Consistent on Climate

Yes, I totally blame Van Gogh for the global warming. If only he ate his soup like normal people do, we wouldn’t have these problems now.

Or something.

You got to give it to the climate movement. They are extremely consistent. Their absolute incoherence is never interrupted by the slightest effort to make any sense to anybody.

Markets Everywhere

And look how great this works:

Mass mobilization is declared in Russia.

Near a million men of working age leave the country. 200,000 get conscripted.

Their property is siphoned off to the banks for non-payment of their debt obligations.

An acute labor shortage is created, justifying an even more explosive than usual influx of migrants.

Population replacement, anyone?

That there are people who seriously call this model “nationalism” is mind-boggling. This is pretty much the exact opposite. Forget whether nationalism is good or bad for the moment. It’s simply not this, irrespective of whether you like it or not.

Look in the Mirror

A colleague suggested we cancel our highest-level seminars because “they are too hard and students don’t want to sign up for them.” Of course, my highest-level seminar this semester is over-enrolled but it’s easier to generalize and make assumptions about students than wonder if it’s not the course but yourself that they are avoiding.

In my experience, students don’t come to a course. They come to a person. I’m teaching Cervantes this semester. We simply do not teach anything harder than that. Plus, I have a charming habit of scheduling my courses on Friday mornings when nobody else wants to teach or come to campus. And yet I never worry that my classes won’t make minimal enrollment and will be cancelled. I worry that everybody who wants to sign up won’t fit into the classroom.

The same colleague complains that students cheat and use Google Translate. I have the same students but they all hand in honestly written essays with tons of mistakes. I can’t remember when anybody handed in anything written at above their level of language proficiency.

Link of the Day

What’s life like for newly-mobilised Russian troops in their barracks and temporary accomodation

Please pay particular attention to how much it’s costing the conscripts to get conscripted. These are colossal amounts to Russian families outside of Moscow and St Petersburg. And still, they agree to all of it to avoid the very minimal discomfort of simply not doing what the weak and bumbling authorities tell them to do.

There are hundreds of videos of these conscripts whining on social media. “We are hungry… We are unarmed… We are cold… We are sneezing and coughing…”

The link is in English.

Imaginary Threat

How many people so far have been punished in Russia for avoiding mobilization?

Zero, of course. There are no resources even to keep track of them, let alone to prosecute. As usual, the scary Putin dictatorship is a myth. People are afraid of imaginary consequences that never come.

This reminds me how back in my student years in Ukraine, I discovered, to my enormous shock, that every single student in my cohort at the university had given a bribe to be admitted into the program. I hadn’t given any bribes and knew for a fact that no bribes were solicited at any point in the process. When I talked to my fellow students about it, they admitted that nobody had asked them for a bribe. They assumed that it was impossible to gain admission without bribing somebody, found people who worked at the university (and often had nothing to do with admissions), and gave them gigantic, unsolicited, unnecessary bribes. They were probably all accepted into the program on their merits but assumed it was thanks to the bribe.

Almost all of these students lived in great poverty. They had to go into debt and go hungry for months to collect money for the bribe. My best friend in college spent two years saving for it. I could have paid that amount easily because I was making good money but it never occurred to me.

When I revealed that I had paid nothing and experienced zero problems with admission, my fellow students became upset and boycotted me for a month. Today I would have concealed that the bribe had never been necessary out of kindness but back then I was young, and it wasn’t something I was likely to do.

Thankfully, in Ukraine people seem to have unlearned this cosmic, baseless anxiety. But in Russia they haven’t. They’d rather go to a near-certain death to escape from a scary fantasy instead of observing reality and engaging with it.

There’s this YouTube channel that N loves where Ukrainian journalists talk to these confused, scared Russian conscripts. “How many people in Russia have been jailed for avoiding the draft?” a journalist asks. “I don’t know. A lot?” a skinny, underfed conscript answers. “Not a single one,” the journalist says. “Oh…” mumbles the conscript. “Oh…”

Sociopath or Phone?

OK, what do you think? A sociopath or a sarcastic man who is simply taking the piss?

Or, the best case scenario, a figment of this woman’s imagination. Maybe she talked to an automated phone message system and decided it was her new boyfriend. “Your message is very important to us. Please stay on the line, and a representative will be available shortly.”

Choose a Talent

If you could have a talent – not for making money but simply to enjoy – which would you choose, drawing, painting, sculpting, singing or dancing?

I’d choose painting because I could do it while listening to my books. Theoretically, I could listen while drawing but I don’t see the point of drawing anything besides people, and that requires models, so that’s out.