Weird and Weirder

It’s 7 pm. I’m sitting in the reception area of my office in the secretary’s seat (she has the best desk chair in the building, by the way). The sounds of people praying are coming from my office.


Yes, but only if you don’t know that I brought my sister to campus to give a Zoom talk from my office to a Christian group interested in personal branding.

OK, I think I made it even weirder with this explanation.


The funniest thing about people who aggressively promote the pull-out and/or rhythm methods of contraception because it worked for them their whole life is their utter lack of realization that it only works for them because they are low-fertility. There’s nothing moral or immoral about being low-fertility and it makes no sense to invest it with any emotional or philosophical significance. But I know a whole bunch of kids born through this method, and they are all amazing kids, so it’s just as well. (I don’t mean my kids. Mine were both planned.)

This Used to Be a Nice Country

Department Chairs at my college will now be obligated to read two extremely woke books about race and get together with the administration to discuss them. We were officially informed in writing that we are expected to express agreement with the books during the discussions. The books aren’t DiAngelo or Kendi but very similar.

This will be happening in August, the busiest time for Chairs. Just think about it. We are grown people, academics. And we are given a reading list and told what we are supposed to think about the reading even before we do it. We have to interrupt the work we are doing to start that the academic year – and believe me, it’s a buttload of work – and engage in public declarations of how we are guilty for being white.

In Russia, before an election, people who work at state-owned institutions have to write essays titled “Why I support President Putin.” There’s a worksheet provided to show how much space you are supposed to fill. Nobody asks people if they support. They must support because they are told to. The essays exist to humiliate people and let them know that no hint of dignity or personal opinion will be tolerated.

Can anybody tell me how the two situations are different? And I mean, OK, Russians can be excused because they maybe spent a few years not in a totalitarian regime in the last 100 years. They sincerely don’t know better. But what’s wrong with Americans?

This used to be a very nice country.

Different Mentality

We had our meet-and-greet event at the school where Klara is going to start kindergarten. And see, I still have a Soviet mentality. I thought it was going to be an event for the parents where we’d ask questions and take down notes on what’s required of us.

But nobody gave a toss about the parents. Instead, kids were unleashed to run, jump, toss balls, play tag, eat ice cream, and then run and scream happily. The whole point of the activity, it turns out, is not to communicate rules to the parents but to make sure that the kids’ first memory of school is really great.

I was so happy I could cry. It never occurred to me that school can be like this.