More from The Times

People were asking recently why anybody would want to ruin an academic with false allegations and suggested that this only happens in my field. Well, I just read a story of one Prof. Theodore Piepenbrock in The Times that I recommend people Google for a British example of this phenomenon.

By the way, I have seen the behavior like this TA’s a quadrizillion times. Some professors (the ones who suffer from anorgasmy) feel flattered and cave. Some resist. But they are hunted relentlessly in direct proportion to how much they make and how many connections they have. The practice is not gender-exclusive. As we see from the linked piece, nowadays those who cave and those who don’t can be punished in the exact same way.

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Exploring The Times

I picked up a copy of The Times in London, and it’s so funny. The front-page article informs us that the number of young people who drink no alcohol has soared in the past decade. “It must be the internet!” clumsily explains the article’s author. “Young people are afraid of being negatively portrayed on social media if they aren’t completely sober!” chimes in an expert.

Yeah, there’s absolutely no other plausible explanation. It must be Facebook that’s doing it. Because it’s not like Facebook has a global presence or anything. Neither does the Internet exist anywhere but in the UK.

Poor idiots.

Ploughman’s Tea

Cultural differences are funny. On a flight to Munich, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted a ploughman’s lunch or an afternoon tea. To me, tea is what you have with your lunch and ploughmen make no sense in the setup at all.

I chose ploughman’s because it sounded Ukrainian while tea was way too Russian. I couldn’t identify several ingredients of the ploughman’s but there was one thing there that was divine. It was called clotted cream. I detest it for being so good.

Clean Up Your Mess

This, this is the kind of thing that makes me claw tables in annoyance:

Dear readers: Everything is terrible. It feels like the beginning of the end of the world. Or maybe the middle of the end of the world. My brain spends its days vacillating between wild panic and stubborn denial.

My great-grandparents and grandparents survived Stalinism, WWII, the Holocaust. I knew them very well, and it’s unthinkable that they would say this or think this.

My parents experienced the Soviet stagnation, which I assume I don’t have to explain to this enlightened readership. They were never anything like this even when it seemed things would never change.

I grew up amidst a collapsing state, a nascent wild capitalism, ridiculous inflation, bandit wars, etc, but it never occurred to anybody to say this kind of thing. People would be ridiculed within an inch of their lives if they started wailing about “wild panic and stubborn denial” a propos of absolutely anything whatsoever.

If we eat in public, we clean up after ourselves, right? We try not to be a total mess that spills shit all over public spaces. It should be the same about emotional garbage. It’s not ok to be this emotionally messy and not try to clean yourself up.

I read this kind of post at least once a day from different sources. I linked one yesterday, here is one from today. If I wanted to find 15 more right now by different people, I could. People seem to think it’s cute or something. And the reason is always something ridiculous, like the news or FB memes or some garbage they’ve seen on TV. Obviously, I’m not dumping on folks who are emotional because of something serious – an illness, a diagnosis, a financial calamity. It’s the showy sufferers who sacrifice their tender soul at the altar of the suffering humanity that I’m talking about.

Midwestern Husbands

It seems to be a common tradition among Midwestern husbands to collect points in order to get a business class trip somewhere (and back) for the wife. Usually you are supposed to get it by the time she turns 50.

And it’s working classes, too. The pedicurist’s steel worker husband did it for her. How N, who communicates with nobody and is probably unaware that the region wherw we live is called the Midwest, knows about it is a mystery. It must be in the air.

The Daily Habit of Writing

Somebody let me down – it’s a long story and I don’t want to go into details because it’s boring – and I now have to write an abstract for a conference talk on the fly. I’m writing it as the Heathrow shuttle is taking me from terminal 3 to terminal 5. It’s 3:40 am where I’m from and I’ve had a total of 6,5 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours.

But it’s ok, it’s fine, it’s just an abstract. I did it, got it out of the way, and fell into Harrods. I don’t get why people romanticize these conference abstracts so. “I don’t have time to write my abstract! There’s only three weeks left!” Three weeks? In three weeks you can write the whole talk twice over and have time for extensive snooze sessions every day.

And it’s the same with session proposals. People bicker for weeks who’s going to write it and what it’s going to be like. I sit down and do the whole thing in 20 minutes between classes because who’s got the time to drag it out like this?

Committee documents, reports, academic service writing – it’s the same thing. I churn them out like a maniac.

The habit of daily writing is great not only because you produce a lot but also because it demystifies writing. You no longer need exotic and complex rituals to make writing possible. You just sit down (or sometimes hang off a railing on a shuttle), write, and move on.