Conference Impressions

I promise I will write about Mexican developments tomorrow. Today I’m at the conference all day. We had a dish called “Spanish tears.” At first, I thought it was a beverage but it turned out to be strips of meat that I didn’t particularly appreciate. We also had potatoes 5 different ways, so I’m not complaining. I also ordered something people were calling “Clarita” because I miss my kid and the word reminded me of her. I thought it was an egg. Turns out Clarita is light – or what do you call it? It means not dark – beer. And even though I detest beer, this one was delicious.

I’ve been hanging with amazing people here at the conference. I also met an academic whom I deeply admire and then it turned out that he deeply admires me and always wanted to meet me.

Also, I remembered why I started to learn Spanish in the first place all those years ago. My Spanish-speaking persona has no sociability problems. It’s so much lighter than my regular self that it gives me freedom from the inner heaviness that I normally carry everywhere. I almost never get to talk to any native speakers of Spanish anymore, so I actually forgot how it feels. Imagine, making all that effort to learn a language in adulthood and achieve complete fluency to escape from your unpleasant personality and then not being able to use it.

It’s really funny, though, because the people I’ve been hanging out with all day have no idea that I’m usually nothing like the person they saw.

I’m glad I ended up being with people all day because otherwise I’d stay in bed staring at the wall and remembering the first day of the Russian invasion a year ago.

At Home

I went out with a group of Spanish scholars today, and it was lovely. Two were left-wing and two conservative. Of course, the left-wing academics would be considered far right in the US which they know and find very entertaining. We had a fantastic discussion, and it was a profound pleasure to be among people who are speaking openly and saying things nobody would dare breathe in US academia.

Everybody argued and yelled without being terrified of giving offense. I haven’t participated in anything this intellectually stimulating… since the last time I spoke with this group.

One of the academics I met left a tenure-track job in the US 6 months before going up for tenure because of the stultifying environment of extreme wokeness. She is considered extremely left-wing in Spain but back in Kentucky she was perceived as almost to the right of Hitler.

Of course, I have this blog where I can speak of things that interest me but I very much miss having such discussions in real life. I don’t think I’m going to go to any more conferences in North America because what’s the point of listening to strings of slogans that we all already know? I’ll go to Spain instead.

Why China Doesn’t Lead

Today China released its much vaunted plan for peace in Ukraine. You can read it here.

The extraordinary impotence of the text is striking. It’s a well-intentioned, bland word soup that could have been produced by ChatBot GPT. There’s nothing bad in it other than it should be shameful for anybody over the age of 14 publicly to release such a string of banalities. “War is bad. Peace is good. Sovereignty is important. Respect human rights!”

The plan is said to be based on the doctrine of “4 necessities, 4 commonalities and 3 observations.” Anybody who has had to sit through an administrative meeting knows that this is the language of Western bureaucrats. There’s a lady in our Office of Instructional Innovation and Design who speaks like this because there’s nothing else she knows how to do.

The most striking thing, though, is that the 14-year-old who wrote the text is clearly Western. This is Western mentality, the Western conceptual apparatus, carefully and eagerly regurgitated in a manner of a conscientious but dull student. Over a billion people, one of the highest-IQ group of the planet, and all they can produce is this major snooze.

People keep saying that China is the next global hegemon. But they confuse size with the capacity to lead. Look at Great Britain or Spain. They are tiny. Yet they created enormous empires and made their languages and cultures globally crucial.

When a small handful of Spaniards defeated the Aztec Empire, that happened because the Aztecs were in a civilizational dead-end of which they themselves were quite aware. Spaniards made themselves more attractive to the multitudinous tribes that went to fight the Aztecs on their side and guaranteed their win because they were a civilization on the rise. Aztecs were on the decline. They had no new ideas, no mental agility. Not on the individual level, of course, but as a group. They tried to inscribe the arrival of the Spaniards into an outdated system of old myths. That wasn’t working, so they got stuck pondering this tedious conundrum and lost valuable time. When you contrast the absolute certainty of Hernán Cortés and the impotent wavering of Moctezuma, it becomes clear who was bound to win the contest.

The same but even more egregious process took place when Pizarro conquered the Incas. And now Mexico and Peru speak Spanish and struggle with very Hispanic problems in a very Hispanic way. (OT: is anybody following what’s happening in Mexico? It’s major and really bad. I can post about it if people are interested).

Leadership comes from a complete certainty that you have something really cool going on and you need to share it with the world. It works this way both in our individual lives and small groups or globally. “I’m big so follow me” makes no sense. “Follow me because I know a wonderful place you’ll love” does. Today China made it abundantly clear that it has no map that could take us to a great place and, moreover, doesn’t even suspect that maps can be drawn and new places can be explored.

As a famous Soviet writer said, “the scariest enemy is the one you invented yourself.” Let’s stop fearing imaginary foes and concentrate on our own leadership.

Lose Yourself… in COVID

OK, first of all, have you heard Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”? It’s also known as the best pop music song known to humanity. If not, listen to it here and then appreciate the way it was remastered for the current times by a talented reader of this blog:

Here’s the contemporary version of the masterpiece:

His face is sweaty,
Breath hot,
Lips are chapping,
There’s fogging on his glasses already,
Sight declining,
He’s boosted
But to neurotics
He looks sick and frightening,
Could cough germs,
But he keeps vaccinating,
Takes his mask off,
The guards all yell so loud
He opens his mouth
But they escort him out,
Ain’t choking, no,
Lungs functioning just fine right now,
Mask mandate sucks,
Pissed off,
Over, pow!

Snap back to reality,
Oh, unmasked celebrities,
Look, unmasked governor!
They lie,
He’s so mad
But he won’t
Give up that easy, no,
He won’t have it,
He knows,
It’s all back to the masks,
It don’t matter,
They’re dopes,
He knows that,
System broke,
Deck stacked,
And he knows
That when he goes back to just work from home
That’s when it’s
Back to the masks again,
This dumb mask crap,
He better go
Protest mask mandates.

You better
Boost yourself!
It’s the safest,
You know it,
Data shows it,
I’ll never let it go,
You only need three shots,
Do not miss your chance,
Just go,
This pharmacology helps you for a lifetime!

The germs escaping
Through this hole that is gaping,
Gaps won’t seal ‘less we taping,
Let me breathe!
As we move toward a
Vaccinated order,
As normal life is fading…