Gender Studies Major

People have no understanding of how the system of higher education in their own country works. For instance, there’s a myth about a crowd of unemployable gender studies majors wandering around.

In reality, it’s a rare university that can afford a gender studies major, and those that do have the tiniest number of students. The programs that do graduate crowds of unemployable people are in psychology. A Bachelor’s degree in psychology doesn’t give you the possibility of any sort of clinical practice. The program is pure fluff. Students who can’t succeed in college are syphoned towards it in large numbers to create an illusion of tolerable graduation rates. After graduation, all they can do is go into the kind of jobs that enforce woke compliance. At my university, we have 500+ psych majors and 8 physics majors. And that’s not because there are no jobs in physics or chemistry. Actually, the starting salary for our chemistry graduates is $80,000. They are in high demand. But most of the students who enter the chemistry program fail within the first two semesters and switch not to the non-existent gender studies major but into psych.

Neurotic

The difference between a neurotic and a healthy person is that a neurotic expects everybody to change to accommodate his neurosis. We saw this during COVID when some people took the position that everybody needed to change their lifestyle to make them less anxious. A healthy person, instead, changes her own behavior and deals with her anxiety herself without farming it out to others. The neurotic approach is doomed to failure because anxiety has an internal source and can only be controlled internally.

More on Why the West Rules

Here’s another reason why the West rules:

Is anybody making the citizens of, say, Havana or Lima litter like they are paid to do it? I’ve been to Havana. People spend all day sitting outside in the midst of piles of garbage with no inclination to clean up their own space. Is anybody forcing them to live like this? No, of course not.

Sweep your own doorstep and don’t drive like a maniac, and already the standard of living will improve significantly. But it’s more fun to pout, so pout they will.

I was born in a country where streets were covered with garbage and dog shit. And then people got over themselves and started cleaning up their mess. It’s possible to do for yourself without waiting for a kindly benefactor. Anybody can be “the West” if they choose to do it.

Childhood Innocence

“Mommy, I learned at school that there are black people and white people. And they had separate water fountains. That’s history!” Klara says.

I love Americans, I truly do. But this obsession with race is seriously unhealthy. Why do kids need this at 6? Why is it so urgent to inform them before they learn to tie their shoes?

I did what I could, put her in a private Christian school but even there the favorite national pastime of scratching the itch of race has found us.

My kid didn’t even know the word COVID until we were in New York on Sunday and she read it on a billboard. And COVID was happening as she was growing up, not in the previous century.

What’s the rush to inform the kids about bad things? Are we worrying that they’ll avoid finding out? No, they won’t. Divorce, child abuse, slavery, FGM, Bucha, Stalin, Auschwitz, Rwanda, women on leashes, serial killers, Putin – they’ll find out for sure. And the only way to make it bearable when they do find out is to give them a childhood where none of this exists.

American Humor

Klara developed a very American sense of humor and makes up jokes that take me a while to figure out because they are different in structure from what we consider a joke in my country.

Here are some examples:

“What did a pickle say when it fell out of a jar?” – “That’s a pretty pickle!”

“What did the tag say to the suitcase?” – “May I tag along?”

“Why do you dislike stairs?” “Because they are up to no good.”

This made me think about cultural differences in humor. It looks like in English, humor is dialogic and based on wordplay. Our humor, on the other hand, is situational and narrative. We don’t have “knock knock” jokes, for instance, and it took me ages to figure out what they were. Neither do we have the “what did X say when Y happened” jokes. I don’t even perceive them as joke unless somebody explains them at length. Instead, we narrate little anecdotes where people find themselves in ludicrous situations and say silly things.

For example, here’s a famous joke: “Why does everybody say Pavarotti is talented? He’s terrible. He’s got no voice and no sense of rhythm.” “Why, have you been to a Pavarotti concert?” “No, but my friend Rabinovich sang a couple of Pavarotti’s arias to me.”

If you are from another culture, how do you make jokes?

Book Notes: Sara Mesa’s The Family

Sara Mesa is one of the best Spanish writers of the moment but her books are hit-and-miss. Some are brilliant, and some are disappointing. The Family is beautifully written and has a great premise but it ultimately fails because the author can’t stay faithful to the idea she’s trying to develop, and the novel ends up disintegrating into unfinished sketches that never come together.

Here’s what makes The Family interesting. It’s a novel about a bad, oppressive father. Usually, bad fathers in literature differ according to their political leanings. Bad right-wing fathers are tyrannical, controlling, religious, and omnipresent. Bad left-wing fathers are absent, distant, atheist, promiscuous and sexually inappropriate. In The Family, Sara Mesa tries to create a bad left-wing father who isn’t absent or promiscuous. He’s controlling, omnipresent, and sexually austere at the same time as he is woke.

Unfortunately, Mesa doesn’t go all in on the father’s wokeness. He’s the leftist of the 1980s and 1990s, which means that much of today’s woke insanity didn’t yet exist. If she’d set the novel today and really went for it, that would have been one great book. Instead, she runs out of steam, gets confused, and ends up with a set of vignettes that never really lead anywhere.

My First Painting

It’s ready!

As I said, I have zero talent, so I used a paint-by-numbers kit. Like the kind that little kids use but this one is for adults. It’s broken up into the tiniest pieces, and there are 24 colors in the palette.

I’m giving this one to N. The next one will be Christmas-themed, and I’m giving it to Klara. The third one will be for me.

Literally, anybody with at least one hand and one eye can do it, and it’s extremely cheap. It’s the best hobby, people. I highly recommend.

The Adult Thing to Do

I strongly believe that you don’t fully become an adult until saying “I was wrong, I made a mistake” becomes easy. This is the moment when you leave behind the childhood narcissism and enter adulthood.

For children, it’s intolerable to lose face by recognizing that they were wrong. This is why an intelligent adult always gives a child an easy, face-saving way out of a mistake or an instance of bad behavior. Children’s sense of self isn’t yet strong enough to withstand the discomfort of being in the wrong. Trying to force them to apologize or recognize their wrongdoing with words is counterproductive because it delays the creation of a mature sense of self that can easily deal with being fallible.

When I first started working here, I messed up and got a senior colleague into a lot of trouble. This colleague was always sweet to me, and I felt like a bastard. There was no way for the colleague to discover who was at fault. She and everybody else blamed another person who is genuinely annoying and disliked by everybody. It wasn’t easy to go to the senior colleague (who was going to be on my tenure committee) and take responsibility. Looking into her face and seeing her disappointment in me was unpleasant. But I did it because it was the right thing to do. I still cringe inwardly when I remember the moment of having to expose myself not as a competent colleague but as somebody who messes up stupidly. But this is how growth happens.

I see it with students, too. It’s very rare to see somebody who is mature enough not to blame everybody else and their uncle for their own mess-ups. But when I see a rare student who manages to do it, I know that this is somebody who will do fine in life.

All They Want

“All they want is a guarantee that the NATO won’t expand.”

I’m still waiting for the people who kept saying that “this is about the NATO” to do the adult thing and come tell me that they were wrong.