Friday, February 27, 2009

Firefly fans - activate!

To me, fellow Brownshirts!

NASA is naming Node 3 of the International Space Station, and the agency has opened the options up for a vote. So what's one of the possible names for this piece of space-faring hardware?


I think you know what this means, so get crackin' Firefly fans. When I went to the NASA site Serenity already had 86 percent of the vote, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't cast your own ballot. Do you really want to be the one keeping Serenity from reaching space? Do you?!?

(What?! Two posts in one day? Four in a month?!? I know, right?)

Death of a newspaper


I don't necessarily advocate for the death of newspapers — though I do think they have failed to adapt and evolve, and are victims of natural selection and hubris. But it saddens me to see papers slowly dying, especially when I hear a newspaper like the Rocky Mountain News is shutting down.

I haven't kept up with The Rocky for a while, but at one point it was one of the best small newspapers in the nation. Unfortunately, with all the things negatively affecting the industry right now, The Rocky may be one of the first fatal victims of the current newspaper crisis. Worst of all, I don't think they'll be the last.

As I've told other people, I think journalism — vital and necessary — will survive; I have my doubts about newspapers.

It's a hard thing to admit. In a lot of ways, I still think of myself as a journalist, even though it's been years since I've worked at a newspaper. Many of my friends continue to work at a paper, and I'm sincerely worried about them. But do I think papers deserve to survive? That's the hardest question, and my answer is a solid, "I don't know."

Papers can survive, but only if they recreate themselves to the point they're almost not newspapers anymore, not in the traditional sense. Newspapers, essentially, haven't changed much since movable type. It's time for newspapers to reinvent themselves.

You can read more reactions to the death of the Rocky Mountain News at Editor & Publisher, the Washington Post and Poynter, which goes the extra mile by offering the staff of The Rocky a helping hand. As an interesting sidebar, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a story yesterday about the value of newspapers and the idea of Seattle as a "no-newspaper town." It's a painful, but necessary, concept to consider; otherwise, newspapers will just be continuing to bail water out of a ship that's already sunk.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Heinz sours on famous pickle logo

Pickle news!

The H.J. Heinz Co., famous for its 57 varieties and various picnic condiments, decided last month to yank the famous gherkin logo from its bottles of ketchup.

What do you mean, "What famous gherkin logo?"

For the last 110 years, Heinz products have featured a tiny image of a pickle on its labels, hearkening back to the second — and arguably, most famous — condiment the company made (horseradish was the first, but who wants to look at a bowl of horseradish?). But now, Heinz is replacing the gherkin on its ketchup bottles with a tomato and the phrase, "Grown, not made."

I have no problems with tomatoes in general, but there's something to be said for tradition. And what bugs me most is the idea that a tomato is supposed to somehow translate to "organic" AND that marketers think we need a picture to remind us of what's actually in a bottle of ketchup.


I'm not going to become suddenly confused when, while squirting the red stuff on my hot dog (not a euphemism), I see a pickle on the bottle. "Oh, no!" I'll cry, "Somehow this condiment that even two year old children recognize has transformed into a bottle of pickle sauce. How could this be? Oh, why didn't I see that pickle warning label sooner?!"

Bah. Do you realize the gherkin was synonymous with Heinz at one time? Some folks know this and have launched a no doubt doomed-to-failure Facebook push to save the pickle. It's a nice thought (and at least they're doing something about it), but I doubt Heinz will backtrack. Pickle-haters.

I'm not really upset that the logo is changing — it'll still be on other products — but what bothers me is just the dumbness behind it. Once upon a time, the company used to hand out little "pickle pins" to people so that when they saw a pickle, they'd think of Heinz. Now when I see a tomato on their ketchup labels, I'll be thinking of who to throw one at.

(And yes, I also wanted to use the phrase, "yank the famous gherkin.")

Friday, February 06, 2009

Phrase of the day

From a conversation with Lopez: