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Still forbidden territory

NEW YORK CITY, New York - A few months ago, I snapped a picture of this lounge at work. It was labeled the "Lactating Room" and had a leather couch inside.

It has been rebranded - it is now the "Women's Lounge" and the leather couch has been replaced with a fabric one.

I don't know if I'm now more allowed to use this room, or less allowed. There's no "Men's Lounge" but I'm not inclined to be litigious about these things.


What do papayas, hopscotch, and Ouija boards have in common?

NEW YORK CITY, New York - Answer: they're all just about as effective as multi-billion dollar antidepressant drugs in treating "depression".

The BBC is reporting on a meta-study by the University of Hull, where they dug around and acquired both published and unpublished trial data, instead of only the published data (which is apparently cherry-picked to put the greatest possible light on the "antidepressant" drugs). To summarize, the swanky, patent-encrusted SSRI drugs were deemed to be no better than a placebo for all but the most "severely depressed" patients.

The BBC article notes that new armies of therapists are being trained to provide "talking therapies", and a Financial Times article on the same study notes that "outdoor exercise" can be used to combat "depression."

If talking to someone "cures" them, then there was nothing medically wrong with them to begin with. If a bit of outdoor prancing "cures" someone, then they were not medically ill.

I hate to sound like a Scientologist on this, but even a crazy, blind Scientologist squirrel can stumble upon a nut.


Japanese fall-on-the-sword attitude good for HD-DVD buyers

SEATTLE, Washington - In case you haven't heard, the hi-res disc format war is over, and Blu-ray has won. Nobody cares, except Sony executives and those few folks that bought HD-DVD gear. It's a sunk cost for people in the US, but the shame-based cultural attitudes in Japan are so strong that one retailer is letting customers trade in their HD-DVD player for a Blu-ray player:

The Japanese electronics retailer Edion is deeply ashamed it sold its customers HD DVD gear. So ashamed they that they're allowing buyers to swap in Toshiba HD DVD boxes for Blu-ray players.

Found via Digg


Nitpicky zoning's unindicted co-conspirator - Landmarks Preservation

SEATTLE, Washington - The neighborhood busybodies and resentful bittermen of Seattle (and elsewhere) have multiple avenues available to attack property owners and casually impose their subjective style preferences on every new building in their radar range. One is zoning "design reviews", which I have discussed before; another tool on their belt is the Landmarks Preservation process.

This week's "landmark" is a building in Ballard that recently ended a 24-year run as a Denny's restaurant. The property was acquired by Benaroya Companies with the intention of tearing it down and building condos. Benaroya (in a strategy that many developers end up using) actually applied for Landmark Preservation for the property, so they could (hopefully) get landmark status rejected and out of the way before some neighborhood types file for preservation later in the process and gum things up.

The Landmarks Preservation cabal met last night and, despite Benaroya's best efforts, voted 6-3 to declare the exterior of the building to be a historical landmark. No tearing it down now; options include building condos (or other stuff) around the structure, renovating the interior and doing something else with it, sell it, or let it rot.

You can tell from reading the comments of the supporters of restrictive classifications (just as you can tell from the people that throw darts at design review meetings) that many of them just use the process as an indirect, spiteful way to oppose condos and development in general, because developers are rich and greedy and the proposed condos would not be "affordable". In fact, this building was recently slated to be torn down and turned into a station for the proposed Monorail. The Monorail project vaporized, and the land was subsequently sold to Benaroya. No one seemed to give a shit about the historical significance of the building when it was going to be replaced with a noble, politically correct mass transit project, but try to tear it down for condos that a barista can't afford and suddenly the building's a piece of Seattle, Architectural, Washington State, and World history.

I do not cater to the prurient instincts

SEATTLE, Washington - I have to draw the line somewhere, so I'm not going to provide any links or information on the Gene Simmons sex tape. You're on your own on that one.


Now that Fidel is stepping aside

SEATTLE, Washington - Time to get some real leadership in Cuba - the kind that will again turn Cuba into a tropical gambling mecca. The kind of Cuba that Hyman Roth talked about in The Godfather Part II:

These are wonderful things that we've achieved in Havana -- and there's no limit to where we can go from here. This kind of Government knows how to help encourage it -- the hotels here are bigger and swankier than any of the rug joints we've put in Vegas -- and we can thank our friends in the Cuban government -- which has put up half of the cash with the Teamsters on a dollar for dollar basis -- has relaxed restrictions on imports. What I am saying now is we have what we have always needed -- real partnership with the government.

Transcript from here


Long before the Seattle cupcake wars

SEATTLE, Washington - Today, we enjoy a rainbow variety of cupcakes at our various cupcake shops in Seattle. I found an analogous variety of baked goods from the old old days in Seattle, in the photo book Vanishing Seattle.

The windmill below was the Queen Anne Hill outpost of Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakery, a regional bakery chain based in California. As you can barely see in the scan below, they offered "17 Kinds of Old Dutch Coffee Cakes". Seventeen! Who needs cafe au lait or lavender cupcakes when you can get seventeen kinds of coffee cake?

The Dutch abandoned Queen Anne decades ago, but the Danes are still there; I would encourage all to visit John Nielsen's Authentic Danish Pastry on 2nd Ave. W for a very pleasant experience.


I've made the switch

SEATTLE, Washington - No, I'm not turning gay. Though, maybe I'd be happier gay, and it would certainly be easier to get sex.

No, I've changed my Linux home desktop from Gentoo to Kubuntu. For one thing, there seems to be a bit of chaos at the Gentoo Foundation; Ubuntu has what Linux needs, some corporate backing from a mad billionaire and momentum.

Beyond that, the Kubuntu graphical software installer has been a nice break from two years of compiling all software from source in Gentoo. I wasn't engaging in any optimizations that made compiling from scratch worth it.

And Kubuntu has operated more smoothly in some day-to-day tasks, like plugging in my mp3 player via USB.

Obviously, I chose Kubuntu instead of Ubuntu because GNOME is for losers.


Americans agree with me on where to move

SEATTLE, Washington - When I compiled my livability index of all 50 states, I automatically excluded the 41 states that had a state income tax. Turns out many other Americans have the same philosophy - an editorial in today's WSJ looks at the relationship between state income taxes and domestic migration. Their comments are based on this year's United Van Lines migration study, which has allegedly been fairly representative of overall migration patterns for decades.

The WSJ notes that the 7 of the 8 states without an income tax (in the contiguous 48) are ranked in the top 12 as far as inbound vs. outbound migrants. In case you were simplistically thinking/hoping that people are moving strictly to get to better weather, note that Florida was the one no-income-tax state not in the top 12, and that bad-weather states like Wyoming and New Hampshire are getting a significant influx.

North Dakota, with an income tax, is a big outflux state, while South Dakota, right next door and without an income tax, is a big influx state. I doubt that the weather explains that one.

I've been saying for a while now, your best chance of getting the government you want is not to vote for it, but to move to it. And, as the WSJ notes, the people most likely to move are the ones you probably would most like to keep around:

Our friends on the left say Americans are willing to pay more taxes to get better government services, but their migration patterns reveal the opposite. Governors would be wise to heed these interstate migration trends as they try to cope with what may be one of the worst years in recent memory for state finances. The people who tend to be the most mobile in American society are the educated and motivated -- in other words, the taxpaying class. Tax them too much, and you'll soon find they aren't there to tax at all.


Woody Allen has come a long way from the Orgasmatron

SEATTLE, Washington - Woody Allen's films seem to have hit their erotic peak way back in 1973, with the introduction of the Orgasmatron in Sleeper. The next 35 years have featured a lot of neuroses and Manhattan cocktail parties, but not much sweaty sex.

It looks like Woody is finally about to bring some good old fashioned heat to the screen in the upcoming Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The New York Post is reporting that this movie will feature a torrid lesbian sex scene with Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz. Woody can't pull his camera away from Scarlett lately.

Found via Celebslam


Georgia wants a piece of Tennessee for its water

SEATTLE, Washington - The Tennessean is reporting that there is a resolution bouncing around in the Georgia legislature that would move a boundary with Tennessee by about a mile to the north, giving Georgia more land and giving the water-hungry state access to the Nickajack Reservoir.

Georgia, of course, is not couching this as a hostile action, but as a correction of some incorrect surveying 190 years ago:

The resolution, which has passed early hurdles but has not received final passage, claims that the boundary was erroneously surveyed in 1818 and that Georgia has never accepted it. The resolution calls for the creation of a "Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission" that would perform joint surveys and change the line to the "definite and true" boundary line: exactly following the 35th parallel.

"We're not talking about sucking it dry," said Rep. Harry Geisinger, a Republican who sponsored the resolution in the Georgia House. "We're talking about augmenting some water needs, and as you know, the Tennessee has got plenty of water in it."

States getting into beefs about water is nothing new. In 1934 Arizona governor Benjamin Mouer assembled an invasion force (40 infantrymen, 20 machine gunners, and one steamer) to hinder construction of the Parker Dam, a federal project that would route water to California. The steamer broke down and ended up being towed away by a tugboat owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.


Israeli pilots to get jacked up with Viagra?

SEATTLE, Washington - Israeli doctors have noticed that taking erectile dysfunction drugs results in "improved performance in high altitudes" and might start having air force pilots take Viagra for flights:

"The Viagra family of drugs is considered effective in these conditions because when there is a long shortage in oxygen it leads to high blood pressure in the lungs, and the drugs help fight that," the report quoted military medical sources as saying.

Found via Reason Hit & Run


Smoking cigs results in a smoking body

SEATTLE, Washington - Hollywood Tuna recently posted a gallery of pics of Leonardo DiCaprio with his girlfriend Bar Refaeli. As you can see, she has a wonderful body and she's enjoying a cigarette.

Obviously, the cigarettes must help in maintaining a great body - but only if they're used as a part of a more comprehensive health regimen. Hollywood Tuna reported this about a year ago while discussing some pictures of Lindsay Lohan:

For all of you who were wondering how Lindsay Lohan keeps her body in such good shape, well here’s the secret: A steady diet of alcohol, partying, and afternoon jogs in her bikini and high heels while smoking seems to do the trick. Sure genetics and youth may come into play so this program may not work for everyone but give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

I want to emphasize, this was from about a year ago, before Ms Lohan went to rehab and gave up her vices.


Crying Chimp

ISSAQUAH, Washington - It's Super Bowl day today, and as usual the commercials will allegedly be the star of the show. My personal favorite SB commercial is a sentimental favorite, the combined Dotcom and Crying Indian spoof by e*Trade a couple years ago.

I would think that anyone around my age, who grew up watching Saturday morning television in the 1970s and 1980s, and was shown the Crying Indian PSA thousands of times, would have a soft spot for this ad.

Of course, the "Crying Indian" turned out to be a straight-up Sicilian dago named Espera De Corti, but let's not be distracted by that on this special day.


PB&J making return at Trophy, allegedly

SEATTLE, Washington - I have updated the post on the Trophy Cupcakes PB&J, a commenter on that post alleges to be from Trophy and says the PB&J is returning soon. With the anonymity of the internet, you just never know.

Sports-betting gene isolated

SEATTLE, Washington - My mother asked me on the phone about the current football situation. I was explaining that New England is undefeated, and she asked if any team has ever done this before. Since I was born in 1972, I said "the Miami Dolphins did it in 1972, but you were probably busy that year and didn't notice."

She said: "Yeah, you boys were too young to be watching football. And your father, he never watched a football game in his life. He bet on a lot of games, but he never watched one."