Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Friday, December 31, 2020

One of my favorite self-deprecating quips goes like this: My dirtiest little secret is that, beneath my cynical exterior, I’m actually an optimist.

That’s probably why, despite my typical disregard for making any sort of New Year’s resolutions, I like the idea of their inherent failure rate as a ritual in positivity:

In The Age of Anxiety, WH Auden observed that we human beings can never become something without pretending to be it first. In other words, our resolutions are not failed acts of the will, but successful acts of the imagination…

That’s why our resolutions, even at their most delusional, strike me as the best possible way to start a new year. They bring us back in contact with all the phantom versions of ourselves, those reverse ghosts that haunt our future, waiting to be embodied. Just as other forms of wrongness as optimism propel us out of bed the morning after a wasted day, our annual resolutions propel us into a new year, hopeful all over again that we will be better people in the days to come. Here’s to that, and to 2011 — the year I write my novel, run a marathon, and open an artisanal goat-cheese farm.

I’m still opting out of today’s year-end declarations. But I’m all over using assumed wrongness as the launching pad for unexpected success — a subversive approach toward achieving your goals. If that’s not a dirty little secret for kicking off a happy new year, I don’t know what is.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2010 04:40pm
Category: General
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Maybe it’s a sign of my geographic self-centeredness, but I can’t look at today’s abbreviation “NYE” and not mentally process the first two letters as “New York”.

It might have something to do with that big-ass New Year’s Eve party they’re having in Times Square. Not that I’m attending it tonight, what with the crush of excessive crowds and the preponderance of post-blizzard street slush.

I guess I’m associating a universal event too closely with a local venue. Then again, why not? It’s more plausible to link the holiday with swingin’ Manhattan than, say, “North Yakima Eve”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2010 11:14am
Category: New Yorkin', Weather
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Thursday, December 30, 2020

While there’s no shortage of Nigeria-based web domains ending in the standard “.com.ng”, the present shortlink-craving environment is prompting the imminent availability of branding-friendly .ng top-level domains from the African country.

Whilst it will be great for companies within the country to advertise shorter domains and work with an easy suffix, the real value is going to come from internet startups and established internet services that which to turn their company names into verbs.

Oo Nwoye, a Nigerian entrepreneur, spotted the domain registration, proposing that companies like Facebook and Google will move quickly to register domains like Googli.ng and Facebooki.ng.

Good to know that the registration land-rush will predictably proceed. I’m sure that the established Nigerian association with the Internet won’t dissuade anyone from signing up for the online verbi-dot-ng…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/30/2010 10:36pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, True Crime
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don't forget toAmongst the pearls of wisdom dropped in this list of “What Men Think (words to live by)” is this revelation:

You can never fix us. If we’re douches, we’re staying that way. You are not going to be the one. Save yourself some heartache. Not going to happen. And the bigger the douche, the better we are at manipulating people because we need to manipulate people cos we’re a douche.

Actually, not much of a revelation, if you’re at all acquainted with douchebaggery. But someone should clue in all those hot chicks with douchebags.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/30/2010 09:21pm
Category: Society, Women
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Wednesday, December 29, 2020

If you’re a Christine O’Donnell fan, you could characterize new allegations that she misused her Delaware Senatorial campaign funds for personal expenses as a political witch-hunt.

But of course, you wouldn’t. Because as the former candidate insisted, she’s most definitely not a witch:

No, she’s definitely not a witch, then. Therefore, she can’t be the target of a witch-hunt. A vast conspiracy, on the other hand?

“We’ve been warned by multiple high-ranking Democrat insiders that the Delaware Democrat and Republican political establishment is jointly planning to pull out all the stops to ensure I would never again upset the apple cart,” O’Donnell said Wednesday in a statement after the Associated Press first reported the FBI and Justice Department were in the early phases of an investigation.

“Specifically they told me the plan was to crush me with investigations, lawsuits and false accusations so that my political reputation would become so toxic no one would ever get behind me. I was warned by numerous sources that the (Delaware) political establishment is going to use every resource available to them,” she said in the statement.

Quite a bit of toil and trouble for this Tea Party stalwart. Makes you wonder just what type of tea O’Donnell is brewing these days…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/29/2010 08:57pm
Category: Politics, True Crime
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pond-eringI knew that if I hung around Bryant Park long enough today, I would find something worth photographing.

This little snowman was an impromptu urban creation, built atop the piled-up snow drifts that surround The Pond ice-skating rink. His eyes are nothing but concentrated street-grime, his mouth a random ground-twig, and his arms a couple of drinking straws. The crowning touch, though — and what really prompted me to take the picture — is that green scarf, emblazoned with “BRYANT PARK” and actually a scrap of plastic caution tape left over from the hazard barricades for the park’s icy walkways. Truly a city snowman. And at least one good thing to come out of all this blizzard-snow.

Assuming he hasn’t already been cleared away, I think the Park should adopt this little guy as their seasonal mascot. Beats those green chairs! The crowds definitely took to him, as I saw bunches of people posing for a picture.

Speaking of which, the bigger Flickrized version of my cameraphone photo really shows off this snowman’s rinkside stature.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/29/2010 07:58pm
Category: New Yorkin', Photography, Weather
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Tuesday, December 28, 2020

While New York seethes under a blanket of mostly-unplowed snow, in southside Boston cleared curbside parking brings a bizarre sideshow of placeholder objects:

Mrs. Simon, a Southie native, said the most “awesome” space saver she had seen was a table set for two, complete with a bottle of wine. Mrs. Maguire said her weirdest sighting was a toilet — “I can’t imagine the person moving it every time they park,” she said — and Kevin Carroll, who marks his space with an orange cone, said his strangest sighting was “one of those old TVs in the wooden cabinets.”

Space savers spotted Tuesday included a tripod, several containers of kitty litter, a stroller, a cat scratching post, an air purifier and a laundry basket full of folded clothes. None, though, rivaled the bust of Elvis Presley that someone used in 2009.

Quite the territorial hassle. Although probably less work than the proverbial task of parking your car in nearby Harvard Yard, which requires filling out multiple forms.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/28/2010 09:38pm
Category: Society, Weather
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Monday, December 27, 2020

hi chai
If you’re strolling through some random Chinese city and you come across this stylish graffiti, it means that the building attached to it is about to be knocked down, as part of a hyper-urbanization drive.

I’m sure the chai symbol is commonplace in Chinese, but it’s certainly exotic-looking to me, especially as street art. That’s what makes this photo stand out for me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/27/2010 10:46pm
Category: Business, Photography
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lawsuit in a can
Dan hates spam, so much so that he’s made a going concern out of suing the spammers:

From San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, [Daniel] Balsam, based in San Francisco, has filed many lawsuits, including dozens before he graduated law school in 2008, against e-mail marketers he says violate anti-spamming laws.

His many victories are mere rain drops in the ocean considering that Cisco Systems Inc. estimates that there are 200 billion spam messages circulating a day, accounting for 90 percent of all e-mail.

Still, Balsam settles enough lawsuits and collects enough from judgments to make a living. He has racked up well in excess of $1 million in court judgments and lawsuit settlements with companies accused of sending illegal spam.

In a sense, this is email spam begetting litigious spam, in that Balsam’s suits are essentially court-clogging maneuvers, regardless of merit. Plus, consider that the spambots are generating revenue not only for their parent spam-scammers, but also, indirectly, for Balsam. Amid all that irony is, perhaps, a new business model for online commerce…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/27/2010 08:39am
Category: Internet, True Crime
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Sunday, December 26, 2020

flakey weather
Mother Nature couldn’t let this year bow out without hitting the Northeast with a bona fide blizzard. As I type, the flakes are blowing past my window vertically, signifying the gusty winds that are accompanying the season’s first real snow.

If the predictions hold and we see a foot of snow tomorrow, I’m well-prepared to hole up for the next two days. The only thing I’m really concerned about is any disruption to the utilities, particularly the cable/Internet connection. I went through an extended wintry-walloped communications blackout last year, and have no desire to experience a repeat. (And there’s only so much I can do via my iPhone, assuming AT&T’s 3G network even weathers the storm.)

Regardless, I think it’s fitting that this seasonal disruption should come precisely in the annual dead-zone between Christmas and New Year’s. I think it’s generally acknowledged that it’s pretty much impossible to get anything significant accomplished between December 26th and December 31st, with everyone taking time off and generally in drain-the-calendar mode. Now, the elements are joining in to squash any hopes of year-end productivity. So be it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/26/2010 02:43pm
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Weather
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Argentina is far from the only country to experience political and economic instability over the years. So there must be some other reason for the ingrained national obsession with psychoanalysis:

Buenos Aires is one of the world centres of psychoanalysis and has been since the earliest days of Freud’s work.

Unlike in many countries, where psychoanalysis was, and remains, a psychology for the rich, the practice took off in Argentina during the 1960s to the point where is is common for everyday folk to see an analyst. The Wall Street Journal cites a recent survey suggesting that 32% of Argentinians have seen an analyst at some point in their lives.

Indeed, there are more psychologists per capita in this South American country than anywhere else in the world. One big reason for that seems to be some doubling-up on therapy:

Meanwhile, on TV, a drama series called “Tratame Bien,” (“Treat Me Well”), focuses on the travails of José and Sofia, a husband and wife, each of whom has an analyst. Facing midlife crises, the two make a momentous decision: retaining a third analyst they can see together for couples’ therapy.

Argentine psychosis is obviously big business. They’re practically begging to be the backdrop for the next Woody Allen movie.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/26/2010 01:04pm
Category: Movies, Science, Society
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Saturday, December 25, 2020

As you tear open your gift-wrapped goodies this Christmas Day, be aware that, as part of the deal, the jolly gentleman who delivered them is trading on your wish list:

Sharing is one of the joys of Christmas. For this reason, we share your personal information with our affiliates, non-affiliated third parties, and anyone else who has a legitimate financial stake in a successful holiday season. Mrs. Claus also likes to have a look-see.

Our affiliates include partners of Santa’s Workshop who are actively involved in making Christmas happen. They include toy-making elves, flying reindeer, and Jesus. Non-affiliated third parties might include the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Hanukkah Harry.

Hopefully this identity-securing is stringent enough to pass muster with California’s privacy laws.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/25/2010 10:41am
Category: Business, Comedy
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Friday, December 24, 2021

It’s gone from a flickery 7-minute film loop in 1966 to high-defintion upgrade in 2004. So the next logical step for WPIX Channel 11′s traditional Yule Log is an on-demand 3-D TV rendition.

It’s ultimately underwhelming, actually:

When viewed properly, the 3-D yule log is quite good, the flames vivid but not quite as alarmingly feverish as those in the WPIX yule log in HD. It’s a cozy fire, not a conflagration. The background music, which can be muted, is an inoffensive offering of standards, from a jazz trio rendition of “O Tannenbaum” to a full orchestral version of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.”

After a while the yule log in 3-D is quite hypnotic. Until, of course, you turn to say as much to the person next to you and discover that you are both wearing dark glasses indoors, and then the spell is broken.

Some things are so inherently kitschy that they resist technological amplification. Leave the Yule Log to burn in its old flat-display glory…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/24/2010 01:47pm
Category: New Yorkin', TV
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

To my dismay, I unintentionally used the IM/texting slang “IOW” not once, but twice in one day:

@popstat: IOW, like every other day for most of us RT @ElanaRoth: I’m working today, but so in vacation mode. But I also like money, so…toss up.

@popstat: IOW get a blog RT @tombiro: Pro tip: 99% of people aren’t reading your tweets consecutively. they’re not really threaded. just sayin’

Obviously, I had to resort to the abbreviation, as “in other words” never would have fit into Twitter‘s 140-character limit. Still, looking back on both tweets, that three-lettered opener seems to give my comments even more snark than they already carried. Such are the perils of social media communiques.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2010 10:59pm
Category: Social Media Online, Wordsmithing
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

leggo my logo
Just to be clear: It’s okay to toss hats, and even 23,000 teddy bears, onto the ice in hockey arenas. But waffles are a no-no, at least in Toronto:

A 31-year-old man charged with mischief after throwing waffles on the ice at a Toronto Maple Leafs game says he did it out of frustration at the underperforming team.

“I’m just a normal Leafs fan and love them to death,” Joseph Robb of Oakville, Ont., said Wednesday in an interview…

His love affair will be from a distance, however, after being barred from the Air Canada Centre, as well as other Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment events at BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum. Further punishment could follow from a January court appearance.

I’m wondering if the raw, frozen waffles are really an optimal rink-projectile. After all, studies have shown that Detroit’s famed NHL octopus-tossing works better when the cephalopod is first boiled, for a better bounce. Follow that learned Red Wings expertise and toast those Eggos before you fling them, Leafs Nation!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/22/2010 10:50pm
Category: Food, Hockey, True Crime
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I’m no hoops fan, but I appreciate a good in-game catchphrase as much as anyone.

To wit: Declaring a 3-point shot attempt as “shooting from international waters”.

I like it. Gives the trey-line, and everything beyond it, a proper remoteness. Along with a loose anything-goes undercurrent

A good switch-up from the old Marv Albert standard “from way-down-town!” declaration of this longshot. The maritime analogy probably has been in use for both NBA and college coverage for a long while. But again, since I don’t follow the hardcourt, it’s new to me. And a happy discovery.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/22/2010 05:17pm
Category: Basketball, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Because old-fashioned electronic mail doesn’t support the Texting Generation’s “social intensity”, online communication is structurally streamlining:

[Facebook] is rolling out a revamped messaging service that is intended to feel less like e-mail and more like texting.

The company decided to eliminate the subject line on messages after its research showed that it was most commonly left blank or used for an uninformative “hi” or “yo.”

Facebook also killed the “cc” and “bcc” lines. And hitting the enter key can immediately fire off the message, à la instant messaging, instead of creating a new paragraph. The changes, company executives say, leave behind time-consuming formalities that separate users from what they crave: instant conversation.

“The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual,” said Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook, where he oversees communications tools. “The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.”

“More casual” is the key. It’s important to remember that the users here are interested exclusively in one-time instant communication — no one is looking through IM archives for a message to reference back to. Email is suited for information that you might want to preserve, so the formal trappings of that medium make sense there. But for chatting within social networking and mobile contexts? It’s overkill. Naturally, users want to bypass that.

But speaking of overkill, why dismantle email strictly to accommodate chit-chat behavior? The inbox still has “official” utility, and that shouldn’t be impacted by preferences in the social media sphere. I’d think there’s room for both channels.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/21/2010 10:56pm
Category: Social Media Online, Society
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If you’ve ever pondered how superheroics and supervillainy would translate into real-world collateral damage, Law and the Multiverse provides legalese as applied to the comic-book context:

The answers are dry, technical and funny in their earnestness. The Second Amendment, [co-blogger James] Daily suggested, would protect many powers, but “at least some superpowers would qualify as dangerous or unusual weapons (e.g., Cyclops’ optic blasts, Havok’s plasma blasts)” that are “well beyond the power of weapons allowed even by permit.” Those super-duper powers would be tightly regulated, if not banned outright.

Then there’s this jurisprudential nugget: When Batman, the DC Comics hero, nabs crooks, is the evidence gathered against the bad guys admissible in court? Not if he is working so closely with Commissioner Gordon that his feats fall under the “state actor” doctrine, in which a person is deemed to be acting on behalf of government and thus is subject to the restrictions on government power. In fact, he might be courting a lawsuit claiming violations of civil rights from those who were nabbed.

Leave it to a couple of blawging lawyers to suck all the fun out of superpowered mayhem. On the other hand, it’s good to know that supervillain-insurance residual pools would keep a lid on premium payments.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/21/2010 10:33pm
Category: Bloggin', Creative, Pop Culture, True Crime
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Monday, December 20, 2021

Why would it suck to be a superhero? Because there’s always going to be more bad guys than good guys.

Think about it. Marvel and DC publish monthly comic titles starring individual superhero characters. While the lead character holds sway from issue to issue, s/he needs different opponents to tangle with each month. In no time at all, that rogues gallery adds up, and you’ve got a gross imbalance between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Periodical publishing is the ultimate aberrant force, it seems!

You’d think the supervillains would figure this out, band together, and overtake all the Batmans, Supermans, and X-Mens of the world. The numerical advantage is clearly theirs, after all. I guess that lack of organizational coordination is why they keep getting foiled…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/20/2010 11:31pm
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing
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So, fingerless gloves — the winter accessory that, in our handheld-device age, has finally met its functional purpose:

Fingerless gloves are nothing new (hello, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie). They were a style staple of rebellious ’80s pop stars and have come back on the hands of Taylor Momsen, Rihanna and tons of teens and twentysomethings for whom texting, tweeting and typing is a full-time job no matter what the climate.

And yet, I have a couple of problems with this handwear:

- It evokes a homeless-junkie look to me. That’s the group I most closely associate with these half-gloves, basically as improvised tear-wear.

- The fingers are the part of the hand that get the coldest when exposed to freezing temperatures. So what’s the point in covering up your palms? You’re still going to feel the chilly numbness.

Because of those two strikes against, I don’t see donning a pair of these, even with my constant keyboard-typing and touchscreen-tapping. Not that I’m not tempted, with some of the drafty locales I’ve had to endure lately.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/20/2010 09:16pm
Category: Fashion, Society, Tech, Weather
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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Recent Boston-based films like The Fighter and The Town — and even The Social Network — have featured female characters cut from the same unflattering cloth:

Why must the celluloid version of Massachusetts’ blue-collar babes be so harsh?

Not every woman in Lowell gets into a punching match on their front porch. Or drops the F-bomb from her second-story window within earshot of unsuspecting neighbors. They’re not all Parliament-sucking hos with bleachy, frizzed-out hair and baby-daddies doing six months at MCI Shirley.

But it seems each time I fork over $9.50 for a ticket at AMC Loews Boston Common, I’m being sold another sleazy, stupid Boston Area Broad.

Disparaging portrayals of the Bay State are more of a New York tradition, versus Hollywood. But the movies in question are Oscar-level material, so perhaps there’s a typical Los Angeles-style mixed-message dissing going on here: General acclaim, accompanied by a backhanded swipe to the local womanhood.

The other part of this trend I’ve noticed: These Southie characters are desirable vehicles for glam-girl actresses to change type. In the aforementioned movies, Amy Adams and Blake Lively each donned pretty-but-tough personas, letting the hairspray and curse-words fly in an attempt to “show range” in their acting abilities. It’s a convenient shorthand for expanding career options, but doesn’t particularly come off as convincing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/19/2010 07:37pm
Category: Movies, Society, Women
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