Tag: Disaster

F%$# 2020

The Bad Sex In Fiction Awards have been cancelled, because its organizers have concluded that 2020 already has a surfeit of badness:

It’s one of life’s simplest, funniest, most bewildering pleasures: Literary Review’s Bad Sex In Fiction Awards. Year in and year out, this annual event brings us throbbing members, swollen mounds, allusions to train tunnels and outer space, dubious meditations on female anatomy, and proliferate of use of the word “seed.” This year, not so, as its judges have “after weeks of deliberation” and a hopefully hilarious emergency meeting, decided to cancel this year’s awards. The reason: 2020 sucked enough as it is, and no one should have to endure mixed metaphors about jism, too.

Here’s Literary Review’s official word on the decision:

The judges felt that the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well. They warned, however, that the cancellation of the 2020 awards should not be taken as a licence to write bad sex. A spokesperson for the judges commented:

“With lockdown regulations giving rise to all manner of novel sexual practices, the judges anticipate a rash of entries next year. Authors are reminded that cybersex and other forms of home entertainment fall within the purview of this award. Scenes set in fields, parks or back yards, or indoors with the windows open and fewer than six people present will not be exempt from scrutiny either.”

Damn you.


While waiting to be demolished, as it was deemed irreparable, Puerto Rico’s giant Arecibo radio telescope has collapsed.

So not only can the United States not build big things any more, not only can the United States not maintain big things that it cannot build any more, but it cannot even demolish them in a timely manner:

A huge radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century collapsed on Tuesday, officials said.

The telescope’s 900-ton receiver platform fell onto the reflector dish more than 400 feet below.

The US National Science Foundation had earlier announced that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed. An auxiliary cable snapped in August, causing a 100ft gash on the 1,000ft-wide (305m) reflector dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. Then a main cable broke in early November.


The telescope was built in the 1960s with money from the US defense department amid a push to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses. It had endured hurricanes, tropical humidity and a recent string of earthquakes in its 57 years of operation.

This sucks.

I Need 175,863 Refrigerator Magnets Placed Around Mar-a-Lago

Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 40,000 km/hr.

It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov 2, the day before the Presidential Election.

It’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe. pic.twitter.com/eiy9G9w4Ez

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 18, 2020

Definitely Mar a Lago

Prominent astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has just announced a refrigerator-sized asteroid might hit the United States on November 2.

While this would not create widespread damage, given that iron has a density of 7,870 kg/m3, we would be looking at about 15,000 kg hitting the ground at about 10,000 m/s. (I am figuring an iron asteroid of 4 m3 volume, with half of it vaporizing before it hits the earth)

The kinetic energy involved is therefore ½mv2, or about 7.5✕1011 Joules.

This is roughly equivalent to the detonation of about 180 tons of TNT.

So, the blast is much smaller than Hiroshima, but about 15 times bigger than the GBU-43/B MOAB

Definitely enough to depress property values: 

A certain asteroid is currently moving toward Earth, said the world’s most prominent astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson.

It could theoretically strike the planet just before the forthcoming US presidential elections slated on November 2.

The prominent astrophysicist said that if the planet eventually ends in 2020, it would not entirely be the world’s responsibility.

The asteroid identified as 2018VP1 has been on the radar since the moment it was observed by the famed Palomar Observatory in California in November 2018.

This is so 2020.

Support Your Local Police

This is f%$#ed Up and Sh%$

Remember when I wrote about a Clackamas County, Oregon Deputy spreading lies about Antifa starting fires?

It gets, worse.  A LOT worse.

The Deputy, who we now know is one Mark Nikolai, did more than spread lies about the fires.

He gave specific instructions on how white supremacist militia could kill people and get away with it.

Please also note, as had been demonstrated time, and time, and time, and time again, this guy is the rule not the exception. 

Most of the cops out there are clearly pro-white supremacist.

It’s why the entire institution of law enforcement in America needs to be torn down brick by brick and replaced with something that is not this corrupt and dysfunctional:

For many of us, September 11 has become a day of remembrance and a time to band together and take care of other people in any small way we can.

But for one sheriff’s deputy in Oregon, it was apparently an opportunity to share some dark advice amidst the wildfires that have spread in the Pacific Northwest.

A video was circulated online after an individual presumably wearing a body camera caught the deputy giving a group of armed White nationalist militia members tips on how to use force and kill civilians without getting caught or being charged.

The sheriff’s deputy has been identified as Deputy Mark Nikolai, who was placed on administrative leave.


Nikolai can be heard saying in the video:

“Don’t get yourself in a situation where you lose your rights because you pushed the limit.”

“You all mean to do good, your heart’s in the right place, but the courts nowadays don’t give a s**t where your heart is.”


“Now, if you throw a f**king knife in their hand after you shoot them, that’s on you.”

Officials from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department have denied any affiliation with Nikolai’s statements or point of view.

They can deny it all they want, but we know what this guy was, and we know that he flourished for years in the department, and good cops don’t tell civilians, or other cops, to carry weapons to plant on their victims.

Any cop who has worked with this guy had to know what he was, and they let it slide, which meant that they were bad cops too.

This Will Not End Well

Nothing to see here ……… Move along

There have been some very odd, and VERY large movements in the US stock market driven by a huge purchase of equity derivatives (Warren Buffet defined derivatives, “Financial weapons of mass destruction.”) of tech stocks.
Someone has been making huge, and risky, speculative bets.

A cynic might think that some deep pocketed operator is attempting to use their deep pockets to move the market, and then cash out in a classic, “Pump and dump.”

Well, now it seems that Softbank, whose whole model is to pump up some hair-brained operation (**cough** WeWork **cough**) and then find some idiots to buy their stake, is the “Nasdaq whale”.

Let’s be clear, when you are nicknamed a whale in finance, it does not bode well. Just ask JP Morgan Chase’s, “London Whale,” Bruno Iksil.

The problem is that it is likely that the taxpayers are going to be paying out when this all goes pear shaped:

SoftBank is the “Nasdaq whale” that has bought billions of dollars’ worth of US equity derivatives in a series of trades that stoked the fevered rally in big tech stocks before a sharp pullback on Thursday and Friday, according to people familiar with the matter.


The aggressive move into the options market marks a new chapter for the investment powerhouse, which in recent years has made huge bets on privately held technology start-ups through its $100bn Vision Fund. After the coronavirus market tumult hit those bets, the company established an asset management unit for public investments using capital contributed by its founder, Masayoshi Son.

Now it has also made a splash in trading derivatives linked to some of those new investments, which has shocked market veterans. “These are some of the biggest trades I’ve seen in 20 years of doing this,” said one derivatives-focused US hedge fund manager. “The flow is huge.”


One person familiar with SoftBank’s trades said it was “gobbling up” options on a scale that was even making some people within the organisation nervous. “People are caught with their pants down, massively short. This can continue. The whale is still hungry.”


The overall nominal value of calls traded on individual US stocks has averaged $335bn a day over the past two weeks, according to Goldman Sachs. That is more than triple the rolling average between 2017 and 2019. The retail trading boom has played a big part in the frenzy, but investors say the size of many recent option purchases are far too big to be retail-driven.


The size and aggressiveness of the mysterious call buyer, coupled with the summer trading lull, has been a big factor in the buoyant performance of many big tech names as well as the broader US stock market, according to Mr McElligott. This week, he warned that dynamics around options meant the heavy purchases forced banks on the other side of the trades to hedge themselves by buying stocks, in a “classic ‘tail wags the dog’ feedback loop”.

Meanwhile, people are dumping Softbank stocks, because it is self-evidently clear that what they are doing now is bat-sh%$ insane.

I’m not sure if this is a, “Put your money in a bank account,” moment, a, “Put your money in cash,” moment, a, “Put your money in gold,” moment, or a, “Put your money in canned goods,” moment.

In any case, don’t go long on anything if you might need that money in the short term.

We are in a Wile E. Coyote moment right now.

If You Cannot Do Your Job with Slave Labor, You Are Doing Your Job Wrong

Clearly this is a matter of fact, but there is an underlying issue here that is being ignored, which is that California’s fire-fighting infrastructure is dependent on prison labor at $1.00/hour.

I understand how this is convenient, but it is also profoundly evil:

As a historic set of wildfires sweeps across California, sparked by lightning and stoked by record heat and drought resulting from climate change (Mercury News, 8/19/20; Scientific American, 4/3/20), many news outlets have drawn readers’ attention to an additional problem the state faces in fighting the fires: shortages of the prison labor that it normally relies on for firefighting crews.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — known as Cal Fire — “has roughly half as many inmate fire crews than it originally had to work during the most dangerous part of wildfire season,” thanks to prison quarantines and Covid-related early-release programs, reported CNBC (8/21/20), and “rotating out firefighters isn’t an easy option because there’s already a significant shortage of workers available.” Insider (8/20/20) wrote that “the coronavirus pandemic is creating a shortage of inmate fire crews to battle the wildfires,” noting that California has “relied on incarcerated firefighters as its primary ‘hand crews’ since the 1940s.” The New York Times (8/22/20) declared that losing inmate labor “has been the difference between having the manpower to save homes from wildfires — or not,” and that “hiring firefighters to replace them, especially given the difficult work involved, would challenge a state already strapped for cash.”

It’s a gripping story, certainly, of a state unable to respond sufficiently to one disaster because of steps taken to ward off another. But the coverage all danced around a key problem with framing this as a labor shortage: There are plenty of workers available in a state with 2.5 million people currently unemployed — no doubt including many of the fire-trained inmate workers who were released early by Gov. Gavin Newsom in order to free them from the threat of getting sick in California’s Covid-ravaged prisons. The main difference: Unlike prison laborers, regular citizens have to be paid more than pittance wages.

There are far too many people and institutions profiting from the carceral state, and one of them is the state of California.

We Are Unbelievably Screwed

If the Greenland ice field were to melt, it would raise sea levels about 7 meters (23 feet).

New evidence indicates that the melting of Greenland has reach the point of no return.

This will devastate most of the coastal cities across the world:

Annual snowfall can no longer replenish the melted ice that flows into the ocean from Greenland’s glaciers. That is the conclusion of a new analysis of almost 40 years’ satellite data by researchers at Ohio State University. The ice loss, they think, is now so great that it has triggered an irreversible feedback loop: the sheet will keep melting, even if all climate-warming emissions are miraculously curtailed. This is bad news for coastal cities, given that Greenland boasts the largest ice sheet on the planet after Antarctica. Since 2000 its melting ice has contributed about a millimetre a year to rising sea levels. The loss of the entire ice sheet would raise them by more than seven metres, enough to reconfigure the majority of the world’s coastlines.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Greenland’s ice maintained a rough equilibrium. Each year the sheet lost some 400bn tonnes of ice in the summer—both by ice and snow melting on the surface, and the “discharge” of ice by glaciers losing chunks as they push out into the sea. This was replenished by a similar amount of fresh snow in the winter. But after 2000 the ice sheet began losing mass permanently. The amount that has disappeared is so huge that it has caused a noticeable change in the gravitational field over the island. It has also caused the glaciers to retreat by about 3km since 1985, exposing more of them to warmer ocean water. This has increased the rate of melting to the point where, even if the climate stopped getting hotter, more ice would be discharged each year than could be replaced, the scientists reckon. “The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state, where even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass,” explains Ian Howar, one of the study’s authors.

Over the past three decades, the Arctic has warmed at least twice as fast as the rest of the world. This is because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification, in which higher concentrations of greenhouse gases produce larger increases in temperature at high latitudes. It also means that changes in the Arctic region are an important indicator of the progression and impacts of climate change. The decline of the Greenland ice sheet is a harbinger of things to come. “Greenland is going to be the canary in the coal mine,” says Mr Howar. “And the canary is pretty much dead at this point.”

Clearly people operating in their own enlightened self-interest, as the religion of the free-market mousketeers, is not working.

It’s Always the Hot Work that Gets You

It turns out that welding (hot work) to secure a door to prevent theft of the ammonium nitrate was what set off the massive blast at the port of Beirut.

This is no surprise.  Hot work has always been a leading cause of fires in industrial settings:

Multiple sources have reported that the disastrous explosion at Port of Beirut was sparked by hot work at a warehouse where officials had stored 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate and a cache of fireworks. In a new report, senior officials provided Reuters with additional details: early this year they had learned that one of the warehouse’s doors was broken, raising the risk that a malicious actor could steal dangerous explosives. The port’s welding contractors set off the cache while trying to repair the door to protect the cache.

According to the report, the security investigation that set this chain in motion began in January after the broken door and a large hole in the warehouse’s wall were discovered. On June 4 – six months later – state security forces ordered the port to guard the warehouse and make appropriate repairs. On August 4 – two months after the order – the port sent a team of Syrian workers to fix the warehouse. Sparks from their welding work ignited a supply of fireworks, which had been stored next to the ammonium nitrate cache.

As an interesting aside, it appears that we still have no information as to who actually owned the ammonium nitrate which languished for years in a warehouse:

In the murky story of how a cache of highly explosive ammonium nitrate ended up on the Beirut waterfront, one thing is clear — no one has ever publicly come forward to claim it.

There are many unanswered questions surrounding last week’s huge, deadly blast in the Lebanese capital, but ownership should be among the easiest to resolve.


But Reuters interviews and trawls for documents across 10 countries in search of the original ownership of this 2,750-tonne consignment instead revealed an intricate tale of missing documentation, secrecy and a web of small, obscure companies that span the globe.

At this point, I’m pretty sure that there are 3 or 4 oligarchs crapping their pants over the possibility that they are tied to this disaster.

I’m Not Blowed Up

There was a massive gas explosion in Northwest Baltimore this afternoon.

There has been at least one confirmed fatality.

The accident occurred in the 4200 block of Labyrinth Road, and when I first came to Baltimore, I lived on the 3700 block of Labyrinth Road, about 10 minutes walking distance.

I have since moved about 8 miles north-west, an at the time of the explosion, I was over 15 miles further south.

It’s surreal when sh%$ like this happens in the old ‘hood.

Holy Sh%$.

There has been a huge explosion in the port of Beruit, apparently from a stock-pile over 2000 tons of ammonium nitrate left by a decrepit and bankrupt Russian freighter many years ago:

Two huge explosions have rocked Beirut, killing at least 78 people, injuring thousands more, and sending an enormous blast wave across the city that shattered windows, knocked down doors and shook buildings.

Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, said the main blast at Beirut’s port was caused when an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been ignited. He said the chemical had been left unsecured for six years in a warehouse, and vowed to punish those responsible.

As the death toll climbed on the discovery of more bodies in the wreckage, at least 4,000 were reported injured. Hundreds of homes were left uninhabitable by the blast which also destroyed huge grain silos, a devastating blow to a country where bread was already scarce and which is dependent on imports by sea.

This is an explosion measured in kilotons, and as shown below, you can see a large hemispherical shockwave that looks like something out an old nuclear weapon tests from the 1950s.

It is stunning.

Another angle of the explosion

Who had the 2020 Over and Under on an Alaska Earthquake?

There was a 7.8 trembler off the Alaska coast.

No damage and no significant tsunami:

A powerful earthquake located off Alaska’s southern coast jolted some coastal communities late Tuesday, and some residents briefly scrambled for higher ground over fears of a tsunami.

There were no immediate reports of damage in the sparsely populated area of the state, and tsunami warning was canceled after the magnitude 7.8 quake off the Alaska Peninsula produced a wave of a less than a foot.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake struck Tuesday at 10:12 p.m. local time, centered in waters 65 miles south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska at a depth of 17 miles.

Because of its location, nearby communities along the Alaska Peninsula did not experience shaking that would normally be associated with that magnitude of a quake, said Michael West, Alaska State Seismologist.


More than a dozen aftershocks of magnitude 4.0 or higher were reported immediately after the earthquake, he said by telephone from the Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“We got people here who are going be working all night,” West said early Wednesday morning. “These aftershocks will go and go and go and go.”

The Alaska-Aleutian Trench was also where a magnitude 9.2 quake in 1964 was centered. That remains the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. The temblor and ensuing tsunami caused widespread damage and killed 131 people, some as far away as Oregon and California. Alaska is the most actively seismic state. Nearly 25,000 earthquakes have been recorded in Alaska since Jan. 1, according to the center.

I really hope that the fault line is not going to open up like a zipper.

What Happens When a Nakajima B5N “Kate” Drops an 800 KG Armor Piercing Bomb

This looks like a picture of Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941

The deck and superstructure have been severely damaged

It appears that the heat from the fire may have damaged the hull

My bad, that’s not the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, it is a fire on the Bonhomme Richard, and the ship appears to have been damaged beyond economic repair, notwithstanding claims to the US Navy that it is too soon to make that determination:

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said Friday he is unsure if the Bonhomme Richard should be repaired after it was engulfed in flames and smoke in San Diego over five days this week.

Gilday, speaking during a press conference on Naval Base San Diego across from the damaged and listing ship, said they’re still assessing damage so it’s unclear if the ship will be repaired.

“The damage is extensive,” he said, adding but he is “100 percent confident” the defense industry can put the amphibious assault ship back out to sea.

“The question is should we make that investment into a 22-year-old ship,” he said.

Yeah, I think that the ship could be repaired, if it had to face the Kaigun to protect Midway Island in 4 weeks, but under any situation short of war, it would make no economic sense to repair the ship.

Not Good

The amphibious assault ship (LHD) Bonhomme Richard is still burning in San Diego harbor.

Navy officials said Monday that the fire ravaging the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard for a second day has reached temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees, and it is still burning in various portions of the ship.

Smoke and fumes from the ship at San Diego Naval Base continued to pollute the skyline and air throughout San Diego. In an email Monday evening, a Naval Surface Forces spokeswoman said crews have made “significant progress” in the effort to save the ship.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, said Monday that the fire is in the superstructure of the ship and its upper decks and that the ship’s forward mast has collapsed.

“There’s obviously burn damage all the way through the skin of the ship, and we are assessing that as we kind of go through each compartment,” he said. “Right now the priority is to get the fire out so that we can take a complete assessment.”

Basically a Helicopter Carrier

It should be noted that the Bonhomme Richard was at the end of a refit to allow it to accommodate the Marine Corps STOVL F-35B, and as a result, this capability will be missing from the the fleet for the foreseeable future:

The amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which burned through the night while in port in San Diego, was at the tail end of two years of upgrades supporting the integration of the F-35B, according to Navy documents.

That means the Navy will now have fewer options to deploy the next-generation fighter in the Pacific.

The Navy awarded the $219 million modernization contract to General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in 2018, which had options for up to $250 million. Bonhomme Richard is one of four large-deck amphibs to have received the upgrades. The Boxer was announced earlier this year as the fifth big-deck to get the upgrades.

Experts said the loss of Bonhomme Richard, whether a total loss or just lost for extensive repairs, deals a significant blow to the Navy’s plans to have F-35Bs continually deployed in the Pacific. And with Monday’s announcement that the United States had formally rejected China’s claims about the South China Sea, any accompanying boost in naval presence could be slowed by the fire.

This is such a 2020 thing to have happened.

Handmaiden’s Tale, SCOTUS Edition

Two rulings today.

In the first, the Supreme Court ruled that teachers at religious schools are “Ministers” and as such can never sue their employer for discrimination:

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that a doctrine known as the “ministerial exception,” which bars ministers from suing churches and other religious institutions for employment discrimination, prohibited a lawsuit filed by a teacher at a Lutheran school who was also an ordained minister. Today, by a vote of 7-2, the court held in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru that the exception also forecloses lawsuits by two teachers at Catholic elementary schools in southern California. Although the teachers were not ordained ministers, the schools had argued that the exception nonetheless applied because they played a key role in teaching religion to their students, and the court – in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito – agreed.

Today’s decision came in a pair of cases, both filed by fifth-grade teachers against parish schools in the Los Angeles area. Agnes Morrissey-Berru taught at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Hermosa Beach for nearly two decades before she was told that her contract would not be renewed. Morrissey-Berru went to federal court, where she claimed that she had been the victim of age discrimination. The district court threw out the lawsuit, agreeing with the school that the ministerial exception applied.

The second plaintiff, Kristen Biel, sued St. James School in Torrance when – not long after she disclosed that she was being treated for breast cancer – the school failed to renew her contract. Biel claimed that the school had discriminated against her because she had cancer, but the district court agreed with the school that Biel’s lawsuit was barred by the ministerial exception.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reinstated both teachers’ lawsuits. It reasoned that the ministerial exception normally applies when an employee plays a “religious leadership” role, but that Biel and Morrissey-Berru played a more limited role, mostly “teaching religion from a book.” The schools went to the Supreme Court, which today reversed.

This is a horrible ruling, and when juxtaposed with the court’s recent ruling in in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue,it means that taxpayers are going to be forced to pay for discrimination.

I agree with Sotamayor’s dissent that this is a, “Simplistic approach has no basis in law and strips thousands of schoolteachers of their legal protection.”

I expect to see a return to the segregation academies of the bad old days, and I am inclined to believe that for at least some of the justices, this was an unstated goal.

The other opinion is that the Trump administration’s moves to make it possible for pretty much any employer to claim a religious exemption and not provide birth control coverage:

The Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate requires most employers to provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to certain forms of contraceptives. In 2017, the Trump administration issued new rules that expanded an exemption from the mandate to allow private employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of providing coverage without any notice. Today, by a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania rejected a challenge from two states that had argued that the new rules violate both the ACA itself and the federal laws governing administrative agencies. The ruling was an important victory for the Trump administration, but the battle over the exemptions and the mandate is likely not over yet.

Margaret Atwood weeps.

Who Had the 2020 Over and Under for Super-Volcano?

There have been a series of mild earthquakes which may indicate that the Yellowstone super-volcano might be becoming active again:

Monitoring services from the US Geological Survey (USGS) found there have been 213 earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park in the past 28 days. The tremors were relatively small, with the largest being a 2.1 magnitude tremor on May 22.

However, some experts warn it is not necessarily the size of an earthquake which is an indicator a volcano might erupt, but the quantity of them.

Portland State University Geology Professor Emeritus Scott Burns said: “If you get swarms under a working volcano, the working hypothesis is that magma is moving up underneath there.”

But others disagree about whether an earthquake swarm near a volcano could be a sign of things to come.

Jamie Farrell at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City believes this is just part of the natural cycle for Yellowstone volcano, saying: “Earthquake swarms are fairly common in Yellowstone.

“There is no indication that this swarm is related to magma moving through the shallow crust.”

The Yellowstone supervolcano, located in the US state of Wyoming, last erupted on a major scale 640,000 years ago.

As an FYI, when the Yellowstone Supervolcano (also called the Yellowstone Caldera) last erupted, it put something on the order of 100 km3 material into the air, with heavy ash falls as far away as 1000 miles away.

Additionally, it would likely precipitate a climate catastrophe with widespread crop failures and famine.

I know that the chance of something happening is tiny, but if that doesn’t sound like a 2020 thing to you, you have not been paying attention.

In New York, Corporate Farms are Failing, Family Farms are Thriving

It turns out that the Covid-19 food distribution disruptions in New York state are hammering large mono-culture farms, while family farms are thriving.

Once again, we see that financializing and corporatizing productive businesses ends up producing narrow and brittle business that cannot function during any significant disruption:

One Wednesday in early March, Abra Morawiec realized something seismic was happening at her farm stand. The month had been pretty quiet at the Feisty Acres table in the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. But that day, at the very start of social distancing, she had sold out of everything by 2 p.m.

“I had to go home three hours early,” Ms. Morawiec said. After wondering whether her small farm on the North Fork of Long Island would survive the pandemic, this was good news.

But the boom for Feisty Acres has coincided with a virtual collapse at large-scale operations like Crescent Duck Farm, also based on Long Island. In operation for more than a century, Crescent produces a million ducks a year — about 4 percent of the industry total — and was the supplier of choice for fine-dining restaurants in New York, including Jean-Georges and the River Cafe. Those restaurants are closed now, and Crescent has been forced to lay off 80 percent of its workers.

When the lockdown came to the metropolitan area, the earth shifted under New York’s farm-to-table supply chain. All farms are reckoning with the disappearance of the restaurant market and the logistics of getting food directly to consumers. But the agricultural landscape has completely reversed.

Farms with a single crop meant for use in restaurants, like microgreens or edible flowers, face disaster, while those with diverse offerings (and especially root vegetables) have become bulwarks of the social order. After decades of struggle to prove they are sustainable businesses, small farms seem to be flourishing, while factory farms, in many cases, find themselves too big to pivot.

Our corporate just in time economy is never going to support us when things go pear shaped.