f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

August 20, 2008

smacking our foreheads again

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:43 pm


After five years of blogging (and a lifetime of dealing with deadlines and project estimates), you’d think I would know better than to think I could throw an interesting and informative posting together quickly enough to be able to enjoy most of our “best ever August weather” here in Schenectady. Instead, I’m smacking my head over having my butt stuck in my desk chair for the second day in a row without yet posting a darn thing. It’s time to cut bait so I can figuratively go fishing. Here are a few ONEsies that might get you smacking your foreheads, too:

RealtorG If you hired a real estate agent without haggling over the fee, Smack Yourself: We’ve been telling you for years (as has the FTC) that those 6 or 7% realtor commissions are not prescribed by law or etched in stone. A survey featured in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports proves it. See “Buying, selling, remodeling: How to protect yourself in today’s rocky real-estate market” (September 2008; see the summary “What the Survey Found“); also “Home sellers can haggle over commissions” (MSNBC.com, Aug. 4, 2008);

According to a CR Press Release:

“Forty-six percent of sellers CR surveyed attempted to negotiate a lower commission rate. Roughly 71 percent succeeded. The survey also found that sellers who paid commission rates 3 percent or lower were just as satisfied with their brokers’ performance as those who paid 6 percent or more, suggesting that haggling can’t hurt.

“Respondents who paid extra, in fact, were more likely to say they had regrets about the selling process. Nearly one-third said they should have been more assertive in negotiating their agent’s fee.”

Another Smacker: The CR survey found that those who did not use a broker at all got closer to their asking price than did those with a broker. (To understand why, see American Antitrust Institute Symposium on Competition in the Residential Real Estate Brokerage Industry (2005); and the NYT article from June 8, 2007, “One City’s Home Sellers Do Better on Their Own.”) [See the Nolo.com article Do You Need a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your House?]

river flood
a “For Sale” sign
on a cottage roof

.. by George Swede – from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

spring rain–
in the window they haggle
over fish

.. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue house for sale

moving day
the other men
in her life

.. by John Stevenson – Quiet Enough (Red Moon Press, 2004)

autumn haze
a farmer dusts off
the “for sale” sign

. . . by Laryalee Fraser, Clouds Peak (#2, Oct. 2006)

If You Forgot to Plant a St. Joseph Statue in Your Yard (and your house never sold), Smack Your Insufficiently Superstitious Head (and bow it in prayer): Here at f/k/a, we know St. Joseph of Nazareth as the Patron Saint of the Involuntarily Celibate, but over at the Consumer Reports Blog, readers learned a couple weeks ago that St. Joe also helps sell houses. The posting “A saintly appeal to help sell homes” (Aug. 5, 2008) tells us:

“In a sluggish housing market, . . . some sellers bury a statue of St. Joseph in their yard to try to help close the deal. As noted on Snopes.com, people have been relying on the heavenly help for years.

Indeed: “Mary Ann Giacobbe, a real-estate agent in New Rochelle, New York, a suburb north of New York City, says she usually has a bag of statues on hand for clients who want one. ‘I don’t care what religion you are, homeowners are doing it,’ says Giacobbe.”

If you want more information on this topic (or want to purchase a St. Joe Real Estate packet), check out the Amazon.com page for “St. Joseph, My Real Estate Agent: Patron Saint of Home Life and Home Selling” (Mass Market Paperback) by Stephen J. Binz. Of course, the non-believers at f/k/a do not warrant the efficacy of the St. Joseph statue (nor the Backyard Virgin in a Tub phenomenon).

. . If You Believe Unsubstantiated Health Claims, Smack Your Forehead (and grab a hankie) : See “Makers of Airborne Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising; Agreement Brings Total Settlement Funds to $30 Million; Consumers Have Until September 15 to Apply for Refunds” (Federal Trade Commission, Press Release, Aug. 14, 2008; FTC v. Airborne Health, Inc. et al., FTC File No. 0723183, Complaint and Final Order); “Airborne Coughs Up Millions to Settle Suit” (Washington Post, Aug. 14, 2008) (via Stephen Gardner at the CLPBlog, who also explains here, why the FTC’s Airborne settlement is notable)

To learn how to get your refund from the private class action case, go to www.airbornehealthsettlement.com.

In his interesting Dissenting Statement, FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch complained that the settlement did not go far enough because:

  • it allows the defendants to deplete their existing inventory of paper cartons and display trays until October 31, 2008, which will continue to perpetuate misperceptions about the products’ ability to prevent or reduce colds, sickness or infection; to protect against or help fight germs; and to protect against colds, sickness, or infection in crowded places such as airplanes, offices, or schools.
  • it fails to address claims on the current packaging that assert that the product has “immune-boosting” qualities. [Ed. Note: the current Airborne box makes the squishy claim that it “helps support your immune system.”]
  • it does not require that Finally, and most importantly, it is my opinion that Airborne Health Products engage in corrective advertising, to erase lingering misperceptions.

Airborne Health, Inc., offers a Letter to Our Users, responding to the private settlement and making the valid point that no one has questioned the safety of its product’s “unique, proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals and herbs.” There is no doubt at all (see the WaPo article) that tens of thousands of users swear that Airborne helps them avoid colds and flu.

spooning up soup
and bringing forth
the moon

.. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

flu season
she refuses
my hand

… by Yu Chang – from Upstate Dim Sum (2004/1)

I lean
into the soup’s steam…
snow flurries

… by Gary Hotham from breathmarks (Canon Press, 1999)

back home
with Christmas memories –
and mom’s flu

… by dagosan

Aging Prisoners: More Skewed Choices Due to a Lack of National Health Care: Smack yourself twice, if you don’t think our failure to ensure health care for all Americans ends up skewing choices and policies facing our government, taxpayers, and families. It affects the jobs we seek or keep, whether we marry or divorce, if many will eat or go bankrupt, and — for another example — check out “Missouri uses special unit to cope with growing numbers of geriatric inmates” (The Kansas City Star, Aug. 20, 2008; via Gideon at A Public Defender); “Aging Behind Bars: Prison strains to accomodate older inmates” (California Lawyer, by Sarah Amquist, May 2008); and Aging Prisoners: Crisis in American Corrections, by Ronald H. Aday (2003).

the temple guard
sick from the crowds…
cherry blossoms

while sick
I wear it on my head…
winter quilt

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

Smack Myself for Surfing Over to Simple Justice with Important Deadlines to Meet: We never learn. Despite wanting to get outside ASAP today, we headed to Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice weblog, and were soon immersed in several interesting postings, and the Comments thereto. If you’re stuck at work and need some useful diversion, you might want to check out the following pieces (but don’t be surprised if you end up with a smack mark on your forehead come COB):

  • The Professional Business of Law” (Aug. 17, 2008) – do we need more professionalism in the practice of law? Obvious answer: Yes. But Scott explores why.
  • Does ‘Presumed Innocent’ Mean Less Than ‘Innocent’?” (Aug. 19, 2008) Scott dances on the head of this rhetorical and legal pin.
  • Tainted by Google Forever” (Aug. 18, 2008) Should a newspaper with its archives online have to remove a story tarring a person’s reputation when charges are never proven, but Google will haunt him forever? Scott points out that there are easy ways to update the story without removing it, so there’s no excuse to let the taint remain perpetually. (These issues are raised by Dan Solove’s “The Future of Reputation,” which we reviewed here)

firefly season
ends —
our freshman packs her car

… by dagosan

sick in bed –
my son pelts the window
with snowballs

… by Tom Clausen – from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)

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