Cosmic Unfairness

I want to share an instance of a really egregious cosmic unfairness, people. As you are well-aware, I keep posting with the speed of an unhinged bunny here. Posting and posting, posting and posting.

And then my sister – who has zero interest in writing, blogging, being in the public eye, etc. – writes something on her LinkedIn page and immediately goes viral with that very first article when she never even wanted to become famous. The article gets so much attention that it is even picked up by a very major magazine. It just also happens to be a magazine I love and read all of the time.

I have never felt envy and resentment of my sister, never. She is younger, thinner, richer, more psychologically healthy and has much better clothes than I do. She can wear heels when I’m doomed to flats. She has her own company and a beautiful daughter. And even our mother just told me that she passionately wanted my sister to be born in a way she never felt about me.

And I never felt envy of any of this.

But now she has to go viral? That makes me envious. Of course, I informed her of my feelings immediately and asked if she were about to come out with a ground-breaking study in the field of Spanish literature, which is not in the least impossible.

Cosmic unfairness, people, cosmic.

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Terrible Destructive Intent

Here is an example of a very strong, very important insight that stops at the threshold of a really life-changing realization and refuses to arrive at the logical conclusion:

My parents loved ascribing intent to my behavior, and they were wrong so much of the time. . . . it’s just too easy to infer intent that isn’t there when your kid does something irritating. And that destroys relationships. I always thought my parents hated me precisely because . . . [t]hey always inferred this terrible destructive intent that I simply didn’t have. There were even some instances where they assumed I was trying to be obnoxious when I was in fact trying to be helpful, which hurt immensely.

The reason parents ascribe “this terrible destructive intent” to a child is simple projection. The terrible destructive intent is theirs. And the linked blogger found a very precise and important turn of phrase to describe what is happening.

The terrible destruction is what this kind of parents are trying (and invariably succeeding) to wreak on the child. Of course, most people find the very thought that they are trying to visit a terrible destruction on their children to be unacceptable. And this is why they turn around and accuse the children of this horrible thing.

A terrible destructive intent within a relationship cannot be completely hidden from view. It is always present, as a huge monster lurking in the corner. And the best way to deflect an accusation is, as we all know, accuse others of our crime.

Such children end up completely interiorizing the message. The go through life doubting themselves at every turn, suffering from all kinds of impostor syndrome (“Why isn’t everybody seeing what a monster I am? Are they about to see the real me and discard me?”), and punishing themselves with self-destructive behaviors for somebody else’s terrible destructive intent.

If you look at the quote I placed at the beginning of the post, you will see how hard the author tries to avoid what is staring her right in the face. “They were wrong,” “it’s just too easy,” “your kid” instead of “their kid who is me,” “destroys relationships” instead of “destroys me.”

Realizing this truth is very difficult. Every social taboo, every instance of abuse one has undergone screams to the skies at the merest whiff of this insight. But it is the only way to healing.

A Riddle for Fellow Linguists

If you are translating a text from English into Russian and are charging per word, does it make more sense for you financially to base the word count on the source text or on the translation? Explain your answer.

Losing the Way

A battalion of Russian troops was captured by the Ukrainian army in Ukraine. When presented with this incontrovertible evidence of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Russian government explained that the soldiers ended up in Ukraine by mistake. They just lost their way, the Russian military officials say.

I rarely agree with Russian officials but this statement rings very true. Russians have really lost their way.

Things You Should Know About Introverts


A really good and funny post on introverts. Recommended! (By a classic introvert.)

Originally posted on Playfully Tacky:



1) We need to recharge alone.
This right here is the cusp of the entire introvert v. extrovert debate (if there is one, anyway) – Introverts need to be alone to recharge. We tend to get completely worn out by socializing. This is basically what it means to be an introvert.

2) We don’t hate being around people, but we probably hate crowds.
I love being with people, but if you drop me into a large crowd I instantly feel like I’m alone and invisible. I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.

3) We don’t mind silence.
I can sit beside you in silence and not think we are having a bad…

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Do You Know of Any Light Dishes?

I’m at a loss about what to do for my Housewarming Party. I will have a house full of hungry academics, and I have no idea what to serve them. We are in the midst of an overpowering, tropical, extremely humid heat wave. And I can’t think of any dishes that won’t be too heavy in this weather. I do best with frosty-weather dishes.

Does anybody have any suggestions? But please don’t say gazpacho because I hate cold soups. And I don’t want to serve anything people might splash all over my new furniture.

Racial Bizarredom

Crowds of self-righteous white people are piling on the black reporter John Eligon for mentioning, in a beautiful and poignant article on Michael Brown, that Michael “was no angel.” They seem to think that being non-racist involves believing that black people are obligated to be angelic if they want to stay alive.

Is Steven Salaita an Anti-Semite?

Jonathan Mayhew wrote a brilliant post on the Steven Salaita affair that everybody should read. Here is the most salient point:

People defending him because they agree with his perspective, or attacking him because they don’t, are putting forward irrelevant information. In other words, you should put it in the form of a hypothetical: a faculty member was hired, quit his previous job, and moved, and then had the appointment canceled because of tweets about X (where X is an unknown variable.) What do you think? Your opinion should not change after you discover the content of the tweets.

This is absolutely spot-on and it’s also how I approached the situation. I only now found out what the tweets in question actually said, and I believe their content is irrelevant to the issue. It is not a university’s place to police tweets, Facebook pages, Tumblrs, and blogs. Especially while there are shameless plagiarists who are in no way persecuted for plagiarizing among the faculty members at some institutions of higher learning. In short: universities, get your noses out of Twitter and start reading books already!

I also agree with Jonathan that “Salaita is a foolish anti-semitic blowhard who should sue the pants of UIUC.” His tweets are those of a raging anti-Semite. However, I don’t see why the entire academic community everywhere should be punished for Salaita’s personal bigotry, which is exactly what will happen if it becomes normal to castigate scholars academically for what they do outside of academia. While Salaita’s unhinged outpourings offend my sensibilities as a Jew and a normal person, the precedent set by UIUC can damage me and the entire academic community in a much more tangible way. 


There must be a reason why the books I need at the library are always located on the very bottom shelf, forcing a corpulent middle-aged lady in a summer dress to lie on the floor and make a total spectacle out of herself to reach them.

On the positive side, I just discovered that an article of mine was cited in a dissertation written in Catalonia. And if I make an effort, I can actually figure out what is being said.