Multiculturalism and animal cruelty

by Chris Bertram on March 19, 2004

I’ve been meaning to blog for the past week about a topic which caused some lively debate over Sunday lunch with some friends last week, prompted by political philosopher Paula Casal’s article “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Animals?” (Journal of Political Philosophy 11/1 2003). Muslims and orthodox Jews are only allowed to eat meat slaughtered according to Halal or Kosher procedures. These procedures are typically worse from the animal’s point of view that the “humane” methods required for slaughtering cattle normally (at least in the UK). Now as far as I know there’s no religious requirement on Muslims or Jews to eat meat slaughtered by these methods: that’s to say Muslims and Jews can be vegetarians if they want to be. The religious requirement is simply that IF they eat meat, these slaughtering methods must be used. The question that then arises is this: should adherents of these religions (and other similar ones if there are any) be given an exemption from standard animal cruelty regulations to permit them to continue to use these methods?

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Vinegar, Fruit Cake, and Bagels

by Harry on March 19, 2004

Invisible Adjunct generated a long discussion by asking why Americans don’t have vinegar with their fries. (They do, in fact, in the Northwest). My favourite hypothesis is this:

bq. Almost all the vinegar in the US has been supplanted by factory-made industrial acetic acid solution crap (“white vinegar”). Even the mass-market “apple cider vinegar” is factory-made crap made by mixing the white stuff with apple juice. As a result, most US residents will simply have no idea what vinegar really is. They have to go to a real pub (rare), or some other extraordinary place like Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor ( ), to get real vinegar these days. Therefore anybody who tries it with the vinegar one can buy will deeply regret it.

This is analagous with my combined hypotheses about why Americans don’t like fruitcake and Brits don’t like Bagels. American fruitcake is a terrifying concoction of food colouring and formaldehyde, that no-one in their right minds would want to have in the house, whereas British fruitcake is a rich and exotic mingling of booze, dried fruits, sugar and fat. Its just a different item. Similarly bagels — bagels in the UK are normally dried out old pieces of cardboard, as opposed to the wonderful moist morsels one can easily find here in the US (and my east coast friends tell me I’ve never even had real bagels.

The Mommy Myth

by Harry on March 19, 2004

Great post by Laura about The Mommy Myth. The book is apparently about the sense of guilt mothers have about not spending 24/7 with their children. Laura says this:

bq. What is the source of this more demanding style of parenting? The authors blame a vast right wing conspiracy, which they intelligently call the Committee for Retrograde Antifeminist Propaganda or CRAP. (Call me an academic snob, but I was really irritated by this. Also, trying to be cute, they call the former Soviet Union, those pesky Russkies. Finger nails on a blackboard.)

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Elections and the general will

by John Q on March 19, 2004

Looking back at the debate over the Spanish election outcome, it struck me that many of the contributions to this debate suffered from a confusion between electoral outcomes and notions akin to Rousseau’s “general will”. My own contributions weren’t entirely free of this fallacious reasoning.

To clarify my point, suppose purely hypothetically that it could be shown beyond doubt that, in the absence of the terrorist attacks, the PP would have won, and that those who changed their votes did so in the hope that this would appease terrorists and induce them to direct their attacks elsewhere. Much of the debate has taken it as self-evident that, if this were true, then it could justly be said that the Spanish people had displayed cowardice, given in to Al Qaeda and so on. But even in this hypothetical case, this would not be true. It would only be true that the 5 per cent or so of Spaniards who changed their votes had done this. (I’d better emphasise again that I don’t believe the hypothesis to be true, and am using it only as an analytical device).

To take a marginally less controversial example, one way of interpreting the results of the most recent presidential election in the US is that the voters couldn’t make up their minds between Gore and Bush and decided, instead, to leave the choice up to the Supreme Court. Stated baldly, the claim seems evidently silly, at least to me, but when I checked, it wasn’t hard to find exactly this analysis being offered by Time Magazine

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by Brian on March 19, 2004

Despite having lived my entire life in two of the leading basketball countries of the world, there are many things about basketball I still don’t understand. Like, how can a foul you intended to give not be an intentional foul? I suspect that’s one of those odd quirks of the interpretations like the outside strike that we just have to live with. But here’s a more serious question.

Why is it that players are always taken out of the game when they get into foul trouble?

If they stay in the game, the worst thing that can happen is they foul out. And the cost of fouling out is that you have to spend part of the game on the bench. So to avoid the risk of the player spending a chunk of time on the bench, you make them spend a chunk of time on the bench. This doesn’t obviously make sense.

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Men from Mars, Women from Venus, Ph.Ds from Uranus

by Kieran Healy on March 19, 2004

Via “Kevin ‘the Animal’ Drum”: we learn that John Gray, author of _Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus_ is pretty touchy. He’s “threatening to sue”: a blogger who “pointed out”: last November that Gray’s Ph.D was of dubious provenance. I thought this was pretty well known — I mean, _I_ knew it, and it’s not like I keep up with the news. He got it from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited diploma mill somewhere in California. There was a “TV story”: about it a while ago. But though CPU may be defunct (by the by, what computer scientist would not want a degree from CPU?) there are plenty of others. Enroll at “Strassford University”:, for example (discussed further in “this CBS news report”:, or “Glencullen University”:, notionally located in the heart of “Dublin”:[1], or just cut to the chase and “design your own degree”: — literally — at “”: This last site helpfully reminds you that, although “All our diplomas are printed on high quality parchment paper [and] all transcripts are printed on tamper proof, security paper,” and that  ”You also have the option of adding a security hologram to any transcript”, nevertheless “none of our items are intended to be used for unlawful misrepresentation or fraudulent purposes.” 

fn1. Glencullen “also operates”: as the University of Wexford, which I suppose isn’t _that_ far from Dublin, but also as the University of San Moritz, which makes you hope the students don’t have to walk across campus to get from one lecture to the next.


by Micah on March 19, 2004

If you’re at all interested in legal academia, and if you haven’t already discovered them, some of the folks previously at “En Banc”: have formed a new blog called “De Novo”:, which is devoted in part to running on-line “symposia”: I think this is an excellent innovation, and the De Novo bloggers are off to a great start. They’re currently running a blog-symposium–a blogosium?–about “Perspectives on Legal Education” (see “Day 1”:, “Day 2”: and “Day 3”: For anyone thinking about going to law school, or currently suffering through it, there’s an especially good post by “Dahlia Lithwick”:

The next symposium topic is “Internet, Law and Culture,” and they’re currently accepting submissions.