My Debut as a Wedding General

My session went 90 minutes over the allotted time. I’m over the moon, folks. My faith in the future of academia is beginning to get restored. Although it’s not likely to happen in North America.

I was invited to this session in the capacity of what in my country we call “a wedding general.” In the nineteenth century, retired generals supplemented their income by making paid appearances at weddings. A general would sit at the top of the table in his uniform and regalia, boosting the prestige of the family and making the guests think that he’s related to the bride or the groom. In a similar way, the speakers of the session asked me to sit there and puff up my cheeks (which was the main job requirement for the original wedding general) and look important.

It turned out to be a great session. These are young (meaning about 10 years younger than me) Spanish academics. They are very done with wokeness, identity sloganeering, pileups on imaginary fascists, globalization, and the digital oligarchy. They want to read Zygmunt Bauman and teach Great Books. In the 3 hours that the session + additional discussion lasted, the only person who mentioned “inclusion” was me and that was only to mock it.

The best part was that we had a completely normal, completely unconstrained discussion about literature. There was complete freedom to say whatever one wanted. No woke comissars, no obligatory disawovals of “systemic injustices.” We spoke like normal people. And I think the audience liked it because many of the listeners stayed on debating all through the lunch hour, even though academics aren’t normally open to the disruptions in their food intake.

I’m so happy I could cry.

Depopulation Talk

Everything has been back to normal around here for months except for kid-related stuff. Toddlers still need to wear masks in daycare. Indoor children’s activities are still closed.

And most ridiculously of all, the outdoor splash pad still gets sanitized every 90 minutes for a whole half hour. It’s outside! There’s water everywhere! The sun is shining! The attendees are all kids and their non-ancient parents.

It bugs me beyond all measure when clearly stupid things like these are done. There is zero risk of COVID on that splash pad. Why are we doing this?

People are fearful of depopulation strategies being baked into COVID mitigation and you can see why. Parents of small children have been really mistreated for absolutely no reason during this pandemic. A lot more effort is being put into “protecting” 5-year-olds from the COVID that they neither get nor transmit than the frail elderly who do die of it. One’s experience of the pandemic is dramatically worse if one has small kids. This whole thing has been one long, undeserved punishment for parents. Is it so surprising that people are noticing and looking for an explanation?

The Next Promotion

I thought that once you got promoted to Full Professor (which I have been) there were no promotions beyond that. But that’s not true! In 5 years, I’ll become eligible for promotion to the rank of Distinguished Research Professor. The title comes accompanied by a salary increase, a semester to do research, and a medal. In five years, I’ll wrap up my second term as chair and go for this new promotion. By that time, I’ll have two more books and 15 more articles.

Things are looking up.

Texas Valedictorian

Completely outside of the abortion debate – in which I no longer participate due to my age – this child’s parents have done a piss-poor job.

They have led her to believe that getting pregnant at 18 is an absolute end of the world. That isn’t choice. That’s the exact opposite of choice.

Any parent who has an ounce of love for their daughter would give her a real choice. They would say, “whenever you decide to give birth, I will be there for you, I will help, we’ll figure it out.”

Again, this isn’t about abortion rights, especially since you can get abortion pills through telemedicine at any time in any place. It’s about shitty parents who need their daughter to engage in this kind of performance to reassure them she won’t foist a grandkid on them.

If this were my child who felt the need to do this performance, I’d do a lot of soul-searching about what I’ve taught her about being a woman and what nefarious purpose I was pursuing by making it so dark.