I’m having an absolutely Kafkian experience today. Yesterday in spinning class I got a little dehydrated, so all last night and all day today I’m feeling very thirsty. And all day I’m engaged in the process of trying to drink some water but never really managing to do it.

The whole thing is beyond bizarre because I spent the entire day at home, alone, working. I could have had 30 liters of water. But it just isn’t working out. I decide to go to the kitchen and fetch a drink of water but then a series of urgent emails distract me. Or the phone rings. Or I get an idea for my article that I need to write down.

And when I finally get to the kitchen, I forget what I wanted there. And instead of drinking water, I make a cup of coffee that dehydrates me even more. Or – and this was the most bizarre thing of all – I eat a pickled tomato.

And only now, 24 hours after I first felt thirsty, I finally managed to get myself together and drink.


Pussy Riot Update

Because liberal media is controlled by dudes, and because most of the Googleable primary source material is in Russian, it’s difficult for the non-Russian speaker to tease out what is actually going on, feministically speaking, with Nadezha Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

I’m a Russian-speaker, so let me help: feministically speaking, absolutely nothing whatsoever. When members of Pussy Riot (a name that means nothing to a Russian speaker and that not a single journalist writing in Russia that I have read has been able to transcribe properly) were released from prison, they announced they would dedicate themselves to fighting against the truly horrifying conditions in female prisons.

This is work that desperately needs to be done because what happens to women in those prisons is absolutely horrible. So I was very happy to hear this announcement. Since then, however, Pussy Riot seem to have realized that this kind of work wasn’t about to bring them the fame they are so desperately seeking, so they decided to get back into headlines by heading over to Sochi.

And here is the only intelligent description of Pussy Riot I found in English:

Pussy Riot is something akin to a women’s auxiliary of a Russian gang of pervy dude anarchists.** Known collectively as Voina, the group exploit the women in public stunts involving torture porn and humiliation. Read the post for the lurid details; they disgust me too much to summarize here. Suffice it to say that, although the Pussy Riot women are branded by Western media as militant feminists and masked avengers championing the cause of freedom, the freedom in question is only sexual, and is sought so assiduously merely to preserve male sexual access to degraded, roach-covered meat toilets.

Now, this is absolutely spot-on.

P.S. And this is a very detailed post that describes exactly what this “Russian feminism” is about. I warn you, though, that what the post describes as to the “feminists’ subversive activities” is absolutely nauseating. And sadly, absolutely true.

A Democrat and a Republican

Those who are not into blind partisanship will appreciate this true story.

There was this really great university president who defended tenure, successfully resisted adjunctification and fought like a lion to save the employees’ pension plans in a broke state. He was also an ultra-conservative Republican.

The governor of the state where this happened hated this university president. The governor thinks the university’s Board of Trustees is his personal fiefdom and was extremely annoyed by the president’s defense of the workers’ pensions and decent working conditions. He was a Democrat.

The governor wanted to gut the pension plan and force the university into firing people by reneging on the state’s budget obligations to the university. And the university president wasn’t letting that happen.

So the governor filled the Board of Trustees with his close buddies and, together, they beat the good president out of office. Part of the governor’s strategy was bullying and threatening the Board members who disagreed with him.  The strategy worked. Now this Democrat can happily proceed to destroy the pension plan and the public education in the state.

Of course, I know that this post will be politely ignored by all of my readers because this is what always happens to posts of this kind. Democrats don’t like hearing about a Democrat acting like a petty dictator to destroy everything good and progressive that still remains in the state. And Republicans are disturbed by the idea that a Republican is defending pensions and public education. But this is reality, folks. It doesn’t neatly split along party lines.

Why I Hate Olympics

The International Olympic Committee did not allow the Ukrainian team to wear black armbands to commemorate the people who died yesterday in their country on both sides of the civil unrest. While Ukraine is descending into a civil war and Kiev is burning, the athletes are supposed to pretend they are happy, cheery and chirpy because anything other than that would detract from the commercial value of the Olympics.

People keep asking me why I don’t watch the Olympics. The answer is that this is probably the most fake international event of all. Everything in it is fake from start to finish.  The fake fire, the fake amateur athletes, the fake truce, the fake lack of politicization, the fake achievements. The whole thing is just dead and plastic.

Earlier, the Norwegian team was not allowed to wear mourning arm-bands to honor a bereaved team member.

Plastic faces with fake plastic smiles plastered onto them. This is all that the Olympics are about.

Common Core

Everything I’m reading about Common Core makes it sound like a great idea. See this, for instance:

Whether it is through tackling math problems or analyzing text, the Common Core encourages students to show evidence for their solutions and articulate how they think, with the overall goal of promoting more critical thinking at earlier ages.

Less multiple choice and more complete sentences? Sounds like a dream come true. I’ll be one happy camper if a new generation of students comes to my classroom and doesn’t look confused when I say that “Well, it’s just my opinion” is not good enough if “the opinion” is not supported by evidence.

Or this:

At a recent study group for teachers at P.S. 36 in the Bronx, Kathleen Rusiecki, who teaches first-grade special education, described one task in her curriculum: Draw a picture of the word nobody.

“It doesn’t even make sense,” she said.

OK, Ms. Rusiecki is an idiot, but most teachers aren’t. I did this activity with my students (before reading the article), and it was the only thing that helped them understand the use of subjunctive with negative expressions. For small kids, this is a brilliant activity.

The article says there is too much homework in Common Core but there are no examples, so I can’t opine. I’m opposed to any homework before the age of 10. And after that, there should only be the kind of homework that doesn’t require any online searches.

What do you think of the Common Core?