Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 09, 2021

Tara Reid recently lamented being stuck in a drunken party-girl mold, which according to her is a media invention.

I guess she’s right, because if she really did have a flair for drinking and dancing, her pathetic excuse for a party travelogue, “Taradise”, wouldn’t have been ignominiously cancelled.

Or, it could be that, having failed to find an acting career beyond the American Pie franchise, Reid can’t even put forth a compelling performance as a partying celebutante. And at 30 years of age, she’s past her prime in that department anyway, especially with the Parises and Lindsays of the world occupying that spotlight.

I was unlucky enough to have caught a couple of episodes of “Taradise”, which apparently was a last-gasp revival of E!’s once-enjoyable “Wild On..”. I was tempted to recount the unpleasantness here with a post entitled “TARA-BLE-DISE”. Just as well that I hadn’t.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/09/2021 08:42:48 PM
Category: Celebrity, TV
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Wondering: Why is Google using four distinct interfaces for its Blog Search function?

I realize that all these roads lead to the same results. I just don’t understand the need to have a look for the Blogger version that’s so different from the Google one.

Maybe Google wants the Blogger brand to remain free-standing and robust. And the whole Blog Search thing is still in beta, anyway, so eventually this all might be distilled into just one interface.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/09/2021 08:17:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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A couple of days ago, I casually referred to an acquaintence’s kittycat as a “varmint”.

I meant it in the most benign way possible, but said acquaintence was clearly miffed. The kittycat is her little baby, and she didn’t appreciate the unseemly allusion.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I was channelling Yosemite Sam. I guess I had an idea in my head that any four-legged furry creature could rightly be called a varmint, regardless of temperament, status, etc.

In the future, when playfully referring to someone’s pet cat, I think I’ll opt for “critter” instead.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/09/2021 07:40:25 PM
Category: General
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A constant harp among free-enterprisers is that we’d all be better off if government would get its nose out of business’ business, and “go back” to letting the market decide everything.

It’s an amusingly ignorant, and wishful, philosophy. Grownups know that government’s role is to prime the economic pump in all manner of ways: Incentivization, redistribution, mediation. And, as Nicholas von Hoffman’s assessment of the airline industry’s bankruptcy woes illustrate, the creation and maintenance of large-scale infrastructure for transportation is practically impossible without the presence of government.

The airline mess has also been compounded by much malarkey filling the air about “private sector” this and “free market” that. Right-wing egestions hold that until the coming of closet collectivism, government stayed out of the private sector, an area of life unsullied by any form of public subsidy or subvention. Left-wing disgorgements hold that any kind of public help is corporate welfare. All of this flies in the face of the history of business in the United States, where subsidies in transportation have been the rule, not the exception.

The Federal-era stagecoach network was subsidized through the Post Office, as the airline companies would be two centuries later. Stagecoaches were useless for hauling freight, especially bulk shipments of grain from the rapidly developing Midwest. It would have been convenient if the rivers had run from west to east to facilitate transshipment to the markets of Europe, but since geography wouldn’t cooperate, Americans dug canals, mostly paid for by state and local governments. The most famous and most wildly successful was the Erie Canal, and from Albany to Buffalo, nary a complaint about socialism was to be heard.

The railroad gradually superseded the canals as the primary method of shipping. They too were the beneficiaries of a variety of federal, state and local subsidies. Next came the automobile and the truck, whose subsidies in the form of roads, bridges and tunnels are so much a part of the landscape that we seldom think of them as subsidies, but as the natural, God-given responsibility of government. It wasn’t so in 1914, when the Wilson administration put the federal government in the road-building business for the first time since Andrew Jackson’s era, when such activities were pronounced unconstitutional. Only now, when the costs of road building and maintenance has gotten to the point that some states are granting toll-road monopolies to private firms, has it occurred to us that this form of transportation is highly subsidized, even with the dedicated gas tax.

The airline industry has never drawn an unsubsidized breath. The development costs for passenger aircraft and their avionics have been paid for, directly or indirectly, as a national-defense gimmick for a century, and we will not even venture a guess as to what it would have cost the industry (even if it had had the money) to build the airports. Given these actualities, when an outfit like Delta goes down, it’s less of a private-sector bankruptcy than another government-program cock-up. To treat the industry as a group of private-sector enterprises is to feed another of the delusions as to who and what we are that infect the national public life.

Simply put: The private sector is great at establishing proprietary solutions, but they don’t do much to help a new industry reach critical mass. What’s more, competitiveness creates a lot of duplication, and increased cost when considering a sector as a whole. Competitive pressure is supposed to alleviate this by having the most successful model emerge as the standard, but that involves a tremendous amount of resources and requires the patience of the customer. Furthermore, by design, individual corporate strategy is short-sighted and indiviudalistic — it’s not designed to look at macro issues that benefit the entire industry, including competitors.

That’s where government participation comes in. The role of economic referee means competitors can all have a collective say in creating standards and resources that can be used industry-wide, establishing a new level playing field. The public interest is addressed as well.

Is it a perfect system? No, but it’s an equitable one. And that’s why smart businesses know how to use the system to their collective, and even individual, advantage.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/09/2021 01:41:12 PM
Category: Business, Politics
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