This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “politics”

Grifters Gotta Grift

Paulus Morels, "Allegory of Avarice" (1621)As a rule, I don’t take conspiracy theories seriously. There is, however, a difference between a conspiracy and a relatively uncomplicated scam that rakes in big bucks. And in my business, you learn to be skeptical.

Remember Joe the Plumber? Read more…

Myths and Illusions: The Myth of Religion Preventing Violence

Rembrandt, "Moses Smashing the Tablets" (1659)Today’s entry into the pantheon of modern Myths and Illusions: the myth that religion prevents violence and makes people act all nice to each other. Read more…

Some Of The More Absurd Things A Lot Of “Smart” People Believe

Viktor Vasnetsov, I am continuing my list of remarkably inane things people say remarkably often. (Previous installments: here, here and here.) Today’s theme is smart people’s stupidity. Intellectuals can sure embrace some bizarre ideas, and through processes I can’t even begin to understand, some of those ideas enter mainstream smart people’s thought. Ideas like: Read more…

Justice? What Justice?

Gerard David, "The Judgment of Cambyses" (1498)There is more bad news out of Ferguson, because everything is horrible. Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, of Darren Wilson grand jury fame, unable to restrain himself from telling those who don’t believe cops should be killing people in the street willy-nilly what to do to their own orifices, gave an interview during which he nonchalantly admitted to suborning perjury during the aforementioned grand jury proceedings. Naturally, this led to some excitement in the normal-people world, as in: is it possible something could be salvaged out of the whole Ferguson mess in the name of justice? As a pessimist with a lot of experience in the legal field, I have to answer that question as “no, probably not.” McCulloch wouldn’t be gloating about all the false testimony he deliberately introduced if he was in any danger of incurring penalties. Read more…

Do Not Talk To Cops

Francisco Goya, "Scene from an Inquisition" (c. 1800)Via. I have a public service announcement: 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…

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 Curious Presumption

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, "The Dutch Proverbs" (1559)One of the most mystifying things people say about rape is that being raped by a stranger is “worse” than date rape or any other kind of acquaintance rape. Richard Dawkins (whom I have long believed to be a passive-aggressive misogynist) is getting some well-deserved flogging as we speak for lecturing women on how trivializing “lesser rape” isn’t tantamount to endorsing it. There is a whole series of smarmy, condescending tweets, but what caught my eye in particular was this: Read more…

Un-American, The New Patriotic

Victor Vasnetsov, "The End of Prince Igor's Campagn Against the Cumans" (1880)

Over at Salon there is a worried entry about the increasingly close association between American Evangelical Christians and secessionist kooks, exemplified by Bobby Jindal’s recent waxing poetic about a coming violent overthrow of the Federal Government. With high-level public officials feeling increasingly free to state, publicly and explicitly, that they would like to dismantle this country for not being Jesusy enough (and presumably exterminate the ideologically non-conforming, which is what Jesus buried all those fossil fuels in Red States for), I can see how one can become nervous about a possible violent insurrection. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say: relax, it’s more likely to be an infuriating slow burn than a big scary explosion. Read more…

Ban All Images Just In Case, For Freedom

William Hogarth, "A Midgnight Modern Conversation" (1732)WARNING: The artwork contained in this post depicts an occasional nipple and a baby without undies. If you are under 18, don’t look, or you will die!!! If you are 18 or over, proceed at your own risk, but should you believe you may be harmed by the sight of a female breast or a naked infant, I do encourage you to consult your father, clergyman, therapist, your favorite political candidate or your local Chastity Pariah.

You sheeple will be happy to know that conservative heroes have uncovered the real reason Jay Carney’s kitchen has prints of two WWII-era Soviet posters in it: to make you sign up for Obamacare, convert to Bolshevism, embrace the theory of evolution and make Jesus cry. Never mind that these posters are virtually identical to American propaganda posters from the same era. Never mind that the posters convey rather unobjectionable ideas (unless you are a Nazi sympathizer): “Men, enlist! Your country [which, by the way, was actually honest-to-goodness invaded in WWII] needs you.” “Women, do your part on the home front!” (That “Natasha the Riverter” poster actually reads “strong home front — strong war front”.) Never mind that in recent years, vintage Soviet posters have become something of a fad, and their significance to people who hang them in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or dorm rooms, or laundry rooms, is ironic. No — wingnut pundits know upwards of 5 Russian words (including “dacha”, which this native Russian speaker apparently never understood properly), so leave it to them to tell you what these images really say to you, you poor bovine schmucks without understanding or willpower. Read more…

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