Emotional Bureaucrats

Please observe how soppy, meaningless emotionalism is used to hide a demand for budget cuts:

This is exactly what we saw in that bureaucratic document I’ve been quoting today. “Care”, “feelings”, “community”, “needs”.

Look what they do. They frustrate all real human relationships. Colleagues are terrified of being together because of micro aggressions and #MeToo. People don’t know how to get close to anybody who doesn’t have the exact same “identity.” Children are bad for the environment, and anything beyond a “situationship” is just too onerous.

And when we get starved for actual care, feelings and community, they offer to provide them at the price of a low, easy payment in budget cuts, firings, and austerity.

Markets in the Classroom

And here is the absolute pièce de résistance of the “pre-canned feelings” document:

We must lay the groundwork for a deeper and wider change in culture—one in which eventually all folks (faculty in particular) realize that their work in the classroom has some ‘economic’/fiscal/financial aspect/consequence.

After which “we will leave the meeting with a sense of” bla-bla.

The textbook definition of neoliberalism, by the way, is “markets in everything.” What does that mean? See above for the perfect example.

Folks Especially

The “pre-planned feelings” document refers to people, and again, I quote, as “folks especially faculty.” This “folks” is so grating because it aims to create a folksy, conversational mood in a situation where the guiding idea of the project is to get rid of as many workers as possible.

The concluding section titled “Opportunities and Threats” ends with the following statement: “Identify which departments have more faculty than can be justified.” What’s going to happen with these unjustified professors – or “folks” – is never explained.

Pre-planned Feelings

Today we received a document that describes the new procedure for creating an academic budget. It’s written in the most atrocious bureaucratese and lists 17 (seventeen) additional meetings on top of the ones in the already existing procedure. Every meeting is described not only in terms of the date, attendees and action items but also a list of feelings (yes, feelings) people should experience after each meeting.

Example. “February 16, 2023. We leave the meeting with a sense of confidence in our capacity to improve the budget and a sense of excitement regarding the new strategic budgeting process.”

There is a separate column for these feelings. Every sentence in it starts with “We leave the meeting with a sense of.” Please note that these meetings haven’t happened yet. These are future meetings. But the feelings they are supposed to inspire have already been pre-planned. And put down in writing by people who lack any sense of humor.

I know everybody is already tired of me bringing up the USSR but I’ll say it again. We weren’t this stupid in the USSR. The pre-planned feelings worked only until Stalin’s death. Once there were no mass executions, nobody took pre-planned feelings seriously.

This is a long, very detailed document. 5 pages, single-spaced, 10 pt font. Somebody got paid actual money to write this unreadable, moronic garbage. It was approved by the administration. What is wrong with us that we let this happen?

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Russians destroyed the Holocaust memorial near my native city of Kharkiv:

The memorial stands in the place of one of the largest mass graves of the slaughtered Kharkiv Jews. My Jewish grandparents didn’t end up there because they managed to flee. 11,000 Jews were murdered and buried in this spot.

Sadly, this taught people nothing.

Delayed Gratification

I’m watching old Soviet movies, and gosh, people really had no instant gratification issues. Every movie starts with long, unhurried credits that you had to sit through quietly if you wanted to see the picture.

I’m refusing to fast-forward because I’m trying to improve my focus and that means developing high tolerance of boredom.

Of course, that gas station cold medicine put paid to any efforts in the direction of focus for hours.

Scary Medicine

I caught a cold. I usually avoid medication but I have two big meetings and needed to be able to speak. I rushed to a gas station and grabbed a packet of cold medicine of some sort. The cashier surprised me by asking for my ID because, apparently, they aren’t allowed to sell this cold remedy to underage people.

I took the medicine, and it turned out to be some kind of speed. I had to take off my Fitbit because it was vibrating like crazy, telling me I have an abnormal heart rate. It did help my throat but in a way similar to that Oxycodone I took once and freaked myself out completely. I locked myself in the office because I was going a mile a second and I didn’t want people to see me in that state.

Even cold remedies are freaky these days.

The budget meeting (before I took the speed) went great, though. Not only did I somehow manage to avoid budget cuts completely, I got additional funding for a new graduate assistant. Imagine what I would have been able to accomplish if I were on speed during the meeting.