Things Have Never Been So Awful

The inescapable Neil deGrasse Tyson informs us that scientific illiteracy is “a tragedy of our times”.

Not “the” tragedy of our times, mind you, just “a” tragedy of our times. There are, you see, just so many of them — so many, in fact, that it’s becoming hard to keep track of which ones to grieve for on any given day. And that, I think, is… well, tragic.

What we need, if we are going to get through our stages of grief with anything resembling modern-day efficiency, is some sort of ranking system. I think also that we should break the problem down into chunks of manageable size.

To that end, I think it would be helpful for “our time” to maintain a Tragic Top Ten list. We can then pull tragedies off the top of the stack, working our way through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance as briskly as possible, with lower entries moving up as our hearts begin to heal.

I’ve assembled, based on a random sampling of the media, what I think are a suitable starting collection. But how to rank them? I think we need some crowdsourcing for that. So I will just list them below, in no particular order, and then you can all get to work on the ordinals.

‣   The male gaze

‣   Inequality

‣   Whiteness

‣   Cisheteronormativity

‣   Racism

‣   Fat-shaming

‣   Confederates

‣   Cecil!

‣   Whiteness

‣   Coal, because “climate” or something

Note to Dr. Tyson: I’m sorry to say that “scientific illiteracy” didn’t make the first cut. I really did try to squeeze it in.

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  1. JK says

    Uhmmm …

    Doesn’t “Privilege” fit in the list somewheres?

    I’m given to understand that is really Science.

    I mean I’ve asked about it several times, in as many different guises as I could think of … and the words “Really” some number of times obviously some variation of a Query – some number of times without.

    Twice it was delivered back to me as “You really don’t have a clue about Science do you.” (Those two times didn’t seem to be a query at all – which I had sort of some vague understanding … Science I mean to say … was all about Query in the first place.

    Posted August 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink
  2. Whitewall says

    How about this inescapable creature Ronda Rousey? What is it about this female that captivates some in the media? Maybe the “pajama boy” crowd gets a tingle or something?

    Posted August 4, 2015 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  3. JK says

    I dunno Whitewall if that’s exactly Science.

    I mean I know which, without any experimentation at’all which I’d druther not meet in a dark alley.

    Posted August 4, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink
  4. Whitewall says

    JK. maybe it’s the soft science of sociology.

    Posted August 4, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Maybe add “rape culture” to the above list?

    Posted August 4, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Oh, there’s no shortage of things to add to the list. To cut it down to ten, I had to do some serious triage.

    Once we get “the male gaze” taken care of, we can peel it off the queue and add “rape culture”, if you like — although I think the tragedy that has everyone’s attention right now is “shattered black bodies“, so maybe that should go first. (Or maybe we’ll just shove in another copy of “whiteness”, just to be on the safe side. Can’t go wrong with that one, it seems.)

    Also: I have to push back a little (so to speak) on Ronda Rousey. As a lifelong martial artist, I must go on the record here to say that she is a tremendously gifted fighter. I am 6 feet tall, weigh 215 pounds, have studied southern Chinese kung fu for 40 years, taught it for more than 30, and have sifu rank — but I would still approach that gal with extreme caution.

    Posted August 4, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  7. Musey says

    I had to go away and look up “cisheteronormalivity” because I had never heard of it. A hyphen or two would have been nice. What’s “Cecil!”? The male gaze? What do you mean? The way men look at women? I’m not being deliberately dense here, I simply don’t know what you mean.

    I had already guessed that you are quite tall Malcolm, from the lovely photo that I sneak a look at now and again. Don’t worry about Ronda, you’d be quite safe. Look out though for the 5’6″ woman who is pretty good at accurate, targeted kicking.

    Just to clarify: that last smart arse comment was a joke!

    I hope that the knee is better and that all is well.

    Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Musey! So nice to see you again.

    The knee, sad to say, is a problem. It was put together at the wrong angle, and it may need re-doing. (I might end up just living with it. We’ll see.)

    Posted August 6, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  9. Musey says

    Nice to be back Malcolm. Sorry to hear that the knee is still a problem. Have I told you about my knee?

    Here’s a tale which resonates with your trying to give a master class to an annoying person. I injured my knee years ago when I was showing a girl, who had irritated me, how to exit the pool. I pulled myself out with such force and vigour, that my knee smashed on the protruding edge and I’ve felt that injury since then. That’s the dodgy right knee. Ironically, it’s the other knee which is now causing the problem so it must be old age. I suppose it depends how debilitating it is, and how painful, which will decide whether or not you would put yourself through another surgery.

    Hey, I looked up the “male gaze” so I know that it’s something to do with the view of the world being seen from a male perspective, but how much research do I have to do? I still don’t know what” Cecil!” is.

    Posted August 7, 2015 at 4:55 am | Permalink
  10. Whitewall says

    Musey, Cecil is a dead African lion.

    Posted August 7, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  11. the one eyed man says

    Musey, there is more to it than that. Cecil was a prized lion which was lured out of its protected habitat by a wealthy “trophy hunter,” who beheaded it and left its carcass out in the sun, as well as dooming its two dozen cubs to death. This brazen act of selfishness, hubris, and complete disregard for endangered species quite properly ignited an international firestorm of protest,

    The “trophy hunter” is being sought by U.S. and Zimbabwean authorities, and has gone into hiding. Don’t worry: he’ll be caught. As we all know, you can’t hide your lion eyes.

    Posted August 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink
  12. Musey says

    Ah, the lion. I had heard this story but hadn’t made the connection.

    Lovely last line there OEM. Thanks all.

    Posted August 8, 2015 at 1:13 am | Permalink
  13. Loki says

    Wow, the moral signalling is strong with this one.

    “Here’s a poor innocent creature, remorselessly murdered and then brutally dismembered.”

    Oh wait, that’s the Planned Parenthood video.

    Let’s have some perspective on Cecil, please.

    Posted August 8, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink