This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Friday Ramblings: Shorts

This just in: history is polluted by facts!!

Actually, this isn’t just in. In fact, this juicy tidbit is about a year old, but it’s just too good to pass up: The Tennessee Tea Party has demanded that school history textbooks do not mention any TRUE FACTS that reflect negatively on the Founding Fathers, including “intrusions” on the Native Americans and ownership of slaves. (Sorry for being redundant.) Lest anyone think that the TTP has taken a page out of the Holocaust Denier’s Handbook, it must be emphasized that they went beyond classic historical revisionism, by implicitly acknowledging that bad things have happened to certain groups of people in the course of the American history. The draft reads:

“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

(Emphasis mine.) So, basically, write “minorities” out of history. Got it. Simultaneously, the TTP spokesman complained about “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the Founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.” In other words, it’s not that awful things didn’t happen to minorities — it’s that it’s wrong to criticize the majority, especially those who reached positions of leadership, for those things. Or mention them, even. Makes perfect sense. After all, teaching kids any facts that paint our leaders and founders in a negative light is so … communist? Yes, yes, that’s exactly how my Soviet primary school taught me about Lenin — that he was a flawed individual who did awful things. The American way, however, the way of freedom, is to suppress the truth in favor of image. Right, TTP?

I swear, if I wasn’t certain Tea-Partiers consider reading stuff (other than right-wing pamphlets) a Satanic activity, I’d think they were trying to turn us into Turkey.


Women report much more pain than men, study finds. Some explanations for this — besides the possibility that women are just hormonally more sensitive to pain than men — are obvious. There is pressure on men to be stoic, and social disincentives to describing the degree of pain accurately. I would also add that there are cultural pressures that result in inadequate pain relief for patients of both genders. There are far too many people experiencing pain unnecessarily, and doctors are often forced to make nonsensical decisions for inane reasons — such as limiting narcotics for patients who are obviously dying. But, based on my experience in medical malpractice defense, I think there is another factor at play here — and that is that women must often complain louder, longer and more forcefully than men in order to obtain even “permissible” pain relief. I hasten to add that my perspective may be somewhat skewed, since I deal primarily with cases where something went horribly wrong. Still, after a number of years in this business, I do get the distinct impression that women’s complaints are taken less seriously (by male AND female doctors, no less), thus putting female patients in the position of having to up the ante. In cases of generalized pain and other non-specific symptoms, women are also much more likely than men to be written off as “mental”. So over a lifetime, women may indeed adjust to complain to their health care providers just the right amount to get help.


The Wall Street Journal has equated “nagging” with adultery and characterized it as a “marriage killer”. I will agree that small habitual cruelties can and do destroy marriages; still, I find the idea that asking your spouse to take out the trash more than once is like screwing around preposterous. Although the author throws in a quick disclaimer that husbands too can nag, let’s be frank here: “nagging” is a loaded, gender-specific term. And sure enough, all advice that follows in that column presumes that the wife is the “nag” and the husband is the “nagee”. All advice is also pretty directed at the “nag”, so the person who makes repeated complaints, requests or demands is the only one regarded as having a problem. Here is the question that lingers in my mind: If a marriage with a nagging problem collapses, how do we know it’s the nagging that caused it and not, say, consistently ignoring one’s spouse? Or, you know, a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B, a general breakdown in communication?

Happy Friday.


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