Immediate Future of Ukraine

So here is Putin’s official plan. On May 9, he will celebrate the victory in WWII, which is a holiday I always celebrated but now won’t because recent events have made me disgusted with all the ideological baggage that is being attached to it.

On May 11, there will be a “referendum” in the Donetsk region (where my aunts and cousins live). Putin will invade the day after and annex that region, too.

If anybody asks, “But what about the Geneva agreements?”, I’ll have to wonder whether you are intelligent enough to be on this blog.

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Predictions

Reader Stringer Bell asked a very interesting question:

There are things that will annoy or offend me, but nothing ever shocks me anymore. Do others feel the same? My generation sort of shocked my parents generation with our thoughts on sex, homosexuality, race, etc.

I’m sure the next generation will do the same to us, but I can’t imagine how. Like, how much progressive than me can my children be, haha?

So here are some of the predictions that I made:

♣ I think that we will see a very swift erosion of the boundaries between the public, and the private and the new generations will be a lot more comfortable with that than we are.

♣ I can also see people going in the direction of “endless childhood”, which is not a bad thing per se, but it can make old fogeys like me feel exasperated.

♣ Another thing I think might happen is people turning inwards and disentangling themselves from any political engagement. When I’m in a particularly bad mood, I envision presidential candidates having – instead of the debates in the format we are used to – singing or cooking competitions. The show can be called The Real American Idol and would be massively popular.

♣ I also think everybody will have their own online channel where they will stream live footage of their existences 24/7.

OK, that’s all I’ve got for now. What can you think of that might shock us about the future generations?

Morality Police

This just gets cuter and cuter. The famous Russian ballet dancer / media personality Anastasia Volochkova is being investigated by the Russian authorities on charges of prostitution.

The investigators explained that the charges were brought after the immensely rich ballerina (formerly married to a billionaire) gave an interview to a Ukrainian TV channel saying that she was ashamed of what Russia was doing in Ukraine.

“If she thinks she can speak publicly about Russia, we should investigate how moral she is in her personal life,” the police declared.

Evidence against the ballerina consists of a secretly taped phone conversation between her and an unnamed gentleman. k

Russia Criminalizes Blogging

Russia has adopted a law that will punish with fines and prison sentences bloggers who express opinions that are not approved by the government. Every company that offers a blogging platform or a discussion forum is obligated to keep all records of who said what and transfer these records to the state investigative services whenever needed.

Bloggers will also be punished for comments left by anonymous commenters on their blogs that do not reflect the official views on history and politics. Everybody becomes a snitch and a censor of everybody else. The alternative is to become a criminal.

Anonymous blogging is also now criminalized. All bloggers will be put on a registry and their activities will be monitored. The hilarious part of this law is that it obligated foreign online services (such as, say, WordPress, YouTube or Facebook) to participate in identifying Russian bloggers and spying on their verbal communications. The law doesn’t specify what will happen to WordPress for not snitching on bloggers and refusing to censor them, but it is quite clear: access to such web sites on the territory of Russia will be shut down, just like it’s done in China.

It is especially hilarious that this comes only a few days after Snowden gave Putin an opportunity to market himself as a defender of true freedom. Now, I hear, Snowden is making noises to the effect that he didn’t mean for his question to be so helpful to Putin. Of course, he must have thought that Putin would hear his question and exclaim, “God, you’re right, I’m such a tyrant! You just made me realize that I should stop oppressing people, incarcerating peaceful protesters, destroying freedom of speech and promoting fascist ideology! Thank you, you changed my life with your insightful question!”

Equal Opportunity

So the campus art museum has been closed, right? But not to worry, there is good news. We just hired a “Director for Equal Opportunity and Access.” I’m guessing he will occupy himself with ensuring that we all have an equal opportunity to have no access to a museum and that we all get equal access to the junk food store. Yay! A huge win for the institution of higher learning.

Note how there is always enough money to hire these useless hacks but never any money for actual education. In the meanwhile, we will have a meeting on Friday to discuss which of our fellow teachers and researchers we are willing to fire to make sure that more Assistant Vice Chancellors for Brainless Butt-Scratching are hired asap.

The Death of a Museum

On the second floor of our big and beautiful student center, there used to be an art museum. It was such an amazing place to go during a busy day, to wander among works of art, in a silent room, to think and contemplate beautiful objects. It was the place to meditate, recharge one’s batteries, and experience tranquility and beauty.

So I went to the museum to have a quiet moment and discovered, to my absolute horror, that there is no museum any longer. It has been closed down and a junk food convenience store has been put in its place. Because apparently the other 6 places on campus (including in this very building) that sell the same kind of junk are not enough.

I’m sure we will soon see a DVD rental and an arcade where the library used to be.

Seriously, folks, the shock I experienced when I saw the candy bar and soda aisles where artwork used to be was really bad.

Short Form

Students are unhappy with long readings and want everything that’s short. So I decided to give them so much short stuff that they will hate it for ever and ever. And I invented a course on the short form.

Then I started reading Jonathan Mayhew’s blog and discovered that he also invented such a course. His is better than mine because he thought of more short form genres than I have. For instance, he is including epitaphs, which is brilliant. Also, he’s doing mottos and slogans. I can teach brilliant lectures on mottos and slogans.

No that I know that an undisputed star of my field is teaching this kind of course, too, I feel very justified in offering it.

This will be fun.

Amazon’s Ploy?

After all the hype about Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty First Century, I started wondering whether I might need it for my research and decided to check it out. Then I discovered that in all cooperating libraries it’s either out or hasn’t arrived yet and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble it’s actually out of stock.

And we all know how I feel when I want a book and can’t get it.

Might this all be a ploy on the part of Amazon and Barnes & Noble to sell the ultra-expensive digital version of the book that everybody is desperate to get? Of course, I’m not desperate enough but some people might succumb to the temptation. Will we be seeing more and more of this kind of dishonest behavior on the part of big book sellers?

The Pain of Transformation

I wrote my yesterday’s post about Clivern Bundy in jest but I have to say that the response I’m seeing to it is very disappointing. If we are so much better, so much more sophisticated and so much more integrated into the spirit of our times than this guy, then maybe we can manage to step aside from the good guys vs bad guys mentality for two seconds? Maybe we can draw some conclusions that are a tad more interesting than the tedious, “Republicans are bad”? If we ridicule people who cling to gender and sexual identities because these identities make the world more comprehensible, how come we cling to our political identities just as stubbornly and for the exact same  reason?

It’s easy to feel superior to people like Bundy. His vocabulary of tyranny and homesteading is pathetically outdated. He is clinging to a way of life that is already extinct. The transformations of the times we live in will sweep him away as a remnant of a long-gone era. We, on the other hand, are handling the historic moment so much better. The collapse of traditional identities doesn’t bother us because those identities were horrible and restrictive anyway. We are not afraid of the highly fluid world where nothing can be relied on and every day there is something new to process.

That is, until we reach our limit, the limit that is different for all of us but that everybody has, and encounter a change that we just can’t process. The job market is becoming highly fluid, are you sure you are 100% psychologically ready for that? Working for free, working in conditions of extreme precariousness, competing with others in who’s more mobile and can pick up and leave faster? And this is just a single area of transformation. There will be so many of them and I promise that one day there will be one change that will freak you out.

So maybe instead of the cheap drama of, “This Bundy fella is such an evildoer that he doesn’t even care about the dead babies in Afghanistan!” we could use this story to ask ourselves, “And what about me? Which change will I not be able to handle?” We don’t have any influence on the way the Bundy story develops. So since we have to think about it anyways, why not use it to glean something useful for ourselves?

Instead, many people observe Bundy’s trauma of old certainties being eroded and try to avoid feeling what he does by evoking, obsessively and repetitively, the old certainties of their  own. And that, my friends, is not a productive way to handle the new historic era we are entering because there is no place for old certainties in it. It will be just as cruel with your certainties as it is with Bundy’s.

The Clivern Bundy Fiasco

So what do you think about the whole Clivern Bundy debacle?

I’m Ukrainian, so I find it hard to condemn somebody who protected his cows and refused to let them be taken away. Governments come and go while cows are forever.

In the light of recent developments on the world arena, I also don’t feel too good about the federal authorities that say, “One more step and we’ll shoot / impose scary sanctions” and immediately follow this with, “Nah, never mind. But next time we’ll definitely make you pay!”

I’m also wondering why everybody is suddenly fixating on these cows when much more important stuff is going on in the world. Mind you, I have no conservative sites in my blog roll, so you can’t say it’s just the Republicans who are obsessed with this. I don’t think I’m ready for one more article saying, “If you don’t hate Clivern Bundy, you are a racist”, so I have to turn off my newsfeed for the day.