If You’re Going To Lose Big, It Helps To Be A Billionaire

During the California gubernatorial campaign last year, Republican Meg Whitman spent a record $144-million of her own money to lose big to Democrat Jerry Brown. A new report came out that her wealth was relatively unchanged over the last three years despite dropping a pretty nickel on her first attempt at public office. Whitman, however, did drop in rank from 773rd to 938th on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. When you’re a billionaire several times over, $144-million really is pocket change.

[youtube height=312 width=512]XmudJbnELoc[/youtube]

A recruiter called me last year to talk about being a PC technician at the Whitman campaign office in Palo Alto. I flat-out refused to consider taking the position. This astonished the recruiter. I had previously worked 13 months at eBay as a desktop support specialist. A perfect background to work with the former CEO of eBay. After all, everyone at eBay loves Whitman. Sure, if you’re working at eBay. Like most tech companies in Silicon Valley, drinking the Kool-Aid is a requirement if you want to keep your job. Like most corporate CEOs who pull down a stratospheric salary, Whitman developed a sinister dark side when it came to dealing with the employees who serve her: a PR person was shoved in a verbal confrontation in 2007, and an illegally employed nanny of nine years was let go before the campaign got started in 2009.

Did I want to work for such a person? No way, Jose.

I also had more personal reasons not to work for the Whitman campaign. As a moderate conservative, I was supporting moderate conservative Tom Campbell in his run for governor. Didn’t make sense to work for Whitman when I wanted her to lose the primary election. Unfortunately, with the Tea Party gaining ungodly influence in the primary elections, a moderate conservative didn’t have a prayer even if he had a better chance at winning independent voters in the general election. Campbell dropped out of the governor’s race to run for U.S. senator but he still couldn’t beat the more conservative Carly Fionrina. I ended up voting for Jerry Brown for governor and Barbara Boxer for senator. Not a single Republican candidate won state office in the 2010 election.

For a moment I did seriously consider taking the job to write a kiss-and-tell essay after the campaign was over. I saw a documentary about Hunter S. Thompson who covered the presidential campaigns of President Richard Nixon and George McGovern for Rolling Stone magazine about a week before the recruiter called. I always did love the idea of independent journalism that spits in the eye of the establishment news media. I’m now reading “Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America” by John McMillian.

And maybe I did make a mistake by not taking the job to do just that.

I write and publish mostly fiction, and never seriously bothered with writing non-fiction beyond the occasional blog post. After the election was over I started creating ebooks to reprint my previously published short stories, and learned from other writers that original non-fiction tend to sell better as ebooks. (The reprint of my Christmas shopping essay is still my best-selling ebook to date.) If I’m still doing contract work next year, I’ll work for one of the presidential campaigns and write a kiss-and-tell ebook.

Should A Rape Court Case Be Live Blog?

You may remember this rape case that made headlines on March 4, 2007: a 17-year-old girl was plied with alcohol until she passed out at an off-campus party, ended up on the floor of a bedroom where eight men—seven were from the De Anza College baseball team—took turns having sex with her, three women from the soccer team broke into the bedroom to rescue the comatose teenager to take her to the hospital, and the district attorney’s office declined to file charges due to the lack of evidence two months later. The young victim is now having her day in civil court to seek justice that was denied to her. The San Jose Mercury News is live blogging the case with an hour-by-hour summary.

The whole idea of live blogging a rape case comes across to me as being a form of voyeurism, where the carnival barker cries out every hour to the passing crowds to look through the peephole to see an unspeakable horror that they would never want to experience themselves. This reminds me of the O.J. Simpson murder case that was a media sensation that did nothing more than to turn the legal system into a media circus. Of course, this civil case isn’t being broadcast live on national television and concerns probably no one except for people living in Silicon Valley.

I would feel more comfortable reading the end-of-day summary about this case. Some information that seems relevant in an hour-by-hour summary is often lost as being irrelevant in the end-of-day summary. The Los Angeles Times will sometimes create stub articles on their website to focus on one aspect of a developing story—for example, the rioting that took place after the L.A. Lakers won a championship basketball game—that will later disappear when the finished article is posted. One such stub article focused on the fact that most of the rioters were minorities, which elicited comments from readers that minorities could always be counted on to destroy property. The stub article and comments disappeared the next morning. The finished article made no references about race but featured a photo of two white guys jumping on the hood of a car.

What have we learned so far from this civil case?

The victim had two beers and a dozen vodka shots. She spite an ex-boyfriend by agreeing to go into the bedroom to make out with a different guy. The defense is arguing that she consented to have sex with eight guys. Two beers and a dozen vodka shots, I don’t think so. No woman in her sober mind would consent to being gang-banged comatose. Anyone who had that much booze in their system is incapable of granting consent. The fact that she was underaged should have been obvious that she wasn’t able to give legal consent, sober or not.

The defense had tried to undermine the victim’s creditability by introducing pictures from her Facebook account, including one showing her on a bunk with a guy lying on top of her, that she is still a party girl at heart. This is the sleaziest part of the civil trial. The defense can’t say that the men weren’t there in the room with her, so they need to cast doubt and blame on her to prove themselves blameless. A study came out today that women who post lots of photos on Facebook need attention. Considering what the victim went through, and not knowing what kind of help she had gotten over the last four years, she may still be crying out for attention and still attracting the wrong kind.

We do finally get an explanation to why the District Attorney’s office never filed charges. The three women who rescued the victim took her directly to the hospital without calling the police from the party house. They had the opportunity and the means to collaborate on their stories to implicate all the guys. Due to a turf dispute between different police agencies, the crime scene itself was not secured until seven hours after the victim was brought to the hospital. The guys had the opportunity and the means to clean up the crime scene and collaborate on their stories. I can see why this would lead the district attorney’s office not to file any charges if an outright victory wasn’t guarantee.

But there is one question that always bothered me about this case: Did the district attorney’s office drop the ball on this case because most of the men accused were college baseball players?

In California, it’s not unheard of for school administrators to piss, moan and groan that there is no money for buying school supplies, reducing class sizes and updating older buildings. However, when it comes to building a brand new, state of the art sports field, money can always be found in a hurry. We live in a society that enables “bad boy” behavior in celebrities, politicians and sports stars. (Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson are this week’s celebrity specials.) I wouldn’t surprised if the baseball players got special preferential treatment from the district attorney’s office in this case. After all, baseball is as American as Mom and apple pie.

And so is rape, live blogging or not.

The Bikini Job Market

If you’re been paying attention to Mac-related websites over the past few days, then you would know about this Craigslist advertisement for bikini models to appear at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) to promote the iPhone.  I told my friend that I found us the perfect job at the perfect pay rate ($100 per hour) since we’re both looking for work. We might have some trouble filling out certain job requirements because we’re men. No one likes looking at man-boobs. Much less a pair of them.