Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, May 29, 2021

frozen over
You’d think New Jersey would be more appreciative of the only major-league team to bring championships to the Garden State. But instead, podunk Assemblyman Craig Stanley, a Baptist deacon, is pushing a bill linking the funding of a new arena for the NHL Devils to a name change for the team, citing Satanic symbolism.

“This is an age where symbolism is very important,” said Stanley, whose resolution to rename the team is to be introduced in the Assembly next month. “With the team coming to a new city, Newark, I thought it was a good time to do it.”

Not that it matters to a zealot like that, but of course, the Devils’ name isn’t derived from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic devil at all:

Legend has it that the Jersey Devil — with bat-like wings, a forked tail and oversized claws — terrorized Pine Barrens dwellers in the 18th-century after being born the 13th child to poor South Jerseyans and morphing into a dinosaur-like beast.

The team’s mascot is no beast, though. It’s a 7-foot-tall, red, cartoonish figure with horns and a goatee.

The NHL’s Devils acquired their name in a 1982 fan contest after a group of New Jersey investors brought the team east from Colorado, said Lamoriello. There is no chance that the name will change anytime soon, he said.

This issues comes up every so often. I seem to recall a move years ago — before the team became a consistent winner, and crowds were especially sparse — to ditch the Devils moniker and redub the team the “New Jersey Gulls”.

The Tampa Bay area has it’s own demon-reminiscent franchise, of course. And just as predictably, the holy rollers came out of the woodwork as soon as the Devil Rays were christened (pun intended) 10 years ago.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 09:48:07 PM
Category: Hockey
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So I’m curious: Why is MTV reuniting the cast of The Breakfast Club for the network’s Movie Awards this year?

I can’t imagine MTV is seriously trying to lure viewers who grew up watching that flick two decades ago. That’s not the demographic MTV courts — practically fossils compared to the 12-26 year olds who are their bread and butter. They might as well bring together the cast of The Big Chill, while they’re at it.

Could it be that The Breakfast Club still resonates with today’s teens? I’ve always liked it, but I caught it again recently, and it seems hopelessly dated now (a natural consequence of its hyper-timeliness back in ‘85).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 08:01:45 PM
Category: Movies, Pop Culture
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As someone who’s wrestled with depression — and lost more than one bout — reading about Dennis Ross’ breakdown, despite seemingly having everything going for him as a high-rolling Tampa Bay powerbroker, brought to me equal parts of empathy and dread.

As Ross demonstrated, depression forces you to become a terrific actor. In order to mask your insecurities, it’s essential that you put forth the outward appearance of stability, if not prosperousness. Ross overachieved because doing any less would have exposed his decay; as a result, his crash came as a complete surprise to even those who thought they knew him intimately.

Similarly, when I fell, I got the same reaction from friends and family: I had done such a great job of hiding my problems that no one even imagined I could do what I did. A deft combination of assurances and withdrawals did the job — until they couldn’t anymore.

The fragility of these balancing acts are apparent:

He had been seeing therapists for 15 years, ever since his son’s suicide. But he could talk intelligently for hours without revealing anything.

He never thought the shrinks could help him. He thought his view of himself as a failure was just objective reality. An overdue notice on his Visa bill might plunge him into despair. “I’m worthless,” he’d say. “I can’t even manage my own affairs.”

Now, he dove into intensive sessions of something called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. It forced him to pay attention to what triggered his black fits, to sever the connection between the late Visa bill and his conclusion that he was worthless.

It doesn’t take much of an event to trigger those thoughts. The “merciless calculus” that disregards all the positives in favor of a single, earth-shattering negative, irrational as it is, is exactly how depression works.

Like anything else, it takes time and work to undo the effects. The trick is staying upright the whole time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 04:12:59 PM
Category: Society
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Isaac Newton believed time was absolute, independent of the observer and perpetually forward-moving. Albert Einstein felt time was relative, dependent upon perception and prone to manipulation by other forces.

Now, maverick physicist Peter Lynds proposes the radical alternative: That time doesn’t even really exist, but rather is just an imagined concept.

The thrust of Lynds’ thinking appears to be the inability to conclusively prove that time, as a truly quantifiable force, exists. Since you can’t measure it apart from the effects upon other objects, it’s hard to extract it.

As with most thing physics, much of this is over my head. But it seems to resonate with an observation I made about the nature of time, years ago:

To me, it seems that time is a fundamentally physical, rather than conceptual, phenomenon. Think about it: The only way you can tell time has passed is in the outward, physical signs. You observe wear-and-tear upon people and things, and from that have the indication that time runs. But that’s all there is to it: physical growth and deterioration. The perceptual part — chiefly recollections — resides only in our minds. Without the physical proof, time doesn’t manifest itself to us.

Maybe this is the core of Lynds’ theories. I’m not sure why it would rattle so many cages, because is seems logical to me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 03:52:44 PM
Category: Science
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A while back, I noted that the ubiquity of mobile phones and other always-at-hand devices is eliminating the need to memorize phone numbers and other contact information.

The logical consequence of that is the erosion of the average person’s memory skills (maybe).

Freeing up brainspace by neglecting to commit some mundane data to memory is nothing new; it’s an evolving process. I seem to recall some anecdote about Albert Einstein that addresses this:

Einstein was speaking with someone he’d just met, and when the time came to part, the new acquaintance asked for Einstein’s phone number. The world’s biggest genius got up, went for the phone book, and looked up his own home phone number.

The other party was a bit stunned, and asked: “Dr. Einstein, you don’t know your telephone number?”

Einstein replied, “I don’t bother memorizing things I can easily look up.”

The point being, if one of history’s most brilliant minds didn’t think it was worthwhile to commit such things into the memory banks, then why should you?

Looking at it in a larger sense, I think this outsourcing of particular bits of personal data will lead to the strengthening of other mental capabilities. Nature abhors a vacuum, after all; if that section of the brain formerly occupied with massive memory storage is deprived of that task, it’ll just find something else to do. Moving from hunter/gatherer, to agrarian, to industrial societies, the resultant easing of tasks that used to occupy huge chunks of time opened the door to innovations. This could be the next step in that progression.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/29/2005 03:07:51 PM
Category: Science, Tech
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