Promoted by Rational Wiki

I so rarely get promoted by anybody that it makes me very happy that somebody decided to place a link to me at a place called “Rational Wiki.” You can take a look here and vote me up if you feel like it. I’m #3 from the top. It’s nice to be promoted by rational people. But I’d take promotion by some irrational folks, too.

Classics Club #2: Alberto Moravia’s Contempt

Yes, I know, what can I say? I read fast, especially when books are as good as the ones I have chosen for the Classics Club.

All I knew about Alberto Moravia’s famous novel Contempt before I started reading it was what I saw in the Amazon reviews I’d glanced through. Here is one example:

Told from the perspective of a neurotic egotist, the narrator accounts how he “sacrificed” his literary writing career to debase himself in the tawdry task of writing screenplays so that he can afford to lavish his wife with a bigger more opulent living quarters. The narrator convinces himself that not only does his wife not appreciate his “sacrifice,” but that she no longer loves him. It’s horrifying to read this narcissist’s account of his marital disintegration because you begin to realize that he is projecting his own lack of love toward his wife (a pefectly fine, loving woman) and you realize that he is so emotionally arrested that he is incapable of loving anyone.

Now that I have read the book, I have no idea how it is possible for this reviewer to have arrived at this interpretation of the novel. To me, Contempt is the perfect response to everybody who insists that the patriarchy invariably benefits all men and hurts all women. The novel demonstrates that the patriarchal model rewards people of both genders who conform to the traditional gender roles and punishes those who depart from them.

(There will be spoilers, so I’m putting the rest of the post under the fold.)

Continue reading “Classics Club #2: Alberto Moravia’s Contempt”

Translator For a Day

Today I realized that I really miss my very first career which was that of a translator. Translation is great for the following reasons:

  • you don’t need to interact with people;
  • you can spend all day in complete silence;
  • every word brings you money, so you can feel like you are creating money by the minute;
  • it requires a high degree of concentration which makes it akin to a video game in its potential of restoring one’s psychological health;
  • very little thinking is required;
  • it’s very peaceful;
  • I’m very good at it.

And now I need to go translate some more.

Are Sad Developments in Public Education a Reason to Homeschool?

Reader David Bellamy sent me two disturbing stories about idiots overrunning the systen of public education in this country.

The first story tells about a initiative by the NYC Department of Education that proposes to ban a list of 50 “bad” words from standardized tests:

Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests. The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . The word “dancing” is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like “ballet”: The city made an exception for this form of dance. Also banned are references to “divorce” and “disease,” because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

For the full list of the banned words, consult the link. I warn you, you will be outraged.

The second story is just as sad and has to do with legislation that dictates how climate change should be taught in schools:

One such model bill has just passed the Tennessee state legislature, and this one mandates that schools teach climate science as a theory alongside other ‘credible’ theories – like those ones preferred by fossil fuels companies, for example, that hold that global warming is caused by solar cycles and other nonsense. Sound familiar? This is the same structural tactic employed by creationists to try to discourage the teaching of evolution in schools.

DeSmogBlog explains that the bill was opposed by almost every respectable scientific institution – and was passed by a margin of 70-23 anyway. Tennessee joins Texas, Louisiana, and South Dakota in passing such ‘model’ legislation. As a result, children in each of these states are apt to receive a confusing, less fact-based climate science education.

Having read these disconcerting articles, David made the following observation:

There is more and more reason to homeschool to prevent your childrens’ indoctrination, I fear. Next we shall have laws mandating the teaching in public schools that storks bring babies, since children must not have any prompting to think of sex.

I fully agree that the sad joke about the storks is likely to become a reality in the near future. I don’t, however, agree that this – or anything else – is a valid reason to homeschool.

As you all know, I went to school in the Soviet Union. No public school in the US can even begin to imitate the kind of indoctrination we had there. Daily discussions of capitalist evildoers, endless books about Grandpa Lenin whose photograph we all wore in a small badge next to our hearts (I kid you not), regular military marching and singing of patriotic songs, a very carefully sanitized list of readings from which every work of the world literature that was not considered proto-Communist had been excised, stories about admirable kids who ratted out their anti-Soviet parents to the KGB – this is just a small part of the constant brainwashing I was exposed to since early childhood.

Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while, please tell me, do I seem like a particularly pro-Soviet person as a result of all that indoctrination? Have you met anybody who is more critical of the USSR than I am? Not really, eh? Obviously, the brainwashing did not work. A school simply does not have this kind of power over a child.

And do you want to know how often this Soviet indoctrination comes up in psychoanalysis as something that impacted me for life? Never. Because it didn’t. As opposed to the fact that I was kept at home by a bunch of adoring relatives until the age of 7. That comes up a lot because this was a very negative factor in my development and socialization that I’m still, 28 years later, working to overcome.

All of the Education Boards, silly bureaucrats and incapable teachers combined and multiplied by fifteen cannot cause as much damage as an immature parent who resolves his or her issues by depriving a child of normal socialization. The entire process of growing up consists of a gradual separation of a child from her or his parents. The damage that is caused to a child by a parent who wouldn’t let the poor kid out of their sight is so absolutely tragic that a mere list of a few banned words looks like a silly little joke by its side.