Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 08, 2021

The rather basic ability to breed seems to confer an exaggerated sense of moral superiority upon some in Brooklyn’s chic mommy brigade:

A couple of weeks later, I was crossing the street. I had pulled my stroller up next to a mother who was carrying her child on her shoulders.

She said to her little girl in a singsong voice, “Look at the beautiful baby,” which her daughter echoed back to her as if they were singing a duet. I puffed up with pride while I crossed the street before the light changed — there were no cars coming.

Then the lady sang in a louder voice — to make sure I really heard her — “Look at the jaywalking mommy,” which her daughter also aped back.

I guess it’s easy enough to mistake a child with a badge. Motherhood as unofficial police force? I think I can do without that strain of law enforcement.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/08/2021 11:28:48 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
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I’m not much for swimming.

That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate Akiko Busch’s multi-layered chronicle of swimming the Hudson River. Especially because it makes multiple references to that part of the Hudson Valley in which I grew up.

I particularly like the portions that describe the peculiar natural nature of the Hudson:

Native Americans once called the river Muhheakantuck, which can be translated as “river that flows both ways,” and indeed, the Hudson River is paradox made manifest in the natural world. Because the bottom of the river, from its mouth to the Troy Dam some 150 miles north, is below sea level, the tidal force of the ocean causes the river to rise and fall; the river, in fact, is one continuous wave, which explains why the tide rises and falls at such different times at different points along the river. Even the word “river” may be too limited; while fresh water from rain and snowfall identifies it as a river, the Hudson is also an estuary. It is a curious sight on a winter’s day to watch the ice floes on the river surge to the north, back toward the river’s source rather than south toward the Atlantic Ocean; there is something mesmerizing about watching an event in the natural world unfold with such a contrary rhythm. Stranger still is watching the ice floes in the center of the river flow one way while those on the edges flow in the opposite direction. Such spectacles seem to challenge every notion we have about the natural order of things, powerful evidence that our ideas of innate order are not always to be trusted.

To me, this narrative evoked the movie The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. The swimmer is much in the same situation as the runner: On his/her own, ultimately reliant on solitary muscle and will to see the exercise through to the end. Plenty of time for self-reflection and soul-searching. Which follows that, if any Hollywood producer is looking to option an avant-garde film about the challenges of competitive swimming, they could do a lot worse than Busch’s piece.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/08/2021 10:52:54 PM
Category: Movies, New Yorkin', Other Sports
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In the business of business, a rainmaker is someone who is loaded with connections, and thus can pull in valuable clients, investors, etc. in order to make the big money deal happen.

But there are other ways to make money fall from the sky, figuratively speaking:

High-end strip clubs offer prewrapped bundles of various denominations of cash, generally in $1,000 packets, for those who want to buy tips for the dancers and others who want to throw cash up in the air on the dance floor for anyone who grabs it.

Rap stars and athletes popularized the custom, called “making rain.”

Showy. Probably much preferred by the dancers, who don’t have to endure the skin-on-skin contact of having guys slip single bills into garter belts (and other spots).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/08/2021 04:43:43 PM
Category: Society
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It’s been a while since I made note of any blog housekeeping activities here at PopStat.

That’s because there haven’t been any major ones of late. I got the conflicting WordPress installations problem cleared up, with some help. And various tweaks here and there, including installing Bad Behavior to work with Akismet as a blended comment-spam defense (which works wonderfully, by the way). But none of those fixes seemed worthy of recording here.

Today, though, I addressed a shortcoming of this site that’s bugged me pretty much since Day One: The search function. WP’s built-in search utility sucks, frankly. It’s geared toward geek-centric output: Search terms spit back entire posts into an output page. That might be fine if you post infrequently, and compose really short posts. But when you output as much as I do, and wordcount per post is up there, you wind up with pages of “results” that aren’t particularly user-friendly. Even I’ve been loathe to use it — I’d instead do my searching for old posts via the WP backend.

So I looked at a natural alternative: Google. Under the Google Co-op tool (of all things), you can create a customized search widget that’s limited to your own site/blog. This utility has been around for years, but I don’t think it’s been as flexible as it now is. In particular, I wanted to score that cool-looking javascripted Google brandmark in the search textbox, and I’m happy I was able to customize it thusly.

This search widget is also linked to my AdSense account, so there’s some revenue-generating potential there. I’ll be shocked if it nets more than pennies, but you never know.

Finally, in addition to planting the Google search tool and ditching the native WP one, I moved the actual search input box way up the left sidebar, to appear above the fold. I have some qualms about this, organization-wise. I’d kept the old search box way down, under the Archives header, because that makes the most sense in my mind — you’d be searching for older material (i.e., stuff that’s not on the current front page). But it was obviously buried there. Moving it to the top makes it very conspicuous, and hopefully more likely to be used by visitors. It’s the same logic that every search engine out there uses, so I’m guessing there’s something to it.

Anyway. Feel free to take the new Google searchbar out for a spin. I’m happy enough just looking at it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/08/2021 04:32:16 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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