20 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2020
    1. You have no choice. You can shop at a store that pays its workers better, sure, but the real atrocities have taken place long before your desired products have reached the shelf, and the stickers have nothing to do with it. “And here grocery has one last trick,” Lorr writes: “it allows us to hate our shrimp and eat it too. The image of the bad polluting aquaculture farmer or vulnerable exploited migrant gets imprinted in our first-world brain, while the fungibility of commodity goods—that maze of brokers and agents—gives the entire system the plausible deniability it craves.”

      Systemic change is hard. But it is the most effective tool for the job. Where are the levers and where can we stand? Who has the power and motive to make these changes?

    2. Trucking is now an industry thriving on its workers’ vulnerability

      Again, as with most other parts of the supply chain previously mentioned.

    3. boycotting a single product is pointless. “Look at what happens when abused children get pushed out of labor markets. They typically don’t suddenly find better jobs. They get pushed further underground,” he says. “What you in the West have to realize is the entire narrative is backwards. In trafficking, the media focuses on why and where poor people get into difficult situations. But maybe we should be looking at why they are poor to begin with?” The answer is, of course, the “hunger behind our hunger.”

      And now we're back to systemic problems, and how to fix them.

    4. Is there any truly ethical way to buy groceries in America?In short: no. Americans now spend only 10 percent of their budgets on food, Lorr notes, while in 1900 it was 40 percent. Our food is the cheapest in the world because we import so much of it from places where things like labor and antibiotics are cheap. Not only that, we hunger for cheapness in our own shopping habits, forever seeking the great promotional deal.

      The rest of the world isn't totally non-susceptible to this; even France has had food budget percentage spending decrease. But given the extreme throes of late-stage capitalism the US is in ...

    5. the entire supply chain putting food in our supermarkets has been whittled down to the sharpest edge of profitability by suit-wearing Midwesterners who pride themselves on exemplifying the American capitalist spirit. It’s more surprising that anybody put the Thai shrimp industry story on a newspaper front page, Lorr thinks, than it is that we’re eating the fruits of indentured labor.

      So your instinctive reaction is "fine, I'll stop buying slave labor shrimp imported from Thailand." Or "I'll stop eating shrimp, being a vegetarian is more ethical, right?" ...

    6. This kind of casting is true, Lorr explains, of nearly all supermarket employees, who would be automated away in a heartbeat if the data didn’t show that the average American consumer prefers a human touch.

      The "fishmonger" at Whole Foods as "window dressing." Oof, that's an image.

    7. Shrimp are perhaps the paradigmatic grocery store item. They used to be expensive, and now they’re not. They are born animals, and when they die they become meat, then cargo, then merchandise represented by a bar code—a product with a notably high profit yield on the grocery floor because it’s a dirt-cheap factory-farmed import.
  2. Sep 2020
    1. To defeat facial recognition software, “you would have to wear a mask or disguises,” Tien says. “That doesn’t really scale up for people.”

      Yeah, that sentence was written in 2017 and especially pertinent to Americans. 2020 has changed things a fair bit.

    1. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, about how we can’t cover sports right now, or ever, as an individual and separate thing because sports are the gift we get for making our society as just and fair as possible. Right now, we’re seeing that multiplied a hundred times, because you have athletes who are feeling the urgency and have the power to come out and say what they believe politically. ESPN was saying just a few years ago that they wouldn’t cover politics at all. Now there’s no choice there. It’s been made really clear by the athletes, the people who play the sports, that they don’t want that distinction there themselves. So, who are we to decide that it must be imposed?

      Or cooking, members of the NYT Cooking Club cough or singing, members of Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choirs ...

    1. Food should be a vehicle for social justice, but oftentimes when we have panel conversations and conferences, nothing comes out of it because there aren't any implementation resources. People have this enlightened conversation, but then they leave. How do we actively combat that?

      Even when we want to do better, we still have to come up with action items and then figure out how to implement them in a sustainable manner.

    1. alternative activities creatively solicit, collect, and even rank ideas without any assumption that community members should agree. By displaying the full range of ideas, they also put more pressure on public officials to transparently explain why they pursued a certain path without resorting to the kind of “community” talk I observed in Upham’s Corner and Mattapan.

      We did this when discussing the AM bus lane for Mass Ave in Arlington - there was an in-person presentation and people put sticky notes on a giant copy of the plan to note particular concerns. There was an online version after that meeting as well, where those who couldn't go to the meeting could submit further feedback.

    2. What if instead of public meetings—constrained by both time and space, where the optimal outcome is consensus and therefore “no” has more power than “yes”—we invested more in low cost, ongoing exercises that produce a high volume of information, persist even after particular projects are completed, make priorities transparent, and neither seek nor assume a singular position from “the community”?

      I remember Chris Schmidt making a comment about how the online meetings for the Cambridge City Council suddenly had much higher attendance when the pandemic kicked in. But of course that means the meetings themselves got even longer.

    3. In Upham’s Corner, the community wanted a park, didn’t want a park, wanted affordable housing, didn’t want affordable housing, and on and on—there was no single community position to juxtapose against the City or a potential developer. Similar scenarios are easy to imagine; in any neighborhood, opinions will vary. The Mattapan case is complicated for additional reasons. The community simultaneously “won” and “lost”: Middle-class residents were unable to block the new station, while low-income residents gained greater access to public transit. Supporting the community did not necessarily mean supporting poor urban residents.

      Conflicting needs, and the best we can do is "nobody is satiisfied, even if they got what they wanted, because it took so long to do anything about."

    4. It’s Time to Move On From Community Consensus Public meetings often disprove the notion that communities have a unified stance on any issue. With this in mind, we must move past trying to find consensus and focus on uplifting the most marginalized voices.

      Provocative summary. How does anyone determine the most marginalized voices in a given situation without turning it into competitive Oppression Olympics?

      Two informative case studies from Boston.

    1. If everyone did all of the above things, they would have the personal infrastructure in place to enable their lives to become zero-emissions. But the above changes only cover 45% of average American emissions—so what gives? The remaining 55% of emissions come indirectly from the goods, services, and food we buy. The only way we’ll get to a zero-carbon world is for each of those industries to adopt new technology and change their processes to be emissions-free, or be replaced with a zero-emissions alternative. That’s why your first action is voting to make sure that policies and incentives are put in place to accelerate the overall transition.

      The "above things" being:

      1. Vote for elected officials who prioritize smart climate policy; join climate action or political groups to support pro-climat candidates and non-profits.
      2. Use only electric vehicles. Your next car [and this right here is a measure of how very car-dependent Americans as a whole are] needs to be electric. [AND you also need to press your power companies and government for clean electricity; lots of electricity comes from coal!]
      3. Electrify your house. There's a reason California's no longer permitting gas in new construction. Induction has vastly improved!
      4. Switch to all-green electricity. See my note on #2.
    1. "The Data Visualisation Catalogue is a project developed by Severino Ribecca to create a library of different information visualisation types." I like the explanations of when one might use a particular type of data visualization to highlight - or obscure! - what the data is saying.

    1. Although relocations can be difficult, it requires a certain level of privilege to be a climate change migrant in America right now. Most of the people I spoke with are relatively free to move around, without the ties of children or home ownership, and with enough money to afford to relocate.

      There's a racial divide here, too. With harassment and violence on the rise against Black and Asian Americans, moving anywhere where there are fewer of us is another dimension of precarity.

    1. make on-street parking expensive (to reflect its real costs) and to make transit cheap or free. The way we price transit, and don’t price private car storage in the public realm, is evidence of “Asphalt Socialism“–subsidies for cars and driving, and high prices and penalties for those who take transit.

      Socialism for the oligarchs, the pointy end of capitalism for everyone else.

    2. the only places where transit really works well in the United States are in the areas where cities charge for parking.  When street parking is free, people own cars and drive, depriving transit systems of customers and revenue, and skewing the transit ridership to the dispossessed and powerless.

      Though NYC has probably the most comprehensive transit capabilities in the US, and it somehow fails to charge for parking permits. Surprisingly, SF appears to be the "big winner" here, $12/month for a parking permit and $81/month for a Muni pass. (However, in these pandemic times, I wonder how much buying monthly passes has decreased. And for a compact city, so much SF stuff still assumes you have a car.)

      Also of note: huge swaths of SF are SFH yet still have (one-car) garages so you don't have to park your (first) car on the street. Compare how many cars per household in SF, in the Bay Area, and contrast with NYC.

    3. on most streets, in most cities — including, bizarrely New York City — street parking is completely unpriced almost everywhere.  In effect, the prices shown for parking in Goodman’s sample overstate what city’s actually charge for parking: it’s mostly zero.

      $70 for a monthly transit pass vs. $2.25 for a monthly parking permit. I wonder what the price for a monthly parking permit averages out to among the cities that DO charge.