Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2021

Yep, it happens abruptly around here. But here it is.

Due to various factors, I’m going to have to take a break from this blog — the first break ever, really. My streak of hundreds of days in a row of posting something are coming to an end.

Not sure how long this break will be. It might be very brief, it might be lengthy. The site may or may not stay up and/or get shifted elsewhere. If possible, I’ll give notice ahead of time.

In the meantime, check out the archives; lots of good stuff there.

Take care, all.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/29/2005 05:37:55 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (8)

Monday, March 28, 2021

When my dad first came to this country in the late ’60s, he spoke pretty much no English.

He hooked up with his brother-in-law (my uncle) on a construction job. During the workday, there was always a radio nearby, tossing out music and DJ chatter. Then, as now, newsbreaks would come on the air every hour, and include the weather report.

Despite not knowing the language, my dad would keep his ears perked for certain words. He noticed that every newsbreak would have a mention of Greece, his homeland, in it. After a few days, he couldn’t figure out why a radio station in New York was mentioning Greece all the time. He finally asked his brother-in-law about it.

“No,” he was told. “The radio’s not saying ‘Greece’; it’s saying ‘degrees’. Like what temperature it is.”

Greece, ‘grees — sounds similar, but no cigar.

I’ve got a somewhat better grip on English. But I’ve noticed an experience similar to my father’s: Whenever I see the word “geek” — as I do when browsing blogs via BlogExplosion — it registers as “Greek” for a split-second, enough to make me pause every time.

Must be something in the genes.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/28/2005 09:06:59 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback

On Saturday, I spent a good portion of the night at Derby Lane; it wasn’t my idea, but it turned out to be a little bit more fun than I was anticipating. It was my first time at the dog track in many years, despite living only a couple of miles away.

On Sunday, I spent part of the night watching The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog DVD at a friend’s house. We took particular pleasure in watching the segments that ripped the Westminster Dog Show.

Reflecting upon these experiences, I realized: Despite the seeming polar opposites that each dog venue represents, the dogs have fairly similar names.

Don’t believe me? Check out a sampling from each:

- From tonight’s Derby Lane race lineup: B’s King Kaliko, Stop Ona Dime, Leta’s Alexa

- From this year’s Westminster breed entry for retrievers: Curlynn Resistance Is Futile, Shadowbrooks First PJ Party, Gladrags Phorce Be With You

Pretty much equally silly. Must be something about bestowing names and titles on canines.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/28/2005 08:46:35 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, March 27, 2021

When the Recording Industry Association of America started in earnest to take legal action against fileswapping networks and those networks’ users, Internet cognoscenti criticized the move as the futile flailings of an outdated dinosaur.

Two years hence, the dinosaur is winning, at least in the big-picture sense. Pew Internet and American Life reports that, while a significant percentage (27 percent) still illicitly download audio and video files, they do it via means that don’t involve the P2P networks that popularized the practice.

The Project’s national survey of 1,421 adult Internet users conducted between January 13 and February 9, 2021 shows that 19% of current music and video downloaders, or about 7 million adults, say they have downloaded files from someone else’s iPod or MP3 player. About 28%, or 10 million people, say they get music and video files via email and instant messages…

In all, 48% of current downloaders have used sources other than peer-to-peer networks or paid music and movie services to get music or video files. Beyond MP3 players, email and instant messaging, these alternative sources include music and movie websites, blogs and online review sites.

It may seem that the RIAA’s fight is merely shifting to other channels, and that they’ll have to start targeting email services and website/blog-hosting services soon.

That misses the main point: P2P networks were the largest and easiest means for casual users to download a wide range of music and video files. Their ease of access, and ease of distribution, made them an obvious target. The music industry knew that choking them off would stem the fileswapping traffic significantly. And so it did.

I argued that, from the start, the RIAA’s strategy didn’t depend on getting all the downloaders, but just enough of them:

The aim is not to take millions of people to court; the aim is to target enough of them, stick them with such onerous financial penalties (thousands of dollars worth), and publicize it extensively enough, that it gives the majority of other users pause enough to stop using the programs. Naturally, once enough people stop participating, the filesharing networks will be less usable, because there’ll be a lot less content on them; plus, when the active users dwindle to a relative few, it’ll be that much easier to target each of them individually. It’s like nailing people for speeding on the highway: The cops know they’re never going to get everyone, but by nabbing a few, that deters the majority from doing it (at least to an excessive extent).

Yes, most of the old services, like Grokster and BearShare are still around. But without a large user base, they’re fairly useless. As long as a big enough portion of the public is aware that using such services exposes them to possible legal action, they’ll be reticent to jump on them.

Naturally, the growth of online music stores like Apple’s iTunes helped. Many of those newly-minted digital music users reconciled themselves to “going legit” by paying for what they previously had to hunt out.

As for the new alternate means, like email and temporary file postings on blogs and other sites: These are relative trickles compared to the previous flood that P2P networks represented. The music industry’s not stupid; there’s always going to be some level of illicit fileswapping. As long as it’s low-level enough, it’s bearable. The P2P means made the scale of such copying high enough to represent a real threat to the business end (again, it’s all about distribution, and a 24/7 network of music files for the taking meant unimaginable free distribution). As long as that’s been radically reduced, more one-on-one swaps among splintered groups aren’t going to break the bank.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/27/2005 11:12:37 PM
Category: Internet, Media | Permalink | Feedback

So I’m driving to my friend Tommy’s house to have a low-key Easter dinner (even though it ain’t my Easter). The iPod, as always, is playing through the car deck.

A couple of songs in, the only track on the player that’s even remotely Easter-related comes up:

“Eggman” by The Beastie Boys. Y’know, Easter eggs? (Just making sure.)

Yes, I know this is the second “soundtrack-of-my-life” post in the last couple of days. Sue me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/27/2005 10:09:02 PM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

dark knight, dark side
Both The Batman and Darth Vader are having their origin stories hit the big screen within a month of each other this summer. And the parallels sure don’t end there.

Since Mr. Dark Knight and Mr. Dark Force are so sartorially similar — not many can pull off the cape look so deftly — I think further crossover is in order. May I suggest:

- A Bat-Sabre addition to Bat’s utility belt

- A teenaged sidekick for Lord Vader (Jedi-Boy?)

- The Joker frazzling his Caped Crusader nemesis with the declaration, “I am your father!”

- The Vader-mobile

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/27/2005 12:09:53 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saturday, March 26, 2021

Mary Spicuzza laments pop culture’s move away from female action heroes who are complex but stable, to ones who are more one-note and dysfunctional.

Besides, the doms really need to get their priorities straight. For example, Catwoman uses her superpowers to steal a necklace that caught her eye.

“Time to accessorize,” she snarls, shattering its glass container.

Elektra and Catwoman have severed ties to the world. Elektra, a tormented assassin, exists only for her next assignment even though she seems to hate her job. (Just what modern women need - more examples of female workaholics trapped in unsatisfying careers.)

I’m not sure why Spicuzza is so worked up over some crappy movies that didn’t register with audiences anyway. Both Catwoman and Elektra bombed at the box office, as did the other referenced offender, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. There’s no track record to warrant a fear of Catwoman Scratches Back hitting screens soon (love that dreamed-up title, by the way). If anything, the failure of these superheroine films jeopardizes all TV and film projects fronted by female action heroes, regardless of quality or approach.

There may be hope, though. If the Joss Whedon-helmed Wonder Woman movie project gets off the ground, and it carries the sort of sensibility that one would expect from the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, all will be right in the estrogen-fueled action world.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/26/2005 05:18:14 PM
Category: TV, Movies, Women | Permalink | Feedback

Much of which took until my teenage years to fully unlearn:

1. Assuming that “Jefferson” was exclusively a name for black people, I thought our third President was, naturally, a black man.

2. In a similar vein, I thought “Lionel” was a black-only name (along with “Lamont” and “Willis” — especially ironic, since both those characters tried to Africanize their names in single episodes of their respective shows).

3. I’m a bit fuzzy on this, but I seem to recall having to un-learn a George Jefferson-style walk around age 7 or 8.

4. When a black woman and a white man have children together, the kids end up being either all black or all white (despite accusation of being “zebra”).

5. I thought “honky” was a widely-used racial epithet.

6. I thought everyone should aspire to move on up to a deluxe department in the sky-ie-ie.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/26/2005 04:37:17 PM
Category: TV | Permalink | Feedback

For something that’s been around for so long, the universe sure is a tricky thing to pin down. Whereas just a month ago, we were told that “dark matter” and “dark energy” made up most of everything, now there’s a counterview that declares such mysterious forces to be so much bunk.

When Einstein first put his theories of relativity together, he included a cosmological constant, a number that accounted for this acceleration of the universe’s expansion. He later referred to this as his greatest blunder, but his ideas have since been rehabilitated.

But now, Edward Kolb of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory says that Einstein “was right when he said he was wrong”, according to a Reuters report.

Antonio Riotto at Italy’s National Nuclear Physics Institute in Padova, who also worked on the research, told Reuters: “No mysterious dark energy is required. If dark energy were the size that theories predict … it would have prevented the existence of everything we know in our cosmos.”

Instead, he says, the acceleration is an after effect of the big bang that has not been properly accounted for.

I see a rumble in the academic jungle over this one…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/26/2005 04:16:02 PM
Category: Science | Permalink | Feedback

It wouldn’t be Easter without Easter treats, and chocolate is high on most peoples’ list. Along with the old-hat Easter bunny, chocolate Christian crosses are gaining favor among the faithful.

But not without some predictable knee-jerk squawking:

However, not all Christians are happy about it. Chomping on a chocolate cross can be offensive to some, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Bridgeport, Conn.

“The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps,” he said. “It’s insulting.”

“It’s in poor taste,” agreed the Rev. John Vakulskas, a Catholic priest in Alton, Iowa.

Have these idiots never heard of hot cross buns? And there’s probably a few thousand other foodly expressions of religious symbols eaten every day.

It’s particularly ironic that the Catholics would find the eating of a cross-shaped treat insulting, given the central role of the sacrament in their ritual. I guess it’s okay to eat your God in the form of a cracker, but not in the form of milk chocolate.

Fortunately, my church isn’t as tight-assed about this, and brings up a crucial point that seemed to have eluded the previous commentators:

But the Rev. John Matusiak, of the Orthodox Church of America, could see how a cross in any form would carry more meaning than other Easter symbols. “Better for people to give a kid a cross instead of bunny,” he said, “but it is kind of creepy to eat a cross.”

In other words, if a chocolate cross edges out that pagan-based bunny, all the better. Which, if you’re really a Christian, is the sensible way to look at it.

Of course, we all know where this is leading:

[Company president Tom] Ward said Russell Stover considered making other traditional images out of chocolate but eventually opted not to.

“A molded Jesus, for example, would not be a good call and a cross with Jesus on it wouldn’t be a good idea either,” Ward said.

Just imagine if the time-honored tradition of biting the heads off chocolate bunnies turned into biting the heads off chocolate Christs. Talk about eating your gods…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/26/2005 03:52:38 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Every couple of months, I get a wrong-number call to my cellphone. It happens.

What makes such misdials far more maddening than they should be is when the dipshit on the other end calls not once, not twice, but AT LEAST 4 OR 5 TIMES BEFORE FIGURING IT OUT.

I mean, what is it? Do they think that if they keep dialing the same exact number, it’ll magically connect them with the right person? Do they run through their options, exhaust all their brain power doing that for 5 seconds, then decide, “I guess I’ll hit redial”? I know it’s the same person, or at least the same household, because caller ID tells me so.

Honestly, some people are just too stupid to be allowed to use a telephone.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/26/2005 03:26:36 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, March 25, 2021

Here’s a piece of everyday musical randomness: Only a day after penning a post about Terri Schiavo, what should tick up on my computer’s shuffle-set music player?

The Smiths’ “Girlfriend in a Coma”. I don’t put much any credence in such coincidences, but still, freaky.

Anyway, this one’s going out to Michael Schiavo. The lyrics might seem a bit callous, but what the hey:

Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it’s serious
Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it’s really serious

There were times when I could
Have murdered her
(But you know, I would hate
Anything to happen to her)

No, I don’t want to see her

Do you really think
She’ll pull through?
Do you really think
She’ll pull through?

Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it’s serious
My, my, my, my, my, my baby, goodbye

There were times when I could
Have strangled her
(But you know, I would hate
Anything to happen to her)
Would you please
Let me see her!

Do you really think
She’ll pull through?
Do you really think
She’ll pull through?
Let me whisper my last goodbyes

I know - it’s serious

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/25/2005 04:26:12 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

chick magnet
Aside from the overt humor, one of the most absurdly funny aspects of “Seinfeld” was the casting of fashion model-quality girlfriends for Jerry and George. This became especially acute in the later seasons, when plausibility was pretty much tossed out the window, in favor of providing eyecandy.

I mean, come on. I could almost see Jerry being able to snag the Calvin Klein models: He’s tall, and the charm/comedy thing would probably mitigate his horsey looks. But George, getting involved with a parade of hotties? Short, fat, bald, glasses, no money… And the girlies are lining up to date him. Only in New York — TV New York, anyway.

I always felt that part of the explanation lay in the acting out of many a Long Island boy’s fantasy: To grow up, move out of Great Neck, get an apartment in Manhattan and date girls that weren’t from your neighborhood.

Anyway, while most of those pretty faces came and went without much fanfare, I’ve noticed that a number of those one-shot girlfriend characters were played by actresses who found Hollywood success apart from “Seinfeld”. Here’s a list of the notables, in no particular order:

- Kristin Davis. Even though Davis had achieved something of a breakthrough with her one-year stint on “Melrose Place” in the mid-’90s, she still hadn’t really made a name for herself when she appeared as “Jenna” in “The Pothole” (reprising the character for a brief cameo in “The Butter Shave”). Shortly after these appearances, she hit it big as Charlotte York on “Sex and the City”.

- Catherine Keener. Keener was just starting out when she got the role of “Nina”, the hyperjealous painter in “The Letter”. Since then, she’s made a mark in independent movies, with her turn in Being John Malkovich bringing her the most critical acclaim.

- Jane Leeves. Had a spotty film and TV career before playing “Marla” in “The Virgin” and “The Contest”. This turned out to be a very lucky break, as the latter episode’s “master of your domain” storyline probably launched the fledgling series into the stratosphere — and the Marla character was integral. Shortly thereafter, Leeves landed the role of Daphne on “Frasier”.

- Debra Messing. Despite a starring role in a short-lived sitcom, Messing wasn’t much of a known quantity when she was cast as “Beth” in “The Wait Out”. She reprised that role a year later in “The Yadda Yadda”. The next year, she got the part of Grace in “Will & Grace”.

- Lauren Graham. The future “Gilmore Girl” got on the Seinfeld merry-go-round as high-maintenance “Valerie” in “The Millenium”.

- Melinda Clarke. Years after a throwaway turn as “Alex” in “The Muffin Tops” — really just one of a string of B-level roles — Clarke finally hit it big recently with “The O.C.”.

- Vickie Lewis. Her role as George’s secretary “Ada” in “The Secretary” and “The Race” wasn’t technically a girlfriend character (even though George did have sex with her). Nevertheless, it served as enough of a launching pad for her to get “NewsRadio” and various film roles afterward.

- Lori Loughlin. Loughlin had already achieved fame on “Full House” and other projects before playing “Patty” in “The Serenity Now” (easily my favorite episode title). Brief as the role was, it might have been enough to lead to her career revival in “Summerland”.

- Helen Slater. This one’s the exception to the rule. Slater’s fame was assured before her appearance — uncredited, no less — as “Becky” in “The Good Samaritan”. She was, of course, Supergirl a decade prior (which perhaps helped her get the girlfriend role, given Jerry Seinfeld’s Superman obsession). In Slater’s case, there hasn’t been much of a “Seinfeld” effect to her subsequent career.

- Teri Hatcher. Probably the most accomplished actress, coming in, to play one of the “Seinfeld” girls. With a career that started on “The Love Boat”, and hit a peak as Lois Lane on “Lois & Clark” (again, the Superman thing!), Hatcher was already a familiar face when she starred as “Sidra” in “The Implant” (role reprised in brief cameos in later episodes). She’s graduated recently to renewed TV stardom in “Desperate Housewives”; and she’s not the only one…

- Marcia Cross. Not only is she a “Melrose Place” alum, along with the aforementioned Kristin Davis; but she’s also riding high with Hatcher as a “Desperate Housewives” vixen. Her “Seinfeld” character was “Dr. Sarah Sitarides” in “The Slicer”.

Quite a lineup: Two “Desperate Housewives”, a “Sex and the City” girl, an “O.C.” vamp… The Sein had it going on!

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/25/2005 01:05:44 PM
Category: TV, Celebrity, Women | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Thursday, March 24, 2021

The Terri Schiavo case has been making major headlines of late, thanks in no small part to plenty of blog attention.

Of course, Shiavo’s story began a long time ago — 15 years ago, when Terri slipped into her coma and the first article about her appeared in the St. Petersburg Times.

Back then, her “last hope” of a brain-stimulator transplant had her seemingly on a road to recovery. I guess it’s been 15 years of “last hopes” since then.

The Schiavo story hits close to home for me, strictly proximity-wise. Terri was interned in 1990 at College Harbor. That’s literally next door to Eckerd College, which I was attending at that very same time (in fact, Eckerd owned College Harbor back then). Fast forward to the present day: Schiavo’s current location in Pinellas Park is maybe 15 minutes away from my front door. It was a local story long before it became a high-profile national one; I doubt most people in the Tampa Bay area were actively aware of it, but the Schiavos would periodically appear in the news as the situation evolved over the years, and I sure knew about it.

You’d think that would warrant some thoughts on this blog. It hasn’t, for a few reasons. For one, mere physical proximity doesn’t grant me any special proprietary rights; I don’t know any of the players, and aside from general awareness of the history, I don’t have any in-depth knowledge of the case. Beyond that, I generally try to keep it light around here, and this isn’t a light subject.

I haven’t done a thorough once-over, but I haven’t noticed any of the other Tampa Bay blogs out there saying much about it either. I’m sure they have their reasons too.

I do have some thoughts on the whole thing, but now’s not the time to reveal them. Once the whole thing comes to a conclusion — which appears to be only a few days away — I’ll speak up.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/24/2005 11:05:18 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Society | Permalink | Feedback (4)

One of my favorite all-purpose jokes involves popular instrumental-only songs. Whenever someone mentions how much they like something by, say, Kenny G (whose entire repertoire, as far as I know, consists of instrumental numbers), I shoot back with, “Right, right… What are the lyrics to that one again?” Ha. And ha.

There are a lot of television theme songs that are especially fair game for this little zinger. The themes for “SportsCenter” and “Hawaii Five-O” are probably at the top of the list.

Another is the theme for “The Odd Couple” (which was practically identical to the preceding movie). But lo and behold, it turns out there are lyrics for that iconic tune:

No matter where they go
They are known as the couple.
They’re never seen alone
So they’re known as the couple.

As I’ve indicated
They are never quite separated,
They are peas in a pod.
Don’t you think that it’s odd?

Their habits, I confess
None can guess, with the couple.
If one says no it’s yes
More or less, with the couple.

But they’re laugh provoking
Yet they really don’t know they’re joking.
Don’t you find, when love is blind
It’s kind of odd.

Ugh! These were written for the movie version, but never used. They were never used for the TV show either. No big mystery as to why.

Producer Garry Marshall once said that the show’s lack of success was attributed to audiences’ suspicion about Felix’s and Oscar’s sexual orientations. Had these lyrics ever aired, I don’t think there’d have been any doubt the roommates were gay.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/24/2005 10:09:06 PM
Category: TV, Movies | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Any readers out there blogging on TypePad, and/or know about its inner workings?

I was having a devil of a time trying to send trackback pings to a couple of TypePad-powered blogs yesterday; I wasn’t able to get them through, despite several retries and using two different computers/Internet connnections. I finally did get them to go through, but only by using HaloScan’s trackbacking utility — and even then, it took over a minute to do it. Just curious if there’s anything wonky about TypePad’s pinging ability.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/24/2005 09:11:51 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, March 23, 2021

love me tendercrisp
Thank you, Aaron McGruder. Not only for today’s funny strip, but also for ensuring that this blog’s Hootielanch will continue unabated for a while yet.

Get all your “Burger King - Fantasy Ranch” action here.

Seriously, this wacky ad has some serious legs to it. My traffic is booming like crazy, and it’s just about all thanks to search results for this commercial. Journalists, take notice.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/23/2005 10:40:40 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (7)

Mention GM or “Frankenfood”, and people go apeshit. No one wants their munchables messed with by mad scientists.

Then again, genetic manipulation of our foodstuff is nothing new, and we’ve all likely been chowing down on the stuff for a while now.

Yes, I can indeed see through this “you’re soaking in it” approach to making gene-spliced products more palatable to the general public. Even with Rutgers adding its academic weight behind it, the view that GM consumption is already established practice, and thus nothing to fret over, is laughably one-sided.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit. I take an even longer-range look at it: Genetic manipulation of our food supply has been going on for millenia, via less sophisticated means.

Think about it: As soon as people settled into domesticating livestock and growing fruits and vegetables, they practiced genetic selectivity. Crops were cultivated and re-cultivated, resulting into the development of stronger and desirable strains of plants. Same thing with the breeding and interbreeding of pigs, cattle and other animals; the modern-day farm chicken bears little resemblance to its wilderness ancestor. This evolution was the direct result of human intervention — the earliest forms of genetic engineering. The only difference between those past efforts and today’s version is that it’s more obvious today.

So eat up! At least until they figure out how to make those “Jetsons”-style food pills, which would free us from the drudgery of eating altogether.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/23/2005 10:13:27 PM
Category: Food, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Language sticklers, weep: Netspeak, that anti-formal writing format that runs rampant throughout the Web and other digital media, has gotten the endorsement of high academia.

Well, at least part of the way. On the one hand, it’s hailed as a way to revive interest in writing and propel the continued evolution of language. On the other, it’s seen as a “third way” between casual oral communication and structured written work, more like a bridge toward developing traditional language skills.

Larry Larsen at Poynter contributes some interesting thoughts on where this is all going. The notion of how expressive communication can, in turn, influence language meaning is fascinating, and highlights just how organic the entire process is.

I expressed my thoughts on this subject two(!) years ago, and since things haven’t changed much since then, I’ll reprint that post here:

Right now I’m happy :). Can’t you tell? I just signified it with my little smiley face there. Saves me from having to tell you in the first place, doesn’t it?

Yeah, yeah. Emoticons are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “leetspeak”, the seemingly nonsensical shorthand and faux-typos that can be found nowhere but on the Net. Stuff like this alarms many people, making them despair for the intelligible future of the English language, and even of human social interaction as we know it.

A couple of thoughts:

- From my vantage point, this stuff is pretty inconsequential because to this point it’s largely confined to the Web. I haven’t seen much, if any, of this stuff bleed into the off-line world-yet. But I do recall reading an article in the New York Times a few months back, relating anecdotes from schoolteachers who are seeing more and more Web-origined shorthand creeping into their students’ schoolwork. This includes, most disquietingly, formal reports where, presumably, a kid is supposed to be learning how to develop persuasive arguments through language. Input from the kids offered up the defense that they were just accustomed to using abbreviations and symbols frequently on their computers and phones, and it’s natural to use them in other media. Teachers, for their part, seem to be adapting by allowing this “new language” in certain areas: Only in a first draft when ideas are being formed, but thereafter eliminated. So, on one level, it does seem that this jargon is making inroads.

- The raison d’etre for all this shorthand is a response to technological limitations that are either now gone or will be soon. Early instant messaging and even some email was limited by how many characters you could fit into a message/sessions, so it was natural that shortcuts be devised. That’s why “be right back” got truncated to the quickie “brb”, and so on. Even today this exists: Text messaging on cellphones, which is touted as the cool in-thing to do, is a painfully cramped experience when you have to use a tiny keypad for input and have to limit the message size to 50 characters or less. However, I can’t see this going anywhere but up, in terms of improved input devices (like voice, Palm-type stylus writing, etc.) and increased capacity for text/data. I won’t say that it will surely put an end to the pseudo-lingo, but it could put a dent into new adoption.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/23/2005 09:26:44 PM
Category: Internet, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

There’s a new breed of political animal on the American scene, with a habitat stretching roughly from the Dakotas to Nevada. More or less abandoned by the mother herd, it’s developed a resourcefulness that’s allowed it first to survive, and of late, to thrive.

Based upon a program of pragmatism and local accountability, this beast has been dubbed the Coyote Democrat:

Democrats in the west are also smart and creative. Given up for dead by national Democrats, western Democrats scored big successes in recent elections. Colorado Democrats seized the House and Senate in 2004. Montana Democrats swept their state government in 2004. Wyoming and Arizona elected Democratic governors in 2002. If we can keep the momentum up, and control redistricting in 2010 (or at least keep the Republicans from controlling it), Democrats across the west will be a force to be reckoned with.

You’ll have to squint a little to find significant distinction between this new breed and the traditional conservative Democrat that’s populated the Western U.S. for decades. I suppose there’s a bit more dedication among these Kie-yoats to some level of government acting as a solution to people’s problems, versus the Republican knee-jerk answer of simply dismantling any and all civic organs.

I wonder if these Coyote Democrats were behind the long-overdue legal action against that negligent ACME Corporation.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/23/2005 08:17:17 PM
Category: Politics | Permalink | Feedback (2)

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