Mega Giveaway versus Giant Contest!

By Phil Plait | January 6, 2011 12:00 pm

[UPDATE: We have a megawinner! @kurtjmac had the inning tweet, and the swag is on its way to him now. Thanks to everyone for joining in, and as always, stay tuned for more giveaways like this one. I still have a ton of stuff lying around.]

At the top of this year I had to do two things: replace my Mac laptop, which is so old the operating system is called Sabre Tooth (baddaBING!), which in turn meant rearranging my office as well (to make room for all the joyous new cables). While performing this archaeological dig I unearthed a lot of really cool stuff lying around in boxes and bags, plus a lot of what can only be called random crap, so I figure the sweat of my brow is your good fortune: I’m giving it away.

That’s right! I’m having Yet Another Bad Astronomy Giveaway contest, and this time it’ll be on Twitter. What am I including? This:

[Click to sharktopusenate.]

This is truly an awesome load of geekiness. To wit:

  • A SyFy tote bag from Comic Con last year that says "GIANT BACK PACK" on one side and "MEGA TOTE" on the other. Yes.
  • A copy of George Hrab’s CD "Trebuchet" (it has a track on it narrated by Yours Truly), signed by him and me.
  • A pre-production signed copy of my book Death from the Skies!, because why not?
  • A very cool 2011 desk calendar "The Year in Space", with tons of great pictures; that would normally run you $12 plus shipping. It’s published with cooperation by the wonderful Planetary Society.
  • A copy of (the sadly now-defunct) Geek Monthly magazine that has an article about me, and another about Wil Wheaton — signed by both of us.
  • A copy of Skeptical Inquirer with an article I wrote about star naming schemes.
  • A bunch of stickers, including one signed by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak.
  • Two anaglyph glasses (one red/blue, the other red/green) so you can see stuff posted in glorious 3D.
  • The SkepStick, a flash drive given away at the first TAM London, with cool skeptical documents on it.
  • A bunch of other stuff, including an NOAO four port USB hub, a plushy cosmic microwave background, some buttons, some postcards, a deck of Amazon cards I picked up at a conference, an origami flying pig folded by Aussie skeptic Richard Saunders, and more.

Phew! So, how do you win this megastuff? There are some rules, so avast:

0) This contest is free. Also, in case of error or such, I reserve the right to change the rules slightly as needed.

1) This contest will be held on Twitter. Leaving comments here will not enter you in the contest. So yeah, you need a Twitter account to win, but it’s easy and free to get one.

2) On Thursday, January 6 at noon Mountain time (19:00 UT), I posted a tweet that says:

Bad Astronomy Megagiveaway: book, magazines, cool swag. RT to enter. Rules: #BASwag

The #BASwag hashtag is critical! See #4 below.

3) To enter the contest, you must retweet that tweet.

4) All retweets must be posted before Friday, January 7, 2011 at noon Mountain time. Yup, just 24 hours. After that time, I’ll pick two random numbers, and then search Twitter for all instances of the hashtag #BASwag. The first random number will be the search page result (using 100 results per page), and the second will be the number of the retweet on the page (1 – 100). That person will then win the swag! Note: Twitter searches run a limit of 1500, which I doubt I’ll reach, but if I do then only those 1500 retweets available to the search engine will be eligible to win. If that sounds unfair, complain to Twitter in 140 characters or fewer.

I will notify the winner via Twitter, who will have until Saturday, January 8, 2011 at noon Mountain time to respond. If I don’t get a response, I’ll pick another random retweeter, who will have until Sunday at noon, and so on.

The winner will then send me their postal address so I can send them the loot.

5) Anyone on Earth is eligible, except (to be fair) for people who know me in real life. I’ll leave that up to you to decide if you count or not. People who know me can certainly retweet it, but they cannot win the megaswag. Those retweets will count in the random numbers I pick (in other words, if @TheAaronDouglas retweets it, I won’t give him the prize, but his RT will be counted in the search results). Please don’t retweet it more than once. That’s an airlock-blowing-out-of.

Them’s the rules, so go forth and tweetiply!


Comments (55)

  1. Alyssa

    I see something with The Doctor on it! I must win!! 😀

  2. Charlie Young

    Cables? You replaced your notebook with a monster Mac Pro? I didn’t know there were many cables for a new notebook. They run almost anything without a wire to connect it anymore, even printers.

  3. The Mad LOLScientist

    I’m gonna win… I just know it… my horoscope said so today… =^..^=

  4. Jean Russell

    What about all of us who are allergic to Twitter?

  5. Paul from VA

    Totally off topic, but the pole shift conspiracy theorists seem to be back with a vengeance. Hadn’t heard anything from them in years (I first found BadAstronomy when searching for info on the infamous Nancy Lieder back in 2000) but then saw it come up twice in the past week in completely unrelated corners of the internet.

  6. NAW

    Again, I lose due to being a Tweetaphobe. Good luck to the rest of you.

    @ Paul from VA:
    It may be due to the current bird and fish deaths as of late.

  7. Peter Eldergill

    I’ve no use for twitter so it’s too bad for me I guess

  8. Robin

    Please, no more twiticated contests. Can’t we just do ’em here like civilized folk? I untwitified months ago when I dewebicated my phone. Just making normal voice calls is…liberating.

  9. shawmutt

    Glad I’m not the only one sitting this one out, maybe next time. No twitder for me!

  10. Joseph G

    For Spaghetti Monster’s sake, Phil, is Twitter paying you to recruit people to their site?
    The goodies look so tempting, but my irrational* hatred of Twitter stays my hand.

    *I don’t think it’s irrational, but others seem to disagree. I still think the past tense of “Tweet” should be “twat”.

  11. Joseph G

    @#5 Paul from VA: I guess it’s not surprising – the last time the pole-shift wingnuts were out in force was just prior to the Millenium. I’ll bet now they’re all riled up about 2012. Someone will probably find another date to be afraid of after that. Maybe 2022. It has three twos. Three times 2 is 6! 666!!!!
    Or maybe it has to be February 22, 2022? My Masonic Conspiracy Math isn’t very good.

  12. John Sandlin

    These contests seem to be the only reason I ever tweet.


  13. Off Colfax

    @#10: And the plural of Twitters should be “twits”.

    And yes, I do have a Twitter account. @offcolfax. So I can talk smack about myself as much as I want, TYVM,

  14. Jeremy H

    @#11 Joseph G

    Similarly, I’ve always thought that the term for “one who tweets” should be “twit.”

  15. Nadia

    @ 13. Same here.

    There are only two entries from me on my Twitter account. Both are rewteets for these contests. I’ve never logged on in between.

  16. Carlos

    Geekylicious! Also, after retweeting the tweet I tweeted a new tweet… now I’ll try to say that 10 times, hehe.


  17. I wonder if there are any giant back packs in that random crap? hmmmm

  18. Kevin

    I gave up on Twitter last summer. Too much of a time sink. Just like Facebook, which I quit last week.

    I give leave to someone else to Tweet in my stead. Good luck to whomever partakes.

  19. Monkey

    Twitter…..meh. Are we still doing that?

  20. Happy Camper

    Twitter isn’t worth the sweat off my ______ (fill in the blank).

  21. Trebuchet

    Sorry, I’m another Twitter illiterate. Iltwitterate? Whatever.

    Regardless, that Hrab CD needs to go to me, for obvious reasons.

  22. Monkey

    Please please please add in your new Mac…I just bought a boat and I need an anchor for it.

  23. Monkey

    Ever notice how people state they “bought a new computer” when it is a PC, but when one of the flock buys a Mac, they need to specify as such?

    I bought a new watch vs. I bought a new rolex.
    I bought a new car vs. I bought a new mercedes

    People with an image to keep, I guess.

  24. Monkey– please read my commenting policy, linked in the sidebar. I’m giving away free stuff, and paying for shipping out of my own pocket, but you come here to make fun of how I’m doing it, and my computer to boot. That qualifies as being subject to the policy.

    And for those of you who don’t like Twitter, then that’s fine by me. But mocking it here where I talk about how I like it, and how I’m using it to give away stuff is pretty rude.

  25. QuietDesperation


    Lighten up, dude. It’s been “Mac ” and “PC” for 20 years. It doesn’t mean anything.

    Seriously, *two* separate Mac bash posts? Did Jobs kill your cat or something? Is Ars Technica down so you wandered over here?

    And most people specify what exactly car they bought.

  26. Joseph G

    Apologies, Phil – I didn’t know you liked Twitter. I just thought you were using it for your contests because… well, I don’t know what I thought, exactly. Because it’s easy to randomize your winner, I guess?

    @QuietDesperation: Besides, Mac-bashing is so passe. Particularly now that they use PC/Intel hardware and have an OS based on Unix.
    Now Steve Jobs and his iPhones, on the other hand — now those are fun to mock! 😀
    /Full disclosure: I have a rooted Android phone and I love it. I’m also endlessly amused at Jobs’ “if you like porn, buy an Android device” comments. Thanks for the tip, Steve 😀

  27. Joseph G

    Quiet Desperation: And most people specify what exactly car they bought.

    What car they bought, yes, but c’mon – we’ve all met that guy, you know, the one who never just accidentally leaves his sunglasses in his car, no, it’s “I left my Oakleys in my Mercedes SLK R170.”

  28. I almost deleted my comment, because I don’t want to sound mean-spirited. But since there’s been a reply to it, I’ll leave it up, and amend it here: my point is that it’s very common on the net to leave contrary comments just to be a wet blanket. I’ve seen it countless times on my blog and elsewhere. I’m all for a good argument, or a spirited discussion on the merits of something, even if it’s just a matter of taste and opinion (Trek vs. Star Wars? You’re on!)

    But to come in and say, “That thing you like? It’s stupid”… Well, that’s just impolite, and I can hope that here, at least, on this blog, we can be better than that. I know I can’t control everything and everyone, nor do I want to. But my one and only rule in the commenting policy is “Don’t be a jerk.” And honestly, is that so hard?

  29. And Joseph G (28) I appreciate that, and I took your Twitter comment in the joking spirit intended, I think. I’m not surprised some people would prefer I run these contests a different way — but the past two were done through comments on the blog, which causes server issues, and through email, which was a pain. Twitter is the easiest way, and since I have 76,000+ followers now it makes sense to do it that way.

    And yes, I like Twitter. I have friends on it with whom I keep in contact; I follow a lot of very funny people; and it’s an excellent place for me to make my own jokes and observations without worrying about it being too short for a blog post. In fact, I find it hones my humor because there cannot be wasted characters. It’s similar to Ficly that way.

    As to the bigger picture, I’ll be happy to take constructive suggestions about these contests and about anything else, to be honest. But the impulse for some people to whine or display the faux-jaded cynicism I can do without.

    P.S. The only reason I specifically mentioned my Mac was to make the Sabre Tooth joke. That’s it.

  30. Monkey

    People…I realize that the tone of voice doesnt come through in typeface very well, but relaxed I am. To quote Yoda. I think. I knew it would boil blood, and I guess to me its a harmless little bit of banter (in fact the boat anchor idea was presented to me in terms of “when you are done with your PC can I have it for my boat…”). It was in jest, and I apologize if it hit a nerve. No wet blanket, no anti-“the stuff you like” intention. Just poking around with some, perhaps, failing wit.

    But to be given a threat-down because I made fun of your computer….its just a plastic box with wires, man. If I am worthy of being banned fom the website, or whatever the commenting policy reference was actually supposed to imply, go for it. Just because a skeptic teacher who is in love with astronomy, links your posts to all my collegues and friends, used you as a teaching tool for grade 8 science (you may remember, perhaps not, the accolades my students gave you in years past whe you did the answer a question on youtube” bit), is a volunteer at a local astro club, etc, puts up a “I think tweeter is a waste of time and I prefer PC over Mac” comment I get such a strident rebuttal…hmmm. T’was not I being a jerk.

    @ Phil : “I’m all for a good argument, or a spirited discussion on the merits of something, even if it’s just a matter of taste and opinion (Trek vs. Star Wars? You’re on!)”

    …but PC/Mac is off limits?

    “Seriously, *two* separate Mac bash posts? Did Jobs kill your cat or something? Is Ars Technica down so you wandered over here?”

    Dont actually know what Ars Technica is, and I started to type/edit, had to run to a meeting and then came back and the first part posted on its own. Somehow. No intention of putting people through the horror of reading two posts. :)

  31. Robin

    Phil – If my #9 post caused you annoyance or angst, I apologize. It was meant in jest only and without malice. I appreciate, very much, all the time and effort you put into this blog. Your articles are always interesting and informative with just the right amount of good natured humor. I’m sure many thousands of other readers feel the same.

  32. John

    I do not give a tweet so I will not enter this one

  33. John Sandlin

    To tweet, or not to tweet, is that the question? Whether tis timely and informative, entertaining and winning, or tis drab and draining? Aye, that is the question. Or for lack of technology and work ethic, do we not pause and post? Forsooth, it is so, I do not tweet – I have no smart phone and gather the day all t’once.

    OK, so I’ve severely mangled Hamlet… Twitter is evil when used poorly, wonderful when done well. I typically only rise to twitterdom when provoked by a contest because I have little to say, but much I wish to read.


  34. Monkey (#31): To reiterate: you left three comments, two of which were snarky and making fun of me and what I was doing. The Mac stuff didn’t hit a nerve per se – though calling me pretentious is hard to see as anything but insulting. And the snark about Twitter wasn’t really about Twitter, it was phrased in such a way that it was about *my use* of Twitter.

    I appreciate any and all links I get, especially when it’s to teachers or students. If I had a prime target audience, that would be it. Also, making fun of Mac, PCs, Twitter, whatever- that’s all fine.

    But that’s not the point. What you wrote was phrased in terms of me personally and what I was doing here in this post. I can accept that you didn’t mean it that way, and if so than I will apologize for sounding like I was over the top in my reaction… but only if you understand that phrasing is important, and in this case it sounded like you were trying to be a wet blanket on a bit of fun. I see way too much of that on the internet and IRL.

  35. Robin (32): No, your intent was clear. No worries there!

  36. NAW

    Well, I really said nothing is wrong with The Twitter, I just don’t want to spread my online sole too thin. Kind of like not wanting my picture taken, due to the sole taking.

    But hey people, these are his contests and his rules. And he spreads the mix of contests from format to format. Which I think is awesome, so a Twitaphobe like me can have a chance on the next contest. Keep them coming.

  37. Monkey

    Ok, ill meet you half way if you will accept! I re-read my comments, again, and I see your point…sort of. I think you took them too personally but hey, thats the way it is. Please know that they were not, I repeat “not”, intended at you in such a manner. I have nothing but high respect for you and what you provide to society as a whole. I mean that in complete honesty. My remarks were more towards society in general, and towards the aspect of hyper-connectivity of facebook/twitter and our general materialistic aspects. I used your post as a jumping block for a slightly different discussion, I guess.

    I stand by my assumption that people who *obviously* state the brand, make and such of what they buy do so for a reason. (Anecdote warning) I used to work with a guy who would put the word “apple” in front of everything that was tangentailly related to the company because he wanted that ‘image’. This he was open about. It made him “better” than others. This he was more than open about. It got me to thinking, I started picking up on it in many other situations…thats all. Mac users are the worst offenders in this case, I feel.
    As for twitter, I dont like it. I am aware of its use, I just dont have enough to say about my life that I feel others would be interested in and nor do I have the time to keep up to date with my posts or those of others. Not a technophobe, just picking and choosing what works in my life. My prediction is that twitter will not last for the long haul, and that it will be overtaken by something more comprehensive. Thus, I tend towards the “we still doin’ that?!?” commentary.

    Keep up the contests and all that you do. I suppose if I had added a smiley face or exclamation point after either comment it might have been taken differently.

    ! :)

  38. walla

    Phil, is it ok to retweet the thing multiple times enhancing your chances, or is that considered un-cool?

  39. Trantor Prime

    …but PC/Mac is off limits?

    No, it was just a non sequitur out of nowhere, and as someone said above, really sort of passe. And then you keep going on and on about it. OK. Some guy who owned Apple stuff annoyed you. Man up and get over it. There’s no need to take it out on everyone who buys a product you don’t like by implying they have personal failings. It’s childish and ignorant. It’s old, tiresome nonsense that no one wanted here, no one asked for and is nothing other than boorish behavior.

  40. davidlpf

    Don’t need the stuff but I’ll take the old computer since mine died.

  41. I prefer you run contests where you just mail things directly to me. None of this laborious random number generator stuff. 😀

    Oh, and Zach has a great one that you would probably like:

  42. Captn Tommy

    I Don’t tweet, I have no Twitter account, nor do I want one. My phone has a wire, my computer Email. That is Enough. I am an engineer, and had a tough enough time getting away from my Slide Rule(don’t forget they went to the Moon on three decimal places).

    I love your Blog and would like to participate in your contests. But Twitter Only?

    I wish you would not discriminate.


    Captn Tommy

  43. Maria

    What do you mean I have to keep manually redialing the station number in order to win this radio contest? It’s really not fair for those of us who don’t have those new auto redial buttons and there is a distinct advantage to those who do. You’re being very unfair. :( :( 😉

  44. Jamie

    I can’t see the tweet :( ……Oh nevermind, I found it! Woot!

  45. Kevin

    Phil, now tell us the truth! Us loyal followers deserve that as much.

    When you were doing your “archaeological dig”, you were wearing an Indiana Jones hat, and humming the “Raiders March”. Weren’t you? Weren’t you!!!

    And yes, you also had the whip out when dealing with your “Sabre Tooth” Mac OS.

    I know it, everyone else knows it. Now it’s time for you to admit it. 😀

  46. mike burkhart

    And Phil also had to:run from a big rock,fight off Hovots ,Nazis,Thuge,Rusians,Ugars ,Interdimentional beengs, and had to drag behind a truck,had a wild mine car ride ,stop a tank and ecape from a interdemational portal.just kidding .Iv’e been a Indiana Jones fan since junior high .The best Indy comic is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlants Indy finds the lost continet(reviled to be a sunken Island) Atlantis.I think Indana Jones fans will love it.

  47. Aaron

    To be clear, do you have to manually post a tweet prefaced with “RT” to show up in the results? I was under the impression that clicking the built-in “Retweet” link didn’t necessarily make you show up in search results (and thus, basically prevent you from actually being eligible to win).

  48. Keith Bowden

    Now that the winner has been selected, is it okay if I hope he doesn’t get in touch with you and you have to pick someone else (namely, me)? :)

    Out of curiosity, how many entries were there on this one?

  49. Joseph G

    @ Phil Plait: And Joseph G (28) I appreciate that, and I took your Twitter comment in the joking spirit intended, I think. I’m not surprised some people would prefer I run these contests a different way — but the past two were done through comments on the blog, which causes server issues, and through email, which was a pain. Twitter is the easiest way, and since I have 76,000+ followers now it makes sense to do it that way.

    Thanks for understanding, and again, apologies for any douchbagginess I may have accidentally encouraged (or engaged in). You’re right, of course – it’s your blog and you can do whatever the heck you please with it, and if people don’t like it, well, they can ask for a full refund of everything you’ve charged them 😉
    Anyway, I hope we can all still be friends, here. Your posts (and commentary on them) are the highlight of my day.
    And come to think of it, I’m having a hard time thinking of a way of running the contest that’d actually be easier. I’ll certainly let you know if I think of something 😉
    As to the bigger picture, I’ll be happy to take constructive suggestions about these contests and about anything else, to be honest. But the impulse for some people to whine or display the faux-jaded cynicism I can do without.
    That’s pretty much the part of the intertubes that I dislike the most, and it’s damned ubiquitous. It even rubs off on me at times, which I hate. Something about having instant access to the entire sum of human opinion and experience and being able to comment on it anonymously just brings out the most, well, faux-jaded cynicism, as you said.

  50. Joseph G

    I think I’ll start a competing blog site called Bitter. Like Twitter, it’ll be a bare-bones blogging platform, accessible from phones, but unlike Twitter, it’d have no word limit, allowing for long, vitriolic polemics and overblown, bombastic, endless ranting.
    Judging from Youtube and Yahoo comments, there’ll be quite a market. I’ll be the next Mark Zuckerberg, I tell ya!

  51. Joseph G

    @#46 Kevin: You just made the housecleaning I need to do a lot more fun! Thanks!

    *dum duh do DOOO. Dun da dooooooo. Dun duh duh DOOOO – dum de da da daaa*

  52. Mac versus pc debate? I think the clear winner is Linux!
    Anyways stop trollins.

  53. Joseph G

    @53 Scottie Davis: I’m even disappointed with Linux at this point. I ran into what I’ve found is a known bug with certain hardware – basically I can only transfer data to a USB storage device at something like 100 kbps. When it takes 10 minutes to load one album on your mp3 player, that’s a problem.
    If I boot into *gag* Vista, it works fine.
    I am disappoint.

  54. NAW

    @ Joseph G: I think that would better be called “Troller”.


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