Extreme Schnoz Modification

I was priviliged to watch 45 minutes of tonight’s Extreme Makeover, wherein a future husband and wife decided to undergo tremendous amounts of plastic surgery on screen.
It’s quite obvious that the dominant aesthetic that ties all of these “medical” and radical surgery procedures together is a Northern European one. In each case of “after,” the men and women look more white, their noses straightened, their eyes enlarged, their chins made stronger. I studied Greek and Roman art many years ago (as did many Germans in the 1930s) but our unspoken and unacknowledge popular inheritance of racist preferences seems unstoppable.
Just when we were starting to think miscegenation is okay and that Latinos can look white and that Jews can look Arab, we have to undergo (or go under) the knife yet again.

Googling, which I hate

Because so many folks are riding on the high of the next big IPO (that would be Google’s), the language around and about Google is verging on the order of the grotesque. I so dislike the gerund “Googling” or the verb form “to Google.”
But, Google released today a well-timed little toy called Google Web Alerts, which gives Google the right to regularly send you updated online information (links, new sites) about an industry, idea, person, or pumpkin. I’m going to set one up right now; the alert will be named “bubble 2.0.” I’m sorry, but Google just seems to be reaching. They’re other new search tool is personalized searching — but if it doesn’t work on Safari, and it does not, it’s not very personalized for me.


Very often you’ll read an article about how problematic Microsoft is with regard to customer service or usability and very often you’ll say, yes, but.
Yes, but this evening, I wanted to log on to my old Hotmail account and attempt to review an email I’m developing for a client. Granted, this email address has not been used in probably a year and a half. Granted, Microsoft has radically changed its “member services.”
But every time I tried to log in to either Hotmail, MSN, .Net, or Passport (all with different user names and passwords), I’d be sent to this beauty: Microsoft® .NET Passport: Not Supported. The HTML isn’t even supported in the page Title!
It’s a true embarrassment that a company as important as Microsoft has four different services for overlapping (albeit free) products and none of them will allow redundant user access. But more distressingly, none of the services will allow you to intelligently rectify the problem.


I generally don’t dig horror films a lot anymore, but I am very curious about this little wonder called Dawn of the Dead.
It seems to me that the film’s premise, in which the “dead walk the earth” and destroy the living in modern day America, is really just an awkward, video-taped wish fantasy on the part of Hollywood and our collective conscious. I wouldn’t go so far as others to say that we wish our own demise, but I do believe that within all of our desires for life and continuity there are kernals of death wishes and that our current fears of plague, terror, and mayhem inhere tenaciously within.

Number of Rooms

Recently someone asked ol’ Deckchairs guy “how many rooms on [sic] titanic.” Well, they didn’t actually ask but they did type it into the search engine at left (or at the bottom as I’m having some CSS problems), replacing “the hell” with their request.
I did a little research and found a site that seems to offer an accurate deck composition on board the Titanic. The total number of rooms: 214 in First Class, 207 in Second Class, and 222 in Third Class. Grand total: 643 rooms.
I look forward to more queries about the Titanic through our full-featured search form!

The Residential Real Estate Bubble

Over the past year, I’ve come to the widely thought but rarely spoken and never-printed conclusion that we are living in a very speculative housing market bubble. I know that some will disagree, especially those who buy and sell real estate, those who are realtors, and those actually know how markets work and study real estate for a living.
In my very unscientific research, the following findings confirm for me that no three bedroom co-op in Brooklyn is worth $985,000 (plus $850 per month maintenance), as I saw posted in our Park Slope neighborhood:

  • The baby boomers, who control most of the political and monetary capital in the U.S., will not want their large houses forever. They will need to sell them at some point in order to move to warmer climes. Who will they sell them to? The Village Voice recently published a long article about debt for those in the 18 to 34 year old demographic and noted that “the average collegian … is $20,000-plus in the hole thanks to student loans and credit cards.” Not them
  • Health insurance continues to sky rocket, increasing 13.9 percent last year, far outstripping what folks can possibly earn in overtime. If it’s health insurance or mortgage payments, I imagine there will be many home defaults in the coming years. People will abandon their large homes and mortages in order to stay alive.
  • A Google Search on the real estate bubble finds very little of substantive discussion by the media. This is because the media, by and large, relies tremendously on real estate agents and advertisers to fund their publications. I can’t remember the last time I saw an article in the New York Times about speculative real estate. Even the Village Voice doesn’t dare to speak the possible truth on this one.
  • Politicians sometimes go out on a limb to talk about the coming burden of health care and Social Security for the coming boomer retirement. But they will never point to the fact that Gen X and Generation Y will need to pay for those soon retiring. Taxes will need to go up on the young to pay for those on Social Security. And without safe, lucrative jobs with health insurance, they won’t be able to afford homes if taxes are high.
  • I learned today of yet another person I know who is going to real estate “school” to buy and sell the stuff. This makes a total of about 6 folks within my little circle of friends and acquaintences who either want to study real estate or have completed their coursework. In 1999, I read many stories of folks taking courses in “beating market timing.” But that was a different and well publicized bubble.
  • Brian Lehrer said something interesting the other day on his WNYC show: that if you don’t own real estate, you’re essentially paying a tax because investing in other products (e.g. IRAs, mutual funds, stocks) will assure you of a lower and riskier return. This is true especially in major metropolitan areas like NYC but is coming true even in upstate New York.
  • The housing pricing market just does not reflect anything going on in the rest of the economy. Jobs are leaving the States or are not growing statistically. 13% of the population is in poverty. The stock market is doing well but and is nervous about the next attack on U.S. soil.

My Pal D.

Every once in a while, New York City pulls a very fast one on us, and it is never pretty. The mayor did it a few days ago with his education buddies (a good idea, imho), the restauranteurs and their dishwashers have fun with us (with their special sauces), and now my old high school buddy, D. Strauss, comes clean about New York’s latest crappo artist: House of Scams and Fog, Or How to Break Into Your Own Apartment. Published in this week’s New York Observer, it will either break your heart or break your supposedly hearty New York spirit.

A Story of Lost Love

I’ve been looking around recently for some new typefaces that I can exploit in my serious and casual design escapades with clients.
Currently in love again with the Nobel font, which I’m using for a z-fold brochure, I revisited its founding foundry Font Bureau, which still has one of the finest typeface sites around. I fell in love with just about every font on the site. Hard to do? Hyperbole, you say? I placed every font in the “cart” and tried to punch out, credit card in hand, and guess what — my browser crashed.