Spanish Spain

Spain is still being Spain:

A squash club in Spain has been accused of sexism after tournament prizes for female competitors included a vibrator, body hair removal kits and an electric foot file. Elisabet Sadó, who won the Asturias Squash Championship, received a trophy and a vibrator. Olaya Fernandez Lence, Marina Arraiza Mier and Cristina Barandica Fernandez, who finished second, third and fourth respectively, also received gifts which included an electronic foot file or hair removal wax. In contrast, their male counterparts did not receive any additional presents to go along with their trophies.

Sexism and corruption are linked together in a passionate embrace.

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Neoliberal Structures of Feeling

Neoliberal mentality relies on the following principles:

– I am what I say I am

– individuals should be free to choose whatever they want

– there should be no constraints placed by community, family, nature, society, etc on the choices individuals make

– all individuals are in a constant state of competition with each other for dwindling resources. Somebody has an advantage on me (aka privilege) at all times and that’s intolerable

– everybody is ultimately lonely and everybody is ultimately out to get each other

– there is no attachment or loyalty greater than loyalty to the desires of one’s self

– new is good, old is bad. Younger is always better than older. Freshness is better than experience or familiarity

– everything is a market, everybody is a product

– the role of other human beings in our lives is the same as that of products. They must maximize our pleasure. If they don’t, they should be discarded

– permanent links, especially if they haven’t been freely chosen, should be discarded

Once you have made these ideas the basis of your worldview, how can you seriously claim you will work against their economic manifestations? The neoliberal economy will be the result every time, no matter how many times you say it’s not your goal.

Buttigieg

Buttigieg correctly identifies, within today’s conservatism, a turn away from the neoliberal revolution started by Reagan.

Reagan era has come crashing to a halt with Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party,” he says.

From the way he words it, it sounds like he is sad that Reaganism doesn’t reign supreme any more. As he probably does. This is a guy who’d accept no brakes on the relentless march of neoliberalism.

I listened to some of the linked town hall and realized that Buttigieg is a very smart person. He’s probably the smartest person running. He’s also the scariest one because he isn’t too ancient to notice what’s happening and he didn’t stumble into neoliberalism by mistake. He seems like a very sincere believer.

And why wouldn’t he be? He’s young, privileged, brilliant, the system is working out for him, and he doesn’t remember anything before it. Why shouldn’t he favor the system that favors him so much? Why shouldn’t he be ruthless in imposing it?

It’s not in the least surprising that the next Reagan would come from the left. It’s sad but not shocking.

A Great Link on Literature

A really fun article on how the overuse of the indirect free style kills literature and produces idiot readers.

This part made me smile because it is exactly how I teach it in class:

As soon as movies were invented, writers began focusing on inward thought. Writers had to ask themselves a new question, Why bother? Conrad, a master writer working at the height of his powers with the efforts of constant revisions, can make you see. So can any schmuck with a camera. Why write a book rather than a movie script? What can the written word do that other forms of art can’t?

Writers, then and now, arrived at thought, or access to interior. A novel can get inside a person’s head in a way that a camera can’t. A camera will almost always be better at portraying the world because we experience the world through sight, but we experience ourselves through thought, and thought is inexorably intertwined with language. Film could never portray interior life the way William Faulkner throws you into Quentin Compton’s head.

Read the whole thing. I don’t anticipate reading anything better online today and I read a lot online.

People are so weird:

My three-year-old daughter Alice is obsessed with pink and princesses. She spends most of the day pretending to be a princess (I’m the prince and I get to rescue her on my horse), or a bride (I have to propose, give her flowers and then we get married) or a mummy (there’s nothing quite as humiliating as a

three-year-old pretending to change your nappy and calling you stinky).

Why? Why is it humiliating? The child is hitting developmental milestones on time. This is great news. My Klara plays all the same games and I’m psyched. (And if she wanted to play different kinds of games, I’d also be psyched. A child who doesn’t know how to play at age 3 is cause for concern. A child who does is developing normally.)

It’s hard to unlearn seeing the child as an extension of your self right after they are born. But three years in it should be clear that it’s not a child’s job to validate your ideology.

Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel I have to justify her traditionally feminine tastes? Why do I think other people are judging me for having a girly girl?

An this is precisely the problem. A narcissist sees the child as a mirror and constantly frets about the image of herself that the child projects to others.

The author of the article says she’s hiding her disapproval of the toddler’s interests and preferences but that’s all bonk. Children know when mommy doesn’t really like them. It’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. What creates insecure, miserable people isn’t “society.” It’s mommy’s disappointed gaze.

Study Guides

Do you, folks, give students study guides before exams? I always do and students love them.

My study guides look exactly the same as my final exams, and we dedicate the last day of class to doing them together. I like to have a variety of activities on my finals. For instance, the most recent one had questions with short 1-2 sentence answers, an essay-type question, definitions, and true and false. (The latter being invariably the hardest activity of all).

When I create the final, I open two windows side by side and make two identical-looking exams, one of which is a study guide. I do this for every exam and in every course, even those with 65+ students. (Everybody else does multiple choice but I’m like that German POW in the probably apocryphal Soviet story who was asked why he works so hard in a Soviet prison camp when he isn’t getting paid and he said, “It’s because I want to remain a German”).

I don’t believe in final exams and only hold them when the university regulations force me to (which is in 90% of all the courses I teach.) But if I have to hold them, I make an effort to turn them into useful activities with minimal stress.

It’s funny because I don’t give a crap about teaching (i.e. the kind of teaching that I’m forced to do) but I don’t cut corners unlike people who do nothing but teach.

Dreaming of Corporatization

And by the way, all of the talk about the corporatization of higher ed is such a lie. I’m desperate for corporatization, but where is it?

No business would survive if it consistently refused to give paying customers what they want and excused it with “this is how things have always been.” No business would reward a worker for attracting zero customers (students) to his product (course.) No business would ban branding.