Archive for November, 2013

Joining the mile high call club?

November 26, 2013

Joining the mile high call club?

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is considering allowing cellphone calls on planes in flight.

There has been a tremendous backlash, with most of the complaints having to do with how disruptive it would be (and some from flight crew who are concerned about distractions).

The distraction thing I can sort of understand, but I’m pretty surprised at the people who think it would be “rude”.

We already allow plenty of things on a plane which could be a lot more intrusive. People are allowed to talk to each other (that’s what you do on a cellphone call…you talk). ūüėČ

People are allowed to watch movies, which could be full of obscenities, and horrifying screams, as well as other sounds.

People are allowed to listen to all kinds of music.

Here’s the thing: all of that could be really bad, but it usually isn’t.

Human beings are social animals, and they do tend to respond to the culture in which they find themselves.

If the culture on a plane was that a quick call of a sentence or two (“We’ve been diverted to Portland, Maine…should be there at about 2:00.”) was okay, and a two hour conversation wasn’t, the short call is what most people would do.

If someone used the technology unreasonably, the flight crew could intervene, just as they can now with conversations.

There are so many cases where a phone call would be a terrific thing, and not easily replaced with a text (which it seems like everyone would accept). A parent saying goodnight to a child, for example. Someone talking to someone in the hospital…that could be crucial on a delayed flight. Even, as ¬†I suggested above, some logistical things (more people can safely hear a phone call in a car hands-free through Bluetooth than can have a text read out).

This seems like a simple issue to me. Of course you allow cell calls in flight…or you ban everything else that is equally “annoying”.

Just my thoughts on it, though…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

Preds: Cops & Robots on TV

November 18, 2013

Preds: Cops & Robots on TV

J.J. Abrams’ Almost Human TV series debuts tonight and tomorrow, and it’s pretty easy to sum it up: a human cop¬†and a robot cop are partners.

Certainly, that may seem like an innovative twist to the cop genre, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the elements they put together to make this more than that one line.

However, it’s vanishingly rare that any creative endeavor doesn’t have some predecessors (“preds”), at least around the basic idea.

That’s the case here.

The first pred that comes to mind is from 1976

Holmes & Yo-Yo

John Schuck (Sgt. Enright on McMillan & Wife…and he later played a Klingon Ambassador) was “Yo-Yo”, a goofy, sometimes malfunctioning indestructible android. The fact that he was mechanical was kept secret,although his partner (Richard B. Schull) was in on it eventually. This one was really played for slapsticky laughs, and was a one-season wonder.

Yo-Yo was somewhat reminiscent of Hymie the robot on Get Smart. While not technically a cop. Hymie was partnered (eventually) with Maxwell Smart, who was a spy (but who typically worked in the USA). It may not be a coincidence that there are similarties: Leonard Stern and Arne Sultan were producers on both shows.

More serious was

Future Cop

a 1976 TV series with Ernest Borgnine and John Amos as human cops paired with Michael Shannon as Haven, the robot cop. Borgnine and Shannon (as Haven) would be back for a 1978 TV movie, Cops & Robin.

1992 brought us

Mann & Machine, where the human cop had a disdain for robot cops (as appears to be the case in the commercials for Almost Human). One twist here was that the robot cop was female.

Back in 1964, an episode of Story Parade was an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel…and the teleplay was by Doctor Who’s Terry Nation. John Carson (Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter’s Dr. Marcus)¬†played robotic detective R. Daneel Olivaw, and Peter Cushing plays human Elijah Baley.

While the title character in the

Robocop TV series

isn’t actually a robot (he’s a cyborg…part human), most people aren’t aware of it and treat him as an artificial being like the others on this list.

Generally, we can see some similarities throughout these robot/human cop shows. The robots are typically physically superior, but suffer from the prejudice of humans who will not treat them as equals. The robots are often shown as being less emotional, and sometimes have difficulty understanding human language (especially idiom) and social norms.

Just because there are predecessors doesn’t mean that something can’t be original and entertaining…I’m hoping for the best from Almost Human.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

On the Circumference #5: Batkid, Doc Savage movie update

November 15, 2013

On the Circumference #5: Batkid, Doc Savage movie update

The On the Circumference posts contain short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Doc Savage movie still in the works

I first wrote about a new Doc Savage movie more than three and a half years ago. Movies languish, but interestingly, Shane Black is not only still involved with this one, but gave a recent interview (in September of this year) on the progress


Since 2010, Shane Black has made a little $400 million dogro (domestic gross) movie, Iron Man 3…which should give him a bit more clout in the decision making about Doc Savage.

Clearly, there are still decisions to be made.

One concern he expresses in the video linked in the article above, is Doc’s…perfectness.

I can give you the easy insight into that one (hope you see this, Mr. Black).

Doc doesn’t think he is perfect: other people do. That’s similar to two of my other fictional heroes: Mr. Spock and Kwai Chang Caine. It was quite a revelation for me when I realized that they are all emotionally repressed, all extraordinary fighters…and all believe themselves to be failures.

For Doc, you can see that in how he adopts his “no-kill” policy…that’s the root of the character.

Doc also knows about his inability to connect to people (especially women…he can always tell when a man is lying, and can’t tell when a woman is lying) very well.

That’s the key: Doc isn’t brave because he believes he is infallible, or distant because he thinks he is above other people. He is brave because he feels he owes the world for his mistakes, and he probably honestly feels that it might be better off without him (although he rationally knows that’s not the case). He is distant because of insecurity with others, not because of a sense of superiority.

No release date set yet…

Bill Hader: #1 with a meatball

Thanks to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 breaking $100m dogro, Bill Hader has debuted at #1 on our

2013 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs list

with almost $725 million in dogro this year (only counting movies that dogroed at least $40 million).

The next four were all in Iron Man 3, while Hader is Marvel-free this year.

Batkid save Lou Seal!

I love this story!

A five-year old Make-a-Wish kid wanted to be Batman…and a city in my area, San Francisco, went all out to make it happen. You can see some of the coverage here:

KGO ABC 7 story
KGO ABC 7 photos

although there has been (in my opinion, appropriately) national coverage of it.

Thousands turned out to cheer on the superhero as he rescued the Giants’ mascot from the Penguin, dealt with the Riddler and the Joker, and the Mayor and the Police Chief were involved.

That’s the power of geekery!

Set your reminders for December 2015

Well, this release schedule won’t last, but December 2015 is currently scheduled to be a great month for geeks in the movie theatres!

  • December 11: Alvin and the Chipmunks 4
  • December 18: Inferno (Robert Langdon), Star Wars: Episode VII, Warcraft (based on the World of Warcraft)
  • December 18: Kung Fu Panda 3, Mission:Impossible 5

I don’t think there is any way they will actually open Warcraft against Star Wars…and guess who will have to move? ūüėČ

And on TV…

Will these make it to series?

  • A TV series based on Ghost (pottery wheel opening credits optional)
  • A TV series based on 12 Monkeys
  • A TV series based on The Exorcist
  • Tales from the Darkside reboot
  • Flash reboot
  • And inevitably…a reboot of Reboot¬†(it’s coming up on its 20 year anniversary…really)

Robot just doing its job…

There seems to be a lot of effort to make this sound like a terrible thing. According to this

SFGate article by Henry K. Lee

and other sources, a Muni (public transit) driver stepped out of the vehicle…and it decided to just keep going on to the next stop.

It was on auto mode (driving itself), and we’ve been assured it would simply have continued doing what it was supposed to do, including stopping and opening the doors for people to exit.

Naturally, anti-robotic activists want to make this sound horrible. It was suggested that the robot wouldn’t have stopped if there was a person on the tracks.

Well, that’s easy: they should have collision avoidance systems.

However, if they did, they might not need human drivers at all…and there are people who wouldn’t want that to happen, which I can understand. I also understand the passengers having been frightened, since they didn’t know what was happening (and pulled the emergency stop…which worked).

We’ll get used to the idea of driverless vehicles before too long. According to this

The Verge article by Rich McCormick

Britain already has employed driverless cars, and there are plans for more in more places.

Google was leading the way (and may still be, for cars that would drive the same streets with human drivers), but the USA could fall behind on this if we aren’t careful.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile

November 4, 2013

Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile

Amazon recently introduced a new program. You shop at an Amazon mirror site:

and designate an eligible non-profit organization. That organization gets .5% of the purchase price of designated items (not everything is, but many are, and it is indicated on the product page).

Unlike many online charitable donations, this one has close to a million eligible groups!

I checked, and was impressed! I thought you might be interested in some of the options:

  • OPUS* (Organization For Paranormal Understanding And Support)
  • MUFON (Mutual UFO Network)
  • Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
  • Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films
  • Geek Partnership Society
  • Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
  • USS Stargazer Star Trek Club
  • International Wizard of Oz Club
  • American Society for Psychical Research (founded in 1884)
  • E-Books for Troops

and many more! If you have suggestions for people, feel free to add them in comments to this post.

For more information, including how your organization can opt out, if you want, see

Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

in my I Love My Kindle blog.

* I served, several years ago, as the Education Director for OPUS (where I stressed the need for impartiality in the educational elements), and was on the Board. I am still on the Advisory Board, but am not really actively involved. I am including this information for full disclosure

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

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