Citizens

My sister and brother-in-law (both citizens of Canada) want to take their children (also citizens of Canada) to the beach in Florida. Some people might consider this to be a wholesome, unobjectionable activity.

“Because of COVID,” Canada hasn’t been renewing the expired passports of citizens except for those who needed urgent travel. Of course, “because of COVID” most people didn’t travel much. As a result, a huge backlog of expired passports was created. Now people have to wait in Soviet-style lines to get them renewed.

My brother-in-law who’s a citizen of Canada joined a line at the government agency at 4 am. Yes, in the morning. He was only #25 in line formed by other citizens of Canada. Obviously, at that time of night the government agency was closed. It rained, and the line that kept growing stood outside for hours.

Then the agency opened. Every once in a while, a government worker appeared to tell people there weren’t going to be any appointments and they should leave. He suggested other places, many miles away, where he was certain there were no appointments and no lines. My sister is from the USSR. She knows all these tricks, so she was furiously texting her husband to stay put and not believe these distracting stories aimed at reducing lines artificially.

At 1 pm my brother-in-law (yes, the one who’s a citizen) finally had his turn. He talked to a government worker and was scheduled for an official appointment next Monday afternoon. By that time, the poor fellow, untrained in the art of standing in mile-long lines, was beyond himself and ready to go home. Clutching the card with the appointment information to his heart, he stumbled out of the government office and went home.

And that’s when he made a fatal mistake.

Can you guess what it was?

Yes, he trusted that the card said what he was being told. That the appointment was for Monday afternoon. He didn’t read what the card actually said.

And when he got home. After all this. And proudly handed the card to his wife. He discovered.

That the appointment was scheduled for July 20, long after the planned trip.

Yes, he turned and went back to the government agency. But that’s a whole new story.

Yesterday I saw tweets from a reporter in Montreal who tried to cover this story at that precise government facility where my brother-in-law went. Police shooed her and her cameraman away, preventing them from interviewing the people in line.

I can’t get over the fact that these are citizens, law-abiding, tax-paying people who aren’t trying to do anything shady, illegal, or even unusual. Why is their government failing them in such a miserable way? I understand why it happened in the USSR but isn’t Canada supposed to be different?

It might seem like I’m constantly dunking on Canada but Canada is what we will be in a couple of years. It’s a cautionary tale. Or would be if people paid attention.

Estonian Humor

I have nothing to add.

P.S. Actually, I do. If you don’t know who Mearsheimer is, consider yourself lucky. He’s the Lin Wood / Bill Ayers of political science.

Womb Carriers

It never occurred to these publishers that it’s precisely this attitude to women as “womb carriers” that inspired the forced sterilizations in the first place.

There was an outcry, so the poor idiots had to take down the “womb carrier” promotional campaign. But please note how linguistically impoverished these BOOK publishers are. In the tortured turn of phrase they came up with, wombs are carried like handbags. And women are carriers, which makes one think of communicable diseases. “Hey, lady, don’t drop your womb around here. I don’t want to get infected “

Complete Transformation

There was this couple I knew, very left-wing, very artsy. And very child-free. They were united, among other things, by a strong conviction not to have children.

The marriage lasted for 10 years, and then it didn’t work out. They got divorced. Within a year they were both married to other people. Within two, both had babies with these other people. Within four, both had two babies each in the new marriages. After that, the ex-husband proceeded to have baby #3 but the ex-wife had to stop for age-related reasons. She was one of those crazy mommies, hand-sewing all the kids’ clothes, making organic snacks from scratch, all that.

The funny thing is that her new husband had also been completely child-free his whole life. He was 50 when they married, and one of those leftists who play in a rock band that they still hope will one day become famous. And then all of a sudden he freaks out all of his friends, becoming a crazy daddy, with a bunch of kids constantly hanging off his neck. I remember a bunch of these rock band friends visiting and sitting there in shock as the proud dad went on and on about his potty-training expertise and how he now believed in home-schooling.

They loved telling this story. “Can you believe we were both child-free until I was 50 and she was 40? Ha ha!” It was totally ha ha because I’ve never seen more kid-crazy people than these two.

I’m remembering this story because it always makes me smile. It’s really great how people can discover things about themselves and change completely at any age.

I hope nobody takes this as a condemnation of childless people. That’s not the point of the story at all.

Déclassé

At the discussion club yesterday, we talked about why the rich people all voted for Biden and not Trump. My answer is that Trump and Biden are identically neoliberal on the economy but being for Trump means branding yourself as déclassé, a prole. That’s what it ultimately came down to. Trump used a rhetoric that appealed to the proles. Biden uses a rhetoric that appeals to the fancy people or wannabe fancy people. But the actual economic measures both put in place were exactly the same.

Con Artists

Few things annoy me as much as Joe Biden’s repeated attempts to blame the inflation and the price hikes on the war in Ukraine. Not only is he concealing that the middle and the working classes are being massively robbed to enrich the 0,01%, he uses Ukraine’s martyrdom to conceal the evidence of this gigantic con.

Incredible Skill

Our new chief administrator is completely neoliberal. He uses phrases like “equitable position readjustment” to say “a hiring freeze” and “working towards a margin of budgetary excellence” to say “budget cuts.” I had to write this down because no normal human can understand this language without extensive training.

He’s a phenomenal speaker, though. I usually switch off 2 minutes into anybody’s talk on any subject. But this guy spoke about the budget for an hour, and I never got distracted. It’s an incredible skill. I’m sure he took a lot of workshops to hone it.

Neoliberals take these things very seriously and work hard on them. That’s why they achieve their goals.

Inflation Numbers

I was at a budget meeting today, and some numbers blew my mind. For instance, our dining services suffer greatly because the prices have skyrocketed for the items we regularly purchase up to 68% to a whopping 157%. Some of the items are red grapes, bacon bits for salad, and vinyl gloves for cooks and servers.

Also, taking into account inflation over 20 years, our overall university budget decreased by 53 million dollars per year. It’s about 46% of the budget.

Insightful Assumptions

There’s this hilarious scene in Daniel Gascón’s novel about a left-wing snowflake in the Spanish countryside. The snowflake arrives in a small village and begins to lecture the villagers about the heteropatriarchal nature of the henhouse and the toxic masculinity of an old man who “manspreads” on a bench. Finally, the villagers feel too annoyed to put up with the incessant lecturing and paint the words “Idiot outsider” on a wall.

The left-wing snowflake assumes that the graffiti describes Mohammed, the only immigrant in the village, and angrily hectors villagers about the evils of Islamophobia and immigrant-hatred. But the only person in the village who assumes that “idiot outsider” refers to Mohammed is the left-wing snowflake himself.

This is exactly what happened to the author of the linked Tweet. He assumes things about his opponents, and that assumption says a lot more about him than about them.

The Russian Humiliation

Please read Kamil Galeev. There’s no better-informed analyst on Russia at this point. Also, please remember that an analyst who isn’t a native speaker of the language is worthless. You have to be part of the cultural space to have any insight worth hearing.

Galeev makes a crucial point in the linked thread that everybody who is part of the cultural space knows and understands but that is practically unknown outside of it. Russians feel extremely humiliated by the fact that “stupid Americans” have a higher standard of living and are more important internationally in every way. Culturally, linguistically, politically, economically, militarily, you name it. They know they are superior but nothing in the surrounding reality reflects that superiority. This is the narcissistic injury I keep talking about. It always generates a lot of rage, both in our private lives and collectively.

Back in the early 1990s, one of the most popular stand-up comedians in Russia changed his whole comedy routine to talking exclusively about idiot Americans who were complete morons compared to Russians. There is no Russian-speaker who was alive then who hasn’t heard his comedy routines. And this is one thing in a million. There are books, movies, TV series, etc, all on this one endlessly fascinating subject. This sense of superiority is very seductive and at this point in time it’s deeply ingrained. I shared before how I bought into it, too, 20 years ago.

Have you ever been passed over at work or in dating life for people who were clearly less qualified / intelligent / good-looking, etc? How did that feel? Now imagine feeling like that on an existential level. Imagine always feeling like that. How long until the pain and the sense of injustice become unbearable? Maybe you personally have mechanisms that help you deal with it with peace and dignity. But many people don’t.