Marcotte’s Marxism

I often feel baffled by Amanda Marcotte’s posts. Take this most recent one where she argues that anti-choicers promote their policies in order to keep people poor and deny them social mobility.

I don’t know how to make this analysis make sense outside of the childish belief that evil Republicans do evil things for no other reason than their profound evilness. Why would the Republicans be interested in expanding the underclass that doesn’t pay taxes, needs social welfare, adds to crime rates, and is unlikely to vote Republican? This would make at least some sense if there existed a need for a huge number of people to work in unqualified low-paying jobs. Such jobs, however, have all gone overseas. The ones that are left are much fewer than what the minimally educated people need to avoid constant and crushing unemployment.

No, there is definitely no economic advantage to keeping so many people poor. The Republicans also accuse the Democrats of keeping people poor so that they depend on the government and vote Democratic. And these accusations are just as meaningless because Marxism doesn’t work. Irrespective of who advances these Marxist explanations that ideology is driven by economics, they always fail. Ideology trumps money every single time.

Thank you, el, for leaving this link here.

Source of Good Work Ethic

Blogger Z rules:

Good work ethic is good to the extent that it does not come from grim discipline but from good self-care.

This is brilliant. What comes out of masochism cannot be good. Work because you love yourself not because you want to self-punish.

And there is more brilliance where that came from:

One does, in fact, need large blocks of time for work. Not for the work itself — that can be done in little pieces. One needs big blocks of time because the work has to be couched in rest and recreation, in which one is not working at breakneck speed on other things, but is renewing oneself while one’s mind works on its ideas in the background.

Yes. A thousand times, yes. A lot of leisure where one reads, walks, listens to music, talks to interesting people, thinks and even cooks is crucial for intellectual growth and productivity. I don’t have a problem with generating ideas for articles. “This comes effortlessly to you,” a colleague said the other day. The apparent effortlessness, however, is a result of reading and thinking and reading and thinking all the time.

Preparing for the Babymoon

If there is a pregnancy symptom in existence, I will most certainly experience it. Right now I’m waiting for an appointment with a dentist who will try to save my teeth from falling out as a result of pregnancy hormones attacking them. So I will share the pictures of the things I bought for my “Babymoon” (yes, I know, what an idiotic name) to make myself feel better.

I really hated the swimsuit I bought until I saw how it looks on a thin model:



This is the worst kind of shape for thin women who should never ever go strapless and must have great care with ruffles, especially huge ones. For bigger women, however, this looks quite nice.

I didn’t like this swimsuit because it will have a huge pregnant belly sticking from under the top. The funny thing is that I wouldn’t have any problems with this belly if I had acquired it through eating. However, the belly that is a result of a pregnancy feels a lot more intimate, so it bothers me to show it to the world.

I also bought dresses that can be used as both maternity and normal dresses. Here is one that is so huggable that I wished I could spend the day hugging myself:


Again, this looks better on a bigger woman. Unless you are at least size 12, I don’t recommend it. On the positive side, Macy’s is filled with beautiful dresses for women of a wide variety of sizes.

And a dress from my favorite brand. This one will look good either on a very very thin woman or on a woman who is bigger than size 10. The model in the photo must be very tall because I’m 5’6 and the dress is not nearly that short. If I weren’t pregnant, it would go down almost to my knee:


While I was shopping for this great new mascara, I discovered that there are now vibrating mascaras. For people who are too lazy to move their wrist while applying it. I kid you not, vibrating mascara exists. See here and here. Of course, I didn’t buy it because with my autistic coordination, I have enough trouble not putting out my eyes with a mascara that doesn’t move on its own. A vibrating one would be literally lethal in my hands.

“Oppositional Defiance Disorder” or Infant Rage

There is no Oppositional Defiance DisorderThis is simply a code word used by horrible parents who can’t deal with the realization that their children are human beings with needs, preferences, and desires of their own.

What does exist is the phenomenon called “infant / childhood rage.” This is a response of a child who feels that her identity is being invaded and destroyed by an abusive  controlling parent.

By the age of 3, a normally developing child realizes that she is a separate individual who has a life and identity that are different from those of others. Starting from this moment, the child will struggle to assert this individuality. She will want to choose what she wears, what and when she eats, who her friends are, etc. By the age of 6-7, the second major stage of individuation begins. The child will need a greater personal space that will not be invaded and will subject the opinions of parents to doubt and criticism.

If a child is not allowed to go through these stages of separation from the parents in peace, she is likely to develop “infant / childhood rage.” If from the very beginning of trying to formulate an identity of her own the child realizes that these efforts are not welcome, if this as yet very young and tenuous identity is rejected and plowed over by adults, the child perceives this as a threat to her entire existence. The reaction to this existential threat is rage. This is the only weapon the child has in what is for her a fight for survival.

As they mature, most children learn to conceal their rage and live with it. Some never do (depending on the degree of abuse they experienced.) However, this rage will never really go away. It will remain with them for as long as they live. The reason why this rage is not treatable is that it is an eminently reasonable, logical reaction to one’s experiences. If there is any instance of truly self-righteous anger, this is it.

So: if you have come to this blog in search of a recipe of how to deal with a child who has this Oppositional Defiance Disorder, here is one. Learn to see this child as a human being. Try to find out what his personality is instead of trying to inscribe your own expectations and preferences onto him. Learn to respect his personal space. Let him spend time on his own. Stop criticizing him and trying to improve him. Let him make his own choices. Stop applying parenting strategies to him and, instead, learn to interact with him as a human being that he is. Stop yelling and demanding and start asking questions and listening.

Spanish Writer on Serbia

It is an important moment for any national literature when writers begin to feel free to write about other countries. And not as a veiled way to say something about their own country, mind you, but simply because they feel like it. Spain has now finally entered into the era of global relevance, and Clara Usón’s new novel La hija del Este is part of this welcome phenomenon. (I think this book is highly likely to be translated into English, although it has been published too recently for such a translation to exist just yet. So do stay on the lookout, the book is very good.)

Usón writes about the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the wars that ensued as a result. The novel is very powerful and beautifully constructed, and the writer never gives in to temptation to use Yugoslavia to say something about Spain.

The novel begins with the protagonist’s short stay in the Moscow of 1994. I happened to be in Moscow exactly at the time the writer is describing and I can say that her descriptions of the city in that exciting and turbulent era are very good and reliable. This is extremely rare because Western writers usually write total crap on the subject. Usón doesn’t manage to transmit the excitement of those times but this is only the result of her need to set a somber tone for the rest of the novel.

La hija del Este was of enormous interest to me because it discusses the events of the Serbo-Bosnian war from the point of view of Serbs as the aggressors and Bosnians as victims. This is not the approach I was exposed to when the war was taking place. (You remember where I lived in the 1990s, right?) The narrative of the war that was known to me was that of our Slav brothers and sisters being attacked and persecuted by the horrible, mean Bosnians who were acting at the behest of the vile, imperialistic Americans. The word “Muslims” was barely ever mentioned in that narrative. I vaguely knew that there were some Muslims somewhere on the margins of this conflict, but I didn’t know they were central to the war. Our journalists and politicians kept referring to the region as Yugoslavia long after there was no more Yugoslavia. It is interesting that I’m now discovering a different perspective of the war from a Spanish writer.

I realize that this blog’s readers have probably been exposed to the version of events that Clara Usón is presenting in this novel and it will not shock them in the way it shocked me. However, the novel is still highly valuable even for those who already know this perspective.

At this point, I’m not ready to draw any conclusions about the Bosnian War but I’m glad I discovered that a different approach exists from this valuable novel.

And what do you know about the wars in former Yugoslavia?

What’s Your Coffee?

I live for coffee. Love it, adore it, want to swim in it all day long. Which is why it hurts my feelings that my coffee hasn’t even made it onto this table:



In North America, I drink regular, unmessed with coffee with two sugars. And in Europe I drink cafe con leche (cafe au lait) which is NOT the equivalent of a Starbucks latte.

Dean Saxton and “You Deserve Rape”

Dean Saxton, a student at the University of Arizona, is hanging out on campus with a “You Deserve Rape” sign. Because you’re dressed like a whore, of course, so you’re asking for it. The University says there’s nothing they can do, because he hasn’t violated the student code of conduct. I would suggest that maybe it’s time to rewrite the student code of conduct?

Question: what is preventing a group of normal students from accompanying this freak everywhere with signs saying, “You Deserve Rape, Dean Saxton”? They could also chant this phrase at him loudly. If the campus allows him to do it, I’m sure everybody else can do the same. And if the students are too toothless to do that, then whom can they blame for their toothlessness?

I don’t get the people who complain that the university isn’t doing anything about this while refusing to do anything about this either. If he bullies people, he needs to be bullied back, hard. Everybody who stands by impotently while he is doing this is complicit in his actions. The entire campus is to blame for this.

Are the Tsarnaevs White?

I have seen over 20 progressive sources ask this question:

Are Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokar Tsarnaev white?

Of course, the question always gets attributed to somebody else:

Of course they are. But, that question still lingers in the air as white Americans–and some others–try to reconcile “terrorism” with a sacred view of “American” identity as benign, safe, harmless, exception, and non-violent.

It is a very cute strategy. Ascribe the worries and preoccupations that plague you but that you are ashamed of to somebody else and then denounce them passionately as a way of cleansing yourself from what you consider shameful.

I’m sure nobody gives a rat’s ass but I will still mention that, in the country the Tsarnaevs are actually from, they would not be considered white and that this is one of the main underpinnings of the relationship between the Russian Federation and Chechnya right now. But it is useless to expect Americans en masse to recognize the existence of other countries. As a result, the completely idiotic analogies that aim to Americanize the Tsarnaevs beyond all recognition (as you can see in the linked post) will continue to be made.

Hey Ho, Hey Ho, Bureaucrats Have Got to Go!

So do you remember these budget cuts at our university that I’ve been writing about? We were told by our administration that each department had to prepare to cuts its budget by 25% within the next 3 years. We had to engage in a “budget cutting exercise” (that’s how it was called by the administration) explaining how we would cut our budgets to accommodate this serious drop in funding. We were supposed to cut 5% in the first year, 13% in the second year, and 7% in the third year.

Since about 96% of the budget of most of the departments in Humanities consists of salaries, you can imagine how the news of needing to cut 25% of the departmental budget was greeted. We had meetings and exchanged endless emails, trying to figure out how to rearrange our budgets in order to avoid firing people. Obviously, it was not possible to avoid layoffs altogether, which made the environment incredibly tense. Coupled with the end of the academic year when everybody is swamped with work and drowning in deadlines, this budget cutting exercise made everybody’s stress levels go through the roof. Academics are human, so it’s not surprising that people started to freak out.

And then the university’s President came to campus and spoke to  the academic community at length. A brave young academic (khm, khm) decided to ask him directly whether departments were really expected to cut 25% of their budgets. The President was so taken aback by the question that he looked completely disoriented. No, he said, things didn’t work like that and he had no idea who was spreading these rumors.

Two days later, a high-ranking bureaucrat at the university sent out an email, explaining that she was the one who had invented this “budget cutting exercise” and spread the rumors of 25% cuts to departmental budgets. The bureaucrat apologized for creating stress and explained that her goal was – just consider the utter cynicism of this obviously brain-dead person – t0 promote creativity among academics. Yes, creativity, that’s the word this person used. Apparently, she believes that people’s creativity needs to be bolstered by threats to take away their livelihood and destroy the university they have worked hard to create. No consideration had been given to the fact that some of the people whose creativity was boosted with these threats were older or not in their best health.

This creative exercise is the second broad initiative this particular bureaucrat has created. The first one consisted of sending profs to clean cemeteries against their will on a week-end. (See here and here.)

I’m sure you can draw all the conclusions you need for yourselves.

Second Family

N. is sharing:

“I was considering looking for a job in academia after completing my PhD. But then I read this article where a professor was saying that, for an academic, his department becomes his second family. I have enough trouble as it is with my family of origin, so the idea of having yet another family on top of the one I already had was unappealing. So I went into the industry.”