Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, July 11, 2021

According to the Congressional Management Foundation, email is the best way to get your message to your Senator or Representative.

I’m not convinced about the conclusions reached here, though. Members of Congress get about 180 million emails annually; that doesn’t mean they actually read all of them. In fact, that sort of volume makes it more likely that they don’t read most of what comes in. It seems that the mere presence of those mounds of email lead to the presumption that it’s actually being acknowledged. That’s reinforced by this information nugget:

However, the report found that the benefits of speedy e-mail often work only in one direction. Lawmakers have generally not increased personnel to handle the jump in communications, and many still reply through postal mail.

I’ve gotta wonder how much time Congressional staff takes to weed through the inevitable spam — and indeed, how much of that volume is made up of indistinct spam. Plus, it’s not that hard for a focused advocacy group to send out a bunch of spam and have it look like it’s “personalized”.

Another finding here that gives me pause:

Brad Fitch, a co-author of the study, pointed advocacy groups to one finding: among those staff interviewed, 44% said individualized postal letters had “a lot” of influence when a member is undecided on an issue, but only 3% said that was true for form letters.

By contrast, only 15% said a visit from a lobbyist had “a lot” of influence.

A classic example of responding with the proper, rather than the truthful, answer. If lobbyists don’t have more pull than that, then an awful lot of lobbying money is going straight down the drain — a laughable notion for anyone even vaguely acquainted with how Washington works.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/11/2021 11:48:34 PM
Category: Internet, Politics | Permalink | Feedback


Which is the preferable civic plum: Landing a Super Bowl, or hosting the National Junior Disability Championships?

Turns out, both are highly sought-after sporting events in terms of the meetings and conventions business. Youth and amateur sports are becoming major booking events, prompting bidding wars among large and mid-sized cities.

So it is that Tampa Bay, in addition to gunning after major-league and NCAA sporting spectacles, actively goes after smaller-scale clientele to fill venues and hotel rooms. Basically, the Super Bowls and Final Fours are the showy, PR-rich municipal splashes; amateur events serve as the bread-and-butter business.

The rest of central Florida is also a prime example of how this small-sports targeting works:

The state’s biggest player in amateur sports events, and one of the largest in the nation, is Walt Disney Corp.’s sprawling, 220-acre Wide World of Sports Complex, which opened in Lake Buena Vista in 1997 to capitalize on this trend.

While Wide World of Sports hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason training camp and Atlanta Braves spring training games, the majority of its events are amateur and youth competitions. Many are held by the Amateur Athletic Union, whose headquarters are on site.

At the other end of the spectrum is Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing, an arm of the Polk County division of tourism and sports marketing. It may not be Disney, but it maintains a full calendar of amateur events, including the National Softball Association’s girls’ fast-pitch state championships, the annual Strawberry Invitational swimming tournament held by the City of Lakeland Aquatics swimming club, and a woodbat baseball championship series organized by former Atlanta Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton.

And that was just this past weekend.

No question, this grassroots-like blossoming of sports is where it’s at. Ironically, it represents the best chance for newspaper sports sections to serve their local readers: Coverage in this mass medium is still highly desirable. Unfortunately — and I speak from experience — they tend to be the biggest pains to track and reliably cover.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/11/2021 11:10:03 PM
Category: SportsBiz | Permalink | Feedback


Some casual surfing today brought me to Blue Hair Dye. It’s as mundane as a blog can get: One girl’s attempt at tinging her hair blue. (Don’t let the dog’s narrative throw you.)

The subject brought to mind my own long-ago haircoloring exploits, back in high school. I’ll more-or-less repeat what I commented on the aforementioned blog:

I’ve never actually dyed my hair. However, in high school (edging onto 20 years ago), I occasionally would color my hair punk-style red with some sort of spray-on stuff, so it wouldn’t be unusual for people to see me with some funky coloration on my head.

The thing was, my natural color was deep, deep black. So black that, if the light was hitting me just right (usually from behind), my hair would get this bluish tinge to it. Some, like The Jades, might even call it “Blue Black Hair”. People would see that, and assume I was coloring my hair again — only this time, blue!

Ah, what a cheeky little monkey I was… Fact is, my hair is still pretty damned black, even with more and more grey starting to emerge. Maybe I should start looking into that blue dye…

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/11/2021 10:12:04 PM
Category: Fashion | Permalink | Feedback


Still no directory of Tampa Bay blogs, as the St. Petersburg Times planned to do some six weeks ago.

However, I noticed that in today’s edition of Personal Tech, the usual pointer to the submission form for local blogs was absent. (It last ran on June 27th, before the Independence Day weekend.)

So, that means that either the Times has enough blogs to publish a fair-sized list, perhaps next week or sooner, or else has abandoned the idea for whatever reason.

If it’s the latter, I’m bummed. I’d have welcomed the spike from local curiosity-seekers. And I know I did my part: I submitted a good dozen or so local bloggers. We’ll see what happens.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/11/2021 09:14:43 PM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)


Seeing that the supply of teabags in the office was dwindling, I replenished it while getting lunch at the local supermarket. Not being particularly particular about brand, I grabbed the cheapest box I saw: Red Rose Tea.

It turns out that Red Rose regularly includes little porcelain figurines in its boxes. The one I got included a duck or goose — some kind of waterfowl — as part of a Noah’s Ark series (which is available only with the teabags).

It’s nice to get the little duck. But, since there’s a Noah’s Ark theme going here, shouldn’t there have been two ducks in this box?

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/11/2021 01:49:10 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback