Linky Friday #110: Sprawl Edition

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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175 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    A1: I am not fully convinced. Agriculture still uses water inefficiently. There was a huge article in the Times about how Almond farmers are still just in drill baby drill mode for ground water and Cal has a ground water crisis.

    A3: Commuting from where you live to DC seems like absolute madness to me especially if you need to drive.

    P1: Seems more like hacking/purposeful trolling. The Picture of the Dude kind of gives it away.

    P4: I disagree. The rights of minorities to fully participate in economic and civil life is more important than the Freedom of Association.

    Cr5: That’s nothing. The Dean of Admissions at MIT was caught with forged degrees:

    S1: Ugh. This is a crime against the environment, good urban planning, and aesthetics. My guess is that Developers don’t want to change because change is hard and business owners are just as prone to being stubborn as the rest of us. Everyone here likes to criticize liberals when the moan about a local indie business closing because the business could not keep up with the times. Why can’t conservative-leaning business owners be just as bad and delusional about keeping up with desires and trends? The Tea Party “everything needs to be a culture war” angle is also probably a factor.

    Cu4: This just goes to show that people only really like Capitalism up to an extent. That extent is when they become the disfavored audience. The comic book companies are seeing that there is gold in the hills and catering to new audiences. Older (and usually white and male) geeks are butt hurt because they are no longer the catered to group.

    S2 and S3: I think Jordan is more right than wrong. The Trulio guy has a bias and a very expansive definition of suburb. There is also an argument that perhaps the United States is becoming like the rest of the world where the city center is for the wealthy and the suburbs are for the poor. The U.S. was weird for having it be the other way for much of her history or at least much of the 20th century.

    S4: I’d love a 1400 dollar rent. Maybe some of them are. I know plenty of people who are staying in the city and renting even if they have kids. I do think that some will decide that moving apartments every year or two is just a drag though.

    S5: Tyler Cowen predicted this would happen but not because of good reasons. He saw it as a sign of The Great Stagnation and people go more exurban because of the low taxes and low (really hidden) costs of living.Report

    • ScarletNumber in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The Dean of Admissions at MIT was caught with forged degrees

      The funny part is that she didn’t even have to go through the effort of actually forging them; she just put them on her resume and MIT didn’t bother checking.Report

    • Cu4 – Which is what can be said of horrible Christian movies, which is Bunch’s point. I’m a fan of women in comics (I have the first 75 issues of Birds of Prey!), and what he’s describing sounds pretty terrible. Not uniquely terrible, but the sort of trolling the comic book industry has been doing for a while now.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Cu4- The moralism in a lot of comics is always on the heavy-handed side regardless of what the comic is teaching. Subtlety doesn’t seem to be a forte of comic book writers. At least its not on the Captain Planet level but its pretty bad. I think you can write a more women and girl friendly or even a feminist comic book without coming off like a misogynist parody of feminism.

        Saul has a point though. A lot of the geeks angry at the changes in comic books read like people who got drunk from sour grapes. They want the old ways back.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Will Truman says:

        I haven’t read the comics in question, but throwing a little “on the nose” red meat to your readership is not necessarily terrible, if otherwise the story works. Furthermore, I expect that folks outside of the target audience will be more sensitive to those portrayals than others. But for myself, I encounter actual for-real mansplaining often enough, and it’s really tedious, and seeing a superhero come back in-your-face at the guy doing it — seems lovely to me.

        For an example, read this post: . Now imagine being that woman, and keep in mind this is not the only man like this she encounters. Now imagine encountering that comic.

        This isn’t any different from the scrawny guy turning tables on the bully kicking sand at the beach. It’s shallow, but fun.

        [irony]And you can’t disagree cuz it would totally be mansplaining![/irony]Report

      • This isn’t any different from the scrawny guy turning tables on the bully kicking sand at the beach. It’s shallow, but fun.

        And that’s certainly a fair point. Some of the eye-rolling eye have is really not anything unique to the gender aspect, but an extension of things that make my eyes roll anyway, applied to gender. “Look at us! We have a female Thor!” is, in some ways, not that different from “Look at us! We’re killing [character X]!” (except with a higher-degree of self-congratulation).

        Leaves me is a discontented place… cause the “old guard” approach wasn’t very good. I was hoping the revolution would look more like Birds of Prey instead of Infinity, Inc. (And in the case of Barbara Gordon, they regressed…)Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        I have problems with the scrawny guy fantasy and the female superheroes beating up straw misogynist fantasies from an artistic point of view. IMO one thing that divides a good writer from a bad writer is that good writers do not pander to fan desires. Throwing red meat to the fans rather than writing what you want to is a sign of hack writing. When I was into anime, the constant fan service and pandering to the base really turned things off. There were lots of manga and anime that would have been really improved from an artistic quality perspective with the fan service turned down much less. The plots and themes were good but would always go astray because of the need to throw red meat towards fans.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Sociology aside, red meat is killing the comic book industry. Quips and scrawny kids and feminism and atheism are only a very tiny part of that, though, to the point of being largely or maybe entirely irrelevant.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

        Good storytelling is driving the vehicle, messaging needs to remain as a passenger.

        Do it right & everyone gets where you want them to go. If your passenger is too loud & distracting, or tries to grab the wheel…Report

    • Mo in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw He did a clever slight of hand.

      “Almonds might take 10 percent of the state’s water, but as the same report notes, they’re generating about 15 percent of the state’s total farming value and almost 25 percent of the agricultural exports from the state.”

      Note that it’s 10% of state water and 15% of farm value. Ag is about 2% of GDP, so 10% of the water goes to 0.3% of GDP. All of the sudden it doesn’t look too great. Though the alfalfa point is a good one. Interestingly enough, market pricing water will keep the almonds, kill the alfalfa.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Mo says:


        The one thing I do hesistate at is the fact that California does provide the U.S. with a lot if not most of its fruits and veggies. The Midwest might be the Breadbasket but we are the vegetable and fruit sections!Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    A3: It means you should take up farming because you live in a rural area.

    A4: Wikipedia’s map makes it seem that Whittier is closer to Anchorage and other areas in Alaska than the Canadian border. I’m not sure why they would need Canada for emergency services.

    S2 and 3: Where did Baby Boomers and Generation X people live during their childless and single years as adults? In the cities or the suburbs? Owning a home and being single seems like a really big chore. It also seems to impede socializing. A lot of American cities can amount to collections of suburbs as well.

    S5: Is there a point where the population rises to a certain level and the county no longer becomes exurban or suburban but urban?Report

  3. Marchmaine says:

    Cr5 – at what point does the pose become reality?Report

    • Glyph in reply to Marchmaine says:

      “Then the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs!'”Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine says:

      Its an interesting question. Ms. Kitchen did well enough as a lawyer to raise to several positions of local prominence as such. Even though she did not go to law school or pass the bar, it seems that she knew what she was doing well enough. Estate law isn’t the easiest area of law to practice in either.Report

  4. Glyph says:

    Hey Will – I sent a Linky Friday item a couple weeks ago and it’s never appeared (I thought you were maybe just waiting for the right time, but now I assume it’s probably been lost). If it’s cool with you, I will add it under Crime when I get to a computer.

    Also, for anyone who doesn’t recognize what the Teletubbies video is riffing on, it’s riffing on the original Anton Corbijn (famed photographer/director) video for Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” – the joke is that a landscape of completely-desaturated bouncing Teletubbies, is roughly as spooky and surreal as the original mysterious hooded trudging figures were.

    • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      I added [Cr6]. Pretty interesting, and something that never would have occurred to me. Favorite line: “Exporters in Australia are literally selling sand to Arabs.”Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        Sorry I missed your email, Glyph. Turnaround time is usually before two weeks unless it’s submitted on a Thursday. Feel free to inquire after one week. And if you did inquire and I didn’t respond, I suck and apologize.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Oh no worries. I didn’t inquire, I just figured when I didn’t see it today it might have gotten lost. If you’d prefer in future I don’t add one in last-minute like I just did, LMK and I won’t do that again.Report

  5. ScarletNumber says:

    [Cr1] GoodReport

  6. Kolohe says:

    A3: West Queenland is growing and will likely grow as fast as the other counties on the map, so I’m thinking is was simply a graphics decision, as both Cherryfall and Endcanal counties are really narrow N-S at the riverbend.Report

  7. Chris says:

    [P3]: Is this unusual? Guy says something people disagree with, and gets paid to do it, and then gets criticized heavily by the people who disagree with him?Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    P5: The smartest thing in Oliver’s Snowden interview (and possibly the smartest thing Oliver has done on the his show so far) is separating talking point 1: “US -*and allied* – intelligence agencies are out of control, spying on everyone” from talking point 2: “US intelligence agencies are out of control, spying on Americans”.Report

  9. Troublesome Frog says:

    A1 led to a link talking about how farmers are paying for water and I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Even at the nightmare price of $1500/acre foot (given as the exploitative price charged for the last drops of water after it was consumed at $400 and less in earlier batches), a $4 can of almonds costs about $0.60 in water. At $400 it’s around $0.17. And even that was the price for the last gallons of water that farmers reluctantly bought to to pump into storage in case of emergency. I don’t know what the normal price is, but the farmer referenced remembering $50-60 water, so splitting the difference and calling it $225 an acre foot puts water at just over 2% of the retail price of name-brand almonds.

    As the article noted, almonds are far from the worst water offender on the food list, but trying to train consumers to be “smart” about water seems like a losing strategy. We’re back to the fundamental problem of water just being too cheap to notice when it’s built into the prices consumers see, so consumers are indifferent to the water value that goes into a food. Producers just do what consumers pay them to do, and looking out for water is not going to be one of those things.Report

  10. Oscar Gordon says:

    A1: At some point we have to change how we do Ag. Water scarcity is not going away, especially if people are unwilling to let it be priced accurately. The LED lit warehouse grow ops, and grow ops in old mines, will start to become more popular. I suspect things like this will find a home in orchards.Report

    • Perhaps it’s because I recently watched the third Atlas Shrugged movie, but I have to admit for the last few days I’ve found the anti-Almond animus among Rand-haters to be rather hilarious. (Even though I agree with them, and am not a Randroid.)Report

  11. Francis says:

    On water pricing:

    In much of California, the water rights are held by a local government agency in trust for its constituent ratepayers. For example, Imperial Irrigation District’s water rights to the Colorado River date back to the original 7 State Compact.

    So, when as a matter of public policy should a government run a profit off its constituents? Should parks be gated and access granted based on ability to pay? Libraries? Magnet schools? Highways? Streets? What happens when a rich community wants access to an amenity found in a poor community? Why should dollars decide?

    Please note that California voters approved Prop 218, which essentially prohibits local governments from levying taxes, fees and assessments greater than the cost of the underlying service. Why are the voters wrong? Why, precisely, is water not “priced accurately”?

    On water markets: the last major water transfer in California was from Imperial Irrigation District (a government agency) to San Diego County Water Authority (another government agency). The deal took almost a decade to negotiate, required both State and federal legislation, led to 10 years of litigation, and still left unresolved a major environmental impact (the shrinking of the Salton Sea).

    Large scale water transfers have huge secondary impacts on both jobs and the environment. So please, tell me more about how water ‘markets’ are going to solve California’s water issues.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Francis says:

      Oooh, if only we didn’t have that pesky Prop. 218, we could fund all of our governmental activities with a concealed regressive tax structure! Drat!Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to Francis says:

      So, when as a matter of public policy should a government run a profit off its constituents?

      It has nothing to do with profit and everything to do with allocating scarce resources efficiently. Your question about roads is a good one. If a road was so clogged that not everybody who wanted to pass could pass, how do you solve that problem? Appeals to agreements signed when the roads were empty save for the occasional Wells Fargo stagecoach?

      It’s not as though there’s a limitless supply of it and evil bureaucrats are holding it up and twirling their mustaches at how much money they can get from poor, unsuspecting water users. We literally don’t have enough water to continue to use it the way we’re using it. Hundred year old agreements on paper are great, but they’re not laws of physics. The issue we’re dealing with is a physical one, not a philosophical one.

      Large scale water transfers have huge secondary impacts on both jobs and the environment.

      So does one region or industry running out of water and having to relocate to where the water is. This comment seems to presuppose that current allocations of water are perfect and that transferring water and everything associated with it is necessarily a bad thing. I think that’s something that needs to be argued on a case-by-case basis.

      So please, tell me more about how water ‘markets’ are going to solve California’s water issues.

      Absent a sudden influx of new water, market pricing will be the gentlest way this problem is resolved. Otherwise, it’s going to be mandates that are just as disruptive and far less efficient. People seem to think that market prices are the cause of people being unable to afford all of the stuff they want. The reality is that people can’t have all of the stuff they want because most stuff is finite and other people want stuff too. Market prices are a result of that, not the cause, and they’re the easiest way to keep people from wasting those resources.

      When we run short on water, the question isn’t, “How can we keep water cheap and get lots of water to everybody?” That question isn’t interesting because there’s no answer to it. The question is, “Who is going to use the dwindling supply of water, what will they use it for, and who will go without?” We can’t avoid answering that question, and answering it with appeals to history and tradition are probably not going to cut it once people really start to feel the pinch.Report

      • Francis in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        “market pricing will be the gentlest way this problem is resolved”

        cite, please. Once again, why should water flow towards money? Why should wealth be preferred over property rights? Why should municipal users be preferred over ag users? Why are lawns a better use for water than alfalfa?

        There are lots of ways that governments allocate public goods. Money is one way, but simply asserting that wealth is the best / most efficient way to manage excess demand for public goods is to bury a very important value in ostensibly neutral language.

        And that’s really what I’m getting at. People who talk about ‘market pricing’ or ‘accurate’ pricing have a set of values about how water should be allocated. Specifically, such people have the value that water rights should be stripped from their historic users and transferred to people willing to pay more. But (deliberately or not) they are using language that hides those values.

        Here’s a hypothetical. In some really poor section of LA County — Compton for example — is a really fabulous baseball diamond in a municipal park. It’s got great seating, it’s well-maintained, the kids love playing there. And because Compton is poor, the total water use in Compton is pretty low (no pools or fancy backyards). Over in Beverly Hills, the water use is way high. So, in order to meet the Governor’s water emergency, the parks department turns off the water at a BH municipal park, but leaves it on in Compton. Right result? What if the BH residents offer to pay to keep the water on?

        Now (assuming that the decision remains unchanged), the BH baseball team goes to the Parks department and requests to play on the Compton field. (They could play in the dust, but they’d prefer to play on grass.) They even offer to pay for the time slot usually given to the Compton team for free. Now what? Does the Parks department allocate playing time on the Compton field based on ability to pay? Why or why not?

        Well, why shouldn’t the BH kids get the field? There’s a shortage of grassy fields and they’re willing to pay more. It is, at least according to some comments here, by definition inefficient to let the poor kids pay for free when the government could extract a fee from other, wealthier taxpayers.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        You are implying that there is no reasonably fair way to blend market pricing with any kind of priority rights.

        Ignoring for the moment the mess that is CA water rights, is there any reason we can’t price water meant for Ag at a lower rate than water meant for residential or other commercial use? We price (well, tax) fuel for Ag differently. Or perhaps we can raise water prices and then use the money to pay for water conservation devices/methods for Ag, so they don’t need so much water. Really there are all sorts of things that can be done to work on the problem, if people are willing to let go of the status quo.

        Likewise with your ball field. Should BH be able to pay to use the compton field? Sure, why not? Should they be able to take the spot reserved for local residents just because they can pay for it? No, although the Compton team is certainly within their right to let the BH team have the slot if they want. Might be worth it to them to reschedule their game & let BH contribute some cash to the park upkeep.

        It’s not an all or nothing kind of thing.Report

      • Dand in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        The race card in action:

        “If we don’t give rich farmers cheep water poor black kids won’t be able to play baseball”.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Once again, why should water flow towards money?

        It shouldn’t always. Or more accurately, it should, but we should subsidize the poor so that they can afford a reasonable amount of water for their own use.

        Commercial water users can pay for it themselves. If they can’t afford it, that’s a good argument that they’re not making particularly good use of the water. There’s no reason why the public should have to subsidize, say, my pre-filled water balloon business any more than they should have to subsidize alfalfa.

        Why should wealth be preferred over property rights?

        I don’t know what this means.

        Why should municipal users be preferred over ag users?

        I don’t think they should. Looking at my water district’s wholesale prices, it looks like ag gets wholesale water prices between 10x and 40x lower than when it’s sold for non-ag purposes. So if one of us has to answer, “Why should X get preferential treatment?” I’d say that anybody arguing for the status quo has a slightly higher burden than I do.

        Why are lawns a better use for water than alfalfa?

        I don’t think that they are, necessarily. Conversely, what makes alfalfa a better use of water than lawns? One way to find out is to figure out what people who consume alfalfa and people who enjoy lawns are willing to pay for those things. It’s all good and well to think that growing alfalfa is a holy and moral thing, but if you’re not willing to pay for alfalfa, that says something. If alfalfa is really important and people are willing to pay for it, they should be willing to pay for it with the real cost of the water it consumes rolled up in the price, just like everything else.

        Water is special in a lot of ways, but it’s not so special that it’s 100% immune from basic economics.

        Well, why shouldn’t the BH kids get the field?

        It’s interesting that you’ve taken a conflict between for-profit companies and the general public over lopsided use of resources and constructed an analogy that pits poor citizens against rich citizens for equal non-profit use of public property. I think the analogy could use some adjustment.

        Let’s say instead of one field in BH and one in Compton, there’s one field in BH and 4 in Compton. And let’s say that the kids in Compton don’t use the fields themselves but instead rent them out for profit to minor league baseball teams, pocketing the spread between the free public resource and the price those teams will pay. Water is running low, so a field is going to have to go brown. Which field should it be? Is the proposal that Compton pay for water at the same rate as BH and pass the costs on to the renters insane if it results in one field being shut down and BH getting to keep their field?

        Is this the place where we appeal to the rich history of Compton’s baseball field rentals and the generations-old agreements between Compton, BH, and the Bakersfield Blaze?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        “cite, please. Once again, why should water flow towards money? Why should wealth be preferred over property rights? Why should municipal users be preferred over ag users? Why are lawns a better use for water than alfalfa?”

        Yes because people in Oakland and Compton are wealthier than people who own hundreds if not thousands of acres of farmland.

        Except that they aren’t, most of them anyway. Municipal users should be favored because they are and will continue to be the majority of Californians and we are no longer a rural-agricultural state.

        FWIW I am equally against lawns and think Californians should switch to native vegetation and let their lawns brown out or be gone.Report

      • LWA in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Water prices and water markets are different sorts of solutions.
        Water is in face priced ridiculously low. For most people who rent, it is literally too cheap to meter. Only recently have apartment builders started submetering water usage.

        Raising water rates even drastically would scarcely affect anyone’s monthly utility bills- Since as is pointed out elsewhere on this thread, for every drop of domestic water used, there are gallons used for crops.
        I’m ambivalent about whether water should be rationed on the basis of price or regulation- but agree that price stands a better chance of actually reducing usage.

        I’m not sure how “water markets” would even be worthy of such a name. Among the natural resources, water is probably the most resistant to our conventional notions of property.
        It starts as a cloud, then becomes rain, then gathers in rivulets, then into streams and lakes.
        In order to collect this into something that can be identified and called property requires fairly arbitrary political decisions that create essentially a government assignment of resources.

        I suppose its like many problems in public policy- there are multiple goals that all need to be satisfied. We need to reduce usage, but also need to reduce it in a way that is satisfying to our sense of fairness and equality.Report

      • zic in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        I bought a bottle of Dasani from CA the other day. Here in Maine. That’s ludicrous. That’s private ownership of water resources in action.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis says:


      Prop 218: If the water infrastructure needs improvements, are those paid for via tax levy’s, or through water fees?

      Otherwise I concur with @troublesome-frog, the voters were wrong. This isn’t Enron playing with the supply to maximize profit so the board members can buy another yacht. One of the benefits of price hikes to manage a scarce resource is that it does tend to cause that resource to be used more carefully. A second, when done by a public utility, is that it can grant the utility an influx of funds which can be used to improve the ability to manage the resource better (note I said can, I know that doesn’t always happen).

      A better Prop 218 would have focused on making sure that ‘profit’ made by public services who adjust pricing for resource management is used for capital improvements of that service (rather than, for instance, lavish raises, or office parties, etc.). And perhaps included some kind of scheme for when prices can fluctuate and by how much given certain conditions.Report

  12. Michael Cain says:

    A3, S2, and S5:
    I’ve been reading a lot of “edge city” stuff of late, and am less interested in knowing where these people live than where they work. I have started to believe that older urban “cores” began pricing jobs out (in various ways) well before they began pricing people out (in various, possibly different, ways). I suspect that relatively few of the people moving to the DC exurbs actually work in DC; more likely that they work either locally, or in the office parks and towers in the edge cities between them and DC.Report

    • You should listen to what I say, @michael-cain , cause that’s what I been sayin’! 🙂 I firmly believe that the future isn’t people moving to inner cores (as fuel prices rise and/or traffic congests), but jobs moving to where the people are. (Which will, to be fair, create some “urbanizing” of outward zones.) I think satellite cities are going to be a big part of how things are going to work.

      Up above, @saul-degraw says that he can’t imagine somebody commuting from where I live (he knows where I live) to DC. Which is largely true, as it’s a 2-hour trip by rail a 75-minute drive without traffic. But Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Frederick… these are places getting DC spillover jobs, and people can commute to there from here. And even out here, the government has been building stuff (though, to be fair, oink oink).Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        I just find it so odd that half the country is in a “the cities are dead” argument like it is 1975 and the other half is saying the cities are alive and showing real population growth.Report

        • Cities aren’t dying, but how many more people can San Francisco hold? How much will they build up to keep bringing in new workers and jobs?

          The population growth has to go somewhere, but you are skeptical of every place be they exurbs or the non-coastal cities…

          Where do you think the growth will occur?Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

            You can stuff a lot of people into a small area if you build dense enough. San Francisco proper is about the same size as Paris but Paris is home to two million or so people because of a greater level of density. When you add all the other municipalities of the Bay Area, you have a lot of room for growth for a long time with the right policies. The same is true for many of the other metro areas in the North East and West Coast. Portland and Seattle have under 10,000 people per square mile. Both of those cities can grow immensely. Philadelphia used to be home to 500,000 more people than it is now. Boston used to house more people to.Report

          • The “if you build dense enough” does a lot of heavy lifting there. Local residents are arguing that you can’t, or shouldn’t.

            If you build outward enough, you get back to the edge cities that Michael Cain and I are talking about because the jobs are not likely to all stay in the middle (nor am I sure we want them to, though that’s a slightly different question).Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        I wonder how much people create policy unconsciously that makes their bet/prediction come true.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        I suppose some of my issues are how broadly people try to define things to get them to align with their bet/prediction. The 538 was part of this trend. The SF Bay Area is growing over all. So people are going to move to Oakland, Berkeley, San Mateo, Daly City, Santa Clara, Walnut Creek, etc. Maybe even Marin.

        I’ve mentioned that I see the Sun Belt cities and exurbs growing but sort of for anti-good reasons. They also shouldn’t grow environmentally because it is a serious strain to have all those people in an arid climate that is getting hotter and drier.Report

        • The SF Bay Area is growing over all. So people are going to move to Oakland, Berkeley, San Mateo, Daly City, Santa Clara, Walnut Creek, etc. Maybe even Marin.

          This is another argument, at least IMO, for looking at density on the basis of urban areas, or something similar. Using Census Bureau data for urban areas over 750,000 and that measurement of density, the densest urban areas are overwhelmingly in the West. Here’s the top 20:

          1 Los Angeles 12150996 2702.5
          2 San Francisco 3281212 2419.5
          3 San Jose, California 1664496 2247.2
          4 New York City 18351295 2053.6
          5 Honolulu 802459 1820.7
          6 Las Vegas 1886011 1746.9
          7 Miami 5502379 1715.2
          8 San Diego 2956746 1558.7
          9 Salt Lake City 1021243 1418.9
          10 Sacramento, California 1723634 1413.0
          11 New Orleans 899703 1381.8
          12 Denver 2374203 1372.4
          13 Riverside, California 1932666 1369.3
          14 Portland, Oregon 1849898 1362.1
          15 Chicago 8608208 1360.6
          16 Washington, D.C. 4586770 1339.9
          17 El Paso, Texas 803086 1237.5
          18 Phoenix, Arizona 3629114 1222.1
          19 Baltimore 2203663 1186.6
          20 Seattle 3059393 1169.2

          Using urban areas also avoids the problem that Will has with MSAs: Riverside-San Bernardino comes in at a reasonable place. I claim that the West’s “dominance” is explained by the fact that most cities there are hemmed in by various factors: mountains, federal land, etc. They can’t afford to allow their “supporting cast” areas to sprawl too much. Denver, for example, has mountains to the west and a sharp drop-off in desirability as you go east beyond a certain distance from the mountains. To Lee’s comment below, Portland is surprisingly hemmed in.

          The cities at the bottom of the list tend also to be in the South, like Charlotte and Atlanta.Report

      • That which can’t continue forever, won’t. Places will infill as much as local residents allow it, but local residents are sometimes less than generous. The entire debate over increasing development or rent control are all predicated on the fact that there is, ultimately, not enough room. People who make less will get pushed out. People who want families will continue to be stressed. But when you have a growing number of people and a fixed amount of land and a limited enthusiasm for development, something has to give. The Bay Area will continue to grow until it can’t anymore, and then the growth either slow or what is considered the “Bay Area” will expand.

        The best that urbanists can hope for is that the expansion will occur as densely as possible. Which in places like the Bay Area and Seattle, it will do so to some degree out of necessity. But as commutes get longer and longer, the strain will worsen until employers have to start making tough choices. That’s how outlying areas become cities in their own right, and how mid-sized cities become larger ones (not just Houston, but also Portland).

        And, of course, while you consider the growth of the Sun Belt to be troublesome, I consider an ever-growing number of people trying to cling to pieces of land, bidding up prices, exacerbating the effects of economic inequality, arguably exacerbating the very economic inequality itself, to be far moreso.

        I have no great love of sprawl. What I’d really like is a greater amount of density in places where land costs less, maybe even creating a win-win of cheap land and more efficient land usage. Unfortunately, that’s not really how people work. Density correlates with higher real estate values because the latter necessitates the former, and where there isn’t pressure on real estate values, people have a preference for less density. You can blame it on externalized costs, if you prefer (and I do think that’s part of it, if less than others believe), but those costs are a product of our collective democratic judgment, which is not easily distinguished from our individual economic judgment.

        Which leaves us with a dichotomy, either relatively affordable (to the individual) sprawl, or the economic crunch of bidding wars for limited land. I consider affordability to be an extraordinary good. A reduced cost of living is money in peoples’ pockets, just as surely as government redistribution. And the ultimate resource it taps is something we have in spades: land.

        It is quite possible, theoretically, to use the land we have and develop in a less sprawly way that relies on public transportation and saves people on the cost of their car.

        In practice, this seems to exist roughly nowhere.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

          Portland seems to be a city with relatively low amounts of sprawl that relies on public transport. By international standards, Portland isn’t dense at all. It has around 4,375 people per square mile according to Wikipedia. By American standards, its pretty dense and has an extensive and expanding public transportation system by American standards. It has much less sprawl than other metropolitan areas that grew after World War II.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        Isn’t that what happened with the 270 Tech Corridor down your way? When I used to live in Rockville (outside the Beltway but literally by a matter of feet!), I’d have had to drive AWAY from the District to have gotten there. There was space and workers out that way so BLAMMO, thats where the jobs went. People could leave reasonably close to an urban core (DC) without paying to live close enough to commute into it.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:


      Which jobs do you think got priced out? I am still skeptical of the suburban and exurban future that @will-truman imagines will happen for a variety of reasons:

      1. I am part of a group that likes to be around each other. When you are one of 5-6 million (in this case Jews), it is hard to imagine being alone in an exurb. There is a comfort to me when I hear two strangers wish each other a Happy Pesach.

      2. I still see plenty of jobs in cities. SF is making big woo efforts to get the tech companies into SF and it is successful. The most successful law firms (of all types and sizes) are still in cities, etc.Report

      • Let’s take Manhattan as the extreme example. You probably know the economic history better than I do. 100 years ago there were thriving slaughterhouse businesses, both light and heavy manufacturing, and it was the intermodal shipping hub of the day. I use “price” broadly. Stock yards were incompatible with increasing density. The widespread introduction of the assembly line made it necessary to do heavy manufacturing all on one level and was priced off the island by the cost of land. The focus of the incredibly valuable harbor moved across the river to NJ because of bottlenecks on freight rail (and later roads). 60 years ago there was a thriving R&D business and enormous back-office operations. Manhattan had become a very expensive place to build heavy lab facilities, which have huge demands on load-bearing capability, electricity supplies, and cooling [1], and they moved out. Northern NJ’s massive office parks that started at that time were in large part the result of Manhattan’s sky-high per-square-foot office costs. Compared to the US economy as a whole, there are a small slice of jobs, even just office jobs, that are productive enough to afford the cost of setting up shop in Manhattan.

        SF is a wonderful city, and if I were independently wealthy I’d love to live there, out of sight and mind of the huge support services located elsewhere that keep the city alive. But… In the last 25 years, the region around San Francisco Bay has added what — a million jobs, net? What fraction of them were in San Francisco? And how many of them had physical requirements that made them too expensive to do in a dense city?

        [1] Consider Bell Labs Holmdel, a classic example of a “modern” R&D facility when it was built in the early 1960s. The load-bearing capacity of the lower floors would have been insane in a high-rise tower. It needed it’s own electrical substation, and back out of sight and (largely) out of hearing was what was basically a jet engine and generator that kicked in to power critical equipment when the commercial power failed (and a massive battery plant to tide things over while the turbine spun up). The building had to be air-conditioned year round, and dumped enough heat into the cooling ponds that they never got even a film of ice, no matter how cold the winter.Report

  13. Dand says:

    The SJW smear campaign rolls on:

    SJWs want to politicize every form of entertainment and think that anyone who doesn’t want to listen to their preaching must be a bigot.Report

    • Dand in reply to Dand says:

      And let me add that I’m sure the religious right would like to insert their worldviews into entertainment but they have not been able to do so because the people who run the entertainment don’t share their worldview. If the religious right had the cultural influence that SJWs have I would be pushing back just as hard against them.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Dand says:

      You might want to be more clear with your irony tags… I’m not a regular contributor here, so there’s no baseline, so if I’m going to be ironic (as with my post on “hyperbole” yesterday) I make it damn clear that I’m doing so…

      More in sorrow than in anger, I followed the link – yep, it was more bellyaching that the Sad Puppies were outed in their (third!) attempt to steal the Hugo Awards. Mind you, their backup plan of destroying the Hugos entirely is still well in play, and is in my estimation the highest probability scenario at this point. Especially after they invited the GamerGate instigators into the plan, like inviting the Hells Angels to do security at Altamont.

      A lot of situations like this are ambiguous, with “he said she said” as at least a potential way of distracting from the real issue. This isn’t one of them… There aren’t even two sides – there’s one side – the Sad Puppies and hangers-on – and it’s unambiguously evil. Other than them, is, basically, SF fandom. Who are left to pick up the pieces.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Dand says:


      All I get from that is that there are two factions, both convinced they have right on their side, calling each other names.. And the comments almost immediately devolved into “SJW” vs. “sexist, racist”, as if a person’s opinion on stop and frisk should have an effect on their vote for best novella. Honestly, the hell with all of them.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Well, here’s George RR Martin:

        And here’s Crooked Timber:

        That is probably the most civilized discussion of the anti-sad puppies out there.

        Crooked Timber is doing a good job of keeping it to discussions of the stories themselves. George R R Martin is, of course, writing stuff like that instead of his books.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        It seems to me that the Sad Puppies might have been criticizing a behavior that was kinda uncool, but they either are or they’ve associated themselves with some spectacularly vile people as they went on to, as they say, do in the light what had been done in the dark. That thing worth criticizing.

        So if you say that the Sad Puppies kinda had a point, people will think that you’re on their side before they get to the part of the sentence where you use the words “spectacularly” and “vile” together.

        And they’re doing what they accuse their opponents of having done.

        The culture wars have hit SF/F. The Hugos are a casualty.Report

      • Martin makes the Sad Puppies sound like sore losers. One of his statements of what they believe is really interesting:

        (4) and finally, there’s the literary argument, wherein we are told that the ballots are full of bad boring crappy stories that no one really likes, placed there in some nefarious manner by the secret SJW cliques, whereas good old-fashioned SF and fantasy, the stuff the readers really love, is shut out and ignored.

        This goes back at least to the New Wave fights of the late 60s, when old-style fans were horrified that the English professors were ruining SF with their literary techniques, when all a real fan wanted was a story about three engineers who all talked and acted exactly alike inventing a new space drive. The wars fizzled out when the old guard like RAH and Asimov embraced their new palette. Robert Silverberg, who’d left SF because it left him nothing to say, re-entered the field and enjoyed the most productive part of his career.

        But this stuff never goes away. Back when I used to hang out on Usenet, a very successful and well-known SF writer posted a complaint that he would never win any awards because he wouldn’t kow-tow to the critics; he just wrote the kind of stories the fans liked, without all that fancy literary stuff. And this was back in the 90s, when Bujold won for best novel every other year. Sure, there are some hidden depths to her work, but is there a more approachable SF writer, or one who cares more about crafting stories, than LMB?

        Anyway, it’s a bit ironic to see this when one of our more conservative commenters just recommended the hell out of Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, and largely for its master of literary techniques.Report

        • PZ Myers makes the same point, rather well. SF has cared about literary values, subverted tropes, and included subtext at least since Campbell created the Golden Age in 1939.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I haven’t followed the kerfuffle closely, but at least from the Torgersen (sp?) piece @dand originally linked, that’s not exactly the Sad Puppies’ complaint.

            They aren’t complaining about the overvaluation of literary tropes or intelligence over simple populism; they are complaining that checking certain “PC”/lefty boxes (either in the work, or in the author) elevates an inferior work’s chances of recognition unfairly, over one that may be better-written, prose-wise (including subtext and literary values etc.)

            It’s like complaining that “Crash” got Best Picture more because it hit all the Hollywood pet Oscar-bait issues, not because it was actually anywhere near the best filmmaking that year.

            I can’t speak to the accuracy of the charge (though if Martin’s post is correct, it seems unfounded), but it’s not an unheard-of charge nor an inherently anti-intellectual/anti-literary one.Report

          • Read the Myers post, which quotes Torgeson at length complaining that he can’t find the simple adventure stories that are his comfort food. Torgeson even uses that metaphor.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Ah, I hadn’t seen that piece. That’s pretty weak, all right. This was the one I saw:


            I took this paragraph at face value:

            I think perhaps what some people (unused to the insider baseball of SF/F) might not be clear about, is that Sad Puppies 3 is not a thing invented to keep anyone off the Hugo ballot for demographic reasons. It was invented to (originally) poke fun at some tired predictabilities in the selection process, as well as scuttle the notion that the award was actually all about quality, when it’s more or less been a popularity and quasi-politicized contest the whole time. Along the way we fairly skewered the concept of literary affirmative action — that works and authors should be judged on the basis of author or character demographics and box-checking, not the audience’s enjoyment of the prose

            When I saw that, my mind went to the yearly Oscar-complaining almost immediately, which is often quite similar in theme.Report

          • The Hugos are a popularity contest, and always have been. And that has its disadvantages, like if the convention is in Canada, there are going to be a lot of people there inclined to vote for books by Canadian authors. (I’ve never read Hominids, but the reports are not encouraging.) But overall they’ve always worked well enough to be a net positive.

            But that really depends on individuals voting for the stories they like best. Whoever introduced the notion of voting slates (and I honestly don’t know whether that’s the Puppies or the people they oppose) introduced a toxic level of partisanship into the process.Report

          • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Are these Beale’s people? I know he did this a year or two ago, and I know that Beale is both an absolutely despicable human being and a mediocre writer at best, so I would be inclined to be dismissive of anyone who joined his cause, but there might be a different group this time (I’m too lazy to click all the links).Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:


            Not Beale., & actively distanced from himReport

          • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Good, because what a piece if scum.Report

          • Referring to Day’s explicit sexism and racism as “controversial”, and comparing shunning Day to anti-Mormon prejudice is an odd kind of distancing.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:


            That’s a year old, this is more current:

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Sorry, doing this all on mobile devices.

            Vox started his own effort because Sad Puppies wasn’t interested in his help., because he’s just too much of a lightning rod.Report

          • I have to call BS on “No one knew who John Ringo was”. He’s been writing SF bestsellers for Baen for about 15 years. (Oddly enough, I’m in the acknowledgements of one of them.)Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          This makes a good point that all this brouhaha will get a lot more people involved in nominating works & voting, which will only serve to make the Hugo’s more relevant & valuable.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Well, there are all kinds of genres that wrestle for primacy.

        “CULTURE(s) IS(are) AWESOME!”

        (As well as, of course, their negations)

        I mean, Bellamy’s “Looking Backwards” is one hell of a Mary Sue. If you daydream the same daydreams as Bellamy, you will see it as a shining example of American Utopian Literature. If you daydream significantly different daydreams, it’s quite easy to see the book as confounding. Now imagine two groups of people arguing over whether Bellamy should get the award or some Jules Verne racist tract like The Time Machine.

        And, of course, it’s easy to ask “Which book is better written? Which book has the better story? Which book knows the difference between there, their, and they’re?”

        But it’s never about that, is it? Those are questions that are usually phrased to include stuff like The Time Machine and exclude stuff like Looking Backwards. Or vice-versa.


        I think that Foucault might have been onto something.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I don’t think there’s really two factions. There’s just one. (GRRM’s blog kinda goes into detail with this).

        What happened is, basically, a small group of people got unhappy that their favorite SF works never seemed to make the Hugos. Now, lots of people get unhappy about that, but these people invented a conspiracy or cabal to explain it. There’s no evidence of this (GRRM ALSO goes into that), but they’re pretty certain it exists because there’s no other possible explanation for the fact that their favorite works rarely make the nominations. (The thought that, perhaps, there’s a degree of self-selection with the tiny minority of Hugo voters who bother to nominate did not cross their minds, nor did simply voting on nominations themselves.)

        So to counter this ‘bias’, instead of simply actually bothering to do the nominations and encourage their friends/fellow readers to do so — they created a slate and encouraged that, which sort hits a failure mode for the way Hugos are nominated. (Individual authors pimping their own works wash out. But even 5% pushing the exact same slate can cause a huge wave).

        So Sad Puppies was created, to counter a cabal of shadowy figures rigging the elections. Sad Puppies is, frankly, not a big deal. Honestly, other than the slate thing (which IS a failure mode for the way the Hugos are nominated) I’d applaud them. If you care that much about the Hugos, become a member of Worldcon and nominate what you like. That’s the POINT!

        The problem is really Rabid Puppies, which is basically Vox Day (who is, I’m going to state bluntly, a stain upon humanity). Sad Puppies won nada. Rabid Puppies, on the other hand, pushed a slate that was pretty much Vox Day from top to bottom. (His publishing house is all over it. Which is odd, for a tiny new house.). To me, not only is his slate full of…not great works…but it basically feels like Vox just bought himself a Hugo slate to pimp his entire publishing house.

        And because, unlike individual authors exhorting fans to vote for them, there is no counterbalancing slate to Vox’s (the Puppies overlap, mostly, and despite all the screaming there IS no conspiracy slate).

        In any case, you’d think Vox’s success would prove the Hugo’s weren’t being gamed. If they were, he wouldn’t have been able to do is so easily.

        Charles Stross has a pretty thorough discussion of Vox Day and Rapid Puppies on his blog, and GRRM spent a ton of time talking about the Sad Puppies complaints and generally deconstructing it — from the fact that their claims to returning sci-fi to some roots (roots that never existed) to complaints that the Hugos have been ‘swayed’ by some leftist secret cabal.

        Honestly, they lost me the minute they started talking about how sci-fi’s gotten too ‘literary’ and how if you see a spaceship on a cover you can’t tell if it’s gonna be about space-battles or general or social exploration, and then quoted Star Trek as the sort of ‘non-ideological’ works they like.

        Star Trek. That had an interracial kiss in the 70s, and an episode in which a half-black, half-white race. Star Trek, a communist utopia in space that tackled ideological concepts with a sledgehammer at times.

        I can’t take their complaints seriously when their examples contradict their points. And not in a subtle way. In a “Jesus, did you ever watch the show?” way.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to Morat20 says:

          Honestly, they lost me the minute they started talking about how sci-fi’s gotten too ‘literary’ and how if you see a spaceship on a cover you can’t tell if it’s gonna be about space-battles or general or social exploration, and then quoted Star Trek as the sort of ‘non-ideological’ works they like.

          Not only has ST always covered that sort of thing (In a fairly wishy-washy way…still no actual gay characters…and, no, the EU doesn’t count.), but pretending that *Star Trek* is some sort of base of SF is just so stupid as to be almost unimaginable.

          Of course, these are the same people that claim Heinlein was some sort of libertarian warrior, when in reality, over the years, he presented a version of pretty much every single possible political system. And, notably, the vast majority of people were happy under the vast majority of them. His loner heroes might have been satisfied with them and set out of the frontier again, and not a single one of them said ‘I’m not happy, we must remake this society to fit how I want it!’ The only *actual* societies Heinlein ever thinks should be torn down are a overly racist state and a fascist theocracy, IIRC.

          from the fact that their claims to returning sci-fi to some roots (roots that never existed) to complaints that the Hugos have been ‘swayed’ by some leftist secret cabal.

          Sci-fi has always been more liberal than any other genre, because sci-fi is, inherently, looking towards the future, and the future is always different than the present. (If it wasn’t, it would hardly be ‘science fiction’, it would just be ‘the date is the future but it’s all the same’-fiction.)

          What I *think* they are complaining about is that science fiction isn’t very pro-military. Which is, uh, not something that’s actually changed. Sci-fi has always presented war as the stupid option. It’s just recently that military fiction has started leaning in the sci-fi category, so they think we should all think that’s good sci-fi.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

            His loner heroes might have been *unsatisfied* with them, obviously.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to DavidTC says:

            Which makes me wonder: is Sad-Puppyism really, deep-down, about why MilSF doesn’t win more awards?Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Not sure, but this is informative with regard to milSF


            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Not sure if David Drake ever won a Hugo, or even go a nomination, but if he hasn’t, he’s long overdue.Report

              • Looking over the lists (and there’s no way to ask the question directly, nor do I know who’s big in MilSF these days)

                * RAH won for Starship Troopers, which is the ur-MilSF book.

                * Gordon DIckson won several for his Dorsai stories

                * Pournelle has been nominated a few times for short fiction. I’ts probably MilSF. He’s also won a few for collaborations with Niven, which are not.

                * Bujold has won a lot for Vorkosigan stories, which are often about military situations. But it’s a matter of doubt whether anything with so many girls and feelings is really MilSF.

                * Nothing for what I think of as the big names in MilSF: Drake, Ringo, Weber.

                * Tom Kratman has a nominated story this year.

                So, you could argue that for a subgenre that sells so many copies MilSF is underrepresented. That it’s because of a conspiracy by evil libruls rather than because MilSF is a ghetto within a ghetto seems unlikely.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Eh, I’m not arguing anything really. I just found the article informative regarding the attitudes toward MilSF back in the 70’s & 80’s, which is probably why we haven’t seen a ton of Hugo’s for it since then. Especially since for the Hugo’s, the field of contenders is huge, and the population of voters has (historically) been small & consistent (those who are members of WorldCon). Easy for things to be missed.

                The thing is, thanks to the internet & Amazon, the ability for me to be exposed to writers of interest is so massively expanded that literary awards are almost meaningless to me as a guide to what I will or won’t enjoy. I haven’t cared about the Hugo’s or Nebula’s in over a decade. The only reason I am remotely interested in the SP3 business is because Larry Correia is in my feed*. The only thing the SP3 slates represent to me is a potential reading list, if I ever find time to read it all. Usually I just pay attention to site Elitist Book Reviews if I am looking for something new.

                *I’m sympathetic to their argument that the Hugo’s tend to be insular, but I think the claims of a conspiracy are stretched.Report

              • It’s also true that most MilSF I’ve seen (not Drake, but certainly Weber, Ringo, and Pournelle) is suffused with politics: libertarian, right-wing, or both. Which puts a lot of people off.Report

              • It’s also true that most MilSF I’ve seen (not Drake, but certainly Weber, Ringo, and Pournelle) is suffused with politics: libertarian, right-wing, or both.

                I’ve never understood the fascination with hereditary monarchies. Even less bloody-minded writers at least dabble with it — for an old example, Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry runs around sticking his fingers in the holes in the dike, trying to prop up a failing empire, but never questioning that an emperor is a necessity.

                This may or may not turn into a repeat comment. I tried using the “Copy Comment or Excerpt” and got thrown into a dialog with a captcha that didn’t go well.

                I’ll also note — using the edit capability — that this comment appears to have inserted out of temporal order.Report

              • Also, 90% of MilSF is crap.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Also, 90% of MilSF is crap.

                I was going to argue against this, then I thought about it & realized, yeah, most is unimaginative & boring. All the tropes are done to death & it’s a rare thing to find an author with something new, or who handles the tropes in ways that are interesting and worth reading. Same could be said for a lot of genres.

                Of course, it could just be that we are getting old…Report

              • The story goes that Theodore Sturgeon was speaking at an SF convention, and he led with “90% of science fiction is crap.” This cause a huge uproar, of course, but when the crown finally quieted down enough for him to resume, he added “That’s because 90% of everything is crap.”Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                We are all in good company, then.Report

              • So, you could argue that for a subgenre that sells so many copies MilSF is underrepresented.

                Same thing for urban fantasy, if you count all of the “woman in a trench coat with a sword” series being published. There are always one or two up every time I go by the new books display at my local library.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                So, you could argue that for a subgenre that sells so many copies MilSF is underrepresented. That it’s because of a conspiracy by evil libruls rather than because MilSF is a ghetto within a ghetto seems unlikely.

                MilSF is a ghetto within a ghetto because MilSF is not very good sci-fi.

                Notice there’s a difference between ‘not very good sci-fi’ and ‘not very good’. MilSF can be good. But the genre is wrong. It’s assumed to be Sci-Fi/Military, when in actuality it’s often Military/Futuristic.

                Good Science Fiction, or at least the science fiction that science fiction *itself* considers is good, is taking technological advances and using them to *examine people and societies*.

                Which is exactly why Starship Troopers is ‘good sci-fi’, and Honor Harrington *isn’t*. It’s a good story…but it’s not good sci-fi. There’s all sorts of future-y stuff in Harrington that should change society, and in fact a bunch of actual societal chances. Prolong, telepathic cats, genetic modifications, genetic slavery…

                …*and none of those are examined in any way*. At all. They just sorta exist. The closest we get to exploring anything is watching Grayson evolve from a patriarchy. (Oh, wow, they’re getting to almost *modern* attitudes. Amazing. Equal rights for women is such a science fictional concept!)

                Seriously, the TV show Person of Interest, set in modern days with exactly *one* technological change, is more science-fictiony than some entire series of MilSF. Because it actually *addresses technological change on society*.

                And this is the reason that alternate history and fantasy end up in spec-fi also. The reason they aren’t there isn’t that the world is slightly different. (Hell, the world is different in West Wing.) The reason they are there is the entire super-genre is dedicated to *exploring the social changes* of ‘differences in reality’, so we all end up lumping them all together. Whereas MilSF meets the technical requirements for sci-fi, but *completely fails* at addressing what all of spec-fi exists to talk about.

                The problem is that MilSF fans, or at least, fans of *only* MilSF, don’t understand this. It’s spaceships and lasers, in the future, *of course* it’s sci-fi. Why is it constantly marginalized?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:


                I like the distinction between Sci-fi & futuristic Military fiction. Nicely articulated. I do enjoy MilSF (for lack of a better shorthand), especially when the author shows that s/he’s really thought about how technology changes warfare. This is something David Weber does very well in the Honorverse.

                I can’t remember the authors name right now, but he had a collection of short stories that tried to examine how the advances in warfighting technology would impact the people fighting. It was quite well done.Report

              • That sounds like something Joe Haldeman might do.Report

              • By the way, years ago I had an online argument with a Baen editor about the latest Honor book, which was bloated as hell. My argument was that it was an editor’s job to edit. His was that publishing is a business, and it would sell just as many copies without editing, so it made more sense for everybody to free Weber up for the next book than tie him up with edits and rewrites.

                I see the point, but you shouldn’t be too surprised you’re not winning awards when you’re publishing first drafts.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Yeah, Weber is getting almost unreadable, the stuff written in his universe by others is more enjoyable.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I like the distinction between Sci-fi & futuristic Military fiction. Nicely articulated.

                Recently, when reading other people, on other sites, asking about Honor Harrington, someone asked how prolong worked for teenagers, pointing out that, according to the stated rules, prolong starts working at puberty.

                Which means we’ve got a lot of 18-20 year-olds running around looking 13-14, which is going to cause some interesting problems. Will they be discriminated against? Are we going to be okay with them being clearly sexually active? Do they have the hormones of a 14 year old or of a 20 year old? Etc, etc.

                It turns out that Weber was once asked this by a fan, and he said that while prolong started at puberty, teenagers often took medication to counter the effects of it until 18. Which is a) nonsense, why would people voluntarily lose something like a decade of their life so they can *look* older and make adults feel more comfortable, and b) not something he’d ever seriously thought of the societal effects of until asked, because that information sure as hell wasn’t in the series, at least not in the first 10 books or so.

                This is not to say that a science fiction writer has to think of *all* implications of their universe. Often stuff falls through the cracks, or is even deliberately handwaved. But with Weber, it’s not some random oversight…the entire place is that way. We get extremely detailed weapons and defenses and communications and everything required to explained the military stuff…and society is almost indistinguishable from ‘modern day with a few liberalizations’, despite the fact it really *really* shouldn’t be.

                And, again, I’ve got no objection to such a series existing. About five years ago, I had read the entire series to that point. At some point, I’m going to track down the story order and the spinoffs and everything, and reread the entire thing I *like* it.

                It’s just crappy ‘science fiction’. Like most MilSF.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                Found it: Thomas Mays. Five short stories about REMOs, or Remote Operators – aka drone pilots of the future. Focus is more on the people, less on the machines.

                He also has a book, A Sword Into Darkness, which was very enjoyable for a freshman effort.Report

              • LWA in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Pro-tip for the non-science fiction fans- type carefully when Googling “MilSF”.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                ype carefully when Googling “MilSF”

                or don’t, depending on your kink…Report

    • morat20 in reply to Dand says:

      Rather randomly, there’s a pretty easy fix for this that should satisfy everyone — even the Sad Puppies.

      Bloc voting (like the Hugo nominations) is gameable. This is known — the Hugos provided a pretty good example. A slate will almost always win, and in fact has a good chance of taking over entire categories, if you get even 10 or 15% of the voters to sign onto it. (less for the less popular categories).

      After all, if there are 1000 voters and 500 eligible works, in a non-slate year a work with only 75 or 100 votes would generally be a shoe-in for the nomination, because those 1000 votes are scattered over 500 works. Slates concentrate against the more scattered votes of individuals.

      Whether you agree or disagree with the Sad Puppies, that’s obviously a flawed voting system. (The Sad Puppies claim it’s been used against them, and of course they demonstrated that it can be used to exploit. Well, more Rabid Puppies)

      The solution would be, obviously, to change the voting system to one that lacks such a failure mode.

      Reweighted average voting (I think that’s the term) would work to fix the problem. I’m simplifying, but effectively the top-most vote getter becomes a nominee, and anyone who voted for that work finds their remaining 4 votes diluted slightly. (Perhaps each further vote is only worth 0.75 of a vote — so a 25% reduction in vote strength).

      The tallies are reweighted, and the highest vote getter now becomes the second nominee. Anyone who voted for that work sees a 25% reduction in the power of their remaining votes (if you voted for both works, your remaining three nominations have been reduced twice).

      Rinse and repeat until you have five nominations. (The operative theory being that once you have voted for ‘a winner’ you have, in effect, won. One of your choices is a nominee. Step back a bit and let others speak as well, but your vote always counts)

      This means if, say, the Sad Puppies run a slate they’re likely to get 1 or 2 nominees — but exhaust their voting power doing so, leaving the other three slots open (unless one of their slate picks was really popular with NON-slate voters). It prevents gaming of the system, each vote still counts, and minority blocs get more of a say — too many people voting the same handful of works will dilute their power, even if it’s not a specific slate, allowing more diversity in the outcome.

      It’s exactly what the Sad Puppies want, doesn’t allow anyone to control the nominations through slates or other exploits.

      Discussions of this have, of course, led to people screaming “Now you want to change the rules because we won!” which is just dumb, as it fixes both the exploit the Rabid Puppies used (the Sad Puppies weren’t nearly so successful) AND the exploit the Sad Puppies claim has been used against them!

      The end result is exactly what they say they want, fixes an obvious flaw, and is win-win for everyone going forward.

      So odds are if it gets implemented, someone will play the victim card as soon as the first results are in. (Which, btw, can’t be before 2017. Changes require votes at two consecutive Worldcons to take effect).

      Since bloc voting has known flaws and exploits, one of which was visible used and was alleged to have been used in the past, both Sad Puppies and standard Hugo voters alike should be supporting a change in the voting method to prevent this exploit, yes?Report

      • zic in reply to morat20 says:

        Ranked ballots. Yay.

        Here in Maine, we collected enough signatures to put ranked-ballot voting to the voters. Of course, the devil will be in the details.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to morat20 says:

        What you are describing could probably be done simply by IRV voting, and having everyone just cast one vote. I’m not sure why anyone should have the ability to nominate more than one work. I’m not sure what problem that is solving.

        Actually, a large problem here is that the nominations are fixed in size. Instead of having a fixed amount of winners, just *count* the nominations and put everything that gets more than 5% of the vote on the ballots.

        Or, hell, scratch all that…get works on the ballot by *petition*. This is all done online, right? Check the boxes of things you’d like to see on the ballot.

        For some reason, in this country, we are determined to have two-stage voting, because we are very very stupid. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but anywhere it *can* be avoided, it’s probably best to do so.

        We clearly can’t place ‘everything’ on the ballot, but what we can do is not actually make it into a ‘contest’…any works that honestly seems to have significant percentage of people that want to vote for them should just be on the ballot, period.

        We don’t need voting on what people are allowed to vote on! That is *exactly* what causes the sort of frustration that Sad Puppies had.Report

        • morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

          The reweighting setup has the advantage of NOT changing the nomination process for the voters. “Nominate up to five eligible works for each category in no particular order”. That’s not a small concern.

          IRV or concordat or a ton of other methods would work. I’m partial to ones that change the least to the voter’s perspective, and fix the problem of slates — whether Sad Puppies or the alleged Liberal Secret Slate. I’m against all slates.

          It doesn’t really matter what they use, as long as it’s fair.

          But Sad and Rabid puppies have conclusively proven the Hugo nominations can be gamed. Therefore, fixing the exploit should be a no-brainer. Banning slates is too subjective and hard to figure out if it’s ‘really’ a slate or not, so picking a voting method that makes slates irrelevant is better. No subjectivity.

          Since they’ve taken to posting the raw numbers of the nomination process, you have plenty of transparency. That reduces claims of secret bias down to ‘lying about the votes’ which is not really a solvable problem for the Hugos. You can always claim they lied about the vote count.

          However, I suspect that Vox Day, at least ,doesn’t want the exploit fixed. He’s pretty sure he can exploit the crap out of it for personal profit — whereas those liberal elites wouldn’t stoop to cheating.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to morat20 says:

            The reweighting setup has the advantage of NOT changing the nomination process for the voters. “Nominate up to five eligible works for each category in no particular order”. That’s not a small concern.

            Except such voting means that, if you actually want a specific work on the ballot, you now have an incentive to choose choose deliberately poor works for your other choices, so that you don’t pick something that wins *before* your specific choice, and thus dilutes your vote for that choice.

            That seems like a good plan. Oh, wait, no it doesn’t.

            I’d actually be pretty pissed if someone suggested using such a system over the more obvious ranked voting. It’s complete nonsense, and has no advantage over IRV at all, except you ‘don’t have to’ (aka, can’t) specify any sort of order, so you get a sort of poor-man’s IRV that you can’t control.

            If you *actually* want to do something like that (And there is no reason to actually want this), the thing to do is to just give everyone 100 votes, and let them assign multiple votes to the same work, which would be basically this thing, except at least they’d be in control of the weighing, instead of their voting power just *randomly* disappearing via their fifth choice ending up on the ballot. Or use IRV.

            Or, and this is probably a better way to do it, stop arbitrarily limiting the size of the ballot. This nominating is presumably happening on the internet. So let people submit names. Any work that’s submitted by at least 100 people gets listing online, and people can go there and check off as many works as they want. Anything that gets more than a X% of total voters checking it gets on the ballot.

            That’s the *actual* problem. The problem isn’t that angry puppies put a bunch of things on the ballot…it’s that *there aren’t any other choices*. The ballot is *too small*. If angry puppies had just managed to *append* their choices to the existing ballot, they would, quite rightly, lose. (And quickly learn what it means to dilute the vote.)Report

            • morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

              Except such voting means that, if you actually want a specific work on the ballot, you now have an incentive to choose choose deliberately poor works for your other choices, so that you don’t pick something that wins *before* your specific choice, and thus dilutes your vote for that choice.
              Nope. The chances of you matching one or more works is pretty small without slate voting. Unless you happen to have popular tastes — that is, lots of other people independently are choosing similar works. In which case, your dilution doesn’t matter, does it? Since lots of people with 70% or 80% of a vote beats very few with a full one.

              You can try to game the system that way, but it doesn’t really do much good. In practice, people simply don’t overlap that much. There’s generally a standout or two — but those ‘big consensus’ items will win on the first or second pass, leaving it down to works where there is far less consensus — and thus far less dilution of the vote.

              You can also double or triple the slots, but that’s STILL subject to slate voting. You can have infinite slots, and let everyone vote on any eligible work — but one of the purposes of the nominations is to allow time for voters to read some of the works they’ve missed.

              But again, part of the issue here is to change as little as possible. Not triple the number of nominees, not change the front end for voters, not upend the whole apple cart. But to basically find a way to keep as much as possible and just…fix the flaw, which is the fact that slate voting distorts this system of voting.

              There’s lots of solutions, really. I like RAV because the extra work is on the counting side, but can be done transparently and does not otherwise alter the way the Hugos are done. Furthermore, it actually addresses the Sad Puppies complaints.

              As for IRV — I’d have to think about it (the problem remains of having, say, 250 eligible works in which you rank 1-5, leaving 245 unranked) which would either approximate the reweighted method (but as you note, you choose your own rankings) or else be vulnerable to slate exploits.

              I prefer reweighting because you, as a voter, have already chosen 5 of out X (where X much larger than 5) possibilities, and reweighting is done by how much in agreement you are with everyone else. Pretty sure that’ll lead slightly more minority representation on the nominees, without cutting out anything popular.

              Be fun to simulate both, though. I’d have to look up what the ideal RAV terms are. (I have no idea what the ideal dilution is for a situation like this.)Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

        I like it.Report

  14. Alan Scott says:

    When Bunch talks about this new generation of girl-friendly comics displacing or replacing traditional comics, I think he’s missing a lot about what makes them so appealing. I’m a huge fan of the new Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Batgirl runs. And a big reason I like them is that they do a much better job of upholding comic tradition than the titles that they’re supposedly displacing.

    When I started reading superhero stories, they were light-hearted adventure stories. My comic, growing up, was the Robin solo series. It had secret identity hijinks, relationship and family drama, campy villians, ninjas, but also drugs and school shootings. It was silly sometimes, and serious other times, but it was always optimistic about the role of the superhero. Its fundamental message was that the actions of individuals could make the world a better place. That’s something that books like Ms. Marvel , Thor, and Batgirl are tapping into today–And frankly, they’re doing a lot better job of it than most of the comics with guys on the cover.

    Is the new Thor a marketing gimmick? Maybe that’s what started it, but Marvel sure stuck the landing. People may have bought issue one because there’s a girl on the cover, but they bought issue two because the book is a damned solid exploration of how immortal gods deal with change–which has been the major theme of the Thor books for at least a decade.Report

  15. Alan Scott says:

    Friends of mine just bought a house. They were planning on just buying a cheap condo where they could live in for a few years before they had kids and while he was going to pharmacy school, b/c building equity was just so much more financially sound than renting. Instead, they bought a house–a “we could raise a family and live here for the rest of our lives” house–because it was about as cheap as the condo and easier to get a loan for.

    My sister bought a house last year, with her then-boyfriend now-fiance. Rents were high, houses were a bit pricey but getting much pricier, and they wanted to be able to keep living in the city. I think the plan was to get engaged and married and then buy a house, but sometimes you’ve got to grab at the opportunities when they present themselves.Report

  16. V2 – THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING!!!11!!1!Report

  17. Will Truman says:


    Really? I have not been much of a sci-fi reader until recently but I’d heard of it. Didn’t know how it worked (figured there was a committee) but could have answered “science fiction book/story award.”Report

    • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

      Really. Like I said, I might have come across it in passing, but it never registered. My lack of exposure to sci fi/fantasy (written after, say 1965) was nearly complete (I read some King as a teenager, and Adams as a teenager and as an adult, and that is pretty much it until about a year ago). I’ve always had friends who read it, of course, but that world and mine had almost no actual overlap, or interest in overlapping.Report

    • There’s two main SF awards. The Hugos are voted on by the fans at the annual world conventions, and the Nebulas are voted on by the members of the SFWA (SF Writers Association). Traditionally, the Hugos are more mainstream (Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon; if you go back a bit, lots of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein), while the Nebulas rewarding more experimental writer like Samuel Delany. But there’s a lot of overlap; for instance OSC won both in consecutive years for Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.Report

  18. DavidTC says:

    First, stop calling everything a “reboot” as this is a continuation, not a reboot.

    A-frickin-men. The media are idiots.

    Continuation: Set in the same continuity, using mostly the same characters and setting. I think this is what Twin Peaks is supposed to be.

    Prequel/sequel/shared universe: Set in the same continuity, but in some way telling a different story. With a movie, it just means ‘another movie’. With a series like TV show, it usually means ‘Different characters and/or setting’, like TNG was a sequel to the original Star Trek. Possibly *this* is what Twin Peaks supposed to be, instead.

    Retool: Altering a basic premise of the show, like introducing new main characters or having a genre shift. Keeps ‘the same story’, although often altering it in ways that weren’t intended from the start, or at least didn’t *look* intended. If you hadn’t been watching, you could easily mistake the show for its own sequel.

    Remake: Telling the *same* story with different actors and sets, ignoring previous continuity.

    Reboot: Starting a series of stories over again, which may, or may not, cover the same ground as the original series. Either ignores previous continuity, or, in spec-fi, sometimes is a parallel universe or caused by time travel.

    I would suggest that someone define all these and send it to the media, except I suspect TV tropes already has them clearly defined, and the media are just morons.

    As an aside, does anyone know what the new Ghostbusters is supposed to be?Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to DavidTC says:

      Wow, so many different terms for “I was too fishing lazy to create something new.”Report

      • Also, I think @davidtc forgot my personal favorite, re-gurgitate.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Mike Schilling: Wow, so many different terms for “I was too fishing lazy to create something new.”

        Also, “Shakespearean”Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Uh, I see what you’re trying to say, but that list isn’t that thing.

        Continuations are often, for once, studios actually *recognizing* they screwed something up by canceling things they shouldn’t have. Retools, OTOH, are almost always *internal* fixes, where the creator is trying to save something from cancellation. ‘I made a TV show that isn’t working, so how can I fix it within the story?’ That’s pretty much the opposite of lacking creativity. And sequels/prequels/shared universes are just…keeping a story going. In a creative sense, there’s very little difference between all the Fast and Furious movies, and having a ‘Fast and Furious TV show’.

        ‘Telling multiple stories in a same universe because that universe is popular’ is not a sign of lack of creativity, it’s a sign that studios are actually paying attention to what people buy.

        Reboot, OTOH, are a pretty big sign that someone is out of new ideas, a way to try to cash in on what people have previously bought…*without actually providing that thing*. It’s the assumption that what people want can be *faked*.

        The problem isn’t lack of creating something new. The problem is that television and movie studios have become *really stupid*, operated almost entirely by marketing idiots.

        1) They refuse to take a chance on *anything*.

        2) They refuse to continue producing things that are still popular by canceling shows they should keep airing. (Perhaps with a reduced budget, or renegotiating a bit.)

        3) While at the same time they think is what is important is the *name* of things.

        4) So are easily tricked into making complete bullshit because it has the name of something that was popular.

        But #4 isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom. Marketing idiots have taken hold in studios, and as long as #3 can help counter #1 and #2, #4 will keep happening.

        The actual problem is #1 and #2.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

          Could you elaborate on #2? I’m wondering if you are making an argument I’ve often made…Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

            I’m not quite sure what there is to elaborate on. But let me try.

            In a way, #1 and #2 are the same problem: TV studios are at the mercy of TV networks, and TV networks are lunatics. This has made studios very gun-shy.

            In the old days, there used to be a solution to this: Lower budgets. Witness, for example, season three of TOS. Nowadays, this can be done a bit more intelligently, by reducing payroll by dropping some people from certain episodes, or scaling filming costs back via different tricks, or having a clip episode or a bottle episode.

            And in the modern day, those solutions should work very well. Because there are alternate distribution streams. Almost no series loses money, because someone will *eventually* buy it on DVD, or stream it on Netflix.

            The only *actual* reason there should be to cancel shows nowadays is because the show simply can’t continue. The sets are too expensive to maintain, the actors won’t continue, the story is just not popular at all, something.

            But instead of this new paradigm being relevant, shows are now canceled *even quicker*, because television networks are completely and utterly fucked up, management-wise. No, not the level of fucked up you just imagined when reading that sentence…multiply that by about ten. We’re talking US Congress levels of fuckery, or even worse, because it’s happening in secret.

            Solution: Television studios have started only pitching ideas that were ‘proven successful in the past’ or are based on ‘successful properties’. Which is, of course, absolutely nonsense, but it’s the sort of nonsense you have to use when talking to the stupidest people on planet earth.

            At this point, the stupid has been internalized and the infection has grown so bad that it is reached the *movie* side of the studios, which don’t have a damn thing to do with television networks, but have now become as stupid as the television side. We’re talking ‘fire bad, tree pretty’ levels of thought here. ‘New bad! Old pretty! Must remake Small Wonder, make it darker and edgier and lots of T&A!’

            What is next: Television *networks* will die a horrible lingering death that is as painful as possible, because they are moronic fuckwards. Television and movie studios will have a finite amount of time to change or go down with the networks.

            The ones that survive will then realize that what they should do is figure out what certain groups of people like, and *produce that show*, at whatever the budget allows for them to make that show. (Please note this is *literally* how House of Cards was made.) And then *sell people that show*.

            It’s like they’re goddamn cavemen inventing ‘markets’ again. Make what people want, sell it to them for slightly more than it cost to make it! Wow! Next up: Studios invent fire!Report

            • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

              Huh. That’s like half completely right and half the most wrong thing I’ve read on the Internet today.

              Thanks for the elaboration!Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                That’s like half completely right and half the most wrong thing I’ve read on the Internet today.

                Awesome! If I managed to play this game exactly half-right, I get a Steam achievement!

                Are you going to tell me which part is which? 😉Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                Only had access to my phone when I wrote that. But the “right” part is that studios really do lack imagination of how to continue stories. I queried because I have mentioned in the past that movie serials need to start with longevity in mind… in other words, prepare for the fact that the lead actor is going to move on. Pace yourself so that you don’t have to shove everything in to three movies. That sort of thing.

                I think you’re wrong on the inevitable viability of a lot of this stuff, though. I have a post half-written that will be touching on that, which I will not cannibalize here.

                Where I think you are oddly-and-completely wrong is that you characterize it as something that shifted from the TV to movies. But it’s been the case with movies for a long time, while over the same timeframe television has become more experimental than ever. Maybe we are at the tail end of that, or we will get at the tail end of that, but while copycat shows have always been with us, the regurgitation of properties as centerpiece programming is relatively limited in scope. Certainly compared to the movie industry which you say is following their lead.Report

              • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                One of the interesting things, to me, to come out of the Age of Reality TV, within which we are still living, is that while there is a reduced amount of scripted television, its overall quality is incomparably better than it was before the Age of Reality TV.

                Granted, the Big 4 are largely failing to keep up with cable networks, Netflix (and perhaps Amazon), and the BBC via PBS, and that might very well be due to a level of ossification in their thinking about their business, but the creative people in television are, at this moment, freer and more creative than ever.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                Chris there is a reduced amount of scripted television

                Not even sure about this, except in a relative “as a percentage of total” sense, or if we limit ourselves to the Big Three . The increased # of “channels” you mention appears to mean that I can watch a quality show or three, every. night. of. the. week. I don’t have time for them all. I have a backlog.

                That never used to happen, when the Big Three ruled all. There was maybe a scripted show or two per week I cared about.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                That’s probably true. I have given up appointment television almost completely, relying entirely on Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix, so I am always behind, but I never get a clear sense of just how much of it there is since all that is in front of me is my queue.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                Where I think you are oddly-and-completely wrong is that you characterize it as something that shifted from the TV to movies. But it’s been the case with movies for a long time, while over the same timeframe television has become more experimental than ever.

                I’m not sure what timeframe you’re thinking of. Let me say mine: TV networks became stupid about 2000. By 2005, this had infested TV studios. By 2010, it had infested movie studios.

                After about a decade of this sort of nonsense, other people came along, saw this stupidity, and starting producing things using outlets other than TV networks. (And indie films, I guess.)

                ‘Television’ *has become* more experimental than ever in the last few years. But it’s not ‘television networks’ doing that, it’s people *going around* television networks, or even around TV. (And I also should clarify, by TV networks, I generally mean *broadcast* networks. Cable got infected a little, but it never really took hold. And the premium channels proved immune. The CW, interestingly, is willing to be a little experimental, or, more likely, they just define their normal as slightly different.)

                And note ‘experimental’ isn’t exactly the problem. The problem is ‘unwillingness to take a risk’.

                Lost, for example, was pretty experimental…and it got in via a combination of the name of J J Abrams and *lying* to the network, who thought they were looking at some sort of scripted Surivior with hints at supernatural goings-on.

                Name any ‘innovative’ TV show that aired on network TV over the last decade, and I’ll bet that it either got in via a proven name, or somehow misleading the network about how it was going to go, or both.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

              I was told that this was the thread where we were discussing the grim and gritty (and T&Aed up) Small Wonder remake?Report

    • Chris in reply to DavidTC says:

      My favorite is “re-imagined,” because when someone uses that, you can be pretty certain no imagination was involved.Report

  19. aaron david says:

    Mike Schilling:
    Also, 90% of MilSF is crap.

    Mike, 90% of everything is crap.Report

  20. aaron david says:

    I am but a caveman, scared and confused by your commenting ways…Report