Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, September 26, 2021

black day
I have to admit, upon reading about the death of Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz today, my first thoughts turned to the corrosive effect he had on the NHL team.

I didn’t feel right about trashing someone when the corpse was hardly cold. But someone closer to the situation did, and managed to do it without being overly vindictive.

Well, mostly:

I know it sounds insensitive, but if we are going to pass ourselves off as being in the truth business, then the truth is that the greatest impediment to the Hawks success was the Hawks owner, one of the worst in sports history from a fan’s standpoint and the man who almost singlehandedly killed hockey interest in this city. Rich, stubborn and backward, Wirtz’s business practices were rooted in another century, protecting the laughable concept of “season reservation holders.” In fact, you will probably see more of the man’s funeral on home television than you saw of his team. Truth is truth.

With more voices than usual predicting a more successful season for ‘Hawks this year, I guess the players have one more motivating factor to inspire them.

I’m sure this has been covered in other reports on Wirtz’s passing, but a few ancillary notes:

- I was unaware of the Blackhawks’ long-ago invitation to go to the Garden State:

In 1981, Wirtz turned down a group from New Jersey that had invited him to move the Blackhawks to a $100 million arena built in the Meadowlands sports complex.

“We feel like the girl who out of the blue gets a marriage proposal,” Wirtz said when asked about the flirtation with his franchise. “She’s flattered and says she doesn’t know. But deep down she knows the answer is going to be ‘no’ as far as she can foresee because she has this love affair that has been going on for years and years.

“That’s our hockey team and the people of Chicago.”

The Meadowlands, of course, got their hockey tenant shortly thereafter, in the form of the Colorado Rockies, who morphed into today’s New Jersey Devils (and who have left East Rutherford starting this season for Newark).

- The Blackhawks’ 1961 Stanley Cup win marks the current longest championship drought in the National Hockey League, having ascended there after the Rangers broke their own 1940 curse. (If Chicago manages to break it anytime soon, the Toronto Maple Leafs would then inherit the longest-drought dubiousness, with their last Cup having come in 1967.)

- Also significant about that 1961 Blackhawks win: It stands out as the only Cup championship during the Original Six era (1942-1967) that wasn’t claimed by Detroit, Montreal or Toronto. That bygone era wasn’t exactly known for parity.

- I was also unaware of Wirtz’s central role in engineering the merger with the World Hockey Association. While that was successful from a business-strategic position — the WHA remains the last rival league to have seriously challenged the NHL — the choice of remnant teams/markets to absorb turned out to have been short-sighted and somewhat disastrous. Consider that of the four clubs that joined the NHL — Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, Winnipeg Jets — only the Oilers remain in their original city. Meanwhile, rock-solid WHA franchises in Houston and other markets were passed over.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/26/2007 10:58:12 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback

The following happened to me some 10 years ago, with me calling from Florida to a number in New York. A much more recent phone exchange brought it to mind now:

Me: Hello, could I speak to ______?
Answering Hag: No, you can’t, he’s not here.
Me: Oh, alright. Could I leave him a message?
AH (instantly exasperated): This isn’t going to take long, is it?
Me: What, leaving the message?
AH: Yes, I’m walking out and I’m in a hurry.
Me: Um, do you have an answering machine, or voicemail on this line?
AH: Why?
Me: I’m just saying, why don’t you just hang up, and I’ll call right back and leave my message on voicemail, so you can go ahead and leave.
AH: I don’t have time for this.
Me: I just don’t want to hold you up, and it’s not a short message -
AH: [click]
Me: [called back 5 minutes later, got voicemail, left my message]

I guess she showed me, right?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/26/2007 06:30:25 PM
Category: Comedy, Society, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

times two
We’ve all heard of the One Laptop Per Child project, the goal of which is to equip youngsters around the globe with a low-cost learning tool and access point to the Internet. Originally conceived as a computer engineering challenge, the much-vaunted $100 price point per unit overshot a bit to $188, giving the program a bit of a black eye.

To bounce back, OLPC has launched a unique marketing initiative, dubbed “Give 1 Get 1″: Starting November 12th, you can buy two of the little green XO Laptop-ettes for $399 (tax-deductable), sending one into the waiting hands of an underprivileged youth while the other comes to your doorstep.

Am I intrigued? Yes. I’m thinking I’ll be ponying up for this program in two months. A desire to do some good merges with my financial requirements (as an independent contractor, I need to be on the lookout for deductions) and my techie curiosity. It’s really a genius way for OLPC to prompt a large group who otherwise wouldn’t bother participating.

I do have some misgivings. I’ve heard about the dubiousness of the one-size-fits-all model — just because the laptops are successful in Cambodia doesn’t mean they’ll take off in Angola. And the potential unintended consequences of increased malware coming from this mass computerization is something to consider. On balance, I think the positive possibilities are worth the risks.

As I suggested, I’d likely keep the extra XO Laptop for my own tinkering. I’ve got an aunt and uncle who probably need to get connected to the Web, and a dead-simple computer interface would be the only way it would happen; but that’s a remote backup plan.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/26/2007 05:55:41 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Tech, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)