Clarissa's Blog

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


Becoming part of the leadership of my scholarly association was the best decision ever, folks. I have realized that I can’t do any direct self-promotion because it’s not in my nature. I can’t make myself send out mass emails informing people of my new book.

But I now have a much better method. As part of my duties, I send out personal emails to our members. And my signature contains links to my books.

“So you don’t like sales and prefer marketing instead,” said my sister. “Sales is about trying to foist on people something they don’t want. And marketing is giving them something they need while inadvertently slipping in what you want them to have.”


We Are the Product

Facebook’s product is me, you, and every user. That’s what FB sells, OK?

Facebook places you in a store window and sells you. If you manage to sneak in a few of your own products to sell and make some profit, too, good for you. But the main goal of Facebook is to make Zuckerberg rich by peddling us. Nobody asks the products on a shelf their opinion on the customer and on the uses the customer would put them to, do they?

Was It Rigged?

Another thing that bothers me in the press:

The former C.I.A. director John Brennan pulled no punches on Wednesday when he was asked why President Trump had congratulated his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for his victory in a rigged election, even after Mr. Trump’s national security staff warned him not to.

OK, who said it was a rigged election and on what basis? I have read a mountain of posts and articles by anti-Putin activists who worked as independent observers at the polls. They all agree that, painful as this is to recognize, Russians massively voted for Putin because they like and support him. The attempt to lure people to the polls with food is pathetic but it’s about trying to overcome the citizens’ inertia and lack of interest in voting.

There was large-scale rigging in the elections to the Russian parliament back in 2011. There was massive violence and repression against protesters between December of 2011, when the Duma elections were held, and May of 2012, after the presidential election. Since then, everything changed, and there have been no protests, no rigging, no violence to speak of. The reason is that Putin has done a bunch of things since then to get voters to like and support him.

I want to remind everybody that back in 2011-12, the US did absolutely nothing whatsoever to address the very real rigging and state violence in Russia. Which is OK because it’s not their place to interfere and that would have made everything worse. But it’s quite bizarre to bleat about the lack of US reaction to the fact that today Russians support their Putin and want him to continue as their president.

And by the way, I remember that Obama had no problem with congratulating Putin back in 2012 when peaceful protesters were being brutalized in the streets and videos of shameless and open rigging of the elections were abundant.

In It Together

Hundreds of millions of

Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

What I don’t get is the insistent use of the words “private information” in relation to Facebook. What private information can FB possibly have? The only reason anybody posts anything on FB is because they want to make it public. That’s the whole point of Facebook’s existence.

I hate Facebook but I can’t understand the current scandal. How can FB be blamed for doing the only thing which it exists to do, namely, selling ads to people and selling people to ads?

The whole obsession with “Russians stole the elections”, “Facebook stole the elections”, “green aliens from another planet stole the elections” stems from an incapacity to comprehend that not everybody is equally happy about the advances of liquidity. And it’s funny how the anxieties about liquidity hover around the fantasies of the folks who are supposedly all rah-rah about it. “The Russians” and Facebook are evidence of uncontrollable global flows where nothing can protect one from the malevolent presence of those who move faster and take the only thing one still has, one’s possibly sellable quirk.

We are all in it together, and it’s best to discuss our anxieties over what is now clearly an unavoidable transformation together and directly.


My understanding of wild nature is pathetic. I mistakenly taught Klara to refer to the town’s famous geese as ducks, and now everybody on the playground and at the park gives me dirty looks.

Illinois Politics

Rauner doesn’t excite his base. From a Republican point of view, he failed on every count. He made Illinois a sanctuary state. He did nothing about the budget. He’s been completely knee-capped by Madigan, the state tax is back up. He’s been flailing for over a year.

The only way he wins is if Dem voters simply don’t show up for Pritzker. Which is possible because it’s hard to get excited about Pritzker. In short, it’s the Dems’ election to lose. But they tend to be very good at losing unlosable elections and winning the unwinnable ones.


N has a list of all the repairs his car has had and all the repairs my car has had since we bought them in a computer file. I married an alien creature.

People always remark on how different we are and wonder if we have anything in common. “You are so sociable and gregarious,” they say, “and he’s. . . the polar opposite.” This goes to show that a public persona is not reality because at heart I’m a deeply unsociable misanthrope. But I love N because when he opens his mouth, I never know what he’s going to say. He’s very profound, and I can’t stand superficial people.


I know I’m middle-aged because I now have appointments. Many appointments. Endless appointments. I even have an appointment book for all my appointments. I now know that youth is the time when you have so few appointments that you can remember them without writing them down.

Periodontist, pediatrician, banker, car dealership, bodywork shop, another car dealership, laprascopic surgeon, HR, tax person at work, hairdresser, pedicurist, MRI, union organizer, analyst – and that’s all just since the beginning of the month and non-work related. What’s next, a gerontologist and retirement specialist?

TV Pride

What bugs me is people who interrupt my “I saw on TV the other day. . .” with a haughty “I don’t watch TV.” It’s usually delivered with the kind of pride that should be reserved for announcing that you cured cancer.

“I don’t even own a TV,” they continue pompously. “I don’t have it in my house. Eww.” And then they proceed to list all the junk they watch on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

If you are going to feel all superior for not watching TV, then at least tell folks that you are using this time to read Kant in the original and not to watch the exact same junk on Netflix that I watch on TV. And on Netflix and everywhere else.

The Depths

I’m surfing Jonathan’s wave a lot today, and here’s a very good post on how to turn off the negative radio.

What I like the most about myself is that I’ve had several really harsh situations in my life and every single time I was strong and didn’t let them break me. You really never know what will come out when hardship hits. And what came out of the depths of me in these situations was good. That makes me proud.

Although, of course, I’d prefer never to have experienced any of them.

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