The Evil Twin

From a student’s essay:

Sexual desire is the evil twin of love.

I so deserve a raise.


I’m waiting for a meeting where my performance will be evaluated, hence the many posts. Given that I’ve been blatantly avoiding the repeated suggestions that I collaborate with some extremely pissy individuals from Law School, I’m not expecting to hear anything too amazing.

I know I deserve all that I will get because I should have just forced myself to collaborate with these unpleasant folks. But I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna!

OK, wish me luck.

College Town

“So have you felt the baby kick?” the nurse asked me in week 4 of pregnancy.

“I’m in week 4,” I said, perplexed. “Nobody can feel anything at this stage.”

“I know,” was the melancholy response. “People just feel gas and think it’s the baby kicking. I never want to disappoint them.”

And we are in a college town. Imagine what the less sophisticated folks believe.

Barbarians. . .

. . . are exactly the same everywhere.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the power behind President Mohamed Morsi, usually makes its more incendiary statements in Arabic only. But such was the movement’s horror at a United Nations proposal to reduce violence against women that it issued a statement in English today complaining that “the complete disintegration of society” would result if the UN adopts a set of recommendations from its Commission on the Status of Women. . . The UN thinks it would be useful to raise the age of marriage, decriminalize homosexuality, make contraceptives more readily available, and give unmarried mothers the same rights as married ones.

The Brothers are not pleased:

“The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution,” the movement wrote. “This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.”

Just substitute “Islam” by “Christian” and “Muslim”  by “American” and you will recognize the verbiage immediately. Note how the obsession with the same old issues of homosexuality, contraception and single motherhood drives all of these barbarians nuts.

The really interesting question is why these fundamentalists hate each other so much. Their goals are exactly the same, their language couldn’t be more similar. Of course, we should all be happy they are too dense to join forces. If they did, progressive causes would have a much more complicated journey to complete victory.


I know I discussed this before but it never ceases to amaze me how shocked some readers are when I point out to them that initiating contact with strangers with a command is rude and offensive.

Time and again, some weird creature alights on the blog who thinks it is cute to say things like, “Start doing this” or “stop doing that” and then gets scandalized when I reveal to him/her that s/he is being rude and obnoxious.

So I’m wondering, are people not socialized in this aspect? I’m not noticing this much in real life, so I assumed everybody knew that dispensing commands to people as if they were your servants is unacceptable. Even if they are your servants, it is still better to find a more polite form of address.

Neither the Dean nor the Chair ever addressed me with a command even though they are my superiors at work. It is always, “Could you please do this, if you don’t mind.”

At the very least, people could use “please” with their commands. Or better yet, realize that neither their orders nor their unsolicited advice have a place in trying to establish contact with strangers.

Please Support Now

Harkin Amendment Will Offer Negotiated FY 13 Labor, Health, Education Bill to Continuing Appropriations Act

An amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will increases funding for the NIH, child care, and education while staying within the current budget parameters. The amendment reflects the bipartisan compromise on the Fiscal Year 2013 Labor-HHS spending bill negotiated in December by Harkin and his Senate and House counterparts. Harkin is Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

It only takes 2 clicks to support this great amendment.

When the Russians and the Spaniards Collide

You can take a girl away from her pelmeni, but you can’t take the love for pelmeni out of the girl. On our last night in Madrid, my sister and I went to a Russian restaurant called El cosaco (The Cossack.) The restaurant turned out to be so popular that we practically had to beg for a table. We got it but only because we had arrived for dinner at the extremely early hour of 9:40 pm.

The restaurant turned out to be very cozy and cute with beautiful crockery:

photo (1)

The pelmeni were a little limp but still better than any I ever managed to make at home. The only thing that sucks worse than my pelmeni are my vareniki. (The Polish call them pierogi, but that is just bizarre.)

photo (2)

However, the “Olivier Salad”, which is the absolute staple of any festive occasion for the Russian speakers, was very good. I don’t have a photo because it was so good that I devoured it in under a minute. My personal recipe for the “Olivier Salad” is, of course, better but this one was still very good. N. loves this salad with such a passion that I suspect he might want to call our baby Olivier if it happens to be a boy.

While we were eating, we observed a very funny scene. A group of very unpleasant Spanish men in their 40s came into the restaurant. They represented the kind of madrileños who give a bad name to all Spaniards. Their permanent bad mood is called “la mala leche,” meaning milk that has turned sour. The expression is very apt because such people look like they have been drinking bad, stinking milk for years.

The men were unhappy with the table the Russian waitress assigned to them and started being nasty.

“If I have to be treated this way, I will just leave! I will leave! I am leaving right now!” one of them vociferated angrily, without making a slightest movement towards the door. “It is incredible that I should be asked to sit at this small, badly placed table. I! At this table! Incredible! Unconscionable! I am leaving! See me walk away right now!”

The Russian waitress, however, belonged to the generation of Soviet waitresses, which means that her life philosophy was, “The fewer clients I have, the less effort I have to make.” She didn’t even try to discuss anything with the unpleasant customers and just stood there, looking at them blankly and waiting for them to make good on their promise and clear out. She provided a really great touch of the typically Russian experience.

The impasse between the typically Spanish and the typically Russian brands of unpleasantness was hilarious. We didn’t see who got to win because a Spanish maitre d’ arrived and resolved the situation.

However, there was also a young Russian waitress – who looked like the perfect image of a Russian beauty – who belongs to the new generation and whose work was very professional. Here is the beautiful Russian tea in the traditional glass holder she brought us:

Russian Tea

I totally need to buy these glass holders for home.

Even More on Madrid

There is something beautiful behind every corner in Madrid. See this beautiful, foliage-covered wall:

Plant Wall 2


It just stands there, in Madrid’s downtown, while people around it hurry to work in the business sector of the city. And almost right next to it is this building:

Edificio blanco y rojo


Spain’s economy had been experiencing a very slight improvement, but any good news is welcome at this point.

Poor people, mostly Latin American immigrants, would congregate in front of this soup kitchen to be fed every day:

Comedor Ave Maria 2


I hope things get better soon because I already found two separate newspapers of the openly fascist persuasion being sold at the newsstands. Unemployment and poverty are the best breeding ground ever for fascism, and Spain has not had a very good track record in this area. Even when its fascism was the weakest in Europe, the country somehow managed to end up with the longest fascist dictatorship of all.

Parenting Manuals

If pregnancy manuals are bad, then parenting books are simply horrid. After a massive search carried out by my sister over the course of several years and assisted by me, I maintain that there are no parenting books in existence that provide any simple, basic information on the care of infants. Instead, what you get is a massive dose of very weird ideology, packaged in saccharine, condescending language, and accompanied by an inevitable tour from Guilt Trips Unlimited.

To give just a couple of examples, here is what transpired during our recent trip to Madrid. My sister took with her a parenting book recommended by a very intelligent, normal, well-adjusted friend who swore up and down that the book was not insane. My sister trusted that the book might not be horrible and took it with her only to find herself trapped on an airplane with a volume that suggested people use attachment parenting practices to raise obedient children. God save us all from the freakazoids who see obedience as a useful quality to foster in an individual.

In Madrid, we went to a bookstore where my sister pored over dozens of books until finally finding one that didn’t look too bizarre (they tend to have very scary covers and titles.) She handed it to me for my expert opinion. I opened it randomly only to alight on a paragraph that stated that the only normal practice was to breast-feed one’s children until the age of 7 because this is what “women in tribes” did. Mothers who didn’t do that, the book claimed, had to know that they were damaging their children and needed to compensate for the damage.

P.S. Please don’t recommend any books. I might trust you but I definitely don’t trust their authors.