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Sour grapes. A lot of the criticism here and other places about
California amounts simply to sour grapes. A lot more reflects both a
lack of facts about real conditions in California and very real
preferences for other places.
I don't object to people preferring other lifestyles or other locales or
other things that matter to them. What I do object to is people using
those different preferences as the springboard for criticizing
California, and using misinformation and exaggeration as the
justification. The last few posts on the subject have been good examples:
1. Rolling blackouts. We had four or five of those last year, if I
remember correctly. Our business never got hit at all. The areas that
got a blackout generally had a period of from two to five hours being
without power. We didn't have ice storms that cut off power for days,
and we didn't have tornadoes or hurricanes that wiped out whole
communities. Part of the problem was that California hadn't built any
new generators in over 10 years; since last summer three new generators
have come online and another 12 are due online over the next 2.5 years.
Some of the large power consumers, such as Intel's chip plants, quickly
helped form policies about length of power outages, early warning, etc.,
so that they could use backup generators that they had anyway. We could
also talk about Enron and the other power sellers forming an illegal
agreement to hold California hostage to high rates, but that's another
issue and one that's in the early stages of plowing through the courts.
2. Three-hour commutes. There are some examples of this, but a long
commute is far from the norm. You rarely spend two hours on a 20-mile
commute unless you're stuck behind a traffic accident or you choose to
drive in the worst of peak times. Some people choose to live in outlying
areas for a variety of reasons, but a three hour commute would be like
living in Philadelphia and commuting to Washington DC, or living in
Madison and commuting to Chicago, or living in Austin and commuting to
Dallas, or even living in Portland and commuting to Seattle (or vice
versa). But yes, there are people who make quality of life decisions
that result in such a commute.
3. >...the smog covered valleys of San Francisco..."
Let's be real here. Smog is a fact of life in most metro areas around
the country. Even Portland, Andrew. (I've been there, many times.)
According to EPA reports, northern California had fewer than 1% of its
days in 2001 as smoggy beyond EPA-acceptable levels, and has dropped
this level every year for the last decade.
4. Outrageous housing prices. No question here - housing costs more here
than most places. However what's going on is simply a case of demand
chasing supply. Silicon Valley is still one of the major job engines of
the world, even with this recession. If you want what this area offers,
you have to put up with the housing prices. The same could be said of
other places - not long ago New York and environs, Honolulu, Hong Kong,
5. Levels of taxes. Sure, California has taxes. Would you prefer doing
business in Massachusetts, which has one of the highest tax levels in
the country? I covered this in an earlier posting.
6. > The notion that Silicon Valley is THE place to be strikes me
> as rather arrogant considering the abundance of technology
> firms elsewhere around the nation (and world).
From an outsider perspective, yes it must look that way. However, when
you add up the number of technology companies, the number of jobs those
technology companies create, and the interaction between town and gown
that continually results in new company (and job) creation, simply
stating the facts looks like arrogance. Of course there are technology
firms elsewhere - I'm not denying that by any means. What I've been
saying is that Silicon Valley has the greatest *concentration* of
How is all of this relevant to technical writing? Mostly it has to do
with job creation and hence opportunities to practice what we do. Right
now a recession is preventing a lot of us from doing what we want to do,
in the areas we prefer. My point in responding to Andrew's snide
comments about California is to point out that, historically, California
has created more tech writing jobs than any other US locale, and that
when the recession ends, it will likely continue to do so. And my
opinions are based on a lot of facts (which doesn't make my opinion any
better, just more credible).
Los Trancos Systems
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