Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

That Cher’s “Farewell Tour” has been chugging away for more than two years, criss-crossing the same cities, has been a source of constant amusement for me.

I cannot conceive of a more excruciating farewell than hearing that warbling for two hours. (Perhaps the only enjoyment I’d get out of a Cher concert would be hoping that she’d get perilously close to those blazing stagelights, which would undoubtedly ignite the untold quantities of silicone and other chemicals pumping through her plastic surgery-ravaged carcass.)

In an effort to re-spin what had become less a tour and more a punchline, Cher recently de-emphasized the “Farewell” title and re-named the tour “Never Can Say Goodbye”, which will run through 2005 and end in her retirement. Unless, of course, it’s still selling out, at which point I’m sure it’ll be prolonged for another several years.

“Never Can Say Goodbye”? Just call a spade a spade, and tag it as the “Milking It For All I Can” tour.

But you can’t slam Cher too much. All celebrities find it hard to truly pack it in. And really, the ultimate crime is committed by the fans who should know better.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/17/2004 11:44:10 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback

It’s high time someone took Godzilla seriously. “In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage” is an academically-oriented conference that will consider the far-reaching impact of Godzilla and his movies.

It’s kooky, but I guess it’s worth something to trace American adoption of Japanese pop culture back to the big lizard. If not for Godzilla in the ’50s and ’60s, we might not have Pokeman, anime and manga today.

I just hope they have a session or two dealing with the mystery that is Godzooky. And if they don’t minutely examine Godzilla’s Genealogy Bop, then the whole conference will have been an utter farce.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/17/2004 11:13:44 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Movies | Permalink | Feedback

Yesterday, I stopped by the pet store to restock on various aquarium supplies. As part of the splurge, I decided to pick up a new fish, a pleco catfish. It’s the first new fish I’ve bought in months. Plecos are typically marketed as algae eaters; I’ve got a couple of little fish that are supposed to do that job, but they don’t, and I’m tired of looking at the green areas in my tank, few as they are.

When I asked the attendant to get the fish out of the display tank for me, she didn’t reach for a net. Instead, she just dropped her hand in there, tracked down the fish for a few seconds, promptly cornered him, and then grabbed him with her fingers and scooped him into the carrying container.

I was slightly impressed. I said, “You can catch them without using a net?”

She said, “Oh yeah, they’re easier to catch without the net. Just reach in and grab them.”

Easy for her to say! “You can do that with the skinny little fish, like neons, too?”

“Oh yeah. My brother and me used to do that in ponds, just kick the little fish up onto shore. We were freaks.”

I believe it. She looked a little backwoods to me, for sure. I’d have to see her do this with tiny fish to believe that part of it; I know if I tried, I either wouldn’t come close, or else wind up squishing the little sucker. And I’m betting you wouldn’t be able to ask her for specific fish, instead settling for whatever she could catch (she probably counts on customers being too spooked by her fish-grabbing ability to be overly demanding).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/17/2004 11:25:17 AM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saw this ad copy on a billboard on southbound I-275 (soon to be known as the St. Petersburg Parkway, among other things), for Allstate:


I like it. It’s got a certain gallows-humor common sense to it, which you don’t see much in something so staid as insurance advertising.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/17/2004 10:30:10 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Damn this Leap Year. Because of 2004’s extra day, Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, much to the consternation and potential confusion of many.

Apparently, this is bad news for all of Christianity — at least in the Bible Belt:

“It’s a day for the good Lord, not for the devil,” said Barbara Braswell, who plans to send her 4-year-old granddaughter Maliyah out trick-or-treating in a princess costume on Saturday instead.

So let me get this straight: Celebrating Satan is a no-no on the Lord’s day, but it’s okay if you do it the night before? Or any other day of the week? Like that’s showing proper respect for God?

I guess that makes about as much sense as religion in general does.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/16/2004 04:25:12 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback

Cruising the bars with your wingman is so passe. If you wanna score, you need a wingwoman. The New York Times has caught on, so you know it’s the “in” thing.

I like the concept. I’ve found you’re definitely more approachable when you’re hanging with a female friend. But paying for it? Sorry, seems a bit too escort-service for me.

I’ve heard that the best bet is to shanghai an attractive relative, either a sister or cousin. Moot point for me: I have no sisters, and my female cousins, while all beautiful, are a minimum of five years older than me (not to mention mostly married and with children).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/16/2004 12:52:59 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Isn’t it always the way? For the last three weeks, I’ve been in a movie drought — there’s been very little in the theaters to lure me in. I’m a movie buff, so I’ve been jonesin’.

Now, all of a sudden, there are five movies in Tampa Bay moviehouses that I want to see:

- Team America: World Police. Political satire, gratuitous violence, sexual explicity — in marionette form. Hell yeah, I’m there. (I’ll wait for the NC-17 version when it comes out on DVD.)

- The Final Cut. Robin Williams in a sci-fi tinged thriller as a human memory editor. Sounds like a straighter treatment of the subject matter behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

- Code 46. Another near-future potboiler, this time with Tim Robbins and dealing with likely social issues that will sprout from genetic bioengineering. It’s intriguing.

- The Last Show. Based on a true story of an FBI sting that was set up as a movie production. It’s got potential.

- Facing Windows. Italian flick, with very thought-provoking premise: Love affair that takes place in the present day and 60 years ago, simultaneously.

It’s famine-to-feast time.

Naturally, I don’t have time to catch all of them in the next six days (unless I want to live in the cineplex, which ain’t gonna happen). So I have to play the percentages and figure out which ones will stick around past this week, so I can delay seeing those.

Facing Windows actually came out last week; I didn’t have time to catch it then. I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s still playing here. I guess I’ll have to catch it, probably today. I also figure Team America will carry over for at least a couple of weeks, so I can put off that one.

I think I’ll try for one movie a day over the next week. If I can’t swing that, I can always rent them later; but since I never rent movies, that’s nothing to count on.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/16/2004 11:39:21 AM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, October 15, 2021

no beerlympics
The reunion weekend rolls on, with a big dinner tonight at Leverocks on St. Pete Beach. (I had seafood for lunch, so I’m wondering what I should get tonight at this seafood joint.)

There’ll be about 25 of us, plus kiddies. And I’ll pretty much know most of them, excluding some spouses. It’ll be fun to catch up. I know it’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve seen many of them, and in some cases, more like five-plus.

I can’t imagine this being a late night. Most everyone is married, and anyone who’s not won’t be the partying type. For that matter, I’m not sure I’m up for much either. I’m coming into the office tomorrow to wrap up a bunch of things, so the smart move would be to go to dinner, have a couple of hours of fun, then come home, wind down and hit the sheets.

Not that I’m known for making the smart move.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/15/2004 05:37:40 PM
Category: College Years | Permalink | Feedback

Love your java, but not the caffeine rush that comes with it? Never fear, science is here: Researchers at Emory University are developing bacteria that would eat the caffeine out of coffee plants, leading to “naturally” decaffeinated beans.

There’s some level of irony in Emory doing this, since it owes it’s university status to one of the world’s biggest caffeine fixes: Coca-Cola.

I guess those bacteria bugs will have the permanent shakes due to this bioengineering. Bad enough being a lower life form, but to be perpetually wired, too…

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/15/2004 05:24:54 PM
Category: Food, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Consider this headline:

Baby boomers: Act now, save bones

When I skimmed it, the first thing that came to my mind regarding the use of “bones” was as slang for money. Why? Using the action verb “save” led me to that line of thinking. Also, it seems like most baby-boomer news items relate to financial issues at some point, so that probably did it too.

Turns out, the article is about osteoporosis. Go figure.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/15/2004 09:53:57 AM
Category: Media | Permalink | Feedback

Saw this plate on the way into work this morning:

Very inspiring. Of course, it’s not necessarily specific as to which god, but I’ll assume it refers to the Judeo-Christian variety.

Maybe the plate didn’t look exactly like this one, which I recreated through ACME License Maker; but it’s actually pretty close, aside from the letter colors.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/15/2004 09:43:52 AM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Coming into the office this morning, I ran into the corporate big boss, not once, but twice: First in the bathroom, and minutes later, catching the elevators upstairs.

Good omen or bad?

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/15/2004 09:35:49 AM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, October 14, 2021

My little rundown of college nicknames was, as R* pointed out, devoid of women.

For the most part, that’s the way it was. Regularly-used nicknames seemed to be more a guy thing at my school (and for that matter, at my high school as well). If anything, nicknames hung on girls tended to be intentionally and wholly derogatory, and so weren’t something you’d say to their faces. Example: I recall one girl at Eckerd getting the nickname “Hummer”, and it didn’t refer to her choice of vehicle.

That said, after digging into my memory banks, I have come up with a few female classmates who regularly went by colorful nicknames:

“Yen” - Jennifer Thoreson. Gained from some English Language Students (ELS) who lived adjacent to her dorm during Freshman year; most were Latin, and tended to pronounce “Jen” as “Yen”. Especially since there were so many other Jennifers on campus, the nickname quickly gained currency.

Kind of an odd duck. Very bright and personable, but could be off-putting. When I last ran into her, about five years ago, she had just gotten married and was on her way to Philadelphia.

“Cricket” - Barbara Small (I think). Don’t know the origin of the nickname, although I think she had it long before college.

Really a friend of a friend of a friend. Casual acquaintence. Partied with her a few times, but never really hung out.

“Angel” - Angela, don’t remember last name. Shortening of the first name, also had it before college.

A weird girl. Petite, kind of crude, not particularly pretty, but had certain… assets that made her desirable. Mainly got to know her for a brief period during which she was going out/sleeping with a friend of mine during Freshman year, and somehow we maintained a relationship through the rest of college.

Yup, that’s it. If I think of any more notable nicknames, male or female, I suppose I’ll post. I don’t want to overplay this, though.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2004 11:38:26 PM
Category: College Years | Permalink | Feedback

e to the c
As previously mentioned, earlier tonight I made my way to Woody’s on St. Pete Beach for an informal kickoff to this college reunion weekend.

It was a small gathering. There were about 10 of us total (plus some offspring). I knew about half of the alums: Rich and Mary Anderson, Jesse and Myla Turtle, Anne Chapin (who’s now married, but I don’t remember her married name). There were a couple of people there who graduated my freshman year, and if I ever knew them, I’m afraid I’d long since forgotten them. They seemed like a nice group.

I was the only Class of ‘93 representative, so I felt a little stranded. Not that it wasn’t fun to chat with everyone who was there, but it would have been nice to see some former classmates, not to mention roommates. But there’ll be opportunity for that in the next couple of days.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the brief gathering. It was nicely low-key, and left me with a true feeling of camaraderie. This, despite none of the people at Woody’s being among my closest Eckerd friends. Just having the shared experience at the same school was enough, and I guess that’s the point of these reunions.

Jesse provided a nice touch: He wore an old Blakely House t-shirt, some 10 years old, that had some kind of mock code of conduct on the back. I was amazed he still had any old t-shirts from his college days; I know I disposed of mine long ago (although I do have one concert shirt from back then still in my closet). I should have snapped a picture of it; if he wears it again, I definitely will.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2004 11:07:56 PM
Category: College Years | Permalink | Feedback (1)

not shrinking
And speaking of shattering the common hockey fan’s closely-held beliefs, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ruled out contraction of teams as a possible course for the league, regardless of the lockout’s resolution.

Not that this pronouncement will shake the faith of boneheads that can’t stand the thought of NHL squads in Raleigh, Miami, Tampa and anywhere else they consider too far south (and aren’t regular winners). Hockey contraction has existed nowhere except in the minds of fans, and it’ll continue to exist there as a fervid wish.

I would refer such acolytes to Jamie Fitzpatrick’s debunking of the contraction argument. But I wouldn’t want to be accused of letting facts get in the way of a popular theory.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2004 10:48:02 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

Yes, there is a Mexican national hockey team, and it’s playing exhibitions against Texas minor-league teams.

So much for the theory, held dearly by snobbish hockey fans in Canada and the Northeast/Midwest, that hockey can never make it in warm-weather markets. Texas has had 13 professional clubs (the NHL’s Dallas Stars plus various minor-league teams) for the past decade, the most of any state or province in North America. And the rest of the South has its share of teams. I can’t think of any better marker of success than a thriving minor-league presence.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2004 10:37:18 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

Americans are getting steadily fatter. That means our mannequins are plumping up too.

More shoppers want to see themselves on display. And pipe-cleaner-thin waists aren’t them.

So mannequins, which for the female form typically range from sizes 2 to 6, are getting bigger. And some of those new forms are making their way into stores now, as retailers get ready for the holiday shopping season.

Just because customers say they want to see their frumpy selves reflected in fashion, doesn’t mean they really want that. There’s a reason why models are ultra-slim and impossibly beautiful, when they represent maybe 5 percent of the population’s body type. The mass market adores the ideal, if only to have something to either aspire toward or ogle at. I’m all but positive that these chunky dummies will result in lackluster sales, and will be mothballed by next year.

On the bright side, at least these things don’t have nipples.

Let me add that, had these big-bodied models been around when the Kim Cattrall vehicle Mannequin was made, the fantasy evoked would have been considerably less effective.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2004 10:24:56 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

For some reason, work conversation this morning turned to nicknames acquired in college. Combined with my impending reunion, it got me to thinking of all the nicknames my friends and acquaintences in college had.

My college nickname? I’m afraid those records are classified.*

I’m going strictly by memory, and given that it’s 10 to 15 years in the past, there’s bound to be gaps, misspellings and less-than-accurate recollections. If I’ve excluded anyone, or gotten anything wrong, it’s not intentional. Any Eckerd alums coming across this can feel free to chime in.

I’m also going to (mostly) exclude nicknames that are just diminutives of the full names, just because they aren’t as colorful. So I’m not forgetting J.C., JayRay, Neeck, Gordo, Jimbo and the like, but I am overlooking them here.

In no particular order, with nickname, real name, origin story, and impressions:

“Deuce” - Rick Neverdousky. A shortened portion of his last name.

Not a close friend, but we usually managed to be in the same places at the same times. One of the cheesiest individuals I’d ever met, and the amount of tail he scored despite (or perhaps because of?) that just absolutely killed me.

“Schmu” - Christopher Casey. Shortened from “Shamu”, as in the killer whale. Bestowed in the aftermath of a canoe race where he and his rowing partner managed to flip their craft about 10 seconds after starting, and remained waterlogged the whole rest of the way. (The partner was granted the nickname “Flipper”, of which there’s more below.)

One of my oldest friends, former roommate during and after college. Now lives in Washington, DC, so communication is more sporadic.

“Flipper” - Jason Bauer. See the origin of “Schmu”, above. Not to be confused with “Flip”, another campus regular (more below). I believe Jason once mentioned to me that he would have preferred getting “Schmu” instead, but what can you do…

Former college roommate. Fun guy, good friend, tended to be a lousy drunk to have around. I spent many a Mobile Mardi Gras at his family home during the ’90s. We’ve drifted apart over the past few years.

“Adge” - A.J. Joseph. A shortening/mashing of A.J. (which would tend to give you something pronounced “age”, but that would be stupid, so this was the solution).

Former roommate, right out of college. Good guy, full of confidence, a bit on the goofy side. He was living in town and working at Eckerd until recently; I’ve heard he’s since moved to Colorado.

“Slim” - Real name unknown. Origin of nickname unknown, although since he was pretty thin, I assume the name just fit.

A dormmate during my first semester in my freshman year. I never knew him particularly well, but for some reason I remember him. He was part of a group of guys in the dorm who left in the middle of that school year, under a mysterious cloud. I seem to recall something about drug dealing. My mentions of him over the next couple of years to mutual acquaintences would always elicit remarks of, “Slim? That dog.”; never sought an expansion on that.

“Weasel” - Don’t remember real name, something Hispanic. Had kind of a little-guy weasel look about him, not as much so personality-wise.

I never knew him very well, but we had mutual friends. He graduated after my Sophomore year. Seemed like a nice enough guy.

“Bear” - Mark Bonfiglio. Derived mainly from his hirsute nature. I heard at one point that he wanted to have “Fig” as his nickname, but it never stuck.

Good guy, always very inclusive in social gatherings. I remember his room as the focal point of dorm activity. He married Kat, his college sweetheart, and moved to Colorado and Ohio after graduation. We’ve traded infrequent emails since.

“Woody” - Chris Bell. The story I was given was that during a party, he and Kat (above) were dancing, when Kat pulled away, giggling, and declared, “He’s got a woody! He’s got a woody!”. The presence of other Chrises in the social group also led to the necessity of a nickname.

Funny fellow. He was Bear’s roommate, so we hung out a lot in his room, playing Nintendo and wasting time. The last I heard, years ago, was that he was living in Atlanta.

“Flip” - Don’t remember real name, maybe John-something. I think inspired by the beach visors, with the flipped-up lids, that he often wore.

Never knew him particularly well. He was part of the regular volleyball-playing crew that always congregated behind the dorms or at the beach. He went out for a long stretch with a girl named Danyelle, on whom I had a running low-level crush (I remember her being almost ideal, physically, with dark tan, long brown hair and a slim figure); and so, I was jealous of him.

“Rambo” - David Downing. His military family background, involvement in ROTC and general fondness of militaria got him the name.

Nice enough guy. I don’t think he was ever completely comfortable in his own skin. He was always the responsible one, in that while the rest of us got trashed, he’d be relied upon to get us home in one piece. He relished the role, but I always felt like we took advantage of that. I think he went overseas after graduation; we met up again a few years ago, but I don’t remember what he had been up to.

“Jazzy” - Jeff, don’t remember his last name. No specific origin for the nickname, other than a love for hip-hop.

My next-door neighbor during my freshman year. Another active volleyballer. He was from the Florida Panhandle, a real cracker, but immersed in black culture. Usually very low-key, but a bit more excitable when drunk. I believe I heard he moved to Tennessee to work at FedEx after graduation, and got married to his college girlfriend.

“Floyd” - John Briggs. Shorthand for “Pretty Boy Floyd”, bestowed to him after he was caught preening too long in front of a mirror. Also got a secondary nickname, “Pedro”, after he walked around the dorm one night wearing a Mexican-style poncho.

Roommate of Jazzy’s, and thus also my dorm neighbor my first year. New Yorker, bodybuilder. Nice guy, although I can’t say much else about him stands out now. I ran into him shortly after I graduated, here in St. Pete, but I lost touch soon thereafter.

“Suds” - Greg Suddath. Derived from his last name, and from his copious beer guzzling (not that he was unique in that).

Never knew him too well, but he was a fixture at parties, and always noticable. Lived in Hiaassen House, pretty much a jock dorm, and the neighboring male dorm in my complex during my freshman year.

“Heckler” - Justin, don’t remember last name. Reflective of his wise-ass personality. He originally got “Flounder” hung on him, derived from the Animal House character; he somehow managed to drop it. However, I couldn’t seem to let go of it for a long while afterward, and even now sometimes refer to him as “Flounder”.

A born prankster. Jersey kid, slightly rich, something of a ladies’ man. I would run into him every so often after graduation, and I think he still lives a few miles away from me, but I haven’t seen him in a couple of years now.

“Puppet” - Greg, don’t remember last name. Don’t remember how he got the name, although I guess he sort of had a puppet-like countenance.

Sort of casual acquaintence throughout college. Most memorable moment with him was sharing a 24-hour van drive north from St. Petersburg to New York, where I was dropped off while he and another guy kept going into New England. Lost track after graduation.

“Oaf” - John O’Flanagan. Shortened fragment of his last name; not so much his personality.

Boston native, with the accompanying accent. Part of a neighboring clique, hung out at parties and such. His sister, Jennie, was a heartbreaker.

“Mel” - Richard, don’t remember last name. Given to him due to a passing resemblance to a young Mel Gibson.

Nice guy, never knew him particularly well. Part of the extended group we all hung out in.

“Goose” - Don’t remember real name. Don’t remember the origin, although I have a feeling it was based off his real name somehow.

Truthfully, I barely remember him now. We were dormmates my Sophomore year, and he often hung out in the halls. I think he might have been a computers major.

“Ears” - Erin Kelly. Due to his noticably big ears, also partially off his first name.

Bombastic guy, fun at parties. I actually got an apartment with him and his girlfriend, Margaret, the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years. I think he went to med school after graduation, but I lost track after that.

“Zooey” - Dave Branigan. Not sure how he acquired the nickname; may have been related to his party-animal behavior (animal suggesting zoo).

A guy in my Freshman orientation class/Western Heritage class. Pretty much treated college life as a playground, and dropped out after his first year. I always had a suspicion that he would come back our Senior year, but he never did.

*Actually, I didn’t have a nickname in college. My name’s unique enough.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 11:17:35 PM
Category: College Years | Permalink | Feedback (6)

cup o' stan
Reminders of the lockout are downers. Best cure: 46 pictures of the Stanley Cup’s summer world tour with Tampa Bay Lightning players.

My favorite: Picture number 33, which shows Brad Richards trying to squeeze the Cup into his SUV’s shotgun seat.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 09:35:48 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

*Jen* Magazine, a webzine just for modest-minded Mormon teens and young adults.

Because you’re never too young to start repressing yourself.

(Via Tian)

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 09:02:12 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback

so high school
Has it really been only a year since Apple announced Windows support for iPods and iTunes? It was a good decision, as the company is enjoying high times as a result of its dominance of the digital music market.

Aside from that, I found this anecdote to be a good illustration of the coolness quotient of the iPod:

Investment bank Piper Jaffray traveled to high schools across the country and found that 16 percent of students already had an iPod. Another quarter of them plan to buy an iPod, with only about 8 percent planning to buy some other type of digital music player.

Just how high does the iPod rank on the teenagers’ minds? Well, only clothes, money and a car were named higher on the holiday wish lists of those surveyed by Piper Jaffray.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 08:47:46 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Poynter’s got an interesting article that discusses recent findings from an Associated Press research study on how newspaper readers perceive blogs.

Among the findings: About 20 percent of regular newspaper readers read blogs at least some of the time. Compare this to the latest Pew Internet & American Life numbers, which pegs about 11 percent of the general U.S. population reading blogs with the same frequency. This is not surprising: Newspaper readers tend to be info junkies and avid readers, so naturally they’re going to gravitate toward additional reading material. Plus, they’ll tend to be more informed about the existence of blogs, both particular ones and blogging in general.

While it’s fashionable to tout this much penetration for blogging, it’s important to note that it’s still a small portion of the public that’s reading blogs. The numbers are increasing — I believe Pew reported only 4 percent general public readership a year ago — but they’re still far from making blogs a widespread source of influence.

The other notable finding here is the impression survey respondents had of blogs. Overall, there’s no indication that news consumers are ready to toss traditional media overboard for blogs:

Some said that although they don’t visit blogs now, the CBS memo controversy had convinced them that they should. And others said they’d sampled blogs but found them self-centered, rude, or lacking the level of credibility they were after. “I browse them once in a while,” said Bill Gillam of Arlington, Wash. “I find them to be akin to listening to the guy in front of you talking to his buddy when you are at Starbucks.”

“I applaud them for their involvement, their creativity, and their resourcefulness, but they are merely a modern version of the soapbox speaker in the town square,” said Jerry Gillooly of Lambertville, Mich. “They’re entitled to their opinions, and I’m entitled to ignore them.”

On the other hand, there’s an appreciation for what bloggers are in a unique position to offer:

“Most of the time they report something and it’s clear which side of the fence they’re on — they make no claim to impartial observation,” said Joe Schweigert of Rochester, N.Y. “I wish I could say the same for the national and local news media.”

Survey respondents also say experience is key. There’s plenty of junk out there, but if you follow blogs for a while, it becomes easy to separate the good from the bad. Look for writers willing to treat an issue honestly, and those who can speak with authority.

“Bloggers that are talking about something in their field of expertise are much more trustworthy than mainstream media,” said Jason Hartney of Pullman, Wash. “A news reporter talking about guns is a prime example (they generally know very little). Likewise, it is easy to tell when a blogger is outside his area of expertise.”

“I cull through them until I trust them. I believe you can read a blog to reinforce your beliefs … or you can read a blog and learn something,” said Sydney Cardner of Lakeland, Fla. “If a blogger never varies on his opinion on a topic, I become suspect.”

J.T. Mims of LaGrange, Ga., said trying to zero in on the credibility of individual bloggers is missing the point. “It’s not so much ‘trusting’ one blogger over another. What matters is that ALL sides of any issue can be researched by looking at the viewpoints proffered by all sources. Ideally, the truth would be portrayed by some single source. However, this is not the case with the Internet nor with the old media.”

The issues of objectivity and trustworthiness have been centerpieces of online opinion journalism. Who can you believe? I think there’s a lot to be said for putting more stock in news organizations that deal with the dollars and cents of news gathering and presentation than in pundits who riff off that. Blogs offer important perspectives on what’s reported, but to rely on them as the primary news source doesn’t work.

One thing to keep in mind on all this: Newspaper readers tend to skew older. That means the polling population was probably relatively light on the younger demographics, much of which are considered the most devoted blog readers/writers.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 08:32:15 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing, Society | Permalink | Feedback

You’ll often find some of the most ardent blogging evangelizers from within the advertising, marketing and public relations fields. To these professionals, blogs are an effective break-through-the-clutter method of getting the message out, often with at least the appearance of anti-establishment credibility.

But do their industries as a whole embrace blogging? The Public Relations Society of America, for one, praises blogs to the skies. But when it comes time to walk the talk, they don’t devote a single program item during their upcoming annual convention to what they describe as “the most important international communications event of the year”.

B.L. Ochman is of the opinion that this omission is the result of a fossilized attitude at the PRSA. In the PR field, there’s no greater sin than being behind the curve. That the association isn’t willing to cede some convention time to this new field is a strong indication that the industry establishment is currently missing the boat.

The flip side of the argument is that, given how one of the perceived virtues of blogging is it’s unstructured nature, the PRSA might not want to spoil the fun by making it an “santioned” PR tactic. In fact, PR people like Jeremy Pepper think blogging is better left untouched at such events, lest it become quickly overexposed.

I tend to side with the latter argument. Blogs are still new enough that there’s nothing to be gained by “legitimizing” them through widespread use. If every PR house started pushing them, they’d lose their cache, in no small part due to over-handling. I also question why PR professionals would need tutorials, or even pointers, from their association. If they need to be clued in through that channel, they probably shouldn’t mess with it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 07:50:40 PM
Category: Bloggin', Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

A skating rink? A movie studio? Oh, the possibilities are many for refurbishing Tampa’s Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, most of which is being vacated by the present tenant, the National Guard.

About that movie studio idea:

Several said the building would make a great film studio - the perfect thing to put Tampa on the map as a movie-making destination.

Rep. Kevin Ambler said that would be “perhaps the best use” of the armory, which sits within the West Tampa redevelopment area.

“If we have that infrastructure, we can become a major competitor to the Miami market, even exceed it,” Ambler said. “The city could recoup money from that, and lots of business spinoffs come from that.”

Surpass Miami as Florida’s premiere filming location? Dare to dream, but no, that’s not going to happen. Still, it would be an attractive perk that could lure more productions here — and not necessarily Scientology-critical ones, either.

I’m trying to visualize the building. I’m familiar enough with that part of town, but can’t quite place it mentally. It’s probably so nondescript that it blends into the background.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 07:14:23 PM
Category: Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

only postponed
Today was supposed to be Opening Night for the 2004-2005 NHL season. But of course, it’s not.

And what could be a more poignant reminder of what’s lost than having today’s planned schedule of games listed in the usual spot on my Excite homepage, with an unintentionally optimistic “Postponed” in place of gametimes? Automated Web scripts at their finest.

I hope that scoreboard doesn’t display like that all this lost season. Or maybe I hope it does: It’ll serve as a regular reminder of what we’re missing, and maybe get me riled up out of my present apathy toward the labor impasse.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2004 09:57:19 AM
Category: Internet, Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Are we heading for a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment on November 2nd? Probably not, but the increasing number of cell-only phone users that are excluded from telephone-conducted polls have researchers wondering how big a hole they represent in projections.

If you go by traditional perceptions, the cellies aren’t a big enough or significant enough factor:

When tracking this year’s election, pollsters contact people on traditional phones. About 5 percent of all households receive telephone service only by cellular phone, according to a face-to-face survey done earlier this year by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among young adults up to age 24, the number is close to three times as high.

“Many of these people are not voters,” said Linda Piekarski, vice president of database and research at Survey Sampling International, which provides samples for the research industry. “They’ve always been hard to get into our polls anyway. They tend to be non-responsive.”

But throw in the big surge in voter registration this year, especially among younger people, and there’s potential there for pretty marked underrepresentation. Polls now show a really tight race; even a two or three bump for either side could mean the election, especially in battleground states. And frankly, this level of motivated registrations among the formerly political-apathetic usually suggests dissatisfaction with the incumbent, so if anything, the underreporting probably bodes ill for Bush.

The nature of do-not-call designations for wireless phones makes it hard to do survey research. Given that wireless adoption is only going to increase, alternatives are going to have to be found, in order to avoid huge margins of error in the population statistics:

Partisan pollsters say other problems in campaign polling are bigger concerns. GOP pollster Bill McInturff said pollsters might eventually have to move to other techniques that use combinations of random-digit dialing and the Internet.

“We may get bitten in the rear this election,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “But the bigger problems are voter turnout models used and machines that keep people from picking up their phones.”

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:57:42 PM
Category: Politics, Society | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Got some extra vacation time to burn off? Russia’s space researchers are looking for volunteers to take part in a mock mission to Mars, consisting of isolating participants for 500 days.

A few years ago, the ESA put out a call for something similar: An extended sleep-study program, although I think it was only for a couple of weeks. I actually tossed my name in the hat, on a lark. It turned out it was open only to EU residents; since I’m a first-generation American of Euro parents, they actually initially considered me, but rescinded it shortly thereafter.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:16:22 PM
Category: Science | Permalink | Feedback

room for improvement
I was just considering my old-timey 5-gig iPod this morning. It’s looking pretty worn at this point. The battery might be starting to go, too (for which it’s overdue — the thing’s almost four years old). It might be time to buy a new one.

If the rumors are true, I should wait on that purchase. Apple appears to be making a major shift in iPod design, giving it a 60-gig drive, color screen and ability to display pictures.

Wow, it sounds like the PowerPod (almost) come to life.

The major shift is that Apple is even considering moving the iPod into any non-audio media playback. Steve Jobs has dismissed the idea of getting into the portable video player contest, insisting that going with audio as the primary output is the best option for a managable portable.

Of course, iPods already have functionality beyond audio playback: Built-in mini-games, an address book/scheduler and other extras. I suppose photo storage, paired with iPhoto, would fit in a similar slot.

The $500 pricetag is a bit steep, though. If nothing else, this super-iPod might lead to a price drop for the current 20- and 40-gig models, which would become more affordable. I’ve never even filled up my 5-gigger, and while I know you can never have too much disc storage, I think either of the present models would be enough for me.

As I usually do regarding portables, I’m wondering about battery life. A bigger drive uses more power, although Apple’s configured the iPod’s firmware to minimize power usage. The color screen is another big potential vampire; again, this problem seems to have been overcome for mobile phones, so maybe it’s not an issue. Still, they need to keep the charge life at eight hours, minimum.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:45:09 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback (3)

A lawyer named Lawyer? A flowershop owner named Gardner? A pest-control inspector named Roach?

They all sound like punchlines. But they’re all for real, and part of a big collection of name-vocation pairings maintained by Brown University’s Dr. Lewis Lipsitt.

Lipsitt has a hunch that these examples aren’t so coincidental — that the name makes the career:

At the time he told his students the fact that Dr. Fish founded the state’s Oceanographic Institute; that Mr. Rolls was the director of the state’s AAA organization; and that Mr. Hawkes worked at the Audubon Society didn’t mean that there was any psychological reason for their choice of livelihood.

Yet, Lipsitt asked himself after the class, could your interests be influenced by having grown up hearing and saying your name?

“I decided shortly thereafter there might be something to it,” said Lipsitt. “Something is at work subconsciously when you have a repeated reminder.”

Unfortunately, Lipsitt’s collection is apparently all off-line, consisting of newspaper clippings and such in some file drawers. I think he needs to get it up on the Web so we can all ogle it.

And yet, I can’t help but think that there’s an overemphasis on finding a link between a person’s name and their walk of life. If I might draw from Wayne’s World:

Was it Kierkegaard, or perhaps Dick Van Patten, who said, “When you label me, you negate me”?

I should point out that the writer of this article, Kristen Cole, committed a faux pas when she tried to be cute by citing the false Chevy Nova/”no va” cautionary business tale.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:19:55 PM
Category: Comedy, Society | Permalink | Feedback

click to enlarge
Received via email. I think using pink pellets was a nice touch.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:02:42 PM
Category: Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

I loathe spam as much as the next person. But I have to admit a certain fondness for the celebrity-endorsed variety.

So when I saw an email from retired Minnesota Twin Kirby Puckett in my inbox this morning, I couldn’t help but open it. Surely, the nicest guy in baseball wouldn’t waste my time.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a pitch for cheap online medications. I guess a Hall of Fame career doesn’t take you as far as it used to.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:43:48 AM
Category: Internet, Baseball, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, October 11, 2021

get the eck out
I mentioned yesterday that my college reunion was scheduled for this coming weekend. Along with my blase attitude toward it — more a function of my hectic work schedule right now than anything else — I casually dropped a line about an informal alum gathering at Woody’s Waterfront that I would probably hit.

Little did I know that the Woody’s gathering represented something more than just a casual get-together.

I got an email today from Rich Anderson, a local and fellow alum. It was a rambling missive that basically expressed a high level of dissatisfaction with the school-sponsored reunion festivities, and suggesting that we all chuck that and just go out and do our own thing, independent of Eckerd. While the overall tone of the email was gentle enough, words like “disarray” and “rebellious” were thrown in, making it clear that the official reunion was coming up lame.

The idea of a wildcat reunion gives me a good chuckle. It takes me back (a little) to my student days, when we would do things like this that, while largely inconsequential, had the desired dual effects of pleasing us and cheesing off the administration. Besides, my original inclination for reunion participation was very much along the lines of what Richie is suggesting: A few drinks, reminiscences, and general chatter/gossip. I can do without a golf tournament, thanks.

I’m not sure what’s going on at Eckerd’s alumni office, but it’s certainly shaping up to be a lackluster weekend. I’m betting they’ve got only a handful of registrations so far, even after waiving the fees on most events. For a small private school that critically relies upon the goodwill of alumni (and their donations), it’s not a particularly smart move.

Of course, none of this changes my time crunch. I’ll make some time to see old friends, but I can’t say just how much time that’ll be.

With the approach of reunion time, I’ve been taking a few strolls down memory lane lately. The funny thing is, most have been about my freshman year, and are populated by characters that I not only lost touch of while still in school, but who also are highly unlikely to ever make a reunion (the odds are excellent that half of them are in jail or in exile). Such remembrances may be worth a separate, dedicated post later tonight, or this week.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/11/2021 07:08:23 PM
Category: Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (4)

I can’t say why I find the opening Flash animation for Florida Shed so amusing. It could be the goofily-belligerent look on the little shed mascot’s face. Or that he’s leading with his left while jabbing with his right. Or the fact that he even has a left and a right (not to mention a face). Having him punch out a couple of hurricanes was a nice, timely touch.

All I know is that I liked it so much, that I saved the actual .swf file to my hard drive.

(Adjust volume accordingly, although you won’t get the full effect unless you watch it along with the accompanying cheesy jingle.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/11/2021 06:26:29 PM
Category: Internet, Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

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