Quote of the Day

The excitement in marriage is the fidelity. If that idea doesn’t excite you, you have no business being married.’

Philip Roth, I Married a Communist

What Will People Think?

Last week I sat down with 4 of my colleagues in the Spanish section to figure out who will teach what in the next academic year. Right in front of everybody I scheduled myself to teach zero courses for two semesters in a row. And nobody noticed.

An in-person meeting, almost two hours, and nobody noticed at all. I have an explanation for this teaching schedule but since nobody asked, I didn’t give it.

The moral of the story is that people don’t think anything about what you say or do because they are completely concentrated on figuring out their own shit. It’s very normal. Worrying about what people will think about you is a total waste of time.

Neoliberal Warfare

The neoliberal state sends you to war in a way that forces you to deepen the debt hole you are already in. In Ukraine, when there are shortages of helmets, drones, laptops, etc in the army, we raise the money collectively. Nobody expects the soldiers to take on debt to outfit themselves for battle. In the nation-state, there’s a “we.” We, the people, get together to provide for our soldiers. In Russia, there’s only individuals who have to manage on their own. If the soldiers survive, they’ll have to pay back, with interest.

You notice these differences in everything once you start looking. The war between Russia and Ukraine is a war of the post-national neoliberal state against the nation-state.

And the nation-state of Ukraine is whipping the post-national Russia’s ass.

Church Solidarity

Today the Russian teacher attended the very first Orthodox church service of her life. I brought her to church with me because I thought that if she’s religious, it’s unfair to deprive her of being able to go to service. It turned out that she’d never been until now. It’s kind of weird that Russian people need to go to the US to discover Orthodoxy but whatever works.

The priest, who never says anything political during sermons, changed his strategy today. He knew I was bringing a Russian person, so the whole sermon was about countries that invade neighboring nations and what a terrible thing that is. He said that even if a country has a terrible ruler who tells people it’s OK to invade, murder, rape and loot, it’s everybody’s personal responsibility not to let the devil conquer their soul. You have to be against the war and against bringing death to other nations.

Then we prayed for Ukraine. Five times during the service, we prayed for Ukraine.

Then, of course, Klara piped up with the only phrase she knows how to say in Ukrainian, which is “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

I haven’t spoken to the Russian teacher about the war yet. I’m not planning to until she hits the 6-month mark of being here. For now, it’s enough that she sees Ukrainian flags everywhere and notices how kind and welcoming everybody is. Then I’ll deploy my biggest secret weapon which is my Russian husband who is now a passionate Ukrainian nationalist. I so wish my Jewish father who was the biggest Ukrainian nationalist I have ever met were around. Deploying both a pro-Ukrainian guy from Moscow and a pro-Ukrainian Jew would deliver a very powerful blow.

If after all this, she doesn’t switch sides, we’ll know it’s hopeless.

Leftist Vocabulary

This is a great recap of Putin’s speech from a couple of days ago for English speakers. Note how easily Putin adopts the favorite vocabulary of the American Left. Racism, apartheid, phobia, global slave trade, genocide of Native Americans (as if Russia didn’t and isn’t right now genociding the ethnic minorities of the Russian North-East).

Isn’t it funny that people like Tucker Carlson are so enamored of a guy whose favorite line is that “America is racist, genocidal and the most evil nation on Earth”?


The colleague who teaches French gave me these flowers for saving the French program.

Of course, I saved it only for the moment. In larger terms, it’s gone. For years, our senior faculty member in French openly refused to do absolutely anything other than teach the same 3 lower-level courses. For years he responded to every suggestion I made with “this is how it’s always been.” Now he’s retired, and the French program is on the chopping block.

The neoliberal administrator is a jerk, for sure. But we have brought it on ourselves. For over a decade I’ve been saying that getting a $90,000 salary for showing up for three hours twice a week to teach French 101 is an aberration. It can’t exist forever and it won’t exist forever. But nobody listens.

It’s extraordinarily hard to convince people to try something new, to see things in a new way. They pout endlessly and then… there is no French program.