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Clarissa's Blog

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

Archive for the day “May 18, 2011”

Feels Just Like Home!

And I already had my very first spammer visit this blog. I have no idea if the readers will find their way over here but it seems like spammers most certainly will.

I can already see that WordPress is much better than Blogger at catching spammers. Blogger doesn’t recognize this particular kind of spammer (the one who leaves a seemingly legitimate comment but links to their spam in the name of the commenter) and you have to weed them out manually.

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Inventive Uses of Burqas in Bangladesh

Police in Bangladesh have come up with a way to put burqas to good use. They are now wearing them to catch criminals:

Code named “Burqa Team,” a four-member police squad — two wearing burqa (veil) and two in plainclothes — conducts the drive especially at night. Police initiated the move in the wake of rising incidents of mugging and carjacking in the area in recent months. Such team was also introduced in the capital’s Mirpur in June 2009, police said. Abdul Latif, officer-in-charge of Kafrul Police Station, told The Daily Star they devised the technique so that the muggers cannot identify them. “Our team catches the muggers when they try to mug them.” One such team yesterday arrested two alleged muggers at Agargaon in the capital around 4:30am when they tried to mug the squad. The arrestees are Sadnan Hossain Saju and Azizul Haque. Two of the gang fled the scene. The team was patrolling between Agargaon and Jahangir Gate link road in a microbus. When the team reached Agargaon, four criminals in a private car stopped the microbus and tried to mug them. “Police shot at them with the guns hidden under their veils. The muggers also fired back,” Latif said.

It’s good to see that finally somebody is doing something positive with the burqa.

New Developments in the Tragic Case of Antonio Calvo

More than a month has passed since the suicide of Dr. Antonio Calvo who took his life after a humiliating dismissal from Princeton University. And still, Princeton is providing no answers as to what happened. Why was it so necessary to remove a professor who had worked for the university for a decade from the premises in the midst of the semester? What were the charges against Dr. Calvo? What happened during the secret proceedings that culminated in an outright dismissal of an educator while the students were waiting for him in class?

In the US, the issue attracted some attention for a while but many things have happened since then and the interest in the subject has waned. This plays right into Princeton’s hands, of course. Dr. Calvo is dead and soon he will be forgotten. If nobody asks questions about what happened, Princeton will be able to escape all responsibility for this tragedy.

The Spanish-speaking world, however, is not letting the matter rest. A famous Argentinean writer Ricardo Piglia, who is a member of the same Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures in Princeton, has been demanding answers from the university. Piglia published an article in an Argentinean newspaper that was immediately widely quoted in other Spanish-speaking countries. Here is what the writer had to say (translation is mine, the link is, understandably, in Spanish):

The authorities based their decision on observations and opinions expressed in several letters of evaluation that the administration requested from Calvo’s students and colleagues. What matters in this most painful event is not the content of these letters which habitually circulate during the multitudinous and kafkaesque evaluation procedures but rather the way they were read. In the ten years that Calvo worked at this university, not a single thing has taken place that would have justified this decision.

So what do you think Princeton’s response has been to Piglia’s attempts to find justice for his dead colleague? I thought that we’d seen the heights of contempt and cynicism that this university can reach but it turns out that Princeton can do much better. Cass Cliatt, the university’s spokesperson, has declared (again, the link is in Spanish) that Piglia, who has been on a sabbatical leave since December, has no knowledge of what took place during the discussions of the committee that decided to dismiss Dr. Calvo. This, according to Princeton’s spokesperson, prevents the writer from judging for himself whether Dr. Calvo’s dismissal was justified.

Princeton’s cynicism here is mind-boggling. They refuse to tell us what happened and why exactly Dr. Calvo was dismissed and then inform us that we cannot judge because we have no idea what happened. Well, of course, we have no idea. That’s because nobody is telling us anything.

It’s good to see that Ricardo Piglia and the most important Spanish newspaper El Pais are not letting this matter rest. Dr. Calvo is dead, and Princeton is doing all it can to make the truth about  what happened hidden from public view forever. Only a sustained effort on the part of academics, writers, and journalists will manage to make the truth known.

Thanks to Spanish Prof who pointed me in the direction of this article.

Migrating to WordPress

In keeping with my restive immigrant identity, I decided that I couldn’t leave well enough alone and created a huge headache for myself with this move to WordPress. I realize that in a year or two, when this blog has even more visitors than the original one had, the drama I’ve created around this move today and yesterday will seem funny. But there’s been drama, people. I barely managed to get any sleep at night, my hands are shaking, and my ears are buzzing. A book arrived that I’d been waiting for, and I barely cared. And I also just discovered that I forgot to eat today. This blog has been making me very happy, and I’m terrified of losing readers and visitors.

So please keep coming to clarissasblog.com. Enter this new address into your Google Reader and blogroll. Bookmark it and link to it on your blog, Facebook page, or other resource.

Immigrant Identity

I always say that I hate collective identifications and have no need to identify myself with any group or category. There is, however, one identity that I do acknowledge having. It is the identity of an immigrant. Being an immigrant is a profoundly traumatic experience which, at the same time, is extremely liberating. An immigrant doesn’t allow her individuality to be subsumed by the place where she lives. The place is there to serve her needs, not vice versa. An immigrant doesn’t offer love and devotion to a country based on the accidental fact of being born there. A country needs to convince an immigrant that it is worthy of allegiance.

There is a special kind of freedom that only an immigrant has. It’s the freedom to choose the terms of engagement with his or her place of existence. You don’t need to have actually emigrated to be an immigrant. All you need is to be conscious of the fact that national borders are nothing but an accident of history, an accident that in no way needs to define your life.

My Very First Post on WordPress

As you can see, this is the WordPress version of Clarissa’s Blog. There is a variety of reasons why I think it might be a good idea to stay on WordPress permanently. I now have a lot more visitors than I could have possibly imagined when I first started blogging two years ago. It is important to me to be able to offer them the best there is. Blogger has proven to be extremely unreliable. I haven’t been able to get all of its widgets to work simultaneously for months. The dashboard has been malfunctioning since April. Recently, we have seen that Blogger is quite likely to collapse completely and stay out of commission for long stretches of time.

At the same time, I have become more sophisticated as a blogger. The initial version of the blog served my needs well, but now I have started to perceive it as quite limiting. I’ve only been testing WordPress for a few hours, but I can already see that it offers a lot more. As any transition, this one will be a huge drag for me and for my readers alike. I believe, however, that it will be worth it in the long run.

The greatest advantage of moving over to WordPress is that I have now been able to simplify and shorten the blog’s address. It is now simply: clarissasblog. com

Please tell me how you feel about the change.

Should I Back the Blog Up on WordPress? Or Move Altogether?

After the Blogger collapse last week, Blogger is still not functioning properly. Several widgets on my blog are not working and it takes longer than usual to load. The Dashboard has been working poorly for several weeks now. Other people who blog with Blogger report continued issues with posting and commenting. After the unpleasant experience of Blogger being down for 23 hours last week, I have realized that I don’t want to remain without my blog. I love blogging with a passion and want to continue doing it for a very long time to come. I’m only just getting started here, and I’ve got a lot more things to say. A real lot.

So I’ve started thinking that maybe Blogger should not be relied on. I read that there is an option to export one’s blog to WordPress and leave it there as a back-up option. In this case, if Blogger goes down again, readers will simply go to the WordPress version and continue reading there. Or is it a stupid idea?
Or maybe I should move the blog to WordPress altogether? Are there any distinctive advantages that WordPress has over Blogger? Or is it an even more stupid idea?
Does it make sense to buy one’s own domain name? What are the benefits of doing that?
Please help, people, I’m torn and confused. I’m placing a poll in the top right-hand corner and will also be grateful if you elaborate in the comments.

Clarissa’s Frog Legs Soup: A Recipe

I love making soups because you can be as inventive as you want and use up all the stuff you have floating around the refrigerator. Today, I decided to make a soup of frog legs and fish. Once again, a Google search didn’t offer any interesting recipes, so I decided to improvise. It turned out so good that I have already devoured two big bowls.

Here is what you will need:
3-4 pairs of frog legs
3-4 fish of any kind you like. The fish should be skinless but it is very important not to remove either the backbone or the tail. They are needed to make the broth less watery.
3 potatoes
2-3 carrots
salt, herbs, spices
some fresh sage
Here are the frog legs and the fish all ready for cooking. Separate frog leg pairs in two so that you have to separate legs. There is no need to chop them up onto smaller pieces.
You can use either fish stock or simply water if you have no stock handy. Place the chopped carrots and the frog legs into the broth (or water) and place the pan on high. You will need to bring it to the boiling point and then reduce the heat immediately.
Add a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and any herbs and spices you like. I added dry oregano, cumin seeds, several cloves, mustard seeds, and when the soup was almost ready, some fresh sage. Peel, cube and add potatoes to the soup. After 10 minutes or so, cut the fish into chunks of the same size and add them to the pot. Let the soup simmer on slow until the potatoes taste ready but not mushy. Here is how the soup ended up looking:
If you let it stand for a few hours after making it, the soup will taste even better.

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