From Kotkin ‘ s biography of Stalin (released today):

Over the more than four centuries from the time of Ivan the Terrible, Russia expanded an average of fifty square miles per day.

I never considered it in this light but the statement explains a lot. Of course, the Russians can’t leave Ukraine alone. They have interiorized the need to expand as their only raison d’etre. And now they just can’t stop expanding.

P.S. So far I’m enjoying Kotkin’s book. The style reminds me of the way I explain this same material (Europe in the XIX th and early XXth century) to my Freshmen. Kotkin even uses my favorite rhetorical device of “if somebody were to fall asleep in 1900 and then woke up 30 years later, they wouldn’t recognize the world they’d encounter.”


“The status of a world superpower is worth, for most Russians, going hungry and suffering privations,” a very calm professor of economics explained on Russian TV. “We only recently created the kind of economy where people have free access to goods and services, and this means that the people of Russia value the free access to goods very highly. But they value the status of the global superpower even more.”

The saddest thing is that he is not wrong. Now compare it with the sacrifices Americans are willing to make to retain their status of the global superpower.

And now you can easily draw your own conclusions.

On Male Hysteria

An interesting article on male hysteria:

This opening was, according to Micale, eclipsed as “a great wave of amnesia regarding the nervous disorders descended on European medicine around 1800” (p. 49). During this period, “medical science and practice were aggressively pressed into the service of . . . maintaining a regime of difference between the sexes,” thus excluding behaviors such as hysteria from being ascribed to men (p. 49). Of course, there were a few dissenting voices, like that of the French physician Étienne-Jean Georget in the 1820s, but these were drowned out by a much wider consensus that insisted on strict gender boundaries between the sexes. It was left to the great French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in the 1870s to establish male hysteria as a legitimate diagnosis. Unlike his predecessors, “Charcot had genuinely come to believe that men and children were susceptible to the same nervous disorders as women” (p. 124). In “propounding a theory of hysteria in the male,” writes Micale, “Charcot was also attempting to undermine a theoretical model of the disorder that had led to some of the most deplorable therapeutic practices of his day” (p. 128). Nevertheless, as Micale shows, despite his eagerness to identify male hysteria, Charcot continued to ascribe traditional gendered attributes to the distressed, including assumptions about the “otherness” of male hysterics as inheritors of degenerative constitutions.

Tuesday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

This is the most profound thing I have read all week. And possibly in this entire year: “The level of emotional health that any person has (and also at any one time), will have to do with how much of the ugly they are able to take in and sublimate (turn it into something necessary and true, if not quite beautiful).”

Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system. University counselling staff and workplace health experts have seen a steady increase in numbers seeking help for mental health problems over the past decade.” This totally reminded me of that joke were a Soviet man says, “These French women are so dirty! They take showers every day!” The possibility that people might simply be getting more comfortable with the concept of psychological hygiene doesn’t even occur to the authors.

Very valuable: “Until my psychoanalysis began at age 22, for example, no one had ever confirmed my perception of my true self.  I saw myself as someone who could potentially think originally and deeply about psychological issues.  Being me meant trying to understand mental functioning.  But no one else saw me that way.  My teachers and friends interpreted my symptoms, such as not going to classes and not studying, incorrectly.  They questioned all the components of my self-concept: my motivation, my commitment, my choice of subject matter, and my ability.  So did I.  How could I have done otherwise?

Very funny: “As the deadline for negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran fast approaches, the Obama Administration may be looking for Russian help in threading the needle with Tehran.”

Very important: “Parents who prank, tease, and ridicule their own kids, even if they’re “just kidding,” do so at the risk of their kids’ ability to feel safe even in their own homes. That is not a risk any parent should be willing to take with a child.

Please read this short but crucial post on the neoliberal academic evolution.

A weird experience at a scholarly conference.

A very informative post on Qur’anic Revisionism.

Of course, anybody can make fun of David Brooks. But few people can do it in such a brilliant way as the linked blogger.

An interesting recipe for scholarly productivity: “At the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Matthias Krapf, Heinrich W. Ursprung, and Christian Zimmermann looked at the publishing output of people with and without children, quantifying productivity by how much the academics produced. They found that women with at least two children at home are more productive, on average across their careers, than those who have only one child, and mothers of one child are more productive than those with none.”

Important musings on grad-school work ethic. A long but very valuable post. Beautifully written, too.

Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday that his strong statements weren’t driven by a 2016 presidential run (although he said his position would help in that endeavor, should he enter the race). “I want the Republican party to be bigger and more successful because I think our philosophy will help the country more,” he said.” It would be amazing if somebody finally revealed this philosophy to the masses. I’ve been waiting for years.

A disturbing development: “China is…making a less-noticed push in the west to enforce claims along its 2,200-mile (3,400-kilometer) frontier with India. India says the number of what it describes as Chinese “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary has climbed sharply—to more than 400 last year from 213 in 2011.” The last thing we need is for the world’s next greatest superpowers to start fighting openly.

A great post on mock Spanish.

A very upsetting video about the attempts to block Bill Maher from coming to speak at Berkeley.

Why, why, why doesn’t every car come equipped with this amazing, phenomenal, fantastic object?

Thus research cannot be planned and managed like, say, teaching duties or a Walmart store. If you could manage it, then it would not be research.” This must mean that my research isn’t really research. Always good to know.

I keep suggesting to people that they see a sexologist but if this is the kind of advice American sexologists offer, it’s better to stay away.

Sontag died a decade ago, but there is something compelling about knowing that she was on Sephora’s mailing list.” And what does it compel you to do? Shop? Freaks abound.

The surprising winner in the turmoil engulfing Ukraine is turning out to be China, a top U.S. expert on Central Europe and Russia said on Monday.” Yep.