Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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)