Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

Do reality competition shows discriminate in hiring based on sex?

May 24, 2015

Do reality competition shows discriminate in hiring based on sex?

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has an

online petition

asking film and television professionals to ask the U.S. Government to look into hiring (or perhaps, non-hiring might be more accurate) practices of studios for female directors (statistics suggest they are underrepresented, which may be indicative of illegal discrimination based on sex).

When the Survivor “Second Chance” cast (picked by the audience) was recently revealed, though, a question was raised for me again about another example of hiring discrimination based on sex.

You see, they hired ten women and ten men (based on the show’s defined categories).

That means that if eleven people of one gender were the best candidates, one of them wouldn’t have made it on this national, highly-rated show, based solely on sex.

How is that not discrimination?

Now, I realize that Hollywood is allowed to hire characters, for example, based on protected class. You can require that Juliet (as in Romeo and…) has to be a female. It can be argued that it is a requirement of the job. That is not an argument Shakespeare would have made played Juliet in the Bard’s time.

I don’t see how you can argue that there is a requirement of the Survivor role that means you need to hire either a man or a woman.

There’s one simple reason for that…either one can win the job and fulfill the requirements of being the “sole survivor”.

The same thing seems true to me for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. If the winning role can be filled by a man or a woman, than eliminating somebody from the opportunity to get that position because your gender quota is already filled seems…unfair.

I wonder if the argument is that people aren’t being hired for the position…regardless, keeping somebody out based on an inherent characteristic (which is a protected class) appears to be, at the least, unethical.

Why would they possibly pick someone who wasn’t as telegenic just to maintain a balance?

Perhaps they would argue that they want to reflect the potential audience. If that’s so, based on the 2010 census (and the categories they use), we would also expect the contestants to be approximately:

  • 72% white
  • 12.5% black or African American
  • 5% Asian

among others.

I doubt that breakdown matches how contestants would identify themselves….or, for that matter, how casting directors would identify them.

So, I’m curious: how is that sex-based casting on reality competition shows legal?

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. 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.

You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”

February 22, 2013

You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”

I’m always amused when I reference, say, a 1960s TV show* on an online forum, and somebody says, “You’re showing your age.”

Sure…I was showing that I was young enough to use Netflix, or Hulu, or for that matter, cable TV. 😉

For my adult kid’s generation, they are as likely to be listening to Nina Simone as they are to Adele, and may do one right after the other.

They don’t have this huge divide of decades, and in today’s on demand world, that makes perfect sense.

If you go to a high school campus today, you will likely see students wearing shirts promoting the Ramones or the Beatles.

The Beatles became popular close to fifty years ago.

Somehow, I wouldn’t guess that the same number of kids in a 1970s high school were wearing Eddie Cantor shirts. 🙂

Television popularized nostalgia when it began showing older movies…The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, the Universal horror movies.

In the 1960s, you could see posters of W.C. Fields and Humphrey Bogart, and the “Monster kids” had model kits and Famous Monsters of Filmland.

However, part of the sense of that then was acknowledging that those were from another time.

Now, when you can get a song at a time, or use Pandora to hear music which is similar to something you choose or Songza to hear somebody else’s playlists, I don’t think people care as much about the background of a song.

The New  Millennial  generation doesn’t divide pop culture into decades as much, because all the (recorded) decades are available to them.

So, if you think someone is showing their age because they reference something created decades ago…you’re showing your age. 😉

* I like to say that I like 19th Century literature and 1960s TV, and I don’t understand why many people think one is good and the other is bad…gee, I wonder if when I reference Dostoevsky, people think I must be a vampire to be old enough to have read that… 😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Based on Barsoom?

February 23, 2012

Based on Barsoom?

When Disney’s John Carter movie comes out on March 9th*, there is no doubt that some of it is going to seem familiar to audiences.

That’s true even if they’ve never read the original book** by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

While the assumption might be that this 2012 movie is being inspired by earlier movies and TV shows (and that might be true to some extent…I haven’t seen it), it may also be that those earlier works were inspired by the 1917*** novel.

Here, then, are some works that came after Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars…but have some of its elements. Note that I’m not saying that these were deliberately copied (even though, if the book was in the public domain at the time, that would have been legally okay).  It’s just that PoM had it first, and certainly for geeks, was in the zeitgeist by the time these other works were created. I’m also not going to base inclusion on what the later creators have said about it…just on what is actually in the book.


What makes Superman super? Does he have the dedication to train two hours a day like Doc Savage (with whom he shares a first name and who had a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic Circle first)? Did he train for a lifetime like Batman? Is he a scientific genius who invented his own web-shooters after being bitten by a radioactive spider like Spider-Man, or who created a super-suit that also, incidentally, has therapeutic advantages, like Iron Man?


He was just born on another planet…way to earn it, Super-Dude! 🙂

Kal-El is super on Earth because of the differences in his home planet Krypton (which, yes, was tragically destroyed…but he was a baby at the time, so we can’t give him much credit for making something out of what happened) and Earth. Any Kryptonian on Earth is super…Superman, Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, Beppo the Supermonkey (really)…it’s just the way it is.

John Carter is super on Mars because he is from Earth.

How is he super?

Well, maybe the most obvious thing is his ability to jump…really far and really high.

Doesn’t sound like Supes?

What if I used the word “leap”instead of “jump”? What if he could “leap tall buildings in a single bound?”

Now does it sound familiar?

In the beginning in the comics, Superman didn’t fly. He jumped, a lot like John Carter. He didn’t start flying until the Fleischer brothers made cartoons in the 1940s. They just thought that was easier to animate (and more dramatic, presumably). Superman’s super-strength was also a lot less when he started…he wasn’t throwing planets around. John Carter also has superior strength…he can snap chains that would hold a Barsoomian securely.  Burroughs even uses the term “superhuman” to describe the Virginian’s abilities.

Star Wars

One obvious connection is the term “Jedi”.  In Princess of Mars, the alien leaders are Jeds and Jeddaks. John Carter has a big hairy (for Mars, anyway) companion, one of the few “characters” we encounter regularly who doesn’t speak. Fiercely loyal, he does seem more like a dog than Chewbacca…but his name is Woola. Woola/Wookie…woo woo! 😉  The speeder bikes are also reminiscent of the one person flying craft used in Princess of Mars.

Star Trek

Remember when Kirk ran into the Mugato, a Great White Ape? Well, Great White Apes (Burroughs doesn’t give them a species name, although they are a somewhat intelligent group) are a big deal on Barsoom…and dangerous. I could have included the Wampa from Star Wars in this category…but I had enough going on there.  If you think they all come from the Abominable Snowman, well, that term  wasn’t used until 1921…and the few reports of a man-beast in the Himalayas that got to the West before that were of things with dark hair. Hmm…I wonder if Burroughs’ popular Great White Apes could have impacted the concept of the Yeti having white hair? It’s also worth noting that Tarzan (an earlier Burroughs creation) had also been referred to as a “white ape”.

Mork & Mindy

No, Dejah Thoris didn’t say “Shazbot” when things went wrong.  However, both she and Mork are from oviparous species…born from eggs that mature outside the body. That always seemed a little creepy to me.  Not the process of being hatched, but that John Carter clearly was in love with Dejah Thoris…and not just in a spiritual way, if you know what I mean. Carter even says:

“So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had roamed the five continents and their encircling seas; in spite of beautiful women and urging opportunity; in spite of a half-desire for love and a constant search for my ideal, it had remained for me to fall furiously and hopelessly in love with a creature from another world, of a species similar possibly, yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched from an egg, and whose span of life might cover a thousand years; whose people had strange customs and ideas; a woman whose hopes, whose pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of right and wrong might vary as greatly from mine as did those of the green Martians.”

Um…she was hatched from an egg! I’m not sure whether her biggest hope was to own a house in the suburbs or not should be your primary concern. The whole thing just seemed odd…not to even think about how the mechanics must have been…awkward.


Yep…John Carter had what was basically a GPS system at one point. He describes the tech this way:

“He set my compass for me, a clever little device which will remain steadfastly fixed upon any given point on the surface of Barsoom.”

Can’t you just see John Carter engaged in a fierce aerial battle with sky pirates, striking out with his long sword, and hearing, “When possible, make a legal u-turn.” 😉

Well, that just scratches the surface.  I could go on and on…John Carter says he is better known as “Captain Jack” (later used by Sparrow and Harkness…and an alligator on Leave It to Beaver), there’s a character named Tardos (TARDIS?) Mors, the use of repulsor rays (utilized by Tony Stark as Iron Man), Burroughs often talks about the protruding eyes of the green Martians…making them bug-eyed monsters, perhaps?

So, when you go to see John Carter and something seems familiar, remember: that’s not déjà vu, it’s Dejah Thoris. 😉

* March 9th, 2012, is the release date for John Carter in the USA

** There is actually a whole series of Barsoom books, and John Carter isn’t in all of them. I’ve heard that the first movie is mostly drawing from the first book, though (A Princess of Mars). Wait, did I say “first movie”? Hm…

*** The first part of the book appeared in the February, 1912 issue of All-Story Magazine…meaning the movie is coming out very close to the 100th anniversary.  The novel version, published in 1917, restored material which had been cut

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Change they can’t believe

September 9, 2010

Change they can’t believe


For many people, it’s about as scary as seeing a fin in the water coming towards you.  🙂

Beyond that, over time, it seems to have become an almost magical, arcane skill to many store clerks.

Oh, I’m not talking about calculus and quantum mechanic kinds of math..those are scary.  😉

I’m just talking about the simple subtraction that lets you round off a bill to an even amount.

For example, when I’m in a grocery store, I like to round it off.  If the bill is for $22.84, I might ask for $17.16 in cash back…to round it off to $40 and give me some change.

When I do, though, some clerks look at me like I just made the cows go dry and the crops wither. 

I recently had a situation like that, and the nice clerk (it was an upscale grocery store) asked me I wanted two twenties.  When I equally nicely replied, “No, that would be too much change,” the clerk was stunned.  I don’t think (hope) that it was the honesty…it took a few seconds for the clerk to figure out what had happened.

My Significant Other (SO) does this as well.  Obviously, it’s not to make manual checkbook balancing easier…we’re not that math crazy.  😉  It’s just fun.  We also put our coins in to a piggy bank, and then, every once in a while, do a “Pig Day”…lunch and the movies, that kind of thing.  So, we like getting the change back.

My SO said that when doing this in a different grocery store, the clerk was sort of annoyed.  Apparently, you can ask the clerk to have the machine round it off to a certain amount…they don’t want you to do it.

I’m totally for technology, and I understand that there’s no real reason to learn to do this as a sales clerk.  The machine will do it for you, and is less likely to make a mistake.

But do you have to look at us like we just used out telekinetic powers to fly things around the store in advance of the alien invasion?  Are you afraid we’re going to pull out a lightsaber next?  Believe me, I hardly ever use the phrase, “You fools!  Soon I’ll squash you like insects!”* or “Quake with fear you tiny fools!”**

It’s just math…not magic. 

*Gary Mitchell, Where No Man Has Gone episode of Star Trek: The Original Series

**Dr. Frank-N-Furter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show


Ticking, dialing, airing, tuning

August 29, 2010

Ticking, dialing, airing, tuning

It’s funny how some idioms outlast their original meanings.

I’ve been noticing this one recently…

“Clock’s ticking.”

I can completely see a twelve-year old saying to an adult, “I hear people say that, and I know it means we don’t have much time…but what does it really mean?”

After all, clocks don’t tick any more.  It would probably be even more confusing if you pointed to your wrist while saying it.  Most kids don’t have wristwatches…if they want to know what time it is, they look at a cellphone.  That’s a little hard to mime, though, since we look at cellphones for so many reasons.

We also still say we “dial a number”…most kids haven’t used (or probably even seen) a dial telephone.

In fact, my favorite obsolete technology story (and you know you’re a geek when you have a favorite obsolete technology story) was with my own kid.  When my kid was, oh, seven or so, we found a dial telephone.  It wasn’t plugged into anything, of course.  My kid was pretending to dial a telephone number, and there was a finger slip.  My kid looked at me and said, “How do I delete that?”  I had to think for a few seconds before saying, “We couldn’t delete it, we’d have to start all over.” “Start all over?”  This was followed by walking away…that was like Flintstones level technology, and not worth the effort.

We also still talk about a TV program “airing” and “airdates”.  Well, some shows do…network shows.  Oh, and I suppose ones that come down by satellite count.  But i think we still say this because of shows broadcast by big antennas, rather than by cable (internet or otherwise).  You know, I’m backing off this one…enough of them go to cellphones to count.  🙂

Another one is “tuning” in a show.  We used to actually have to turn a dial to tune in a show (radio, then TV).  I remember turning a radio dial, just tweaking it until I got it as well as I could.  No, not on a big console set, but definitely on a transistor radio.

I know we still say things that are based on things that were hundreds of years old, but these caught my eye…er, ear. 

Any other ones you’ve noticed?  Feel free to let me know…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle

When children are present

June 4, 2010

When children are present

Okay, I’m a real speed limit follower.  I was writing directions for something once, and I put down that you turned right after the speed limit changed.  My Significant Other (SO), pointed out that most people don’t know when that is.  My response was, “Really?”  The suggestion was to use a restaurant as a marker, because “everybody notices food”.  🙂

The one big thing I’d change about my Magellan GPS is to have it display the speed limit.  Yes, it will tell me how fast I am going, and yes, it must know the speed limits, since it can estimate how long it will take me to get there…quite accurately (not counting traffic jams).  Maybe it can do it, and I just don’t know how.

The one that gets me, though, is those school zone signs:

“25 mph when children are present”

How am I supposed to know if children are present or not? 

Oh, I assume from like 8 to 3 Monday through Friday they are there…you know, except in the summer.

But what about after school activities?  What if those Glee kids are rehearsing Tony Orlando and Dawn night or something?  What if they are doing those…what are they called…sports?  😉

I always picture this one kid standing right at the edge of the soccer field, waiting for cars to come by, and then jumping on to school property and shouting, “Ha ha!” 

Can’t you just see a cop telling a couple of kids to hide behind a bench in the quad at 8:00 at night so she or he can write tickets? 

Nah, they wouldn’t do that, but the question still stands…how am I supposed to know?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Did Jimmy Kimmel show Asians as bad drivers?

May 25, 2010

Did Jimmy Kimmel show Asians as bad drivers?

The ever-outspoken Crepaudia had a complaint about Jimmy Kimmel’s Aloha to Lost special.

I’d watched the special.  I enjoyed the interviews with the cast, although the sketches fell a bit flat for me.

However, Crepaudia was offended:

“Did you see Daniel Dae Kim in the Sopranos spoof?  Did you notice how he was shown as a bad driver, bumping into things?  Any particular reason you slapped that stereotype on the American actor, Kimmel?”

I do think that’s an interesting point.  I haven’t seen the original Sopranos episode…maybe that driver was shown as a bad driver?  Since Kim’s character on Lost (Jin) was a crime enforcer for a time, it would make sense that he would be the hit man in the sketch. 

It’s a stereotype, though, that Asians are bad drivers.  If that wasn’t an inherent part of the spoof, it does seem like an odd thing to choose to get laughs on a Lost special.  Lost had a diverse cast, and while some dialogue on the show may have had a racial component, that wasn’t the tone of the show. 

It may have just been an unfortunate coincidence that Kim was given that bit of comedy to perform, but I can see how it could offend some people.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

When did it become okay…

May 21, 2010

When did it become okay…

…to show people throwing up on TV?

I am not okay with this one.  I have to look away every time it comes up…so to speak.  You see it on reality shows.  You see it on cartoons.  People throwing up.  They used to cut away from that, if they even suggested it.  You might have heard it behind a closed door (even that grosses me out)  But now, it’s all out in the open.  I’m sorry…it was justified in The Exorcist, but on my night-time shows?  Yuck.

…to walk in the street?

I just don’t get this one.  The city spends a lot of money to build perfectly nice sidewalks.  Then (especially in the morning) people will walk (slowly) in the street.  Sometimes with dogs, sometimes just by themselves.  Oh, usually not just one person…three seems common, in full Jets formation.  They walk side by side, and they might as well be snapping their fingers in unison.

I have to practically swerve around them just to get to work.

Get on the sidewalk…that’s why they are there.  🙂

…to say *ss and s**t on TV?

I hear these two increasingly…even on broadcast TV.   Even on the news!  Now, I actually don’t have any problem with this one.  I don’t use those words myself, but I don’t have a problem with others using them.  It’s just still a surprise…I’m not sure when that changed.

So, what do you think?  Is it just people of a certain age who notice these things?  Is there anything that you see and say, “When did it become okay…”

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

I solemnly swear…this is a big effing deal

March 24, 2010

I solemnly swear…this is a big effing deal

Yesterday, microphones picked up Vice-President Joe Biden “dropping the F bomb”.

You’ll notice as you read this blog that I don’t use swear words in it…even mild profanity that you can hear on TV. 

For example, I’ll refer to the upcoming movie as Kick-*ss…even though you’ll see the full name almost everywhere else.

Here’s the part that may shock you…I don’t use profanity in “real life”, either.

Nope, not ever.  Oh, I don’t mind quoting somebody and using it then…I have told a joke with a mild epithet in it.  But I don’t use it spontaneously. 

Since I don’t ever use it, I don’t need to restrain myself from using it.  It’s not my impulse. 

Does that make me a geek?

It’s one of the things that does.  😉

Now, here’s the other part where I want to be really clear.  It’s okay with me if you use it.  I watch movies that use it, and I read books that use it.

I don’t think anybody should restrict the language people use in art. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to use it.

It’s a somewhat complicated issue.  Obviously, swearing at somebody is better than hitting them.

However, I’ve had somebody proudly tell me that if anybody used an ethnic slur, the whole neighborhood would physically attack that person.  That was said as if it was a good thing.

I do try to use politically correct language.  I go beyond where a lot of people go, and try to check terms.  For example, “thug” comes from a Hindi term, and it was debatedly a religious group.  Is it a slur to use that term for a US “thug”? 

I was quite surprised when a famous politician objected to one word that equates merely stupid actions with an actual condition…and it was called the “R word”.  That wasn’t a surprise, I understand that.  The surprise was when the same politician used the word “lame” as an insult.  Lame indicates a physical disability: it’s not okay to use a word for a mental condition as an insult, but it’s okay to use a word for a physical disability as an insult?  I don’t see it.

Similarly, “gay” can simply refer to a personal’s sexual orientation, but it can also be used as an insult (with no connection to sexual orientation).  When it is used in the latter manner, that seems like a slur to me. 

I’ve even told jokes saying, “These two ethnic slurs are walking down the street.”  🙂  Yes, literally saying “ethnic slurs”.  The joke would most likely have nothing to do at all with a particular ethnicity, or even the perception of that ethnicity.  The same joke might be told in different countries with different ethnicities.

Why don’t I use profanity?

Interesting question, even for me.  I don’t like offending people…although I may want to challenge their concepts, sometimes, which can certainly offend them.  It’s not because of the results…it’s not that I’m afraid of alienating folks.  I literally don’t like making people feel bad.  That’s clearly part of it.

I’ve also thought that it tends to replace more complex thought.  The “f word” is remarkably flexible: noun, adjective, verb…impressive.  If you use it, you don’t need to use a whole lot of other words.

Yes, it bothers me a bit when people do that with non-swear words.  You can use “dude” to express every emotion known.  I’d wager that truly skilled actors could communicate entire Shakespeare plays just using “dude”. 

I like people to have flexibility in their vocabularies.  That doesn’t mean I don’t repeat words a lot…I probably do that too often myself.  I certainly repeat whole stories, but that’s a different rack of auks.  😉

I also think some fake swear words are fun.  Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator used “cheese and crackers”.  I have said, “Gosh all hemlock”.  I do write the word “drat”. 

So, Mr. Vice-President…it’s okay with me that you swore…although you can see the flap it’s caused.  It doesn’t suggest a lot of self-awareness or control…two things I think might be good in the Executive branch.  🙂  It does, though, show a certain genuine emotion.

What do you think?  Is swearing a big “eff-ing” deal?  Are you okay with the “s word” on broadcast TV?  Is using a non-swear word (like the word for a female dog) unacceptable when used to insult a class of people?

Feel free to let me know…dude.  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Your body wants to be fat

March 14, 2010

Your body wants to be fat

Here’s the question: why is it that, after you lose the weight and get down to that BMI you want, you put it back on again?

My feeling is that your body instinctually wants to be fat.

I’m not saying you should be fat, but it makes sense to me that, given an opportunity, your body will lay on some storage.

The way I figure it is that you wouldn’t naturally have an endless supply of food.  Sometimes, there would be more than you need…other times, less than you need.  Fat lets you store some calories you can use when food isn’t available.

The conversion of food to fat is actually a fairly complicated mechanism, and if there wasn’t a real value in it, your extra calories would just pass through your body.

Yes, fat does provide some insulation, and probably has some other value, but I think the main reason is like a bank account for calories.

Let’s say you walk into a room, and there is a bowl full of quarters.  You can buy an apple with the quarter…but it’s one to a customer.  Would you take more than one quarter (assuming there are plenty to go around for everybody)?  Sure, why not?  You assume (not unreasonably) that there may not be a bowl of quarters tomorrow, and you might want an apple.

Your body doesn’t expect there to be a grocery store with an endless supply of food every day.  So, it’s storing up, just in case.

In the same way that your body wants to save fat, it doesn’t want to spend calories.  I think that’s why you need to change the type of exercise you are doing regularly, to make it the most effective.  I think your body tries to figure out a way to use that stairstepper and expend the least amount of calories possible.  As you repeatedly do the exercise, you begin to expend fewer calories, since your body figures out how to lean, or where to place your hands, so that you aren’t burning as many of those valuable calories.

I presented this to somebody who then asked why you feel so much better when you aren’t fat.  I do think you feel better when you exercise regularly…but I’m not sure that equates to a lack of desire to build fat.  Well, that’s an interesting point.  Being excessively overweight, does, I think, reduce lifespan.  But living to be 90 wasn’t exactly the most likely outcome in the wild.  Wear and tear on your joints just doesn’t matter as much if you are only going to live until you are 35.

That’s just a hypothesis, though…I’m not backing it up with any science or anything. 😉  Clearly, many people can override this desire (if it exists). 

What do you think?  Make any sense?  Feel free to let me know…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog

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