Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, August 15, 2021

No doubt buoyed by last year’s movie adaptation, Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” seemed to be a popular read this summer, based upon the number of copies I saw in the hands of many many women throughout New York City. (Yes, only women — are you really surprised?)

For reasons I cannot explain, I have an irresistible urge to express said title in a mock-French pronunciation — “a-TONE-mahnd”, instead of the sensibly-English “a-TONE-ment”.

This, despite the fact that the novel has little if anything French about it. Heck, even the French word for “atonement” doesn’t even match (”expiation”). So where this compulsion is coming from, I can’t say.

It’s earned me more than one quizzical look.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/15/2008 08:29:05 PM
Category: Movies, Publishing
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Earlier this week, I pondered whether or not toll-free telephone numbers (i.e., 800, 866, 877, and 888 area codes) were even necessary these days, with the current state of telecommunications. I narrowed it down to two reasons:

1. The issue of “toll calls” is largely irrelevant, as both wireless and landline phone packages generally are structured as unlimited local and long-distance services. So you don’t pay anything extra anyway, no matter where you’re calling.

2. In the case of cellphones with a limited number of monthly minutes, toll-free numbers aren’t even “toll-free” — they eat up the same number of plan minutes as any other call. So for an increasing segment of consumers who use wireless as their only phone, there’s no added benefit/incentive to call that number.

In both cases, the penalty of paying for a call is erased. The very purpose of these special telephone exchanges disappears. So why should businesses even bother getting them, much less touting them?

But there is the marketing-message potential, as illustrated by this appropos number I spied today, on the side of a truck owned by cargo company Delaware Valley Express:

1-800-HAUL-ASS

Once I saw that, I decided: Yes, there is a purpose to the continuation of toll-free telephone numbers. “Haul ass” indeed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/15/2008 08:10:39 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Comedy
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Pop quiz: How many legs does an octopus have?

Wrong! Despite a name that literally means “eight-footed” in Greek, new research into the animal’s behavior reveals a distinct division-of-purpose among those eight tentacles:

Octopuses are reckoned to be the world’s most intelligent invertebrates and are able to use tools with their sucker-covered tentacles.

Helped by more than 2,000 observations by visitors, teams of aquatic specialists carried out a study showing that the creatures seemed to favour their first three pairs of tentacles for grabbing and using objects, Sea Life aquariums said.

“One can assume that the front six tentacles have the function of arms, and that the back two take over the function of legs,” Sea Life biologist Oliver Walenciak said.

Time for a new name, apparently. How about “sea-sucker”?

No telling how this will affect the Detroit Red Wings’ playoff octopus-tossing tradition.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/15/2008 06:59:05 PM
Category: Hockey, Science, Wordsmithing
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