Improving CRC equity: You can’t fairly recruit into unfair positions

I recently became interested in how Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) are recruited after my former faculty[*] posted a position for a CRC Tier II in Northern Aboriginal Health Research in the School of Public Health (SPH) at the University of Alberta. As a student representative on a CRC hiring committee previously I was somewhat familiar with the process, but this posting made me realize that there are some issues with the CRC Program. I had some concerns about the position that I shared with the SPH Advisory Selection Committee (ASC) in a letter on April 5th [†].

Coincidentally, in the weeks following my letter, there have been increasing conversations about equity in the CRC Program. Notably, federal granting agencies have threatened to stop providing CRC funding to institutions that don’t reach equity targets. However, I don’t think that equity in the CRC Program will be achieved through reaching a select number of targets. True equity will only be achieved through preventing exclusion, rather than mandating inclusion of four designated groups. Academia needs a rich breadth of perspectives to reach its full potential, including people from diverse social classes and people trained in diverse knowledge systems. For example, ensuring there are “enough” women is a weak target if all of those women are relatively rich and white. Unless institutions find ways to foster the most creative scientists, rather than settle for convenience and cronyism, academia will face increasing public legitimacy challenges.

In light of these ongoing conversations, I decided to share some of my concerns about recruitment for CRCs and equity more broadly, using some specifics from the CRC process in the SPH. From what I’ve learned about the CRC process, most of the concerns I had about the SPH position would be resolved if there were better institutional and programmatic policies, which we all can/should contribute to.

The CRC Program is not a legitimate authority on Indigenous expertise, and should not be providing titles of Indigenous expertise through colonial institutions.

When I first read the title proposed by the SPH, I set out to learn more about CRCs with “Indigenous” expertise. What I (and others) found was that 48% of scholars with these titles went to non-Indigenous people (13/27[‡]). While there is no evidence that non-Indigenous CRCs who have “Indigenous” are illegitimate, there is also no evidence they are legitimate. In the absence of a transparent process to ensure that individuals given these important titles are accepted by the communities they claim to work for, given the history of colonial academia, it’s safer to assume they are not legitimate. Unless institutions and the CRC Program can work out a process to ensure that these titles are provided in a transparent and community-approved manner, they should probably stop allowing colonial institutions to assign them. At the least, CRC should engage Indigenous scholars to determine what an appropriate process would be.

Institutions should not allow faculties to recruit CRCs intended to benefit Indigenous communities without engagement of relevant communities.

There are 45 non-Indigenous CRCs that indicate they do research on issues relating to Indigenous Peoples, but there is no transparent process to ensure that this is research that Indigenous communities want, or that they would support researchers receiving CRCs based on the work they’ve done with Indigenous communities. People in communities that I work with are very aware of the professional benefits that academics derive from working with them, and would likely have some questions for researchers using their partnerships explicitly to receive a prestigious personal promotion.

Allowing institutions to provide these chairs continues the tradition of academic institutions appropriating Indigeneity for their own benefit (both personally and institutionally). In the example of my faculty, senior leadership determined that in order to be in line with U of Alberta priorities, demonstrate its commitment to the north, and increase the presence of the SPH in the north, they should use their CRC allotment to recruit a Northern Aboriginal Health Systems researcher. None of the executive members in the SPH are northerners. They did not engage northerners in determining this focus. The candidate they choose will get reviewed against institutional fit, not “northern fit”. In the end, the SPH could get $1,000,000 while the northerners who they are claiming to benefit are guaranteed nothing, and may not even support the successful nominee. Yes, the person who receives the chair will have to ensure their research complies with the TCPS (national ethics statement) on research with Indigenous communities, but that doesn’t guarantee that the communities they partner with will feel that the benefits of the research they have contributed to are being shared with them equitably.

Institutions that aspire to improve their equity in CRCs need to recognize how exploitive this process can be to Indigenous research partners, and ensure that CRC position appointments aren’t simply perpetuating colonial practices. If institutions want to use CRC recruitment to demonstrate their commitment to Indigenous communities and increase their presence in those communities, they should actually talk to them before handing out titles[§].

Equity ‘sticks’ need to filter down to faculties

The CRC Program has a lot of requirements for how institutions and faculties need to ensure the recruitment process is fair and transparent, but none of this matters if position descriptions are written so narrowly that only a few (probably select) applicants apply. What is stopping leadership in faculties for writing chair positions to benefit their colleagues or preferred candidates?

Cronyism has been a long-standing criticism of the CRC Program.

If institutions want to fix their equity numbers, they need to intervene with faculties before positions are created. They can do a lot to prevent crony hiring into these positions, and start by examining position “competitions” that result in very few qualified applicants.

Do not require that faculties identify the CRC title ahead of time, and stop requiring “Strategic Research Plan” fit

How can the CRC Program argue that it is funding and promoting leaders when these “leaders” are required to fit into an existing institutional plan? And I doubt that Strategic Research Plans are a good yardstick to measure innovative researchers against (Note: “demonstrated priority areas” seem to be just strategic research plans by a different name). Many “strategic” “plans” are neither strategic (in that they try to encompass everything the institution is doing) or “plans” (in that they seem to be descriptions of what already exists at the institution)[**]. The CRC Program should empower institutions to grow based on talent and research areas that administrators who draft ‘strategic plans’ may not be currently aware of. Give them funding and leeway to take risks, instead of feeling obligated to pick “safe” nominees that will get through the current CRC review process.

It seems at least some institutional strategic planning was born out of the CRC Program. From the Canadian Association of University Teachers Alternative 5th Year Review of the CRC Program:

“Universities’ strategic plans must be serious documents that are created in a consultative manner through their senior academic bodies – not documents thrown together over a summer to meet a federal government program requirement.”

Institutions should also not require that faculties with allocated chairs identify the area of the chair they want to recruit. The SPH had to pick an area, and picked “Northern Aboriginal Health Systems”. As someone who has worked in “Northern Aboriginal Health” for almost a decade, I found this set of limiters very narrow. What if only a single qualified individual fits into those categories? Should we just hire them? Is hiring the wrong person who gets CRC funding better than not having CRC funding? I think faculties should be free to leave CRC position descriptions vague, and have the best individuals in the broad areas of the faculty explain what they will bring.[††]

Pay attention to how position requirements and review standards might differentially impact different applicants

How position requirements are framed can severely limit who might apply to them. The SPH application required 30% of the person’s time would need to be spent in a Northern Regional Centre. What if an emerging scholar can’t afford to set up two places of work and life? There was no mention in the job ad of negotiations to set out how this would be paid for or what it would entail. Requirements like this can discourage applicants from applying. Likely, it would also more systematically discourage marginalized applicants, who may be less likely to have social and financial capital needed to meet such a requirement.

Additionally, many things that ‘traditionally’ make CRC Tier II nominees more appealing (more grants, more publications, more awards, etc), are often markers of privilege and “ins”, not research excellence. For ‘emerging researchers’, it’s a lot easier to look productive when you have access to research funds and big research groups. Researchers who got started early with small awards (summer studentships, travel grants, etc), are more likely to get larger awards as their careers progress. These privileged individuals may get to a point where they’ve accumulated enough “history of receiving funding” to be reviewed favourably for larger awards like a CRC much earlier on in their careers. This system of “money begets money” is somewhat independent of the quality of the work the person is producing, or the creativity of the work they want to do. The same phenomenon happens with productivity. People who happen to work in large research groups often have opportunities to be included as authors on publications that they personally had to do very little work on. Researchers who work in smaller groups, or on projects they are tackling alone as unfunded graduate students, will not have the same number of publications, but that doesn’t make them less productive scientists, or less likely to be productive in the future.

If we put too much emphasis on past productivity and recognition, we risk systematically providing CRCs to researchers who are simply connected, not exceptional, systematically leaving out a broad range of perspectives and ideas from groups unable to crack the system in time to be competitive with their well-connected peers.

The CRC Program should also drop the College of Reviewers. The process to get nominated is already peer-reviewed, and arguably more rigorously than a paper-based system will ever be. Guarantee that universities will get the money, and release them from the pressure to hire people who conform enough to be attractive to anonymous and unpredictable reviewers.

Release more data on chairs, applicants, and reviewers

Without more data on the applicants and reviewers, it’s really difficult to determine where the source of inequity actually is. The CRC program needs to, at the least, release aggregate data on applicants and the college of reviewers.

I also think they also need to re-evaluate their evaluation process. From the CRC 15 year evaluation:

“According to the bibliometric analysis, CRCP’s successful nominees almost systematically outperform unsuccessful nominees in terms of scientific impact, scientific quality and output (i.e., number of published papers) prior to the nomination process, indicating a potential validation of the program’s peer review process.”

The CRC asked the college of reviewers to assess researcher potential on the basis of their previous scientific outputs, and then found CRCs had more outputs pre-award. Of course the awarded CRCs have more pre-award scientific outputs…productivity is one of the criteria for receiving the award. What does this prove? That reviewers can count? Why are we impressed with this? Is this not evidence that they are simply using publication metrics to determine who gets CRCs?

The evaluation also found this:

“Scientific impact decreases by about 8% after the award but remains higher than unsuccessful applicants (whose impact remains no different from before nomination)”

So it means that the people they did not give money and dedicated time for research to have maintained the same level of outputs, while the people who they did give money and dedicated time for research to have decreased their level of output. They concluded “it is improbable that the award itself contributed to the decrease in impact”. The CRC Program cannot assume this and needs to explore it further. If I were them, I would argue that it’s possible CRCs are doing more creative and innovative research which takes more time and could decrease countable measures of productivity. Of course, if I were me, I would argue back that we need a better peer review that can capture creativity and innovation prior to distributing hundreds of millions of dollars. Until they control their analyses for things like “percent of time dedicate to research” and “whether or not the chair had to switch institutions”, I would be very hesitant to draw conclusions from this data.

The CRC Program evaluation wouldn’t pass peer review, and this reviewer suggests they release more detailed methods and results if they expect to use this data to prove the effectiveness of the program.

As a final note, I wrote this before I had read the CRC Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan. This plan doesn’t really change how I feel about the process overall. It includes having a “consultation with key stakeholders [that] will provide an opportunity for all individuals to give their feedback through an open forum on the CRCP website” (to be implemented Spring/Summer 2017).

If you got this far, you clearly care about the CRC Program. So whether you agree with me or not, be sure to participate in the open forum.

[*] I completed my degree requirements on April 26th, so I am no longer a student at the SPH.

[†] The ASC formally responded to me on April 28th, although I will not be sharing their response.

[‡] I originally used the publicly available CRC data which resulted in an estimation of 9/23. Since then, I’ve received a copy of the list of active CRCs from the CRC Program, and revised the estimate in collaboration with Indigenous scholars.

[§] Please, no one lecture me about how they aren’t “handed out” but selected through a competitive peer review. There’s an average success rate of 90%. That’s not a competition, that’s a rubber stamping

[**] Strategic plans would be better if they were more along the lines of “foster creative science” or “hire the best people and stay out of their way” or “resist the urge to over-train grad students that we can’t provide jobs for later…” I’ve digressed.

[††] Of course, I’m personally biased here. There is probably never going to be position recruiting for “PhD in Public Health and an interest in science policy who studies knowledge commons from an organizational theory perspective and an equity lens derived from experience doing health research with marginalized populations”. But as funding agencies continue to push for interdisciplinary work, I am also not alone. Institutions must adjust their hiring practices for those “HQPs” they insist need to be produced at perpetually increasing rates.

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Winter bonfire cake

This cake was inspired by the December birthday of a person who loves bonfires, caramel, and dark chocolate.

Cake:

I made two batches of the graham cracker cake found here.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/07/smores-cake-chocolate-mousse-dulce-de-leche-marshmallow-ideas-in-food-recipe.html

I baked each batch in two 8 inch cake pans, leaving me with 4 ~1.5 inch tall cakes. I didn’t trim them.

 

Filling:

I wanted to use marshmallow fluff, and didn’t want to toast it, so I created a caramel marshmallow fluff. It deserved its own post: 

https://janisgeary.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/caramel-marshmallow-fluff/

I piped rings of fluff between each cake layer

 

Ganache:

I used a 1:1 ratio of dark chocolate to cream (200 grams of each), cooled and piped over the layer of fluff.

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Frosting:

I made a half batch of Yolanda Gampp’s IM Buttercream:

https://howtocakeit.com/blogs/cakes/39081857-yos-italian-meringue-buttercream-recipe

Did a crumb coat, and then spread the rest of the frosting over the cake. I was not particular about how smooth it was.

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Decorations:
I had tiny cake topper-cookies already as part of my Christmas cookie stash, which I flooded with royal icing and drew on with edible markers. I made chocolate curls for the logs on the bonfire (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGdAPD2Zt4A), and used rosemary dusted with icing sugar, with chocolate on the bottom, as trees. I also piped a few dark chocolate trees (e.g.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1xlcMTZd9s)

Caramel Marshmallow Fluff

Marshmallow fluff makes a very sturdy cake filling, and the caramelization gives it a nice toasted marshmallow flavour!

20161217_124536 20161217_125404

 

Ingredients:

1.5 cups sugar

6 tbsp water

1 tbsp corn syrup

2 egg whites (about 80 grams) at room temp

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Directions: 

Place sugar and 3tbsp of water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir until all the sugar is wet, and place over high heat with a lid on (this helps prevent crystalization on the sides, although it’s slower, so if you’re confident with your caramel skills, just brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush like usual. It’s also easier to have a lid on if you have a glass lid).

Mix the remaining 3tbsp of water with the corn syrup, and get your 2 egg whites and cream of tartar ready in a stand mixer bowl.

Let the sugar become a deep caramel colour. Remove it from the heat*, and stir in the water/syrup mix. It will harden unevenly. Get your egg whites whipping as you want very frothy/maybe soft peaks before you start pouring the caramel syrup. Put the caramel back on the heat just long enough to have everything mix evenly. With the stand mixer running, slowly pour your hot caramel into the whipping egg whites (try to get the stream between the side of the bowl and the spinning whisk). Beat until it’s cooled down and a stiff but spreadable consistency. I didn’t add any additional flavours, but if you’re so inclined you could add some sort of extract at this point (I just wanted the authentic caramel flavour, and it really came through)

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* I placed my saucepan in a bowl of cool water, I’m not sure if that was necessary to stop the caramelization because you instantly add in cool water, but that’s what I did

Eggnog and baking

 

Christmas/Holiday LifeProTip:

If you want to flavour things (cakes, cookies, frostings, etc) to be “eggnog”, DO NOT just add eggnog from a carton.

Two reasons.

1) Store-bought eggnog is garbage. Stop drinking it. It’s easy to make and you will not be disappointed, except for in yourself for having never made eggnog before.

2) The flavour of eggnog comes from the base, which is egg yolks cooked with milk and sugar. Eggnog is just base diluted with cream*. Flavour your baking with the base, not the diluted drink.

To make the base, whisk 1 yolk with about 1/4 cup of milk, 1 tbsp of sugar, and whatever spices you like (nutmeg is common, but I like vanilla and cardamom) over medium heat. Whisk constantly until it thickens and bubbles slightly. Make as much base as you need.

This PSA was brought to you by watching a bunch of stupid people on youtube add store-bought eggnog to things that should otherwise taste good.

*when I make my eggnog, I don’t use the recommended half-and-half, and opt for whole milk instead. Still 1000X better than the crap in the carton.

Non-scientific nanaimo bar evaluation

After trying out my new NB recipe, I had to enlist some taste testers to evaluate the new ones against the traditional variety. I had meant to go to the farmer’s market to buy some homemade NBs this past weekend, but didn’t have time. Safeway on the way to work was the best I could do.

I created a short questionnaire to ask people if they already liked NBs. Then, I asked them to rate the appearance of mie next to the traditional ones. Once visually compared, they had to try a bite of each and rate them. I wasn’t able to blind it, nor did that concern me because my bars were spiced and pretty obviously not the same as the traditional ones, making blinding impossible anyway. They also had to describe how they compared the taste of each. After having to buy the bars from Safeway, I added a question on whether the store-bought version was representative of the classic NB.

Eleven people completed my evaluation. Two had never tried NB before. One person said they didn’t like NBs, and was there to see if she’d like the new version. On a scale of 1-10, people liked NBs a score of 7.1 (ranged 3-10).

Appearance

Every one stated mine looked better. When probed, nine specified it was because mine had decorative white chocolate as well. While any old NB can have white on top, three mentioned specifically they liked the pale colour of the new filling better.

Taste

No one liked the store bought NBs better.

Store: 5.0 (ranged 2-7),

New: 8.5 (ranged 7-9)

Six people specifically mentioned liking the spices of the new NBs better (one said “there’s something more Christmasy about sample B). Five also mentioned you could taste more coconut in the new NBs. Eight people mentioned that the new NBs were better because they were less sweet, and five liked the crunch or texture of the new ones better.

The fight against the store bought version wasn’t really a fair fight, but several testers pointed out that store versions are what most people will eat, and five raters thought the were representative of a traditional NB.

My thoughts on the results

I was disappointed that the candied walnuts didn’t come through beyond “crunch”, the browned butter was completely lost, and I thought people would be more excited about the filling. I think the new filling is far, far, better, but not in an obvious way like crunch and spice. Just better.

Overall, my results tell me that people like NBs with fancy topping, crunch, less sugar, and some spices.

If you want to make NBs that just taste freaking awesome but still very traditional, here’s what I recommend:

Improved Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Base: 1/2 cup browned butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 6tbsp cocoa, 1tsp vanilla, 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1 cup unsweetend fancy (large pieces) shredded coconut , 1/2 cup candied spiced walnuts (or just roasted for even less sugar), 1 egg

Melt all ingredients except egg in a sauce pan, remove from heat, stir in beaten egg slowly into hot mixture, press into 9X9 pan lined with parchment

FIlling: 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tbsp water, 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp), 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, 2 cups icing sugar (note: You could make this richer and still stiff enough when refrigerated by using more butter and less sugar)

Whip the egg yolks until they appear light in colour and a little foamy. Make sugar syrup, and once 238 degrees, whip slowly into egg yolks. Once room temp, whip in butter 1 tbsp at a time, add flavouring and icing sugar.

Topping:

Melt together 200g very good dark chocolate, 1 tsp of butter (I forgot this before) in double boiler. Spread over chilled based, swirl in white chocolate while still melted, cut when just set a little before it gets hard.

IMG_6499

teeny taste-testing pieces

Nanaimo Bars

There is nothing wrong with Nanaimo Bars. They are sweet and chocolatey, and although time consuming, relatively easy for a novice in the kitchen to put together. And I like them. But I always thought that Nanaimo Bars should be something more. Graham cracker crumbs and custard powder ranked pretty low on my list of ingredients I want to see in a recipe, so for awhile I’ve been pondering how to take the simplicity of the Nanaimo Bar and kick it up a notch while still maintaining the essence of the classic.

My current obsession with sponge cakes, cookie frosting and other cake fillings led me to the answer. So I present to you Nanaimo Bars+, the Janis-over-complicated-version of the classic holiday treat.

The base.

A classic nanaimo bar base had graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and cocount held together by melted butter, cocoa and egg. I decided to use ground ginger snap cookies, candied spiced walnuts, and browned butter. Instructions to brown butter here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/how-to-make-brown-butter-technique.html.

Here’s a photo of the recipe to candy the nuts (I used walnuts though, and added cardamom)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup browned butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 6 tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups cookie crumbs (made from ~3 cups small ginger snap cookies from bulk barn), 1 cup coconut, 1/2 candied walnuts coarsely chopped.

I ended up buying sweetened coconut because I couldn’t remember what it called for, and then with the candied walnuts I was worried about all the added sugar making it too sweet, but I don’t think it was too overly sweet in the end.

Instructions: To the browned butter, add sugar, cocoa and vanilla in sauce pan (I don’t remember if I let the sugar melt at all). Take off heat and stir in beaten egg. Add cookies crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press into square 9×9 pan lined with parchment paper. Chill until you need it.

IMG_6486

finished base

 

The filling

The filling is what always REALLY bothered me about Nanaimo bars. It always just tasted sweet, not flavourful. The standard filling is just icing sugar, butter and custard powder. I can’t fault it too much though, as it was the custard powder that provided the inspiration for my improved filling.

Experiments with buttercream, and some studying up on the differences, led to me to a German custard buttercream. However, French buttercream called for yolks not whole eggs, which sounded much more decadent and that’s what I settled on (spoiler alert: no regrets there. I could eat the filling happily with a spoon. Indeed, I did). I adapted this recipe for the filling: http://joepastry.com/2008/french_buttercream/, but here’s the final product.

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tbsp water, 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp), 1tsp vanilla bean paste (or some other flavour), 2 cups icing sugar

Instructions:

Whip the egg yolks until they appear light in colour and a little foamy (there are nice pictures on the blog above, and the person who wrote it is kinda funny, so give it a read).

To make the sugar syrup, add water to sugar in a sauce pan, do not stir, let melt until it reaches 238F. If you don’t have a thermometer, let it reach the “soft ball stage”, or boil for a few minutes and if it turns brown you waited way too long. Good thing you only wasted 1/2 cup of sugar. If you’ve never made sugar syrups before, take careful heed of the “do not stir” instructions. You don’t want the solution to get on the sides of the pan as it will create sugar crystals, and they ruin everything. Use a wet pastry brush to get rid of syrup on the sides, or just ignore it.

The blog guy suggests that you pour a little of the syrup into the whipped yolks, and then turn the mixer on, and so on and so forth, but I say drizzle slowly just far enough away from the whisk to not hit the whisk but not be running down the sides of the bowl. As I write this, it occurred to me that using a handheld mixer might give you more control, but I’ve never tried that.

Note: the hot syrup cooks the egg yolks if uncooked egg yolks are something you worry about. But if you add the syrup too fast, you’ll get lumpy weird, cooked eggs, instead of smooth creamy whipped eggs.

After all the syrup is added, continue to whip it for awhile, until it’s not warm any more.  If you do not wait until it’s room temperture, you’ll have issues. Once room temp, you can start adding the butter, a tbsp at a time or so, incorporating it fully before adding more. Keep whipping until it’s lighter in colour and airy-er.  Then add your vanilla (I wasn’t paying attention and accidently added mine earlier, and the world didn’t end). Then whip in the sugar, adding slowly at first until it’s incorporated (just so it doesn’t fly everywhere). You can judge things as you go here, you want to maintain the lovely rich flavour of the custard buttercream, but still have it thick enough to hold up in the squares. I think I added just over 2 cups but the butter firms up in the fridge so it’s your call if you want softer while cooled, or stiffer at room temp.

I ended up putting the filling into a piping bag to put it on the base, and then spreading it. I didn’t use about 1-2 tbsp in the bars because it tasted freaking amazing and I ate it.

Chill the filling until it’s stiff enough that you can spread the chocolate over it (a few hours is probably best, I did overnight)

The topping:

Standard Nanaimo bars are usually covered with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips or other baking chocolate. You can really only improve that with better quality chocolate.

I used about 200gs of dark chocolate, and I have no idea how much white chocolate. Maybe 20-30g. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, spread on the chilled filling, add a few lines or dots of also-melted-white chocolate with a piping bag or the like, drag a toothpick through the white chocolate to make swirls or other designs.

IMG_6492

chocolate before it set too hard to cut

Chill for just long enough for the chocolate to hold shape but still be soft. You should cut the chocolate topping then so that it doesn’t crack. Or, if  you’re like me and you forget, use a hot knife (I used a kettle to steam the knife, wiping it off before slicing), to melt through the top layer, and then slice the bottome. That works too, although not forgetting is much less of a pain in the butt. I just wanted you to know that if you DO forget, all is not lost.

I would cut this 9×9 pan into 25 squares. Then, I would feel that there aren’t enough bars to go around and I would hoard them. Then I would feel guilty for hoarding them, realizing I can’t possibly eat 25 Nanaimo bars in a reasonable amount of time, and then I’d give a bunch away. And then I’d feel sad that they were almost gone, reverting back to my hoarding. I go through this a lot. It’s a normal process (for me at least, if normal can be defined as something that happens a lot, not something that isn’t weird).

The only things that remain to be answered are: 1) Are these still nanaimo bars, and 2) If yes, are they BETTER??

Taste test to be continued….

 

Tragedy of Poor Academic Referencing

The more I learn about studying the commons, the more it blows my mind that Garret Hardin’s original “Tragedy of the Commons” is so highly referenced and cited. THE DUDE WAS CRAZY. His original essay is your quintessential non-sensical entitled rambling of a pompous old white academic. In his argument about why people should not be allowed freedom to breed (the central-yet-always-ignored thesis of his essay), he states:
“In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts overbreeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement (13)?”
The REALLY interesting part is that reference (isn’t it always?). Shockingly, it’s another published paper he wrote, called “Second Sermon on the Mount” which starts with this:
“In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
Canfare for an Entrance to the Metropolis
A City is coming, I know it well:
Beat on pots and bang on pans!
The eye can see, the nose can smell,
for this is country piled with cans.
Refrain: A country piled with cans, behold,
a country piled with cans.
A million people foul their nest
and when the wind is from the west
a noseless man will sleep the best
in country piled with cans.
Ringed with the noble dead it lies,
their hollow coffins catch the light,
dead fish, dead meat, decillions of flies,
an archaeologist’s delight.
O city fathers, vain of luck
and arrogant with dynamism:
The traveler sees, for all your plans,
a stinking country piled with cans.”
And his oft-cited essay is part of the foundation of many right-winged ideologies arguing for private property rights over government or community management. I am totally serious. I do not have the creativity to make up crap this insane. Every time someone quotes “the tragedy of the commons”, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. If you ever need evidence that academics don’t read stuff they reference, here it is.