Research in Class

For the first time in my life, I spoke about my research in class. This means that instead of delivering the simplified, watered-down version, I actually spoke in my “research voice” and at the level at which I conduct the research. I wasn’t planning to do it but then students started asking really profound questions, and I couldn’t resist.

This was a strangely exhilarating experience. Since this class, I have already received emails of gratitude from 3 different students. Usually, nobody thanks me for specific lectures, so this is a first. One student told me that this was the best lecture he ever heard in his life.

This is a singular occurrence because there is always the issue of linguistic competence which stands as a barrier between me and the possibility to deliver such material more often. And, of course, there is the issue of students expecting lists of things they can memorize. My lectures are always exciting and informative (seriously, you should read my student evaluations) but they are never actually at the level of the research I conduct. Because the research cannot be reduced to a bullet-point list.

The only other time I tried teaching at the level of my research was in a graduate course back at Cornell. That single lecture led 23 students out of 29 to drop the course instantly. So I never repeated the experiment.

Maybe I need to talk to this group about the nation-state before the semester ends and I never get such another opportunity.

“Job” Opportunities

My colleagues constantly send me “job” opportunities for students. These “jobs” are unpaid, “resume-building” activities. I never share these opportunities with students, however.

I understand that they are adults who can make their own decisions as to whether they want to donate their labor for free. However, I’m also an adult who is entitled to make my own decision. And it is my decision not to participate in this form of exploitative labor practices. 

In the same vein, it has been suggested to me that I can “employ” several unpaid research assistants alongside with my one paid RA. I refused because I’ll be damned if I ever exploit a worker in this way. The way it was explained to me is that spending time with me and learning about my research is already so valuable that students don’t need to be paid for helping me with my research. The good news is that I’m not deluded and self-centered enough to take this approach.


The Kansas Debacle

Government employees produce nothing. They’re a net consumer. And you got that cost forever and ever and ever because they’re on the KPERS (pension) plan, they’re on all the government insurance and everything,” Merrick said. “That is employment to Democrats. Hire more (government employees). And that was Kathleen; she’d brag about her employment number, ‘Oh, I got a lot of people employed.’ Yeah, you got a lot more government employees employed. That doesn’t stimulate the economy.”

I wonder how such an uneducated and embarrassingly stupid person could have been hired to represent the interests of the people. Maybe this government employee who produces nothing but stupid and pompous speeches should be fired.

West Goes East

In Ukraine and now Romania, voters in Eastern Europe are choosing leaders on the basis of their desire to move their countries closer to the West. Is anybody in the West paying attention?

No, nobody is because the West itself wants to move as far away as possible from the West (or what the idea of “the West” represents for Ukrainian and Romanian voters.) I have a feeling that “the West” is geographically shifting to the East.


I have temporarily stopped accessing the media of Russian dissidents and of Ukrainian journalists and bloggers. It is painful to see their desperate attempts to massage what happened at the G20 summit into demonstrating that the West is finally going to do something about Putin. Soon, the realization that nobody will do anything whatsoever and that nobody cares will sink in, and that will not be pretty. But for now, they want to keep the hope alive.