From Opinion to Kalashnikov

When people try this hard, one has to get suspicious:

Eastern and Western Ukraine have different histories and this sometimes leads to differences of opinion. Blogger Clarissa denies this, says that there are no differences of opinion among Ukrainians.

Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing on this blog, denying that there are differences of opinion. That’s totally my entire mission.

I know it’s useless to argue once people have decided to accept Putin’s propaganda but I just can’t help it, I’ve got to try.

You and I, Steve, very obviously have different histories, would you agree with this statement?

And we also have a very obvious difference of opinion here, would you agree with that?

Still, these different histories and opinions are not provoking us into trying to kill each other, do they?

In my own family, I have a group of fiercely pro-Putin folks who live in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas (right in the war zone). But none of those people have taken up arms or are even remotely considering doing that. There is an enormous distance between having “an opinion” and taking a Kalashnikov and shooting into your neighbor’s face. 

“Eastern Ukraine” is not fighting “Western Ukraine.” If you look at a map, you will see that “Eastern Ukraine” is overwhelmingly peaceful. Only a tiny little territory, less than 1% of the entire territory of Ukraine is in the hands of terrorists. You can see it here on the map marked in red:

map U

And now a small question for you. Look at the area that is marked in red on the map, the war zone. Historically, this is a predominantly:

a) Russian-speaking, or

b) Ukrainian-speaking area?

What language did the most fiercely pro-Putin members of my family grow up speaking in the 1980s and 1990s in the Lugansk region?

If you can’t answer that, can we agree that your “opinion” on the subject of current events in Ukraine is not extremely well-informed? In any case, I promise that I still have no desire to murder you for it. Weird, huh?

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Short Memory

Israel joined the ranks of countries that are refusing to sell weapons to Ukraine.

Back in 1936, everybody refused to sell weapons to the Spanish Republic for the exact same reason: they didn’t want to provoke Hitler and make things “even worse.”

As we know, that totally worked out. Not. One would hope that, among all countries, Israel might have a distant memory of that but no such luck.

The Good Life in Red

There are several things that symbolize “the good life” for me. One of them is a clock that projects the time onto the ceiling in huge red numbers:


(I took the photo from my bed last night).

Many people would freak out if they had the time hovering above their faces in red all night long. I, however, achieve bliss when I see it. The ceiling just doesn’t look as good when there are no red figures on it:


The funny thing is that my sister has the same clock and she feels exactly the same about it. There must be a psychoanalytic explanation for this obsession with seeing the time hover above one’s bed but I’m too lazy to look for it.

My Analysis of the MLA Job List

OK, so I’ve now had time to look at the MLA Job List on detail and here are the results. I only looked at tenure-track positions and didn’t count double appointments like “French and Spanish.” There is such a plethora of positions that nobody really needs these weird suckers. I skipped the joint positions between foreign languages and Women’s Studies or other fields. I also didn’t count the jobs in Canada because there are so many I got tired.

So here are the TT positions offered. I might have missed a few because there are so many but I only chose the ones that specifically offered tenure-track positions and didn’t leave any room for doubt.

Spanish leads, of course, with 160 job offerings.

French comes second with a whopping 105 TT jobs.

German is doing well with 33 positions and Russian follows with 32 tenure-track openings.

Italian is the smallest field with 19.

I don’t know what everybody is whining about with such a robust number of positions.

Just one small thing, though. This is the MLA job list published in the Fall of 1989. I chose it completely at random not knowing what the results would be. And now I kind of wish I kept not knowing.

If anybody wants to see the numbers for 2014, please go here.

P.S. The numbers for 2014:

German – 9
Russian – 9
Italian – 3
French – 15
Spanish – 57
Chinese – 5
Arabic – 5

International Food Shopping

An American woman at Global Foods has put her Ukrainian boyfriend on loudspeaker and he is guiding her search for food.

“Are you in the aisle that says ‘Ukraine’? No, it’s not the same aisle as Russia. It’s barely the same planet as Russia but whatever. Do you see the Ukrainian flag? OK, now get two boxes of Korean carrots. No, don’t go to the Korean section. The best place for Korean carrots is Ukraine. We also need matzo balls because I was going to make our traditional Ukrainian soup. And if you could grab some halva, that would be great. Israel? Why do you need to go to the Israeli section when all this stuff is right there, under the Ukrainian flag? OK, now you can head over to the Mexican aisle because I’m thinking of making borscht next week and they have the best tomato paste.”

China China

This sculpture called “China China” is now decorating our local airport. My reading of the sculpture is that all Chinese people are the same. And that’s disturbing.



King says on a date — unless a woman says otherwise — the gentleman opens the door, offers to pay, suggests good options on the dinner menu, asks his date what she’d like and places her order. She’s been getting more requests from young people eager to bring back that kind of old-fashioned civility. “I am so excited; I don’t think there’s a better time in history to model being a lady and a gentleman,” she says.

Suggests good options and places her order? Because there are so many illiterate women running around, or what?



MLA Job List 2014-15

I was on the job market 6 and 5 years ago (twice) and since then I haven’t seen the job list. This year I decided to take a look in search of blogging material.

As I scrolled through the list of tenure- track positions, I realized that not only had I seen a huge percentage of these positions but I had actually applied to them.

There are two possibilities here and both are disturbing. Either these schools haven’t been able (or have chosen not to) hire anybody (which means these are, for all effects and purposes, fake searches) or people were hired 5 and 6 years ago and have not been given tenure. So now that tenure cycle is over and the new one begins.

I’m not talking about 2 or 3 jobs here. I’m talking about a really large percentage.


I’m following the blogs of many Russian bloggers. And obviously they are all for Ukraine and against Putin, they want their country to abandon its feudal route towards barbarity and embrace Western values, they are all well-read and brilliant, etc.

And then we all hear the news that the Russian parliament is trying to pass a bill against sexual harassment. I read one of the blogs by these brilliant, ultra-progressive Russians and discover that the bill is a disaster because if sexual harassment in the workplace is penalized, this would cause a demographic catastrophe in Russia because how will people ever procreate?

Obviously, I immediately unfollow the blog and go to the next one. It tells me that the bill is bad because the blogger heard on good authority that there is no such thing as rape. Rape accusations are all made by spiteful women who want to attract attention. Of course, I immediately unfollow the blog and go to the next one. And then the next one. And they all say something like this or worse.

These are the best among Russians, mind you. Now imagine the worst.

I had a very similar experience recently when I read what the super-progressive, pro-Western Ukrainians had to say about the LGBT movement.