Thursday, February 1, 2007

Numba One in the 'Hood, G

<voice type="30s-newsreel">
The east coast is seized in fear as invaders from the moon are discovered throughout the city of Boston! Massive mobilization of policemen and firemen causes havoc for everyday Bostonians! The city is shut down with highways and waterways cut off! Wicked scary! Two men are held accountable as a mayor promises swift retribution!
</voice>

*sigh*

The '30s newsreel tone seemed appropriate since this seems like a rehashing of Orson Welles' old War of the Worlds radio play. Except for the three-week delayed reaction... (plus the fact that these guys are "Mooninites" from the moon rather than Mars ;-)

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla marketing idea was neat, and I'd think it was cool if I saw one of the little signs somewhere. Unfortunately, guerilla marketing is of limited value, since it tends to use inside jokes to sell to people who already know about something, or it simply attempts to grab headlines. I think of the blimp that was floating around downtown Minneapolis a year or two ago with an obscure message. It turned out to be advertising the launch of an evening newscast on KMSP channel 9. Whee... How exciting...

There are regulations about various types of advertising, and this probably violated something. As for the terrorism bent to the story, the Boston officials just need to accept the fact that they overreacted. They want someone to pay for their mistake. Sure, the company that was doing the marketing should probably get fined for illegal placement of advertising materials, but I don't think the two employees who they put in jail should take most of the blame.

I'll have to count the number of times that this gets called a "bomb hoax" in the media from this point on, since that's not what it is. Actually, there'd been another campaign in the Los Angeles area for Mission: Impossible III last year which was much closer to being a bomb hoax, with electronic devices being placed inside newspaper stands which had microswitches linked to the box's door. It was meant to play the Mission: Impossible theme when the newspaper box was opened. The bomb squad got called out and did a controlled explosion on one of them.

But hidden black boxes with microswitches is one thing. Flashing Lite-Brite panels with a character easily identifiable to anyone who has cable TV and the occasional case of insomnia is something different.

The marketing folks should have notified the city of the boxes before they went up, but they didn't (well, at least I haven't heard that they did). Of course, it's 90% likely the city would either deny the request to put them up, or the marketers would have to wade through nine months of red tape to do it. I'm sure most people who saw them figured they were advertising gimmicks or discarded toys. I can't blame the person who eventually called it in, since it would definitely look weird to some people. Heck, it's a cartoon giving the middle finger—not something that a Boston urbanite should be surprised to see, considering graffiti and all, but I can understand the worry.

However, the reactions of city officials once the call got placed into the 911 operator and worked its way up the chain just caused things to go haywire. Someone should have been able to defuse the human side of the equation before the bomb squad got called in.

Posted by mike at 02:17 PM | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Are You Threatening Me?

RRR! I'm annoyed at the way the Aqua Teen story in Boston has been getting reported over the last few days. Most of the reporting is leaning heavily in favor of the authorities, which is really annoying. There's usually a token blurb of someone saying "the city overreacted," but then that gets shouted down by the rest of the article with three or five references to officials saying otherwise. I want to go on a rant about the "mainstream media," but you've heard that all before...

Of course, it doesn't help that Turner is kowtowing to the city by promising to make some sort of payment. Sure, maybe give the city $10–25k as a token gesture—something that would cover the initial police response—but a million bucks? Come on! The police figured out that the boxes were harmless by early afternoon, but the city kept going on its witch hunt for hours after that.

Well, the legal case against the guys who put up the signs is pretty weak, so hopefully the case will get laughed out of court if the charges don't get dropped outright.

Posted by mike at 05:27 PM | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Columbo

One last thing:

Banned in Boston.

Huh, never knew about that.

Posted by mike at 05:34 PM | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

PCB

The Retahded

Posted by mike at 09:03 PM | Movies , Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Lasers

Dr. EvilTwo Million Dollars!

Did anyone else have an image of Dr. Evil, that other villain to have a moon base, pop into their minds when they read that? I did. It's a gross overpayment: $1 million to reimburse cities for the activities of police and other agencies last Wednesday, and another million in "goodwill funds" for emergency preparedness.

You've got to be kidding me.

The Massachusetts Attorney General is still negotiating with lawyers for Peter Berdovksy and Sean Stevens. But really, when you get two and a half times the cost of the response back into your coffers, the guys should really be getting off scott-free with clean records.

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Bzzzt

An unanticipated benefit of having faux-leather covering on the seats in my car is that I hardly ever have to deal with static electricity discharges when I get out of it. Well, either that or the heating elements in the seat provide some grounding to keep the static charges in balance... Anyway, I've never really been a fan of leather(-like) seating, but if it really prevents static buildup, I'll probably end up opting for it in future cars that I own.

Posted by mike at 02:36 PM | Car , Weather | Comments (0)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Abbr

"Refrigerator" has no 'd.' Somehow the 'd' appears when we abbreviate that as "fridge." However, we have a sec^H^H^Hadministrative assistant at work who has, more than once, abbreviated it as "frig." Now, that looks silly, but I'm not sure exactly how wrong it is. "Frige" doesn't look right either, does it?

Ah, the wonders of the English language.

Posted by mike at 05:44 PM | Work | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

So Close and Yet So Far

I stood out in the cold, but fortunately above-zero, weather last night to catch two simultaneous Iridium flares. Iridium flares by themselves are pretty common, but it looks fairly unusual that there'd be two of them they'd have this brightness (magnitude -8), be positioned so close together in the sky, and reach maximum intensity at exactly the same second. Most double-flares that people catch occur within larger windows of time.

Here are two versions of my photo, darkened to different levels (I had the aperture too wide):
img_3726-1img_3726-2

Posted by mike at 08:57 AM | Photography | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

All Good Things...

I think some of the writers for Psych on USA Network must have been some Star Trek fans. The most recent episode featured a character named Deanna Sirtis. In Next Generation, Deanna Troi was played by Marina Sirtis...

Posted by mike at 09:50 PM | TV | Comments (0)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Celebridad

Gah. I went to school with this guy. Well, no, it wasn't really school—it was a summer program for high school sophomores and juniors at the University of Minnesota in 1996. Jawed Karim—he's one of the founders of YouTube.

Posted by mike at 11:08 AM | Internet | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Numismatics

Here's a factoid about the new presidential "golden dollar" coins that are being introduced now. Since the late 19th century, all coins have had "liberty" stamped on them somewhere. However, when I was looking at the coin, all I saw was "e pluribus unum" and "in God we trust" (interestingly, this is stamped along the outer edge of the coin, like the rippled edge of a quarter). I was rather disappointed when I didn't see the word "liberty" anywhere. They're making an exception for this one, since the obverse side is an image of the Statue of Liberty, they decided not to include the word.

Anyway, I was only paying attention since the presence of the word "liberty" on U.S. coinage was the subject of a Trivial Pursuit question a while back when I was visiting my parents' place...

Posted by mike at 03:13 PM | Money | Comments (0)