Duty or Desire?

Delivered at my doorstep at 6 am today! Just when I have a review to write and a stack of papers to grade. Duty or desire? What will win?

We all know the answer.

Freudian Box

A Freudian would notice in this imagery a huge sexual frustration that screams to the skies. Big! Red! Boxes! are a woman’s equivalent of gigantic penis-shaped objects displayed by a man.

Leaving Freud aside, this is so ugly. Why can’t these people hire somebody with a modicum of artistic sensibility?

Coh-veed Shot

Klara asked me today if she needs a “coh-veed shot.” Apparently, some kid at school got one and just had to share the news. Klara had never heard the word COVID from me or anybody before, so I wasn’t pleased.

Of course, I told her that if she wants an extra shot – or fifteen, I can arrange that. Understandably, she refused.

I took her to the pediatrician today who asked me if we are interested in getting Klara vaccinated for “you-know-what” and then muttered quietly and really fast “I don’t recommend, I don’t recommend.” I don’t recommend either, so it’s all good.

Book Notes: Liane Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall

This novel by a bestselling Australian mommy-lit author is, in my opinion, her best. It’s a long, gossipy yarn about dysfunctional families that still manage to figure everything out. Everybody meets their soulmate or realizes they are already married to one. The barren get pregnant and the perennially single fall in love. Complicated conflicts are resolved and love conquers all. Everything scary turns out to be not scary at all. Murders turn out to be funny mishaps. Lifelong enemies kiss and make up.

The novel is getting bad reviews because the characters are “not likeable.” This is actually a good sign because “likeable” characters are one-dimensional stick figures with no depth. Would you make a likeable character? I definitely wouldn’t.

Apples Never Fall has one big flaw. The last 30 pages are completely unnecessary and filled with utter covidiocy. Does anybody need another Australian lady lecturing us about COVID? Definitely not. I prefer authors who pretend COVID never happened. The only reason to read novels like these is for escapist reasons. I’m not trying to glean profound existential insights here. I just want to have a relaxing couple of hours. There’s enough COVID talk everywhere else. Why do I need more of it in my funtime reading matter?

Other than that, a hugely enjoyable read. If anybody knows another author like Liane Moriarty, please let me know. I love this kind of stuff.

Not Gifted

Obviously, it was the right decision for Bezos but it’s not a great suggestion for everybody else. I’m a lot less gifted than many of the people I went to school with. I’m actually not gifted at all. My IQ is very run-of-the-mill. Everything takes me a very long time. In languages in particular, I’m just not naturally endowed. What other people pick up with ease, I have to plough through with endless flashcards and months of rote memorization. I have a terrible memory. Sometimes, I struggle for months to articulate an idea, and people go, “erm, that’s obvious.” Well, obvious to you maybe but I had to take a lot of time to figure it out.

In the only language class I ever took in Spanish, I was one of the slowest people to get things. Watching others just effortlessly get it made it clear that I was not made for it. But of those 46 people who took the class with me, who made a career for themselves in Hispanic Studies? Who publishes the work that a new generation of students is assigned to read? Only me.

The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes to me that natural gifts aren’t that important in intellectual pursuits. It’s all about the dogged perseverance of the not-so-brilliant.

Stalin, for example, was despised as a pedestrian, plodding mind by the brilliant revolutionaries like Trotsky or Bukharin. But who ended up winning and killed them all? Not that Stalin is a huge role model but

Forget being gifted and work on your psychological health. That’s a real gift that will carry you everywhere you need to go.

Trauma-informed Pedagogy

There’s a new fad in teaching called “trauma-informed pedagogy.” It means students can’t be disciplined or punished for terrible behavior in any way. If they beat other students, harass the teacher, create mayhem, vandalize the school property, or interrupt class to scream insults, you have to assume they do it because they’ve been traumatized. The only allowed reaction to this behavior is “oh, you poor bunny.” Of course, this creates even more terrible behavior. Some schools have descended into total mayhem as a result of this.

The goal of trauma-informed pedagogy is to make public schools so unappealing that people wouldn’t use them unless they are completely desperate. Public schooling will be reduced to a few hours of online propaganda a day. Once again, this is all about austerity.

“Culturally responsive teaching” is a synonym of “trauma-informed pedagogy.” And by God, do the people who come up with these ugly verbal constructions have any respect for language? Culturally responsive teaching is based on the belief that everybody who is not white is a complete idiot incapable of behaving in a civilized way. As a result, you can’t teach anything of substance or require any discipline because that’s isn’t respectful of the “cultures” that are congenitally dumb and violent. I kid you not, this utterly racist gobbledygook is now treated as holy dogma in teaching.

As a side note, if you are seeking psychological help, please avoid “trauma-informed therapists.” They are as useless and faddy as “trauma-informed teachers.”

The Elf Penance

Parents of small children do a particular form of penance before Christmas. It’s called Elf on the Shelf.

The elf appears in different unexpected places around the house every morning for a month before Christmas. Every night you have to conduct a military-precision extraction operation and then reposition the elf someplace fun. Sometimes parents forget to reposition the elf and then, rumors have it, their fate is unenviable.

Then there are the dreaded Insta parents who come up with whole installations for their elf and proudly post the photos on social media. It’s as if the whole point of their existence were to make busier / less perky parents feel bad about ourselves.

Jokes aside, nothing beats creating some magic for a little human being even if it does entail tying yourself into knots to make the elf appearances go smoothly.

Incel Meme

Buttigieg published a meme but forgot to add the title.

The meme is titled “The Making of an Incel.”