Blog Home: Home


I am the éminence grise of American businesses large and small

Still operational
(summer glau)
SEATTLE, Washington - Back in 2008 I steered Trophy Cupcakes regarding their schedule for offering their Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcake.

Nice, but Seattle cupcake shops are small potatoes, so I shot for a bigger target, lobbying to get Summer Glau a featured role in movies or television.

From my lips to God's Jeff Zucker's ears, the advice has been heard and heeded. Ms Glau has been awarded the female lead role in the upcoming NBC series The Cape. It's just a deal to make a pilot right now but clearly this show is destined for the fall slate.

Soon, Maureen Dowd will have to issue a retraction for saying that Zucker "could not program [a] network to save his life." (But she doesn't have to take back calling him a "condescending and arrogant East Coaster").


A more succinct criticism of the mental health industries

SEATTLE, Washington - If you want to verse yourself on the core problems of the mental health industries, you can study the recent feature in The New Yorker or you can just catch this snippet of dialogue between bartender Dean and his pal Joel in the 2009 Mike Judge film Extract:

Dean: You need to take some Xanax.

Joel: Xanax? Isn't that for anxiety?

Dean: It's good for all psychological problems in the DSM-IV.

SPS 2010 College Hoops Bracket

SEATTLE, Washington -


Round 1 Winners:
1 Kansas
5 Michigan St.
4 Maryland
6 Tennessee
3 Georgetown
7 Oklahoma St.
2 Ohio St.

Round 2:
1 Kansas
5 Michigan St.
6 Tennessee
2 Ohio St.

Sweet 16:
1 Kansas
6 Tennessee


Round 1:
1 Syracuse
9 Florida St.
5 Butler
4 Vanderbilt
6 Xavier
3 Pittsburgh
2 Kansas St.

Round 2:
1 Syracuse
5 Butler
3 Pittsburgh
2 Kansas St.

Sweet 16:
1 Syracuse
2 Kansas St.


Round 1:
1 Kentucky
8 Texas
12 Cornell
4 Wisconsin
6 Marquette
3 New Mexico
10 Missouri
2 West Virginia

Round 2:
1 Kentucky
4 Wisconsin
6 Marquette
2 West Virginia

Sweet 16:
1 Kentucky
2 West Virginia


Round 1:
1 Duke
9 Louisville
5 Texas A&M
13 Siena
6 Notre Dame
3 Baylor
7 Richmond
2 Villanova

Round 2:
1 Duke
5 Texas A&M
3 Baylor
2 Villanova

Sweet 16:
5 Texas A&M
3 Baylor

Final Four

Kansas over West Virginia
Syracuse over Baylor

Kansas over Syracuse


Pellets or Death

WASHINGTON, DC - Years ago, Mike Ditka was pimping a product called Rust Tough, and compared it to competitor Rust-Oleum by saying "do you want TOUGH, or do you want oooohhhleum?

So it is with these anti-snail products. Do you want pellets, or do you want death?

(I'm assuming here that the Snail Pellets are in fact used to kill snails, but I see no indicator on the package that this is so.)

codicil: do snails have a face?


The disappearing exit ramp diet

SEATTLE, Washington - One of my consistent diet foes has been the SoDo Burger King. It's location is perfect for trapping me right after hitting golf balls at Jefferson. I get done hitting balls around 9-9:30pm, I probably ate dinner before 5pm so I'm feeling a bit hungry, and there's no BK in West Seattle so it has a bit of novelty about it. Just roll right off the ramp to 4th Ave S and right into the drive-thru - so easy, they'd have to remove the damn ramp to stop me.

And that's exactly what happened - the ramp is gone. Not barricaded, gone. Not easy to get in and out of there anymore with all the construction. Until BK brings back the Italian Chicken Sandwich it's not worth figuring out an alternate route.


Interesting mainstream article on "mental health"

Have you seen this week's New Yorker?
(cocktail party)
SEATTLE, Washington - It's nice to see some swipes being taken at the mental health industries in a mainstream publication. The New Yorker is the mainstream, an opinion maker, right? Are there actually cocktail parties where everyone stands around, the guys with a drink in one hand and the other hand in their pants pocket, which crumples up the bottom of their blazer under their forearm, as they discuss what's popped up in The New Yorker? I mean, does this happen outside of movies set in Manhattan.

The chattering class can now chew on Louis Menand's article on psychiatry. The article cites many books both past and present on the topic and plucks out many nuggets regarding the shifting and dubious nature of the alleged nature and causes of "mental illness", the current decades-long push of chemical explanations and solutions, and the pathologizing of everyday thoughts and emotions.

Some clips:
There is little agreement about what causes depression and no consensus about what cures it. Virtually no scientist subscribes to the man-in-the-waiting-room theory, which is that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin, but many people report that they feel better when they take drugs that affect serotonin and other brain chemicals. [I'd swear I saw an ad the other day about how low serotonin levels cause depression - jeff]
As a branch of medicine, depression seems to be a mess. Business, however, is extremely good... By 2005, one out of every ten Americans had a prescription for an antidepressant. [I never cease to be shocked by these massive ratios - jeff]
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than fourteen million Americans suffer from major depression every year, and more than three million suffer from minor depression (whose symptoms are milder but last longer than two years). [author Gary] Greenberg thinks that numbers like these are ridiculous—not because people aren’t depressed but because, in most cases, their depression is not a mental illness. It’s a sane response to a crazy world.

Greenberg basically regards the pathologizing of melancholy and despair, and the invention of pills designed to relieve people of those feelings, as a vast capitalist conspiracy to paste a big smiley face over a world that we have good reason to feel sick about. The aim of the conspiracy is to convince us that it’s all in our heads, or, specifically, in our brains—that our unhappiness is a chemical problem, not an existential one.
It has been claimed, for example, that up to 18.7 per cent of Americans suffer from social-anxiety disorder. In “Shyness” (2007), Christopher Lane, a professor of English at Northwestern, argues that this is a blatant pathologization of a common personality trait for the financial benefit of the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry... Turning shyness into a mental disorder has many downstream consequences... Centers are established (there is now a Shyness Research Institute, at Indiana University Southeast) and scientists get funding to, for example, find “the gene for shyness”—even though there was never any evidence that the condition has an organic basis. A juggernaut effect is built into the system.
But after recounting all the dubious history Menand rolls back to a pro-psychiatric-drug position, which is pointed out by Robin Hanson with what his colleagues would call a Hansonian explanation.


Eastside density proponents getting screwed - in the Sammamissionary position

SEATTLE, Washington - I've written several times about the dyspepsia brought on in a tiny percentage of the Seattle population when developers want to make substantive investments that may result in some small change to the "character" of the community. The sourness apparently extends to the suburbs, as the Sammamish city council voted 5-2 to squash a plan for increased density in an under-development part of town.

This being government, they didn't shoot down the plan, they shot down a plan to start thinking about the plan:

What council was asked to decided on Tuesday night was not whether to allow that level of commercial density, but whether or not to begin a process of considering that level of commercial density, as part of an annual Comprehensive Plan revision.
Later in the article, the author notes that both the county and state governments have set growth targets that some communities have to meet. What to do, what to do... layer after layer of government engaged in turf and numbers wars while developers sit around waiting with their thumbs up their asses.


Landscapers: may want to join the 21st century and make websites

SEATTLE, Washington - When I Google around West Seattle and environs for landscapers, it's sad how few have a website to check out. It's a pretty visual thing, landscaping, a few pics can help a guy to make decisions.

I guess any dude with a wheelbarrow, a shovel, and a cell phone pitches himself as a landscaping concern, no web site needed.

I don't want to be reduced to consulting the phone book on this matter.


Some notes on recently screened movies

SEATTLE, Washington -

The Hurt Locker: This is why I usually don't bother with war movies - they all seem to have the same cast of characters. The wild and crazy guy, the play-by-the-rules guy, the young scared guy who gets killed or maimed, the Black guy - over and over. Even the great Mr Kubrick fell right into stereotype with Full Metal Jacket.

de Kooning
(val kilmer)
Pollock: Who casts these things? Val Kilmer as Willem de Kooning? His characterization seemed to consist of a bad haircut and trying to talk without moving his mouth.

Pierrot Le Fou: I used to say that Alphaville was the most Euro movie I've seen. Euro as an adjective. Well, we have a new champion - Pierrot Le Fou. The new most Euro movie ever.

Waterworld: Bad as expected.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence: An unmitigated disaster! I knew it would not be the darker movie Kubrick would have done - but come on. Someone owes a dead guy an apology.


Someone once pestered me about my electricity usage - I ate his liver with some fava beans

SEATTLE, Washington - I'm one of the lucky 20,000 Seattle City Light customers selected to receive condescending lectures about their electricity usage. I'm now burdened with bar graphs and smiley-face ratings concerning my electricity use relative to the use of my neighbors.

These are the people who sell me electricity. They should be lobbying me to use more, not less. They should be trying to sell me my own Large Hadron Collider, not telling me to use CFLs.

The folks who deliver these sorts of lectures don't seem to understand that we don't use electricity for the pleasure of seeing the big number on our bill, we use it because it makes our life better.

The implication of this image is that I'm spending too much on electricity, because look, some of my neighbors are using less. I look at this as me having a better life than my neighbors. How much better? At least $198 better, or else I wouldn't be spending it.

There's so much more to the story of comparing electricity usage than looking at these raw numbers - for instance, I work at home, so I have 2-3 computers and lights burning that many others won't have. Of course the busybodies have an answer for this; their literature implores me and the other victims of this "assistance" to contact them and tell them all about our life, so they can fine-tune their reports.

The real reason this program exists is that some people get a special thrill out of lecturing people, but the putative reason is concern about carbon emissions. (In fact if you go to the city climate web site they'll assign you a "carbon coach"). But if you look at the most recent (2006) figures, the power supplied by Seattle City Light is more than 89% hydro, and only about 2% comes from carbon-emitting sources. My breathing while walking back and forth to Bakery Nouveau probably emits more carbon than my electricity usage.

I'd really rather have a private electricity provider, motivated by good old fashioned "greed", than a public utility that uses me as a captive audience for their lecturing.


Ben & Jerry's declares victory in fight against extreme global poverty

A glitch
(ice cream)
SEATTLE, Washington - I've spent enough time posted up in front of the ice cream freezer at the supermarket to notice when there's a subtle change. It's like seeing the cat twice in The Matrix. My senses tingled when I saw "Cheesecake Brownie" flavor in the case today.

This flavor used to be called "ONE Cheesecake Brownie" and proceeds benefited the ONE Campaign, an advocacy group concerned with fighting poverty and preventable diseases. I guess the goals have been achieved. Where's the money going now, Messrs Ben and Jerry? Obscene profits? Executive perks?

Still tastes good.

This is the most subtle name change at least since ESPN's Rome is Burning morphed into Jim Rome is Burning. Maybe even since USAir became US Airways in the 1990s.


Look the hell out Oregon, Richard M. Daley is coming for your businesses

Come to Chicago
(Richard Daley)
SEATTLE, Washington - As we all know here in the Northwest, Chicago plucked Boeing's corporate headquarters away from Seattle in 2001. A coup to be sure, but not nearly enough to satisfy the appetites of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, who is responding to Oregon's recent, ill-advised tax increases by criticizing their bash-the-"rich" premise and promising greener pastures in Illinois:
“What happened in Oregon is not good news for Oregon. They believe that anybody who makes $125,000 or more [annually] or businesses or anyone who makes $250,000 — they’re gonna start taxing them. They call them ‘rich people,’ ” the mayor said.

“I’ve always thought America stands for [rewarding success]. You finish high school. You work hard, go to college and you hope to succeed in life. I never knew it’s a class war—that those who succeed in life are the ones that have to bear all the burden. I never realized that. It will be a whole change in America that those who succeed and work hard [that] we’re gonna tax ‘em more than anyone else.”
He's acting like this whole tax the successful thing is new, it's not, but I appreciate the sentiment.
Daley said Oregon’s tax blunder spells opportunity for Chicago.

“It will help our economic development immediately. You’d better believe it. We’ll be out in Oregon enticing corporations to relocate to Chicago. I’ll be very frank. I make no bones about that. If those states want to do that, so be it,” he said.
You hear that, Oregon? He's not just blowing hot air from 1,800 miles away - he's sending operatives to Oregon to seduce the businesses there.

Now this may all be smoke, mirrors and propaganda - the commenters on the Sun Times story linked above are killing Daley for hypocrisy, for his bloated and corrupt government, etc., and a hottie in Chicago I'd like to seduce an operative of mine in Chicago noted to me that the sales tax is 10.5% in Chicago and the property taxes are no picnic either.

Still, if you treat the productive class as an ATM machine they may just decide to move on; this is true both for individuals and businesses.


Satanism - bad for pedestrians

WASHINGTON, DC - Washington, screw you and your Freemasonry/Satanism based spoke-hub street layout. It seems to take about ten minutes to cross some of these things on foot.

Note below, I shot the photo of that sign from its good side - the sidewalk. Because if you're in a car on the street, the crack DC sign crews planted the sign of parking policies for the street about two feet from the street map, blocking it from view.


Haiti seems to be getting more attention than other recent large earthquakes

WASHINGTON, DC - The Haiti situation has certainly gotten a large and deserved share of national and international attention. I even watched a bit of the Clooney telethon, and in fact donated during that time - via the web, of course, I didn't want to risk calling in, having John Cusack answer my call, and end up berating him regarding his recent film choices.

I always remind myself at times like these, that it's just a dumb accident of the cosmos that I was born in New Jersey and not someplace like Haiti and that I have a cushy life because of this, that it's just luck that I'm not one of the tens of thousands of sudden orphans.

But I have noticed - there seems to be a lot more attention on addressing the situation in Haiti than I've seen for other recent earthquakes similar casualty counts.

An earthquake in Iran in 2003 killed 31,000 people. All I remember about that quake was that Iran refused help from Israel.

Earthquakes in Pakistan in 2005 and China in 2008 each killed about 87,000 people.

I don't remember a massive all-media response or celebrity-studded telethons tied to those quakes.

There was the 2004 quake and subsequent tsunami in Indonesia, and I do remember that getting a good amount of attention.

But things have gotten very acute for this Haiti situation. Is it because the casualty count is much higher relative to the population size of the country than the other incidents? Something else? I don't know.

All this awareness is not bad, I'm just noting my observation.


The Phone Book is not going down without a fight

SEATTLE, Washington - I got a few more phone books deposited on my stoop last week, bringing to seven the number of phone books I have that are officially "current" (i.e. labeled as being good until June 2010 or all of 2010).

And I tossed a few phone books out last year, so it's possible that if I had checked dates before disposing of (er, recycling) them, I'd have more than seven current ones.

My landline is from Qwest, so I guess I expect a few Dex books, but I have no relationship at all with Verizon yet they deliver three phone books to me. I guess enough people are still putting ads in big yellow phone books to make it economically viable to print and distribute them.

The oddest thing of all - the White Pages. Not only is this useless, but if you think about it a bit it creeps you out - "here's a big book full of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone in the city!" And nowadays, it's not even close to being everyone, it's just older people who haven't abandoned landlines and didn't have the sense to tell the phone company to exclude them from the book.


Why do men cheat? Two Jews think they have the answer

SEATTLE, Washington - When Dennis Prager and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach get together to debate, you know one thing: someone's gonna get cracked over the head with a folding chair. If Michael Medved is also invited, it could turn into a full-scale donnybrook.

Mr Medved was nowhere in sight two days ago as Rabbi Shmuley (author of Kosher Sex) and Mr Prager (author of Happiness is a Serious Problem and, it must be said, two divorces) vigorously presented their views on the question of Why Men Cheat.

Video of the two hour event is archived at The Jewish Journal. Rabbi Shmuley did lapse into speaking Hebrew, but only briefly.

Found at Luke Ford


No I haven't lost weight but thanks for mentioning it

SEATTLE, Washington - When you're me, and you're continually dancing around on the boundary between somewhat overweight and somewhat more overweight, people seem to feel compelled to automatically tell you that you look like you've lost weight when they're seeing you for the first time in a while. It's damn near automatic. Due to work circumstances I'm seeing lots of people that I haven't seen in 1-4 years and they instantly comment that I look thinner.

I'm not thinner. I keep track of these things. I've had quite a bit of trouble getting motivated to diet after swearing off the pursuit of women a year ago and I'm near all-time weight highs.

When I grow a beard, people say the beard looks great, makes you look thinner. When I shave off the beard they say great, being clean-shaven makes you look thinner.

There's only two times - August 1998 and September 2004 - when my weight was higher than it is now. Unless I have achieved some sort of greater density, or unless those specific months were the last time you saw me, I'm not thinner now than when you last saw me.


Mike Holmgren sounds like Don Lucchesi

SEATTLE, Washington -

Mike Holmgren, discussing the future of Eric Mangini:

When egos get in the way, it destroys the team. My goal is to have everyone thinking in a like manner, going in the same direction. Let's put the egos aside.
Don Lucchesi, in The Godfather Part III:
Yes -- you will take control. We’ll gladly put you at the helm of our little fleet. But our ships, must all sail in the same direction. Otherwise, who can say how long, your stay with us will last? It’s not personal, it’s only business.
Look out, Mr Mangini - we all know how things turned out in The Godfather Part III. Don't we?


They don't make coffee mug warmers like they used to

No contest
(coffee warmers)
SEATTLE, Washington - I've had my Dazey 1400 coffee warmer since the late 1990s. It's so old that the plastic is all cracked, the metal plate has actually separated from the plastic, and most of the brown marks on it are not dirt or stains, they're burns. Still, I've kept using it as it keeps the coffee at the correct temperature with its 25 watts of power. This warmer was discontinued years ago.

Usually I'm the only person I can find with some absurd loyalty to a humble product like this, but from reading reviews of other warmers looks like I have a lot of company:
...My old Dazey CW-10 (25 watts) is still getting the job done, but I wonder how much longer it can last...

...I agree with the other reviews that the Rival coffee cup warmer barely warms the cup, much less the contents. The Dazey has 25 watts, and that makes a big difference...

...After ten plus years of use, the heating element of my Dazey Corp. coffee warmer died. With 25 watts it has been the best. I wish I could find another...

...I agree with the other person who mentioned "Dazey Cup Warmer" I also have been try'g to find a mug warmer to compare to it...

...We all miss the old 25 watt Dazey warmers...

...I know it's called a beverage warmer, but it barely does that. I wouldn't recommend this at all. I had a cup warmer by Dazey (can't find it now) and it kept my drink HOT, as it should...
Still I need another warmer so I bought the Mr Coffee black warmer. With a pathetic 17 watts of power I did not get my hopes up, and in a side-by-side comparison with my Dazey it's clearly not keeping the coffee as warm.

There's rumor of a 23 watt warmer in Australia so I finally have a reason to vacation there.

UPDATE 2012/12/30: I knocked the warmer off my desk by accident and it shattered into a few pieces. While I could probably try to re-assemble this I think the time has come. I gave it a dignified disposal. RIP. 1998-2012.


Year in Review

SEATTLE, Washington - My past year via the Facebook status collage app: