Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

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Sabbaticals and Work

Thanksgiving weekend. Sunday, 4 pm. What do you think I’m doing? Yes, I’m working. Like I did yesterday, and the day before, and on Thanksgiving proper.

So if anybody suggests that academics on sabbaticals do no work, I ask you to spit in their stupid, lying faces.


“Are you a Turk or a citizen of Russia?” the Russian government asks of its millions of Turkish citizens. There didn’t use to be a contradiction but now that Russia is busily hate-mongering against Turkey there is:

Thus far, the adversarial, identity-driven turn in Russian politics has avoided drawing domestic dividing lines beyond the question of who supports Putin, and who doesn’t. . . Until now. Now, the Russian government is demanding that 12 million Russian citizens of Turkic ethnicity to choose between their citizenship and their ethnic identity.

That’s exactly what Russia needed. Yet another ethnic minority to hate and persecute.

I just want people who started saying, after the 11/13 terror attacks in Paris, that maybe it is a good idea to get over the West’s opposition with Russia and involve Russians in a fight against ISIS to start noticing that any, ANY attempt to flirt with Russia’s current regime results in something like this.

Hollande travels to Russia, Obama chats with Putin at the G20 – it all looks innocent enough. And then today, Russian airplanes targeted a peaceful marketplace in Syria, killing at least 30 people (in an area with zero ISIS presence, obviously). And a very peaceful minority in Russia gets singled out for harassment for no reason whatsoever.

It might be fun to fantasize about how great it would be if Russians defeated ISIS. But when you engage in this fantasy, you contribute to the environment where these fuckers feel emboldened to kill more people.

At some point, the insane desire of so many Western do-gooders to lend a sympathetic ear to Putinoid shit needs to end. I know everybody is in the grip of their teenage rebellion against the Cold War. But isn’t it time to grow up already and notice reality?

Changes and Traditions

There is this Russian trivia show that N and I adore and always watch. The show consists of very intelligent, highly educated people answering questions sent in by members of the Russian – speaking audience from all over the world.  The show was inherited from the Soviet times and went through some very curious transformations as it adapted itself to historic developments.

For instance, back in the USSR, the prizes were books because books were very hard to get and it was prestigious to have them even if you weren’t a reader. And on that show, everybody was a reader, of course.

In the 1990s, during the bandit wars, the show acquired a very dark and heavy tone. Books disappeared, and the show turned into a high-stakes casino of sorts where members of the educated class enacted their terror of wild capitalism.

Todat, the prizes are always and only large sums of money but everybody is used to capitalism now and the environment around money is much calmer.

But other places were transforming, too. For instance, one of the show’s traditions is a short break during which the players are served, in a very majestic way, “traditional English tea.” Aside from the obvious goal of product placement, this is a way of borrowing some of the intellectual cachet that “traditional English” things possess.

For years, the brand of the “traditional English tea” served was Pickwick. But “traditional English” is as likely to transform as “traditional” anything else. A few years ago, the “traditional English Pickwick” changed into “the traditional English tea Ahmad.”

At first, there was a lot of alarmism among the show’s fans. Ahmad is displacing Pickwick! What’s next, Mohammed instead of Nelson? This is what England has come to! The horror, the horror! But then it turned out that Ahmad was actually a very good tea and that, unlike the horribly tasting Pickwick, it was even enjoyable to drink. So the panic subsided. And now every self-respecting “Russian” restaurant in the US carries Ahmad because immigrants love the show and are eager to be part of the new traditions of their old country by way of the traditional English tea.

I remembered the story because, like a typical Russian – speaking immigrant, I’m drinking my Ahmad right now and checking the program to see when the new episode of my old Soviet show will be aired.



Crimean Twilight


See the red circle on the lit map of Europe? That’s where Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula is located but you can’t see it because it’s been dark for days. The Crimea has no electricity, and things are getting bad.

The whole thing is beyond bizarre. Russia occupied the Crimea 1,5 years ago but has done nothing since then to integrate the peninsula into the Russian Federation. It’s as if Russians themselves didn’t take the occupation very seriously. There’s been a lot of hype in the Russian media about the importance of taking the Crimea from Ukraine but, in practical terms, the peninsula is still dependent on Ukraine for food, drinking water, and electricity.

The only set of measures Russia has taken to integrate the Crimea has to do with the persecution of the Crimean Tatars, the peninsula’s indigenous Muslim population. The Tatars are deeply pro-Ukrainian because they know from tragic historical experience that nothing good awaits them in Russia. The Russian authorities have treated the Tatars with increasing brutality since the annexation.

After a particularly egregious set of oppressive strategies aimed at victimizing the Tatar community even further, the Crimean Tatars finally had enough and blew up the Ukrainian pylons that bring electricity from Ukraine to the Crimea.

Russia, however, is still not doing anything to help the Crimea. The poor Crimeans gather outside to stare at a TV screen that runs on an emergency generator, hoping that Putin will finally mention them. But he never does.


Negative Father Complex in Action

I’ve been asked to explain the connection between the negative father complex and the IRS scam described in one of today’s linked articles. Let’s look at the following quote from the person who bought into the scam:

“Throughout my hour-long ordeal I was very aware that it could be a scam, and that there were many things that didn’t make sense. Yet I was also deeply afraid that it could be true — that I could have made a mistake on my tax forms; that IRS forms could have been sent but never arrived; and that events could get out of control and go terribly wrong. And this combination of plausibility, fear and confusion soon drove most rational thoughts from my head.”

The negative father complex engenders fears of authority, fears of societal strictures, feelings that one doesn’t fully know how to engage with mechanisms of power and representatives of state-sanctioned violence. The word “IRS” has the power to bring such people back to the state of a terrified child who didn’t know if Daddy was going to be in a good mood / come home / yell / beat Mommy, etc. today. When encountering such figures of institutions of authority, these people tend to get dazed, confused, and angry.

Here is another example from an article in today’s collection:

He writes affectingly of his parents’ harsh discipline, of watching his father prepare to beat him with a belt ‘in a kind of daze, awed at the distance between punishment and offence’. . . Coates writes of watching the World Trade Center smoulder on 9/11. His tone is what’s notable as he recalls feeling no pity for the police officers or even firefighters who died trying to save lives in the burning buildings: ‘They were not human to me,’ he writes. ‘Black, white or whatever, they were the menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could – with no justification – shatter my body.’”

The incapacity to break the patriarchal prohibition and condemn the abusive father translates into the need to denounce the “paternal” authorities that stand in lieu of the father figure. Police is the prime example of such authority. The menace of nature that was – with no justification – shattering the child’s body is his father but the child needs to displace that threat towards the policemen he sees at a distance because that makes the pain more tolerable.

To put it bluntly, an intensely negative and emotional reaction to agents of state-sanctioned violence (police, the IRS, the court system, the military) – especially in the absence of personal negative experiences with these agents – is not about them but about one’s father. Obviously, people who were tortured by the military during the Dirty War in Argentina will have a negative response to police forces. But when that same response is exhibited by people who never had anything even remotely resembling that experience, that’s reason to ask where the response comes from.

The Pope Blasts Birth Control in Africa

In a typically gushing Popazoid article in the New York Times, there is the following hidden gem of Papal wisdom:

When it came time to speak, Pope Francis delivered his sharpest remarks yet on his first trip to Africa.

He lashed out against what he called “new forms of colonialism, which would make African countries parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel.” Francis said that “countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like those aimed at lowering the birthrate.”

You’ve really got to be a nasty piece of work to arrive in Africa, the continent ravaged by AIDS, rape, and hunger, and condemn birth control. Seriously? Birth control is Africa’s problem? God, what a self-involved, horrible, stupid wanker. And linking birth control to colonialism is just sick.

Saturday Link Encyclopedia

Who knew that Joyce Carol Oates was this dumb?

And so is CofE: “The Church of England has appointed as Bishop of Sherborne a leading advocate of Christian nudism.”

Why are issues of identity dominating the 2016 campaign?

The famous videos exchanged by Ukraine and Turkey in support of each other’s armed forces.

A review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book. It has some questionable stuff but also some good points. An interesting, valuable review.

In recognition of their complicity in ‘structural racism and oppression’ atOccidental College, the faculty will vote on a resolution that mandates diversity training, requires all academic departments to make racial sensitivity a component of in-class instruction, and allows students to “report microaggressions” between students and professors.” I don’t know where this crazy college is and I hope never to find out. Because faculty members that use the word “microaggressions” in official documents are dumb as doorknobs.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University, on the other hand, has at least one intelligent person on campus: “Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up! This is not a day care. This is a university!

Caitlyn Jenner is voting Republican. And what did anybody expect given that this is a person who thinks that being a woman is about buying nail polish and choosing outfits?

Negative father complex makes you a prime target for this particular kind of scammer.

The U of Ottawa cancelled a free yoga class because. . . it’s cultural appropriation. Let’s now cancel all of my courses because I’m not Hispanic, which means I’m obviously appropriating.

The really shocking thing about the crazy Momma and the gay teacher is how illiterate both are. They probably attended U of Ottawa.

Remember Holodomor


Fun International News

And now for some fun international news.

Erdogan is trolling Putin in a really hilarious way. To Putin’s complaint that Turkey didn’t even contact him after taking down the Russian fighter jet Erdogan responded that he tried getting in touch but the connection wouldn’t go through. This reply is so similar to the crap Putin himself loves to dish out that the whole thing is beyond funny.

In a show of gratitude, Ukrainians made a video extolling the armed forces of Turkey that made Turkish people feel so touched and happy that they made a video extolling the armed forces of Ukraine. Peace, love, bubble gum.

Hollande, in the meanwhile, arrived in Russia on a visit that lost all meaning since the escalation between Russia and Turkey. The poor fellow who goes from one embarrassment to another found himself in the unenviable position of having to listen to a litany of Putin’s complaints about the evil Turkey and the even more evil Americans who caused the entire debacle.

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