This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “Clue-Free Department”

On Fidel Castro’s Death; Or, When My Fellow Liberals Insist On Losing Credibility

Berlin, Fidel Castro an der Grenze

I was waiting to calm down and process the election before I wrote anything — and then Fidel Castro died.

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“Stupid” Is The Least Of It

Unknown, "A Laughing Fool" (c. 1500)So this Dutch 14-year-old got herself arrested for tweeting a terrorist threat at American Airlines. Copycats inevitably followed, because the world is apparently full of people who think that the worst thing about such tweets is that they are “stupid jokes”. Read more…

A Liberal Responds to a Conservative’s “Divorce Agreement for America”

There is a pretty awful, but amusing piece of writing being sent around in chain e-mails and praised to high heaven on various conservative boards and blogs. Appearing with minor variations, it purports to be a “Divorce Agreement” for dividing the United States between conservatives and liberals. It is supposedly written by one “John J. Wall”, who may or may not be a real person and may or may not be studying law in what may or may not be an accredited U.S. law school. I’ve heard of it before, but having received it in an e-mail this weekend past, I thought I’d write a response. Read more…

A Modest Proposal

People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress. Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?

Alan Dlugash, partner, Marks Paneth & Shron, LLP, on Wall Street’s reduced bonuses this year

But the great Bakhtiyar, preoccupied always with care for the welfare of the royal subjects, did his best to set up such laws in Bukhara, that not one penny would linger in the pockets of its inhabitants, but would pass immediately to the Emir — that is, so the citizenry could move about with greater ease, their pockets not burdened with money.

Leonid Solovyev, “The Tale of Hodja Nasreddin”

In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A Modest Proposal”, in which he argued that the poor Irish can alleviate their plight by selling their children to slaughter houses, where they would be turned into food. The solution would be a win-win: it would solve the Irish poverty problem, while meeting the need of the affluent for culinary innovation and rich food. Although my humble keyboard could never match the elegance and the sheer intellectual force of Swift’s pen, today I was nevertheless inspired to write a “Modest Proposal” of my own. Read more…

When Multiculturalism Becomes Bigotry

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine took a trip to Uzbekistan, a small land-locked country in Central Asia. The people who inhabit it speak a Turkic language, are predominantly Muslim and possess a rich and ancient cultural tradition. In centuries past, their position along the Silk Road and the fertile Fergana Valley made Uzbek khanates rich. It was then that Tamerlane built his gleaming blue-and-gold palaces at Samarkand, and the area became renowned for its scientists, mathematicians, poets and artists. Today, Uzbekistan is a poor country, with a crumbling infrastructure and a low standard of living. And yet, it rewards the traveler intrepid enough to venture into that part of the world with sights of exquisite beauty and ornate ancient cities that represent, I think, the closest anything in the real world comes to resembling the idealized, nostalgic East that we think of when we read the Arabian Nights.

Notwithstanding the splendor of places like Samarkand, Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva, my acquaintance was disappointed. Read more…

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