Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 29, 2021

hope you guessed my name
The above image is a crop of the October 2006 cover of German Vogue. What you see are two alluring, dark-haired beauties, striking a pose.

But look closer, and you’ll see a devil in the details:

In addition to it being a provacative, seething image I really love how the O and G in Vogue make devil horns on the girl on the left.

Feel free to fire up Laibach’s cover of “Sympathy For The Devil (Who Killed The Kennedys Mix)”, with its jarring use of female vocals, to get a fuller overall effect.

Was that sly bit of graphical manipulation intentional? I’d guess yes, even if it was only on the designer (vs. editorial) level. I’m wondering how many others, in Germany and beyond, noticed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/29/2007 10:17:19 PM
Category: Fashion, Pop Culture, Publishing
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David shares some quality-control tips for properly sending emails:

(1) add the attachment to your message, (2) type the actual message, and finally (3) add the addresses in the TO: field. This will prevent you from sending an e-mail that is supposed to have an attachment but doesn’t…

The above isn’t quite the backward approach to filling out an email form, but it’s close. By asking that you craft your email by first focusing your attention on the content (the body of the letter plus any attachments), you’re working your way up the screen before finally hitting the “send” button.

This is counterintuitive. Regardless of whether you’re online, working on a Word document, viewing photos, or whatever, most people’s instinct is to start viewing their computer screen from the top, and then scan downward. (Westerners’ communicative standard calls for top-left-to-bottom-right as the default pattern, while Easterners generally follow top-right-to-bottom-left; but in both cases, the top of the document/viewing area is assumed to be where you start your media intake.) So you should expect the topmost part of a communication interface — i.e., an email form — to let you start in with the meat of your message.

And yet, most of use have screwed up in filling out email forms. Even those of us who’ve been using email for a decade or more will routinely forget to fill in the Subject: line (a step conspicuously ignored above), or forget to add the attachment, or commit some other fundamental flub. The wonder isn’t that we do it so often — it’s that we do it at all, given how much practice we’ve had with this communication channel.

I don’t know why new and redesigned email services persist in keeping a template form that apparently doesn’t lend itself to fairly automatic, near-effortless use. Instead of the traditional structure, which you’ll see on email services from Outlook to Yahoo! Mail:


Why not flip it around, to reflect the sender’s likely mental organization? Something like:


Keeping the “Send” button on the bottom is key; semantically, that’s the final, finishing step, so progressing to that point means the user is done with the prep work. But the rest of the fields should be rearranged, to follow what’s imperative to a sender when s/he wants to shoot a message to someone.

Like many other Internet protocols, I suspect the traditional email form structure was determined a couple of decades ago, and no one’s bothered to examine if it really is optimal for most people. Just because it’s been around for so long doesn’t mean it has to stick around, when most people just can’t seem to fully warm up to it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/29/2007 08:50:14 PM
Category: Internet
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The next time you’re in Washington DC, and you drop a quarter into one of those windup-crank toy-dispensing machines, and you wind up with a little plastic globe-ful of crumpled-up garbage — don’t be alarmed. (Odds are), you’ve stumbled upon Christopher Goodwin’s Trashball art installation.

Goodwin sort of takes the content in FOUND! Magazine and delivers it to his audience in three dimensions. The hands-on, urban-explorer experience for those who don’t actually want to stoop down and pick up the litter themselves, I suppose.

What might you find in a Trashball? Here’s a sampling from someone who’s bought about 50 of the little suckers:

“There’s an element of gambling to it,” said [Tom] Jennings, 42, a data technician. He has cracked open the orbs to find ephemera as varied as a crumpled-up Polaroid snapshot from the 1970s, a Danish coin and a canceled 1981 stamp from the African nation of Djibouti.

I have to say: On first glance of the photo above, I thought that the Trashballs were actually solid plastic or rubber orbs, with the found detritus trapped inside. Not sure why that occurred to me; I guess they seemed more like art pieces that way. I guess, in terms of a participatory artistic experience, it makes more sense the way Goodwin is actually packaging them.

All I know is that I’m making a mental note to scope out one of these dispensers for the next time I visit DC. No visit would be complete without retrieving one of these junky mementos.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/29/2007 07:25:53 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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I’m going to have to pick up a copy of Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”, just on the strength of this synopsis:

For the book, Mr. Chabon dug into New York’s underworld slang, filling in at spots with his own linguistic creations. A latke is a beat cop and a sholem is a gun — a bit of wordplay, as “sholem” in Yiddish means peace, and “piece” is slang for gun in English. The powerful local mafia is made up of Hasidic Jews with payess, long curling sidelocks. Along with the rest of Alaska’s Jews, they are part of what Jews living in the rest of America call “the Frozen Chosen.”

“The Frozen Chosen” might have come about had the King-Havenner Bill, a 1940 piece of Congressional legislation proposing an Alaskan homeland for Europe’s persecuted Jewry, come into law. Chabon’s book runs wild with this alternate history exercise, presenting a scenario in which 3 million refugees poured into Alaska Territory. In addition to transforming isolated towns like Sitka (chosen as the novel’s setting because Chabon thought its name “sounded Yiddish”), this counterfactual apparently took the Holocaust out of the equation during the Second World War; consequently, the establishment of Israel was never deemed necessary.

The option of being presented with an Arctic wasteland as refuge — a restricted, temporary one, at that — might seem like a backhanded form of salvation. But it wasn’t the only one floated before and during the war years. Madagascar, then a French colony, was also proposed as a dumping ground for Europe’s Jews, mainly for its isolation and distance from the Continent. The oddest one I heard about: In the 1930s, the Nazis actually considered working with Zionists to engineer a forced exodus of German Jews to Palestine, not only to uproot them, but also to establish a guaranteed export market for Germany in the face of European economic boycotts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/29/2007 06:47:39 PM
Category: History, Publishing
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