Suzan Russaw is Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams, which is Palo Alto | The New Republic

Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams; Monica Potts; In The New Republic; 2015-12-13.
Teaser: Those left behind by Silicon Valley’s technology boom struggle to stay in the place they call home.
Monica Potts is a fellow with the New America Asset Building program.

Monica Potts is a writer based in Washington, D.C., and a fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program. She writes about a variety of subjects, including poverty, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in The American Prospect, New York magazine,, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Trace, and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. She is also a PostBourgie alum.

tl;dr → Suzan Russaw now has an apartment for “a year” commencing circa 2015-11.
tl;dr → Beltway reporter breezes into town, weaves a discursive tale alternating between one person’s heartwrenching slow-moving personal disaster and small-town aspirations towards cuddly remediation, intractable government social policy & reality. Eats, shoots, leaves. Dripping with the sanctimony of the age, and with helpful animated interactive HTML5 maps of the area for the East Coast audience who won’t understand what “east side of the city” means.  Map oriented against the mute totemic icons for the campuses of Google, Microsoft, Stanford.  Conflates San Francisco, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto.  Most source materials are 2013-2014; television, newspaper articles & City Council minutes & staff reports.



  • Emily Farber, social worker
    • at an unspecified senior citizens center in Palo Alto
    • Supports Suzan Russaw
  • Julia Lang
    • social worker
    • supporting Suzan Russaw
  • Steve Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.
  • Hope Nakamura
    • a legal aid attorney
    • lives in Palo Alto.
  • Nick Selby


  • Suzan Russaw, James Russaw, a married couple
    • James Russaw died 2014-02-17,
  • Suzan Russaw
    • Circa 2015-08?
    • Pays $810 a month, the amount determined to be affordable for her income.
    • The amount $1,100/month equals 80 percent of her income from [her] trust and her widow’s benefits from Social Security.
  • Wishes to live in Palo Alto.
    Does not wish to live elsewhere where it is “too bland, charming, suburban”
    <quote>The only downside for Suzan was that it was in Santa Clara, another charmingly bland suburban enclave in the South Bay, a half hour south of Palo Alto and a world away for Suzan. “It’s out of my comfort zone, but that’s OK!” Suzan Russaw told [Molly Potts].</quote>



Suzan was born in 1945. Her father worked at what was then the Lockheed Corporation, and her mother had been raised by a wealthy family in Oak Park, Illinois. Her family called her Suzi. Though she grew up in nearby Saratoga—and spent some time in school in Switzerland—she distinctly remembers coming with her mother to visit Palo Alto, with its downtown theaters and streets named after poets. Palo Alto more than any other place formed the landscape of her childhood. “It was a little artsy-craftsy university town—you find charming towns are university towns.”
Like many women of her day, Suzan didn’t graduate from college. When she was 24, after her last stay in Switzerland, she moved to Mountain View, the town on Palo Alto’s eastern border that is now home to Google and LinkedIn. She was living off a small trust her family had set up for her when she met James at a barbecue their apartment manager threw to foster neighborliness among his tenants. James had grown up in a sharecropping family in Georgia, moved west during World War II, and was more than 17 years her senior, handsome and gentlemanly. Suzan thought: “I can learn something from him.” They were an interracial couple in the late 1960s, which was unusual, though she says her family didn’t mind. It was also an interclass marriage, and it moved Suzan down the income ladder.
For years, James and Suzan lived together, unmarried. They bought a house on University Avenue, just north of the county line and blocks from downtown Palo Alto, in 1979, and four years later had their only daughter, Nancy. It was the area’s ghetto, and the only source of affordable housing for many years. It was also the center of violence in the region, and, in 1992, was the murder capital of the country.
They never had much money. For most of their marriage, James ran a small recycling company and Suzan acted as his bookkeeper, secretary, and housewife. They refused to apply for most government assistance, even as homeless elders. “My husband and I had never been on welfare or food stamps,” she told me. “Even to this day.”




  • Palo Alto (city), California; QuickFacts, At the United States Census Bureau, revised continually, last updated 2015-12-02.
    • Data from various sources,
    • People QuickFacts Palo Alto California
      Median household income, 2009-2013 $121,465 $61,094
    • Used as the source for the statement
      <quote> In part, that’s because Palo Alto, a technology boomtown that boasts a per capita income well over twice the average for California, has almost no shelter space:</quote>



  • Frederick Jackson Turner; Frontier Thesis, a speech at the Chicago World’s Fair, 1893-07-12.
    • quoted from a guide published in 1837 for migrants headed for the Western frontiers of Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin:
      “Another wave rolls on. The men of capital and enterprise come. The ‘settler’ is ready to sell out and take the advantage of the rise of property, push farther into the interior, and become himself a man of capital and enterprise in turn.”
    • wrote. “The American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise, But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves.”


In archaeological order, more recent works on top, older works below.





Sleeping Through a Revolution | Jonathan Taplin

  • Jonathan Taplin; The Technology Revolution Impacts and Reduces the Workforce; On YouTube; 2015-03-10; 5:06.
  • Jonathan Taplin; Sleeping Through a Revolution; on Vimeo; 2015-03-10; 44:10.
    Teaser: The Moral Framework of the Technology Revolution
  • Jonathan Taplin (USC); Sleeping Through a Revolution; In Medium; 2015-04-22.
    Teaser: Letter to the Millennials 2

tl;dr → internet advertising is bad; internet surveillance is bad; an extended defense of high-copyright cultural products industries (music, film, etc.).  Google is bad.


Platform for the Renaissance
  • 1GB/s symmetric network
  • Network Neutrality
  • Regulation
  • Copyright on everything
  • Public broadcasting
  • Micropayments
On the micropayments concept
  • which is not advertising
  • with no embedded clearance fees
    cited as e.g. Visa, PayPal, Bitcoin, etc.
    ahem, because … the moneychangers don’t create.
  • with fees for cultural product presentment
    cited as, e.g. $0.25/view to read the video/audio/linkbait/UGC ($250 CPM).
    ahem, sounds very Randian


(discursive, rambling)

  • Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California.
  • Recitation of the ’60s and ’70s counterculture as a time of greatness
    • Chroniclers
      • Fred Turner
      • John Markoff
      • Nicholas Negroponte
    • Whole Earth Lectronic Link (WELL)
    • commune
    • Ken Kesey
    • Stewart Brand
  • Recitation of the ’80s and beyond as a time of badness
    • Peter Thiel, PayPall
    • the Stanford University cohort
    • Silicon Valley
    • Ayn Rand
    • The PayPal Mafia
      • all men, as an epithet
    • The Cato Institute
    • male makers
    • Larry Page, ex-CEO, Google
    • Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
    • Napster
    • internet platform
  • Scott Timberg; Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class; Yale University Press; 2015-01-13; 320 pages; kindle: $13, paper: $12+SHT.
  • Ethan Zuckerman; Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection; W. W. Norton & Company; 2013-06-17; 288 pages; kindle: $10, paper: $8+SHT.
  • Robert Scheer; They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy; Nation Books; 2015-02-24; 272 pages; kindle: $15, paper: $10+SHT.
  • Monopolies
    • Government-defined monopolies → good (AT&T, etc.)
    • Unregulated (natural) monopolies → bad (Apple, Comcast, Facebook, Google, etc.)
  • Epithets
    • Digital Bandits
      • Kim Dotcom
    • Svengali
      • David Plouffe
  • George Akerlof → market for lemons
  • YouTube isn’t quality content, those people aren’t true artists.
    Hollywood film is quality content made by true artists.
  • Quoted
    for color, background & verisimilitude

    • Nils Gilman, Associate Chancellor, UC Berkeley
    • Larry Summers, Harvard
  • Nils Gilman (UCB); The Twin Insurgency; In The American Interest; Volume 9, Number 6; 2014-06-15.
    Teaser: The postmodern state is under siege from plutocrats and criminals who unknowingly compound each other’s insidiousness.
    <quote>The postmodern state is under siege from plutocrats and criminals who unknowingly compound each other’s insidiousness.</quote>
  • Cited, as exemplars of extreme good or evil
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • ISIS
  • sharing economy
  • Airbnb
  • TaskRabbit
  • Uber
  • David Plouffe, lobbyist, ex-Obama 2012
  • The Koch Brothers
  • Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
    • was good
    • crude, but
  • Some article, The Economist (uncited)
    the ability to substitute capital for labor (has profound implications)
  • Reagan, Reagan-era
  • John Maynard Keynes
    opined about substituting capital for labor (the 15 hour work week)
  • Martin Luther King
    credited with the quote “asleep at the reolution”
  • Julie Cohen, professor, Georgetown University
    • opined about privacy
    • popularization, summarization
      Why does Privacy Matter?  One Scholar’s Answer; Jathan Sadowski; In The Atlantic; 2013-02-26.
      Teaser: If we want to protect privacy, we should be more clear about why it is import
      tl;dr → <quote>Privacy is not just something we enjoy. It is something that is necessary for us to: develop who we are; form an identity that is not dictated by the social conditions that directly or indirectly influence our thinking, decisions, and behaviors; and decide what type of society we want to live in.</quote>
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Virtual Reality’s Potential Displayed at Game Developers’ Conference; In The New York Times (NYT); 2015-03-06.
  • Nir Eyal; Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products; Nir Eyal, via Amazon; 2013-12-30; 156 pages; kindle: $14, paper: $12+SHT.
  • Sundance Courts a New Celebrity Crowd; some cub reporter; In The New York Times (NYT); 2015-02-01.
    tl;dr → Sundance Film Festival, grift, bribes for promotion
  • Liberty
    • Libertarian liberty → bad
      the absence of non-consensual oversight
    • Thomas Jefferson liberty → good
      of Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Government has a role to play
  • American renaissance: 1935→1975.
  • Plato
  • Vox Media
  • BuzzFeed
  • Argot
    • native advertising
    • brand integration
  • Facebook
  • Artists
    the good guys

    • Bob Dylan
    • George Harrison
    • Martin Scorsese

Via: backfill, backfill.