We Did It!

Remember how we’ve been trying to get together some money to help out Nominatissima, a talented blogger and an autism advocate? It worked! Come take a look at a post she recently published with the good news. Now, she will be able to pay her tuition and then finally get a new computer.

The world is a beautiful place if there are all these fantastic people who decided to help out a struggling student and sent donations or, in the absence of money, kind wishes and thoughts.

Thank you, everybody, who helped this happen. I now need to go cry some more because this makes me very happy. 🙂

Why Do Some Women Care About Fashion?

I read this post a while ago but I haven’t been able to put it out of my mind because it is too funny and too stupid at the same time:

My observation from talking to women of a wide variety of backgrounds and interests is that much of what happens in the general category of women and beauty is completely divorced from men. . . My question, though, is who is the real audience here? Most guys I know would prefer to see their wife or girlfriend in jeans and a t-shirt. Red carpet dresses, the ones on which many women are fixated, look like space suits to the male eye. We are trained to say the right thing about all kinds of things that are “girl cute” but really have no bearing on whether or not, from a male perspective, a woman is attractive.

It is really cute to see a person discover the wheel for the very first time and try to share this exciting new knowledge with the world.

Yes, people of all genders who are interested in fashion practice this hobby for the sake of enjoyment it gives them and not for an “audience.” Just like a gamer plays because s/he digs it and a book lover reads for fun, a fashion-conscious person enjoys the process of practicing this hobby.

I’m very interested in fashion, make-up, beauty treatments, etc. This interest obviously has nothing to do with trying to attract any men (or women.) As everybody probably knows already, I am completely besotted with N. who thinks I’m a ravishing beauty no matter what I look like at any given point. The days when I experiment with make-up are usually the days when I don’t even leave home at all. Applying make-up and constructing outfits is a great relaxation technique that I can highly recommend to anybody.

Referring to fashion as “stuff over which women obsess” is not only offensive and wrong. It is also very stupid. There are many fashion-conscious men who are into fashion for the same reason that women are: it’s their hobby that they enjoy.

The post’s author is incapable of realizing these simple truths because he is stuck on his Earth-shattering discovery:

I think there is certainly some part that women are doing to themselves in which we [men] really have no involvement.

Imagine that. And here we all thought that women couldn’t do anything at all without male involvement. Of course, the post’s author couldn’t accept this scary reality, so he decided to insert himself into the process by hectoring women on the dangers of “beauty obsession.”

The post offers a fitting conclusion:

I am not a women. I can’t really say if beauty is an addiction. Where I come from, addiction is a self-diagnosed disease. But from the outside it makes a certain amount of sense. I see women spending endless time on things that to most men seem insane (another trademark of addiction).

Of course, I don’t think that anybody can be “a women” but who cares about a small thing like grammar when you can engage in this kind of obnoxious navel-gazing? Beware, fashion-lovers everywhere, somebody called Tom Matlack thinks your hobby “seems insane.” And things that seem insane to Tom Matlack must count as an addiction.

From my side, I can say that to me publishing this kind of stupid articles “seems insane.” I will still not go as far as claiming that this blogger has an addiction.

This Good Men Project keeps publishing one piece after another of this kind of disappointing meaningless drivel.

American Eating Culture

A productive exchange with a fellow blogger always makes me happy. Here is what blogger Steve responded to my recent post about the differences between English and Russian writing styles:

And as Clarissa gave examples of Russian writers who wrote in a clear and direct style. And the same could be found in Afrikaans in the writing of people like Beyers Naude (a dissident Afrikaner theologian), who could turn Afrikaans from the clumsy and ponderous tool of bureaucratic oppression into something light, clear, and beautiful to read.

But while oppressive bureaucracy may account for some of the differences in style, I don’t think it accounts for all. Perhaps English has also been affected (or infected) by the urban fast-food culture, with people eating on the trot.

I think that the fast-food culture definitely is one of the factors that contributed to the creation of the eating on the run and enjoying a meal with friends while standing and walking around at a party.

However, I believe there are also other reasons why this eating culture arose. One of these reasons is the belief that resting is somehow too indulgent or even sinful and one needs to be constantly on the move. Parties turn into opportunities to network instead of offering an occasion to relax. I have a terror of networking as a practice not only because of my autism but also because I always feel embarrassed when I observe these naked attempts to exploit festive occasions to meet the right people.

The very concept of “fast food” that is eaten out of a brown bag or a plastic box is very strange to me. I work a lot and always have but I don’t understand how it is possible routinely not to have time to sit down for a nice and leisurely meal served on beautiful crockery and arranged and decorated prettily. If you don’t have time for things like these, then what do you have time for?


I knew in advance that September was going to be hard because of all the service obligations I had, the office move, and the difficulty of getting back into a working mood after a long summer vacation. However, I envisioned October as a month when I would have a lot of free time to work on my research and enjoy existence. October was going to be very productive for me.

Of course, when you convince yourself that something is imminent, it is bound to happen.

During the entire month of September, I was pretty much useless. In spite of teaching only two sections of the same course that requires no preparation, I was a mess. I simply couldn’t get myself together for anything. I kept forgetting, oversleeping, losing papers, not managing to do anything on time, getting confused and upset over insignificant little things that I saw as insurmountable problems. No research was getting done, mountains of paperwork were accumulating, and I felt completely adrift.

Copying a file from my computer onto a flash drive would take hours as I wandered aimlessly around forgetting what I was supposed to do. I’m not exaggerating. It once took me 8 separate trips downstairs to fetch a flash drive. I’d go downstairs, fumble in my handbag, forget what I was looking for, go back upstairs, and then the entire charade would repeat itself. I was also permanently sick. Mind you, there were no actual reasons for me to feel and act this way. I only did because I had convinced myself I was going to.

On the morning of October 1, however, I woke up, attacked the mountain of paperwork and student assignments, worked on my translation, and did a lot of research-related reading. The forms that had been daunting me for three weeks got done in one hour twenty minutes. I honestly did more in these first two days of October than in the entire month of September. I felt (and still do) energetic, efficient, and in control.

It is all in the head, people. What’s sad is that I had to waste an entire month to get this thought really to sink in.

No, the Creative Class Is Not Dead. Mainstream Journalism Is

Whenever I read the following kind of pronouncement

The dream of a laptop-powered “knowledge class” is dead. The media is melting. Blame the economy — and the Web

I know that I’m seeing an article written by a mainstream journalist who is throwing a hissy fit at the idea that the hoi-polloi now have means of making themselves heard. And what’s even more upsetting, all those bloggers and Twitterers are doing a much better job of keeping people informed, entertained, and intellectually engaged than any conventional journalist ever could.

There is no ” fading creative class”. What we are seeing is a very positive and promising displacement of all these boring Doothats, Timbergs, and Wolfs who can’t see further than their partisan allegiances and keep regaling us with an endless rehashing of the same ancient platitudes with true creators, intellectuals, artists, and journalists.