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March 2009


Star Trek Fragrances

From Trek Spring Collection Preview: First Look At Genki Star Trek Fragrances

Genki Wear, known for its licensed science fiction jewelry and perfumes, has produced what might be the most unusual Star Trek product ever: Star Trek colognes and perfume based on the original 1960s television show.

One of the three fragrances is Tiberius:
gw_tiberius_t.jpg.jpegIf we’re all basement dwelling loners like the Sci Fi channel thinks we are, will these scents ever be smelled in public?

Uncategorized ‘Battlestar Galactica’ at the UN ‘Battlestar Galactica’ at the UN

Fantasy and reality will collide Tuesday night at the United Nations, as writers and actors from the Sci Fi Channel’s hit “Battlestar Galactica” meet UN representatives to discuss issues such as human rights, children and armed conflict, and terrorism. Also on the agenda: dialogue among different civilizations and faiths. The meeting happens just days before the two-hour final episode of the show airs Friday.

“Traditionally, sci-fi has always been an opportunity to look at the human condition, and then extrapolate out. Science fiction has always held up a mirror to society and to humanity, and has asked tough questions about where are we going, and whether we’re going in the right direction, and that’s the nature of Battlestar Galactica,” Howe said.

I think the last paragraph is what makes science fiction shows great.  It’s not the space ships or battles, but a different way to look at human drama.  To explore conflicts in a way that’s not possible when using contemporary characters.

Uncategorized The Case for Paying Out Bonuses at A.I.G.

From The Case for Paying Out Bonuses at A.I.G.

As much as we might want to void those A.I.G. pay contracts, Pearl Meyer, a compensation consultant at Steven Hall & Partners, says it would put American business on a worse slippery slope than it already is. Business agreements of other companies that have taken taxpayer money might fall into question. Even companies that have not turned to Washington might seize the opportunity to break inconvenient contracts.

If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be “breaking a bond,” Ms. Meyer says. “They are raising a whole new question about the trust and commitment organizations have to their employees.” (The auto industry unions are facing a similar issue — but the big difference is that there is a negotiation; no one is unilaterally tearing up contracts.)

These employees would have caused the bankruptcy of A.I.G. which would have broken all their contracts.  The only reason A.I.G. is not bankrupt is because of the enormous sum of taxpayer money that has been used to prop A.I.G. up.  So, what do we get out of it?  Business as usual

We have to save them to save ourselves.  How many times will we have to hear this?  In the mean time, the employees that caused this may walk away with millions.

Perhaps a controlled bankruptcy backed by the U.S. government wouldn’t have been so bad.

Uncategorized Sci Fi Channel Aims to Shed Geeky Image With New Name

From Sci Fi Channel Aims to Shed Geeky Image With New Name

Sci Fi is coming off the best year in its history. In primetime it ranked 13th in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks in 2008. It’s a top-10 network in both adults 18 to 49 (up 4%) and adults 25 to 54 (up 6%).

During its fourth-quarter earnings call, parent General Electric said Sci Fi racked up a double-digit increase in operating earnings despite the beginnings of the recession.

So Sci Fi’s been having it’s best year, so what do we do?  Let’s alienate and make fun of the base!

Nevertheless, there was always a sneaking suspicion that the name was holding the network back.

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.

If you put it like this, it doesn’t sound like an appealing demographic, but “double digit increase in operating earnings” can’t be all bad.  Perhaps in this

“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi,” Mr. Brooks said. “It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”

Syfy.  WTF?

So, exactly how is “Syfy” better?

“It gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have,” he said.

All I want to know is if that means that more or less of those disaster of the week movies.  This week it’s gigantic flying bugs.  Run! Aaaaaah! 

The network worked with the branding consultancy Landor Associates and went through about 300 possibilities before selecting Syfy.

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it,” Mr. Howe said. “It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.”

I’d love to see that list of 300 other possibilities.  Maybe, “GeeksRus” or “Low budget Sci Fi Channel”?

I can’t believe that they hired a brand consultancy and ended up with “Syfy”.  If you pronounce it exactly the same as “Sci Fi” then what’s the point?

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe they’ll pronounce it like Fifi- “See fee” with a little pink toy poodle logo!  That’ll attract the female demographic.

The problem with the SciFi channel is not its name, but the fact that that very rarely produced good science fiction.  And when they did have a good show like Battlestar Galactica, they messed around with the schedule so much that it killed the momentum of the show.  They also failed to develop other shows that would interest their core audience.  A show like Josh Whedon’s Firefly or even his new creation, Dollhouse would be better shows for SciFi than what will be left after Battlestar Galactica ends its run on Friday.  And now, apparently they’ve decided to forsake their core audience and seek the “general public” and “female” audience.  Guess what, the target demographic they desire will seek shows they want to see and it’s not going to be the Syfy channel.

In these days with hundreds of cable channels, targeting a specific underserved market should be the strategy to go to.  Not to run from.  

Science fiction is a great genre in that issues that affect the human condition can be dramatized in a way that help us see issues in a different way.  You can show discrimination, religion, mortality, and other ideas in a way without the same old rhetoric that you get when you discuss these things in real life.

Uncategorized A.I.G. Planning $165 Million in Bonuses After Huge Bailout A.I.G. Planning $165 Million in Bonuses After Huge Bailout

The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to 400 executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

Word of the bonuses last week stirred such deep consternation inside the Obama administration that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them.

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.

I’m not too impressed with A.I.G’s “best and brightest”.  Why do these people still have jobs?

Bankruptcy would have taken care of these contracts, but the government could not let A.I.G go bankrupt because of the effect on the financial system.  But, by saving A.I.G., the government has saved the contracts that now reward the ones that created the losses.

Uncategorized 750,000 tickets for Jackson concerts sell in 4 hours 750,000 tickets for Jackson concerts sell in 4 hours

Tickets for Michael Jackson’s 50 “final curtain call” concerts in London sold out in little over four hours Friday.

The tickets went on sale at 7 a.m., with fans queuing since Wednesday. They were limited to four tickets per household at a cost of up to $105 for general admission. VIP tickets cost up to $1,100. Around 750,000 were sold.

Would Michael Jackson have sold out 50 concerts in a U.S. city in 4 hours?  I have a hard time believing that there’s that kind of interest for him here.

Uncategorized 10 Drink Windshield Wiper Fluid at Ark. Day Care

From 10 Drink Windshield Wiper Fluid at Ark. Day Care

Ten children drank windshield wiper fluid after a staffer at an Arkansas day care mistakenly put the liquid in a refrigerator and served it, hospital officials said Friday.

The toxicologist warned that many antifreeze or windshield wiper solutions have bright colors, which can be mistaken for fruit drinks.

”I think the take-home message is not to have these products in the kitchen or where you’re doing any kind of food preparation,” she said.

Maybe another lesson is not to serve children brightly colored artificial drinks.  As a related note, I noticed at the grocery store that they still sell “Little Hugs“- the little artificially flavored and colored drinks in a tiny plastic barrel.

Here’s a PDF of the nutritional content of  a Little Hug drink.

Basically, it’s 80 calories, 60mg of sodium and 20g of sugar. No other nutritional value.  But, hey it’s not poisonous!


Buy Made in the USA signs

I’ve seen this exact Buy Made in the USA signs in 3 different places around town.  I wonder who put these up?  They’ve been up for about a month already.