Hello, President!

Fox News is conducting a TV poll where people are asked to choose which of the following issues they care more about:

1. Benghazi.
2. IRS scandals.
3. Obamacare scandals.

No other alternative is given.

Well, then. Hello, President Hillary, I guess.

Financial Elites

When Felipe Gonzalez, the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, became Prime Minister of Spain, a friend asked him, “Hey, Felipe, now that you are in charge, is it true that all of the power belongs to the economic and financial oligarchy?”

“Actually,” Gonzalez said, “these financial elites are nowhere as strong as we believe on the Left.”

Feminism = Triviality?

North American feminism has drowned in triviality. It produces nothing but strings of passive-voice phrases and collections of silly anecdotes about hurt feelings. My blogroll today brought me a sampling of what feminist writing is all about these days:

The “Somebody Was Not Nice at a Cocktail Party” Genre: “She was talking to a man at a cocktail party when he asked her what she did. She replied that she wrote books, and she described her most recent one, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West.The man interrupted her soon after she said the word Muybridge and asked, “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?” He then waxed on, based on his reading of a review of the book, not even the book itself, until finally a friend said, “That’s her book.” He ignored that friend (also a woman) and she had to say it more than three times before “he went ashen” and walked away. If you are not a woman, ask any woman you know what this is like, because it is not fun and happens to all of us.”

The “Let’s Passive Voice Women to Death” Genre: “Femininity is so often conflated with powerlessness, so often painted as inferior, so often the target of street harassment.

The genre is enormously popular, so there are always scores of articles in it: “““Some of the very qualities that make for great top-level editors, such as firm decision-making ability and willingness to stand up for your point of view against competing interests — are qualities that are often lauded in men and seen as overly abrasive in women,” said Ann Friedman, former deputy editor of The American Prospect.”

And some more: “Women face a classic double bind: if they confirm female stereotypes of gentleness, communality, and physical attractiveness, they are liked more but presumed less competent. If they disconfirm female stereotypes and act confident and assertive, they are liked less and presumed to have poor social skills. Both being liked and being considered competent is vital for getting hired, retained, and promoted.”

I’ve read hundreds of posts in this genre and let me tell you, the people who do all this presuming, seeing and considering are NEVER named. I have arrived at a conclusion that not naming them has a purpose. If you identify the culprit, you’ll have to do something about the situation. Vague, passive speechifying, on the other hand, is something one can enjoy in perpetuity.

The “Words Can Kill” Genre: “As I walk through the camp to the makeshift kitchen to drop off my baked goods (a donation, as I can’t be there myself), I say to some older women camped out there how wonderful it is to see so many people stepping up. They look at me and smile. ‘We’re doing it for your children, love.’ I reply. ‘Well, maybe not for my children, but for those of my sisters, definitely.’ They gaze back at me, as if they know something about me that I don’t. ‘Oh, you’ll want children one day. Everyone does.’ Again, I reply, slightly more firm this time, slightly more on edge. ‘I don’t want children.’ One of them points to the t-shirt I am wearing: a large tree with leaves made of music notes and roots stretching into the ground. ‘But your shirt has the tree of life on it. It’s the natural way of things.’ I shake my head and leave. Suddenly, the place has become menacing.”

In my search I also encountered a new genre, which is the People’s Clothes Hurt Me: “The shirt was offensive through and through, and it rankled. It hurt. It made me feel lesser and unwelcome. It felt as though that shirt was trying to single-handedly put me in my place—a distinctly inferior and foreign place.” Mind you, the shirt discussed in the anecdote is offensive. But it’s the language that describes the encounter that is so disturbing to me.

It took me all of 15 minutes to cull these and I could have easily found many more if I had the patience. Each of the quotes on its own is not a big deal. But when you keep seeing dozens of them every day and when there is nothing else, you’ve got to start wondering what the hell is going on.

In the meanwhile, do you know when was the last time I saw in my enormous blogroll that I read daily any articles on the subject of, say, paternal leave or preschool childcare, which, I am deeply convinced, are the central real issues North American feminism faces today?

The answer is: never.

Thursday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

My Internet is back, and many interesting new links have accumulated in the meanwhile. Enjoy!

According to Cass Sunstein, studies in psychology and behavioral economics show that 80% of the population is “unrealistically optimistic.” When it comes to their own actions and life prospects, people tend to have unwarranted expectations that things will work out well for them. The other 20%? The realists? They “include a number of people who are clinically depressed.” And most of these diseased “realists” are, without a doubt, academics.

In the absence of a genuine scandal, even a really third-rate one from the bowels of the bureaucracy, they’ve got to pretend that Benghazi! is a real scandal.  It’s the madness of sheer desperation, but the Republicans just don’t know how to let go.” Very true. Benghazi will bury the Republicans in 2016, just like “Bush lied!” buried the Dems in 2004. The capacity to recognize when the argument that matters to you a whole lot just doesn’t resonate with the majority is a crucial skill for politicians.

Cushions for weirdos.

Net neutrality doesn’t initially sound like a vital feminist and social justice issue, particularly since it’s typically been framed through boring white dude tech speak as a fairly abstract idea instead of something real and concrete that directly impacts online organizing. Even the biggest nerds’ eyes glaze over during discussions of how fast data moves through teh series of tubes.” No, this was not written by a woman-hating bigot who wants to believe that all women are brainless air-heads. This comes from the most popular feminist blog known to humanity. I, for one, don’t think net neutrality is too complex for my feeble womanly brains, which is why I was never welcomed on that website.

But why should I be surprised if this same feminist website opposes family planning.

The brute fact that Latvia is a member of the NATO alliance is hard to ignore. The United States and other members have solemnly pledged themselves to regard “an attack upon one as an attack upon all.” But will German troops come to Latvia’s rescue? And if they did, would a majority of Germans support that action? Would the French, or British? Would Americans?” The answers are: no. No, no. And no. What are you, dumb? We’ve all seen how much all these “solemn pledges” are worth. Let’s forget all about that NATO childishness already.

A new trend in hiring: the death of the CV.

But as I watched Frozen, I was struck by how easily what played out on the screen could play into the arguments I heard growing up, arguments about the treachery of men and young women’s romantic vulnerability and need of protection. But of course, this is not the fault of the film’s writers, because there is a much more straightforward lesson to be taken from what happened between Hans and Anna. You see, Anna fell for Hans as quickly as she did in large part because of her sheltered and isolated upbringing. She had seen nothing of the world, and she knew that this ball might be her only chance to find “true love.” Anna was gullible, innocent, and inexperienced.” This is all shades of stupid. Falling in love fast is a sign of great psycho-sexual health. I fell in love with N the moment I glimpsed him through the window of Starbucks. And I was anything but sheltered and inexperienced at that point.

Professor Is In subverts her own point about people who leave academia by publishing one idiot after another (as if there were a shortage of brilliant and articulate former academics): “In many ways, my transition to working in corporate settings has required me to sacrifice depth for breadth. In academia, there is a tendency to talk with people with whom you, for the most part, fundamentally agree.” What a surprise that this idiot who didn’t manage to develop a single opinion of her own while in academia turned out to be an utter failure!

Either put yourself out there with a plan or shut the fuck up, I say.  Also, the idea that they “can’t” do this because some people “dominate” the conversation?  It’s a red herring.  The reason some people might appear to be dominating is because they are the ones who do the fucking work!  Do the work and you have a voice!  It ain’t rocket science!” A hundred times, yes. And the rest of the post is great, too. I had the exact same experiences at the end of the academic year and I identify, which is super rare for me.

I keep hearing people promoting post-academic careers saying things like “you can do more than ‘just teach’ with your PhD.”  That’s right “just teach,” as if shaping the minds of America’s youth was some kind of piddly, useless job, as if all the work, care, and mental, physical, and spiritual labor it takes to reach teenagers is not all that meaningful or difficult to do.” I know, it’s offensive to me, too!

A hilarious post for academics who want to become small business owners: “Before you embark, consider this checklist of qualities that characterize many a successful business owner: optimism, organizational skills, a tolerance of risk and uncertainty, a willingness to advocate for oneself and one’s talents, an insane work ethic, and an ability to envision the future and get other people excited about that vision.” I think this post is meant to be sarcastic because there is no way anybody with a functional brain could find these characteristics in a regular academic.

An interesting plan to cut down time spent on grading final essays. The plan wouldn’t work for me because my grades on these essays are very low and students don’t accept them unless I can point out the 127 mistakes that justify a grade of 15%. But it’s a very good plan nonetheless.

It’s incredible how much garbage gets published under the guise of research: “We often attribute the narcissistic tendencies of others to parenting practices or early social experiences. But new research reveals that economic conditions in the formative years of early adulthood may also play a role. The research shows that people who entered their adulthood during hard economic times are less narcissistic later in life than those who came of age during more prosperous times.” This is simply painful for me to read for a variety of deeply psychoanalytic reasons.

The federal government will have spent roughly $800 million on its Healthy Marriage Initiative by the end of the federal fiscal year, according to the federal Administration for Children and Families. The money, drawn from the welfare budget, has funded a range of programs to help couples have better relationships.” Surely, this can’t be true, right? Just some silly talking point. But it does sound quite scary.

Anarchist crackpottery. Hilarious.

Very funny things students write on their finals.

Brooks and Douthat love wagging their finger at what they consider the loss of traditional values, even though they support the biggest force for the destruction of tradition that the world has ever known: capitalism.  In a lot of ways, I think this reflects a fundamental contradiction at the heart of modern conservatism, one that should not be allowed to continue unnoticed.” Yes. And this is precisely why I like capitalism.

Another inane attempt to destroy the (ridiculous and noxious) concept of privilege. In this blogger’s world, men and women are small kids who are given candy by a parental authority. These pieces of candy are privilege. The blogger in question is so dumb that it doesn’t even occur to him  to wonder who it is that he sees as this overarching paternal authority that rules over perennially childish men and women. The funny thing is that the blogger in question just invented patriarchy and didn’t even recognize it.

The worst thing about living in Ukraine are the butt-ugly apartment buildings which is where the absolute majority of Ukrainians live. See how one brilliant young woman in Kiev solved the problem. The post is in Ukrainian but the most important thing about it are the photos. They are sensational!