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Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, whom many up to this point thought of as a reasonably reasonable individual, has declared that the Black Bloc hooligans who broke windows at the recent G20 Summit in Toronto were "terrorists."

This thrills me. Not because I welcome the threat to my imaginary storefront, but because this may be a sign that Toronto, previously a modest and restrained metropolis, should be awarded the highest civic honour with which I am familiar: a sister city in Northern New York. 

Unfortunately (for me, and, I'm sure, for two or three other people) newscasts produced by local Northern New York television stations are not readily available on the internet. If they were, I would be able to introduce you in a far more dramatic and credible fashion to...the Rock Sniper.

Over the course of three weeks in 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, better known as the "Beltway Snipers", shot and killed ten people. When, soon after this occurred, windows in Watertown (I'm pretty sure it was Watertown - as I said, the case has, inexcusably, not been well documented on the internet) were targeted and broken by rocks, the rhetorical temptation was unavoidable. They were dealing with the "Rock Sniper". They interviewed residents who'd borne (or rather whose windows had borne) the brunt of the Rock Sniper's rage. They solemnly intoned the phrase: "The Rock Sniper has struck again." They provided anxious viewers with Rock Sniper updates. Just as people on the east coast of the U.S. were gripped by the fear that they would randomly be shot, so too were the people of Watertown gripped by the fear that their windows would randomly be broken. Which of the two groups suffered more grievously from fear?  Who can tell? The word "sniper" has the remarkable ability to reveal the essential resemblance between situations which, to the untutored eye, might seem a tad different.

And now Chief Blair has revealed the same remarkable ability in the word "terrorist." Denizens of Toronto should immediately proceed to sympathize volubly with New Yorkers, Israelis, Palestinians..etc...etc... we can now shake our heads slowly and sadly and reflect on the terrible toll that terrorism takes on civil society. When someone speaks to a Torontonian of a "death toll", he or she can respond with harrowing tales of the "window toll." 

A final note: it wasn't just Chief Blair who used inspired and entirely defensible rhetorical flourishes in discussing the G20. Judy Rebick, a well-known local hippie ne-er-do-well, also insistently drew an ingenious and tenable parallel between totally comparable things when she referred to just about everything as being "like a concentration camp." Bravo to everyone involved! 

I was quite depressed when the journalist and television host Steve Paikin avoided any such illuminating phrases while describing his experience of seeing a journalist roughed-up by police. THEN, thankfully, he began his defense of the reasonableness and docility of a crowd of protestors by describing it as "middle-class" and I could rejoice once more.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI 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.
 
 
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I got another write-in question. That's right. And this time it's from someone who is not in the least related to me. Not by blood, at least. It's a very sensible question about whether children should have friends.


The NYT helpfully informs me that "best friends" for children are, in fact, bad for them. Is this just more overprotection? I figured if anyone could see the downsides of having (or not having) a BFF, it's the Catastrophizer.

In "A Best Friend: You Must Be Kidding", Hilary Stout discusses opinions held by various professionals about whether children should develop close attachments to other children.

"I don't think it's particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend," says Jay Jacobs, director of Timber Lake Camp in New York State. "If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child's ability to explore other options in the world."

However, as Stout notes: "The last people who should be considered credible when it comes to childhood psychology are camp directors." No, she didn't say that. She said: "Many psychologists believe that close childhood friendships not only increase a child's self-esteem and confidence, but also help children develop the skills for healthy adult relationships - everything from empathy, the ability to listen and console, to the process of arguing and making up". 

So what should one do, or think behind other people's backs while they do?

1) If a child has a close friendship, it will undoubtedly end badly. Childhood friendships are grounded in things like a shared love of the colour orange or a shared hatred of the colour orange. When children grow older, and they will, they'll realize that friendship is more complicated. Based more on whether one likes or dislikes Wolf Blitzer, for example. Of course, the fact that the childhood friendship will inevitably end badly could be seen as a good thing: adult friendships are also inclined to end badly, or at least to become trapped in a defeated, passive-aggressive stalemate, so early experiences of interpersonal failure will prepare him or her for the interpersonal disappointments of later life. 

2) If a child has multiple, less serious friendships with other children, he or she will probably never develop whatever skills are necessary for forming and maintaining healthy, grown-up relationships. He or she will always be lonely in a crowd, overly thick-skinned (or overly thin-skinned) and sociopathic.

3) Don't get worked up. I can testify to the fact that this is not an either/or proposition: it is entirely possible to be a child and not form either one unhealthy, intense friendship or a number of superficial friendships. I'm sure it will bring you great comfort to know that it is likely that neither of these problems will ever be yours, nor those of any children of yours. 
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI 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.
 
 
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Capitalism has been lured down a dark alley and mugged. Set upon and jumped. In a shocking and dismaying move, BP has caved to communist, nanny-state pressure and agreed to set aside $20 billion for damage compensation. Thank God for Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, and his courageous championing of the embattled oil company:
Barton is uniquely positioned to comment on this travesty as he is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the committee that has jurisdiction over:

It's beautiful and refreshing to hear a politician speak out about an issue there's no way he's ever been lobbied about involving people there's no way he's ever golfed with. 

And while he is now being publicly disavowed by a number of high-ranking Republicans, incapable of appreciating the fact that while BP has the money to put towards fixing a large problem it obviously caused, it really shouldn't because that's just mean, there are others willing to stand by him. Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaking at the Heritage Foundation (which doesn't at all sound sneakily racist) referred to the fund as "extortion." 

Thank you, Barton and Bachmann, for being brave enough to call a spade a spade. Or an avoidable catastrophe an "unfortunate accident." Or reparation "extortion". If we don't put a stop to this, what next? Corporations being held responsible for deaths they've caused? Children being told they have to clean up their own messes? Let's forestall the arrival of this nightmare world by apologizing to BP, refusing its money, and accepting the fact that the oceans have had their day. 

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI 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.
 
 
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Don't be a snitch. We all know this. We all know telling a teacher that some 6-year-old "started on animals" sociopath has been victimizing us only causes us to lose the respect of the one friend we had (the aforementioned sociopath).

Tattletaling is sneaky; it's underhanded; it's somehow undemocratic. There are many examples of whistleblowers being ostracized for their decision to go public, even though they revealed dishonest or illegal behaviour (I KNOW there are such examples, which is not precisely the same as being able to PROVIDE such examples - do you own homework, lazybones). 

Social hierarchies would dissolve if the secrets that prop them up were to be revealed. Certainly the world of business would be crippled if the public ever became aware of the fact that under every corporate headquarters is a hideous, powerful oil leak that cannot be capped. 

That's why I say shame on you, Mississauga employee at the place they install or replace street signs, for going to HR with your disloyal complaints. I mean, would YOU run crying to teacher if any of the following things (as reported inThe Toronto Star) happened at your workplace:

  Two employees were bound face-to-face with duct tape on top of a large table in the sign workshop. Other employees then threw water balloons at them.

  An employee was bound with duct tape, put on the back of a truck and sent through a car wash.

  An employee, on his birthday, was told to lean over a table; other workers were instructed in turn to hit him, allegedly to “hit hard and to kick or punch in the face, ribs or groin area,” the report said. If the blow didn’t appear hard enough, they were told to hit harder.

If we all ran to an authority figure every time one of our coworkers punched us "in the face, ribs, or groin area", would any work ever get done? If we found a boss who outranked the boss who was telling everyone to wrap the duct tape around us just a little bit more snugly and told him or her of our mistreatment, wouldn't we really be throwing a wrench into the engine of capitalism? (I suppose the City of Mississauga is not really an "engine of capitalism", but I couldn't think of a phrase that sounded as impressive and used the word "civic").


If we want society to continue functioning smoothly, we must remember to view our own individual issues in the context of the greater good. How many street signs will go unrepaired because Mississauga is too busy reviewing videos of what an independent investigation termed "locker-room antics"? How many traffic lines will go unpainted because Mississauga is investigating which kind of hard shots to the groin are too hard?

So employees, school children, younger siblings everywhere, take note: if you keep mum, you might just gain the respect of the people who taped you up and started punching you in the face. If you come forward and inform on your abusers, all you'll do is inspire others to come forward, and what would that accomplish? We'd have nations full of cry-babies, lost productivity, and rolls of duct-tape just languishing on the shelves. We might be forced to use them on ducts. 


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI 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.
 
 
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Is it just me, or is Tony Hayward as medically groundbreaking as he is dizzyingly handsome and convincingly sincere? 
Allow me to explain. If you've watched the helpful video I embedded in a sophisticated manner on this page, you won't need the background. I won't, alas, be able to summarize events as pithily and good-looking-ly as Tony Hayward, but here goes: some workers who were tasked with cleaning up a few meagre drops of oil from Louisiana's beaches complained of various symptoms including faintness, nausea, and nasal irritation. Tony Hayward, clearly profoundly sorry about all of this, politely suggested that these workers had come down with food poisoning.

CNN, in the person of someone who was not, unaccountably, Anderson Cooper, asked a medical specialist whether the symptoms experienced by these workers could be explained by food poisoning. No, said the medical specialist. It doesn't sound like food poisoning at all, said the medical specialist. It sounds likes something respiratory, said the medical "specialist". See what a pair of quotation marks can do?

"He's once again trying to smarmily sidestep all responsibility for anything by concocting a totally inadequate and insulting explanation", one might say. "He's in a condescending and unconvincing manner endeavouring to con the public while making no effort to protect those who are cleaning up the mess his company made", one might think. 

BUT WAIT. Allow those capital letters to give you pause. What if...what IF Tony's explanation points to something even more worrisome. What IF we do not know all there is to know about the symptoms and effects of food poisoning. What IF food poisoning, with the cunning intelligence of an oil company CEO, has devised a way to attack the respiratory system? 

I don't think this suggestion is unreasonable. Not one bit. Because, you see, we don't know what BP has been feeding these people, and from what I can tell, BP can get their hands on some pretty crazy shit.

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.