Is Netflix CEO killing the Golden Goose?

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made a statement this week apologizing for poor communication on the recent pricing changes and announcing the renaming moving of Netflix’s current DVD delivery services to a new, wholly owned subsidiary called Qwikster.

Now, I’m no CEO, and I don’t claim to know everything about business, but I would like to send a couple tips out there to Reed Hastings. Just basic business advice.

1. Keeping existing customers increases profit.

Netflix, lost 1 million customers because they monkeyed with their pricing. Marketing history is FULL of schemes to increase your price without losing customers, and I’m sure reducing value, creating complicated new price schemes and confusing customers with new company names is not at the top of the list. Honestly, Netflix streaming library is pretty weak right now. Seems like it would have been easy to gradually pare it down a little and then come out with a new “premium streaming” package that could be purchased for an upgrade, or maybe add a pay-per-view system for new movies like Amazon is working on. No, instead they chose to upset their customers, remind them what they were paying Netflix each month and lost a million customers.

2. Protect your brand

Brands are important. Ask anyone, read any marketing book, brands are vital to your business. Netflix has a brilliant brand. Red envelopes, dvds, the Netflix name… all brilliant. Why do you think Redbox is Red, because Netflix built such an amazing brand around those envelopes. Now Netflix is throwing the number one brand for DVD rentals out the window and going with Qwikster (a name that they don’t even own on twitter yet) and Netflix will now be known as the lame streaming library that is overpriced and contains only B-movies and TV shows. Not smart. DVD rentals are your bread and butter, why not make Qwikster the new streaming service and leave Netflix alone.

The bottom line is Netflix was making upwards of $50 million every quarter, it will be interesting to see if the management has killed the Golden Goose under the name of staying competitive and moving with the market. Some business models aren’t meant to be viable forever and your best bet is to make hay while the sun shines. Hopefully Netflix hasn’t quit early.

Vaccine dangers

Flu season is coming up and with it some vaccine propaganda is spreading. Just last week, presidential candidate Michelle Bachman was spreading unsubstantiated rumors that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation. Now articles are appearing questioning the flu vaccine and vaccines in general. Take this article entitled, Why Our Family Won’t Be Getting A Flu Shot This Year (Or Any Year). This article has several holes and logical fallacies when making it’s case against vaccines, here is an analysis of a few of them.

Is there evidence the flue vaccine is effective?

Here is a quote from the article

In 2004, The National Vaccine Information Center cited that the vaccines did not actually contain the flu strain that caused most flu outbreaks occurring that year. In that same year, the Lancet published a study showing no correlation between the flu shot and the decreased risk of contracting pneumonia.

This is largely suspect. First, “The National Vaccine Information Center” is another anti-vaccine organization, while they may state that the vaccine doesn’t work, the CDC thinks the flue vaccine is worth promoting, at least to children and senior citizens. Even if you think the CDC is part of some big government conspiracy to spread autism and mental retardation, simple logic would tell you that if the flu vaccines are working they would suppress the spread of the flu strain contained in the vaccine. The fact that another strain is causing the annual outbreaks is really an argument that vaccines DO work.

Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D. has research that shows the damage of vaccines to the brain as well as the toxicity of MSG, Aspertame and Sucralose

There is a retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Russell Blaylock, who is making a living lecturing and promoting the dangers of vaccines, artificial sweeteners, MSG and other random chemicals and food additives. He, appearantly, isn’t actually doing any ‘Research’. At least a Google search could find information on no actual published results of any of his work. There is, on the other hand, published studies of the flu vaccines effectiveness.

The United States began recommending influenza vaccinations for preschoolers in 2006 and for all children 6 months and older in 2008. But Canada did not require preschoolers to be vaccinated until 2010.

The scientists found that after 2006, the rate of emergency room visits for 2- to 4-year-olds was 34 percent lower in Boston than in Montreal.

In fact, there is significant historical evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines. Unicef lists 7 diseases that have been brought under control by use of vaccinations and one, Smallpox, has been eradicated completely saving 5 million lives each year.

Can we believe the scientists?

In a two telling paragraphs near the end of Why Our Family Won’t Be Getting A Flu Shot This Year (Or Any Year) the author really exposes the root of their position on this whole issue.

There isn’t any way you will ever convince me that injecting those things into my body or my child’s body is safe, no matter how many medical studies you produce. It’s important to keep in mind that many of those studies showing favorable results are actually funded by the drug companies and special interests who are pro-vaccine.

When our bodies become too toxic, they attempt to ‘detox’ these substances out. The real cause of influenza is the body’s ability to remove toxins from the foods we eat and from the environment around us.

So the author will cling to their beliefs in spite of medical and scientific evidence? What are the author’s belief’s based on? Research from a medical doctor, Dr. Blaylock? Speculation? Rumor? Conspiracy theories? The idea that vaccine manufacturers are funding studies and promoting vaccine uses is likely untrue since vaccines aren’t made by many companies and are considered a low profit margin product.

Finally, trying to identify the ‘real cause’ of influenza is just ridiculous. There is plenty of research into the origins of influenza and viruses. Viruses have been studied for over 100 years, so to say that the flu is just a product of our diet goes in the face of a century of science and medicine? What’s next? treating disease with leeches?

Vaccines are safe and do serve a purpose. Being conservative or religious does not mean you should deny the results of scientific research and application of the scientific method or take the word of some charlatan who can’t backup his theories with any actual facts.

Watching a dim movie with a 3D Projector

The dying of the light

Driven by a mania to abandon celluloid in favor of digital, increasing numbers of chains are installing 3D-ready digital projectors. As everyone can tell simply by taking off their 3D glasses, the process noticeably reduces the visible light from the screen. I got emails from readers saying the night scenes in “Pirates of the Caribbean” were so dim they were annoying.

Ah, but what if you saw the movie in 2D? As it happens, a lot of people did; Gitesh Pandya of reported: “less than half of the Pirates weekend gross came from 3D screens, with more opting for the 2D version.” He attributes that to moviegoers being “cautious with their dollars.” After the weekend, David Poland of ran the numbers and determined 60% of sales were in 2D and 40% in 3D: “Not only is this a clear rejection of 3D on a major movie, but given how distribution is currently designed, it makes you wonder whether Disney cost themselves a lot of gross by putting their film on too high a percentage of 3D screens.”

So not only are movie theaters charging $10 to watch a movie, but they can’t even be bothered to give a good projection??? Maybe Roger Ebert’s article will prompt some of these theaters to change their policies. I went ahead and sent this to the multiplex here in town, I’ll be interested to see if they respond to my question.

Am I a “Fairweather Fan”?

Today I”m rooting for Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns? Why? One simple reason… they are playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

I”m a CU Buffs Football fan at heart. I have been since my college days back in the early 90”s when one of my good friends played in the Marching Band there. These were the heady days of Bill McCartney, Eric Bienemy and Kordell Stewart. CU was a National Championship contender and consistently competitive. Their nemisis at the time were the Cornhuskers, so along with my love for the Buffaloes, my hatred for Big Red grew.

These days CU is a shadow of it”s former glory. After Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett and now Dan Hawkins the program has continually spiraled downward. Nebraska also has struggled since Coach Osborne left, but they have lately seen a resurgence and are now playing for the Big 12 Conference Championship against Texas. While cheering for CU is tough, cheering against Nebraska is once again fun.

I”ve related all this to ask one simple question. Does this make me a “Fairweather Fan”? Why is it that any time we split our loyalties between one or more team we are accused of being wishy-washy? Where is the rule that says we are only allowed to follow one team based on either our physical proximity to their home field, or based on some arbitrary decision we made as a child?

These accusations seem exceedingly onerous when there is no loyalty from the team to the fans. CU regents just renewed Hawkins contract even though he is easily the worst coach the school has had in 20 years. If we move the discussion to professional sports, modern teams change players and coaches on an annual basis. Not even ownership and location is as consistent as it once was, yet our character is questioned if we adjust our loyalty from time to time.

Give me your thoughts, am I a bad person for jumping on the Longhorn bandwagon, or is cheering for a winner OK once in a while?

Hajnal Ban admits to getting taller

In the bizzarre news story of the week, Austrailian politician Hajnal Ban admits to having leg lengthing sugery.

The 31 year old woman just went public with an admission that she had a surgical procedure to lengthen her legs and increase her height from 5’1″ to 5’4″. The procedure took nine months where Russian doctors broke her legs in four places and lengthened them 1mm every day. She was 23 at the time.

Her reason for completing this procedure? To ‘be more credible’ in her profession. As sad as it is, I’m guessing it has worked for her, and her height has helped her career. This is an interesting trend, and validation, for many kinds of cosmetic surgery these days. Improving your appearance has gone beyond vanity and is making an impact on the workplace. We’ve seen older people get facelifts to get better jobs, now people are being made taller to get better jobs. Individuals can’t be faulted for using every available technique to succeed, but it does make you wonder where it will all end.

Nascar Fans react to fake Obama article

In honor of April Fools, Car and Driver ran an article yesterday that reported President Obama was going to force Chevrolet and Dodge out of Nascar in exchange for a Government bailout. Nascar fans didn’t react well.

“Just when we thought we could take a breather from Barack Obama’s wacky policies, he reached across the Atlantic today to drop another one on us,” wrote Sandra Rose at “Naturally, NASCAR fans are outraged.”

Maybe it’s time for this silly Internet April Fool’s nonsense to end. We all count on these websites for accurate information, but have to sift through these fake stories, not just for one day, but for all of eternity because nothing ever dissappears on the Internet (except for this Car and Driver article). The stories just get more contrived an annoying – how irritating would it be if every newspaper in the country ran fake headlines on April 1st. With traditional media going away and the ‘new media’ becoming the standard, maybe it’s time to act a little more grown up.

Obama Stimulus package in historical terms

The stimulus package that just passed both legislative houses of the government is set at $789bn. This cost, along with previous stimulus packages and the guarantees the government has made to back some financial institutions could bring the total costs of this bailout, in a worst case scenario, to over 9 trillion dollars.

Just to put things in perspective, here is an analysis by Jim Bianco of Bianco Research of what the largest historical US government projects cost in today’s dollars.

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

The New Deal, which was created to get us out of the worst depression this country has experienced and which included the construction of numerous parks, roads, buildings, dams, power plants, airports and other projects which are still in use today would ONLY cost $500 billion today. That’s less than 2/3 of the plan President Obama has managed to push through congress this week, and only a drop in the bucket compared to all the guarantees the government has made.

We can only hope that this money doesn’t go to bonuses, office remodels for CEOs and other perks for the upper class like the last round of bailout money did.

Pro Con – Drugs in Sports

I’ve written before about some of my thoughts on sports, steroids and drugs. To me, it is one of the most bizarre issues of our time. We have the technology (chemistry) to safely make both atheletes and common individuals bigger faster and stronger, but we choose not to use them on some shaky ethical/moral grounds that say it’s wrong to be artificially enhanced, you must be born with all the physical talents you need in line. has a section on drugs in sports that is very educational

Should performance enhancing drugs (such as steroids) be accepted in sports?

This site presents in a simple, nonpartisan pro-con format, responses to the core question “Should performance enhancing drugs (such as steroids) be accepted in sports?”