Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

hears a who?
Have I mentioned that I fairly despise the “red state/blue state” designations?

It’s stupid to take what are arbitrarily-chosen hues for a functional news map and enshrine them with a permanence. What’s more, in terms of political tradition, one of the two color assignments makes absolutely no sense: Using red, long known as the color of choice for leftist/communist movements, as the symbol for Republican states is counterintuitive.

I’m desperately hoping both colors are abolished by 2008, to be replaced by simpler, more straightforward descriptors.

That said… If popular political punditry insists on using the red and the blue, the rest of us might as well have some fun with it. Sutton Ward’s “One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State”, playing off the Dr. Seuss classic, fits the bill nicely.

Be forewarned: Sutton Impact comes at you from The Village Voice, in the very heart of blue state country. If you want to avoid politics altogether, go have some appropriately-colored breakfast.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 11:18:02 PM
Category: Political, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (3)

I’m slowly reading through “The Crisis : The President, the Prophet, and the Shah — 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam”, by David Harris. It’s the second book Time Warner Book Group sent me for my review. I’d hoped to be nearly finished with it by now, but I doubt I’ll be done with it, and have a review posted here, until after Thanksgiving. That’s life.

It’s not a reflection on the book, necessarily. I’m working my way into it, and appreciating the detail that’s going into setting the stage for what would be a world-riveting crisis. Part of that detail is coming from the backgrounds of the primary players in the event: The Shah, Jimmy Carter, and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

I found this tidbit about Khomeini to be particularly interesting:

Ruhollah was a most uncommon name in Khomein [the Iranian town where the future Ayatollah was born]. It literally means “the spirit of Allah”, and some Muslims considered its use sacrilegious, since it was also used as another name for Jesus Christ, whom Muslims accepted as a prophet, though not as the son of God.

I doubt many Americans back then, let alone now, were aware that Khomeini’s first name translated to “Jesus”. And there’s an odd fatefulness to a boy with a somewhat scandalous name becoming a holy man. Strange stuff in the West-versus-Islam context.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 06:48:50 PM
Category: Publishing, Book Review, History | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Dig through the archives of this site, and its predecessor, and you’ll see pretty quickly that I’m no fan of reality television. It’s cut-rate lazy programming in all its empty glory, is based on nothing more than the illusion of “reailty”, and winds up being as formulaic as any other brand of TV series. The rise of reality shows dovetailed pretty neatly with my own marked decrease in television watching, and while it doesn’t take all the blame/credit for that, it had its part.

Just like any business or creative cycle, reality was due to run its course, despite wild speculations that it represented a big part of the future of television. The industry naturally feeds on itself through imitation, creating glut and overexposure. As a result, audiences are getting their fill of reality shows, signalling a potential end to their preponderance.

“It’s a band-aid,” [veteran TV producer Bernie] Brillstein said. He and other industry executives said the mainstreaming of reality shows has led them to suffer the same high casualty rates as conventional sitcoms and dramas.

“With quantity comes failure,” Fox TV reality chief Mike Darnell was quoted as saying in Daily Variety. “It becomes a combination of mediocre shows or shows that are so similar to other shows, they don’t stick out.”

Nowhere has this become more apparent lately than at Fox, which currently devotes about 60 percent of its prime-time schedule to unscripted shows — more than any other network.

After taking a dive with its much-ballyhooed boxing show, “The Next Great Champ,” Fox TV stumbled with two more high-profile reality launches this month — “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” and Sir Richard Branson’s “The Rebel Billionaire.”

Not only that, but the long-term economics for reality shows don’t look particularly good either:

In the end, however, the biggest limit to the commercial success of reality TV may be its limited shelf life in an industry whose business model hinges on the ability of producers to eventually sell their shows as reruns.

“Part of our business is to get (a show) to last so you can syndicate it,” Brillstein said. “You can’t syndicate this dreck.”

That factor especially makes it easy to compare the reality craze with the previous big wave to sweep network TV: The “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” phenomenon. The trajectory was similar, but of shorter duration: ABC hit it big with the Regis Philbin vehicle, drove it into the ground, inspired a few uninspiring knockoffs, and now the gameshow genre is deader than ever. And you can’t successfully syndicate reruns of gameshows, as the stuggling Game Show Network/GSN is finding (plans for reality programming networks are afoot, although they may never come to fruition).

I doubt reality television will completely disappear; they’ve certainly got appeal, depending on the format and casting. But I think the high tide as rolled back.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/16/2004 06:17:46 PM
Category: Reality Check | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Sun Microsystems‘ CEO Scott McNealy tried to put a sunny (pun intended) spin on his company’s decision to make its Solaris operating system nominally free and potentially open-source:

The result, Sun believes, will be renewed demand for its servers and services. The company also will charge subscription fees for Solaris support and service programs that are typically sought by the businesses and organizations that Sun targets.

“Hewlett Packard sells a printer at a low price and makes a lot of money on printer cartridges. Gillette gives you the razor and makes a lot of money on the blades,” said Scott McNealy, Sun’s chief executive. “There are different ways to drive market penetration.”

The real reason for this decision: It’s a Windows world for serious business, and Linux fills the role of the free alternative OS (there’s also Macintosh, but it’s really not relevant in this context). Between those two, there’s simply no room for Solaris, something that wouldn’t be compatible with the rest of the computing universe and, to boot, would actually cost something to maintain. Converting it to free was the only option, if Sun wanted to keep a horse in this race.

Which is questionable anyway. Even IBM gave up the ghost years ago when it pulled the plug on OS/2. If Sun is relying on an OS strategy to revive its fortunes, it’s already as good as dead.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2004 11:20:33 PM
Category: Tech, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Yes, the venerable Kash n’ Karry grocery chain will be rebranded over the next few years, emerging as Sweetbay Supermarket.

Whether or not that will be enough to compete with the Publixes and Walmarts in the grocery sector, time will tell. But at least they’re having fun with the makeover:

In the parking lot, customers are cajoled to return their shopping carts with a line that “carts have feelings, too. Please return yours to its home.”

In the bakery, buyers are prodded to order custom cakes “because we like a challenge.” Shoppers are advised to pick from the handmade artisan breads because “your sandwich will thank you.”

The “Limited Reserve” wine selections are for “ever-changing, oh, so, intriguing, simply divine, get-it-while-you-can wine.”

VP of Marketing Steve Smith, who’s overseeing all these fine touches, saves the best for last:

A language buff who studies the history and meaning of print fonts as a hobby, Smith used the opportunity of creating new grocery store signs to correct one of his “pet peeves.”

He banned the improper usage “less than 10 items” or “under 10 items” found in most chains’ express checkout lines. The express lanes at Sweetbay are for “10 Items or Fewer.”

A grammatically-correct grocery store? I’m willing to bet that Smith is a fan of Lynne Truss’ “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2004 10:20:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business | Permalink | Feedback

morphed stage
When downtown St. Pete’s American Stage first started pimping it’s production of Mary Zimmerman’s directorial interpretation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, about four months ago, I made a mental note. I wondered if a small theater could pull off a pretty complex show like that.

Apparently, they did it with aplomb. Marty Clear’s review is so compelling that I’ve decided I’ll have to go see it tomorrow, if only for this:

The centerpiece for the set is a pool, maybe a couple of feet deep, that extends from underneath a walkway and out toward the audience…

[The] water is central to nearly everything that occurs during the play. It’s the setting for several near-drownings. An erotic scene is performed in, on and even under the water. Actors make entrances by appearing magically from beneath the water’s surface. Most of the performers are soaking wet, head to toe, through most play.

I’m so there. Besides, I’m a sucker for reinterpretive adaptions of classical literature (although given the choice, I’d take Greek over Roman any day).

The extra incentive? American Stage has a couple of “pay-what-you-can” nights each month, where instead of charging standard ticket prices, they ask for whatever you feel like paying for admission.

No, I’m not going to pay with loose change. But I’m not going to give up full price, either. They’re not going to go broke from me. Besides, the point of the promotion night is to hook people into coming back int the future, and they’ll probably get enough of that to more than recoup from the discounts they’ll give out.

The nicest feature about going to American Stage: I don’t have to drive there. It’s only a block away from my office, so I can stroll right on over after work (or maybe after a drink or two nearby).

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2004 09:40:20 PM
Category: Media, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (1)

TypoGenerator is a neat online utility that’s been making the blogosphere rounds lately. Input some text, wait a minute or two (or more) while the program searches through Google Image Search, and it’ll spit back some neat typography-based designs.

I think the site is unfortunately named, though. “Typo” implies an error, so it obscures what it’s actually about. Maybe something like “TypestyleGenerator” would have been better.

The image above was created using, naturally enough, the title of this blog/site. Once the initial search for images completes, you can cycle through alternate designs pretty quickly, and I got addicted to cooking up the different variations for a little while.

There are four other designs I liked enough to save; rather than plant them all automatically into this post and create an ungodly load time for slower connections, I’ve placed them below the fold for optional viewing:


- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/15/2004 09:07:57 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Over a year ago, I had fun spouting off a bit about women’s obsession with designer shoes.

Sometime after that, I kicked around a comedy concept which put men in the position of being ga-ga over the latest “Manolo Blahniks For Him”. I imagined it as a farce, hopefully insightful. I never spent enough time on it to really develop it.

It might be for the best, because I’m not sure anything I’d have come up with would be funnier than Manolo’s Shoe Blog, where, of course, “Manolo Loves The Shoes!”.

Sure it’s fake. But it’s got to be a better read than Manolo’s real blog.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/14/2004 06:58:30 PM
Category: Bloggin', Comedy, Fashion | Permalink | Feedback

game on?
Shares in Digital River did some fancy jumping on Friday, caused by the rumor that the company’s software would be used by Apple for enabling sales of downloadable games onto the next-generation iPod.

It would be a break with tradition for Apple, which has kept iPod digital commerce routed strictly through the iTunes Music Store. It’s not out of the question, though; the deal with Hewlett-Packard to produce HP-branded iPods was a departure from standard operating procedure, and that happened.

It’s an intriguing concept. The iPod already comes pre-loaded with four games, all of the simple time-killing variety. Apple’s not going to give the iPod a major hardware/interface redesign for the purposes of gameplaying, so I’d expect any games they try to seel would be of a similar vein (and very much like the game-lettes sold by wireless providers on mobile phones).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/14/2004 06:36:58 PM
Category: Tech, Videogames, Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Who would have guessed that the brains behind the World Wide Wikipedia resided right here in Florida? Jimmy Wales, founder of the online encyclopedic resource, has relocated to St. Petersburg, with servers in Tampa hosting the Wikipedia site. His offices are in, of all places, BayWalk.

It turns out that Wales is an early-retirement millionaire, and developed his online baby as a way to give something back. It’s inspiring; maybe I’ll get rich, pack it in and invent stuff. It’ll be easy!

There’s plenty of background on the origins of Wikipedia, along with a limited litmus test on its reliability:

The St. Petersburg Times recently asked two University of South Florida professors to read a few Wikipedia articles on topics in their expertise. Chemistry professor Bill Baker said he was surprised at the amount of technical knowledge posted on the site, but said he found several small errors. “The cancer drug Taxol, for example, is not produced by microbial fermentation.”

“That bothers me,” Baker said of the errors. “I think that even if 99 percent of your facts check out, it is a disservice to promulgate 1 percent inaccuracies.”

Professor Philip Levy, an expert on Colonial America, said that “in many respects it’s very good,” but he, too, had misgivings. He said some articles contained a mishmash of information - the established scholarly knowledge of 15 years ago was mixed in with newer, more controversial theories with little distinction.

You could argue that as long as the broad strokes of subject are covered, the Wikipedia can serve as a credible source. You’ll find errors in established encyclopedias and other vigorously fact-checked resources too, so what’s the difference?

However, the very heart of Wikipedia’s nature — the wiki — is why I steer well clear of it. I’d point to that very last hyperlink as a prime example why: As of this writing, it’s strewn with spam-like hyperlinks all over the top of the page. And that potential exists when you decide to open up page content and structure to the world. There’s simply no reliable way to guard against all sorts of malicious tampering with the site’s content.

Note I said “reliable”. In my mind, a cadre of volunteers doesn’t qualify. I’m not trashing their efforts — I’m sure they’re dedicated and qualified, and I admire their devotion to the spirit of the project. But can they police the entire Wikipedia site 24/7? No. Even if they catch every potential error/vandalism within, say, a few hours after it’s posted, there remains the possibility that it’ll remain up there long enough for several thousand readers to see it.

Frankly, it’s not the blatantly obvious nonsense, like the “John Kerry dies from Botox injections” example, that concerns me. It’s the more subtle possibilities for mischief, like adding or subtracing an extra zero or two in population or other statistical figures, that concern me enough to reject Wikipedia as a consistently reliable source. Again, even if errors like this are caught quickly, who’s to say that they’ve been caught and corrected prior to my use of it?

As an editor, I’d automatically reject anything submitted to me that references a Wikipedia article as a source, for the reasons stated above. I’d give it right back to the writer and insist on a fact check through a rock-solid source, and ask for what exactly that is when the story is re-submitted to me. I’m not going to chance it on research that’s been done on the equivalent of online graffitti.

Wales himself recognizes the frailty of the current model, and has plans for something more solid to supplement it and the entire Wikipedia organization:

But as to the overall accuracy of Wikipedia, Wales said he is at work on a plan to create what he calls a “stable version” of the encyclopedia. Some version or versions would continue to exist that allow the free-form editing and rewriting. Another version, the stable one, would go through an extra level of review before it could be changed.

Eventually, Wales said, he would like to branch out and expand a small program of free “Wiki books” and create academic courses. He and some other Wikipedians also are at work on a for-profit venture, creating a new Internet search engine. He said he would use some of the money to finance the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which is based in St. Petersburg and oversees the encyclopedia effort.

I’m not sure, ultimately, what the purpose of a two-tiered product would be. More effort will inevitably go toward the stable version, probably leading to a degredation of the original free site. If spammers override it, then it’ll become just a toxic corner of the Web.

On the other hand, I like the concept of the Wiki books. It sounds like a promising output from the Wikimedia Foundation.

The search engine? As competitive as the search engine field is getting of late, it’ll be a tough battle. If they stick to a niche search field (I’d guess with a largely academic focus, like much of the Wikipedia), it might fly.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/14/2004 06:17:34 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

chopper che
As I mentioned, I hit Tampa Theatre last night. I decided to cash in my rain check for another attempt at catching The Motorcycle Diaries.

Thankfully, the screening this time went off without a hitch. It was a pretty good movie, a buddy adventure with subtitles. It probably had too stark of an edge to it, although better that than a trite Che Guevara-meets-“Dawson’s Creek” angle (or, perhaps more appropriately, “Smallville”).

Speaking of trite, after seeing this film, I considered renting Evita today, to get a purely cinematic (and thus, largely fictional) sense of the early life of the future Cuban Revolution icon. But I ditched that idea; I’d have Andrew Lloyd Webber songs rattling around in my head for a solid week afterward, and that’d drive me nuts.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 06:47:18 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback

Is the Tampa Theatre in danger of being knocked down or repurposed? Probably not, but the Tampa Theatre Foundation is planning ahead by starting negotiations to buy the place before its 99-year lease expires in 2023, and thus preserving it.

Good luck finding the necessary urgency it’ll probably take to close the deal. But it’s nice to see some foresight.

I’d think that the building’s status as a National Register of Historic Places landmark would protect the Theatre from any development plans. I guess you can’t be too sure.

Still, the move seems overly preemptive to me. I know the city is pushing hard for a renewal in the Franklin/Ashley area of downtown, and it certainly could use it: It struck me while walking through the area last weekend just how much of a ghost town it was, outside of the immediate area of the Theatre itself and The Hub a couple of doors down. But frankly, Tampa has been trying for urban renewal in the downtown core for close to two decades now, recruiting developer after developer to turn the trick. I still don’t see much headway, especially when it comes to a residential base. South Tampa has seen a revival, and that’s cause for hope, but otherwise, the activity is in the suburban environments in north and northwestern parts of town. I don’t see that changing very much, even with St. Pete’s modest downtown success as a nearby model.

But if this leads to bigger and better things for Tampa Theatre, I’m for it. I’m part of the 25% of its patronage that come over from Pinellas every year (I was just there last night, in fact). I wouldn’t mind enhancements like a cafe hangout and an extra screen, and obviously it would make it more of an anchor should any serious residential crop up in the neighborhood.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 06:28:01 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Movies | Permalink | Feedback (9)

i'm in forensics, mommy!
What do you get for the budding autopsy expert who’s on your Christmas/Hannukah list? The CSI Forensic Facial Reconstruction Kit, of course. Only $19.99, available in your choice of either blue eyes or brown. (Sheesh, you’d think they’d just include tinted contact lenses instead of making you buy a whole other kit…)

A kids’ toy spun off from an adult-oriented show? Is there really a market?

“Probably more than you think,” says Ed Harrison, director of press information for CBS Entertainment.

According to ratings for this season, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (the original show and the one the toys are spun off from) is ranked No. 3 among viewers ages 12-17, behind The O.C. and The Simpsons. It draws an average 1.2-million viewers in that age group.

Who knew? I guess police academies around the country are getting flooded with prospective forensics specialists right now. This kit should send a few more their way.

The way CBS has been milking the “CSI” cow, it’s not too surprising that they’d merchandise the hell out of it too. I think they should delve further into the kids’ market: CSI bedsheets (with official insignia and fake bloodstains), bookbags (with a bodybag design)… it’s a bonanza waiting to happen!

That is, as long as the franchise is protected from “overly aggressive” news producers who would dare cut into an episode to announce something so trivial as the death of Yasser Arafat.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 03:29:07 PM
Category: TV, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

I hate when this happens: I checked my remaining vacation time for 2004, and it turns out I’ve got nearly three weeks left.

Since there’s only about 6 weeks left to the year, and enough work in that time that I can’t take extensive time off, it means it’ll be a huge challenge to burn off all that time.

I really only need to use two weeks; up to one week of vacation time automatically gets rolled over to next year. Since I officially get only two weeks a year, obviously I went through this last year. And the year before.

While it might sound ridiculous to make taking time off into a chore, it really is a pressure situation. I wish they’d let us cash out the hours instead.

Oh well. I guess I’ve got a couple of three- and four-day weekends coming my way. I’ll have to think of some fun activities.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 02:26:44 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

In the midst of this locked-out season, Forbes Magazine has released its package of reports on the financial state of the National Hockey League and its franchise teams.

The verdict? NHL teams are worth an average of $163 million, the bottom rung among the four major pro leagues but still respectable. That’s also another increase in team valuation, following a decade-long trend.

What’s more, the magazine estimates that the league collectively lost less than half the amount it claimed last year: $96 million versus $224 million — a claim the league, predictably, forcefully disputes.

Why the discrepency? Boiled down, the owners simply aren’t disclosing all the money they’re making as a result of their hockey operations. Overall, section editor Michael Ozanian finds the benefits of owning an NHL team to outweigh the much-publicized downside. Considering the enviable control position the ownership of a major league team brings with it, in terms of various supplemental ventures (real estate, events, etc.), it’s not hard to believe.

I haven’t been shy about placing the blame for this deadlock squarely upon the owners. This news from Forbes isn’t surprising, because they find the same sort of numbers every year, and every year the NHL cries long and hard about how there’s little truth behind them. Even if you accept the Forbes findings, you could argue that a $96 million loss is still a loss, and thus still worthy of a cost-certainty solution.

I’d have an easier time believing the owners even a little bit their actions matched their words. Fact is, plenty of these franchises have been claiming losses year after year for decades, sometimes through different ownership groups. Despite all this red ink, the money appears every time contracts come up. Despite allegedly bleak economic models, potential owners line up every time an existing team or expansion franchise comes up for bid. If we’re talking about facts, looking at the owners’ arguments doesn’t give you an equation that adds up.

Not that any of this will change the lockout prospects. But it’s hockey news, and I’ll take anything I can get right now.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 02:05:20 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz | Permalink | Feedback

the neighborhood
Mystery solved? American researcher Robert Sarmast thinks he’s found the ruins of Atlantis, underwater between Cyprus and Syria.

Sarmast’s theory is that Cyprus is the pinnacle of Atlantis, with the rest of it about a mile below sea level.

The mythical theories won’t die right away, but if there’s anything at all to this, it’ll be a fascinating find.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2004 12:25:47 PM
Category: Science | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Friday, November 12, 2021

an oakland booty
If dumpy mannequins could find acceptance, it was only a matter of time before J.Lo-inspired big-assed dummies became the retailing rage.

Yet this transcends fashion, says the mannequin designer:

“It is a serious sociological trend that is positive for retailers and customers in that the tyranny of the undernourished perfect model is over,” said Rich Rollison of Lifestyle Forms and Display, which designed the pants form mannequin.

Hey, if Sir Mix-A-Lot can “pull up quick to retrieve it” when it comes to the bodacious butt, I can pick up the skinny-ass scraps that are left behind in the wake of this new trend (assuming it’s really the prevailing trend, of which I’m skeptical). I’ve already made my feelings in this area known.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/12/2021 07:49:13 PM
Category: Fashion, Women | Permalink | Feedback (4)

As I mentioned earlier, today the office knocked off a bit early for a visit down the road to Poynter Institute.

Poynter, as the controlling owner of Times Publishing Company shares, technically is the ultimate corporate parent for Florida Trend. For practical purposes, the nerve center resides in our office. But the association means we get the occasional little perk, like this one, as a benefit.

I was looking forward to the trip. I’ve driven and walked by the Institute plenty of times — it’s right across the street from USF St. Petersburg and the Salvador Dali Museum, just a couple of blocks south of the main downtown area — but I’ve never actually been inside the place. I recall considering its library as a research option a couple of times, but I guess I’ve never availed myself of it.

It was nice. We got a 20 minute presentation on the history of Times Publishing Company, with plenty of photos (it was fun seeing some of the current upper management in their ’70s splendor). Then we got a walking tour through all the classrooms, labs and breakout rooms, along with a brief stop at the Poynter Online operations. The architecture alone was worth the tour: Lots of dark woodwork (I believe from Honduran trees), Italian marble, and lots of windows above and below.

There was also a good bit of art scattered around. Apparently enough to confuse people: One of our guides shared the anecdote about a group of tourists who mistook the Institute for the nearby Dali Museum, and started to walk around, admiring the pieces and discussing what period of Dali’s work they represented!

I managed to shoot one piece with my cameraphone. It was a giant ball composed of typeface tiles from old typesetting machines; reminded me of the “golfball” used in the old IBM Selectric typewriters. I don’t recall it’s actual name:
ball o' lettersWe wrapped up the day with a brief staff meeting, and then headed out. We were invited to hang around to look further. I was tempted to hang out in the library for a bit (in addition to reference books and databases, they had a pretty big and current magazine collection), but I knew I’d wind up spending a couple of hours doing that, and thought better of it.

It wasn’t a bad way to wrap up a workweek. On to the weekend.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/12/2021 07:28:44 PM
Category: Media, Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

don't sweat the technique
A list is a list is a list. Whether it’s objectively based (according to measurable metrics, like what I do) or subjectively invented, as is the case with so much magazine fodder these days, it means only as much as you want it to mean.

Still, Entertainment Weekly’s compilation of the 25 greatest/most influential rap albums, with Eric B & Rakim’s “Paid In Full” in the No. 1 spot, merits attention.

By the way, BBC: “Paid In Full” first came out in 1987, not 1997. It probably was re-released as a 10-year anniversary disc in ‘97.

So in honor of their honor, here’s a few lyrics from “Move the Crowd”, probably the best cut on the album:

Some of you been trying to write rhymes for years
But weak ideas irritate my ears
Is this the best that you can make?
Cuz if not and you got more, I’ll wait
But don’t make me wait too long coz I’m a move on
The dancefloor when they put something smooth on
So turn up the bass, it’s better when it’s loud
Cuz I like to move the crowd

And just for the fun of it, I’ll drop a few from “Let the Rythm Hit ‘Em”, off the album of the same name:

I’m the arsenal
I got artillery, lyrics of ammo
Rounds of rhythm
Then I’m ‘a give ‘em piano
Bring a bullet-proof vest
Nothin’ to ricochet
ready to aim at the brain
~Now what the trigger say

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/12/2021 10:27:57 AM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (7)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

I guess the ’80s are officially rewinded: New Edition is back together and putting out a new album. Sans Bobby Brown, which is no surprise.

I’ll allow it. I just hope they don’t bring Menudo and New Kids on the Block back with them.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 08:12:07 PM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (1)

I think most people — outside the average Red State, anyway — would like to see the development of a male contraceptive. Instead of devising a pill you can pop, scientists at the University of North Carolina and University of Delaware have developed a shot that kills sperm dead.

Given that a good proportion of the male population bitches so much about sliding on a condom, I can’t see how getting stabbed with a needle would be an attractive option for the average guy. They’d better find another delivery method.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 08:07:46 PM
Category: Society, Science | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Are you straight, white and beautiful? Then you must be using the right dental treatment. And you’re probably getting all those work promotions, too.

It’s things like this that compel me to become a rabid anti-dentite.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 06:00:40 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

Like anyone, I’d like to know what my name would look like rendered into Japanese. Y’know, so that I’ll know to look out for it the next time I’m thumbing through an untranslated manga.

So I input my first name, and what’s the result?

Unfortunately your name is not in the database.

What indignity! I guess this means I don’t exist as far as Japanese is concerned. Screw you, Japan!

After my rage subsided, I read on:

However, it contains some names that might sound similar to yours. If your name is pronounced in the same way as any of the names shown below, it will be written in exactly the same way in Japanese.


Since Cassidy, with or without a “K”, is a tad too sissy for my taste, I went with the Costa with a “K”. Here’s the result:

k to the o

Nice, short and to the point. I can live with it.

The Kosta spelling is not at all out of line. Since Greek has a different alphabet than English, there’s some leeway when it comes to phonetic translation. That my name is spelled Costa and not Kosta is largely the result of my parents’ whim (although, from what I’ve seen, the “K” spelling is fairly rare in English, at least in the States). Other non-Western European names go through this transformation, particularly from Asian languages but also Eastern European languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet. The latter is most noticable in the sports world, especially the NHL, where you’ll see the same name spelled Dmitri, Demitry and Dimitri, for instance.

Of course, I could have circumvented this with the Japanese translator and used a couple of the alternate, Anglicized variants of my name. I tried them, and they both were in the database. I’m not going to divulge what they are; they’d make great aliases to use if I ever decide to take my act underground.

(Via The Goatbelt)

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 04:25:36 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Podcasting is all the rage, with notables like Dave Winer and Adam Curry leading the way. And since those two were among the first high-profile bloggers, there’s speculation that they’re helping usher in a next-wave movement of audio-delivered blogging.

I say, no thanks.

First off, this isn’t exactly new. Blogger, that most ubiquitous of blogging services, was promoting an audioblogging feature a couple of years ago, when I started blogging. It was the same deal: Record your entries into MP3 format, upload it and present it as a link you could either stream or save to your drive. It never really caught on.

Secondly, for me, blogging (and website consumption in general) is a visual activity — that means text and images. Reading a blog means I can take it in at my own pace, with a pretty high level of comprehension (dependent on how well the blog is written/laid out). I’ve always felt that was the key to the personalization and interactivity that you found online.

Audio (and video) on the web detracts from that. You’re forced to take in the information at a speed that you can’t really control (unless you want to pause, rewind and fast-forward endlessly). While for certain content, like music, it enhances the experience, for most subjects, it doesn’t. The promise of portability by transferring the podcast file onto your iPod seems like scant reward.

And let’s not forget: One of the nicest features of websurfing is the ability to do it discreetly. Tons of surfing, including blog reading, takes place during work hours. You can’t listen to a podcast surreptitiously while sitting at your desk. You could download the file and upload it to you iPod, if you have that setup at work; but it seems like an unnecessary step when you’re accustomed to accessing blog content instantly, in written form.

Frankly, creating content like this strikes me as lazy. Instead of sitting down to actually write a coherent, well-structured post or two, you resort to babbling into a microphone for an hour. If this actually catches on, I’m betting it’ll result in a bunch of mumble-mouthed monologues that are barely coherent, full of interminable pauses and repitition, and would be translatable into maybe three short paragraphs of writing.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 11:21:47 AM
Category: Bloggin', Tech | Permalink | Feedback (8)

Since they’ve developed mobile phones with television capability, it stands to reason that they’d have to come up with something to watch on those tiny screens. And so they have: Fox is going to create a drama series of one-minute episodes, based on the series “24″, exclusively for wireless provider Vodafone/Verizon Wireless.

Just as each one-hour episode of “24″ unfolds in real-time, I’d expect each one-minute episode of this little series would be paced in real time. Of course, when you’ve got only 60 seconds, that’s enough of a plot restriction where you have no choice but to run it in real time…

I think something like this is ideal. The concept of watching TV on your phone is a bit shaky anyway, but presented in very short bites like this, I could see it working. It’s a good example of shaping the content to the particular medium, instead of just repackaging something like “Friends” reruns (not that that wouldn’t work too). And content drives adoption: Rabid fans of “24″ could be motivated to sign up for the high-speed wireless service needed to get these episodes (although I’m sure they’ll find their way onto P2P networks in short time).

The short-attention-span-theater format reminds me of a spoof from “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”. They parodied the concept behind “24″ by introducing their own real-time series, with episodes running for one second. In real-time, obviously.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/11/2021 10:42:55 AM
Category: TV, Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

For some reason, for the past week I’ve been extremely thirsty. Doesn’t seem to matter how much water (or anything else) I drink, my mouth is constantly dry.

I mentioned this to my art director. He said he’s been having the same problem, and attributed to the relatively dry weather we’ve been having. He could be on to something: Humidity in the Tampa Bay area has been hovering around 70%, versus our usual 80-90% (am I right in assuming that 100% humidity would mean you’re living underwater?). And somewhat surprisingly, since the last hurricane passed through, we’ve have relatively little rainfall — this, after what had been an extremely wet year.

Whatever it is, it’s bugging me. I’ve tried chugging Gatorade today; no dice. Hope I’m not getting sick.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/10/2021 11:17:49 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

… so sayeth the closed-captioning during the opening notes of “The Andy Griffith Show” theme song.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/10/2021 11:09:28 AM
Category: TV | Permalink | Feedback

One thing that continues to boggle my mind, and makes me feel a big old-fogeyish, is the idea of little kids owning mobile phones.

Yes, I’ve been informed by parents about the practical benefits of equipping their offspring with phones. But it’s still hard to wrap my mind around it. Probably because I didn’t get my first mobile until my late 20s, the concept of 9-year-olds toting around Nokias just gives me an uneasy feeling. I suppose there’s also a mental holdover of the 1980s conception of mobile phones as being the province of high-end operators like Wall Street stockbrokers and the like; yes, it’s antiquated, but it persists in me.

So if kiddies having their own phones is offputting, pets getting the phone hook-up should really rattle me.

Probably expensive, too. You try explaining to Fido the concept of roaming being bad for you; shoot, all dogs and cats know how to do is roam!

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/10/2021 10:42:20 AM
Category: Tech, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

Two whole days off from work. I wonder how much nothing I can cram into 48 hours…

I would have made a four-day weekend out of it, but Friday is my blueline day, and despite everything being done, I just wouldn’t be able to fully relax until that had passed. Plus, the office has arranged for a little field trip over to Poynter Institute, and since I’ve never actually been there (despite it being a few blocks down the road), I’d like to partake.

In the meantime, I don’t foresee doing anything more strenuous than sleeping, swimming, meeting friends for lunch, and maybe a little shopping (I think I’ve got a discount voucher for The Gap, so I might as well use it before it expires). I might tinker with the blog layout and elements, if the motivation strikes.

Quite the sedate vacation. But it fits the bill right now; all I need is a brief respite. The real vacation can come next month.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/10/2021 10:27:28 AM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (2)

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