This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “life”

Uber Hate

800px-nyc_taxi_in_motionMy family came to the United States during the early 1990’s recession.  My father had been a railroad engineer back in Russia, mostly working the geriatric section of the network, the track between Moscow and (then) Leningrad.  In the States, he discovered to his chagrin that the railroads and the train industry were in the crapper, and so the only job he could find that matched his education and skills was for a custom air-conditioning company, which offered him $8.25 an hour with no benefits — provided he first worked for them for six months without pay, “as a volunteer”.  And so, like many youngish Soviet immigrants at that time, my father became a livery driver.

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Nine Stupidest Things People Like to Say in Defense of Hateful “Humor”

Lighten up, it's only art.

Relax, it’s only art.

I continue my frustrated “Stupid Things People Like to Say” series. Today’s entry: stupid things people like to say in defense of bigotry, especially bigoted “humor”. My post focuses on anti-Semitism, but I think a lot of what I say here is applicable to other forms of bigotry as well. 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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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…

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…

“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…

More Stupid Things People Like to Say: Third Installment

John William Waterhouse, "A Tale From the Decameron" (1916)People love saying things that sound clever. Especially people who aren’t very bright. Take that combination — an intellectually mediocre person and a desire to appear “deep” — and you’ve got the perfect recipe for the birth of notions so intensely stupid, they are destined to endure forever. These are notions that end up on “inspirational” posters of sunsets and beaches. These are notions that the world’s vulgarians repeat over and over — and still think themselves not only well-informed, but original. So here is my third list of certain pearls of “wisdom” that are common as dirt — and explanations as to how they are actually idiotic. (You can find prior installments here and here). Read more…

Trayvon Martin Was A Floozie

Udo Keppler, "A Good Beginning" (1899)I haven’t commented on the George Zimmerman verdict, because there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said by others more eloquently than I ever could. So not to beat a dead horse, I just want to briefly point out a detail that I haven’t seen discussed, but that I find very curious: the standard justifications that “impartial” people offer for killing Trayvon Martin are eerily similar to the arguments the same kind of people usually offer in defense of rape. Nay, they aren’t similar, they are exactly the same. Read more…

The Long 1950’s … Behind the Iron Curtain

Yuri Pimenov, "A Wedding on Tomorrow's Street" (1962)As someone who grew up in a totalitarian Communist state, nothing infuriates me more than the incessant conservative droning-on about progressives being “communist”, “socialist” and “Stalinist”. People who say these things use such words as mere slurs, not much different than calling someone an asswipe, and of course, they betray both a profound ignorance of history and a great deal of contempt for it. But more than that, they’ve got it completely backwards. Truth is, American conservatives have remarkably a lot in common with Russian communists: the same obsession with ideological purity, the same irrational intolerance towards loyal dissent, the same prioritizing of ideology over practicality, the same preparedness to sacrifice liberties, human dignity and lives for the sake of ideological totems, the same clash-of-civilizations thinking, the same pretensions at worldwide cultural and political hegemony. And of course, the modern American conservative and the Russian communist of the bygone era share a deep and abiding dislike of people having unauthorized sex in pursuit of “instant gratification”.

Enter Congress’ resident comedian, Rep. Louie Gohmert, because of course he doth enter, for how could he not? After all, it’s only been a few hours since the last eruption of stupid from the right-wingers, and we haven’t heard from Gohmert in, like, days. With a name that sounds like a practical joke and every word coming out of his mouth worthy of an Onion editorial, he provides an endless parade of stupidity and ignorance, which is probably why he was elected in the first place. His latest installment revolves around the idea that teaching school children about human biology and reproductive health would turn us into the USSR. Read more…

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