Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 11:44:00 PM
Category: Media Mondays | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 11:03:04 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 10:22:38 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback

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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 09:57:53 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 08:17:53 PM
Category: Weather, Florida Livin', Fashion | Permalink | Feedback

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.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2005 09:38:37 AM
Category: Weather, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Sunday, January 23, 2021

The most distasteful thing about the aftermath of 9/11 is the notion that the terrorist attacks came without warning, were unprovoked, and represented the “start” of a state of war.

All nonsense. The Nixon Administration commissioned a task force, whose members included Henry Kissinger and Rudy Giuliani, to develop ways to combat the possiblity of terror attacks against U.S. interests domestically and abroad. Which underlines that the situation was just as unstable and treacherous during the heart of the Cold War as it is today.

Granted, al-Quaeda wasn’t on the scene in the ’70s. And the bi-polar standoff between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. made geopolitical maneuvering a bit more predictable (at least on the surface). But the seeds for today’s crises were clearly identifiable decades ago.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 05:07:43 PM
Category: Political, History | Permalink | Feedback (2)

You know when your senses keep getting assaulted for a week or two by pre-release hype for some crappy big-budget movie? You can see the flick’s going to suck, you can see (or at least hope) that it’s going to flop hard, and so you resent the advertising oversaturation for it that much more.

That’s the case right now with Hide and Seek. It’s got all the earmarks of a crapfest. Not only is it the latest example of how Robert De Niro’s career has degenerated into a pay-me-enough-and-I’ll-play-anything joke; but even in the previews, it’s painfully obvious how co-star Dakota Fanning comes off as being about as creepy and menacing as a Pop-Tart.

Still, they’re playing the preview about six times an hour during today’s football game. And I’m sure it’ll be hard to turn on any TV channel over the next week and not come upon it again and again. There’s no escaping it.

Makes me wish they’d move up the release date to, like, today, so that it can blow in and out of theaters quickly, and we can move on. It’s the only humane thing to do.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 04:22:43 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Everyone knows about SoHo: The New York, London, Hong Kong, and (of course) Tampa editions.

There’s no SoHo in Los Angeles, but there is a NoHo. That’s short for North Hollywood, which is not only a city but also a funky entertainment district.

So long as there’s some kinda ho in Southern California…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 04:02:51 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback

for the birds
Okay, I’m going to sound like a jerk here, but I gotta say it:

That kid who just butchered the pre-game National Anthem with his horrendous warbling has guaranteed the Eagles’ jinx in NFC Championship Games will continue, this time versus the Falcons.

That, and the fact that the entire crew on the FOX pre-game show picked Philadelphia to win.

(I really sound like a jerk if it turns out the kid is terminally ill or something; I don’t think that’s the case, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it in short order if so.)

UPDATE: Looks like I, in turn, jinxed the Falcons with my previous jerkery. The kid is forgiven!

FURTHER UPDATE: Yup, I am a jerk. It turns out the kid is Timmy Kelly, the resident singing sensation at Philadelphia Shriners Hospital (thanks to David at VodkaFish for enlightening me).

I have a weak excuse for ragging on a blind boy with mild cerebral palsy: I wasn’t paying attention to his introduction before he started singing. I was wrapping up various household chores (including bringing in the patio plants in anticipation of our big freeze), and so missed that crucial piece of info. I didn’t even catch sight of Timmy until after he was done and was being carried off the field. But I did manage to hear a good bit of his singing, and so I jumped to conclusions.

I may be an Eagles fan, but I don’t make a habit out of taunting Shriners Hospital kids (nor, for that matter, of booing Santa Claus). I’ll try harder to keep my knee-jerkery in check in the future.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 03:10:18 PM
Category: Football | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Only in Transylvania (I guess): A Romanian couple have given their bouncing baby boy “Yahoo” for a middle name.

Thankfully, it’s only his middle name. So he won’t get beat up at school every day, and won’t grow up hating his parents something fierce.

Mommy and Daddy claim they chose the name because they met through Yahoo!’s chat services, but I know the truth. They’re really covert fans of Yahoo Serious, and are hoping this gesture will re-spark the Australian sensation’s career. (Actually, I’m not sure which explanation would be more embarrassing.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 02:51:50 PM
Category: Internet, Society | Permalink | Feedback (2)

better than a toilet!
A dog gets thirsty when he’s out and about. When there’s no water dish (or toilet bowl) around, he’s usually forced into the ignoble option of lapping up the stray puddle or trying to slurp up a bottled-water stream.

But now, there’s the Handi-Drink Portable Bowl! An admittedly ingenious solution for the pooch on the go. I especially like the form-fitting flip-down dispenser.

(Via Mekkem.com)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 02:36:20 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

By the way, I have added a few new blogs on the ‘roll:

- Apropos of Something

- Disorderly Content

- The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles

- Frozen Truth

- Mekkem.com

Not that these blogs are necessary “new”, either in terms of operation or to my knowledge; but in the interests of maintaining the fictitious weltanschauung that other domains don’t exist until/unless I grant them linkage, I’ll tag ‘em so.

I’ve just realized that, with the addition of Mekkem.com, I now have two consumer product showcase/review blogs listed… and only one sports blog. What the hell have I become??

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 02:23:04 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

I don’t usually say anything about the subtractions I make from my blogroll (nor, aside from the little text tag next to the links, about the additions, either). When they’re gone, they’re outta here like last year.

But I have to mark the demise of Night in the Big City. It appears to have been overrun with comment spam in a big way; I don’t know if that correlates to the lack of posting by the 4-5 contributors. Whatever the reason, it’s been dark for two months, and that’s well past the point when I pull the link.

Which is a shame. I like perusing all the blogs listed left — they wouldn’t be on this page if that wasn’t the case. But much as I hate to play favorites, I’ll admit to “Night” being a particular gem for me. All the authors had wickedly good writing styles (just check the archives), and reading a couple of their vignettes of metropolitan life had me itching to head back to Noo Yawk (almost).

Anyway, I’ll miss it. Ash, Tia, Heather, Jill — if you decide to re-start, let me know. (And hurry.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2005 02:08:06 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, January 22, 2021

Is this a golden age for unorthodox ad design? I just make note of my delightment over a newspaper ad insert of a teabag, and then I get the latest issue of Esquire and find this full-page ad for Maker’s Mark.

The photo here is not the best, as it was taken with my digital phone. It’s a heavy-stock cardboard flyer, with four for-real plastic swizzle sticks based on the Maker’s Mark trademark wax seal tucked inside a pre-cut slot (disguised as a drink glass). As far as I can tell, it’s only available to subscribers, because it’s not stitched into the issue itself, but rather polybagged as a separate piece.

Very neat! I showed it off at work, elicited oohs and ahs, and gave a couple of the sticks away to my boss (a real bourbon fan).

Another example of advertising that really catches your attention. It occurs to me that Maker’s Mark has been doing these kinds of ads with Esquire for the past few months, with things like holiday labels and stickers tucked into the magazine. Obviously, it’s been effective for them, because they keep paying for new ones.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/22/2005 08:12:43 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Publishing | Permalink | Feedback

Normally, I’d give a news story about a guy in Oldsmar sending white-powder packages and causing malicious mischief only passing attention.

But as I read on, these details about the suspect, David Vice, stood out:

The homeowner’s association president told authorities that Vice had been frightening the neighborhood for at least two years. He said Vice began acting strangely after Vice, his wife, Lisa, and the family’s four sons moved to Utah for a brief time.

“He said they were going to live off the land,” Cain said. “When he came back, his head was shaved and he was wearing camouflage fatigues.”

When Vice returned a couple of months later, he railed about how much he hated the federal government and started acting even more oddly, neighbors said…

Records show Vice filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on Jan. 14, 2003. Two days later, a mortgage company filed foreclosure proceedings against Vice’s house, records show. Neighbors said Friday that’s about the same time Vice started behaving so oddly.

Vice’s wife told ABC Action News that he called her Friday morning and threatened to kill her.

“You’ve seen A Beautiful Mind?” she said, referring to the 2001 movie starring Russell Crow about a brilliant but disturbed mathematician. “That is what it is like.”

“He’s very intelligent,” she said. “But sometimes he has a hard time dealing with stress. And he doesn’t like… injustice.”

Sounds like Vice has come under the sway of the Mormon fundamentalist movement, as detailed in John Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith”. The pressure of trying to maintain a way of life that was way beyond his means, leading to bankruptcy; a corresponding need to assign blame (conveniently enough) to government and other authority symbols; the Utah connection; and a survivalist instinct kicking in to boot. It seems obvious to me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/22/2005 07:50:35 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

decipher this
It has murky origins that may go back 800 years. It’s filled with illustrations open to wild interpretations. And it’s written in an alphabet so resistant to decoding that the effort purportedly drove a University of Pennsylvania professor insane. And on top of all that, it might just be a gibberish hoax.

It’s the Voynich Manuscript, and NASA is putting out a call for an Internet-based meeting of the minds to crack its riddles.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/22/2005 03:43:36 PM
Category: History | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, January 21, 2021

desperate pigeon
Given how I mistakenly maligned the magazine only days ago, it’s ironic that my eyes have been glued all evening to this week’s cover of Life.

Obviously, having a full-color photo of “Desperate Housewives” hottie Eva Longoria demonstrating her yoga skills by doing a one-legged pigeon pose helps immensely.

I’d make a crude joke here about her flexibility, but really, I think I’ll let the picture do the talking.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/21/2005 08:36:19 PM
Category: TV, Publishing, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback (2)

As expected, the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe revealed the Saturn moon Titan to be awash in liquid natural gas.

Somewhere, somehow, Halliburton executives are licking their chops, and on the phone persuading Dick Cheney to add Titan to the Axis of Evil.

UPDATE, 1/22/05: Well, I was joking when I suggested corporate interests would push for securing Titan as an abundant source of liquid natural gas. Then I came across this story on how U.S. reliance on LNG imports is increasing, and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas’ treatise on the energy source being a big part of America’s energy consumption future.

Truth is stranger than comedy. Ready the Halliburtonauts!

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/21/2005 08:11:03 PM
Category: Political, Science | Permalink | Feedback

If you live in Fremont, California, you can go ahead and cancel your security system alarm service. Not because crime has dropped dramatically in this San Francisco Bay city, but because the Fremont Police Department has decided to stop responding to alarm calls that don’t have accompanying confirmation, a move that would save the strapped department time, resources, and some $600,000 a year from not checking false calls.

The cops are putting the onus on the security companies to report “verified responses”:

As the alarm and/or monitoring company, it will be your responsibility to verify the alarm is actually making notification of a problem or crime in progress. Verified Response can include sound/video of a crime in progress, an eyewitness that can confirm there is a problem, or private security that can go to the scene and verify there is a crime in progress or a crime has been committed.

But really, are the security companies going to bother with this? It’ll increase their operating costs in a big way, which they’ll have to pass on to their customers. Insurance incentives will make it hard for people and businesses to drop their alarm systems altogether, but at some point, it’ll make more sense to just put in a dummy alarm system that’s designed to just make noise without the monitoring.

I can’t help but think that this is yet another step toward the establishment of private security services as clearinghouses for police response:

In other words, the implication is that the cops will respond more quickly-or even will respond, period-when an authorized security firm makes the call. The further implication is that such a call is given greater weight than one from Mr. Joe Average, who doesn’t have a security company behind him. I’ve always wondered if this would start a trend, where overworked and understaffed police departments would answer calls only made via security firms.

So far, this is largely confined to California (although the Fremont Police cite similar policies instituted in Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas), but I can see it spreading. It’s cooking up a dangerous situation.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/21/2005 07:59:40 PM
Category: Political, Society | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Thursday, January 20, 2021

Technorati has rolled out Technorati Tags, basically a new way of organizing its indexed website links into recognizable topic categories.

There’s a list of the tags Technorati currently is tracking, but I’ve discovered, through my referral logs, that this list is not complete.

I’ve gotten a bunch of visits recently to my post about Star Jones Reynolds’ quotable loquaciousness, and they’ve all come via a “celebrity” Technorati tag. That tag is nowhere to be found on the list page. So for some reason, it’s hidden; and I’ve got to believe there are other “hidden” tags in there.

It appears this system works by simply syncing with easily-targeted category indicators in blogs and other websites. So I’m guessing that any category title you find on a Technorati-indexed blog will already be tagged. Might be fun to explore this further.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/20/2005 11:09:28 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Or “Rockin’ Mothers”, take your pick. Whatever catchy phrase you choose to use, you’re talking about middle-aged mommys who are forming garage bands and jammin’ on the one.

Going by name alone, I like Housewives on Prozac. I like Mamapalooza. I don’t like Frump.

I see an opportunity here. Some Lou Pearlman type should harvest the cream of the mommy-rock crop, form a superband, and exploit the hell out of it. It would usher in a new era in pop-rock vitality! Or something.

The name of this manufactured ensemble? The way I figure it, the best chance for success is not only to produce some kickin’ tunes, but also to maximize sex appeal among the prepubescent boy population. Fountains of Wayne cracked open the door with “Stacy’s Mom”; now it’s time to kick it down.

I think you know where I’m going with this.

That’s right: The band shall be known as “The MILF Patrol”. And it’ll have tweener boys everywhere shouting, “I want my mommy!”

Consider yourself warned.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/20/2005 10:46:07 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Society | Permalink | Feedback

The following is allegedly from an actual chemistry midterm exam given at the University of Washington. And if you believe that, I’ve got several acres of prime swamp property to sell you in Everglades National Park

But, funny is funny. And even though it’s not real, it should have been:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you”, and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct, leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God!”


(Via Munna’s ADDA)

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/20/2005 10:18:09 PM
Category: Comedy, Science | Permalink | Feedback (1)

That’s what it says. The note item on the Notepad function of my cellphone.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what it means. I even consulted the Greek side of my brain, because it sounds vaguely Greek. No dice.

There’s a lesson for you: When jotting down a quick idea on your phone, don’t forget about it and then refer back to it more than a month later. Because chances are very good that you won’t remember the context. So the very act of keypadding the message into the phone was a waste of time.

Just for the heck of it, here are the next two note messages on the phone. I happen to remember their meaning; see if you can decipher them:

- Zen of Zim riff on others
- Sa Sa closed

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/20/2005 09:38:52 PM
Category: Tech, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, January 19, 2021

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home tonight. My intention was to buy only a loaf of crusty French bread, to have for dinner with a bit of the Canadian brie I bought yesterday.

When I got to the bakery section, I found they were all out of bread. The counter worker told me it would be 15 minutes before the next batch was out.


Instead of leaving empty-handed, I decided to stroll the aisles to kill time. This was the first time I can remember ever being in a grocery store without having much of a purpose, and truthfully, I wasn’t feeling all that comfortable. Browsing in other types of stores is more of a natural activity; in a food store, it’s somehow weirder.

Then, while wandering down the snackfood aisle and admiring the many varieties of mixed nuts, I reminded myself of the old maxim about supermarkets being prime cruising terrain for the opposite sex. In fact, over the years, friends of mine have commented about how many hot chicks they’d seen at this particular store.

It occured to me that I might be giving off the vibe of such a cruiser. I doubt that I was, because I wasn’t pushing a cart or carrying a basket, which would be de rigueur for someone on the make in the frozen foods section. But still, my general loitering made me feel more conspicuous than I really was, and led to this thinking.

So, I figured since I might be suspected of the conduct anyway, I might as well indulge myself.

It was a bit disappointing. Of all the women I saw, about half had boyfriends/husbands accompanying them. Of the remainder, half of them had little tykes in tow (which, married or not, is just as unappealing to me at 33 as it was at 23). That left a rather thin selection.

I did run across a woman who looked vaguely familiar. She triggered memories of a girl I knew years ago, but haven’t thought of in ages. It’s eerie: I can remember what she looked like very well, can almost remember the name (Katie?), but otherwise can’t recall anything at all about the context or circumstances under which I knew her. I doubt this woman in the grocery store was the same girl; but the visual clue she provided was enough.

Other than that, I didn’t see much else of note. Maybe I was there on an off night. Or maybe the grocery scene ain’t all that.

Anyway, eventually, they brought out the bread, and I grabbed my loaf. In the meantime, I actually picked up a few items that I remembered I needed, and would up spending $15 versus the original buck I would have dropped on just the bread. So the store wound up being the big winner.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/19/2005 11:40:03 PM
Category: Society, Women | Permalink | Feedback (4)

I suppose I’m just a sucker for gimmicky ad placements in publications. I’ve come to expect it in my Sunday newspaper, and now I think I should expect it in just about any day’s edition.

Like today. In the weekly Food section, there was a heavy-stock paper flyer insert for Tazo Tea (Starbucks‘ bid to dominate every hot caffeinated beverage niche on Earth). Pretty to look at, but otherwise not particularly noticable.

But there was a special treat included with this ad bill: Pasted inside the bi-fold was a sample bag of black tea (named, pompously enough, “Awake”).

Impressive. It certainly gets your attention, whether you’re a tea drinker or not (and I happen to be a chronic tea guzzler). And the vehicle of delivery is perfect: With thousand of people opening their papers first thing in the morning, what better opportunity to toss a free cup of new brew under someone’s nose?

What compounded the ad interaction for me was that I had happened to buy some tea just the day before, and in fact, I almost bought a box of Tazo. I’ve never bought it before, and the main reason I didn’t this time was because I didn’t see a flavor on the shelf that I liked (I would up getting a box of mint tea and something called “Four Red Fruits” — with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and redcurrant flavors — all chock full of caffeine). I guess the ad was a day late for me!

I’m looking forward to seeing more examples of this break-through-the-clutter strategy in traditional media. Like any guy, I have a fondness for little knick-knacks — even (especially?) when they’re calculated to sell me something.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/19/2005 10:58:22 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback (2)

In the spirit of hack-writer’s aide Plotto, it’s the Sitcom-O-Generator, an easy step-by-step guide to network television nirvana.

Blow allowance not included.

Since the blog author is supposed to be a bona-fide television writer, I won’t challenge the variables as presented. I know it takes a lot of assembly line-like homogenization to force the creative process into bland mass-market packaging. Still, I’ve jotted a couple of ideas on the subject of sitcom writing success, and so I humbly propose adding the following factors:

- Ensembles with hot chickies and metrosexilicious men!
- Monkeys, monkeys, and more monkeys! That solve crimes!
- Going for youth market-straight to the womb!

The monkeys, in particular, are a sure-fire goldmine. Who doesn’t like a show with monkeys?

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/19/2005 10:21:57 PM
Category: TV, Comedy, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Tuesday, January 18, 2021

Which you are you?

The average person has a gameface s/he wears at the office, which is shed once office hours end. But consider: If you live a third of your life in that workplace mode, why isn’t it as integral a part of your self as anything else?

What replaces the work persona outside the office is supposed to be more of the “real” person, unfettered by professional duties. But if one goes to a bar to relax, the social instinct calls for the wearing of another guise (if more enjoyable). Even if one opts to unwind in the comforts of home, that relaxed and unguarded state is yet another mask — one that seems “natural”, but really, has no more primacy than any other daily state of mind.

On top of that, interactions with certain situations, certain people, certain relationships that dictate how a personality functions. The face seen by a friend isn’t the same one seen by a lover.

So, which you is the real you?

It’s hard to pin down, probably because we all have the impulse to create and maintain alter egos, often in secret and often to extremes.

But psychologists say that most normal adults are well equipped to start a secret life, if not to sustain it. The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development, they say, and the desire to sample other identities - to reinvent oneself, to pretend - can last well into adulthood. And in recent years researchers have found that some of the same psychological skills that help many people avoid mental distress can also put them at heightened risk for prolonging covert activities.

“In a very deep sense, you don’t have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we’re losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart,” said Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. He added, “And we are now learning that some people are better at doing this than others.”

Although the best-known covert lives are the most spectacular - the architect Louis Kahn had three lives; Charles Lindbergh reportedly had two - these are exaggerated examples of a far more common and various behavior, psychologists say. Some people gamble on the sly, or sample drugs. Others try music lessons. Still others join a religious group. They keep mum for different reasons.

I think this manifests itself every day for most people, and not strictly in the work/leisure dichonomy. Putting on a new outfit, getting a haircut/hairdo, visiting a new store or restaurant — all these are little steps in testing out facets of new identities.

More broadly, the appeal of masquerade parties and Halloween celebrations speak to this desire to shed your everyday personality and don a new sense of being. Even things like superhero stories provide an outlet for this personality projection.

In both these cases, the change is mostly cosmetic and strictly surface, without much deeper meaning. It feeds a need.

But there is a dark side when the secret takes on a life of its own:

When exposure of a secret life will destroy or forever poison the public one, people must either come clean and choose, or risk mental breakdown, many therapists say.

Dr. Seth M. Aronson, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has treated a pediatrician with a small child and a wife at home who was sneaking off at night to bars, visiting prostitutes and even fighting with some of the women’s pimps.

At one session, the man was so drunk he passed out; at another, he brought a prostitute with him. “It was one of those classic splits, where the wife was perfect and wonderful but he was demeaning these other women,” and the two lives could not coexist for long, Dr. Aronson said.

In a famous paper on the subject of double lives, published in 1960, the English analyst Dr. Donald W. Winnicott argued that a false self emerged in particular households where children are raised to be so exquisitely tuned to the expectations of others that they become deaf to their own longings and needs.

“In effect, they bury a part of themselves alive,” said Dr. Kwawer of the White Institute.

The pediatrician treated by Dr. Aronson, for example, grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household in which his mother frequently and disapprovingly compared him to his uncle, who was a rogue and a drinker. Dr. Kwawer’s patient, the real estate developer, had parents who frowned on almost any expression of appetite, and imprinted their son with a strong sense of upholding the family image. He married young, in part to please his parents.

It seems the key to holding onto a stable sense of self is to keep things in balance. An overactive secret identity can overtake you, even as its manifestation fulfills something missing.

So, which you are you? For that matter, how many “you’s” are you capable of sustaining? Once a personality’s split, there’s no reason to stop at a mere two. The possibilities, indeed, are endless.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 11:47:22 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (6)

At core, sports is numbers.

I mean, yeah, there’s the effort on the field, the rush of adrenaline, the thrill of victory, and all that. But let’s face it, all that wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t distilled into quantitative measurements that, somehow, make it all (seem) more real.

That goes for everyone involved in the sporting experience. Teams play for the scores and the standings; players strive for the individual stats; owners make their moves for the maximum revenue opportunities; and fans indulge themselves in examination and debate of a combination of all of the above, and then some. No doubt about it: In sports, numbers rule.

So it makes sense that player uniform numbers should loom large in the sporting landscape.

Uniform numbers are as much a part of the sports world as ball, puck or performance-enhancement supplements (just kidding on that last one — mostly). They may be the only section of the scoresheet not calculated into the final results, but they’re vital nonetheless.

Even though it doesn’t mean quite as much as it used to, now that most players have their names stitched on their backs, an athlete’s uniform number is still an important identifier. The greats of their games become indelibly associated with their number; it becomes a part of their sports identity, and a shorthand for their entire careers.

So, because every sports fan invites a debate, the St. Petersburg Times’ Tom Jones presents an all-sports all-time greatest sports uniform numbers list of all time, from double-zero to 99.

Some of the notables:

11 - Mark Messier:
Isiah Thomas could play, but Messier could play, too, and he might be the greatest leader in sports history.

12 - Joe Namath:
Steelers Nation has a right to be ticked. Terry Bradshaw has more rings than any No. 12. And there are Super Bowl veterans Roger Staubach and Jim Kelly. But can’t you still see the back of Broadway Joe and that No. 12 waving “We’re No. 1″ as he leaves Super Bowl III?…

42 - Jackie Robinson:
Ronnie Lott, Mariano Rivera, James Worthy and Paul Warfield are all solid picks, but c’mon, even Major League Baseball (not just one team) retired this number.

43 - Richard Petty:
Only name even worth throwing next to the King is Dennis Eckersley.

44 - Hank Aaron:
This was not a no-brainer, not with 44s such as Pistol Pete, Reggie Jackson and Jerry West…

50 - David Robinson:
We know Bears fans would take Mike Singletary, but we go with a guy who was an MVP, scoring, rebounding and blocked shots champ and won an NBA title. Those who love Bears linebackers, look at the next number.

51 - Dick Butkus:
Not even close even though Ichiro and Randy Johnson are two of baseball’s superstars. In fact, Butkus is so synonymous with 51 we should say . . . 48, 49, 50, Butkus, 52 . . . you get the idea.

The list is partly tongue-in-cheek, and definitely intended to spark debate. In particular, the pick for jersey No. 9 should raise some eyebrows:

9 - Mia Hamm:
Let the hate mail begin. There’s Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard and Bobby Hull. And how can we be so stupid to NOT select Ted Williams? Simple, Hamm has done more to advance women’s sports than anyone. If she’s good enough to take a women’s sport that few in this country watch on television and become a national face pitching Gatorade and Nike, then she’s good enough for us.

Interesting methodology: It seems to be touting Hamm’s transcension from purely an athlete to a recognizable merchandising face as reason for being the definitive No. 9. Which, admittedly, is as valid a reason for making a pick on this list as any other.

As with any list, it’s as meaningful as you make it. But the point is to have fun and riff on it yourself.

There’s a third part of this list package that didn’t make it online from the print version. It’s mostly an addendum of by-the-way facts, including a lot of chiefly Tampa Bay-specific sports trivia. But there are a couple of interesting tidbits worth my typing in and including here:

[When athletes do have the luxury of selecting their number,] some do it to honor their country. Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr picked 68 in honor of those who died during the Soviet invasion of then-Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Speaking of hockey, there’s the story of No. 9:

Gordie Howe wore 9 and was once considered the greatest player in hockey. When Wayne Gretzky came along, he chose 99 in honor of Howe.

Mario Lemieux was the next great superstar and he decided to turn the 9s upside down, taking 66. Finally, Eric Lindros came into the league as the “Next One” after Gretzky and Lemieux. Looking to carve out his own legend like Gretzky and Lemieux, he selected No. 88.

But it’s kind of like the Six Degrees of Separation thing. If Howe wasn’t No. 9, Lindros might not have worn 88. It doesn’t make sense unless you follow the history.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 11:27:59 PM
Category: Sports | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Who knew brie the cheese was made anywhere but in the Brie region of France? What’s more, who knew it was made in, of all places, Canada?

I sure didn’t, until I found some of this north-of-the-border fromage today. It was cheap, looked okay, and I figured I could guinea-pig myself with it — in the form of a light dinner tonight — before serving it to company.

It’s not half-bad. It’s called “Mon Desir Brie”, and although it doesn’t say exactly where in Canada it’s from, I’m guessing it’s a Quebecois original. I’d get it again, despite the admonitions of the gourmets.

Still, I wonder: Is the stigma of faux brie on the same level as that for sparkling wine masquerading as champagne?

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2005 09:59:37 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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