Gasia Mikalian of KTVU Fox 2 in San Francisco Oakland did a report on the Peter Thiel Fellows tonight. Thiel is a dot-com multi-millionaire who, among the frills, is bribing college students into dropping out or at least stopping out to pursue their entreprenurial dreams kamikaze-style.
They had a cute half-Asian chick who was admitted to MIT at 15 but dropped out thanks to Thiel to work under his tutelage to expand her worm research into something akin to the fountain of youth. Good luck with that. The girl also enjoys Inn N Out burgers “animal style” but cannot drive a car.
George Packer did a good job profiling Thiel recently in the New Yorker.
“NO DEATH, NO TAXES”
The libertarian futurism of a Silicon Valley billionaire
Jay Thorwaldsen pointed out to me that George Packer is the son of a famous Stanford Law professor named Herbert Packer, who died tragically young.
Thiel also holds a huge stake in Palo Alto’s Palantir, who I call the hipster spooks. They do data mining for defense contractors and the CIA but dress like Noise Pop staff and have murals by Dabsmyla. Pretty soon we will, as someone said, see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.
edit to add, a half hour later: but in his defense, Peter Thiel is pretty good at math, as evidence from this quote in Detail, that I found by punching his name plus “douchebag” into a search-engine — I was far from the first person to use the term here:
“One of the things that’s endlessly dazzling and mesmerizing is this question about the future—what the world is going to be like in 20 years, and what can or should we do to make it better than the default track that it’s on,” he says, gesturing with his hands while maintaining a fixed stare on the pathway. “But it’s a question you can never quite master. I played a lot of chess when I was growing up, and it’s similar to some elements of chess, where you can see some moves but you can’t see to the end of the game. Even a computer the size of the universe couldn’t actually analyze it. There’s, like, 10 to the 117th power possible games and something like 10 to the 80th atoms in the observable universe, so it’s off by something like 37 orders of magnitude. And chess is something much simpler than reality—it’s 32 pieces on an eight-by-eight board. Figuring out the complete future of a chess game is a problem more complicated than anything that can be solved in our universe, so figuring out this planet or just our society in the next 10 or 15 years is just not a solvable problem.”
edit to add, almost two years later, or two years closer to the post-Democracy Armageddon: George Packer’s “The
Unraveling Unwinding” has a profile that left me not quite admiring Thiel but with a clearer picture of what we are dealing with. Did I mention sitting back at that same cafe on Uni Ave and some millenial telling his peers that his two favorite philosophers were not Nietzsche or Rand but “Reed Hastings and Peter Thiel”? Wasn’t Nietzsche a linebacker for Vince Lombardi?
edit to add, 2014: Thiel taught a class at Stanford in Spring of 2013, and Blake Masters has a blog about his class notes. Also, I recently wrote a post about whether or not Dartmouth people call each other “d-bags”.
Meanwhile, it was reported last year that three Dartmouth sophomores were named Thiel Fellows and promptly dropped out of their Alma Mater for apparently greener pastures.
edit to add, two years later: David Leonhardt, The Upshot, in The Times argues that not only is college a good investment but it is cheaper than free in that the choice to not attend college will cost you $500,000. As in: the Thiel Fellows are too small a sample pool to be relevant, and are just a promotional device for his investments.
And: two years after posting this, more people would think of Mike Judge’s supposed lampooning of Peter Thiel in the character of Peter Gregory, an angel investor in the HBO satire “Silicon Valley,” played by Christopher Evan Welch, in his last performance before succumbing to cancer.
And: Allison Griswold in Slate covers this ground more adeptly, see for your self: here.
andand, a few months later: I am amazed at how often this pops up in my current list; here is his book:
Something Thiel that caught my eye is that he was a classmate in high school of Olympic skater Debbie Thomas and their yearbook photos are adjacent.
Two years after that, Laura Deming pops up in Steve Lohr The Times syndicated to C2 the Chronicle
edit to add, seven years later, spring, 2019, spring awakenings even: my initial point here was that I thought the sample size was too small to claim that a Peter Theil fellowship was better than the US University system. This was before Elizabeth Holmes Implosion; but also before McGlashan.
There have been about 600 hits on this post which is a lot for Plastic Alto, yet I am not sure if that is because he is a popular figure or because the nature of his work and his personality is such that he can pay people to read this for him. I’m saying its possible that half of the hits here — 300 — are Peter or his henchmen keeping tabs on me or himself. This is the 8th edit and I would say that it is getting less pussy (full of pus, a Darmouth slang — and I am not being mysoginist or homophobic), pus-y, and more pro-Peter (pussy…pro-Peter?) as time goes by. Or: all clear.