Clarissa's Blog

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

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”


First, the Russians fought in Afghanistan, and the US armed the Taliban. Now, the US fights in Afghanistan, and Russians are arming the Taliban.

The three sides of the crazy triangle is equally dumb but the Afghanis are the worst because it’s their land that’s being destroyed while the Russians and the Americans play out their passionate love affair.


Kadyrov Vows to Slaughter All Gays 

Putin’s bestie, the President of Chechnya, has vowed to eliminate the gay population before the beginning of Ramadan on May 26.

I don’t understand why this is possible and why there is such a little outcry. For now, Putin’s own squiggly, squirmy press secretary is denying that anything is going on. Nothing but a huge international stink will make him notice and put a leash on his Chechen lap dog. 


I never knew who the White House Press Secretary used to be in any of the previous presidencies. But now I’m very familiar with Sean Spicer’s pinched little face and whiny voice. The reason is that this is such a garbled and mumbly presidency that it needs constant reinterpretation. 

Remember, though, that a country’s leader is a glimpse into the collective unconscious of its inhabitants. Judging by this presidency, the general mood in the country is, “I have no idea what’s going on, and that makes me angry.”

It’s All in the Head

Objectively, I’m busier now than at any time in the semester. But I feel free and in vacation mode. 

Which tells me I could always feel this way. It’s a weird thought. 


I feel like summer holidays have already begun, and real work can start.

There is still one more week of classes, then the final exams, grading, and submitting the grades. But for me, grading equals watching tons of TV, and I love TV, so it isn’t onerous. 

Summer, I love you. In spite of the nasty weather.

What Do You Know About Macron?

Is anybody following French politics? What’s this Macron fellow about? What are his main ideas?


Democrats lost over a thousand state legislative sears over the last 6 years. 

So yeah, Hillary is a symptom, not a cause. 

A Sense of Purpose

In 2011-12, Russian economy was doing great, the middle class was growing, people were improving their economic well-being. But Putin’s approval ratings were lower than ever. People were protesting in the streets, ridiculing Putin online, and it was fashionable among the cultural elites to despise Putin. 

Then, the oil prices started to drop, and the economy entered into a deep recession. In response, Putin invaded Ukraine and attached the narrative of “We are defending our fellow Russian-speakers and sticking it to Americans” to the invasion. The economy collapsed, the middle-class is in the toilet, everybody became poorer. But Putin’s approval ratings are sky-high, and the very people who used to mock him are now sincere and active Putinoids.

Moral of the story: people value a sense of purpose and of being part of something grand a lot more than they value their economic well-being. 

Bran Buds

So you know how I always ridiculed boxed cereals as bird food, right? But today I tried one called Bran Buds with almond milk, and it was sensational. It looks like miniature goat droppings, so that’s off-putting but once you try it, it’s very good.


I want to answer the comment I got in one of the threads about the reason why I have such a lackadaisical approach to grades.

My father taught college back in Ukraine. He would come to class on the first day and say, “Everybody gets an A. Now, all who want to leave can go.” And then he’d teach those who remained. To me, hat’s what real teaching is. It’s not about control and authority, punishment and reward, policing and disciplining. It’s about working together with students on approaching truth and appreciating beauty.

Unfortunately, I can’t teach this way because the whole thing is too bureaucratized. But I can’t care enough about grades where I’d see them as sacred. I find it beyond bizarre when teachers worship at the altar of grades and do insane things like saying, “No, you got 79%, and that’s a C. I’ll never pretend it’s 80% and give you a B.” Or, “I said to hand in the essay before 4:59 pm, and you sent it in at 5:40 pm. I will not accept it! (Or lower the grade.)” There are also very strange people who see tardiness as disrespect towards themselves, as if students are not a lot more likely to have a million things going on in their lives that are not about this bizarre teacher.

If a student tells me, “My life will be ruined if I fail this course,” I don’t see the reason to test this assumption and fail them. The real tragedy is not a grade, whatever it is. It’s the reluctance of people to cultivate an interest in truth and beauty. And that can’t be remedied with any grade. 

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