The Last Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion of 2011!

Join me in sharing your milestones and achievements of 2011 with Danny on his blog.

On the surface, this person’s journey towards happiness seems very different from mine. On a profound level, though, it’s remarkably similar.

I don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to student plagiarism but if you don’t have the same psychological issue as I do, read this article ridiculing plagiarists in a very inventive way.

An Indian and Oedipal post from a very talented blogger. What more does one need for a perfect blog post?

Scary: “In an effort to determine how far the prospective mother’s cervix was dilated – to see if it was safe to push the baby out – the nurse did a manual exam of the laboring woman’s vagina. Which the husband claimed was “rape”. Then, after he had been forced outside to a room where he could watch through a window without interfering, he broke through the locked door and punched the nurse when she removed the woman’s face coverings.” Why any woman would want to perpetuate the genes of such a creepazoid is beyond my understanding.

If nothing has managed to persuade you to buy a Kindle, this will: bedbugs in books.

Published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the report shows that people who know very little about an issue — say the economic downturn, changes in the climate or dwindling fossil fuel reserves — tend to avoid learning more about it. This insulates them in their ignorance — a pattern described by researchers as “motivated avoidance.”

The most intelligent and sane post on the economy I have read in a while: “In the  Goldman Sachs’ of this world, no one in his right mind should ever trust. And we cannot write rules to protect the insane, except to incarcerate them in suitable medical facilities.”

““[T]he increase in diagnoses [of mental illness in America] is a boon to pharmaceutical manufacturers,” notes a Forbes writer. “The new generation of psychoactives has displaced cholesterol-reducing medications as the biggest-selling class of drugs in the U.S.” Please remember this every time you feel tempted to utter something like, “Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain” or “Mental illness is serious!” Yes, it’s serious. It is also seriously profitable to convince us all we need a few prescriptions on a daily basis.

A brilliant, insightful, life-affirming post on child free time. Whenever I read this blogger’s posts, they always have a very calming effect on me.

The best 2011 photos we never saw.

A protester associated with Occupy London was barred from boarding his flight home to Malaga for Christmas because he was carrying “anarchist” literature.”

One of the most difficult parts of my literary translation. I almost slaughtered myself doing this, people. If you do decide to read it, remember that any corrections and suggestions are very welcome. I never get huffy and puffy when people offer criticisms of my work, so fear not.

Another BRILLIANT post from the Last Psychiatrist: “Amy Chua was called a terrible mom for being hard on her kids, but if she had been a dad the state would have sent in the police and Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Dad would not exist.  It doesn’t exist, which is my point.  She was able to publish because her audience– e.g. the readers of the WSJ where she first and exclusively published an excerpt of her book– like to hear the words “college” and “success” and “how”,  but to soften it from mean parenting to tough parenting you have to make it all come from a woman, especially a non-American one.  Rule #1 of stupid people trying to make sense of the world: the culture you know nothing about has all the answers.” This blogger is so brilliant that it boggles my mind.

Anti-free speech insanity in Austria. This is seriously shocking, people.

If you are applying to grad school, you will find this post very enlightening.

New year predictions by a very talented Rational Republican. You get to vote, too, and then at the end of the year, you will be able to compare whose predictions came true.

And the most important link of all: “For the first time in nearly a century, automobile accidents are no longer the nation’s leading cause of accidental deaths, according to a major report released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics. The new number one killer is drugs—not smack, crystal meth or any other stepped-on menace sold in urban alleyways or trailer parks, but bright, shiny pills prescribed by doctors, approved by the government, manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and sold to the consumer as “medicine.” Yet of the billions of legit pills Americans pop every year for medical conditions serious and otherwise, the vast majority of lives are claimed by only a select few classes—painkillers, sedatives and stimulants—that all share a common characteristic: they promote abuse, dependence and addiction.”

Gender Issues in Our Lives: A Semi-Open Thread

Reader Titfortat posed a very interesting question that, in my opinion, deserves a separate thread:

I’m curious if any of the theorists in magic land actually encounter even 1 tenth of the nasty gender stuff they claim happens out in the real world?? That question goes out to both male and female that inhabit Clarissa’s fine blog.

In my own life, I can say that it took me years of very painful struggles to get rid of gender conditioning that was undermining my existence in a variety of ways. In grad school, I remember lying on my bed trying to read a book in preparation for the comprehensive exams, and in the meanwhile, this nasty voice in my head kept reminding me that reading was not what a woman should be doing and that it made me a total loser as a woman to be doing that.

There were forced public gynecological exams I had to undergo as a child since the age of 11 (Soviet Union, everybody). I had to get married when I didn’t want to in the least because good girls didn’t shame their families by having long-term boyfriends, they got married. I’ve been pawed, harassed and beaten in the street by men who didn’t accept a “no” (Ukraine, people). I’ve been fired from a teaching position for being “too pretty” (Montreal, folks). I’ve been offered a lesser salary than male colleagues with lesser qualifications for the same job. I’ve been told more times than I can remember that I’m not a real woman, I’m a man, I have something seriously wrong with me for wanting to have a career, for not being interested in finding a husband to keep me, for paying my own way, for liking to read, for liking my job. Every single time I heard this, it came out of a woman’s mouth. I’ve had male colleagues suggest that my good grades, my publications, my grants were all a product of me sleeping with both male and female professors. I’ve been slut-shamed by female friends many many times.

Still, the hardest part was getting rid of my own inner gender conditioning, learning to accept all the ways in which I didn’t conform to the gender stereotypes of what a woman should be like. I think I managed to do it, and it has been such a relief to shed the burden of gender expectations.

So this is my story. Please share yours.

I’ll make this post sticky for a while, so that people can share their own stories of how gender stereotypes, roles, conflicts and issues hurt them in their lives. Scroll down for new posts.

Please remember that I’m not looking for statistics on what happens in New Zealand or wherever. This is a thread where we share personal stories. Anonymity is welcome.

End-of-Year Meme

I’ve always wanted to participate in a meme on the blog but could never find a good one. Unless I alighted on one I really like on this great blog. I think it will be very useful to look at it in the future and remember the year 2011.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Presented at a philosophy conference and duped people into thinking I was a philosopher. 🙂

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes, I did and I definitely will. I haven’t been able to decide on the full list of resolutions yet, though. I know that answering emails as soon as I get them will be on it. As it has been for years. Maybe 2012 will be the year when I finally manage to get that one.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

The New Year’s Eve is the most important celebration in my culture. We have a tradition where I prepare a majestic feat, N. and I eat it, exchange gifts under the New Year tree, then we go to a wine bar for a countdown, then we come home, walk around the neighborhood, talk about everything under the Sun, eat the dessert, drink alcohol, and go to bed at 6 am.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Praise be to Allah, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

Does Canada count? N. and I still can’t leave the US together, so traveling has been restricted to my trips back home to Montreal.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A green card that N. and I can use to fulfill our dream of going to the Dominican Republic and to Barcelona together.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 18th because it was the best Birthday celebration of my life.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?

I became a lot better organized and a lot healthier. I also translated a difficult postmodern novel from Russian into English.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Still haven’t finished transforming the stupid dissertation into a book.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a really bad pericarditis last January and ended up in the ER.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A dress from Jones New York.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Rent and books.

13. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Sorry, I haven’t listened to any music this year.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading and writing.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Checked the Stats page of my blog.

16. What was your favorite TV program?

Project Runway was my TV show of the year.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Not really.

18. What was the best book you read?

In Spanish, the most significant book I read was Donde nadie te encuentre by Alicia Gimenez Bartlett. It has inspired me to enter into a completely new area of research and I’m very excited about that. I’ve really had enough of collective identities and Bildungsromane, so it was time for some entirely different area of research.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

None.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

None. I now feel like a very limited human being.

21. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35. This is the best age ever so far. 🙂 N. and I went to St. Louis, stayed at our honeymoon hotel, and explored the city.

22. What kept you sane?

Kindle Fire and the man I love.

23. Who did you miss?

My sister and my niece Klubnikis, most of all.

24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned.

I have severe issues with fully assuming adult womanhood.

25. What does 2012 hold for me?

My midpoint tenure review. Also, hopefully, the final decision on the whole children-bearing issue. 🙂

Jennifer Aniston. . .

. . . being named as the sexiest woman alive speaks to nothing but a hugely problematic and repressed nature of sexuality in the US. People are intimidated by aggressive, adult female sexuality and choose perennially childish, slightly gauche, boy-like kind of femininity as sexy. The popularity of egregiously talentless Natalie Porter is evidence of the same phenomenon.

This phenomenon is mirrored by the popularity of Ashton Kuchner whose trademark goofiness is perceived as sexy by equally sexually stunted individuals.

What do you expect, though, if in a much more sexually liberated UK a huge hullabaloo is raised over sexual acts by undercover officers?

Undercover Officers Have Sex With Activists They Spy On

My “State Universities” thread has been overrun by the discussion of British undercover officers who had sex with activists whose groups they infiltrated. I think we should move this discussion to a separate thread because I want the important conversation about state universities to continue.

Honestly, I have no idea why people are reacting so passionately to the article about the sex lives of undercover police officers and activists. Yes, it’s annoying to find out that your sex partner wasn’t entirely honest. It happens all the time, though. What’s the big deal? Is the entire hullabaloo being caused by the officers’ profession and the fact that many people disapprove of it? Well, I have to remind everybody that having sex with people’s professions is very unhealthy. Sexual desire and sexual enjoyment are a value in themselves.

Say, you’ve had sex with somebody, enjoyed it, had an orgasm, and then discovered that your partner is or does something you personally happen to find unacceptable. Say, they are a Putin supporter. (I hate Putin, in case people don’t know.) How is that going to diminish the value of the orgasm you experienced with them?

Or is it all about the lies those undercover officers told? Well, again this happens all the time. But we don’t bed the texts people utter (if we are sexually healthy, that is.) We bed their bodies and are attracted by their sex appeal. If the sexual attraction was genuine on both sides and if pleasure was experienced by both partners, then who cares what things they concealed from each other? (Of course, I refer to the concealment of things that are not life-threatening.)

I tried imagining what I would have felt if when I was a union organizer, I had discovered that an undercover policeman slept with me to get some information or whatever. If the sex had been good, I’d laughed and thought to myself, “This union organizing thing totally rocks. Now it’s giving me satisfying sex partners. Yippeee!” And if the sex had been bad, it would be an annoying waste of time, irrespective of the partner’s profession.

I don’t even know what tags to add to this post because the entire topic is so contrived. What’s the big deal, folks?

Thomas Frank’s Pity the Billionaire: A Review, Part I

I’m a huge fan of Thomas Frank. His What’s the Matter With Kansas was absolutely brilliant. Since I discovered that great book, I’ve been following his articles and interviews and eagerly awaiting his new book.  You can just imagine how happy I was when I got the chance to read the proofs of his Pity the Billionaire, a book that analyzes the reasons behind the rise of the Tea Party movement. The book strives to answer the crucial question: how is it possible that the Americans’ response to the global economic crisis that happened as a result of unbridled free market practices led them to form a movement that would defend the free market rather than to a movement that would ask for regulations?

The book, however, turned out to be a massive disappointment. Frank’s trademark wit is gone. Aside from a few forced jokes, the book is written in a plodding, unimaginative style that I had no idea this author was even capable of.

His analysis of the “right renaissance” is also unimpressive. People who have been reading my blog for a while know that I’m no fan of the Tea Party. Still, I have to recognize that Frank is being intellectually dishonest in his characterization of the Tea Partiers. For instance, he blames them for the apocalyptic tone they often adopt and the doomsday scenarios they enjoy generating. This, however, is not a distinctive trait of just the Tea Partiers. It is just as present among the Progressives. The Liberal blogs I read are filled to the brim with endless apocalyptic scenarios. By the way, Slavoj Zizek’s 2009 book is titled Living in the End Times. You don’t get either more apocalyptic or more progressive than that.

Another fault that Frank ascribes to the Tea Partiers is that they erase the class distinctions and see no difference between a share-cropper and a small-business owner. Does this remind you of anything, by any chance? Yes, right you are, the #Occupy movement that lumps everybody who is not a billionaire into the imaginary downtrodden 99%.

Frank then proceeds to blame the Tea Party for its rhetoric of self-pity:

[They] advance their war on the world by means of a tearful weepy-woo. Self-pity has become central in the consciousness of the resurgent Right. Depicting themselves as victimized in any and every sitiation . . . is essential to their self-understanding.

Again, #OWS, anyone? Remember this statement from a prof with no debt, a house of his own and a wonderful life, who wallows in self-pity because his life is so complicated and anxiety devours him? So why do the Tea Partiers get blamed for their weepy-woo while Liberals don’t?

[To be continued. . .]

State Universities

“Nowadays, a state university has come to mean a university that helps the state pay its bills,” a high-ranking administrator of a state university explained. “Those times when a state university was a place that the state supported financially? They are over. Now, we will only be allowed to remain in existence if we manage to scrape up enough money for the state to see us as useful.”