Television Television!

TV Shows We Used To Watch by Paul Townsend, CC-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

In the 1940s, there were only three stations: ABC, CBS, and NBC.  The programming was live and broadcast out of New York, then distributed to local areas.

Less than 30 years later, 44 million households had televisions, and there were 566 TV stations.  Advertisers spent over one billion dollars to reach that audience.

As of 2007, there were over 1,300 stations, and advertisers hit the 60 billion dollar mark!

I missed out on the golden age of television.  I didn’t get into the TV scene until the 1970s when I was a kid.  Saturday morning cartoons, filled with Saturday morning advertising.  Specials on weeknights that made me beg my mother to let me stay up late, stuffed with – you got it – more advertising!

With all these great things to watch but no time to watch them all, VCRs got popular.  People could record television shows and watch them later.  Then they could skip over that advertising that they had paid money to avoid once upon a time.

Now new services and devices, like the DVR and Tivo, have come out onto the playing field.  People can once again skip ads, even easier than before.  No more needing to hold down the “fast forward” on the VCR or press the remote control.  Now you just skip the ads and go along your merry way, watching TV without interruption.

And the advertising people aren’t happy.

But advertising now permeates everywhere.  Movies don’t just have previews: they have ads for cars and Coca-Cola.  Shows include product placement, whether overt and obvious or nearly subliminal.  Cars seem to be the worst offenders, with The Glades not even hiding their Kia endorsement, Psych’s love for the Ford Focus, Bones and Booth being in love with their Toyotas, and Big Bang Theory’s Wolowtiz celebrating his return from outer space by buying a Mini.

To a lot of people, advertising is the best part of the Superbowl.  There are contests and games based on the commercials that are shown, and advertisers shell out big bucks to make a statement and get their brand out there.

Do advertisers need to change their tactics?  Maybe we’re moving away from the golden age of advertising.  Maybe instead of having 30 and 60 second ads tossed into the middle of shows, we need to just let them take over and sponsor shows like they used to, like General Foods sponsoring I Love Lucy and Buick sponsoring The Honeymooners.  Or let the characters use and sell the products.  Yes, all the viewers will know it’s forced, but aren’t ads forced to begin with?

Technology is going to keep changing.  Advertising needs to keep changing, too.


Special Olympics, but only for those who aren’t too “special”…

Simon can’t believe that he got his medal in the 2011 Special Olympics Bowling Tournament!

So I have another rant to go on…

I received a copy of an email that was sent to a school employee (and thus is public under the information act, which is why I’m sharing it here…):

It is a requirement that athletes are able to remain in the pit and bowl when directed to bowl. We will have volunteers there to assist them in scorekeeping and staying in bowling order but they will not be expected to hold athletes are keep them under control. We will need to utilize our volunteers and coaches & staff will not be permitted to sit and hold athletes in the pit area either. This will be your decision if those particular athletes are capable of competing or not. You should be working on this concept with them prior to the event at all your practices and you will know if they are ready by December 1st. It’s not fair to the athletes that are competing if they are consistently disrupted by athletes that shouldn’t be there if they are having problems on that particular day. You can always inform the athletes and parents that they are welcome to come and participate but when their behavior becomes intolerable that they will be asked to leave. If they know this coming in, it won’t come as a surprise.

The person who sent this email is the current head of the Gulf Coast Special Olympics (Area 22).

Personally, I’m horrified at the concept of being told that my son’s behavior is intolerable at an event known for including all. Furthermore, research I’ve done for the Special Olympics bowling rules don’t seem to imply that a coach cannot be in the pit and cannot hold my son; the rules do not allow them to help him bowl, but there is no mention of not being allowed to sit on someone’s lap in between bowling or not being allowed to get a hug from one of the coaches.

I have been trying to reach someone, and so far, no one has been able to help. I left messages before Thanksgiving, but got no response. Today I was able to reach someone at the state level, and she suggested I try to reach the person here in the Gulf Coast again and send an email…

So I did…

And here’s that email:
I am very concerned about the information I received from our coach, Mr. Greg Mitchell.

My son, Simon, has been participating in Special Olympics Bowling for 2 years; he has received both a bronze and a silver. However, I am now afraid he will be “asked to leave” if his “behavior becomes intolerable.” Can you please define for me what “intolerable behavior” is and why the rules seem to have changed from past years? When he was 8 and when he was 9, he was allowed to have a coach in the pit to help keep him on task and hold him, when needed. The coach did not help him bowl in any way; she was merely there to help alleviate his anxiety and help with his focus. Both of these issues are typical for children with autism, and I am worried that the rule to keep coaches away will mean that less children with these issues will be able to reach their potential, as per the Special Olympics statement:
“Emanating from the mission, the ultimate goal of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities participate as productive and respected members of society at large, by offering them a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public’s awareness of their capabilities and needs. The Founding Principles support this goal by emphasizing that people with intellectual disabilities can enjoy, learn and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, underpinned by consistent training and by competition opportunities for all levels of ability. According to the Principles, Special Olympics must transcend all boundaries of race, gender, religion, national origin, geography, and political philosophy. They also state that every person with an intellectual disability should have the opportunity to participate and be challenged to achieve their full potential, with the focus at community level to reach the greatest number of athletes, strengthen their families and create an environment of equality, respect and acceptance.”

I have tried to reach you by phone, but your voice mail box is full, and I have not been able to hear back from anyone else at the office. I would greatly appreciate knowing more before Saturday morning as my son will not understand it if he is asked to leave for behavior that someone else finds intolerable.

Now, I’m going to see if I hear back…in the meantime, just for some light reading, here are some links to the statements made by the Special Olympics that seems to imply that my son should be welcomed instead of found “intolerable.”

Special Olympics: Mission, Goal, and Founding Principles

Special Olympics: Official General Rules

So let’s see how this plays out. You’ll see a happy or sad posting after the tournament. Good luck to us, and to all who feel the need to fight for fairness and equality against closed minds.


When is teasing a jailing offense?

Students in a mock jail cell at Frontier Fiesta, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, don’t get me wrong – I am completely against bullying and teasing.  Pretty obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog.  But…when is it time to send someone to jail over it?

In Ohio, a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was “mocked” by a 43-year-old man, William Bailey, who was recorded with a cellphone camera imitating the limp the girl had.  He denied that it was directed at the girl, but did apologize to the girl in a statement after pleading no contest and being sentenced to one month in jail on charges of disorderly conduct and aggravated menacing. 

Was he wrong in what he did?

Well, yeah, duh.  We all know that.

But why go to jail over it?  Can’t we all just agree he’s a douche bag?  Can’t we just use him as an example of what’s wrong with the world?  Can’t we just shake our heads and point to him and tell our children that he’s obviously the one with the handicap?

Why do we have to legislate common manners and decency?

And why do it when the guy is already in his forties?  We ignore the problem in schools, we ignore the problems in life, but once someone has kids of his own, we suddenly realize that it’s a problem?

Maybe we need to do something about it sooner.  Maybe we should have handled this guy’s urge to make fun of other people back when he was in school himself, instead of waiting and tossing him in jail.  Although, I have to admit, there’s something to be said for the thought of a guy serving a sentence for bullying…what will he have to claim to avoid getting beaten up?


Why be a cheerleader when stripping pays better?

"Channel Solid Gold" by Abe Atri, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons
“Channel Solid Gold” (a strip club in Mexico City) by Abe Atri, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons
"Washington Redskin Cheerleaders" by dbking, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons
“Washington Redskin Cheerleaders” by dbking, CC-G, via Wikimedia Commons

Seriously. This is a legitimate question, and I’d love some responses.

But first, let me tell you how I got to this question.

A news story popped up because some new cheerleader outfits were being called too skimpy and revealing.

I went to check out the article, and there was a great quote from a guy who claimed that there was nothing wrong with the outfits that bear a striking resemblance to something found in Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood. But, he was careful to note, his daughter (also a cheerleader) would never be allowed to wear something like that.   “‘I think they’re a little overdressed. Of course, I’ve got a daughter who’s a cheerleader down there, and she will not be wearing anything like that,’ said Dennis Stanek.

Ah, the joys of hypocrisy!

This whole exchange got me interested, though, in the careers of professional cheerleaders. Just why is it worth it for them to engage in cheering on these sports teams? What do they get out of it? Is it just, as the article says, that they “[cater] to that 14-year-old boy or even that 30-year-old woman that they can inspire”? (Which, I’d like to assure you, I find hard to believe – perhaps men of all ages, but unless you assume all women are lesbians, that “inspiration” is lacking.)

So I went and found another article, one that talked about the Redskin cheerleaders, just to use as an example.  The cheerleaders who make the cut get paid – are you ready? – a whopping $75 per home game performance!  Wow, huge bucks in that field!  Now, to be fair, they also receive a pair of season tickets, but, of course, they’re working during the games, so they have to give those away.  Now, here comes all the unpaid work: two to five practices a week, lasting up to six hours each; practicing and studying the choreography outside of the practices; exercising, tanning, dieting, etc. and all those other goodies that they have to do to keep up their “look;” and eight days every year for a calendar shoot (they don’t receive any proceeds from the calendar sale, FYI).  Then there are the game days themselves, which means that most of the cheerleaders are up early in the morning to get ready and be at the field before 8 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game.  Then, assuming all goes well, the cheerleaders are done by 6 p.m.  On top of that, the Redskins won’t state how much the cheerleaders make for their personal appearances at various locations (which the Redskins charge for), plus any of the images of the cheerleaders are used without any fees going to the women, even though the football players are paid for the use of their likenesses.

Sounding like a raw deal?

Let me also note that the average salary for an NFL football player is $770,000 a year (as of 2010 figures), although the low end is a measly $200,000 and the high end a whopping $1.4 million.   To play a sport, and sometimes, I might note, play it really, really poorly.  I wonder if cheerleaders would get contracts like that if they fumbled and dropped the ball, so to speak…

Regardless, let’s get real now.


Forbes, in October of 2011, had an awesome series on strippers.  The strippers they talked to earned a whole lot more than those cheerleaders, and, depending on where they were, sometimes wore just as much.  (Remember, some areas, do not allow full nudity…)  So, one woman earned anywhere from $23 to $31 an hour.  When she worked anywhere from 75 to 96 hours per month (how many hours do you put in? 160 or more?), she took home about $2,200 to $2,900 a month.  On top of that, she was able to deduct all of her expenses for waxing, costumes, make-up, etc.  Another woman they talked to earned up to $4,400 a month, again working only 9 days that month.  The women admit that age can lower their earnings, and some months are worse than others, but we’re still talking about performing in scanty outfits.

Let’s look at it this way:
Similarities: Must be in good physical condition.  Must keep up their appearance.  Must wear skimpy outfits and perform in public.
Differences: $75 for a full day’s work.  $120 for about 4 hours’ work.

So, again, let me ask the question: Why be a cheerleader when stripping pays better?


Didn’t we already clear this up?

Equally Guilty: Counts for fire, counts for rape…
Image from the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so I thought – maybe foolishly – that after the discussions of binders of women, the concept of “legitimate” rape, and the whole Republican White House defeat, that maybe we had moved beyond having to classify sexual assault by levels.  That, perhaps, we had decided that any sexual assault was bad, and it didn’t matter who did it or who they did it to.

And then KHOU ruined my morning by their oh-so-specific headline: “HPD: Woman date raped by man she met on Facebook.”

Because, you see, HPD (or KHOU…or both) are now saying that this woman’s rape was, well, it was just “date rape.”  Like, you know, it’s just “a family matter” when it’s incest or domestic violence.

We have all these great little euphemisms to help take away from what actually happens, and to make us feel better.

Because if it’s “just” “date rape,” well, we don’t have to be concerned.  She obviously is part of the problem, right?  She met him on Facebook and then met up with him.  So we can blame her just as much as we can blame him.  Isn’t that the point?  Otherwise, why not be clear?  Why not say, “Woman raped by sexual predator.”  Says the same thing, doesn’t it?  But it takes the blame off the victim…it takes the burden of the meeting off the woman…and it shifts that burden to the truth.  A predator/criminal/whatever you want to call him sexually assaulted another human being.

Language is such a tricky thing, and we can bend it and use it however we want to.  Maybe we should take a time out to examine what we say when we refer to a crime, a criminal, and a victim.  Maybe we shouldn’t come up with these little explain-it-away kinds of phrases that make us feel better but make the victim feel even more victimized.

So, just to clear it up for those who missed it:
Rape is rape.
There is no difference between rape, date rape, legitimate rape, incestuous rape, or any of those other little classifications that we like to put on it to try to shift the locus of blame.






Outrage Switched On

Weigh in… by southernfried, http://morguefile.com/archive/display/93433

Sometimes I wonder just how true Reno 911! is…like when I read this story on KHOU yesterday.

Let’s break it down.  Parents are trying to keep “exclusive authority” over their daughter’s health care decisions.  Here’s the thing; their daughter is 32, but she only has the mental capacity of a 6 year old.  She had been living in a group home in Reno, but 13 weeks ago, “she wandered away” and got pregnant.

Wait, I want to say that again.  She wandered away and got pregnant.

The attorney for the parents, the ones who claim that they should have “exclusive authority” over the woman’s health care decisions, stated that the father of the child hasn’t been identified and that it is “unknown whether the pregnancy resulted from rape or consensual sex.”

Wait, now let’s go over that – it is “unknown whether the pregnancy resulted from rape or consensual sex.”

She has the mind of a six-year-old girl.  How can a six-year-old girl consent to sex?  How can you ask if it was rape or not?  What are the odds she wandered off for a quickie?  I’m thinking that’s not what happened.

So let’s go back to this.  A woman with the mind of a six-year-old girl manages to wander away from a home and comes back pregnant.  I would think that would be the focus of the parents.  But, nope, I’m wrong.

The parents, you see, are upset because the doctors are recommending that the woman has an abortion because she is not mentally or physically capable of having the child.  In addition to her mental disabilities, she also has physical issues, including epilepsy.  She does not understand the pregnancy (again, so how the hell can you even question if it was rape or not??), and she would be in physical danger if she went off her epilepsy drugs because of her physical issues.

I’m not even going to argue the abortion point here.  That is, I think, irrelevant to the real issue here.  The real issue is that this was a rape.  Plain and simple.  She could not have consented.  But no one is fighting that.  The only mention of the rape is that “the circumstances are under investigation.”

Which is why I’m even more outraged – an anti-abortion group is claiming that it is the parents’ right “to protect their daughter’s right to have a child…There’s no reason for this woman to be subjected to the danger and risk of an abortion because someone else thinks she’s not worthy of having a child because of her medical condition.”

Okay, I’m going to have to ask you to wait again.  Did anyone mention the girl being unworthy due to her medical condition?  No.  But is it true that she is physically and mentally incapable?  Probably.

Again, though, the point here is that it has nothing to do with the abortion.  Why isn’t this same group upset about the rape?  Why aren’t they up in arms about the fact that this woman was ignored long enough to wander off and get raped?  If this had been a six-year-old girl with epilepsy, what would they do?  If she hadn’t gotten pregnant, would they care?


Oh my virtue!

The Triumph of Virtue over Vice by Paolo Veronese
The Triumph of Virtue over Vice by Paolo Veronese


Virtue has a number of definitions, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to refer to only a few of them.
1. moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
3. chastity; virginity: to lose one’s virtue.

I wanted to begin with them as I discussed a recent news story and its subsequent end.  Because, here’s the thing: for a change, procrastination really paid off for me!

Back on the 28th, KHOU posted an article about a 15 year old girl who had been abducted and raped after getting off a bus on her way home from school.    When I read the article, I was mad because the community activist quoted stated that, “The virtue of a young girl is the most precious thing she has – it’s the most valuable thing she has…”  And I was outraged.  Seriously.  I assumed that he was referring to the third definition – her virginity or chastity.  And all I could think was, really?  That’s the most important thing?  Not her life? Not her dignity? Not her intelligence?  But if she’s not a virgin anymore, damn her to hell?  Just wow that people still think that way.  We aren’t trading women for cows for marriage around here anymore, so we need to do away with that outdated thinking.  Blah blah, more outrage on my part.

Then on the 29th, the mother of the girl spoke out to KHOU.  She said that her daughter was traumatized by it, and that she kept telling her daughter “it’s not her fault and that we’re going to get through this.”  And I thought, how very true; the girl shouldn’t feel any blame, and perhaps it was the previous comments that made her feel the blame.  After all, she just “lost” the most valuable part of herself.  My sympathies were with the girl, and with her mother, both of them dealing with a traumatic event.

But…then…it happened.  On the 1st, a new story appeared on KHOU.   After activists got involved…after her mom went to the press…after I had gotten outraged on behalf of the girl and her mother…it was all fake.  The girl had lied.  Apparently, “the detectives became suspicious of the girl’s story during the forensic part of their investigation.”  Neighbors are outraged; the original activist is planning on holding a conference to discuss what happened.  And now we get to the other meaning of virtue.

Apparently, the activist was right.  The girl did lose a kind of virtue that is now gone forever – “moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.”  Lying to police…to her family…to the community.  And we still don’t know why.  Regardless, though, it appears that virtue was compromised on that day, and it will never be able to be given back.