Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 15, 2021

trade-enabled
Those who were paying attention to the NFL preseason noticed a slight uptick in trade activity just prior to this season’s regular-season kickoffs. They were real quality transactions, too, for bonafide starters — like the Kevan Barlow trade to the Jets.

What gives? No more assumptions that a guy will simply get cut, and therefore be attainable without having to give another team anything?

Turns out the league’s newly-implemented collective bargaining agreement makes trades more cap-friendly:

Under the old CBA, the team that dealt a player had to take the entire hit of cap acceleration that a trade produced this year, absorbing the player’s remaining pro-rated yearly cap numbers all at once. Now teams are allowed to put off dealing with such a huge cap hit until the following year, freeing up room on this year’s cap. In essence, the new CBA made the cap ramifications of a trade identical to the one a team faced when releasing a player after the June 1 deadline.

The biggest turnoff about National Football League machinations for the past 15 years has been, for me, the virtual disappearance of a real trade market. The combination of the salary cap and the norm of non-guaranteed contracts resulted in trades becoming rarities. I would have predicted lots of fans would have lamented this state of affairs, but go figure — it seems no one cared much, especially since there’s so much player movement in the offseason anyway.

Now, this new CBA adjustment promises a more robust transaction wire, especially during the season. Except, um, maybe not this season. Even with the new rule, it doesn’t seem that most GMs have grasped the potential; the phone lines are as quiet as they’ve ever been prior to the trade deadline (this Tuesday). Only Randy Moss is potentially in play. Maybe next season will be more lively.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/15/2006 10:00:08 PM
Category: Football
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It took nearly half a century after the start of the Sexual Revolution, but the mainstream’s finally shifted: For the first time ever, married households make up less than half of all American households.

The societal implications loom large:

“It just changes the social weight of marriage in the economy, in the work force, in sales of homes and rentals, and who manufacturers advertise to,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “It certainly challenges the way we set up our work policies.”

While the number of single young adults and elderly widows are both growing, Professor Coontz said, “we have an anachronistic view as to what extent you can use marriage to organize the distribution and redistribution of benefits.”…

“This would seem to close the book on the Ozzie and Harriet era that characterized much of the last century,” [Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey] said.

I’m always surprised when such demographic shifts take so long to fully manifest themselves. I shouldn’t be — as adaptable as individual humans are, society is more of a habit-obsessed endeavor. Still, with the rate of divorce in the U.S. having been set at 50 percent for the last couple of decades, I’m surprised so many couples continued to challenge the odds for so long. Maybe this represents the death of romance as well?

As one with no ring on his finger, and not even remotely close to having one, I guess I should be glad for being on the apparent forward-moving side of the trend. Of course, with my luck, tomorrow I’ll meet that special gal, eventually get hitched, and thus marginalize myself…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/15/2006 08:09:16 PM
Category: Society
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I’ve always thought that the rapid spread of wireless phone service throughout the developing world, effectively leapfrogging landline infrastructures in places like Africa and south Asia, was a telling trend. How much impact would an explosion of communications access have on chronically impoverished societies?

A pair of weekend stories in the Washington Post indicate it’s a big impact, and that it’s bearing fruit right away. First, at the produce market in New Delhi:

As [Devi Datt] Joshi weighed their purchases, his young assistant packed bag after bag of produce and set them aside in the shade. They were already spoken for — in at least 25 orders Joshi had received the evening before on the cell phone that has transformed him from a worn-out, half-broke vegetable hawker to a well rested, well paid entrepreneur.

“The mobile phone has more than doubled my profits,” said Joshi, 38, sweating in the morning heat, his little Panasonic phone safety-clipped to his shirt pocket with a pink bungee cord. He said he used to earn about $3 a day — now he takes home about $8, for a much shorter and easier work day.

Eight bucks a day isn’t the foundation of an affluent class in India. But it’s a significant upshift in economic status, and represents just a starting point.

Meanwhile, across the subcontinent on the Arabian Sea, the fishmarkets are going through the same phone-fueled transformation:

[Babu] Rajan said that before he got his first cellphone a few years ago, he used to arrive at port with a load of fish and hope for the best. The wholesaler on the dock knew that Rajan’s un-iced catch wouldn’t last long in the fiery Indian sun. So, Rajan said, he was forced to take whatever price was offered — without having any idea whether dealers in the next port were offering twice as much.

Now he calls several ports while he’s still at sea to find the best prices, playing the dealers against one another to drive up the price.

Rajan said the dealers don’t necessarily like the new balance of power, but they are paying better prices to him and thousands of other fishermen who work this lush stretch of coastline. “They are forced to give us more money because there is competition,” said Rajan, who estimated that his income has at least tripled to an average of $150 a month since 2000, when cellphones began booming in India. He said he is providing for his family in ways that his fisherman father never could, including a house with electricity and a television.

“When I was a kid we never had enough money for clothes and books, so we never really went to school,” said Rajan, 50. “Now everything is different.”

The absolute monetary amounts are laughably small compared to American income levels, but the doubling and tripling of wages is major. And it’s made possible because cellphones enable it:

“This has changed the entire dynamics of communications and how they organize their lives,” said C.K. Prahalad, an India-born business professor at the University of Michigan who has written extensively about how commerce — and cellphones — are used to combat poverty.

“One element of poverty is the lack of information,” Prahalad said. “The cellphone gives poor people as much information as the middleman.”

It’s a familiar theme. Better communications has been a crucial economic jumpstarter for centuries. From Rome’s network of roads throughout the Mediterranean, to the telegraph, to the Internet — improved points of contact bring about expanded economic opportunities. We’re seeing that unfold today in India.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/15/2006 07:35:48 PM
Category: Business, Society, Tech
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Take a mellon-headed group of tykes, fill their mouths with quotations from the 19th Century’s foremost existential nihilist philosopher, and… Well, the results are all too obvious, aren’t they?

The Nietzsche Family Circus is an inspired randomized mashup of words and pictures. I think it’ll give Bill and Jeff Keane a run for their money, dialogue-wise. Let’s face it, the visual of Dolly and Jeffy in front of the TV, with Mom dutifully peeking in from the kitchen, is nice; but having Dolly casually inform her little brother that “fear is the mother of morality” perfectly completes the scene. Out of the mouths of babes, indeed. (I notice that many of the NFC panels involve Mom or Dad peering from around the corner at the kids in action; coincidence? It definitely adds something to this presentation.)

Family Circus, for whatever reason, attracts this sort of twisted treatment online. Ages ago in Internet time (i.e., circa 1999), a site called “Dysfunctional Family Circus” (not this) tossed up a captionless panel of the strip, and invited all comers to write their own accompanying text. Each panel would provoke dozens of submissions, mostly of the perverted brand; among the most popular themes would be Dolly as a child prostitute, and an unseen “Uncle Roy” coming over to… Well, I’d rather not say. Even odder, casting the family as Cthulhu worshippers caught on in this forum-like setting, and that strain of the parody still exists online. “Dysfunctional” was shut down by a cease-and-desist from the Keanes and their syndicate; I wonder if they’re going to bother to take action with this latest nonsense.

Anyway, have fun compulsively refreshing the Losanjealous page. Just take heed of Friedrich’s warning about gazing long into an abyss.

(Via Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?)

UPDATE: I swear that when I decided to write this post, I was unaware that today was Nietzsche’s 162nd birthday. What a way to mark it…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/15/2006 03:23:59 PM
Category: Comedy, Pop Culture
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You might think the notion of having Stephen Hawking star as himself in the thinly-fictionalized pop-science film Beyond the Horizon to be daft (if I may borrow the appropriately British phraseology).

But really, we all should have seen this coming. Because Hawking, not satisfied with fame merely in the scientific realm, already had branched out into the world of hip-hop dope rhymin’ as MC Hawking. So a move into movies makes perfect sense. The guy’s a budding multimedia superstar!

I can’t wait for his upcoming guest shot on “Desperate Housewives”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/15/2006 01:12:00 PM
Category: Comedy, Movies, Science
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