The Nevers Baggage Free Review

The Nevers

An Objective Review of The Nevers

The Nevers is a new show on HBO and I’m right at the center of the demographic audience for whom it is intended. That’s a fancy way of saying I’m a nerd with money to spend.

Not long ago I wrote a review of All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlett and in it I discussed the ideas of reviewing a show for its objective good or bad traits rather than any baggage associated with the show or those who are involved in it.

If ever a show needed an objective review, it’s The Nevers although I’m not going to go into reasons why it is necessary, trust me on the subject. Most review are going to be at least partially if not mostly influenced by said baggage. None of that here.

What is The Nevers?

The Nevers is a much-hyped show on HBO which follows the exploits of a group of late nineteenth century Londoners dealing with the results of an unexplained phenomenon that left a number of people touched, that is to say, with special abilities and traits.

It’s a nerdalicious show with all the elements that have intrigued me since the early days of such shows which arguably began with the underrated Misfits of Science. To say that I’m a fan is to damn with faint praise indeed. I eat this stuff by the gallon and beg for more.

The Review

Acting

The ensemble case, and I do mean ensemble, for the premier episode did an excellent job for the most part. It doesn’t hurt that lead actor Laura Donnelly is an athletic, dark-haired vixen with more than a touch of crazy in her eyes. I have a weakness for that type. Still, trying to ignore my rapidly beating heart, I thought she was believable in the lead role as Amalia True.

Ann Skelly as Penance Adair was also excellent as a sidekick. She brought a sweetness to the role that seemed to shine through. The secondary characters all performed well. Amy Manson seemed over-the-top as the murderous Maladie and I thought hers was the weakest performance although she had little to do so I’ll withhold judgment.

I have only one quibble with the acting and it’s probably more with the sound team and the writing than the actors. I struggled throughout to understand the dialog. Their accents along with a lot of mumbling made it really difficult to follow.

Characters

The characters were all quite interesting and the opening vignette where we met them was relatively nicely managed. It’s not easy to get in so many backstories so quickly and I felt somewhat shortchanged, particularly in regards to Amalia who attempts to commit suicide but why?

In addition, Amalia’s Touched power is precognition but she somehow has ninja skills and is a martial arts master. I’ll talk more about this in the writing section.

Likewise, the Beggar King was introduced almost as an afterthought and attempting to make him menacing with so little to do didn’t work well for me. Lord Massen was handled particularly well as the big baddy. They did a nice job of explaining, at least partially, his hatred of the Touched in that his daughter collapses after the inciting incident.

Mary Brighton’s introduction seemed very forced as well and I just didn’t care about her at all even in the climactic opera scene. I think the big problem was too many characters too quickly. There’s just not enough time to get to know or care about them.

All in all, I think the characters are interesting and promising.

Writing

In a nutshell, this is where things went wrong. The writing falls into the typical trap of action shows where entire scenes appear out of nowhere, make no logical sense to the plot, and take me out of the moment. By this I mean I leave my immersion and shake my head in astonishment at the stupidity.

Particularly egregious from my perspective is Amalia with martial skills. Why does she have them? It makes no sense. They really needed a third lead along with Penance who has such Touched abilities but I guess the cast was already far too large.

In addition, Amalia’s precognition is a real problem in that she sees the future, changes her behavior, and alters the timeline removing what she just witnessed. I kind of have this problem with precognition in whole. I’d like to see her Touched ability give her insight into what to do after the event happens, not prevent it entirely.

From a scene related perspective, when Amalia and Penance went to investigate a touched girl, Myrtle things made little sense. Suddenly, while downstairs with her parents, kidnappers arrive upstairs and an enormous chase scene ensues. The investigation was just an excuse to have the chase.

Now, I will give the writers credit, they tried to explain the coincidence of the kidnapping at that exact moment as a result of the Beggar King giving the same information to the group led by Maladie. Still, I’m not buying it.

The pivotal opera scene made no sense whatsoever, from beginning to end. Why were they there? Maladie was there apparently to capture a Touched girl but goes on a nonsensical rant on stage as a way to introduce her compatriots, I guess. I couldn’t follow her dialog at all. Why did Mary start to sing?

It was an enormous hodgepodge of a chocolate mess. Why didn’t security rush the stage immediately? How did Hugo Swann only notice the murderous rampage on set when Maladie rushed by with Mary? I mean, he was standing right there for the entire thing.

The weepy dialog between Amalia and Penance after the failed pursuit didn’t make any sense at all. The entire scene, arguably the most pivotal in the first episode was baffling.

The writing really killed my enjoyment of what otherwise seems like a promising show. Too bad.

Sets and Costumes

The sets are stunning and believable and the costume design work is absolutely first rate. No quibbles here.

Music

Music is generally a problem in shows of this nature as it grows overbearing and preachy. When should I be afraid? When should I sense romance? Just listen to the volume cranking up. I’m thrilled to say the music was used with a relatively deft touch. The action scenes weren’t drowned by the music.

I am happy with the relatively deft touch displayed by the sound team here although they must do something about making the dialog understandable.

Conclusion

I didn’t enjoy the show almost exclusively because of poor writing. Many scenes seemed to be setups for action sequences rather than a plot moving device. Everything else was worth watching and I’ll keep tuning in for the moment, but we’ll see.

Tom Liberman

Why the Simp Shamer is Worse than the Simp

Simp Shamer

What is a Simp Shamer and a Simp?

A Simp is someone who donates money or other gratuities to an entertainer on streaming services like Twitch. The general term of Simp indicates a male who donates to the stream of an attractive female who then says their username in an affectionate way.

The term has significant negative connotations; so much so that Twitch has banned its use in chat. People who laugh at and otherwise denigrate so-called Simps are to be found on virtually every stream but I find a Simp Shamer to be far viler than those who donate the money.

A Simp Shamer is someone who denigrates the Simps at every opportunity, apparently in order to show the world how much better a person are they.

Why is a Simp Shamer such a Douche?

The problem for me is the so-called Simp is donating money of their own free will. It is certain the often-attractive female streamer is using her sex appeal to illicit such donations but a lot of people donate to streams on Twitch.

People donate to chess streams, game streams, music stream, ASMR streams, and plenty of others. Yet the derogatory term seems to only apply to men donating to the streams of attractive women. Listen, I spend money on role-playing games, my gym membership, chess site memberships, and plenty of other things that others certainly would not spend their money upon. Good for them, spend your money on the things you enjoy.

The Simp Shamer goes onto streams essentially to pat themselves on the back for being better than the Simp. The reality is they are worse, far worse in my opinion. Why do you care how other people spend their money? Why do you think your stupid hobbies are somehow better than mine? What weakness in your own character makes you have to shame others to make yourself feel better?

You’re a douche, Simp Shamer. Let me say that I’ve never donated to the stream of an ASMR artist but who cares? Maybe someday I will. They work hard, I enjoy their efforts. It’s like any other voluntary expenditure and completely my decision to make.

Conclusion

What is it with our willingness to negatively judge other people in this world for the things they enjoy? Why do so many of you derive your sense of personal worth from shaming others?

Shut your yap, Simp Shamer. Mind your business. There’s nothing wrong with the Simp, there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

Tom Liberman

Meghan Markle and Donald Trump Two Peas in a Pod

Meghan Markle and Donald Trump

Narcissistic Personalities

In an attempt to anger the entirety of the human race I thought I’d write about how Meghan Markle and Donald Trump are pretty much the same person. It appears to me they clearly share a few traits; namely a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive craving for admiration, and struggles with empathy.

It’s called a narcissistic personality and the way both of them endlessly center their woes on the perceived behavior of others and refuse to accept any personal responsibility for the situations they find themselves in does not sit well with me.

Why You Support One and Not the Other

More to the point of this blog are the people who choose to support Meghan Markle and Donald Trump. They tend to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum. This paradox may surprise you but it does not come as any shock to me.

You see, politics don’t matter when it comes to people of this nature. They exist in a simple transactional environment where the only thing you are to them is a means to an end. Nothing political, ideological, moral, or ethical binds them from their goal of using you to get what they want. And, of course, you oblige.

We all have experience with this sort of person. You run into them after a long absence at some place you frequent. They tell you how great you look, laugh at your wonderful jokes; then they get to the point. What can you do for them? The meeting was no accident.

Meghan Markle used Piers Morgan to get into a party where she targeted Prince Harry, then she had no more need of Morgan so she dumped him. Donald Trump flailed around various political ideologies until he found a Republican base willing to listen to his completely disingenuous ramblings on immigration. When he no longer needs them, he dumps them. Meghan Markle and Donald Trump are largely one and the same.

Enlightened Self-Interest

I thought this might be a useful time to speak briefly on the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest because you might mistake the narcissism of Meghan Markle and Donald Trump for it. Nope. They tend to destroy all they touch in their mindless grasping for the glittery trinket in front of their face.

Someone who act to further the interests of others, or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest. That’s enlightened self-interest.

Narcissists are Sometimes Right

It’s also important to understand that Meghan Markle and Donald Trump sometimes have good points. They aren’t wrong all the time and just because they are selfish, transactional people doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to their legitimate grievances.

I live in the real world and I’m quite certain Meghan Markle was subject to racist abuse and that Donald Trump was occasionally harassed not for his policies but simply because of his name. When bad things happen to bad people, we should call it out. That doesn’t make the narcissist less self-centered, it just makes us a better person.

Conclusion

When it comes to Meghan Markle and Donald Trump it is likely you hate one and support the other. If you dislike them both you are in the minority but, if it’s any comfort, you have my support.

Tom Liberman

All Creatures Great and Small versus Miss Scarlet

All Creatures Great and Small

The PBS shows All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlet wrapped up this weekend and their run gives me a chance to speak on their relative merits. I think a fair analysis of the two shows is in order because Miss Scarlet clearly has a Woke Agenda while All Creatures Great and Small displays many of the themes associated with that movement but with a significantly gentler touch.

The problem is that Miss Scarlet isn’t very good, in fact I’d argue it’s awful, while All Creatures Great and Small is rather a delight. Because of the Woke Agenda displayed by Miss Scarlet I suspect many detractors will lay blame on this theme while apologists will defend the show’s shortcomings as actual strengths.

I’d like to take a more objective look at the two shows and what makes All Creatures Great and Small what I would call good and Miss Scarlet bad. I’ve spoken of subjective and objective in other places so I won’t go deeply into them here.

What makes a show objectively good? Characters, cinematography, plot, theme, acting, directing, the ending, and other elements; not our subjective desires for a show to be good or bad.

The characters in Miss Scarlet are strikingly one dimensional. We know little about the titular character other than she was raised by a father and wants to be a detective. We know even less about The Duke, her love interest. Meanwhile, James, Tristan, Siegfried, Helen, and even the minor characters of Hugh, Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Pumphrey, and a host of others are more fleshed out than the main characters of Miss Scarlet. I have more empathy for the farmers whose cow is sick than I do for Miss Scarlet. One farmer stays up all night rubbing salve on his sick charge and that tells me more about him and his wife, who never lets James leave without a meat pie or two, than I know about anyone in Miss Scarlet. The most developed characters in Miss Scarlet are her patron and Moses, two side characters. Sadly, the director apparently chose to have Moses speak with such a heavy Jamaican accent I often don’t know what he is saying.

The chemistry between the Miss Scarlet and the Duke is akin to Anakin and Leah if you’ll permit me a Star Wars reference. I’m mystified as to why anyone would be attracted to either of them other than their appearance. Meanwhile the tension between James and Helen is palpable from the start. They care about the same things, they ask one another questions, they show interest in each other’s lives, if they bicker it’s just a good-natured jibe here or there, not a constant bombardment of quips designed to show us how clever is the writer. Even Hugh, the romantic rival, is portrayed as a real human being who cares deeply about Helen.

The acting in Miss Scarlet is atrocious. Both main actors display no range of emotion and their constant flirt/bickering takes the tension out of every scene that is designed to be tense. Someone is pointing a gun at them, time to throw quips at each other and grin condescendingly. Meanwhile I can’t think of a bad performance in All Creatures Great and Small. Tristan starts out as an obnoxious, entitled, moron, and by the end he is a lovable, if flawed, fellow. The minor characters are believable and add to the show at every step.

The music in Miss Scarlet is overbearing and attempts to force us into emotions. It’s time for action, time for fear, time for joy. It’s loud and obtrusive. I barely notice the music in All Creatures Great and Small. It is subtle and enhances a scene rather than dominating it.

The cinematography in Miss Scarlet is boringly repetitive. Almost every shot in the entire series is a front on close-up of a character as she or he speak. Not to mention the bleak, dark, washed out background which are clearly designed to contrasts with what must be the focus of our attention, the vivid and bright Miss Scarlet. The vibrant country life depicted in All Creatures Great and Small is colorful and stunning although some scenes are dark and gray as appropriate. It is never dull, predictable sameness. Just look at the images I picked for this blog. One is sterile and one is filled with life.

The sets in Miss Scarlet are stark and tell us little about the inhabitants. There are few nick-nacks on shelves, few paintings on the walls, few personal items scattered about. Even Miss Scarlet’s office has barely a picture of the father who supposedly so influenced her. Meanwhile the sets of All Creatures are filled with personal objects from the opulence of Mrs. Pumphrey’s house to the peeling wallpaper in the home of the interracial couple whose dog is having trouble with her puppies. I believe real people live here, people with lives outside of the shot required for the show.

The story in Miss Scarlet makes little sense and the finale was so convoluted I completely lost track of what was happening. It was as if multiple pertinent scenes were left on the cutting room floor. As an example, Miss Scarlet has been put in a cell for her protection, although it’s not clear why the villain wants to harm her, and suddenly, she is in the detective’s office working on solving the case.

The story in All Creatures Great and Small certainly takes liberties with reality in order to further the plot but largely remains believable. I was regularly unsure of what would happen next. Would Helen go through with the marriage, would James turn around, would the cow die? I didn’t know and I was invested in finding out.

The ultimate villain in Miss Scarlet is sprung on us at the last second and I’m not even sure why or how he managed it all. So much was unexplained I was left utterly baffled and dissatisfied. The ending in All Creatures Great and Small was bittersweet and totally in line with all the events that happened before it. I was left satisfied even though there was no final resolution.

In an English period piece, the clothing and scenery is almost always fantastic but in Miss Scarlet the tone was dark, darker, darkest with little of London on display. The clothes, you ask? Miss Scarlet and the Duke are always impeccably dressed in clothes that look like they just came from the tailor, this despite having been locked in a dirty cell all night or having been investigating in filthy brothels for hours. Speaking of brothels, I was instantly turned off to Miss Scarlet when she threatened to burn down the brothel and kill dozens of working girls and patrons because Moses stole her purse. I mean, she’s vile and selfish, she doesn’t think about others. Why would I like her?

Meanwhile the wardrobes in All Creatures Great and Small looked like clothes people actually wore all day. People got dressed up for fancy events but it was clear their fineries were not new from the tailor. Shirts look rumpled and lived in. Everything looked alive and real, as if these were real people from real life who happened to come across the camera that day.

I’ve gone on too long. You can certainly subjectively like Miss Scarlet and the Duke and subjectively dislike All Creatures Great and Small. That’s your decision to make. However, an objective look at the elements of both shows comes to but a single conclusion.

Tom Liberman

Batwoman Criticism Legitimate or anti-Woke Propaganda?

Batwoman

The second season of Batwoman on The CW is getting universally bad reviews for any number of reasons but is any of it simply anti-Woke backlash? What makes this interesting for me is that I’m just about ready to write a negative review about Miss Scarlett and the Duke which also includes a Woke objective.

This is a real problem when a television show or movie is objectively bad and is also being used as a platform for social issues. When someone like me; as white, male, and privileged as you can find in the world, writes negative thoughts about Miss Scarlett there often follows accusations of being hostile toward such social issues.

When someone like HeelvsBabyface, Nerdrotic, or TheCriticalDrinker makes similar complaints about Batwoman, they sometimes come across as anti-Woke rather than simply critical of the show in question. The show has numerous problems but the focus of the criticisms from people often is the subversion of good writing and logical plotlines in order to present Woke issues. The fact the producers of some of these show state quite clearly this is their objective muddies the water further.

The reviewers I’ve listed above are rather caustic in their tone and brutal in their assessments and do come across, fairly or unfairly, as anti-Woke. Ryan George of Pitch Meeting fame is far gentler in his criticism and includes a great deal of humor which makes him appear less negative.

This all leads to the answer of my question if the criticism of Batwoman is legitimate or simply the raving of anti-Woke activists. It’s both and it’s neither. Some of the criticism is certainly coming from an anti-Woke bias while a great deal of the criticism is legitimate and concerns other problems with the shows in question. Who gets to decide which is which? You. That’s the point here.

There is no question that raging Incel, anti-Woke nut jobs look to certain videos as validation for their misogynistic and misguided hatred. There is also no debate that some of the people who watch these reviews are not so inclined.

If a reviewer has a caustic and negative style that’s their business. Perhaps they do have an anti-Woke bias against Batwoman or perhaps they just find the show intolerably bad regardless of its Woke agenda. You get to watch the reviewer you want to watch and if you think they are overtly anti-Woke then stop watching. If you like the reviews, continue to watch.

I like to consider myself Woke and my novels address some of those self-same issues although I try to put logic, plot, character arc, and general theme above those ideologies. I also think my upcoming negative review of Miss Scarlett is not based on the Woke aspect of the show but other elements that are sorely lacking.

The question of Anti-Woke or legitimate review is largely for you to decide for yourself. I can’t decide for you, nor do I want to make such an attempt.

Tom Liberman

Ken Jennings Replacing Alex Trebek

Ken Jennings

The last episode of the game show Jeopardy hosted by Alex Trebek aired this past Friday and speculation has been rampant that Ken Jennings will be his replacement. Ken Jennings is largely considered the greatest Jeopardy contestant of all time and, as such, seemed to many people, a natural replacement for the iconic Trebek.

It was clear to me from the beginning that Ken Jennings wasn’t a good fit for the position but the speculation and expectations give me an opportunity to speak on a subject I find quite interesting. Being good at one thing doesn’t mean you’re going to be good at anything else.

Sports fans like myself are well aware of the old adage that those who cannot do, teach. Generally speaking, the best managers of baseball teams are those that weren’t particularly great players. This fact translates to most athletics. Yet, there is a common, I’d almost say universal, perception of exactly the opposite. People think a great player will make a great manager and are shocked and disappointed when it fails to happen.

I’m not going to talk about Ken Jennings and his various social media statements as a reason to disqualify him from hosting Jeopardy. I want to discuss the qualities that make a person good at one thing and why people seem to think those self-same qualities will translate to something else.

Ken Jennings has a fantastically well-rounded knowledge of many subjects. We call this trivia but that is not really a fair assessment. He has knowledge and a lot of it. He is also coordinated enough to be able to click in at the right moment which is no easy task on Jeopardy. Often times you have to click quickly before your mind even truly processes that you know the answer. You have to understand the pattern of the question, match it to your general knowledge, and come to the conclusion you will likely know the answer before you click the button, as there is a penalty for incorrect answers. That Ken Jennings is elite, perhaps the best in the world, at this, is unquestionable.

Asking the questions is a completely different skill set. Hitting a baseball is completely different than understand when a starting pitcher has had enough, especially when he’s your ace and he’s damned pissed when you come out to the mound to take him out of the game.

What I’m trying to say seems obvious and I think most people agree. Being a game show contestant is a completely different skill set than being a host. Ken Jennings is a bit awkward; his body language is stilted; he doesn’t provide a comfortable personality which draws out the best of contestants. He’s just not going to be a good host, that’s reality and it’s relatively obvious.

So, why? Why do people think he’ll be the best host of Jeopardy to replace the fantastic Trebek? Why do humans seem to connect excellence in one thing with greatness in another? Why do we think a world class expert in one subject has anything useful to tell us about another topic? And, most importantly, why do we put someone in a position of power in a field for which they have no knowledge?

Dr. Ben Carson, current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is a brilliant neurosurgeon. He also believes the Great Pyramids were built as grain silos. This is the folly of believing because someone excels in one field, they must be fully qualified to do something else. It’s a dangerous way to make decisions.

Yes, Ken Jennings is a great Jeopardy contestant. Of this there is no question. However, he’s almost certainly not a great Jeopardy host and this is the lesson.

Tom Liberman

Aerosmith was Better on Drugs but for Whom?

Aerosmith was Better on Drugs

A social media friend of mine posited with unequivocal certainty that Aerosmith was better on drugs. By this he means their music was more enjoyable to him. The main point being, when taking mind-altering drugs, the band created better music. He might well be right but I think the important factor in that statement is my friend is viewing what is better through the lens of his betterment, not the members of the band.

I think this willingness to view the state of another person’s life and decision by how you are affected is a common human condition. I don’t blame my friend for saying what he said, and there are probably some reasonably objective standards we could apply to the question but that is not my point today.

Yes, it’s entirely possible Aerosmith was better on drugs then when they gave the lifestyle up. Perhaps their music was stronger, edgier, and better by all objective standards but that doesn’t change the underlying selfishness of the statement. I enjoyed the music more when the members of Aerosmith were blitzed out of their mind on mind-altering drugs. That they might have been shortening their lives, creating significant medical issues, courting death by overdose, hurting those around them with their behavior, is unimportant. Or at least less important than my enjoyment of their music.

Artists, by and large, suggests my friend, are better when they are whacked out of their gourd. Again, I’m not trying to insult my friend with this observation. I think we all look at life through our own eyes and what is good for us. I see nothing wrong with this philosophy, to at least some degree, but I think it’s important to recognize it.

Was Aerosmith better on drugs? For me, yes. For them, arguable. This is one of the fundamental ideas of objectivism and libertarianism, both philosophies my friend ridicules and perhaps why I’m writing this blog. It turns out my friend is an objectivist Libertarian of the first order when it comes to bands producing the kind of music he likes.

Take that, Harris.

Tom Liberman

Conservatorship of Britney Spears

Conservatorship of Britney Spears

The Conservatorship of Britney Spears is in the news these days because the entertainer was suing to regain control of her finances which her father has controlled for the last twelve years. The issue in regards to whether or not to revoke the conservatorship of Britney Spears is an interesting question from a Libertarian perspective.

First a little background, twelve years ago Spears went through a difficult period in her life that led to losing custody of her two children, serious financial setbacks, and out-of-control behavior fueled by various intoxicants. In order to prevent further damage, Jamie Spears, her father, petitioned the state of California for Conservatorship and was awarded such. It is now 2020 and, according to Britney Spears, times have changed. She thinks she is now capable of handling her own finances and is concerned her father is not managing the money appropriately.

The question about the conservatorship of Britney Spears is a difficult one because it seems quite clear that she was, twelve years ago, incapable of properly managing her life. The state allowed her father to step in and manage her money and life and, judging by events over those twelve years, he has done at least an adequate, if not exceptional, job.

That being said, who is Jamie Spears or the court system to say that Britney Spears is still incapable of managing her life and finances after twelve years of personal growth? The general Libertarian mantra suggests if a person wants to ruin their own life, it is their right to do so. However, if the person is not mentally or physically capable of doing so, the question is much more nuanced.

I have a mentally disabled family member and there is no question she should never be in charge of her own finances. The money would be stolen by dishonest entities and she would almost certainly be left destitute and in horrific conditions without protection.

Britney Spears is not so impaired, physically or mentally. She might well have a substance abuse predilection but we just don’t know one way or the other if she is capable of handling her own finances. It’s possible some con-artist is pulling the strings in an attempt to end the conservatorship of Britney Spears. I strongly suspect Jamie Spears is better capable of handling the finances than his daughter. That suspicion is not enough, in my opinion at least, to keep the conservatorship of Britney Spears fully in place.

In this particular case it is a father attempting to look out for the welfare of his daughter but there are parallels to government trying to look out for me and you. In some cases, the father does know best and, in some cases, so does the government. That does not mean we should allow them to take control of our lives without strong reasons.

Britney Spears has spent twelve years without control of her own money and I think that’s long enough, barring any evidence to the contrary. She should be allowed to manage her own finances. When it comes to controlling another person’s finances or life, we must err on the side of freedom or we risk tyranny.

Tom Liberman

The Generational Misogyny of Sean Connery

Sean Connery

Sean Connery died earlier this week and while tributes poured in from many sources one of my social media friends brought my attention to his opinion on striking women. Connery felt it perfectly acceptable to hit a woman if she was being annoying. Sean Connery was 90 years old when he died and that means he grew up in the 1930s and 1940s. The general misogyny of the United States during this period is something people seem to have forgotten.

During that era the first women voted in the United States. Women didn’t serve on juries in many states and Mississippi was the last to allow them to do so starting in 1968. The first woman elected as a judge in the United States didn’t happen until 1920. I could go on but I won’t. When Sean Connery was a boy, women were largely second-class citizens, beholden to their husbands, commanded by religion to obey, with fewer legal rights than men.

This is the era of Sean Connery and when he said it was perfectly acceptable to hit a woman if she was being annoying, he was speaking for the majority. I don’t write this to absolve him of blame for this misogynistic opinion, I write it to showcase how little removed we are from such a world. It seems to me women in the United States largely forget their gender was, until relatively recently, not considered legally competent to make their own decisions in life. They were barred from everyday practices men enjoy.

This casual and systemic misogyny has a number of sources, not least of which are religious texts regarding adultery, rape, and other such decrees. I’m an Atheist because I am convinced there is no creator deity but I despise religious doctrine in no small part in regards to its views about women. I don’t want to go too far in that tangent so I’ll get back to my point.

The normal, systemic, acceptable view of women being nothing more than chattel for men is not as far removed as you might delude yourself into thinking. Search through your social media with due diligence and you will find plenty of people who imagine women must be subservient to men, they must be modest, they must follow religious laws, they must bow, they must whimper, they must beg, they must trust men to make decisions for them. Sean Connery is dead but his world is not gone, it lurks, waiting, hoping for a return.

Stand on guard, my friends, do not forget. An individual must decide the path of her life. Those that wish to control, to degrade, to inflict violence and enforce their will, they are the enemy.

Tom Liberman

Amplifying the Bad on Holey Moley

Holey Moley

Producers of the miniature golf show Holey Moley decided that amplifying the bad segments from season one for the second year was a good idea. Sigh. I actually semi-enjoyed the first season which pairs miniature golf with obstacles. I hoped they would fix the issues and remove the problems for the second season. Wrong again, Tom. Wrong again.

I recently ranted about how Lego Masters was nearly unwatchable because of the format; at least it was the first season and, hopefully, they will make changes for next year. Holey Moley had that very opportunity and decided amplifying the bad segments of the show was the best way forward. If you enjoy my rant blogs then gear up. If not, well, move along, nothing to see here.

The show pits twelve, eight for season two, golfers against each other in head to head competitions on holes which run a wide gamut of challenges. This is a problem. One hole consisted of a straightforward four-foot putt. Whomever took more strokes to finish was dumped from the platform into a pond. Another hole had competitors making long putts through a windmill which they then navigated themselves, risking being pushed into the pond. In other words, the challenges were completely different.

This leads to three problems. Sometimes a competitor in the first round ended up playing the same hole in her or his second or third round while their competitor had never played the hole before. This is obviously unfair. The second problem is some of the holes were so complex it took the players long minutes to navigate them. This meant not all the first-round matches could be shown completely. Finally, some of the holes were so difficult they required more physical ability than golfing skill giving an advantage to coordinated and fit competitors.

The same problem of too much time spent on skits and jokes seen on Lego Masters was present in Holey Moley, although not nearly as bad. Overly long introductions, explanations, and long periods spent where the hosts set up complicated and, largely, unfunny jokes took away from gameplay. So much so that some of the competitions were not shown at all.

What did they do for season two? The made the complicated and difficult holes longer and more physical so that is now almost an American Gladiator like contest. They spend even more time on promotion, skits, and nonsense. The essentially decided amplifying the bad was what people wanted. They might be right.

Maybe people want more hype, more dunking in water, more smashing into things, more stupid jokes, and less miniature golf. I am not one of those. It’s what I despise about most movie sequels. They spend time amplifying the bad things in the first movie, or even amplifying the good features until they are badly overused and boring.

I couldn’t even make it to the end of the first episode of season two of Holey Moley. Oh well.

Tom Liberman

Video Killed the Radio Star or Did it?

Video Killed the Radio Star

I was there the day video killed the radio star; watching in my neighbor’s room at Upham Dormitory at the University of Idaho. It was a glorious time to be alive when video killed the radio star. Momentous events that changed the world were going on all around me. Well, no, it’s all a bunch of hyperbolic nonsense, wistful memories, and wish fulfillment. Video didn’t kill the radio star and you’re not a special flower.

I’m reminded of the song Video Killed the Radio Star in relation to events going on in the world. People want to assign momentous meaning to anything and everything. This is the end! This is the beginning! Everything is different this time! It’s not. People are people and the answer to the question; did video kill the radio star is no, it didn’t.

If the radio star dies, it will be because people lose interest in the medium of radio. They listen to music on a music platform like Spotify or via internet. The musician lives on. Change is constant, nothing is the same as it was yesterday, at least if you view the world from anything other than a subatomic level, which we all do.

If the world changes it isn’t because of some external element, it’s because a whole bunch of individuals changed the way they go about their business. If the people of a country want a dictator who issues edicts with no checks and balances, no check and no balance will stop it from happening. If they believe in individual liberty with limited government control; by golly, we will have it.

The fight isn’t against a new technology but lazy minds that prefer comfort and safety over freedom. It’s just like Jonathon E told Ella in Rollerball: I’ve been thinking, Ella. Thinking a lot — and watching. It’s like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

The sky might well be falling but video didn’t kill the radio star, you did.

Tom Liberman

The Hays Code and its Effect on Strong Women in Hollywood

Strong Women in Hollywood

Way back in 1934 Hollywood Instituted the Hays Code which had a deleterious effect on the portrayal of Strong Women in Hollywood that seems to have lasted almost to present times. A while back, I wrote about the demise of the Hays Code but I didn’t examine its long-lasting negative impact on strong women at that time. My thoughts on the Hays Code and its correlation with the lack of strong women in Hollywood came to my attention last night when I was watched a Pre-Code movie called The Silver Cord.

In the Silver Cord a woman scientist, portrayed magnificently by Irene Dunn, is married to a young architect. He is offered a job at a prestigious New York architectural firm. She is, from the first moments of the film, a strong woman. She is a biologist working in a lab and clearly skilled and intelligent. When she makes it clear she will accompany her husband to New York and take a position at a laboratory that offered her a position some time ago, her boss laments her leaving but tells her she is the sort of woman who must have both a career and a marriage, that it is not a choice of one or the other.

I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the plot of the movie and how Christine, Dunn’s character, proves time and time again to be not only a strong woman but also a woman. She likes being married and very much cherishes the idea of motherhood. This is the sort of character long absent in Hollywood. She is not just a stereotypical male protagonist being portrayed by a female actor but she is a strong woman in every sense of the word.

Did the Hays Code destroy this sort of portrayal of women? It’s hard to argue against the idea. In 1933 a woman was being portrayed as a scientist, a wife, and a potential mother. She stands up to her husband and tells him if he cannot cut the Silver Cord of his overbearing mother, she will move on without him. That she cannot stand to see his career and life stifled, that is not the sort of man she can tolerate. Her soliloquy is bold, strong, and independent.

It was claimed the Hays Code was implemented to protect We the People from the degenerate influence of movies but one suspects it was fashioned, part and parcel, from the fear of white men that ideas, good ideas, were promulgating and influencing us. How often do we see that same mantra when it comes to censorship? We must be protected, like children, by the politicians.

If the Hays Code had not existed, how many movies portraying strong women might have been made in the ensuing eighty years? We will never know. We can only see the damage such paternalistic rules engender.

The Hays Code did far more damage than anyone can really calculate. Generations of strong women were not shown examples that might have fundamentally altered their lives. Generations of men did not learn of the sort of woman who makes a perfect and equal companion. What a terrible crime.

Tom Liberman

AMC Theaters versus Universal Films

AMC Theaters

AMC Theaters just announced they will no longer showcase Universal Film movies. Why are they doing it? Because Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to home viewers rather than offering it to theater chains first. Universal did this largely in response to the fact most theaters are closed because of the Covid-19 situation.

The stated problem for AMC Theaters and their CEO and President Adam Aron is simply the release of the movie in a way that bypasses the theaters. There is some truth in this but I suspect the bigger reason for the decision is that this particular release generated over $100 million in revenue. A number that is similar to the projected take for a widescreen release. This is a frightening confirmation of something the movie theater owners and operators have long feared, the end of their revenue stream.

More and more people watch their media at home and on their devices. This is undeniable. Hollywood revenue has remained relatively stable for the last eleven years after having nearly doubled in the same period prior to 2009.

Universal released Trolls World Tour directly to viewers and this is not particular strange. Plenty of content providers are doing the same but not for what are considered Blockbuster Movies. For companies like AMC Theaters the blockbuster has become the heart of their revenue stream. Independent movies continue to thrive but generate far less revenue than blockbusters. Meanwhile, streaming services like Netflix, HBO, and Amazon are taking a bigger and bigger bite out of their potential content.

AMC Theaters wants to stay in business. Universal Films wants to make as much money as possible and those two desires are now in conflict. Thus, the strongly worded letter from AMC Theaters. That letter, quite amusing if you read the whole thing, has this little gem within: Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way…. I chuckle. It is absolutely done out of pique and is punitive in nature. That boldfaced fib alone is enough to make me take Universal Film’s side in this issue.

AMC Theaters has legitimate concerns and they are desperately attempting to slow the movement of media consumption away from theaters and onto devices. Perhaps they will succeed. Maybe Universal, and other content providers, will ignore the fact they made as much from a non-theatrical release as they would have from putting the blockbuster in theaters.

Of course, if AMC Theaters goes through with this plan, they are also eliminating a major studio from their theaters and thus a large stream of revenue.

Personally, I think the steady decline of people viewing movies at the theater will continue and AMC Theaters will eventually go the way of Blockbuster Movie Rentals. Perhaps I’m wrong. Time will tell. What do you think?

Is AMC going to succeed in their threat to pull all Univeral Films?

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Tom Liberman

Lori Loughlin is the Covid-19 Response from the United States

Lori Loughlin

Do you want to be Lori Loughlin and fight for a long time or Felicity Huffman and take your punishment up front and move on? Sometimes in life you have a choice between suffering today or delaying the pain until later in the hopes of avoiding it altogether. It’s an interesting decision from a Game Theory perspective and I like to examine it today.

In the case of Covid-19, the United States trod the Lori Loughlin path of delaying the pain in the hopes it would go away. It didn’t and now we’re paying the price. Meanwhile countries like Japan and South Korea went the Felicity Huffman rout and took the punishment early, avoiding more disastrous consequences later.

Is one choice better than the other? If you choose to avoid punishment today there is always the chance the pain will never come. Perhaps Lori Loughlin will have the charges against her dismissed or she will not face any prison time. Felicity Huffman, on the other hand, pled guilty and served a few weeks in a minimum-security prison. She has that on her record forever but she is basically living her best life now and has been for a while.

There are arguments both ways. It’s sort of like staying in place when a hurricane is forecast for your region. If you don’t leave and the disaster doesn’t come, you’ve saved a lot of time and effort. However, if it does come, you might well die, be horribly injured, lose family members, or otherwise suffer for a long period of time.

In this case, President Trump and many of his political allies decided Covid-19 wasn’t that big a risk. That it probably wouldn’t get bad and we shouldn’t risk economic pain today for the uncertain forecasts of its dire consequences tomorrow. Some of them maintain that position even today despite the dying going on all over the country.

To be honest, we still face that very same decision right now. We are currently avoiding public gatherings but people are still getting sick and dying. The question we cannot answer is how many might have died; how bad would the economic impact be if the disease spread more quickly and widely throughout the United States? How bad might it get if we give up on social distancing too early?

It’s not unreasonable to conclude that had people continued to congregate normally the eventual economic impact could have been far worse. If huge numbers of people got sick then everyone would isolate without prompting from the government, merely out of self-preservation. This would hurt the economy far worse than we are currently experiencing.

Of course, it might not have been that bad. That’s the risk you take when you decide to avoid pain today in hopes it won’t arrive, and be significantly worse, tomorrow. It’s the decision you face right now in regards to social distancing. Accept the suffering today? Put it off and hope it won’t be so bad tomorrow?

Perhaps Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman might give us cogent answers to these questions. As for me, I think it’s better to take the consequences today rather than suffer later, you may disagree.

Tom Liberman

Lego Masters or how to Mess up a Good Idea

Lego Masters

Lego Masters reality show! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw the first promotion for this show. Teams of Lego Masters building complicated designs and being judged by professionals in the field? What isn’t to like about that? Elimination competition, cool Lego builds, reality drama! Bring it on! Let’s go! Today, I want the episodes to start now! I want Season Two!

It’s a wreck. I’m willing to admit my hatred of the result is certainly a product of my expectations. I thought it was going to be amazing and it leaves me bored, disappointed, and simply angry at the bad choices they’ve made. If I thought it was going to be awful and it was, I’d shrug my shoulders and move on. After last night’s episode, I’m so triggered that I have to write a blog. So, buckle your seatbelts, prepare for rants, gird your loins, build a Lego fallout shelter; I’m going to explain all the mistakes.

Problem number one is the challenges are completely unfair to the competitors. No one has the same challenge! Seriously. Everyone is given different objectives. The premier episode got it right. They were all to build a section of an amusement park centered around an epic ride. That gives the audience immediate understanding of the challenge and we get to see creative differences immediately arise. Who has a good idea? Who has a bad idea? How does each team implement their plan? Good stuff. We got it for one week.

Week three illustrates the problem. The competitors were given an object to cut in half and they were to fancifully build the second half. The problem? Everyone had different objects. Therefore, it’s completely unfair to the teams and judges. One gets an exciting and dynamic object while another gets a static and dull object. It’s also impossible for the judges to rate the teams. The third problem with this format is that ten to fifteen minutes of the show are wasted showing us each of the different objects for the teams. If there was one object for all to finish that takes a minute, the creativity of the teams is paramount, and judging is based on an equal scale.

It’s not hard. It’s really not. Create a store at a mall. Create a floor in a skyscraper. Create a bucolic country scene for a kid to view while traveling cross country on vacation. You had it right in the first episode and abandoned it. Yarg!!

The second issue is that Will Arnett is performing skits with guest hosts and others for about half the Lego Masters show. Meanwhile we don’t get to see anyone building. In the most recent episode, the winning team had a supervillain and sidekick that were a Pharaoh and Scorpion Queen. This gave them a huge advantage over the Bathtub Guy and Plant Girl team, see above for my rant about that. In any case, we saw them laying the groundwork for their structure and after all the skits and guest host nonsense, we see the finished product! Seriously, almost zero building, zero design, zero planning. Nothing.

The Golden Brick is a disaster. The idea is the team that wins one week gets a Golden Brick they can use to stave off elimination subsequently. They hold the brick for as long as they want. This created an enormous problem last week when the Superhero/Supervillain teams combined builds to make a battle between their original builds. Well, the team that had the Golden Brick had no pressure and the team paired with them and the other teams weren’t on a level playing field. Immunity, fine. But the Golden Brick just doesn’t work this late in the game or when there is a combined team competition. It’s fine for the first couple of weeks, maybe.

I’m willing to give the judges somewhat of a pass because problem number one makes their job all but impossible. Still, I will touch on the idea of their inherent unequal treatment of contestants. Two of the contestants, Aaron and Christian, were significantly more experienced and skilled than most of the other teams. The judges seemed to rate their efforts largely on the idea that their builds should be not better than the other teams, but much better! Anything less than awesome was bad.

This was illustrated in the last episode. Their build was clearly better than poor Bathtub and Plant team, who again, were at a huge disadvantage from the start. Still, the better build should win.

I hope they get Lego Masters right next season because it could be amazing. As it is, it’s unbearably sad to watch.

Tom Liberman

United States Government now a Sopranos Associate

Sopranos Associate

With this latest, and unstoppable, economic bailout the United States now officially declares itself a Sopranos Associate. The government currently owes $22 trillion and, with the stimulus package in the works, that number is going to rise more rapidly that in any time in the history of the country. What you have to understand is that this is borrowed money on which interest is paid by taxpayers.

In the criminal world this is called Loan Sharking which was one of the main methods in which a Sopranos Associate made money, off which they pay a percentage to Tony Soprano and the rest of his criminal organization. In government, they call this debt service but it’s the same thing.

The United States borrows money from bankers and wealthy people, largely Chinese and Saudi Arabians, who purchase Treasury Bonds and then pay interest on this loan with the intent of eventually paying the principle amount back. As any good Sopranos Associate knows, you don’t ask for all the money back at once, you bleed them slowly with what is called vigorish, or vig, in the criminal world but interest in the banking world.

I wrote about how the Post Office of the United States was deliberately driven into bankruptcy in order to take out loans so taxpayer money could be used for the vig to bankers. This is essentially what has happened to the entire United States government and we the taxpayers are paying the bill for the degenerate gambling politicians who, it must be admitted, we elected in the first place.

I’ve said for many years now that there is no chance the principle amount of the loan will be paid off and the entire debt is largely a way to redistribute taxpayer money to friends of politicians. If you are unwilling to admit this reality now, well, I suppose I’ll never convince you and just stop reading.

The saddest part about all of this is that we are the ones getting run over by the $60K Lexus but it is our elected officials who borrowed all the damn money. We didn’t even get to do any gambling and that Sopranos Associate, the United States government, is having all the fun.

The end of the story? World governments go bankrupt and forgive all the debt. In the meantime, your money is going to a Loan Sharking Sopranos Associate who is buying vacation homes, renting yachts for family vacations, and generally doing all the things with your money that you should be doing yourself.

Tom Liberman

Nobody Thought they were Truman Burbank before Television

Truman Burbank

There are a number of people who think they are the subject of a Reality Show much like Truman Burbank from the Truman Show. They are delusional, certainly, but what is undeniable is that no one had such a mental delusion prior to the invention of television. Even after the invention of television it was not a heard about mental problem until after the Truman Show became part of the public conscious. What does that tell us about the human mind?

It wasn’t until H. G. Wells wrote the War of the Worlds that people began to see aliens and UFOs. No one saw a leprechaun until they read, or were told, about them first. This is reality, a concept from which the people who suffer these delusions are somewhat divorced. But then, aren’t we all? Our memories are faulty, our senses unreliable, and our confirmation bias on high alert most of the time. It’s no wonder people think they are the subject of a reality television show.

I have a friend who, despite being apparently sane, intelligent, and rational, firmly believes he is the subject of an alien experiment where he is the only “real” person on the planet and everyone else is part of the research. Is he insane? Or is his delusional normal? Is everyone delusional to some degree or another? Is he Truman Burbank?

We are, undeniably, the center of our own universe, just like Truman Burbank. When someone I know moves to a location beyond my ability to sense them, they essentially disappear. I have no idea what they are doing or how they are conducting their life until I see them again. We are, equally undeniably, not the center of the real universe. We are not the subject of alien experimentation or the star of a television show in which the rest of reality is an illusion designed to fool us.

What happens that causes people like my friend, or those with the Truman Delusion, to lose their grip on reality? If they continue to function in normal society, is it really that damaging? Do we not have functioning drug and alcohol addicts around us every day? If they can manage to keep their delusion, or addiction, from putting them in a mental hospital, what harm is there?

I’m not going to write a dissertation on these many questions. I think the problems of mental health and self-delusion are complex and not easily addressed. I’ll try to sum up my thoughts in a reasonable way.

I think we should all strive to do a better job of being critical thinkers. I am not Truman Burbank and neither are you. Don’t believe what you want because it boosts your ego, trust what evidence shows is the most probable truth. Be a critical thinker.

Take this attitude toward all things in life. What car to buy. What food to eat. For what politician to vote. What novel to read.

Tom Liberman

Is Art Defined by the Constraints of the Medium?

Art Defined by Tic Tac Toe

During board game night a discussion broke out about how is art defined? While we delivered in the Wasteland Express the software developer opined that his job was artistic but that of an engineer was not. This being true because the medium in which the engineer worked was more greatly constrained.

Needless to say, strong opinions were hurled. I find the question of how is Art Defined to be an interesting question but the moral of the story, and the point of this blog, is more about how to we come to a consensus on a question that, by its nature, has no easy answer.

At issue; at least for the fellow trying to define software development as art, is how to we determine if an endeavor is so constrained that it can no longer be considered art. When confronted by thorny issues of this nature I think the best strategy is to simplify the question as best as is possible. It’s always going to be difficult, if not impossible, to determine what constitutes a line in the sand as far as constraints and be able to get to the bottom of Art Defined.

I started, on the drive home after having been thoroughly thrashed in the Wasteland yet again because I have too much fun making deliveries and taking on raiders and forget about the Victory Conditions, but that’s my issue and I’ve completely lost the train of thought on this sentence, best start again. As I was driving home, I thought about how most people who play chess at a moderately high level consider a well-played combination to be artistic. Certainly, chess has more constraints than engineering. If a game of chess can be artistic then we must conclude that a particular engineering design can be as well.

That being said, I must simplify further. How about checkers, I said to myself while waiting at a red light. Darn those red lights. No, even better, Tic Tac Toe. If we are going to simplify, let’s go all the way. Can Tic Tac Toe be artistic? No, I said to myself. End of story! Wait, I argued with myself, don’t be so hasty, Tom. Really? I replied. Yep, I answered. Let me give you an example.

In Game One the O player makes three moves and wins the game because the X player doesn’t make a blocking move. In Game Two the O player makes moves so as to block player X and set up a situation where she or he has two paths to victory and cannot be blocked. Is not Game Two more artistic than Game One?

We’ll, I said aloud to myself as the couple in the car one over looked at me like I was crazy. Did I mention I was waving my arms and hands to illustrate the moves on the Tic Tac Toe board? Well, you may have a point, I said nodding to the superior knowledge of me.

No, problem, I replied in an attempt at modesty. You would have come to the same conclusion if given enough time. Thanks, I said, although I suspect I was being a little condescending to myself.

In any case, if we decide that one Tic Tac Toe game can be more artistic than another, we are admitting the game can be artistic, although perhaps less so than a chess game, but artistic nevertheless. If this is true, it seems impossible to conclude anything other than all human endeavors possess the possibility of being artistic, regardless of how constrained they might be. There is the potential for art in all things.

This being the case, which I think I’ve proved to myself beyond a reasonable doubt, I think all engineers can now rest easy knowing they are capable of artistic designs. Now that I’ve resolved Art Defined, let’s tackle a bigger problem. How can I possible win a game of Wasteland Express if I don’t pay any attention to the Victory Conditions … a mystery that may never be solved.

Tom Liberman

Arkham Horror Card Game Losing to Win

Losing to Win

I’ve been playing through the Arkham Horror Card Game and, along with my stalwart companion, reached the scenario called Undimensioned and Unseen. The game mechanics of that particular session contain a setup rule that gives me the opportunity to wax poetic about the concept of Losing to Win.

The premise of Losing to Win is if you do badly in a particular situation you are, to some degree, rewarded by getting a better chance to win in the future. We see this scenario most vividly in North American sport league’s drafts and I wrote extensively about my objection to them another time. The ideology is those who are not doing well need some extra help in order to succeed.

In this case, Undimensioned and Unseen is preceded by a scenario entitled Blood on the Altar. In that session you are tasked with saving various people from sacrifice to the Elder Gods. The number of victims who survive has a direct impact on the number of Brood of Yog-Sothoth that appear in the subsequent scenario.

Daisy Walker, played by Andrew, and Zoey Samaras, played by yours truly, had both skill and the luck of the dice on our side when we vanquished Blood on the Altar with only a single person sacrificed to the Elder Gods. Hooray, we thought. Then we read the setup scenario to Undimensioned and Unseen which told us the people saved in Blood on the Altar was inversely proportional to the number of Brood of Yog-Sothoth in play. We had to fight the greatest number of enemies, five, whereas teams that watched horrified as all the kidnap victims were killed only had to fight two of the enemies. Luck was not on our side this time and we were soundly crushed after killing three of the Brood.

Had we done nothing in the previous scenario, we would have easily won this scenario. Should we play again, we will undoubtedly pursue such a strategy, why wouldn’t we? That is the problem with rewarding failure and punishing success. You encourage Losing to Win.

The issue in real life is quite a bit more complex than a card game. If a person has terrible setbacks in life, do we reward her or him with food and shelter she or he would not otherwise be able to afford? Do we allow a company that utterly fails to declare bankruptcy and not pay their obligations? These are not easy questions to answer and I’m not going to attempt to do so today, but I am aware the issue is complicated and has many nuances.

Still, I think my basic premise is sound. We should reward success. We often need not punish failure as it is painful enough on its own. In this manner we avoid Losing to Win scenarios like Undimensioned and Unseen. And thus, the victims are not sacrificed, which, except for a few peckish Outer Gods, is a good thing!

Tom Liberman

Why You Throw Like a Girl is both Wrong and Right

Throw like a Girl

I was watching a Reality Television show called Southern Charm when Chelsea Meissner erupted at a male cast member who was having a meltdown. She said something along the lines of check your pants for a vagina and I’ve got a bigger penis than you. Meissner, as you might imagine, has more than a bit of There’s Something About Mary in her. In any case, it got me thinking.

Meissner did not intend to denigrate women but the phrases she used most certainly did. On the baseball diamond it was not unheard of to say, and I’m as guilty as anyone: You throw like a girl. What is meant is not that girls throw badly but the person in question is not good at throwing. The reality is it insults women and makes negative assumptions about their throwing ability.

In the same way Meissner was subtly, although I’m sure unconsciously, suggesting men are better adults than women. Her point was the male cast member was throwing a temper tantrum like a small child and that he couldn’t handle even the slightest bit of adversity without falling apart. This was absolutely true. She was accurate in her assessment but the phrase she used is clearly denigrating toward women in general. That’s the problem.

We have a culture of terminologies that make clearly false gender assumptions, particularly in this modern day and age when women, in progressive countries at least, are finally being given all the same opportunities as men and proving, over and over again, they are equally capable.

What’s to be done about it? I think it’s important to come up with new phrases that will, hopefully, slowly enter the culture. We can easily find ways to make our point without insulting one gender or the other. Instead of you throw like a girl we can simply say you don’t throw well. If we want a bit of color, I’m sure there are ways to make the phrases both appealing and gender neutral. You throw like a penguin perhaps. I’m sure someone else can do better.

It’s got to be a conscious effort. I have to stop complimenting a person’s boldness by tying it to the size of her or his testicles, non-existent though they may be. You have to do the same. It takes time, these changes, but it can be done with a concerted and honest effort. When you say something that denigrates a gender unfairly, you are setting an example. Try to be better, I am.

Tom Liberman