Excuses

There are 3 spinning instructors, and I know them all because I’ve started to come to class 6 times a week.

One of them is a great instructor but she’s always late for class. And every time she has a new excuse for why she’s running late. Since January, I heard a great variety of inventive excuses.

This bugs me not because I’m such a stickler for punctuality but because I spend all day hearing the same kind of excuses from students and don’t feel prepared to pay to listen to some more.

Fuck Marx

Putin’s ratings soared in the past couple of weeks and are at the highest point they have been for 5 years. His approval rating now stands at 75,7%.

Putin’s cronies the bandits are robbing the country blind. Hospitals lack the most basic supplies but millions were invested into the Olympics and trillions will be needed to keep the Crimea. Education is in shambles. The immense luxury of Moscow offers a sharp contrast with the poverty of the rest of the country. Elections to Parliament and the presidential elections were shamelessly rigged. Peaceful protesters are jailed. Freedom of speech is dead.

But Putin invaded somebody, and the people of Russia love him.

Economy means nothing, people. Its power is non-existent.

Israel and Breast-Feeding

A blogger knows that there are two words that will attract crowds of visitors and commenters if you put them in the subject line of a post: breast-feeding and Israel. It isn’t necessary to write anything on the subject because just the words themselves make people want to argue.

I’m not a person who pursues hits for the sake of hits, but I have just discovered something very curious that relates to Israel:

Illinois State Senate Bill 3017 would deny funding to public universities that support faculty members’ participation in professional associations that boycott Israeli academic institutions.  It would, for example, prohibit a faculty member from getting funds to travel to an American Studies Association (ASA) meeting, even if that meeting is unrelated to the boycott, or the professor herself is opposed to the boycott. A college that violates the prohibition would lose all public funds for that academic year.

To say that I’m shocked and disgusted is an understatement. If you happen to pass somebody in the street who might have stood next to somebody who might have participated in ASA, you will lose all funding forever. I now have to investigate all of my colleagues and known associates just in case they expressed a criticism of Israel at some point in their lives. It would be useful if we could pin yellow stars on them to make them more easily recognizable.

I don’t really have anything to say about breast-feeding right now, but more hits are always nice.

Navalny: How to Punish Putin?

An article by Alexei Navalny was published in the NYTimes. In case you don’t know who Navalny is, you can find out here. It is huge that the NYTimes has published Navalny because his ultra-popular blog has been shut down by Putin. Navalny is under house arrest and is not allowed to speak publicly or write.

For a while, Navalny didn’t take any position on Ukraine. After repeated requests from his enormous group of followers that he specify what he thinks, Navalny finally wrote a post (remember, every post he writes can cost him 7 years in jail) denouncing the invasion of Ukraine. I can imagine that this was extremely hard for him to do, especially since this stance is likely to lose him many of his followers. Of course, Navalny supported Ukraine in his inimitable manner of, “Why should we be bugging Ukrainians when there are crowds of juicy Uzbeks and Azeri we could be hassling instead?”*

Navalny even joined the anti-invasion protests and published a photo of himself with his wife marching with the protesters. Compared to so many gutless and cringing politicians, one has got to admire a guy who risks so much so openly for a cause. And a cause that he supports on the level of reason and not emotion, too.

Navalny knows more than anybody about how corruption in Russia works because he has dedicated his life to investigating the bandits who exist in the top echelons of authority in Russia. And his article in the NYTimes explains what the sanctions would have been if the US really wanted to punish Putin and his oligarchs.

Please notice how what Navalny says about the current sanctions is exactly what I’ve been telling you:

First, although Mr. Putin’s invasion has already prompted the European Union to impose sanctions on 21 officials, and the United States on seven, most of these government figures cannot be considered influential. They do not have major assets outside Russia and are irrelevant to Mr. Putin.

The dissenting voices both from inside and outside of Russia agree: the current sanctions are meaningless and ridiculous. They are not even attempting to punish the real criminals:

After all the tough talk from Western politicians, this action is mocked in Russia and even seen as a tacit encouragement to Mr. Putin and his entourage, who seem to possess some magical immunity.

Again, this is word-for-word what I wrote yesterday. Can we now remember to trust my analysis, if even a politician from a political camp I oppose profoundly reports the same things as I do?

And what Navalny is practically begging the outside world to do is punish oligarchs “blocking access to their plush London apartments” and investigate the source of their wealth.

I always wondered, which side of Navalny’s personality would win: Navany the Anti-Putin Dissident or Navalny the Ultra-Nationalist? We now have our answer. I can imagine how painful it was for Navalny to write the following:

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Mr. Putin claimed this week. But even among the most nationalist and pro-Soviet of our people, a longing to restore Crimea to Russian rule faded years ago.

Yet Mr. Putin has cynically raised nationalist fervor to a fever pitch; imperialist annexation is a strategic choice to bolster his regime’s survival.

But he did it, and that’s big. I hope that the next step is saying that the Uzbeks are not that bad either.

Navalny knows that his ultra-nationalism hurts him on the international arena. This is why he ends his article as follows:

There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia. The West should admit that it, too, has underestimated Mr. Putin’s malign intent. It is time to end the dangerous delusion that enables him.

The risks Navalny has been taking in the past weeks are enormous. And it’s one thing to take these risks to defend a cause that you believe in but a very different thing to overcome your personal inclinations and do what’s right against everything that ever pleased you. Navalny is not pro-Ukraine (read the post I linked at the beginning to find out why I say this), and his initial post in defense of Ukraine feels like he was bleeding on his keyboard to write it.

The state-sponsored Russian newspaper The Pravda of the Komsomol (I kid you not, that’s its name) published a piece that makes it seem as if many of the states were practically on the verge of the secession from the US. Lies and idiotic statements about the former (?) Cold War foe abound in Russia and the US. This is why it’s good news that Navalny got to speak out in the pages of The New York Times.

* I’m not kidding about the Uzbeks and the Azeri. See this article on Navalny’s now banned blog.

Privilegemania

Jesus, when one leaves academia, one should at least hope to be finally free from the ridiculous habit of privilege-scratching. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though:

I distanced myself a bit from social media these last few months and I’m sorry to discover, upon my return, that there’s trouble in Denmark, so to speak. I’m not even sure of the scope of it as I missed the twitter exchanges that apparently took place, but I can see from blog posts there was a debate about privilege within the post-ac community that has left some feeling like we’re divided and others questioning whether they should continue blogging.

It’s like people have been so enthralled by the magic of “privilege checking” that they can’t break the spell no matter how far they move  away from academic circles.

Come on, folks! The best thing about not being in academia is that you never have to hear about “degrees of privilege” ever again. You are free now, so just fly, fly away from the privilegemania.