Horrible in STL

Look at the horrible bullying of a Muslim kid that took place at a middle school right here in St Louis. It seems that, as of now, there have been absolutely no consequences for the bully.

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Scandinavian Mexicans

I’m reading The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle that was kindly provided to me by reader el and peeing myself with laughter. The book is not supposed to be funny because it’s supposedly about the suffering of illegal Mexican immigrants. I keep saying “supposed” because this author has either never seen a Mexican or has and is taking the piss.

These Mexican characters have the temperament, the communication skills and the emotional range that makes them look downright Finnish. They sit there, alone and in complete silence, terrified of any human contact, incapable of connecting with anybody, struggling for hours with the unbearable task of saying a word to other illegal Mexican immigrants.

Of course, portraying illegal immigrants as emotionally stunted and communicationally challenged makes them look a lot more pathetic. Mexicans in this novel are barely human. This obviously ridiculous way of writing about them tells us nothing whatsoever of Mexicans and everything about the culture that produces and consumes this kind of novels.

I’ve only a third of the novel in but I definitely recommend. I saw in online reviews that this is standard fare in highschool English classes, and that explains an enormous lot.

Useful Daily Challenges

I’ve got to say, it was a really good idea to start my Spring Clean Challenge back on April 1. I was on the verge of submerging myself in the drama of “OMG, the end of the academic year, I’m stressed and overworked, somebody shoot me now.” The challenge reoriented my energies to completely unrelated things, and I forgot to notice the end of the academic year or care about it. The end of the challenge felt like the academic year, so I’m existing in the relaxed summer state of mind at this point.

Of course, I immediately started a new challenge. This one, however, is long-term and will work until my next birthday. This means I will be ticking off daily challenge points for a year. Just having a challenge of this sort reduces daily stress like magic. It’s not even important what’s on the challenge (although it can be used to promote good health-related or intellectual habits), as long as it exists as an organizing principle of the psyche that holds it together. The absence of such an organizing principle, by the way, is commonly recognized as the cause of the soaring anxiety and depression disorders and stress-related mental health issues.

Twitter-purity

It’s not even hypocrisy but simply infantile habits of thought that lead people to maintain that Kevin Williamson should have been fired for his tweets while Randa Jarrar shouldn’t be for hers. And vice versa, of course. Either obnoxious, dumb posturing on social media (which absolutely everyone has engaged in) should be cause for immediate firing if enough people claim to be wounded by a tweet or not.

Yes, this is a country of at-will firing but these are two cases where the employer clearly doesn’t want to fire and is being hounded to do so by the Twitter-wounded.

Twitter is the preferred hangout for adrenaline-addicted folks with immature habits of thought. Obviously, expecting any logic from them beyond “Mommy, it hurts, let the bad booboo go away” is useless. But just like an angry toddler can drown out everybody in the room with a series of frustrated bellows, we are letting the most immature among us to drown out everybody else.

I’m hoping for a world where the phrase “Can you believe what Prof. Jarrar said on Twitter?” would be impossible not because Jarrar or me or you wouldn’t vent on social media – that’s the whole point of social media, after all – but because it’s ridiculous to pay attention to such ventings.

Since that is clearly not going to happen, it would be good if people at least tried to define the parameters of their approach. If everybody should be subjected to Twitter-purity checks, how often should they be conducted? Should they be extended to Facebook-purity? How about Instagram? How far back should they reach? How far should one go to break the resistance of the employer who is unwilling to castigate an employee for lack of Twitter-purity? This is a useful exercise that would train the brains of the Twitter-whisperers a lot more than months of outraged Tweeting.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to mention that I also have made anti-Barbara Bush comments on social media. And I’m not sorry because, what can I say, I never liked the broad. I have vented on other subjects, too. So yeah, of course, I’m afraid that excitable Twitteroids will come for me, too, one day.

Last Weeks of the Semester

It really is a great feeling to have absolutely nothing that I need to do on a Saturday afternoon. Klara and I spent the morning on campus, admiring squirrels and gueese, gathering pine cones, exploring the artwork we have all over the grounds, and visiting the huge toy giraffe at the university bookstore. And now I’m considering having a nap.

The only thing that is not entirely welcome about the end of the semester is that my Latin American course will be over. This was absolutely the best course of my entire teaching life. Curiously, it was also the least prepared of my courses. I decided to teach it pretty late, it’s not my area (I’m strictly Spain), there was no time to prepare, etc. I don’t usually spend a lot of time on prep because that’s what graduate school was for. But still I do a bit of preparation for every day of class.

With this course, however, I had spent exactly one day developing the syllabus, choosing the readings, and creating the tests. After that, I was done. And it turned out to be the best course ever. Of course, I obviously know the material extremely well and don’t need to look up dates, names or events before class.

I think I learned an important lesson with this experience.

Fluid Table

At the breakfast table, N got up to go fetch something from the cutlery drawer.

“You may be excused from the table, Papa,” Klara announced royally.

Neither N nor I are from a social class where you have to be excused from the table, so we found this hilarious. We are both from a social class where people move around, get up, sit down, go fetch things constantly while at the table. Our eating experience is a lot more fluid, and I mean it in a nice way only.