Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, February 02, 2021

People have suggested to me that, in order to get more feedback here, I should pose quiz-like questions to the audience.

It’s a good idea, except when it doesn’t work. The few times I’ve tried it in the past, I’ve gotten no response. And that’s kinda embarrassing.

But what the hell, I’ll give it another shot. If it gains appeal, I might even make a dedicated category for it. Gimme your answers in the comment box:

When you get home at night, after a day of work/school/whatever, which do you head for first: The television set, or the (Internet-connected) computer?

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 11:29:42 PM
Category: Question Time! | Permalink | Feedback (13)




Much thanks to the AP for doing up this graphic on Super Bowl TV spot prices and viewer numbers from Super Bowl I (1967) to present.

It’s interesting to see how much the airtime’s value has escalated — hitting this year’s high of $2.4 million per 30 seconds — while viewership has pretty much stayed the same. Even factoring in inflation, this doesn’t make sense at first glance.

But consider the context: The television universe has splintered into a million segment over the past twenty years. Once upon a time, the big three networks drew 90 percent of the viewing audience, because there was practically no alternative to them. Accordingly, the value of advertising to that audience was relatively small.

Now, with hundreds of channels to choose from (not to mention other media), it’s harder than ever to attract a massive number of viewers to any one broadcast on any one channel. The Super Bowl is one of those rare events that can deliver a truly mass audience; that’s why it commands the big bucks.

Because it’s so much harder to pull that audience in, the value of getting in front of those eyeballs has exploded exponentially, even if the raw number of viewers hasn’t increased at the same pace. In essence, an audience of some 90 million in 2005 is worth a lot more than an audience of 90 million in, say, 1980.

In a nutshell, that’s why companies spend so much to get in on the Super Bowl ad shuffle. Along with events like the Oscars and Grammys, it’s one of the few sure-fire ways to get exposure in front of a captivated, receptive audience.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 11:28:46 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV, Football | Permalink | Feedback (2)



Apparently, that idiot rotten driver in front of you is a self-impaired chatterbox. That’s what can be gleaned from a University of Utah study that finds that drivers who actively engage in mobile phone conversations do so at the price of compromising their driving abilities.

If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, his reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver,” said David Strayer, a University of Utah psychology professor and principal author of the study. “It’s like instant aging.”

And it doesn’t matter whether the phone is hand-held or handsfree. Any activity requiring a driver to “actively be part of a conversation” likely will impair driving abilities, Strayer said.

In fact, motorists who talk on cell phones are more impaired than drunk drivers with blood-alcohol levels exceeding .08, Strayer and colleague Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology, found during research conducted in 2003.

Even though the premise makes sense, there seems to be something over-reactive about it. The suggestion is that people can’t walk and talk at the same time.

Still, personally, I’ve found that I tend to drive better if I’m not engaged in a conversation. It tends to annoy my passengers, but thems the breaks.

I wonder if there’s some correlation between the spread of mobile phones and deteriorating driving skills among the populace? I suppose you could even go back to widespread use of carphones…

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 10:45:20 PM
Category: Society, Science | Permalink | Feedback (3)




When I first came across the above banner, during a BlogExplosion session a month ago, I figured it wouldn’t last long.

I was right.

I hope my earlier post on this wasn’t contrued as a complaint, by BlogExplosion or anyone else. On the one hand, you should have leeway to create a banner as provocative as possible (the blog author notes it achieved a 5 percent hit rate, which is very good for one of these things). But BlogExplosion is running the show, so they get to make the rules. And really, you don’t have to be a genius to have known that the banner was going to draw complaints and have a short shelf life.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 09:45:59 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)



The next time you’re zooming around the universe, be sure you keep your American Express and Visa cards Earthside. Not only is your credit probably no good in non-terrestrial retail outlets, but you might run across a magnetar, which would erase all the data off your plastic.

Some might find Space.com’s writeups to slant too much toward the news-you-can-use presentation. That usually annoys me, but somehow it works here. Having an steady (if casual) interest in astronomy and space technology helps.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 09:25:23 PM
Category: Science | Permalink | Feedback



Earlier today I stopped by the office of a colleague. While chatting, I noticed a bottle of moisturizing lotion on his bookshelf, and that it was on its side and starting to leak. I pointed this out to him, and he took the opportunity to sing the praises of the stuff (it was Extra Strength Gold Bond Triple Action Body Lotion, for those keeping score). Then he insisted that I try some, on my face.

I begged off, but he persisted. It’s great stuff, man, he said. It gives you a tingling feeling! (I joked that it must therefore be fortified with crack.) Finally, I relented, but opted to put the stuff on my elbows instead of my face (I had already put aftershave balm on this morning, I didn’t want to mix anything else in).

I can’t say I felt any tingle. And my elbows didn’t feel any better otherwise.

Still, I was bemused by the enthusiasm displayed for this product, especially from a guy. Guys and moisterizers? I’m as open to the metrosexual dynamic as anyone else, but there’s still something a bit off about that combination. I’m not concerned about a perceived loss of “man points” — I already get deductions for things like apathy over cars and distaste for scatological humor (but make up for it through obsessive sports fanaticism and… I dunno, farting?). But still, I’ll leave the hydrating creams to the ladies.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/02/2021 05:27:24 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (3)