Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, November 09, 2021

Quite a big to-do in New York over Mayor Bloomberg’s scheme to impose a 6-cent fee on each plastic bag used for transactions in retail stores.

Since the intent is to reduce non-biodegradable materials in the City’s ecosystem, a better strategy would be to hit local shoppers where they really hurt: Not in the wallet, but on the clock:

If the mayor really wants to stop people from using plastic bags, he might consider requiring that the [in-store] transaction [in requesting plastic bags] take a few minutes longer. New Yorkers have gotten used to wasting money, but they’ll never put up with wasting time. Especially if you’re standing in front of them, wasting theirs.

And it wouldn’t have to be a lot of extra time in line — mere seconds, just enough to get a heavy dose of withering looks. Folks will wise up real quick.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/09/2021 11:15:27 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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beat the system
A couple of nights ago, veteran forward Mark Parrish made his 2008-09 National Hockey League debut in a big way: By notching a hat trick to power the Dallas Stars 5-2 over the Anaheim Ducks.

This offensive outburst came from a player who had been unsigned to start the season, and had scant practice time with his brand-new team before seeing game action. You could call it a fluke — except that this sort of thing happens a lot in the NHL. A couple of past examples:

- Yanic Perreault, after going unsigned to start the 2006-07 season, hooked up with the Phoenix Coyotes at the end of October of that year, and proceeded to lead his new team in scoring into midseason.

- Bryan Berard, cut loose by the Bruins after the 2002-03 campaign, signs with Chicago in a month into the following season, and sure enough, scores a game-winning goal in his Blackhawks debut.

There are plenty of similar examples over the past decade or so, of both free agents and traded players going to a new team and making immediate impacts, despite joining the roster “cold”, i.e. with no time to adjust to teammates or coaching gameplans. Just as surely, after a game or two of this exceptional play, those same players tend to settle in to their new surroundings, and not repeat their splashy debuts.

So what gives? If anything, you’d think the fish-out-of-water experience would result in a new player being near-invisible on the ice. Instead, the opposite happens.

I’m wondering just how much the team-first coaching systems, that are so standard around the league, are to blame for restricting individual gameplay. When the existing roster is drilled into reading and reacting within preset parameters, what they do at gametime is often predictable. Throw in a new player who isn’t integrated into that system yet, and you have an x-factor who suddenly is more effective than teammates who are more experienced in the gameplan — until that new player is, likewise, integrated into the coach’s system, and is virtually suppressed into conformity.

The other strong possibility is that the opposing teams simply don’t have enough time to prepare against this new wrinkle in their opponents, and so are caught flat-footed. But that again points to an inflexibility of a team’s gameplay system to account for an on-ice x-factor.

I don’t mean to sound too harsh. I don’t engage in knee-jerk trashing of hockey coaches, because frankly, I know I don’t know enough about the mechanics of the game to credibly critique their work. But when performances like Parrish’s crop up every so often, I really can’t think of many other good reasons why.

So do NHL coaches go overboard with system play, getting so conservative with their line combinations and defensive strategies that they constrict gameplay overall? It’s standard operating procedure for coaches in all sports to push the lowest-risk approach for winning games, and that’s generally the defense-first philosophy. But is it extremely so in hockey, where the players’ natural game-changing talents are unduly held in check?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/09/2021 05:30:59 PM
Category: Hockey
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branching out
It’s a tad late for Halloween, but it’s still autumn. So this whimsical photo of hand-clasped yard-ghosts eerily encircling a tree (does it contain one of their spirit-pals?) is still in-season.

I like it so much that I’ll have to replicate it myself next Halloween. Might be tricky to find a tree, much less an appropriate patch of land, so I’ll have to improvise for the surroundings.

This picture cuts off the seance-tree’s upper branches, so I can’t tell if a tree-o’-lantern is perched above. There certainly ought to be.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/09/2021 01:07:37 PM
Category: Creative, Photography
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