Manuel Vilas

This weekend, I discovered a writer that I absolutely love. His name is Manuel Vilas and it’s a mystery to me how I managed not to know of his existence. His books don’t seem to have been translated into English yet but they definitely should be because he is fantastic. I’m now reading his book called España and it is beyond amazing. This writer even has a blog (it’s in Spanish).

The problem is that I can’t really read this author’s book because after each sentence I stop and spend 15 minutes walking around the house moaning, “Oh, he’s good. He is so good.” My neighbors must probably think I’m having some kind of a porn fest. He’s that talented. Manuel Vilas creates the kind of artwork that you can’t contemplate for too long because it overpowers you.

If you are looking for short stories that you can offer to your Spanish language students, check out this writer. He has a few that can definitely be brought into, say, an Intermediate level classroom. And he has many that can be used as material for graduate courses. Because he’s very good.

God, this writer is good. I will not rest until I now read everything he has ever written. I haven’t felt this way about a writer since I discovered Juan Goytisolo many years ago.

Sorry if this is of little interest to those who do not read in Spanish but I couldn’t contain myself. I will now go moan some more.

Achievement Lists

A blogger I really like posted the following image that is being used by the Canadian Liberals to promote the Liberal party and compare it to Canada’s NDP:

As voxcorvegis points out:

THERE HAVEN’T BEEN ANY NDP FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS! It would be just as disingenuous as if I were to make a list of major scandals that have taken place under Liberal and NDP administrations, and then claim that that “proved” that the Liberals were more prone to corruption.

This poster reminded me of lists spread by woman-haters where they make a list of male and female scientists, artists, military leaders, etc. throughout history. Since the female list is less populated, they gleefully hold it up as proof that women are inferior. I always thought that it took a special level of stupidity to make such lists and not even stop to think why one side is less populated than the other.

The folks who tried to promote the Canadian Libs this way just showed themselves to be total idiots.

Help Needed to Explain a Strange Phenomenon

I need help from my readers to explain the strange phenomenon I just observed outside. Can you, please, look at the photos and tell me what caused this strange white line in the sky? It causes me intense anxiety because I can’t explain it. For decades, I have been suffering from nightmares where airplanes fall from the sky and when I saw this I immediately imagined a falling airplane. Which gave me an intense panic attack. I’m hyperventilating and shaking right now. And I’m going to go and do some breathing exercises.

Can Atheism Improve a Society?

People seem to think that a society where atheism has become widespread and religion has been defeated will be a place where different sexualities will be tolerated, sexual freedom will be complete, and the respect for science will reign.

I hate to disappoint but I happen to know for a fact that this is not true.

I was born in a fully atheist society where nobody went to church (let alone a synagogue), religion was ridiculed, and everybody had to take classes on “Scientific Atheism.” We weren’t a country where religion had been driven underground. After several generations of people brought up as atheists, nobody knew anything about religion except that it was “an opium for the masses” and something that very uneducated, backwards folks believed in because they hadn’t discovered the light of reason.

And you know what? Homosexuality was punished by prison sentence in the Soviet Union until 1993. The society was fiercely homophobic in a way today’s United States, a country that is quite religious, is not. Sexual morality was extremely repressive. A young woman would be slut-shamed and vilified if she had a steady boyfriend, irrespective of whether she even had sexual relations with him. Victims of rape were shamed so badly that the suicide rates amongst them were staggering. The general consensus was always that a victim of rape must have “asked for it” in some way or another.

And science? I’m sure you have heard about the persecution of geneticists and cyberneticists in the Soviet Union, right? When the completely atheist leaders of the Soviet Academy of Sciences decided that “Darwin’s evolutionary theory is reductive and unsatisfying”, they persecuted scientists that studied genetics. Many of those scientists were killed for no other crime than practicing their science. Quiet, nerdy folks, killed by an atheist regime because they believed in evolution and wanted to study genetics.

The sad truth is that eradicating religion is not a road to tolerance, freedom, and respect for science. Human beings have a tendency to react violently to the manifestations of sexuality of others, they have a tendency to blame victims as a psychological mechanism of distancing themselves, they have a tendency to fear science and to kill each other.

An atheist society does not do any better or any worse than a religious society in terms of morality, tolerance, intelligence, etc. And you know why that happens? Because the moment religious (or atheist, or agnostic) beliefs stop being a deeply intimate, personal issue, they lose all meaning and turn into yet another way of building collective identities. Their principles become empty formulas that people recite in order to feel less alone in the world.

It doesn’t matter which group you abandon your individuality for. As long as you give up on your right to figure out the fundamental questions of existence for yourself and adopt the answers of any collective, you will become that more likely to participate in barbarity and fanaticism. And atheist fanaticism is just as bad as religious fanaticism.

Those Funny Russian People: A Riddle

If you are a Russian-speaking person, then don’t answer because it’s too easy for you.

Now the question: what are the people in the photo doing and why? (Hint: “diving into the snow” and “because they are weird” are not good answers.)

Oh, I wish I could join them right now!