A Quote About Me:

From Ruth Rendell’s brilliant novel A Judgment in Stone:

Like all true eccentrics, he thought other people very odd.

My favorite sentence that I repeat at least once a day is, indeed, “People are weird.” ūüôā

Freedom of Speech

Your freedom of speech consists not in being able to come to other people’s blogs and say any kind of rubbish you want without being kicked out, but in being able to open a blog of your own and enjoy the freedom to say whatever you please there.

Seriously, is this so hard to understand?

Creepy or Romantic?

I just told N. a story from my past and it turns out that our reaction to it is completely different. So I decided to post it here and let my readers tell me what they think.

Many years ago, when I lived in New Haven, CT, I once came home and discovered an unknown gentleman waiting for me in front of the door to my building.

“Hi,” the gentleman said. “I live in the building opposite yours and my windows face the windows of your apartment. I’ve been watching you for a while and I really like you.”

“OK,” I said and proceeded to enter my building.

“So would you like to go out with me?” the gentleman inquired.

“No!” I responded and slammed the door behind me.

Now, N. thinks that I was wrong in considering the guy weird and creepy.

What do you, dear readers, think? Was my neighbor being stalky or romantic?

Healthcare and Education

I think that there are two central, basic, extremely important services that any society should offer to all of its citizens for free in order to consider itself civilized: medical care and education. The rest can be debated, discussed and disagreed upon. These two things, however, are two important to deny to people on a monetary basis. The question every civilized society needs to ask itself is: can we offer these two important things to all of us for free? And if not, what do we need to do in order to make it happen? After this goal is reached, we can proceed to concentrate on other issues.

At this point, however, we have been led to believe that we don’t have money for either of these things and that cuts need to be made to one of them to salvage some remnants of the other. And that’s just wrong.

Look at what’s happening in California, for example:

The Regents of the University of California are meeting to discuss a multiyear funding proposal that will increase tuition by a cumulative 81% in the next four years, if the state does not increase funding. As a point of reference, UC tuition has already gone up 330% since the year 2000. And as Bob Samuels points out, if past experience is any guide, it’s much more likely that the state will actually decrease public funding in the next four years, and that tuition will rise even higher and faster than that.

In short, while UC students paid around $4,000 a year in tuition in 2000, their successors will pay over $22,000 a year in 2015.

Just multiply 22,000 by four and you will see who is going to be able to afford higher education in this country.

All these people who don’t believe that healthcare and education should be free for all, who are they and how do they justify this to themselves? They’ve got to be telling themselves something to explain how all of this is right. So what is it? What’s going on in their very very empty heads, I wonder.

Why Are So Many Charities Suffering From Bad Taste?

I often find that charitable organizations display really horrible taste in how they go about doing their business. Look at this one, for example:

Dining for Women is a dinner giving circle. We “dine in” together once a month, each bringing a dish to share, and our “dining out” dollars (what we would have spent if we had eaten at a restaurant) are sent to programs empowering women worldwide. We then combine all donations from hundreds of chapters to support one carefully selected international program a month.

This just sounds so incredibly spoiled and condescending that I can’t help but be bothered by it. “Oh, I’m such a good person for sacrificing a¬†restaurant¬†outing once a month. I just ate dinner to empower other women.” Of course, the women worldwide who need to be “empowered” by these charitable ladies’ dining efforts face daily the kind of struggles where sacrificing a restaurant outing once a month does not sound all that tragic. And then the spoiled rich American women get together and chew their cud to “empower” such women? Who even came up with such an idea?

You’ll say I’m biased against “ladies’ charities” and yes, I am. I met people who work for such charities (not the one I discuss in this post, these are other charities I’m talking about) and discovered that they are paid anywhere upwards of $250,000 per year for their charity-organizing services. I also discovered what percentage their salaries make out of the entire amount gathered. Since then, I’d rather contribute to a Ponzi scheme than to this kind of charities.

I Can Kind Of. . .

. . . vaguely understand why somebody would feel the need to ask a person, “And when are you going to have a baby?” But I can’t really understand why the same¬†person¬†would want to repeat the same question within 15 minutes of asking it the first time. Especially if the individual who is being asked hasn’t been outside their field of vision in those 15 minutes.

Is there some new method of conception I am unaware of, or what?

Meet the Computer Generation

My Freshman students were born in 1993. The Internet was already around. Personal computers had been around for a while.

Yesterday, I was explaining the essay format to them.

“The essays should be in Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, one-inch margins on all sides,” I announce and notice the stunned faces of my students.

“Did anybody understand what I just said?” I ask.

“Noooo,” is the answer.

I open a Word document and show them. I also insert page numbers.

“OMG!” a student exclaims. “This is SO cool! I always write page numbers by hand but this is so much more convenient!”

Well, at least I don’t have to try hard to impress them. You know how professors sometimes fear their younger students will not find them sufficiently savvy about technology? I don’t think there is any danger of that.

Maybe the next time I’ll introduce them to the miracle of a light-bulb.