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There are certain well-established truths that left-wingish people are fond of continuing to establish. Many wars are about economic interests - economic interests related to oil, for example. Many, if not most, people vote for the politician who looks most like a smooth-haired family man from the 1950s. Both facts are, of course, completely regrettable: wars, if they are to be fought at all, should be waged for staunchly humanitarian reasons, and people should vote for the politician with the most thoroughly-articulated and admirable policies.  I, in fact, am one of those individuals who thinks you really shouldn't kill people to protect defenseless oil or vote for someone based on the eerie immobility of their haircut. 

That's why I find myself in an awkward position. Canadians are going to the polls again for the 156th time in the last five days, and it seems I really object to one of the party leaders. Not because I think he's misguided (although I'm not saying he isn't) and not because I object to his Positions on the Issues (although I'm not saying I don't), but because I don't like his face. I'm not referring to Stephen Harper, who I think is clearly misguided and square-headed, or to Jack Layton, who is like a feisty and adorable self-promoting terrier, but of Michael Ignatieff. I don't like Michael Ignatieff's face. 

Of course, I do dislike him on other grounds reminiscent of school (of the high-school or Sunday variety). He delivered the commencement address at one of my graduations (that's right, I said "one of" - I've often been educated, I'll have you know), and spent most of the time talking about how various intelligent and accomplished people had told him how intelligent and accomplished he was. I just think even if some world-famous musician tells you you're bright while vacationing at your cottage, you should keep it to yourself and not be a big, fat braggart.

But even if I hadn't decided he was a bit too fond of himself and not sensible enough to know or care not to show it, I would still have a problem with his face. He has a few basic, unfortunate looks:

A) The Most Nefariously-Eyebrowed Nefarious Ruler of Hell (couldn't find a photo credit for this one):

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B) The "I have a meatball in my mouth - a whole meatball!" Awkward Eater (once again, no photo credit)
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C) The Guy From A) Trying Desperately to Look Approachable (ditto)
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D) The Guy From the End of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Just Before the Loss of His Face (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
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It's entirely possible that Ignatieff is a perfectly nice and intelligent person and that I shouldn't judge him negatively based on one speech that struck me as boastful and a number of facial expressions that strike me as terrifying and/or profoundly unfortunate. But couldn't the Liberals just save me the effort of having to question my biases by finding a leader who combines the principles of Jack Layton or Elizabeth May with the mystifyingly voter-luring square-headedness and sweaters of Stephen Harper? 


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
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Maclean's is on a roll. First, they published a daring article daringly entitled: "Too Asian?" (and now just-as-provocatively re-entitled "The Enrollment Controversy") about whether Asians were taking over Canadian universities. The fact that they didn't distinguish between foreign-born and Canadian-born "Asians", or indicate they realized there wasn't, in fact, one country called "Asia" which created all Asians, was worrisome because it means I found it difficult to determine in how many ways the magazine was being racist. Now, they have proven they have bravely refused to learn anything about thoughtfulness by publishing a list that compares and contrasts two groups known to regularly inspire a good belly-laugh: escorts and hookers.

I'm profoundly relieved that Eye Magazine and Toronto Life also noticed and commented on this list, because by the time I went back to look at it again, it had mysteriously disappeared. It is now only available via screengrab in the Eye Magazine article.

Scott Feshuk (who wrote this piece and, apparently, many speeches for a man well-known for his satirical hooker humour: Paul Martin) claims that he intended the list as a satirical response to the ways in which the media characterizes escorts and prostitutes. As Kate Carraway of Eye notes, though, "That's a good idea for a story, but writing it in a way that indicates approval and participation rather than satire is a problem." Also problematic is the fact that even if it were clearly satirical, it still wouldn't be very funny. 

Well, I wouldn't mind being paid to write for a Canadian publication, so here's my application:

Maclean's                  Hookers   
- attempts to          - performs sexual 
sell magazines           acts in exchange for 
to the same              money.
demographic
targeted by Rogers
and Tim Hortons
commercials by
suggesting that
Canadian universities
might be imperiled 
by sinister Asian
hordes.

- attempts to           - performs sexual   
satirize media            acts in exchange for 
establishment's          money.
attitudes towards
sex workers by
seemingly rep-
licating those same
attitudes towards
sex workers. 

- read largely           - substantially more
by parents                 popular.
of prospective 
undergraduates
and Peter 
Mansbridge.

What do they have in common? I've never given money to either of them.


   
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
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After the recent disaster in Japan (referred to puzzlingly as "magnanimous" by an anchor on CNBC), one of my friends posted the following inspirational quotation  from Mr. Rogers on Facebook:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

That's right, I thought. The human spirit can be a resilient and generous one, I reflected. Unfortunately, I then saw another posting from a different friend on Facebook. As far as I can tell, these comments are genuine. I, naturally, tried to find all these people on Facebook, and some of them  seem to be real, and the ones who can't be found may well have removed themselves after receiving unwanted wall postings from human beings. Even if they aren't all authentic, the ones I found here certainly are. Lest you think that most appalling responses to the situation in Japan are motivated by Pearl Harbour-inspired vengefulness, I present you with a comment from Larry Kudlow.

CNBC host Larry Kudlow (not the aforementioned "magnanimous" one - I'm pretty sure that guy merely got words, rather than priorities, mixed up) managed to find the silver lining in the cloud of devastation, suffering and loss, and shared it with viewers: “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

So we have violently jingoistic bloodthirstiness and cold, unfeeling soullessness. I'm sure that soon I will once again realize that people can be compassionate, or at least not actively malignant, but for the moment I can only imagine Mr. Rogers saying:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, 'Look for the haters. You will always find people who are hating.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always chilled by realizing that there are so many haters - so many hateful people in this world."


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
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It's not so long ago that left-leaning Americans thought of Canada as a paradise of pot-smoking, honeymooning gay people. I know that because I once read an article about it in The New York Times. Then, the Americans forgot all about our frozen tundra of progressiveness when their political Rapture arrived in the form of a new president (who's since managed to disappoint, but is still widely acknowledged to not suck nearly as much as the last one).

Canadians seem to have succeeded in embracing the neo-Conservative movement of the '90s a little late. That is by no means an original observation (although if you have never heard it before, trust me: it is a totally original observation). We have a right-wing prime minister who will probably continue to be prime minister largely because his sweater vests are more appealing to voters than the entirety of his opponent, who in every photo strongly resembles Satan. Don't remember his name? Just read the most recent government news releases, which no longer refer to "the Government of Canada" and instead mention something called "the Harper Government."

Stephen Harper is trying to campaign through every mention of Canada's national government; Rob Ford, the new right-wing mayor of Toronto, is branding himself by creating his own imaginary country inspired by the name given to fans of the city's perennially not-playoff-making hockey team. Leaf fans live in an imaginary place called "Leaf Nation." Recently, Ford referred to his supporters as "Ford Nation" and spoke of setting this nation loose on the provincial government if it didn't pony up some cash for Toronto. The name is unintentionally apt, as citizens of Leaf Nation are certainly defined by a constant and crushing sense of disappointment. As an inadvertent and bitter citizen of Ford Nation, I can relate.

So I've gone from basking in the glow of American left-wing envy to living under "the Harper Government" in "Ford Nation". I'm so despondent, it's like I'm practicing to become a Leafs fan.

Click here to sign a petition demanding that Stephen Harper stop naming the Government of Canada after himself.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
 
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We live in an age of (I love any sentence that begins that way) totally appropriate and defensible analogies. Wisconsin is likened to Cairo; Obama is equated with Hitler. I was going to write something wry and revealing about this enjoyable trend, and I was going to make excellent points about how responsible it is by way of a discussion of Charlie Sheen and Gaddafi. I was going to ask gentle readers to identify whether a quotation was from Sheen or Gaddafi and then make little waspish comments about how popular media outlets would probably ask gentle readers to the same thing, but unironically and therefore indefensibly. 

My constant and adorable pose of bored cynicism held me in good stead when I discovered I had been (unironically) scooped by The Guardian. Yesterday, they released their Sheen/Gaddafi version of Whose Line is it Anyway? (their words).

I was both undaunted and loathe to be redundant. Thankfully, I found a way out of this bind by creating a Crazy Actor/Crazy Dictator quiz that involves neither Two and a Half Men nor Libya, but still manages to be current.

Errol Flynn v Benito Mussolini: whose line is it anyway?

The U.S. actor and the Italian leader have both produced some choice lines. Can you identify which man was responsible for each of the following quotes?


1. Yes! happy and happy when we grow old. For the day's getting on and the night's getting long. Darling please gimme your arm and we'll joggle along, yes, we'll joggle and joggle and joggle along.

2. It isn't what they say about you; it's what they whisper.

3. It's good to trust others, but not to do so is much better.

4. The rest of my life will be devoted to women and litigation.

5. Inactivity is death.

6. There are parts of me that are Dennis Hopper.

Answer Key:
1. Errol Flynn
2. Errol Flynn
3. Benito Mussolini
4. Errol Flynn
5. Benito Musolini
6. Charlie Sheen


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.