Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, April 23, 2021

As the New York Rangers get set to embark upon Round Two of the NHL playoffs, I can’t think of any stranger soap opera material than news of Sean Avery seeking out, and landing, an internship at Vogue Magazine.

Avery, who makes $2 million a year with the Rangers and has cavorted with starlets since his days with the Los Angeles Kings, initiated the contact with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

“He is ridiculously obsessed with fashion,” Avery’s publicist Nicole Chabot told ABCNews.com. “He loves it more than anything in the world. It’s something he has always wanted to do.”…

Though his assignments are “evolving,” Avery will go to Paris Fashion Week with international editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, according to Chabot.

Presumably that Paris trip is scheduled for after June; Rangers faithful would be less than pleased to lose Avery’s agitating skills in the midst of a Stanley Cup run.

I can only guess that this timing is designed to encourage mindgames among upcoming playoff opponents. No one wants to get pushed around by a budding fashion-mag internist…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 03:32:17 PM
Category: Fashion, Hockey, Publishing
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Professional puckheads won’t have to go begging for National Hockey League broadcasts next season, as NBC has extended its broadcast agreement with the league through the 2008-09 season.

“There have been positive signs for the league, both on and off the ice,” Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, said in a statement. “Ratings were up this year; the Winter Classic in Buffalo was a huge success; advertising sales were healthy; and the product on the ice has never been better, led by young, marketable stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. We believe this is a sport that will continue to grow.”

Ratings for the regular-season Sunday games on NBC were up 11 percent from last year.

We’ve heard all this before — a one-year bump is nice, but doesn’t guarantee any long-term commitment. The key component is that NBC is getting the content for free — no rights means the NHL is simply getting some much-need exposure, and the network has no risk in either broadcasting or else bumping the random game.

Still, having a prime broadcast presence is still a status symbol that any claimant to major-league sports must have. It might not mean as much five years from now, but for now, it’s a requisite that the NHL is glad to have.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 03:21:26 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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So if inveterate Wikipedia contributors want to add/edit entries in a printed-book version of the encyclopedia-like resource — which publisher Bertelsmann plans to produce, drawing from the German edition of the website — will they have to stock up on Wite-Out and scissors?

The media company — whose units include publisher Random House Inc. and music venture Sony BMG — said Wednesday that it plans to publish “The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia” starting in September with the content made up of 50,000 of the most-searched terms on the German language edition of Wikipedia.

Beate Varnhorn, the head of publishing at Bertelsmann Encyclopedia Institute said the “condensed, one-volume print edition” would bring Wikipedia to a new audience.

She told The Associated Press that the sheer number of entries on the German Wikipedia — at last count they numbered approximately 740,000 and would likely fill hundreds of printed volumes — meant publishing all of it was not “a good project for the German book trade.”

But an annual collection of the most-sought out terms made sense, she said. “A yearbook really can be a documentation of the zeitgeist.”

I can see this move as widening the audience scope of Wikipedia, but in a decidedly dumbed-down way — it reduces the site to a top-ten list. Naturally the flavor-of-the-month entries will get the most action, and by extension would spur the bulk of sales for any published product.

Speaking of those sales:

Like its Web-based namesake, the book will be under a free license, meaning its content can be distributed and copied, including commercially. Copies of the 992-page book — available only in German — will retail for $31.80.

Bertelsmann has agreed to pay Wikimedia Deutschland eV, which promotes the German-language version of the online encyclopedia, $1.59 a copy, said Arne Klempert, the group’s executive director.

“To some extent it’s marketing for Bertelsmann. They are using free content, free knowledge,” he told The Associated Press. “Legally, they don’t have to pay anything for the content but they don’t want to give the impression that they are acting on the back of the Wikipedia authors, so they decided to give something back for that reason.”

Despite the stated ground rules under the free documentation license, I’m sure this exercise in crass commercialism will raise hackles among those with nothing better to do. Likewise, how many article-writers are going to feel miffed over their words generating profit for someone else — again, even though that’s part of the deal? Most Wikipedians blanch at any moves toward directly monetizing the site’s content; even couching a print product as an attempt to spread the word will be met with hostility.

Despite the creeping acceptance in venues high and low — including among far too many media professionals who should know better — I still regard the use of Wikipedia as a reference source to the equivalent of citing graffiti. Bottom line, if a page can be altered at any given moment, it’s not worthy of trust. I’m afraid an enshrined, faux-legitimized hard-copy version will only accelerate the false sense of security it engenders.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 03:02:31 PM
Category: Internet, Publishing
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Wouldn’t it be nice to shoot your physician an email when you have a non-critical medical concern, instead of sacrificing the better part of a day with phonetag or an office visit? Good luck getting a response to such an inquiry: Only about a third of U.S. doctors say they respond to patients’ emails, with the rest offering up basically an “I-don’t-wanna” excuse.

Doctors have their reasons for not hitting the reply button more often. Some worry it will increase their workload, and most physicians don’t get reimbursed for it by insurance companies. Others fear hackers could compromise patient privacy — even though doctors who do e-mail generally do it through password-protected Web sites…

Dr. Daniel Z. Sands, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, is among the early adopters who doesn’t get paid for e-visits. He sees communicating with patients online as no different from phoning them, a practice that also is not billable.

How hard would it be for physician offices and hospitals to set up an auto-response message that delivers the usual disclaimers, e.g. disavowing email communication for time-sensitive and critical conditions and such? It’s not brain surgery — presumably one of the conditions that these docs wouldn’t want to diagnose via their Outlook inbox…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 02:22:16 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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I just flew Delta down to Florida, and the flights were a pretty big disappointment. I was on older jets both departing and arriving, and so there was no in-seat entertainment and little legroom. It was enough to make me decide to bypass Delta in the future.

However, if the airline actually does install these British-made Cozy Suite space-saving and -creating staggered seats into its coach sections, as is being reported, I’ll have to give it another chance. I’ll have to wait a couple of years, but what the hey — I don’t travel all that much anyway.

What makes these oddly-configured airline chairs so unique?

The Cozy Suite manages to stretch legroom by two inches while fitting airplane seats into the standard economy class 32″ pitch. It does this by offsetting the seats diagonally: they still point forward, but each chair sits behind its neighbor. This staggered arrangement also means that there is space to put in a padded side section to lean against and get some proper mile-high shuteye.

Anything’s better than what’s currently in place. The only thing I can see a problem with: As you’d guess from the design (and as confirmed by the manufacturer), these seats don’t recline. The ergonomic cocoon shape supposedly obviates this usual necessity; have to see that to believe it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 01:50:14 PM
Category: Creative, Tech
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Many’s the time during my college career when I’d walk all over campus barefoot. I wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t just the granola contingent, either — lots of students took advantage of the Florida climate and terrain to regularly feel the ground against their soles. No harm done, and in fact, it probably helped keep the feet strong and healthy.

But that was college. These days, the idea that the human foot is more harmed than aided by footwear is a little hard to swallow, despite the alleged historical background:

[New York Magazine write Adam] Sternbergh calls the ubiquity of footwear a “conspiracy of idiocy.” He points out the probability that at no point did any shoemaker say, “Let’s design something that works with your foot.” In the Middle Ages, for example, people began wearing shoes with higher heels to avoid stepping in other people’s excrement. Today, high heels are considered sexy. Whatever their reasons for wearing the shoes they wear, people don’t usually consider whether a shoe actually works with their foot, he says.

Given the daily barrage of ground-level threats in the big city — various debris, unforgiving surfaces, elements, other people — I’d say the mere protective covering provided constitutes a shoe that “works with your foot”. Preventing damage to the footsies makes human mobility that much more efficient. After that, you can worry about details like gait and support (which is what ends up happening with orthopedic obsessing like this anyway).

Besides, from the glance-through I gave Sternbergh’s article, “You Walk Wrong”, it comes off more as an advocacy for yet another more-perfect ergonomic shoe line, this time some sort of Kevlar-soled slipper. Basically an advertorial filled with claptrap, which is the general consensus from the Bryant Park Project peanut gallery.

Can we live without our shoes? I wouldn’t mind it — after I retire to some warm-weather beach somewhere near the equator (or on the Moon, by midcentury). Until then, my feet will be losing their “war” with the shoes in my closet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/23/2008 08:34:49 AM
Category: Fashion, Science, Society
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