Toddler Sarcasm

“Klara, are you having a good time?”

“I’m holding a marshmallow in each hand, mommy. Of course, I’m having a good time.”

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Careless

Somebody posted on FB a video of a toddler girl trying to hug a toddler boy while the boy tries to wriggle away and she refuses to let go. Everybody is saying how cute it all is, and I’m thinking, lady, your kid won’t thank you when this video surfaces 30 years from now and she’ll be hounded to the ends of the world for being a predator and a hardened criminal who was bad in the cradle.

Research Productivity

A great article on writing productivity for academics. Really, really great.

In what concerns baby bibliography, I write a sort of an essay for myself, replete with quotes, about every book of criticism I read. So when I sit down to write, I have the theoretical apparatus all ready for me beforehand. It simplifies things immensely because I have a shitty memory and would never be able to remember, for instance, what I read in Wendy Brown’s book three years ago if I didn’t have my essay on it. My memory is so bad that I have to reread these essays several times to be able to reproduce the needed quotes orally and without preparation (like at a conference.)

I also agree with the article’s author that waiting for the winter break (or the spring break, or the summer vacation) to work on your research project is a very bad idea. It’s not going to work and everybody knows it’s not going to work, yet they keep trying. Nobody whose research career makes them feel happy and like they are doing exactly what and how much they need to do are using this strategy. It is used, however, by the 90% of folks who will end the year, yet again, without achieving their research goals.

People say it’s useless to give this sort of advice but I was given this advice when I struggled and it changed my life. So I’m passing it along. Yes, most people will resist it but you never know who might find it useful.

Not Very Relevant

Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has backed a so-called Green New Deal, aimed at creating a new green industry that she says will guarantee every American a job. Her pitch is full of the usual naff pastiche: ‘This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the Moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.’ The US green left is making some huge promises. Ocasio-Cortez says this proposal, to make 100 per cent of US electricity renewable and phase out fossil fuels, will also eliminate structural inequalities, racism and social injustices of all kinds.

All that is missing is “And world peace!” delivered in a breathy voice of an earnest beauty pageant contester.

It’s fun entertainment with a cute performer releasing fun memes all the time. But it’s an absolute mystery how anybody can take this seriously and believe there is anything remotely political about any of this.

Let’s not blame this particular entertainment starlet, however. There is nothing remotely political about anything. Trump was elected, he is clearly incompetent, clearly knows nothing about anything, clearly is an ugly-looking equivalent of AOC. . . and so what? Nothing. The country is chugging along just fine. Because he’s not very relevant. The political field itself is not very relevant because governments govern nation-states. Which capital no longer finds very relevant. We could elect a giant pistachio ice-cream scone, and it would all chug along pretty much the same.

The political class still will exist, however, because it’s feeding many people (not just politicians themselves, obviously, but a huge press apparatus that pretends politicians are relevant, an enormous bureaucracy, etc). It can’t give us much in material terms but it can give us something we value so much more: an opportunity to repost and get likes!

And world peace, of course.

Fear

Why are people afraid of me? Both of my trainers at the workout program seem afraid. I’m not the oldest, or the most heavily accented, or the most immigrant of the bunch. I don’t rant or wave my CV in people’s faces at the workouts. I just pant quietly in the corner. Other ladies there are a lot louder and aggressive. If anything, I’m downright mousy there because working out is not my scene and I’m self-conscious about being fat and unfit. Although, at least a third of people there are even more fat and unfit, so I don’t stand out in that way either.

I always hear that I’m scary and I understand how I can be intimidating in the classroom or at a conference. But at a workout? It’s very tiresome because I’m not trying to be scary.

I once decided to find out how people perceived me and I asked people I knew to describe me in 3 words. The first one everybody used was always scary or intimidating. Which is incomprehensible.

Reproducing Human Capital

Here is an important quote from Wendy Brown that I want to put here separately:

In their newly economized form, neoliberal states will shed as much as possible the cost of developing and reproducing human capital.

Reproduction, which is an activity that is notoriously resistant to economization, is substituted as much as possible with the very economic activity of importation. Remember how the argument for inviting the 1 million migrants into Germany was very openly that Germans didn’t reproduce enough? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

As for developing, that’s obviously public education, healthcare – the welfare state, in short. The state doesn’t serve you. And it definitely can’t make capital serve you. Which means the fantasies of “let’s tax’em and pay for healthcare” are quite silly. Sixty years ago, sure. But today? The best you can expect from the whole arrangement is that everybody else will be terrorized into respecting your million and one very individual, very lonely identities. And you’ll have every gadget and every drug at your disposal to numb yourself into thinking that it’s exactly what you need.