The Truth About Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude: Satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.

Schadenfreude (pronounced shahd-n-froi-duh) is a universal human emotion, even if the Germans are the only ones willing to admit it.

There’s nothing wrong with taking delight in other people’s misery. Without sadness as a barometer, how would we know we’re truly happy? But there are times when reveling in someone else’s bad luck is in questionable taste.

Here’s a quick guide for determining whether shadenfreude is appropriate.

When it’s justified:

1. If the person experiencing misfortune is rich. Rich people don’t deserve your pity. Whatever happens, their insurance will cover it.

2. If the person in question killed lots of innocent people. Or alternately, if he/she was mean to you in high school. Or cut you off in traffic. Payback’s a bitch.

3. If the misfortune involved slippage on a banana peel or on some other traction-undermining substance. Pratfalls are just good fun, I don’t care who you are.

When it isn’t justified:

1. When there’s more than an ounce of blood involved. The hospital is no place for schadenfreude.

2. If you were personally the cause of the misfortune. Feeling a twinge of satisfaction when some rich guy’s car gets stolen is natural, but if you’re feeling smug while cruising around in a boosted Porsche…not cool, bandit. Unless you eventually donate it to charity. Then you’re like Robin Hood.

The Truth about Babies

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Contrary to popular opinion, babies aren’t cute. Not even a tiny bit. If you believe that babies are cute, your judgment has been compromised by the breeding instinct. You should be removed from any position of authority and disqualified from decision-making until such time as your biological clock ceases ticking.

Babies drool. They vomit. They are frequently smeared with feces and other bodily fluids. Yet when they flash their strange little toothless smiles, people melt. I’m constantly perplexed at the fact that otherwise rational human beings go all googly over these gnomish, dried up little monsters.

Here’s a quick rationality test: which are cuter, kittens or babies?

If you said babies, you are wrong. And possibly stupid. Kittens are far superior to babies in every way. This is not a matter of opinion. It is verifiable.

Proof that kittens are cuter than (and otherwise superior to) babies:

1. Kittens have fur. Fur is soft and smooth and can generate a static charge, with which you could conceivably electrocute a baby and make him cry. Advantage kittens.

2. Kittens don’t cry, even when electrocuted. (I’m fairly certain this is true. I haven’t actually electrocuted a kitten, because really, who would do that? They’re so damn cute.)

3. Kittens have survival skills and the endearing ability to execute perfect backflips when tossed in the air. Babies, on the other hand, just flop to the earth in a sad heap, causing everyone at the party to start yelling about how you can’t be trusted with children when you’re drunk. Stupid babies.

Now I’ll admit that babies are a necessary evil, required for perpetuating the species. But otherwise they’re filthy and useless. And in fact, I can envision scenarios in which babies are responsible for our collective downfall.

Imagine that you are an extraterrestrial life-form visiting earth from another planet. Now imagine that upon landing in North America you encounter an attractive human female. At first, you’d be impressed. Humans, you would conclude, are worthy of continued existence. You’d nod approvingly and slip your phaser back into your jumpsuit. Yet only moments later you’d be horrified to witness a tiny parasitic creature latching itself to this beautiful woman’s bosoms, draining her dry, leaving her formerly succulent breasts sagging and lifeless. At which point you’d naturally decide to embark on a mission of intergalactic genocide.

Earth would be toast, thanks to babies. It could happen.