I’m an Interpreter

The interpreting job consisted of translating orally legal documents from English to Spanish for a Hispanic client who speaks no English. I really enjoyed it. It’s kind of a relief not to have to write out all the endless legal sentences. The client, being Hispanic, used this opportunity to tell me her life story, which I didn’t mind because this work is paid by half-hour increments.

Unorthodox Teaching Methods

If my father had a chance, he’d be one of those unschooling people. He thought that school was a waste of time and drove my mother – a schoolteacher – nuts with long, passionate speeches on the evils of schooling.

Once I got an F in math and another in behavior. The teacher said I needed a parent to sign my gradebook to demonstrate awareness of the problem. I showed the gradebook to my Dad.

“Good!” he said. “I’m very glad. Why did you get these Fs?”

I explained that I was reading a novel during my math class.

“That’s excellent!” my father said. “I’m so happy you aren’t wasting your time in these stupid classes.”

He taught in college, and his teaching methods were as unorthodox as his parenting. On the first day of class, he’d tell the group of 100+ students, “Everybody gets an A. Give me your gradebooks, and I’ll sign them. Now, if you are here for the grade, please clear out. Only stay if you want to learn.”

All but 4 students happily cleared out. My father taught the course to the remaining four and then hired them all to work for his company. They worked for him for the next 20 years, making outlandishly good salaries because he had contracts with US clients.

He was like this. Completely oblivious to how things were supposed to be done.

Mocking the Ill

I did not think much of John Fetterman as a candidate, to say the least. But watching him debate Dr. Oz tonight excited my pity for him, and my anger for everyone around him — his partner, his campaign operation, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, and any national party figures who were aware of his condition before this debate. John Fetterman should not have been on a debate stage tonight. He should be at home, recovering from his stroke. He looked and sounded like the victim of a stroke — unable to form coherent responses to questions asked of him, unsteady in reaching for his rehearsed lines. 


I am very angered by this spectacle of a seriously ill man being subjected to what amounts to physical abuse for political reasons. This whole idea that after suffering a stroke you need to be able to go back to work at once as if nothing happened is inhuman and wrong. I don’t care what this man’s politics are, I don’t care about his party affiliation, or anything of the kind. I care that he is a human being in distress and he is being trotted out in public for everybody to gape at his physical limitations.

I was particularly stunned to find out that Fetterman is married. We are mocking the wives of the Russian soldiers who are eager to send them to die in hopes of getting a payout as widows. But those are miserable, uneducated, piss-poor women with no options. What is the excuse of Fetterman’s wife? It’s almost physically painful for me to watch clips from this debate, and I don’t know Fetterman. What kind of utter inhumanity is needed to put a victim of a very recent stroke in a high-pressure situation of a political debate?

Hoisted on His Own Petard

Folks, this is too funny. The Dean was extremely supportive of the hiring freeze. Then he tried to hire a new Associate Dean and found out that…. guess what? … there’s a hiring freeze. Now he’s stuck answering every email about course schedule changes, office assignments, and so on.

I discussed this with other Chairs and we laughed maniacally.

Pet Peeve

One of my pet peeves is the habit some people have of putting the due date on their calendar as the date when they should begin to work on a task. “Please submit before October 31” to them always means “Remember on October 31 that you were supposed to be working on this.” Of course, it always turns out that the paperwork they had to submit was due at 8 am on the deadline date, and they start sending out pitiful emails at noon, enquiring how it all happened.

I’m not talking about students. These are adults. If you have a document that takes 3 minutes to fill out, why not fill it out when you receive it instead of entering it into your calendar and then waiting until the absolute last second to do it?

This is particularly dumb since due dates for things tend to cluster around the 15th and the end of the month. You regularly end up with an avalanche of things that need to be done immediately if you confuse “due date” with “to do date.”

What If Things Don’t Change?

One interesting exercise that Charles Cooke suggested at the Republican event (see previous post) is this. Think about the area where you live and imagine that nothing is done in it politically for the next 30 years. It’s 2052 and absolutely nothing changed in the past 3 decades. How would you feel about that?

I thought about it, and if the town where I live and this whole area didn’t change at all. . . that would be pretty bloody amazing. Folks, this is as close to paradise on Earth as it can get. It’s exactly the kind of place where children should grow up and where parents should observe them grow up. I keep taking visitors to our poor area of town and they tell me they don’t see the difference between it and the middle-class area. Here everything is safe, beautiful, great nature, everything is affordable, tons of kids’ activities, great medical services with no waiting times – it’s so good.

I want this to be conserved exactly as is for my kid and her kids and so on to enjoy. It’s extraordinarily unique and rare that a civilization has achieved something like this. I don’t think it can be improved. I think we would be sorely tempting God (or fate, or good luck, whatever you believe) if we tried to fuss with it much.

Many Republicans

Today I attended a discussion meeting that National Review holds between its leading journalists and smallish groups of readers. This is my only chance to be somewhere where everybody is a Republican. Everybody! Feels so strange.

It was a great conversation. I’m in academia, so my chances to be in a room (virtual or real) with more than 1 Republican at any given time are nil.

These are journalists and people who read magazines, so the nature of the discussion was elevated. Everything was calm and triumphant. I’m a recent Republican, so everybody was more knowledgeable than I am, and I was content to stay silent and listen.

The journalists were Charles C. Cooke, Michael Brendan Dougherty, and Rich Lowry. They didn’t lecture but answered questions. The questions were smart, and so were the answers, especially on the inflation. The explanation as to what caused the inflation and why it’s not going to be fixed any time soon was great.

Best of all, nobody in the group was a victim. Nobody talked about anybody being a victim. Nobody sounded self-righteous or tried to guilt anybody about anything. Nobody said they were exhausted or had mental issues. I’m now on my way to a work-related group, and I know this whole list will be rolled out because it always is.

The group wasn’t as triumphant and upbeat as my Ukrainian discussion groups, but Americans by nature have a more muted affect (this is not a criticism, mind you. I’d kill for a more level affect but it’s physiological, you can’t change it). But it was at the opposite side of the spectrum from Democrat groups where everybody is down in the dumps all the time.

I’m now very energized to vote Republican.

No True Bill

Now that my favorite Associate Dean (called Bill) is gone and we haven’t found a new one, the Dean is trying to sub for him. He doesn’t have the same work ethic, so he cuts corners. And that never works.

Here’s an example. Every October we have to do a mandated ethics training. It’s something the state requires of everybody, including graduate assistants, plant workers, everybody. Of course, many people forget. In the last week of October, Bill used to send reminders to the people who hadn’t undergone the training.

The Dean decided that going through the lists and weeding out those who haven’t done the training is a bore. Instead, he sent a group email to everybody, berating us for not doing the training. Immediately, the people who had done the training started to respond to the entire thread, angrily and self-righteously defending themselves from the unfair accusation. So that you understand the magnitude of the blunder, we have 846 people total. Not everybody has written back but the thread has raged since yesterday and is still going strong right now. People don’t like the Dean, and this is a great way legitimately to spam his inbox.