Insulting Spain

As I said during my live-blogging endeavor during the first presidential debates last Wednesday, Romney’s remarks about Spain were unfortunate and incorrect. Here is what was said:

“I don’t want to go down the path of Spain,” Romney said Wednesday night during the first presidential debate. He argued that government spending under Obama has reached 42 percent of the U.S. economy, a figure comparable with America’s NATO ally. “I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work.”

One has to be quite ignorant of what is actually going on in Spain to attribute the country’s economic problems to high governmental spending:

But Spain’s level of government spending is actually low by European standards, and significantly less than Germany and Scandinavian countries with far healthier economic prospects. Spain’s woes were chiefly caused by the collapse of a property bubble that had fueled more than a decade of booming economic growth.

And more on this from another source:

That country has in fact imposed numerous measures of austerity in the recent past and do not blame their current recession on overspending. As the Washington Post said Sunday “the collapse of a property bubble that had fueled more than a decade of booming economic growth” in Spain is the culprit for their current woes. Spain’s government in fact spends less than other European countries with healthy economies like Germany.

Of course, the people of Spain are unhappy about Romney’s remarks:

“What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

Maria Dolores Cospedal, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party, noted that “Spain is not on fire from all sides like some on the outside have suggested.” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called it “very unfortunate that other countries should be put up as examples” when the facts are skewed.

I was quite shocked during the debate to hear Spain offered as some sort of an example of an economy suffering from high levels of governmental spending. In my course on the culture of contemporary Spain, I will be giving a lecture on the Spanish economy tomorrow. I normally hope that my students are politically engaged and exhort them to vote and watch the debates (without, of course, ever suggesting which party or candidate they should favor). Now, however, I hope they haven’t watched this debate because they would have ended with a completely skewed understanding of Spain as some sort of an ultra-socialist country where governmental programs are ruining the economy.

As you all understand, I have personal reasons to care deeply about Spain and any incorrect and hurtful remarks about this great and beautiful country bother me intensely.

“He Lied!”

God, I so hope that the entire election campaign will not now turn into the “Romney lied!” snoozefest.

This strategy already lost the Democrats the elections in 2004, and the Bush lie about the WMD was just a little bit bigger than anything that has been said during the current campaign by anybody.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with pointing out politicians’ lies, of course. What I object to is the belief that an entire campaign can be won at pointing out the other side’s lies. Nobody will be able to prove that Romney / Obama doesn’t sincerely believe in his heart and mind that his policies will do what he says they will, benefit the middle class, reduce unemployment, fix the healthcare system, etc.

Sex Lecturing

It is always so cute when a person who sells his or her broken down mechanisms of sex-selectivity deigns to lecture sexually healthy people on what their sex life is like:

For starters, as Deen and sexual health experts familiar with the industry agree, what makes for safer sex in private doesn’t translate well to an adult film set. In an email interview, porn legend Nina Hartley explained that in her business, “condom burn is a real issue. The friction from the latex, even with lubrication, is painful and breaches the integrity of my mucosal membranes, putting me at greater risk for disease transmission.” Pointing out that the average length of sexual intercourse in “civilian life” is only a few minutes, Hartley noted, while the shortest porn scenes require an absolute minimum of “half an hour of hard thrusting by a well-endowed young man. 

I’m sure there are powerful reasons that make a porn actress want to believe that sex among happily consenting partners who engage in intercourse for free lasts only a few minutes. It makes me sad, however, that a self-proclaimed feminist would publish this stack of offensive, self-serving lies by a deeply damaged individual as some sort of eternal truths.

Among consenting partners, a mere half hour of hard thrusting is  in no way painful or breaching of membranes. Only sex where a person forces herself to tolerate the sex act for some sort of gain has this effect. Normal, healthy sexuality does not perceive many hours of well-endowed thrusting as in any way painful.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

A good crop of interesting links this week.

Every time a school or a department tells me they are a “family,” I run in the opposite direction; it means they have grandmothers to take care of, dominating parents, sibling rivalry, and all the other things that make families not about love and support but zones of Darwinian survival.” I couldn’t agree more. Any workplace that claims to be structured as a “family” is filled with weird people who will try to subsume you in their weirdness. This is a type of personality disorder that makes people structure every relationship as a familial one.

Do you celebrate the International Translation Day?

We found Peruvians to be, speaking very generally of course, extremely courteous, “correct” and friendly in a reserved way.” So true! My Peruvian brother-in-law regularly drives me up a wall with his excruciating and extreme politeness. I’m very rude and uncouth myself, so I feel very demeaned by his intensely polite manners.

Even good, progressive men tend to enter into a sanctimonious, annoying, condescending tone when they feel the weird and inexplicable need to have opinions on abortion. Look at this post, for example. The author pontificates about abortion and rape as if they were pieces of a puzzle that he is interested in on an intellectual level. I’m sure that he doesn’t even begin to realize that this approach to a painful, tragic, complicated reality he is physiologically incapable of accessing makes him a stupid jerk. And a typical mansplainer.

What’s more, when arranging a haircut for myself today, I found that there was a price even to being gendered correctly; women’s haircuts, as it turns out, are considerably more expensive than their masculine counterparts.” So true! I once asked N. what he paid for his haircut, and he said $7. I dream of a day when I will be able to leave a tip that does not exceed $7 to a hairdresser, and here N. goes and gets an entire haircut for that amount. Take into account that it is more difficult to cut his hair than mine. My haircuts simply involve trimming the hair in a straight line, while his involve maintaining different lengths on different parts of his head.

If this is how Alaska looks in late September, I probably need to move there.

A pseudo-feminist blogger insults gay people and acts as a passionate rape apologist. She would make Todd Akin proud with her insistence that some rapes are “legitimate” and some are not. You really need to be a special human being to tell a rape victim, “No, I don’t think you were actually raped because I have my own definition of rape.”

One of the very sad consequences of the ideological rivalry between the sciences and the humanities is that everything that has come out of physics over the last sixty years or so has been cursed with incredibly boring, incredibly stupid names.”

Some critical thoughts on online university teaching.

Do students have an incentive not to cheat?

A beautiful dragon made of carved watermelons.

Wonderful news! “California is now the first state to outlaw “conversion therapy” — treatments intended to “cure” homosexuality — when practiced on minors. (You can read the bill here). The future of the bill is up in the air, since several right-wing groups are saying they will sue to have the law overturned.” Not so wonderful news: “The future of the bill is up in the air, since several right-wing groups are saying they will sue to have the law overturned.” What kind of an animal would subject his or her own kid to this kind of barbaric “treatment”? Can you even imagine having parents who hate you this much?

IKEA: will be happy to debase women to make a buck. “I’m furious with those who assert that IKEA is not to blame. Saudi did not ask for women to vanish from the IKEA catalogues distributed in its blasphemous anti-Islamic country, and that is a terrible (and racist) defense of IKEA.” I agree completely. IKEA is at fault for accommodating the woman-hating agenda that was never even suggested to it. The fault here lies squarely with this Western company that hates women to the extent that it engages in erasing women without even being asked to do so. This is one more case of a company blaming another culture for its own hatred of women. Shame on you, IKEA. I will never buy anything from you again.

The basic discipline of a scholar. A beautiful, beautiful post.

I think this must be the worst sentence I ever read anywhere: “So many of her stories move me, make me ache with truth and motherhood and disparity.” And as we all know, I get to read a lot of crappy writing.

A really beautiful detailed post on how to track your research. I use the same method, too.

Abstinence-only education starts with the idea that teenagers listen to adults and manages to get even stupider.” An absolutely brilliant and hilarious article. I laughed so hard my sides hurt.

For real though, there’s nothing more hilarious than watching two white dudes on Fox using the way a black man speaks — they even called it an accent — in an attempt to prove that he’s racist. I mean this stuff is so pathetic, that I’m sure real professional racists laughed as they watched the discussion above. No seriously, after four hundred years of slavery, Jim Crow, and all other forms of systemic racial oppression that would make the safest of save negroes spaz te fuck out, is this the best these jokers can come up with?” So true.

Happily, a new branch of the neuroscienceexplains everything genre may be created at any time by the simple expedient of adding the prefix “neuro” to whatever you are talking about. Thus, “neuroeconomics” is the latest in a long line of rhetorical attempts to sell the dismal science as a hard one; “molecular gastronomy” has now been trumped in the scientised gluttony stakes by “neurogastronomy”; students of Republican and Democratic brains are doing “neuropolitics”; literature academics practise “neurocriticism”. There is “neurotheology”, “neuromagic” (according to Sleights of Mind, an amusing book about how conjurors exploit perceptual bias) and even “neuromarketing”.” I have not yet encountered this “neurocriticism” fad. Have you?

From one of the best feminist bloggers writing today: “We shouldn’t be teaching our boys that they should aspire to greatness while teaching our girls to aspire to mother a great man.” Hear, hear!

Americans cheer Justin Trudeau’s bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party but intelligent Canadians know better. Well, what can you expect from royalty-obsessed Americans who swoon when they hear the name “Kennedy”?

“I don’t have much respect for empty gestures. I especially don’t care for them when they are motivated not out of genuine wish to improve things, but to soothe an emotional/intellectual sore spot of people who are otherwise quite comfortable.” I can’t tell you how much I agree with this.

The best observation ever on Mitt Romney: “This man has more positions than the Kama Sutra.”

And the post of the week: the Tea Partiers as a product of anal eroticism. The comments are especially hilarious. Do read them if you want to see a bunch of completely brainless idiots congregate on the same thread. It’s a priceless experience.