Finally

So does anybody want to venture a guess as to whose manuscript just won the prize for the best critical monograph on a feminist topic in Hispanic literature?

Yes.

I’m very happy that people will be able to read it because it has some research that I think is valuable and useful.

P.S. I highly recommend that people with unpublishable messy doctoral dissertations contact Jonathan Mayhew who helps transform them into books.

Richard Cohen’s Intense Piggishness

A vicious freakazoid called Richard Cohen writes in the WashPo:

The first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse.

The “so-called rape”, got it? I’m guessing it is “so-called” rather than “rape” because there was no intercourse. Which, judging by the pompous nature of this declaration, is hugely important to the vicious freakazoid. He thinks we have been duped by the victim and the mobs she summoned into believing that it was “real rape” when, in fact, it was not a crime at all:

The Internet — in e-mails and tweets and Facebook…formed itself into a digital lynch mob that demanded the arrest of the innocent for a crime — gang rape — that had not been committed…

How come this condescending, stupid, preachy fellow who treats his readers like complete idiots has a well-paying job at such a popular newspaper? Do we really want him polluting our lives with his stupid excretions on a regular basis?

P.S. I’m not linking to this animal’s article because he should not be able to boost his readership this way. Instead, I’m linking to a good, valuable article that quotes this monstrosity.

The Real Tragedy of Minimum Wage

Of course, the minimum wage is an absolutely crucial achievement of civilization that has to be preserved and cherished. And obviously the minimum wage in the US has to be raised because right now it is shamelessly low and not enough for a person to make ends meet*.

However, can’t this important point be made in a way that doesn’t discredit the idea completely? Why do Liberals enjoy being so drama-queenish about everything that they end up sounding worse than any parody of Liberalism the staunchest opponent can concoct? See the following picture, for instance:

min wage

Surely, this important issue can be discussed without making minimum age workers sound like spoiled brats who can’t survive without having three rooms per one person. I’m getting a feeling that some smug upper middle-class grad student came up with this after straining his limited imagination in search of what would constitute the most horrible horror of all horrors.

The real tragedy of living on a minimum wage is not that you have to confine yourself to one or two rooms. It is that you often have to pawn your check days before you get it and pay a crushing fee to do so. It is that you can’t make even the most minimal savings and have to live in constant terror of what might happen. It is that a tooth-ache feels like the end of the world because you know you will never be able to afford a dentist. It is that there is no hope that each new day will bring anything but more of the same drudgery and fear.

This reminded me of a colleague back at Yale who was far to the left of me on the political spectrum and who once asked completely seriously, “Clarissa, why do you never travel in the summer? Don’t you like traveling?”

* As I said before, the great danger implicit in raising the minimum wage is that many employers will kick out half of the workers and pile their job duties onto the remaining half. I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

A Theory on Obama’s Approach to Syria

Somebody just advanced a theory that Obama doesn’t want to invade Syria and is doing what he can to avoid looking weak while sabotaging the invasion. And this is why he declared he will let the Congress that hates him have the final say. In the end, he won’t have to invade and will be able to blame the Congress for any consequences just as we go into the congressional electoral campaign.

This would be a beautiful world I don’t mind inhabiting.

Do we have any optimists who think this is a likely explanation around here?

Successful Masculinities and Femininities

The most sexually and romantically successful men I know are the exact opposite of the macho stereotype. They are sensitive, they like babies and puppies, cry in the movies, understand fashion and design, cook and clean very well, have good manners, know a lot of poetry by heart, enjoy traveling, are not very competitive, are not hugely motivated by money, and don’t highly value an opportunity to spend time drinking beer with other men. At least, not as highly as they do a chance to go shopping for salad bowls or used books with their female friends.

The loneliest and saddest men I know, the ones who barely manage to get rid of their virginity by the age of 40, are the closest to the macho stereotype. Their favorite topic of conversation is their most recent visit to a strip bar with their buddies, they eat with their hands, belch loudly, brag that they never bought a piece of clothing that cost more than $9.99, think that grooming is for sissies, enjoy calling women whores and sluts, feel very uncomfortable around small children, only watch movies filled with bloody corpses or rape scenes, and live to compete with other men.

(Both of these descriptions were created strictly on the basis of real men I know very well, so please don’t tell me these are caricatures.)

This works in the exact same way with women. The most sexually and romantically successful women I have ever known are the ones who are loud, brash, competitive, domineering, messy, and bray like horses. There are these two sisters I know who make me and my sister look like total wallflowers by their side. Both have very powerful, overwhelming personalities of the bulldozer type. And in spite of not being even remotely in possession of what one would call conventional beauty, they always had boyfriends and admirers coming out of every pore of their body, it seemed.

The loneliest, saddest women who barely manage to get rid of their virginity by the age of 40, are the closest to the Angel in the House stereotype. They are quiet, modest, bake perfect cookies and bring them to every occasion, cry often and easily, are perfectly coiffed at every point of their lives, don’t seem to know how to sweat or experience any other unpleasant bodily functions, are traumatized by competition and confrontation, and look like Charlotte from Sex and the City. They are the kind that make everybody around sigh, “I don’t know what men are thinking, letting someone this perfect remain lonely!”

I had this friend who was raised to embody every stereotype of patriarchal femininity. She batted her eyelashes, wore ultra-feminine little outfits, spoke in a very quiet, childish voice, treated every man she met like a deity, simpered and pouted all day long – and reached the age of 32 without ever going on a single date. Mind you, this is a very attractive woman with a figure everybody dreams of having.

We lost touch for a few years, and when we finally talked, she was a completely different person. The quite, whispery voice was gone; the modesty and the tendency to get scandalized by everything “improper” disappeared together with perfect little outfits. Now she loudly shared dirty jokes, brayed like a donkey, was irreverent, sarcastic, and the opposite of modest. She also had men slaughtering each other for her. I mean this literally: people were inflicting grave bodily harm on each other to win the opportunity to be with her. She didn’t value them very highly, though, because she prefers quiet sensitive guys who like babies, puppies, and cute salad bowls.

Identity Discourse Is Weird

There is nothing more ridiculous than identity discourse. Here is a blogger complaining that people “invalidate” her identity, whatever the hell that means, by not guessing that she is Latina. How they are supposed to do that when she chooses to sign her posts as “Frau Sally Benz” is a complete mystery.

I write as “Clarissa” and I now kind of wish I had thought of biting people’s heads off for not guessing that I’m from Ukraine. How dare the world invalidate my Ukrainian identity by assuming that somebody who posts in English is not a Ukrainian!

And how does one invalidate a person’s identity, exactly? Weird people on a blog for depressive academics once started to insist that I couldn’t possibly be a woman. Their insistence in no way “invalidated” my identity, though. I didn’t suddenly become a man just because a bunch of creeps assumed I was.

Middle East Is a New Latin America

The Middle East is to the US today what Latin America was in the second half of the 1950s. A bugbear of Communism (which was completely irrelevant to the reality of these countries) was used to invade and plunder one after another Latin American nation.

Today, the bugbears of “Islamism”, terrorism and dictatorship are used to invade and plunder Middle Eastern countries. The bugbears are often completely irrelevant to the reality of these countries but it is very easy to confuse the geographically and politically challenged Americans on this subject.

The invade-and-plunder approach to foreign relations has become a way of life for  American politics to the extent where it subjugates any other consideration. At this very moment, we are seeing an American president going against everybody who voted for him, against the country’s citizens, against the allies of the US, against every voice of reason, with the single-minded determination of a zombie who is ready to sacrifice absolutely everything to the need to bomb and kill. Is there even anybody in this country who supports the invasion of Syria? Aside from the pathetic Kerry who is so grateful to be given an important job that he will support World War III if needed, of course.

The country is facing a myriad of problems. Planes are getting cancelled and delayed as a result of the sequester, the governmental services are crippled by the budgetary crisis, the infrastructures are decrepit, the high-speed railways and job-creating projects the president has been promising us since 2008 are still nothing but a fantasy – the list can be continued forever. And here we are, stuck in limbo discussing yet another plan to hassle one more miserable Middle Eastern country.

To add insult to a really horrible offense, the only reason we are officially given for all of this is that if the invasion doesn’t happen, Obama will end up looking bad over something he said God knows when and God knows to whom. Yeah, let’s totally go kill some folks to ensure that the guy’s self-esteem doesn’t suffer too badly.

But hey, as long as Blockhead Martin’s CEOs get to make out like bandits, we all should shut up and rejoice in how well we defend peace and democracy.

NYTimes Defends Child-Murderers

As a result of Obama’s pig-headed determination to invade Syria, even Putin started to look more reasonable and mentally stable. Given that Putin is neither of these things, we can accept that our president has really managed to bungle his image and turn the international community that worshiped him into Obama-haters. Remember how we all consoled ourselves that at least Obama was good for our international image? Yes, I feel embarrassed about that, too.

The New York Times, the Pravda of the American government, rushed to the President’s rescue in its typically clumsy manner and published a long and completely shameless piece that justifies the murderers who killed a 2-year-old Russian boy three months after purchasing him in Russia. In response to this latest in what has been a long string of murders, rapes, and instances of horrifying abuse of kidnapped and purchased children, the Russian government outlawed all international adoptions of Russian children. The NYTimes offers a string of outlandish lies to vilify Russia and justify the child killers.

I have profound post-colonial reasons to dislike Russia, and everybody who has been reading this blog for a while knows how much I hate Putin. However, when the only remaining newspaper with some readership in this country justifies a kidnapping and a murder of a tiny little boy to make our failure of a president to look like less than a disappointment than he is, this is really too much. Let’s look at what exactly this lying article is trying to sell to us.

This is how the freakazoids who murdered the two-year-old boy justify his death:

It seemed like a terrible accident — a severe allergy attack or perhaps a seizure — until the doctors saw the multicolored collage of bruises on Max’s body. . . The police, prosecutors and medical examiners in Texas eventually concluded that Max’s death on Jan. 21 was an accident, resulting from internal injuries probably caused by a fall from the swing set. Max’s bruises were self-inflicted, they said, by a deeply troubled child who clawed his skin raw, banged his head against walls and hurled his body on the floor.

Oh, he beat himself to a bloody pulp, they claim. He was damaged goods, a bad faulty purchase, so who cares that he broke down eventually? OK, let’s assume that a boy who never had this kind of issues back home really grew as disturbed as the killers say. What better argument against international adoptions can anybody find? If a happy, healthy toddler begins to self-mutilate in the space of just 3 months in a way that leads to his death, surely this must mean that something is deeply wrong with the practice that tore him away from his family and handed him over to complete strangers.

The NYTimes is not interested in analyzing its own version of the story, however. All it wants to do is muster compassion for people who buy babies and then slaughter them:

The Shattos have become pariahs in their own community, indelibly stained by the tragedy. Anonymous callers have left death threats on their answering machine. Shoppers have accosted Mrs. Shatto and shouted “Murderer!” as she stood in line at the supermarket. Some friends no longer visit or return phone calls.

What the stupid rag forgets to mention is that if there were actual justice and the killers were placed in jail for their crime, people in the community would not have to be traumatized by seeing them walk around all day long.

The story of Maksim’s kidnapping by the Shattos is told in an outrageously dishonest manner:

The short, sad life of the boy who was born Maksim Nikolaevich Kuzmin has become more than the story of one child, a boy who was neglected by his biological mother, consigned to an institution and finally chosen by a family here in Texas.

The child was not “consigned” to any institution. He was simply stolen from his home while his mother Yulia was at work. She is a young working-class woman who is not very educated and who had no means at her disposal to find out where the kidnappers had taken her child. There was not a shred of legality to the process. The mother’s and the child’s legal rights were violated at every stage of the process. Yulia was not allowed to say good-buy to her son or even see him for the last time. She was not told that he was being moved away to another continent. The facts I’m listing now are absolutely not in dispute. They have been publicly recognized by everybody, including the Russian officials who stole the boy and sold him to the Shattos.

The really horrifying part of the article comes when it easily acknowledges why the Shattos were so dead-set on stealing this particular boy, a boy who was not up for adoption and was being raised by his own biological mother:

The Shattos, who grew up in Ruston, La., and married in 2006, had been trying for years to have a baby, struggling through multiple fertility treatments and three miscarriages. Heartbroken, they decided to adopt from Russia, where they hoped to find two dark-haired, blue-eyed children who would look just like family.

Have you ever seen anything more cynical and disgusting? These people who are in their late forties are so obsessed with their diseased need to prove to the world that they are efficient baby-making machines that they roam the world looking to steal children they can use to prove they gave birth to them on their own. That’s the only reason Maksim was kidnapped: he had the grave misfortune of looking like he could have been the Shattos’ biological son. And now imagine somebody stealing your kid for this kind of reason. Even if you are financially comfortable, I’m sure there are many people in the world who are richer than you are and could afford to have your baby kidnapped from you.

The Shattos freely admit that they broke the Russian laws and purchased children:

The Shattos spent most of their savings, in addition to money they inherited from a parent, to cover the costs: roughly $31,000 for one child, an additional $12,000 for a sibling, and the cost of the three required trips to Russia, according to Gladney’s estimates.

Russia imposes no fees on adoptions. The money these murderers paid went to bribes that motivated the corrupt officials in Russia to kidnap the children.

What the killers forget to mention is that money alone is not enough to adopt a child in Russia. One more requirement you need to meet is proving that the kid you are adopting is suffering from a disease that can better be treated overseas. When rich foreigners want to buy healthy kids, the corrupt bureaucrats attach a diagnosis of mental deficiency to the children because it is impossible to prove or disprove. This is precisely what was done to Maksim and Kirill:

Both boys had developmental delays, common to children who have been institutionalized or have endured neglect. At the age of 2 years and 3 months, Max was more equivalent to a child of 1 year and 9 months, according to information provided to Gladney by the Russian orphanage.

The kids had no developmental delays, of course. The diagnosis was only needed to make the sale possible. The killers, however, took measures to ensure that they’d get high-quality merchandise:

Right away, Dr. Johnson said, he saw a problem: Max’s head seemed a bit small. “Brain size is one of the few measures of cognitive ability that we have early in life,” he said.

But he was not sure of the accuracy of the measurements described in the profile. So in June, when the Shattos arrived at the orphanage in Pskov near the Estonian border, they were armed with a tape measure. . . The couple spent about four hours with the boys that day. They also measured the boys’ heads and took photos from myriad angles.

Got it? The freaks were measuring the kids’ heads to make sure all of their body parts were up to their high expectations. I’ve never heard of anybody doing this when buying dogs, let alone adopting children. And then we are wondering how come the boys didn’t thrive in the loving environment provided by the animals who bring a tape measure to the first encounter with the children?

Of course, victim-blaming is rife in the article. The irresponsible, corrupt journalists who wrote this disgusting piece of libel have the gall of making the boys’ mother sound like she deserved having her children stolen from her:

But the Shattos said the orphanage officials did offer some disturbing information: Max and Kris’s biological mother might have been drinking while she was pregnant, the couple remembers them saying, though the officials offered few details.

I have seen the boys’ mother on television and, believe me, she looks a lot healthier physically and mentally than the ugly diseased freaks who stole the boys and murdered one of them. She, at least, did not put a tape around Maksim’s head. And she didn’t kill him either.

Once the kids were brought to Texas, the abuse intensified:

Still, the couple worried. Max was waking up almost every night screaming. He hoarded food in his toy cars, in his Big Wheel — and in his cheeks. At dinnertime, the family tried to make a game out of getting him to chew.

The abusers thought it was a GAME to force a child to eat. They applied one of the gravest forms of child abuse – forced feeding – to a toddler who had recently been torn away from his home, his mother, and the only environment he ever knew. And they thought it was funny.

We are asked to feel compassion for the abuser:

“She would call and say, ‘Mama, he’s hurting himself, he’s hurting himself, why is he hurting himself?’ ” recalled Mrs. Shatto’s mother, Peggy Worley, 73. “She’d be crying on the phone. She had never seen anything like it, and neither had I.”

Because you stole him from his mother, you sociopath. He is two years old and suddenly his Mommy is not there. There are things that can’t be bought, and 3 months is too short of a time for a small child to forget his own mother and accept that he will now be owned by strangers who only want him if his head is the right size and his eyes are the right color.

And then the really horrifying thing happened:

Convinced that Max had serious psychological problems, the report said, Dr. Eckel prescribed risperidone, an antipsychotic medicine sometimes prescribed to children and teenagers who have autism and engage in self-injurious behaviors. It is not typically prescribed to children under 5, experts say.

To ensure that the costly little toy was quiet and pleasing to his new owners, he was fed a dangerous counter-indicated antipsychotic drug. The Shattos refused to follow the doctor’s advice and seek therapy for the traumatized boy. Who needs all that trouble and expense when you can just zombify him with pills?

Immediately after this horrifying revelation, the article plunges into a narrative of vicious slut-shaming and vilification against Maksim’s real mother.

The boy’s killers show absolutely no remorse and are only worried about how the crime they committed might prevent them from harming any more children:

Sometimes she talks angrily about the orphanage officials in Russia, whom she accuses of hiding Max’s condition. Sometimes she speaks bitterly of the child welfare officials who split up her family during the investigation. She fears that their inconclusive finding, which left open the possibility that she and her husband had physically abused Max, may have effectively ended her teaching career.

Everybody is to blame but for the criminals who destroyed a small boy in just 3 months. The same criminals who retain the ownership of Maksim’s brother.

Language Enrollment Caps

I discovered the other day that there are universities (very good, respectable universities in highly civilized areas of the North American continent) where enrollment in Spanish 101 courses is between 80 and 120 students per section. These are not online courses or MOOCs. Just regular language courses.

Since I keep bitching about how the cap of 25 students per language course we have here at my school is too high, I’m very puzzled. How does one teach 80 people at a time to speak a language? I once taught a classroom of 42 back in Canada, and that was simply ridiculous.

Question: what is wrong with these students that they just hand over their money and do not even try to protest?