I am still recovering from the 8-hour-long Blitzer-krieg pundit attack that was Tuesday night. It was like an awesome television-drama crossover episode (the classic Magnum P.I./Murder She Wrote two-parter springs to mind)—all my pundit friends were there AT ONE TIME. Jones and Castellanos and Gergen and Crowley! Carville and Martin and some blonde lady I'm pretty sure was Republican! (Gloria Borger could be Jessica Fletcher. Van Jones could be Magnum. David Gergen would obviously be Higgins. I was going to make a crack about how Ari Fleischer could be the person whose murder they'd be solving, but then I decided that was unnecessarily nasty).

And I reaffirmed my sense of the places in America I would not like to live and the people I would not like to live with. I would not like to live with these people (because they're racists) or this person (because he's sexist—he seems to have now made this post private, so I was forced to track down a weird copied-and-then-pasted version). Although I have to thank the sexist Christian man, who credited the "slut vote" for Obama's win, because the only thing liberal sluts have been able to do in large groups together that doesn't involve crazy open-minded sex using birth control is walking, and now they have another option. You know that if this guy had published his reasoned argument about slutty lady voters a week ago, there would have been organized "slut votes," and left-wing women would have gotten all dressed up in their actual, everyday super-slut clothes and gone to the polls together. Maybe they'll still do that four years from now, but it's all too possible someone will call them sluts for doing something completely different, and then they'll start doing that together and forget all about voting in a big old harlot bloc.

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I will be taking next week off (and accidentally took last week off) because I am preparing to move, and it's difficult to organize one's time properly when there is so much organizing and planning and cleaning and general despairing to do. A great deal of time, for example, went into creating the following:
The orange paper was all I had on hand—I am not planning a Halloween- or Netherlands-themed apartment. And the place is fully equipped with both a kitchen AND bathroom, but as I won't be putting furniture in either of those places, I didn't build small orange versions of either of them.
I didn't realize until after I took this photo that I've somehow managed to misplace my tiny orange chest of drawers—it's probably somewhere in the depths of my couch. I am not going to go in after it right now, because yesterday I unexpectedly happened upon a wizened and distressing cashew under one of the cushions, and moving prep has demoralized me enough for the moment, thank you very much.

And this is the "Stabler" that will take up so much space:

She is extremely demanding and full of hate.
But I couldn't let this week go by without at least mentioning the people who've recently made feel grateful that at least I'm not moving in with them:

1. Ann Coulter (she would be difficult to live with because she's really mean and also crazy)

She tweeted after the debate that she approved of Romney's decision "to be kind and gentle to the retard."

She later tweeted (the "he" is Obama): "If he's 'the smartest guy in the room' it must be one retarded room."

Probably she tweeted these tweets because not enough people had been outraged by an earlier tweet she tweeted, about a video Obama made for the National Forum on Disability Issues: "Been busy, but is Obama STILL talking about that video? I had no idea how crucial the retarded vote is in this election."

2. Sue-Ann Levy (she's Canada's answer to "she would be difficult to live with because she's really mean and also crazy")

During Monday's debate, she tweeted: "Obama says he 'will stand' with Israel if attacked and they are a 'true friend.' His nose is growing again. #MuslimBS"

3. A bunch of scientists

Researchers asked a bunch of scientists to share their thoughts about why there aren't so many women in science, and why when women do go into science, they tend to be more interested in biology than physics:

“Physics is more difficult for girls and you need a lot of thinking, and the calculation, and the logic. So that’s maybe hard for girls.” — male grad student, physics

Awesome. And if you think women can also say some worrisome and essentialist things about women, but do so in a slightly less douche-y fashion, you're absolutely right:

"Physics is more abstract and biology is more concrete. Women are less likely to like abstract things.” — female associate professor, physics

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The video has now been taken down, but the slogan remains.
I've always been interested in science, but I dropped it in grade eleven because my military-trained science-teacher-who-was-actually-a-gym-teacher was a bit of a dick. I realize now that I probably really dropped it because my womb was hysterically pulling me toward lip balms and disciplines that focused on relationships. Also, don't scientists wear smocks or something? Obviously not the place for a girl who likes dressing up, putting on sunglasses, and wearing lipstick. And what girl doesn't enjoy doing all those things while not learning about science? 

So what can be done to keep science from alienating people with wombs who like dressing up, putting on sunglasses, wearing lipstick, and reenacting birth-control pill/tampon/yoghurt commercials with their friends?

The answer is obvious, obviously. What's needed is for the EUROPEAN UNION to demonstrate that science is, in fact, really exactly like dressing up, putting on sunglasses, wearing lipstick, and hanging around with friends while not getting pregnant.
The EU has hit on a breathtakingly original idea here: it has taken things that EVERY GIRL WITHOUT EXCEPTION likes (makeup brushes, eyewear, showing some leg) and randomly spliced together shots of those things with other shots of science-y things they don't quite resemble.  

Forget feeling alienated by science, young lady? Science knows you; science welcomes you by appealing to who and what you are, which is a walking make-up bag with the smarts to appreciate that lipsticks and test tubes are kind of the same size, and therefore EQUALLY AS MUCH FUN!

Once young ladies realize that lipsticks look kind of like buildings (engineer!) and goal posts (soccer player!) and that compacts look like planets (astrophysicist!) and the bottom part of stethoscopes (doctor!), nothing will stand in their way, except, of course, for Europe, which thinks they're a bunch of frivolous half-wits.

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A pleasant corner of my subconscious circa 1985.
Last week's post got me thinking about how few positive female role models there were in the '80s for talkative young ladies.

I'm not going to include perky, unrelentingly upbeat, not-particularly-bright women, either. Women like Meg Ryan or Melanie Griffith, who bubble up and sparkle and giggle and probably wouldn't be resourceful and cold-blooded during a physical fight. I've decided they don't count for the purposes of this particular (one-sided) discussion.

I spent much of last week thinking about this, taking breaks only to watch The PBS News Hour and The Choice (Joe Jonas should have obviously have chosen Gwen Ifill). I was only able to come up with TWO positive fast-talking female role models, and one of them is the one I mentioned just last week.

1) Jordan, Real Genius
Real Genius is one of the greatest movies ever made, and features a Val Kilmer who was still devastatingly attractive and not yet distressingly bloated. It was one of the first movies I ever saw that suggested that smart young people could have friends and kiss each other and both create and destroy space weapons. This photo captures Jordan (love interest of the other main character, Mitch) in a rare moment of not talking. She is a super-genius and doesn't sleep and spends her time while not sleeping thinking of serious scientific things and knitting sweaters. She really only talks so much because her brain is so full of smarts. 

2. Amanda King, Scarecrow and Mrs. King

I'm not even sure this character would still strike me the same way, because the last time I saw her get up to no good, I was eleven. It's possible she was actually perky and empty-headed, but I prefer to remember her as ballsy and irrepressible.  There was one episode of this show (which featured Kate Jackson as a housewife who ends up becoming a spy, and Bruce Boxleitner as a handsome spy who ends up having to mentor and reluctantly fall desperately in love with her) that really affected me when I saw it at some point between the ages of seven and eleven. And I (inevitably) found a fan site on the internet that (thrillingly) somehow managed to scare up the print ad for the very episode that I'm about to talk about:
I can't remember whether the ruthless hit woman who looked exactly like Kate Jackson was supposed to be some kind of scientific-experiment-produced clone, or whether the fact that they looked exactly alike was supposed to be a kooky coincidence. Doesn't matter - either way, it was both dramatic and plausible. At the end of the episode, both Kate Jackson and ruthless-hit-woman Kate Jackson are hanging from the side of a building, having somehow managed to fall off the side of it simultaneously. 

Bruce Boxleitner, whose courage and handsomeness cause him to appear in the nick of time, is forced to figure out which woman who looks exactly like Kate Jackson he should save. One Kate Jackson says something noble and reasonable and convincing. The other babbles indignantly about something and then babbles indignantly some more. Bruce Boxleitner, proving he sees with the penetrating eyes of a super-spy and the discriminating eyes of a lover, immediately pulls the babbler to safety. 

It was a great comfort to me then to think that one day my compulsive chattiness might save my life. It was also a great comfort to me to think that if a suave, smooth-talking, sophisticated version of me ever showed up, she would turn out to be a no-good criminal and then promptly fall off a building.

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I recently read an article that made me feel like a bratty, treasonous, ignoble woman, so naturally, I'd like to talk about it.

I'm referring to "Too ugly for TV? No, I'm too brainy for men who fear clever women", written by classicist and television host Mary Beard in response to some poisonous, unfunny comments from a British television reviewer named AA Gill. 

He wrote the following charming, make-you-want-to-date-him things about her after watching her show Meet the Romans:

"Mary Beard really should be kept away from cameras altogether."

"For someone who looks this closely at the past, it is strange she hasn't had a closer look at herself before stepping in front of a camera."

"...because she's this far from being the subject of a Channel 4 dating documentary" (referring, apparently, to The Undateables, a show about disabled people looking for love).

All those comments are repugnant and shallow and reveal him to be the kind of person who probably inspired the coining of the phrase "total prick". But I have managed to be bothered also by her response to these repugnant and shallow comments.

She writes: "Throughout Western history [just an aside: invariably the manner in which the very worst undergraduate essays begin] there have always been men like Gill who are frightened of smart women who speak their minds, and I guess, as a professor of Classics at Cambridge University, I'm one of them."

It is entirely possible that Gill is a disgusting misogynist. Certainly when he watches a show about the Romans, he should be more concerned about its accuracy than the hair-style and tooth-size of the presenter. But just because he doesn't think television presenters should be frowsy and unpolished (and I haven't heard that he thinks male presenters are allowed to be either of things) doesn't mean he hates women; and even if he does maintain a double-standard about the extent to which men and women on the small screen are required to look like realtors or meteorologists, that just means  he has issues with women and attractiveness, not necessarily with bright women and attractiveness. 

When I was in high school and a boy (contrary to the demands of good sense) insisted on not wanting to date me, invariably someone would say, "It's obvious - he's just intimidated by you." I don't deny that my staggering intelligence and gorgeousness were impressive and fearsome, but that explanation always bothered me. Some people just won't like me. Some people will not like me, and will make fun of me, and will not want to date me, and not because I am brilliant and gorgeous and they just can't take it. 

Gill, in an article about The Undateables, described it as a "mocking freak show of grotesques and embarrassments".  As far as I know, not all those featured were women, and not all of them were Classics professors at Cambridge. He seems to be an asshole who has an issue with all those who aren't conventionally attractive and conventionally presentable. It's entirely possible he made cutting and unfunny comments about Mary Beard just because he thinks she's funny-looking, not because he's secretly shamed by her intellect. I'm not saying that's any better; it's just a different crappy kind of motivation.

Beard also commented: "...maybe it's precisely because he did not go to university that he never quite learned the rigour of intellectual argument and thinks that he can pass off insults as wit" and with that she managed to bother me even more powerfully. I attended university for approximately eighty-five years, and so I can authoritatively state that anyone who thinks that everyone who goes to university has learned how to argue in an intellectually rigourous fashion and that everyone who has not attended university has not, is a) deluded, and b) almost certainly a graduate of graduate school. 

Beard closes by suggesting various ways in which Gill could be punished: he should have to watch her shows - all of them - , he should have to discuss them with her...etc...etc... But as I'm not convinced he hates smart women in particular (although he might), and I am convinced he is for whatever reason extremely bothered by people who aren't conventionally attractive (or don't put the appropriate effort into trying to appear that way) I think the only truly fitting punishment for his crime would be for him to have to appear on television unshaven, unwashed, wearing unfashionable trousers and a hopelessly out-of-style sweater, and sporting a startlingly dowdy bowl cut. I'm sure that would hurt him more than watching Beard's shows or being reminded he doesn't teach at Cambridge.

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I owe my father an apology. Not because I forced him to listen to Aerosmith's Pump when I was thirteen, or because I never managed to become a sullen teenager and so talked incessantly about things like Aerosmith's Pump (although I am desperately sorry for both of those things), but because I thought he just had to be wrong about Arizona. Arizona couldn't be that crazy. He had to have misunderstood. 

What a fool I was to doubt both my father and the unlimited batshit craziness of Arizona!

Perhaps ashamed of having a doctors-can-mislead-pregnant-women law slightly less batshit crazy than Oklahoma's, one proud Arizonan politician has decided to give all liberals an early Christmas present by telling a constituent that women who want to have abortions should first be forced to watch other women have abortions.

When he told me this, I of course concluded my father must have been watching Keith Olberman while sleep-deprived and high on something that makes people think totally outrageous things about conservatives. But no. Rep. Terri Proud (R! - Tuscon) responded to a concerned citizen's email about an anti-abortion bill with the following:

"Personally I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a 'surgical procedure'. If it's not a life it shouldn't matter, if it doesn't harm a woman then she shouldn't care, and don't we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain - I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living - I will be voting YES."

This concerned citizen was not the only one to receive this response, as Proud told her staff to send it out to anyone who suggested she oppose the bill.

When the concerned citizen became even more concerned as a result and sent a follow-up email indicating she was both embarrassed and frightened by Proud, Proud responded with: "You're kidding right?" I can only assume this was also a blanket response sent out to all those who'd emailed back to suggest her last blanket response had been embarrassing and frightening. 

So once again, Dad, I'm sorry. I should never for a second have questioned your claims. If you tell me next that a state rep (R!!!) from Oklahoma has suggested women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they have have actually performed an abortion on another woman, I will not doubt you for a second.

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If you haven't read this post yet, please note that everything has now changed. If you have read it, please note that everything has now changed.

If you're like me, you approve of events like Race for the Cure (which is American and not the same thing as the Canadian "Run for the Cure") because it promotes an awareness of breast cancer and raises money to fight breast cancer, but wish it didn't also create such a showy spectacle of... togetherness... camaraderie... tolerance. All those people pulling together to fight a common enemy, drawing strength from one another, etc...etc... Nauseating. How can a sensible person combat evil while simultaneously excluding and disempowering people?

Thankfully, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, that charitable behemoth, has once again proved that it can rustle up both funds and controversy. A few years ago, it trademarked its pink ribbon and started telling other charities they couldn't use the phrase "for the cure" in any way, ever. They set lawyers on charities with initiatives like "Kites for the Cure" and "Cupcakes for a Cure" who dared either a) raise money for a non-breast-cancer cancer cause, or b) raise money to fight breast cancer for an organization not called the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It's also been partnered with companies that engage in "pinkwashing", a name for what happens when companies use pink packaging, announce that proceeds from their product will go to breast cancer research, and then never actually reveal how much money was involved or where, precisely, it will be going. And it's partnered with companies like KFC which (although we know they're simply a victim of "crispyfatwashing") have been associated with general unhealthiness.

But Komen recently decided it had set it sights too low - that it was, in fact, possible to be more ambitious and alienate more people. It emerged yesterday that Komen will no longer be giving any money to Planned Parenthood. This money - hundreds of thousands of dollars - was primarily devoted to the subsidizing of breast exams for low-income and at-risk women. Komen claims it put a stop to the grants because Planned Parenthood is currently being investigated by the U.S. Congress. Of course, that investigation was  instigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla) at the behest of pro-life groups, and most Democrats claim it's stupid and senseless. Oddly enough, a woman named Karen Handel was recently appointed senior VP of public policy at Komen, and she ran as a Republican for governor of Georgia two years ago (unsuccessfully) on an anti-abortion platform and is chums with Sarah Palin.

So bravo, Susan G. Komen for the Cure! You have made it possible to run for a cure, while also running away from people who as a result might not know in a timely fashion that they're in need of one.

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A concerned reader brought the following concerning news item to my attention: "Moins de chasseurs à cause des mères monoparentales, dit le sénateur Boisvenu".
As my French has gone the way of my regard for Tom Selleck (as a man - as Magnum I still regard him frequently) and my youthful idealism, I turned to Google Translate and discovered that that jumble of delightfully nonsensical-sounding words means something along the lines of: "Fewer hunters because single mothers, said Senator Boisvenu". 

As you know, I have always believed that single mothers have a lot to answer for. They threaten to unravel the moral fabric of the nation. They are obviously an affront to all decently-married people. They also often have to work really hard to raise children alone, making the more morally-upstanding and decently-married of us appear shiftless and lazy. 

I have to thank Conservative Quebec senator Boisvenu for alerting me to this latest threat, and to Google, for translating this alert: "Noting the presence of more and more of mothers in society who are single parents, Senator Quebec has stated that 'hunting is no longer a tradition handed down from father to son,' adding that now, 'who is 14-15-16-17-18 years no longer have the reflex to purchase a firearm.'" "'We see that the number of hunters has made dramatic,'" he concluded.

Senator Quebec, though, is not simply mourning the loss of a tradition; he is bringing attention to a new menace. "He said that if the deer are not slaughtered in the Eastern Townships, there are good times and bad, between 5000 and 8000 collisions between animals and cars. 'It leads to other problems in terms of mortality,' he said." So single mothers, then, by not passing down a reflex for the purchase of firearms to their sons, are directly responsible for road fatalities in that it is through their negligent mercifulness that the deer remain alive to kill.

We can only hope that single mothers, now aware of this situation, will take responsibility for it, defend tradition, and save lives by purchasing weapons for their sons and teaching them to stalk and kill.

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 axident. 
"I want you to show me a stronger biological urge to procreate!"
You may already have gathered that I am fair-minded and incisive about everything, everything, with the the exception of gender essentialism. It's like an allergy: when people say things like "well, he is a man, after all" as though that explains all pernicious forms of behaviour, or "she's not just looking for a dalliance, because, after all, she is a woman and is therefore going to sabotage her birth control in order to give herself a baby" I come over all funny and have a near-uncontrollable urge to stab myself in the upper thigh with a pen.

I don't care whether Primitive Man was forced to develop certain coping mechanisms in order to hunt and gather or whether Primitive Woman was forced to develop different strategies in order to safely furnish and decorate her primitive hut. I've never understood why biology is destiny, when it's obvious that human beings are able in many circumstances to adopt behaviours that seem to mitigate against the propagation and survival of the species (vehicular traffic! self-doubt! men wearing sandals!). 

Many things support my view, which I would continue to support myself even in the absence of such supportive things. Many neurologists, it appears, are crazy proponents of the theory that women like hugs and relationships and men like math and nuclear war, and have devised skewed experiments and/or misrepresented experiments in order to prove it. There's no evidence that girls and boys learn in different ways, or that they benefit from single-sex schooling.

And yet, it's comforting, I suppose, in an age when we aren't allowed to stereotype other races quite so much, to be able to generalize wildly about large groups of people based on their private bits.

Just this week, Rotten Tomatoes' Greg Dean Schmitz wrote the following annoying thing: "Marvel may be setting a pattern with Thor 2, as this week, it was revealed that Marvel's top choice is director Patty Jenkins, whose one feature film was 2003's  Monster [...] and the pilot episode of AMC's series The Killing. If Marvel does indeed sign Patty Jenkins to direct Thor 2, this choice seems to suggest a story more female-centric than people generally think of when they think 'Asgardian mythology.'"

"Female-centric." What in God's name does that mean? Are all female directors interested in female things? And what are female things? I mean, if Marvel was kicking around the idea of signing, say, Nora Ephron, I'd concede they might be going in a softer, gentler direction (which still wouldn't make it unavoidably appealing to all women). But the woman who made Monster? That movie about the vicious lady serial killer? It certainly dealt with a woman, but it can't be said to represent any kind of "feminine" perspective. And, as far as recall, there are no 30-year-spanning female friendships punctuated by tragic cardiac conditions and songs in that film. If Patty Jenkins makes Thor 2, will she be unable to prevent herself from casting only women in all roles and turning it into a multi-generational tale of loss, perseverance, love, and casserole-making?

Then there's the new movie that should star Sarah Michelle Gellar and instead stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. The director describes it as "a psychological thriller with horror overtones and detective story overtones, but essentially, deep down it's a love story." "We've made the kind of movie with thriller and horror elements," he continues, desperate to ensure I'll never want to date him, "but women will like it." He's so right. If a movie has thrills and chills, but makes no attempt to represent a love relationship, my womb just refuses to sit still and pay attention.

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.
While it's true that the following things created a great deal of outrage a number of weeks ago, I feel that outrage can often get richer and more potent given time to sit.

A two-year-old ad for an Edmonton hair salon was recently thrust back into the spotlight after a blogger found it obscurely offensive.
The ad features a fancy prairie lady sporting a black eye presumably given her by the man standing behind their Eisenhower-era couch (I suppose that should be "St-Laurent-era", but I know more about Eisenhower because all I ever learned from those "A Part of Our Heritage" commercials was that most Canadian actors are suspect and that epileptic seizures are often heralded by the smell of burnt toast).

So the woman has been abused, but, Fluid Hair tells us, that's no reason for her to let herself go. A Fluid woman, presumably, would also take the time to gussy up during a hurricane, terrorist attack, or nuclear meltdown. Think of all the other topical and offensive print-ad possibilities!

The hair-salon owner, Sarah Cameron, was, surprisingly enough, both surprised and defensive, because:

“The ads were our interpretation of a particular ‘art form'. Is it cutting edge advertising? Yes. Is it intended to be a satirical look at real life situations that ignites [sic] conversation and debate? Of course. Is it to everyone’s taste? Probably not.”

This leads to my first suggestion: whatever "art form" this ad is ostensibly "interpreting" should be immediately outlawed. My second suggestion is that anyone wanting to make what they believe to be satirical art should be forced to apply for a permit. They should be forced to apply for that permit to ME, so that when I rejected them, I could also say some very mean and petty things.

The next distasteful images related to domestic violence bring us into the realm of inconsistent, prime-time, musical television shows. Heather Morris, who plays Brittany on Glee, was photographed by Tyler Shields with a fake black eye, and various 1950's domestic accessories.

The close-up of Morris with the black eye is not the worst thing ever, and Shield's admittedly tedious claim that "even Barbie bruises" could be said to provide some theoretical underpinning for the work. But his suggestion that these shots are all about showing that attractive, blonde women can be victims of violence is undermined by the fact that the other photos look like out-takes from the cover-shoot for an unreleased Warrant album. 
If these photos aren't sexualizing a victim of some kind of violence, then Tyler Shields is an interesting and cutting-edge artist.

Making it possible for me to hate more people involved in this situation, US Weekly kicked off its story about the photo shoot with: "She's got that boom boom pow!" 

Both the hair-salon ad and the Morris photos seem weirdly to nostalgically fetishize 1950s-ish, 1960-ish domestic bondage and violence against women. It's like a stupid ad exec and a stupid photographer watched an episode of Mad Men while drunk and thought, "Those dresses are awesome! Retro's really in right now!" and then made some really questionable and embarrassing creative decisions.

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.