This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Do Not Talk To Cops

Francisco Goya, "Scene from an Inquisition" (c. 1800)Via. I have a public service announcement: Read more…

Here Is Your Feel-Bad Quote For This Friday

Hieronymus Bosch, "The Conjurer" (circa 1450-1516)Since the release of the CIA torture report, which revealed (let’s be honest — to no one’s particular surprise) that the US has tortured people as part of the War on Terror, and that torture has proven absolutely ineffective, there has been a lot of (again, not surprising) hand-wringing on the Right. Simultaneously denying that torture is torture and claiming that torture is okay because Ticking-Bomb Hypothetical are par for the course, naturally. What especially amuses me, however, is all the whining to the effect that even if torture is torture, and even if it’s ineffective, and even if the US has tortured people, it’s definitely not okay to talk about it, because talking about how we’ve tortured people is far, far worse than torturing people. Openly confessing that we are not the paragon of virtue and the bastion of freedom we often claim to be means our enemies win! — lament the Righties, like this one. Appearances über alles, people. Read more…

Myths and Illusions: The Myth of True Genius

Ivan Aivazovsky, "Pushkin's Farewell to Sea" (1877)Today’s entry into the pantheon of modern Myths and Illusions: True Genius.

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Mark Your Diaries Accordingly

I can’t think of anything clever to add, but this fits right in with the absurdity theme of this blog:

10 Feel-Bad Quotes For Your Friday

William Michael Harnett, "Memento Mori To His Favor" (1879The Internet is full of quote lists. All of them, absolutely all, are feel-good quotes. Turn to Google whenever you need an infusion of self-esteem or self-pity, and you will get thousands of cavity-inducing blurbs about the importance of loving yourself and giving yourself more credit for being you. If you’ve read my blog, you know how I feel about that crap. Not only do I despise feel-goodism, I mostly hate quotes too. Many are apocryphal, and many more are torn out of context and applied to situations that the author did not even remotely have in mind when he wrote the words. However, I do have some favorite passages from great literature. And so, today, I am offering a heady espresso to go with the sugary confection that are inspirational quotes. The passages below are unlikely to inspire self-admiration or enthusiasm, but they are guaranteed to inspire thought. I offer them with brief commentaries. Enjoy. Read more…

On Academic Trigger Warnings

Auguste Toulmouche, "Dans La Bibliothèque" (1872)
TRIGGER WARNING: This post may upset you. If you are one of those people who believe that a mere difference of opinion, or an opinion that suggests, however remotely, something negative about your personal choices is tantamount to“shaming” and an all-out personal attack, click away now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Read more…

The Cruel And The Dumb Inherit The Earth, Apparently.

William Hogarth, "The Four Stages of Cruelty, Stage I" (1751)To begin with an aside, I confess I don’t care whose feefees I’m hurting when I say this: fratboys are the worst. THE. WORST. This is not a compliment. If any member of the “culture” reading this DOES regard it is a compliment, that would only be proving my point. To any predictable objections to the effect whether I shouldn’t be ranking the Nazis or Islamic terrorists as the worst, I reply with an immortal quote from The Big Lebowski: “Say what you want about National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.” Frat “ethos”, such as it is, revolves getting shitfaced, destruction of property, humiliation, sex crimes, inflicting suffering, and occasionally killing people and animals for the hell of it — for the lulz. So yes, the label “the worst” is entirely apt here. I cannot believe universities and taxpayers shell out money to subsidize this nonsense.

This story from last week is sad and horrible — all the more so because this is precisely the kind of stuff that fratboys find funny, nay, heroic. If you are too lazy to click on the link, here is the summary: some pledges from a Mississippi university broke into a zoo at night supposedly to take a picture of a flamingo for a scavenger hunt. (That’s the frat’s official story, anyway, and it’s TOTES believable — I mean, you would have to break into a zoo at night to take a picture of one of the animals, right?) Moving right along, instead of just taking a picture, these freaks went ahead and kidnapped a flamingo. The bird was found in the morning several miles away with massive internal injuries and a broken leg. Its mate back at the zoo was also found to have severe internal injuries, including ruptured organs. Both birds had to be euthanized. The apparent leader of this worthy exploit, Devin Nottis, was arrested on felony charges after bragging about it on Twitter. Read more…

A Curious Presumption

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, "The Dutch Proverbs" (1559)One of the most mystifying things people say about rape is that being raped by a stranger is “worse” than date rape or any other kind of acquaintance rape. Richard Dawkins (whom I have long believed to be a passive-aggressive misogynist) is getting some well-deserved flogging as we speak for lecturing women on how trivializing “lesser rape” isn’t tantamount to endorsing it. There is a whole series of smarmy, condescending tweets, but what caught my eye in particular was this: Read more…

A Belated Mothers’ Day Wish

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Here is what I want: I want people to stop saying that motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am a mother. I especially want people to stop saying that stay-at-home motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am not a SAHM. Read more…

Un-American, The New Patriotic

Victor Vasnetsov, "The End of Prince Igor's Campagn Against the Cumans" (1880)

Over at Salon there is a worried entry about the increasingly close association between American Evangelical Christians and secessionist kooks, exemplified by Bobby Jindal’s recent waxing poetic about a coming violent overthrow of the Federal Government. With high-level public officials feeling increasingly free to state, publicly and explicitly, that they would like to dismantle this country for not being Jesusy enough (and presumably exterminate the ideologically non-conforming, which is what Jesus buried all those fossil fuels in Red States for), I can see how one can become nervous about a possible violent insurrection. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say: relax, it’s more likely to be an infuriating slow burn than a big scary explosion. Read more…

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