Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, November 23, 2021

As you chew on that birdmeat today, you can mentally chew on how a funny-looking animal native to North America came to share a name with a Muslim country.

It’s all pretty convoluted, involving Guinea fowls, peacocks, and East Indies/West Indies trade routes. Especially enlightening is the transliterations of the bird’s name in other languages. Surprisingly, many European languages identify the turkey as an “India bird”.

My own ethnic perspective: In Greek, the turkey is known as γαλοπούλα (read that as “gallo-poula”). Exact translation on that is iffy, but among family members, the obvious etymology is accepted: “Gallo” is gallic/Gaul, which is the modern Greek name for French/France; “poula” is bird.

Which gives us “French bird”. Which I find most interesting, given Greek history and interaction with Turkey the country. My best guess: The bird we English-speakers identify as the turkey was introduced to Greece a few hundred years ago via French merchants/traders. So naturally, the natives assigned a tag according to the immediate source for this new species. Just a hunch, but it sounds right to me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/23/2006 01:13 PM
Category: History, Wordsmithing
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When I was younger, an occasional post-Thanksgiving meal activity was heading to the movie theater. We seemed to be compelled to do something, anything, to get out of the house after all that family time and gorging.

For those who don’t want cinema, this year consumerism comes to the rescue! Major retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy are open all day long on Thanksgiving Thursday, tempting with early-bird discounts and hoping to jumpstart sluggish early holiday sales numbers.

I’m guessing this is the beginning of making Black Friday superfluous. Getting into the black will becomes a prerogative. It also suddenly makes the idea of malls opening their doors at midnight tonight seem oddly quaint.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this appeal to shopaholic impulses succeed. It delivers on traditional gender-divide tendencies: The women hit the stores while the men laze around watching football, thus each getting out of each others’ hair.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/23/2006 01:00 PM
Category: Business, Society
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no cranberry flavor?
Today’s showdown: Enviga’s caffeine/calcium jolt vs. the Thanksgiving tryptophan attack.

Which will overtake my physiology? Hopefully, I’ll live through the raging digestive battle. I’ve already downed two of my daily three cans, before nibbling on any of the turkey feast, so I guess Enviga will have the early edge.

Only other development of note: I managed to find the elusive four-pack of this product. Of all places, I located it in a Price Chopper upstate, in Orange County (site of my family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza). I’ll have to keep a sharper eye out for it in Manhattan.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/23/2006 12:29 PM
Category: Food, Science
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What do you get when you cross ninjas and dictionaries?

You get… Well, you probably don’t get Ninjawords, a whack at an AJAX-powered word-lookup utility. It’s an invention borne of frustration from what existing online dictionaries toss up:

* Why are you inundating me with images and ads, when the content of dictionaries are purely text?!
* Do you really think I need to see 50 definitions of the same word?
* Why do I have to open 10 separate pages to look up 10 different words?

I’m not sure which dictionary sites Phil Crosby, Ninjawords’ author, is using. My preferred source is Dictionary.com, which is, indeed, chock full of ads and even popups. I find, though, that I can pretty easily bypass that junk by typing the word I’m looking for directly into the URL in the brower bar, like so:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/photosynthesis

Quick and easy (with auto-complete by the browser, naturally). Ironically, I find that a similar input method for Ninjawords, mentioned here, works faster than the default frontend input field. That’s a problem, because, as Sarah found out, the site is actually pretty slow at conjuring up the definitions — I experienced waiting times of 5+ seconds, on a fast cable connection. That doesn’t seem like much, but for a site that claims it’s “a really fast dictionary… fast like a ninja”, it’s a glaring shortcoming. The Google-reminiscent look also suggests you should expect faster reaction times.

Shortcoming No. 2: Part of the source code it uses for looking up definitions is wiktionary. Thanks, but no thanks. As with all things wiki, I don’t want to have lingering doubts that some random vandal is screwing around with the content, even if it’s only for the few seconds when I’m using the site.

All in all, it’s a nice personal project, and I’m sure further tweaking will improve things. But I don’t see making it a reference stop on my browser anytime soon.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/23/2006 10:59 AM
Category: Creative, Internet
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