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Skepchick Quickies 10.2

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Do you think it would help if there was some kind of consistency to the ratings?

    Probably, I also support Roger Ebert’s initiative to create a rating for films that are adult only oriented but not pornographic, as a complement or alternative to the NC-17 rating that all studios dread.

  2. The Cichlid fish are just one of the subjects Dawkins covers in “The Ancestor’s Tale” that made part of me wish I’d become a zoologist. Nice to be reminded of them and see that they’re still very relevant to current work.

    I think Sagan is the gentlest introduction to reading about atheism, if that’s what one is looking for. If somebody is ready to jump in with both feet, sure, hit ’em with Harris or Hitchens.

    Personally, I wish more people would read Dawkins, ANY Dawkins, just to dispense with the false image (intolerant, rude, immoral) some of his critics try to present.

  3. I’m not as well-versed on TV or game ratings, but I hate the MPAA, and their “ratings” are notoriously inconsistent, arbitrary, and, sometimes, downright contradictory. The last line of that article says it all when it comes to using only ratings to decide what kids should see: “Instead, actual parenting will be required.”

  4. Some of the MPAA ratings are pretty quaint. “Rated R for sci-fi violence and some language.” Why the qualifier “sci-fi” before “violence”? Would the movie be any less/more violente if we had blaster pistols in real life? And I thought most movies used “some language,” English, Spanish, Hindi or whatever. So only silent movies qualify for a G rating? Unless what they’re saying is “That’s some language, young lady!”

    Parental warnings in Argentine TV use the term “adult language” instead. By my reckoning, “adult language” is the one children use.

  5. Ratings are a good idea and a good way to inform people of the content of movies, music, games, etc. However, right now, there really is no consistency whatsoever, so they are practically useless. It’s all just personal opinion. And ain’t it funny how a lesbian sex scene is seen as obscene but a straight sex scene is not? And violence is a-ok! Just look at the most recent Die Hard movie; it was FULL of (awesome) violence and death. But it was only PG-13! Throw in a few “fucks” and some naked boobies, and it would have gotten an R. Totaly ass-backwards. Or bass-ackwards ad my Algebra teacher in HS liked to say.

  6. sigh. i wish i had something new and insightful to say about any of this stuff. i guess the only thing i would point out is that just because there is no clear demarcation of where the line should be drawn does not mean we should not draw a line (as I’m sure no one here will argue). is driving 55mph inherently incredibly safer than driving 60mph? probably not, but with no speed limits many people would drive reckless and insane and no doubt kill themselves and others (not that they don’t already). if you really argue with where the arbitrary, but albeit necessary, line is drawn, draw a new one! or petition to the powers that be to draw a newer, more appropriate one. i think the skepchick members with kids (or even without) can appreciate the fact that it is necessary to shield them from some things at certain ages and i think it is really up to the parents to draw that line, if they are so inclined (parents can tell their kids that they can’t go see a G rated movie, if that is what they decide- they could also decide to let their 3 year old watch an R-rated movie that they have rented). and for those that aren’t so inclined (as the article poignantly pointed out), big brother is just trying to pick up the slack. unfortunately big brother rarely gets anything right and usually sucks. i think we just need a new big brother.

  7. @ Amanda – good articles! I hadn’t seen the Atheist Revolution site before. Several things there caught my attention.

    @Ken Hahn – I agree. Dawkins is such a good writer if you are at college level reading. The Ancestor’s Tale is one of my favourite books of all time. It has a fascinating story and reads almost like science fiction but it species history as best we know it now. With a background in chemistry and geology, it hit just about all my buttons.

    I think all ratings, such as they are, are meaningless. I’m baffled by what is allowed for one studio and isn’t for another. I saw an expose’ on the ratings board for many of these films and the results were very interesting. Content and politics were more important than nudity or violence. I know – “shocking”, right?

  8. Hi. Keeping tabs for Rystefn, so you might be seeing me from time to time, but I’m posting my responses not his.

    @hotphysicsboy: That’s a bad analogy. Germany, for example, has no speed limit on most of it’s freeways and doesn’t have more crashes. In fact, they have far fewer automobile accidents on the autobahn than on pretty much any stretch of American highway you could name

    Sorry. These are Rystefn’s words, but I agree with them: Americans treat cars like a right and the law treats drivers like children. That’s why we have so many wrecks. Cars are dangerous. We should be careful who is allowed to use them. If you treat people like children, they will act like children. They will never act like adults until you to force them to by treating them like adults.

  9. i agree with your criticism, @Sabrina, however, that is not apples to apples. the Autobahn is (awesome!, for one) designed with the idea of driving really REALLY(!) fast safely on it. however, your typical American highway or residential street is not. i think that actually does a good job of bolstering my point. in order to keep people from driving at Autobahn speeds along residential streets (where, for example my niece is playing) we must draw a line of some sort (if we choose to attempt to reduce aforementioned tragic auto accidents). where this line is drawn, however, remains open to democratic debate. as i think it should be. oh and Americans can’t drive btw (spurious cause to aforementioned, uncited statistical example, although there are also others).

  10. @hotphysicsboy: I think the autobahn is a much fairer comparison to highways than to residential streets. That’s an unfair analogy and that’s why I specifically said highways. If we keep the discussion in that area, I think you’ll find the analogy is more than apt. Yes, such roads are designed so that one can drive fast on them in a safe way, but the average speed of a motorist driving on those roads is about 100km/hr, more or less the same general vicinity as most posted highway speed limits in America. The legal chance to drive faster does not immediately cause drivers to go faster. Americans drive fast because they’re a bunch of spoiled children on the roads.

    Germans also have a much lower instance of speed violations in area with posted legal speed limits. The difference is obviously a cultural thing where Americans just don’t feel the need to abide by speed limits.

    Which kind of makes them ineffective at doing anything but raising money in fines.

  11. @Sabrina- which is why i agreed with you that the automobile argument was a crappy analogy. i was merely trying to point out the fallacious reasoning that just because a specific line with an agreed upon and intuitive boundary cannot be drawn it does not follow that we should not draw a line at all. such as a speed limit. we (hopefully) agree that driving 1,000,000 mph in a car is probably not safe (do kph conversion yourself i’m too lazy) on any street. on the off chance that if there were no rule against it that someone would attempt this ridiculous act, it follows that clearly there must be some limit. where that limit lies, i argue, is subjective and open to democratic debate, however arbitrary it may be. and i’m sure that the government makes enough money without my occasional $100-$200 speeding ticket. it’s not a fund raiser, it’s supposed to be a deterrent. that actually sort of smacks of some conspiracy-type thinking to me. if they were really low on funds they would just raise taxes or borrow more money from china, not pull you over. oh, wait, that’s already what they do

  12. I’ll chime in about ratings: I should be able to see PG (or whatever) and know exactly what that means. If they have to qualify it with “for someone saying shit once and mild violence”, but another movie gets the same rating for “lots of violence but no boobs” then why have the letter rating at all?

    I’d like a 3 (or more but I can’t think of any right now) tier system that takes into account the Big 3 of concerned parents: “swearing”, violence, and sexuality/nudity. One number (like 1-9) or letter on a scale representing each element. So a 1) gory violent movie with 2) no sex and 3) some swearing might get a rating of 9-0-4 or something like that. That way if I’m concerned about sex, but not violence (for some strange reason) I can go “ok that movie is fine”, etc.

    I don’t like how they lump so many different elements into one rating. They need to be more specific and they need to be more clear and transparent about their process. Rating systems are helpful, but I think the current system is at best incomplete and misleading to parents.

  13. Norway’s rating authorities have improved greately since the days when they banned Life of Brian, and I find these particularly amusing:

    Lost in Translation
    -US: Rated R for some sexual content
    American Splendor
    -US: Rated R for language
    The Yes Men
    -US: Rated R for language

    Norwegian rating? “All audiences.”

  14. @Andrés Diplotti: Actually I have seen that used in American ratings as well, usually it’s “some Adult language” or “Strong Language.” The real problem seems to be that there is a lack of standardization, even within MPAA ratings.

    @hotphysicsboy:
    http://www.motorists.org/speedlimits/ Some information of the nature of speed limits and how they are set, also,
    http://www.purdue.edu/uns/x/2008a/080623ManneringSpeed.html about how increased speeds are safer. There’s also this interview with
    Mr. James Walker, auto safety expert
    .

  15. @Kimbo Jones: I think it’s funny that things like Planet of the Apes were rated G back in the day but today they’d be PG or PG-13 for “some language” or “sci-fi violence” or sexual innuendo (I forgot what they call that one, you know the stuff that adults will catch but that will go right over kid’s heads anyway).

  16. @Killyosaur42
    some speeds in automobiles are better and safer than others. this intrinsic difference is how we come up with speed “limits”. as I’m sure that the study that i’m too lazy to investigate will tell you, that there is a point beyond a certain threshold at which faster speeds will become less safe (as objects with higher velocities have greater momentum, and therefore require a greater force to slow them down). i am hotPHYSICSboy so trust me when I say that. therefore, putting a cap on the velocity of very heavy metal objects is a legitimate safety measure. i’m sorry but no hyperlink on the face of this earth can convince me that a ford taurus going 500 mph down a residential street is safer than a car driving at 5 mph on the same street under the same conditions. yes, it may be safer to drive 65mph than 55mph for some reason or another, but in no way is traveling at near the speed of light safer under the same conditions than driving 55mph. sorry. once again, the idea is that this arbitrary line must be drawn somewhere and it is up to THE PEOPLE (in the form of the democratic governments we elect) to determine where this line must be drawn.

  17. @hotphysicsboy: If they are supposed to be a deterrent they fail. I didn’t say they were intended as a fund-raiser, I just said that’s all they do. You’d surprised how much money they bring in. $100-$200 per plate is what a lot of fund-raising dinners run, and they have a much smaller guest list than speeding tickets.

    Also, if there was a car that could go a million miles per hour, do you really think any law would prevent it from being driven at those speeds?

  18. @whoever is taking issue with me playing devil’s advocate next
    i’m going to just drop this and get back to being my normal quirky, funny, lighthearted, occasionally commenting self once again. nothing personal i just like myself better that way and no doubt so does everyone else.

  19. @hotphysicsboy: 85 percentile of the driving speeds of drivers on the road is in fact generally accepted to be safe. I nor anyone in those articles are suggesting going 500mph (or, more reasonably, 80mph) down a residential area. However, what is noted in the studies and in the interview, is that when driving at higher speeds, people tend to be more alert, meaning that they are more likely to see things they may not see normally, are less likely to fall asleep at the wheel (a serious problem and cause of accidents) and several other benefits. Also, slow drivers tend to cause more accidents than faster drivers, and driving 5mph down a residential area doesn’t mean that the person is in fact driving safely.

  20. @hotphysicsboy: Not necessarily. I enjoy the mental exercise from whoever is willing to play devil’s advocate, or just willing to take up an opposing position. It’s too bad, really that you would choose not to continue to defend your position simply because of, I don’t know what. As long as the discussion remains civil, I see no problem with a little bit of healthy debate.

  21. @killyosuar
    as do i enjoy kicking ideas around but i just feel like most of the time people on here really agree with each other’s point for the most part but argue on semantics or often are more or less setting up straw men in order to prove they are somehow intellectually superior. notice how no one ever really argued with my point that i was trying to make all along (about the fallacy about arbitrary limits) but (for example) rather chose to argue about a ludicrous example i stated just to prove a point. i guess i would find this more worth killing time at work if someone actually argued with the point that i had been making all along. do not think that i am backing down or that i have chosen to snuff anyone. i just argue when i feel it is beneficial or actually progressing the conversation in a positive direction. otherwise, i am more than content to sit back and listen and throw in an occasional sexually charged comment and occasionally have my hot avatar hi-jack exhausted threads.

  22. Speed limits = boring

    Now, the rampant weirdness of the MPAA? Much more interesting. Anyone seen “This Film Not Yet Rated”? And wasn’t there a Bullshit episode on ratings?

    @writerdd: Huh, Planet of the Apes is an interesting example. In my lifetime, it seems like the PG13 movies have begun to include more and more of the “taboo” stuff. I wonder if it really is a broader category now, with things that would’ve been both PG and R before being classified as PG13 now.

  23. @Amanda – That’s the film I mentioned above “This Film Not Rated Yet”! I couldn’t remember. It shows that most of the ratings board were not who they claimed to be and the subject of the film decided what rating, not the actual things going on in it. For example, a film about gay relationships versus straight for the same content.

  24. MPAA is as much a marketing tool and political pressure group than anything else, IMHO.

    Some producers want “R” ratings because they get more attention (read: “business”) for their film. Many groups pressure the MPAA to give more adult ratings to some films because of their political or religious content. (Now I wouldn’t be thinking of the so-called “Moral Majority” would I?)

    But that’s just my opinion…

  25. @marilove:

    I have no issues with anyone arguing semantics with hotphysicsboy if it means he’s going to just keep commenting. Every time he comments he makes the world a better place.

    @hotphysicsboy:

    Believe it or not, I actually read all of your posts (I’m starting to be able to read past the avatar).

    Do over, let’s just for the sake of argument say that speed limit is a good thing, and that implementing one for safety is necessary. Is 65mph safer than 55mph? Is 20mph in a school zone safer than 23mph?

    Not really.

    But a line has to be drawn SOMEWHERE in order to make a speed limit.

    I like the idea of a ratings system as a guideline, I guess. But what ever happened to the old fashioned way of figuring out if something is appropriate for your kids? The one where you, as a parent, check it out ahead of time?

    Slapping a label on shit should never be a substitution for research.

  26. @everyone
    sorry about my little hissy fit or whatever the hell that was earlier today. everyone had valid points and i truly believe that was a very healthy argument. disregard anything i wrote that came off as me being a jerk, if you could be so kind. i would never want to discourage someone from arguing with me. ever. ever ever ever. ever ever. upon rereading my comment(s), i know notice that they may have came off as defensive or emotional, i get that now. my bad. that was not my intent or my state of mind. please argue with me. lots. just minus the straw men and red herrings when possible (i realize that these are not always intentional- see next sentence). semantics i can live with because being able to express yourself clearly is very important indeed.

    @marilove
    thank you! i usually enjoy playing devil’s advocate because it is generally more difficult. not that i would waste anyone’s time by taking a position i think is totally bogus, but often even the most unpopular stances have valid points that i think many people are quick to dismiss. you can look forward to more of this when i get more slow days at work (like today). p.s. what are you talking about you are WAY sexier than me. meeee-ow.

    @Elyse
    what more can I say? your comments always have a way of totally making my day when i get home from a long day of work and night school. you rock my world! and i couldn’t agree more. far as i can tell, there never has been and never will be a substitution for doing your own research. that is what being skeptical is all about. my oh my i feel at home here.

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