Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, March 30, 2021

Well, I’ve been on break for long enough. It’s time to reenter the workforce — what the hell.

So this Monday, I’ll be doing just that. I’m heading into a for-real office to do some for-real payroll work.

More than anything, I’m glad to just be occupied. It’s been great moving back to New York, and exploring/reacquainting myself with the area. But I’ve found that long-term idleness is actually quite draining. There’s only so much nothing you can pack into a day; after a while, it’s mind-numbingly boring.

The money will be good — I’m not broke, but the cash reserve is certainly decreasing — but it’ll be better just to get out of the house and be productive. The only downside: Having to wear a shirt and tie regularly, for the first time in years (I’d gotten well-accustomed to Florida’s all-week business casual garb). Oh, and I guess having to shave every day will be something of a drag; but discipline!

No need to divulge too much just yet, because it’s technically a temporary assignment, currently slated for three months. But the interview went so well — they hired me next day, bypassing other candidates — that they’re already talking about putting me in the permanent rotation. Even if that doesn’t work out, I can keep looking for other gigs in the meantime.

I will say this: It’s not in publishing. It is in corporate marketing and Internet media. And it looks to keep my wordsmithing ways really busy for the next several weeks. I should be able to squeeze in the usual amount of blogging at the same time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/30/2006 11:11:36 PM
Category: General
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Apple just released a firmware update for the iPod. The main feature was a maximum volume limit, which drew all the attention due to recent hearing-damage lawsuits.

I’m fine with a governor option to keep kids from blowing out their eardrums. But I was peeved that there was no detailed information, from Apple or any other source, about the declared “bug fixes” included in this update (1.1.1 for me, owner of the latest-model 5th Generation iPod with video). When it comes to software, I generally go with the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix philosophy, eschewing potential enhancement (and unforeseen glitches) for established reliability.

On the other hand, despite my overall satisfaction with the iPod, there were a couple of things off about it. The main thing: The menu interface would go from smooth-scrolling on lists and between screens, to a herky-jerky slowdown while navigating during song playback. This even affected the gameplay on the minigames included on the unit.

So if nothing else, I’d have liked the update to fix this obvious bug. Other tweaks would have been nice, like the ability to adjust the screen contrast/brightness; but the menu interface was the main thing.

After sifting through news articles, blogs and forums for a day, and finding no info on the “other” aspect of 1.1.1, I finally decided to bite the bullet and just run the update myself.

The results: It didn’t foul up the iPod. It added the volume governor (which I’ll probably never use). It didn’t include an option for adjusting the screen contrast/brightness, but I wasn’t expecting that anyway. As for the menu animation: Honestly, I can’t quite tell. It seems to be flowing more smoothly than before, but it’s hard to say. And I think it’s still a bit slower during playback than when there’s no song playing in the background.

Ultimately, no harm done. But if you don’t need that volume limit, and aren’t experiencing any other peculiarities, then I’m not sure this update is absolutely necessary.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/30/2006 10:38:21 PM
Category: Tech
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How do you keep the Mexicans from sneaking across the border? As the NAFTA nations meet to tackle the issue, some suggest economically sprucing up their home country so that its residents wouldn’t want to leave in the first place.

Not a new concept — it’s what the North American Free Trade Association was set up to do, indirectly — but the proposed model offers something of a refresher course:

But when the European Union expanded in the 1980s and adopted new members, including Spain and Portugal, it spent more than $500 billion in aid to narrow the income gap between the newcomers and the most prosperous EU countries. Immigration [from Spain and Portugal to earlier EU countries] dropped sharply.

The idea of providing aid to Mexico has not been part of the public discourse in the United States, where the economic conditions of its southern neighbors are seen as their own affair. U.S. proponents of EU-style subsidies to lift Mexico closer to its partners in NAFTA are few and far between.

One of them is Robert Pastor, head of the Center for North American Studies at the American University in Washington. Pastor has for years argued that the U.S., Canada and Mexico should set up a North American investment fund to finance infrastructure projects and shrink the income gap between Mexico and its richer partners.

An investment of $20 billion a year over the next 10 years in Mexico in roads and communications connecting the poor southern part of Mexico to the North American market, Pastor says, would attract new companies to invest in Mexico and encourage many Mexicans to stay home and others to return.

This assumes that the immigrants need the low-end jobs in more developed economies than vice-versa; that vice-versa is the standard argument for the Bush Administration (even if it’s not clearly spelled out). In the EU’s case, the curtailment of Spanish and Portugese cheap labor was quickly replaced by a Turkish, North African and Arabic influx — and a more contentious immigration imbroglio today. So even if an economic renaissance is pulled off in Mexico, the void left on the continent’s economic lower rung will be filled by Central and South Americans, or some other eager immigrant group.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/30/2006 07:51:41 PM
Category: Business, Political
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Oh, how I love to see this blog’s traffic graph reach for the skies. At this moment, a bunch of Farkistanis (or whatever they’re called) are pointing their browsers thisaway. No surprise, it’s my “Jill Wagner, The Mercury Girl” post that’s bringing in the hordes.

I’d love to know just exactly what the topic du jour is that’s citing the popular car commercial spokeswoman. Unfortunately, I can’t tell, because the referring link is actually on TotalFark, which is a restricted registration-only zone.

So I’m left to wonder what those Web hipsters are yammering about. On the off-chance that any of those visitors should find their way here, please give me the lowdown. Thanks.

And if you’re looking for a more timely bit of televised commercial trivia, may I recommend the weirdo Milky Way “Panda Bear” spot and/or the kitschy Old Navy “Clap! Shake! Jump!” retromercial. Both mondo popular with the visitors here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/30/2006 06:01:42 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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