Smart Pilots

Nothing I like more than to arrive at the hotel elevators and discover a large group of people who are waiting patiently for an elevator that will never arrive because nobody has had the presence of mind to press the button.

Then I press the button and everybody goes “Ohhhh. . .” And somebody goes “Yeah, that makes sense.”

It’s especially heartening when all of these people are airplane pilots. It took a lot of self-control not to ask them which flight they will be on tomorrow because I’m not exactly desperate to be taken into the air by folks who are too distracted to notice an elevator button.


I’m discovering that the best theoretical writing on fluidity / postnationalism is being done by scholars of Basque literature. And believe me, I’ve looked everywhere. Since Zygmunt Bauman’s death, I’ve done nothing but look. And until I got into the Basques, all I found were the inane bleatings about how the erosion of the nation-state is about to bring immediate liberation and extreme wonderfulness to the oh-pressed.

I want to credit myself with an inhuman intuition and an intellectual potency of uncommon proportions and claim that I was drawn to the Basque studies because I intuited that the peculiar nature of Euskadi as a nation without borders that is not a third or second-world country positions it perfectly as a place where insights can be generated.

But that’s not even remotely true. This was nothing but a fluke.

Of course, now I’d have to start making an argument that the tiny Basque Country nobody knows about is a source of important ideas about fluidity, and nobody will want to hear it. But screw that. I’m having fun.

The US Spoiled Him

If our canon were broader, if our curricula were more balanced, we wouldn’t act as though Junot Diaz’s behavior spoke for every Dominican man.

Yeah, he’s a horrible exception in a culture where the ideas of active consent, intersectional feminism and extreme political correctness won the day decades ago. Or better yet, never needed to win because they were always there. Totally. He’d be a huge gift to women had he never emigrated.

Cannibalized Reality

When truth is nothing more than subjective experience, it’s not truth at all. I have this problem talking in person about politics with friends on both the right and the left (which is why I don’t do it often). It’s not so much that it’s hard for them to separate their personal feelings from a discussion of facts and principles (though it is). It’s that they don’t even seem to try. And because of that, it’s all to easy to go from “you disagree with me” to “you’re insulting me” and/or “you’re rejecting me.”

Forget about politics. The creepiest situation is when people do this in work-related discussions.

“I don’t find this textbook to be particularly useful in the teaching of object pronouns because it introduces them throughout three different chapters and students seem to find it confusing.”

“I worked so hard on selecting this textbook! We had a whole committee where we dedicated endless hours to analyzing textbooks! We killed ourselves choosing the best possible one. I feel completely disrespected that you would just casually dismiss the fruit of your colleagues’ hard work over an extended period of time! You can hate the textbook but you don’t have to disrespect your colleagues like this.”

“Erm. I just meant that object pronouns. . . Erm. Forget about it.”

Somehow, people manage to weave their work on a textbook-selecting committee into the fabric of their very selves. And I find it very scary.

The self has cannibalized reality and perceives any attempt to engage with reality as an unwelcome rummaging in its entrails.