Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, September 10, 2021

The sparkling Team USA win over Russia in the World Cup the other night inspired Liz to reminisce about a trip to an amusement park with a rollercoaster-shy Russian.

I thought her little story served as an apt analogy for the entire Cold War. And I said so.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 09:04:15 PM
Category: Bloggin', Comedy
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Is the bloom off the rose for the Fab Five? “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” is dipping in the ratings, not enough for imminent cancellation but enough to wonder if its days are numbered (and if its popularity wasn’t fad-based to begin with).

I think I lucked out with the first episode of “Queer Eye” I ever saw; I don’t think it’s been matched by any subsequent episode I ever saw. The funniest thing about that episode was the reaction of the boys when they got their first look at their subject’s girlfriend: She was a tacky-trashy borderline skank, decked out in cheap leather, including some gaudy knee-high boots. They all stared at the monitor with mouths agape, aghast that they put forth all their efforts to impress that, and one of them uttered, “I think some hooker in Trenton is looking for her missing streetwalking boots right now.”

That managed to hook me right away. The perfect mixture of cattiness and fashionista.

Alas, I don’t think I’ve seen another gold-medal moment from the show since. It seemed to get old real quick for me. The endless reruns don’t help, either; it seems that on those rare occasions when I’m in the mood to watch it, it winds up being one I’ve already seen, or have seen enough of to know that I don’t want to watch in its entirety.

More than anything, I’ve become more acutely aware of the blatant product placement that’s run rampant since the show hit it big. I’m not quibbling; I know it’s part of the game with a show like this. But when the food guy pushes a banal wine like Yellowtail, that’s only a notch above rotgut, it becomes pretty transparent. Of course, fashion guy Carson takes the cake as the main shill of the group; he’s got zero fashion sense, and is just draping his subjects in the highest bidder. Again, I know the score, but you can’t make it overly obvious.

Can they regain their forward momentum? Here’s a suggestion: Start a rumor that two of them are dating one another. I’d nominate Kyan and Jai. Make it reality, even.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 08:53:23 PM
Category: TV
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When Bill Gates made his much-ballyhooed announcement earlier this year about eradicating spam, I was skeptical. My reasons were twofold:

As for the ideas on countering spam, I’m not sure about the basic approach: Restricting email communication only to those addresses already in a person’s address book. Does that mean you can’t just give someone you meet your email address without first adding them to your address book ahead of time? What if a mutual friend/colleague gives your address to someone else? What about information requests, or just public inquiries? Not to mention that viruses get spread by using address book information, so any such email “protection” system that makes messages sent by recognized senders appear “trustworthy” would cause the average person to drop their guard against malicious attachments (typical of Microsoft to think of these things in compartmentalized fashion: “We solved spam, but how could we know it would have increased virus spread tenfold?”).

Basically, I thought the whole approach relied on a clumsy whitelist filter, and so would be doomed from the start. What’s more, it would only make things easier for virus writers (close enough parters with spammers).

It looks like my suspicions were justified: Spammers have already taken advantage of the brand new Send ID feature that MS is pushing, ironically helping junk email evade filters. So it’s making spam more pervasive, not less.

Is it obvious yet that Microsoft is just not organizationally equipped to solve problems like this? You didn’t need a crystal ball to anticipate this sort of misuse. When you approach problem-solving by ignoring big-picture ramifications, naturally you’re not only not going to solve the problem you’re targeting, but you’re also going to exacerbate other problem areas.

If this is the sort of ham-handed approach that Longhorn will be based upon, I think I’ll pass.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 08:24:48 PM
Category: Internet
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I was reading about blondelibrarian’s struggles with her lily-white skin, and how she would fare better had she been born a century or two ago. She nails it perfectly by noting that certain physical traits are deemed attractive based upon societal and class distinctions:

Once it was fashionable to have lily white skin because it was a sign of wealth and leisure. During that time it was the working class who had to be (i.e., work) outside and, as a result, ended up with tanned bodies. Obviously, for a person of leisure the thought of having to work outside was highly undesirable. Therefore, any sign that he or she did so (like tanned skin) was also unwelcome. Consequently, fair white skin was an indication that the person did not have to be outside or work.

Fast forward to the last half of 20th century. Suddenly working people had to spend the majority of their time indoors. Everyone* developed white skin per default. People wanted to be outside surfing, gardening, swimming, or a thousand other things that would, unsurprisingly, result in a tan during their hard-earned free-time. This shift to favoring a golden brown tan over lily white skin indicated not only that being outside was a good thing, but also communicated that the person in question had time and money to spend outside enjoying these things. And what better way to prove that you can spend time relaxing on the beach or smelling your well-groomed roses than with a tan?

I concurred by commenting:

Bingo! Class distinction underlies what’s defined as attractive and what’s not. The other example:

The Botticelli ideal of plump women was in vogue during a time when having several extra pounds was a sign that you were (very) well-fed — i.e., rich enough to be well-fed. In the 20th century, the spread of cheap starchy-based diets among lower-income populations meant that the poor tended to become overweight, because they can’t afford to eat right. In reaction, more affluent consumers could afford to indulge in leaner meats and low-cal foods; you literally had to be able to afford being able to starve yourself. Thin became in.

Upshot: The media’s not to blame for the ideal of beauty it presents. It’s only reflecting societal memes.

Discerning what is or isn’t attractive/desirable/beautiful, especially as it concerns women, is always a hot topic. Of late, Dean Esmay recently devoted some thought to it (discovered via Dustbury). Unfortunately, the track taken was the predictable one: That the popular imagery of models and actresses was false, and that “real” women — those too fat, too short, too flawed — should be celebrated.

As noted above, general perceptions don’t work that way. The basic law of supply and demand works for societal trends, too: Those who fit the ideal of perfection (or at least desirability) are always going to be in the minority, and “the rest” are going to be a dime a dozen. Scarcity creates value; that’s natural. If every boy and girl were drop-dead gorgeous, then ergo, nobody would be beautiful.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 10:03:14 AM
Category: Media, Society
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