Mea Culpa

I still can’t get over the jet-lag, which means that I spend all night awake and paranoid and all day woosy and shaky. So I confused today and tomorrow and stood up a person I was going to meet.

Dear person in question, I apologize profusely. This is horrible, and I feel like a total jerk.

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Priss Police Goes After Bernie

The priss police gets its claws into Bernie Sanders. He’s a rapist (or “rapey”, whatever that’s supposed to mean), he’s almost a pedophile, yes, he fought for reproductive rights his entire life but he wasn’t intersectional enough in the process, that vicious evildoer.

I don’t even know anybody in American politics who’s been as vocal, direct, and consistent for quite as long in defending reproductive rights as Sanders. I’m sure he deserves criticism, everybody does, but calling the fellow “rapey” (and may everybody who uses this monstrosity of a word choke on it) is every shade of insane.

The Churchill Factor

To complete the process of placing myself entirely out of my intellectual comfort zone, I’ve been reading Boris Johnson ‘ s biography of Churchill. Normally, my interest in Churchill is nil, which is precisely why I acquired a copy of The Churchill Factor.

Boris Johnson – who’s the Mayor of London, in case you are not aware of him – set out to express his profound love and admiration for Churchill. Or at least I think he did because I just never know when the Brits are joking and when they are being serious.

In spite of the author’s efforts, I now think Churchill was an even greater wanker than I always considered him to be. The idea of Churchill ‘ s centrality to defeating Hitler that Johnson advances sounds very outlandish to me. The book, however, is quite pleasant. Johnson refers to Churchill ‘ s house as “a giant machine for the generation of texts” and to the young Oxford dons who did his research as Churchill ‘ s Google. That sounded very cute to me.

And how often do you read books that you know you will disagree with?

Hampstead, London

First, a spot of bitching. Is there any reason why bus drivers in London refuse to accept cash and tell me to either go underground or eat oysters? I just wanted to take a short ride, not mount a complex production with day passes or whatever.

On the positive side, cab drivers are so polite that I wonder how the inhabitants of the Buckingham Palace can manage to do any better in terms of manners.

Here is the boutique hotel where I’m staying:

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It’s a 200-year-old pub that has a few rooms upstairs. There is a bookstore right next to it and a ton of restaurants, caf├ęs and stores.

Here is the room:

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Yes, it’s tiny, like everything a normal person can afford in London but when I open the balcony door, it’s like I’m lying in the midst of Hampstead  (in a good sense):

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If my husband read my blog, I doubt he’d like the part about me lying in the midst of Hampstead. So it’s a good thing he doesn’t.

Hampstead is filled with quaint little streets and corners:

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And every once in a while you run across a majestic old building like this:

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And I’ve only been here for a couple of hours! More to follow. . .

What the Conference Was About

People are asking what the Oxford conference was about. This was a multidisciplinary gathering but not in a bad way. The subject was testimony.

One speaker was a gentleman from India who works with dalits using therapeutic strategies to help them overcome trauma. That was a sensational talk.

There was a scholar from Egypt who gave such a poignant talk on Izzeldin Abuelaish that half of the audience was in tears.

There were three artists: a sculptor, a poet, and an installation artist.

There was a Latin Americanist who talked about the art created in response to the gynocide in Ciudad Juarez.

A philosopher talked about the play titled “My Name Is Rachel Corrie.”

There was an Italian woman who talked about Central Africa but she had such a thick accent that I understood pretty much nothing.

There were two great talks about Northern Ireland.

An American scholar talked about racism directed at welfare recipients.

A Canadian – Indian researcher analyzed the documentary “India ‘ s Daughter.”

An Argentinean professor talked about the legacy of the Dirty War.

I wanted to attend an event where every talk would be on a subject I’m not familiar with, and that’s precisely what I got. My way of intellectually stimulating myself is getting as far as possible out of my field.

And in spite of such seemingly different professions and research interests, we were such a homogenous group that we all finished each other’s sentences half of the time.

The international community of scholars consists of people who – in spite of different languages, passports, ages, etc – are as similar as very close siblings. It’s a very powerful experience when I say “Remember this bill in Kansas a couple months ago when welfare recipients. . .” and the whole group finishes it for me. Or an Australian colleague says, “Remember the anti-sexist speech our former Prime Minister made?” and everybody begins to recite their favorite parts.

Our political opinions were so similar that it was uncanny. And everybody feels alienated in the places where they live because people around them are so different. This was like meeting members of your own species all of a sudden.