What Changed?

In 1979 the USSR invaded a neighboring country and all normal countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics.

Since 2014 Russia not only invaded a neighboring country and a faraway country but also downed a civilian airplane from Netherlands and meddled in a host of Western elections. And it didn’t occur to anybody to boycott the World Cup in Russia.

What changed? Why doesn’t anybody care any more and what needs to happen for them to care again?

It’s not like taking a stand would entail a big sacrifice. But Macron knows how much Putin invested into getting Marine LePen, an actual fascist, elected instead of him. And yet he can’t avoid jumping up and down like a banshee in a pathetic effort to strengthen the very regime that will probably take the presidency away from him in the next electoral cycle.

Not only doesn’t anybody care, it doesn’t even occur to people that they could care. Say what you will about the Cold War but at least it gave people some organizing principles. Most folks don’t seem to be able to come up with any on their own.

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Book Notes: Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Revulsion

El Salvador is on the news a lot, and I wanted to introduce this great Salvadoran writer to remind people that the country isn’t all about violence, gangs, the legacy of the civil war, and other horrors. There are also literature, art, and incredible talent.

Moya’s Revulsion has been translated into English, although I obviously read it in Spanish, so I can’t comment on the quality of the translation. If you teach Central American literature, I definitely recommend this book because it’s one of those easy to read yet a lot to discuss novels.

Moya had to flee from his country because he received death threats for writing this novel. Just think of the stupidity. Finally, there’s somebody who is attracting tons of positive attention to El Salvador, who publishes talented novels, who is demonstrating that El Salvador is a place of intellectual and artistic achievement. And these fuckers run him out of the country for patriotic reasons. Because they don’t think he represents El Salvador well enough.

The writer now teaches at the Spanish department of the University of Iowa. He’s crazy talented and the novel is among the best I read in a while. The narrator is an immigrant who feels about his country of origin exactly what I feel from mine.

I think that maybe I should read more Central American writers and post reviews because we never hear anything but stories that portray them as shithole countries. And they aren’t. They really aren’t. They are often tragic countries. But there is also a lot of wonderful stuff there.

24/7

A colleague’s daughter said that academics work 24-7. Twenty-four hours a week, seven months a year.

I don’t work like this but if I wanted to, I could. Many people do. We like to deny it but it’s a fact. Many people do and many more could if they chose to.

How shocking is it, then, that this model proved unsustainable and is dying?

Warren vs Bernie

During a campaign-style tour of the West late last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren did not announce she was running for president. But in private events and public speeches, her message about 2020 was as clear as it was rousing.

God, I hope not. She’s even less charismatic than Hillary. Plus, the Native American heritage story firmly places her in the cuckoo wing of the party.

I’d vote for Bernie unless he demonstrates that he’s in thrall to the party’s excitable Twittering wing. Meaning, unless there is a replay of the humiliating scene where he was pushed around on stage during his own campaign appearance. And given his age, I’d care a lot about the VP pick. If that pick is a nod to the excitable crowd, then I’m obviously not interested. In any case, Bernie will be a lot worse than Trump on Russia.