Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 24, 2021

schlep, jane, schlep
Bet you thought I forgot, didn’t you? Or else just dropped the idea of posting a media file every Monday.

Not the case. I admit I’m a bit disappointed that last week’s inaugural Media Monday, featuring the funny Wu-Tang Financial clip, didn’t elicit any feedback. But as with any media, new features take time to build up critical mass. So I’ll keep throwing stuff up and hope that something sticks to the wall.

So here’s the second week’s offering. Remember, it’s available only until next Monday, when it’ll be swapped out for the next file:

Designed to promote the book by the same name, this quickie Flash movie presents the classic Dick and Jane with a Mitteleuropa twist. Schlep, Jane, schlep!

Yiddish with Dick and Jane - .swf, 3.86MB - Time’s up! Check the Media Monday archive for the latest edition.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 11:44pm
Category: Media Mondays
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Some site home improvement here at Population Statistic:

Many weeks after mentioning it, I’ve just installed Scriptygoddess’ wpPaginate plugin for WordPress.

Basically, this plugin breaks up the output of a long list of archived posts into several pages, instead of loading them all into one long browser page. It might not seem like a big deal, considering the capacity of the Web. But when you blog as much as I do, the backlog fills up pretty quickly, and clicking on a category archive like Pop Culture spits back almost a hundred posts. If you do a search for a term, like “computer”, it’s even more acute.

That’s a big load o’ content to load up into a single browser window. Even if you’re on a broadband connection and a high-powered computer, there’s a risk of having the whole thing time-out on you. Aside from that, it’s less than ideal to visually scan through such a long webpage, even if you’re using the browser’s document find function.

So pagination is the solution. That huge page of posts gets divided into several separate pages, navigatable through a simple list of hyperlinked page numbers at the header and footer of each page. It’s a fairly elegant solution.

The installation of the plugin was without incident — easily the smoothest such procedure I’ve ever managed with WordPress (smoother even than the show-hide plugin, also from Scriptygoddess). Since I can’t write my own plugins, I’m glad I’ve got a resource like Scriptygoddess to turn to. A big thanks to Jennifer for her time and effort!

I’m planning on at least one other plugin install shortly. Hopefully, it’ll be as painfree and satisfying as this one.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 11:03pm
Category: Bloggin'
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The story of David Vice, a would-be antiauthoritarian terrorist in Oldsmar, got an update in today’s paper. He was captured late Saturday, and an interview with his wife, Lisa, filled in some details about his background and decline.

There’s no mention from his wife about any Mormon fundamentalist connection, despite the trip to Utah. But from the sounds of his behavior, I’d say something close was at work:

David seemed even more disconnected after the trip. He began calling neighbors and giving them “daily sermons.”

“He’d call me and do one of his revivals,” said Brenda Leone, a neighbor. “He only did it to the people who would listen.”…

But in early September 2004… Lisa took another trip to Utah, this time just she and the kids.

When asked if she was trying to leave her husband for good, she answers: “I knew something was wrong with him, something really wrong, and I didn’t want to be here for it.”

On Sept. 11, 2004, David rammed his car into a gate at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, got out of his car and held up two suitcases. He was charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer and given probation. Lisa returned home.

After that incident, she said, David’s life consisted of sitting on a white, leather couch in their living room, reading the Bible and prophesying.

Israel would be bombed on Dec. 22.

Manhattan would be destroyed on Dec. 23.

With every failed prophesy he got worse, Lisa said.

“He was devastated, he was let down, he felt like if his prophesies didn’t come true, he was a false prophet,” she said.

Obviously, an apocalyptic worldview represents a kind of salvation for someone who’s in over his head financially and emotionally. Vice was seeking escape from his problems by feverishly hoping for the end of the world.

I suppose thousands of families go through as much stress every day, and cope with it the best they can. Unfortunately, the Vices didn’t have the best coping mechanisms available.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 10:22pm
Category: Society
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in spirit
Comic book great Will Eisner died back on January 3rd. It turns out Eisner, who spent most of his last years in South Florida, had a Tampa Bay connection: His biographer is Bob Andelman, a familiar local author.

In advance of the May publication of “Will Eisner: A Spirited Life”, Andelman wrote a short piece for the St. Petersburg Times on Eisner’s career and influence.

Eisner, who went to high school with Batman creator Bob Kane, provided first jobs in the comics business to everyone from Jack Kirby (co-creator of Captain America and the Fantastic Four) and Joe Kubert (Tarzan, Fax From Sarajevo , Yossel: April 19, 2021 ) to Pulitzer-winning writer and artist Jules Feiffer.

“What Will did, as did Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates ),” said Feiffer, whose first professional job was working in Eisner’s studio, “was create an atmosphere that no one had ever seen before, a world of light and shadow, darks and grim darks. Will was much more Warner Bros. and Caniff was RKO or Columbia.

“But the two were consummate storytellers who wrote their own stuff, knew how to tell a story, create action and characters with more depth than anyone else. They both used silent panels to build up tension. And they did it brilliantly.”

If not for Eisner’s influence, Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman might never have published his graphic nove l Maus: A Survivor’s Tale . (Eisner is credited with popularizing - if not inventing - the medium of the graphic novel with the 1978 publication of his graphic story collection, A Contract With God .) And fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay would have been missing quite a few Eisner-inspired tales.

Particularly interesting is the story behind one of Eisner’s last projects, the forthcoming “The Plot: The Secret Story Of The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion”:

“There will be a lot of challenges to this book,” he said, anticipating the debate.

The Plot represents a new dimension in Eisner’s storytelling. Where his last book, Fagin the Jew, took a supporting character from Charles Dickens ‘ Oliver Twist and gave him a life and legend of his own, The Plot represents his first nonfiction attack on antisemitism. It stems from his research into the origins of a book called The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Amazon.com categorizes Protocols as “controversial,” along with books on UFOs and conspiracies.

Protocols, an inflammatory, untrue representation of Judaism, has circulated in the Arab world for decades, inflaming contempt for Jews and Israel. The “plot,” as referred to in the title of Eisner’s work, is the perpetration of this hoax as truth.

“I think it really remarkable that Will is ready to tackle some of the most pernicious and monstrous propaganda directly and accessibly,” said Eisner’s friend Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods. ” “The Plot is what the Spirit might have done, if he could draw.”

“The people who I want to read this are the people for whom Protocols of Zion is being published,” Eisner said. “The whole purpose of The Plot , the only justification for doing it, is that this medium has the chance of being read by the people for whom Protocols was written. There are 10 books condemning Protocols, all by academics for sophisticated readers. Those are not the people who need to be told this book is a fraud. But in a graphic novel, I have a chance of capturing readers who never heard of this before.”

Using the graphic novel as a storytelling method was always Eisner’s overriding aim. Unfortunately, the built-in societal preconceptions about the comic book format gives the impression that such work is nothing more than a dumbing-down effort of more complex subjects (or, as usual, a medium for children or those with lesser comprehension skills). That dismisses comics as a medium with its own merits, independent of comparisons with books, movies or any other media. As usual, a reminder is required about comics being a medium of expression, and not a genre.

I’ve got a couple of Eisner’s books in my bookcase, and a few scattered issues of Kitchen Sink’s run of “The Spirit” hidden away somewhere. Now’s as good a time as any to revisit them.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 09:57pm
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Publishing
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As I mentioned earlier today, it’s freakin’ cold around here.

When it gets cold in the Tampa Bay area, Floridians pull out the leather. Everywhere I looked today, people were wearing leather jackets, leather gloves, leather caps, leather boots… Fashionable cowhide seems to be the cold insulator of choice in the Sunshine State.

I’m not sure why leather wins out over heavy fleeces and other traditional winterwear from colder climates. I guess leather is more versatile: You can wear it in just about any kind of weather, whereas wool and such gets pretty unbearable during the usual humid atmosphere around here. But then, since there are so many Northern and Midwestern transplants hereabouts, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t closetfuls of heavy fabrics around, and if they’d ever get pulled out, a day like this would be it.

Aside from shoes and belts, I don’t own any leather clothing anymore. I’ve never thought it was a compatible look for me; I always felt a leather jacket made me look like I was trying too hard.

But if I were to invest in some leather finery, I’d definitely go for the riding jeans.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 08:17pm
Category: Fashion, Florida Livin', Weather
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Temperature when I left the house this morning: 38 degrees Fahrenheit. With wind chill: 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

There’s something wrong about living in Florida and having the thermometer reading approach your age. And when the wind chill factor drops that reading to below your age — well, funk dat.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 09:38am
Category: Florida Livin', Weather
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