Indy Digest: Nov. 18, 2021
Sprinkle cheese? Really?
Of all the things this country’s supply-chain issues would effect, I never imagined grated Parmesan cheese—you know, the unrefrigerated stuff that you sprinkle onto pizza or soups—would be on the list. But when the hubby recently went to the supermarket and came to this particular item on the shopping list, he found a couple of containers of the store brand … and lots of empty space on shelves.
Of course, we can live with store-brand sprinkle cheese … or without any sprinkle cheese at all. Because, you know, it’s sprinkle cheese.
But what about graham crackers? A restaurant owner I know recently told me that she’s been unable to get freaking graham crackers—a key ingredient in some of the desserts her restaurant sells.
Still, her restaurant is making do. But lost sales do add up.
The piece came about when staff writer Connor Sheets accepted a job with the Times. He’d spent six years living in Birmingham, Ala., and he needed to drive a moving truck filled with his family’s stuff from there to SoCal. He decided to make a few detours along the way, to document the “economic mayhem” the supply-chain issues are causing across the Southern U.S.
“What I found was a series of startling illustrations of the fragility of the supply chain and the many ways businesses across the southern U.S. are affected when the flow of goods clots at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” Sheets wrote. “In all, I interviewed nearly three-dozen people on my 2,668-mile journey—from Main Street retailers to big box outlet clerks, manufacturing executives to working artists—and the overwhelming majority of them had a supply chain tale of woe to tell.”
One of the most gripping tales of woe is the first one Sheets tells—that of blacksmith artist Erick Forsyth, who owns Three Graces Studio in Birmingham. A portion of Forsyth’s story:
That morning, as he held a cast-iron rosette in his hand, Forsyth said he waited five months for a shipment of the decorative, rose-shaped pieces to arrive earlier this year before he decided to make them himself. That required many hours of extra labor and cost $13 more per rosette, but he said he had no other option.
“I couldn’t pass all that on to the consumer, so I lost money on that job,” he said, adding that it wasn’t a one-off issue. “I had containers sitting in the dock in California for three months this spring.”
Who knows why the nearby Ralph’s was so short on sprinkle cheese the other day. Maybe the companies can’t get the plastic bottles that hold the cheese, because they’re stuck on a cargo ship. Perhaps there are pallets upon pallets of them sitting in a warehouse somewhere, but the trucking company that would haul them to their next destination can’t hire enough drivers.
From the Independent
Protecting Pets: Animal Samaritans Expands Its Efforts to Make the Coachella Valley a Better Place for Animals and Their People
By Kevin Fitzgerald
November 17, 2021
Animal Samaritans is raising funds to build a much-needed new Pet Adoption and Humane Education Center on the Animal Samaritans campus in Thousand Palms.
On Cocktails: The Grasshopper and Its Cousins Are Sweet, Creamy and as Old School as Old School Gets
By Kevin Carlow
November 17, 2021
This month, we discuss drinks that are sweet, creamy and lower in alcohol—but wicked on the waistline.
Cannabis in the CV: The Idea of ‘Cali Sober’—Forgoing Alcohol but Using Cannabis—Works for Many … but Not Everyone
By Jocelyn Kane
November 18, 2021
If cannabis were considered less of a drug and more of a plant or herb, then perhaps the conversation regarding sobriety would be different.
Barbecue and Brews: Don Callender Opened Babe’s Nearly 20 Years Ago—and His Son Lucky Is Now Honoring Don’s Legacy While Building His Own
By Andrew Smith
November 16, 2021
After graduating college (and developing a love for homebrewing), in 2018, Lucky Callender purchased full rights to the restaurant his father founded.
By Matt King
November 16, 2021
The members of YIP YOPS wrote, directed and produced A Night at the Shack, a short film that melds campy horror and music.
November 18, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include egg-squeezing, the Travel Channel, Josh Hawley, Big Bird—and much more!
• The latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report shows that the pandemic is still very much a problem. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points to the east.) While the number of COVID-19 patients in the valley’s three hospitals fell quite a bit during the week that ended on Nov. 14 (from a high of 59 during the week to a still-too-many 41), the weekly positivity rate went up to 4.9 percent, compared to a reported 3.4 percent the week before. The report also said just 64.7 percent of the district is fully vaccinated.
• Our partners at CalMatters yesterday published an eye-opening piece regarding the state’s failures at keeping guns out of the hands of abusers, even when state laws dictate that the guns be taken away: “CalMatters spent months combing through government reports, reviewing case files in various counties, and interviewing people across the state. The reporting shows that equal access to justice is still elusive. The protections domestic abuse survivors get from the courts vary widely, depending on where they live or the judge handling their case. And California, with arguably the toughest gun control measures in the country, too often struggles to enforce those laws.”
• Our friends at the Palm Springs Post have an update on a potential fight that’s brewing over a proposed College of the Desert satellite campus in Palm Springs. A snippet: “College of the Desert (COD) President Martha Garcia confirmed Wednesday morning there will be a campus built in Palm Springs, but she stopped short of being able to provide details, claiming further studies are needed. … During a question and answer session that followed her presentation to the Desert Roundtable, audience members asked Garcia for specifics about COD’s Palm Springs plans. They were seeking confirmation that the project, as touted during a 2016 campaign to approve the sale of nearly $600 million in bonds, would move forward as conceived. They also wanted to know what, exactly, COD had done to date after purchasing the property for $22 million. ‘There’s a PR problem or some other problem going on here,’ said J.R. Roberts, a former Palm Springs City Councilmember and current planning commissioner. ‘The community came together and fully embraced this project. We’re writing big checks every year, but we need specifics. There’s a major credibility problem with COD in this valley that has never existed before.’”
• Are Americans getting gouged at the gas station? The Los Angeles Times elaborates on efforts to get that question answered … even though those efforts aren’t likely to accomplish much: “President Joe Biden urged the Federal Trade Commission to probe possible illegal conduct in U.S. gasoline markets, though any inquiry by the agency is unlikely to have an immediate impact on pump prices paid by consumers. In a letter to Wednesday to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the president expressed concern about the difference between pump prices and the cost of wholesale fuel, while citing what he said was ‘mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.’ … The October consumer price index was up 6.2% from a year earlier, with energy costs a major driver. Gas prices were up 49.6% from October 2020. But his letter is mostly symbolic. It’s not uncommon for state and federal regulators to open investigations of gasoline prices when they soar. Few of those probes translate into real action.”
• Can the FTC look into rent-gouging, too? CNBC reports: “Rents for single-family homes increased 10.2% nationally in September year over year, up from a 2.6% rise in September of last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic. Improved job growth and sky-high prices in the for-sale housing market added to already strong demand for single-family rentals fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.” Bleh.
• Drug-overdose deaths are way, way up, thanks in part to the pandemic. ABC News has the awful details: “More than 100,000 people in the U.S. died of a drug overdose during the first year of the pandemic, a nearly 29% increase from the same time period in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. The vast majority of those deaths were due to opioids, particularly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. ‘An American dying every five minutes—that’s game-changing,’ Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said at a media briefing.”
• California Attorney General Rob Bonta and some other AGs announced they’re investigating Instagram. Why, you ask? The Associated Press explains: “A group of state attorneys general are investigating the photo-sharing platform Instagram and its effects on children and young adults, saying its parent company Facebook—now called Meta Platforms—ignored internal research about the physical and mental health dangers it posed to young people. The investigation is led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. It follows damning newspaper reports, first by The Wall Street Journal, based on the company’s own research that found that the company knew about the harms Instagram can cause teenagers—especially teen girls—when it comes to mental health and body image issues.”
• And finally … mRNA vaccines have been game-changers in the battle against SARS-CoV-2. Could they soon be game-changers against other diseases—like, say, Lyme disease? A staff scientist for the National Institutes of Health, writing for The Conversation, is optimistic: “A new laboratory-stage mRNA vaccine that teaches the immune system to recognize the saliva from tick bites could prevent these bugs from feeding on and transmitting tick-borne diseases to people, according to a recent study my colleagues and I conducted in the Fikrig Lab at the Yale School of Medicine.”
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