Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, June 23, 2021

I must be completely punch-drunk tonight, if all it takes is a tweet request for me to post the above picture. That would be me, wearing my festive purple pimpwear fedora, a leftover relic from a years-ago masquerade party. I had a more-or-less complete suit to go along with it, but that’s long gone now.

Note the accessory fuzzy dice hanging off the side. I added that touch myself. I must have lucked upon them, because they obviously match well with the hat’s leopard-skin trim. Believe me, the partygoers appreciated my attention to sartorial detail.

Bigger photo on Flickr, although the quality is only fair, thanks to my cameraphone’s limitations. Pimpin’ may be easy, but spur-of-the-moment photography sure ain’t.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/23/2009 11:20:29 PM
Category: Fashion, Photography
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I realize there’s a certain level of silliness in the chambers of all fifty State capitols, but I daresay that New York has taken the cake with today’s partisan-defined competing Senate proceedings:

At times, the simultaneous proceedings grew heated. When Mr. Winner banged his gavel and called a Democrat, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, out of order for standing and speaking to a colleague, she whipped around in fury. The Democratic leader had already said the chamber was standing “at ease,” or on a break.

“Don’t you dare tell me I’m out of order,” Ms. Hassell-Thompson, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County and with a tall, wide-shouldered frame is one of the more imposing figures in the Democratic conference, shouted at Mr. Winner, several times.

“Easy, Ruth,” a Democratic colleague called out.

At the same time, Mr. Skelos was trying to speak from the Senate floor, but Kevin S. Parker, a hot-tempered Brooklyn Democrat who is under indictment on charges that he attacked a newspaper photographer, stood up, faced Mr. Skelos and began talking loudly while keeping an eye on Mr. Skelos.

Mr. Skelos had been complaining that the Senate’s staff would not provide them with the bill “jackets” — the official bills used to conduct Senate business.

“If they were actually in charge, they would have the bill jackets,” Mr. Parker bellowed while Republicans tried to silence him. “We’re at ease!”

All this, after a veritable parliamentary coup two weeks ago. Banana republic all the way.

I’m purposely keeping my commentary on all this in check, mainly because the absurdity of it all says it better than I ever could (and I’m one helluva writer, if you haven’t noticed). I also recognize that any frustration/outrage I express is largely just wasted breath. As tempting as it is to “toss the rascals out” (in the parlance of a century ago), the problem with tackling a legislative body is that constituents stick by their individual State Senator despite deploring the Senate as a whole. Ultimately, practically everyone guilty of this current nonsense will keep their jobs, and nothing substantial will change.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/23/2009 09:09:42 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Politics
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The party’s over for many a freebie-addicted blogger as the Federal Trade Commission plans to include blogs under its consumer-oversight aegis:

Mandatory disclosures could change how reviews are perceived online because many Internet users might never imagine that bloggers get compensation.

“I don’t think, for the average reader of a blog, it immediately comes to mind that they actually have a relationship with the company,” said Sam Bayard, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “You think about (blogs) as personal, informal, off the cuff and coming from the heart — unfiltered, uncensored and unplanned.”

This is the heart of it. You can spin the practices any number of ways, from firms encouraging “sponsored conversations” to the formalization of “word of mouth” marketing, but it all boils down to the same dynamic, to wit:

Readers perceive blogs to be first-person journals, and thus assign a certain level of personal trust to them that they withhold from recognizable commercial messaging. Advertisers covet the opportunity to penetrate this trust field with their sales pitches, because they feel the message will be more effective coming from this more-intimate voice.

There are plenty of caveats: A blog is really a format more than a medium, corporate and media blogs aren’t necessary regarded the same way as personal journals, certain campaigns work better than others via this method, etc. But basically, marketing via third-party bloggers involves co-opting a less-formal media channel and disguising the formal commercial arrangement from the audience.

There’s a lot of hemming and hawing about just how the FTC is going to implement its proposed enforcement over a blogosphere of billions. Obviously, it’s only got to worry about the U.S.-based bloggers, and even then, will rely on direct consumer complaints versus specific sites. Ultimately, it won’t bother to probe obvious splogs and hole-in-the-wall blogspot outlets; the blogs with recognizable traffic and reach will be the ones to watch.

I view this development with full acknowledgment that I’ve dipped my toe into this product-shilling. I’ve never been offered three thousand bucks for a glowing post, but I’ve agreed to free footballs and energy drinks, among other trinkets. I’ve always disclosed the arrangement with the advertiser, both because it was always stipulated and because I wouldn’t do it otherwise even if asked.

But in a sense, each individual post on this blog, or any other (for that matter) exists in a vacuum — an explicit disclaimer on a “bought” page doesn’t cover another page where some commercial product may be featured, even in a less-than-flattering light. In some ways, any mention is suspect, because of the precedent established by PayPerPost and other blatant content-hijackers. When the field’s already not level, an overarching policing agency — even if it is the FTC — will help to reset the table, with an assumption of transparency.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/23/2009 11:15:37 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Politics, Society
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