The Life of a Linguist

This is the man who deciphered the Mayan script. His name is Yuri Knorozov. He didn’t have a place to live while he worked on this immense project, so he stayed in a small closet at a museum.

He was going to present his research at the defense of his Master’s thesis. There was every chance that he’d go straight to a concentration camp from the defense because Soviet orthodoxy held that there had been no pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas. Knorozov’s research demonstrated that not only was the Mayan civilization real, it was also very sophisticated. 

It took Knorozov under 5 minutes to deliver his findings. Instead of an MA, the committee unanimously awarded him a PhD. It was 1955, two years after Stalin’s death, and it was no longer as dangerous to challenge opinions on pre-Columbian times. 

Knorozov’s life-long dream was to visit Mexico, but obviously he didn’t stand a chance of traveling anywhere while the USSR existed. He finally got a chance to see Mexico in 1990. 

He died as he lived, abandoned and alone. 

Good News About Russians

The good news about the Russian meddling in US politics and their infiltration of American media is that we’ve seen the worst. They can’t do any more damage than they’ve done already. There’s no way but uphill from here. And even if we decide to stick at the current place for a while, there’s no downward trajectory. 

There isn’t much use talking about it now because what’s done is done. All there is right now is to be more vigilant with infected news sources. For instance, the Naked Capitalism website is still shilling for Putin openly and unrepentantly.

But once again, what we are seeing right now is the extent of Putin’s influence over the US politics and media. 

Neoliberal Workers

It’s curious how often people mistake their own psychological problems for “truths universally acknowledged”: 

What allows us to be happy and satisfied on a daily basis at work? . . In my opinion, the best predictor is how wonderful the people are in our departments and our own labs. What are some other variables that are not as important? In my opinion, that includes funding levels, the type of institution, campus politics, commuting, and many other kinds of stuff.

People described in the linked post make for shitty workers. They believe that work exists in order to provide them with the comforting experience of an idealized, supportive, warm, and cocooning family. They expect a job to fulfill a need that no job is meant to do. In the end, they always end up recreating the unhealthy family dynamic that they come from in the workplace. 

However, they are also the ideal type of neoliberal worker. They come to work in order to satisfy a yearning for relationships and emotional fulfilment. You can mistreat them as you wish, deprive them of funding, undermine their research, create intolerable working conditions, yet they will keep coming for more because they are addicted to the illusion of familial relationships at work. Ask these poor sods to unionize, and all you’ll hear in response is a speech on how wrong it is to be adversarial and antagonistic. 

Intellectual Renewal Challenge: Week 2

This week we are going to swap regular plates for saucers. As you sit down for your most significant meal of the day, take out 3 or as many as you need saucers instead and place your food in them. 

Mind you, this is NOT about portion control or weight loss. The goal is not to eat less but to get yourself to try a new way of interacting with with table utensils and food logistics.