President Santos

I don’t know anything about the president of Colombia. I’m not following the events there right now and didn’t even know his name until 5 minutes ago. But he made a very good impression on me as I watched the press conference. He held himself with great dignity and spoke a beautiful English. 


European Self-Hatred

I’m reading a novel called The Dinner by the Dutch writer Herman Koch. It’s a silly best-seller that would have no value save for the stunning and completely casual self-hatred its Dutch protagonist evinces for his country and culture. He is a professor of history, and his vision of Holland’s history is, “. . . and the Christianity was introduced and everything went completely to the dogs. And when Protestantism won, that was the worst thing ever. . . Unfortunately, we won the war and weren’t conquered, which turned us into a black hole on the world map. . . The French despise us and rightfully so. . . What did we ever produce but a couple of silly, useless painters? We are nothing.”*

No explanation is offered for this self-hatred, as if the readers were expected to accept it as absolutely normal and not in need of any further elaboration. And I’m definitely not European enough to get it. Why would anybody hate Holland? It seems kind of random given that there are much worse countries in the world. 

We all know that I have a complicated relationship with my country of origin (which is why I left to avoid seething with resentment all day long), but I’d never say that our problem is that we weren’t conquered. If anything, I think it’s the opposite, at least to an extent. Nor would I support our neighbors in despising us (which they clearly do). 

*I’m not posting direct quotes because I’m reading the novel in Spanish.

Neoliberalism and Posterity

Birth rates are the lowest in the countries where the triumph of neoliberal mentality has been most complete because the idea of posterity can’t coexist with the logic of extracting immediate and maximum profit and shortening, as much as possibly, the road to gratification.

The Imaginary Child

A few months after Klara was born, Amazon Vine’s recommendation algorithm must have decided that I was ready to get pregnant again (I wasn’t and am still not, unfortunately.) It started offering me ovulation trackers and pregnancy tests. A bit later, it must have decided that its ovulation kits worked and started offering me maternity wear and prenatal vitamins.

Nine months later, I started getting offers for breastfeeding kits and baby clothes. And now that the imaginary child should be around 3 months of age, I’m getting offers for infant toys and playards. The imaginary child is a boy, which is the level of specificity that creeps me out even more.

I wonder when the algorithm will start factoring in my age and will realize that pushing out one kid after another at my age is not what normally happens, much as I’d have liked to think it does. How many imaginary kids will Amazon Vine endow me with? Because I have a feeling I will start getting a new round of ovulation trackers from them very soon.

Is it weird to feel guilt-tripped by Amazon’s algorithm? 

Bye Bye, Hollande

When Hollande was first elected and I said he was a clown and an idiot, people were massively pouting here on the blog and expressing complete confidence that Hollande’s plan to tax millionaires at 75% was going to save the French economy. 

Now that Hollande’s term has run out, what are we seeing? The economy is as much in the toilet as ever, the disaffection grows, the horrible LePen looks attractive to a growing number of people, the French education is collapsing.