2011

The book of the year: I never thought I’d say it but the best book I’ve read this year belongs to the fantasy genre. Yes, it’s that good. I’m talking of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. I’m no fan of Murakami and I profoundly dislike fantasy. This book, however, is a joy to read. I will publish a detailed review soon.

The blogging milestone of the year: The record number of visitors in one day: 5,330. Of course, that was in August, which is always the best month for blogging.

The gadget of the year: Kindle Fire that managed to overcome my suspicion of tablets.

The disappointment of the year: Spain’s right-wing party Partido Popular won the general elections.

The academic tragedy of the year: The suicide of Dr. Calvo of Princeton U.

The surprise of the year: Some people in Russia feel angry about the falsified elections to the Russian Parliament (the Duma.)

The personal discovery of the year: Philosophers are a really cool bunch.

The achievement of the year: A dramatic drug-free improvement in my health.

The restaurant of the year: Modern in New York.

The hotel of the year: Hyatt Regency in Clearwater, Florida.

The most helpful blog of the year: Stupid Motivational Tricks that did the impossible and taught me to become organized and do things in advance instead of leaving them for the last moment.

The recipe of the year: Billionaire’s pasta

The movie of the year: Elena by the Russian film director Zviagintsev.

The weird culinary experience of the year: Alligator meat.

The bargain of the year: This great bag I got in Florida.

The photo of the year: Latte. Taken by me (both the picture and the latte.)

The stressful moment of the year: Moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I know it sounds like a very exaggerated reaction to a simple blog move, but I seriously freaked out, OK?

The post I would have liked to publish every week of the year: This one. Because people keep doing it more and more often and it bugs me.

The post that will make me famous: This one because it will get me quoted in a real academic publication that analyzes the way academic bloggers record the history of academia. See how useful it is to bark at people every once in a while?

The shopping experience of the year: The Big Sleep bookstore in St. Louis.

The hilarious video of the year: This one sent in by reader V. I watched it so many times that I can now perform it on my own.

Have I left out anything important?

Feminists Who Practice Gender Discrimination

You know what annoys me more than I can express? You can be a person who is only interested in attaching yourself to some guy, becoming his maid and mostly bored sexual partner, you can happily dilute your identity in his completely, even give up your name for him, live as his kept toy, abandon your career to serve his needs (I can give links but do I really need to?), and still call yourself a feminist IF you happen to have a vagina.

At the same time, you can dedicate your life to activism on behalf of gender equality, work hard to maintain the principles of equality in your life, acquaint yourself with feminist theory and improve daily upon its practice but your right to call yourself a feminist will still be disputed IF you happen to have a penis.

And the most hilarious thing of all? The people who award the title of a feminist or withdraw it on the basis of the shape of one’s genitals don’t see a problem with calling themselves feminists. They engage in blatant gender discrimination but see their own feminism as holier-than-thou.

This is precisely the reason why radical feminists often exhibit vicious hatred towards transgender people. In their neatly ordered universe of “penis=male=bad” and “vagina=female=good”, complexities of gender identifications serve as a disruptive, destabilizing force that – oh, horror! – might require one to question the gender binary. And who needs to go to all that trouble when you can simplify your life so much by analyzing the world through the male / female lens?

The entire point of feminism is supposed to be that vaginas and penises should not have meanings assigned to them. (Except, of course, the very individual, personal meaning one might or might not choose to assign to her or his own genitals.) And here come these pseudo-feminists whose entire worldview is based on the difference between penises and vaginas and who do nothing but invent new meanings for these organs.

Seriously, with such friends, feminism needs no enemies.

The Versatile Blogger Award!

Mainstream journalists hate us, bloggers, because they realize that we are the future of journalism. Many people rely on their favorite blogs for information, entertainment, company, opportunities to vent, make friends, ask for advice, share experiences, and do many other crucial things. A Douthat-like reporter who only knows how to disgorge a column filled with same old banalities once a week for a huge salary cannot really compete with a dedicated blogger who shares her or his multi-faceted reality with people every day and for free. This is why I really like the idea of the Versatile Blogger Award that recognizes bloggers who approach a variety of topics in a variety of ways.

I’ve been nominated for this award by Rachel A. Hanson who had the following to say about my blog:

An insightful blog talking about a variety of topics.  Definitely very versatile.  Sometimes Clarissa makes me laugh, sometimes she makes me think.  But always she  makes me want to be a better person.

Thank you, Rachel! This makes me very happy and also gives me a chance to promote some really cool bloggers.

Here are the conditions of the award:
1) Nominate 15 fellow bloggers

2) Inform the Bloggers of their nomination

3) Share 7 random things about yourself

4) Thank the blogger who nominated you

5) Post the award badge.

So here are the bloggers I would like to nominate. I don’t think I can get all the way to 15 because I want to nominate only the folks who are really and truly versatile:

Northern Gaijin is a Canadian blogger who is a veritable fount of useful information on a variety of issues. If you run out of blogging ideas, visit his blog and you are bound to found something curious and new. Besides, he posts amazing travel photos and beautiful restaurant reviews.

Spanish prof’s blog – When the blog was first started, it was defined as a blog for people who teach Spanish. It’s author, however, has so many things to say about politics, traveling, movies, makeup, money, etc. that the blog soonj became truly versatile and great fun to read.

The Anachronistic Aardvark not only discusses a variety of subjects on his blog. He also writes really well. This is one of those really good blogs that definitely deserve a wider readership.

Nominatissima is a blogger we all know and love. She is also a person who talks about a variety of subjects on her blog. Autism, student life, LGBTQ activism, foodie adventures, love, romance, politics – what a great blog, people! And she posts a lot, which is something I really like.

Dan Miller is a blogger whose research is always meticulous and whose posts on a wide variety of subjects are always very informative.

Danny of Danny’s Corner  is a blogger I really like and respect because he is very honest, he writes very well, and he always has a very unexpected approach to things. I never fail to feel enlightened after visiting his blog.

So these are the truly versatile bloggers I know and want to nominate.

And now 7 random facts about me:

1. The very first thing I do after getting out of bed in the morning is turn on my computer.

2. I always read, eat or watch videos in the bath-tub.

3. I spend at least 15 minutes every day staring at the sky.

4. I don’t like dessert. Unless the dessert is a piece of sausage.

5. I know a recipe called “hairy sausage” and will share it on this blog soon.

6. When I laugh at a joke, it’s usually just to be polite. Normally, I get the joke two days later and then have a real laugh.

7. You can figure out what my mood is every day by observing what kind of cup I drink my morning coffee from.

The Lonely Snowman

We’ve finally had some snow today. It was a tiny, miserable amount, but some snow is better than none. Of course, it melted within 2 hours. My neighbors must have been as happy as I was to see the snow because they managed to create this beautiful snowman in the small window of time while the snow was there:

I hope we get more snow soon and this lonely guy gets some friends.

Sad, Lonely Netflix

It’s really funny to get messages from Netflix begging one pathetically to “Come home to Netflix.”

Sorry, Netflix. It was good while it lasted but now Kindle Fire has killed you for good. I just watched the entire first season of a British show called Keeping Up Appearances that is so much about my family, it’s scary. I started watching it in the bedroom, continued in the bath-tub, and finished in the kitchen as I was making dinner. And it cost me exactly $0.00.

Don’t be lonely, though, dear Netflix. I sent cable television to the same sad place where you find yourself right now.

This is what I mean when I talk about the rapid changes in technology. I remember how quite a short time ago Netflix was a really big deal. Now it’s all but dead. And it took less than 10 years for the company to rise and to fall. You’ll think I’m saying this just to prove a point, but I swear on my Kindle Fire that right now I’m wearing gaucho pants that I bought before I first subscribed to Netflix.

On Soviet Economy

I have a feeling that I’m not making myself clear on the subject of the so-called Soviet economy. So let me put it this way:

The lifestyle I, the daughter of a linguist and a school teacher and a grand-daughter of a famous doctor, a corporate lawyer, a school-teacher, and a World War II veteran, enjoyed while growing up in the Soviet Union is the kind of lifestyle that a kid has today in the US if her mother is a drug-addicted prostitute and her father is a convicted criminal who hasn’t seen the outside of a jail in a decade.

My parents only had 2 kids, didn’t drink or smoke, and worked all day and well into the night to the point where we barely saw them. And the result of all that industry was that I saw a piece of cheese maybe once a year if I was lucky, only wore hand-downs, and couldn’t visit my friends’ birthday parties in winter because – other than my school uniform – I had no clothes to wear outside. My cousins (both boys and girls) had to wear my and my sister’s used underwear. Where my underwear came from is also a very interesting question. That’s how we lived. And that’s just a small part of it.

The children of the party apparatchiks, decked in diamonds and furs and lighting cigarettes with a bill that represented my father’s entire monthly salary, lived differently, of course.

But yes, we all had security. We could all be completely secure in the idea that, as long as the USSR persisted, every generation of us, lowly doctors, teachers, academics, lawyers, etc., would live exactly the same abject lifestyle where the greatest achievement you could hope for was to wrestle a piece of butter from the hands of equally desperate and pathetic individuals beating each other up in stores over basic food-stuffs.

Is it a little clearer now why steam starts coming out of my ears whenever anybody says anything even remotely positive about the Soviet Union?

Is The Guardian a Tabloid?

Do I remember correctly that somebody was huffing and puffing on this very blog about how The Guardian is not a tabloid? Today, I have definitive proof for you that it is. Let me give you a little quote from this nasty rag, after which we can hopefully put the matter to rest:

Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.

OK? Is that enough for you? Welfare, education, and women’s rights in Eastern Europe. Those existed in the Communist regimes just as much as the Yeti, the flying saucers, and the hobbits exist everywhere else in the world. A newspaper that discusses the Yeti and / or the women’s rights in Communist regimes of Eastern Europe is a tabloid, wouldn’t you agree?

As for the Eastern European Communism “which put the economic needs of the majority first”, I hope that a group of Communist party apparatchiks will roast the nuts of the lying sack of garbage who wrote this vicious lie for all eternity in hell where he undoubtedly will end up. Does this jerkazoid realize that there are millions of people living in the world right now who actually experienced the Communist care about “the economic needs of the majority” on their own skins? How dare he despise us so much as to publish these vicious, cruel lies?

And I’m not even starting on the morality of publishing a collection of insulting prevarications about somebody on the day they die. Like this super enlightening piece of garbage that passes for an article in The Guardian couldn’t have waited for a couple of weeks.

I hope that after this, at least, people will stop quoting this vile rag on my blog as a source of information about anything.

Are We Frozen in Time?, Part II

Reader Jodi kind of beat me to it but I still want to discuss my hypothesis as to why fashion, pop music, hair-styles, etc. seem frozen in time and have been this way for the past 20 years.

There is one area of our lives that has been changing extremely rapidly. And that, of course, is technology. I look at the cell phone I used in 2010, and it looks completely outdated and very primitive. Just a little over a year ago, however, that phone was the pinnacle of complexity and sophistication. My first Kindle that I bought in 2008, looked like a miracle to me. By the side of the recently released Kindle Fire tablet, however, it is clunky and almost prehistoric. 🙂 Just 10 years ago, could anybody have imagined the ubiquity of tablets that we experience today? Just 20 years ago, did anybody who is not an author of science fiction envision this permanent sense of connectedness to the world that technology allows us to have today?

We have seen the rise and the death of Blockbuster, then Netflix. I have no doubt that we will all live to see the death of television just like we have witnessed the demise of land-lines and public phones. I still remember the time when you always needed to have a quarter on you to make a call from a public phone in case of an emergency. And it wasn’t all that many years ago. I’m talking about 2000-2001. Something tells me my niece Klubnikis will need to be taken to a museum to see what a payphone and a TV-set even are. Gosh, I’m so ancient I remember rotary phones. And does anybody want a bet that there are people reading this blog right now who have never used a rotary phone? I’m sure there are some who had to Google it.

Technology changes so fast that we need to expend a lot of energy to adapt to it. Against the background of constantly changing computers, tablets, apps, cell phones, websites, plugins, gadgets, etc., a relative stability in other areas of our lives allows us to compensate for the trauma of such rapid and constant transformations. Since the technological innovation doesn’t seem to slow down even a little, it seems like we are doomed to the same boring clothes and hairdos for a while longer.

A New Page: An Announcement and a Question

I just created a new About page for the blog. I have noticed that whenever I alight on a new blog, the first thing I do is read the About page. And it’s kind of weird that I have no About page of my own. So I created it and you can take a look right here:

About Page.

 

I also have a question for those who are not experiencing an autistic fugue right now. Do you know what I need to do to move the pages around on a WordPress blog? Right now the About page is the last one, and I want to make it the first one. So how do I rearrange my pages? I’ve been trying to figure it out for 15 minutes but my mind is a complete blank.