Veganism, race, and culture

When I was still living in California, I went into a vegan restaurant in east Oakland. There was one other white guy in there and he asked a question of the lady behind the counter that I had felt too sensitive to broach.

“Why,” he boldly (I thought) asked, “are so many vegan restaurants in Oakland owned by Blacks?” She answered by pointing to health reasons. Not the ethical reasons preferred by animal rights activists. Not even referring to the environment. Read more

On ‘reclaiming’ slurs

The first I heard of ‘reclaiming’ slurs was when young women, who wanted to dress as they chose and not be subject to harassment for it, ‘reclaimed’ the word ‘slut.’ And so we have ‘slut walks’ and ‘slut shaming’ but the use of the term ‘slut’ really retains its original meaning. The attempt at ‘reclaiming’ merely casts it ironically, intending to shame those who continue to use the word as a slur for their outdated and misogynist attitudes. Read more

Talking about critical theory—and critical race theory

I’m a critical theorist—it’s an important part of Human Science—but I am not a critical race theorist; they’re related and there are overlaps but they’re not the same. If I were to be involved with a program to identify bias, discrimination, and power relationships, I’d actually want several scholars along with me, at least one from each of these related fields, including critical race theory, women’s studies, ethnic studies, queer theory, and others I haven’t heard specifically labeled. None of us would catch everything. But between us, we’d catch more, and we’d learn from each other in the process.

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We, the unemployed, the homeless, the evicted, and the wage earners can all sleep soundly at night knowing the political elite are very clear on their priorities

The 25 richest Amerikkkans, collectively worth over $1 trillion by the end of 2018, paid an effective tax rate of 3.4 percent over a 15 year period. Warren Buffett paid 0.1 percent. Jeff Bezos paid less than one percent.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen, and Paul Kiel, “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax,” ProPublica, June 8, 2021, https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax

‘Private benefit’ versus ‘public good’

Previous coverage that I’ve seen of a plan to merge six universities in Pennsylvania has emphasized the administrative side[1] and I honestly don’t see the value of fragmented systems, particularly with libraries, which are on their own trying to afford peer-reviewed journal subscriptions.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Deb Erdley, “Pa. State System moves ahead with mergers of 6 universities, including California, Clarion, Edinboro,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 28, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pa-moves-ahead-on-merger-of-6-universities-including-california-clarion-and-edinboro/; Lee Gardner, “A System Leader Sells His Vision for Remaking Public Higher Ed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 21, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-system-leader-sells-his-vision-for-remaking-public-higher-ed
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The ideology of ‘competition’ and higher education,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/04/22/the-ideology-of-competition-and-higher-education/

We refuse to atone

There are several aspects to the recent revelation of 215 children’s bodies at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. First, this was not the only such school in Canada,[1] nor indeed, North America,[2] suggesting that bodies may remain be found at other locations in both Canada[3] and the United States. I am told that these schools also existed in Australia and New Zealand. Read more

  1. [1]Democracy Now! “‘There Are Many Others’: 215 Bodies Found at Canadian Residential School for Indigenous Children,” June 1, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/6/1/indigenous_children_remains_found_canada
  2. [2]Jacqueline Fear-Segal, White Man’s Club (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2007).
  3. [3]Democracy Now! “‘There Are Many Others’: 215 Bodies Found at Canadian Residential School for Indigenous Children,” June 1, 2021, https://www.democracynow.org/2021/6/1/indigenous_children_remains_found_canada

On the origin of COVID-19

The only thing that has really changed on the question of the origin of the novel coronavirus, how COVID-19 spread to humans, really, since early in the pandemic, is that the media narrative has shifted towards placing a greater weight on the “lab leak” hypothesis, specifically that the virus may have been released accidentally from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.[1] The trouble is that a World Health Organization (WHO) report on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is less than convincing, in part because the Chinese have allegedly been less than fully cooperative,[2] and that scientists have not found an intermediate species that would have spread the disease to humans.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Helen Davidson, “WHO says it has no evidence to support ‘speculative’ Covid-19 lab theory,” Guardian, May 4, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/who-says-it-has-no-evidence-to-support-speculative-covid-19-lab-theory-pushed-by-us; Deborah Netburn, “Did the coronavirus escape from a lab? The idea deserves a second look, scientists say,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-05-13/did-coronavirus-escape-from-lab-scientists-urge-second-look; Matthew Rozsa, “A virologist unpacks the lab leak hypothesis,” Salon, May 29, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/05/29/a-virologist-unpacks-the-lab-leak-hypothesis/; Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html
  2. [2]Deborah Netburn, “Did the coronavirus escape from a lab? The idea deserves a second look, scientists say,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-05-13/did-coronavirus-escape-from-lab-scientists-urge-second-look
  3. [3]Matthew Rozsa, “A virologist unpacks the lab leak hypothesis,” Salon, May 29, 2021, https://www.salon.com/2021/05/29/a-virologist-unpacks-the-lab-leak-hypothesis/

Stephen Zappala’s resignation would be nowhere near enough

See updates through June 11, 2021, at end of post.



Jessie Sage refers to a sex worker outreach program and, in her temporal reference (“now”), to a scandal in which Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has directed his office to refuse plea deals with a Black defense attorney, Milton Raiford, who criticized systemic racism in the Allegheny criminal (in)justice system.[1] This refusal has been widely condemned and there are numerous calls for the D.A. to step down. One judge is now refusing any plea deals from the D.A.[2] Read more

  1. [1]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh politicians call on DA Stephen Zappala to be removed or resign from office,” Pittsburgh City Paper, June 2, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-politicians-call-on-da-stephen-zappala-to-be-removed-or-resign-from-office/Content?oid=19583745; Paula Reed Ward, “Zappala: No plea deals to Black attorney who called his office ‘systematically racist,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/zappala-no-plea-deals-to-black-attorney-who-called-his-office-systematically-racist/
  2. [2]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh politicians call on DA Stephen Zappala to be removed or resign from office,” Pittsburgh City Paper, June 2, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/pittsburgh-politicians-call-on-da-stephen-zappala-to-be-removed-or-resign-from-office/Content?oid=19583745; Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County judge halts plea deals amid questions surrounding DA Zappala,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/allegheny-county-judge-halts-plea-deals-amid-questions-surrounding-da-zappala/

Slip, slip, slipping away, down that fascist slippery slope

See updates through June 7, 2021, at end of post.


Voting reform is not really a topic I want to get into, because for practical matters, in this constitutional oligarchy,[1] we are given a choice between awful and awful.[2] It’s just generally been really hard for me to get too terribly worked up about which awful major party wins. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, May 10, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The lesser of two evils? The more successful con artist,” Not Housebroken, May 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/05/15/the-lesser-of-two-evils-the-more-successful-con-artist/

Against vegan absolutism

The anti-vaccination movement, it seems, has a new wrinkle for vegans:


There are, often, animal ingredients in vaccines. When I got my flu shot last year, my vegan doctor asked me about any allergies to eggs. Read more