This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “Friday ramblings”

Friday Shorts: This Week in News

Welcome to Friday Shorts and this week’s news roundup.

On the menu: (1) Columbus Day nonsense; (2) Sessions’ asylum law freakout; and (3) Las Vegas/Weinstein.


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How To Be A Real Great Poet



In nerd news: fragments of smoking pipes with traces of cannabis have been found in a location that was once William Shakespeare’s garden. Although it is not at all clear that any of these pipes belonged to the Bard (or indeed if they even date to his lifetime) scholars are excited: after all, here is a chance, however slim, of demonstrating that the boring stuffed shirt that was Bill Shakespeare really did write all that nice poetry. Maybe he was high as a kite. 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…

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…

Eight More Stupid Things People Say All The Time

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Now Not To Be A Demagogue: Ten Stupidest, Most Dishonest and Most Cowardly Arguments People Make All The Time. A good chunk of my (very) rough draft for that post did not make it into the final version due to the fact that some of the things I originally listed are not, strictly speaking, demagogic or displays of bad faith. For the most part, they are just plain stupid. So here is the list of gems that did not make it into the previous entry. Every time I hear one of these, I cringe. Enjoy. Read more…

What Does This Movie Mean? Vincent Gallo’s “Buffalo ‘66” (1998)

This is another blurb on movie interpretation. Today: a love story. As with the others, this is not a review, per se, and major spoilers follow. Read more…

What Does This Movie Mean? Fabián Bielinsky’s “The Aura” (2005)

Since it’s Friday, I’ll post another one of my quick movie interpretation blurbs. Spoilers follow; otherwise, enjoy.

Today, we visit the haunting wilderness of Patagonia. I expect Hollywood to do a remake of this one sometime in the next ten years. It will probably be set in Alaska. Read more…

What Does this Movie Mean? “A Serious Man” (2009)

I’ve really gotten sucked into blogging about politics for the last several weeks, so this Friday, I decided to do something fun. Every time my husband and I finish watching a “deep” movie, he turns to me and asks: “Okay, genius, in ten minutes or less: what does it mean?” Since I create these blurbs on a regular basis, I am going to start publishing them. These are not “reviews” per se, but just some thoughts on what I think these movies convey. Naturally, major spoilers follow, so read at your own risk.

A Serious Man (Coen Brothers, 2009)

This is one of the richest, deepest, saddest, most mysterious movies ever made. It is a philosophical and dramatic masterpiece, and interpreting it completely is an impossible challenge. But I’ll try interpreting it a little bit, anyway. 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…

Friday Ramblings: Fun With History

Some curious and very nerdy historical anecdotes for this Friday:


* In 1914, Grigori Rasputin, the legendary Russian mystic and favorite of the last Empress, was stabbed in the abdomen by a former prostitute turned religious zealot. He survived the stabbing. Two years later, he was poisoned, shot, shot three more times, clubbed and finally drowned. And only just barely: after being thrown into the icy waters of the Moika River, wrapped in a carpet and bound with rope, the poisoned, four-times-shot and badly battered Rasputin managed to break free of his bonds and almost swam to safety. The story plays out like a straight-to-video martial arts thriller on drugs: one of the murderers, Prince Yusupov, would later testify that he had the phonograph on, playing Yankee Doodle in a loop whilst three of history’s most inept assassins tried their damnedest to bring down the Indestructible Monk. Read more…

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