Heyba, Mamby, Who Be Raybbin?

You’re travelling through social media, a dimension of insinuation, of gossip, of unprovable nonsense; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of agendas and biases and a willingness to accept things at face value. At the allegations up ahead, you’ve entered The Prattling Zone.

Some random stand-up comic said something about Bill Cosby and the internet blew up.  Yep, Bill Cosby. The Coz. Fat Albert. The black-youth-need-to-get-off-their-asses man. Shall we add “Serial Rapist” to his resumé? With thirteen (and counting) women coming forward to tell similar sordid tales of roofies, and ‘ludes, and unwanted advances, The Court of Public Opinion™ is having a field day while the Department of Due Process and Innocent Until Proven Guilty™ is struggling under the weight of circumstantial evidence that will never be tried in real court. What is one, who cannot escape the inescapable news feeds, to do except see this for what it is? And what is it? Empty.

My wife thinks I’m victim-shaming or “-blaming” or some other type of “-aming”, but that’s not it at all. I fully realize that slipping a woman a mickey to get into her pants is not the thing to do and to downplay that is inexcusable; I mean, duh! But at what point are we allowed to demand that people take responsibility for their own actions? It’s not like Cosby was accused of slipping something into a drink in every instance, some of the women say that they were handed the pills and told to take them. Why did they? A bad decision is a bad decision, whether you are star-struck or not. And some of these women continued to associate with Cosby after the incidents they describe as “rape”. (If you want a blow-by-blow account of their accusations, this is not the venue for that.)  It’s not that I don’t believe their stories, it’s just that taking into account the entire relationship with some of these women makes their accusations harder to accept… and after more than thirty years. I’m sorry, I just like things to make better sense than what I see here.

For one woman, money was enough, as there was a civil case brought against Cosby which was settled out of court and, also, in which many of these same women were prepared to testify but never got the chance. If they were ready to testify, why didn’t they strike when the iron was hot? The rationale of “no one would have believed me” or “it was harder for women then” may have some merit, but at some point, those wear thin especially in light that Cosby had just settled a case and there was a potential line-up ready to hit him with suits again and again. Yet, only when one woman broke her silence more than thirty years later did they come forth. It didn’t have to be this way and that’s what frustrates me about the way they handled this violation of their persons.  All because some random stand-up comic said something and a video went viral.

Is this a catharsis for them? In most cases, very likely. I can’t say that I even have the mechanism to relate.  But what is the difference when many people today won’t believe them or suspect their motives from when it was “harder for women” at the time of the assaults? The very fact that they waited in silence for so many years hurts their case as much as anything Cosby could say in rebuttal – if he was saying much at all. He’s all lawyered up and this will all come to nothing. Perhaps that is the most aggravating thing of all.

I like justice. I like to know that when someone has been victimized, their offenders will be brought to justice and properly punished. That’s not going to happen here. Whether the stories of the women are true or not will never be tested; the statute of limitations has run out. What does that say about our system of justice? If this crime happened, isn’t it in the interest of society that the facts of this are examined rather than put them to an arbitrary timetable that an offender only has to wait out? Yet the crime of rape can be dismissed after a certain length of time even if the mental scars will survive a lifetime. Where is justice?

I suppose an argument can be made that there is no evidence, so any type of trial will have little more value than the decrees already handed down with impunity from the self-appointed and faceless arbiters of guilt and innocence who, of course, can see these things more clearly from their vantage point on the internet than those folk from the Department of Due Process. But there are more sins to go around than just the ones’ Mr. Cosby committed – allegedly (Gah, I hate that.) What other sins, you may ask? Why, the women who were violated didn’t speak up, so they allowed this predator to continue to do what he was doing and the only means for warning off potential victims was the comedy circuit grapevine. That worked really well, didn’t it? Some, doubtless, felt intimidated to say anything against a celebrity, but some were also thinking of their careers in their silence. Yes, maybe they were raped, but their inaction assured that others were in danger, as well. Courage thirty years after the fact doesn’t look much like courage to me.

I have no particular regard for Cosby; I didn’t watch his show and his comedy is definitely a take-it-or-leave-it proposition for me. The Fat Albert cartoon was pretty unwatchable and the Jell-O commercials were just a dirty joke waiting to happen. I am not defending him, but I am defending the idea that an accusation has to carry the burden of proof and a mob of voices speaking in concert is not proof. Because with every subsequent woman who comes out against Cosby is another who said nothing and did nothing when action would have meant a hell of a lot more. What can possibly happen as a result of all this? I want more than internet noise. I want proof and there is nothing. I want justice for victimized women and there is nothing. I want a justice system that says a crime is a crime and the passage of time does not change that. Short of a miracle or a crisis of conscience, all the angst will amount to little more than yet another empty media event… and some random stand-up comic got his 15 minutes of fame.


Social Media Sucks…Again

“Life’s too short to debate other people’s opinions.”
                           -Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I thought the "update" to the logo was unnecessary, so doing this was a pleasure!

I thought the “update” to the logo was unnecessary, so doing this was a pleasure!

Ah, the internet and especially the Twitterverse is up in arms again. After the NFL’s mishandling of the Ray Rice situation – that did nothing more than show NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as little more than the owners’ lapdog – we have a situation with Adrian Peterson, star running back of the Minnesota Vikings. Full disclosure here: if you’ve bothered at all to look into any of my previous miscarriages of writing, you will find that I am a life-long Vikings fan. As I have seen the photographs of Peterson’s son’s marked-up legs, my parental sensibilities are fighting with my inner Viking.  I gave up spanking my kids early in my parenting career, but I am not necessarily against corporal punishment.

Adrian Peterson, in “disciplining” his four-year-old son, took a switch to him and literally “tore that ass up”. If you are of a certain age and come from a certain culture – of which I am a part – a parent taking a switch to a child is nothing new, albeit a bit archaic. While I was never “switched”, I certainly felt the wrath of my father’s belt or my mother’s weapon of choice, the hairbrush. A switch on a bare leg is going to leave a mark, there is no getting around that, but does that actually constitute abuse? Peterson is not in the same category as those who leave their toddlers in hot cars, or break their bones, or keep them in closets.

He should be removed from the team, from the league! Really? As excessive as Peterson’s punishment of his child may have been, the reaction has enjoyed its own level of overreaction. But that’s part of the problem of social media: it enables the hyper-judgmentalism that has infected this society with little regard for logic or reason. It’s hard to find the carefully considered commentary through the backwash of the mob mentality of social media where some feel empowered to play judge, jury, and executioner. I suppose it was too much to hope that social media would ever amount to much more than dogs barking at each other.

If Peterson has to be examined, I would rather look at the most glaring defect in his public persona and that is the state of his “Christianity”. He is not unique, unfortunately, in being an athlete who invokes God’s name during interviews and, as one of the faith, I have an issue with this. Peterson is also not alone, as a professional athlete, in producing multiple offspring as he has six children, only one of whom by the woman he married earlier this year. The boy who is the center of this controversy is not that child. Yet, Peterson has fathered these children – even the one with his “deeply religious” wife – out of wedlock, or, more succinctly, through fornication. Now while I am of the mind to follow the “go and sin no more” aspect of Christian teaching, what Peterson has to show for himself is a heaping helping of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. For one who, without encouragement, publicly proclaims his “Christian” values, however vaguely, he seems more akin to “those who pray on street corners that they may be seen of men”. To add to the Biblical references, I would add the sage admonition from Judge Judy: “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” His invoking God for something as trivial as football accomplishments while practicing something that is in conflict with genuine Christian behavior cheapens and puts a superficiality on his proclamations. It is a tricky thing to comment on this without sounding judgmental or condescending, but this incident may give Peterson the opportunity to examine how he conducts himself in all aspects of his life.  But this is all beside the purpose of my piece, although this is the Terms of Digression, so you shouldn’t be surprised.

The final thing I want to touch on is the getting Peterson back out on the field and the hysteria over legalities. While the legal system has succeeded in large measure to parse out the differences between constitutional obligations versus those of a private sector nature, the disconnect I see in the mob in forum rantings is just another case of disconnect or lack of true appreciation of meaning in the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”. Just because you may think Peterson is guilty of something doesn’t mean a Texas jury will agree with you. For me, and because I do believe in the core of our legal system and that of due process, I am willing to wait for a court to decide. The Vikings organization agrees with this, naturally, to get him back on the field, and my inner Viking has no problem with this. Remember, Peterson was held out of the Patriots game; that amounts to a one game suspension… for what, because the über-parents out there don’t like the look of what a switch does to a bare leg; because some think he exceeded suitable punishment for whatever the kid did? If he is found not guilty, then what? What is suitable punishment for what he did if he is found guilty, further suspension for some arbitrary number of games or banning from the league? I am for justice, not only for the child, but for Peterson, as well; that’s justice, not vengeance. Nuance is not well-appreciated in social media.

Is this social media mob employing the double-standard that comes with being a public figure? How many of us could bear up under losing our jobs because of something similar? This hasn’t been proven to be habitual or even beyond a case where it appears Peterson employed the rod a bit much. But it’s okay because Peterson has already made more than enough money, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, he gets his day in court. But if the court of public opinion says he’s gotta pay, well, he’s gotta pay, right? He sits on the pedestal of a higher standard on which we placed him, whether deserved or not, whether realistic or not. Because unless he acts exactly the way we want him to act, the mob won’t be satisfied until he is torn down. The only thing we love more than building up our idols is tearing them down, but even with the tearing down, it’s still idolatry. Professional sports is built on it.

Opinion polls are for politicians and television executives, not for legal matters. If the Vikings want to let the legal process work, that is their prerogative. Nike and Radisson pulled their sponsorship in a typically feckless corporate PR stunt and people are applauding even though they should know that once Peterson’s case is adjudicated, they will come scrambling back to suck some more money out of the wallets of the temporarily outraged. But this is the mob of bread and circuses and social media gives it its voice. If the mob actually had the intestinal fortitude to really speak to the NFL with its wallets, then they would withhold payment and demand that companies like Nike bring back their jobs to the U.S. and college athletes would really act like students rather than entitled minor leaguers waiting for a payday.

I won’t hold my breath.

UPDATE: And, of course, after I post this, the Vikings decide to ban Peterson from all team activities until his case is settled, whenever that will be. Their decision is theirs to make and I respect that; my view and my questions remain, regardless. While some may view this suspension as some sort of vindication, I believe it stems from the question of other players who were in similar situations, but sucked as players (A.J. Jefferson, I’m looking at you) and were treated differently by the team. Consistency is a demanding mistress…

Airheads with their…um…Airheads in the Cloud


The Cloud was a bad idea. Never liked it, still don’t.

Ah, yes, nekkid pictures, the lifeblood of the internet.  And thanks to the interest the internet has in nekkid pictures, we have a scandal of earth-shattering import: female celebrities’ iCloud accounts were hacked!

ME: Uh, if the investigation that Apple did is to be believed, no, the server wasn’t hacked, the security protection was breached (psst, they figured out your password, bunkie, hope it wasn’t “ABC123”).

THEM: But still, privacy was violated!

ME: Yeah, and your point is?

THEM: But… but… some of the photos were fake!

ME: Really?  Then they either weren’t part of some grand hacking scheme or those “fake” photos were uploaded to iCloud by you, little miss fake nekkid pictures!

Yep, all of that, in one form or another, was spouted off by poor little celebrities who feel violated because seeing them naked has some kind of cachet on the internet.  But you know who I feel bad for?  Ricky Gervais.  Yeah, old Ricky injected a little common sense into this entirely stupid collapse of responsibility by stating that if you want to upload your nekkid pictures, don’t live in that fantasy world where it stays protected from prying eyes and is safe forever and ever and ever!  And noses were promptly set out of joint as they are wont to do when victims are feeling flush in their victimhood.

Victim shaming?  Hardly, unless it’s a bad thing to get these “victims” to admit to themselves that uploading those kind of pictures was a stupid thing to do…  duh…

The simple truth is this:  if a security system is invented by Man, it can be broken by Man; that’s just the way the world works, sorry.  Nothing you upload is guaranteed impervious to theft, but everything you upload is out of your control, just ask Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who said that her photos had been deleted “long ago”.  If that’s the truth, why were they still accessible in any form or fashion?  That is a question I would like answered!

The “Cloud”, or as I call it, “Bill Gates’ wet-dream with an assist from Steve Jobs”, is not safe for confidential information and never will be.  You don’t know who has access to it and you never will know that.  How could it be safe?

I despise social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with a passion and this is part of the reason why.  People are going to do and say stupid things and be victimized by other people doing stupid things and then we all get to “enjoy” the drama because people won’t admit that what they were doing was stupid!

Between a government that acts like children in a slapfight with the media egging them on and people who won’t take responsibility for their own actions and acknowledge that maybe those duck-faced nekkid selfies weren’t all that important after all, I have to ask, Are their any adults in the room?

Hello?  Hello?

Live Performance

Stand on the stage
through the blinding lights.
See the camera phones waving
and the people who paid to see
aren’t watching me at all.

And I take comfort knowing
that later on in social media
the video will be shaky and out of focus
and the audio of my songs will be fucked.
You won’t be able to tell my B string was out of tune
and my singing really sucked.

It was a night I’d like to forget
but a better one is down the road.
Yet that stage remains in the contrasty disaster
of an amateur videographer trying to get likes
than think about the money forever spent
and the chance lost to see it…
and hear it…
and feel it…

No Copyright Infringement Intended

“No copyright infringement intended.” This has to be the stupidest misuse of a legal term in existence and you will find it all over YouTube; I know I have, usually accompanied by a blather of “fair use” verbiage. When an entire album of music or a DVD of somebody’s concert is uploaded to YouTube, it’s not “fair use,” it is a copyright violation. No one on YouTube has the right to upload that stuff, but there is a profusion of material that’s there for the taking. And by taking, I mean downloading without paying a cent for the music or DVD. WTF, YouTube?

Probably the most depressing aspect of all this is the dimwits who do this and think they are protecting themselves from something by posting all that legalese that they likely cut and pasted from Wikipedia, which adds several levels of irony on top of all this. Nevertheless, this is piracy, folks. This is what it looks like: innocuous, harmless, well-intended. Just because the true copyright holders don’t pursue legal action doesn’t mean that the uploading of the material is legal. This echoes the old corporate saw about “it’s only illegal if you get caught.” No harm, no foul, right?

I can appreciate fans of musical groups wanting to share the music they love — heck, I’ve even done some really horrible cover tunes that I wouldn’t blame the songwriters for wanting to have taken down. But when someone takes a video, album, or DVD performance and illegally reproduces it, that’s stealing — no exceptions unless the copyright holder gives permission. To rationalize that the musician “has already made their money on it” is to unjustifiably insert oneself into determining at just what point said musician has made enough money that their rights to their own work no longer apply. No one on YouTube, or anywhere else, has that right.

Because there will always be a contingent of people out there who are too lazy and cheap to be bothered to do the right thing, the attempts to legislate against this will continue. SOPA, anyone? Unfortunately, the copyright holders are just as much to blame for this problem because if they don’t bother to defend their copyrights against illegal use, they weaken the power of copyright for all the rest of us. If what goes on on YouTube becomes acceptable, what copyright protection is there really? YouTube and those other social media outlets have to take responsibility for what they engender and enforce their own EULA and TOS agreements. If they don’t, then it is all just so much “fair use” blather.

*To add to this topic, in the November 8 article about my less-than-serious name change for the Redskins, I used a photo gleaned from a 1966 Sports Illustrated issue, properly attributing the photo to its photographer.  Of course, I did not pay for its use, but at what point can you illustrate a specific aspect of a topic without having to pay for it just to have the conversation?  I would be interested in the viewpoint from Sports Illustrated on this and if it would result in a cease-and-desist notice.

In Which I Yap About Football Uniforms – Again… (and Marketing and Social Media…Again)

"Man, these uni's are awful.  We look like idiots."From "The Brady 6".  ©ESPN

“Man, these uni’s are awful. We look like idiots.”
From “The Brady 6”. ©ESPN

Of all the things Tom Brady may do as a NFL player, that quote may be the best – at least for me, a Vikings fan.  Brady doesn’t rationalize his opinion, he states it as he states the obvious: what currently passes as innovative design is crap.  Why am I going on about this topic again?  Because, as a Vikings fan, I am aware that the Vikings are set to reveal their newest new uniforms and the social media blitz is ridiculous.

These are the current uniforms that I have hated since the first time I laid eyes on them:

Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

Yeah, the Cardinals uniforms suck, too!
Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI


The Rams uniforms do not suck!
Photo: John Biever/SI

These uniforms reek of somebody trying too hard.  I believe Reebok was the offender in this case.  Their design team (I’m guessing this cluelessness was a team effort) tried to incorporate the horn element from the helmet into all aspects of the uniform, from the ill-fitted shoulders to down the side of the pants with an embarrassing bit of gold piping thrown in for bad measure.  They even changed the horn on the helmet to give it a “3-D element”, as Zygi Wilf described it.  That was an unforgivable crime!  They were touted in much the same way as these newest new uniforms are being marketed, except without the inevitable Facebook/Twitter/blah, blah, blah… social media integration that makes me want to vomit.  They even had a fashion show of the new uniforms that reminded me of a scene out of Slapshot, “I’m gonna wiggle it at ’em!”  These new uniforms happened all the way back in 2006!  Considering that the team wore essentially the same uniform for 34 years before changing to their mid-90s look and went with that for ten years, of course it’s time to change again!  The only thing I liked about the 90s and the current uniform is that they corrected the shapes of the numbers and put the gold trim around them again – and that’s the only thing I liked.

The thing for me is this: a good look is a good look, it doesn’t matter when that look came out.  Try as they might and as simple a design as it is, neither Nike nor anyone else is going to out-design the best look the Vikings had and that was the one they started with:


from neilleifer.com

And as an added bonus, somebody must have been reading my mind when they drew this one out:


From ssur.org

It’s a little different from the original purple pants, but it’s better and it needs to happen!

And let’s make it clear what the helmet needs to look like:

Clint Jones' helmet.Photo: vsaauctions.com

Clint Jones’ helmet.
Photo: vsaauctions.com

So, the cynic in me looks at this redesign of the uniform as a non-verbal admission that the current uniforms were not good and that the funding for the new stadium (Vikings don’t need no stinkin’ roof!) is not going well or as promised and the jersey-buying completist must be fleeced. Yep, this is the era of the quick-buck merchandising con because the league wouldn’t be viable if the Cardinal didn’t look tougher, or the Lion fiercer, or if Pat the Patriot didn’t turn into Elvis, or if Ragnar wasn’t squashed and drawn on with a Sharpie!

As I await the April 25th releasing of the Kraken, I have my expectations low but my fingers crossed that out of the current wave of eyesore uniforms in the NFL (I’m looking at you, Seattle, and my eyes hurt!), the Vikings get something that doesn’t look like some designer was jerking off trying to be “innovative”; we already have that and it fails.  While I can’t respect Packers fans for calling the Vikings “Viqueens” or saying they have a sperm on their helmets, I can respect the Packers for never straying too far from the uniforms in which the Packer tradition was created.  Tradition is part of what makes a franchise great, not the flash-in-the-pan disasters that clothing manufacturers crank out to make a quick excessively-priced buck.

There’s a saying that your first impulse is usually correct.  I think that works in this case.  It’s time the Vikings get their uniforms back the way they’re supposed to be and then put a team on the field that will live up to the tradition of Vikings championship football.

James Montgomery is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer in real life.  If you would like to see him play one on TV, submit your requests here.  Only serious applications will be considered.  😛

Idle Brains Are Idle

So this is what its comes down to?  The media outlets and people who have something to say about Twinkies want to stir up some horsehockey about the demise of Twinkies while knowing full damn well that Twinkies aren’t going anywhere!  Is this what the erosion of the brain, sated with entirely too much viewing of vapid “reality” television, looks like?  This is just more of the inane chit-chat that permeates our social media and passes as “news” and “discussion”.

Overall, this is an issue that I couldn’t care less about, but the ya-ya about Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, etc., going away is nearly inescapable whether it is people complaining about one less junk food choice on their “let’s eat crap” menu, or anti-unionists wanting to blame unions or anti-corporatists pointing out bankruptcy malfeasance.  But it’s all so stupid!  Even if Hostess liquidates, Twinkies will be bought by someone and still produced, so why all the nonsensical handwringing?  Are people’s lives as empty as the nutritional value of that beef fat and sugar confection that they have to complain about literally nothing?

As a matter of full disclosure, as far as I’m concerned, Twinkies are pure crap.  If they actually did permanently go away, I would shed nary a tear.