Gray Flannel Dwarf


Crome Yellow

Been listening to the reading of Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow. I keep imagining it as a movie, which I guess, to me anyway, is a sign that the book is pretty good.

I don’t know that they would/could make a movie out of Crome Yellow though… there’s a lot of internal dialogue. I guess that hasn’t stopped anyone before, but it’s a good listen (and generally speaking, would be a good read, too) as is, I am not sure how modifying it, or getting rid of any of the internal dialogue would work.

I guess they could make a miniseries out of it, narrated.

Anyway, Huxley is quite descriptive of his characters in this book, and I keep imagining who might play the roles. For example, I imagine Mackenzie Crook as the brooding, self-involved Denis… and despite the description of his “rich, rather unctuous voice”, I keep picturing Mr. Barbecue-Smith looking something like Wallace Shawn.

I have an image of what I’d expect Mary to look like, too, but I can’t think of any particular actresses offhand who resemble this.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:09 pm


Maggie’s Farm is back!

Yes, you heard me correctly… after a three-year hiatus, the Maggie’s Farm kickball team is back in action!

Tags: — cswiii @ 8:56 pm


Tourney season in NC… I guess.

Odd exchange today.

Making my third or fourth trip in the past week to Lowe’s today, I picked up some more soil and mulch. Thus, as usual, I parked over towards the garden centre side of the store to make for quicker loading, and was lucky enough to spy one of the small red flatbed carts nearby. In any case, I went in, got my stuff, and headed on out.

Approaching my car, I noted an older fellow, probably in his 60s, heading up towards the store. I could pretty much guess he’d done the same thing, and with these carts at a premium, I gestured towards the cart to see if he wanted it, at which he rattled off something that sounded like “d’gun wan”.

Puzzled, I quickly interpreted that as “got one”, sorta looked over one more time to make sure I heard him correctly.

“Doesn’t matter. Duke won!”, he …apparently… repeated himself.

I finally figured out what he said, but I had a hard time figuring out what that had to do with anything else in the exchange.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 5:47 pm


The wacky, wild world of Ma Bell.

So, okay, let me get this straight.

* I used to have AT&T as my local phone service when I lived in Northern Virginia — as a protest against Verizon’s refusal to offer broadband — and then AT&T later on decides they are no longer going to take on new local service.

* I had AT&T Wireless as my mobile phone provider, until AT&T sold it to Cingular.

* AT&T Corp. was bought by SBC whereupon the new corporate name became “AT&T”

* Now, AT&T is purchasing BellSouth — who happens to be my telco/dsl provider — and why? (emphasis mine)

AT&T Inc. said Sunday it will acquire smaller rival BellSouth Corp. for $67 billion in stock, in an apparent bid for total control of their growing joint venture, Cingular Wireless LLC

But wait, there’s more…

AT&T was formed by San Antonio-based SBC’s acquisition of AT&T Corp. in November. The deal added a substantial national reach to the former Southwestern Bell’s local business, which is concentrated in 13 states, including Texas, California, and the Midwest.

BellSouth is the dominant local telephone provider in nine Southeastern states.

And more…

Under the deal, the Cingular brand will be phased out in favor of the AT&T brand. The name will be familiar to wireless customers: AT&T Wireless Inc., a spin-off of AT&T, was acquired by Cingular in October 2004.

Let’s just forget about the elephant in the room for a while, namely the continued mergers in a monopolised industry that was broken up by the government… forget about it because it’s obvious why so many of these players have had so much trouble in the past few years: all these spinoffs and mergers and acquisitions are costing companies mad cash and they’re all going in circies, chasing their tails.
Meanwhile, it’s the executives of these large corporations who keep getting the bonuses and appointments due to their “successes” and “synergies”.

Kinda makes you wonder who’re really the ones getting the shaft, right?

(Not really…)

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 5:30 pm


Blue media outlets need to clean up their advertising.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as… well, Pie.

Listening to Air America online this weekend, I noticed two irksome things. The first one is the fact that listening to the radio stream while advertisements are played opens browser pop-ups referring to the ad in question. That this happens over and over again — and thus, if you leave your computer for a while, there are twenty new pop-ups for the same thing across your computer monitor — is something of an annoyance. This said, however, it’s a revenue stream that Air America needs, and seeing as it was for a reasonably useful product (internet-based teleconferencing for business), I don’t have such a huge problem with it.
The other ad I heard a lot is problematic to me, and Air America isn’t the only one that seems to be ensnared. Read on…

The other ad I heard a lot on Air America was for the questionable See Clearly Method. One doesn’t have to be an optometrist to know that it’s more than “weak eye muscles” that cause bad vision, and nevermind that the concept is based on a readily debunked 1920s theory, See Clearly operates under the premise that people can miraculously improve their vision… all while having a disclaimer with holes large enough to drive a car through. Another article published by Columbia university takes a more open-mind at the approach, but even one of the most pragmatic doctors interviewed stated:
(All emphasis in the following quotes is mine)

“It’s not just can we peel back your power,” said Press. “It’s for someone who is -1 or -2 and who asks ‘Can I do away with my glasses?’”

…and any such claim is certainly muted by the advertisers of See Clearly.
So why is Air America taking advertising dollars from questionable businesses… and thrusting these ads upon its listening audience?
So, okay. Maybe there are some See Clearly believers out there. Maybe there is a grain of truth and/or hope in their claims. Thus, I guess I could’ve even let this one issue go, however… if I hadn’t read Raw Story today and seen an advertisement about “Americans getting free weekly checks from the Canadian Government!” that went to this dubious webpage. (I removed the referral credits in the URL)
Now of course, the old adage probably holds true… “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” However, I did some research on these claims. Sure enough, it didn’t take long to find some more realistic information…

I suppose what I truly dislike about these programs is that they were tax structures, and those inevitably turn out to be disastrous.
Then, speaking as a proud Canadian who thinks we overall have a superlative capital market, I just cringe when I see U.S.-based Internet marketing of these so-called Trust Programs.
Let me say that, with respect to the latter, I believe there is a direct correlation between the frequency of stock promotion by unlicensed promoters and the probability of fraud.
Many of these securities are businesses that will fail (or materially disappoint) as soon as interest rates in Canada move a level or two higher, or commodity prices fall a level or two lower, or the fast-paced Canadian economy starts to slow.
In other words, there is a level of risk here that traders are failing to recognize.
I think the authorities in the United States would do the world a favor if they were to clamp down on so-called investment newsletters that are stock touts for these “Canadian Royalty Trusts”.
Every cycle is the same at the top. Usually it’s the Canadian penny mining stocks. At the top they have moved from 25 cents a share to $2.50, or maybe $7.50 or $17.50, and then after the broad market bear sets in they fall quickly to less than 25 cents.
What bothers me is that it is not part of the Canadian culture that creates these financial disasters; it is typically (and I mean no disrespect to the country) American stock promoters who are working out of places like Orlando FL and Phoenix AZ and Las Vegas NV, but mostly via shell companies incorporated in places like Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, and Panama (– Note the list is alphabetical). I speak from years of experience with these people.

Or this posting…

Be that as it may, the income Royalty Trusts have NOTHING to do with Canada’s social programs and are NOT (I repeat) NOT guaranteed by the Canadian Government.

…which reproduces a quite pertinent Globe and Mail article on the topic…

What’s laughable is how the 12% Letter offers up yet another example of the cockeyed view Americans have of this country. But there’s a serious side to all of this, too. With its idealized picture of income trusts as a government-authorized investing bonanza, the newsletter highlights the way in which some investors in Canada misunderstand trusts. It also plays into some of the criticisms that the anti-trust crowd have raised.
According to the 12% Letter, income trusts are being referred to by some financial types south of the border as the “Canadian royalty checks program.” Readers of the newsletter are advised to think of trusts as an example of the great social benefits of being a Canadian.
“You probably already know that Canada is famous for its huge social programs — like free health care, the Guaranteed Income Allowance (otherwise known as ‘The Allowance’) and federal training and employment programs,” the promo for the 12% Letter says. “What you may not know is that there’s a unique situation right now in Canada that is allowing Americans to fund part or nearly all their retirement.”
The 12% Letter is written by Craig Walters, a former equity analyst and currently the managing editor of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, which is based in Baltimore. Those of you who are familiar with the wacky and wild world of investment newsletters will have an idea of what we’re dealing with here. There are headlines about investments offering the moon and stars (43-per-cent bonds, for example) and breathless prose about opportunities.
The information about trusts — sorry, the “royalty checks” program — is a bit, um, garbled. But it does capture the gold-rush mentality that took hold of the trust market just before Finance Minister Ralph Goodale made it clear the government was taking a hard look at the trust sector.

So okay. There are scams everywhere, I know, a sucker is born every minute, etc. However in this instance, in a timeframe of less than twenty-four hours, I’ve seen two questionable business claims that are barely a step up from snake oil salesmen, and both have been seen on left-leaning media outlets.
While there is the question as to what degree of control Raw Story had over these ads — their third party ad agency might not have the scruples to leave such scams out of their rotation — the larger question still remains unanswered: Why are we seeing questionable ads which employ dubious practices appearing on the media outlets that we all read? Sure, “buyer beware”… but isn’t the left supposed to be mindful and protective of the masses, not a predator thereof. Likewise, shouldn’t such a courtesy be extended by the media outlets which promote left-leaning viewpoints?


UK Journo’s take on SBXL host, Detroit.

Pretty good article, and real. I don’t care what they said on the news, about Detroit being a great host, and really cleaning things up, and that a lot of the bad things said about the city are all wrong.

No, they’re all right. I’ve been here over the past year, watching the facade go up, watching the “Bridge to the Motor City” be built, watching them plant grass along the highways in November in an attempt to make the place look green… something the author nails quite well.

But look a little closer, and many of the renovated office buildings on Woodward are still empty. The shiny glass panes are back-lined by faux paper interiors, creating an oddly Potemkin Village effect. The crucial question remains. When the imperial passage of Super Bowl XL is over, when the 100,000 visitors have returned home and the white hospitality tents in central downtown have been removed, will the city resume its long, secular decline?

There’s nothing good about this place, so far as I can tell. Well, I’m a Tigers fan, and even they stink.

People here continue to fool themselves into thinking Detroit is a great place. They continue to fool themselves into thinking that the American automakers will lift the city up by the bootstraps and bring employment and wealth to the region. They continue to fool themselves into thinking that Kwame Kilpatrick is the right kind of guy to have running the city, with his 30-thousand man security detail.

Having hope is one thing, but you have to have at least a basis, grounds, some sort of common infrastructure for that glimmer. There’s nothing here on which to plant any sort of hope. I really just don’t get it.

I always had an inkling of this sort of feeling about Bristol — high hopes and grand plans without appropriate infrastructure — but man, the expression of this ideal here absolutely dwarfs that of the smaller tri-city. And at least Bristol is relatively untouched, kind of a clean canvas. Detroit, on the other hand, is ready to collapse under its own weight.

That’s my impression of this city. Spent basically a year of my life here, and I have seen little evidence that being a lifelong resident of this area would’ve made me see things any differently. The hundreds of thousands who came in all saw a live production of propaganda in action… and while they probably know this, and the news anchors and sports figures and analysts know this… this whole weekend it was all about how much Detroit had improved and how all the naysayers were wrong.

These people sold out and drank the kool-aid… and in doing so, they only continue to perpetuate the myths in the minds of this area’s residents. This UK writer is the only one that I’ve really seen yet who has the balls to come out and tell it like it is.

March 1st, man. It can’t come soon enough.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 1:37 pm


Desperate Yardwork

As warm as the weather was last weekend, I decided to get out and see what kind of yardwork I could get done. It’s still slightly too early to put down any seed or fertilizer and too late to plant any bulbs (we did that back in November anyway), and then I remembered my evil yard nemesis… the wisteria.

Some people love the stuff, and some hate it… I quickly turned into a member of the second group… not to mention that, from what I’ve read, it can be considered invasive in NC (no shit!). I guess the people who owned the house before us planted this, and I am not sure how old it is, but I also don’t know what the hell they were thinking. In the springtime it doesn’t look so bad, but in the winter, with all the leaves off the trees, one can see it’s already engulfed and killed one tree in the yard; the four vines the diameter of a nickel it has shot off, in addition to numerous pencil-sized vines, also were ready to take over another one.

Considering the fact that there was another wisteria in a planter — and almost engulfed by the big one — that never got put into the ground, I’m thinking they were gluttons for punishment.

Thus, the hand saw, the manual hedge clippers, and Black and Decker hedgetrimmers came out of the garage.

It was a battle to the death, just about. The electric trimmers were about useless, but the manual clippers were able to nail most of the 2cm stuff, and a handsaw managed to take a chunk out of the snaky vines taking hold of the other tree.

After two days and probably about 25 pounds of vines later — I also pulled a good number of vines that were left hanging in the tree, lest the wisteria use those to latch onto — the thing looks… well, naked.

I will see how it looks this spring, and if it stays well-behaved, I might let it stick around. However, if it begins to take over again — and I have a feeling it will — I will not hesitate to enlist the RoundUp army.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 5:28 pm


Like a Dog, Like a Dog…

xin nian kuai le!

Happy new year!

cswiii @ 1:40 am


Reasons #4893 and #4894 to leave LiveJournal.

As of this writing, there are nine users listing an interest of ‘my hump‘ and fourteen referencing ‘my lovely lady lumps‘.


cswiii @ 9:20 pm



We are 11 days into the new year, which I guess makes me about 11 days too late to decide to look back at the last year and look ahead to what I should do next year and in the years following.

This whole past year has been chaos. Between job interviews, job acceptance, and the the move to NC in January, to the beginning of my weekly travels to Detroit, to the INS correspondences, to the months (and then weeks) of separation, I am pretty fatigued, and vacations and long weekends over the past few months have offered very little return on investment. I’ve noted my increased cynicism over the past few months. That went away after college, but it’s returned, which at least to me indicates some sort of rumblings in the belly of discontent.

I need a reset. I need to reprioritize. I need to play guitar again, need to get back in shape. I need to stay in touch with people I know and get to know more people in the town in which I live.

My “tour of duty”, so to speak, will probably be ending soon. Hopefully that will allow me to get everything back in order.

cswiii @ 2:27 pm


Xmas lights

I will somewhat ashamedly admit that I was buying Christmas lights as early as October. However, I did so for good reason.

For the first time, I found exactly what I was looking for — LED Christmas lights, ones without the ugly plastic balls/lenses/whatever you want to call them, around the LEDs. I’ve wanted some LED Xmas lights for a few years now, never could find them, until last year. I wanted ones that looked more like normal small holiday lamps, though and unfortunately, last year’s crop all had the ugly lenses around them.

Phillips has a whole variety of them this year, though. Some have lenses — and some of the lenses are shaped to look like traditional bulbs. However, they have just plain LED-only ones and they are great. Bought up a bunch of those.

We have four strings of white icicle lights along the top edges of the front porch and garage, three around the hand rails to the front porch, and then two coloured sets on our Xmas tree. We didn’t buy any blue-only LED ones because the wife has an aversion to blue Xmas lights.

Really, these things are a lot cooler than the traditional bulbs, and use about 10x less electricity too — they are expensive, but I bet we save on electricity costs. A nice, pure-ish white, perhaps a tinge of blue. Compared side by side, traditional lights look downright yellow. Maybe I’ll post a picture at some point. Strangely, I haven’t seen anyone else in the neighbourhood with them yet — strange because they were disappearing off the shelves when they were first stocked.

We got ‘em at Target. Go take a look for yourself!

cswiii @ 1:46 pm


gone plaid

At the risk of sounding like a metrosexual, where are all the good flannel and knit plaids this year? I went into four or five stores at the mall yesterday, and the only halfway decent one I saw was by Izod of all things (I didn’t get it).

On the other hand, maybe it’s the companies that are marketing towards ubersexuals whereas I want something a little more traditional.

I don’t want a flannel shirt that makes me look like a yuppie Barney the Dinosaur, or a transsexual creamsicle. Even the more “earthy” shirts look like some weekend warrior trying to get in touch with his feminine side.

cswiii @ 10:33 am


Rocky Horror Apprentice Show

Regarding the bloodletting…

Watching the show last night, I knew immediately what was going to happen, although I didn’t believe it when things came down.

Of course Trump would’ve fired them all. Not only did they put up the worst performance ever for an Apprentice team, you gotta realise Dick’s is part of the whole elaborate product placement and marketing gimmick for the show. And then for this team to come along and cost a partner revenue? That’s embarrasing for the whole Trump franchise.

I’m not being hyperbolic, or saying it was catastrophic or anything… but if you put egg on the face of your boss’ business partner, it doesn’t matter if it is a reality show or real life. Expect to get canned.

cswiii @ 11:50 am


Containment Area

North Cacalaca
North Cackalack
North Cackalacky

The people who live in Cary, NC
Should call their town “North Khaki”

cswiii @ 5:37 pm


RIP Rosa Parks

Detroit Free Press coverage here.

RIP, Ms. Parks. You were and will remain an inspiration to many.

cswiii @ 9:21 pm


Farm League

I played kickball Sunday.

This, in and of itself is no big news, as most people know. Prior to this year, I played three or four seasons up in various Northern Virginia WAKA divisions. This is, however, the first year they’ve gotten a (small) league going in The Triangle.

It shows, too.

I didn’t make the first game, and while I accept partial blame, I received no email from the team captain. Now, I don’t expect anyone to send out as many emails as I did when I captained a team, but an introductory mail would be nice.

Also, no one knows how to bunt.

The worst part is the reffing, though — there are no “full time” refs, at least not yet, so instead of supplementing the ref staff with players from neutral teams, it’s all neutral teams… and remember, these are all ‘rookies’.

That would explain why the ref standing on the foul side of first base called me out on my slide into second. To think I wasted a good and remarkably joelogonesque raspberry to get called out.

And the more I look at Joe’s leg there (umm), the more I realise how similar my injury is, right down to the bandage on the knee.

Overall, however, it was pretty fun. We lost 4-1, despite shutting the other team down 1-2-3 in at least two innings. I played 3B, and though showed a little rust (had one go through my legs…), it was a pretty good time. Too bad I didn’t feel like I could hit the bar, what with my travel schedules calling for early Sunday nights.

Tags: — cswiii @ 10:05 am



Tell me I didn’t hear GHWB, while sitting in on the MNF broadcast booth, reference his age-old phrase “thousand points of light”.

So silly.

cswiii @ 8:00 pm


Oh, yuck.

From the London Times (UK) Online: “Business elite hopes for a future without the poor

COULD the new New Orleans be a place of low poverty, low crime, good schools and minimal racial tension? Some affluent exiles, all white, hope so. In a private meeting in Dallas yesterday they urged the mayor, Ray Nagin, to embrace a controversial vision that could transform the city from a Democratic stronghold into a Republican one.

Most of the 100,000 residents who lived on or near the poverty line, have been removed. Thousands have found jobs and homes elsewhere. Some will never return, and this historic shift is being built into projections for the future.“About half the dispersed population is likely never to come back,” Mary Comerio of the University of California at Berkeley said. “It will change the character of New Orleans.”

From the Hartford Courant: “Fashionable Uptown Neighborhoods Hanging On

The power elite of New Orleans – whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. – insist the remade city won’t simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Reiss said, with better services and fewer poor people. “Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way,” he said. “I’m not just speaking for myself here. The way we’ve been living is not going to happen again, or we’re out.”

Can you imagine New Orleans without its vast diversity?

Goodbye blues clubs, goodbye jazzmasters; au revoir to R&B, creole and zydeco. They’d all be replaced by the amalgamated din of thudding techno beat, Papa Roach and Barry Manilow.

The dingy, dusky music bars replaced with strip malls and Applebees. You might hear the occasional, distant strains of New Orleans music, only to realize it’s been bastardised to fit the elevator muzak for stacks of condos.


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 12:20 pm

I should be a meteorologist.

I looked at this morning, only to see this article:
Retreating Ophelia could still loop back to land

A few days ago, I said the same thing – that this storm looked like it was just stalling there and I kinda wondered out loud if it was going to loop around like Gordon did in 1994.

Strangely enough, I also suspected Very Bad Things about Katrina too, before it made landfall the first time in Florida. I saw those bands of 90 degree water along the gulf coast, and just somehow knew we were in for a bad situation — assuming Katrina were to survive its trek across FL, which of course it did.

cswiii @ 9:09 am



Stupidity is writing a letter to credit bureau(s), disputing issues with certain accounts found on your credit record, presumably because your information got leaked out somewhere…

…only to leave a copy of this letter, with the account numbers partially XXXX’ed out, but containing your full name and SSN in the hotel computer’s recycling bin.

People are funny.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:09 pm
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