>New Year’s Preparations

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As I mentioned before, New Year’s is the most important festivity in my culture. It is the day when people exchange really magnificent gifts. It also requires several days of full-scale preparations. I’ve been cooking all day long, and this tiramisu with strawberries, raspberries and red currants is just one of the things I made.

P.S. Now I look at the picture, it seems like it looks a lot better in real life.

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What’s Communism?: My Grandfather’s Wisdom

>My maternal grandfather was a veteran of World War II. He went to fight in the war when he was barely 18 years old. He finished the war in Berlin and wrote his (and now mine) last name on the wall of Reichstag. Of course, my grandfather was a member of the Communist Party because what options were there?

Once, one of his daughters asked him: “Daddy, what’s communism?”

“Let’s go outside,” he said to his six daughters. “I’ll show you communism.”

They went outside and looked into the beautiful sunset. “Isn’t the horizon beautiful in the setting sun?” my grandfather asked his small daughters.

“Yes, Daddy, it looks perfect!” the girls responded.

“So why don’t you try to grab it?” he said. “Go ahead, grab it if you find it so beautiful!”

“But, Daddy, you can’t grab the horizon no matter how pretty it looks,” the eldest daughter said.

“Well, that’s communism for you,” my grandfather said.

>An Interesting Article on the Origins of Academic Fear

>My reader Richard sent me a link to an article that finally answered my questions about why academics in this country are so terrified of political engagement and of fighting for their rights:

Universities stand as cowardly, mute and silent accomplices of the corporate state, taking corporate money and doing corporate bidding. And those with a conscience inside the walls of the university understand that tenure and promotion require them to remain silent.

Read the entire article here.

>Tundra in the Midwest

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I will never understand what strange psychological problems lead people to drive this kind of total monstrosity in the Midwest of all places. Besides being an environmental nightmare, it is incredibly ugly and inconvenient. Getting into it and finding a place to park it must be quite a production. 

I keep wondering whether the proud owner of this coffin-like structure even knows what tundra is and whether he is hoping to find it in Southern Illinois. It is pretty cold here right now but we are still too far away from turning into a tundra.

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>Wildlife in Southern Illinois

>One thing I can’t get used to here in Southern Illinois is the wildlife. First, there was a fox (ar at least that’s who I think it was) that lived in our trash can. It seemed to be very unhappy there and I kept worrying about it until some nice neighbor found a way to help the fox get out of the trash can. Then, I was waiting for a bus next to a corn field and a deer ran out of it. It passed right next to me and ran in the direction of financial institutions that are located next to the corn field. I really identified with the deer because it must have forgotten to withdraw its money the night before and had to run to the bank in the morning.

Then last night I went to take out the garbage and I saw this really ugly and scary animal which I later identified as an opossum (with the help of a student). It has a very nasty, pointy face and it leered at me. It scared me so much that I had nightmares all night long. I dreamt that I had to go on a date with Gorbachov and I had no nice shoes. And the store where I went in my dream only sold very ugly shoes. In the morning, I felt completely exhausted. That’s what the stupid opossum did to me.

When I lived in New Haven, CT, I got used to seeing police chasing criminals, pimps dressing down their workers, or armed criminal running around. So that doesn’t really bother me any more. Seeing all these animals, however, will take a lot of getting used to.

>Why I Hate Garcia Marquez

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the greatest Latin American writers. He is so popular that even some people in the US (like, for example, Oprah who chose his Cien anios de soledad for her book club) might actually recognize his name. And as we all know, this is not an easy feat for a Spanish-speaking writer to accomplish.

The way Garcia Marquez uses language is unbelievably beautiful. It's mesmerizing, hypnotic, heart-breaking in its power to move you. This is why the ideology he puts forward in this amazing language becomes extremely dangerous.

Garcia Marquez is profoundly machista. He despises women and this comes out in every page of his writing. To give just one example, in his novelĀ Amor en los tiempos del colera, one of the female characters is raped. Her rapist assaults her from behind and she never gets to see his face. Of course, she falls profoundly in love with this unseen rapist and spends her entire life searching for him. She has sex with numerous men in an attempt to relive the wonderful feelings she had while being raped. It is impossible to read this and not cringe in total disgust. The author's chauvinism is blatant and apologetic in every single one of his works.

Another problem I have with Garcia Marquez is his absolute indifference to the horrible social and economic realities of his continent. He pretends to have a social consciousness but in reality all his socialism is limited to a hypocritical friendship with Fidel Castro. (Of course, how anybody could go to Cuba and not feel a profound hatred towards the system in place there is beyond my understanding.) As a bestselling author and a Nobel Prize winner, Garcia Marquez could do a lot to reveal the painful realities of Latin America to the world. That, however, wouldn't sell as well. So Garcia Marquez cutesifies and prettifies horrifying realities of his continent in order to make them attractive to his affluent American and European readers.

It is so incredibly sad to see such an amazing talent serving some really irresponsible and hateful ideological goals.