Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “March 13, 2017”

Who Should Decide Citizenship?

In Switzerland, citizenship applications for people residing in small villages or townships tend to be judged not by the federal authorities but by local communities. If you are, say, an immigrant who lives in a small village, the inhabitants of the village can choose not to grant you citizenship if they feel that you are not being respectful of local customs and traditions. Even if you fulfill all formal requirements for citizenship, your application will still be denied if your neighbors don’t want you. 

This happened, for instance, to a woman called Nancy Holten who has been refused citizenship twice because she angered her community of Gipf-Oberfrick with attacks on cherished local traditions. Holten is one of those loud weirdos who tend to drive everybody round the bend with their eccentricities. Should she be denied citizenship, though?

What say you, readers? Who’s in the right, Holten or the angry villagers?


The Part I Don’t Like

“As a union rep, try not to be judgmental,” the workshop presenter said. “Don’t jump to conclusions, don’t condemn people for not being exactly like you, don’t interrupt or become aggressive. Try to speak less and listen more.”

At which point I realized this is not a job for me. The part where I speak loudly, swear and denigrate people’s intellectual ability I’m good for. I’ll be a total overachiever. But the rest? I’m useless. 

At the Union Rep Meeting 

As a union rep I’m authorized by the NLRA to do the following in the meetings with the administration:

  • Speak loudly
  • Speak impulsively 
  • Swear
  • Demean the administrators’ intelligence 

I already do all this but it’s good to be authorized. 

The Need for God

“The majority needs God because they have nothing else. And the remaining minority needs God because they have everything but,” said Tolstoy. Today, the majority and the minority have swapped places but the quote is still true.

Fake News 

Hey, did you hear? Kellyanne Conway said Obama spied on Trump through the microwave. 

I know, I know. The idea that somebody as rich as Trump would use a microwave is ludicrous. 


Klara loves pens. Whenever she sees me with a pen (which is, obviously, all the time), she takes it away. After a couple of hours of gathering every pen in sight, her little fists look like hedgehogs.

Su llama

I know that all our lives should be dedicated to the sacred goal of raising enrollments but I’m convinced that the honest and decent thing to do is to tell some students that they should drop Spanish as their major and go do something that they actually care about.

A good indicator is that if you have gotten to the fourth (and last) year in your major and you still don’t know how to say “His name is Pedro” in Spanish, then this is not a program for you. Everybody who cares even a tiny little bit about Spanish has already found an opportunity to discover that it’s “Se llama Pedro” and not “Su llama es Pedro.”

I get it why people end up in STEM in spite of having zero interest in STEM. They have heard that untold riches await them at the end of the road, so they are suffering it out. But Spanish? In our region that is totally bereft of Hispanics? If you’ve got no love for it, then what can it possibly be that makes you do it? If you’ve got to suffer, then go into dentistry. There’s a chance of getting paid for the pain, at least.

Never ceases to amaze me.


No snow all winter until today

You know what would be great? If babies were born with the capacity to blow their noses. 

Does anyone know at what age this crucial skill develops?

Trying So Hard

There are few expressions I’m more allergic to than “I tried so hard.” One quality that people routinely lack is self-awareness. Everybody sees themselves as extremely hard-working and cruelly underappreciated. The way to identify the laziest, most entitled folks is by their love of the phrase “I tried so hard.”

“Professor, I try SO HARD but you aren’t even giving me a passing grade. You keep saying that my Spanish isn’t good enough even though I try SO HARD to improve.”

“Let’s see. Have you been in touch with the free tutor, as I recommended?”

“Well, no, I forgot.”

“Have you been going to the conversation hour?”

“Not really.”

“How many times did you use the dictionary when reading the text assigned for today?”

“Erm. . . I didn’t.” 

“Did you use the websites I suggested to practice the grammar?”

“No, I lost that email from you. But what I don’t get is why my grade is so low. I try SO HARD!” 

“Can you give an example?”

“Well, for today’s class, for instance, I looked at the assigned reading!”

The really hard-working people actually never “try hard.” They go and do it. 

The Result Is the Truth

Said another way: if 1000 people went to a lot of trouble to do something, and they all tried but 990 of them failed to do it, would we decide they had made the choice not to do it?

Yes, absolutely. Words and declared intentions are nothing. The only way to know the truth is to look at the result. The result is the truth. 

Example. Remember how actively Republicans- politicians, journalists, ideologues – were insisting they were “never Trump” and they’d never let Trump be elected? 

Trump is in the White House. This means that no matter what they declared to others and even to themselves, they chose him as their president. He is their decision and their responsibility. 

The truth is in the result, and the best way to know what people want is to look at what they got. 

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