Dream Big.

Get Smart will premier in just a week.  Despite my childhood love of the series, I view the new movie with some trepidation.  I love the quirky voice of Maxwell Smart from the old shows, first known to me as the voice of Inspector Gadget.  I loved the way he was silly man who everyone knew was silly and yet they trusted and somehow he always came out on top.  And while I trust Steve Carell in this role, He can’t give me the first thing and I’m not sure the movie is really going to give me the second.  It seems from the previews that Agent 86 is down on his luck and must win out against the day for a Hollywood ending.  I’ve had enough of people’s inner strengths eventually being realized.  Whatever happened to the bumbly fool we knew was a fool and loved for his foolishness, not just his success?  To have others realize Max’s flaws as flaws seems to go against the grain of the original show, leaving all of us still hoping for the day we will succeed, rather than being loved for our own current foolishnesses.

Another part of the show that was always doomed to fail was the technology used in the series.  The explosive lollipop didn’t explode, the pinky-ring recorder malfunctioned, and the shoe phone was out of service.  But that didn’t stop the inventors from coming up with new foolishnesses, or the agents from trusting and trying them over and over.  The current movie should be more of the same (I hope), if a little more based in reality.  While many of the devices that will be used in the movie are exaggerated, I wonder if the ridiculousness of the gadgets and their malfunctions will still be an integral part of the plot.  I hope so.  Because if we’ve lost the ability to make fun of our obsession with newer and better stuff, we may be sucked down in the whirlpool.  I want the ability to see where we’re heading, the ability to poke a little fun at our own preoccupations with science, as well as the ability to think about the wonders the next ten years will bring.

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My father, the robot

There are two universal rules of fathers with daughters.  1) They will try to scare the crap out of your boyfriend.  2) They will, at some point, be utter balls of corn.  No matter if your father walked out on you at the age of three or is the most mild-mannered accountant the world has seen, your boyfriend will ignite the inner concerned and rampaging defensive parent.  No matter if your father was at one time funny or is a cold-blooded killer, he will at some point break into utter ridiculousness.

Take my father’s reaction to my boyfriend’s recent birthday.  My parents sent him a card.  They even sent him a book.  However (and here’s where the corniness and threats come in), my father also left a voicemail message for Mike.  The content of the message was simple enough: “Happy Birthday, young man.”  However, it was said with a tone of voice that some may consider ominous.  When taken with the fact that my dad was calling from his cell phone, which Mike doesn’t have the number for (unlike my parent’s landline at home, which he has in his phone), it makes me wonder if he intended that ominous note.  Perhaps he even intended that Mike would ask me what strange man from the 317 area code would know when his birthday was.  Perhaps it was simply a fringe benefit.

The unintended consequence was Mike’s assumption that my father’s voice was that of a robot.  Mike thought that the message had to be one of those online programs you can have a specific voice or weird synthetically produced voice say the text you enter on someone’s voicemail.  I’m thinking specifically of Samuel L. Jackson and Snakes on a Plane here, and some of the hype that went on for that.  It took me 15 minutes just to convince Mike that yes, I could recognize my father’s voice as recorded on his phone.  Even then, it was really my friend Gina’s corroborating opinion that got Mike to believe.

Regardless of how much the man who gave me half of my genes to me sounds like a robot, he’s still a father with a daughter.  He still will try to intimidate boyfriends and will be occasionally reduced corniness.  And now I have the proof recorded on voicemail.

It’ll only cost you a limb.

I’m not all that familiar with discrimination laws in India.  However, the recent cases against Air India have made me wonder.  Is it legal to ground a flight attendant without pay for not meeting a weight standard?  Should it be?  Are the reasons such standards are in place (reaction times in dangerous situations and the physical fitness required for the job) accurately reflected in the standards themselves?  Does a weight to height ratio truly sum up a person’s physical fitness or abilities?  Considering that muscle weighs more than fat, I would say no.  Not that I’m for muscle-bound air hostesses, but I do question the airline’s motives.  At the same time, if these are the rules of the job known when starting employment, is it fair to complain about them only now?

Most of the women are planning on dieting while in court, hoping to return to work eventually regardless of the ruling.  However dieting could still cause problems for them in the future.  It will be a constant strain to keep off the weight.  Added to that is the emotional pressure of being judged for your weight on a regular basis in order to keep your job, and you have significant mental stress.  At that point, it would almost be easier to cut off an arm or a leg to permanently take off the extra poundage.  If the airline comes after you for not being able to maintain your duties after that, it’s definite disability discrimination.  Does it say anywhere in the job requirements that you need two legs to perform the job?

Perhaps an even better way to address the physical fitness issue of flight attendants should be some sort of obstacle regularly taken to measure ability and performance.  It would be like a military one, but slightly easier and more appropriate.  It would involve things like climbing a cargo net, sprinting the length of a 747, lifting a 50-lb suitcase over your head, balance beam while carrying a drink tray, pushing a food cart at speed around a length of cones, and ending with opening up an emergency exit on a  plane and sliding down that inflatable slide thing, all in proper uniformed attire.  How fun would that be?  I’d want to take the test myself, just to measure my skills against stewardesses everywhere!  And it would add an aspect of fun to the kind of skills some airlines feel they need to measure.  You could probably even sell tickets, allowing airlines to recoup money on falling ticket sales.