Justin E. H. Smith in his blog:

EuropaOne day I'm sitting in a rented SUV in a traffic jam, near yet far from LaGuardia, listening to NPR. Some harmless duffer, probably wearing a bowtie and a Yankees cap, is waxing sentimental about the great baseball stadiums of yore. I get in a plane and the next day I'm back in France and the taxi driver is listening to France Culture. Some professor is on, talking about Maurice Blanchot, who suspects that what we all really want, deep down, is to get spanked.

So I'm back in France. I came out of the airplane into a gauntlet of ads from HSBC, the ones asking you to imagine what banking is going to be like in the future. Whenever I see them I imagine how they will look –sorry, how they would look– sticking out of post-apocalyptic rubble.

Really, I'm sorry. Elif Batuman has announced that we've exited the age of irony and have entered the age of awkwardness. Oy, Elif, I just can't keep up with all the ages, and I suppose that in itself is a prescription for countless awkward encounters. Anyhow I'm still dwelling on how ironic, not awkward, all the feverish proclamations of capitalism triumphant are going to look someday.

Now I'm back home, back in Europe. Where? When I got my French cellphone contract they told me I would have to call for a special forfait prior to any trips to North America, but they assured me I could use it anywhere in 'Europe'. This sounded strange, and ill-defined. I asked if I could use it in Romania. Yes, of course, the agent replied. Bulgaria? Yes. Croatia? I think so. Montenegro? Um. Moldova? Uh. Chechnya? No, definitely not.

More here.