1,009 Gone

For the first time in 30 years, Cook County, IL had over 1,000 homicides in a year. And 2021 isn’t over yet. It was 600+ in 2018 and 2019, as far as I can remember. A thousand nine people. I can’t even imagine.

80% of the victims were black. 15% Hispanic. Call me extremely stupid but when BLM started and I was an early supporter, I swear I thought it was going to be about this slow-motion genocide. Then I realized nobody gives a fuck. I’m still not over that monumental, ocean-wide disappointment.

This is just one county. There’s also East St Louis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York. When I think about all those needlessly dead people, I feel so much anger towards every stupid, smug idiot nattering about structural racisms and putting BLM in their email signatures. They are self-promoting and advancing their stupid little brands off real tragedy.

The Winning Candidate

We had 4 candidates for Chancellor. Three black men and a white woman. The search committee was the diversity office. Here is the breakdown of the candidates:

1. One was brilliant, charming, an alumnus with a great knowledge of our campus, our programs, and our issues. He was the only candidate to talk about the physical buildings on campus. His understanding of diversity is heavily oriented towards helping the disabled students. Also, he’s the only candidate to use the words “research” and “productivity.”

2. The second one was. . . OK. Not a superstar like the first but a perfectly reasonable, decent candidate.

3. The woman was. . . not a star. A typical plodding bureaucrat with no original ideas.

4. The fourth candidate was so neoliberal he looked like a parody. We need data! And dashboards! We need software that shows us data on dashboards! And an app! How great would it be to have an app? Once we get the dashboard data on an app, we can start “taking difficult decisions about the workforce.” We need to work harder, deliver fewer services, and move much of our operations online. Because online education is anti-racist! And so are data dashboards in apps!

The neoliberal guy evinced zero knowledge of our campus. He was the youngest, the least experienced, and the most robotic in his delivery. The spoke in a bureaucratic jargon and not a single glimpse of anything human shone through the wall of meaningless neologisms. Every colleague I spoke to was dismayed by this guy. Obviously, the diversity office voted for him and he was hired.

Freudian Box

A Freudian would notice in this imagery a huge sexual frustration that screams to the skies. Big! Red! Boxes! are a woman’s equivalent of gigantic penis-shaped objects displayed by a man.

Leaving Freud aside, this is so ugly. Why can’t these people hire somebody with a modicum of artistic sensibility?

Coh-veed Shot

Klara asked me today if she needs a “coh-veed shot.” Apparently, some kid at school got one and just had to share the news. Klara had never heard the word COVID from me or anybody before, so I wasn’t pleased.

Of course, I told her that if she wants an extra shot – or fifteen, I can arrange that. Understandably, she refused.

I took her to the pediatrician today who asked me if we are interested in getting Klara vaccinated for “you-know-what” and then muttered quietly and really fast “I don’t recommend, I don’t recommend.” I don’t recommend either, so it’s all good.

Book Notes: Liane Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall

This novel by a bestselling Australian mommy-lit author is, in my opinion, her best. It’s a long, gossipy yarn about dysfunctional families that still manage to figure everything out. Everybody meets their soulmate or realizes they are already married to one. The barren get pregnant and the perennially single fall in love. Complicated conflicts are resolved and love conquers all. Everything scary turns out to be not scary at all. Murders turn out to be funny mishaps. Lifelong enemies kiss and make up.

The novel is getting bad reviews because the characters are “not likeable.” This is actually a good sign because “likeable” characters are one-dimensional stick figures with no depth. Would you make a likeable character? I definitely wouldn’t.

Apples Never Fall has one big flaw. The last 30 pages are completely unnecessary and filled with utter covidiocy. Does anybody need another Australian lady lecturing us about COVID? Definitely not. I prefer authors who pretend COVID never happened. The only reason to read novels like these is for escapist reasons. I’m not trying to glean profound existential insights here. I just want to have a relaxing couple of hours. There’s enough COVID talk everywhere else. Why do I need more of it in my funtime reading matter?

Other than that, a hugely enjoyable read. If anybody knows another author like Liane Moriarty, please let me know. I love this kind of stuff.

Not Gifted

Obviously, it was the right decision for Bezos but it’s not a great suggestion for everybody else. I’m a lot less gifted than many of the people I went to school with. I’m actually not gifted at all. My IQ is very run-of-the-mill. Everything takes me a very long time. In languages in particular, I’m just not naturally endowed. What other people pick up with ease, I have to plough through with endless flashcards and months of rote memorization. I have a terrible memory. Sometimes, I struggle for months to articulate an idea, and people go, “erm, that’s obvious.” Well, obvious to you maybe but I had to take a lot of time to figure it out.

In the only language class I ever took in Spanish, I was one of the slowest people to get things. Watching others just effortlessly get it made it clear that I was not made for it. But of those 46 people who took the class with me, who made a career for themselves in Hispanic Studies? Who publishes the work that a new generation of students is assigned to read? Only me.

The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes to me that natural gifts aren’t that important in intellectual pursuits. It’s all about the dogged perseverance of the not-so-brilliant.

Stalin, for example, was despised as a pedestrian, plodding mind by the brilliant revolutionaries like Trotsky or Bukharin. But who ended up winning and killed them all? Not that Stalin is a huge role model but

Forget being gifted and work on your psychological health. That’s a real gift that will carry you everywhere you need to go.

Trauma-informed Pedagogy

There’s a new fad in teaching called “trauma-informed pedagogy.” It means students can’t be disciplined or punished for terrible behavior in any way. If they beat other students, harass the teacher, create mayhem, vandalize the school property, or interrupt class to scream insults, you have to assume they do it because they’ve been traumatized. The only allowed reaction to this behavior is “oh, you poor bunny.” Of course, this creates even more terrible behavior. Some schools have descended into total mayhem as a result of this.

The goal of trauma-informed pedagogy is to make public schools so unappealing that people wouldn’t use them unless they are completely desperate. Public schooling will be reduced to a few hours of online propaganda a day. Once again, this is all about austerity.

“Culturally responsive teaching” is a synonym of “trauma-informed pedagogy.” And by God, do the people who come up with these ugly verbal constructions have any respect for language? Culturally responsive teaching is based on the belief that everybody who is not white is a complete idiot incapable of behaving in a civilized way. As a result, you can’t teach anything of substance or require any discipline because that’s isn’t respectful of the “cultures” that are congenitally dumb and violent. I kid you not, this utterly racist gobbledygook is now treated as holy dogma in teaching.

As a side note, if you are seeking psychological help, please avoid “trauma-informed therapists.” They are as useless and faddy as “trauma-informed teachers.”