Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Page 4 of 512345
Wednesday, May 10, 2021

ah-ha, 10 downing
“The Thick of It” is the latest high-stylin’ Britcom to make noise in comedy circles. It’s a contemporized take on the classic “Yes, Minister”, imbued with the creative vigor that made the Alan Partridge shows so funny.

In fact, “Thick” owes its existence to the Alan Partridge character, which reveals how little has changed at 10 Downing Street since the days of “Yes, Minister”:

[Armando Iannucci] said the television series’s first direct inspiration came in 1996 when he got a call inviting Alan Partridge to interview Tony Blair as staged entertainment for a Labor Party conference in Blackpool. When Mr. Iannucci and [Steve] Coogan arrived, they were surprised by the greeting they were given by Mr. Blair’s chief image maker, Peter Mandelson.

“He was absolutely furious because he was expecting Alan Partridge,” said Mr. Iannucci. “He had to be taken to one side and explained that Alan Partridge was a fictional character played by Steve.”

“On the one hand, they tried to demonstrate this finger on the pulse of popular culture by knowing Alan Partridge was the one to be seen with. On the other hand, they demonstrated how little they know of popular culture by not realizing that it was a fictional character.”

“That’s when I started thinking, ‘Something is very odd about British politics right now.’”

Consider it a London version of the Beltway mentality.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/10/2021 11:16pm
Category: Politics, TV
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With prices at the pump high and bound to get higher, it’s hard for drivers to see a bright side to the gasoline blues. Unless you consider a different measure for fuel costs, and how past rises in that have spurred innovation:

But the cost of gas itself is only part of the story. The other part is how far that gas will take you. If you think about it, you care about how much you pay to drive 100 miles, not how much you pay for a gallon of clear, pungent fluid.

In the 1960′s, when people were buying Country Squires and El Caminos, vehicles were getting just 14 miles to the gallon on average. Gas was cheap at the time, but with all the guzzlers on the road, drivers were still spending an average of 15 cents a mile on gas. (All these numbers are adjusted for inflation.)

Yet people didn’t seem to mind. If anything, they cared more about getting their hands on bigger, more powerful cars, and, as a result, the overall fuel efficiency of the nation’s vehicles actually fell somewhat in the 60′s, notes Lee Schipper, research director at Embarq, a transportation consulting group.

But the oil crises of the 1970′s and early 80′s changed everything. The cost of gas spiked, eventually reaching 20 cents a mile, and the government passed a law in 1975 forcing vehicles to become more efficient. Thanks to that law and 20 years of mostly falling oil prices, Americans spent less than 7 cents a mile for gas in 1998…

Today, gas again costs about 15 cents a mile for the average driver, which gives the country some incentive to become more energy-efficient. You can cut the cost to 10 cents a mile, for example, by driving a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

So the expected $4 per gallon level this summer may be a tipping point for broader fuel efficiency. An explosion of hybrids is a predictable outcome.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/10/2021 10:44pm
Category: Business, Society
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hey whitey
There are two ways to interpret this window display from the Kenneth Cole store on 5th Avenue, which I couldn’t help but photograph today:

- Mr. Cole is puckishly using his notable-quotable marketing gimmick (which has been liberally applied in the company’s advertising for years now) as a way to push the new line of just-for-summer white wardrobe.

- The “Change Is Good As Long As It’s Going In The White Direction” slogan is a veiled message meant to encourage a white supremacist agenda.

Racist conspiracy via fashion? Hey, it’s worthy of a Gawker-like gossip nugget.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/10/2021 10:17pm
Category: Business, Fashion, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, May 09, 2021

Tonight for dinner, I had a steak sandwich. It was decent, but nothing to write home about.

Perhaps next time I indulge in some prime-cut cow, I should head to Argentina, where the grassland makes for an enchanting grade of beef:

All you need to know about the quality of pasture in the pampas is that cows went feral in Argentina. You can still see them grazing pretty much anywhere there is a horizontal patch of grass, all now firmly back in the hand of man, but still with a happy grassy glint in their eye. This most docile, placid, and passive of large herbivores stepped off the boat, took one nibble at the pampas and made a run for it. It knew that it wanted to spend the rest of its life eating the pampas grass, without outside interference. And the settlers, once they caught some of the early escapees, began to feel the same way about the beef.

Eating steaks in Argentina feels like joining a cult. You find yourself leaning on friends to come visit, and writing YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND in all caps more often than feels comfortable. Argentine beef really is extraordinary. Almost all of this has to do with how the cows are raised. There are no factory feedlots in Argentina; the animals still eat pampas grass their whole lives, in open pasture, and not the chicken droppings and feathers mixed with corn that pass for animal feed in the United States. Since this is the way of life a cow was designed for, it is not necessary to pump the animal full of antibiotics. The meat is leaner, healthier and more flavorful than that of corn-fed cattle. It has fewer calories, contains less cholesterol, and tastes less mushy and waterlogged than American meat. And the cows spend their lives out grazing in the field, not locked into some small pen. You can taste the joy.

My wallet’s a bit light, so I won’t be buying a plane ticket to Buenos Aires anytime soon. But there are a few Argentinian restaurants in town, so maybe I’ll see how reasonable a facsimile I can find Stateside.

(Via Tom McMahon)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/09/2021 11:10pm
Category: Food
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If your only experience with coma patients is from their portrayal in movies, you’re getting fed a brain-dead scenario. That’s the conclusion of Drs. Eelco and Coen Wijdicks, who find Hollywood enactments of the comatose condition to contain an alarming lack of real-world grounding:

Dr. Wijdicks also found that many lay viewers were unable to identify inaccuracy in the depiction of coma - despite 39% admitting that those depictions might influence their decisions about a coma in real life.

He said: “Inaccuracy concerns me because the public sees an unrealistic portrayal of a neurologic disease that could lead to improbable expectations from a family of a patient in a coma; for example, that it will be just a matter of time till the patient awakens and everything will be fine and dandy.”

Actually, based on Tennessee Senator Bill Frist’s ham-handed video diagnosis of Terry Schiavo last summer, I’d say the celluloid glamorization manages to seduce even those who should know better.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/09/2021 10:56pm
Category: Movies, Politics, Science
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So now that the iPod is video-enabled, I wonder: Shouldn’t its firmware come with a built-in iTunes-like Visualizer? One more move toward emulating/porting iTunes to the device altogether.

Or maybe Apple would opt for making different flavors of Visualizer available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store. It’s no more frivolous a buy than any other music/video file from ITMS, or for that matter, any of the skins and other accessories that people scarf up. (Remember where you first read this idea, Steve Jobs; I’ll expect my cut of the profits.)

Then again, while a Visualizer would make the iPod a cool hypno-inducer, it would be one more thing to eat up the precious battery charge on the thing. Visuals would be nice, but I’d rather direct all the juice toward the primary function, i.e. playing sound files. Still, I could see it being handy for mobile DJing, when you could plant your iPod into an aud-vid console and channel the video effects onto a club’s bigscreen.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/09/2021 10:18pm
Category: iPod
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Monday, May 08, 2021

I’ve decided: For my own personal Second Act in life, I’m going to be a big-time, scene-schmoozing artist. Or rather, ar-teest.

Granted, I can’t draw a straight line — or even a particularly inspiring crooked one. I have absolutely no sense of color balance or blending. And object juxtaposition? Phhht.

But these days, all that technical artsy-fartsy stuff is irrelevant. Outsourcing the grunt work of artistic endeavor to lower-rung art workers, while you concentrate on concept creation, is where it’s at, man.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the avant-garde challenged the popular notion of the artist as a skilled artisan. In 1917, Duchamp famously displayed a factory-made urinal as a readymade; in 1923, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy picked up the phone and placed an order for five enamel-on-steel pictures to be produced by a sign company in Berlin, making the point that the hand of the artist no longer mattered.

By the 1960′s, Andy Warhol had called his studio the Factory and employed a team of assistants to turn out silk-screened canvases that intentionally bore little or no trace of the artist’s hand. With Conceptualism, some artists refrained from making objects altogether, insisting, as Sol LeWitt put it, that “the idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.”

But in the 90′s, a new generation of artists, including Mr. Koons, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami, decided they could have it both ways: they could be Conceptualists who also created big, beautiful, expertly made objects — and they could commission others to produce them.

“We’re in a post-Conceptual era where it’s really the artist’s idea and vision that are prized, rather than the ability to master the crafts that support the work,” said Jeffrey Deitch, whose SoHo gallery specializes in large-scale productions by contemporary artists. “Today our understanding of an artist is closer to a philosopher than to a craftsman.”

Indeed, the Conceptualist school of thought can even take you to the pinnacle of the art heap in China.

Hey, I’m an idea man. I’m quite comfortable dreaming up the broad strokes and letting artschool strivers toil away, turning my vision into all-too-harsh reality. Sign me up!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 11:50pm
Category: Creative
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read the book, fool!
Today, I learned to stop second-guessing myself. At least, where this blog is concerned.

When I crafted the post about Mr. T’s upcoming advice show, “I Pity the Fool”, I thought about including a quip about the proper theme music. In my mind, it could be performed only by The Mr. T Experience. I couldn’t name even one of their songs, but that’s irrelevant; it’s got to be the coolest alterna-rock band name out there, and most appropos in this situation.

But I didn’t include that bit of whimsy. I figured it was far too obscure a reference to throw out there.

Yet today comes news that the band’s frontman, Frank Portman, is now a bigtime book author. And that he likes to be photographed posing next to colander-breasted robot sculptures.

So you see, there’s no such thing as “too obscure” in this pop-cultural zeitgeist. What are the odds that The Mr. T Experience would ever make the news on a random day? I should just let my freak flag fly, already.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:38pm
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing
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In these United States, it’s all about the branding — even on Capitol Hill. Showing off your tax dollars at work, members of Congress have their staffs thumbing through the dictionary to devise clever acronyms to attach to otherwise nondescript bills.

Remember Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the deficit-fighting bill? Or Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate reform law? Bills named for lawmakers are pretty much passe. These days, an attention-getting acronym — the political equivalent of a vanity license plate — is in…

“You’d be surprised at how much taxpayer time is spent in offices coming up with clever names for bills,” said Michael Franc, a former congressional staff member.

Though some bills in the past did have acronyms, they rarely grabbed the public’s attention. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, or OBRA, for example, is remembered by few people other than Washington’s most die-hard number-crunchers.

Now, acronyms help explain what the bill is all about. They are proof that even bill names have become part of Washington’s all-consuming political spin.

“If it helps people remember your legislation, I think it serves a useful purpose,” said Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.). “But I’m starting to think people are starting to spend more time coming up with a clever acronym than they are worrying about the substance and the impact of the legislation they write.”

Here’s the list of the 14 acro-licious bill names mentioned in this LA Times article; not all of these actually got passed, but they are for-real, no-joking monikers tacked onto legislation reviewed by Congress. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove of past, present and pending legislative acts beyond these:

CAN-SPAM - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act

CLEAN UP - Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates and Posting Act

END - Elimination of Neglected Diseases Act

ENRON - Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now Act

OBRA - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act

PETS - Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act

PUMP - Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act

SAFE - Security and Freedom Enhancement Act

SAFE CALL - Stop Attempted Fraud Against Everyone’s Cell and Land Lines Act

SNIFF - Safe Notification and Information for Fragrances Act

SOS - Sail Only if Scanned Act

START - Simplification Through Additional Reporting Tax Act

TEA-LU - Transportation Equity Act — A Legacy for Users (especially notable, as the “LU” part was mandated by bill sponsor Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), whose wife’s name is Lu)

USA PATRIOT - Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act

It’s funny: I wasn’t aware that the names of such oft-cited laws like USA PATRIOT and CAN-SPAM were, in fact, acronyms. I guess I should have known, from the all-caps; but somehow, it didn’t throw me.

Sure, it’s ultimately silly. But I admit, there’s a certain artistry to it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:04pm
Category: Creative, Politics
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Sunday, May 07, 2021

Just when I was ready to give up on it, last week’s Guess That Song post got rapid-fire action.

Damn. That means I’ve got to do another one. And with a theme, yet. Smacks of work.

But hey, anything for fun. So in that spirit, let me link this week’s edition with something I’ve been acutely aware of while walking the streets of New York: Women’s backsides.

To put it bluntly, a lot of women here have too much junk in the trunk. Not all, but a lot. Maybe it’s fallout from the recent end of winter.

Personally, a fully-fleshed-out bootay doesn’t do it. But that shouldn’t prevent a celebration of the female posterior in song. And there have been more than a few such dedications.

So, below are five sets of lyrics from songs about girls’ butts. You know you know at least one or two of them by heart; the question is, are you brave enough to admit it, and get your linkback to signify it? I’m betting that you are.

1. Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls” [David]
Left alone with big fat Fanny, she was such a naughty nanny.

2. Spinal Tap, “Big Bottom” [Joel]
My love gun’s loaded and she’s in my sights, big game’s waiting there inside her tights.

3. Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby Got Back” [Thud]
I ain’t talkin’ ’bout Playboy, ’cause silicone parts are made for toys.

4. I kicked the bass like an NFL punter, and scoped the booty like a big game hunter.

5. EU, “Da Butt” [Chuck, RL]
When you get that notion, put your backfield in motion.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/07/2021 11:33pm
Category: Pop Culture, Question Time!, Women
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clay bouquetI spent the better part of yesterday afternoon with a 4-year-old girl attached to my leg.

Calm down. The frenetic little twerp in question was my god-niece (if such a term applies to the offspring of one’s god-sister), Jamie. Since I relocated back to New York, she’s taken a shine to me, perhaps picking up on my innately juvenile nature. So whenever she spots me at some family gathering or visit — in yesterday’s case, a birthday party for a couple of nephews — she figures it’s playtime, and starts climbing all over me.

Even though I make like she’s being a pain (because she mostly is), I actually don’t mind at all. Jamie’s a fun little ball of energy, and perfectly enjoyable in small doses. It’s always a breeze when it’s not your kid.

As irresistible as I am to the female pre-K set, just think how much more appealing I’d be if I doused myself with the limited-edition Play-Doh fragrance, devised as part of the celebration of the product’s 50th anniversary. That haunting scent of play-clay compound… Layer that with a paste-scented deodorant, and little kids will glom onto you like you were the the second coming of Barney!

I can’t decide if this inspiration for a fragrance is more or less ludicrous than, say, a Hummer-derived cologne. Or, for that matter, perfumes named after Antonio Banderas and Donald Trump.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/07/2021 10:15pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, Pop Culture
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In case you haven’t noticed, Wal-Mart has been trying to class up its marketing image, partly by ditching a recognizable mascot:

Under [chief marketing officer John Fleming], the smiley-faced character that has symbolized Wal-Mart’s commitment to low prices, which was created by Bernstein-Rein, has virtually disappeared from mainstream ads.

But there’s a more pertinent reason for the company to wean itself off that character: A trademark challenge from France over licensing rights to le smiley.

So in addition to going after the higher-end consumer — who’ll hopefully swing in for a cheap DVD and walk out with an impulse-buy flat-screen TV — the new ad approach serves as a backup in case Wal-Mart loses its court case. Considering the target, the company’s making an upscale grade of lemonade out of lemons.

I got a kick out of the legal definition of Wal-Mart’s customized Mr. Smiley:

You might think a smiley symbol is merely a yellow circle with two dots and a curvy grin.

But this is what Wal-Mart lawyers see when they gaze into Mr. Smiley’s eyes, according to one of their legal filings: “The ‘smiley face’ design is comprised of a circle, within which appears two dots, parallel to each other and in the upper third of the circle, approximating eyes in a human face, and an upturned parabola in the lower third of the circle, approximating a smile on a human face. The design appears sometimes with, sometimes without, lines perpendicular to the corners of the ‘smile’ element. It is usually represented in the color yellow.”

Proprietary only in the retail-store business. So your emoticon smileys are still safe for email use :)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/07/2021 08:58pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business
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Saturday, May 06, 2021

Through the weeks of build-up over today’s Kentucky Derby, I’ve heard favorite Brother Derek‘s name repeated ad nauseum.

The name “Brother Derek” intrigued me. You can go bats trying to figure out how most of the kooky names for racehorses (and racing dogs) get concocted, but this one was special.

Turns out Derek is the namesake of a Mormon missionary, currently serving in Armenia. So I assume a win today would go far in proselytizing for the Latter-Day Saints.

That doesn’t satisfy my intrigue, however. Because I can’t hear the name “Brother Derek” and not mentally tack on an “X” to that.

Yes, this year’s Run for the Roses brings to my mind Brand Nubian’s “Concerto in X Minor”, sung by “the brother Derek X”. Who’s going by the moniker “Sadat X” these days, when he’s not pulling guns on people.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/06/2021 02:22pm
Category: Other Sports, Pop Culture
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Ah, nothing like opening the newspaper and reading a top-to-bottom diss of my former stomping grounds’ restaurant scene.

Like that of many rapidly growing American cities, Tampa’s dining scene is dominated by row upon row of chain restaurants, many with a theme, turning major streets into strip malls of faux world-food adventures. Many chains, in fact, use the city as an important test market…

Many smaller eateries emulate the city as a whole: lovely to look at, but lacking a certain vernacular style. A bakery often mentioned on Tampa food blogs has the right touches — hip counter staff in heavy black glasses — but its chicken salad is pale and without seasoning, and cocoa powder dominates its celebrated espresso cookies.

The source of the beat-down: Kevin Lacassin, blogger of NolaFoodie, who finds himself Katrina-ed out of the Big Easy and now slumming it in the Big Guava. His own take on the NYTimes article gives a little more background.

I’m surprised more names weren’t named. Bern’s Steak House, the long-running gold standard among Tampa’s eateries, isn’t identified. Nor is Columbia Restaurant, the grand doyenne of the Bay area.

It’s true: Tampa Bay loves its chains. You don’t have to drive far in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco to find an Outback or Carrabba’s, and they’re always packed. Going out to eat is the chief pasttime in the area, mainly because there’s nothing much else to do on any given night. And when it’s a regular habit, familiarity is valued more than opportunities to experiment.

Lacassin has managed to fall under the spell of one chain:

One Outback restaurant, the Bonefish Grill, is the touchstone of Mr. Lacassin’s dining experience in Tampa, where each dish seems to be served “with a side of steamed vegetables,” as he wrote. Though the restaurant is a beloved favorite of many of his new friends, it draws his scorn.

“It is the only place people here seem to want to go,” he said.

Yet his blog reveals acquiescence, a “when in Tampa” acceptance of monkfish at said Bonefish.

“I was quite impressed,” he wrote. “I succumbed to the chain-restaurant mentality; decent flavor + big portions = good stuff.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Bonefish is not an Outback corporate creation: It was an independent restaurant, with just one location (that was just down the road from my long-time apartment in St. Petersburg). It was bought by Outback some five years ago now, and has since been expanded all over the place. But the bloodlines, at least, hint at more unique culinary origins.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/06/2021 01:17pm
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', Food
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My grand experiment of accumulating spare change during my workweek concluded yesterday.

My jackpot: $8.53 of quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies. So, over a year, that’s about $400-500. Whoopee.

I didn’t cheat, along the lines of forcing more cash purchases than I usually do; I did refrain from reaching for coins a couple of times, but not enough to significantly alter things. My credit card got the regular amount of action. So this represented a typical week of transactions.

No big lesson to learn from this. It was strictly for satisfying my curiosity.

Incidentally, I already participate in this sort of change-collection. Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program rounds up each credit/debit card purchase to the next dollar and deposits the difference into a savings account. It tends to add up.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/06/2021 12:21pm
Category: General
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Friday, May 05, 2021

I’ve already expressed how the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui was a misguided straw-man revenge play.

Now that the verdict has been handed down, the government’s failure to get the death penalty highlights how some fundamental legal precepts got lost in this pointlessness.

In the 136 capital cases the federal government has brought in the last two decades, 122 convictions have been obtained, according to the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, a group that assists lawyers defending federal capital cases. But the juries in those cases imposed death sentences only 49 times.

“Obtaining the death penalty is not easy,” said Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a terrorism expert who served in the Clinton administration. “If politics had been taken out of this and they weren’t looking for a trophy case, they never would have taken this case to the jury.”

I have some experience with this, on a far smaller scale. The jury I sat on for a murder case in Pinellas Park, Florida didn’t have to consider the death penalty, and there was a good reason for that:

The state could have gone for the death penalty in this case, but declined to do so, opting for life without parole instead. It was never explained why, but as we went through jury selection and the trial, I understood the strategy. The death penalty is an absolute, severe sentence. In a case like this, where the accused is not actually holding the murder weapon and committing the crime, but rather could be interpreted as being merely an accessory, knowledge that a guilty verdict would result in sure death is disquieting enough to sway jurors in their decision — it would, in effect, create its own reasonable doubt. So, opting for a seemingly less severe punishment would remove a potential impediment in clear deliberations (although life without parole is, really, as onerous, or even more so, depending on how you look at it).

And you could credibly argue that the above description — “the accused is not actually holding the murder weapon and committing the crime, but rather could be interpreted as being merely an accessory” — fits Moussaoui. Regardless of his courtroom antics, it’s hard to consign death to someone who didn’t actually do the deed.

Indeed, that appears to have been the case:

Having answered the eligibility question, the jury weighed the factors for and against execution. Given the gravity of the crime, that might have seemed the simpler task.

But three of the jurors seemed to contradict their earlier finding, saying in a note they added to the form they handed in on Wednesday that Mr. Moussaoui had only limited knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot.

“Three of the jurors, at least, had buyer’s remorse,” said Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who handled terrorism cases in New York in the 1990′s.

A jury that actually holds a defendant’s life in its hands often flinches, said Robert Weisberg, a law professor at Stanford.

“The nullifying effect of lingering doubt came in, as it does in a lot of capital cases,” Professor Weisberg said. “That is the only way to read consistency into an otherwise inconsistent vote by some of them.”

Simply put: It’s not easy to get a group of people to endorse an execution. Members of the jury that I served on had trouble sleeping at night, and they didn’t even have to consider the death penalty. So you can imagine how it was for the Moussaoui jurors.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/05/2021 09:55pm
Category: Political, True Crime
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Last night, I talked to a girl named Winter. Based just on the name, she instantly brought to mind the lyrics from Blondie’s “Sunday Girl”: “Cold as ice cream, but still as sweet”. (Actually, she wasn’t cold at all, but she did seem sweet.)

I went to school with a girl named Summer. Actually, her full name was Summertime; I think she had hippie parents. Gorgeous gal.

And I vaguely remember a girl named Autumn from my childhood.

So now, for completeness’ sake, I need to run into a woman named Spring. Or Springtime. Whatever.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/05/2021 12:42pm
Category: Creative, Women
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Thursday, May 04, 2021

From Heather Locklear to Richie Sambora David Spade to Denise Richardson to Charlie Sheen — how do those Hollywood types swap dance partners so fast?

Turns out, contingency mating plans are ever-present, with “sandbagging” a popular ploy for keeping Mr./Ms. Plan B in reserve.

And it’s not limited to just celebs:

The same way physical sandbags are used to shore up a levee in case of a major breakdown, preventing flooding and catastrophe, the metaphorical sandbag is a future lover you have waiting in the wings to dull the pain of a bad breakup.

“When you end a relationship, it is easy to be sad and mopey, but if you have a sandbag, you fall right into something fun and exciting,” Manhattanite Eliza, 25, tells us (all subjects asked their first names only be used). “It’s new yet also familiar, since you’ve been keeping it on the back burner for a while.”

You may not actively court them or even fantasize about them. You might just keep in touch with a quick, flirty E-mail, text message or voice mail once every six months, just to make sure they still have a fleeting interest in you.

“People are so terrified of being without anyone that they are willing to create a chorus line,” says relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle. “One of my clients had a boyfriend, but actually had a man on the side she called Plan B!”

The main lesson I’m taking from this: That opposite-sex best friend deal? A crock. You’re either at-bat or on deck.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/04/2021 11:15pm
Category: Celebrity, Women
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Wednesday, May 03, 2021

on to the cup
Ah, nothing like first-round action to clear up that postseason picture. Now that the next set of matchups have been determined, I can present a more-or-less complete NHL playoffs schedule (with plenty of To Be Determineds, which I’ll fill in as they become determined).

So, here we go. All times EST:

UPDATE, 5/14/2006: Carolina-Buffalo pairing set for the East, with gametimes TBD; Anaheim date for the West finals set, gametimes and sites TBD once the San Jose-Edmonton series is done.

UPDATE, 5/17/2006: Edmonton shocks again, taking down the Sharks (who I figured were susceptible defensively). So it’s Anaheim-Edmonton to decide the West. Conference Finals matchups and schedules updated below, as well as the start date of the Stanley Cup Finals.

LAST UPDATE, 6/1/2006: We’re set! The Oilers shocked the world by making it all the way to the Finals, while the ‘Canes lived up to their top-seed potential. Stanley Cup round schedule below, all the way through to the if-necessary Game 7 on June 19th. After that, it’s Entry Draft time.

Conference Semifinals


No. 1 Ottawa Senators vs. No. 4 Buffalo Sabres
Game One: Fri, May 5 - Buf at Ott, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Mon, May 8 – Buf at Ott, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, May 10 – Ott at Buf, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Thu, May 11 – Ott at Buf, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sat, May 13 – Buf at Ott, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Mon, May 15 – Ott at Buf, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Wed, May 17 – Buf at Ott, 7 p.m. (OLN)*

No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 3 New Jersey Devils
Game One: Sat, May 6 – NJ at Car, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Game Two: Mon, May 8 – NJ at Car, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, May 10 – Car at NJ, 7 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Sat, May 13 – Car at NJ, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Game Five: Sun, May 14 – NJ at Car, 7 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Tue, May 16 – Car at NJ, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Thu, May 18 – NJ at Car, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)*


No. 5 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers
Game One: Sun, May 7 – Edm at SJ, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Mon, May 8 – Edm at SJ, 10:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, May 10 – SJ at Edm, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Fri, May 12 – SJ at Edm, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sun, May 14 – Edm at SJ, 10 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Wed, May 17 – SJ at Edm, TBD*
Game Seven: Fri, May 19 – Edm at SJ, TBD (OLN)*

No. 6 Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. No. 7 Colorado Avalanche
Game One: Fri, May 5 – Col at Ana, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Sun, May 7 – Col at Ana, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Game Three: Tues, May 9 – Ana at Col, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Thurs, May 11 – Ana at Col, 10 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sun, May 14 – Col at Ana, 3 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Six: Wed, May 17 – Ana at Col, TBD (OLN)*
Game Seven: Fri, May 19 – Col at Ana, TBD (OLN)*

Conference Finals


No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Buffalo Sabres
Game One: Sat, May 20 – Buf at Car, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Game Two: Mon, May 22 – Buf at Car, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Wed, May 24 – Car at Buf, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Fri, May 26 – Car at Buf, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sun, May 28 – Buf at Car, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Tue, May 30 – Car at Buf, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Thu, Jun 1 – Buf at Car, 7:30 p.m. (OLN)*


No. 6 Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers
Game One: Fri, May 19 – Edm at Ana, 9 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Sun, May 21 – Edm at Ana, 9 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Tues, May 23 – Ana at Edm, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Four: Thurs, May 25 – Ana at Edm, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Five: Sat, May 27 – Edm at Ana, 9 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Six: Mon, May 29 – Ana at Edm, 8 p.m. (OLN)*
Game Seven: Wed, May 31 – Edm at Ana, 9 p.m. (OLN)*

Stanley Cup Finals

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Edmonton Oilers
Game One: Mon, Jun 5 – Edm at Car, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Two: Wed, Jun 7 – Edm at Car, 8 p.m. (OLN)
Game Three: Sat, Jun 10 – Car at Edm, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Game Four: Mon, Jun 12 – Car at Edm, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Game Five: Wed, Jun 14 – Edm at Car, 8 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Six: Sat, Jun 17 – Car at Edm, 8 p.m. (NBC)*
Game Seven: Mon, Jun 19 – Edm at Car, 8 p.m. (NBC)*

* - if necessary

Check back here as the series progress.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/03/2021 11:55pm
Category: Hockey
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Lots of construction goin’ on in New York. And where there’s construction, there are portable toilets.

And when you need a port-o-let the City and surrounding counties, you look to Call-A-Head for all your flushing needs.

I applaud this plucky company for the clever double-meaning in its name: “Call ahead” blended with the Navy slang for “toilet”. It’s funny and memorable.

But then, perhaps inevitably, it goes too far. The corporate tagline goes for cute, and instead comes off as reaching:

We’re Way Ahead of All You Leave Behind

I guess I should say that Call-A-Head should have quit while it was a-head. But then, I’d just be part of the problem…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/03/2021 10:33pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin'
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fun and profit
A read through this blog’s Videogames category informs you about my overwhelming preference for the simple games of yesteryear over today’s intensive/interactive titles.

Believe it or not, there’s a big market for last century’s pixels, with a seemingly ideal business model:

Among the companies with an increasing number of titles on Xbox Live Arcade is Midway, the Chicago-based developer and publisher. Midway began as a maker of arcade machines, such as Defender, Mortal Kombat and Spy Hunter. It still develops new games but it is also focusing on putting its older games on new platforms.

Putting out older games is relatively inexpensive and fast, thanks to new technology. “We can get it done in a few months with under $100,000 in development costs,” says Steve Allison, chief marketing officer. “It brings in a few million that is almost pure profit.”

Pure profit indeed, as those old programs don’t consist of anything remotely as complex as the movie-like production elements of modern games. Plus, all the work that went into titles like Robotron: 2084 (pictured above) was finished twenty or thirty years ago; porting to current consoles is a snap.

But I wonder: With all the money being made off this old intellectual property, how long will it take for the oldtimer programmers who wrote those games to sue for a cut of what the publishers are treating as “found money”? I’m sure they all signed work agreements way back when that gave up their rights; but in this new and unanticipated landscape, I’m sure a challenge is looking awfully tempting.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/03/2021 09:58pm
Category: Business, Videogames
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