This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “mainstream media”

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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Steven Avery’s Prosecutor Fights Back, Proving He Was Portrayed Fairly

Quesnay_De_Beaurepaire_Vanity_Fair_4_February_1893

Not Ken Kratz

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s ten-part documentary, Making a Murderer, about a man who spent eighteen years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, and was later very likely framed for another crime, go see it now.  Have plenty of liquor and cute bunny pictures on hand; you are going to need both.  It is one of the most affecting documentaries of all time and a wholly infuriating look at the American criminal justice system.

If you have seen it, then you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the prosecutor in Steven Avery’s and Brendan Dassey’s trials for the murder of Teresa Halbach, Ken Kratz, has come to know the wrath of the Internet (the usual: furious Yelp reviews, harassing e-mails, death threats, and so forth).  And so, The Kratz is fighting back.   Read more…

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…

“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…

“Restorative Justice” Is Potentially Destructive, Too

Jakub Schikaneder, "Murder in the House" (1890)The New York Times magazine has published an article about the application of the “restorative justice” model to a Florida murder case. To get this out of the way immediately (I’ll get to the details later), the case centers on a 19-year-old who shot his girlfriend in the face. The families of the perpetrator and the victim were quite close. The girl’s parents and siblings, who described themselves as devout Catholics, elected to forgive the murderer, and to work that forgiveness into getting him a reduced sentence and sparing him the anguish of a trial. They did it because Jesus, and also because they didn’t want to become “trapped in anger” over the boy they loved blowing their daughter’s and sister’s head off while she was on her knees and pleading for her life. The article bears a pithy title, “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” — to let you know right away on which side of the issue the author comes down and also to prepare you for the warm and fuzzy feeling this article is apparently supposed to give you. Alas, it has mostly left me cold. Read more…

Relax, Medical Science IS Your Friend

It’s Luddism Appreciation Week over at Slate, apparently, first with a comically pretentious essay arguing that reading e-books is not real reading (please print out this entry on fine vellum and stroke it sensually, if you want the next ten minutes of your life to count) and now with one that explores the hypothetical existential crisis spawned by hypothetical brain implants designed to improve memory and cognitive function. All our i-goods and Internet addiction notwithstanding, technophobia remains a popular exercise in pseudo-intellectualism. Read more…

More Silliness In the Battle Between Street Smarts and Book Smarts

Forbes continues the tradition among conservative, business-oriented publications, of questioning the value of college education with a feel-good piece by David DiSalvo entitled 10 Smart Things I’ve Learned From People Who Never Went to College. What follows the introduction is a list of ten platitudes, my favorite of which is that you shouldn’t allow bullies to intimidate you. (Pro tip: Don’t allow murderers to murder you, either.) What’s puzzling here is that for the life of me, I can’t understand what any of this stuff has to do with having or not having a college education. Colleges teach academic subjects, not matters of common knowledge about one’s daily living; and I doubt the implied strawman, who believes that anything about anything is only to be learned in college or from the college-educated, actually exists. DiSalvo might as well have mentioned how someone without a college education taught him to look both ways before crossing the street. Or opined on how knowing how to make spaghetti is no less important than trigonometry. Read more…

Royalty, Schmoyalty: An Eye-Rolling Post

Who cares what some old lady and her brood are wearing? Seriously? Or rather, why do so many people care so damned much? Is it respect for something supposedly greater than themselves? Veneration of a mummified corpse of an institution that endured for millenia? Honoring a national tradition? Even if the answer to all these is “yes”, I still see the fawning over the Queen & Co’s outfits and the minutiae of their lives as not just tacky, but simply incomprehensible. 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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