November 22, 2016

In a week full of stories about fake news, including our Insight written by Outsell’s Barry Parr, and my last blog post about the big losers in the election, the media and pollsters, imagine my dismay when my email exchange with Mr. Carl Nolte, columnist at the SF Chron who I cited in that post went like this. I was upset by the column he wrote the week of the election and the two quotes below in particular, which I cited in my last post. So I sent him an email:  

It’s pretty hard to see more of the west coast hubris in your article this morning Carl. I normally like your column.

"We are not South Dakota or Arkansas. We have to be taken seriously”

"We have the smartest people in the world here.”

My grandfather used to say two wrongs don't make a right. Reverse bigotry by making Californians out to be superior while the rest of our country is put down as inferior is the very thing you are railing against. I'm a native Californian too, but I would never ever put down my fellow Americans because I didn't get my way on a vote


Not expecting to hear back I was pretty surprised when I got his note. But wow, was I even more surprised by the persistent whiff of California hubris that I’m not sure Mr. Nolte even realizes his email exudes. Him to me: 

“You misread what I wrote. I noted that trump lost by a big margin in California and a huge margin in the bay area. I based the smartest people line on the rise of silicon valley, which has produced a revolution in the way we live. And also on the economic clout of the region. However, South Dakota, for example, has much more clout in the electoral college than, say, Santa Clara County which not only is bigger but much more important” 

-Carl Nolte

From where I sit the word ‘smartest’ is a factual term. Since when does a revolution in the way we live mean that we are smartest? I was an analyst focused on the semiconductor industry in the mid 80’s when Silicon Valley heyday was just underway. Bob Noyce, Andy Grove or Gordon Moore weren’t bragging about how grand they were. One was born in Iowa, one Hungary, and one California. Jack Kilby widely known as the father of the integrated circuit was born in Jefferson City, MO. William Shockley the father of the transistor was born in the UK. Arch rival to Intel, AMD’s founder - Jerry Sanders, flamboyant as all get out was born in Chicago, Illinois.  Yup - they pretty much started the revolution in Silicon Valley, but they wouldn’t say Californians were smartest. How could they? They mostly were not even from here!

Silicon Valley Outsell Inc

Fast forward, Mark Zuckerberg was born in White Plaines, NY.  Pierre Omidar founder of eBay was born in Paris, France. Sergey was born in Russia, and Larry – East Lansing, Michigan. They pretty much launched Silicon Valley revolution 2.0. But they too are not from here. I doubt they’d say Californian’s were smartest. Ok Mr. Nolte, I’ll give you Steve Jobs. He was born in good ‘ol esseff.” But he’s like God and maybe he’s the rare exception of who’d feather fluff enough to call California’s smartest. But if I conjured a guess, Steve would never go as far as to say Californian’s were smartest because Steve thought Steve was smartest near as I can tell. Turns out there are some pretty smart people who don’t harken from California who started those big revolutions you’re writing about. 

Steve Jobs Outsell Inc

And how can anyone anywhere think that Santa Clara County is much more important than anyplace else let alone South Dakota. Last I knew we had 55 electoral votes here in California and if our state leans anymore left we’ll snap off the continent and head right into the deep end of an ocean. We do not get to start piece-mealing regions and dictate who is more important because the election doesn’t go our way. Mr. Nolte’s remarks smack of what went wrong with the media this election and rows home my point, sadly enough. As I wrote last week, one cannot see what one is blind to. Turns out too, if one pays attention to the current they can see the direction of the river. Our media and pollsters are really in trouble and it saddens me in a time when we need them more than ever. They not only missed the river but the big tide that went out without them, because they so missed the boat. And as I wrote last week, the dots were staring them in the face but they couldn’t connect them because they believed their own biases, sadly one thinking Santa Clara is ‘much more important.’ Geez.


Very well articulated, Anthea...the way forward happily still flows through Silicon Valley, but we need have it benefit South Dakota, Ohio and Florida as well.

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