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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

There Is Forced Sociability Everywhere

I’m preparing to make one final effort before finishing the semester. This will require intense psychological hygiene, which is why tonight I’m playing my favorite Kindle game. Unfortunately, I have reached a point where the game is trying to force me to engage in sociability, inviting other players to be my friends, exchanging gifts and flowers with them, and getting them to send me love. Since this is obviously a game for little girls, I feel extremely embarrassed asking them to befriend me.

This is why I was inordinately happy to see some of my game “friends” leave a message on her wall saying that she will give birth in 6 weeks. At least, now I know that at least one of these players has reached puberty. That is a relief already.

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On the Vile Nature of Visa Lotteries

I will now obsess about this for a while because, as you must realize, immigration issues cut a little too close to home for me.

What lies behind the idea that the “diversity visa program” makes sense? The point of the program is to bring into the US a certain number of people from all areas of the world and then, supposedly, all sorts of goodness will ensue.

Do you realize how much contempt you need to feel towards foreigners in order to hold such a belief? Preachers of diversity see human beings as objects, as ingredients that should be used to make a dish in the melting pot of the US. They think that if they add a pinch of Ukrainians, a bunch of Koreans, a tablespoon of Chileans, and spice up the whole thing with a few Zambians, they will end up with a meal ready for consumption. The actual people don’t matter. They are nothing but objects who will always do exactly what is expected of them and interact with all other ingredients in a predictably positive and unproblematic manner.

Within the diversity-worshiping worldview, one foreigner is just as good or bad as any other. Foreigners are all nameless, faceless grains of sand. They don’t have personalities, histories, or any human qualities.

Of course, if this is your approach to foreigners, then obviously a visa lottery makes every sense. Why go to the trouble of learning anything about the actual candidates for immigration, when you can just grab a few at random? They are all the same, anyways, aren’t they?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the ultra-tolerant preachers of diversity and multi-culturalism always act on the basis of their profound contempt for other cultures and peoples. They see themselves as individuals and me – a foreigner – as an object.

Democrats, I am profoundly disappointed in you today.

Are the House Democrats Insane?

I’m not getting this at all:

The STEM Jobs Bill eliminates the “diversity visa lottery” program – which is open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. — in order to reallocate the slots to foreign STEM graduates. A competing bill sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) would create 50,000 visas for STEM graduates without eliminating the diversity visa program.

Why not eliminate the stupid visa lottery? There is a much better way of bringing in immigrants than giving a chance to all kinds of criminals and people who would never be able to adapt.

This is what the stupid Democrat bill has to say:

The Republican proposal would kill the Diversity Visa, a long-standing immigration program that ensures diversity among new immigrants and provides one of the few legal pathways to enter the United States. Supporters of legal immigration should not have to kill other immigration programs to increase STEM visas.

If there is an immigration program that deserves to be killed, it’s the visa lottery. Assigning the “diversity” buzzword to it does not make it better. Are we still so unenlightened that we believe that diversity is universally good? Any kind of diversity?

Yet again, I want to quote one of my favorite philosophers:

We white Leftist men and women [should] leave behind the politically correct process of endless self-torturing guilt . . . [Western] politically correct self-flagellation is an inverted form of clinging to one’s superiority. . . The positive form of the White Man’s Burden (his responsibility for civilizing the colonized barbarians) is thus merely replaced by its negative form (the burden of the white man’s guilt: if we can no longer be the benevolent masters of the Third World, we can at least be the privileged source of evil, patronizingly depriving others of responsibility for their fate (when a Third World country engages in terrible crimes, it is never fully its own responsibility, but always an after effect of colonization).

I also recommend this old post of mine that illustrates the ridiculousness of some folks’ obsession with diversity.

Stupid Democrats need to get out more if they are ever to stop being so in thrall to their own stupid buzzwords.

Thank God for Republicans!

I never imagined I would write these words, but here is what I just discovered:

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on the STEM Jobs Act, a Republican-backed bill that would create up to 55,000 new visas for foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The bill would also eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which allocates spots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

This is phenomenal news! It comes a little too late for my husband, but still, this is amazing! And long overdue.

But here is what I don’t get. The linked piece says the White House is opposing this. Can anybody explain why that is? What can be more reasonable, fair, and right than finally eliminating the excruciatingly stupid and wrong visa lottery in favor of such an amazing, logical, and reasonable program?

Why is Obama opposing a piece of legislation which will finally turn this country’s immigration policies in the right direction?

Realism

This is the first in the promised series of posts on realism, modernism, and post-modernism. Do I need to repeat my warning about where people can stick their reproaches as to how this post is not scholarly enough?

The XIXth century brought us the beautiful realist literature. The Industrial Revolution, the technological advances, the ideas of positivism made people believe that the world could be understood, explained, and narrated. Realist authors create complex narrative universes that are so detailed that readers begin to perceive them as real.

However, it is a mistake to believe that in their novels realist writers simply describe reality as they find it. That is not even remotely the case. A realist writer doesn’t want to describe as much as s/he wants to create. Realist writers are didactic and moralizing but they are also very good at sneaking their ideology past the readers in a way that we often don’t even notice that we are being manipulated.

The hook these controlling authors use to hold you under control is a beautiful, intricate, fascinating plot. You get invested into the story and become eager to find out what will happen next. And the only person who can reveal the story’s development to you is the God of this small narrative universe – the all-knowing, all-powerful narrator. Now that the writer has entrapped you with the plot, you will have to consume the ideas s/he wants to feed you. The omniscient narrator is rarely even there. All you get to hear is a disembodied voice that is not attached to a specific person, and that makes it hard to question the veracity of the narrative. When Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, readers don’t see this as a statement made by an extremely sexist man who created one of the most unhappy families in existence and who is the last person in the world you want to consult on the subject of families but as some sort of an eternal wisdom. And this is precisely what a realist wants us to do.

A realist novel drowns us in details and offers mountains of facts. Note how often a realist novel begins with a very long introductory chapter that narrates the history of the protagonist’s family across generations. All of this detailed information is provided in order to convince us that the narrator really knows this stuff and should be trusted implicitly.

Writers like Balzac and Galdos created such complex and fascinating literary universes that a reader can spend a lifetime exploring them. For me, the most enjoyable part of reading realist novels is trying to locate these small fissures in the narrative flow where the author lets us catch a glimpse of the manipulative nature of the text.

Who is your favorite realist / naturalist writer?

Lecture on Cuba

My lecture on Cuba was such a success that I already received 3 emails from students thanking me for it. One student writes that this was the best lecture she ever had in her life.

I especially enjoyed answering the questions students had about Cuba.

“So are you saying Cuban healthcare is not good?” one student asked. “Because this isn’t what we keep hearing.”

“Where did you hear it was good?” I asked.

“Well, there was this documentary by Michael Moore. . .”

This gave me the perfect opportunity to rant about Moore’s phenomenal intellectual dishonesty in the movie Sicko.

I think the lecture was so successful because I was acting more like I do here on the blog than the way I am normally in class. I spoke in a much more personal and direct way, shared my personal experiences in Cuba, used strong language. I don’t mean profanity, of course. I just said things like “the most horrifying, soul-crushing, degrading cynicism anybody could imagine.”

This was the kind of lecture where nobody even thinks of texting or checking their Facebook page because the discussion is so much more interesting. I’m smart, so I held teaching evaluations right after the lecture.

Loveless Marriages

Childless people who stay in loveless marriages are at least not hurting anybody but themselves, so if they choose to be miserable, that’s their right. People with children who stay in loveless marriages, however, destroy their children’s chance at having happy, fulfilled personal lives when they grow up. The children grow up, observing as their basic model of romantic relationships a boring, miserable marriage. Of course, they will end up perpetuating the model because that is all they know. It is profoundly wrong and immoral to inflict this damage on children for the sake of convenience.

Social Psychology Is Junk Science

In case you still think that social psychology (the branch of pseudo-science that the mainstream media loves because it produces snappy, quotable, and completely idiotic “studies”) has some value, you have got to wake up:

The three social psychologists set up a test experiment, then played by current academic methodologies and widely permissible statistical rules. By going on what amounted to a fishing expedition (that is, by recording many, many variables but reporting only the results that came out to their liking); by failing to establish in advance the number of human subjects in an experiment; and by analyzing the data as they went, so they could end the experiment when the results suited them, they produced a howler of a result, a truly absurd finding. They then ran a series of computer simulations using other experimental data to show that these methods could increase the odds of a false-positive result—a statistical fluke, basically—to nearly two-thirds.

Read the entire article. It’s very good. And after you do, please stop quoting “studies” you read about in the NYTimes or a similarly unreliable publication.

Talks With My Sister

Clarissa: Look, I’m starting to feel bad for your employee David. He’s the only man among 5 older women. You keep telling him what to do, one of you makes sexual comments to him, you just offered him money to shave his beard because you don’t like beards. Just think what it would be like if we were talking about a young woman working with five men who treated her this way.

Sister: Yes, but you are forgetting that he is a Jewish boy. This is what he is used to.

After which, I spent two minutes beating my head against the floor and laughing hysterically.

And the Winner of Our Black Ops Raffle Is. . .

. . . (drumroll) . . . Danny!

Danny, please send me an address where I can send the game to you.

Congratulations and have lots of fun, Danny!

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