Apologies and Expressions of Gratitude

Dear readers and fellow bloggers,

As you might already kow, I am now visiting my family in Canada. I made the mistake of not bringing my netbook with me, and as a result, I can’t be as effective as a blogger as I normally am. For one, there are many typos in my posts and especially comments, for which I apologize. Blogging from an iPad makes correcting typos a horrible drag.

Also, I haven’t been able to visit my favorite blogs and comment on them. I only visit the blog of the scholar who is reviewing my manuscript to analyze his posts obsessively for hints at the poor quality of my writing. Because every post ever written has to be about me, of course. Crazy, I know.

I try to post and answer comments as much as I can. I can’t do it as often as I would have liked to but I still read every single one on my cell phone. Sometimes, the phone refuses to cooperate and I can’t respond to comments.

Thank you all for stickng by the blog in spite of all this and making this week the most successful one for the blog so far. The last time I went on vacation, the number of visits to he blg dropped, which caused me anxiety and abandonment issues. 🙂

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Women and Violence

In the discussion that followed my post on Charlie Manson’s cult (sorry, I still can’t add links to my posts, but you can find it easily in the list of the most popular posts in the right-hand panel), people concentrated on the death penalty issue. This is understandable since it is a complex and divisive subject. I wanted, however, to draw everybody’s attention to the fact that the female murderers are treated far less severely than the man who was not even present when the murders in question were committed and whose only crime consisted of telling the women to kill.

In her book The Dead End Feminism, Elisabeth Badinter discusses how difficult it is to conduct any research that demonstrates that women are as capable of violence as men. It disturbs our narrative of women as vicims and damsels in distress who never inflict violence but always suffer from it. Badinter mentions the research on female Nazis who committed unspeakale crimes during the Holocaust. She also discusses the contribution of women to the Rwandan genocide. Such research, says Badinter, is always ignored in the academic community of the Western Europe and the US. This was surprising to me since the post-war literature of Ukraine and Russia is filled with the images of depraved female SS-members. I had no idea that people still needed to be convinced that the Holocaust was not created by men alone.

Blaming the Internet

The discussion of the London riots has moved into the ever-boring and extremely predictable terrain of blaming the Twitter. One boring pundit after another tells us how the riots either would not have happened or would have caused a lot less damage had the Internet not interfered.

This is the trick that lazy minds love the most nowadays. No matter what happens, let’s blame the bloggers, the Twitterers, and the Facebookers. The reasons for this are clear: the traditional journalists are losing the competition with the free sources of information online and it makes them rabid.

I have been reading this really great novel called The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. The book was really impressive until its last thrid where the author launched into the same old tired anti-blogging rant. Tobar is a professional journalist and his resentment towards bloggers overpowered his talent as a fiction writer.

An Interesting Commenter

Comments that readers leave on this blog appear on my Dashboard in inverted order: the most recent comment (irrespective of the thread where it appeared) is at the top of the page, the second most recent is a little lower down, and so on.

So I’m reading the comments that have accumulated while I was away from the computer. Eventually, I come across a very interesting comment. I can’t say I agree with it completely but it surely betrays an original way of looking at things. I’m curious about the identity of this new, interesting commenter. And then I discover that the comment was left by me yesterday. 🙂

Portraits in the Office

It’s normal for academics to keep a portrait of their favorite writer or scientist on the walls of their offices. Sometimes, however, people get all weird about that.

Once, I went to the office of a Canadian scholar who was Chair of a Department of Slavic Studies. I started talking to him, and then I noticed a big portrait of Vladimir Putin on his wall. And I kind of didn’t feel like talking to him about anything any more. I tried convincing myself that it was some kind of an ironic post-modern gesture but there weren’t any horns or tail drawn on the portrait. It looked like it had been hung there completely in earnest.

The scholar in question specialized in the Silver Age of Russian poetry, which is an area completely unconnected to Putin.

That was kind of scary. And it was a very good university, too.

As I always say, people are weird.

More about the Individual

This wasn’t all the Overt Dictionary had to say about THE individual. Here is another curious statement (the punctuation of the original is preserved): “The Mass Media: a machine which attempts to condition the individual into becoming a completely docile, passive, creature.”

“Docile, passive, creature” is too good not to be recorded on my blog.