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Twinkle, twinkle, little scam...

One of the neater traditions in science fiction fandom is authors auctioning off "cameos" in their upcoming works. The high bidder gets to have a character named after them, with the proceeds usually going to some charity. It can be risky, though. Robert Asprin turned his winner into a major supporting character in one of his Myth series novels, but Peter David found the woman who won his auction for his Star Trek: New Frontier series extremely annoying. She ended up as the security chief who called up a Marvel Comics adventure on a holodeck and had her head crushed to a pulp by Thor's hammer (without any names actually mentioned, of course).

I was reminded of this notion with the latest hearing of an ad on the radio for the International Star Registry. They're pushing the incredibly romantic idea of naming a star after someone you love -- a permanent tribute to your devotion.

But I listened carefully, and heard the catch. They promise that your star name will be recorded "in book form with the U.S. Copyright Office."

Essentially, you're shelling out your money for a fancy certificate and a line in a book. And it's not even a book that a lot of people will ever read. All they're committing to is to print a single copy and register it with the government.

And what standing will this have with the rest of the world? Absolutely none whatsoever.

My hat's off to whoever thought up this one. It's brilliant. The first person who signs up will probably cover all the costs in printing that sole copy of the book. The next two or three will cover the certificates. After that, it's all gravy.

So go ahead and buy into this if you like. Just remember -- to you and your beloved that special star up in the sky might be named Pookie Wookums, but to everyone else here on Earth it'll remain Epsilon Aurigae millennia after we've all turned to dust.

J.


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Comments (26)

This has been around for ye... (Below threshold)
Eric:

This has been around for years. It makes "poetry contest" scams look positively generous.

Jay Tea wrote: Bu... (Below threshold)
s9:

Jay Tea wrote: But I listened carefully, and heard the catch. They promise that your star name will be recorded "in book form with the U.S. Copyright Office."

Thank you for bringing this valuable information to my attention.

I am so grateful for this timely piece of important consumer protection news. What would we ever do without the blogosphere to keep those liberals in the MSM from getting away with such evil deceptions? If it hadn't been for this article on Wizbang!, I might have fallen for this scam.

[/sarcasm]

OK, s9, you busted me. I ju... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

OK, s9, you busted me. I just wanted an excuse to use the term "pookie wookums" in a posting. Some times you just shouldn't make certain bets...

J.

Hey, there's one born every... (Below threshold)
LB:

Hey, there's one born every minute, right? Speaking of auctions, some enterprising person (probably a blogger) is selling "easonsfables.com."

See my blog for details.

Who'd want to profit from this mess?....not me. :)

I've often wondered if some... (Below threshold)

I've often wondered if some enterprising (wink, wink) sci-fi author might have his characters visiting some planet called "Shlomo Glickstein Prime" based on its sun's listing in the "International Star Registry."
Hilarity ensues.

This has always screamed "S... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

This has always screamed "SCAM" to me. Sort of reminds me of those letters you get after you have a baby, offering to apply for your child's SS# for a fee of course.

Well, "pookie wookums" is s... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Well, "pookie wookums" is such an evil form of ubercuteness, Jay. You should be ashamed. :)

Reminds me of the annual "W... (Below threshold)
dave:

Reminds me of the annual "Who's Who" book that preys on the egos of clueless professionals who think they are special. You pay to have your name published in this catalog of suckers. I even once had a boss who "proudly" displayed his framed "Who's Who" certificate on his office wall. What a complete asshat, I immediately freshened my resume.

Who was the Myth series cha... (Below threshold)

Who was the Myth series character? The first four of those books were really outstanding.

In the original version of ... (Below threshold)

In the original version of the scam, all they said was that the star name would be "recorded by an agency of the U.S. government". Eventually they were forced to admit it was the copyright office and that it's registered "in book form".

If they're actually getting... (Below threshold)
Lee:

If they're actually getting the star registered by the IAU then fine, otherwise they're pulling a scam. I can name stars all day long, but unless I can get those in charge of cataloging and naming them to go along with me it doesn't mean a thing.

And really, what's the poin... (Below threshold)

And really, what's the point? Unless you can actually fly to the star and do something with it -- since it's YOUR star, essentially -- what's the big deal? I don't understand the appeal -- really.

david,and, once yo... (Below threshold)
leelu:

david,

and, once you get there, will the folks on the star's planets appreciate your claim to their star, based on the document in the U.S> Copyright Office.

Or, will they just cook & eat you??

You should check out the Lu... (Below threshold)

You should check out the Lunar Embassy - www.lunarembassy.com - which actually sells deeds to plots on the moon. It's the brainchild of Dennis Hope and check this out:

"Mr. Hope has been named co-chairman of the Republican Congressional Business Advisory Council. He has also been given the National Republican Leadership Award and most recently he has been issued the highest honor the National Republican Congressional Committee has, the prestigious Republican Gold Medal. "

Though I must say, you couldn't honestly call the Lunar Embassy a "scam" - it's so outrageous that I would just assume that anyone buying a 'deed' is doing it for novelty/humor value.

If it hadn't been for th... (Below threshold)

If it hadn't been for this article on Wizbang!, I might have fallen for this scam.

Anyone else get the feeling s9 was trying to stop payment on the check even as he posted his comment?

McGehee wrote: An... (Below threshold)
s9:

McGehee wrote: Anyone else get the feeling s9 was trying to stop payment on the check even as he posted his comment?

Oh, that would be smart, wouldn't it? I'll have to remember that the next time I decide to send money to some random scam artist who advertises on my local five-minute-hate radio station. Then when the smart people here on the Internets tell me that I'm getting ripped off, I can order a "stop payment" and it will only cost me the fee my bank charges me. That's so much smarter than calling up some boiler room operated out of the Turks and Caicos and giving them the Mastercard number for my debit card over the phone. Wow, thank you Wizbang! You guys are lifesavers!

[/sarcasm]

By the way, everyone, I hav... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

By the way, everyone, I have an official certificate here that says Polaris is now officially known as "s9's Shining Clue." I respectfully request that everyone respect the $54 I just shelled out on this and adjust their star charts accordingly.

I hope you appreciate this gesture, s9. The next time someone tells you to "get a clue," and I suspect that happens a great deal, take them outside that night and point at the North Star. Then you can tell them with pride that you have a clue -- Jay Tea of Wizbang! bought you that one, right there.

J.

Jeffrey, it was Edvick, the... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Jeffrey, it was Edvick, the Pervish cabbie, from Myth-nomers and Im-pervections. Edvick even explained it all to Skeeve at one point. It's been done dozens of times (I think Anne McCaffrey has named dragonriders after fans), but those were the first two concrete examples I could think of.

J.

I can't believe I forgot to... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier...

I wonder if Joss Whedon was thinking of this when he had this little dialogue between Spike and Drusilla in the episode "Innocence:"

Drusilla: I'm naming all the stars.
Spike: You can't see the stars, love. That's the ceiling. Also, it's day.
Drusilla: I can see them. But I've named them all the same name. And there's terrible confusion.

(For the non-Buffy fans: Spike and Drusilla are vampires. Spike loves her, and she's insane. This is a wonderful glimpse into her "reality.")

J.

Dr. Phil Plaitt has been go... (Below threshold)
JT:

Dr. Phil Plaitt has been going on about this for some time; he wrote about the International Star Registry's little scam in his book [b]Bad Astronomy[/b] some years ago. He and other astronomers have had the bad fortune of people asking to "see their star" at observatories (some of the most heartwrenching stories involve relatives wanting to look at "their dead son's/daughter's/mother's" star). I highly recommend his site, www.badastronomy.com.

Clive Cussler wrote himself... (Below threshold)

Clive Cussler wrote himself, name and all, into one of his Dirk Pitt novels. That almost made me swear off reading Cussler. How could he take advantage of himself like that?

:-)

Cussler's done that in his ... (Below threshold)

Cussler's done that in his last 6 or 7 novels, if I'm not mistaken. It drives me absolutely insane, as it completely shatters the suspension of disbelief. Some folks think it's "cute" though. Idjits.

As for the star registry, that makes me quite angry. Angry that I didn't dream it up first! They're laughing all the way to the bank, and have been for 25+ years now.

I'm fairly certain that the... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I'm fairly certain that the IAU doesn't officially recognize any names for stars; they are known only by catalog numbers. (Although there are about 200 "common names" for prominent stars that are widely used by amateur astronomers. Ironically, quite a few of these names originated in pre-Islamic Arabia.) There are officially recognized names for solar system features such as moons of the gas-giant planets, features on our Moon, features on Mars, etc. There are standards for what kinds of names can be used for each category (for example, geographical features of Venus are all named after women), and the IAU has to approve them.

The joker in the deck is the minor planets (asteroids). The person who discovers a new minor planet is allowed to name it absolotely anything they want. Thus, minor planet 8217 is named "Dominikhasek", minor planet 3168 is named "Lomnicky Stit", and minor planet 3834 is named "Zappafrank".

I have one, Jay, named afte... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

I have one, Jay, named after my mother. It's a beautiful framed piece. I can go to any star-gazer place, they punch in the numbers and I will be able to see my mother's star.

It was given to me on her birthday the year after she died. I must have cried for hours I was so touched and of course, I had to show everyone.

I think it's really cool and I still thank the friend that gave it to me.

Cindy

My sister and I gave one to... (Below threshold)

My sister and I gave one to my mom years ago. We all know it isn't really "registered" anywhere, but it's the thought that counts. And the certificate they send you actually is rather nice.

hey ppl... (Below threshold)
jon:

hey ppl




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