What Really Happened with Pussy Riot

And now let me explain to you what really happened with Pussy Riot, and we can close this sad discussion for good.

Putin was unhappy about the wave of popular protests that started after the falsified elections to the Russian Parliament (Duma.) Putin’s support among the people of Russia is very high. However, the protests were becoming pretty massive and that made them somewhat threatening. Back in winter, Putin publicly announced his intentions to market the protest movement as a product of a small group of spoiled, perverted, weird and freaky bloggers. He needed the kind of proof that would be sensational enough to convince the majority – his base, his supporters, the people who are not sure what an blog even is – that the protest movement was completely alien to the interests and the mentality of regular Russians.

He succeeded brilliantly.

Most Russian people are not going to identify with women who stuff whole chickens into their vaginas for the purposes of self-promotion, have sex in museums while being in the last months of pregnancy, and use profanity while jumping in front of the altar in ugly clothes*. The entire protest movement now looks completely ridiculous. There was a moment when one could reasonably hope that the protest was going to spread from Moscow to the rest of the country. That moment is now gone.

Among all of the things people did to protest the falsified elections, Putin chose to give publicity to one that was going to condemn the entire protest movement in the eyes of the majority. As a special bonus, well-meaning but somewhat dense Western celebrities started offering opinions, allowing Putin to play his favorite card of “Yet again we are being interfered with by Westerners, now let’s all rally around me, the only leader who can defend Russia from these enemies.”

Now the Russian Orthodox Church is officially asking Putin to let the Pussy Riot go free. Soon, he’ll grant them clemency and will look good to everybody. The protest movement, in the meanwhile. . . well, there is no protest movement any longer.

KGB is immortal, people.

* Mind you, I don’t condemn any of these actions. People are entitled to place whatever they want in their genitalia and film this activity to their heart’s content. I don’t live in Russia, though. Even a much more liberal Ukraine proved too stifling for me.

Condescending to Academics

Condescending to academics seems to be in vogue. Some people see the the word “PhD” and immediately adopt the tone people normally use to dismiss very small children they dislike. A perfect example of this attitude is an article recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and titled “Embrace Your Inner North Dakotan.” The article’s author addresses academics who are on the job market and who are facing the possibility of having to accept a job in a geographically undesirable area. Just observe the contempt that practically drips off the screen:

Take North Dakota: Why don’t you want to live someplace like that? Are you imposing class, regional, or political prejudices without investigation? Have you ever actually visited Fargo or just seen the movie (which was not set there, anyway)? Have you talked with someone there—like an assistant professor—for eyewitness testimony?

‘Cause, you know, a person who has dedicated his or her life to research is in need of being reminded to investigate things. Seriously, I wouldn’t talk to a kindergartner int his tone, so how is it acceptable to address academics in their own professional publication in this manner?

The article’s author proceeds to list all the reasons why people who dislike village life and prefer big cities might come to appreciate it. His arguments are based on the idea that such academics have somehow managed to reach the age of 30+ without knowing anything about themselves. As a typical big-city person who passionately dislikes the life of backwater villages where most universities are unfortunately located*, I find the myths this article spreads to be completely idiotic.

Take, for instance, this idea that life is cheaper in Podunk. For a person who is used to big cities, it is insanely expensive. Compensating for the sensory deprivation you suffer on a daily basis costs money. Buying good food one is used to is ruinous in a village where most people are happy gorging on junk. Culture, entertainment, fine dining and acceptable clothes require traveling far and paying a lot.

The most pernicious belief promoted in this article, however, is that life circumstances will somehow transform us into the opposite of what we are:

And, of course, life circumstances change. The small town that seems like a trap when you are single and 27 may begin to look like a comfortable, safe, affordable place to raise a family when you are 32, married, and expecting twins.

This idea didn’t work back in the USSR when it was drummed into us as the pinnacle of philosophical thought and it doesn’t work in North America today. I first came to live in a small town precisely when I was 27 and single. I hated everything about it: the boredom, the vile food, the horrible clothes, the nasty, peroxide-burned hair, the lack of intellectual stimulation, the quiet, the empty streets. Nine years later I’m 36, married, and a huge reason why I’m not expecting twins is precisely that I’m afraid it would be horribly unfair to inflict the boredom, the vile food, the horrible clothes, the nasty, peroxide-burned hair, the lack of intellectual stimulation, the quiet, and the empty streets on a child.

I’ve found a way to compensate for these drawbacks of small-town existence. However, the only reason why I can do that is not that I have changed profoundly and become the opposite of myself but simply that I can afford to invest money into counteracting them.

The article closes with the suggestion that we “look at our outlook.” I have a feeling that the author has spent way too much time at his Podunk U.

* If you dig living in such a place, good for you. You absolutely have a right to your preferences. And so do I.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

I’ve been on a quest to find talented feminist bloggers and here is a post from one of them on whether secrecy is a valid  and productive response to the vicious strategies employed by woman-hating anti-choicers.

Basic rule: we should not perform cosmetic genital surgery on infants. Ever. All genital surgery not directly necessary to preserve the child’s health should be delayed until the child is old enough to have an opinion on it. When possible, surgery should be delayed until the child is 18, to prevent the parents from having undue pressure on the children and so that a prepubescent or barely pubescent child won’t decide that looking normal is more important than the risk of never having an orgasm when they’ve never had an orgasm.”

Louisiana Governor Jindal is a disgrace: “Jindal’s wholesale attack on Louisiana teachers, higher education institutions, public school students and public hospitals would not be complete without his signature retirement-reform legislation. For the good of Louisiana, he began to lose interest in the legislative session after winning his big education “reform” battles.”

Hillary Clinton rules.

This difficulty really goes to the heart of the matter in the dysfunction that is graduate training in the present time. It is so profoundly myopic, and graduate students are enabled and indeed encouraged by their advisors and committees to be so completely self-absorbed and self-indulgent in their single-minded focus on the minutiae of the dissertation, that the poor students have absolutely no idea what the actual requirements are of the tenure-track position.” A great post on how to craft a cover letter for an academic position. I only wish I’d read this before going on the job market.

Paul Ryan is not a follower of Ayn Rand: “That’s right, Paul Ryan, a Republican anti-abortion fanatic, has until very recently been publicly proclaiming his philosophical hero to be a woman who was a relentless champion of a woman’s right to choose. And Ryan’s pro-war stance in the Congress on every issue and every funding issue involving the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War would have disappointed Rand too. … Ayn Rand was a much clearer and much more consistent thinker than Paul Ryan could ever be. And she would have seen through Paul Ryan’s phony devotion to her long before Catholics United and vice presidential politics made him turn on her.

Foreign languages and autism.

A group of scholars looked at survival rates in over a hundred ship wrecks over the course of three centuries. The conclusion? “Women and children first” is a myth. The idea that the captain goes down with his ship is also a myth. They’re simply not true. The survival rates are highest for men and for the crew, and lowest for women and children.”

Donating to political campaign is stupid because you will never outspend these folks.

Who are the izikhothane? A fascinating post.

A brilliant response to people who see their choice not to have children as somehow morally superior.

And the post of the week: “By rejecting the Liberal Arts, we reject pleasure, critical thinking, diversity, LITERACY, beauty, and even, dare I say it, love.When I go to my meetings today, I will be prepared to argue this point. I am pretty sure I’ll be arguing this point for the rest of my career.