Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 24, 2021

One of the maddening things about online news acolytes is how they insist the Web enables them to avoid unwanted editorial filters. Presumably, the availability of thousands of news sources means you can strip away the traditional single-source channel for information.

And yet, it seems the very audiences that should be tailoring their news consumption this way, don’t. Case in point: This comment from a story about how Web surfers are supposedly taking control of their info sources:

Nicco Mele, webmaster for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, said he rarely visits news sites directly anymore and instead trusts bloggers like Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, a Dean supporter.

Pointing to Moulitsas at a recent conference, Mele remarked, “I’ll read what he thinks I should read.”

See the irony here? Mele doesn’t put enough stock into established news sources to refer to them independently; yet he’ll cede his discretion to someone else. Why shouldn’t Zuniga, of Daily Kos fame, or any other blogger, be considered just another level of filtration for getting at the news? Because that’s exactly what they are — they’re another level of separation. Worst, the vast majority aren’t even primary news sources: They just provide links to and punditry about news primarily reported by traditional media.

To me, it’s a case of overhyping the utility of news-gathering tools online.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 11:53:33 PM
Category: Internet, Media | Permalink | Feedback (2)

This sounds worthy of a bookstore visit: Nigel Spivey’s “Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real”:

[From Publishers Weekly] Psychological realism infuses Greek myths as reimagined by Cambridge classicist Spivey. Thus Herakles sounds as if he were confessing to a therapist when he explains his bravery: “It’s an act, isn’t it? The power of make-believe. The odd thing is… promise you won’t laugh… I used to get fired up by believing that my opponent was some maniac — yes, a maniac — coming after my wife and children.” Spivey’s heroes, as a result, are emotionally accessible but divested of their frightening grandeur.

It can be overdone, but a contemporization of classic works is often a fun exercise, both in attempt and execution. Shakespearean works have been subjected to this treatment of late, with a Hamlet set against a big-business corporate backdrop and a faux World War II/fascist England interpretation of Richard III standing out as my favorites.

Closer to the Greek myths, you could toss in O Brother, Where Art Thou? as a quality example. Beyond movies, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series of graphic novels handled the treatment of old gods deftly, reinterpreting, for instance, Death as a goth-chick teenager.

I’m all for the goal of making the archaic classics more accessible to modern sensibilites. And I’d like to see how Spivey pulls it off.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 06:59:31 PM
Category: Publishing, Movies, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

It was announced almost two months ago, and now it’s coming to pass: OLN and GSN will commence showing reruns of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”, in what amounts to a litmus test for the business of reality TV repeats.

“Is it a guaranteed bet? No,” said Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Television. “Is it a good, reasonable roll of the dice? Yes. I think they have a good chance of people who don’t normally watch their networks checking them out, without alienating their core audience.”

These shows’ value will be determined with time, if they can draw solid ratings after being on the air 40 or 50 times like I Love Lucy or Seinfeld, he said.

But the implications for television stretch beyond two networks and two shows.

As [reality producer Mark] Burnett explained, syndication money was never a part of the Survivor business plan; you can bet it will be for his shows in the future if it does well. An oddity of television is that many comedies and dramas truly can’t make money for the studios that make them unless they make it to syndication. Will the extra competition make it harder to make new scripted shows?

I was indeed skeptical of the viability of syndicating reality fare, because I was assuming the anticipation of the outcome was part of the appeal. But now, I’m not so sure. If the ride to the end was so entertaining, it stands to reason that fans would want to watch it again and again, re-experiencing key moments. And at root, reality shows are just as re-watchable as any other series television or movie, as long as the audience wants it.

Going by the small handful of friends I have who watch reality shows, I’m pretty much convinced that syndicated runs of past seasons will probably find success. Meaning that OLN and GSN will have gambled right, and roped in a huge new audience.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 06:12:45 PM
Category: Reality Check | Permalink | Feedback (6)

It’s not enough that Africa sends us all those hurricanes and tropical depressions. Now, the continent is sending Florida a Saharan sandstorm.

Though forecasters think the sandstorm will do little more than dazzle up the sunsets, it could tickle the throats of people with respiratory problems. The cloud of dust, which is about the size of the continental United States, originated in the Sahara Desert and could be over Florida early this week.

“This is not going to be a tremendous event, but it will be kind of interesting,” said Jim Lushine, a severe weather expert with Miami’s weather bureau.

But on the bright side, it’s speculated that such sandstorms prevent the formation of tropical storms. If so, bring on the dust!

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 04:11:09 PM
Category: Weather | Permalink | Feedback (2)

new commissioner: marsellus wallace
It’s a new day in the NHL. And that calls for a new style of coaching. Allow Bad M*therf*cker Coach Jules Winnfield to demonstrate, Inglewood-Jack style.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 03:35:34 PM
Category: Hockey, Movies, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

You’d think an amendment to the Florida Constitution that caps lawyer fees in medical malpractice suits would carry some weight.

Turns out it’s ridiculously easy to bypass, in the form of a waiver of these proscribed rights that plaintiffs pretty much have to sign in order to hire a lawyer.

This is nothing new, of course. Aside from the perpetual struggle between the legal and medical professions, of which this Florida situation is but a skirmish in the larger war, the state’s Constitution has been getting a roughshod treatment of late. Prime example: Governor Bush’s blatant negation of the Class Size Amendment from a few years back, refusing to enforce it in an effort to get it repealed.

When the top executive office disregards one part of the law of the land, you can’t expect the rest of the Constitution to be taken seriously. As usual, short-term expediency results in long-term problems.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 12:04:27 PM
Category: Politics, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback