extra attention on everything I say. There are a number of people who would just love it for me to fuck up completely and say something that’s actually offensive, because it would undermine the moral credibility that I have and that they, despite being the social and economic leaders of the technology industry, don’t have and (because of their unethical actions) never will have.

As my reach and publicity grow, I have to be increasingly mindful of the ways in which a statement– any statement I make, really– can be taken out of context. I’m still getting used to this.

The word queynte is phonetically close to cunt. I don’t shy away from profanity in general, but cunt is used in a number of ways, some of which are extremely offensive. So I tend to avoid it.

Did I mean the word queynte as any kind of slur against anyone’s gender? Of course not. (If anyone ever thought otherwise, then I’m truly sorry.)

Do I consider it acceptable to demean people simply because they are women? No, and if that isn’t obvious from everything else that I’ve written, then I’m embarrassed.

Did I anticipate that a hardcore misogynist like Dan Gackle would take it as his excuse to start throwing around the word “cunt”? (He’s edited his reply considerably, and now seems to be taking a mansplaining stand against that word.) No. Perhaps I should have expected that, but I didn’t.

Should I have avoided “queynte”, seeing how open it is to misinterpretation, and used a different word (like “jerk”) in its place? Yes. I think we can all agree on that.

I have asked Mr. Gackle, multiple times, to remove both my misconstrued comments and his belligerent ones. He declined on each occasion.

That’s all that I’m going to say on this topic.


Actually, I should say one more thing.

Dan Gackle tried to ruin my reputation. I can’t that let that slide. I’m trying really hard to get out of the internet drama business, but sometimes a haughty fucker needs to get put in his place, and this is one of those times.

I don’t wish to waste breath on Dan Gackle, though. He’s not interesting. I mean, his pompous, sniping sanctimony makes him a negative presence on Hacker News, but he’s not exactly relevant in the real world. Moreover, since no one likes him to begin with, there’s also not much of a point in taking him down; no opinions really need to be changed. So let’s talk about the creeps who sent him: Y Combinator (“YC”).

It’s time for Y Combinator to die in a taint fire. Y Combinator has ruined startups for at least a generation. Its growth-at-any-cost ethos has enabled cultural sloppiness and ethical turpitude to reach shameful extremes, it has generated some of the worst companies of the 21st century, and it has created a culture of ageism, sexism, racism and classism that has made technology people look like the worst people in the world– all of this on no less than a global stage.

Y Combinator’s main product is division. In fact, that’s its only meaningful purpose. Y Combinator is a bona fide rat’s nest of catty drama, backbiting, lapses of professionalism, junior-high antics, and unjustified sanctimony. It exists to pit against each other the people doing the actual work, for the benefit of Paul Graham and the little boys whom he’s chosen as his protégés.

Some of the divisions that YC is most eager to create and exploit are: founders versus employees; in-crowds versus out-crowds; “brogrammers” versus women; young “hackers” versus “old hands” (meaning 30 and up); Rubyists versus Java users versus Lispers; West Coast versus East Coast versus what they call “flyover country”; citizens versus “H-1Bs”. Why? Many of the top people in Silicon Valley are terrified of any sense of collective identity emerging among the working classes. Unions, guilds, professional organizations… they don’t want any of that, and they punish people severely for even suggesting such ideas. In order to make it less likely that such institutions are created, they divide programmers against each other along any cleavage they can find.

This probably isn’t surprising, but real venture capitalists don’t like Y Combinator. The YC people are considered, by the rest of Silicon Valley, to be Northern California’s version of Donald Trump.

Still, Y Combinator is permitted to exist. The real venture capitalists could kill YC if they wanted to, just by refusing to fund or purchase any of its excreta. It wouldn’t be hard and it wouldn’t take long. So why don’t they? Why do they permit it to have another day?

The answer is that, right now, Y Combinator is more effective at dividing labor against itself than any other organization in the technology industry. The more progressive venture capitalists (who often privately oppose the divisive, exclusionary, and anti-intellectual culture that has become dominant, in venture-funded technology, over the past ten years) just refuse to work with the YCs, for that reason. The ones with a strong unionbusting impulse, on the other hand, recognize that Y Combinator is uncannily effective at creating the kinds of bitter sectarian divisions that keep technologists and makers from organizing around shared economic, social, or political interests.

If you want to go after Y Combinator, don’t just create another incubator. That market is flooded; you won’t win. Instead, defeat (or “disrupt”) its culture of arrogance, immaturity, anti-intellectualism, and divisiveness. Build something that unites, rather than something that divides.


I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently about why I’ve taken down all of my old posts.

Yes, I will probably republish the ones that are of highest quality, possibly with some editing for clarity and brevity. I’ll keep writing, but it’s time to move away from the identity of being “a blogger” and especially that of being “a tech blogger” (ugh).

I don’t intend, unless there’s a really good reason to do so, to blog further for a while.

There are a number of reasons, and I’ll put them roughly into these categories:

  • winning gracefully.
  • personal growth.
  • capabilities and identity.
  • separating and streamlining.

Winning gracefully

For exposing unethical behaviors in Silicon Valley, I’ve had everything from (a) death threats to (b) attempts (albeit unsuccessful) to bribe employers to fire me to (c) most publicly, being banned on Quora under false pretenses. In fact, right now there’s a man named “Scott Welch” being paid to slander me on Quora.

The Paul Grahams of the world are still rich, and they still control thousands of jobs, but they’re not loved. They want to be perceived not merely as wealthy businessmen, but as public intellectuals, visionary statesmen, and paragons of virtue. I am the person they blame most for their failure to achieve this status. They should blame themselves. Still, in an interpretation of history that these people believe, I made them fail at getting what they really wanted. That is, of course, why they’ve come after me.

It’s pretty clear that I’ve won. I broke their momentum. If I weren’t having an effect on how these people are perceived, they’d just ignore me. I’ve exposed so many unethical business practices that billionaire venture capitalists shit their pants when they see my name. That’s no small achievement.

If I go any further down that line, though, I’ll just be running up the score. I’ve proven everything that I intended to prove, several times over. Besides, given that the prizes come in such lovely packages as death threats, I’m finding it hard to convince myself that more of this kind of winning is desirable. There are other forms of winning that I might grow to prefer.

Personal growth

Should it really be a person’s goal to make the bad guys fail? Now that I’m older, I think that there’s more nobility in helping the good people succeed. Overthrow is often overrated. It’s better to replace than oppose. Besides, we don’t need one more person taking down Silicon Valley. It’s going to fall, all on its own. Instead, we need people who can focus on building things that are better, and that’s what I need to become.

With the next phase of my life, I’d like to focus on helping the good people succeed, rather than on making the bad guys fail. That can be harder, but it’s a lot more interesting to me.

Capabilities and identity

There are a number of things that I’m very good at. Most of these, to boot, are unlikely to bring death threats.

  • Writing, with successes in fiction, non-fiction essays, comedy and technical writing.
  • Teaching and presentation. I’ve taught undergraduate math courses, Clojure to a team of ten people, and a two-month course on Haskell.
  • Programming in languages including Python, C, Clojure, OCaml, Scala and Haskell. I know how to use statically-typed languages (e.g. Haskell, OCaml) to bring runtime bug rates near zero.
  • Concurrent and distributed programming.
  • Machine learning: not just how to use existing tools, but the mathematics and CS behind them.
  • Game design. I designed the card game Ambition and I’ve given courses on game theory’s applicability to high-frequency trading.
  • “Low level” (that is, very detailed and precise, enabling performance and control) programming.
  • Mathematics and statistics.
  • Architecture of high-reliability systems.
  • Company culture. What’s good, what’s bad, and how to fix it when things go off the rails.
  • How to market a company, job, or product to people at very high levels of talent.
  • The economics of software and of technology hiring.

I’m not going to claim to be an expert in all of those topics. In fact, I’m not sure that I’d call myself “an expert” in any of them. (Once you achieve what you once thought was expertise, you gain a respect for how much further there is to go.) I’ll say that I’ve had success in each thing that I’ve listed, and that there are people less expert than me, in every single one of those fields, earning hundreds (and, in some cases, thousands) of dollars per hour as consultants.

Let me indulge in the sin of honest self-perception: I’m very good at a lot of things. What I’ve become known for, though, is exposing unethical business practices in Silicon Valley. (I was good at that, too.) That was important work and I’m not ashamed of it, but I no longer wish to be known for it. I don’t want to be “the guy who does” that. I certainly don’t want people to think of me as “a tech blogger” rather than as a writer or a programmer. I’m ready for a new phase of my life.

Separating and streamlining

I’m a writer. I’ve put about 30 million words on the Internet, to this point. (This includes a lot of work– probably most of it– that was never published.) I’d guess that 22.5 million of those were junk. (I had a trolling habit for longer than I care to admit.) Now that I’m older, I’d like to have better efficiency.

If I can finish Farisa’s Courage before the end of 2016, that should mean more to me than whether I get another thousand Twitter followers.

No one doubts that I’m obnoxiously capable and that I work very hard. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. My concerns have more to do with what I need to prove to myself. It’s really easy, if you spend too long in the corporate world, to lose the sense of yourself as a creative person. I’ve been working, for the past few months, on getting that back.

On the external front, there are two other things that I need to do.

First, I need to separate my lines of business. Whether I’m employed full-time or a consultant, my product is expertise and extreme competence. I need to cut a distinction between my core competencies and other, less marketable, expertise.

Mixing game design and creative fiction and Haskell and organizational dynamics into one torrent (in which, and this is completely my fault, the Silicon Valley bashing has been most dominant stream) is not very effective. I used to think that it made my blog “eclectic”. In fact, it makes my communication less effective. I need to break these sources apart and handle each one as best suits it.

Second, I need to streamline. It’s not that I have a “good” or “bad” reputation. I have this really complex, millions-of-words presence that just has too much surface area for one person to defend. I can’t manage all of that. It’s time to focus on clarity and quality, because size has become a liability rather than a show of strength (which, I’d argue, I no longer need to show).

What else?

I’ll keep writing essays, and probably even share a few, and I’m likely to bring back the best pieces (likely, edited for clarity and shortened) over the next few months.

Why am I eager to separate my domains of competence into separate products, to streamline my public image, and to move away from the “exposing Silicon Valley’s ethical failures” line of business? And why now? One thing that has occurred over the months is that I’ve been investigating a business opportunity. It’s bootstrappable, genuinely useful, and would require me to take a position of genuine leadership.

If that comes to pass, I’m going to have to pay more attention to what I put out into the world. What I say in the public will be yet another thing that, as I age, is no longer just about me. No one can cow me into silence (and many have tried) but I have to be more careful, on my own behalf, as I move into high-responsibility roles where everything I say will be taken a lot more seriously than I’m used to.

As I said, I’m shifting in approach to a focus on helping the good people in technology succeed, rather than trying to make the bad actors fail. In practice, it’s hard to work on both at the same time. I’m starting to think that I have to choose, and the choice is obvious.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Play Ambition and carry on.

Two chapters of Farisa’s Courage

After putting out the first chapter of “The Struggles”, a novella set in Silicon Valley, I’ve had a couple of requests come in about a more serious project that I had let a few people know about. I’m hesitant to share this, but… eh, what the fuck.

The extremely tentative title (as in, I haven’t come up with a better one yet) is Farisa’s Courage. (If you hate it, read and then suggest a better one.)

Like everything else, chapter numbers and ordering are very tentative. Below are what will probably be chapters 1 and 3.