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Why My Love for Pushing Daisies Hasn’t Died, 15 Years Later

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As of this writing, it’s been 15 years, 17 days, and 21 hours since Pushing Daisies premiered on ABC. The show was part romantic comedy, part murder mystery, and part musical, all liberally sprinkled with a heaping spoonful of sugar, spice, and everything nice.

The story centers on an anxiety-riddled baker named Ned who makes pies and wakes the dead. In childhood, he watched as a truck hit his golden retriever and discovered that he possesses a very odd, special power: Ned can bring corpses back to life with a single touch. His next brush with death happens soon after, as his pie-baking mother dies suddenly when a blood vessel bursts in her brain. Though young Ned revives her with his magic touch, he’s horrified to learn that if he lets the dead live for more than a minute, another living thing in close proximity will perish. The cost of resurrecting his mother is the death of his neighbor—the father of his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles.

But Ned faces another unfortunate revelation: when his mother kisses him goodnight, she dies again, this time forever. While a single touch brings the dead back to life, a second touch from Ned will send the recently revived immediately back to the great beyond. (Side note: Pushing Daisies and this brand of fantastical-element-in-a-contemporary-setting partially inspired my recent piece about curio fiction.)

The trauma of such a childhood is enough to make anyone sequester themselves in a pie shop and avoid close relationships. However, Ned finds himself roped into a side hustle when a private investigator named Emerson Cod glimpses his powers and enlists his help in solving murders. Together, they make regular use of the morgue, where Ned can directly ask victims how they died and who killed them.

From the first episode, “Pie-lette,” viewers are thrust directly into the show’s beating heart with the irresistible romance that drives Pushing Daisies—the impossible love story between Ned (Lee Pace) and Chuck (Anna Friel), whom he revives from her casket in a fateful reunion after many years apart…then can’t bring himself to “re-dead” her. Of course, the nature of Ned’s power means the two lovers can never touch again, lest Chuck be sent to her grave permanently.

Pushing Daisies only ran for two seasons, with a grand total of twenty-two episodes aired from 2007 to 2009. Despite the show being nominated for seventeen Emmy Awards and winning seven, it was ultimately canceled by ABC. The Writers Guild of America strike during those years may have contributed to the show’s short run, along with an exorbitant per-episode expense and low season two ratings. Regardless of the reason for its cancellation, Pushing Daisies managed to establish a loyal fandom and frequently appears on reboot wish lists, memorializing it in the mausoleum of shows that were taken from us far too soon.

Show creator Bryan Fuller’s previous projects, Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, were equally quirky and also had short runs. Fuller later went on to develop American Gods, Hannibal, and Star Trek: Discovery. His signature style focuses on striking visuals, larger-than-life characters, and death-related themes, all of which are prominent features of Pushing Daisies.

So: How did this show manage to leave such a lasting impression on viewers—especially yours truly—despite it being canceled after two seasons? The facts are these…

 

The Sugary Vibe

Screenshot: ABC

“This is not strange—unusual, maybe. Eccentric, in a quaint way, like dessert spoons.” –Ned, Season 1, Episode 2

The show’s warm, pop-art aesthetic is instantly recognizable. From the endless fields of yellow daisies in the town of Coeur d’Coeurs to pastel-colored sets filled with pies, candies, and (occasionally) circus performers, the visuals go big on spectacle and create a feast for the eyes. Like the movie adaptation of the novel Big Fish, Pushing Daisies embraces a whimsical tone and fanciful characterization that fosters the feeling of a myth or fable.

The fact that the series isn’t wedded to realism means that every detail can be unabashedly over the top. That includes cheekily green-screened effects, including a spoof on Hitchcock’s The Birds folded into an antagonist’s traumatic backstory. The characters often wear eye-popping outfits, particularly the female leads, Chuck and Olive, who don vintage-style dresses and skirts in bright yellows, reds, blues, and greens that would make a bubblegum machine envious. Alliterative or repetitive names like Charlotte Charles (“Chuck”) and the Darling Mermaid Darlings give the story a Dr. Seuss-like cadence. Occasionally, Olive Snook—played by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth—will break out into song in scenes that exist solely to showcase Chenoweth’s vocal chops. In any given episode, you can expect a quaint-yet-distinct setting, whether it’s a nunnery or a honey-based cosmetics company.

Then there’s the voiceover from Jim Dale, the same actor/singer/vocal artist extraordinaire who narrated the audiobooks about a certain boy wizard. His matter-of-fact editorializing lends the story both gravitas and tongue-in-cheek humor: “Olive Snook had been delivering pies for weeks,” the omniscient narrator drawls, “not realizing she was a homeopathic drug mule.”

The juxtaposition of the bright, cheery color scheme and the murder-focused plots isn’t as jarring as one might think. Instead, the series offers all the trappings of a cozy mystery with a sweet aesthetic that risks bordering on twee, yet it focuses on serious questions of death, grief, love, and loss. Even the show’s title is an idiom of playful contrasts, with the lightheartedness of daisies paired with the darkness of death. It’s not hard to want to embrace that level of exuberant sentimentality in a world that’s too often full of cynicism and monochromatic gloom.

Above all else, the show’s iconic theme song makes my heart soar every time I hear it.

 

The Zesty Murders

Screenshot: ABC

“Musing on the idea of setting someone on fire doesn’t mean you REALLY want to set them on fire. It’s just the thought of it that makes you happy.” –Olive Snook, Season 1, Episode 3

There’s endless creativity showcased in the murder victims’ Willy Wonka-esque ends, including a body submerged in a vat of taffy and an incident involving an explosive scratch-and-sniff book. The almost cartoonishly exaggerated nature of the deaths in Pushing Daisies makes them all the more memorable. At the morgue, Ned revives corpses with tire marks on their faces, or covered in bee stings, or mostly frozen like Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining.

When Ned and his companions question the deceased, the victims are often blasé about their own deaths. They’re also comically honest, given they have nothing else left to lose, revealing more about their true selves in death than they would’ve in life. A nun blurts out streams of expletives; a beekeeper admits to corporate sabotage; paramours share their final confessions of love. These features contribute to Fuller’s vision of the show as a “forensic fairy tale,” wherein the police procedural meets the world of Hansel and Gretel.

While the murders can be gruesome, they’re also presented in a way that’s not disturbing or threatening, partly because of the deeply odd and improbable causes. It’s a surrealist world where mortality can be confronted from a safe vantage point, a curiosity to be peered at like a brain in a jar, while interactions between the living and the dead are leavened with touches of absurdity. The show’s dark humor can be curiously comforting in the way it embraces the strangeness of both life and death.

 

The Sweet Love

Screenshot: ABC

“As he stared at her, he reached around his back and held his own hand, pretending he was holding hers. And at that very moment, she was pretending to be holding his.” –The Narrator, Season 1, Episode 1

To me, there’s no greater example of star-crossed lovers than Ned and Chuck, who speak to the bleeding hearts of long-distance couples everywhere in the way that they can be so very close and yet can never touch. No matter how irrevocably they’re drawn together, they remain forever apart, except during risky saran-wrap kisses or beekeeping-suit dances. Despite the obstacles, they never fail to smile at each other from across the room or flirt by pretending to be new neighbors meeting for the first time.

They also inspire each other to grow, as in any good relationship. Chuck is bubbly and eager to offer a helping hand to everyone she meets, which challenges Ned’s introverted and fatalistic nature. With her relentless optimism, Chuck revitalizes his hopes for love and happiness. This is thanks in big part to Anna Friel and her delightful portrayal of the character, as she brought quirky, energetic wholesomeness and brunette bangs to the screen a few years before Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer and New Girl.

Ned gives Chuck continual kindness and support, even when it means letting her wander away from him. When Chuck expresses her desire for more independence, Ned is hurt at first, but then he surprises her by furnishing her new apartment with wall-to-wall books from her old home. She’s eager not to waste the second chance at life she’s been given, a mindset that speaks to my soul.

The love extends beyond Ned and Chuck’s romance to encompass the show’s core four characters, each role benefitting from truly wonderful casting that contributes to their delectable chemistry. In addition to the Pie Maker and the dead girl (as played by Pace and Friel), there’s business-minded private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) and former jockey/current waitress/future nun who’s smitten with the Pie Maker, Olive Snook (the aforementioned Kristin Chenoweth).

The four of them play off each other in predictable and unpredictable ways, their relationships evolving over time as they butt heads and forge bonds. Olive’s unrequited love for Ned is worthy of a rendition of “On My Own” from Les Misérables, yet Olive and Ned care for each other deeply, even if the romance is one-sided. Olive starts off as Chuck’s romantic rival, but the two women soon become genuine friends in a refreshing take on what might be a cliché love triangle in most other shows.

The dour Emerson is real tired of everyone’s shit, especially Dead Girl whenever she distracts his money-making corpse whisperer with her doe eyes. In almost any given scene, Chi McBride reliably carries the humor with his wry delivery of lines like, “Well, that idea might make a stupid idea feel better about itself.” The detective and the Pie Maker prove to be great foils in their buddy-cop dynamic; where Ned is awkward and boyishly shy, Emerson is confident and sharp-witted. The two solve case after case (accompanied by Lee Pace’s marvelous eyebrows, which deserve their own shout-out), facing near-death experiences at the hands of deranged murderers and living to tell about it. Emerson holds everyone at a distance, but he begins to open up emotionally—especially to Ned—as the show goes on. Even Emerson and Olive strike up reluctant collaborations, with Emerson helping her solve personal cases.

Chuck’s aunts, Lily and Vivian (played by the great Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, respectively), serve as an extended family to the core four. Chuck hides her resurrection from her aunts, since she assumes they’d die of shock if they knew their beloved niece was still alive after being murdered on a cruise ship. The former synchronized swimming duo have been shut-ins for years, so Chuck secretly sends them pies (with Gruyère baked into the crust, of course) made with homeopathic mood enhancers. As the one delivering the pies, Olive ends up befriending the reclusive aunts. Ned and Emerson visit them as well, with the aunts remembering Ned as the kindly neighbor boy.

These characters genuinely love and respect one another, even when they get on each other’s nerves, ensuring that every episode is jam-packed with genuine heart and humor.

 

The Spicy Secrets

Screenshot: ABC

“I kind of killed her dad when I was ten.” –Ned, Season 1, Episode 1

Every episode also includes a spoonful of dramatic irony. When will nosy Olive discover Ned’s power to wake the dead and the fact that Chuck is one of his resurrection projects? How will Aunt Lily and Aunt Vivian react if they see their niece alive and well on their doorstep? And what about Ned’s biggest secret of all—that he inadvertently caused the death of Chuck’s father when he revived his mother?

All of these questions create emotional through lines amidst the cases of the week. Hidden family ties are also revealed across the course of the show, and Emerson Cod’s backstory introduces another mysterious thread to follow. These revelations were the moments I looked forward to most, anticipating reunions, heartbreak, and joyful celebrations.

If the show hadn’t been canceled, it’s doubtless that the creators would’ve introduced even more character backstories, woven through with new and intriguing complications. I suspect that Ned might’ve eventually encountered someone else with a power similar to his own—or even the reverse version, where a certain spoken word kills someone living. That person could’ve even been Ned’s estranged father, who would apparently have played a major role in the third season. (Fuller had promised to publish a comic book series to fill in more backstory and wrap up the narrative, but that never came to fruition.)

Another lingering uncertainty is how Ned and Chuck would manage to stay together as a couple incapable of physical contact, where one desires the safety of home and the other adventure in the great wide somewhere. Could Ned find a way to cure himself of his powers? Or perhaps there’s a loophole he hadn’t yet discovered? The answers to these questions and conundrums are known only to the show’s writers.

 

The Show’s Premature Death

Screenshot: ABC

 “I suppose dying’s as good an excuse as any to start living.” –Chuck, Season 1, Episode 1

For any show with a cult following, early cancellation evokes a reverence for what might’ve been (see also: Firefly, Heroes, Flashforward, etc.). A lack of closure leaves viewers imagining all the storytelling potential gone to waste. Those imagined possibilities probably exceed the level of emotional fulfillment of whatever ending the show would’ve had in reality.

I think this holds true for Pushing Daisies as well, where its longevity in the collective pop cultural consciousness—or at least, in my consciousness—is partially due to the show ending before its time. Too often, shows decline in quality as the seasons build. But when the story is left incomplete, it’s apotheosized to unconditional positive regard, without the disappointment of a lackluster finale or weird, dragged-out episodes that serve only to milk every advertising dollar. The show remains eternally underrated and thus adored as an eternal underdog.

With all the layers of praise I’ve been heaping on the show, it might seem like I’m about ready to start a cult that worships at the steps of The Pie Hole (which, in my humble-pie opinion, sounds like a promising episode of Pushing Daisies). For all its unique features, Pushing Daisies was by no means a perfect show, as it certainly had its fair share of experimentation run amok. The motivations for the murders are often forgettable, and interesting serial plot threads (like smell aficionado Oscar Vibenius discovering Chuck’s secret) were sometimes abandoned in the favor of the episodic police procedural. The dialogue occasionally loses its zing, and the main romance is occasionally left to on the back burner for several episodes at a time. Nevertheless, these flaws aren’t enough to detract from the overpowering and irresistible aroma of heartfelt, home-baked goodness that permeates the world of Pushing Daisies as a whole.

 

Pushing Daisies, Revived?

Screenshot: ABC

“At that moment, in the town of Coeur d’Coeurs, events occurred that are not, were not, and should never be considered an ending. For endings, as it is known, are where we begin.”  —Narrator, Season 2, Episode 13

Many fans have hoped that the Pie Maker’s magic touch might somehow bring this special story back to life. It’s easy enough to find a show that can make you laugh, sigh, gasp in surprise, or temporarily lose faith in humanity with its insights into our darker natures. It’s much harder to find one that does all that at the same time, but also charms you to no end

Recent shows like The Good Place and Ted Lasso have come closest to mirroring the tone of Pushing Daisies, but none have fully replicated its effervescent combination of fun, fresh, hopeful, fantastical, and darkly funny. Pushing Daisies is a show that warms the heart without ignoring the big questions in life. How do we face our inevitable mortality with humor and grace? How do we cope with loving at a distance or missing those who are gone from our lives?

Across the past decade, there have been occasional rumors and discussions about rebooting the show. Personally, I don’t want to see Pushing Daisies resurrected. Some dearly departed cultural artifacts are better left to their fate—truly gone but not forgotten—because they existed authentically as part of a particular zeitgeist. To unearth them now would feel like creating a counterfeit of the original’s spirit—fake and out of place. I would prefer that the show live on in the spirit of its time, its goodness forever captured in amber.

But, hey—I wouldn’t be opposed to a musical…

***

 

If you’re a fan of the show, let me know, and spread the love by sharing your favorite quote or episode from Pushing Daisies in the comments! I’ll even settle for your favorite type of pie. (Mine’s a tie between lemon meringue and banana cream.)

Note: At the moment, Pushing Daisies is available to stream on HBO Max, and available for purchase on other platforms.

Diane Callahan spends her days shaping stories as a writer and developmental editor. Her YouTube channel, Quotidian Writer, provides practical tips for aspiring authors.

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sarcozona
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Oh I loved this show. Time for a rewatch!
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How homebuilders in Vancouver are adapting to a warming world

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The two-storey family home with a classic design and wooden cladding blends in with its neighbours, but its thick, insulated walls, airtightness, solar panels, heat pump and highly efficient windows make it a home built for a warming world.

The home in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood generates more energy than it consumes and demonstrates how a highly efficient building is also more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as bouts of extreme heat, and smoke from wildfires that persisted well into this autumn in southwestern British Columbia.

The net-zero-certified home was built to standards beyond those of any building code in Canada. While they're changing, Canadian building codes have generally been developed to produce homes for cold climates rather than heat resiliency, said Chris Higgins, senior green building designer with the City of Vancouver.

"For so long in Canada, we've been focused on trying to keep warm," Higgins said. "Now, summers are getting hotter, and we're having to adapt."

The Kitsilano home and others like it show that some consumers and builders are taking adaptation into their own hands with design and materials fit for a new climate, with the added benefit of boosting efficiency and cutting energy costs.

But many existing properties, from single-family homes to condos in towering skyscrapers, will need upgrades to meet the challenge. 

A prolonged heat wave that sent temperature records tumbling across British Columbia in June 2021 underscored the importance of climate-resilient housing.

A report by B.C.'s coroners service attributed more than 600 deaths that summer to record-breaking heat, finding most people died in homes that were ill-suited for temperatures that spiked into the high 30s and beyond for days without relief.

Standing outside the Kitsilano home, builder Paul Lilley explains why encasing it with insulation, ensuring it has a very high airtightness rating and installing highly efficient doors and windows mean the building loses heat more slowly in the winter and takes much longer to absorb heat in the summer than a standard one.

Those features also mean the home's mechanical requirements for heating, cooling and ventilation are much lower than a code-minimum building, said Lilley, principal and general manager at Kingdom Builders, which finished the home in 2021.

"As seasonal highs and lows get more extreme, this home is set up to handle that."

Several windows are shrouded by deciduous trees and foliage that lose leaves in the winter, allowing more sunlight in, while providing shading in the summer.

"Why build a code-minimum house now, and then (it's) an energy hog in 10 to 20 years?" Lilley added. "Whereas, if you build a house like this today, if you're going to sell it in 10 to 20 years, you've already got a house that meets the future standard."

The net-zero-certified home cost about five per cent more to build than a code-minimum counterpart would have, said Lilley, although it doesn't have a basement.

The supply of Canadian-made windows and other components certified to high energy efficiency standards has improved in recent years, he said, helping to reduce the cost of shipping materials from the more established European market.

Vancouver architect Bryn Davidson agreed the gap between the cost to build a highly energy efficient home and a standard one is shrinking, at least in Vancouver.

"When you look at places around the world that have adopted passive house or other kinds of efficiency standards, after four or five years of doing it, you get to a point where it doesn't really cost much more than the status quo," he said.

"And you're getting a payback [with] a more comfortable and durable building that also has low operating costs," said Davidson, co-founder and design lead at Lanefab, which builds energy efficient laneway homes as well as larger houses.

The Lanefab team has advocated for the City of Vancouver to change some rules that can contribute to overheating, he said, like allowing larger exterior overhangs above windows without charging the homeowners a penalty for extra floor area.

B.C. leads Canada in building efficiency standards

While the requirements for new buildings in B.C. lead the country when it comes to energy efficiency, the bulk of the homes that will exist in the coming decades have already been built, said Richard Kadulski, a Vancouver-based architect and consultant specializing in energy efficient residential design and building exteriors.

Many will need upgrades in order for their residents to be comfortable as global heating worsens.

The glass-walled condo towers that jut into Vancouver's skyline create a glittering facade, but offer little protection against the sun's energy during a heat wave.

Kadulski calls the trend "glass-box syndrome."

"I see how many people are desperately trying to control their overheating, they're putting foil in the windows," he said.

Advances in glazing technology have produced windows with a higher level of insulation and lower solar heat gain, said Kadulski, noting their cost has been decreasing as the domestic market becomes better equipped to supply them.

Another option is adding some kind of exterior shading that stops solar energy from entering a home, a method used in hotter climates around the world, he said.

Yasmin Abraham, co-founder of the social enterprise Kambo Energy Group, stresses that no one should be left behind in the transition to homes that are more energy efficient and resilient to the worsening effects of climate change.

"We're not going to hit our targets unless we include everybody," said Abraham, whose organization designs and delivers energy education and retrofit programs with Indigenous nations, newcomers and lower-income families in B.C. and Alberta.

Net zero by 2050

The built environment is Canada's third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with nearly 80 per cent of those emissions coming from heating.

The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act signed into law last summer commits the country to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. That means the entire economy should produce either no emissions, or they must be offset.

The average Canadian spends about three per cent of their income on energy, so anyone spending double the average is experiencing energy poverty, Abraham said.

Those families tend to live in inefficient homes, so failing to help them make improvements ignores significant potential emissions reductions, she said.

On a smaller, less costly scale, Abraham recommends households looking to improve their home's energy efficiency start by mitigating draftiness. She suggests installing door sweeps and caulking any other areas where air is flowing in and out.

Living in an inefficient home can lead to health issues, with studies linking respiratory and cardiovascular conditions to the "thermal discomfort" stemming from being unable to heat and cool your home appropriately, Abraham added.

Unlike the United States, Canada doesn't have a national strategy to address energy poverty, she said. Some programs offer rebates and financing options for improving energy efficiency, including an income-qualified program in B.C., but it's a patchwork across the country, so federal support would be key to expanding access, she said.

This year's federal budget earmarked $150 million to develop a national green buildings strategy for both new and existing buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience to the effects of climate change.

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Top Fed Official: Fed Will “Keep At This” Until Your Savings Accounts Are Drained

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Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Federal Reserve officials delivered their fourth straight 75 basis-point interest rate increase while also signaling their aggressive campaign to curb inflation could be approaching its final phase. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2, 2022.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images


On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its target for interest rates by another 0.75 percent. The target has now gone up overall by 3.75 percent since earlier this year, a steep increase that is essentially an attempt by the Fed to slam the brakes on the U.S. economy and stomp out inflation.

All 12 members of the Fed’s Open Market Committee voted for the increase. One of them was Esther George, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. George then did something unusual in an interview with National Public Radio: She told the truth about what the Fed does.

“We see today that there is a bit of a savings buffer still sitting for households, that may allow them to continue to spend in a way that keeps demand strong,” she said. “That suggests we may have to keep at this for a while.”

In other words, the problem today as seen by the Fed is that regular Americans have too much money. And the Fed is going to keep bludgeoning the economy until this is no longer the case.

This is essentially what Paul Volcker famously said in 1979 soon after he took over as chair of the Fed: “The standard of living of the average American has to decline.”

To the ears of normal people, statements like those of George and Volcker sound appalling and outrageous. And perhaps they are. But George is not a monster; she also expressed concern that the Fed was going too far, saying, “I have been in the camp of steadier and slower [rate increases], to begin to see how those effects from a lag will unfold.” You could honestly argue that she should be celebrated rather than blamed for her words: She was being honest about the Fed’s mission and how it functions.

Esther George, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, speaks virtually during the Jackson Hole economic symposium in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said today the central bank could begin reducing its monthly bond purchases this year, though it won't be in a hurry to begin raising interest rates thereafter. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Esther George, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, speaks virtually during the Jackson Hole economic symposium in Tiskilwa, Illinois, on Aug. 27, 2021.

Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In 1977, Congress formally instructed the Fed that its mission was to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment [and] stable prices.” But what does this mean? And what happens when these two goals conflict?

In theory unemployment could get so low that regular workers could bid up their wages so fast that inflation would skyrocket. Definitely in practice we know unemployment can be so high that the workers can’t get higher wages, and as the economy grows, all the gains flow to the top.

The Fed sits directly on the fault line generated by the oldest, most fundamental conflict in history: that between rich creditors and working-class debtors.

In any society with huge wealth disparities like the U.S., creditors are always terrified that debtors will get control of the monetary system, print tons of money, and destroy the value of the creditors’ financial assets.

Right now, U.S. households have about $16 trillion in debt, $11.4 trillion of which is mortgages. Another $1.59 trillion is student debt. But thanks to the 14 percent cumulative inflation over the past two years, this $16 trillion today is only worth what $14 trillion was this time in 2020. I.e., $2 trillion has been effectively transferred from creditors to debtors.

This is by no means a straight $2 trillion transfer from the rich to the poor. It’s complicated. Lots of rich people have big mortgages, for instance. But on net, it is indeed a big loss of wealth for the affluent, and a gain for people further down the income scale.

The Fed’s job is to mediate between these two directly opposed interests. Creditors generally want lower inflation and higher unemployment; debtors generally will benefit from the opposite. The Fed’s preferred approach is to pretend that these interests are not opposed.  But George just busted out with the truth: They are.

After a huge increase over the past several years, poorer Americans now enjoy a higher net worth than they’ve ever had in U.S. history. This gives them a little unaccustomed leverage, some wiggle room, the chance to quit their job for a better one, even while, as George puts it, they “can continue to spend in a way that keeps demand strong.”

This is a nightmare for rich creditors. They want this working-class leverage eliminated ASAP and inflation crushed.

The Federal Reserve responds to pressure from rich creditors with alacrity, in part because rich creditors are mostly the only ones who understand the Fed and yell at it. So the Fed is now purposefully trying to slow the economy until people’s savings are gone and they can’t afford to keep buying stuff.

This truth about how the world works is an ugly one. The journalist William Greider explained this in his book “Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country”:

The economic liquidation, in fact, resembled the form, though not the content, of a primitive religious practice — the pagan ritual of human sacrifice. Some individuals were chosen to serve as victims for the good of the entire society … in moral terms, the process was sadistic, an example of what Thorstein Veblen called the enduring barbarism of modern society.

The economic victims were chosen at random, but mostly from among the weaker groups in the society. The methodology employed by the Federal Reserve to induce contraction … insured that the strongest individuals and enterprises would be able to evade selection. There was this hierarchy within democracy — a hierarchy of vulnerability.

There almost certainly are better and fairer ways of dealing with inflation than human sacrifice. For instance, the central tension between debtors and creditors at the heart of the Fed’s mission would be greatly reduced if we were a more egalitarian country. But we’ll never be able to figure this out unless we’re willing to look directly at reality.

The post Top Fed Official: Fed Will “Keep At This” Until Your Savings Accounts Are Drained appeared first on The Intercept.





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This popular photo shows electric trucks charging in Goods Depot, St Pancras Station, London in 1917. These lorries were used by Midland Railway instead of horse-drawn transport to carry goods and to deliver them to offices in towns [source: buff.ly/3pw96HS] pic.twitter.com/vQ638vaNp2

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This popular photo shows electric trucks charging in Goods Depot, St Pancras Station, London in 1917. These lorries were used by Midland Railway instead of horse-drawn transport to carry goods and to deliver them to offices in towns [source: buff.ly/3pw96HS] pic.twitter.com/vQ638vaNp2





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Vancouver tenants have been without heat for a month, with no timeline in sight for repairs

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Three space heaters blow warm air around Joshua Chartrand's studio apartment in Vancouver's South Granville neighbourhood on Friday afternoon. 

Chartrand, along with tenants in the other nine units in the Hartethorne building on 12th Avenue, have been without a primary heating system for more than a month.

"As the weeks go on, we just get colder," said Chartrand. 

The company that owns the building, Oakwyn Realty, first notified residents that the building's boiler was broken in an email on Oct. 6. 

They say they are working to fix the problem but did not provide a timeline for when heating could return to the building.

Meanwhile, temperatures in Vancouver are expected to drop in the coming days — forecasted to fall below zero next week — amid snowfall warnings

Chartrand, who lives on the third floor and works from home, says he wears multiple layers and has a blanket draped over his body while sitting at his desk. 

He says tenants in the basement and ground level complained they could see their breath when waking up in the morning.

But without a firm timeline for when the heating could come back on — and a tenancy dispute expected to take months — Chartrand and the other residents have little they can do.

'We're trying our best'

Oakwyn Realty provided a portable tower heater to each rental unit on Oct. 17. An email sent to tenants asked them to "strictly follow" safety guidelines, which include turning off the heater when leaving the room or going to bed.

In an email send on Thursday, the company told Chartrand that they would not reduce rent, but may reimburse tenants for electricity costs from the use of space heaters.

"It's just totally uncomfortable. Nobody should have to live like that," said Chartrand, who pays $1,600 a month for his studio. 

"You're paying for a residence and not getting the basic necessities."

On Nov. 2, almost four weeks after first notifying residents of the broken boiler, Oakwyn Realty told tenants they were looking into a long-term solution.

Arlene Chiang, co-owner of Oakwyn Realty and one of the building's landlords, told CBC News in an interview on Friday that a technician concluded the building's current boiler could not be repaired. 

She said they are looking into replacing the boiler, but first need to do asbestos testing.

Chiang says the building is over a century old and there was a possibility that asbestos — a toxic material that was used in construction for decades — could be in the boiler room.

"We're not being negligent landlords. We're trying our best to make the building better ... we absolutely want to make sure that our tenants are comfortable in the residence," said Chiang. "It doesn't happen in a day or two days." 

In an email to Chartrand on Thursday, Oakwyn Realty said: "A new boiler costs over $60k so we hope you understand that it is not an easy and quick purchase."

CBC contacted two independent boiler technicians in Vancouver, who both said replacing a boiler should take under a month as new boilers are readily available in B.C. 

One technician said asbestos testing could delay the process by a few days. CBC News has agreed not to name them as they did not have first-hand knowledge of the situation.

Potentially a months-long wait

Having lived without heat for over a month, Chartrand began to file a dispute resolution with the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch this week, which could result in an emergency repair order, forcing the owner to expedite repairs.

But he realized he couldn't afford the $100 fee.

According to tenant advocate and lawyer Robert Patterson, even if Chartrand did file the dispute resolution, it would be months before the issue goes before an arbitrator.

While heating is classified as an emergency repair and would get priority, dispute resolutions are so backlogged that it wouldn't be addressed until February or March, said Patterson. 

And he added that an arbitrator might not find the property owner in breach of B.C.'s Tenancy Act if they are taking steps to solve the problem — even if it is taking a long time. 

"It can be complicated," Patterson told CBC News in an interview. 

"It's hard for tenants to know, is the landlord actually doing something or are they just making it look like they're doing something?"

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Humans being humans, vol. 3

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“Toward Los Angeles, California” (1937), Dorothea Lange

Things seen or overheard recently in Los Angeles and while traveling for a short business trip to New York City


A few minutes before five a.m., Tuesday morning, the Delta terminal at Los Angeles International Airport for a very early flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport, I run into a friend at a news kiosk. He’s just purchased two enormous bottles of Evian water, he can barely carry them. I know he flies a lot for work, he’s likely to be upgraded to first class, I ask why he needs so much water.

“Bro,” he says, “this is my commute.”


A week ago, a coffeeshop in Los Angeles, a petite young woman lays out Tarot cards on her table. The shop’s security guard, also a petite young woman, watches for a couple minutes from behind sunglasses, then leans down. “Is that Tarot?”

“Do you want a reading?”

“I’m scared of that stuff.”

She sits down anyway and the woman draws new cards, flips them over slowly, reading their significance to the guard off her phone – I can’t hear what’s being said until she flips over the third or fourth card and smiles, whispering something excitedly, and the guard shouts, “Woah! Woah!”

She sits back in her chair, stunned. “You just made my month.”


On the subway from JFK to Manhattan, a twenty-something man wearing Apple Airpods sticks his finger up his nose, studies what comes out, rolls it between his fingers, and wipes it on his pants. He looks at it for a long moment, staring, as if he might retrieve it. “Yeah, I’m here,” he says loudly to nobody, to whomever he’s speaking to on his phone.

Meditations in an Emergency is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.


Two weeks ago, midnight, a house party in Los Angeles, a young woman tells me she knows the age of every person in the room. She points discreetly and names numbers: thirty-one, twenty-seven, twenty-nine, forty-six. She guesses my age and she’s only one year off, she tells me she’s twenty-six. I ask why she knows everybody’s age. She smiles indulgently. “I like knowing I’m the youngest person in the room.”


My six-year-old nephew in Connecticut says it’s weird that people think trees don’t poop – how else do you explain number-two pencils?


Three weeks ago, Crenshaw, Los Angeles, a park with public tennis courts, the sprinklers turn at about seven-thirty a.m. The sprinklers are loud, they make ear-piercing whacking sounds. An older woman emerges from a tent nearby, carrying a plastic takeout container. She stands near one of the sprinklers, filling her container with water, which she sips from occasionally, or just sticks her face into the sprinkler’s spray to drink.

I’m so dismayed by this, I can’t focus, I lose my serve and quickly lose the set.

As my friend and I are leaving, a young woman takes the court next to ours. She’s got a baby with her, in a backpack carrier. She’s also brought a portable ball machine, which she sets up and uses to practice forehands and backhands – ball after ball after ball – and all of this with the baby strapped to her back, staring around amiably.

I’m so impressed by this image, I post a picture online, it makes me happy all day.


Lower Manhattan, twilight, a young women and two young men at a cocktail party for my book publisher:

“Do you listen to Ram Dass? It’s a podcast.”

“Ram Dass?”

“They had a great episode recently on ‘somebody training.’”

“What is ‘somebody training?’”

“It’s like where you realize you’ve spent your whole life since birth training to be ‘somebody,’ but at some point you realize it’s all been just a lie.”

“What are you supposed to be, a ‘nobody?’”

“What is Ram Dass the name of?”

“Also his voice sounds just like Woody Allen’s. But from Boston.”

“I miss Woody Allen.”


On the flight home from New York City, a woman sitting in front of me loads a Tic-Tac-Toe game on her seat-back screen.

She loses the first game. She loses the second game. She laughs incredulously, as if she can’t believe she just lost two games of Tic-Tac-Toe. The passenger next to her turns to watch when she plays again, and she’s about to make yet another wrong move when he leans slightly forward, as if to help her, but thinks better of it and sits back instead.

She commits the mistake and loses again, laughs even harder this time, and he laughs, too. She wins the next game, but loses the one after that, then switches to watching Schitt's Creek.

On the same flight, a twenty-something woman across the aisle from me spends a long time looking at photos on an iPad of a wedding reception.

There’s a ballroom with chandeliers, a table of seafood towers. A crowd of young people in suits and dresses, under purplish lights. In her selfies – there are a lot of selfies – the woman wears a black shift dress. We see the bride occasionally in a white gown. The woman lingers on pictures of a young man, presumably the groom, wearing a two-piece white suit, red tie, gelled hair, serenading the bride with a guitar while she sits onstage alone.

The woman looks at these photos for maybe forty-five minutes before she puts away her iPad, stands up in the aisle, and softly farts.


In tomorrow’s supplement for supporters

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What the what

“Meditations in an Emergency,” published Saturdays by writer Rosecrans Baldwin, is a weekly mini-essay about something he finds beautiful, with a longer piece once a month for paying subscribers, written in the woods.

Also for paying subscribers: a Sunday supplement, three weeks a month, with three-plus ideas of things to love, no paid placements 💀

Rosecrans is the bestselling author most recently of Everything Now (2022 California Book Award), now available in paperback from BookshopL’Amazon, or your local store. Other books include The Last Kid Left and Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down. His debut novel, You Lost Me There, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Books mentioned in this newsletter are featured on a Bookshop list.

Meditations in an Emergency is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.



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sarcozona
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