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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Ask Clarissa

Please use the comment thread of this page to ask me any questions. I will either answer them here or, if your question is especially interesting, write a separate post in response.

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458 thoughts on “Ask Clarissa

  1. sandra on said:

    where do i get free download of No one but you (english version)

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  2. good enough cook on said:

    My apologies if you’ve answered this already, but why did you choose the name “Clarissa” for your blog? Did you name yourself after Samuel Richardson’s heroine?

    Like

  3. I am disturbed that I cannot figure out whether this is real or satirical irony.

    http://www.newslo.com/texas-board-of-education-revises-textbooks-slaves-were-unpaid-interns/

    Like

  4. Hi Clarissa,

    My name is Alex and I am a Communications Manager at Barnard College. I am reaching out to you today with an idea for your blog. Being perfect and powerful, being a feminist: these are among the most popular topics of conversation among today’s young women. Barnard College’s new podcast series, Dare to Use the F-Word, tells the story of today’s feminists through the ideas, art, and activism that define them. Barnard President Debora Spar, in her new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power & the Quest for Perfection, explains that while most women today struggle with the idea of perfection, they also struggle with the concept of feminism itself. Are the two connected? Read President Spar’s thoughts in this exclusive post: https://barnard.edu/news/web-exclusive-president-spar

    As a communications manager at Barnard, I want to continue these important conversations among feminist thought-leaders like you. I ask you to republish and share this post on your blog. Pose these questions to your audience; they may dare others to join us and use the f-word.

    Kindly,
    Alex

    Like

    • ” in her new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power & the Quest for Perfection, explains that while most women today struggle with the idea of perfection, they also struggle with the concept of feminism itself.”

      – With all due respect, if Debora Spar, indeed, makes these obviously ridiculous statements that cannot possibly be substantiated with any real data, then she is not extremely smart. It is also, of course, possible that her narrative suffers from a faulty retelling. 🙂

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      • Do most women think about feminism? I thought, not.

        How is perfection defined? Being pretty / thin? “Having it all” – career and family?

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        • I haven’t read the book, but the blurb we have been offered suggests that whoever composed it (the blurb) is talking to voices in his / her head. I have no clue why “most young women today” would struggle with an idea. I have even less of a clue how anybody can conduct a study to calculate the number of such women. But the real mystery is why the study concentrates on women. As far as I remember, the Superman is male. And he has been enormously popular with men for 70-80 years. 🙂

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  5. Evelina Anville on said:

    Have you seen this story? I know Texas is weird….But this? I keep thinking it’s a hoax. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/us/pregnant-and-forced-to-stay-on-life-support.html?_r=0

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  6. Want to write about something that will depress you (Boo York) but cheer you up (Yay Canadian MPs!)?
    Canada is not taking after the UK in this regard.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mps-blast-york-for-backing-student-who-snubbed-working-with-women-1.2491371

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  7. I wonder whether you have any insights about the Falkland/Malvinas Islands? Everyone from Argentina that I have ever heard speak of them says in effect that they are part of Argentina by reason of geography. One of my colleagues grew up there, and I understand from him that everyone who actually lives there is English. What are the facts?

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    • What happened historically is that back in the XIXth century Argentina wasn’t doing anything much about the islands, they were just sitting there. That was the time when Great Britain was advancing its interests very aggressively in the region. While Argentina snoozed, GB came in and declared that the Malvinas belonged to it.

      Today, the population of the Falklands is under 3,000. Nobody really cares about the isles as such. Both Argentina and the UK keep using this tiny area to distract attention from problems at home. The military Junta in Argentina hyped up the story of the Malvinas to whip up a nationalistic frenzy and distract people from the horrors the Junta was inflicting on its own population. The plan worked beautifully.

      Thatcher did the same thing and used the Falklands War to get re-elected in an election that before this war was hopeless for her.

      Malvinas are now the perfect ploy for two countries to avoid solving internal problems.

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  8. Clarissa, one of my Facebook friends, another mathematician, posted this link. I think it is absolutely fascinating. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope to read any thoughts you have about it.

    http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

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    • I read the article and it made me sad. It seems like people who get bullied often find it very hard to grow up at all. The whole text is just sad. Just one example: “As far as I can tell, the concept of the hormone-crazed teenager is coeval with suburbia.” What can I say? I grew up in a country where suburbia did not exist at all, yet that did not liberate me from a very harsh hormonal transformation. Biology doesn’t listen to our ideas about what it should be.

      I don’t want to offend your friend but this is the most childish text I have read in a very long time.

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    • My whole school system was based around the nerd. There were no popularity contexts, except among those who had been socialised in the industrialized first world, including South Africa. We grativated toward certain schemas — for the boys that was the military pattern — but we had no real socialization or in or out groups.

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  9. How does one maintain relationships with parents who weren’t exactly the greatest? Asking because while I used to think of mine as one good, one bad, and used to plan to break contact with one of them once I became self-sufficient, I’m now figuring out all sorts of nasty dynamics in my relationship with the good parent, and the break-contact solution is beginning to look shabbier and shabbier. I’ll, of course, discuss this subject with my shrink next time I see her, but I’d welcome any input you might have.

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    • Yes, this is a very very common mechanism adopted by children in troubled families. You have arrived at this realization and that is an immense breakthrough. It is really an enormous feat to begin bringing the “good parent” under scrutiny. I’ve been exactly where you are right now and I do remember the feeling of having my entire worldview suddenly questioned.

      What helped me to move to the next step was asking myself what purpose this “bad parent / good parent” model served for me. Why did I need to convince myself that the good parent was 100% perfect? This shouldn’t be done in a self-castigating mode, of course. We all did what we needed to survive at that time, and there should not be any guilt attached.

      As for breaking contact, this is always a possibility. The question to ask here, I believe, is: “Are the destructive behaviors of this parent going on? Is s/he behaving in ways that are hurting me right now?” If so and if a request to stop these behaviors doesn’t work, it might make sense to stop contact. Whether you will want to reestablish it at a future date will be up to you.

      These are the stages of the healing process as I understand them:

      – You place the conduct of the parents under the light of scrutiny and realize all of the ways in which you have been hurt.
      – You grieve over the loss of the “good parent(s)”.
      – You express your grievances to the parents (either directly or symbolically, like in a letter that doesn’t need to be sent.)
      – After you work through all of these traumas, a moment will come when you will feel curiosity: what made my parent this way? What experiences in her or his life made her like this? This stage should never be rushed. It will come when it is good and ready.
      – Gradually, a sense of understanding and compassion towards the parents come to you. The vision of them as terrifying and all-powerful disappears.
      – And this is when you decide what format your new relationship with them should have.

      Good luck! I know you will come out of this process a happier and stronger person.

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  10. Hi Clarissa,

    I stumbled upon your blog after seeing a link to your post on why the NRC rankings of doctoral programs are bullshit. Anyway, I’m in the process of applying to PhD programs for Spanish language, lit, and culture, (as well as MA/PhD programs for ethnomusicology, but that’s another subject altogether). I have my Masters of the Arts in Teaching Spanish (MAT), and what I’m wondering is if, in your opinion, I have a good chance at applying to these PhD Spanish programs, or if I should instead apply to MA Spanish programs, seeing as how my masters has more to do with language than culture. I would hope that the pedagogical knowledge and teaching experience I have would be looked on favorably as a future collegiate professor, but maybe not enough to forgive my lack of masters level study of culture and literature. I’d be fine with more schooling, but MA’s are mighty hard to get funding for compared to PhD’s, and, like most college alumni in this age, I’ve already racked up a lot of loans. But for certain departments, I can only apply to either the MA or the PhD, so I have to choose.

    Other information to go on:

    -A year abroad in Seville, Spain
    -Something like a 90-110 page undergraduate thesis analyzing flamenco historically, musically, and literarily (the latter being a thematical comparison between traditional coplas flamencas and las jarchas, which may or may not be predecessors of some of las coplas).
    -4.0 for my MAT, 3.9 for my BA (double major in Music and Spanish)
    -One year of teaching experience

    Still not a lot to go on, but for the sake of anonymity, that’ll be about it. What do you think? Obviously, there is no definite answer, but I’d like your opinion.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    Like

    • PhD programs in the US actually don’t want an MA. They prefer to accept people directly from a BA. So I don’t think this will prevent you from being accepted. When I arrived in my PhD program at Yale, I was told that having an MA was the only thing counting against me. They want wide-eyed innocents and not people who already have critical opinions of their own.

      However, you need to look past simply getting accepted and consider your professional future after graduation. A PhD in Spanish qualifies you to be a Professor of Spanish Literature. Is this what you want to do? Or do you want to go for Applied Linguistics and be a specialist in language teaching methodology? Do you see yourself as a research scholar? If so, then you will need to work enormously hard because what you have been doing until now has been aimed in an entirely different direction.

      Good luck!

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  11. Wow, quick reply. Thanks! My aspiration is to be a professor (of ethnomusicology or Spanish or both), rather than a research scholar, so I’m at least somewhat on the right track. It’s a bit discouraging that you had a negative experience at the PhD level, but I’ll make sure I do a good bit of research to see if I can avoid that possible outcome. Thanks again.

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  12. Just read in The Common Core comments about your travails with students wanting more multiple choice questions. Gack. Yes: multiple choice questions are evil. But if you have to engage with them somehow for tenure purposes, have you considered making your students write them? When I was contemplating a career change a few years back, I took an online chemistry class where (among many other course activities) students had to formulate quiz questions in a variety of formats. The instructor would grade them (and explain the reasons for missed points) and then the students had a shot at redoing them if they were unsatisfied with the grade. I initially thought it was completely bogus, but I came to find the exercise really challenging and helpful. It forced me to think about the course material in much more complex ways than just answering questions myself–and it was ridiculously gratifying when a question I’d devised came up on the quiz for the material. It probably isn’t what your students have in mind when they ask for more MC questions–but it make it possible for you to say that you’re addressing that concern.

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  13. I sent the link to the RadFem article on Pussy Riot to someone I know who has written about them, a Canadian who speaks Russian, and this was his reply:

    “Thanks for the link, although I disagree with the content entirely. Partially because it is just so ill-informed and narrow in its focus. I speak Russian fluently, spent years living there, and I’ve translated the correspondence between Slavoj Zizek and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (the most eloquent member of Pussy Riot) while she was in jail. (I translated the correspondence from Russian into German; the Russian-English translation was done by someone else, and was published in the Guardian.) N. Tolokonnikova and her troupe are not feminists and never have claimed to be. They are performance artists. Their battle with Putin has much more to do with the fact that there is no real independent media in Russia and no forum for debate. That, of course, also includes issues of sexuality. There was, for example, that one art action at which Tolokonnikova can be seen naked having sex with her husband (!) in a room with other artist couples doing the same thing. Porn? What a banal reaction. I’ve seen the video; I know people who were there. Tolokonnikova was very pregnant. There was no anal intercourse and no dominant position. (The article you’ve read here includes the attacks the Putin regime has spread about the museum performance that are intended to discredit the artists: gross exaggerations about misusing women and falsehoods. I personally find the notion that this performance was protesting for “sexual freedom” so sadly ill-informed that it discredits the writer (who seems nameless here). The action was actually based on the massive censorship in Moscow and the repressions that led to one curator being jailed for years and other artists being forced out of the country. The excuse for closing down the exhibition, which was highly critical of the orthodox church and Putin, was of course that the art was pornographic. And, of course, Pussy Riot responds by illustrating how afraid Russian dictators are of sexuality, including homosexuality. The absolutely vacuous notion that “Pussy Riot” was a name chosen to make the “group” famous as a rock band is just so outrageous. As everyone in Russia knows, Pussy Riot is not really a punk group. They belong to a very large coalition of artists. What they and others do is indeed a provocation, but it is a provocation coming from persecuted artists whose freedom of speech is being trampled using morality laws. Yet another outrageous error in the article is the notion that Pussy Riot are somehow affiliated with the FEMEN group. They are not. At all. So this is a case of an author creating associations that don’t exist in order to proclaim: guilty by association. That, basically, is Putin’s rhetoric, too.

    Finally, N. Tolokonikova is an intellectual with amazing critical skills for her age. She has an astonishing grasp of both art theory and critical studies (two subjects I’ve taught at the university here in Berlin). She’s more neo-Marxist in her thinking, and she’s eloquent on social issues in the country. Her major concern is social injustice and its cause: a dictatorship that suppresses any form of independent criticism.

    Anyway, I’m sure if you met N. Tolokonnikova, you’d like her and perhaps admire her. She almost came to Canada permanently once before. You’d find her an incredibly brave young woman with sincere concerns and the willingness to take great risks to say what she believes. I, personally, don’t think she’ll live very long. I’ve seen too many from her milieu die violently or mysteriously. I admire her courage. No — I am in awe.”
    What do you think?

    Like

    • “N. Tolokonnikova and her troupe are not feminists”

      – I agree 100%.

      “The absolutely vacuous notion that “Pussy Riot” was a name chosen to make the “group” famous as a rock band is just so outrageous. ”

      – The name was chosen to make them noticed my Westerners. In which capacity they would be noticed, is unimportant to them.

      ” What they and others do is indeed a provocation, but it is a provocation coming from persecuted artists whose freedom of speech is being trampled using morality laws.”

      – The part about the persecuted artists is really funny. I’m trying to decide what is more ridiculous. That they are artists or that they are persecuted as such.

      “Yet another outrageous error in the article is the notion that Pussy Riot are somehow affiliated with the FEMEN group. ”

      – Not affiliated but exploiting the same publicity mechanisms. Coca Cola might not be affiliated with Disney, but both sell their garbage very aggressively.

      “She almost came to Canada permanently once before.”

      :-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

      ” I, personally, don’t think she’ll live very long. I’ve seen too many from her milieu die violently or mysteriously. ”

      – In “her milieu” people die of drugs.

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      • “And, of course, Pussy Riot responds by illustrating how afraid Russian dictators are of sexuality”

        – THE BEST.

        It is even a bit scary how easy it is to sell this kind of thing to Westerners. Wow.

        Thank you, I really enjoyed it. This person’s naivete is quite endearing. And I think that it’s quite fitting that smart con artists are now tricking facile Westerners so easily. In the 1990s, Western agencies did everything in their power to make sure that the only “art” that exists in the FSU countries is like this. And here is the result.

        Like

  14. Pingback: How to Swindle a Westerner: A Short Guidebook | Clarissa's Blog

  15. I’ve seen a lot of threads and articles regarding nationalism, ultra-nationalists, facists, and neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Today, Al Jezeera carried this opinion piece. What are your thought? Is the movement in Ukraine nationalist out of necessity? Is there a real threat from extremist groups? http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/ukraine-nationalistantisemitismneonaziviolence.html

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    • “President Viktor Yanukovich’s sudden, surprise departure from Kiev is the beginning of a long ordeal for Ukrainians. It’s also the start of a major threat to the several hundred thousand Ukrainian Jews.”

      – I started reading, but after this phrase, I just couldn’t continue. Disgusting, vicious propaganda. I’ve got to wonder, where are the articles about the actual deaths and beatings of dark-skinned people in Moscow?

      What is really happening is that the horrible Israeli organizations want to use this opportunity to trap even more Ukrainian Jews into making the enormous mistake of emigrating to Israel.

      I despise Al Jezeera because they are one of the most dishonest, blatantly partisan, ridiculous news outlets.

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    • I just wrote a post in response to this link. I managed to read it in full, and it is even more horrible than I initially thought.

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  16. I have been trending pacifist for a long time. In view of the Ukraine situation, would you please comment on why humans are obsessed about artificial and arbitrary boundary lines on maps. Note that I understand why people go to war over valuable RESOURCES, such as oil or fertile farmland. But absent obvious desire to plunder resources from another, why do the boundary lines matter?

    I understand why people of Russian heritage in parts of Ukraine would like to associate themselves with other people of Russian heritage in another geographical area. Why should anyone in the U.S. or Canada care if some people in Ukraine want to change their boundary lines on the map?

    Is there any better way to decide these things than by majority vote of the people living in any specific geographic area? For some reason, I feel very naive even asking this question.

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    • would you please comment on why humans are obsessed about artificial and arbitrary boundary lines on maps

      – Because great efforts have been made since the XVIIIth century to generate a passionate attachment to flags, anthems and arbitrary lines on maps. If you are interested in the subject, I recommend Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities where this process is discussed at length. This was my earliest research interest, and I can recommend a huge bibliography if anybody is interested.

      Is there any better way to decide these things than by majority vote of the people living in any specific geographic area?

      – If we are still talking about Ukraine, then what value has a vote in an area that has been invaded by foreign troops for a while, where people have been beaten and terrorized by these foreigners, where many people feel terrified of coming out into the streets, let alone coming to the polls and voting, where even an 87-year-old teacher is assaulted viciously by the invaders, and so is a busload of orphans in Mariupol, and so is a group of nerds in Kharkov? What value has a vote where no independent observers have been allowed to observe? Where the voting urns are transparent, so that the armed people standing next to the urn see what your vote is? A vote conducted by people who falsified their own elections so scandalously just 2 years ago?

      Why should anyone in the U.S. or Canada care if some people in Ukraine want to change their boundary lines on the map?

      – If Ukrainians want or don’t want to engage in some peaceful process or another, that’s their business. However, the real tragedy of the situation is that a peaceful country has been invaded by thousands of troops, armored vehicles, and groups of armed bandits defended by these soldiers and armored vehicles. Together, they have been terrorizing the peaceful Ukrainian population, beating and now even killing people. At the same time, the people of the invading country who try to say that the invasion is not right are persecuted. I don’t know if anybody should care when people are being killed, beaten or persecuted. I happen to care but I can’t require it from others. Maybe people are justified in not caring about murder and abuse unless their precious resources are threatened. Maybe it’s normal to care about nothing but resources and watch people being brutalized with indifference as long as one’s resources are safe.

      Maybe. Or maybe not.

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  17. Thanks for your comments, Clarissa. I was pretty sure you would know much more about this than I do, and your comments were right on the mark. I’m afraid that nationalism is mostly an excuse for consolidating power and money and promoting wars and more wars. I’m heartened when I hear people predict the demise of large nation-states, and a possible return to the city-state model.

    I haven’t been following the troop movements and brutalization of people very closely, and I agree that we should be very concerned about human rights and human suffering. The problem I have as a retired journalist in following this kind of crisis and upheaval in faraway lands is that it’s impossible for me to separate the truth from the propaganda and allegations, which may or may not be exaggerated. My goodness, I don’t even know if the CIA in my own country is telling the truth, or if Sen. Feinstein, chair of the Intelligence Committee, is exaggerating or posturing.

    When I asked why should we care, I was trying to focus only on the question of boundary lines, and and the supposed freedom of people in Russia and Ukraine to make their own decisions. As I said, it is naive to consider theoretical concepts like boundaries without also considering all the associated conflicts and military actions. I’m guilty of trying to oversimplify situations, sort of giving the people in faraway places the benefit of the doubt that they are acting in good faith and a civilized manner. Your points certainly increased my understanding of the Ukraine situation.

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  18. Mohammad Qureshi on said:

    Dear Clarissa,

    I want to know is talking and dealing with a Ukrainian woman (I know, very popular subject nowadays) the same as dealing with women in the west when it comes to marriage? If you were to marry one what things would she look for in you as a man? The same things like western women such as house, muscles, job? And in the end, would you say that Ukrainian women, including those in Crimea, have become westernized?

    Sincerely,
    M.T. Qureshi

    Like

    • “And in the end, would you say that Ukrainian women, including those in Crimea, have become westernized?”

      – What do you mean, Westernized? Ukraine is an always has been part of Western civilization.

      “I want to know is talking and dealing with a Ukrainian woman (I know, very popular subject nowadays) the same as dealing with women in the west when it comes to marriage? If you were to marry one what things would she look for in you as a man?”

      – Women are human beings. We are all different, we all want different things. I suggest you try to grow up before thinking about marriage. This sort of immaturity is not attractive in any part of the world.

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  19. Names in Russian: question.

    So, I have found letters from CCCP I thought were lost. Including one from my cousin Alexander Voskresensky, from about 1981, the last letter, announcing his mother’s death. He may not be alive now, it is not clear how old he was but I would have thought much older than me — although he had just had a child.

    So here is the question: what would last name of child (a girl: Lida) be if father is A. Voskresensky? Is she Lida A. Voskresenskaya?

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    • Yes, exactly, Voskresenskaya. And the full name is Lidia Alexandrovna Voskresenskaya.

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      • 🙂 Excellent. I have not figured out why they called them Lida and not Lidia. But they have managed it such that she ended up with the exact same name (from birth) as her grandmother (once married).

        I am now sending them a paper letter to the old address. I also seem to have turned up a cousin who is an Amazon reviewer and has met the current generation of Moscow ones. Writing him, too.

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        • Lida is the shortened version. Like Mike is for Michael.

          ” I also seem to have turned up a cousin who is an Amazon reviewer and has met the current generation of Moscow ones. Writing him, too.”

          – Wow, that’s amazing. 🙂 Why don’t I have any relatives worth writing to?

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  20. Dewaerheid Guy on said:

    Hello Clarissa, It is Guy from Belgium, I’m looking with Google several times a day to find news from Russia (invasion of Ukraine), but I found only the sanctions from US and Europe. The search with “Russia” for the last hour, did me land on your site, crazy isn’t it ?

    Another search with Google and “missile” for the last hour, give me sites with weapon selling presentations sites who are continualy updated (most of the time with a video). The ukrainian crisis is very good for weapon business for more than a month now. Nobody is saying anything on that side but contracts are probably made everyday.

    I’m a old teacher too (more an engineer). I’m not working now for more than twenty years. I wish you good teaching hours, it is fantastic when you have childrens with motivation. It was very different in my case, sometimes I came in the teacher room with other teachers and crying : There was one who has understood what I was saying, me !

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  21. I want to recommend a book written by an old friend of mine. It is somewhere between dystopian realism and magical realism, but I think maybe it sidesteps what you dislike about magical realism. This is the link to it on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Love-Time-Unraveling-Crescent-Series/dp/1490967710/

    Like

  22. el on said:

    I left a link in “Leave links”, but it didn’t appear on “Recent Comments”. 😦 Now checking if this comment will be seen there.

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  23. Did you have to delete the “Ricardian” tag to put in the “Lehttp://www.music.udel.edu/special-programs/communitymusicschool/Pages/default.aspxave Links” one?

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  24. You have not told us, or at least I have not seen it…did you get promoted and tenured? Or am I a year early?

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  25. Anonymous on said:

    FYI “but to mooch of a husband” should be “but to mooch OFF a husband”

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  26. Good Enough Professor on said:

    If you could require all college students to read (in translation) one short spanish-language literary text from the period 1600 to 1800, what would you choose?

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  27. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/26/photoshop-around-the-world_n_5534062.html

    I hope this is not a duplicate. I find this weird. All the photoshopped images are less attractive than the original.

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  28. Mike on said:

    Do you know of any renown feminists who disagree with the idea of rape culture like you do? There may be a small number of postmodernist feminists like Julia Kristeva and queer theory feminists like Janet Halley not to mention Katie Roiphe who stand outside the grain but my understanding is that all those feminists are on the margins of feminism. A Google books search suggests a very monolithic view of the subject from feminists. Yet I’m curious about the idea that this characterization of feminism is simply something mens rights activists use to smear feminists?

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    • Kristeva is on the margins??? Then who isn’t? She is one of the leading philosophers of our times. We should all be on the same margins as Julia Kristeva. 🙂

      I also love Elisabeth Badinter, a leading French feminist. She has written a lot on how, for instance, campus rape statistics are being inflated and for what purpose. I highly recommend her great book Dead-End Feminism.

      It is important not to confuse the online screeching of marginalized weirdos like the folks on Shakesville or Feministe with actual feminism. There is a lot of brilliant insightful work being done and it deserves more attention than these silly websites.

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  29. This isn’t a brilliant question – This is a simple question, from a very, very subpar writer (see: Shitty).

    Do you like Michael Jackson?

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    • I liked his music until I discovered he was a pedophile. Since then, I lost all interest.

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      • To be fair, he reached settlement in the first case, and in the second he was found not guilty by a jury. I guess my question would be, since clearly me or you do not know the whole truth, what would it take for you to not assume he is guilty of those charges if a jury trial would not? To speak frank, I am not going to say that I know he isn’t a pedophile – I am just asking a question, I also find it hard to argue with the lack of a fire when the room is filled with smoke. At the same time accusations are accusations.

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        • “I guess my question would be, since clearly me or you do not know the whole truth, what would it take for you to not assume he is guilty of those charges if a jury trial would not? ”

          – I heard him say he slept in the same bed with children. There isn’t really anything that could make me unhear what I heard. Who but a pedophile would seek out children to put in the same bed?

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  30. I liked his music until I discovered he was a pedophile. Since then, I lost all interest.

    Is this consistent with the fact that you do not want to judge the quality of a writer’s work by the content of his or her character? I think you have repeatedly said this.

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    • No, I always said the opposite. This is why I detest Polanski and this creep Woody Allen. Not that that they can be called artists anyway. But I would never watch any of their movies because they are vicious criminals.

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  31. Stringer Bell on said:

    I was wondering if you could comment or write a post about the psychology of people who think like this:

    http://jezebel.com/why-would-i-ever-want-to-bring-a-child-into-this-fucked-1606767356

    Seems excessively whiny and melodramatic to me.

    Like

  32. Shakti on said:

    How much knowledge of another language does one have to have before you consider that person bilingual? I see many news stories saying that bilingual speakers are better at X or Y, but they never define what that means. How useful would these
    proficiency definitions be?

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    • To me, bilingual people are native speakers of two languages. For instance, I don’t consider myself bilingual in terms of Russian and English, irrespective of how good my English is. It’s not a native language, and neither is Spanish. I consider myself “near-native” in both English and Spanish but never bi or tri-lingual. I’m bilingual between Russian and Ukrainian even though it is extremely much harder for me to speak or write Ukrainian than it is English and Spanish. Incomparably harder.

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      • Shakti on said:

        That’s interesting. Is it because if you were really ill or in pain you’d switch to Ukrainian and Russian? At what point in someone’s life would acquiring a second language make them bilingual?

        I grew up in a household where my parents spoke mostly English and some Kannada to me (but a lot around me), and Hindi to their friends, and sitting through movies and performances without subtitles was just life. My literacy training in Kannada and Hindi is non-existent though. I learned French in school from the time I was about ten years old to my second year of college, but it was one class and not immersion style. I’m learning Spanish right now, and weirdly when I forget a word in Spanish, I flip to French. I can read David Gendron’s macroeconomic slides, but I would never claim native proficiency in any other language but English.

        My mother, on the other hand had immersion style schooling starting from kindergarten in English and took Kannada classes and Hindi classes in high school. My father started formally learning Hindi and English in high school. I’m pretty sure both of them would switch into Kannada if seriously ill, but it’s not like they’re thinking when they’re speaking. I can see my mother thinking when she’s speaking Hindi though.

        Like

  33. Hi Clarissa,

    I have a personal academical question. Have you even heard about a student who have changed his Ph. D. advisor and re-started his thesis from the start? What do you think about this possibility? Thank you

    Like

    • I need more information to answer. Is this happening within the same university? If so, then the student needs for the current advisor to make that suggestion. A student who makes this suggestion will only create enemies.

      I considered doing something like this at some point and made hints to the second possible advisor but she let me understand (very gently) that she wouldn’t risk her relationship with my current advisor. And she was right. Students come and go but colleagues remain.

      If you are talking about a different university, this might work if you move to a university much lower in status than your current one. Or to a university where your current advisor’s enemies work.

      In short, if this is your current advisor’s idea, do it. If not, be very very careful.

      Like

      • No, this is my idea, within the same university. I found out that I should re-start my Ph. D. to get respected and to avoid resurgence of panic attacks. This is not a question of the academic, this is a question of relationship, financing and employability.

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      • No, this is my idea, within the same university. I found out that I should re-start my Ph. D. to get respected and to avoid resurgence of panic attacks. This is not about the academic, this is about relationship, financing and employability.

        Like

      • And don’t worry: I wouldn’t do that all by myself.

        Like

      • I feel betrayed because they gave me less financing and employability support than other students that aren’t as good as me. They recommend me for the SSHRC grant (which I failed, as I told them before) and there was no Plan B for me…all of this lead to my panic attacks. Re-start the same thesis with the same advisor will perpetuate all this stuff again.

        I need to not reproduce this context…and this time, I will ask for help and I will not do it all on my own like before. I don’t know how to market myself and I need help to learn how to do that.

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        • “I feel betrayed because they gave me less financing and employability support than other students that aren’t as good as me. They recommend me for the SSHRC grant (which I failed, as I told them before) and there was no Plan B for me…all of this lead to my panic attacks. Re-start the same thesis with the same advisor will perpetuate all this stuff again.

          I need to not reproduce this context”

          – Don’t say this part to anybody at the university.

          “this time, I will ask for help and I will not do it all on my own like before. I don’t know how to market myself and I need help to learn how to do that.”

          – Say this part, this is good.

          Like

      • “Don’t say this part to anybody at the university.”

        I agree but I want the following two conditions (I’m in economics/econometrics, with teaching, statistical and mathematical background) to be respected…or else I’ll go in informatics or CEGEP teaching.

        1) A clear financial plan

        2) A clear employability (not necessarily in academics) plan.

        Many students that are not as good as good as me have obtained easily these conditions, I want them.

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      • And the worst about it: the same horror occurred in 2006 (but not with panic attacks) in my Master’s in Epidemiology…and I gave up (with 1 paper published!!!) for the same reasons…

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      • Thank you, but I will need a much of help this time.

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      • I take 100 mg of Zoloft a day, with some psychology and a lot of counseling.

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  34. I am not the person you are asking, David Gendron, but I will offer an answer anyway. I have known several students who did this. One finished a Ph. D. with me, in topology, after giving up on a dissertation in number theory. Another finished a Ph. D. with a visiting faculty member while his advisor was away on sabbatical. In my experience this is not terribly uncommon.

    Like

  35. Question for your sister: why unpaid teaching is a bad networking practice?

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  36. I posted a link on the “Leave Links” page. It is there, as comment # 101, but it never showed up in the list of most recent posts so I do not know whether you or anyone else has seen it.

    Like

  37. Hi Clarissa, have you considered reading “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? I thought maybe you would find it interesting since it is about the experiences of an immigrant to the US. And have you read any of Jhumpa Lahiri’s books?

    Like

  38. Shakti on said:

    Is there a second part to your ” Why I Don’t Want to Hire Women:Conclusions I” post?
    Did she ever resolve her conundrum?

    Like

  39. Stringer Bell on said:

    It’s a broad topic, but could you write something about corruption in countries? There’s massive corruption at every level in India, to the extent that we almost joke about it. ‘It’s the Indian way’, ‘It’s in our genes’ and so on. But then you have Indians who immigrate to western countries and become the most law abiding citizens there.

    And then there’s the chicken and egg problem. Are third world countries corrupt because they are poor or are they poor because they are corrupt?

    Why are northern european countries less corrupt than their southern counterparts?

    Like I said, it’s a broad topic. I’m not talking about high level corruption (wall street etc.), which happens everywhere. I’m more interested in the soul-crushing lower level corruption, the kind that you experience every day if you live in certain countries.

    Like

  40. Good evening you. I just wanted to ask how difficult it would be to add a search function to your site? I personally would find it very useful, though I know on blogs especially they are spotty with there performance. Also, I wanted to apologize for not responding sooner to comments by you and I appreciate you taking your time to respond. I only check in from time to time and sometimes forget things I have said/asked and find them later randomly – so this is one reason I ask about a search feature. Also “more posts about Vladimir Putin” – I am happy too see more, hehehe and har har har. I plan on taking a look at all of the more recent ones soon and giving you my ignorant and adversarial thoughts. 🙂

    Like

  41. I SEE THE SEARCH BAR. Was that really here 24 hours ago?!

    lul. Boy oh boy.

    /ba da cha ba!

    Like

  42. Will you have anything to say about the death of Alexei Devotchenko? Or is everything destined to be just speculation forever?

    Like

  43. aglaonika on said:

    I’ve found this article about western literature which paraphrases an interview with a Nobel prize judge who says some interesting things. What do you think about it? Do you agree with him?

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/07/creative-writing-killing-western-literature-nobel-judge-horace-engdahl

    Like

  44. Dennis Walsh on said:

    What is the current sentiment of Ukraine’s “ethnic Russians”? News seems to report their views as interpreted by Putin, Lavrov, Zakharchenko, et al. Not much information from residents who had combat brought to their door. And what of the Crimean sentiment. While they have avoided warfare, they haven’t averted the economic pain of the collapse of their tourism. I suspect they might find the new border somewhat inconvenient. If Ukraine isn’t eager to facilitate transit of manufactured goods, food, energy and water, Crimeans might be finding things a bit more difficult. I suspect Putin hasn’t finished building the bridge.

    Like

    • There is no way to distinguish “ethnic Russians” from anybody else in Ukraine. I have not heard of anybody in Ukraine attempting to do that. Putin interprets their views because he invented them as a category. In Ukraine, however, that was never a way of categorizing the population. Since they don’t exist as a cohesive group. they don’t express shared views.

      Like

      • Dennis Walsh on said:

        I used the term “ethnic Russians” because that’s what I learned from the media (from Russia?). I knew of no major outcry about unfair/vicious attacks by Ukrainians. I guess I’m mostly interested in public sentiment in the Crimea. The “little green men” took it. They had a “free vote”. And that’s about all I have heard about Crimea. It’s like they dropped off the face of the earth. But I have a sneaky suspicion that Russia had no workable logistical plan for the accession. Putin must have anticipated a land corridor to facilitate supply, tourism, et al. He doesn’t have one. And I suspect that Ukraine is taking that border seriously.

        Like

        • Things in the Crimea are not good in terms of the economy. Putin sank the entire pension fund of the Russian Federation into payoffs to the Crimeans. It worked for a while. But those funds are not endless. The Crimean Tatars have suffered great persecution from Putin because of their support for Ukraine. Many people left Crimea for mainland Ukraine. Putin ‘ s plan to make Crimea pay for itself through tourism failed completely this summer.

          This is all I know for sure right now but if there is more, I will share it as soon as I find out. I’m very grateful for your interest! !

          Like

  45. Shakti on said:

    Perhaps you get this question every semester but:

    What do you think of the Harry Potter series’ strengths and weaknesses as a bildung?

    Like

    • I’ve never read it nor seen movies, so I wouldn’t know. But I do know that male Bildungsroman has completely played iitself out.

      Like

      • I read the Harry Potter series. I liked it. I was engaged by the story. So what? Harry Potter made J. K. Rowling a billionaire. Included among all the Harry Potter lunch boxes, backpacks and t-shirts that made all that money were some items called “books”. She wrote and sold books. Kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on those books. And they read. And read. Anyone who gets kids reading has well earned “her” billion dollars. While the Koch brothers were busy bootstrapping their way from “daddy-made-millionaires” to billionaires, J. K. Rowling wrote for kids. She started “poor” and earned her billion/s. She got kids to read. Every penny she made is well deserved.

        Like

  46. Stringer Bell on said:

    I really should start bookmarking my favorite posts from this blog. It’s so hard to find specific posts sometimes.

    I’m looking for a post about ‘Father and Mother complex’ or something to that effect. ‘Complex’ is not the right word, though. It was something else. You talked about the two sides to everyone’s personality. The father’s side was responsible for performing in the public sphere, etc., and the mother’s side for emotional depth.

    I’m bungling it badly, I know. Do you know what I’m talking about?

    Like

  47. Shakti on said:

    Why do you think historic memory and the structure of a personality are baked into a person before they are three years old? It seems hugely important for a part of life that most adults can barely remember, if at all, and if they have memories it’s of impressions and feelings, but not episodes with beginning, middles and ends.

    Like

  48. Are there any good English translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems? I’ve started reading her in Romanian but I suspect it’s not a very good translation.

    Like

  49. Crystallizing Chaos on said:

    I sent this earlier via email because for some reason I didn’t notice this link. Here it is again:

    It would be great if you could share your thoughts on how you handle failure. I know you’re amazing at what you do and a very successful academic but you must have faced failure or rejection (professional) in the past. How did you deal with it?

    Like

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