“Why Nobody Should Read YA Literature”

This post should have been part of the Link Encyclopedia today but it wasn’t available then. It’s brilliant, it’s hilarious, and I have to recommend it.

All I want to add is that we all have our compensatory mechanisms, and reading trashy books or watching trashy TV is a very healthy kind of coping mechanism. Of course, it only remains healthy for as long as we realize that this is what it is and don’t enter into a creepy relationship with this habit, romanticizing it in strange ways.

“Good Job!”

So I’m teaching my summer course, right? It’s an intensive course, so it’s given every day. I answer endless emails, respond to dozens of comments (it’s an online course), and grade like crazy.

And, of course, the students keep moaning that I don’t praise them enough and don’t “celebrate their success.” These will be my last course evals before I put in for tenure, so obviously I want them to be good and act a lot more ingratiatingly than I normally do. It feels like all I ever do these days is repeat, like a broken wound-up doll, “Good job! Good job! Good good good good good job!”

So today I was talking to my contractor (a burly guy of a few years older than me) when all of a sudden I say to him in a scarily chirpy voice, “Good job on painting the room, Steve! Good job!”

He looked at me like I had gone dotty. And he was not that far from the truth. If this course doesn’t end soon, I will end up antagonizing the entire town.

The “But Verizon” Strategy

I recently changed my cell phone plan and I guess I pressed the wrong button or chose the wrong service because the bill I got for last month was in the ridiculous amount of $268. Of course, there is no way in hell I’m paying this much (or even half this much) to a cell phone company, so I rolled out my tried and trusted “But Verizon. . .” strategy.

The stick you use to beat the cell phone company doesn’t have to be Verizon, of course. Just find out who the main competitor of your provider is in your area and start every sentence in your communication with the company with, “But Verizon offers [the moon, the stars, and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth].” End every sentence with “. . . so I guess you are telling me I should switch to Verizon.”

I just used this strategy yet again and got my entire bill cancelled. Plus the company is paying me $50 for the aggravation. I think I could have gotten more but I have an appointment and I have to run.

This never gets old, people.

Monday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

It’s impossible not to admire the Israelis for their dogged determination to transform a desert into an orchard and ultimately benefit the entire humanity in spectacular ways.

Ian Welsh’s posts are so hilarious that I just need to link to the funniest among the recent ones. I know it’s wrong to laugh at mentally disturbed people but, in this case, I just can’t help it.

I am no Luddite, but I have always rolled my eyes a bit at the various expensive educational programs that seek to put a laptop into the hands of every student. A computer is a tool: It is only as good as its user.” Hear, hear! I am yet to see any benefits stemming from the current obsession with flooding classrooms with technology. And I absolutely love technology.

Homeschoolers discover that public schools are not as evil as they for some reason imagined.

The law enforcement in Quebec is beyond ridiculous. Oh, the stories I could tell!

In Russian: the leader of Russia’s Communist Party suggested that St. Petersbourg be renamed back to Leningrad. I actually happen to agree. Tsar Peter was marginally worse as a blood-thirsty maniac than Lenin, so why the hell not?

What’s the matter with Tom Frank? Why has his writing deteriorated so much since his brilliant What’s the Matter with Kansas? Here is a great response to Frank’s linked piece of inanity.

In case you needed any more proof why the mistaken belief that men and women are different is deadly: “But how could Rodger—or any lonely psycho—react differently? Girls perplex and terrify your childish mind. They’re just so different—as Jeffery Eugenides wrote, they’re “women in disguise” who are impossible to fathom. Often, they don’t even seem human; like Prufrock, you can only comprehend them as collections of parts. . . Since you can’t understand girls, it’s easy to turn them into fantasy creatures, whose love has the healing power of unicorn blood.

A graphic novel illustrating Chelsea Manning’s trial. The most horrifying thing to me was the very Soviet-like use of psychiatry to torture the prisoner.

Melissa McEwan insults women a lot more inventively than any vicious woman-hater I have ever met. See her exhaustive vocabulary list of insults directed at women. I get a feeling she really digs humiliating us and calling us names.

An insightful short post on who makes it impossible to speak the truth about the advent of the disgusting Russian nouveau riches to the UK.

In Russian: a new law is being prepared in Russia that will mandate forced abortions to be performed on women deemed unfit to procreate.

The French and the Germans keep selling themselves put to Russia.

Anyway, I wanted a sci-fi thing to listen to, and despite the fact that Ayn Rand is sort of a despicable person, I sheepishly admit, I like Atlas Shrugged. What? It’s a good story. I’ve read it probably 5 times, but after the first time, I always skipped the 100-page John Galt rant.” That’s exactly how I feel about Rand.

When such completely ridiculous stories are rolled out to illustrate the existence of misogyny in tech, I’ve got to wonder if there is any misogyny there at all. Do rad the story and tell me if you see any misogyny in it.

A great idea for a T-shirt. I don’t wear T-shirts, but I do want this one.

In Russian: everything that Ukraine has achieved in the last 3 months.

Finally, a good, useful post for people contemplating a switch to non-academic careers.

The overwhelming success of Russia’s propaganda machine.

One amazing thing that came out as a result of the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl debacle is the fascinating story of how his father transformed himself to help his son. This is the only country I know of where a non-Jewish father will be so unabashedly nurturing and dedicated to his kid. I’m in awe of this outstanding father.

This is exactly how I see Kindle books vs real books.

I don’t really know what non-toxic masculinity is. Maybe we’ll only find out once we’ve dismantled the toxic kind. Maybe non-toxic masculinity is the dismantling of toxic masculinity. I know it’s my duty as a man.” What’s really toxic is the belief that all women or all men on the planet have some special way of being that they absolutely need to get right. In reality, masculinity or femininity is whatever the hell you want it to be. Because they don’t really exist. they are meaningless, silly, constrictive myths.

I’m not sure how much I agree but it’s an interesting take: “We need to grow up about espionage and have a real, adult debate about it. Snowden, his retinue, and his defenders, approach the matter like petulant children who hate that the world does not operate the way they fantasize it does. Thanks to this, and their continuing baldfaced lies interspersed with ugly smears of their opponents, they have no place in the grown-up discussion that free societies ought to be having about issues of intelligence and privacy.

A newcomer to the US has found the most American thing ever. And it’s hilarious. I wept with laughter for five minutes when I read this post.

The European attack of puritanic paranoia would be funny if it weren’t very disturbing.

She said her parents were pressuring her. That’s what parents do in the land of privilege. They push their children to succeed, to excel, to stand out and prepare for the future in which the children, in turn, will pressure their children. If her parents had not been pushing her to get better grades, to work harder and be more, Carly Rousso would not have taken to inhaling chemicals to get high and escape her troubles.” The author of this post is trying (in a very gauche manner) to be sarcastic but accidentally makes a correct statement. This is exactly how drug addiction is generated.

I had no idea Sweden was such a totally crappy place: “Sweden has continued to lower tax rates for the already rich, while keeping taxes on new wealth through work or entrepreneurship high. In 2005 the left abolished the inheritance tax entirely. This means that today the top tax rate for someone who inherits wealth is 0%, and the tax rate for someone who creates new wealth by building a new company 67%.

“I’m not going to fill you in on the details of my own life because they aren’t important, but the fact of the matter is that avoiding thoughts about traumatic subjects are not how you learn to deal with traumatic subjects, and this bullshit that somehow I am responsible for your thoughts is just that — bullshit. I’m me. You’re you. I’m responsible for my own thoughts. You’re responsible for yours. The notion that your own thoughts are someone else’s responsibility isn’t a recipe for healing, it’s a cop-out.” A brilliant post, highly recommended.

And here is a really lame-ass defense of trigger warnings. A warning that one prof puts on thesyllabus: “If you ever feel the need to step outside during one of these discussions, either for a short time or for the rest of the class session, you may always do so without academic penalty.” Does this weirdo impose “academic penalty” for people stepping outside the classroom during other kinds of discussions? I’m now beginning to understand why my students keep asking, in terrified little voices, for permission to use the bathroom.

In Russian: the Russian media circulate a picture saying it’s proof that Ukrainian troops are bombing Ukrainian cities. The picture turns out to be one of a railway crash in Quebec, of all places.

I should have heard about this Chinese gentleman before I made such a huge effort to learn to drive.

The post of the week: A really powerful post on the importance and meaning of the Pride.