Everything is on fire all at once // What's Good: May 20, 2022
Apartments, lunch, and securities fraud.
Hello, good morning, happy Friday. I am a little hungover from the incredible Library Hours event that Revolution hosted last night. They brought out some of the best beers they’ve ever brewed, people donated books, I made new friends and saw old ones, it was great. Murdank got a giant court case dropped in his lap on Wednesday night and settled it in under 24 hours. A banner week.
Illinois suffered significant undercounting during the 2020 census, leading to the mistaken conclusion that the state lost residents over the previous ten years — when in reality it added more than a quarter of a million people and swelled to its largest population ever.
That’s the stunning revelation from a report the U.S. Census Bureau itself released on Thursday, admitting that its ten-year head counts were off in more than a dozen states.
Illinois’ purported population loss has become a talking point for everyone from former residents justifying their departure to political candidates using it to bash incumbents for policies they say are prompting a stampede out of the state.
Chicago on top. Pritzker goated. Etc etc.
It’s one thing to think you are immune to criticism because you are the world’s wealthiest person, and then it is another entirely to think your actions do not and should not have any consequences for you whatsoever:
SpaceX, the aerospace firm founded by Elon Musk, the world's wealthiest man, paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018, Insider has learned.
I am excerpting less than usual here because there is a description of the misconduct and you shouldn’t have to read it if you don’t want to. Anyway, Elon Musk should not be anyone’s hero.
A system built on wrenches
I have to file this one under disappointing but not surprising:
The fever isn’t breaking. There are now bidding wars for one in every five Manhattan rental apartments (and one in three luxury units), according to the most recent Douglas Elliman report. Inventory in all of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and northwest Queens has been hovering well below 10,000 units — as of April, the number was just 7,669. Which is several thousand less than the number of entire-apartment and entire-home Airbnb rentals available in New York City right now: 10,572, according to AirDNA, a third-party site that tracks short-term rentals. Inside Airbnb, another site that scrapes Airbnb for listings data, puts the number even higher, at 20,397.
Maybe an unregulated market is a bad idea?
No such thing
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction:
A delivery app marketing campaign offering a "free lunch" — aka a $15 promo code valid for three hours — sent customers and restaurant workers alike into a spiral on Tuesday as thousands of orders jammed the system and disgruntled New Yorkers tweeted through their hunger pains.
Grubhub's New York City campaign on May 17 touted the physical and mental benefits of eating lunch, but yielded dozens of complaints, canceled orders, and service workers telling BuzzFeed News they were "exhausted" trying to keep up.
A worker named Lily in charge of packing orders at a Mexican restaurant in Harlem said since the restaurant's delivery driver couldn't keep up with demand, she ordered an Uber and hand-delivered 11 orders herself.
"INSANITY," she told BuzzFeed News over text.
Rights worth fighting for
Things are getting very bad:
If you want to understand the future of medical care for pregnant women in a post-Roe world, look no further than what is happening in Alabama. As others have pointed out for Slate, the leaked draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization paves the way for criminalizing many aspects of pregnancy. While Texas’ abortion ban, S.B. 8, has essentially halted all abortions in the state, Alabama offers a glimpse of a troubling future in which the provision of medical care for pregnant people is deeply intertwined with the cultural attitudes that seek to criminalize “undesirable” pregnancy outcomes.
In the summer of 2020, I got a firsthand experience of these attitudes in action. Three weeks after starting to practice at West Alabama Women’s Center, my application for a medical license was denied and my temporary medical license revoked for what we can’t help but question may have been political reasons. Although I had been hired to offer general gynecological care, the Women’s Center has historically been known as an abortion clinic, and I am open on social media about my views that abortion should be on demand. Because of the eight-month-long process to reverse and reinstate my license, I did not begin to understand how dire health care access was in Alabama until I was able to practice medicine in March 2021.
Just Fifth Circuit things
I don’t know, our government may be burning around us, here is Matt Levine:
Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” One way to paraphrase that is: Federal law is made by Congress.
In the modern US, this is not quite true. Some federal law is made by Congress, but quite a lot of federal law is made by government departments and administrative agencies. In many cases, Congress passes fairly general laws, and those laws instruct the relevant agency to write rules implementing the laws, and then the agencies write more specific rules. Sometimes these rules just fill in details in a comprehensive statutory scheme. Other times the agencies have pretty broad mandates to write rules that are in the public interest, and they get to set their own agendas and decide what that means.
Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in Texas, ruled that the SEC is unconstitutional? Not really. But here is an opinion in Jarkesy v. SEC, where the SEC brought an administrative action against a hedge fund manager named George Jarkesy, accusing him of fraud. Instead of suing Jarkesy in federal court, the SEC, as it sometimes does, brought an administrative action against him in its own internal hearing system; instead of a judge and jury, the case was heard by an SEC official called an “administrative law judge.” The ALJ found against Jarkesy, fined him almost a million dollars and banned him from the industry; Jarkesy appealed to the commissioners of the SEC, who upheld the ALJ’s judgment. Then he appealed to the Fifth Circuit, arguing that all of this was unconstitutional.
The Fifth Circuit panel, by a 2-1 vote, agreed, for three reasons. One reason is that, by suing him in its own tribunal, the SEC deprived him of the right to a jury trial: The SEC fined him a million dollars for fraud, without having to prove its case to a jury. The Fifth Circuit found this unconstitutional under the Seventh Amendment, which guarantees a right to a jury in civil cases.
This all caused a lot of kerfuffle on Twitter when the opinion came down, and for good reason, but it is sort of up in the air as to what will actually end up happening. Still I really recommend that you read the piece, Money Stuff is always great and this will probably end up being important for trends in how our government is structured (and whether or not it can function).
Yesterday afternoon, I called the UCLA epidemiologist Anne Rimoin to ask about the European outbreak of monkeypox—a rare but potentially severe viral illness with dozens of confirmed or suspected cases in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal. “If we see those clusters, given the amount of travel between the United States and Europe, I wouldn’t be surprised to see cases here,” Rimoin, who studies the disease, told me. Ten minutes later, she stopped mid-sentence to say that a colleague had just texted her a press release: “Massachusetts Public Health Officials Confirm Case of Monkeypox.”
I cannot tell you how worried to be, yet. But, you know, keep an eye on this one?
What you make it
Finally, what is culture, really:
In 2022, pop culture is doing the most. Consider some of the most memorable images to come out of the entertainment industry recently: Mr. Big campily keeling over on his Peloton in And Just Like That… Nicole Kidman baring an impossible 3 feet of midriff on the cover of Vanity Fair. The sight of dopey, meme-based game show Is It Cake? claiming the No. 1 slot on Netflix.
Everything is suddenly bigger, brighter, louder, raunchier. Designers are hawking hot-pink suits, belt-length skirts, and logo-plastered handbags. After a boom in scripted programming, trashy reality TV is surging, in a resurgence fueled by self-consciously trashy shows like Selling Sunset and FBoy Island. The most salient new sound in recent years is hyperpop, a dizzyingly hooky, wildly referential microgenre that has been described by one of Spotify’s influential “data alchemists” as “ebullient electro-maximalism.”
You deserve some good animal content
Have a good weekend.
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