Why Are They Doing This to Me? Amazon Releases a Tablet

I would have never considered buying any tablet because I believe they are all overpriced, gimmicky, unwieldy, and quite useless. There was a single way of making me want to purchase a tablet and that was by calling it a Kindle. And this is exactly what Amazon did.

These cruel, cruel folks at Amazon just released a temptation that it might not be within my powers to resist. This thing of beauty is called Kindle Fire. People who have been reading this blog for a while know that my attachment to my Kindle is very powerful. The amount of joy I have derived from my Kindle in the three and a half years of using it has been immense.

Here is what Kindle Fire looks like

As you can see, Kindle Fire is smaller and lighter than the iPad. It is also a lot cheaper than even the lowest priced Apple tablet.Kindle Fire costs $199. That’s cheaper than even the cheapest iPod touch.

Unlike an iPad, it doesn’t have a camera or a microphone. I don’t really know what use the iPad’s camera is, though. I once saw a student try to take a picture with this unwieldy, bulky device, and it didn’t look like fun. The number of apps you will have access to on Amazon’s tablet is 250,000, as opposed to 425,000+ iPad apps.

Kindle Fire will be available on November 15 but it can be pre-ordered now.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to resist it, people.

A Little More on the Undead Corpses

In my Hispanic Civ class, we discussed the horrors visited by the Spanish conquistadors on the indigenous populations. We read texts, talked, did review. During the next class meeting I asked the students to talk about the consequences of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. That was when I discovered that all my students had retained from the discussion was that “the conquerors murdered unborn babies.”

“What unborn babies?” I asked.

“Well, didn’t they kill pregnant women?” was the response.

Not Very Good News

So I just discovered that our Vice-Chancellor is going to retire next summer. This makes me kind of sad because he is a very good leader for our university and I really like him. He is always very attentive and respectful to junior faculty members, never pulls rank on us or makes us feel ike we are insignificant if we don’t have tenure. He learned my name before I ever learned his, which is impressive given that I was one of 55 new hires the year I came here.

As we say in my culture, a fish starts to rot from its head. A bad leader can have a very negative impact on the entire institution. I hope that the person who substitutes our Vice-Chancellor is at least half as good as he is.

Why Does Russia Oppose the US on Palestine Independence?

I know that the many fans of Juan Cole will hate me for this but I just can’t get into his writings as hard as I try. Here is what he says about the countries that defy the US with their support for Palestinian independence:

With countries traditionally willing to follow the U.S. lead on important geopolitical issues now breaking with Washington on Palestine, it is no surprise that the tier of rising world powers known as the BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—is unanimously in favor of the Palestine bid at the U.N.

I understand that it is very tempting to group all of those weird third-world folks with funny names and strange cultures into one homogeneous group that has to serve the political purpose of supporting Juan Cole’s beliefs and then make itself scarce. But that’s just not how things work.

Putin’s Russia has been under the spell of a massive anti-American campaign for many years now. Putin will vote “nay” even if the US suggests that today is Wednesday. The Russian Federation could care less about Palestine. All it cares about is spiting the Americans who are stupid, nasty, miserable and aim at world domination that rightfully belongs to somebody else. Would you care to venture a guess as to who this somebody else is? Exactly.

The myth that the US won the Cold World and now Russia is on its merry way to democracy will cost us all very dearly of we keep dismissing what is going on in this huge nuclear power.

My Reaction to the “Accidental Rapist” Story

Thank you everybody who has been participating in the most recent semi-open thread.

What I have to say about the story is that “Katie” is a passive-agressive manipulator. This kind of manipulation has nothing to do specifically with sex. It can be used in a variety of contexts to generate feelings of guilt in one’s interlocutor.

To give an example: I cooked borscht yesterday. Today, I could have told my husband, “I didn’t really feel like cooking but I didn’t want to say it and disappoint you. So I tried to send non-verbal clues to you which you ignored. I’m not saying that you are a male chauvinist pig who exploits my labor but. . .” One could have a lot of fun this way, guilt-tripping everybody in sight for not deciphering clues effectively.

My suggestion to anybody who has the misfortune of meeting a passive-aggressive manipulator is to walk away as fast as you can.

In terms of consent to sex, I have to say that I am not happy about the suggestion that a non-impaired non-disabled adult woman should expect a man to be more aware of and protective towards her emotional state than she is herself. This is yet again the annoying trend of infantilizing women we see in today’s pseudo-feminism.

I used to know a woman who had an abortion and blamed her husband for it. “He told me that he would respect any decision I made because it was my body!” she would complain. “I kept hoping he would guess I didn’t want to abort and stop me but he didn’t. Now I just can’t forgive him for that.”

If we want to have the right to our own bodies, we need to assume all the attendant responsibilities and not expect people to decide for us and read our minds.

Dear Twitterers!

I received your Twitter messages but I can’t answer them right now because I have been displaced from my office and don’t have access to a computer while I’m on campus.

I can blog from my phone but it isn’t letting me respond on Twitter for some reason.

Thank you for your tweets. I will respond to them as soon as I can.

I also want to use this opportunity to thank those of you who retweet my blog posts. You rock!

Good Writing

The following was written by one of my favorite bloggers Nominatissima:

I have a confession: I have a much deeper-seated fear of Christians/Gentiles who suck up to Jews, wax poetic about Israel being some type of great holy land, and talk about their “sacred duty” to protect Jews, and I personally find them to be a lot more frightening and disturbing than any openly hateful antisemite I ever met. . . I have a lifetime, hell, an entire cultural history of dealing with antisemites, I’m practically an expert at bringing them down at this point, and they’re about as annoying as ticks in the summer. But I have no idea how to disengage these weirdos and have them go back to that Dead Sea scroll they crawled out of.

Can you believe that this is a 21-year-old student writing? This is so good I want to weep.

If you ever feel the need to dump on the younger generation, do read Nominatissima’s blog. It will restore your faith in humanity. And if you believe that younger people are immature, I have to tell you that I hope I achieve this blogger’s level of maturity by the age of 41. I still have time, so I’m not too hopeless. 🙂

Klubnikis, Napoleon, and Armies

My niece Klubnikis who is not yet two years old always invents funny new names for everything. For example, she says “armies” instead of “arms.” So now we all know that when Klubnikis says “armies”, this means she needs to be taken in one’s arms and hugged. I got so used to this that now whenever I hear the word “armies”, I feel the need to hug my niece.

Today in class, I started saying, “And then Napoleon’s armies. . .” Then I cut myself short and looked around for a child to hug. Sadly, there was none.

I miss Klubnikis, people. I try to control the cute baby posts but they keep spilling out of me. Sorry!

Gorbachev in Montreal

Mikhail Gorbachev will be giving a talk in Montreal on October 21. I can’t believe I can’t be there! The cheapest ticket is, of course, $350 but I would have totally found the money. It would be great to hear what Gorbachev has to say about Russia’s future now that Putin has voted himself back into the presidency of the Russian Federation.

Gorbachev turned 80 this year, which is 24 years longer than an average life expectancy for a male in his country. I hope he lives for at least 80 more years but you just never know.

So if you are in Montreal, consider going and then telling me all about it.

Some of My Closest Friends. . .

We all know this hackneyed response that a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, a xenophobe, etc. offer the moment you accuse them of racism, bigotry, and homophobia.

Sparky at Womanist Musings published a brilliant post about people who evoke “absent friends” to excuse their own bigotry. Here is a comment I left to that post:

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to stop people from referring to Ukrainians with a certain offensive term only to have the offender tell me, “Oh, I know someone who is Ukrainian and she is perfectly fine with me calling her that.”

The most egregious instance of this was when the Ukrainian who was “perfectly fine” with being referred to with this term turned out to be the offender’s cleaning woman. I wonder how empowered the cleaning woman was to consent freely to being called that way.

What I really don’t understand is why it is so difficult for some people to respect the wishes of a member of a certain ethnic group not to use certain terminology when referring to said ethnic group.

“But I don’t get it!” such people often whine. “What’s wrong with this particular word?”

What’s wrong with it, you insensitive and rude jerk, is that it offends me. Oh, you don’t like being called a jerk? That’s weird. What’s so wrong about this particular word?