Monday, February 15, 2010

It is nice to be appreciated even if your efforts are totally ineffective

I got the comment below on an older post today. Unfortunately, there is nothing effective I can do about the Turkmen government's travel ban and other unjust actions against AUCA students. All I can do is express my strongest opposition to these policies on this blog.

Thank you, Otto, for the worries about Turkmen AUCA students. I am one of your students, I took Comparative Politics from you and Emir last year. But now I am stuck here with the rest.. Anyways, I am glad that you have several posts, regarding our travel ban. Thank..

It is wicked cold now

While December and January were for the most part quite warm, February has been really cold. It has gotten so cold that Oksana went out and got me some long underwear. The extra layer helps a little bit, but it is still freezing.

Monday mornings seem to be unblocked

Blogger is unblocked now. It was blocked most of last week. However, a pattern may be emerging. For the last two Mondays I have been able to gain access to Blogger.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Banality of Zionism

Today I taught Politics of the Middle East. This is the second time I have taught the class. The first time it was quite thrilling to be able to criticize Israel without being viciously attacked as happens to anybody in the US who openly holds a political position hostile to Zionism. But, here my views are considered part of the mainstream international opinion. Of course most people think that Israeli apartheid and dropping white phospherous on children are morally wrong. It is only in the US and obviously Israel that anybody else thinks differently. So now I am finding teaching the class less interesting. Most people outside the US not only view Israel's actions against the Palestinians as evil, but banal as well. Arendt was right on this much.

Excess Deaths among Deported Peoples in the USSR

Russian-Germans: 228,761 (1942-1952)
"Punished Peoples": 213,302 (1944-1952)
Ethnic Breakdown of "Punished Peoples"
Karachais: 13,141
Kalmyks: 12,564
Chechens: 125,477
Ingush: 20,284
Balkars: 7,594
Crimean Tatars: 34,242
Total: 442,064

Source: D.M. Ediev, Demograficheskie poteri deportirovannykh narodov SSSR (Stavropol': STGAU "AGRUS",2003), table 104, p. 294.

Quoted in Daily 49er (California State University Long Beach)

This comes at an interesting time since the abstract quoted is from an article I assigned to my Politics of the Middle East class last week. At any rate, Gerard Morel-Cruz, a graduate student of English and a writer for the paper quotes the abstract to my article "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel" in this last Sunday's online edition of the paper. So I guess at least one graduate student in the US has read something I have written. If I can only move that number up to a hundred.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Armored Frog

I only know a very little bit of Kyrgyz. Like almost everybody else of European descent in Kyrgyzstan I communicate in either Russian or English. Although my spoken Russian is far from perfect, it is the language I use when talking to Oksana and Askarbek. At this point neither of them know much more English than I know Kyrgyz. But, every so often I pick up a new word in Kyrgyz that I can actually pronounce. Yesterday I learned the word for turtle. It is tashbaka which literally means armored frog. I like that.

Sugar Stockpile

Oksana said there was a shortage of sugar in Kyrgyzstan and that prices were set to climb signficantly. So yesterday she purchased 20 kg of sugar at Osh Bazaar. I think we have enough sugar now to last us a while.

This time Blogger was only blocked for four days

Amazingly Blogger works today despite being blocked for the last four days. So with any luck I will be able to put up a couple of posts today. I am not sure how long it will remain unblocked.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Between a Journal Article and a Book

It seems to me that the average academic journal at 5-8 thousand words is too short and the average academic book at 80-100 thousand words is too long for some of the types of writing I would like to do. Right now I have just cut a journal article down from nearly 11 thousand words to under 8 thousand. But, if there were a publishing venue I could easily see writing pieces that are 20-30 thousand words. However, there seem to be no publishing outlets for academic works between the 8 thousand word maximum of a journal article and the 80 thousand words of a short monograph. Am I the only person who laments the absence of an intermediate length academic publication between these two extremes?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Today's Work

Today I only had one class to teach. The rest of the day I have been using to do other academic things. I marked up a few drafts sent to me by seniors writing their honor theses. I also have been revising the format, particularly the citation format of a journal article so I can submit it to a particular journal. I got about half way through the article converting the footnotes to in text citations. I must say revising citation formats is probably the least interesting part of writing.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Letters of Rec

I have had a lot of students ask me for reference letters for MA programs in the last couple of years. Looking through academic blogs I see that we are supposed to try and discourage students from attending graduate studies due to the very poor job market. But, to be honest I just write the letters and do not give any advice.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism Class

Currently my Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism class has the best discussions of any class I am teaching. This class is going much better than the last time I taught it. I think the fact that it has about half as many students this semester as it did a year and a half ago is a big reason for the improved discussions.