Congratulations, Louisiana!

I wasn’t even worried because I knew you’d pull through.

How to Hold a Grudge

Here’s a Grudge Quiz from Sophie Hannah’s new self-help book How to Hold a Grudge. I copied this from the promotional blurb on Amazon:

1. You notice that your best friend has liked several “I have great news!” posts on social media by someone you loathe. Your friend has always claimed to dislike this person too, and to be totally on your side—yet here they are, favoriting posts that celebrate your enemy. Do you:
a) End the friendship and cut your friend out of your life.
b) Ask your friend why they have done this, and if they have lied to you about sharing your dislike of this person.
c) Assume they must still be on your side despite this new evidence, and tell yourself they must have hit the “like” button by mistake, or done it in an ironic, not-really-liking way.
d) Continue with the friendship, say nothing and hold a secret grudge.

My answer: I’d never notice.

2. You have always praised your friend Bob enthusiastically whenever he has done something impressive. Then you achieve something amazing and Bob doesn’t give you anywhere near the same amount of praise. He says, “I can see you put a lot of effort into it,” without saying whether he thinks the effort was worth it or if he enjoyed or hated the end product. You realize that he has never praised you properly, or enthused about any of your achievements—it’s just something he never does. Do you:
a) Decide never to praise him again.
b) Tell him that his reaction hurt you, and explain why.
c) Praise him even more than you would normally, in order to lead by example, hoping he takes the hint.
d) Pity him—how awful not to be able to express enthusiasm!—amend your opinion of him in the downward direction and tell yourself he hasn’t gotten away with anything because you will never feel the same way about him again.

My answer: D.

3. Which of these pairs of quotes appeals to you the most?
a) “I don’t hold grudges. We good. You may not hear from me ever again, but we good.” —anonymous/many Internet sources/“I have a limit, and when you reach it I dismiss you from my life. It’s that simple.” —anonymous/many Internet sources
b) “At the heart of all anger, all grudges, and all resentment, you’ll always find a fear that hopes to stay anonymous.” —Donald L. Hicks, Look Into the Stillness/“Before I took a stand, I was always . . . confused about my rights and about what was real.” —psychotherapist Sandy Katz
c) “I forgive people, but that doesn’t mean I accept their behavior or trust them. I forgive them for me, so I can let go and move on with my life.” —anonymous/many Internet sources/“I don’t hold grudges. I remember facts.” —anonymous/many Internet sources
d) “They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.” —Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies/“Can I petition to make holding grudges an Olympic event? Cause I’ve been in training my whole life.” —Anna Kendrick on Twitter

My answer is A.
4. You tell your friend Beatrice that her sister Jane (also your friend) has scratched your car and lied about it to avoid paying for repairs. Beatrice reacts aggressively and says, “It’s a crap, hideous car anyway.” Do you:
a) Think of both Beatrice and Jane as “dead to you,” and banish them from your life.
b) Understand that Beatrice must have been horrified to hear that her own sister was a lying car scratcher, and so probably lashed out at you without meaning to. Once she calms down, you’ll talk to her again and give her the chance to react more appropriately.

c) Decide that Beatrice was only mean to you because she was so upset herself, and almost certainly regretted dissing your car a second after she had done so. You forgive her instantly, no questions asked—you know she didn’t mean to be cruel.

d) Make a mental note that neither Beatrice nor Jane cares about justice or your feelings—so from now on you won’t care quite so much about their feelings or any unfair treatment they receive, though you might continue with the friendship and enjoy their company sometimes because if you were to ditch or boycott them, it might cause problems among your wider circle of friends.

My answer: this would never happen to me because nobody would talk to me like this Beatrice person. I’d really like to see somebody try, though.

5. You try to reserve a table at a restaurant, Fred’s, for seven p.m. Fred, the manager, tells you that this is impossible because they have two sittings: six until eight and eight until late. You explain that you want a table at seven, not six or eight, and that seven is a reasonable time to want to have dinner. Fred won’t budge. Do you:

a) Tell him you think he’s unreasonable to put profit before customers’ wishes and needs, resolve never to go to his restaurant again and tell everyone you meet what happened in the hope of putting others off going there too.

b) Suggest that perhaps Fred should reconsider his policy because it’s not ideal for customers, and then book a table for six or eight p.m. instead, or go somewhere else.

c) Decide that, actually, there are advantages to going at six—you’d have time to see a movie afterward. Or see the early show and eat at eight. All’s well that ends well!

d) Don’t argue or protest, but resolve to boycott Fred’s restaurant in the future because of the unreasonable policy.

Answer: it would never happen to me because I’d rather eat at home than make reservations in person.

As for the general topic of grudges, I have very little mental space to remember who said what and did what last week, let alone longer than that. I also have very little mental space to reevaluate my relationships with people. Once I decide I like somebody, I attach to them like a flea to a dog and they have to make supreme efforts to shake me off.

The results of the quiz are on the book’s Amazon page. And Hannah is starting to write a new book in the Zailer series, which is wonderful news to avid fans like myself.

And no, she’s not paying me to promote her. I’m an honest fan.

Letters of Recommendation

We are getting much, much higher quality students now than when I first got here 10 years ago. It’s like we are teaching an entirely different student population, and that’s great.

The downside is that I now have to write letters of recommendation for graduate school, which I never did before. And if done right, it’s very hard, time-consuming work. I’m very happy to do it but I never understood why people used to complain about the time it takes them to write recommendation letters. Now I totally get it. If you really believe in the students and want to write really good letters, it’s hard.


I don’t want to be paranoid, but is this utterly lame impeachment hearing set up on purpose, to tie up the most liberal candidates, Bernie and Warren, keep them bogged down in the Senate hearings and off the campaign trail, and let some subservient neoliberal lackey like Buttigieg win the primaries?

We Are Losers

Vox, the unappealing far-right group that did unusually well in Spain’s election, won in the voting districts with the largest number of non-European immigrants. The effect is the same in different geographic areas and in all income groups.

Only two years ago, I concluded my book by saying that Spain stands out among other Western European countries in that it doesn’t have a significant ultra-right political force. I also said that if adventures in neoliberalism continued, that might change.

Two years later, that changed.

Everywhere, people are reacting badly to the trauma of neoliberalism. They are AOCing or MAGAing themselves as a way of expressing dislike for what’s happening. But they are still as dumb as ever, and the people who exploit them easily pit them against each other. The poor idiots tear each other to pieces while their neoliberal overlords keep remaking the world to their liking.

We are being manipulated by people who despise us. Trump, Obama, Bush, Pelosi – they are all in it together. They are all winners and we are all stupid, pathetic losers.