In England and America, selling bird seed for feeders is a big business. In Delhi, people toss bits of meat into the air for black kites. Fleets of ships ply the oceans to catch fish for domestic cats, the descendants of predatory land animals.
Humans feed animals all the time, whether it’s our pets, the chickens we plan to eat or the ducks at the park pond, even though we shouldn’t.
Throughout history in fat years and lean across many cultures, sometimes with no apparent reason, humans have fed animals of every imaginable stripe in every imaginable way. Some researchers think the desire to give food to other animals may drive domestication as much as the human desire to eat them does.
Our Stone Age leftovers from the hunt may have fostered the domestication of dogs. Some of us give our beloved dead to vultures, which is a problem when the birds disappear. We fed and feed cats both tame and feral, sharks, alligators, deer, hedgehogs, bears, pigeons of all sorts, ducks, swans, zoo animals, lab animals, pets, farm animals and more.
Now, a group of researchers in Britain is asking: Where does this desire to give food to other animals come from, and what has it meant for animals, humans and their shared environments?
One striking possible answer is extinction. Domestication may be the death knell for wild progenitors. The ancestors of horses and cattle are gone. And while there are still wolves around, they are not thriving the way dogs are.
Some feeding of animals is purely practical. You feed chickens today if you want to eat their eggs, or their wings, tomorrow. You can’t ride a starving horse. Animals used for experiments in laboratories have to be kept alive to get cancer.
But a lot of feeding is unrelated to any return on investment. The black kites of Delhi reach population densities that may be the highest for raptors anywhere because of accidental and purposeful feeding. They rely on garbage and on the tasty and nutritious pests that garbage attracts. And they also benefit from the charity of Muslims who follow a tradition of tossing bits of meat into the air for the birds.
Many Indians feed street dogs as a matter of course, treating them as animal neighbors. In a small city near Ahmedabad where I reported on anti-rabies efforts, residents told me that you can’t just give dogs plain leftover bread. You have to put some clarified butter on it, to make it palatable. The residents were middle class, and had both bread and butter to give, but I also met people who lived by the side of the road, with nothing more than mattresses and a few pots, who shared their food with dogs.
Almost nothing about humans feeding animals is fully understood, largely because scholars have not given the subject a great deal of attention. And that, most of all, is what the researchers in England and Scotland want to change. With a four-year grant of more than $2 million from the Wellcome Trust, five researchers are pursuing a collaborative multidisciplinary attempt to give animal feeding its due, and begin to answer some puzzling questions. They call their project, “From ‘Feed the Birds’ to ‘Do Not Feed the Animals.’”
Naomi Sykes, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, is the moving force behind the project.
Chickens were one of the animals that led Dr. Sykes to this point of view, she said. She was working on some ancient sites in Britain and was surprised by what isotope studies of fossilized chicken bones suggested about the birds’ diet. Isotopes are different forms of elements like carbon and nitrogen, and researchers use the amount of one versus another to determine what animals or humans ate. Different grains or even grains from different geographical regions give different results, or values.
“At sites where there’s a lot of chicken sacrifice to the gods of Mercury and Mithras” during the Roman occupation of Britain, Dr. Sykes said, “some of the values of those chickens just looked really bizarre.” It seemed the chickens were eating some sort of special diet. She talked to colleagues who told her that, in fact, chickens in Roman times that were to be sacrificed were sometimes fed a special diet of millet in preparation for their ritual slaughter.
Eventually, chickens became a major food source. But they are one example, Dr. Sykes said, of a process of domestication in which feeding animals was more important at first than eating them.
In addition to their religion, the Romans brought with them dogs and cats. Remains of the cats are found in settlements along with remains of wildcats that seemed to be living with or near humans as well, not as pets, but not quite wild either.
“That got me thinking about cat diet, which then made me think, wait a minute, why do we feed domestic cats fish?” Dr. Sykes asked.
Could Christianity have something to do with it?
“I think that monks start keeping cats for the first time, at least in Britain, as domestic pets,” she explained. “And they keep them because they want to have cats to eat the mice that eat the documents that they’re writing. And of course, monks are eating fish because they’re required to fast all the time.”
Perhaps, she said, the monks fed the cats fish. The practice spread. And now an entire separate fishery catches fish for cat food.
That worries Dr. Sykes because of its environmental impact. She says shoppers don’t put the same pressure for sustainability on the cat food fleets that they do on fisheries providing food for people.
She began to wonder more generally: “What is it that encourages people to feed animals in the first place? What are the drivers of this throughout time and across cultures?”
The four colleagues who joined Dr. Sykes in this project are: Angela Cassidy, also at the University of Exeter, who researches government policy on animals and has written about the internecine wars over the culling of badgers in Britain; Gary Marvin, an anthropologist at the University of Roehampton, who holds one of the world’s few professorships in human-animal studies; Stuart Black, a geochemist at the University of Reading; and Andrew Kitchener, principal curator of vertebrates at National Museums Scotland.
The group is limiting its research geographically to Britain, for practical and logistical reasons. Its attention is mainly focused on the roles played by birds and cats in human life, as pets, pests, wild animals and zoo animals. In each case, they are asking the same broad questions about the origin of and reason behind various feeding methods, and what needs to change, if anything.
For instance, Dr. Sykes will be looking at the archaeological records of cats from Roman settlements. Dr. Black will be studying the isotopes in modern and ancient cat bones to determine what cats were eating. Did monks’ cats in fact eat a lot of fish? He has already proved his technique on modern cats. “We can tell a fishy cat from a meaty cat,” he said. “In fact we can tell an Iams cat from a Whiskers cat,” although he concedes that knowledge may not be so useful in studying felines from the Middle Ages.
Dr. Kitchener can look at old cat skeletons from Roman times and see that wildcats, now restricted to a small population in Scotland, were living in human settlements. Dr. Cassidy may look at political policies on feeding stray cats.
Dr. Marvin said he would be working with postdoctoral researchers employed through the grant to look at cultural artifacts and historical literature to gauge how human attitudes toward cats have changed. He is also working with another postdoctoral researcher in Italy who will pursue anthropological studies among women who feed the feral cats of the coliseum in Rome. This interdisciplinary approach is very important, Dr. Marvin said. “To be in a room where a geneticist can be talking to an anthropologist and actually helping to answer questions, or ask more interesting questions — I think it’s quite a feat.”
The feeding of birds suggests numerous avenues of research such as where, when, how and why it began. Also how is it that people come to view some birds as beloved but disdain others?
And that in turn brings up the deep philosophical question of squirrels. In Britain, Dr. Marvin said, people spend somewhere around 200 million pounds feeding birds, presumably because they like them, and want to be close to nature. But they don’t like pigeons. And squirrels are beyond the pale. “You’ve got good and bad creatures in your back garden,” he said.
Dr. Black’s isotope work is key to the interdisciplinary approach of this research, which is unusual, he said, because, “it’s a humanities-driven project.” The archaeologists, anthropologists and sociologists pose questions that he can help answer.
For example, in the 1500s in England, laws known as the vermin acts set bounties for killing many animals, not just rats and mice. “There were things like crows, red kites, lots of birds of prey,” Dr. Black said. What caused the change in perspective? What were people thinking? Searching texts and literature from the time may bring some answers. But one idea is that the cold temperatures of the time, known as the little ice age, made food scarce and caused animals that normally might have been foraging in the wild to turn to human settlements to steal food or prowl for refuse.
Studying old bone samples and comparing them to modern bones will show, for instance, if birds of prey in the 1500s depended more on human food than on traditional forage. Old, excavated raptor bones are plentiful to examine because 16th-century British citizens empowered by the vermin acts would kill the birds and toss them on garbage heaps.
In addition, the project is taking one look at zoo inhabitants that is not simply a question of what tigers or koalas should eat. For years a British brand of tea, PG Tips, promoted its product with television advertisements that featured dressed up chimps having tea, with crumpets and scones, of course.
The chimps lived at the Twycross Zoo, although chimp tea parties were common at zoos all over England. The zoo was founded in the 1960s by “two women who were mad about primates,” Lisa Gillespie, the zoo’s research and conservation manager said in an interview. “The ladies, as they were called,” she said, had trained the chimps for parties at the zoo and for advertisements, prompting the tea company to approach them. Income from those commercials greatly helped the zoo in its early days.
“The animals ate human food, tea with milk in it, cake,” Ms. Gillespie said. Because adult chimps are too aggressive to keep as pets or use in advertisements, the zoo featured babies under 3 years old. Primatologists, zookeepers and the Twycross founders later acknowledged the harm in using the chimps that way, both from high sugar foods and from interfering with their natural behavioral development as chimpanzees. They were retired to the Twycross Zoo. With no tea or parties or costumes. The last of the PG Tips chimps to die was a female named Choppers in 2016.
The chimps are, however, now unwittingly helping science. The National Museum of Scotland, where Dr. Kitchener works, collected the full skeletons of the PG Tips chimps to add to their trove of animal remains from other zoos and the wild.
In studying the skeletons of Choppers and the other tea party chimps, Dr. Kitchener and other researchers identified signs of illness, probably related to what they were fed.
Dr. Black is using isotope analysis to nail down the nutritional profile of the tea party chimps. The project is partnering with the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent, which has a large collection of remains of wild chimps.
He and Dr. Sykes have also been looking at changes in wildcats in Britain and their diet over time, and studying the bones of wild squirrels that were fed peanuts to help keep the population going. In adapting to the diet, the squirrels may not have developed the same jaw muscles as squirrels that have to struggle with pine cones, he said. Adaptations to changing diets for animals that live around or near humans can result in significant skeletal changes, he said, which raises questions about some physical changes that are thought to accompany domestication in different animals. Animals might have adapted to living around humans long before they became what we think of as domesticated. “So did the change come before they were domesticated or did the change come because they were domesticated?” he asked.
The group will largely restrict itself to the last 2,000 years, but Dr. Black said some detours are irresistible, like the Tomb of the Eagles, a 5,000-year-old stone-age site in the Orkney Islands known officially as the Ibister Chambered Cairn. The cairn, or tomb, held about 16,000 human bones, and the remains of about 30 white-tailed sea eagles, Dr. Black said. “They were deposited over quite a significant period of time,” he said, “so it was people coming back, putting eagle remains in there.”
He said: “The key question that nobody has really answered at the moment is whether people went out and killed and then deposited them as a sort of an offering. There is a suggestion that they may have been pets.” If that were the case, the eagles would have probably been eating a different diet than wild eagles that were foraging at sea.
Dr. Sykes sees much of the human habit of feeding animals in the light of domestication, which she says happened as much through the process of humans feeding animals as it did through catching and corralling them to eat. That seems clear enough with our close companions, dogs and cats.
It also seems that some animals that we now eat, like chickens and rabbits, may have first come into our lives not as food, but as eaters.
And, she said, “domestication is not this thing that happened way back when, in this kind of neolithic moment where everybody got together and goes, we’re going to domesticate animals. I just don’t buy it. I think it’s something that has not only continued throughout time, but it’s really accelerating.”
Bird feeding is just one example, and that sets off warning bells for her, because domestication and extinction often go together even if the cause and effect isn’t clear.
The aurochs gave way to cattle. There are plenty of domestic cats in Britain, but just a few Scottish wildcats. Wolves are still here but not the wolves that dogs descended from. They are extinct. And modern wolves are just hanging on, while dogs might number a billion. Their future, at least in terms of numbers, is bright. As long as there are people, there will be dogs. No one knows what they will look like, and whether we will have to brush their teeth day and night, and spend a fortune on their haircuts. But they will be here.
The same cannot be said of wolves. And as wild creatures go extinct, we all lose.
Morgan Stanley says no vaccine, no entry.
Morgan Stanley will require employees and visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus when they enter its New York offices next month.
Starting July 12, employees, contingent workers, clients and visitors at Morgan Stanley’s buildings in New York City and Westchester County must attest that they are fully vaccinated, a person familiar with the matter said, citing a memo from Mandell Crawley, the bank’s chief human resources officer. Staff members who don’t will be required to work remotely, added the person, who was granted anonymity to discuss personnel-related matters.
Although the requirement relies on an honor system for now rather than proof of vaccination, it will allow the bank to lift other pandemic protocols, such as face coverings and physical distancing. Some office spaces for Morgan Stanley’s institutional securities, investment and wealth management divisions already allow only those who have gotten their shots to work from their desks.
Companies across America are grappling with the question of whether to ask employees about their vaccination status, or to require those returning to offices to be vaccinated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said last month that both actions were legal. Still, some senior executives have worried about pushback from employees.
This month, Goldman Sachs said its employees in the United States would have to report their vaccination status. Other big Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, are encouraging workers to disclose their vaccination status voluntarily. BlackRock, the asset manager, will allow only vaccinated staff to return to the office beginning next month, Bloomberg reported. Those firms, however, stopped short of also asking clients and visitors to attest to being vaccinated.
The Financial Times reported earlier on Morgan Stanley’s vaccine requirements.
Lauren Hirsch contributed reporting.
Broadway’s ‘Music Man’ Names British Producer, Kate Horton, to Replace Rudin
Kate Horton will become executive producer of the show, which stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. It is scheduled to begin performances on Dec. 20.
A veteran British theater administrator will take over the day-to-day management of a starry Broadway revival of “The Music Man,” assuming many of the duties previously performed by Scott Rudin.
The administrator, Kate Horton, who previously held high-level management positions at the National Theater, Royal Court Theater and Royal Shakespeare Company in England, will become executive producer of “The Music Man,” which stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, and which is scheduled to begin performances on Dec. 20 and to open Feb. 10.
Rudin, who was the revival’s lead producer, departed that role earlier this year, saying he was stepping back from all of his theater and film productions amid renewed scrutiny of his bullying behavior toward subordinates and collaborators.
Horton was hired by the business titans Barry Diller and David Geffen, who had been producing the revival alongside Rudin, and who are now the sole lead producers. The production, at the Winter Garden Theater, reunites much of the creative team behind the Tony-winning 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!,” led by the director Jerry Zaks.
Horton currently runs, with her longtime collaborator Dominic Cooke, a British producing company called Fictionhouse. She was previously deputy executive director of the National Theater, executive director of the Royal Court Theater and commercial director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She and Rudin both were previously involved with the team behind Little Island, a new park and performance space in New York, but no longer have any role there, a spokeswoman said.
Horton declined a request for an interview.
“The Music Man,” like many Broadway shows, has been delayed by the pandemic. It was originally scheduled to open last fall. The show sold a large number of tickets before the pandemic; rather than refunding those tickets, as many shows did, the production exchanged them for future seats. During the pandemic, the producers stopped selling new tickets; tickets to the show are going back on sale starting Tuesday.
Several other Rudin-related Broadway productions have found new leadership teams. A stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” named Orin Wolf as executive producer; the musical “The Book of Mormon” and the play “The Lehman Trilogy” said their existing leadership teams would simply proceed without Rudin. (“The Book of Mormon” is overseen by members of the “South Park” team, while “The Lehman Trilogy” is overseen by Britain’s National Theater.)
Fed’s Williams emphasizes flexibility in the central bank’s inflation goal.
John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said on Monday that he expects the recent acceleration in price gains to prove temporary, and offered an optimistic view of the nation’s economic outlook as widespread vaccines and business reopenings drive growth.
Still, Mr. Williams cautioned “the data and conditions have not progressed enough” for the Fed’s policymaking committee “to shift its monetary policy stance of strong support for the economic recovery.” Mr. Williams was delivering remarks before the Midsize Bank Coalition of America.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there,” Mr. Williams later said, while speaking to reporters following the event. “I see risk management as just part of any reasonable policy strategy. I do think there are risks to both sides.”
The Fed has held its policy interest rate at near-zero since March 2020 and is buying $120 billion in government-backed bonds each month, policies that are meant to keep many kinds of borrowing cheap, pushing money through the economy and bolstering demand. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s chair, indicated after the central bank’s June meeting last week that officials are beginning to talk about their plan for slowing those bond purchases as the economy recovers from a sharp pandemic hit.
Fed policymakers at that meeting also predicted they might lift interest rates earlier than they had expected, with more than half estimating two rate increases in 2023. Previously, officials hadn’t anticipated moving interest rates away from rock bottom until 2024, at the earliest.
Investors are now trying to parse that change and figure out what it says about how the Fed is thinking about its inflation goal. The Fed, which updated its inflation target last year, now aims for 2 percent inflation on average over time, meaning it will welcome periods of slightly-higher inflation to offset periods of weak price gains.
Mr. Powell played down the importance of individual Fed official forecasts for rate increases when he spoke last week. Mr. Williams, who is one of the Fed’s other most powerful and influential officials, joined him on Monday, highlighting that the committee does not discuss or vote on their economic projections.
The New York Fed president also shot down an idea that has taken hold among many Wall Street analysts since last week’s meeting — that the upgraded path for interest rates means the Fed is going to judge that its average inflation goal is satisfied by a big, but short lived burst in price gains this year.
“We chose consciously, and carefully chose, not to have a formula for the average inflation rate,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s not a specific formula.”
The Fed will be watching price gains over an unspecified time period and aiming for stable, well-placed inflation expectations, Mr. Williams said. He personally does not expect the current bout of higher inflation to last.
“My view is that the spike in inflation mostly reflects the temporary effects of the surprisingly rapid opening of the economy,” he said. There are risks both that inflation will be higher than wanted and that it could fall below the Fed’s goal, he added.
“You could see inflation coming in lower than expected,” he said, if supply chain disruptions reverse rapidly or if the global economic recovery lags. But that’s a possibility — not his forecast.
“I have a very positive baseline,” Mr. Williams said.
Smithfield Foods Is Accused of Stoking Fears of a Meat Shortage
The group claims there were ample supplies of meat in cold storage even as Smithfield warned that the country was in danger of running out of meat.
Smithfield Foods was one of the first companies to warn that the country was in danger of running out of meat as coronavirus infections ripped through processing plants in April 2020 and health officials pressured the industry to halt some production to protect workers.
Now, a lawsuit filed last week by Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group, accuses the giant pork producer of falsely stoking consumer fears and misleading the public.
The suit says the nation was never in danger of running out of meat. It claims there were ample supplies in cold storage, while at the same time pork exports to China, in particular, were surging. The suit was filed in Superior Court in Washington, where a law allows a nonprofit group to sue on behalf of consumers without needing to show that they suffered direct harm.
“This fear mongering creates a revenue-generating feedback loop,” Food and Water Watch said in its lawsuit. “It stokes and exploits consumer panic — juicing demand and sales — and in turn, provides the company with a false justification to keep its slaughterhouses operating at full tilt, subjecting its workers to unsafe workplace health and safety conditions that have caused thousands of Smithfield workers to contract the virus.”
Smithfield defended its safety efforts while criticizing the consumer advocacy group. “The advocacy organizations who make these claims have a stated goal of dismantling the efforts of our hard-working employees, who take great pride in safely producing food products,” Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s chief administrative officer, said in a statement.
The meatpacking industry was a flash point during the pandemic as thousands of workers fell ill, many of them fatally. Smithfield and other companies mounted an aggressive advertising campaign to highlight their worker safety efforts and to emphasize the industry’s important role in feeding the nation.
Despite these assertions, Food and Water Watch, which is represented in its lawsuit by Public Justice, a legal advocacy group, points out that Smithfield was cited by regulators for failing to adequately protect workers at its plants in California and South Dakota.
In her statement, Ms. Lombardo said, “Our health and safety measures, guided by medical and workplace safety expertise, have been comprehensive.”
What It's Like to Work in 115 Degree Weather in Phoenix
Phoenix is facing a double heat and housing crisis that is falling hardest on people who have to suffer the sun.
Workers trying to stay hydrated while setting building foundations on the outskirts of Phoenix on Thursday.Credit…
PHOENIX — As the sun rose on another day of record-breaking heat, Juan Gutierrez and his construction crew were already sweating through their long-sleeve shirts. It was 91 degrees, and workers in a subdivision called Desert Oasis were racing to nail together the wooden skeletons of $380,000 homes that had sold before they were even built.
“Your skin falls off, you have to cover up everything,” said Mr. Gutierrez, 22, who has been undocumented since he came to the United States as a 4-year-old. “It’s work you have to do. You have no choice.”
Across the West, housing markets and temperatures are both scorching hot. A punishing spring of drought, wildfires and record-shattering heat is amplifying questions about the habitability of the Southwest in a rapidly warming climate. But it has done little to slow the rapid growth of cities like Phoenix, where new arrivals are fueling a construction frenzy — as well as rising housing costs that are leaving many residents increasingly desperate to find a place they can afford to live.
The result: a double heat and housing crisis whose sweltering toll is falling hardest on people who have little choice but to suffer the sun and on those who can’t afford the housing boom powering the economy.
Construction workers and landscapers whose sweat is fueling the growth do not have the option of working from an air-conditioned office. Instead, they say they worry about passing out or dying on the job as 115-degree days come earlier and grow ever more common.
As housing costs rise, more people are ending up on the baking streets or being forced to make agonizing choices: Pay the rent or pay the summer utility bills? Rent an apartment with reliable air conditioning, or live in a cheaper trailer home that broils under the sun?
“Extreme heat has made the problems we have all the more evident,” said Melissa Guardaro, an assistant research professor at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at Arizona State University.
Being homeless in an era of mega-heat waves is particularly deadly, as homeless people represented half of last year’s record 323 heat-related deaths across the Phoenix area. The homeless population has grown during the pandemic, and activists are now worried that an expiring eviction moratorium will mean others will lose their homes at the height of summer.
Heat is already suspected in 20 deaths this year in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, with the deadliest months to come.
As the temperature spiked to a record 118 degrees last Thursday and climbed throughout the week, the people sweating, working and struggling through dawn-to-dark heat said they were longing for some relief from all of it.
After starting work before dawn to escape some of the heat, Mr. Gutierrez and his colleagues on the construction crew climbed down from a roof in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, Ariz., to catch their breath. They chugged a few bottles of electrolyte solution and sports drinks. Work is plentiful these days, but also brutal.
Home prices around Phoenix have risen by as much as 30 percent in the past year to a median of $390,000, and homes are selling faster than they did last year. Tech workers and others able to work remotely flocked to the Southwest during the pandemic, as did manufacturing jobs, creating a voracious appetite for housing.
“We have so many people who want a home in this community,” Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix said.
Mr. Gutierrez and his crew sometimes drive two hours to reach the new subdivisions creeping deeper into the desert. As the sun beat down, they put on gaiters and woven hats, but it barely helped.
One of the members of the crew had gotten dizzy and nearly tumbled from a roof the other afternoon. Not even a bush was left in the newly cleared desert where houses now bloomed, so they huddled for shade under the rafters of unfinished houses. The work paid $15 to $20 an hour.
“When it’s hard, you think about another job,” said Joaquin Robledo, 24, who like the others on the crew had immigrated from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. “But you can’t look for another job because you don’t have documents.”
Julio Terrazas, 47, and a dozen day laborers stood in the parking lot of a Home Depot on the east side of Phoenix, yelling “Work? Work?” as pickup trucks rolled past them.
Their daily routine of planting trees, spreading gravel and renovating houses can become unbearable in the heat of summer, Mr. Terrazas and other laborers said. Some bosses give them shade, cold water, sandwiches and generous rest breaks. Others force the laborers to drink from backyard faucets and yell if the men sit down for more than five minutes, they said.
But Mr. Terrazas said his summer utility bills ran $400, so he had to suffer through it. But he had a wish: If only he had applied for a part-time job at The Home Depot.
“I wish I was working inside with them,” he said.
José Castro ducked into a shady pocket park in downtown Phoenix where he has been sleeping and pulled out a cherished sheaf of papers: an application for a subsidized apartment for his family. He said he had spent hours waiting in the sun at a Phoenix homeless-services center to get the application.
Mr. Castro, 30, said his family had lost their two-bedroom apartment after the pandemic struck and he and his wife lost hours at their warehouse and office-cleaning jobs, sending them into a financial tailspin.
Rents in Phoenix rose about 8 percent during the pandemic, the most of any major city, according to the real estate site Zillow. Mr. Castro said he could no longer afford the $1,100 that landlords in his old neighborhood were demanding.
So his wife and children, now homeless, have been staying in a garage without air conditioning with her parents. He has been floating between relatives’ apartments, shelter beds and the street. He pleads with convenience-store clerks for cups of ice and gets free bottled water from homeless-outreach workers.
But cooling off is almost impossible. Volunteers armed with maps are set to hit the streets in Phoenix soon to check on people and guide them to cooling centers, but Mr. Castro said he knew nothing of the 89 air-conditioned cooling centers operating across the county. The borrowed flip phone he uses during the day was useless in trying to find online maps showing free water and heat-relief tents.
“I didn’t even know they had cooling centers,” Mr. Castro said.
Experts who have studied how heat affects Arizona’s most vulnerable people said the needs were only growing.
“We have this perfect storm happening here of an affordable housing crisis, high eviction rates, massive energy bill burdens, Covid,” said Stacey Champion, who is part of a new movement of heat activists urging governments to do more to plan and protect people.
Theresa Reyas, 49, parked her coolers on a downtown sidewalk, sat down and started selling. She had to make $85 that afternoon to pay for another day’s rent at the E Z Inn, where she has been staying since she left her husband.
Coke? Squirt? Water? she asked people walking by. The people working in air-conditioned office parks or relaxing beside their pools might not need $1 sodas, she reasoned. But in Phoenix’s hottest, least-shaded neighborhoods, they would sell.
“Every year it’s getting hotter and hotter,” she said. “You’ve got to go where the people are. You’ve got to go where it’s hot.”
As heat waves get fiercer and heat-trapping cities push ever outward, desert nights do not cool down like they once did. And air conditioning bills are pricier than ever. So as the sun set over the city of Mesa, John Nyre, 70, turned off the window unit in his trailer home and went to watch reruns of an ’80s mystery series with his friend Gloria Ellis.
Both worry about their power bills and try to run their air conditioners as little and low as they can. Ms. Ellis sets hers to 77 degrees. Mr. Nyre’s trailer is baking at 95 degrees some nights when he comes home.
People living in trailer homes face a heightened risk of dying indoors, and Mr. Nyre said one of his neighbors was found dead two summers ago. The friends spend time in cool grocery stores but said a nearby senior center where they once went to keep cool remains largely closed because of the pandemic.
“It’s not easy,” Ms. Ellis said. “There’s not much you can do.”
In the New Hong Kong, Booksellers Walk a Fine Line
Some independent shops flout the new limits on free expression. Others try to come to terms with them. For readers, they offer a sense of connection in a changed city.
HONG KONG — When Hong Kong public libraries pulled books about dissent from circulation last month, Pong Yat Ming made an offer to his customers: They could read some of the same books, free, at his store.
Mr. Pong, 47, founded the shop, Book Punch, in 2020, after Beijing imposed a national security law in response to the antigovernment protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019. The law broadly defined acts of subversion and secession against China, making much political speech potentially illegal, and it threatened severe punishment, including life imprisonment, for offenders.
Mr. Pong said he had opened Book Punch precisely because he did not want the city to fall silent under the pressure, and because he felt it was important to build a more empathetic, tightknit community as the law cast its shadow over Hong Kong.
“The social movement has changed the way people read and the value they place on books,” he said. “I want to bring out that kind of energy, that desire for change through reading.” He added, “Books are powerful, like forceful punches responding to the social environment.”
The venture is a potential minefield. The security law has brought mass arrests, a rout of pro-democracy lawmakers, changes to school curriculums, a crackdown on the arts and rapidly growing limits on free expression. It has also forced booksellers to confront questions about how long they will survive and how much they might have to compromise. A lack of clarity about why certain books are suddenly off limits has complicated decisions about which titles to stock.
As they navigate the constraints of the sweeping law, many independent bookstores have strengthened their resolve to connect with their readers and crystallized their roles as vibrant community hubs. In interviews, booksellers said that more people had rushed to buy books and photo collections documenting the 2019 protests, driven by the fear that these records would one day disappear. Some customers, meanwhile, have simply turned to their neighborhood bookstores for a sense of connection.
At Hong Kong Reader, a hushed upstairs space in the bustling Mong Kok district where a regal, one-eyed cat reigns, visitors have created a “Lennon Wall,” leaving messages about their hopes for the city on colorful sticky notes in a narrow back corridor. At Book Punch, an airy loft in the working-class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, customers gather for discussions about democracy in Hong Kong and elsewhere. At Mount Zero, a jewel-box-size bookstore in the Sheung Wan district, the owner hosts visits by politically controversial authors.
“There’s been a greater need for people to gather around the hearth and keep warm together,” said Sharon Chan, the owner of Mount Zero.
After the national security law passed, changes swept through the city’s public libraries. Dozens of titles “suspected of breaching” the law have been pulled from their collections in recent months, according to Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which oversees the libraries. They include the memoirs of pro-democracy activists and treatises on political self-determination in Hong Kong, local news outlets reported, citing publicly available library databases.
Among the withdrawn material is a 2014 book called “Three Giants of Civil Disobedience,” which outlines the philosophies of Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Its author, Daniel Pang, a Christian theology scholar, said he had been dismayed to learn that it had disappeared from circulation.
“The only reason I could think of is because it contained recommendations from Benny Tai and Joshua Wong,” he said, referring to two well-known activists who have been charged under the national security law. Blurbs from them appear on the book’s back cover. “Or because of its subject matter: civil disobedience,” Mr. Pang added.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department did not respond to questions about specific publications, but it confirmed that 34 books and periodicals had been suspended as part of a review of books suspected of violating the national security law.
For some independent booksellers, the pulled titles sent a clear signal, even if the new standards for censorship remained obscure.
Daniel Lee, who has run Hong Kong Reader, a popular academic bookstore, for 15 years, said that when there were clear guideposts about which books were forbidden, such as their removal from libraries, he would most likely follow the government’s lead.
“We can’t completely uphold freedom of speech, because the law has changed,” he said. “To the greatest extent possible, we will try to run our bookstore without breaking the law. So if the government can explicitly say that there are problems with certain books, we will follow. It’s a compromise.”
Book Punch has taken a different tack, announcing online that it will lend customers copies of books and magazines that libraries are reviewing for potential national security violations.
“If you keep a lower profile, then you can operate for longer,” Mr. Pong said. “Book Punch and a few others have chosen to do more, and even if we are no longer able to do this one day, I do believe that there are some people to whom we could pass the baton.”
The authorities have not responded to Book Punch’s posts. But Mr. Pong said people he did not recognize had appeared at the shop’s closed-door screenings of politically sensitive documentaries and taken photos of the screen and the participants.
“Everybody has things they cannot accept,” said Mr. Pong, who is currently overseas (he said he would return in a few months). “To me, there’s no reason to stop me from screening documentaries. There’s no reason to ban me from selling books. If in the end, you arrest me, it doesn’t matter. I am ready to persist to the end.”
Mr. Pong’s shop, which continues to operate in his absence, reflects his grass-roots activism on issues like increased bicycle access and the rights of marginalized communities. Last November, it hosted Chan Kin-man, a leader of the 2014 pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Movement, who read aloud from his prison memoir to visually impaired readers there.
The store rewards book buyers with perks like garlic paste and fresh greens, delivered every morning from a wet market. Visually impaired masseuses offer massages by appointment. Yoga teachers, bands and theater groups rent out the space for practice.
“‘Liberating Hong Kong,’ so to speak, is not just about the political level,” Mr. Pong said, referring to a protest slogan that the government has said could be seditious. “If you care only about electoral rights, and not what one might call the right to read or increased access for everyone, this understanding of freedom and democracy is very one-sided.”
At the height of the 2019 protests, pro-democracy chants occasionally broke out outside Mount Zero, in Sheung Wan. Now, lowered voices vie with the soft strains of jazz. Artists sketch under the shade of a willow tree. Musicians stage impromptu outdoor performances. On hot, sticky days, Ms. Chan, the owner, treats customers to slices of watermelon or thick slabs of Cantonese-style French toast from the open-air diner next door.
“When the pain is so collective, the biggest challenge for us is how to maintain a healthy outlook, to keep finding books that our readers would want, to help them relax a bit,” she said. “I think they see this as a space where they can feel safe and find like-minded people.”
Mount Zero takes up only about 100 square feet. Books are stacked tidily in an order that only its shopkeepers can discern. Patrons climb up to an attic with wide windows, passing framed art prints, vintage posters and a pro-democracy newspaper hand-drawn by a local artist.
“I used to think my bookstore was very small,” Ms. Chan said. “But a reader once said to me that, compared to his home, it was very big. I’ve always remembered that.”
Over the front door, a message is spelled out in red, white and black tiles: “Ideas are bulletproof.” It’s a quote from the politically themed action movie “V for Vendetta” that was often found among antigovernment graffiti during the protests. Ms. Chan said the tiles mysteriously appeared one morning last summer.
“Whoever put it up must have made precise measurements,” she said. “I’ve left it up because there must be a reason some of our readers wanted to see it here.”
Ms. Chan has not shied away from politically sensitive subjects at her store. She hosts contentious authors, including Mr. Tai, who visited months before he was detained under the national security law. On this year’s anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, she gave discounts that corresponded to the date of the killings, June 4, 1989: 60, 40, 80 or 90 percent off purchases.
“They could try to ban us from doing certain things in public, but that will not stop us from doing so in private,” Ms. Chan said. “Justice is on my side, and I do not feel afraid.”
As for Mr. Lee of Hong Kong Reader, he said it was worth staying in the business for as long as possible. He cited a Hannah Arendt quote: “There are no dangerous thoughts. Thinking itself is dangerous.”
“As long as something called a ‘bookstore’ is allowed to exist,” he added, “we will continue selling books.”
What’s Next for Watches?
Both old-fashioned luxury and contemporary makers face challenges in a digital world. Here are some ways they might need to change.
In popular culture, the future is often portrayed as fast, sleek and high-tech — qualities not typically associated with the Swiss watch trade, which takes pride in making elegant analog devices using laborious, often centuries-old, techniques.
Nevertheless, many watchmakers are finally ready to greet the future. To explore what that might mean for them in the coming decade, The New York Times asked three experts — a specialist in consumer psychology, a retail futurist and the editor of a luxury watch publication — how buying and owning a fine timepiece will change, and the issues that will preoccupy watch consumers. Their answers have been edited and condensed.
Peter Noel Murray
Principal of a New York-based research and consulting practice specializing in emotion and behavior change.
How has the pandemic affected the consumer psyche?
The mind of the consumer has focused on uncertainty, vulnerability, the need for stability — that’s what’s driving all the conversations I’m having now.
People are asking themselves — largely driven by the pandemic, but compounded by the social unrest that’s going on — where are we headed? There are concerns about the economic future. People are reeling about what happens to jobs, local businesses. They are yearning for situations that are less disruptive and more predictive, so they can start to feel back in control of their lives.
From a strategic perspective, you’d better be talking about factors like authenticity and truth and timelessness — those kinds of constructs always have been an important part of the luxury mind-set, and never more than now.
How should brands be courting customers?
The customer experience is paramount. There needs to be an acknowledgment of how the consumer is feeling. It would be clueless to say, “This is over, let’s go out and party.” The strategy should be to adopt a tonality of understanding and comfort. Hard to explain, but you get the idea. It is more about tone than words.
What other product qualities are consumers interested in?
Design and features are important. But in this environment, investment value — in the sense of buying a product that is holding its value — is another important part. One of the lessons people talk about in my interviews is that they have a yearning to be responsible. We realize how uncertain the world is. All of this changes our mind-set about how secure we feel, where we shop and what we buy. It’s this business of making a responsible choice, as opposed to saying, “This is the latest color.”
Does that mean that desire for classic, vintage-inspired watches will continue at the expense of more avant-garde or contemporary styles?
Contemporary can still appeal as long as it’s positioned in the context of trust, authenticity and, often, timelessness. There needs to be an homage to basic values, because authenticity and truth are an antidote to uncertainty and chaos.
President of research and strategy at New York-based trend consultancy PSFK.
We know the pandemic accelerated the move to digital. What are some less-talked-about changes to retail that are here to stay?
Very relevant to a luxury context is the scheduling of one-on-one appointments — whether that’s a styling consultation or teaching you how to use a product. That can happen in a store, but could also happen online in people’s homes; we’re all on Zoom and FaceTime.
One of the big benefits is suddenly you have this very intimate experience with a customer who’s in their home and you can say, “Show me what’s in your closet.” A lot of retailers are using staff members in a store to do that. They have a product on hand and use the store as a backdrop, and they can begin to use information they have about a customer to make smarter recommendations, and use that experience to complete a purchase or draw them into the store.
At PSFK, you do a lot of research around next-gen omnichannel concepts in which customers have a seamless experience across different “channels,” like social media, phone and in a physical store. What’s the latest?
There’s this idea within the manufacturing space called “digital twins.” It’s a digital version [of a product] that sits online with all the data so if there are glitches or a part is breaking, you can proactively fix things or adjust it. We envision a future where every product has a digital twin that sits in a cloud. You own it and if the item changes hands, it just becomes another way to think about ownership.
Theoretically, it creates a relationship with a brand or a manufacturer so they have the ability to monitor performance. If they notice there’s an issue with a watch — say, it’s losing time — they can proactively say, “Let’s get you set up for a repair appointment at a dealer nearby. We can order the necessary part and prevent you from being without a functioning timepiece for a period of time.” Fixing that problem early on, being proactive about it, is another way to add value to that customer relationship.
How far out is that kind of service?
The technology is in use at some level on a larger scale, in the manufacturing space, where you have these big industrial machines and all these different parts are working in concert with one another and there’s a centralized sensor that’s able to capture all that information and translate it back to A.I. or a piece of machine learning that’s able to check for anomalies.
Having a sensor small enough to fit inside something like a watch and then having some sort of platform to facilitate that, I guess I could envision that happening within the next 15 to 20 years.
What other changes are you seeing?
One of the other interesting things we’ve been paying attention to is luxury as an investment class, or products as asset classes. More nascent are these new platforms that enable incremental ownership in luxury items.
One is called Otis, started by Michael Karnjanaprakorn, who founded [the online learning community] Skillshare. As a company, Otis purchases things like artworks or crazy sneakers, and you, as an individual, can buy shares in those items. It’s the same way the stock market works: Assets either grow in value or decline in value.
Why would someone want to buy a share of a watch?
On the most basic level, people are investing in this stuff because they think it’s going to accrue value and it ties into their passions and interests. If you are a passionate or aspirational fan of watches, yet you can’t afford to buy a Patek Philippe Nautilus, there’s this idea that your knowledge — in the same way someone might be knowledgeable about the stock market — could benefit you financially. It registers you in this community as well. You get to wear the watch once a year or something like that. Or you get access to insider content that’s being shared by the brand.
What do you make of things like digital-only luxury goods and nonfungible token, or NFT, watches?
The idea of the metaverse [shared virtual space] has come to the fore because of the Fortnites and Roblox of the world, where people gather not only to game but to attend Lil Nas X concerts and socialize.
Companies are now creating versions of a product that exist as both physical and digital. Imagine you love Gucci, but you’re 14 — you can’t buy the handbag. But you can buy it for your digital avatar, where you’re spending four hours a day hanging out with your friends. As a way to build affinity and aspirational quality in a consumer, that’s pretty interesting.
Editor in chief of WorldTempus, a Geneva-based watch publication.
The Swiss watch industry has been painfully slow to embrace online. Is that still the case?
Prepandemic, a lot of brands were married to the idea that online is incompatible with the values of luxury watchmaking. “We’re not going to expose ourselves online because you’re not able to fully experience this piece of mechanical beauty” — that’s a philosophy that’s more suitable for an artisanal watchmaker that’s happy and willing to remain small. If you’re interested in your customers, in doing business, you can’t not have a digital presence.
What’s your boldest prediction for the industry in the coming decade?
All the trend analyses I’ve come across point toward greater polarization and narrowing in the market, which basically means that the brands that are already strong will continue to strengthen and that higher-priced watches will become a larger proportion of sales — since consumers tend to shy away from adventurous purchasing in uncertain times, and demand at the very top end of the market is pretty inelastic because of the economic insulation enjoyed by the ultrawealthy.
I do, however, entertain some bold hopes. From a consumer-facing standpoint, I believe that the level of awareness, knowledge and appreciation of watches will increase, because of the ongoing effects of media digitalization and the rise of a consumer audience that has access to more information than ever.
Do you consider any watchmakers to be forward-thinking?
An interesting example is Jacob & Co. Jacob Arabo stepped back from running the company day to day and his son, Benjamin, stepped in. He’s 28 or something insanely young. Benjamin was not always in the family business. He was carving his own career in the tech sphere, but he also consulted for Jacob & Co. As a result, they were one of the first brands to do that intensive online customer outreach that took other brands a lot longer to get started on. What really comes into play is how they’re speaking to the younger generation. Jacob & Co. is far and away the most active luxury watch brand on TikTok.
Do you think the debate around the value of beauty (Swiss watchmaking) vs. utility (Apple Watch) has shifted? How do you see these categories coexisting?
This is a false dichotomy. We should not be making consumers choose between pleasure and convenience.
Why do we think that a utilitarian object cannot simultaneously be beautiful? Montblanc had the right idea some years ago, when they debuted their e-Strap, an electronic module that could be fitted on to a mechanical watch. Never make people choose between A, B, C or D when the best answer is really “All of the above.”
Control of New York’s Stages Remains in White Hands, a Study Finds
The Asian American Performers Action Coalition is hoping for a season of change when theaters reopen.
As New York’s theaters prepare to reopen following the twin crises of a pandemic and rising discontent over racial inequity, a new study which found that both power and money in the theater world have been disproportionately controlled by white people is calling for “a fundamental paradigm shift.”
The study, by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, found that at the 18 major nonprofit theaters examined by the group, 100 percent of artistic directors were white, as were 88 percent of board members. On Broadway, 94 percent of producers were white, as were 100 percent of general managers.
The study offers a direct challenge, not only to theater leaders, but also to those who fund the institutions, saying, “it remains to be seen whether or not the multitude of antiracist solidarity statements and pledges to diversity will result in real action and systemic change.”
“Our expanded leadership stats confirm that almost every gatekeeper, employer and decision maker in the NYC theater industry is white,” the coalition declares in a letter introducing the study.
They examined the 2018-19 New York theater season — the last full season before the pandemic — looking at every Broadway show, as well as the work of the nonprofits.
The coalition called particular attention to a dearth of shows about Asian Americans. “Even as the industry has made small gains in diversity in recent years, particularly at the nonprofits, our work at AAPAC has shown that Asian-focused narratives remain consistently minimized and overlooked,” the report says.
Among the other findings:
Using publicly available tax forms, the coalition calculated the public and private contributions to nonprofit theaters, and said that $150 million went to the 18 big nonprofits in the city that it referred to as “predominantly white institutions,” compared with $12.6 million to 28 theaters of color.
At the theaters studied, 59 percent of roles went to white actors, compared to 29 percent for Black actors, 6 percent for Asian American actors and 5 percent for Latinos (the coalition uses the gender-neutral term Latinx).
Creative teams were less diverse, with 81 percent of writers being white, along with 81 percent of directors and 77 percent of designers.
The report gave grades to individual theaters, and declared the Public Theater to be the most diverse, and the Irish Repertory Theater to be least diverse.
The intense focus nationally on diversity issues has prompted an increase in research about race, gender and disability within the theater industry. A coalition of groups doing such research, called Counting Together, formed in 2019, and this month introduced the CountingTogether.org website, hosted by the Dramatists Guild and the American Theater Wing, to make the research more readily available.
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