Thursday, October 15th, 2020


Temp Work

"Thousands of miles separate the fields of Honduras and the continental breakfasts in the States. But these are terminals of a single, continuous system. Heat bears down most on the global working poor and developing countries, while their wealthier planetmates are able to evade the worst of the warming. What's more, consumption by those wealthier folks helps create the warming, which in turn robs the poor of opportunity and walls off economic mobility. Garment workers in Cambodia and Bangladesh toil in sweatshops to sew the moisture-wicking fabrics that make summer in Phoenix or Miami or Washington, D.C., bearable. In Qatar, itinerant workers labor at the outer edge of human survivability to fabricate air-conditioned hotels, malls, and arenas for the rich. And thousands of families flee environmental pressures in Central America only to find themselves suffering from the heat in the United States." The Atlantic's Vann R. Newkirk II with a hot take on Earth's New Gilded Era: The world is getting hotter, and the divide between rich and poor is getting bigger. "In the coming century, when wealth inequality will likely increase and the spaces where humans can live comfortably will shrink, the heat gap between rich and poor might be the world's most daunting challenge. It will reflect existing wealth disparities, but will also deepen them. It will destroy some bodies, while others are spared. It will spark uprisings and set the stage for conflict, both between and within nations. In a hot world, the heat gap will be a defining manifestation of inequality." I'm just a guy doing a lit review of the world under a fan in an unseasonably warm town that used to be known for fog, but if you ask me, the combination of income inequality and climate change will be the driving forces of the 21st century. So this is a must read.


When the Caring Runs Out

On October 13th, millions of us were taking advantage of deals on products we didn't really need during Amazon's Prime Day while also watching Apple roll out its latest iPhones. Meanwhile, 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since May. During that same period, I've had the most profitable stock run of my life. Something is broken. And we're ignoring it. All the hate and divisiveness isn't just unhealthy on its own. It's left no space for empathy and community. NYT: Two new studies show the effect of the emergency $2 trillion package known as the Cares Act and what happened when the money ran out.


Danger. Wrong Way. Turn Back.

"We are headed in the wrong direction, and that's reflected not only in the number of new cases but also in test positivity and the number of hospitalizations. Together, I think these three indicators give a very clear picture that we are seeing increased transmission in communities across the country ... We are starting from a much higher plateau than we were before the summer wave ... It concerns me that we might see even more cases during the next peak than we did during the summer." So said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, as U.S. Virus Cases Climb Toward a Third Peak.

+ And, from a national perspective, we're climbing this peak alone. ProPublica: Inside the Fall of the CDC. "How the world's greatest public health organization was brought to its knees by a virus, the president and the capitulation of its own leaders, causing damage that could last much longer than the coronavirus." (You can basically substitute the name of any American institution for CDC and this story still works.)


Plebiscite Unseen

"Though they make up a large portion of our population, these Americans receive little-to-no attention in national political conversations, and remain a mystery to many institutions. As organizations seek to reach and motivate the disengaged electorate, information from this project should help inform their work." The Knight Foundation has posted a really interesting look at the 100 million; the approximate number of those eligible to vote, but who choose not to. (Maybe they just hate stickers?)

+ Long lines are not the key deterrent for most of those who choose not to vote. But that is most definitely the intention of those whose policies create those lines. Ohio's quarter-mile early-voting lines? That's what voter suppression looks like. And, History, mistrust spurring Black early voters in Georgia. (Here's a good rule of thumb: Vote for those who want you to vote.)


Pill Pops

In my family's last act of pre-pandemic normalcy, we spent a week in NYC where we saw Jagged Little Pill, a musical based on Alanis Morrisette's album. It was one of the best shows I've seen on Broadway, and Lauren Patten's ridiculously good rendition of "You Oughta Know," got a standing ovation in the middle of the show (something I'd never seen before). I'm glad to see the show leading the Tony noms, and that several performers, including Patten, also received nods. Come on America, let's kill this friggin' virus so we can get live performances back and get artists who inspire and thrill us back out of their bedrooms and onto the stage where they belong.


Putting the Aint in Restraint

"The greatest acts of American history are when people have the authority to do something, but they showed the restraint of power and did not use the authority. This is one of those moments, where that is the kind of grace that can stop this tumbling of this institution further toward what I think will be a real constitutional crisis ... We do have common virtue, we do have common values, we have common cause ... But we are doing this and failing as a body to lead in a time of crisis. This is not happening in a vacuum … it is happening in a time of terrible crisis for our country. I am appealing right now, that we have to find a way to stop this. The only thing that heals this body is revival of civic grace." So argued Cory Booker on the final day of the Barrett confirmation hearings. He's right, but even he knows that won't change much. McConnell says he has the votes. Here's the latest from WaPo.

+ "She very obviously wants to distance herself from the president by saying she owes him nothing, because the president has evinced nothing but contempt for the courts, the rule of law, for women and people of color. But she can't say any of that. And so she has swathed herself in a cloak of neutrality and asked, repeatedly, that we take her word for it that her integrity alone will protect us. The tactic has largely worked for her, until she found herself refusing to answer a question as basic as 'Should the president accede to a peaceful transfer of power?' or 'Are absentee ballots important to democracy?' That's when her wide-open mind doesn't disserve just her, but democracy itself." Dahlia Lithwick: Amy Coney Barrett Won't Say Trump's Obvious Lawlessness Is Lawless. (Like so many stories these days, this one isn't about a distinct event, it's about a broader threat to democratic norms.)

+ Biden campaign halts Kamala Harris' travel after two people in campaign's orbit test positive for coronavirus.


Stars and Types

As hundreds of the best dressed of you know, my latest NextDraft T-shirt features an American flag. My 12 year-old daughter was shocked that I'd celebrate the flag because she sees them at all the Trump rallies. Damn. This is part of a broader trend of liberals ceding the flag and patriotism to Trumpists. Paige Williams in The New Yorker: The Changing Meaning of the American Flag Under Trump. I've since talked with my daughter and she understands that the flag represents all of us and America is worth standing up for. Now she hates the shirt because she thinks my newsletter is stupid.


Shorting America

"Interviews with eight people who either received copies of the memo or were briefed on aspects of it as it spread among investors in New York and elsewhere provide a glimpse of how elite traders had access to information from the administration that helped them gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering." NYT: As Virus Spread, Reports of Trump Administration's Private Briefings Fueled Sell-Off.


It’s (Too) Good to Be The King

"Questions over spending by an aloof monarch, who lives in Germany and whose expensive lifestyle stands in contrast to stories of his thrifty father, have emerged as Thailand's economy reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, which followed years of tepid growth under a military-led government closely tied to the ruling family ... One of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's first major acts was to transfer all the holdings in the vast company, known as the Crown Property Bureau, to his personal ownership, giving him control of more wealth than the reported riches of the Saudi king, the sultan of Brunei and the British royal family combined." LA Times in Thailand: The world's richest king, his mysterious fortune and the protesters who want answers.


Bottom of the News

"So how are Cousins' cheese curds? They're really, really, really good. They're big, they're fluffy, and they deliver that all-important squeak when you bite into them. Plus, there was a lone fry hiding in my cheese curd box, and okay, Cousins' fries are pretty good. I honestly can't believe these curds come from a fast food joint, just like I can't believe this ghoul/dolt claiming that the opening of the State Fair field hospital is a political stunt. A political stunt! Honestly, these f--king people. Nothing will convince them. Nothing will change their minds. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing." Matt Wild in the Milwaukee Record: Who has better cheese curds: Culver's or Cousins? (Topically speaking, this is the broadest cheese curd review you'll ever read...)

+ Meet the Excel warriors saving the world from spreadsheet disaster.