Job Letter: Alabama Bathroom Monitor
Jan 8th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Dear Alabama Representatives,

I was so excited when I saw that you’re putting forth a bill requiring bathroom attendants in bathrooms open to transgender people and that other states are putting forth similar legislation!

I’m sure you designed this bill to protect god-fearing citizens while avoiding the unpleasantness (lost tourist dollars, an ousted governor) the bathroom bill in North Carolina caused. After all, this lets anyone pee, so we certainly can’t be accused of prejudice!

Something has to be done! I mean, we’ve not had any legislation about who can use what bathroom since the bathrooms were invented (by a good Christian, surely) until recently. Do you remember what it was like? I mean, I never had a problem in a bathroom, but I shudder now to think that the person in the stall next to me, who was passing toilet paper under the divider when I discovered I didn’t have any, could have had any type of genitalia at birth! If I’d thought about it then, I’m sure I would have wiped with my underwear and then left my stall commando, like the lady of good breeding that I am, rather than risk talking to a person of the opposite sex!

However, I’m sure you’re aware that this bill doesn’t go far enough. Bathrooms designed for single sexes won’t be attended at all! How are we going to know if people are going out of their way to find a bathroom with an attendant instead of just using the single sex bathrooms in their town?

Say we call up a citizen for jury duty. At this time, transgender people can still serve on juries and vote, and we would hate to discriminate as long as these people are still legally citizens (you’re going to fix this soon, I presume). Our courthouse will likely have single sex bathrooms–we value law and order. Perhaps there’s a trans person serving–a guy, let’s say. He would have to hold it all day. He, of course, couldn’t use the women’s room in the courthouse, but we don’t really want a guy who looks like a woman in the men’s room.

That’s distracting and dangerous.

There have already been cases of actual women being attacked in women’s bathrooms because they didn’t look feminine enough. I mean, that’s partly their own fault, of course. Why did God invent makeup if not to help us out?

I’m sure once you think about it, you’ll agree that every bathroom needs a monitor!

Please consider this letter my application.

I will be able to bring many desirable qualities to this job.

First, I understand that to do a good job, I cannot judge on superficial traits. Have you seen trans porn? I’m been watching it a lot lately to understand these sick and twisted individuals. There are LOTS of men who pass as women, until they take off their panties.

Each body going into a bathroom will have to be checked–thoroughly!

I’ll be good at this for several reasons.

A. I do not get tired of looking at genitalia, as evidenced by my capacity to watch trans porn for hours and hours at a time.

B. I know that some men “tuck” their penises, so I might need to handle people’s genitalia to make sure it’s in the correct position. I’m willing to make this sacrifice.

C. From my extensive porn viewing, I also know that some men have micropenises (I’m sure you’ve seen a few around the capital!) and that some women have giant clits. Even with handling, it might not be possible to tell the difference. I’m willing to make an educated guess, though it might require a bit more than handling. If I think I’m doing a check of a clit, but semen comes out, I’ll know it’s a man and let him pass into the correct bathroom, confident that he’ll be unmolested by perverts once inside his stall.

D. Speaking of micropenises, I’m very good at keeping a straight-face. This will perhaps be my most valuable bathroom monitoring skill.

E. I’m also happy to keep a picture book of venereal diseases with me when I work, so that if I see something strange, the bathroom goer and I can match up the symptoms. (A lot of people are really concerned by your blessed work to defund Planned Parenthood and to separate people from their access to health care–regular checkups by bathroom monitors every time someone needs to go to Walmart will surely make people more comfortable about losing access to those egghead doctors.)

Of course, my physical examination still won’t be enough, which is why I’ll need to check everyone’s birth certificate when they come in–the original copy.

And I won’t consider those “Certificates of Live Birth”s! I remember when Obama tried to pull one over on us by showing us one of those!

My parents say I was born in Arizona. After learning of Obama’s deception, I checked–my own form has “Certificate of Live Birth” on the top. My parents won’t admit that they’re hiding something, so I’ve stopped speaking to them.

Don’t worry, though–I’m a red-blooded American, which is why I know transgender bathroom problems are the most important issues America faces–and I know you lawmakers agree, since you spend almost as much time thinking about other people’s genitalia as I do!

I’m going to get naturalized, though, just in case I was actually born somewhere else, if I can get my immigration attorney to return my calls–he keeps calling me crazy.

He’s probably worried that if I were born in another country, and then got lied to by my parents my whole life, that I won’t be able to fully embrace America.

In all honesty, I sometimes worry about that when I’m taking a porn break. I tell you what, though, I really hope I wasn’t born in Finland. They’re communist, of course, with their healthcare and whatnot. They probably think they’re better than us just because their kids always test the best. Well, as Donald Trump says, “I love the uneducated!” I learned once too that those wily Finns only have one pronoun.

Can you imagine? My daughter, if she were a Finn, could come home from school and say, “My teacher tried to teach us science again. Hän needs to read the Bible more!” How could I possibly be expected to understand this statement without knowing what kind of genitalia the teacher has?!

Speaking of genitalia again, did you know that 1 out of 1000 people is born with both kinds? The internet says they’re intersex–and that it’s actually a chromosome issue, instead of a choice.

I sometimes don’t know what to think about that. God doesn’t make mistakes, after all. Maybe those mothers took birth control or thought about taking birth control, and God punished them?

We’re going to have to figure out what to do with them. They probably have to pee sometimes too. This may require a whole new bill.

Also, while you’re thinking about bills, I would like you to consider another oversight in this one–as I mentioned before, we lived for ages without laws about who could be in what bathroom, but that means gay people have been in them with us this whole time!

If a girl pretending to be a guy can’t be allowed in the men’s room, why do gay men get to go in there? They might try to look at other men’s genitals, even though they aren’t self-trained bathroom monitors!!!

By now, you’ll have to admit it will take a very skilled worker to fill this position.

I am that worker, someone who understands that good Americans’ privacy in the bathroom is of the utmost importance! That’s why I am going to start checking genitalia right away. I trust you’ll be impressed by my initiative in this matter and will be contacting about my compensated employment soon!

The sooner the better–I really need to be able to write off my porn subscriptions as business expenses.


Mindfulness Poetry
Aug 29th, 2016 by Dr Karma

The other day, I read an amazing humor piece in The New Yorker: Poetry for Modern Mindfulness.

An example:

Swiffering my floor, I offer thanks to the Procter & Gamble company / For a marvellous cleaning product, although I know that / Some people think P. & G. got the idea of electrostatic cleaning cloths from a Japanese firm, / And that the Swiffer Sweeper is based on the “razors and blades” model—that is: I must keep buying expensive new replacement cloths endlessly. / Nevertheless! / I love its silence, so unlike the infernal noise of the vacuum cleaner. / This silence has changed my life, / Allowing me to clean my house, / A chore I do not enjoy, / While talking to my friends on the phone. / A win-win for me.

My mantra this week:

As I head down the stairs

bleary eyed in the morning

I know my demented cat

will have left his business

at the very bottom.

But in what configuration?

Will there be some, almost dry,

that I won’t see

with my eyes,

allowing me to see with my feet,

my nose,


but in this moment

at the top of the stairs

the mystery remains.

Goodbye to the Best Damn Anchor EVER!
Aug 7th, 2015 by Dr Karma

I think I would have been more upset about Jon’s last show, but I lost my Jareth kitten, so I’m numb to other tragedy today. That said . . .

THE SIMPSONS: Springfield voters reject the leading candidates and embraced a write-in: Ralph Wiggum.  Although no one knows for sure which political party Ralph is representing, he insists that everyone is invited to his party in the "E Pluribus Wiggum" episode of THE SIMPSONS Sunday, Jan. 6 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Pictured: guest voice Jon Stewart.  THE SIMPSONS ª and ©2008TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

THE SIMPSONS: Springfield voters reject the leading candidates and embraced a write-in: Ralph Wiggum. Although no one knows for sure which political party Ralph is representing, he insists that everyone is invited to his party in the “E Pluribus Wiggum” episode of THE SIMPSONS Sunday, Jan. 6 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Pictured: guest voice Jon Stewart. THE SIMPSONS ª and ©2008TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I have seen almost every Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I started watching when Craig hosted, though due to cable issues I wasn’t as faithful to him. Over these past many years, I think there are maybe 8 episodes of TDS with Jon I haven’t seen, mostly due to overseas travel.

Jon brought something that Craig didn’t–a decidedly political focus. When I think of Craig’s show, I remember laughing, I remember his 5 questions bit, I remember Olivia Newton John not getting the 5 questions right although they just wanted her to say “grease,” and I remember Bill Murray singing some lyrics for the theme song. There’s more to remember about Jon because his show was more meaningful.

You all know what I’m going to say: More people got their news from Jon than from anywhere else. Their coverage won 7 Peabody Awards and an Orwell. The show launched the careers of some of our best comedians.

The last episode featured many, many correspondents (and his crew)–as it should. It was their show, too, and Jon made sure their voices were heard. Many have talked about how Jon made them better writers–that they learned to write for a purpose, for an audience, and with concision in mind–in addition to being funny.

Jon allowed them to play and to ridicule him. His brand of comedy was unique, in fact, because while the show was often satirical, the true satire was always in the hands of his correspondents. That is, satire plays on a level of meaning–it’s possible to misunderstand it. It depends on a naive narrator. Stephen Colbert’s show was all satire because Stephen was in character (and many did somehow miss that he was). While Jon sometimes used sarcasm for comic effect, he was sincere. He was angry at the VA, at those who fought to screw over first responders, etc. It wasn’t an act.

Those of us of a certain age will always remember Jon’s first show after 9/11 and the strength of his words.

When I teach satire, the segments of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart I use come from the correspondents, since they can’t come from the straight man that is Stewart (like this one).

Here’s what I’ll most miss. Jon’s honesty. His laugh. His using opponents’ words against them (by simply showing them saying the thing they said they didn’t say, etc.) The way he made the other side go crazy. If he were just a clown, they never would have had to mention him. But they did–they tried to take him down as if he were a serious newsman, as if he were a powerful political player.

And that made sure he was both.

(Maybe that’s why they decided to do their first debate after he was gone.) jon

Weird Al’s Grammar Lesson
Aug 28th, 2014 by Dr Karma

Weird Al’s latest album, Mandatory Fun, features an upbeat parody of “Blurred Lines”–“Word Crimes.” The narrator of the song gives some grammar and word choice lessons, including the correct use of the apostrophe and “literally.” Weird_al_yankovic_word_crimes_titlecard
Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty) objects to the song, saying, “I don’t expect a music video to get into the details, but what I see is that he’s appealing to the base instincts that I’m tired to the bone of seeing: The call to feel superior and to put other people down for writing errors.”
She notes that some people have argued that the video is a parody of grammar nazis (it can be read that way, although I agree it’s unlikely to be). I noted on FB that we should refrain from automatically assuming that the artist and the narrator of a song are the same person. After all, on the same album, Al sings that he wears a hat made of aluminum foil because “there’s always someone that’s watching you / And still the government won’t admit they faked the whole moon landing . . .”
However, the artist’s views on grammar are well known. Al does care about language. He has even made videos about correcting signs.
(Mignon, whom I adore, argues that his corrections are sometimes unneeded in the same article.)
But I just don’t share her disdain for the song or the video.
A small part of this is because of my love of Al. One day, years ago, I was in Maui. My then boyfriend and I happened upon a street sign that had been corrected. The boyfriend noted that my soul mate must be near. Later that evening, in his catch-up on all things Al (because he’d known me long enough to be converted), he found a video of Al correcting that sign that very day.

It’s not a coincidence either that I identify with the narrator of another Al song, who breaks up with a woman because of her inability to distinguish between “imply” and “infer”–I use those lyrics on a word choice handout.
I haven’t encountered anyone else who’s bothered by “Word Crimes.”

The music editor of The New Yorker described the video in an article: “Brackets and exclamation points dance as Yankovic defines contractions and counsels against using ‘c’ to mean ‘see.’ But Yankovic never comes off as a scold. Every aspect of his art is enthusiastic and cheerful, a throwback to an earlier era of comedy and pop culture, when lightness had validity.”

However, it’s possible that The New Yorker writer and I aren’t bothered because we don’t make those grammar mistakes–we aren’t the target of the song. Grammar Girl is worried about students viewing the video in class–as people with bad grammar are insulted in it. I’ve been the indirect target of jokes like this before, though. The Simpsons has lampooned people who teach college classes on cartoons and those who have taught at Florida State (as I have). I have had arguments about the relative virtues of Kirk and Picard, like the people Al skewers in “White and Nerdy.” In one of Al’s new songs, “Tacky,” he wears an airbrushed shirt as a signifier of tackiness. One of my airbrushed shirts has Al as his Simpsons avatar. I’m still laughing. weird1

Grammar Girl said she hated to hate this song. I hate to say that I think she’s overreacting a bit. I don’t think this is going to do much damage even to the most sensitive grammar-challenged person. And, even though she might say it makes me a mean person, I like the song because I identify with it. I have friends who literally cringe when “literally” is misused. Denise and I had to fight our editors on the first book because they said my example of an its/it’s mistake might be too subtle (due to its commonality) for people to understand. Denise and I wanted it in for exactly that reason–it’s one of the most common errors out there, and people need to learn to fix it (if only because one of the ways people narrow down the pile of applications is to throw out the ones with an error).

I had a relative who thought I was pretentious because I spoke correctly as a teenager–I wasn’t trying to be, but I was already a reader, already a writer–and it would have been especially pretentious for me to try to dumb down for a grown man (it was just a lose-lose situation). I don’t correct signs. I don’t correct people outside of work, no matter who much I sometimes want to. But I’ve been fighting the good fight for writing properly in my classes for a while now. Each year, it gets harder. In the last couple of years, I have had students turn in formal essays with “you” written as “u.” In the last year, I’ve had several students refer to themselves as “i.” One student claimed he didn’t know he was supposed to capitalize that word.

This is in a university where we only accept people in the top of their class.

Sometimes I just need to know that I’m not the only one bothered by this. Add a catchy tune and my soul mate singing and two double entendres, and I can’t complain.



Missouri leader inspires lawsuits
Aug 16th, 2013 by Dr Karma

Missouri Representative Paul Wieland made news this week by suing the federal government. Wieland’s state health insurance includes the option for birth control. Previously, he would have been able to opt out of having this option. In statements to the press, Wieland conflates birth control with abortion: “I see abortion-inducing drugs as intrinsically evil . . .” While his family could simply not ask for birth control, Wieland argues that it’s against his faith to even have the option in his insurance plan. His attorney says that the precedent Wieland is trying to set “will be of great value to other families.”

Indeed, other families are already lining up to file lawsuits arguing that having access to products or services that go against their religion is offensive. Many diners have noted that, while they are never forced to order food they aren’t allowed to eat, it’s wrong to have the option to do so in the first place.

A few conservative Jews are banding together to have “Red Lobster” banned from their neighborhoods, as Leviticus clearly states, “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” “Red Lobster could still serve fish,” one customer argued. “But since I can’t eat lobster or shrimp, it shouldn’t be on the menu of options.”

Wieland, whose picture ironically deters birth-control necessitating activities.

Wieland, whose picture ironically deters birth-control necessitating activities.

Restaurants, bars, cafes, and grocery stores near heavy populations of Mormons are bracing for demands that alcohol and caffeinated drinks be pulled from stock since having these items for sale may offend Mormon customers, who aren’t allowed to partake.

Pork products will likely come under fire, as both Jews and Muslims are forbidden from eating them. One young man at a pizzeria said he was unlikely to sue, since lawyers “cost a lot,” but noted that it would be easier (“I mean, less offensive”) to resist the temptation of pepperoni (“which I’ve heard is the bomb!”) if it weren’t offered to him in the first place.

The servers unions in some states have already been dealing with similar issues for months, following health care providers, such as nurses and pharmacists, who want to be able to opt of out dispensing medications or giving prescribed care to their patients that they “don’t believe in.”

“Why should I be required to bring you pulled pork sliders,” asked one Hooters waitress in Houston, “when the Bible, like, forbids it and stuff. It’s not my job to bring you sinful meat, not when I don’t believe in eating it.”

Naturally, some of these cases might be dismissed since restaurant workers could opt out of working or since customers could opt out of eating out or grocery shopping. Rep. Wieland, after all, simply wants his health insurance coverage to refuse to cover a required, basic medication that 99% of American Catholics admit using due to his Catholic faith. He argues, cogently, that it’s better to not be covered at all or to not have this option for the women in his family rather than to simply not use the product, which would demonstrate his faith in a private way (as the Bible recommends) through personal prayer and private choices.

Equally problematic in terms of health insurance mandates, however, is the coverage of emergency blood transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses, following Wieland’s stance, want personal exemptions from such coverage in their insurance programs because of a line in the Bible that forbids ingesting blood. However, they’d like to do Wieland one better, demanding that hospitals they may be taken to in an emergency do not have supplies for such a procedure, as that would still give them the choice to have one.

Rep. Wieland’s lawsuit has prompted other families to consider a suit he will surely support. Some atheists families have noted, with evident distress, that American religious freedom guarantees that there are many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious centers in every town in the U.S.

“You see,” one concerned mother from Nebraska explained, “the only tenant of our belief system is that we don’t believe in God and thus that we would never go to church. It’s offensive to have the choice to do so–guaranteed by the federal government. It violates everything my family does–and doesn’t–believe in. What if my children one day wander in to the Lutheran church down the street, just because they can? My aunt already has to attend her AA meetings at the Baptist church–why should she be confronted with the choice to accept the higher power who’s supposed to change the things that she can’t? The government can’t mandate that she have options that she doesn’t believe in.”

If the class-action suit filed by the Nebraska families succeeds, Rep. Wieland will surely be relieved. His religious choices will then be moot, as they will no longer be protected by the government, as the right to insurer-provided birth control is.


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