A Ban on Smartphones for Kids

Tucker proposed banning smartphone use for kids by federal law. I don’t want to like this guy but he’s literally the only person in the public space who talks about things I find extremely important.

If a politician proposed this, I’d be voting for that politician irrespective of any other issue. Any other issue. He could proclaim Putin the emperor of the world for all I’d care.

And it’s not an extraordinary or unusual thing. There is a ban on kids smoking or drinking alcohol. Recently, a ban on vaping for kids started to get enforced. These bans work extremely well. When was the last time you saw a 6-year-old with a cigarette and a beer bottle, even in families where parents smoke and drink?

Tucker says that about a quarter of children under the age of six have smartphones. These are the children whose language skills, emotional coping skills, and sociability skills will be thwarted for life. They will be part of an underclass, socially engineered into this position by people who’d never do that to their own kids.

I recorded this segment and will keep rewatching it. My analyst does research on this, and the findings are absolutely horrific. I’m sure that this will go the way of smoking where everybody will suddenly realize it’s dangerous. But it will take time and do a ton of damage before then. I believe that this is the most important issue of our times.

Book Notes: Imperialism, Neoliberalism and Social Struggles in Latin America

This book is very good at describing the very negative effects of neoliberal globalization on Latin America. There is a ton of useful data on the subject in this volume. But. . . it’s an edited collection, and one of the editors is writing from Havana. This means that the book gives these endless, breathy predictions as to how Latin Americans are on the verge of organizing a wave of massive popular revolutions that will put an end to capitalism in Latin America and turn every country into Cuba, which, of course, is paradise on Earth.

So I recommend it for a thoughtful discussion of the imperialism and neoliberalism part but I don’t recommend it at all for the social struggles part because it’s plain silly.

More Quotes from Ordesa

Since the novel was such a waste of time, at least let’s use it to have a laugh. Here are some more quotes:

“Spain’s political corruption makes me forget about the corruption of the bodies of my parents and of my own body.”

“I smelled the inside of my travel bag. It smelled of loneliness.”

“Everybody is alone and will die alone.” 2019 and somebody seriously writes this sentence. I haven’t detected a trace of irony. It’s all completely and scarily in earnest.

“If somebody swindles you, that’s because you are alive. The day people don’t swindle you it won’t be because the world has become a better place. It will be because you’ll be dead.”

“The essence of a mother is love.” Dude. Even Hallmark would reject you for being so soppy.

Book Notes: Manuel Vilas’s Ordesa

This is supposed to be the mega important crisis novel everybody is going crazy about right now, but God, how I hated it. Vilas is this very stereotypical postmodern writer whose novels are like Seinfeld without the jokes. You know the kind of thing. Everything is meaningless, we are all going to die, there won’t be any hint of a plot, the narrative is aggressively fragmented, etc. I don’t like this kind of literature but I used to like Vilas. I think there are some reviews of his previous novels on the blog somewhere.

This novel, though, just stank. The sentence “we will all die anyway” is repeated at least a hundred times. The whole thing is beyond soppy. Here are a few quotes to give you, folks, a taste:

“My son was born the same day his grandparents got married. Coincidence? If coincidence is the same thing as love, then sure.”

“Victims are always irredeemable. That is, contemptible. People love heroes, not victims.” And I’m like, move to the US, you boring sumbitch, and you’ll get all the victim appreciation you’ll ever need.

“Cookies that are past their expiration date are like dead bodies.”

“It was never easy to smell clean. Historically, it was never easy. Don’t forget that if you smell clean, that’s because others don’t.”

“If I caress my kitchen, that’s like caressing my mother’s soul. If I caress all of the kitchens in the world, it’s like caressing the slavery of millions of women whose names were erased and are now music.”

“Life’s complexity doesn’t exist. It’s a lie. All that exists are the people you love. There’s nothing but love.”

“The only meaningful thing in life is to know that somewhere somebody is waiting for you. That’s the only real achievement.”

Four hundred pages of this shit. Everything is meaningless. We are all going to die. There is an economic crisis but who cares if we are all going to die anyway. It’s all meaningless. Except love. Because love is so lovely. Until you die. And then everything is meaningless. Except love. Which is very lovely. I like love. But I don’t like death. Because it’s not lovely.

The novel is enjoying great success because it’s like a litany of Facebook posts. It’s soothing in its absolute inanity.

I urgently need to read something smart because I feel like my IQ has dropped to below 100 while I was reading this novel.

In Need of a Parenting Hack

I don’t know if you, folks, have noticed but I no longer post genius posts – or any posts – in the morning. And here is why.

We have transitioned Klara from her crib into a big-girl bed because she finally figured out that a crib can be climbed out of and it became unsafe. Our pediatrician, a very experienced lady, told me a year ago, “Do yourselves a favor and keep her in the crib for as long as you possibly can do so safely.” And I now know what she meant.

Klara wakes up at night, several times a night, and comes to visit us. I’m turning into a total neurotic because it’s completely unpredictable. Today it was at 1:15 and 5:30. The night before it was at 2:30 and 4. And so on. It’s completely different from when she was an infant and I got up at night to feed her because her feeding times were like clockwork. She never cried once at night as an infant because I’d wake up 2 minutes before she did and start feeding her the second she needed.

But now it’s completely unpredictable and it’s messing with our heads. I get up, take her back to her bed, and she falls asleep. But I don’t. I stay awake, sometimes for over an hour, jumping up at every sound.

A friend of mine said her 9-year-old wakes her up every night under the pretext that she’s afraid to go to the bathroom in the dark. I said she’s a much better mother than me because I’m putting an end to this long before my kid is 9.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to proceed? Has anybody figured this out and can share a hack?

Book Notes: Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety

There are so many wonderful American authors I never heard about. I only just now discovered Wallace Stegner because I got his novel Crossing to Safety as a Christmas gift. People never give me books as gifts, by the way, which is sad because it would make me so happy if they did. The downside of reading this novel is that now I want to drop everything and go read every word Stegner has ever written. But that’s the story of my life.

The novel is beautifully written. But even more importantly, it’s about professors. Of English! During the Great Depression! Struggling for tenure and trying to get published! Is that fascinating or what?

The author had a fascinating life, by the way. His was a very typical American Dream success story. He grew up in a piss-poor, uneducated, wildly dysfunctional and abusive family. But through a lot of hard work he became a Harvard and then a Stanford professor, wrote 28 books, and won a Pulitzer and the National Book Award.

I feel very inspired by this guy at the start of the new semester.

Book Notes: Horacio Castellanos Moya’s The Dream of Return

Yes, it’s been weeks without me bugging anybody with Castellanos Moya, so I’m back at it. Castellanos Moya belongs to the so-called Disillusioned Generation of Central American writers. Before this group started publishing, Central American literature mostly consisted of the very earnest and deathly boring “testimonial” writing about the Cold War-inspired dictatorships and civil wars in the region.

Starting somewhere in the late 1990s, Central American writers finally got tired of all this inane earnestness and starting writing real literature. And that’s why they are called the disillusioned generation. They have been accused of being ideologically neutral but that’s only because the accusers still see the world in the left vs right terms of the Cold War era.

Castellanos Moya writes about the costs of fluidity, which is why I’m obsessed with him. That’s hardly apolitical but his politics aren’t about the antiquated struggles between Cold War forces.

I won’t rest until I read all this guy has ever written. I tell you, folks, I haven’t been this excited about a writer since Rafael Chirbes.