Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, November 01, 2021

I’ve turned my sports-knowledge acumen loose on that much-debated issue: Why doesn’t America go ga-ga for soccer, like other countries do?

My conclusion: Americans don’t need it, and it has nothing to do with the usual suspects among team sports on this continent. Rather, it’s because of a surrogate sporting event that fulfills everything that soccer provides. That surrogate is none other than NASCAR.

How can I equate the most fundamental ball-based team sport with a motor-vehicle race? It all has to do with crowds. Consider these parallels:

- Both sports appeal to very broad, populist fan bases.

- Both take place in open-air stadium-style venues that hold tens of thousands of fans.

- Both feature a carnival-like atmosphere in the stands, where fans party and mingle practically independently of what’s happening on the field/track.

- Finally, both involve game action in which, by design, not much of consequence happens during long stretches (engendering the crowd behavior described above).

To me, it seems that soccer and NASCAR occupy the same landscape on the sporting scene, as they relate to societies on either side of the Atlantic (I’m ignoring the usual fiction of soccer being the “world’s game”, for the reality that it’s a European game, popular there and in Europe’s greater cultural sphere of influence; that leaves out the Pacific Rim). Contests in both sports have more the feel of events or gatherings, with whatever happening at center stage being almost incidental for most of the folks in the stands. In that sense, it’s not as imperative to keep up with the game action too closely. Certainly, other North American sports have a dose of this, but it doesn’t seem nearly as acute there.

Soccer and NASCAR fit the bill for the essential spectator-sport experience, while not demanding too much from those spectators. Just being there does the job. Small wonder both attract such huge crowds.

So, that’s why soccer ain’t gonna make it in the U.S. NASCAR provides a similar sensation, with the added hook of Americans’ ever-present obsession with cars. Corner-kicks can’t hope to compete.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/01/2021 11:14:10 PM
Category: Other Sports | Permalink | Feedback (6)

Oh, the tortures a web designer has to go through, dealing with knuckleheaded clients who don’t know what they want or how they want it, but want it done right.

Imagine if architects had to go through the same hassle:

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

I’ve had bird’s-eye looks at both sides of the divide, albiet in limited roles. I certainly have been in on the clueless client side, where beyond the mandate for having an online presence, no one really knows what the purpose should be: Brochureware? Lead generator? Sales channel? Fuzzy revenue stream? What ends up being requested is a website that should be all those things and more, with the details being handled by the webmasters.

This road to ruin is typically taken by less-than-Web-savvy clients. The unclear concept is that they’re commissioning “web pages”, rather than a comprehensive site. They don’t know what goes into Web development, and rely on gawking at competitor websites as their only guidepost for what their site should have.

Are the designers guiltless? Granted, you can dumb things down only so much; still, I’ve always thought most professionals and shops could do a better job of clearly communicating the boundaries of what they can and can’t provide. Dealing with non-techspeak types might be tedious, but that’s the customer base.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/01/2021 09:00:45 PM
Category: Internet, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (4)

I’ve always wondered about this:

Is BET’s “Rap City” purposely entitled to evoke the word “rhapsody”? Y’know — “rap city”, “rhapsody”? Say them together fast, if that helps.

Maybe it doesn’t resonate with anyone but me. But rhapsody is a musical term, after all. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the subliminal intent.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/01/2021 07:04:23 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture, Wordsmithing | Permalink | Feedback

Look what I caught! And they weren’t even hard to nab…

Yes, these are the same pointy-headed little ghost hanging decorations that I hung up last week for Halloween. Trick-or-treating time is over now, so down come these little phantoms. When I was done gathering them, the sight of my grasping them by their hanging wires, all bunched together like that, struck me as funny. It was almost like I was holding onto the results of a grouse hunt or something. So I snapped a pic.

Yes, I know, I’m showing far too much fascination with this $2 collection of plastic and twisty-ties. What can I say, I’m too-easily amused.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/01/2021 06:00:08 PM
Category: Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

That was odd. Just now, I fired up iTunes, and when the iTunes Store interface loaded up… I was confronted with menu links and placards written in French.

It threw me for a couple of seconds. Then, I scrolled to the bottom of the page, and confirmed what I suspected: Somehow, my settings preference had been changed from the default U.S., to the iTunes France Store.

Why? I had no idea. I had fleeting thoughts that my recent purchases off iTunes, which included a couple of Eurotrashy electronic tracks, prompted Apple to exile me from America to Europe. I’d be amused by the screwy criteria: You buy a couple of non-American songs, and they figure, “This guy might be more comfortable with one of our overseas Stores”. In which case, I couldn’t wait to buy something off the just-unveiled iTunes Latino section, just to see if I’d get shunted to the Mexico Store…

But then, I found out that this is a widespread glitch in the program that has lately cropped up. It must be coming from the user-authentication data stored at Cupertino’s end, because I’ve been running the initial release of iTunes 7 (not the bug-fixed 7.0.1 version, which I’ve yet to install) for weeks now, and this is the first time this has happened.

I’d suspect that this was an intentional redirect from Apple, for some meta-marketing reason. That doesn’t make sense, though, because I don’t think you can buy anything off other countries’ iTunes Stores unless your IP address matches up. Just a run-of-the-mill computer bug, I guess.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/01/2021 05:12:27 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback