Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, November 16, 2021

The rapid depletion of fish populations across the oceans and seas, as a result of increasing human demand worldwide, is somewhat old news. Still, I’m surprised by the United States’ contribution to this seafood feeding-frenzy:

Global consumption of fish, both wild and farm raised, has doubled since 1973, and 90 percent of this increase has come in developing countries. (You’ll sometimes hear that Americans are now eating more seafood, but that reflects population growth; per capita consumption has remained stable here for 20 years.)

The result of this demand for wild fish, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, is that “the maximum wild-capture fisheries potential from the world’s oceans has probably been reached.”

One study, in 2006, concluded that if current fishing practices continue, the world’s major commercial stocks will collapse by 2048.

I don’t doubt that per capita figure. Anecdotally, it seems like Americans don’t eat much fish, as compared to the tonnage of beef, chicken, and pork they down. I always figured that if people in this country were to really start gorging on the fish entrees, to the same degree that they scarf up other meats, aquatic extinction would be near-complete within a couple of years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/16/2008 11:18:24 PM
Category: Food, Science, Society
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It’s rare enough to make it worth noting: Today’s Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals game ended 13-13, making it the first NFL tie since 2002.

Dealing with a draw seems to have befuddled the Philly braintrust:

“I didn’t know that,” said [Eagles quarterback Donovan] McNabb, who played a leading role in keeping it tied. “I’ve never been part of a tie. I never even knew it was in the rule book. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately with the rules, we settled with a tie.”…

“I’ve never been in a tie, so I don’t know how this works in the standings,” coach Andy Reid said. “I know it’s not good enough. We need wins, and this is not a win.”

No it’s not, coach. But more importantly, it’s not a loss. So staying with that theme of satisfaction-deficit, let me console you with these words from college football analyst Lee Corso, uttered during the days when the NCAA still had ties:

“Let me tell you something — if a tie is like kissing your sister, then a loss is like kissing your brother!”

If you just have to choose a sibling, that is.

In any case, no danger of a rash of tied games hitting the National Football League anytime soon. Today’s tilt was the 16th tie result since the league instituted sudden-death overtime in 1974 — do the math against the total number of football games played during that stretch, and the percentage for the less-than-satisfying detentes is tiny. It’s not bound to spike now.

Although if it does, the league’s Competition Committee has been ready to strike for years now. Just as long as they don’t do the predictably stupid thing and institute the dreaded Kansas tiebreaker:

Teams flip a coin, and the winner usually chooses defense, then both teams start 25 yards from the end zone and attempt to score. The next team gets its crack at it, and as long as they keep matching scores (or nonscores) the playoff continues.

I mean, if they opt for a glorified scrimmage to decide games, they might as well go NHL-style and do a gridiron version of the shootout: QB + wideout versus LB + CB for several rounds of chuck-and-ducks downfield…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/16/2008 08:46:20 PM
Category: Football, Hockey
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Above, you see the four designs imprinted upon the 21-ounces worth of M&M’s that I ordered a couple of weeks back, and which constitute my main contribution to my family Thanksgiving gathering this year. I couldn’t resist injecting some holiday-appropriate humor with the taglines of “GOBBLE GOBBLE” and “JIVE TURKEY” (what can I say, I was born during the ’70s…).

How did I come by these customized candies? As I obliquely mentioned recently, my mother and I have gotten into a bit of minor sniping over what I should prepare for the celebration, which will be taking place at her house and include a good crowd of extended family. The main argument is that my mom doesn’t think I can actually cook anything, so she’s been doing what she can to dissuade me from making anything at all.

Arguing with my mother over nonsense like this isn’t high on my list of entertainment. Just as we were starting to heat up the bickering, my good blogging buddy Tara, of When Tara Met Blog, dropped me a line. She offered me up a gift certificate that would cover an order of three 7-ounce bags of M&M’s, via the M&M/Mars online shop. Her day job is to provide public relations for such high-profile products, so naturally, this offer had strings attached: I had to blog about the experience, including placing my order using the new photo/image custom-candy printing process, as well as playing with The Candy Lab promotional site.

Tall order. But for free chocolate, I could swing it.

First things first: The Candy Lab is a Flash-heavy site featuring familiar cartoon pitchmen Red and Yellow. They’re playing mad scientists, using Frankenstein-like lab equipment to form virtual M&M’s with people’s faces on them. Those faces are then animated and enabled to sing snippets of 80’s pop classics Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” or Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”.

The interactive bit comes with the ability to upload your own images (faces, logos, whatever) onto an online M&M. It works well enough, even having you set the unique facial feature-points to make the lip-syncing on the image look more realistic. It’s not exactly true-to-life — definitely a creepy Disney animatronics vibe to those blinking eyes! — but fun enough.

The purpose of this online tinkering, of course, is to lead you to the checkout line, i.e. a melt-in-your-mouth, not-in-your-hand version of your self-designed candy!

That wasn’t exactly the path I took. But I was on a Thanksgiving-related mission, so after I tracked down a couple of appropriate images (the above wacky turkey and hunting pilgrim), I set about building my order.

The step-by-step was seamless enough. The options offered are reasonable, although somewhat limited. I wanted to order a seasonal blend of shell colors, but found that I couldn’t order black or brown because they weren’t suitable for the custom printing. So I had to limit myself to yellow, gold, and orange M&M’s. Also, you’re limited to two separate images, along with two separate text taglines. Fair enough, although I would have definitely taken more if it had been available.

The text is straightforward enough to submit, with just a font selection if you care (I didn’t). The images uploaded in mere seconds, and a built-in resize/cropping utility lets you make sure the pic is properly centered and such. All of this took under a minute to complete. From there, a preview look was generated, showing the familiar “m” on the tri-colored flip side of each custom print. After that it was on to the ordering process.

The waiting, as with any mail-order product, was always the hardest part. As you’d guess, the special-order artwork means you aren’t going to get these shipped out to you overnight. It took about a week for the M&M artistes to put the order together and send it. I was, indeed, checking the UPS tracking site every day for progress…

But they did arrive this weekend. They looked good! Granted, I went with drawings versus actual photo-images, so I’m thinking this was somewhat easier to pull off. Photos should look good as well, although you’re not going to get pristine reproductions. Not that it should matter — these aren’t heirlooms that are being produced. After everyone oohs and ahhs over the M&M’d likeness of the guest of honor, said likeness will be chewed up and dissolved into stomach acid — rightly so!

So, I’m glad I’ve got my stash of Thanksgiving Day sweetness. Thanks to Tara for hooking me up. I figure the little kids in attendance will get a kick out of them, if no one else. I’m also hoping they complement my stab at Festivus-flavored ice cream, of course.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/16/2008 02:58:09 PM
Category: Creative, Food, Internet
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They called it a day nearly 40 years ago, but The Beatles have a deep vault from which to mine fresh material. The latest unearthed gem: “Carnival of Light”, a funky 14-minute free-form piece from 1967 that Paul McCartney hopes to release into the wild, finally:

The band played the recording for an audience just once, at an electronic music festival in London. It reportedly includes distorted guitar, organ sounds, gargling and shouts of “Barcelona!” and “Are you all right?” from McCartney and John Lennon.

McCartney said during a recording session at Abbey Road studios he asked the other members of the band to “just wander round all of the stuff and bang it, shout, play it. It doesn’t need to make any sense.”…

McCartney, usually regarded as the most melodically minded Beatle, told the BBC he had a long-standing interest in avant-garde music. He said Carnival of Light was inspired by experimental composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Whether or not this gets out is up in the air; apparently the other band members (and their estates) have vetoed its release before. In fact, I’m guessing McCartney’s announcement via the media is his way to put public pressure upon the other Beatles interests to accede to his wishes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/16/2008 01:24:30 PM
Category: History, Pop Culture
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