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Letters for the Week of April 3, 2013

Readers sound off on tech money, Bill Aboudi, and CEQA.


"The Bacon-Wrapped Economy," Feature, 3/20

Hats Off

Hats off to Ellen Cushing for her amazingly perceptive article on our Silicon Valley nouveaux riches and their desperately myopic view of the world they, and we, both live in.

Unless the "Old Money" society has left ample resources to their heirs, along with that much-needed sense of "noblesse oblige" that has characterized past generations and made possible the kinds of cultural treasures that make our lives so rich, we have little to look forward to from this crew of navel gazers.

Tom Flynn, Piedmont

The Express, Brought to You By ... ?

Thank you for your important critical leading article. Halfway through, however, I got frustrated reading two full columns of what seemed like new money's sponsored list of placement trendy products. What happened here? I hope you're not succumbing to the new marketing cultural trends invading all corners of life, philanthropy, film, and now, alternative journalism, too. It really undercut what was otherwise an excellent piece and an invitation for more in-depth studies of this new phenomenon.

Maria Elena Diaz, Berkeley


Thanks for the essay on the young rich. I'm appalled at what gets spent on the San Francisco Opera and similar high culture, and now I'm appalled at what the young libertarians are tossing their money at.

Good writing, storytelling, and insights.

Gene Coyle, Berkeley

What's Wrong With Results?

I find the comments on results-oriented charitable giving versus donating to "institutions" baffling. Is it really better to donate based on warm fuzzy feelings rather than to what works?

Kenneth Lu, San Francisco


If you liked this article, congratulations: You're old!

Billy Tetrud, Palo Alto

Old Money, New Money: What's the Difference?

In response to Ellen Cushing's article, whereas the subject matter of what is being done with new wealth within the tech industry is compelling, there is a shocking gap in the writer's logic. The article claims that there will be a lack of meaningful philanthropy by young tech employees. This presupposes that all wealthy people in the US up until the rise of the tech industry donated their money to meaningful, culturally rich, and socially conscious causes. This is ridiculous. The rich do what they want, and they are not the cultural standard-bearers. Perhaps a few wealthy Americans have funded the arts, or issues in the developing world, but this is vastly different from claiming that a vanguard has always upheld social values in the past, whereas now — gasp — the money is being squandered.

Money has always been squandered by the rich; this is no different. And one last note: What shining cultural practices are being let go of? I see people in their pajamas in the streets of the Bay Area, know that many people spend most of their free time tapping away on Facebook (and ten other sites), and know barely anyone who reads actual books or owns a dictionary anymore, and this includes college graduates.

Nova Reeves, Oakland

The Hackerspace Angle

Well done! Loved it. Well researched and written. One side note to consider is the emergence of hackerspaces, where some techies play after work to make stuff they really care about. I'm fairly new to the scene myself, but the gestalt feels like what I presume the civil rights movement felt like — we're hacking for the common good. Kind folks, reverence for wisdom, elderhood, creativity, communal values, etc. Healthy overlap with the Burner crowd.

Brandon Peele, Berkeley

A Bacon-Wrapped Bombshell

This is a bombshell piece of journalism. I hope it gets picked up by the Times, or something similar, because it tells a narrative that Americans need to be keenly aware of.

Brady Welch, Brooklyn, New York

"Can Popuphood Revitalize KONO?," News, 3/20

Don't Knock KONO

As someone who lives in KONO, I really don't define my neighborhood as a place of empty storefronts, crime, and homelessness. As with other neighborhoods in Oakland, I believe the success of many businesses here has been hurt by the economic environment, which has also impacted the residents that live and work here. I'm glad that this article does cover the fact that more than just retail is needed. We need businesses and organizations that will provide jobs to our community. We need products and services that benefit our bodies and minds. That is what I am hoping the future of "urban revitalization" will bring.

Adrienne Filley, Oakland


It's a shame that AC Transit's Bus Rapid Transit line (BRT) is no longer planned to run up Telegraph. That project was set to be a major street-renewal project, and I had high hopes for it to generate a "sense of place" for Telegraph, in Koreatown (as well as Temescal, Berkeley, etc).

Jim Trenkle, Oakland

"How an Environmental Law is Harming the Environment," Feature, 3/13

Hugely Hypocritical

It seems to me that the city is already "developed"; this project would simply make that development more sustainable and provide much-needed housing in Berkeley.

If I were a resident of this neighborhood I would support a project like this because it would mean less traffic congestion.

I think it is disingenuous to assume that these developers are only out for more profit — I'm sure there are many whose hearts are in the right place, and the support of smart-growth proponents seems to indicate that this is the case here. This assumption seems to be based on the idea that "green" is more expensive, which is not always the case. It's a rather cynical view of environmentalism and I would imagine some of these activists really hate environmental laws.


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