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deletedOct 13, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022
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“I feel the same way about people who obsess over whether a certain city has “nightlife” or not. Granting that some people center their lives around all of these things, are they really a big enough percent of the population for this to have important demographic effects?”

Yes, I would expect so. University of Georgia school that is pretty much centered around 1) their football team and 2) partying about football. Athens GA has the most bars per square mile in the US. A lot of students clearly choose to go here for the football/nightlife, and it drives important demographics in the city.

I’m not claiming it’s purely about nightlife here (did I mention people care about football?) But I think it is clear that here in a medium-sized city, such considerations can drive demographics. I don’t know if we’d have as much of an impact on a city the size of, say, Chicago

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Oct 13, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

> Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard?

Uh, a big part of the deal with the 2008 housing crisis is that many people couldn't make their mortgage payments. The Wikipedia article on it is entitled "Subprime mortgage crisis", where "subprime" means "issued to lenders who are likely to fail to make their payments".


So many houses were foreclosed on, leaving many areas just full of abandoned houses.

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What strikes me about this discussion is this mismatch between what the CV offers and what some ppl who live there want it to offer. And I wonder if it's not some kind of cultural mismatch that's causing some of the issue.

There are certainly rural areas in the US that lack the kind of culture many ppl complaining about the CV seem to want and it's not even particularly poor in terms of per county average income (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_counties_by_per_capita_income?wprov=sfti1). However, my sense is that those rural areas have many fewer people who want that kind of culture and the poorer areas of the country either have lower costs of living or the people there aren't as likely to expect more.

Having spent time with family in rural parts of the country I was struck by the huge role that religion often played in those areas. No microbrews but church picnics with baked goods and friends. As an proto-atheist I resented being dragged along to the church but the community role it played was undeniable.

I kinda wonder if there isn't some kind of mismatch thing going on here where the CV isn't so alien as to keep out us costal elites entirely and somehow a bit too dense and too cosmopolitan to develop the kind of religious community that often works in rural areas but too rural and too close to places like SF to develop enough of a culture for godless coastal elites.

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"Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard?"

The 2008 housing crisis was different than the usual housing bust in that so many people had subprime and adjustable rate mortgages. [This](https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/foreclosures/attom-data-solutions-2020-year-end-u-s-foreclosure-market-report/) says that foreclosures rose from 532,000 in 2005 to almost 3 million in each of 2009 and 2010.

"It used to be that Calif. Senators were elected on a scheme that gave each county a representation proportional to its land area." To clarify, no Senate seat could include more than one county and none could include less than one county; as a result, Los Angeles County, with 40% of the state's population in 1960, had only 1 of the 40 State Senate seats.

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I thought the OP was missing any direct comparison of the economic conditions of the central valley to the economic conditions of other parts of the US that have equivalent ruralness and test scores. So I'm not really sure there's any anomaly that needs explaining.

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Isn't whether a city has a nightlife a proxy for whether you can walk around in the streets at night without being murdered/robbed/raped/etc.?

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

I don't think the culture and nightlife point is really about literal culture and nightlife. There's a more-or-less universal perception now that's hard to put into words, but basically it's that there are proper world-tier cities with real culture and nightlife, and where what happens is general is in some sense actually important, and then there are provincial towns/cities with their own crappy versions and which don't matter. By important, I mean in the sense that if San Francisco was destroyed by a tsumani it would be a way bigger deal than if a population-equivalent chunk of the Central Valley was destroyed by a tornado or whatever.

It's really status and signalling - if you think that whatever restaurant is the hip new thing in Bakersfield is cool, then you're a provincial hick. If you think that the hip new restaurant in San Francisco is cool, then that's fine. You can always get status points by looking down at the Bakersfield restaurant, so everyone does, whereas doing that with the New York one is harder to pull off (it's the difference between saying How I Met Your Mother is crap and saying Shakespeare is crap - people who say the latter just seem like they're too thick to get it). Importantly, this is mostly independent of the quality of the restaurant (like a really good HIMYM episode vs Titus Andronicus).

This bleeds into everything, and the result is that there are a few places which people can accept are actually worth living in, and everywhere else becomes viewed as minor-league; to use another metaphor, the Sacramento Philharmonic is Walmart Sugar Flakes to the SF Philharmonic being Frosted Flakes. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as talent flows up a prestige gradient, and you end up living in that town where the restaurant critic reviewed an Olive Garden.

Ironically, I'd guess the reason this is happening now is the internet/social media making it impossible to sustain being an actual provincial hick who looks at the big city with fear and wonderment, so now everyone views their home town as being in competition with it. The development of provincial inferiority complexes isn't a specific Central Valley problem though - it's way worse in the UK, where London is threatening to suck in the whole country like a black hole.

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I think the thing about symphonies and nightclubs is less about the thing itself and more about "how safe do people feel going to events at night? How closely connected and active the networks of human capital and friendship?" etc.

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"Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard? Don’t most people just keep paying the same amount on their mortgage, regardless of whether the sticker price of the house is lower?"

Some of the loans (maybe a lot?) were loans with balloon payments. One variant was an "interest-only" loan where you made ONLY the interest payments and then, in a few years, the entire balance was due because of the balloon payment.. If you house had gone up in price, then all was well and you'd refinance. But if the value of the house had gone down then you *couldn't* refinance as no bank would loan you the money you'd need (because the assessed value of the house was now too low).

This happened, and once people started defaulting on the loans they could not make then the value of the surrounding houses dropped and the spiral was well under way.

Some people could not even make the payments "as-is." 103% loan-to-value was a thing where the bank would loan you 103% of the sales price of the house. This buys you some time for (a) the house to go up in value, and (b) maybe get a new loan. The banks' models said this was okay historically. But there was a selection bias because banks hadn't handed out these sorts of loans in the past.

"Liar loans" were loans made on the basis of people's claimed incomes with the bank NOT verifying. Pair this with a 103% loan-to-value interest only ARM and you have a problem if anything goes wrong. The term "liar loan" was one used within the mortgage industry ... which suggests that the folks making the loans may have had a slight idea that the loans were less than good.

It was a crazy time.

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I do think it's an oversight that nobody mentioned NAFTA.

NAFTA happened in the 90s and it had an enormous impact on the lives of Mexican farmers. It drove millions of farmers off their land because they couldn't compete with American farms, which were subsidized and more modern.

Impoverished Mexican small farmers had less opportunity in Mexico, so migration was basically a required to survive, whereas before many had migrated seasonally to make some extra cash.

Tightening of immigration also made it difficult for migrants to return home at the end of the season, so many were forced to stay in the US.

From CBS news in 2006 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-nafta-good-for-mexicos-farmers/

"Farmers said that entire towns are emptying because thousands of small farms have gone out of business. As many as 2 million farm workers have lost their jobs — the vast majority headed north across the U.S. border looking for better pay."

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One big effect of the housing crash was that it immediately followed a huge housing boom.

So you had armies of construction workers and tradesmen that became unemployed overnight. Housing companies and real estate investors that went bust. Half finished housing developments and subdivisions left to rot because they had no hope of filling in. Restaurants and strip malls that had cropped up to serve these growing suburbs failed and went vacant.

Basically, towns that were hit hard by the crash were the sprawly towns that benefitted most from the preceding housing boom, and there was a huge chunk of the local economy dependent on this continual growth.

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A lot of these "Highlights from the comments" seem to simply be ad nauseum arguments for two sides: "I hate rural" vs "rural ain't so bad"

Folks might as well argue about whether apples or oranges taste better

But while we're at it, +1 for "rural ain't so bad"

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

As an ex California resident, I'm not offended by your take on the Central Valley. But I do politely request that you do a corresponding piece, "Why is San Francisco So Bad?". Or at least "Perceived As Bad".

It's a real issue, that *so many* ex Bay Area and ex SF residents in particular have such negative feelings about SF.

Although I lived in Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose, with just a small amount of living in SF, you can definitely add me to that list.

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"Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard? Don’t most people just keep paying the same amount on their mortgage, regardless of whether the sticker price of the house is lower?"

This and all the replies to it (as of the writing of this comment) miss the mark and misunderstand what is happening here. Getting a stable, fixed-rate mortgage is how upper-middle-class people buy their upper-middle-class homes. If someone is in a position to be "hit hard" by an economic crisis, we're not talking about those people.

Poor people scrape together enough to buy a home with a small down payment on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), once they can make the payments given the introductory ("teaser") rate. When that runs out after a few years, the rate gets adjusted upwards, unless they can refinance under a new ARM with a new introductory rate. Which they can do, as long as they still have enough equity that the bank is willing to grant the terms. But if their equity has dropped below what they'd need for a down payment, and they can't refinance, then their monthly payment explodes along with the rate, and they can no longer afford their house.

Honestly, the movie The Big Short did a decent job of explaining it. Ignore the set dressing (mild nudity) for a decent explanation: https://youtu.be/iDcbUAh731s

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> I feel the same way about people who obsess over whether a certain city has “nightlife” or not. Granting that some people center their lives around all of these things, are they really a big enough percent of the population for this to have important demographic effects?

My little brother used to go out to drink with friends at least 3 times a week, and often 4 or 5, and then doing something else on the weekend. I go out to drink on average once or twice a year, and never really enjoy those moments, I'm always dragged by other people that insist. I do spend time face to face with people, but it's in small groups (~5 people), in a private place (usually my appartment), and we mostly talk or watch movies.

At least according to my personal experience, nightlife can matter a lot to some people, and not at all for others. This is probably the same with culture. In 10 years in a relatively big city, I've gone once to the theater. I go to the movie theater more often, I'd say around once a month, but if I wasn't in a big city, I could invest part of the difference in rent in a nice home theater system, and rarely feel the need to go out.

I've found the REKOM Night Index at https://rekom.uk/late-night-index/, that surveyed 2,358 18+ year olds between 15/03/22 and 21/03/22 in the UK. Some interesting data:

- Almost half (49.9%) of respondents go out at least once a week, and of those, 26.8% go out weekly, 14.4% go out 2-3 times a week and 6.5% go out 4-6 days a week. The mean is at 1.17 times per week.

- The most popular reason for going on a night out is to spend time with friends (64.9%). Almost a quarter (23.6%) go out to relieve day to day pressures and stress. This figure rises to 28.7% for 25-34 year olds.

- The top factors respondents anticipate being the most important when deciding where to go on a late night out are: Distance from home or ease of getting there (20.4%), Type of music (19.0%), Most affordable pricing (17.6%), Quality of the venue and brand (15.6%).

- The average cost of a night out is 68 pounds. The average duration of a night out is 4 hours and 17 minutes.

I think with that we can estimate the "weight"/"space" that going out takes for people that go out a lot, with the caveat that there may some correlation that haven't been explicited here. For example, what's the impact of the number of time you go out on the average cost of a night out, or the average duration.

With that in mind, we can create a rough estimate for people that go out 2-3 times a week. Let's multiply that by 4.33 to get a monthly number: 8.7-13. That would mean between 592 and 884 pounds a month. As for the time, between 36 and 54 hours.

As for the people that go out 4 to 6 times a week, we can just multiply by 2 our previous findings: between 1184 and 1768 pounds a month, and between 72 to 108 hours. Salary/earnings can be complex and correlated to a lot of other elements that we have, but fortunately hours are the same for everyone, we all get 730 of them in a month. The 2-3 person spends between 5% and 7% of his time going out, the 4-6 person between 10% and 14%. Adjusted for waking hours (1/3 of your time, so multiply everything by 1.5), that's between 7.5% and 10.5% for the 2-3, and between 15% and 21% for the 4-6.

Having written all of that, I'd say that now if my little brother tells me he wants to move somewhere else to have a more active nightlife, I would be able to empathize with his decision. And that it's safe for me to ignore everything nightlife and most things culture related when deciding where to live. Maybe it's the same for art and high-culture and there are people out there spending 15% or more of their waking life engaging with this? All I can say is that I have nobody like that in my bubble.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

>Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard? Don’t most people just keep paying the same amount on their mortgage, regardless of whether the sticker price of the house is lower?

A couple big things. 1) Adjustable rate mortgages and mortgages made out to people who couldn't atcually afford them.

So you have a bunch of people who put what little savings they could scrape together into purchasing assets that had wildly inflated prices. When those assets collapsed, they were left with debts on properties they had to let the bank take back, and no savings.

2) In the meantime because they were on paper wealthy, people overspent their income even more. So someone mkaing $40k a year with $35k in expenses, puts $5k down on a $500k home. Home needs $15k in debt payments each year, which they cannot afford, but is also going up in value $50k/year so who cares. Then they also run up the credit card a bit because they have an "extra" money in term sof home equity.

Then this is working out so well they buy a second house. Then the value of it all collapses and they have no savings, big credit card debts, and no place to live.

3) The construction and real estate sectors were eating up a lot of marginal/unskilled labor. So you had depressed former rust belt communities turn into meccas of cabin flipping and lake homes and second homes, and a lot of the former paper mill workers spent summers working constuction or selling homes/doing appraisals whatever. Then when all that activity stops, none of those people have jobs. So you have communities with already chronic terrible unemployment ~13-14%, suddenly skyrocket to 25% unemployment. Which is a major crisis.

Smart people would leave such economically depresed areas, but people are always slower to move such areas than is rational.

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I have to say, I found the anecdote about the laptop bag not being stolen pretty depressing. That’s a very low bar to pass for a city to be regarded as relatively crime-free.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

>I’m grateful to them for putting this into words - I hear a lot of discussion seemingly predicated on that fact that you need to have a certain number of museums and symphonies to be a liveable city. But I basically never go to either and I think most people are probably pretty similar. I feel the same way about people who obsess over whether a certain city has “nightlife” or not. Granting that some people center their lives around all of these things, are they really a big enough percent of the population for this to have important demographic effects?

Yeah I have never understood this.

I grew up in a mid-sized rustbelt city (~100,000 people). Ok not a super happening place, though we would get acts like Metallica/Guns N' Roses or whatever sometimes, it wasn't a total wasteland. Had a symphony too, and D1 college sports!

A lot of the more "sophisticates" at my HS ended up in Minneapolis/St. Paul as adults. But what I just don't get is of the few who eventually lived in Chiacgo/NY/LA for a bit, about halfl suddenly act like living in Nashville or Minneapolis or Atlanta is some kind of death sentence. Maybe these places don't have doctors or basic services? Like maybe there aren't actually good resturants in Dallas and you might just starve to death if you moved there? That sounds as though an am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not. Do the people in Raleigh just DIE of boredom? How can they survive knowing they could be living in Philadephia instead?!?!?!

These are well educated professional people, who know better since they grew up in a mid-sized rustbelt city. I point out I travel all over the country for work, and it is very samey. The type of restuarant an upper middle class lawyer or whatever is going to go to just aren't that different from major metro to major metro. No you can't get a $1000/plate meal in Phoenix, but who the fuck wants/needs that anyway.

The best meal I can remember in the last 5 years was in Jackson MS and cost $40. I tend to think once you get above "middle class" prices, there just isn't really any improvement and it is all down to taste. At that point you are just paying for status and who the fuck cares?

And yes they have a slightly better art museum in Chicago than Minneapolis, but hardly to a noticable extent. And how often are they going to the art museum anyway, once a year? Twice? And for that your house is twice as much? And yes you can take a 40 minute trainride into work insetad of a 35 minute commute, that is somewhat an improvment! Unless, you know, since housing is cheaper in Minneapolis you can just buy a house in Minneapolis and have a 12 minute commute.

Anyway Chicago is great I don't resent anyone living there or NY. But they definitely have their downsides, and a good half their residents seem to have some sort of threshold for livability where city with an MSA of 8 million is eden, but one with an MSA of 4 million might as well be rural Alabama (which honestly is kind of nice too if you are in the right spots).

Anyway, my theory is that there is so much that is unpleasant and expensive about living in the truly giant metros, that people either really really like them, or convince themselves they do as part of a rationalization of their lifestyle.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

"Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard?"

Stage 1: nice family buys a home with 0-3% down for $500,000

Stage 2: housing bust hits and now their home is worth $300,000

Stage 3: primary breadwinner(s) loses their job and can no longer pay the mortgage payment

Stage 4: bank forecloses and/or family is forced to short sell, except they still owe ~$460,000 on a $300,000 asset

Stage 5: they lose their home, become renters, *and* still owe the bank $160,000

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To be precise the “vast wasteland” thing was Kelly quoting me, in a comment where I was characterizing the way coastal elites view the valley.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

""Pardon my ignorance, but how does a housing bust hit an area hard?"

It's all about the ability to re-mortgage. Typically, when you take out a mortgage you sign up for 2-5 years of discount rates, after which you go back onto the 'base rate' which involves much higher payments. So the normal procedure is to spend your 2-5 years paying an affordable rate, and then 're-mortgage' -- i.e., get a new mortgage deal and get another 2-5 years of discount rates. The alternative is to stay on your original plan and have your payments skyrocket.

Except, if your house crashes in value to the point where it is worth less than the mortgage (in the UK we call this 'negative equity... I think Americans call this being underwater), you won't be able to remortgage. A bank won't accept a $300,000 house as collateral for a $400,000 loan. So you'll be stuck with the extortionate monthly payments that five years ago your bank swore you'd never actually have to pay. "This here is the base rate, but don't worry, before this kicks in you'll just remortgage like everyone else". But now your house is worth less, and you're trapped paying a fortune for it, and if you can't make the payments you lose the house.

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Oct 14, 2022·edited Oct 14, 2022

>I feel the same way about people who obsess over whether a certain city has “nightlife” or not. Granting that some people center their lives around all of these things, are they really a big enough percent of the population for this to have important demographic effects?

Doesn't nightlife just mean things you want to do? For some people that's bars, for others jazz bands or symphonies, for me it means "places to play board games with strangers" and "hackathons". In my experience a 'happening' city with lots of symphonies tends to also have lots of board games and hackathons, etc, and generally just more of *everything*. It's not a perfect correlation, Seattle has a huge MTG scene and isn't exactly known for nightlife. But Austin and Atlanta have both.

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>the Bay has deteriorated more in the last 10 years than Fresno has in the last 30 IMO

I thought this part was interesting. I spent a lot of time in the East Bay when I was young and got used to deterioration as just being "part of the scenery". Watching this youtube vid was interesting not because it taught me anything new, but because it offered interesting editorial commentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHixc-QAhZQ

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The entire conversation really hits home to me how differently we tend to think regarding what makes somewhere a "good place to live." I think the general assumption is that we all agree on a certain set of criteria directionally: cost of living low? good! crime rate high? bad! And then we can gather statistics on all of these things and aggregate them and produce some sort of meta-score telling us what places to live are good and what places are bad. And these meta scores will generally track with "common sense" expectations. They'll return a lot of "nicer suburb areas of major metros" and college towns under "good" and neglected urban core neighborhoods and remote rural outposts under "bad" and we'll all smile and nod, because on aggregate, that seems to sort of make sense.

But in reality, these criteria are not equally weighted for every person. Not even close. There are some people for whom cost of living doesn't actually matter at all. They're either already rich, or anticipate that the economic gains of living in a high COL location will offset the cost. Many of these people also don't seem to be bothered by high crime rates at all. I have no reason to think Seth Rogen is being untruthful when he says that having his car broken into 4 times in 6 months is no big deal to him. On the other end of the spectrum, there are some people for whom "access to great outdoor or natural environments" doesn't matter at all. I was once stationed in the military in Ventura County, got a place that was like a 10 minute walk from a relatively nice beach, and went to the beach like twice in four years. Just wasn't my thing. I was busy playing World of Warcraft (which I can do from anywhere with reliable Internet). Similarly, there are people who can live right next to a symphony and a museum and never go there. It's just not their thing.

When you aggregate all of these things together, you can produce a list of places that many people will probably find comfortable enough, and a list of places that many people will probably find pretty terrible. But even at both ends of that list... there will be people in Carmel, Indiana who hate living there and would desperately move to SF if they could. And there will be people in East St. Louis who think the community has a lot of character and is on the verge of turning around the bad stuff. It's just such a personal thing.

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This is only partly related (not specific to the Californian central valley), but perhaps interesting to some (an European's view).

I've never been to the US myself, but my girlfriend has been to Phoenix (for work-related reasons, they actually needed a place which is particularly hot). She noticed two things which are strange from a European's point of view:

1. There were no pavements. The only way to get around was by car...or walking on the roads (presumably quite dangerous). I don't know if this is common in the US (outside the big cities) but if it is, this alone would probably cause a lot of Europeans to dislike the place.

2. There are supposedly a lot of crazy people around. The sort of crazy which manifests itself by wearing goofy clothes, riding a miniature bicycle while shouting profanities at everyone around...or stuff like that. Not sure what to think of that or if that wasn't just a coincidence (from what I heard I guess SF has a reputation for these kind of weirdos, perhaps Phoenix does too?). Of course, you meet weirdos like this everywhere, but supposedly there was a much larger concentration of such people in Phoenix than in most places in Europe.

Oh yeah, a third thing - Phoenix is extremely cookie-cutter, everything looks the same and everything is ordered in right angles. She showed me some pictures from the airplane and it was almost bizarre. It is kind of like the communist panel housing projects in central and eastern Europe (although you can such things in places like Barcelona also, so not strictly communist I guess), except vertical instead of horizontal (though probably built better) and the entire city looks like that not just a housing district on the periphery. When I was in Sydney and especially Melbourne I had the same impression, it was just...too artificial. Too uniform and orderly, not like cities in Europe which feel more organic, probably because they are a hodgepodge of various architecture styles, periods and streets coming together at various angles. Perhaps this is also more so in places like the central valley or the midwest where they basically built a city on a flat plain 100 or so years ago compared to places like San Francisco or even Boston where the terrain and/or enough history prevent such uniformity? Maybe not though, like I said, I've never been to the US, my closest imagined approximation is Australia.

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We are in the early stages of human speciation enabled by mobility and the internet. In a few hundred years we’ll be comprised of two sets of very different people.

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I'm not surprised that you're encountering pushback against sweeping claims, and I'm glad you highlighted them. I've started fighting against these kinds of sweeping claims in the battle to slow down the culture war among my social group.

I got called out by my girlfriend during a recent argument about our living situation about my exhortations that the city we live in (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) is a hellhole when compared to Toronto. You know... I kind of deserved it. I grew up here and a lot of the comments that you highlighted could easily have been said about my stance. I pride myself in being even and measured and rational when talking about issues, but then I spout my mouth off about the city I live in because it's hard to find things to do on a Friday night.

I've started asking my substack authors in the comments whether they think they've hit certain levels of audience capture or sniffing their own farts. I'm seeing it happen with Block and Reported, so maybe you're tilting that way? I enjoyed the original article about the central valley, but then some of these comments perfectly highlight you having a warped perspective about the valley. Especially comparing the Mad Max-ification of SF homeless encampments to the relatively-homed CV. I appreciate some editorializing and entertaining writing, but please don't go down the invective rabbit hole.

Now I feel like a jerk for this comment :)

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Something very positive about the Central Valley / Greater Sacramento area: it has some of the best road running in the country. Namely, it's flat; it has great local races with ample parking; there are loads of fast runners to compete against; it's eerily perfect at 54F and windless every morning. Three wonderful long-distance races to note: 1. Urban Cow Half Marathon (just happened!). 2. Clarksburg Country Run Half Marathon and 30K, November. And of course, 3. California International Marathon, early December.

So it's not all doom and gloom in the Central Valley. At least not on race day.

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Skipping ahead to mention I belly laughed at the laptop in the car story. “The only thing left worth stealing was the jack, so they took that.” If crime in SF is really that bad it puts ny into perspective because even though there’s been an uptick here, I’ve lived here since 2001 and I never worry about leaving a laptop in the car.

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Re the value of museums and orchestras:

I think the comments above have pretty covered it, I just wanted to suggest a possible metaphor: you could imagine the museums and opera houses as being a bit like intellectual utilities. Just as you don't ever go to the water treatment plant or the local power station, you don't have to go to the local museum to receive its benefits. Some people go, and those people talk to other people about the latest Neanderthal exhibition, and the ideas in the museum get incrementally added to the stock of things that people in your town sometimes talk about.

(Have I just reinvented intellectual trickle-down economics? Having written this out, I'm not so sure about it...)

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I'm a bay area commuter that lives in the central valley. Moved out here last year to get a house (have young kids). The thing that's missed about long commute times is that you don't have to go in every day. I only go in 2 days a week, so although the commute is 2 hours each way, that's only 8 hours total a week, and that commute is by bus so I typically read or work on my computer. Our neighborhood here in the valley is extremely nice and we have a great new home. The neighborhood and city we live in have tons of wonderful parks and playgrounds that our kids love. Overall that seems like a great trade off for me having 8 hours a week in a bus. My salary has increased since we moved out here (now 300k+), so although we could afford to rent (or perhaps buy) a house closer to work, is it really worth it?

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Surprised to see a reference to pharmacy schools here but I guess it segues into my central valley experience. From what I understand it's pretty new and not very high quality (which is more a consequence of new pharmacy schools not needing to be high quality broadly) but for a while it was easy to get a pharmacy job in the central valley because natives weren't going to pharmacy school and most pharmacy grads want flashier city jobs. Made it easy for me to get a job here with kind of a busted resume but there's patterns with my colleagues in the region. For example there seems a lot of young women with families from LA who rent apartments out here for during the week and go home on the weekends. I'm told the patients here are especially bad for various reasons but I haven't really spent much time working anywhere else to confirm myself.

As someone who's mostly an internet shut-in it's not really all that bad here and it is genuinely nice living 2-3 hours from downtown LA and just actually having the option to go there on a whim for a day or two.

Fun fact: before Walgreens lost one of their big Medi-Cal contracts one of the stores in Visalia was the third busiest in the country, doing something absurd like 1500 scripts a day; from what I was told was almost entirely people passing through in either direction.

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"I would add, that even with the best of liberal intentions by the Eloi, one-party states run by corrupt politicians go bad fast, and the non-elite (Morlocks) get the worst of it while the coastal elites stay richer."

Minor point and slightly off topic, but we should remember that the Eloi are not just elites. They think they are, and live like they are, but they're actually (or at least also) food for the Morlocks.

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