Is College Bad for Girls?

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1905, you say? With color, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that this is from last week.

Book Notes: Miguel Ángel Hernández’s Intento de escapada

This is a new series I’m starting where I want to record every single book that I read because I think that would be fun. These will not be full-scale reviews but just notes I take. 

Author: Miguel Ángel Hernández

Title: Intento de escapada

Year of publication: 2013

My rating: 10 out of 10

I did not expect anything out of this novel from a young author (he’s a year younger than me) with an unfortunately unmemorable name. I like to keep track of new authors publishing in Spain, so I picked it up. And boy, was I in for a surprise, or what? The novel turned out to be massively good. I haven’t read anything so professionally executed and enjoyable from a new writer in a very long time.

Hernández is an Art History professor, and this is his first novel. I highly recommend it to undergrads who want to improve their Spanish or need a text to work on for their senior research project. I also recommend it to Spanish profs who want something that can be used in class. There is an oral sex scene, which is the only thing that might be problematic for a classroom setting but it is such a good novel that we shouldn’t let that prevent us from bringing it to the students.

I can’t tell you “what the novel is about” because it’s too good for that. But don’t worry, there is nothing scarily postmodernist in the writing style. To me, the novel was precious because the protagonist’s experiences mirrored my own youthful enchantment with my field of knowledge and my consequent encounter with a harsh reality of what things were really like.

The book is being translated into English and will be published as Escape Attempt by Hispabooks.

Wednesday Link Encyclopedia

Here is a great example of a sentence that begs for the passive voice to be dropped and an active agent to be put in: “As a fat woman, I have been taught that there is an order of operations for love: First, you get thin; then, you can date who you want.” This is no way to make progress in working on one’s issues.

[Russian] This is an absolutely beautiful post on the Ukrainian Revolution. If you happen to read Russian, you need to read it now. NOW, I said!

I have no idea how this blogger got on my blogroll but s/he says really smart, well-informed things about Russia. Which is extremely rare.

Scott Walker compared ISIS with. . . the teachers of Wisconsin. I still don’t understand what possessed the people of Wisconsin to vote for this dumbass.

A university graduating people unable to make basic distinctions between valid and invalid beliefs creates a safe space for fanatics.” Very true.

Man gets life in prison for selling $20 worth of weed to undercover cop.” This is just wrong, folks.

[Russian] A very important post on why it’s much harder to separate from bad parents than it is from good ones.

Why does Stanford waste money on pathetic and shallow MOOCs?

[Spanish] Franco lives on in Spain’s pathetic insistence to pay the money it doesn’t have to promote religious classes in secular schools.

A very interesting post on why the Middle East doesn’t matter any more.

[Russian] Boris Nemtsov was not killed on the bridge.

House Republicans abandoned their futile effort to tie funding for the Department of Homeland Security to the rollback of Obama’s immigration policies on Tuesday, approving its budget for the full year.” And everybody just died of boredom. This show has really lost its punch the umpteenth time around. Can’t these clowns learn a new trick or two?

Idiots bash Common Core for teaching kids that facts and opinions do not have the same value.

If people wonder why I despise mainstream journalists, here is a great example of one such useless blabberer: “The problem with Nemtsov’s politics wasn’t so much his adherence to radical neoliberalism, but his shallowness, his grotesque elitism, and his authoritarianism. Nemtsov is one of the top-down Russian liberals, cut from the same authoritarian cloth as Chubais.” His framework is so pathetically parochial that the poor freak can’t even conceive of stepping back from it to look at the world.

The idea of students as “victims of laptops” sounds extraordinarily funny to me.

I’m as sick and tired as the linked blogger of “people who make even me not want to be associated with feminism, because if you don’t prepare for every sensitivity, every different category, and every contingency in life when you make a comment, then you are bashed from here to eternity.”

We need more teachers who are rooted in the community where they teach. To actually teach a student, it’s not just enough to believe in that student’s ability and potential– you have to be able to understand their world, their life, their background, their culture well enough to see past all of that to where their potential lies and what odds and ends it’s hiding behind.” And this is precisely why I’m a lot more effective as a teacher here than at any of my previous schools. I’m not rooted in this community geographically but there are things that are much bigger than geography. I get the students’ reality, that’s what matters.

The post of the week is this brilliant post on higher education. I rarely agree with anything as fully and completely as I agreed with this post.

Is Snowden Coming Home?

Nearly two years after American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow, his international legal team is hard at work trying to secure his return to the U.S., his main Russian lawyer said Tuesday. . . Kucherena also complained that he and Snowden have grown accustomed to being tailed at all times by unknown pursuers, RIA Novosti reported. He claimed that at one point he was forced to jump into a different car while commuting through the city in order to confuse five different vehicles that were following him at once.

I’m glad to know he’s not as irredeemable as I thought he was. Few things are as shameful as being on Russia’s side at this moment. Whatever you might think of the United Sates, all of the existing alternatives are vastly worse.

P.S. And now consider the following: if this silly little lawyer was constantly tailed by several cars, what is the likelihood that Boris Nemtsov, one of the most famous dissidents in Russia, was not tailed on the night of his murder, which was, incidentally, two days before he was going to make public a huge report on Russian troops in Ukraine?

P.P.S. Completely unrelated: why are people on Twitter so much more optimistic than people on any other social medium? All day long, Twitter followers are trying to make me feel better about stuff. I’m grateful, but isn’t that my usually role?