This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

“Mad Men”: Megan Draper On The “Emptiness Of Consumerism”

I’ve written previously on this blog that one way to deal with the bourgeois guilt, even to the point of moral superiority, is to like a Charles Dickens novel. If you enjoy sipping champagne made from the tears of Tiny Tim, being socially conscious about all the evils in the world except your own role in them makes it that much easier to feel good about yourself.

Which brings me to Mad Men and last week’s episode, “A Christmas Waltz”. There is a scene in the episode where Megan takes her husband Don to a play entitled “America Hurrah”, which apparently contains numerous jabs at advertising. Later, when he expresses his bitterness, Megan tells him that this is a play about the “emptiness of consumerism”. Read more…


The Nature of Happiness

All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (edited to correct)

Over at Slate, I allowed myself to become embroiled in a pointless argument over the relative levels of happiness of those who have children and those who do not — and whether the former is maliciously trying to make the latter miserable. The discussion predictably degenerated into a glorious mudfest –not the least because the original article, while touching on some valid points, was relentlessly nasty, condescending and rife with ludicrous insinuations. The gravest flaw, however — especially unforgivable on the part of the author — was failing to adhere to that time-honored Platonian principle, that for any discussion to be productive, we first have to define the terms. In the context of that particular topic, the term was, of course, “happiness”. Read more…

Do Medical Records Exonerate George Zimmerman? Not So Fast.

Over the past few months, I have refrained from writing about the shooting of Trayvon Martin (oblique references excepted), primarily because the controversy was fresh, and I wanted to allow for the possibility that the case is not as clear-cut as it seems at first blush. Still, I was leaning strongly towards the conclusion that George Zimmerman provoked an altercation with Trayvon Martin and murdered him. Moreover, based on my experience working at the intersection of law and medicine, I expected from the very beginning that sometime shortly before trial, the Zimmerman camp would produce a short, self-serving medical record, authored by some no-name internist practicing out of a dingy storefront called Something-Something Medical, P.C., and that “record” will indicate that Zimmerman came in right after the incident and was so horrendously injured, you’d think he had fallen off a skyscraper and been attacked by a pack of T-Rexes.

Well — surprise, surprise. The good folks who were lecturing us two months ago that Trayvon Martin deserved to die because he did not consistently exhibit saint-level perfection in appearance, academics, expressive language and personal behavior are now jumping up and down with glee over the supposed fact that medical records and Martin’s autopsy report supposedly “prove” that Zimmerman was fighting for his life.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Read more…

How Not To Be a Demagogue: Ten Stupidest, Most Dishonest, And Most Cowardly Arguments People Make All The Time

It is a well-known fact that people say a lot of stupid crap. To point it out isn’t exactly a revelation. Still, some expressions of stupid thought are like the Red Bull of stupid — intensely nonsensical and intensely popular. Below is a list of ten well-worn arguments that, in my opinion, take the cake for idiocy, intellectual dishonesty, cowardice or some combination of the three. Read more…

Robot Marriage

It’s a slow news day, apparently, and so Slate has graced us with a truly bewildering piece about how people will fall in love with and marry robots in the near future (like, the next 50 years), because human interaction has gotten too damned hard. Robots, author Daniel H. Wilson tells us, will offer humans (men, it is heavily implied, though there is a token mention of women) simpler, more old-fashioned interaction, that will bring relief to “romantics” wearied by “impersonal, digitized relationships” with other humans.

What a pack of nonsense. Read more…

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