Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, September 02, 2021


I’m watching a piece of kung-fu kitsch called Master of the Flying Guillotine (actually, it has a couple of alternate English-language titles; I prefer The One Armed Boxer Vs. The Flying Guillotine, but I’ll abide by the TV program guide).

It’s totally awesome. More cheese than an extra-large supreme, with no purpose other than to string together all kinds of ludicrous fight scenes.

The movie is driven by an anti-hero, the blind monk who wields the fearsome title weapon. His opening-scene guitar riff is a nice piece of high-energy proto-punk that effectively sets the tone for a fun ride. His brutal villiany is equal parts sinister and comical; I especially like the scene where he beheads a couple of tournament fighters, then, as an afterthought, tosses a firebomb into a large wooden platform.

I’d describe the Flying Guillotine, but I can’t possibly improve upon Giant Robot’s insightful assessment:

Although not a character, the flying guillotine weapon made audiences feel unworthy. With every throw, it made a gun ricochet sound. It was red, with the outside looking like a Skilsaw blade and teeth on the inside, like an octopus’ snatch. This tool alone is historically significant enough to merit the title of the film. If it existed, it should be sitting in a fighting flick hall of fame.

How impressive is this weapon? It had a film career of its very own.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 10:17:13 PM
Category: Movies, Pop Culture
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not a tumor
Just before going to bed last night, I flipped through the channels and landed on VH1. “Popumentary: Arnold Schwarzenegger” was on.

I watched only three minutes of it. It was enough to let me know that it was the God-awfulest crap ever made. Ever.

What I saw:

Arnold (played by a guy who barely resembles the real deal, although he does sound a lot like him) arriving in America, circa 1968. He’s training in a gym, getting cussed out by his trainer. He poses in front of a mirror, when his trainer brings in some guy to meet him. Arnold offers his hand in greeting, it’s refused. Arnold says, “Too bad, you just passed up a chance to shake hands with the next Mr. Universe.” The guy says, “Mr. Universe, huh? Well, you look like a fat piece of crap to me.”

Just then, the picture freeze-frames, and VH1 throws up a “Pop-Up Video”-style graphic that says the following: “Actual quote was, ‘piece of @#$%!’, but because we’re VH1, we can’t allow that.”

With that, I turned the TV off and hit the sheets.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 09:50:16 PM
Category: Celebrity, TV
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Deeming that hunters and natural predators aren’t doing enough to thin out the herds, communities in Maryland are putting their overloaded deer populations on the pill.

As an added bonus, it reduces deer-car couplings:

The no-sex contraceptive might have an additional advantage if the goal is to prevent deer from becoming a nuisance or a threat to humans. Eliminating rutting, which can make deer oblivious to such things as vehicles in their surroundings, could cut down on the number of collisions between deer and cars — one of the main reasons communities want to reduce their deer populations. At the same time, scientists have no idea what other ramifications might ensue from suppressing the urge to mate.

I’m sensing the inspiration for a new edition of “Deer Hunter” coming from this. Maybe for a new version of “Deer Avenger”, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 08:59:42 PM
Category: General
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George Carlin’s seven dirty words routine shed some light on the restrictive atmosphere within the FCC. Not to be outdone, the People’s Republic of China has compiled a list of over a thousand words that are forbidden from appearing on Internet transmissions into the country. Hackers recently discovered the list and brought it to light.

Most of the words are in Chinese, so if you don’t have a Chinese symbol font set loaded onto your computer (I don’t), you can’t see them. But 66 of the verboten words are in Roman alphabet:

av
bignews
bitch
boxun
cdjp
chinaliberal
chinamz
chinesenewsnet
cnd
creaders
dafa
dajiyuan
dfdz
dpp
falu
falun
falundafa
flg
freechina
freedom
freenet
fuck
GCD
gcd
hongzhi
hrichina
huanet
hypermart
incest
jiangdongriji
lihongzhi
making
minghui
minghuinews
nacb
naive
nmis
paper
peacehall
playboy
renminbao
renmingbao
rfa
safeweb
sex
shit
simple
svdc
taip
tianwang
tibetalk
triangle
triangleboy
UltraSurf
unixbox
ustibet
voa
voachinese
wangce
wstaiji
xinsheng
yuming
zhengjian
zhengjianwang
zhenshanren
zhuanfalun

The curse words are well-enough represented, but obviously, this list is more politically-oriented than anything else. The price of restrictive government control is eternal vigilance; coincidentally, that’s also the price of liberty.

The blacklisted words that have me head-scratching: Freedom, making, naive, paper, simple. They’re all pretty basic English words, without any inherently objectional meaning. This may not be the case when they’re used in a Chinese language context, though.

The main thing this list tells me is how ineffective filtering is, whether it’s by Beijing or one of those fool “child-safe” browser/ISP filters. Blocking out a word in the absence of recognizable context is a clumsy approach. Then again, I’m not in favor of any sort censoring.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 08:49:01 PM
Category: Internet, Political
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This morning*, while swinging into work, there was a good-sized flock of local parrots walking around the entranceway of my parking lot, looking for food. As I slowed down to roll in, the group of them sprung up into the sky, like a scattered green flash, to avoid getting crushed. (They all made it.)

Wild parrots hanging out in a metropolitan downtown parking lot. Only in F-L-A.

*Actually, this happened yesterday morning. But the telling loses something with the 24-hour delay, so I’m taking slight artistic license.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 10:45:21 AM
Category: Florida Livin'
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There’s a Lifestyle Family Fitness gym that I pass by just about every day. This morning, its signage marquee announced something along the lines of, “LAST DAY TO SIGN UP FOR $0 ACTIVATION FEE”.

So it’s the last day to get your membership with Lifestyle without having to pay the onerous signup fee. It’s the end of the month/beginning of the next month, so it’s the right time to pitch this offer. It’s meant to create a sense of urgency: If you don’t walk through the doors right now, you miss out on a great incentive!

So what’s wrong with that?

Lifestyle waives its signup fee every single month. They constantly promote this fact, too. So it’s really a running joke: The final day of no-signup-fee is coming, so you’d better join now — or else we’ll waive the fee again in a couple of weeks!

A basic rule of marketing is that a limited-time incentive offer is only as effective as it is unique. When you drain the life out of it by re-introducing it on a continuous basis, it loses its purpose. Worse, it becomes invisible to the consumer, because it doesn’t mean anything; there’s no reason to be interested in any one particular manifestation of it when you know the exact same offer will reappear before you’ve had a chance to miss it.

Lifestyle’s not alone among gyms that do this; I suspect the entire industry has beaten this horse to death. The only way to salvage it is to launch a marketing blitz that announces the complete elimination of signup fees, forever. Losing out on those fixed fees would more than be covered by an uptick in memberships from customers who, at least subconsciously, appreciate a more honest approach in their gym’s marketing promotions.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/02/2021 09:59:26 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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