Patchy

John Logan, “The labor-busting law firms and consultants that keep Google, Amazon and other workplaces union-free”.

A lack of effective federal reporting requirements means there isn’t a lot of data on this union-busting industry. We do know that a lot of companies are using it.

According to a Cornell labor expert, about 75% of all U.S. employers have engaged the services of a consultant or law firm to stymie efforts by workers to organize – and are spending an estimated US$340 million a year to do so.

The Labor Relations Institute, which has offered clients a money-back guarantee that it could prevent unionization, makes an appearance in the film American Factory.

Cue the barky laugh

“I’ve been working on a podcast for the last year and trying to learn everything I can learn about that form of storytelling, as a matter of history, so, if I’m out walking, I listen. Though, to be fair, this started a long time ago when someone gave me an iShuffle or whatever that thing was called, that thing you wore around your neck on a lanyard, and I was teaching Tristram Shandy that semester so I ordered the audiobook and then, by mistake, I listened to the whole thing on shuffle play. Without realizing it. Only later did I come to understand this is what Sterne wanted! In 1767!”

Hyperdisease

Our (MacPhee and Preston Marx) hypothesis gained some credence from well examined instances of widespread population collapses due to disease in the modern era, such as the rinderpest epizootic in eastern Africa in the 1890s, which attacked most of the region’s native even-toed ungulates and caused appalling mortality. Some species were very seriously affected, with one subspecies of hartebeest disappearing in the early twentieth century in possible correlation with the disease’s outbreak. A more recent example of a disease-induced disaster was the die-off of more than 80 percent of the central Asiatic wild herd of saiga antelope (Saiga tartarica …) in 2015-2016 from hemorrhagic septicemia, or blood poisoning due to bacterial infection. There are still other examples of almost unbelievable mortality in wild animals within breathtakingly short intervals, all of which underlines the fact that there is really nothing in ordinary nature that can bring down the standing crop of a species as quickly as emerging infectious diseases.

Ross D. E. MacPhee, End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals (2018), pp. 181-182

Environmental fastid?

This week’s winner of the clumsy spam scam:

RE. YOUR FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES.

I AM MR. STEPHEN CROCKARD. HEAD INTERNATIONAL POLICE(INTERPOL) UK}.
THIS ORGANIZATION IS SET UP TO FIGHT AGAINST,CORRUPTION,CRIME AGAINST
CHILDREN,CYBERCRIME,DRUGS,ENVIRONMENTAL FASTID,FINANCIAL CRIME,
FUGITIVES,MARITIME PIRACY,ORGANIZED CRIME,PEOPLE
SMUGGLING,PHARMACEUTICAL CRIME, TERRORISM,TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN
BEINGS,TRAFFICKING IN ILLICIT GOODS,VEHICLE CRIME, WANTED PERSON,WAR
CRIME,WEAPON, WORKS OF ART ETC IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY.

That stray “}” just melts my heart. And who knew that Interpol was investigating works of art?

Breath and light

The play, as seen from the side, seemed to have little to do with her. She watched it, the way you watch an oncoming train, wondering if it will stop at a far platform—and suddenly you realise it is coming straight at you. There was no avoiding this thing. She would have to step into it, a kind of collision in time. The play was alive. It was made of air, with rules of iron. It was a marvel, and when it was over you were also Marvelous, Darling.

—Anne Enright, Actress, p. 50

But we disagree about “e-mail”

Anne Fadiman, of my generation and fellow sentence-diagrammer, distinguishes the nonbinary they and the generic singular they and makes a persuasive case for both.

My students endorse the singular they not because they’re snowflakes but because they’re activists. The nonbinary they appeals to them because even if they’re not nonbinary themselves, they wish to support those who are; the generic they appeals to them because they wish to be inclusive: Why would you say “If someone has a question, he or she should stand up” when there might be a they in the room?

EPIC

[Clem] Whitaker and [Leone] Baxter won nearly every [political] campaign they waged…. Every campaign needs a theme. Keep it simple. Rhyming’s good (“For Jimmy and me, vote ‘yes’ on 3.”) Never explain anything. “The more you have to explain,” Whitaker said, “the more difficult it is to win support.” Say the same thing over and over again. “We assume we have to get a voter’s attention seven times to make a sale,” Whitaker said. Subtlety is your enemy, “Words that lean on the mind are no good,” according to Baxter. “They must dent it.” Simplify, simplify, simplify. “A wall goes up,” Whitaker warned, “when you try to make Mr. and Mrs. Average American citizen work or think.”

—Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States (2018), p. 451

One of the first efforts by Whitaker and Baxter’s Campaigns, Inc. was to defeat Sinclair Lewis’s bid to be elected governor of California in 1934.

Some links: 87

Trees and the three-lettered insects that munch on them:

  • To protect Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga candensis) from the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) (HWA), researchers are exploring natural genetic resistance, biological controls, and forestry techniques: Gabriel Popkin.
  • Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) (EAB) is clobbering native ashes (Fraxinus spp.) in the eastern U.S. Could doomed trees be turned into commercially useful building materials? Yes, say Sasa Zivkovic and Leslie Lok.

Article VI

To say that [the revival of evangelical Christianity in the 1820s] marked a turn away from the spirit of the nation’s founding is to wildly understate the case. The United States was founded during the most secular era in American history, either before or since. In the late eighteenth century, church membership was low, and anticlerical feeling was high. It is no accident that the Constitution does not mention God….

The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. The Constitution prohibits religious tests for officeholders. The Bill of Rights forbids the federal government from establishing a religion, James Madison having argued that to establish a religion would be “to foster in those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits.”

—Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States (2018), pp. 199-200

Number 51

On the centenary of gifted, careful researcher Rosalind Franklin, a reminder of the obstacles she overcame.

[James] Watson and his Cambridge collaborator and eventual fellow Nobel Laureate Francis Crick were not doing laboratory research on the structure of DNA, but they were actively attempting to build a model of it. Franklin’s image provided them with a breakthrough. Franklin was a cautious scientist, believing that modeling should await airtight scientific evidence. But Watson and Crick were less hesitant and became convinced that their double helix model must be correct.