I need so much more information

I know some of you have stayed away from news, social media, or anything out of survival. I think that’s a good idea, and a true way to practice self-care.

So warning, this story is pretty fucking horrifying.

This week, parents of students at Truman State University are suing the university because a fraternity member had convinced five people to commit suicide. This is a gross exploitation of people struggling with mental illness. But, readers, you know that I want to know the grossest details:

What did he say to them? In what way can someone be this heartless and calculating?

Speaking of heartless and calculating, have you seen this NPR story about this young American woman who started a charity in Uganda to help malnourished children, and then started imposing medical practices? What sort of white savior maniacal complex must one have? Also, did she do it for the blog?

I know this here thing is supposed to be about grad school, but for now let’s just call it “Robin’s obsession with atrocities and the people that cause them.”


I don’t do things after 6pm further than a mile from my home.

I know this cuts me off from lots of social activities, and it may makes me sedentary.

I’m going to blame the capitalist rule for creating the division of workday/evening that has made most working people only have time after 6pm.

I’m going to blame my nesting instincts that when it is dark out, one must be inside one’s home to seek shelter.

I love a good day excursion, an afternoon coffee, an early evening barbecue. Bring back day dates.

I have homework and reading that are done best while not wearing pants, and I can only do that in my home.


'Love Island' is the dystopian science fiction we deserve

This week, millions tuned in to watch twelve people talk over each other and mostly talk nonsense. No, I’m not talking about the democratic debates. [Laughter break.]

Love Island looks like a set built by Bratz dolls and Ed Hardy tee shirts, but we’re told its actually a resort in Majorca. The outside world is apparently destroyed by global catastrophe, and the only chance of survival is for these conventionally attractive, fame hungry bright young things is to find themselves coupled up. But there’s nothing to do, except when the campy narrator sends them text messages through a closed network instructing them that they are about to play a sexy game or are chosen to go to the copulation chamber with their chosen partner.

Otherwise, there is nothing to do but talk. And talk. And talk. About nothing. Nothing on the outside exists, there is no culture, no reference to political events, but to talk. And if they don’t talk, they cease to exist. They fill the time with acceptable catchphrases (“at the end of the day…”. “here to commit;” “he’s my ride or die…” )The gravity in the resort must work like it does in that ocean planet in Interstellar. One day on Love Island is a lifetime of heteronormative time. Within a new day, new survivors of the outside apocalypse are found and brought in. In twelve hours the recoupling starts, a sort of Hunger Games reaping of survival. Each person must stand up and give an oration about why they are picking the “boy” or “girl” they are based on connections, values, and feelings, and where they see it going. All from a day. The temporality of courtship, understanding, love, and partnering must happen within the temporal walls of the day or else…apparently everyone is destroyed. Couples must convene in the same bed for sleeping, all in one room, like a performance art of domestic life. This is Battle Royale of love.

There are rules, you see. Not just the rules of the game. Weston, the red headed southern cowboy type, chose to get to know new “girls” as they came into the island. He recoupled with different people at different times. This was NOT acceptable, as knowing someone for a whole day is a commitment. He was accused of “tricking” girls into being interested in him. You see, heteronoramativity relies on tricks and strategies. Speaking of strategies, Caro almost breaks a hip in her performative bubbliness and baby talk. To appear vulnerable or feeling unfun is punishable by death. Kelsey, learning that she would not be chosen despite her best efforts to be “open to love,” sacrifices herself to leave, is finally allowed to show emotion. She cries as she leaves, apologizing over and over for her failures. She took back control by taking her own life rather than the worse option- the realization that it was the audience’s judgement that ultimately destroyed her. Who are these outside entities? Are they bots?Are they voices from beyond the grave of the apocolypse, echoing into the chamber of Love Island, doomed to repeat the conventions of the past?

Kyra, who must be the center of conversation and attention at all times, finds an attraction to Emily, a new survivor brought in mid-season. Emily is into her to. But there is no opportunity for this; any sort of queerness is not in the rules. Recoupling must eventually result in a promise to one day repopulate the world. The inhabitants are even given astronomic babies as a game, as a practice for a strict heteronormative future. Emily and Kyra lament how it was too bad that they never got to explore their attraction before a recoupling to see what was. They are saying this to each other in the same room. There is no stopping them now. Except for the constant fear of having to leave the sanctuary of Love Island, a synthetic utopia. It’s too bad they have no free will to explore that now, they are completely obedient to the RULES.

This format is not new; most reality shows focus on surveillance (Big Brother). romance rituals (The Bachelor) and performance of self (The Real World) and competition. But in Love Island, the promise of life depends on it. The remaining couple not only wins $100,00 (split two ways), but they win at the using the correct passage and order of time.

The biggest trick of temporality is that the show is broadcast nightly, six days a week, tricking the audience into feeling it is in real time, and there is a sense of control in that. I’m the one who has ultimately been fooled. I have watched it every night.

I'm surprised this hasn't happened to me

Everyone is talking about Bruce Hay, the Harvard Law professor who got scammed by two women. They befriended him, manipulated him and scammed him out of not just money, but emotionally.

There’s a lot of twists and turns, but the most baffling, and the thing that blows my mind is that they tricked Hay into renting his house to them, and moving all his furniture out and all of their things in.

But when Hay and the women returned to Cambridge two days later, Hay and Zacks’s beautiful Italianate home on a quiet corner of Mount Vernon Street had been emptied of his family’s furniture, cookware, toys, documents, books, Zacks’s mother’s and grandmother’s heirlooms — and everything replaced with the women’s furniture. When Shuman had gone MIA in Quebec, Hay believes, she wasn’t seeing a doctor. She’d been overseeing the complicated move, all $10,000 of which had been charged to Hay’s credit card.

The next day, Hay called the Cambridge police. When the officer accompanied him to his house, the women came to the door — his door — and furnished a lease renting them the $3.2 million home for two years for $1,500 a month. He says Shuman had used his laptop while they were in Quebec to send an email to her lawyer from his Harvard account, in which he purportedly said the “lease” “looks good.” Then they produced a copy of the $3,000 check they’d made out to Hay before the Quebec trip. See, we paid a security deposit, they said.

It’s easy to point fingers at Hay to say how could he be duped, but I just feel bad. Everyone wants to feel love and cherished. And sometimes people take advantage of that.

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