Pixel Scroll 12/10 Plan Whine from Outer Space

(1) SPOILERS SPOIL. You know this. “Spoiler alert: Story spoilers can hurt entertainment” at EurekAlert.

While many rabid fans may have scratched their heads when a 2011 study showed that spoilers could improve story enjoyment, a recent experiment, conducted by researchers Benjamin Johnson (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Judith Rosenbaum (Albany State University), shows that narrative spoilers can ruin a story. Their findings show that spoilers reduce people’s entertainment experiences.

“Our study is the first to show that people’s widespread beliefs about spoilers being harmful are actually well-founded and not a myth,” says Johnson. Furthermore, in a follow-up study, Johnson and Rosenbaum found that the effects of spoilers are actually linked to people’s personality traits. Johnson: “While the worry and anger expressed by many media users about ‘spoilers’ in online discussions or reviews is not completely unfounded, fans should examine themselves before they get worked up about an unexpected spoiler.”

(2) DOCTOR VISITS HOSPITAL. Radio Times has a heartwarming video — “Peter Capaldi surprises young Doctor Who fan in hospital, stays in character the whole time”.

“There’s a new Doctor on the ward and it’s me…”



(3) SATURDAY SIGNING IN GLENDALE. Mystery and Imagination Bookshop‘s Christine Bell says “Call it a mini HORROR SLAM.” This Saturday at 2 p.m. in the store’s upstairs room, Peter Atkins and Dennis Etchison will read a couple of stories, talk about writing, take questions, and sign books.

Oh, the wonderfulness of being famous literary smart guys. Could this be the start of a new Saturday afternoon tradition? It’s all free and it won’t hurt a bit. After that it’ll still be daylight, so…Porto’s is just across the street! I mean, really, what more could you ask for? See you there?

The address is Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows Bookshops at 238 N. Brand Blvd.

(4) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve Davidson has the latest installment of “Scide Splitters: 1941 Retro Hugo Eligible Novelettes” posted at Amazing Stories, which focuses on humorous stories such as “Butyl and the Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1940).

Although this story can be read as a stand-alone, it is a sequel to Sturgeon’s 1939 short, “Ether Breather,” and I do think it is more enjoyable if you read that one first.

Ted Hamilton, a writer and central character in the original story, still feels guilty that about telling the Ether Breather to stop messing up color television. It has been a year since the incident and the Breather has refused to respond to any attempts to contact it. Mr. Berbelot, perfume tycoon and television hobbyist, is still mad at Hamilton for exactly that incident and refuses to speak to him. But Hamilton has come up with an idea to get the Breather to respond and Berbelot reluctantly agrees to hear him out.

(5) BROOKS OBIT. Actor Martin E. Brooks died December 7 at the age of 90. Brooks played scientist Dr. Rudy Wells in two 1970s TV series, Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman.

His other genre work included episodes of The Wild Wild West (1967), Night Gallery (1971), Planet of the Apes (1974 – I’d managed to forget this was also a TV series), and Airwolf (1985).

He also was in the movies Colossus: The Forbin Project, T-Force, and TV’s Bionic Ever After?

While Brooks probably didn’t think he was ending his career at the time, IMDB shows his last role was symbolically the “Man thrown off the roof” in Street Gun (1996).

(6) A NOT-STUPID. Ethan Mills at Examined Worlds poses the philosophical question “Is Violence the Answer” in “Like Avatar, but Not Stupid: The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin”.

Okay, Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest is actually not that much like Avatar, but there are similarities.  Some militaristic Terrans come to steal resources from a forest planet inhabited by small, furry humanoids called Athsheans.  The Athsheans end up fighting the technologically superior but numerically inferior Terrans.  There’s a Terran anthropologist who comes to almost understand the Athsheans (but he doesn’t quite go full Avatar). One of the villages of the furry guerrillas fighting an imperial power is called Endtor.  Maybe George Lucas owes Le Guin some royalties, not just James Cameron. But as an American book published in 1972, the real background seems to be the war in Vietnam.

(7) BLOOM NOMINATED. Rachel Bloom is a Golden Globes nominee for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Ray Bradbury would be thrilled.

(8) THE XANATOS QUESTION. Larry Correia put his spin on last night’s game show reference to Puppygate:  “Sad Puppies: The Hugos Lost On Jeopardy”.

Some Puppy supporters didn’t like how it was phrased, with “scandal” having negative implications. Personally, I like it. Especially the part where they used “Rocked”. Damn right. Rocked you like a hurricane. The scandal was the part where the CHORFs ran a lying media smear campaign, and handed out wooden butt holes, while block voting No Award to keep out barbarian Wrongfans having Wrongfun.

(9) PUPPY TIME. And coincidentally, at Mad Genius Club Kate Paulk has declared “It’s Time”.

Because yes, it is time to start Sad Puppies 4 in Earnest. And Houston. And Philadelphia. And Back-o-Beyond. You get the idea.

Nominations will open in January 2016, and probably close in March (the closing date hasn’t been officially announced). I’m planning to have The List posted mid to late February (depending, as always, on just how feral my work schedule happens to be). Recommendations have been trickling in, but we need more. MOAR!

(10) WRIGHT IN. John C. Wright, commenting on Vox Day’s post about Jeopardy!, told the Dread Ilk he is prepared to make the sacrifice of being a multiple Hugo-nominee again in 2016.

“Does anybody know if Wright is willing to be a lightening rod again? “

Lightning rod for the sputtering sparks of CHORF energy? I get a bigger shock from petting the cat on a dry day after rubbing my stocking feet on the carpet. I was pleased in a dark and evil way to see the Morlocks burn their own cities rather than allow me be elected mayor. I would have been MORE pleased had he Hugo Awards kept even a modicum of decency and honesty, and actually received the awards I earned, but I cannot expect powerdrunk patheticos to give up on power. I did not expect schoolboy wooden anus jokes, however. That was pathetic. Numbers wise, I am not sure if we can sweep the nominations again, but I would like to see the Hugos either returned to the old worth, or destroyed utterly. Leaving them in the clammy webbed hands of Christ-hating America-hating, Science-hating, Literature-hating Morlocks is unimaginable to me.

(11) HAN TALKS CHEWIE DOWN. Must have missed this in November  — Harrison Ford settled his feud with Chewbacca on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

(12) IN MEMORY YET GREEN. Chris Taylor analyzes “How Star Wars Conquered the Galaxy: The economic power of the greatest movie franchise ever” at Reason.com.

…Even before the December release of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise pulled in an estimated $42 billion total in box office, DVD sales and rentals, video games, books, and related merchandise. And that’s just the amount flowing into officially sanctioned channels; the unofficial, unlicensed Star Wars economy has generated untold billions more.

Some $32 billion of that staggering revenue was derived from physical stuff rather than an audio-visual experience. Like Davy Crockett, the Star Wars universe made its biggest economic impact in the realm of merchandise—clothing, accessories, food and drink, housewares (Darth Vader toaster, anyone?), and especially toys. But unlike Walt Disney, George Lucas devised a way to pocket much of that money himself. That helped buy editorial freedom, which helped this obsessive creative make the rest of his movies how he saw fit, for good and ill, until Disney bought the rights to the franchise in 2012 for $4.06 billion. Lucas and Star Wars created a category of economic activity that previously did not exist, and in so doing forever changed the face of entertainment….

(13) FOUNTAIN OF LOOT. Here’s some of that Star Wars merchandise – a series of fountain pens that sell for $575 apiece. Jon Bemis tells why he’s a happy customer in his review “Why I Bought the Cross Townsend Star Wars Limited Edition Fountain Pens” at The Pen Addict.

…While it looks like a standard brass pen body from a distance, close up the C-3PO is fluent in over six million forms of beautiful. It is gold (of course) and covered with accent lines recalling the curves and circles etched on Threepio himself. The clip is centered in a ring of concentric circles like those in the center of the protocol droids chest, and the caps finial looks like his eye….


C3PO style Cross pen.

C3PO style Cross pen.

(14) JUST PLAIN BILL. The Captain of the Enterprise is still out there hustling every day, too. Vulture has a new interview with William Shatner, who is hard at work marketing Priceline. He talks about his new book project and tells a Nimoy story he says he’s never told before.

What’s a piece of science you’ve come across lately that was particularly interesting to you?

I’m writing a novel with a writer named Jeff Rovin that will be out next year called Zero-G, and I suggested we use something in it that I had read about. I read that microbial life dries up and seems to be dead and then, with the addition of water thousands of years later, can come back to life. That’s astonishing. Thousands of years! These are scientific concepts so mysterious that they beggar our imagination. I saw a photograph yesterday of a black hole absorbing a star, and it burped energy back out! A black hole cosmic-burped dust out the other way! What is more intriguing than that? Perhaps a good pasta.

(15) SMACK BACK. For those who are fed up with Kirk there’s an alarming site — Slapkirk.com – that lets users control an animation of Kirk slapping himself, and with a kind of slap-o-meter that tracks how many slaps have been delivered, at what rate per second. Those who get it going fast enough are rewarded with the “Red Alert” sound effect…

(16) MUTANT TRAILER. A trailer is out for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, coming to theaters June 3, 2016.

(17) LET KYRA EXPLAIN. Kyra’s comment makes the taxonomy of fantasy fiction as clear as is the summer sun...

Look, it’s very simple —

Urban Fantasy: Fantasy set in a city
High Fantasy: Fantasy set in the mountains
Low Fantasy: Fantasy set in the Netherlands
Fantasy of Manners: Fantasy set in manors
Epic Fantasy: Fantasy in the form of a lengthy narrative poem
Fairy Tale Fantasy: Fantasy about fairies with tails
Science Fantasy: Science fiction but there’s an annoying pedant in the seat behind you saying that it’s fantasy because FTL travel isn’t real plus the Force, what about that
Sword and Sorcery: The party must include a magic user, a cleric, a fighter, and a thief
Weird Fiction: Like, the characters know they’re in a book and some of the text is upside down and stuff like that
Steampunk: Everyone has cybernetic enhancements but get this, they’re CLOCKWORK
Dieselpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements require diesel fuel
Mythpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements have tiny gods in them
Grimdark: When the superheroes change their costumes so that now they’re in dark colors, weird
Magic Realism: Like when your aunt actually believes that if you put the knife under the crystal pyramid, it will totally get sharper
Paranormal Romance: Fantasy with naughty bits
Young Adult Fantasy: One of the above genres marketed to a group that will actually buy it

See? Easy.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

230 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/10 Plan Whine from Outer Space

  1. Nominating, at least for me, is a very different process than voting, because it requires me to find things I think are award worthy, understand why I think that, develop a long list, even in categories I wouldn’t generally gravitate to (Best Professional Artist) and then take that mass of data and sort it so that I have some number of worthy entries in multiple categories. Voting, for me, seems really different, a hierarchical sorting of a limited set of works, which I find much, much easier.

    I definitely hear you here.

    I’m also going to be a first-time nominator. I don’t intend to venture into the categories I don’t know about – art, editing, Best Related Work, even Graphic Novel. I’m just about the fiction.

    Even there, I don’t think I’ll have anything near a long list or a full ballot. I’m nominating what I found award-worthy, or approaching that. No more; no less. It is important for me to articulate why I find particular pieces worthy – both for myself, and so I can write strong recommendations for a wider audience, which I think is the only thing likely to be really effective.

    For me, the pain of nominating is going to be sending in the ballot knowning that probably most or all of my favorites aren’t going to make it in. Even disregarding the Puppy involvement, there’s a lot of barriers in terms of exposure, discoverability, popular opinion. For example, I feel like recommending a short story from a print magazine or anthology is practically pre-doomed – it’s just not going to have the same reach as any piece to which you can share a “Great story; click the link!” on Facebook. So it’s this sense of “THE WORLD MUST BEHOLD THEIR GLORY, but, umm, actually they’ll probably not get the chance, oh well.”

    Anyway, yes — much more difficult than just voting on what I like from a given list.

  2. For anyone who wants an overview of some short fiction to read, here is a quick-and-dirty list I put together of stories that were multiply recommended in various places around the web (with some of my own favorites thrown in, I couldn’t resist) — it includes only items that are available for free. The Hugo Wikia and Rocket Stack Rank will give you brief descriptions of the stories. I made it to give to my meatspace friends, so ignore the ones that say “available at public library”. There aren’t any novellas listed because so few are available online; you could try “Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson and “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik.

  3. @ Kendall

    I’ll have blank categories or only one or two nomination categories, too. I’ve decided since my mini melt down a week or three ago that I can only do my best and if I don’t enjoy something, I shouldn’t force myself to do it. That would violate the spirit of the Hugos, imo. You don’t enjoy short fiction? No worries, nominate in the categories you’re interested in and more power to ya!

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate recs in categories like Related Work or Best Fan Artist, where I may be able to honestly evaluate and nominate without spending a lot of energy researching something I don’t usually pay attention to. (Only peripherally related, I’m tempted to nom Camestros for his Katsu, just because it’s Katsu :-9 !)

  4. Yeah, I will certainly have blank categories. And so what. I’m not concerned with trying to catch up on categories I don’t ever pay attention to, like dramatic works and podcasts; I figure those have enough genuine fans, and I’m not going to take time away from what I really like for them. But I was alarmed by the neglect of short fiction because that is something I actually am passionate about. I decided that since novels have enough nominators to be partially slate-proof, I would read fewer of those and spend most of my time reading, discussing, and evangelizing for short works. So far I’m really enjoying doing so!

  5. Re: nominations, I am planning to just do my best and fill out as much of my ballot as I can (stalking ebooks sales has helped an awful lot), and not beat myself up over gaps. Much more important that lots of us try our bests than that only the perfect participate. 🙂

    @Peace, junego, Bruce Baugh, RedWombat, Jim Henley, Lis Carey, & Cheryl S.

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate it. 🙂 I’m struggling a bit with having the brain to join in but the wonderful space and people here are helping no end. Keep being you. 🙂

    I’m going to ask for a mandatory reconsideration, and then if that doesn’t work then I’m going to take it to appeal. Since their entire case was “you brought a bottle of water to the assessment, therefore obviously you can’t have problems doing things, up to and including walking” (I am sadly not kidding or exaggerating in any way whatsoever, although I am paraphrasing, it is honestly the weirdest thing) I’m hoping I’ll win the appeal if it gets that far, but hopefully they’ll see sense at the reconsideration stage because last time the appeal took a year. I’m just really tired of having to do this every time. I’ve spent more time appealing or reapplying than otherwise during the last three years. It isn’t fun. I’m pretty sure they design it to over-reject because the success rate at appeal is very high, but the amount of spoons it drains to get that far… I’m sure a lot of people give up. I think they want people to give up.

    And no, austerity isn’t working at all. 🙁 So much pain for so many people for nothing.

  6. Meredith, I’ve been very sorry to hear about your struggles, and appreciate all the contributions you nonetheless make! (Like the disquisition on dragons last month.)

  7. @ Meredith

    I have no understanding of how the UK rules, regs and red tape work, so the following is just me mostly nattering because I feel helpless and want to help anyway.
    1) The water thing has to be one of the most ludicrous excuses I’ve ever heard! BUT my appeal involved similar issues. I sometimes present as fairly normal. The gov doctors all made the point that I could do what they asked me to do. My appeal lawyer made the case on consistency, or lack thereof. He pointed out that the nature of my disability was that I could do some minimal amount of normal actions on one day, but I could not do it every day and sometimes could not do it for many days in a row. He had medical descriptions of my diagnosis that confirmed this was true. Anyway, that was the point of law that we won on. I could not consistently perform minimal normal activities, in other words, some days, no spoons :-/

    2) Austerity almost never works!!!! What works the best is for the society to commit to investing in projects and programs that help society as a whole (infrastructure, research, etc.) and puts money in the hands of the least wealthy, whose subsequent spending will do more to kick start an economy than all the belt tightening in the world! (Obviously it’s more complicated than that, but depriving the most vulnerable citizens of means of support doesn’t help at all on any level – economically, morally, ethically, morale wise…)

  8. @Vasha

    There’s always spoons allotted for DRAGONs! 🙂


    Thank you. I’m just really puzzled at the reasoning behind the decision, really. I find that there’s a point where if an argument is sufficiently silly I have trouble countering it because there’s just no logic to respond to, and “bottle of water” definitely hits that point.

  9. Even if you only nominate one thing in one category, it’s still worth the email. You don’t even have to leave the house or find a stamp. Yours might be the one vote that gets something onto the ballot; the nominations are that close even in regular years.

    @Meredith: It usually takes 3 tries and a lawyer in the US to get approved, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of carrying a water bottle as an excuse — the bureaucrats here at least try a little harder to come up with something plausible.

  10. This is why I read the economist Paul Krugman.

    He seems to have been correct about the economic consequences of various governments’ policies every step of the way, and has done a good job explaining why.

    (Well, he has been spot-on accurate predicting the catastrophic consequences of what has actually been implemented, alas. He predicted better consequences if governments took up President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy of aggressive government spending on public works projects and infrastructure to create jobs, and increased support of nonrich people and workers — but none of them tried that, in this era of conservative ideologues trying to efface FDR’s legacy.)

    I imagine it must get tiring for him sometimes when those responsible for Austerity policies keep pushing their disastrous theories and policies that demonstrably do not do what they promise ( but do do exactly the harm Krugman and others like him predict).

  11. @Meredith

    So sorry to hear about your difficulties. With the caveat that I know nothing about UK law, it sounds like the bureaucracy there is similar to the Social Security Disability application process in the US–it’s deliberately stretched over many months in an effort to either so exhaust and frustrate the person applying that they give up; or (not to put too fine a point on it) they die before their application is approved.

    Please hang in there. We’re rooting for you.

  12. @ Vasha
    re: recommendations and evangilizing

    I’d like to thank you and everyone else who reads faster, is more experienced, more knowledgeable, more motivated or whatever, who are taking the time and effort to share your views, lists, opinions with the rest of us. Seriously, you’re all tremendously helpful, imo.

  13. @junego

    Yup, consistency is a thing that applies here (wording in law: safely, reliably, and repeatedly), too, and I will be arguing on those grounds! I’m also going to point out that it took me a week to recover from the assessment, stuff like that, get a(nother) GP note, etc. They ignored all the cognitive/mental health stuff on the basis that I can present well (even though I was slurring and repeating myself and slow by the end of the assessment because I was so exhausted, which I guess they didn’t notice? or ignored?), so that’s something that needs addressing, too (sigh). Focusing on the stuff I can control because the other direction lies despair and bears. I just really didn’t want to have to do this again so soon, you know? It hurts.

    @junego & lurkertype

    I couldn’t believe it when I read the reasoning. The will power involved in not asking in my challenge whether they were drunk when they wrote it is, um, a lot. Because, really, a water bottle? Really? (Funny thing is it sort of proves the opposite of healthy competence: I didn’t want to use the flimsy plastic cups and the water cooler because I’d end up tipping it over myself, I need to hydrate pretty much all the time to avoid spending too much time unconscious so I carry water basically everywhere, and I use a specific brand of water bottles because I can open them which isn’t the case for a lot of other brands! All of which I could have told them if they’d asked…)

    @junego & Peace

    I studied the New Deal for GCSE and it so clearly worked and was so clearly a good idea I just don’t understand why this obviously failing austerity system is being clung to so tightly. It doesn’t work, and it hurts the people least able to mitigate it. I find it difficult not to judge the morals and ethics of those who are putting it into place, and equally as difficult not to be suspicious of their motives.

    @Paul Weimer

    Thank you! It isn’t fun but hopefully *crosses fingers, toes, other body parts* it will be resolved at the mandatory reconsideration stage. Hopefully.


    Thank you! Yes, that’s basically what they do, and unfortunately it works. 🙁

  14. re: austerity

    It costs society more money and resources and takes more time to pull people back out of poverty/homelessness/etc than it costs to maintain them in a resonable standard of living during economic downturns. That’s why austerity doesn’t work to kick start an economy. The main reason it’s backed by certain elements is because a few can actually gain short-term riches/advantage using austerity. Austerity helps a few individuals at the expense of the good of society as a whole.

  15. Which reminds me: Lagoon is also on the list: is that a 2015 publication? I thought it was earlier. I haven’t finished it yet, but from what I’ve read so far it seems also to be an example of Both. It looks as if they are going with ‘when in doubt say SF’.

    Lagoon was published in the US in 2015. I believe it might have been limited release in the UK in 2014. I’m 98% positive it’s eligible for Hugo due to US publishing date.

  16. Meredith my heart goes out to you. Our current governments are behaving like idiots when it comes to taking care of their populace. I didn’t both going after social security disability because we could afford to go without my income and I thank g-d every time I hear someone’s story. No one should have to go through that. A doctors note should be all that’s required to get what we need. A bottle of water. Utter crap.

  17. Much sympathy, Meredith. I’m trying to muster enough spoons to get evaluated for something, and one of the difficulties is that because over the years I’ve developed many, many coping mechanisms, I come off at first as far more functional/capable than I really am. The idea that something like carrying a water bottle (or, I’m extrapolating, using a lip balm or having hand lotion in one’s bag) would be used as a disqualifier is “I think I have to laugh or curse to avoid crying” level.

  18. For anybody who’s interested, here are my reviews of three Hugo-eligible books: Gene Wolfe’s A Borrowed Man, Ian Tregillis’ The Mechanical, and Emma Newman’s Planetfall. (Spoilers abound, obviously.) Short version: The first is good, the second is better, and the third is an ARGGH! Rip out the last few pages and throw them against the wall! misfire. My favorite is The Mechanical; it’s on my shortlist, and it’ll take a lot to dislodge it.

  19. Meredith on December 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm said:

    I studied the New Deal for GCSE and it so clearly worked and was so clearly a good idea I just don’t understand why this obviously failing austerity system is being clung to so tightly. It doesn’t work, and it hurts the people least able to mitigate it. I find it difficult not to judge the morals and ethics of those who are putting it into place, and equally as difficult not to be suspicious of their motives.

    I think in the US anyway, it is because the policies that demonstrably work were created, championed, and implemented by Democrats. President Roosevelt, that “traitor to his class” did tremendous good for the country over the violent protests of consevatives, who never forgave him for being right.

    I had thought we were over that, but I have been watching over the last forty years as conservative theorists in my country have rewritten history and worked to deny and undo all the social progress we have had under Democratic Presidents, including LBJ’s Civil Rights legislature and, yes, FDR’s policies of government spending during tough times.

    Frankly, I’m waiting for them to roll back the FDA and food safety regulations of 1906. By now I fully expect their goal is to return the country to the days of the Gilded Age of Robber Barons.

  20. FDR style stimulus spending would help but it wouldn’t be the “get everyone working” remedy as it was back then. Infrastructure these days is much more machine focussed with relatively few workers needed for projects, and while some of those roles are grunt work anyone could do, many require specialist skills and extra licences.

    What tends to happen if lots of projects are lined up, the most of the available “plant” and operators will go to the most lucrative jobs and the less there is available, the higher the prices for plant and labour gets until it is uneconomical.

    What you would need to get the bulk projects done would have money poured into training for at least 10 years, with a limited number of infra-projects that can be top loaded with apprentices. After the first 3 years you can increase the number of projects(as long as you have also invested in hardware), rinse and repeat. After 10 years the hypothetical govt. would have the number of skilled workers required for the larger projects, but would need to be planning additional capital works for a span of 25-30 years to get proper use from their spending on equiptment.

    Then you have the problems with sheparding an economy that is shifting from a manufacturing base towards a service base. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I pity politicians.

  21. One of the big advantages of infrastructure spending is that it doesn’t employ just the people who work on the infrastructure. It ripples through the economy, as the now-employed infrastructure workers spend their wages, and other people get jobs as a result…

    No, we wouldn’t get everything wrong with the economy fixed overnight in one brilliant stroke–but we’d finally be heading in the right direction.

  22. @ tintinaus
    FDR style stimulus spending would help but it wouldn’t be the “get everyone working” remedy as it was back then. Infrastructure these days is much more machine focussed with relatively few workers needed for projects, and while some of those roles are grunt work anyone could do, many require specialist skills and extra licences.

    Fair point that it couldn’t be exactly the same kind of projects (although the infrastructure in our national and state parks has been let rot for decades and needs a massive infusion of grunt labor), there are still things that could have been done immediately (we’re already 8 years into ineffectual ‘austerity’) and could be done now.
    1) Hire more civic workers asap by fully funding underfunded areas – schools, child welfare, support staff, etc.
    2) Fund full scholarships (including living expenses) to get some of the young out of the labor market and into education that should eventually help the economy, include technical training, apprenticeships.
    3) Fund solar panels for reduced prices to home owners and landlords. Win-win-win situation.
    4) Fund those bigger infrastructure projects because the US *must* do this soon or even more bridges are going to collapse and, yeah, this will pump money, that must be spent eventually anyway, into the economy for decades and provide for a more robust base to build an economy of the future.
    5) As part of 4) invest in lowering our carbon footprint.
    6) Fund an effective social safety net because just giving people money so they can pay rent/mortgage, buy essentials, keep the lights on, buy medication, etc is still cheaper and more effective than letting those same people lose everything and slip into poverty/homelessness.

    Obviously I could go on about how government should have bailed out people along with (or instead of) the banks, not foreclosing on mortgages, etc would have put our whole society in a stronger position today, and on, and on. But I’m just ranting at the whole situation at this point, not at you. I apologize.

  23. Meredith:

    I am, from afar, frustrated by the wrongheaded PIP decision, and when I get that way I’m moved to satire:

    1) She is alive.
    2) Like Jon Hamm, she likes websites. http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/477f3b6bc5/between-two-ferns-with-zach-galifianakis-from-between-two-ferns-comedy-deathray-and-zach-galifianakis?_cc=__d___&_ccid=r06u79.nz7mun
    3) The words “Meredith” and “Able-bodied” both have an E, D, and I in them.
    4) She appeared in the film “Apocalypse Now” [ed–check on this. May be inaccurate–think Apocalypse Now came out in 1979?]

  24. @Greg

    Ha! Thanks, I enjoyed that. 🙂 It sometimes feels like that’s the secret decision reasoning!

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