So, many years ago, my second-placed sister (featured in the background of styrogirls.com) and I were wandering through a bookstore, whereupon we spotted an autobiography by a famous hockey player (who shall remain anonymous, but may be featured in my “HOWE TO TRICK YOUR FRIENDS” post). The interesting thing about this autobiography—unlike any other that we’d observed before—was that it was an “Authorized Autobiography.”

“Hmm,” I said to my sister (she’ll claim it was the other way around, so don’t be alarmed), “if this is an authorized autobiography, what exactly would count as an unauthorized autobiography?”

“Yeah,” my sister quickly caught on, “how exactly would you write and publish a story about yourself without getting permission from yourself first?”

“I guess maybe you could write it in your sleep?” I said.

“Yes!” my sister said. “And then I guess maybe you might find it in the morning, and—without realizing what it was—you might instinctively send it in to a publisher without realizing it was a tell-all about yourself. Oh no! By the time you realize what you’ve done, it’s too late: the unauthorized autobiography is already out there, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Yup, it all made sense. I hope I never write an unauthorized autobiography. I know a lot of my secrets and could definitely portray myself in a negative light.

Seth celebrating his first Stumpy Cup victory. Photo submitted to Sethblogs by Seth without Seth’s permission. 


So I recently took in a bit of surgery to repair an old nasal injury. I spent the recovery time under the generous care of my parents. Along with mocking my inability to wrestle with him, my dad entertained me with introductory Economics lectures on video. (I’m embarrassingly ignorant of economics, and so was delighted by the opportunity.)

The instructor-on-DVD has lots of personality, almost to the point of condescension in the first couple lectures as he explains fairly basis concepts, such as the division of labour (the notion that 100 workers can get more done if they each take on a specialized task within a project, instead of each of them trying to build an entire car on their own). I was happy to have this straight-forward concept reviewed, but once it was emphasized with a tenth example, it started to become tedious.

Nevertheless, we proceeded to the lecture on “Supply and Demand,” where once again I was ready to boast that the concept was too simple to be continually reiterated. To my headache-provoking surprise, though, it is not as simple a notion as I had imagined.

In fact, I found it so confusing that I was forced to research it post-lecture. I enlisted the help of both internet and book (Economics Explained), but was baffled to discover that the particular part that was confusing me seemed to be only vaguely illuminated by each of my sources.

Eventually, after much mind-searching, the collected instruction of my resources overlapped to make sense to me (at least I think I’ve got it). And, I must admit, it’s actually a pretty neat model. So, for my fellow economic newbies (if there are any out there), I offer you the results of my study without the cost of research:


“Demand,” it turns out, is not simply, “How many do people want?” It is a relationship between price and quantity demanded. That is, given a certain price, how many do people want to buy? Today, then, we can graph the quantities demanded of autographed pictures of Seth at various prices. That demand graph, is the current demand which will arc upwards as prices go down (since more people want commodities when they’re cheaper).

But, tomorrow, if a rival Seth-paraphernalia seller comes along and offers autographed “with love” photos of Seth, the quantity demanded at every price for the original “non-loving” photos goes down, and so overall “Demand” for them will have gone down.


“Supply,” in turn, is not simply how many the sellers have of a certain item, but it is a relationship between the price and the quantity supplied. That is, given a certain price, how many Seth photos are supplied to the market by the makers of Seth photos? In this case, the higher the price, the more the sellers tend to want to supply (since that’ll make them more money), and so the “Supply” curve tends to arc upwards with price.

But if, Blog forbid, Seth’s nasal surgery went badly and harmed his looks, there may be fewer quality Seth photos available, and so the quantity supplied may go down at every price, meaning that overall “Supply” goes down.


Now here’s the fun part: the Supply and Demand curves seem to work together to set a price in the market. If, that is, there are more people wanting an item at a certain price than there are items available, then the price of that item will go up.

For instance, let’s say that the price of Seth’s autobiography is set at only $100. The quantity demanded for that item at that price would likely then be around one billion. If, though, the quantity of books supplied is only 500 million, then the sellers can raise the price until the number of people still willing to buy matches the supply available.

In contrast, if there are fewer people wanting an item than there are supplied (at a particular price), price will go down.

For instance, the world’s worst movie, The Matrix, may supply 50 copies of itself at 25 cents each. But if only 10 people are willing to buy at that price then the price will start to drop until the number of copies available matches the number of confused people willing to buy them.

In both of the above cases, once the price of an item leads the quantity supplied to match the quantity demanded then we are in equilibrium. And the interesting aspect to an economic novice like myself is there is apparently a tendency of all products towards this equilibrium. The equilibrium will often be disrupted by outside factors (suddenly, let’s say, there is an interest in giving The Matrix as gag gifts), but the price will always then head back towards equilibrium given the new Demand.


I like it: the Market, it seems, will naturally figure out its own disagreements until it agrees with itself again.


In basketball, the phrase “Nothing but net!” indicates that a player has made a shot so accurate that—on its way to the hoop—it touched neither backboard nor rim, but instead travelled unencumbered straight into the arms of net. It’s a term of endearment, therefore, for shots that not only score, but are accurate in a particular, elite way. Such shots can arise from various basketball plays (jump shots, hook shots, Michael Jordan vs Larry Bird advertising McDonalds shots), but, let me repeat: to be counted as a Nothing but net shot, the ball must travel from the player’s hands to the net without touching anything but that net.

I reiterate this definition because it is apparently not as simple as it sounds. Twice recently I’ve overheard television announcers witness an excellent basketball scoring play, but in which the ball hit the backboard before going into the net, and yet the commentator has nevertheless claimed, “Nothing but net!”

“But,” I replied from my couch, “it hit more than net… it hit backboard… and then rim… and only then net.”

After several hours of soul-searching, I realized that these commentators did not actually realize that the words in “Nothing but net!” have meaning beyond being a cool bit of emphasis. You see, during their commentator training, they must have noticed the phrase was always expressed in excitement towards a great shot, so the newcomer announcers logically must have assumed that “Nothing but net!” was just a fancy way to say, “Great shot!”

If you don’t believe me that newbies to expressions can sometimes confuse emphasis for meaning, consider the statement: “He’s literally out of his mind!”

For those who aren’t familiar with the error in this usage, I’ll bring in guest SethBlogger, Dr. Frasier Crane, for illumination. Frasier, take it away:

Hee, hee, well done, Frasier! Special SethBlogs’ Contest: can you identify the voice of the literally defeated caller? I’ll give you a hint, this isn’t the first time he’s been accused of being Dumb & Dumber (and it’s not Jim Carrey)


So a personal irritation of mine arises when comedy talk show hosts ask what I call joke-ended questions of their guests, thus leaving their conversation partners looking silly as there’s not much for them to say. If they answer the question seriously, they look dense as they seem to be missing the joke. But, if they try to add to the comedy of the question, they often look like they’re milking a line of humour that was complete at the question mark.

Consider, for instance, Jon Stewart’s recent interview with Harrison Ford (which was on my television last night). After spending his pre-interview comedy time pleading mockingly with his favourite whipping President, George W. Bush, to be a guest on his show (promising him a free McRib burger as a reward), Stewart asked Han Solo if he thought the entreatment would work.

What was Indiana Jones supposed to say to that? If he responded “No” he’s stating the McObvious, but if he went with “Yes” he would seem like he was trying to add to a joke that appeared to me to be pretty much done. Thus, it seemed that Jon Stewart was not really asking Harrison Ford a question, but instead was simply offering another punchline with a question-impersonating lilt on the end of it.

But, wait, let’s hear Harrison’s response:

“No,” he said with an assertive chuckle at the possibility of George Bush guest appearing on Jon’s show, “not a chance.”

Not bad. Somehow he delivered the straight line without sounding humourless.

“Do you think,” apparently delighted Stewart painfully followed up, “I need to throw in a McHappy Meal toy?”

Again, we were spending Bladerunner’s time on the pre-interview monologue, and I didn’t see where Harrison could go with it, and yet, amazingly, Dr. Jack Ryan didn’t look as phased as I would be.

“You have to just be a much nicer guy,” Harrison said with another chuckle (which left his host in hysterics). “So it’s not going to happen: no, it’s not in you.”

Both Jon Stewart and I loved this reply! Somehow, Harrison Ford had found a way out of the question-joke by not taking it on directly, and instead mocking the question right back for its ridiculousness. Mr. Stewart, are you really going to laugh at George Bush for not coming on a show that has made its career on mocking him and then ask Harrison Ford if he thinks the failed president will come on the show for a burger and toy? Fine, then the wily actor will join the joke by telling you why George Bush isn’t coming on your show.

But perhaps this was a fluke. Surely, Jon Stewart would get him with the next question-joke.

The McDonalds-based interview continued and Harrison Ford admitted that his 9-year-old son thinks the McHappy meal toys are dreadful.

Jon Stewart was intrigued because his 4 and 6 year-olds still love the toys.

“Between the age of 6 and 9,” he asked everyone’s favourite action hero, “when does that toy go from being the greatest thing that has occurred in life, that we must go through monsoons, over mountains by foot to get to, to ‘Ahh, it’s a piece of bleep: I’m not interested’?”

Perhaps this one wasn’t a pure question-joke, as it contained a reasonable inquiry for another parent, I supposed, but still it felt to me that there wasn’t too much room left for The Fugitive.

But, hold on.

“Well, I don’t know about your parenting skills,” Harrison said to another explosive laugh from J.S., “but I would suggest that somebody should have got to this maybe a little earlier. Have you ever bought ‘em a toy? Then they would see the difference…”

Wow! Don’t get these quotes wrong, Harrison seemed to like and appreciate Jon Stewart, but nevertheless, he brilliantly sidestepped the host’s standard attempts to make his guest the straight man to his continuing monologue. Instead, Harrison Ford absorbed the punchline-questions and punched them right back.

You go, Solo!

SELF-AGGRANDALISM I: Never Let Them See You Care

In the face of difficult questions, the most talented egos use impeccable sleights of language to rebrand their behaviours to seem heroic. This series is dedicated to those rhetorician-magicians.









This is the story of an elite piece of artistic advertising by the swoosh-makers at Nike. But first:


As you likely know, Lebron “King” James (or “LBJ”) is one of the top two or three basketball players in the NBA. He’s been a superstar in his profession since, seven years ago, he transitioned from high school to play for his home state Cleveland Cavaliers in the world’s best basketball league.

From the start, he was not just a great individual scorer, but also possessed incredible vision and passing ability for someone who had skills enough that he could have ignored his teammates. And, just to add flavour to his abundance of greatness, he’s a rather handsome fellow, who contains a high level of charisma.

Strangely, though, somehow this year he has become, in the eyes of many observers, an NBA villain. You see, at the end of last season, his contractual obligation to the team that drafted him had expired, and he could sign with any new team that could afford him; unfortunately for Lebron, his decision, and the way he presented it, irked a few people.

Going in, it was estimated that several major factors would weigh in Lebron’s choice:

(A) his loyalty to his original team and fans, whom he had nearly (but not yet) brought a championship;

(B) his loyalty to his bank account—perhaps he would offer himself up to the highest bidder; and/or

(C) his pursuit of a championship—perhaps he would sell his services to the team he felt would give him the best chance of acquiring trophies.

Two years before making his decision, the King was already contemplating out loud his future options, which drew criticism from NBA legend, “Sir” Charles Barkley, who claimed that—until his contract with Cleveland was complete—that team deserved his full attention.

LBJ’s response was slightly less charming that his usual: instead of taking on Barkley’s point, James instead simply critiqued the man, himself:

“He is stupid,” said the then 23 year-old.

In defence of this slightly useless response, he had probably never before in his career encountered criticism, and so he had little idea of the proper way to deal with it.

This tendency to believe that he could do no wrong may have also influenced the royal star as he approached his decision before this season as to where he would play. The finalists, he assured us, still included Cleveland, but also, amazingly, the Miami Heat where another of the league’s top three players, Dwayne Wade, had already set up camp along with recently acquired free agent superstar, Chris Bosh. So, if LBJ signed there, too, the team would be stacked with talent not usually seen outside of an all-star game.

Some of us thought the idea of three superstars colluding to form one superpower team for the sake of winning a championship was somehow missing the point of the accomplishment. Winning the league’s top honour seems meaningful to me because great players are pitted against great players in a grand struggle for supremacy, but if you get there by putting all the best players on one team, that seems like a less difficult matter, and so therefore makes winning “a championship” a less valuable prize.

Indeed, the afore-insulted “stupid” Charles Barkley noted that he, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson would not have signed up for the same team in their era: they preferred to play against each other.

Nevertheless, most accepted Lebron’s right to choose his team. However, some still resented how he did it. Instead of making his choice and then—for curtesy’s sake—letting the runners up know, he staged a one-hour primetime television “reveal” interview in which he would announce his “decision” to the world that he would be… inspirational music, please… defecting to the Miami Heat.

He explained proudly, you see, that he was taking less money to give himself the best possible chance of winning (although, don’t worry too much for poor James: the endorsements acquired in his new situation should make up the difference pretty quickly).

It’s funny to me how in the sports world the selfish pursuit of winning (i.e. pursuing winning for oneself at the expense of one’s former teammates and fans) is somehow considered noble. I don’t really get why greed for glory is any more beautiful than greed for money. They’re both just about providing Lebron James with a happier life.

Regardless, as the now dubbed “Big Three,” Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade showed themselves off in a lavish welcome to winning party at Miami’s home rink, Charles Barkley was once again shaking his head. He argued that James’ television announcement again showed disrespect for the King’s ex-team, who Barkley said deserved to be told of his decision privately before James started dating his new city.

The snubbed city agreed with Barkley’s assessment and burned various Lebron products in effigy, while their majority owner, Dan Gilbert, wrote to the fans:

“You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal. … I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. You can take it to the bank… This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown ‘chosen one’ sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”

Wow! That was a bit much (for instance, I’m not sure exactly how James’ decision was cowardly, nor why career-commitment to one’s first employer is the prime measure of a role model), but I can understand the guy who’s losing the most by Lebron’s decision wanting to rally his fans to stay loyal with a firey retalliation.

But wait! Lebron James actually felt bad about leaving Cleveland.

“I never wanted to leave Cleveland,” he explained. “My heart will always be around that area. But I also felt like this is the greatest challenge for me, is to move on.”

Sorry, to be a nag, Lebron, but, um didn’t you say that you were going to Miami because it gave you the best chance at victory? Yeah, I think that was you who said: “I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win. And to win for multiple years. Not only just to win in the regular season, or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row. I want to be able to win championships, and I feel like I can compete down there.”

So, wouldn’t the bigger “challenge” (that you seem so interested in) have been to stay with the team who wouldn’t given you the biggest chance at perpetual league dominance?

So, all of this is to set up—for those who weren’t previously in the Lebron loop—Mr. James’ new Nike commercial, which responds eloquently to all of the hurtful criticism he’s received for his defection.


Let’s watch, and then we’ll come back to me for comments.

Note: when Lebron says hello to “Chuck,” he’s winking at the above-mentioned Lebron-critic, Charles Barkley.

Wow, I must say: that was very good work, Nike writing staff.

As you have hopefully just enjoyed, Mr. James takes us through a series of earnest rhetorical Lebron-spoken questions. “Asks” he:

What should I do? Should I admit that I’ve made mistakes?Should I remind you that I’ve done this before? Should I give you a history lesson? What should I do? Should I tell you how much fun we had? Should I really believe I ruined my legacy? What should I do? What should I do? What should I do? Should I have my tattoo removed? Want to see my shiny new shoes? Should I just sell shoes? My shiny new shoes. Or should I tell you I’m not a role model? (Hi Chuck.) Seriously, what should I do? Should I tell you I’m a championship chaser? That I did it for the money? Rings? Should I be who you want me to be? Should I accept my role as a villain? Maybe I should just disappear? Should I stop listening to my friends? They’re my friends. Should I try acting? Should I make you laugh Or should we just clear the deck and start over? What should I do? Should I be who you want me to be?

Along with being an impressive and entertaing commercial, it magically tricks the viewer into filling in the blanks of Lebron “Nike” James’ argument. This is as clever as any great piece of incomprehensible art that asks the viewer to fill in the substance of the message.

PATRON: Excuse me, I’m not sure what this large blue triangle is meant to say. You can you give me any insights?

ARTIST: It means whatever it means to you.

PATRON: Oh, I see. I guess it kind of reminds of my struggles with geometry in school, and how I felt like I couldn’t make it fit together.

ARTIST: Beautiful! Exactly!

Lebron’s not going to tell us why he left Cleveland—maybe it was for the money (and if we’re big fans of money, we’ll settle on that answer and be satisfied); maybe it was because he’s a “championship chaser” (wow, that’s very poetic, and again implies some honour in his departure). Regardless, what exactly did we expect of Lebron James? He never claimed to be our role model. He’s just a man made of flesh and ego like of the rest of us. Indeed, as he repeats this question throughout the soliloquy, the fact that there is no obvious answer seems to imply that there is no obvious flaw in his behaviours.

Most brilliant, ghostwritten-James seems to be indicating that, in the end, he doesn’t really care what we think of him. He’s gotta be him. If winning championships for his family and friends is wrong, then he doesn’t wanna be right.

We can dress him up in a villain costume (as they do in the commercial) if we want, but he’s still gotta be himself.

I especially like that, in spite of his implied ghostwritten insistence that he doesn’t care what we think of him, when he asks, “Should I not have listened to my friends?” he can’t help making an argumentative answer, “They’re my friends.” But, other than on that one point, he doesn’t care what we think!

It’s a wonderful script that we can all learn a lot from: there’s really no point in continuing to dislike Lebron—it’s not going to bother him in the slightest. In fact, his rogue lack of interest in our opinions should make us kinda like him.

Oh, but wait! Wasn’t the whole thing a shoe commercial? Which means it’s meant to sell shoes. So… Nike of Lebron does, in fact, care what we think of Lebron James. They were using reverse shoe psychology on us! Those clever Just Doers.


I: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU CARE (you were just here)








I gathered recently with some friends and siblings for what I thought would be some wholesome family fun.  Unfortunately, someone challenged us all to a strange word game, titled Bananagrams, wherein each contestant is given letters from which to try create a full crossword faster than their opponents.

Quickly, it was noticed by me that I was slower than my rivals (generally I was just finishing sorting the letters into alphabetical order when the others were completing the grueling task).  Thus, I suggested that I be given some sort of handicap to make things more fair.

“How about,” a creative participant suggested, “everyone but Seth has to get at least one dirty word in their crossword.”

This was accepted and the group set to the lewd chore.

Several moments into the noble endeavour, one of my sisters—for no apparent reason—announced, “I have sex!”

“Okay, then,” I replied, “thanks for letting us know, but for now, can we concentrate on the game?”

My sister tried to cover up her inappropriate announcement by explaining she’d found the word “sex” in her letters, but we knew she was just embarrassed, so—to make her feel better—we spent the rest of the evening sharing made-up sins of our own. Some announced that they read dirty magazines; others were voyeurs; and most of us liked S&M.

Artwork supplied by styrogirls.com.


While rush-jogging out of work the other day, I realized—just before I got to my bus stop—that I was without my phone, so I re-ran back my steps to see if I’d dropped it.  I arrived at my work intersection to see my phone in the crosswalk I’d just hurried across.  A monster of a car was galloping towards it.  In slow-motion I yelled, “Nooooooooo!”, but before my phone could realize what was happening to it, it was devoured by the wheels of the beast—and phone crumbs soared in all directions!

Okay, then.

Luckily, my 3-year phone contract with Bell was recently expired, so I was in a good position to get a good deal on a new phone.  Indeed, I was a free agent, so I set out to play Bell against Rogers in a battle for my customering.  First, Bell was rung, and after 2 hours of negotiation (okay 1.75 hours of that was with their hold music), I’d acquired an excellent offer.

Onto Rogers to see what they could do:

“So,” I said, “Bell offered me this—can you do any better?”

“Oh,” Roger Rogers said (approximately), “that is a very good deal—probably because you’ve been with them for so long—no way we can beat that.”

So I phoned Bell back and told them that they didn’t actually need to give me such a good rate, because their competition wasn’t close to stealing me away.


So a friend of mine sent out a group email requesting participants for a survey that a friend of hers was conducting. She concluded her call for assistance with the phrase, “Feel free to pass on.”

Wow! Reminding people of their right to die seems a bit harsh—especially when you’ve just asked them for a favour!

When I confronted the impertinent emailer, she explained that she just wanted to make sure people knew their options.


If you’re not a hockey fan, but want to impress a friend or enemy who is, try this sentence on for sizable reaction:

YOU: Did you know that Gordie Howe had only one Gordie Howe hat trick in his 26 year NHL career?

(A Gordie Howe hat trick is not simply a hat trick—three goals in a game—by Gordie Howe (a.ka. “Mr. Hockey”). Instead, Gordie’s trick is a bundle of three specific hockey behaviours, but not all goals, and like the standard trick, it can be completed by anyone. However, it was named after Mr. Howe because he seemed the most likely to achieve it, which is why it should seem odd to a hockey fan such as your friend or rival that Mr. Hockey managed only one in his lengthy tenure.)

Now your friend should not only be surprised to learn that Howe had only one Howe-style hat trick in his career, but also that this intriguing stat came from you, someone we established earlier is not an aficiando of their favourite game.

So here comes the experimental part. Your Sethblogs predicts that—even if you still haven’t guessed exactly what a Gordie Howe hat trick is—you shouldn’t need the definition in your conversation with your hockey friend or foe because we think they’ll assume that anyone capable of the expression must know its meaning.

Instead, then, SethBlogs suggests that most fun will be had if you play expression roulette with the phrase, and try it out with your hockey friend or foe without looking it up in advance. If you do so, you’ll achieve your own hat trick:

(1) You’ll impress your friend;

(2) You’ll show courage against the possibility that—against Sethblogs’ prognostication—your friend does inquire as to what you think the expression means; and

(3) you’ll entertain SethBlogs when you report your findings back to us!

Thank you for your attention to this daring endeavour.

In the meantime, for a look at Mr. Hockey in action, consider this footage from a 1979 contest between Moscow Dynamo and the WHA all-stars, which included 50 year-old Gordie, his son Marty, and a 17 year-old apprentice to Gordie’s scoring records.


In the interest of full disclosure—and Seth-promotion—the spirt of this rant, and other works of Sethiquette, is now available in my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism.

In opposition to my recent rants (SPACE ON BUS; SPACE ON BRAIN & MY FIRST LINEUP) regarding bus passenger selfishness, I challenge me to consider this incident:

After finishing work in the late evening on Sunday, I landed outside on the street with my usual walk-and-look-for-the-bus plan. The walk would be a simple 15 minute trek to the nearest Skytrain that would take me home, but if, on this walk, I happened to pass a bus stop at the same time as bus, I would happily hop aboard to save myself up to 10 minutes of commute.

When, then, I spotted a bus dropping off a passenger at a stop that was just 50 yards ahead of me, I decided to make a run for the oversized van (in case it was slowed down by more exiting passengers), but my sprint was not a desperate one since I was content with my leg-powered transporation.

As I ran, the passenger that was just jettisoned from the vehicle spotted my approach, and so pointed at the bus to ask if I was aiming for it. I nodded, and so, with no thought of why she should care about a stranger’s goals, she knocked on the outside of the bus to indicate a passenger was coming. To honour her effort, I sped up my pace, but the bus pressed forward just as I arrived.

I was not wounded by the loss since (A) I didn’t feel the driver was obligated to the knocking-instructions of a former passenger and (B) I was still content walking. But I was touched by the efforts and concern of the stranger, who, in turn, shook her head with disgust at the departing bus.

I assured her I was content walking, but I thanked her for her kindness – not many would look out for a stranger like that. This did not cheer her up, but it did me.