Betting on Rubio

So it looks like Rubio will be the Republican nominee.

Hillary will eat him for breakfast because he doesn’t look serious or presidential by her side.

But Rubio would beat Bernie in a debate because he offers a counterbalance to all of Sanders’s weaknesses.

Rubio is young, calm, not grumpy, and his “my mother was a bar maid” spiel, tiresome as it may be, is the perfect dam to Bernie’s populism. Rubio is Hispanic, which brings him to a draw with Hillary who’s a woman (I’m into platitudes this week). But Bernie doesn’t have an exciting enough identity to beat Rubio’s claim to “the first ever” title. Jews are not an oppressed group, nobody stands in their way to anything, nobody will feel sorry for them. Hispanics win that contest any day of the week.

In short, for lack of anything better, the Republicans are betting on Rubio who will at least be able to beat Sanders.

As I said before, hello President Hillary.

The Impostor Syndrome Is Receding

The chapter that I wrote for a collection with the famous contributors (the one that was freaking me out and causing me to experience my very first instance of the impostor syndrome) was not the only chapter for a collection that I wrote on my sabbatical. As if it weren’t enough just to write a whole damn book over the sabbatical, I had to undertake these (completely unrelated) projects, as well.

This second collection is also filled with famous people. And some of them are actually the same famous people as the ones who are contributing to the first collection. (Which means that the famous people and I are thinking in the same direction.)

So today I got the feedback on this second submission, and the reviews are glowing. The editors are still suggesting some changes but words like “wonderful” and “impressive” were used to describe my piece.

The impostor syndrome is receding. Thank you for the support, everybody!

Russian Plane Crashed in Sinai

Over 200 people died in the horrible crash of a Russian plane in Egypt. The aircraft has been having engine trouble for weeks but the Russian pool of airplanes is so outdated that there are crashes all the time and nobody is interested in renewing the aircraft pool. By the way, a fighter jet crashed in Russia today because of engine malfunction. This happens all the time with Russian planes. 

I only hope that the Russian media will abstain from using the tragic deaths of the passengers to promote the narrative that Russia is, indeed, fighting ISIS and this is some sort of terrorist revenge. It would be intolerable to see the crash used for political purposes.



There is a debate going on in Russia as to whether in his youth Putin was a thug.

Putin claims he was definitely a thug but his detractors accuse him of lying and insist he wasn’t as thuggish as he says he was.

The revelations about his 13 palaces, the prostitutes he ships in by an airplaneful, a private plane runway that cost a cool billion, etc did nothing to lower Putin’s prestige. But if the voters find out that he might have actually been a good boy in his teenage years, that will be a stain on his reputation.

Mechanical Mommy

“My Mum has dementia and quite a few of my family were concerned about what would happen if I came out to Mum, whether she might be too stressed to handle it. . . When I eventually came out to Mum, I kept it very simple. And she said—at the end of it, she said, ‘Well,’ she said, ‘What do you know? I’ve got a beautiful new daughter.’ And she said, ‘Come here, love.’ …I go and see Mum every few weeks and she’s forgotten each time, and every time I tell her again, she gives me just the same beautiful reaction that she did exactly the same, almost word for word every time. I’m kind of the luckiest one of all because I get to come out to Mum 100 times a year, and every time, she’s beautiful.”

To me, the story is creepy. I mean, good for the daughter, yippee, but think of that poor old Mum. It’s not her fault that her memory’s gone, and one would think a grown child would be more sensitive to the mother’s illness. The old lady is still human, in spite of the dementia. She doesn’t deserve to be treated like a senseless robot.

There was this Spanish movie about a fellow who found a key chain shaped like a woman’s head. The key chain repeated “I love you, I love you” in a mechanical voice whenever he wanted it to. The guy grew so attached to the key chain that no actual woman could compete because women kept trying to say and do more than just mechanically repeat, “I love you.”

It seems like the daughter in the story wants a key chain like that and not a human mother.

Educational Halloween

After seeing groups of kids in costumes in the street, I made a mad dash home and was in time finally to greet trick-or-treaters.

The kids don’t recognize my Ukrainian candy (manufactured at the candy factory of Ukraine’s president, by the way, and massively better than anything you can buy at Walmart), and keep asking, “What is this???”

I knew this would happen but I’m an educator. Everything needs to be an educational opportunity. The lesson here is: if you are too scared to open yourself to new cultural experiences, you might be depriving yourself of something delicious.

Finally, finally I have managed to greet trick-or-treaters.

Messing with Halloween. Again!

Americans, I’ve had it with you, seriously. Once again, you’ve had to go and move Halloween? What’s wrong with doing it on October, 31? Why does it always have to be on a different date?

October 31 falls on a weekend this year. It can’t be inconvenient or whatever. Why? Why can’t I ever figure out when it will happen?

The Platitude of the Week

I find it unbelievable that this even needs to be said, but here goes:

The point of education is not to fill your head with facts, dates, numbers, names, words, and grammar constructions that you will never forget and will be able to reproduce, like a perky little parrot, 30 years later. Educators are not in the business of training parrots or creating competition for the Google search engine. Surprise!

The actual purpose of education is to develop your capacity to think, read critically, form logical connections, construct arguments, reason, and experience the need to grow intellectually for as long as possible. Educators are not always successful in this project but that’s the goal.

Everything else can be done by Google. Or trained parrots.

This is why asking “But what was the point of taking that class on math / history / politics of medieval Spain / Japanese grammar, etc if today I remember nothing from the material?” is a very stupid thing to do.

And to finish up the post with something less self-evident: today is Friday.

Bilingualism in Israel

I’m tired of all the negative news about Israel and believe that it makes sense to promote the positive developments. Yes, a lot of bad shit is happening there but there is good stuff, too. See this news item, for instance:

Jewish pupils in Israel will be required to learn Arabic from the age of six, under a proposed bill aimed at improving relations between the two communities. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages in Israel. The vast majority of Israeli Arabs, who make up a fifth of the country’s 8.3 million people, speak Hebrew but only a small fraction of Israeli Jews can speak Arabic.

Bilingualism is always a wonderful thing. Did you know, for instance, that bilingual kids show better results in all disciplines, including math and physics?

Also, speaking a language makes one more integrated into the culture associated with it. Of course, this measure will not bring miraculous results of any kind but it’s a step in a good direction.