Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, September 10, 2021

The lid was bound to be blown off sooner or later. YouTube’s lonelygirl15 apparently has been revealed to be some sort of viral marketing production.

I say “apparently” because, as with all such conspiracy-fueled topics, this could be just another wrinkle in the meta-storyline that is Bree and Danielbeast. The outing could have been premeditated, all the supposed clues and slip-ups in the videos could have been there intentionally, the message from the creators could be just another false lead… You get the idea.

I think the timing of the confession — only a day before the Los Angeles Times gave the story true mainstream media exposure, with superagency CAA being fingered as the puppetmaster — is significant. But the upshot is that there shouldn’t be any more illusions about this being an authentic couple of kids goofing around.

There I go, qualifying again! “Shouldn’t”, I say? Yup. Because, as is obvious from the comments on my previous post on this subject, even a thorough debunking of the premise — i.e., the discovery of the pre-registration of the lonelygirl15.com domain name — hasn’t stemmed the flow of chatter on whether the story is “real” or not. True, the arguments have veered a bit, going from issues of plausibility to speculation on motives. But even in the face of pretty damning evidence, the debate stayed alive. People still wanted to obsess about it, regardless.

And I think that’s ultimately the big cha-ching marketing lesson to be learned from this exercise. The point isn’t whether or not a ruse like this can be pulled off — in fact, it’s probably more effective if it doesn’t come off. Cracks in the facade invite obsessive snoopers to poke around and, inevitably, spread the word about what they’ve “uncovered”. That, in turn, generates publicity that’s substantially different from the usual promotional messages — it projects an air of defiance, of beating the gamemaster at his own game. It shifts the story from typical marketing message to hard news (or, at least, harder news than a press release is), and that framework shift makes it all the more effective. It engages a segment of the audience who, while seemingly hostile to the campaign, actually wind up becoming the most dedicated and vocal cheerleaders for the effort. In other words: A marketer’s dream.

That’s the point: The generation of a conspiratorial atmosphere, where the audience thinks it’s outwitted the hype machine. When, in reality, the machine has merely co-opted the audience, in order to push an even more effective sell job. In short, you can expect to see a rash of these supposed “exposés”, especially online, in the near future.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 10:31pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is one of the usual suspects when the prices at the pump go up. Since its members control the spigot to fourth-fifths of the world’s known oil reserves, it’s a natural scapegoat.

But thanks to old-fashioned geopolitical factors, OPEC’s influence is a tough thing to pin down:

In order to act effectively as a cartel, OPEC would have to be able to cut or increase supplies to influence prices. But outside Saudi Arabia, OPEC members have virtually no excess capacity to help drive down prices. And outside Saudi Arabia, hardly any OPEC member has the political will or desire to cut production.

At the moment, the only factors reining in production by the group have nothing to do with oil policy. Nigeria’s output has been cut by 600,000 barrels a day because of insurgents sabotaging pipelines in the Niger Delta. Iraq’s production has been trimmed by about 800,000 barrels a day by the continuing mayhem there. Venezuela, which is busy quarreling with oil workers’ unions and foreign oil companies, is falling about 600,000 barrels a day short of what it once produced. If the would-be cartel is holding back, it isn’t by grand design.

All of which paints the picture of roundtable meetings where oil ministers are simply going through the motions in setting production quotas.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 09:04pm
Category: Business, Political
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To make up for a subdued hurricane season this year, Mother Nature saw fit to toss a 6.0-magnitude earthquake into the Gulf of Mexico at about 11AM this morning, causing noticable structural shimmying in Tampa Bay and other Gulf communities.

It seems like the weather gods (if earthquakes can be defined as a weather phenomenon, which I grant is a stretch) aim to keep Florida on its toes. What’s next, California-style mudslides?

During the 16 years I lived in the Sunshine State, there was at least one other noticable earthquake to strike Tampa Bay, probably about 10 years ago. It wasn’t particularly strong, and it hit really early in the morning, around 6AM. I slept right through it, and I don’t think I talked to anyone who consciously experienced it. Sounds like I would’ve felt this one, which would have been an experience to file away, since I’ve never been through one.

An earthquake in the land of hurricanes brings to mind a previous comparison I observed about the competing climactic catastrophes:

A coworker from northern California, who grew up with earthquakes, told me that given the choice of natural disasters, she prefers earthquakes to tropical storms. With earthquakes, there’s no real warning. It just happens, and whether it’s just a tremor or 10.0, you only worry about it while it’s happening. There’s no build-up beforehand.

With storm systems, the tracking starts days in advance, and as the pathway becomes clearer, the storm warnings increase with frequency. All the information is supposed to prepare you, but in reality, it doesn’t-it just panics you. The panic is senseless, because much like an earthquake, there’s very little you can do about it; the storm’s going to hit, and all the preparations you make aren’t going to change that.

I’m thinking that a lot of Floridians got a slight taste of that perspective today.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 04:32pm
Category: Florida Livin', Weather
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If you happen to come from Oxford, Mississippi, and decide that you want to write novels for a living… Well, you’re asking to be measured against a pretty formidable ghost.

But Yoknapatawpha County‘s not the only scorched-earth setting on the American writer’s map. Sara Gran laments that Brooklyn also represents some treacherous literary territory for an up-and-coming scribe hoping to use Park Slope and environs as backdrop:

Some other things I always wanted to write about: St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, that enigmatic downtown Brooklyn landmark (Jonathan Lethem beat me to that one in “Motherless Brooklyn”), the wonderful old Abraham & Straus on Fulton Street, where I went shopping for my new school clothes as a girl (Lethem in the “Disappointment Artist”), or the strange experience of living in pre-gentrification brownstone Brooklyn in the 70’s (Lethem in “Fortress of Solitude”).

As I say, I’m in a race against time here. A. & S. and Coney Island and Seventh Avenue Donuts may have already been claimed by better writers, but surely there is something of Brooklyn left for me, and me alone — if I hurry. I think there’s a block up by Garfield and Seventh — nope, that was in Paul Auster’s film “Smoke.” Down by the Gowanus Canal — oh, forget it, that whole neighborhood was done to death in “Last Exit to Brooklyn.” I grew up next to a family of Mohawk Indians who worked in high steel, that might be something — never mind. Joseph Mitchell.

Bay Ridge? Gilbert Sorrentino. Brooklyn Heights? Paula Fox. Frankly, between the new anthologies “Brooklyn Noir One” and “Brooklyn Noir Two” and the forthcoming “Brooklyn Hardboiled” (none of which I was asked to participate in, not that I’m bitter), I think they’ve got the whole borough covered. Almost.

You could say that only the dead, and Jonathan Lethem, know Brooklyn. I say, I’ve got a block in Vinegar Hill with my name on it, and I’m getting to work.

Hey, she could always blaze a new narrative trail, and move to relatively un-immortalized Queens.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 01:40pm
Category: New Yorkin', Publishing
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OK, Bristol. I realize it’s a new NFL season, and with it comes the compulsion to add yet another gimmicky schtick to Sunday’s pre-kickoff hype.

That said: Don’t ever put Dr. Phil on “ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown” again.

Not only was the premise beyond stupid — having the bald Oprah “analyze” the relationship between Bill Parcells and Terrell Owens — but the segments with his talking head looked so blatantly grafted onto the show that I almost think it was a fairly last-minute insertion. Generally a waste of time, however brief.

I really hope this was a one-off, and not the beginning of a regular presence. “Countdown” is still hands-down the best pregame show on the air. But the black-hole sucking segment is already covered by Kenny Mayne’s crapola filing. No need to supplement that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 01:14pm
Category: Football, Pop Culture, TV
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great black north
The origins of Canada‘s name:

Despite quasi-comic rumors of explorer Gaspar Corte-Real bestowing the name in 1501 by marking the map of the newly-discovered land “ca, nada” (“here, nothing” in Portuguese), the factual source is more mundane, but with more symbolic significance.

It’s generally acknowledged that the Huron-Iroquois word “kanata”, meaning “village” or “settlement”, was adapted into the modern pronounciation/spelling. Therefore, Canada has the distinction of being the only nation-state in the Western Hemisphere to employ a Native American/American Indian word as a country name.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/10/2021 12:20pm
Category: History
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