Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Sunday, April 30, 2021

Well, I gave it an extra week, but I guess the second edition of the Guess That Song game didn’t inspire as many guesses. It’s a fickle blogosphere.

For the sake of closure, here are the answers to the two remaining lyrics:

1. The voice of reason is one I left so far behind. - The Go Go’s, “Head Over Heels”

5. This is the game that moves as you play. - X, “The Have-Nots”

I’m a little surprised the first one wasn’t detected, as it’s an old pop standard. Both bands are fixtures from the Los Angeles scene of the ’80s, so there’s that linkage.

Anyway, in the spirit of further linking, I now present the third go-round of Guess That Song, with a twist: A theme.

In this case, the common thread will be the question mark. Each of the following lyrics are in the form of a query, as they were originally posed in song. Maybe that helps your recall, maybe it doesn’t. We’ll see. Personally, the presentation of said questions, stripped of their melodic context, gives them something of an ironic/comical edge; so I’m already amused.

On to it. Same rules apply as before: Provide the name of the song and the artist to any or all of the lyrics, and I’ll post your answer(s), along with a link to your website/blog.

1. The Doors, “Hello, I Love You” [David]
Do you think you’ll be the guy to make the queen of the angels sigh?

2. Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive” [Tim in Tampa]
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye?

3. Beastie Boys, “So Whatcha Want” [Andrew]
You think that you can front when revelation comes?

4. The Beatles, “With a Little Help From My Friends” [Thud]
What do you see when you turn out the light?

5. New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle” [Joel]
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday?

I’m hoping to see each one of these blanks filled in within a week! If not, I think I’ll bag this series.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/30/2006 11:37:42 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time! | Permalink | Feedback (8)


The wide-area wireless concept recently announced for New York’s Suffolk County is jumping Long Island Sound (the long way) into Rhode Island, where officials hope to set up the nation’s first statewide wi-fi hotspot.

Well, if your aim is to cover a whole state, better to pick the smallest one (Rhode Island) than the largest (Alaska).

Unlike Suffolk, Rhode Island’s effort won’t be a free service. Led by Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RIWINs), the idea is to use the border-to-border Internet access as a business recruitment tool, chiefly aimed at taxed-out firms in Massachusetts. Toward that end, there’s significant infrastructure muscle in the plans:

The Rhode Island network is a hybrid of WiMax and Wi-Fi technologies that would deliver real-time connections at a minimum speed of 1 megabit per second (Mbps), allowing users to download a typical Hollywood-length film in about 100 minutes. The system will be supported by 120 base antennas placed throughout the state…

The project is being funded by public and private sources, and once fully operational, users would pay $20 per month under one fee structure, said Saul Kaplan, acting executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, a partner in the project.

This means more pressure to make sure the network is up practically 24/7, and is secure — both crucial for business users. Regarding the former concern, I wonder how the access points would work during inclement weather, particularly during winter. Even private connections are prone to going out in adverse conditions, but that doesn’t help sell this big-idea pitch.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/30/2006 03:43:08 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback


Along with plenty of other traditionalists, President Bush doesn’t like the idea behind “Nuestro Himno”, and thinks the National Anthem should be sung only in English.

I guess he needs to get Condoleeza on-message about that. The Spanish-language section of the State Department’s website has multiple versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, generally translated as “La Bandera de las Estrellas”:

Amanece: ¿no veis, a la luz de la aurora,
Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?
Sus estrellas, sus barras flotaban ayer
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de cohetes, de bombas estruendo,
Por la noche decían: “!Se va defendiendo!”

Coro:
!Oh, decid! ¿Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

En la costa lejana que apenas blanquea,
Donde yace nublada la hueste feroz
Sobre aquel precipicio que elévase atroz
¡Oh, decidme! ¿Qué es eso que en la brisa ondea?
Se oculta y flamea, en el alba luciendo,
Reflejada en la mar, donde va resplandeciendo

Coro:
!Aún allí desplegó su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada!

¡Oh así sea siempre, en lealtad defendamos
Nuestra tierra natal contra el torpe invasor!
A Dios quien nos dio paz, libertad y honor,
Nos mantuvo nación, con fervor bendigamos.
Nuestra causa es el bien, y por eso triunfamos.
Siempre fue nuestro lema “¡En Dios confiamos!”

Coro:
!Y desplegará su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada!

And this little ditty ain’t new: Francis Haffkine Snow translated it way back in 1919.

I understand “Bandera” was crafted back then specifically for Puerto Rico. When the U.S. picked up a Caribbean island full of non-English speakers, some native-language adaptation was necessary. It’s since been overshadowed by “La Borinqueña”, the island’s local/Commonwealth anthem.

So the notion of the the U.S. National Anthem being English-only seems conveniently new-fangled.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/30/2006 01:43:56 PM
Category: Politics, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)


Zube Girl’s got a theory about female hair length corresponding to cup size:

Hoot: Well, it seems like girls who can pull off having short hair mostly have big boobs. You know? Like, they can get away with it.

Z-Girl: Huh. Interesting.

Note - Hoot? Has pretty short hair. Mine? Is really long. And she SO obviously inherited her chestal genes from our, uh, Dad’s Mom. While I? So obviously inherited mine? From my, uh, Dad.

This theory definitely doesn’t hold up to observation: You’ll see plenty of women with coiffures that obviously have little or nothing to do with their bra sizes. But for the sake of pondering, it’s an interesting consideration.

Do women use their hair styles as surrogates for their top-heaviness (or lack thereof)? It’s like fashion camouflage: Divert attention to whichever area is more fully-formed.

I guess it’s easier, and cheaper, to grow out the folicles than it is to get implants. And it’s certainly preferable to going the J.Lo route and pumping up the ass.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/30/2006 10:34:11 AM
Category: Fashion, Women | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, April 29, 2021

The question burns among those who fancy themselves to be oh-so-clever societal observers: “Why is there braille on drive-up ATM teller machines?”

Answer: Because it’s Federally mandated, and a fair number of blind folks drive up in taxis to said machines (and thus wouldn’t want to give their account code to the cabbie).

What I’d like to know is, why are there braille instructions on New York State Lottery vending machines, as I noticed earlier today? If you’re sightless, and you’re still compelled to buy scratch-off games that you can’t properly play unless you can see the card, I don’t think the State should be helping you along with your gambling addiction.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/29/2006 08:15:27 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback


oh-ho
The Albany Institute of History & Art has come up with a jaunty semi-acronymical “AHA” to use as a marketing nickname. This conveniently ignores that pesky “I”, for Institute, in the full name. I guess “AIHA” would be a harder sell — comes off as vaguely Japanese.

If the Albany museum really wants to go full bore with this questionable branding, then they should put a comedic punctuation upon it: Get Steve Coogan to do some promotional commercials as Alan Partridge, who’s fond of using his “A-ha!” catchphrase. It’s damned obscure, but maybe it’ll attract some British tourists.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/29/2006 07:47:27 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback


The crowds at JFK, La Guardia, and Newark aren’t getting any smaller. And so, aviation officials in New York and New Jersey are rumbling about gearing up a fourth metropolitan airport to relieve congestion.

The problem: There’s no land to be had inside or near the metro area. So planners are casting about miles from the city center, with Stewart International Airport, 65 miles up the Hudson (and about 10 minutes from my boyhood home), emerging as the likeliest candidate for a proposed boost-up.

Stewart is bigger than [regional airports] MacArthur, Westchester and even Newark. It sits on 2,200 acres near the junction of two interstate highways, the New York State Thruway and I-84.

Although it is 65 miles from Manhattan, [Stewart managing director Charles] Seliga said that distance should make Stewart more attractive as a reliever for the big three. [Port Authority chairman Anthony] Coscia would also like to see some of the private aircraft traffic diverted from the Port Authority’s Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Stewart…

Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, endorsed the idea of a fourth airport as “a wise strategy for the 21st century” and said he favored Stewart because of its size and location. Stewart “is especially well suited for air cargo,” Mr. Moss said, because “it has better highway linkages than any existing airport to the Midwest and New England.”

If this gains any traction, maybe it would serve to close the deal on changing Stewart’s name to the more sensible (if overlong) “New York Hudson Valley International Airport”.

Stewart’s gone through this teasing before. It’s an “International” airport in name only — pretty much nothing but low-cost carriers occupy space there. Ramp-ups for the former Army base have been talked up since I was in diapers, and they’ve never come close to fruition. Future planning for capacity woes to the south has always turned out to be false alarms.

Its location is both a blessing and a curse. For cargo, it is indeed a boon to be positioned at the crossroads of the Northeast, and it would make sense for a lot of commerce to route through there. But for passenger traffic, it’s a tough sell to get travelers with an NYC destination to alight in a boondocks that will require an additional two hours of travel to finally get to Manhattan.

There are factors that suggest better timing this time around, though. Exurb expansion to Orange County, where Stewart is located, means that there should be more people and infrastructure to make a high-capacity airport palatable. The mass transit link to the City wouldn’t have to be built from scratch: In addition to Metro North tracks nearby in Rockland County, there’s already a bus link from Stewart to the Metro North station in Beacon. It would have to be expanded bigtime, though.

Like I say, I’ll believe it when I see it. With the history of near-misses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a site in New Jersey or on Long Island get the nod instead.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/29/2006 05:59:57 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (4)


playoffsoff-plays
Today offered me two big-big-big sporting events in New York City that I could have attended:

- The 2006 NFL Draft, at Radio City Music Hall

- A few blocks away, Game Four of the Rangers-Devils playoff series, at Madison Square Garden

Given that choice, I opted for None of the Above.

The Draft is better experienced via TV, with ESPN’s chattering classes providing the background noise, especially this year when there’s nothing of note to see after the first half of the first round. Besides, the audience is always overloaded with obnoxious Jets fans, and I can think of more pleasant experiences on a Saturday than enduring that rabble.

As for the hockey game, the prospect of the playoff experience at MSG was certainly tempting. But that’s tempered by the likelihood that the Rangers are about to get swept; and since that complete invalidates my playoff prediction, I’m miffed enough to embargo my attendance. (I am, of course, couch-potatoing the game as I write this.)

I certainly feel like a slug. But this too shall pass.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/29/2006 04:37:33 PM
Category: Hockey, Football, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, April 28, 2021

The free wi-fi bug has bitten Long Island, as Suffolk County has announced plans for a free-of-charge wireless Web blanket to cover its 900 square miles.

It’ll be a neat trick, logistically:

Typically, wireless systems have caught on in remote areas without any other Internet access and in urban centers with high population densities that concentrate potential users.

But Suffolk is distinctly different, a sprawling county with heavily developed suburbs, gilded estates, horse farms, semi-rural sections with potato farms and vineyards, strip malls and seashores. It stretches from the office and retail corridor along Route 110 on its western border to the Montauk Lighthouse on the East End and beyond to Fishers Island.

Covering that area would require hundreds or thousands of transmitting devices that cost up to $5,000 each, experts say. The broadcast range varies, and more transmitters are needed in areas of heavy usage. The entire system could cost tens of millions of dollars, experts say.

And the quality and reliability of this freebie carries no guarantees. Keeping in mind the snafus associated with the free wi-fi network established in the Central Florida town of St. Cloud, Suffolkers shouldn’t make plans to cancel their cable/DSL subscriptions.

I always forget how populated the “other” county on Long Island is (it actually has more people than Nassau). One and a half million people is nothing to sneeze at. Delivering free Internet for them, on land and water, will be something to brag about, if they pull it off.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/28/2006 09:45:38 PM
Category: Wi-Fi, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (3)


Tellingly, a recent Pew Research survey found that while 90 percent of Americans consider the country as a whole to be overweight, only 39 percent believe that they’re among the flabby.

Self-perception goes a long way. Even if those easy-fit jeans won’t.

This came to mind for me just minutes ago, when I overheard someone bragging about committing to healthy eating. She proudly proclaimed, “Now, instead of a regular one, I’m only going to eat a small salad!”

And I thought, Yeah, I’m sure it was the supersized portions of leafy greens that were going straight to your ass.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/28/2006 02:29:07 PM
Category: Food, Society, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, April 27, 2021

back in blakTake it from Marvo: The next time you throw down in a barroom brawl, make sure you’re not drinking a bottle of Coke Blãk. Because the bottle’s shatter-proof design means you can’t rely on using it as a jagged-glass shiv in a pinch.

Come to think of it, conspicuously swigging a bottle of Blak in a brawl-prone bar is probably a sure way to get that fight started. So that little 8-ounce bottle of coffee-flavored sugarwater is a troublemaker all around.

Since I can’t stand the taste of coffee, Coca-Cola infused or not, I guess I’m safe.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/27/2006 11:31:01 PM
Category: Comedy, Food | Permalink | Feedback (2)


The new paperback edition of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” has topped 1 million sold copies. I can believe it — I’ve seen many a New Yorker walking around with their noses stuck in the book. And I’m sure “Da Vinci” mania will intensify with next month’s release of the movie.

In the meantime, you can try your hand at solving the Smithy Code, a word puzzle implanted into the written court ruling on the recently-completed copyright-infringement lawsuit against Brown:

The first clue that a puzzle exists lies in the typeface of the ruling. Most of the document is printed in regular roman letters, the way one would expect. But some letters in the first 13.5 pages appear in boldface italics, jarringly, in the midst of all the normal words. Thus, in the first paragraph of the decision, which refers to [”Holy Blood, Holy Grail” authors] Mr. Leigh and Mr. Baigent, the “s” in the word “claimants” is italicized and boldfaced.

If you pluck all the italicized letters out of the text, you find that the first 10 spell “Smithy Code,” an apparent play on “Da Vinci Code.” But the next series of letters, some 30 or so, are a jumble, and this is the mystery that needs to be solved to break the code.

Intrigued? Here’s the PDF of Justice Peter Smith’s ruling; have at it.

UPDATE, 4/28/2006: Well, that was quick. Smithy’s code’s been cracked, using the same Fibonacci Sequence that’s so central to the novel. Turns out to be about some British naval officer who pioneered the development of the dreadnought naval ships.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/27/2006 10:54:42 PM
Category: Publishing, Creative, True Crime | Permalink | Feedback


Is “middlingly” a word?

That’s what I idly wondered after using it this evening in a mental assessment of a woman who gave me the cold shoulder. Namely: “She’s got a nasty disposition, and is only middlingly pretty; so screw her.” (Yes, I was rationalizing in the afterglow of rejection; we all have our necessary rituals.)

Turns out, it is indeed a word, the adverb form of “middling”. So I’m grammatically secure.

It seems my encounters with the opposite sex are prompting minor bursts of wordsmithing from me. I don’t recall that happening before. Must be the new New York surroundings.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/27/2006 09:39:49 PM
Category: Creative, Women | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, April 26, 2021

Just wondering: How do you come up with a group spanking session involving your entire sales team, and not expect to be sued over it?

Janet Orlando, 53, quit her job at the home security company Alarm One Inc. in Fresno and sued, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.

Employees were paddled with rival companies’ yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other, according to court documents. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks.

“No reasonable middle-aged woman would want to be put up there before a group of young men, turned around to show her buttocks, get spanked and called abusive names, and told it was to increase sales and motivate employees,” her lawyer, Nicholas “Butch” Wagner, said in his closing argument.

Sounds like some gung-ho team leader OD’d on too many viewings of Animal House the night before. Next thing you know, someone’s going to frag Niedermeyer.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/26/2006 11:47:20 PM
Category: Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback (5)


flips yours
I can’t believe this little tidbit wasn’t picked up by some news outlet. But it hasn’t, not even by Off Wing or Deadspin, so I think I’ll just make note of it here, for posterity:

After John Madden picked up his third goal in Monday’s 4-1 Devils victory over the Rangers, the Continental Airlines Arena crowd obligingly tossed their hats into the rink.

But one New Jersey fan, lacking a hat, did the next best thing — he pulled off his toupee and flung that onto the ice.

Luckily, OLN’s camera crew was on the spot to capture that funny moment. They also got a shot of the guy being handed back his rug after arena personnel scooped it up, along with all the caps. And of course, they interviewed him for a few seconds — if sacrificing your hair-helmet in a show of team support isn’t deserving of some camera time, I don’t know what is.

I’m going strictly by memory, so I don’t remember what the fan’s name was. But I thought it was a funny little playoff moment.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/26/2006 11:26:49 PM
Category: TV, Hockey | Permalink | Feedback


That something called the Word of Mouth Marketing Association even exists seems like an anomaly. Isn’t word-of-mouth supposed to serve as a trusted counterinformation alternative to advertising and marketing messages, beyond the reach of media machines?

You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. Fact is, companies latched onto the idea of harnessing informal and unconventional consumer communications channels a long time ago. That this approach has become such standard practice that a professional association with high-profile members is deemed necessary tells you all you need to know.

And WOMMA is certainly cutting edge in its mission to broaden its namesake discipline. In addition to the usual white papers and networking events, it sports not just one, but two blogs. Talk about word-of-mouthing!

Yes, even running-of-the-mouth has been subverted. Think about that the next time you put stock in what some relatable schmuck is recommending.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/26/2006 11:05:08 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, April 25, 2021

drawn together
Here’s an interesting line drawing from one Sigmund Freud. It’s part of an unconventional exhibit coming up at the New York Academy of Medicine, featuring the famed psychotherapist’s lifelong proclivity for illustration.

What I find impressive is how the progression of drawings reveal the evolution of Freud’s theories and methodology:

By his late 20’s, Freud had gained some experience with patients and, in a second phase of his career, he began to focus on brain function rather than descriptive anatomy…

In another [drawing], from an unpublished essay titled, “Introduction to Neuropathology,” looping lines connect several nodes in a diagram intended to show how areas of the brain represent the body, arms, face, hands.

“It is no exaggeration to say that this insight is the precise point at which the mind — that aspect of the organism which represents the body not concretely but rather functionally, abstractly and symbolically — entered Freud’s scientific work,” Mark Solms wrote in a commentary that accompanies the drawings.

I wasn’t aware of Freud’s biomedical foundations. Enligtening stuff. Also shows how the tendency to create visual representations helps deep thinkers flesh out their concepts.

As for the image above, I found translations for the German labels within it:

Es - Id

Ich - Ego

Uberich - Superego

Unbewusst - unconsciously

Vorbewusst - before-consciously

Verdrangt - penetrated

All of which composes the basic geography of the mind, as Freud interpreted it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/25/2006 11:54:18 PM
Category: Creative, Science | Permalink | Feedback


It seems that London-based HSBC is intent upon plastering its “Different Points of View” advertising campaign onto every New York City transportation hub possible.

Just about every subway car I’ve ridden lately has had as much as an entire upper-banner full of the distinctive double-image ads for the bank. Not content with just the mass transit system, HSBC has now contracted with the Port Authority to make itself the exclusive non-airline advertiser at JFK International Airport, and is working on the same arrangement at the La Guardia and Newark airports.

I have to admit, it is an ideal medium for a sales message, precisely because of this:

“When you get off a plane or on a plane, you have that same first image,” [HSBC’s U.S. division chief Martin J. G.] Glynn said. “It’s a powerful first image.”

I’d say moreso when you get off a plane and come through the gate, you tend to be more impressionable to the sensory stimuli you encounter. Even if you’re coming into an airport you regularly travel to and from, the natural decompression from a long airline flight tends to lower your sales resistance. A cherry spot in an airport gate is a great exposure spot, and makes that image so powerful. Not to mention the sheer volume of people moving through on a regular basis.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/25/2006 11:20:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback


conflicted
Because it’s hard to cram “outdoor life” into a hockey rink, the former Outdoor Life Network OLN is rebranding itself one more time, this time to “vs.” (that’s “versus” to you abbreviationally-challenged).

“vs. is a word that perfectly captures the essence of our brand. It is immediate shorthand for competition and has a range that can suit everything from stick and ball sports, to bull riding, to field sports,” network president Gavin Harvey said. “We felt it was a slam dunk, and sports fans we talked to all agreed.”

The network, which began soliciting suggestions for a new name about a year ago, said vs. was chosen “not only for its bold nature, but because it universally evokes competition.”

“Whether it is man vs. man, man vs. beast or team vs. team, the channel will celebrate sports at its best, where athletes and sportsmen compete at their highest levels with the greatest passion,” the network said in a statement.

Like anything, the requisite amount of marketing will make the new name sing. I’m pretty neutral on it; it’s vaguely goofy, but no more so than the names other channels are saddled with. And in a sports entertainment context, vs. certainly hints at plenty of creative promotional ideas. How it jibes with NHL games remains to be seen.

Presumably, network owner Comcast scouted out the online terrain before approving this new name. Because as of right now, vs.com, versus.com, and even versustv.com are all occupado. Some domain owner is in for a big payday.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/25/2006 08:38:43 PM
Category: TV, Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, April 24, 2021

oh my lordi
Meet Lordi, Finland’s official entry for this year’s Eurovision competition.

Man, if I were GWAR, I’d be mighty pissed right now.

But perhaps not quite as pissed as many Finns, who are aghast that such a garish death-metal act is representing the homeland for the “American Idol”-like contest. And not only because they pretty much guarantee yet another last-place showing:

First, Finnish religious leaders warned that the Freddy Krueger look-alikes could inspire Satanic worship. Then critics called for President Tarja Halonen to use her constitutional powers to veto the band and nominate a traditional Finnish folk singer instead. Rumors even circulated that Lordi members were agents sent by President Vladimir V. Putin to destabilize Finland before a Russian coup — an explanation for their refusal to take off their freakish masks in public.

Geez, what thousands of hokey death-metal bands on this side of the Atlantic wouldn’t give for this kind of reaction…

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/24/2006 10:35:59 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (3)


Let’s add Kaavya Viswanathan to the ever-growing lineup of authors who’ve pilfered copy from other authors. The 19-year-old wunderkind writer of junior chick-lit tome “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life” confirmed what was already obvious — her lifting of wording from a couple of Megan McCafferty novels for use in her own book, albiet under “unintentional and unconscious” circumstances.

And the borrowings may be more extensive than have previously been reported. The Crimson cited 13 instances in which Ms. Viswanathan’s book closely paralleled Ms. McCafferty’s work. But there are at least 29 passages that are strikingly similar.

At one point in “Sloppy Firsts,” for example, Ms. McCafferty’s heroine unexpectedly encounters her love interest, Marcus. Ms. McCafferty writes:

“Though I used to see him sometimes at Hope’s house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other’s existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh (b) say something (c) ignore him and keep on walking.

“I chose a brilliant combo of (a) and (b).

” ‘Uh, yeah. Ha. Ha. Ha.’

“I turned around and saw that Marcus was smiling at me.”

Similarly, Ms. Viswanathan’s heroine, Opal, bumps into her love interest, a boy named Sean Whalen, and the two of them spy on one of the school’s popular girls.

Ms. Viswanathan writes: “Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other’s existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about and (b) what I was supposed to do about it. I stared at him.

” ‘Flat irons,’ he said. ‘At least seven flat irons for that hair.’

” ‘Ha, yeah. Uh, ha. Ha.’ I looked at the floor and managed a pathetic combination of laughter and monosyllables, then remembered that the object of our mockery was his former best friend.

“I looked up and saw that Sean was grinning.”

Twenty-nine “unintentional and unconscious” slips? Riiiiiiiight.

Regardless of the reasons for Viswanathan’s indiscretion, that it got through at all makes me wonder just what, if anything, the publishing industry is doing to cover its ass against a problem that’s not going to disappear anytime soon. Why on earth haven’t these companies instituted a basic scan-and-search of every manuscript, as an early phase of editorial rigor, to check for such obvious plagiarism? Hell, engage Google’s Book Search tool as an industry-wide resource for guarding against any more such surprises.

Beyond that, basic fact-checking for non-fiction accounts is easy enough to pull off; if the existing pool of literary editors can’t figure out how to do that, hire professionals who can.

I mean, this isn’t rocket science. If the publishers don’t catch the copycatting, someone else likely will. How many more embarrassing exposés like this is it going to take?

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/24/2006 09:56:47 PM
Category: Publishing | Permalink | Feedback (2)

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