I agree with this blogger, this kind of sweeping judgments isn’t doing anybody any good:

“There is no greater threat to a child’s emotional well-being than being separated from a primary caregiver. Even if it was for a short period, for a child, that’s an eternity,” said Johanna Bick, a psychology professor at the University of Houston who studies adverse experiences in childhood.

It’s possible that the professor was misquoted or edited in some way. If that’s the case, she should make a big stink because she’s being portrayed as a quack. I mean, children of what age can’t be away from mommy even for a short time? Two days, two months, two years, seven years? Fifteen? And what’s a short time? Two minutes or two months?

No self-respecting scholar would make such grandiose pronouncements in a professional context.

My Trigger

What triggers me are toddlers in TV shows. Hate those little buggers. They never pay any attention to their parents. Because obviously the actors are not their real parents. And it would do nothing for the plot to show endless scenes with a toddler fighting the battle of Somme for mommy’s attention.

I get all that but it’s still very annoying to watch the scenes where mommy comes into the room, and her two-year-old continues to play placidly and silently in the corner without even noticing her. I keep yelling at the TV, “Lady, wake up! Aren’t you supposed to be a doctor? (I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy.) Your kid is seriously unwell. Do something about it!”

You, folks, told me to take it easy after the surgery, so I’m back to my TV-watching marathon.

Are there any Grey’s Anatomy fans here? Because I’ve got things to say and nobody to discuss it with.

Virtue Signaling and Job Wars

After a colleague posted the article on trigger warnings I linked earlier on academic discussion boards, it took under 3 hours for other colleagues to start screaming like banshees that he’s “belittling sufferers” and offering a string of truly strange accusations. And that’s in summer, when most people are away and not checking the work email all the time.

This is the real issue with trigger warnings and this is why I keep posting about it. Look at the normal, civilized discussion we’ve had on the blog in these 3 hours of this very link. But it doesn’t work this way in professional settings. People are using these discussions, probably without realizing what they are doing, to prep their arsenal for the job wars where getting and staying employed in prestigious professions will hinge on the capacity loudly to proclaim one’s unwavering support for the most recent dogma.


Russian is impossible to teach because all the words are extremely long and most have the ы sound. To understand what it sounds like, take the vowel in “big” and just your lower jaw out while making the sound as strong as possible. Horrible, eh?

Klara now asks, “how do you say that in Russian?”, but loses interest when she hears that the simplest English words sound like an endless jumble of a million ы-containing syllables. Take, for instance, the word toes. Do you know what it is in Russian? Пальцы ног. How crazy is it? And this is without commonly used diminutive suffixes.

What a stupid language.

Trigger Warnings

•Trigger warnings increase peoples’ perceived emotional vulnerability to trauma.
•Trigger warnings increase peoples’ belief that trauma survivors are vulnerable.
•Trigger warnings increase anxiety to written material perceived as harmful.

Parenting Hack

Maybe everybody knows this already but I recently figured it out and it’s making me happy.

So you know when toddlers learn to ignore you? Like when you ask something and they pretend you are not there? And you say it 15 times more and they act like you don’t exist? And then you get angry and acquire an annoying didactic tone? Maybe you don’t but I’m a college professor. When I open my mouth, people shut up and start taking notes. I’m not mentally equipped for being ignored.

I went on the FB mom page, and everybody has this problem, but nobody offers a solution that doesn’t sound like it’s fit for military barracks. So I thought about it and realized: if she’s ignoring me, this means she doesn’t need me. And I’m free to do whatever I need while she concentrates on something other than me for a change while building a crucial life skill of being alone with herself and her thoughts. Why am I trying to be needed when I don’t even like it? So I stopped trying to get myself noticed, and it’s been a huge relief.

This is the best thing I’ve discovered since the life-changing idea to stop saying things like “Time to get dressed / brush teeth / put on shoes, etc”, which are invariably met with a firm “NO!!” and instead ask “which toothpaste do you prefer today, Elmo or Mickey Mouse?” Getting her up and out of the door in the mornings now takes exactly 10 minutes. (Another hack is never to let them sit down for any purpose on the way between bed and car seat in the morning. Once they sat down, you’re screwed for the morning.)

The Origins of Populism

A great essay on the Russian intellectual parents of American academics:

Populism fed on guilt, and everything about Likharev, down to his very gestures, expressed a consciousness of guilt about something. The populist ideologists insisted that all high culture depends on wealth stolen from the common people and is therefore tainted by a sort of original sin. . . Not knowledge but pity became the moral touchstone.

We all know what kind of a political system came out of these ideas, don’t we?

Sleep Question

Folks, does anybody here have his issue where you wake up at night or early in the morning and can’t go back to sleep? What do you do about it? Has anybody found anything that helps?

This is for N who recently developed this issue. He’s the opposite of me because he always falls asleep easily but recently has had trouble staying asleep. I, on the other hand, always take forever to fall asleep but even though I wake up about 6 times a night (BP meds), I always go back to sleep easily and can sleep until 11 am, if I let myself. Which I obviously don’t because I have stuff to do.

Narcissistically Wounded Customers

All of the writing about motherhood (and much of the writing about womanhood) is done from the position of extreme narcissistic woundedness. There are tons of normal mothers, but the public discourse is dominated by the raging narcissists like the author of the ridiculous opinion column titled “Mothering in the Age of Fear.

A month doesn’t pass without some drama queen writing this precise piece with these precise examples and this precise rhetoric. A consumer was prevented from shopping at her convenience. The horror! In the meantime, research demonstrates, time and again, that children who, like the author’s 4-year-old, are parented with a screen between them and the mother, lag behind by the first grade by as much as 17 months, linguistically, cognitively, and emptionally. Curiously, nobody is in as much rush to report this important information as they are to glorify the imaginary sufferings of a frustrated Starbucks customer.