Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

This is a good enough place as any to make a record of this: Today I bought a new pair of in-ear headphones with inline mic, for use with my iPhone. They are, in fact, this V-Moda’s Faze Nero model.

Let’s see how long these babies last. Anything will be an improvement over the set they’re replacing, the Scosche IDR400M. I’ve already trashed those on Amazon, seeing as how they lasted a mere two months before starting to fall apart.

A quick sound test of the Neros on the iPod shows promise — certainly not audiophile quality, but good enough for my purposes. I’m crossing my fingers on the phone mic performance when I try it tomorrow morning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2010 11:51pm
Category: Tech, iPhone, iPod
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hide, seek
It’s not like there’s anything unique about an outdoor advertisement being defaced by a sticker decal. But the cameraphoned example above (Flickr-embiggened here) displays a streak of creativity: Pretty model’s face, already fairly anonymous in a fashion-advertising sense, made even more anonymous by blocking out her eyes. For a slapdash application of street art/promotion, it’s well done.

The quasi-conspiratorial Hidden Friends label definitely adds to the effect. It appears to be a loose artists collective, that may or may not have acquired its name from a common Facebook user setting. Applying the phrase offline heightens the almost oxymoronic meaning…

I snapped this photo near the corner of 42nd Street and Madison Avenue. If it was eyecatching enough to make me pause in my usual mid-day running around, then you know it’s got impact.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2010 10:17am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, New Yorkin', Photography, Social Media Online
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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

If you’re staying at the Vdara resort in Las Vegas, be sure to stock up on triple-digit SPF sunscreen, lest you fall victim to the pool’s “death ray” sun-refracting effect:

Chicago visitor Bill Pintas experienced Vdara’s “death ray” recently… He was sunning on a recliner. He was on his stomach, relaxed, eyes closed. But suddenly, the lawyer became so uncomfortably hot that he leaped up to move. He tried to put on his flip-flop sandals but, inexplicably, they were too hot to touch. So he ran barefoot to the shade.

“I was effectively being cooked,” Pintas said. “I started running as fast as I could without looking like a lunatic.”

Then he smelled an odor, and realized it was coming from his head, where a bit of hair had been scorched. It was about 12:20 p.m., as best Pintas can recall.

Taking brief refuge at the pool’s bar area, Pintas chatted with employees. He said they chuckled when he described what had happened. “Yes, we call it the death ray,” he says they told him. Sometimes it causes disposable drink glasses to melt, a cocktail waitress added.

Apparently the hotel’s curved glass-and-steel facade is the culprit. Somehow, the place hasn’t been sued yet; but I’m sure that’ll happen sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, this being Sin City and all: What’s the over/under on how many tourists get solar-torched in the month of October? I’d like to get a piece of that action.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/29/2010 10:39pm
Category: Science, Society
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It took more than half a century for the television industry to figure out that the ideal programming-development environment takes place in 140 characters or less. That’s the conclusion I’m drawing from CBS, the network that’s already turned one Twitter feed into a sitcom, and is now ready to repeat that improbable Web-to-tube formula:

Last week’s premiere of “$#*! My Dad Says” garnered a respectable 12.5 million viewers, which could be an indication to CBS that Twitter accounts really do make for good TV shows. CBS and [Ashton Kutcher's production company] Katalyst still have to make a successful pilot before “Don’t Tell Steve” becomes part of the CBS comedy line-up; but clearly, if you have a crazy friend, roommate or family member, tweeting about what he or she says is a winner.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense, actually. Hollywood powerbrokers have notoriously short attention spans, so what better vehicle to pitch a concept to these mercurial decision-makers? I don’t think the follower numbers even matter, other than the critical mass they represent to get in front of the right eyeballs. The idea can come from anywhere; the bite-sized channel that is the tweet is just becoming amongst the most convenient. (That’s if this whole developmental scenario isn’t just an elaborate set-up, which I still half-suspect it is.)

So congratulations to @shhdontellsteve, for getting a TV shot off of goofing on a roommate. Hopefully, they’ll cast some recognizable star, ala William Shatner for @shitmydadsays, which probably has more to do with the audience draw than anything else. If not, I can see this twit-trend coming to a halt quickly.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/29/2010 09:22am
Category: Comedy, Social Media Online, TV
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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Back in March, Brooklyn’s infamous Gowanus Canal was declared a Federal EPA Superfund clean-up site. Looking at this video of the waterway in wastewater-waving action, you wonder why that declaration took so long to come:

Yes, that’s the Gowanus literally going up shit creek:

During the Sept. 16 deluge, a tidal wave of untreated raw sewage was unleashed upon the forsaken canal, a river of bile so rich in excrement that the waterway’s usual fluorescent blue was transformed into a deep chocolate brown in roughly 90 seconds…

The “[shit] storm” is a byproduct of the city’s 130-year-old sewer system, which carries both rainwater and wastewater — and dumps raw sewage into the waterway during all heavy rains, when the antiquated system becomes so overburdened that feces-filled water gets diverted away from overwhelmed sewage plants into the canal and other waterways. The system “works” insomuch as it diverts sewage away from treatment plants that are at maximum capacity.

It goes without saying that Gowanus is a crappy neighborhood, rain or shine. Especially rain…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/28/2010 09:25pm
Category: Internet, New Yorkin', Weather
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Tonight, I deleted every single song by The Hives that was on my hard drive/iTunes library (and, by extension, my iPhone and iTouch).

I’m treating this development as a sign of unexpected maturity. Let’s go with that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/28/2010 07:39pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPhone, iPod
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Monday, September 27, 2021

As an admirer of the pithy art of headline writing, I approve of Schmedlines:

Schmedlines is the daily tabloid headline contest. Every weekday (and for one Weekend Edition), we select the most cover-worthy stories so you can write the best, funniest, most perfect headline — and vote for your favorites. During the day, the “Schmedline” with the most votes will be displayed on our homepage and whichever has the most votes at the end of the day will win. As you get more votes or even write a few winners, you’ll rise up the Schmedlines masthead.

The tabloid element is nicely conveyed by site’s logo typeface, which is more than a little reminiscent of the New York Post‘s. Also, by nature of this crowdsourcing free-for-all, the most prevalent story-toppers will be outrageous in nature. Not to mention pun-heavy, which goes with the territory. All in all, a ripe territory for hed games.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/27/2010 09:19pm
Category: Internet, Publishing, Wordsmithing
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I’m usually not one to make sport out of a man’s tragic death. But when it’s the owner of Segway Inc., and his death happened as a result of his personal Segway crashing off a cliff on his English property… Well, it’s hard to resist.

[James "Jimi" Heselden's] body was found late Sunday morning after a passer-by reported seeing a man plummet 30 feet into the River Wharfe, the police said, adding that a “Segway-style vehicle” had also been found…

The two-wheeled Segway personal transporter, which operates on electricity and changes direction according to the way its driver tilts, was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001. Matt Dailida, vice president for government affairs at Segway, said that Mr. Heselden was “a Segway p.t. owner long before he bought the company,” in December 2009.

Irony rides on two wheels, it seems. And a tilt.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/27/2010 08:12pm
Category: Business, Tech
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Sunday, September 26, 2021

spooky circle
Autumn has definitely set in here in the Northeast. As much as I like the summertime heat, I’m grateful for the climactic shift.

I’m also eager for the onset of my favorite holiday, strictly in terms of decor: Halloween. So much so that, time permitting, I’ll start hanging up my ghosts, jack-o’-lanterns and other seasonal decorations this week, a good month before trick-or-treating time. (I used to think such premature displays were tacky, but whatever — by now, I’m accustomed to becoming that which I once despised.)

To further jumpstart the ghouls-and-goblins spirit, I’m re-posting the above photo, purloined from Flickr. I still get a kick out of it, after two years of showing it off. I’ve yet to find a suitable site to recreate this white-sheet ghosts staging — I don’t have a tree available for such a spooky seance. But hopefully, it’ll inspire me to come up with a reasonable facsimile in the space I have to work in.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2010 10:33pm
Category: Creative, Photography
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Saturday, September 25, 2021

During a group church tour I was in earlier this evening, one of the fellow curiosity-seekers identified himself as a Unitarian Universalist.

Which prompted me to think of the old joke about Zen:

Said the Buddhist to the hot dog vendor: “Make me one with everything.”

Following the religiosity-food connection, and given the trademark big-tent approach to theology that accepts Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Paganism and whatever else, I hereby re-frame that joke for Uni-Uni to: “I’ll take one of everything”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2010 07:15pm
Category: Comedy, Society
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b before cLet the pop-cultural record show that Shakira‘s last big hit single was “Loba” (or “She Wolf” in English).

Her new song release is “Loca”, or “Crazy” in translation.

“Loba”, then “Loca”. Was that similarity planned? Then naturally, the alphabetical progression calls for her next release to be entitled “Loda”. Not that that’s a real word in Spanish or English, but a pattern is a pattern. And really, since it’s Shakira, I’ll listen to just about anything she puts out, since it’ll sound good regardless of meaning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2010 11:44am
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture, Women
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Friday, September 24, 2021

I’m detecting a pattern in DirecTV‘s latest television commercials:

Mangled grammar + heavy accents = satellite subscription sales!

Exhibit A is this aptly-nicknamed “Opulence — I Has It” spot:

It seems this silly Russian millionaire with the broken English was the prototype. After that spot debuted, DirecTV applied the same formula to its late-summer-to-fall NFL Sunday Ticket push:

The TV spots, from Deutsch, New York, center on the fact sports fans can enjoy watching their favorite teams no matter where they reside. One ad, “Cheeseheads,” shows a Green Bay Packers fan talking in a Fargo-like accent to a priest on her couch at home… In another ad, a trophy wife from Dallas vents her anger at a local Redskins fan by letting her dog chew up his welcome mat, knock over the flowers and pee on the rug. In still another, a pair of “Masshole” Patriots fans sneer at a local follower of the Dolphins and toss some snow at his door.

Again, all those spots feature characters with exaggerated regional accents: East Texas twangs, Midwestern lilts, New England nasality, etc. It’s a common theme that’s hard to miss.

I can only assume that market research uncovered that distinct speech patterns resonate with prospective customers of higher-end television services. That, or the braintrust at DirecTV likes to make fun of a broad swath of the American population…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/24/2010 04:29pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Thursday, September 23, 2021

While Katy Perry applied the requisite Kidz Bop re-lyricism to her song “Hot N Cold” for a duet with Elmo on “Sesame Street”, she neglected to clean up the rest of her act:

After the clip hit YouTube Monday, Gawker ran a story that called attention to the video and Katy’s look. Parents checking out the video began leaving critical comments like, “Couldn’t she wear something that was more. oh idk. APPROPRIATE” and “I DO NOT want my five year old lookin at [that]!” But, as TMZ notes, Perry wasn’t actually half-naked — her outfit featured a flesh-colored mesh top that went all the way up to her neck, like a figure-skating costume.

Sesame Workshop, the company that produces the show, responded to the controversy this morning by announcing that producers have decided to pull the song from the broadcast version of the program. The clip will remain online at KatyPerry.com, however, so the singer’s more mature fans can watch it.

And here’s that “mature” performance, boobies and all:

As usual, a lot of huffing-puffing outrage from parents who are projecting their own hang-ups onto their children. Although I admit that Perry should have thought twice before donning anything flesh-colored for a children’s television appearance. Or did she think she would be performing with the infamous rogue Elmo from Times Square?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/23/2010 11:25pm
Category: Celebrity, Pop Culture, TV, Women
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So I guess it’s a foregone conclusion that anything you send to an “info@[website.com]” email address will be neither read, nor responded to?

I guess I should know better. I sent a query to such an address a couple of days ago, because I had no other point of contact with the organization. I kept the question short and sweet, figuring that a reply would be a longshot. Sure enough, my deadline for getting an answer is fast approaching, and there’s been radio silence.

At this point in the Web’s development, is there even any point in providing such a generic mailto link? I think most of us presume that it leads to some overstuffed inbox that no one behind the scenes truly owns, and thus is never checked. What’s the point of sending anything into such a black hole? It’s very much a Web 1.0 relic of templated website design and structure.

I say we dispense with the “info@” address, Internet-wide. Unless it’s an email address assigned to an actual person, it doesn’t count. And, since most people don’t manage their inboxes all that well these days either, there’s always the social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, where a corporate communications presence is increasingly expected. The concept of a website-wide “info” blind-box is downright passe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/23/2010 08:33pm
Category: Internet
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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

When CBS decided to turn Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays into a TV show, it decided to go cutesy-ish by subbing “$#*!” for the offending scatological terminology in the original title.

A necessary move, but maybe not the most DVR-optimized one:

It seems DVR designers quite understandably never suspected that a network would launch a TV show that started with the word “$#*!.” There may be a way to find such symbols within the DVR interface, but a casual survey of customers subscribing to a few different video services found nobody who could manage to type the first word of the title.

Which isn’t to suggest DVR users cannot watch the show. Users can browse through the nightly grids until they get to Thursday evening, where the show is clearly listed in all its “$#*!” glory. Or, heck, you can even watch the show live.

It’s amusing that our technological interfaces still can’t accommodate commonplace (if unconventional) input like this. Just when will machine language catch up with freestyling human expression?

Will this scheduling impediment significantly impact the viewership for the William Shatner-helmed comedy? At the very least, it seems that hashtags are out of bounds when tweeting about the latest episode…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/22/2010 10:33pm
Category: Social Media Online, TV, Tech
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Here’s one woman’s vision of where the decade-long plotlines in “Mad Men” are headed:

@amychozick: Hope #MadMen runs ’till at least 1969 when Sally Draper will drop acid, burn her bra and join the Weather Underground. #poorsallydraper

Not bad. But, television being television, and based on the medium’s previous depiction of the advertising industry during the ’60s, I couldn’t help but retort with:

@popstat: nah, by ’69 she’ll learn witchcraft, have a daughter named Tabitha, & Don will be played by a different actor #Bewitched

I think January Jones would make a swell Samantha Stephens. And Jon Hamm can be replaced, Darrin-style, by Neil Patrick Harris. Meanwhile, Roger Sterling gets a pizza named after him

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/21/2010 10:34pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Social Media Online, TV
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Bucking several decades of American infatuation with car culture, Generation Y is not feeling the need for speed:

Motorists aged 21 to 30 now account for 14% of miles driven, down from 21% in 1995.

They’re more apt to ride mass transit to work and use car sharing services — pioneered by Zipcar — for longer trips. And car sharing choices are expanding, with car rental firms moving into the market, making it convenient for young folks to rent with hourly rates and easy insurance.

And I think this is just the beginning of the societal spurning of auto ownership. Remember that today’s teenagers — the next generation up to bat — exhibit even less interest in putting the key in the ignition. The result of this chauffeured upbringing, in my view:

Does this suggest that youngsters are not as car-obsessed as prior generations, and therefore might not be as receptive to the frequent new-car pitches from the auto industry? If so, carmakers might want to start revising their marketing strategies now, to counter a more challenging consumer market a few years from now?

Then again, it’s not like the majority of these deferring drivers can avoid getting behind the wheel indefinitely. They’re going to move out of their helicopter-parent cocoons sooner or later, and outside of New York and a couple of other concentrated urban cores, they’re going to need to drive to survive. So maybe the true longer-term impact will be… Even lousier drivers on the road, given that they’ll have had less experience?

So transportation options and infrastructure could be in for some fundamental shifts over the next decade or two. Until these coddled kids start getting married, and reproducing, and find that it’s far from optimal to herd the kids from bus to rental car on a regular basis…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/21/2010 09:45am
Category: Society
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Monday, September 20, 2021

Unlike the Western stereotype of oversized, physically-imposing bodyguards, China’s nouveau riche prefer personal protection that’s subtler and stealthier:

Chen Yongching, 27, a former military martial arts expert who started his security company, Tianjiao Special Protection, in 2008, said the trend in China is for the bodyguards to be smaller in stature. “If they’re too big, it would be too obvious,” Chen said. “We can get lost in a crowd — you don’t recognize us.”

Chen said about 40 percent of his bodyguards are women. One, Chai Chang, 25, stands just 5 feet and 4 inches tall, and weighs 121 pounds. But she is trained in martial arts and freestyle fighting, and says, “When we practice, I fight two guys, no problem.”

And bodyguards are not permitted to carry firearms in the People’s Republic, so hand-to-hand is all they’ve got. It’s like a Chinese version of the ninja, corporate-tized.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/20/2010 10:19pm
Category: Business, Society, True Crime
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We all joke about getting buzzed off the coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks we chug throughout the day. Maybe we should cut back on that juice, before we wind up killing somebody:

Woody Will Smith, 33, admits to killing his wife in 2009, but claims in pre-trial filings that he was ingesting the pills and caffeinated drinks at the time to stay awake to keep his wife from leaving him, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports…

The Associated Press says a legal strategy involving caffeine intoxication is rare, but was used successfully last year in Washington state to clear a man charged with running down and injuring two people with a car.

Goes to show that you can overdose on just about anything. But can you credibly frame Starbucks and Red Bull as murder weapons?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/20/2010 09:15pm
Category: Food, True Crime
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You don’t have to tell me that nobody pays attention to voicemail anymore — of the dozen messages I left with friends, relatives, and colleagues last week, nary a one has been returned as of this morning.

Going 0-for-12 is a bit extreme. What’s the point of even dialing?

Not that any of them were of critical importance. Still, I wasn’t just shooting the time-stamped breeze; I (foolishly?) was expecting some reply on at least half of them. Even an acknowledgement via alternate channel, like a text or email, would have been acceptable. Instead, zilch.

I’d like to attribute this cellular-radio silence solely to shifting societal mores. But I have a feeling it’s nothing more than a reflection of my low-totem-pole standing in several of these relationships. My communications within these circles seems to be two-way in theory only; good thing that I enjoy the sound of my own voice…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/20/2010 10:27am
Category: Society, iPhone
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Sunday, September 19, 2021

She: I just… think… we’re all overdue… for a reinvention, y’know?
Me: How do you mean?
She: It’s like… cultural, man. Y’know? Like, see that kid with the KISS tshirt?
Me: Yeah?
She: That’s… what I mean… Like, how old… is that, anyway? Like from the ’70s? He’s like 12… where’s… the new stuff, y’know?
Me: So there’s too much old stuff… still in circulation?
She: Yeah… I mean, yeah. Isn’t there?
Me: I agree, actually.
She: It’s… yeah.
Me: I mean, how long can these bands, and movies, and all that, stay relevant?
She: That’s it, man. It’s… Relevant? No… just… time…
Me: Time… for a change? Somehow?
She: Yeah… I mean… you get it, right?
Me: Think so.
She: I’m making sense, right? Seventies, eighties… shouldn’t still be around, right?
Me: No. At least, not as much. I totally get it.
She: Totally… Change, a reinvention… a new… set of… point of reference.

Despite my companion’s spaced-out delivery, what she was saying struck home with me, because I’d been pondering that same sentiment myself, and for a long while. Rather than expound upon it, I’ll let the above exchange stand, as insubstantial as it is. And punctuate it with this Ernest Hemingway quote from “The Sun Also Rises”:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

Because I have a feeling that this is just how this zeitgeist will work itself out.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/19/2010 09:42pm
Category: Pop Culture, Society
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