Larva Butter

I was worrying that my first ever Great Lent would be hard. But then I scrolled through my Twitter feed and saw this kind of news:

Scientists are experimenting with larva fat to replace butter. They soak insects in water and then mush them with a blender before centrifuges separate a butter-like substance, which the team then uses to bake with

Now I won’t be able to think about butter without cringing for weeks. Yay for that, I guess.

Book Notes: Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness

This is Castellanos Moya’s most famous book (translated into a crapton of languages, by the way), and deservedly so. There is a million reviews, and they all say that the novel is about the genocide of Mayans committed by the Guatemalan military during the civil war.

What the reviews never mention, for some reason, is that the novel not only describes the outlandish horrors of that war but it’s also Castellanos Moya’s funniest book. A couple of times, a friend or a student would spot me at a coffee shop or in my office howling with laughter.

“What are you reading?” they’d ask.

“Ah, it’s a novel about the genocide of the indigenous in Guatemala,” I’d reply, wiping off tears of laughter, and people would give me weird looks. And I know it sounds like an impossible task to bring together, in such a short book, the atrocity of the war and some of the funniest pages Castellanos Moya has ever written. But that’s why he’s a genius, he can do that.

I’m thinking of assigning this book in my English-language Hispanic civ course. Sainz Borgo’s novel is going on the syllabus for sure, but what about Senselessness? I’d spend 30 minutes on the first day of class trigger-warning everybody away from the course (it tends to be overenrolled anyway). And I’d collect signatures under a document that they’ve been forewarned about graphic scenes of extreme violence, including of the sexual nature.

What do you, folks, think? I want to teach this novel. But it’s hardcore. Like in Hispanic hardcore, not US hardcore. Real hardcore. We read this kind of stuff routinely as undergrads but these days nobody does anything more challenging than some weepy Chicano Bildungsroman or other.

Political Uses

I’m not looking forward to exploring the depths of apocalyptic imaginings that Americans will produce in response to the coronavirus. It will be especially bad since it can be used politically and feed people’s sense of self-righteousness.

By the way, talking about political uses and self-righteousness, how come I’m not hearing anything on the news about the mass shooter at Molson Coors? Is there something about the shooting that makes it of no use politically? Is the shooter not male, not white, not native born or not a registered Republican?

No-No Square

And by the way, talking about videos – and yes, we all hate them – but if you haven’t yet learned about “safe Oulu”, you are missing something really striking.

I warn you, though. You are likely to lose your faith in humanity as a result. The look of grim determination on people’s faces is haunting.

My home town has launched a 2,5 million euro project called Safe Oulu that aims at combating the (migrant) rape crisis.

This is where the money goes.

Kill me now.

At least, be kind and lobotomize me so I won’t have to live with this image in my head.

Watch to Find Out

One of the modern day fads I deeply detest is getting an email from a person who wants something from me and, instead of saying what it is, asks me to watch a video to find out.

The sheer fussiness of the people who would record themselves telling you what they need is aggravating. But what’s worse is the idea that I’m going to take the extra step of following a link and watching somebody sloooooooowly try to verbalize what they want from me when they can’t even be bothered to summarize it in one sentence and put it into a bloody email.

Less Interest

The talk on El Salvador went well. What’s interesting, though, is that there were fewer people than at the talk on Ukraine back in November. And while the level of informedness on Ukraine was very impressive, the knowledge about El Salvador was non-existent. It’s weird because my friend Basia and I are “like literally” the only Ukrainians in the 100-mile radius while we have a large Salvadoran community locally. Plus, there are no major Ukrainian gangs in every large city in the US. People didn’t even know the difference between Mexican drug cartels and Central American gangs, which are completely different phenomena.

I understand that El Salvador is tiny but we have 1,5 million Salvadorans living in the US and more coming every day.

The conclusion to the talk was given by one listener who said, “gosh, I’m happy we were colonized by the British and not Spain. Wherever the Spanish went, things got bungled up.” And that is obviously true even though the wording is a bit off.

The Talk

Lest people think I’ve already died of coronavirus, I’m not posting because I’m giving a talk on El Salvador today, and I’m bringing Klara, so it takes a lot of management.

I lost my fear of coronavirus after watching an interview with a woman who’s been quarantined. She says a quarantined person is locked up in complete isolation and only sees other human beings twice a day when they bring food. That sounds paradisiacal right now.


In rural Carter County, Tenn., health officials have embraced a strategy for stemming addiction: Teaching children as young as 6 how to administer Narcan, a nasal spray that can stop an opioid overdose from being fatal.

What these “health officials” are really embracing is child abuse. Not only does this normalize drug addiction, placing an official seal of approval on it, it also creates a potential of saddling the kids with enormous sense of guilt if the Narcan fails to reverse the overdose, if the kid doesn’t administer it correctly or on time, gets scared and freezes up, gets distracted, loses it, anything. It’s not a kid’s responsibility to save an addict’s life.

This is absolutely inexcusable.

And how exactly does it “stem addiction”? Addicts don’t quit because after getting Narcan. It’s not a cure for addiction.