New Immigration Law

There is a multitude of posts on FB where people count points or whatever and triumphantly declare that they wouldn’t be able to immigrate to the US under Trump’s new immigration law. Obviously, none of them are immigrants, and they seem very unaware how annoying this cheap posturing is to actual immigrants.

Because guess what? They wouldn’t be able to immigrate under the current system either. But they don’t care because it’s not about immigrants. It’s about virtue signaling at the expense of immigrants. And it just bugs me. Go use somebody else you despise as much as us for your feel-good moment of the day. 

The only reason I managed to immigrate to the US is because I had a PhD, a tenure-track job, a university willing to file tons of paperwork to prove I have ‘exceptional talent’, and money to pay the onerous fees. If I’d been missing a single one of these components, I wouldn’t be here right now. This was all way before Trump. So count these points and tell me whether you’d be able to immigrate under Obama. And after you do that, please go stick your sudden concern for us immigrants deep into the place you found it.  

I prefer open animosity to this mealy-mouthed pseudo-caring. We are not fucking stray puppies.

What to Teach

An OSPI document explaining the health standards says students can be taught in kindergarten and first grade that “there are many ways to express gender.” … In fourth grade, when children are typically 10 years old, the guidelines say students should learn the definition of sexual orientation and more. From there, the standards recommend discussion of cultural influences on gender identity and eventually ramp up to more in-depth lessons on biological sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and more.

Of course, I’d prefer that students learned what Africa is and how to find it on a map, what countries share a border with the US, who Hitler was and that he’s dead (there’s nothing like delivering the news of Hitler’s demise to a group of stunned college students, believe me). But no, there’s no time for this arcane, trivial information. Let’s teach about the many ways of using nail polish instead. 

Language Learning and iPad

Language teachers at local schools are entering into a competition to win iPads for their classrooms and publishing desperate pleas to support their entries on Facebook. 

I don’t get this at all. I’ve been teaching languages literally for decades and I can’t even begin to imagine how an iPad can help in this process. 

I’d rather kids weren’t introduced to anything that is run on apps. Apps make people dumb. If you are desperate for technology in the classroom, go with a computer. Although, I fail to see how even a computer could be useful in language learning.

Surfing Rendueles’ Wave

When I don’t surf Alex’s wave, I surf Rendueles’. Here is a very funny story illustrating why everybody in academia detests us, the post-Soviets:

“One day I was giving a class on Marxist theory and explained the matter of capitalist inefficiency by giving the example of the famous light bulb that has been illuminating a California fire station for over a hundred years. It seems that in the first decades of the twentieth century, the owners of the biggest light-bulb factories got together and agreed to artificially limit the life of their products to one thousand hours, though they could last much longer. This is a good example of how capitalism is unable to realize it full material and social potential because it is driven only by the profit motive. Raul Zelik, a professor of political science from Germany who was sitting in on the class, raised his hand and said, derisively: “Lovely story, but how do you explain the fact that in Germany light bulbs used to last only 500 hours? And that no agreements were needed for that to be the case?”

I often do what Zelik did at conferences and academic discussions, and people seethe because they have no response.

Consumerist Mentality

Another interesting story from Rendueles’ book. A group of progressive activists was trying to decide on a meeting time for the group:

“There were quite a few parents of young children among the members, who suggested that ten in the morning might be a good time. The younger members without children protested, horrified: They went out on Friday nights, and there was no way they were getting up that early the next day. They thought much better to meet at eight in the evening. The parents responded that at that time they were busy with baths, dinner, and story time. What surprised me was that the young members without children seemed to view caring for a child as just another lifestyle, one undeserving of any special consideration. Some people like going out and getting drunk on Friday nights; others prefer having children. You choose between beer and changing diapers the way you choose between MasterCard and Visa. End of story.”

Income Parade

Maybe you, folks, have heard about the Income Parade before but I read about it in Rendueles and I think it’s very useful and curious.

Imagine that wealth correlates with height. People with average income would be 5’6” (which is my height and my personal income, incidentally.)

If people of all heights (representing all income brackets on the planet) came out on the parade lasting 1 hour, for the first 10 minutes, we’d see people of about 3 feet tall pass us by. After about 40 minutes, we’ll finally see people like me, measuring at 5’6”. In the last 5 minutes of the parade, we will be seeing people who’d be 10 feet tall.

But that’s not where the real fun is. In the last minute of the parade, we will start seeing people who measure more than 30 feet. For instance, Spain’s president Mariano Rajoy will measure about 50 feet. Then there will come hedge fund managers, measuring at a little under a half mile in height. The soccer player Cristiano Rolando will measure about 3/4 of a mile.

But that’s small potatoes. In the final moments of the parade, we will see people who would be 40 miles long, with their heads stuck in the mesosphere. Donald Trump, the best friend of the little 5’2” folks, will be right there, in the cosmos. I’m sure their problems look very clear and very important from up there.