A Weird School

A Russian blogger who now lives in California shared the following assignment that her daughter had been given in a Californian school (the link is in Russian):

When the students were reading A Catcher in the Rye, one of the assignments was to write a letter of an imaginary psychotherapist to Holden’s parents about the symptoms of 17 real psychiatric diagnoses that the students were expected to find by analyzing the text of the novel. The list of the diagnoses taken from the DSM was included in the assignment and contained, for example, the obsessive compulsive and bipolar depressive disorders.

I know this blogger and can assure you that she is a scrupulously honest person. She wouldn’t have invented this. So now I’m kind of confused and a little terrified. Do such schools really exist? Never again will I wonder why our students arrive in college in a state of such grievous ignorance.

I also want to propose an activity of our own where we diagnose the bizarre teacher who gave this assignment according to the DSM which s/he obviously likes so much.

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Notifications for Readers

1. Posts and comments now have a row of stars underneath them, so everybody can evaluate what I write and what other readers have to say. I think it’s a very good innovation that people might enjoy.

2. Patrick from Canada: your comment ended up in the Spambox for some incomprehensible reason, and I accidentally deleted it. I didn’t do that on purpose and I apologize. Sometimes, good comments end up in the Spambox, and I don’t always manage to rescue them effectively.

3. People whose comments end up in moderation every single time: if you leave an email address (even a completely spurious one) when making a comment, I will only have to approve it once and then you will be able to comment freely without having to wait until I approve every one of your comments. Reader Liz: please consider this because I want people to be able to see your great comments as soon as they appear and not as soon as I wake up and approve them. 🙂

4. My readers are the best of all blog readers I found anywhere. I know that for a fact because I’ve researched the matter.

Berkeley Administrator Buys Sex With University Money

Berkeley is in a very deep hole in terms of its budget, and here is one of the reasons why:

A growing chorus of voices is calling for the firing of a UC Berkeley administrator who helped triple her secret sex partner’s pay over five years. Calling Diane Leite’s punishment “an affront” to the university, several UC Berkeley professors have asked the school’s provost to investigate how the matter was handled. They are aghast that, instead of firing her, the university reassigned Leite from her assistant vice chancellor post and will still pay her $175,000 a year.

The scandal was revealed Monday when this newspaper reported that Leite, 47, had given five raises in two years to Caniezo, 30, a subordinate employee with whom she had a sexual relationship. Caniezo made less than $41,000 in 2005, but his pay jumped to $120,000 in 2010.

From $41,000 to $120,000 in just two years. College administrators get very shameless because all of the unearned money they are getting perverts them. Here is a useless administrator who goes and buys herself a sex toy that costs the university $120K per year. And the really scary thing is that this woman’s superiors are not even trying to punish her for wasting the university’s money to mitigate her huge sexual problems. There is no doubt in my mind that the rest of the administrators at Berkeley have no problems with Leite’s stealing from the university because they also get humongous salaries for doing nothing and promote all kinds of nasty nepotism.

I have got to wonder how much Berkeley pays it growing pool of exploited adjuncts.

Shame on you, Berkeley!

What I find even more bizarre than this entire situation, though, is the way the very dense author of the article that describes this situation at Berkeley concludes the piece:

“If (Leite’s violation) doesn’t rise to the level of significant punishment, what do you have to do to get fired?” Nadler said. “At a corporation, I think it’s pretty clear this wouldn’t be tolerated.”

Erm, really? Wouldn’t be tolerated by whom, exactly? When a Vice-President of Finance, for example, decides to buy some fresh young meat on the company dime, the rest of the employees sit there very quietly, not daring to make a peep. At a university where there is still some academic freedom, people protest and make their opinions known.

It is egregious that anybody would try to use this situation to suggest that a university should be turned into a corporation.

Stop Screeching About Other Cultures Already!

Echidne’s Blog just disappointed me in a way I couldn’t have imagined was even possible. I understand that the on-going assault on women’s rights in this country is traumatic. But insulting the feminist advances of other cultures is not the way. Echidne, who is normally a brilliant and insightful progressive blogger, has published a post titled “Mother Russia Finally Waking Up?” The point of the post is that Russia is a horrible patriarchal country and the stupid money-hungry Pussy Riot group is somehow Russia’s only feminist hope:

They are brave women, given what the Russian state can do to them. And yes, Russia is a stiflingly macho and conservative society. Of course the list of such societies on this earth is a very long one. Much feminist work remains to be done.

I so wish that people just stayed away from making proclamations concerning cultures they know nothing whatsoever about. Echidne will certainly be shocked to know that starting from 1917, all women in Russia (and Ukraine, of course) had the right to vote. They all worked and had brilliant careers. While the generation of Echidne’s mother and grandmother excelled in housewifery and wrapped itself in Saran wrap to look good for the lord and master, their Russian-speaking sisters got educated, worked, made their own decisions, and had their own lives.

Yes, I realize that most women did not Saran-wrap themselves in the US. Still, you’ve got to recognize that there is a huge difference between growing up in a society where the Saran-wrap philosophy arises as opposed to being raised in a place where nobody could ever suggest anything of the kind anywhere in any format.

I grew up on books and movies that, with absolutely no exceptions, depicted strong, resourceful, powerful women who were never visited by the idea that they needed to make themselves easy to consume by men or by children. And here comes Echidne (raised on movies and TV shows depicting brainless, eyelash-batting, stupidly pouting, apron-clad housewives) and pities me for being such a victim of the patriarchal society.

Russian-speaking countries are not, in any way, a feminist paradise. However, I can guarantee that, in terms of having a voice, defending ourselves and our opinions, standing up to any kind of authority, not allowing men to speak over us, etc., Russian-speaking women have a lot they can teach to those of their sisters who are still struggling with the inane “how can a woman have it all” (“all” meaning nothing more than work and family) dilemma.

People who condescend to other cultures because they baselessly imagine themselves as superior annoy me. It would be extremely easy for Echidne to educate herself about the long and heroic history of the Russian-speaking feminist movement. Who needs to educate oneself, though, when one can just hear some stupid soundbite about some stupid self-promoting music group somewhere and invent a whole new history for a huge country on the basis of that?