PowerLine – Academic Absurdity of the Week: The Coming Vegankampf | Hate Speech At Whole Foods?

PowerLine – Academic Absurdity of the Week: The Coming Vegankampf | Hate Speech At Whole Foods?


Daily Digest

  • Academic Absurdity of the Week: The Coming Vegankampf
  • Hate Speech At Whole Foods?
  • You Knew This Was Coming—Hamilton Angst [Updated]
  • Cheesy Energy Stories of the Week
  • A deep secret revisited

Academic Absurdity of the Week: The Coming Vegankampf

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 02:45 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

PowerLine Daily digest - Old Guard Audio.com

PowerLine Daily digest – Old Guard Audio.com


Really, I don’t mean to pick on vegans relentlessly. I actually know a couple of conservative vegans, and hey, if you want to deprive yourself of tasty animals, it’s a free country. But of course, there are the other kinds of vegans who, following most leftist enthusiasms, would like to make it mandatory for everyone.

The first step is integrating veganism fully into the current mode of identity politics, thus providing a pretext for Bruce Springsteen to boycott cattle-ranching states or something. Behold this Ph.D. abstract from Durham University:

Queering Veganism: A Biographical, Visual and Autoethnographic Study of Animal Advocacy.

GRIFFIN, NATHAN,DAVID,STEPHENS (2015) Queering Veganism: A Biographical, Visual and Autoethnographic Study of Animal Advocacy. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

I am vegan. This means I eschew animal products (such as meat, dairy, and eggs) for ethical reasons. Academic interest in animal advocacy is expanding, as evidenced in the emerging field of Critical Animal Studies (Taylor and Twine, 2014). However, concurrent with a ‘criminalization’ of legitimate protest since 9/11 (Gilmore, 2013), empirical research suggests a tendency for mainstream media sources to ridicule, misrepresent and discredit vegans (Cole and Morgan, 2011). I examine the events and experiences that have been significant in shaping the biographies of vegan animal advocates. I use biographical interviews with twelve (12) vegans alongside visual methods, and autoethnography. Participants created comics -the narrative juxtaposition of words and images- about their lives, and I created an ‘autoethnographic’ comic about my biography as a vegan researcher, thus examining animal advocacy from a reflexive, situated vegan perspective. I found that vegan identity is often subject to normalizing processes (Foucault, 1977), and is necessarily fluid across social situations (as evidenced in descriptions of ‘coming out’ vegan). Vegan identity is performed and achieved in variously embodied ways. These processes intersect with other social structures such as gender and sexuality. Access to cultural narratives about veganism is also significant in the experience of participants. The project contributes to the diverse fields of Biographical Research and Critical Animal Studies, adding rich biographical and visual data to existing empirical evidence around animal advocacy. It sets a precedent for the potential use of comics in research, particularly in connection with queer methodological approaches that challenge existing representational forms and focus on fluidity. It also offers novel applications for autoethnographic and visual biographical approaches.

Now, if you’re wanting to rush off and read the whole thing, you can’t. There’s this little headnote attached to the abstract:

Full text not available from this repository. Author-imposed embargo until 23 March 2020.

You’ll just have to contain your disappointment. And mark your calendar for 23 March 2020.

Oh, and “Critical Animal Studies”? I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.


Hate Speech At Whole Foods?

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 02:25 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

It is hard to imagine a more cosmopolitan establishment these days than Whole Foods, where, David Brooks joked, the checkers all look like they’re on loan from Amnesty International. But a gay preacher is alleging that he is the victim of hate speech from the bakery department at the Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, where his special order cake reading “Love Wins” came with some extra frosting:

Looks like a feeble hoax. The lettering of the slur doesn’t match up very well with the lettering at the periphery. Is it plausible that a Whole Foods in Austin is a hotbed of anti-gay sentiment? Better send the whole cake to the FBI Frosting Handwriting Analysis Lab to get to the bottom of this.

Whole Foods is denying their baker did it:

I’m with Whole Foods on this one.



You Knew This Was Coming—Hamilton Angst [Updated]

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 12:25 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

UPDATE: No sooner do I send up this post then news breaks that Lin-Manuel Miranda has won a Pulitzer Prize for Hamilton. That’s going to cost him some college speaking invitations!

One of the delicious and predictable spectacles that have come out of the runaway success of the Broadway rap musical Hamilton is the identity politics left losing their lunch over it. Even though Hamilton was created by and stars a minority cast, you just knew the Left would call it racist anyway. Because racism. And stupidity: the identity politics Left hasn’t got much else to say.

The irony of this turn is that it was the identity politics Left that demonized Thomas Jefferson—Sally Hemmings and all that—who hitherto had been the hero for generations of liberals against the uber-capitalist Hamilton. After all, Hamilton is the founder of Wall Street and the 1 percent! But now he’s the hero of New York theater!

Sure enough, the campus leftist rabble is turning its guns on Hamilton. The biggest sin of Hamilton is the less than subtle suggestion that the legacy of the Founding belongs to everyone regardless of skin color and status, which is what you might expect from a country whose founding document begins with the principle that “all men are created equal.” So naturally Slate complains that “It’s still white history. And no amount of casting people of color disguises the fact that they’re erasing people of color from the actual narrative.”

Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and law at Harvard, complains: “One of the most interesting things about the ‘Hamilton’ phenomenon is just how little serious criticism the play has received.”

John McWhorter is fed up with the complaints and has a long beat down on the complainers over at The Daily Beast. Worth reading the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

These people are claiming that Lin-Manuel Miranda—a man of color himself—screwed up. The charge is unfair and inept, and it’s time for some contestation of the whole school of thought that produces criticism of this kind. . .

To the contesters, what Hamilton was so busy creating is invalidated by the fact that slavery reigned unquestioned within it—we must, therefore, permeate the story with an issue Hamilton himself didn’t prioritize his shortish life, and judge him about that. However, this is an almost willfully uncomprehending perspective. It would be valid to utterly dismiss a political experiment founded in slavery today, indeed. However, the chance that a person can see completely beyond the ideological confines of their time is small. Even smaller are the chances that they will have the stomach to devote their entire life to fighting for a principle in the face of certain dismissal and resistance. And even smaller than this are the chances that someone will devote themselves to such a self-abnegating quest while dedicated to as massive a project as, say, creating a nation. . .

If today’s climate of religious antiracism is any indication, however, it will be deemed urgent to take these contests into account for future mountings of Hamilton. Get ready for versions in the 2030s with the chorus bulked out to include a few people playing slaves, and for it to become established to reinsert a slavery number Miranda actually wrote for the show but cut for time.

What any of this will have to do with America making genuine progress on race will be unclear and, ultimately, of no concern to the usual suspects. This kind of professional Cassandraism is less a proactive tool than an unchanging stance. However, the rest of us “wonderful people out there in the dark,” as Norma Desmond put it in Sunset Boulevard, will in all of our benightedness continue to see Hamilton as just fine—and really, quite a bit more than fine—as it is.


Cheesy Energy Stories of the Week

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 08:55 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I’m old enough to remember when surplus government cheese was given away to poor people. But now the geniuses of greenery over in the UK have come up with a new use:

Gas made from cheese to heat hundreds of homes

Hundreds of homes in Cumbria will be heated using cheese from next month, as a new government-backed green energy plant starts producing gas from cheddar manufacturing waste.

The anaerobic digestion plant at the Lake District Creamery in Aspatria will receive millions of pounds in subsidies for turning whey and other residues from the cheese production process into “biogas”.

Some of the gas will be used to generate electricity on-site while the remainder will be processed and fed into the local gas grid where it will be used by homes and business for their heating and cooking.

Clearfleau, the company that built the new plant, said the total amount of gas being fed into the gas grid each year would be equivalent to the annual gas needs of 4,000 homes.

About 60 percent of that gas is expected to be taken back out of the grid for the creamery’s own use in steam-making, leaving the equivalent of 1,600 homes’ annual gas usage circulating to homes and businesses in rural Cumbria.

So essentially this is a fancy co-generation plant, though note the telltale “will receive millions of pounds in subsidies” for an energy source that will supply, net, natural gas for just 1,600 homes. No wonder the article commits the usual journalistic malpractice of not saying how much this genius scheme costs, how large the subsidy is, how the per-unit cost compares with other sources of energy, and whether there is enough “cheese residues” around to scale it up beyond this engineer’s plaything. In other words, this story is even cheesier than the usual energy flim-flam.

It could be worse. The great Vaclav Smil relates in his terrific book Energy Myths and Realities about the preposterous proposal to “link a biodiesel plant with cosmetic surgeons.” Yes—you understand that correctly: make fuel out of liposuction residues—330 lbs of human fat a week would produce 40 gallons of fuel. I know what you’re thinking: “Finally—a productive use for the Kardashians!” But no.

Meanwhile, you may have heard that Peabody Coal is filing for bankruptcy, ahead of Hillary’s schedule to put coal companies out of business. (“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Hillary said last month.) Much less attention, meanwhile, is being paid to the latest bankruptcies of solar power firms:

Anatomy of a Solar Meltdown

Less than a year ago, SunEdison was a solar industry titan, billing itself as the world’s largest renewable development company.

Today, it has lost $9.2 billion in equity and seen its stock price plummet from $33.40 last July to 39 cents a share Monday.

Two weeks ago, SunEdison revealed it is facing scrutiny from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission on questions surrounding its financing practices and how much cash it had on hand when its stock meltdown occurred.

A public filing on March 29 reported SunEdison is facing “substantial risk” of bankruptcy, prompting Greg Jones of the financial research firm CreditSights to tell the Economist magazine, “It’s like a giant layer cake of debt.”

Or this, from The Guardian:

UK Solar Power Installations Plummet After Government Cuts

The amount of household solar power capacity installed in the past two months has plummeted by three-quarters following the government’s cuts to subsidies, according to new figures.

A fall in solar power was expected following a 65% reduction in government incentives paid to householders, but the size of the drop-off will dismay green campaigners who want take up on clean energy sources to accelerate.

Data published by the energy regulator this week shows there were 21 megawatts (MW) of small solar installed in February and March this year after a new, lower incentive rate came into effect. By contrast, energy department figures show that for the same period in 2015, 81MW was installed.

The cuts were announced just days after energy secretary Amber Rudd helped agree on the historic Paris climate deal and have bankrupted several solar companies. The government says the changes were necessary to protect bill payers, as the solar incentives are levied on household energy bills.

Funny how a source of something everyone needs to consume in large, predictable quantities can’t compete in the marketplace without heavy government subsidies. Makes you think it might be a lousy source of the product.


A deep secret revisited

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 07:25 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

TaxProf Paul Caron excerpts the Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s post on Professor Richard Sander’s attempts to get the California state bar to cough up bar passage data by race. For some reason, the powers that be have escaped scrutiny over the racial disparities that dog bar passage rates. Professor Sander’s long legal fight for the data is headed for trial. The powers that be guard the relevant data more carefully than we protect Fort Knox. I want to retell the story I have explored previously here from a local Minnesota angle.

In Minnesota, we caught the wave of the assault on law enforcement in the name of racial disparities courtesy of the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations have since piled on, but the Minnesota Supreme Court was on the case early and its imprimatur has given the local movement destructive legitimacy.

In the early 1990s, the Court appointed a 40-member committee of attorneys and judges to put their names on a report finding racial bias permeating the criminal justice system. The committee devoted “two years of research and study” to the issues. With the help of the Court’s staff, the committee performed as expected and released the Court’s Task Force Report on Racial Bias In the Judicial System in 1993. The report was a joke, but it produced page-one stories based on handy summaries that saved reporters from the trouble of having to read the damn thing.

In connection with the release of the Task Force Report in 1993, the Minnesota Supreme Court established an Implementation Committee on Multicultural Diversity and Racial Fairness in the Courts, also known as the Racial Fairness Committee. The committee issued numerous progress reports before its Final Progress Report in December 2010, after which it emerged as the Committee For Equality and Justice.

The search for statistical racial disparities abides. The demand for equal results continues.

Who is biased? In the more than twenty years it has devoted to the problem and what must by now be millions of dollars it has spent on analysis, the Court, and its task forces have yet to id. a judge or prosecutor guilty of biased treatment of parties. This is a serious offense that lacks a perpetrator in the traditional sense.

It is a bizarre enterprise. The April 2002 progress report noted that the implementation committee has worked with the Board of Law Examiners “to identify the causes of racially disproportionate bar passage rates and to promote solutions.” With the requirement of bar passage for licensure, we have a requirement under the direct control of the Court. We can infer from the report that Minnesota bar passage rates reflect statistical racial disparities. By the Court’s methodology, the Court itself must be guilty of racial bias. At last, we can id. a perpetrator.

According to the 2002 report, we also have a remedy. The Board of Law Examiners “works to ensure that at least 25% of the graders are people of color.” Putting the 25 percent number to one side, think about that. Are minority graders required to understand the answers of minority test takers? Do test takers identify their race so that they can be matched up with the right grader? (I was told they do not.) Should they be? On an exam testing professional competence?

Suggesting that the Court is guilty of racial bias, of course, I’m being facetious. I want to make a serious point.

Inspired by Professor Saner, I looked into these issues in the fall of 2013. I was unable to get data on the racial disparities in Minnesota’s bar passage rate from the Board of Law Examiners — I was told they don’t keep the data. But racial disparities in bar passage rates are ubiquitous. Professor Sander tells the story in chapters 4 and 5 of Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It, the brilliant book he co-wrote with Stuart Taylor, Jr.

Sander does id. a perpetrator in the book. According to Sander, the perpetrator is affirmative action in law school admissions — a thesis  you are guaranteed never to see floated under official auspices in Minnesota or elsewhere.


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