Watching and Listening

I have never listened to a podcast. That’s what you do with them, listen, right? I don’t know where people go to find them and why they do it. What are you supposed to do while hearing them? Or is it only for commuters?

I also don’t get the concept of YouTube videos. I pay for a subscription to a Russian-language video service even though I could watch all of the videos for free on YouTube. But it’s a small price to avoid the ugly things YouTube wants to force me to watch. I even hate my own YouTube videos and never rewatch them. Recording is fun but watching them – no, thanks.

I like Netflix but I don’t understand how they manage to film all those in-house shows when subscriptions are so low. We are currently watching a show called Marcella, and it’s bizarrely bad. We mostly keep watching because the leading actress is dressed so ridiculously badly that we can’t let go.

Told You So

A headline in the NYTimes informs us that

The official statistics say that the financial crisis is behind us. It’s not.

Because, as somebody said in a very good book she published on the subject over a year ago, it’s not a financial crisis. The collapse of the real estate and lending markets in 2008 was just a tiny little symptom of a large-scale transformation of the world economy and the attendant ‘structures of feeling.’

The GDPs might grow, the unemployment might go down, the stock market might be as perky as ever but nobody feels like “the crisis is over” because we have been using the wrong word to describe what’s happening. It’s like a major tectonic shift that awakens a dormant volcano. The eruption of the volcano might stop but the tectonic plates that shifted won’t go back.

Said I in my book a long time ago.

And then people say that the Humanities have no use for real life. Has anybody here encountered a better space to talk about all this in a clear, meaningful way than this blog?

I submitted an article today on feminist theory but it’s all about this stuff, too, because that’s what I really care about. And in Germany I’ll be harping on the same thing.

Ukrainians in Poland

Cliff observes that in Poland, where there are many migrants from Ukraine, all of the ads and signs targeting Ukrainians are in Ukrainian, even though most of the migrants speak Russian to each other.

It is, indeed, a somewhat paradoxical situation where Ukrainians whose primary or only language is Russian, feel offended when addressed in Russian. I’ve had people tell me in Russian, “And then they came up to me and addressed me in Russian. The gall! I completely ignored them.”

Ukrainians these days find it very important that others recognize them as not Russian, as different from Russians, and repudiate all attempts to address them in what is often their only language.

When a stranger addresses me in Russian (for instance, a visiting scholar at my school), I turn standoffish and unpleasant. But if they talk to me in Ukrainian, which I find extremely hard to speak these days, I become the nicest person known to humanity.

So I lost the struggle with my temptations – like I always do – and got myself the paid subscription to Google Scholar is ridiculously bad for finding my citations, plus I’m an obsessive measurement and tracking fanatic.

And folks, it’s totally worth it. Just for the psychological reasons alone because it gives you a great boost of feeling important and not alone. Aside from the citations, there is a page where you can see everybody who accessed your work. You see the name, the photo, the map of where they are, the University affiliation, the position (grad student, professor, Chair, etc.) You see which of your articles they read or downloaded. You even see how many pages they read. It’s fascinating. I discovered, for instance, that for one of my articles most people read until page 6 and then they download. This might seem like a bizarre thing to care about but for those of us who are obsessive about measurements, it’s priceless.

It’s very rare that one feels in the midst of something busy and active as a researcher. Usually, you just sit there alone with your writing. This website (which I hope they will finally take in the direction of an app) helps one feel less isolated.