No, idiots, Belle Knox is not an “embarrassment” to Duke

Ever since the so-called “Duke porn star scandal” hit the headlines, random people have repeatedly asked me if I am “embarrassed” by it as a Duke alumna.


The short answer is: “No.”

The somewhat-longer answer is: “No, are you freaking kidding me/what the hell is wrong with you/are you for real?”

Here are some things, meanwhile, that I AM embarrassed by:  Continue reading

More EuroMaidan stupidity: concerned helicopter mom doesn’t like my tone

Ever since writing that post about stupid things people have been saying about the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine, I felt like moving on from discussing stupidity – at least for a while. It’s not good for your blood pressure, for one thing.

But then the post started getting passed around – and some friends have e-mailed it to their friends – and as a byproduct of that, I ended up being very humbled. You see, I had arrogantly assumed that my anger at some people’s cluelessness wrt the situation in Ukraine would warn anyone off from trying to push more cluelessness on me.

Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Dear Natalia, [name withheld to protect the guilty] gave me your e-mail address. I hope you don’t mind.

Well, I didn’t at first, but then…

I wanted to respond to you about the tone in which your post on Stupid Things Said About Euromaidan was written. I’m sure by now you are wondering “What does this strange woman have to tell me that I don’t already know?” And that’s fine. I completely understand that this is where you might be coming from. But the truth is, we don’t always know how our thoughts and writings can impact other human beings, do we?

Actually, when strange people write me in order to discuss my “tone,” my initial thoughts tend to be way less polite, but whatever.

Because he is her older brother’s best friend, my daughter really looks up to [redacted]. He on the other hand looks up to you. In fact, this isn’t the first time [redacted] recommends your writing to us. We have always found it inspirational, until you lashed out against some of the misconceptions people have about the Ukraine.

simon cowell blinks at you

Also: “the Ukraine.”

I understand that misconceptions can be frustrating. But not everyone who is not completely informed is acting in bad faith. My daughter, for example, has been thinking about volunteering in the Ukraine. for a while Thankfully, your post did not deter her.


Also: “the Ukraine.”

But you may want to think about others your post might have affected. There are a lot of idealistic kids out there who may not get every single nuance of the situation in Ukraine. But they are enthusiastic and want to help. Would you really want to discourage them?

Why yes, I do think that people coming to an unstable country with a bunch of dangerous assumptions should be discouraged. Vigorously so. Sometimes, with yelling and screaming – and unladylike language and tone.

But at least she didn’t use “the Ukraine” in this paragraph.

From what I have read in the news, the Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

Nope, here it is again! “The Ukraine”!

And since you clearly happen to be a good writer, you may want to think about the impact your particular side of the story may have on others.

“I don’t think you bow and scrape enough in your posts. Think about that.”

I’m sure that should you ever become a mother…

You mean like that time in 2011 when I gave birth to my son?

…you will understand the importance of inspiring others first, rather than discouraging them right away.

YES. In fact, when my son wants to overturn a fruit stand at the supermarket, I don’t stop him or anything. Sure, what he’s doing may be dangerous to himself and to all of the people who will probably take a tumble after stepping in some slippery mango or whatever – BUT DISCOURAGING CHILDREN IS BAD.

That’s really all I wanted to say. Best of luck to you and to the Ukraine.

But seriously, with friends like there, why would “the Ukraine” require any luck?

… OK, you guys will have to give me some credit – I DID think this was a parody at first. I was convinced that someone read my original post and decided to REALLY make steam come out of my ears. But then I forwarded this to [redacted], and it turns out this lady is for real.

After everything that has happened in my neck of the woods lately (if you scroll down, you’ll know what I mean), my initial desire was to immediately reach for a beer. Then I thought better of it. Why let the idiots win? And so, with a smile on my face, I demanded the vintage cognac instead.

Young women, stay away from Hugo Schwyzer

Older women too.

Middle-aged women, this is about you as well.

Men of all ages. Children. Other intelligent life-forms out there.

Everyone, just stay away from Hugo Schwyzer, OK?

Took me long enough to see what a dangerous, unhinged man he is, but I’ve finally seen it.

I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been saying it for years – many of your comments I had missed, others I just chalked up to a two-sided conflict of sorts. You know, people fighting on the Internet, the usual stuff. I never bothered to look closer. I have never imagined that he had been purposefully targeting his critics online, WOC bloggers in particular. Of course, having lived abroad for years now, I’ve had many other things on my mind instead of the feminist blogosphere – but it is also my old stomping ground, and honestly, the fact that we, all of us, let him run there unchecked means that we failed.

I sincerely regret linking Schwyzer approvingly in the past and being chummy with him on Facebook. I had bought into the notion that now that he had his beautiful wife and children in his life, the man HAD to have changed. Who would honestly screw a thing like that up? Stupid of me, I know.

I know a thing or two about what happens when scary men are allowed to run unchecked, which is why I’m saying it now:

People, stay away.

I have an “Idiots on Parade” category for posts on this blog. The idiot, in this instance, is me.

My trolls are the best trolls: Chapter 2436474956

Recently, I wrote something for The Guardian about the latest chapter in the Snowden saga. As usual, there were some solid gold comments – including one from a guy who wants to party in me in furs (while I bring the borscht, of course). Then there was the gentleman who specifically sought me out to deliver this message. Am reprinting it here almost in full – as this will surely go down in history as one of those comments that somehow manage to illustrate everything wrong with the United States today:

While I was reading your Guardian piece on Snowden I couldn’t help that sinking feeling. It was hard to figure out at first. And then I got it…. I realized just how Ukrainian you are. There is a reason why Ukrainians are only good for boxing and brothels and never contributed anything to world culture: lack of talent, lack of originality, lack of basic integrity and pride………..

Were we living in a just society today, you would be tried for treason for abusing your adopted homeland with this Snowden nonsense. Your [sic] as much of a traitor as he is. Make no mistake, those of us who actually care about the United States of America will be watching you. Youre [sic] the poster child for immigration reform, and I don’t mean that stuff about opening our borders up to more worthless scum.

I did a little googling of your person and found you to be a classic traitor in the honest sense. All that whining about the student loan industry (THAT ALLOWED YOU TO GO TO COLLEGE, HOW UNGRATEFUL ARE U….?) and the fact that American men are apparently not good enough for you and so you married a Russian.

Well I hope he hits you regularly since thats the only thing these guys are good for. Though to be honest if my woman ever spouted the kind of lunacy that you peddle as a journalist I would beat the crap out of her as well. Sorry was that politically incorrect? Do I care?

And of course: she’s a feminist! Every good-for-nothing hack of the female variety is a feminist nowadays. Hey feminists were respectable back in the day and some were great Americans, but now we have to sit and listen to YOUR stupid opinions.

All you have going for you sweets are your baby blues and oil money. I guess you’re a step up from the average immigrant in this country, but not by much. I hope you go to hell and find out exactly what they do to traitors there.

I don’t know what’s the most special thing about this letter. Is it the casual switching from “you” to “U”? That bit about oil money? The unexpectedly stylish alliteration of “boxing and brothels”? Whatever the phrase “classic traitor in the honest sense” means?

picard is full of win

What do you think?

Watching Boston in sadness

Watching the manhunt unfold on Twitter, I’m struck by the fact that I have nothing clever to say.

When I first heard that a policeman had been shot at MIT, there was no impulse to tie it to the marathon bombings. I thought these guys would be smarter, somehow, and that they would have left the city right now.

I keep coming back to that photo of Martin Richard, a little boy watching the marathon – one of the alleged bombers looming behind him.

These guys were kids themselves recently, is what I keep thinking. They most likely cried over scraped knees and took lunchboxes to school. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in 1993. He’s a 90s kid, for God’s sake.

I keep thinking that having a city on lockdown is normal and reasonable. No one is questioning that decision and I don’t question it myself. But background checks for weapons, though? Totally irrational and out-of-this-world.

As a P.S. to all of this – while everyone was watching Boston, a coffee shop bomb in Baghdad killed 27 people.

There’s nothing good to report. Days like this make me want to do nothing – just shut off the phone and sit on a park bench somewhere with Lev, and watch him chase pigeons around. It’s finally warm in Moscow, and he is wearing his new little keds.