Clarissa Wants a Gift

I’m kind of obsessed with numbers, statistics, blog hit records, etc. This is why I got it into my head that the best gift for New Year’s I can get from my blog’s readers is to get all the way up to 1,000,000 hits on this blog. We are at 841,000+ already, so this is very doable. Of course, if we count the blog’s previous platform, we are way past 1,000,000 already, but I really need to see this figure appear on this blog.

I know that many of you are reading the blog in Google Reader and a variety of other readers, and that is perfectly fine. But I ask you as a special courtesy to myself to do me a favor and click on a post or two within the next 3 months. You can also click on old posts in the archives or through a button in the right-hand column of the blog.

I know we can do this, people! And then I will be very happy and write only warm, cuddly, and nice posts. I’m kidding, there will be no cuddliness here.

If there is something I can do to motivate you to click, link, and look up an old post here and there, let me know.

Please note how I’m not trying to trick anybody into making more clicks by placing the bulk of my posts under a fold. I’m swelling with self-righteousness here right now.

Scroll down for new posts and click away!

Tweet Critique

Tweets today are even sillier than usual. See this one, for example:

@rdfrs: “My Take: ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ is a cop-out” by Alan Miller – CNN

I don’t use the word “spiritual”, but I can very easily understand people who believe in God but find every single organized religion completely disgusting. Many people develop religious beliefs not because they seek group acceptance and a place to hang out but because this is their way of answering the great, deeply personal questions about life and death. If you are too stupid to understand that a search for answers doesn’t need to imply dissolving your individuality in the great collective, then that’s your problem.

Who is this Alan Miller and why is he stupid?

@hugoschwyzer: Boys and men drop out not because they can’t compete but because in the modern world, slackerdom has become the new talisman of masculinity.

I’m sick to death of this ridiculous obsession with the completely invented myth of male slackerdom, laziness, and immaturity. Has anybody really met any men who say, “I will be a total slacker and will never do anything because that’s super manly”? No? I didn’t think so. As an educator, I meet crowds of young people every day and I can assure you that there is absolutely no gender divide in terms of achievement and slackerdom among them.

Poster Child

In St. Charles, I saw a beautiful little girl of about 3 years of age who had a Romney-Ryan sticker placed right on her pubic area. I don’t want to be too Freudian here, but the reason why her parents will vote for Romney is quite clear.

I would have preferred to see the sticker placed in the vicinity of her father’s wallet. That’s a more legitimate reason to vote for Romney-Ryan in the election.

How to Identify Yourself

I exhorted students to identify themselves as precisely as they could in their emails to me. This is what one inventive student came up with:

Dear Prof. Clarissa, I’m in your 12 pm FLXXX-001 class. I’m the guy who usually pulls down your projector screen.

Of course, I remembered him immediately.

As for the screen, some enemy of humanity hung it right under the ceiling, forcing all 5’6 professors either to make idiots of themselves by jumping up or to recruit taller students to pull the screen down.

Eric Hobsbawm, RIP

Eric Hobsbawm, my favorite historian, died at the age of 95. 😦

Here are some quotes from this brilliant scholar:

Historians are to nationalism what poppy-growers in Pakistan are to heroin-addicts: we supply the essential raw material for the market.

I find his insights into the nature of nationalism to be absolutely priceless:

Nations without a past are contradictions in terms. What makes a nation is the past, what justifies one nation against others is the past, and historians are the people who produce it.

And one of my favorite quotes ever:

Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so.

Hobsbawm had a profound understanding of WWII:

The victory over Hitler’s Germany was essentially won, and could only have been won, by the Red Army.

And here is Hobsbawm on the economy:

Impotence therefore faces both those who believe in what amounts to a pure, stateless, market capitalism, a sort of international bourgeois anarchism, and those who believe in a planned socialism uncontaminated by private profit-seeking. Both are bankrupt. The future, like the present and the past, belongs to mixed economies in which public and private are braided together in one way or another.

And these words about his bookshelves constitute the best tribute to this great historian:

Most of them, however, are filled with the foreign editions of my books. Their numbers amaze and please me and they still keep coming as new titles are translated and some fresh vernacular markets – Hindi, Vietnamese – open up. As I can’t read most of them, they serve no purpose other than as a bibliographic record and, in moments of discouragement, as a reminder that an old cosmopolitan has not entirely failed in 50 years of trying to communicate history to the world’s readers.

I highly recommend Hobsbawm’s Nations and Nationalism.