Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

A very stupid person arguing that barring corporations from purchasing elections would somehow prevent them from exercising their freedom of speech. What is it with people’s fear and hatred of dictionaries? Why can’t one just find out the meaning of the word “speech” before publishing garbage?

A survey on the exploitation of the contingent teaching faculty. This is what we should be protesting instead of rising up in arms over the firing of some useless paper-pusher administrator. Her drama is that she can’t keep making hundreds of thousands, what a poor victim. These people’s drama is that they can’t pay for basic living expenses and medical care. Let’s show solidarity with them, not with some suffering administrator du jour who has been deprived of yet another palace and a fleet of limousines.

Is this the death of Ukrainian soccer?

Republicans are the bad guys, but it is beyond frustrating, it is … infuriating and tragic that Democrats allow themselves to be led step by step, cut by cut, through the Republican agenda. Republicans up the ante, Democrats push back a little. They don’t give up everything. But the next time around, the cuts that last time represented upping the ante are now somehow the starting point

A great series of posts titled “Books I’m Glad I read Before Age 30.” Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I now want to write something of the kind, too.

Remember Sarah Palin? I know, who cares any more, right? But there are people who are still as passionate about the shape of her son’s right ear as ever. The right ear isn’t a metaphor of any kind. They are actually obsessed with the kid’s ear. I’ve been following the story of these crazy Palin fans for a while and it is fascinating.

Montreal prostitution in the 1940s.

People were wondering why I don’t read Amanda Marcotte. This article is a perfect example of why I find her extremely annoying. She takes a very rich and promising topic and drowns it in saccharine trivialities. No wonder she is so famous.

Another academic uses translation for therapeutic purposes. It’s great to know I’m in such good company.

Finally, somebody says something useful about gender: “Compulsory gender is often oppressive, whatever someone’s sex. Compulsory gender roles are oppressive. But I think it is the socialenforcement of gender – in particular the arbitrary and discrete attribution of aspects of human gender to binary sex – that is oppressive, not gender itself. In other words, women can express femininity without being oppressed. And men can do so too without being oppressive.” A very good post.

Combating prison rape is “too expensive.” What some people seem to forget is that condemning inmates to rape constitutes an egregious instance of cruel and unusual punishment.

And the post of the week: a brilliant young woman shares her journey away from Conservatism.

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56 comments on “Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

  1. Um… those people obsessing about the Palin kid’s ear don’t sound like “fans” to me. Not that I read all the comments, the stupidity and weird obsessiveness was too painful.

    • This is what I call negative fandom. Negative fans are often even more obsessed withj their idol than the positive ones. They collect photos, spy the idol’s every move. But, in reality, what drives them is not that different from the positive fans.

      I have a couple of my own negative fans, too.

      • Huh, I didn’t think of it that way. “Negative fan” is a perfect way to describe obsessives like these. Kind of like the Obama-haters who are obsessed with the idea that he was born in Kenya.

      • It’s creepy. She’s just a person. People in this country treat politicians like gods or their imaginary dads or demons. It’s very unhealthy.

  2. About that “someone saying something useful about gender”. In the end the bit your quote still sets up the presumption of one way oppression of men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed.

    • Th liberation from the “women are victimized by the universe and men are evil” takes place slowly. But this blogger has at least start the process and that’s a lot.

    • It’s formulated in that way because that’s the context (i.e. relating to Jeffreys’ particular feminist view of the world). In most other contexts it wouldn’t even make sense to talk about male femininity as being “oppressive”.

  3. From what I understand, the president of UVA was fired because she was trying to protect the German and Classics departments from being eliminated. I do not see this as useless.

    • These are all rumors. Besides, I’ve got to wonder why faculty members could not rally behind these programs before the rich lady lost her job. This should not even be her decision. Her job is to make sure toilets are clean. These faculty members should protest the right of the bunch of paper-pushers to make important academic decisions.

    • I agree that faculty members at UVA should have engaged way before this point. But I think that the protest is not really linked to “love of the President” and sad that she lost her high paying job. As I understand it, the protest is linked to the fact that the board stepped in and deposed a seated president–a President that the faculty found acceptable and a President that fought the board on some important issues. I’m no fan of admins but if the board from my University took such an active role in governance, I would be sorely troubled. I would be particularly worried because this means that the _next_ President will be much much worse and scramble to do the Board’s bidding at every turn. There may be no such thing as a good administrator but there is certainly such a thing as a bad one. And bad administrators destroy universities. But like I said, I do agree that faculty should have been concerned about the reach of the board before this point. Still, I think the firing of the UVA President is a very disturbing thing.

    • I don’t know, I find it unlikely that anyone in charge of the University of Virginia would propose eliminating the Classics department as a way of solving budget problems. As this article in Inside Higher Ed (warning: the article is the one putting forth this fear) points out, the liberal arts are basically what UVA is all about, and studying things like Classics is kind of central to the whole idea of liberal arts. As is German. Considering how central German culture is to Western culture as a whole the idea that the study of German is some frivolous, specialized subject that can be eliminated without injury to the liberal arts as a whole is ridiculous. It’s probably more like she clashed politically with someone else and they booted her. Stuff like this is always going on in the academic world. “Never mind, Jake. It’s Academia.”

  4. I left a long reply at “Why I abandoned conservatism.” The story mirrors my own. I also wanted to point out, though, that different stages in life will affect the way you view things politically, in my opinion. However, the core principles should stay the same. (Compassion, being one of them.)

  5. Combating prison rape is “too expensive.”

    I’ve never been to prison (in any country), but from what I’ve heard prison rape is a lot less common in most countries (including many third world countries) than in the USA.

    In the USA is tolerated, as the guards turn a blind eye on it and prison gangs have come to accept it as part of prison life.

    • I wouldn’t be quick to say that it’s less (or as you said, “a lot less”) in most other countries or more tolerated in the US. Not all countries have stats on it, for one thing or even bother to investigate or research it. There’s always the issue of the victims remaining silent out of deep shame and fear for their lives, especially if the cultural view is that they might as well be dead or that they’ve dishonored their families if it happens (though if you google around a little you find human rights advocates at least speaking out about it in places and cultures as different as Australia and Iran). Rape in too many countries is also used as a method of interrogation, torture and punishment by law enforcement.

      This definitely isn’t a problem that’s mostly in the U.S. I think in the U.S. concerned advocates are vocal about it and it’s also been researched more than in other places, which isn’t enough to stop it, but it’s a start; better than sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist.

      • There are reasons why it is “mostly a US problem”.

        First, for one the availability of conjugal visits has been shown to be an effective tool in reducing sexual slavery in prison. The USA has none.

        Second, the USA is unique among developed countries in turning a blind eye to it. If you complain about sexual abuse in Europe, the guards will do something. In the USA the official policy i(as per the supreme court) is that guards cannot be responsible for stopping this practice.

        Third, the gang culture (which reflects racists structures outside prison) facilitate the prevalence of rape.

        Fourth, in terms of reporting, I was basing my comment on statements from inmates themselves who have resided in both prison systems. They usually never admit to being rapped themselves, but they do talk about the prevalnce of rape in each system.

        Lastly, this is borne by preference of transfer. For example, American prisoners rarely request transfer into a US prison from a developed country, while the reverse is the complete opposite. European and Canadian prisoner unfailingly request transfer to a prisons at home.

        So to sum up. The American system *is* uniquely barbaric among developed countries.

      • Oh, I didn’t understand that you were talking specifically about the developed countries. If so, then what you are saying makes a lot of sense, Culture Club.

      • Culture Club: In your examples you’re now referencing Canada and Europe (is it the same for all European nations, I wonder? or are low rates of prison rape seen in Western Europe, not so much in other parts? I’ll have to look into that).

        In your initial post you were talking about the world at large though. While I agree with you that the U.S. has serious problems with prison rape and certain cultural and institutional factors that contribute to this, you haven’t supported your initial claim that it’s worst around the world, including for most third world countries, where guards and law enforcement officers themselves often rape people. I can accept your comparison to (western and northern?) Europe and Canada though.

      • Here’s a 2010 article on British prison rape that may interest you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/may/02/male-rape-prison-jail-howard-league

        Maybe the guards in western European prisons are expected to do something about it and rates are consequently lower than in the U.S. (not to mention there isn’t American gang culture there)… but there’s also evidence that rape still is ignored and underreported to a significant extent, even in nations doing better in this respect than the U.S.

      • I should clarify that in the quote above I improperly comingled male and female experiences. From what I know female inmate rape incidence is much higher in developing countries than in the USA.

        However, for male inmates I stand by my comment that the USA is worse than even many developing countries. For example, the real life Billy Hayes from Midnight Express fame has repeteadly stated that he never heard or saw of any sexual abuse from guards or other inmates while in Turkish prison, while in his book he openly acknoledges entering in a long term homosexual relationship with “Erich”.

    • Teenage rebellion looks cute and endearing at my age. Gosh, I remember how I was also all doom-and-gloom at fourteen. Everybody gets over it eventually but the teenage years are always brutal. Of course, if the author of the post is past the age of 20, that’s a tragedy. But she isn’t, is she?

      • The following is especially cute: ” It doesn’t belong in an address to the generation graduating into an economy that wipes its rear end with their high school diplomas. It doesn’t belong in an address to the generation who began running the rat race at age 4. It doesn’t apply to the generation that knows hard work guarantees nothing, that can’t hope to own a home before we have our own children, that pours coffee for other people’s parents for free in the name of gaining “work experience” through “internship.”” Oh the tragedy, of the horrible suffering! :-) :-) Funny kids. :-)

      • ” I’m now enrolled in a PhD program, having already completed a master’s degree abroad. ”

        Btw, you liked Life, Joy, Feminism blog and this blog is RE “leaving the Christian Patriarchy Movement” too, so I thought you would be interested. She wrote several interesting posts, imo, like “Good, Bad & Ugly” about different aspects of life she left behind.

        I don’t understand why “Teenage rebellion”. Haven’t you heard how kids today are spoiled from too much praise & trying to raise “self-esteem”? I think the following quote is a good answer to that claim:

        We stopped believing in our own specialness about the same time that we figured out who was the real Tooth Fairy. We grew up accruing praise, but not self-esteem. We learned that praise was a parenting strategy, not a sincere reward for merit. We stopped listening when you told us we were smart, brave, beautiful and unique. “You have to say that because you’re our parents,” we told you. You agreed.

        So we looked to our teachers to learn where we stood. They couldn’t tell us the truth, either. “Did I get an A because I really wrote an exceptional essay, or because my teacher was afraid to deal with my parents?” We learned to suspect the latter.

        Interesting point about teenage “doom-and-gloom”. Aren’t they supposed to be idealistic? Or is it a large group of young idealists vs. a large group of specifically teenaged doom-and-gloom?

      • “Interesting point about teenage “doom-and-gloom”. Aren’t they supposed to be idealistic? Or is it a large group of young idealists vs. a large group of specifically teenaged doom-and-gloom?”

        – Idealism is simply the other extreme. Teenagers go through intense hormonal changes. The emotional rollercoaster of wanting to kill yourself one minute and wanting to embrace the world the next minute is one of the consequences.

      • “I don’t understand why “Teenage rebellion”. Haven’t you heard how kids today are spoiled from too much praise & trying to raise “self-esteem”?”

        – A more mature person would address these accusations to her own parents instead of hiding behind these apocalyptic generational generalizations. There is obviously some list of grievances against her own parents but she seems fearful of delivering them as such. It’s OK, it happens to all of us in the process of teenage rebellion. It’s one of the stages.

      • // It doesn’t apply to the generation that knows hard work guarantees nothing, that can’t hope to own a home before we have our own children

        I read people from US complaining how they hear older people say that having children should wait till you buy a house and other not realistic in today’s economy stuff.

      • “I read people from US complaining how they hear older people say that having children should wait till you buy a house and other not realistic in today’s economy stuff.”

        – Adults normally don’t have children on cue from older people. :-) Usually people make such decisions for themselves and care nothing for what others (be they older or younger) have to say about it,

      • That might be true for adults in the USA. In certain other countries the pressure to bring forward a heir is (or at least used to be) relentless.

  6. //She takes a very rich and promising topic and drowns it in saccharine trivialities. No wonder she is so famous.

    May be you would want to write about it? :)

    Would also love to hear if you have any thoughts RE Egypt’s future.

    New York Times passing on what administration officials told its reporters: “The Obama administration, expressing relief on Sunday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate will be Egypt’s next president, voiced cautious optimism that the choice could keep the country’s rocky transition to democracy on track.”

    But I have feeling that in Israel people are much less “relieved” and closer to:

    http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/06/24/a-muslim-brotherhood-president/

    See, f.e.

    Fars news quoted Morsy as saying Egypt’s Camp David peace accord with Israel ‘will be reviewed’, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s foreign minister said last year that Cairo was ready to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran, which has hailed most Arab Spring uprisings as anti-Western rebellions inspired by its own Islamic Revolution.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2164341/Egypt-president-elect-Mohammed-Morsy-wants-open-links-Iran.html#ixzz1yttJHg6G

      • These are professions for which you need a real education + experience. My sister is trying to fill positions of programmers right now, and she can’t find them for love or money. It takes a lifetime to grow into a good programmer. I’ve spent my entire life around programmers and I know how long it take to become one.

        Another problem is that many professions are so new that companies don’t already have one on place to offer training. Like social media specialists, for example. Those are in HUGE demand, and I predict it will grow.

      • //These are professions for which you need a real education + experience.

        The problem is – how do you gain this experience, if everybody wants the “finished package”? I don’t think it’s the workers’ fault.

      • “The problem is – how do you gain this experience, if everybody wants the “finished package”? I don’t think it’s the workers’ fault.”

        – Assigning blame will not help here. What recruitment specialists suggest is using any opportunity to acquire experience – including working as in intern without pay for a while. I actually did something like that for a year. My friends thought I was an idiot to work so hard for no pay. But then I got a TT job and they didn’t because they lacked this kind of experience.

  7. On another topic, I read an interesting to me post RE writing :

    http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-875

    Since you’re a prof and some of your readers may benefit, could you, please, write a post about good writing? F.e. you ask your students to write a short essay on final lit exam in uni, how to do it? Are there any tips, besides “Be coherent, let ideas flow, don’t make mistakes” ?

  8. I also wanted to recommend one of my favorite authors – Irène Némirovsky.

    Among other reasons, may be you’ll be interested in her descriptions of not simple mother – daughter relationships. Now I am waiting to read her newly translated book:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/14/wine-solitude-irene-nemirovsky-review

    She also wrote another book I haven’t read yet, but which you may be would be interested in:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/jezebel-by-irene-nemirovsky-2016526.html

    Her life has been fascinating too, as can be seen from wiki f.e.

      • I read her novels about Jews too: “The Dogs and the Wolves” and “David Golder”. I liked the 2nd as a book more, but it’s playing with antisemitic stereotypes imo. (Read long ago, so don’t remember details.)

        My favorites are “All Our Worldly Goods” (a novel ~ WW2. “Suite Francaise” is considered the best and is objectively better, but this novel touched me somehow more) & “The Courilof Affair”, though I don’t share her enimosity towards October Revolution.

        “In 1903, Leon M – a devout terrorist – is given the responsibility of ‘liquidating’ … Courilof, the notoriously brutal and cold-blooded Russian Minister of Education, by the Revolutionary Committee…Posing as his newly appointed personal physician, Leon M takes up residence with Courliof in his summer house in the Iles and awaits instructions.”

      • ” I liked the 2nd as a book more, but it’s playing with antisemitic stereotypes imo”

        – Do you know of any writer writing in Russian who doesn’t? I’m now reading Leskov’s novel for my Classics List and I have to stop every 30 minutes because I;m literally nauseated with the level of anti-semitism. I’m still perplexed by why my Jewish father recommended it to me so highly and insisted I read it.

      • Forgot to mention – she was a Jew herself, wrote in French and relied on antisemitic tropes. Anatoly Rybakov wrote “Heavy Sand” without such. (Have you read it too? One of the best books imo.) Ditto Re Anatoly Aleksin’s “Сага о Певзнерах”, though it was written later (1994). Ditto Lion Feuchtwanger. Or may be it’s my liking of him that makes “Jew Suess” («Еврей Зюсс») seem not equivalent to “David Golder” (partly because it’s better book).

        Btw, what do you think of those authors and, if you have read “Spanische Ballade, Raquel, The Jewess of Toledo”, did you like it? I read one Christian woman’s review that this book caused her pain because of its’ attitude to Christianity.

      • I love Feuchtwanger. He was an absolute genius. But I have to say that I also was bothered by his narrative of Christianity. Mind you, I don’t dispute his right to narrate what he wants and how he wants. But it bothered me, just like Bulgakov’s narrative of Jesus and Pontius Pilates did.

        ” Anatoly Rybakov wrote “Heavy Sand” without such. (Have you read it too? One of the best books imo.)”

        – I don’t think so, no.

  9. // I don’t think so, no.

    He wrote several books, but my relatives said only this one was very good. ( I read only it by him). It’s like classic, very widely known.

    Do read it, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. You *are* losing a lot. I am sure it can be downloaded to Kindle too. Here f.e. it’s for free:

    http://corpora.narod.ru/tjazhp.htm

    If you read, would love to hear your impressions.

    • I read his Children of the Arbat and wasn’t all that impressed which is why I never tried anything else by him.

      I have to say, you are very well-read. This is admirable.

      • Less than it may seem on Internet. I read most of them in my childhood, before getting a computer.

        Ah, so it was he who wrote “Children of the Arbat”. I tried & didn’t like it, was bored, but thought the problem was in me.

        My relatives said he is a writer of 1 good book, “Heavy Sand”, and we all loved it to pieces (it’s about Jewish family from before till after WW2, very beautiful, touching, etc.).

        In addition, it’s quite refreshing to see a not self hating Jew, unlike Nemirovsky. I mean Jews from that period, whether in FSU or exiled to Europe like Nemirovsky. Israeli writers are, of course, not self-hating.

      • “I tried & didn’t like it, was bored, but thought the problem was in me.”

        – That’s exactly how I felt, bored. So we must have the same problem. :-)

        “In addition, it’s quite refreshing to see a not self hating Jew, unlike Nemirovsky. I mean Jews from that period, whether in FSU or exiled to Europe like Nemirovsky. ”

        – Oh yes. It’s not surprising, though. It’s hard to avoid self-hatred when you grow up in that environment. My father tells me how when he was 4 or 5, he was playing outside with other kids and they asked him about his last name. So he lied and said it was Orlov. Somehow, even at that age, he knew – without ever being told that – that it was better to be called Orlov than Blehman. :-( I find that to be absolutely tragic. :-(

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