The Truth About the “Vegan Lobby”


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The idea that there’s a powerful vegan lobby has caught on with vegans and non-vegans alike. In a Telegraph essay last year, titled “I would sign up to veganism if it weren’t for all the damned vegans,” a photo caption uses the term to refer to PETA protestors, thus equating the vegan lobby with animal rights groups as King does. But others use the term even more loosely. A writer for The Guardian seems to believe that the vegan lobby is people who love soy. And in a recent essay, vegan writer Janey Stevenson wrote, “I’ve deliberately disconnected myself from the vegan lobby because frankly, it’s embarrassing,” without explaining what, exactly, she’d disconnected herself from. A PETA membership? A vegan Meetup?

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Emily Atkin — The New Republic

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Why I Married Myself


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Sologamy.

Sasha Cagen, a women’s empowerment coach who helped popularize self-marriage with her book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, held her own ceremony three years ago, when she turned 40. At her wedding, held in a Japanese garden in Buenos Aires with two close friends present, “I vowed to trust myself, to see myself as beautiful, to accept my imperfections and the imperfections of others,” she says. “It helped me to raise the bar on what I would or would not accept in a relationship.” She wore an engagement necklace with two charms, one that says “love” and one that says “Alexandra,” her birth name.

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Abigail Pesta — Cosmopolitan

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THE MEDIA AND CHILD ABUSE


A look at the role of media.

One of the key moments in media coverage of child abuse in the UK came in October 1986 with the broadcast of a major BBC programme, Childwatch (Kitzinger, 2004: 35, Parton 1991: 91). The Childwatch programme was accompanied by a remarkable expansion in attention to child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, from other TV formats as well as the print media. Reporting of sexual abuse in The Times newspaper, for example, increased by 300 per cent between 1985 and 1987 (Kitzinger 2004). Moreover sexual abuse within families became the subject of a number of flagship UK documentary series, including Brass Tacks (BBC2 1987), Everyman (BBC1 1988) Antenna (BBC1 1989), and Horizon (BB2 1989). Kitzinger (2004:36) has also noted the importance of fictional genre in highlighting this issue. By the early 1990s child sexual abuse had begun to appear in British and American drama series and became the subject of ‘true crime’ features. It also featured in soap operas, most notably Brookside (Channel 4) which ran a two-year storyline on a family traumatised by an abusive father.

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Fred Powell and Margaret Scanlon — Discover Society

Learning from Gossip about Free Speech


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Revelations about Facebook are the latest manifestation of dysfunction. Not only is Facebook lax about regulating the speech that takes place on its gargantuan platform, but the very nature of the platform is the result of an unregulated economic market. If Facebook is being used successfully to steal elections, spread false news, and infringe upon civil liberties, then it is undermining the very fabric of democracy.

Ironically, gossip can help to address some of these problems. You might think that gossip is the problem, if by that word we mean self-serving and often fallacious talk about others. But that’s not how gossip works in small-scale societies around the world.

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David Sloan Wilson — The Evolution Institute

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The rise of the pointless job


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It is like digging the trenches and filling them back. Maybe even worse.

The defining feature is this: one so completely pointless that even the person who has to perform it every day cannot convince themselves there’s a good reason for them to be doing it. They may not be able to admit this to their co-workers – often, there are very good reasons not to do so – but they are convinced the job is pointless nonetheless.

Bullshit jobs are not just jobs that are useless; typically, there has to be some degree of pretence and fraud involved as well. The employee must feel obliged to pretend that there is, in fact, a good reason their job exists, even if, privately, they find such claims ridiculous.

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David Graeber — The Guardian

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Why We Must Stop Relying on Student Ratings of Teaching


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I remember giving better ratings to teachers of courses that were inherently interesting.

Even biases that fall outside traditional categories of discrimination — such as student negativity toward classes they perceive as overly challenging or taxing — harm an institution’s ability to use student evaluations to gauge instructors’ effectiveness. Professors who are perceived to be difficult, or who teach difficult material, may receive lower evaluations despite students’ often having greater success in later courses based on what they learned from those professors, as one study found.

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Michelle Falkoff  — The Chronicle of Higher Education

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The crime of being black


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This troubled modern history comes under careful examination in two powerful books, Chokehold: Policing black men by Paul Butler and I Can’t Breathe: The killing that started a movement by Matt Taibbi, the former deeply informed from a legal standpoint and yet in some ways still highly personal, and the latter closely reported by a veteran journalist, and yet historically informed and full of pathos. The two reach consonant conclusions. For both authors, a Supreme Court decision in the late 1960s, and revolutionary changes in the theory and practice of policing that followed a decade and a half later, combined to create a prison industrial complex in the US, whose cornerstone is the hair-trigger search and seizure of black men. This has led to a nearly weekly spectacle in which black men die in street encounters with the police. As this article was being written the latest of these incidents was playing out on American television screens, as black residents of Sacramento buried Stephon Clark amid angry street protests. Clark had been shot by police – who were following up on reports of someone in the neighbourhood breaking windows – in his grandmother’s back yard. He was unarmed.

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HOWARD W. FRENCH — TLS

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