How We Felt About the Soviet Union

People often ask me how we felt about living in the Soviet Union. Here is an anecdote that perfectly illustrates out feelings.

When Tarkovsky’s 1973 film Andrei Rublev first came out, my father was discussing it with his mentor.

“I have no idea why this film is being persecuted by the authorities,” my father said. “It is about the Middle Ages, and there is nothing anti-Soviet about it.”

“You are mistaken, Misha,” the mentor replied. “This film is very subversive.”

“How so?”

“Well, to give just one example, do you remember this scene where horsemen are riding down a muddy road?”

“Yes,” my father said. “So what?”

“This slurping mud that the horsemen trample with the hooves of their horses is precisely what we, the Soviet people, are.”

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

A brilliant post from an experienced academic on retirement.

On salaries in academia. In the meanwhile, we can’t spare 5 bucks from our departmental money to buy a pizza to reward our minimal salary lab workers for their hard work.

Libertarian slogans that are false. Part I and Part II. The discussions that follow the posts are also fascinating.

How to avoid writing fatigue. I agree completely with this advice.

““Positive thinking” is dangerous because it is a form of thought-stopping, and leads us to deny reality.”

It seems like it pays off to be a former bloody colonizer.

An anti-Semitic vodka billboard in New York.

Vulva cupcakes. (Don’t follow the link if you are at work). My reaction is “bleh.” What’s yours? Contrary to this blogger’s opinion, I find this desert gross not because I find female genitals gross but because the idea of food shaped as any body part is disgusting to me. A cake in the form of a finger or an eye would be just as gross.

A fantastic post on why it’s a brilliant idea to date a feminist.

It’s nice to see that I’m not the only academic weirded out by Academia. edu.

On why you shouldn’t watch the latest installment in the stupid and ideologically manipulative Twilight series. Please, people, there is so much stuff to see and read in the world. Why invest money in supporting this kind of creepazoid organization?

A lot of people complain that there is too much sexualization, that everything is about selling sex. I actually think there might be too little sexualization.” Finally, a voice of reason on sexualization! Yippee!

“The shift from “talk therapy” to drugs as the dominant mode of treatment coincides with the emergence over the past four decades of the theory that mental illness is caused primarily by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be corrected by specific drugs.” The real tragedy is that so many people bought into this vicious profit-driven lie about chemical imbalances in the brain and are falling over themselves in their rush to help pharmaceutical companies to make more money.

A fascinating article on life in Iran.

On cuteness and zaniness.

A really insightful post about the need to stop focusing on longevity as the only factor in disease prevention and treatment. I really like the way this blogger thinks. She always has an original take on things, so I highly recommend.

I have no idea why this blogger dislikes bibliography-dumping. I, for one, wish it happened to me a lot more often.

As a craft, American mainstream movies are all but dead, more the product of the merchandising department than filmmakers. American movies have replaced story and character and emotion with spectacle and noise.” I agree with this completely, except the “but.” They are dead, period. Of course, I’m not sure they were ever born, to be honest. I don’t think that film as a form of art ever existed in the US.

Why donating to the Salvation Army promotes bigotry.

You Know What Is Sad?

A student sends in a brilliant introduction for the final essay. And instead of simply enjoying it and feeling good about how well I’ve taught my students to write, I immediately start Googling it to see if it’s been plagiarized.

It’s sad to have become so jaded. Remember, students, when you cheat, you make your teachers gradually lose faith in humanity. And that’s a great disservice you are doing to new generations of students.