Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, August 23, 2021

sail away
When you’re an alumnus of a small liberal arts college, you tend to notice the rare occasions when it makes national headlines. Usually that elicits pride.

I’m not sure I can derive much pride from seeing Eckerd College as Exhibit A in a story about rowdiness among students in study-abroad programs.

I guess the school’s distinction in sending a bigger portion of its students abroad than any other college in the nation merits its mention here. And it’s nice to know that the spirit that ruled my freshman year is alive somewhere.

I never did take advantage of the study abroad program at Eckerd. I’d always regretted it a bit, especially after hearing about friends’ experiences in England, Spain and other locales. Then again, it wouldn’t have been too cool to have ended up in a Midnight Express-type incident.

I’ll have to grill my friend Chris about that London trip he was always raving about during our Junior year. The most notable thing I recall him relating is the need to hit the pubs really early, because everything closed down by 11ish.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2004 11:52 PM
Category: Florida Livin'
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The St. Pete Times Forum, home of the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, is going wi-fi.

I imagine the immediate beneficiaries will be reporters covering events there; they won’t have to hunt for data jacks for their notebook computers anymore. But past that? Ticketholders to hockey games and concerts aren’t likely to be lugging notebooks with them. PDAs are generally on the way out, and the phones that are replacing them are already able to tap into cellular service networks. As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices (aside from phones) flood the market, I’m sure an arena-sized hotspot will be much appreciated. But for now, it’s more effective as a marketing plug.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2004 11:27 PM
Category: Wi-Fi
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Scan the grocery store shelves for olive oil, and what do you see? Virgin, extra virgin, pure, light — what the hell’s the difference??

Chef Gui Alinat sheds some much-needed light on which oil is which.

For my own reference, I’ll list the definitions here. (What, you don’t use your blog to help you stock your cupboard?)

- Extra Virgin: Top-notch highest quality, cold-pressed, extremely low acidity (less than 0.8 percent).

- Virgin: Almost as good as Extra Virgin, also cold-pressed, slightly higher acidity (0.8 to 3 percent).

- Pure: Low-quality, chemically-processed, higher acidity.

- Just “olive oil” (no descriptor): Midrange-quality, blend of Extra Virgin/Virgin and Pure, low acidity (less than 1 percent).

- Light: Low-quality, generally the same as Pure (only pricier).

So the keyword is “virgin”. But isn’t it always…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2004 11:10 PM
Category: General
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no-touch league
The NFL’s mandate to have refs actually call pass interference penalties will have a big impact on this coming season. But not a good one, according to Green Bay safety Darren Sharper:

“If the NFL wants to see more points scored, how about you just don’t play any defenses out there? Just let the offenses go out there and play by themselves, because that’s what they’re trying to do,” Sharper said Saturday night after Green Bay’s 19-14 exhibition victory over New Orleans.

Sharper had quite a bit to say about this stricter interpretation of what, we’re constantly reminded, are existing rules:

Sharper told reporters he hoped they had a “beep” button before he spoke his mind on the penalties.

“Those calls that were called are ridiculous because the guys are running with them and Joey [Thomas] has his head turned, his eyes looking back to the ball and they still throw a flag when both guys are like chicken fighting back there and doing little things that are not impeding anyone’s progress,” Sharper fumed.

“Those are just terrible calls. And then Ahmad [Carroll]’s call, it’s thrown out of bounds and they call pass interference on that. It’s just ridiculous.”

Sharper said he’s afraid that offenses will just throw the ball deep during the regular season and pray for a flag on what used to be brushed aside as incidental contact.

“That’s going to be the game plan,” Sharper predicted. “Tell the receiver to run into the defensive back when the ball is in the air and get a flag. And what kind of game is that going to be?”

Sharper said it would be a shame for a playoff game or a late-season game with postseason implications to come down to “a bogus call like that, a ball that’s not catchable or a guy that doesn’t impede the receiver to catch the ball and it’s on the 1-yard line, score and they win a game like that.”

It’s easy to dismiss Sharper as an aging player who won’t be able to adapt and is afraid of getting scorched every play. But he’s right: The offenses are going to exploit the crackdown on defensive backs, and the strategy of drawing first-down penalties will work, at least for a little while. Meanwhile, defensive lines are going to be less inclined to blitz, and thus be hemmed in.

This controversy echos the ongoing one in the NHL over obstruction calls. When the neutral-ice trap regained prominence in the mid-’90s, the league pledged to make refs start calling obstruction penalties. As with the NFL this year, new rules weren’t introduced, but rather, emphasis was placed on enforcing the existing rules.

Unfortunately, this increased enforcement resulted in parades of players going to the penalty box, which disrupted the flow of the game. Every year, the pattern became familiar: Referees would start the season by calling games tight, then would lose the war of attrition as teams continued to press and criticism of choppy gameplay increased. By midseason, trapping teams would be back to business as usual, and the obstruction crackdown would be deferred until next season, when the process would start all over again.

The parallels between the NHL’s obstruction and the NFL’s pass interference situations are fairly clear. So I think the pattern established in hockey will appear in football: Early rigorous enforcement, then retrenchment in the face of pressure from teams and owners. Despite the league’s perpetual desire for higher-scoring games (which the NHL shares, actually), things will be back to the typical lax pass interference calls by Week 8 or so.

Hopefully, this won’t spark any calls in the NFL for a reduction of men on the field, similar to the calls for full-time 4-on-4 hockey in the NHL. (It’s hard to argue the football field is getting too cramped, but you never know.)

I think it’s appropriate to frame this in the classic word-association structure:

NFL : Pass Interference :: NHL : Obstruction

Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on this later.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2004 10:29 PM
Category: Football, Hockey
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Just a quick note: The permalink and trackback problemas mentioned earlier have (I hope) been fixed. More details on how later today. In the meantime, feel free to link away.

The few comments that were left here last week are currently gone, but not lost. I will restore them this evening. D’oh! I’m afraid I’ll have to eat my words on that. The comments left by Eric and Tommy are indeed gone for good. My apologies, guys; completely unintentional. Won’t happen again ;) In the meantime, don’t let that scare you off from adding more!

UPDATE: It took a lot of doing to get the links up to speed. Basically, after several fruitless hours of tinkering, I finally wiped the mySQL database clean, re-installed WordPress, and followed the instructions on switching directories while resolving the permalink structure.

Even after that, it didn’t work.

So I messed with it for another couple of hours after that, FTPing files back and forth, until I finally, somehow, got it all working. I use “working” somewhat loosely — a couple of backend things are still broken, including my inability to edit this index page except through FTP. But at this point, I don’t care. The frontend stuff works, visitors should be no more the wiser, and that’s all that matters.

I’d like to take this opportunity to send out a big NO-thank-you to WordPress support, whose members either ignored my questions or provided largely irrelevant feedback. Apparently they’re too busy flaming one another and playing petty geek dictator to actually provide some support. Snarky on my part? Sure. Deserved on their part? Oh yeah. But hey, you get what you pay for, naturally. I’ll figure things out as I go along.

Anyway, enough of this. The last thing I want here is a typical geek blog that’s about nothing but how the blog software works (or doesn’t). Back to our usual programming.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2004 12:07 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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