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.

Given my previous rant (see SPACE ON BUS: SPACE ON BRAIN) about the need for a bus passenger training school, it seems only fair that I give a sample of what our consideration-challenged friends could learn there.

I suggest we start the training with a lecture on how to correctly enter a transit vehicle: students of Bus School will discover that, before boarding any such bus or train, one lets the exiting passengers go first. (“It’s like they have a green light, while yours is red.”) This, bussing professors will explain, allows us to avoid a passenger clog of people going in two directions. To facilitate this complicated maneuver, learners will be taught to line up slightly to the side of the entry doors until their opposites have completed their exodus.

Special emphasis will then be impressed upon the students that:

“When you see passengers waiting efficiently by the side of the doorway in this manner, they are not meaning to move out of your way so that you can jump the queue and board the bus first for the best seat. (When you do that, it angers and destroys your fellow travelers’ faith in the system, and reduces their own compliance with passenger protocol.)”

If such training stops just one one anarchist transit-user from queue-jumping to collect the last good seat on the bus, it will easily pay for itself in gaskets not blown by the rest of us.


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.

This is a classic rant that probably needs no repetition, but I can’t help myself. On the bus once again last night, when a large crowd began to fill it, patrons at the front of the entering group did not go all the way to the back. The result was the standard passenger-dam at the front and middle of the vehicle.

I can appreciate, in such circumstances, that the back of the bus will naturally be less packed than the front. Passengers fill the back first, after all, and so it feels awkward to get up close and cozy with strangers for an as-of-yet only theoretical need for room. Instead standard stranger-spacing etiquette feels like it should apply.

But when the crowd begins to run out of room at the front of the corridor, there is an understanding between new friends there that near-hugging is allowed because otherwise one of you would not fit on the coach.

And, as I surveyed from the well-packed middle section of the vehicular hallway, I noticed as ever that the back of the bus was not simply spaced reasonably according to stranger-convention; instead, there was a walk-in closet’s worth of room—and even an empty seat!

You see, somewhere along the aisle to the back, a traveller or two simply stopped (like a pair of escalator-standers) and blocked the following masse. This was no simple etiquette of spacing: it was emptiness of awareness. The travelers preferred the centre of the carriage (perhaps because it was closer to the exit doors), which is all swell and good (if, that is, you don’t enjoy the bus’s hind quarters, then feel free to seek refuge in the middle), but, for passengers’ sake!, make room in the aisle for those who would move into the glorious space behind you.

And yet, on every crowded bus, there are always those who are profoundly unobservant of (or simply unconcerned with) the needs of their fellow bus-goers. It is time they be taught a lesson: I propose remedial transit-traveller finishing school for these breachers of consideration. They must be taught that with great transit comes comes great responsibility.

Perfect. Problem solved. I feel better.

While we wait, see MY FIRST LINEUP for a proposed first lesson at Bus Passenger Training School.


As the new hockey season (and so the post-game interview season) arrives, it is important to refresh our understanding of hockey players’ special metaphorical math in regard to percentages. In standard, boring old mathematics, that is, “percentage” is up to a maximum of 100, but hockey players (as well as other athletes) use an alternate system known as “emphasis percentage.”

You see, in reality, it’s actually quite difficult to always give 100% effort (that’s a sure way to burn one’s self out), but nor is it very safe to admit to the picky journalists that one gave, say, 80% on a given night. Thus, a special alternate system of percentage was invented just for athletes and motivational speakers. Emphasis percentage works exactly like regular percentage, except that, instead of counting the number of points within a 100, E% has a maximum total of 150.

Thus, after a game, an athlete can happily, and honestly, state that they put in “120%,” which looks great for emphasizing that they tried really hard, but doesn’t provoke nit-picky questions from reporters about why they didn’t give their maximum.

If you’re curious, however, to know what an athlete actually put forth, just remember the exchange rate from E% to regular % is .67. If in doubt, here’s a handy chart:

Regular % Emphasis %
             73% →  110 E%
             80% →  120 E%
          100% →  150 E%

Note: 110 is the E% minimum.

If, however, you ever hear someone claim that they gave 200%, don’t believe them: it’s impossible.

P.S. Of course, not everyone agrees with my assessment of hockey percentages:

P.P.S. Also, to further prepare you for the hockey cliche season, consider this:


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There’s a chef-school advertising on TV presently (I won’t advertise them by naming them) who boasts that it is taught by:

“…experienced chef!… instructors.”

It’s really quite funny to listen to the line as the announcer voice-punches the “experienced chef!” part of the sentence so forcefully that you are briefly left with the impression that the teachers are, in fact, experienced chefs, but then, just a tiny moment later, you hear the muffled “instructors” slipped in, and suddenly your mind does a double take:

“Oh, that’s something quite different, isn’t it?”

For the contrast between the well-emphasized “chef” and the under-noted “instructors” is so distinct that it stands out like a grape juice stain on a white carpet, and so the listener can’t help, but inquire:

“Oh, so you were trying to hide that they’re chef-instructors instead of actual chefs?”

Truth be told, if they’d just called them “chef-instructors” without playing emphasis games, I wouldn’t have known that “chef-instructors” aren’t as good as “chefs who instruct.” But now I do. Thanks, unnamed-chef-school for your helpful emphasis in advertising: it allowed me to clearly see this as a weakness, and so, if I ever decide to get my chef’s licence, I’ll certainly know where not to look.

Just kidding: I will attend your school!… (if you pay me a million dollars).


I’ve just started re-reading a book, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit from 1946 by Hesketh Pearson, that I didn’t finish previously because it fell apart (literally—its binding came undone and it’s now a six-piece book), and I didn’t want to damage it further. But the call of the Wilde (oops :)) has proven too much: I must find out what happened to him!

I’m only a prologue in, but I’m already having a great time once again.

The book was published, forty-six years after Wilde’s death, by a man who interviewed friends of the great wit (“Oscar,” to us) who, in turn, could remember specific conversations with the hero of the phrase:

“[I find] that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, can produce all the effects of intoxication.”

Wow: it’s intoxicating to be reading the second-hand account of real-life interactions with such a significant conversational figure. Indeed, many situations and anecdotes that provoked some of Oscar’s great lines are provided. (I recall from my previous reading of this book that I will get to learn the provocation for Oscar’s, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” I assure you that the moment I re-discover it, SethBlogs will be the second to know.)

But the book is not just great because of Oscar Wilde: his story is told by Mr. Pearson with charm and wit deserving of his subject. Consider his description of Oscar Wilde’s father, and lady-charmer, Dr. William Wilde:

“He was taken up by society and especially liked by women, which pleased him well… But accidents will happen, even to doctors, and in due course several children appeared without the advantage of their father’s name.”

I’ll keep you posted on this developing story.


I’ve been giving the sitcom How I met Your Mother a chance lately and I like it so far.

(Of course, the premise is a wee bit troubled: the idea of dedicating a plot to explaining to one’s future children how one discovered their mom is nice, I think, for a defined timeline such as a movie, but in the case of an open-ended TV series, it seems too difficult for the writers to keep each episode on point considering they don’t know when exactly to bring the mother in, and so in turn they don’t know how exactly to relate each show to her eventual arrival. Instead, as far as I can tell from my few initial viewings, the show has quickly become just as much about following and laughing at the surrounding characters as it is worrying about the initial basis for the show.)

But, as my sisterly advisor to HIMYM explained to me, if you don’t worry about the loose-premise-connection, it’s a decent sitcom.

To that end, I would like to compliment some writing I enjoyed in a recently-viewed episode, wherein one of the characters (I believe it was Lily) was explaining to another character why her friends Robin and Barney might have difficultly dating. The dialogue (I’m paraphrasing) went a little something like this:

LILY: The problem is they’re both… honey, what’s the nice word for “selfish”?

MARSHALL: “Independent”.

LILY: Yes, they’re both independent.

Hee, hee, well played, HIMYM.

I think it’s a well-delivered point that one person’s criticism can with, slight re-wording, become another person’s compliment. Let me try coming up with some other words that could be “HIMY-Mothered” into compliments:

Loud and ObnoxiousGregarious
IgnorantFan of The Matrix  (Okay, I guess that one was a lateral move, hee, hee.)
ForgetfulAbsentminded (professor)
Homicidal Over-population-reducing

It’s harder than I imagined: my favourite is still the original “selfish” to “independent”: so my humbled compliments to the HIMYM writing staff. In fact, double that, because I am reminded of News Radio (one of the top 5 sitcoms of all time until Phil Hartman’s departure), and its wordplay regarding the different versions of pretty.

LISA: …I did not ask for this stupid award.

BETH: If I were you I would be upset, too, I mean, you? Cute? Come on.

LISA: Well… I’m not entirely… uncute. I… why are you being nasty about this?

BETH: I’m not being nasty. You’re pretty. You’re very pretty, in fact. But cute? I don’t think so.

LISA: Well, I wasn’t aware that there was a difference.

BETH: Of course there’s a difference. Pretty means pretty. Cute means pretty, but short and/or hyperactive, like me.

LISA: Ahuh. Well, what’s beautiful?

BETH: Beautiful means pretty and tall.

LISA: Gorgeous?

BETH: Pretty with great hair.

LISA: Striking?

BETH: Pretty with a big nose.

And so on for my amusement (see the video below for the full scene).

Note: A portal to the future that takes place after I finally finish viewing HIMYM is now available! Will I support my above assessment, or will there be a SethBlogs vs. SethBlogs battle. Tune into this link to find out!


No Seth-rant collective would be complete without a charge against The Matrix.

This movie (I only saw the first one) may be a decent action-flick, so you are forgiven if you simply find it entertaining; my objection is to those who describe it as “philosophical.”

Yes, the movie’s premise is based on a standard philosophical contemplation (that the world, as we know it, may not be real, but instead some projection in our minds). However, in its treatment of this notion, The Matrix quickly sidesteps any philosophical obligations. Given, for instance, that The Matrix-universe is one in which the dark and dreary real world has been replaced with a cheerier matrix, an interesting question could be provoked: is it better to be happy in a fake world or unhappy in a real one?

Some of us at this keyboard believe experience is the most important part of sentient existence, and so we may want to argue that The Matrix-world was worth keeping up in lieu of the dreadful real world. It wasn’t as though the fake-offering was put up to cover up crimes against humanity; instead, all inhabitants lay peacefully in their projected-upon slumbers. But I’m happy to be wrong: maybe truth in existence is more important than contentment, and so, if philosophers were writing the movie, they may have tried to make an argument for why the matrix was a flawed existence (maybe it limits human potential, or leaves us helpless against sudden environmental changes). I would have liked that.

Instead, The Matrix writers (the Wachowskis) forwent argument and simply announced that the correct answer was that truth is always the most important; this they did very efficiently by simply designing the character who disagreed with them to be a raving murderer. Yup, instead of a genuine investigation as to which side would be the better way to exist (perhaps with a consequence that demonstrated why they thought their way was superior), the writers simply announced that good guys, by definition, would be on their side (pro-truth), while bad guys would be on the other (anti-truth). And that solved that.

Now, of course, action movies often need good guys and bad guys, so I can understand the need to have them pick sides, but, if the movie is meant to be philosophical, then shouldn’t it offer more than just a philosophical landscape with heroes and villains at either end? Shouldn’t the story also attempt to ask a few questions whose answers are comprised of more material than simply “white hat for ‘good’ and black hat for ‘bad’”?

But perhaps I’m being too restrictive about what qualifies as philosophical. In that case, I suppose the following subjects have also been sufficiently captured in the corresponding films:

Marine Biology: Jaws
Einstein’s Theory of relativity: Timecop
History (i.e. “a long time ago”): Star Wars
Brain surgery: The Man with Two Brains
Dentistry: Austin Powers

I’m a fan of several of these movies, but I don’t watch Die Hard for an analysis of modern policing methods: I just go there to be entertained. Similarly, if The Matrix weren’t so self-satisfied in its tone (and publicity interviews), it could be an entertaining adventure, but please don’t expect to be watching philosophy in action.

If you are looking for an entertaining, yet philosophical film (of similar subject), consider The Thirteenth Floor. At least, it made me think without diagnosing me as good or evil based on my responses to its questions.


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.

Anyone who’s had the good fortune to share an escalator with me is likely familiar with this rant: and so, for their nostalgia and everyone else’s first-time enjoyment, I would like to officially announce:

I reverse-heart escalator-standers.

Why would a healthy individual interrupt their day (in which, I’m told, time is precious) to wait for a slow machine to carry them to their destination, when the device offers the option to move at double its speed by simply walking?

Note of rant sanctuary: If an escalator-stander has a health condition (sore knees, sore heart, maybe escatripaphobia), or is simply tired and not in the mood to climb moving stairs, they are excused from the ire of this rant.

Note of excommunication from rant sanctuary: The tired stander will be returned to the rant’s scope, however, if they are one of a pair of standers, who—instead of standing one after the other to allow safe passage of those behind—block both lanes of escalator travel so that those who would prefer to kill calories (instead of time) cannot proceed.

My primary objection is to those who stand because of what I can only surmise is habit: I watch 20 year-olds arrive at the escalator and, without apparently pausing to ask, “Do we feel like adding a tiny bit of exercise to our diet?” they stop and stare ahead. I suppose they could have a good reason for the slow-down: maybe it’s their first time on an escalator, and so they want to savour the experience; or perhaps they’re trying to conserve calories: why waste energy that they could store for later?

But I think the most reasonable explanation for why most people stop on an escalator without considering walking is that they are in some sort of trance, a temporary off-button that has suddenly made time not matter to them.

I spend most of my escalator time en route to catching Skytrains, which arrive approximately every five minutes, and so, if I’m forced to I slow down just enough (often because of an escalator-standing-blockade), I often narrowly miss a just-arriving train, thus causing me to get to my destination five minutes later. It’s rare that my hope is to be five minutes later for anything. Yes, Alabama, I realize that we shouldn’t “rush and rush until life’s no fun,” but, if it’s easy, and you happen to be in a hurry, why not step up?

For instance, I’m convinced that the people standing on the escalator to go to the movies would like to get into the ticket-buying lineup as soon as possible to secure goods seats, and yet—with knees capable of speedily climbing to the back of the theatre—they inexplicably freeze the moment their feet hit the escalator.

Indeed, I have been late with friends to a movie, and have felt the “Kumbaya” of our mutual rush only to arrive at an escalator to witness the sudden suspension of my companions’ movement as though the matter is out of their feet’s hands: the escalator, after all, speeds up for no one—what are they supposed to do?

This behaviour seems so irrational to me that I must find a cause to blame. Perhaps it is the fault of our oft-described “sedentary” modern western society and our tendency to avoid unnecessary movement? But I suspect something more sinister: I suspect it is our brains that are sedentary, and that it simply doesn’t occur to people to keep moving on a machine that will get them there eventually.

Evidence for this hypothesis can be found in the aforemocked people who stand two-by-two on the escalator such that they become a obstruction for any would-be non-lazy-people behind them. Surely, if it even occurred to them that someone might like to get by, they wouldn’t be so selfish as to stand in the way, would they?

If I’m right that people stand on escalators because they never thought to use the steps for climbing, then I have replaced one baffling question with another: why the heck wouldn’t it occur to them? I can understand the inclination to let the vehicle do all the moving in the case of cars or buses, but to stop, without thinking, on a device that offers you the option of safely doubling your speed of travel is, to me, a kin to riding one’s bike and discovering a slight decline and so deciding to stop pedaling so as to allow gravity to do all the work for you. If you’re tired, or in the mood to relax and look around, then you have my warmest blessings, but if you stop your exercise simply because you see no point in doing otherwise then I don’t get it.

Similarly, I guess if the sun’s bugging your eyes, then there’s no need to walk to a shadier spot: after all, the earth will eventually transport you out of the sun’s gaze. So, yeah, just sit there and wait.

All poignant exaggeration-sarcasm aside, clearly escaltor-standing is a mystery that I’m not able to solve here, but, if you are a career escalator-stander with no health reasons to justify this habit, I’d like to make a tiny suggestion: try escalator-walking just once. You may be surprised to discover that motorized-inclines aren’t as daunting as they look from the bottom.

If, however, you still see no point in walk-riding when you could just ride, I request that you at least not stand in the way of those who would choose to stroll freely. Stay in your lane, and nobody gets glared at on my way by.

P.S. If I were artistically inclined, I would create a cartoon of a couple standing on an escalator with no one in front of them, a crowd behind them, and a thought bubble above them that simply states, “Where does all the time go?”

P.P.S. Even brillianter, I refer you below to Becel’s heart health commercial, the most profound advert in television history. It deals with the mystery of the escalator stander with grace and impeccable honesty.