Wrestlers and Ears: A Riddle

It is prestigious among young men in Russia to be a wrestler. Not a professional athlete but somebody who belongs to an amateur wrestling club. If people know you are a wrestler, they will think twice before trying to bully or insult you. 

Being an actual wrestler is hard, though. So these young men found a way to look like wrestlers without doing any wrestling.

They break their ears.

An ear is frozen and broken, making people think it was broken during a fight. For this purpose, pretend wrestlers invariably choose their left ear.

Riddle: Why do they break the left ear and not the right?

Thinking in Terms of Countries 

I submitted an article for publication a couple of weeks ago but when an older acquaintance asked what country I sent it to, I couldn’t answer. The journal is located in a country, for sure, but I have no idea which. Because I don’t think in terms of countries when I publish.

Another example. “Would you consider moving back to Canada?” I asked N.

“Which city?” was his response. 

“I don’t know which city. I’m asking as a matter of principle if you’d consider moving to Canada.”

“What’s the difference?” N shrugged.

I started explaining the difference between the US and Canada but in the midst of the peroration discovered that N had fallen asleep. Yes, he’s been getting up for the baby for the past 3 days but still, a discussion of countries makes even my sparkling oratory soporific. 

Nationalists vs Cosmopolitans

The dichotomy of nationalists versus cosmopolitans is entirely spurious. The lives of “nationalists” are as cosmopolitized as anybody else’s because they can do nothing to exclude themselves from being affected by global risks. They enjoy every benefit of the global world that they manage to reach and only remember to dust off their nationalist rhetoric when the risks become too daunting and somebody else gets better rewards. The actual, red-blooded nationalism of “ask not what your country” is as alien to them as to any jet-hopping, passport-swapping cosmopolitan.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is never as strong as when we are trying to confirm the basic worldview we receive from our parents. I was never taught that there could be anything to prevent me from getting everything I wanted, and as a result, all I ever found was proof that everything was within my reach.

Of course, there are also people who believe that children need to be informed as often as possible and in great detail about all kinds of injustices, sexism, racism, anti-semitism, etc that await them once they grow up. They remind me of this fellow back in the USSR who beat his small children to a bloody pulp on regular occasions, telling them that this was his way of preparing them for the world where violence was awaiting them around every corner. This man was justifying his sadism with a self-serving speech about looking out for his kids. And the folks who use words instead of fists to turn children into scared and insecure creatures are not that different.

Word Artistry

My spellchecker started trying to attach the names of people from my phone book to the words I write. It’s beyond weird.

Example. Let’s say I have a friend called Archie Bunker in my phone book. So whenever I write the word “dollar”, the spellchecker changes it to “doll Archie Bunker.” Or say, I have a Facebook contact called Edna O’Brien. Whenever I try to write the word “damned”, the spellchecker tries to change it to “damn Edna O’Brien.”

It’s both annoying and very funny.