Monday, November 20, 2017

A Glimpse Into the Future

So how are Packers fans enjoying their glimpse into the future?  I'm not saying the Brett Hundley is the future of Green Bay football.  In fact his play while Aaron Rodgers recovers from a broken collarbone is proving that his days in TitleTown are likely numbered after Number 12 returns.  But Aaron Rodgers is 33-years old, and only Tom Brady has shown the ability to actually get better as he gets older.

So Packers fans had better get used to not having a premier quarterback to make up for the shortcomings of the team's defense, receiving corps, running backs and play calling.  This is what Chicago has been dealing with for 30-years.  Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York Jets, and Buffalo fans have been wondering for decades which quarterback is going to show up this week--the one that throws five interceptions in the first half--or the one that completes 60% of his passes and they still lose?

It is pretty clear that when Mike McCarthy said in his press conference after Rodgers first got hurt "I'm a highly successful NFL Head Coach" that what he really meant was "Numbers 4 and 12 have really carried my butt for the past eleven years".  In fact, I see McCarthy deciding to hang up the play calling sheet the minute that Aaron Rodgers decides he is going to retire--or demands a trade to a different team like his predecessor.  It's hard to look like an offensive genius when you don't have someone chucking the ball around every play with pinpoint accuracy and world-class decision-making skills.

It's also possible that the next generation Green Bay Packers won't need to be a one-man team.  Maybe, they will have a future General Manager that sees actual value in early round picks.  That can scout linebacking talent that can actually apply pressure to quarterbacks and cover receivers in space.  Maybe that GM will allocate resources to field playmakers at several different positions instead of just at quarterback--so that QB doesn't have to do it all by himself.

Or should Packers fans hope their future is drastically changed by finding another NFL team to fleece in a trade for its third-string quarterback that turns out to be a hall of famer?  Maybe another 23-teams will pass on another hall of fame QB because of his "attitude issues" so he can fall into Green Bay's lap.  Aaron Rodgers will return to the field late this year--or at the start of next year and push these concerns out of fans' minds.  But remember, this is where your future lies, Packer Backers.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Play For What Actually Counts

With their win over Iowa last week, the Wisconsin Badgers Football team clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis in three weeks.  If they were an NFL team, and the Badgers had clinched their playoff position already, they would be free to rest their key players the last couple of weeks so they could come into the conference title tilt at full strength.

But because of the cockamamie playoff structure in college football, Head Coach Paul Chryst is instead pressured to put guys who are already hobbled or worn down out there for two more weeks in order to appease a "selection committee" that randomly selects the four teams that get to compete for a national title.

If the College Football Playoff were legitimate--and not a huge money grab conducted not by the NCAA but rather by ESPN and its sponsors--the champion of the Big Ten Conference--regardless of their record--would be in it.  The same would go for the winners of all the major football conferences.  Why else are we playing these conference title games if not to determine who is the best team in each of them this year?

You need not look any further than last year's "playoff" to see that it's nothing more than a beauty pageant.  Penn State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.  The College Football Playoff Selection Committee then chose Ohio State for its final four instead of the Nittany Lions.  What was the point of having a conference champion if a team that didn't even win its own division moves on to the "playoffs"?

As far as I'm concerned, Wisconsin should play only for the Big Ten Championship--and pay no attention to the ESPN Television Ratings Exhibition Games in January.  Let Jonathan Taylor sit in the second half of tomorrow's game against Michigan.  Allow some of the second-string offensive linemen and defensive players to get meaningful playing time against Minnesota next week so the units that are most responsible for any potential success against Ohio State in the conference title game are ready to go.  And make a statement to the rest of the sport that at Wisconsin, we only play for what actually counts.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Timing Is Everything

If we have learned anything in the past year or so it is that alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment need to be encouraged to come forward with their accusations sooner.  Women should feel that they will be believed if they accuse someone of illegal or inappropriate contact before it's just a couple of weeks prior to an election.  There is no reason why these victims should feel like they have to wait until after the primaries are done and a party is stuck with its nominee before they come forward.

In fact, we should be encouraging these women to make their allegations as soon as a candidate announces for a political office.  Given that those announcements come more than a year before any elections are held, the accusations could be fully investigated and litigated before anyone heads to the polls.  Really, the victims of alleged sexual assault and harassment should expect Gloria Allred (who is apparently licensed to represent people as an attorney in all 50-states where there are television cameras) to be by their side as they level accusations against candidates for smaller races like Judge or District Attorney--decades before they become national news fodder.

And we here in the media should not feel like we have to wait in any way to report information available to us.  Rumors of inappropriate conduct should be investigated long before anyone even thinks about running for public office.  Court records, divorce filings and bankruptcy cases should all be scrutinized on the way back from covering a campaign kickoff announcement. 

Even national news sources like Access Hollywood shouldn't feel like they need to keep audio tapes of lewd conversations hidden away for eleven years because they hold no news value until two months before an election.  The people have a right to know this stuff as soon as possible--especially before committing a party to that alleged offender as their only candidate.

So let us learn our lesson from recent times and create a culture where alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment can in no way be seen as just political pawns.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why, You're Still a Child!

It's amazing the wide range of legal definitions of an "adult" today.  Here in Wisconsin, the minute you are born you are considered old enough to hunt with an adult--and carry your own gun.  When you are 10 you can start driving ATV's on public trails.  At the age of 12, you can start working at a job--with a permit--and you can be waived into adult court to face felony charges for heinous crimes--like the girls involved in the "Slenderman Stabbing Case".  Twelve year olds can also operate their own snowmobiles.

Turning 16 is of course a big one, as you are allowed to get a drivers license.  Automobile accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers.  You are also allowed to pump gas and you can get married in Wisconsin--with your parents' permission.  At 17 you are allowed to become a pilot--and you can be charged in adult court with felony crimes without have to be waived out of juvenile court first.

At 18 so much of the world opens up to you.  You can now vote, buy a gun, join the military and kill people--or give up your life for your country.  You are allowed to purchase tobacco products.  You can rent an apartment, take out loans and get credit cards all on your own.  You can take part in jury duty, sign up for utility service, get an abortion without your parents' permission, get married, book airline flights on your own and work up to 40-hours a week.  No one will give you a hard time about going into an "R" rated movie.  You can buy--or make--porn.  You could even drop out of school and not be considered truant.  And you are allowed to legally sell and serve alcohol to another person.

Finally at 21, you can actually drink alcohol legally.  Somehow, we have deemed this activity so dangerous and requiring so much "maturity" that up until now, it was not safe to do so--despite everything else you have been allowed to do so far.  Handling guns, flying planes by yourself, going off to war--all okay for younger folks--but having a couple of beers is just "too risky", you aren't ready for that kind of responsibility.

Of course, there are a couple of things that we think 21-year olds aren't responsible enough to handle--like renting a car--gotta be at least 25 to do that.  And we couldn't possibly expect someone to be responsible for buying their own health insurance until they are 26--so let's keep them on Mom and Dad's policy until then.

Maybe it's time we review all of the "adult things" we've attached ages to, and make them more consistent all along the line.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Steve Bannon's America

While former President George W Bush's advisor Karl Rove can be blamed for the hyper-partisan political climate of the 2000's, President Donald Trump's advisor Steve Bannon for the absolutely absurd political climate we have to deal with now.

Rove carried Bush to a pair of national election victories by not appeal to the political "middle" but rather by playing strictly to the Republican party base--defining the opposition as "extremely liberal"--and forcing those in the middle to choose between two polar opposites.  The era of political compromise was dead--as working with someone on the other side of the aisle would be seen as "weakness" and "capitulating to the enemy".  It was a political strategy good at winning elections in battleground states--but left much to be desired when it came to actual governance.

The new political climate created by Steve Bannon is taking voters--especially those on the Republican side--to places they never could have imagined they would have to go.  As little as five years ago would you have seriously considered if neo-Nazis had "some good points" about their stances on social issues?  Just two years ago, would you have willingly argued in favor of thirty-year old men having sexual contact with 14-year old girls as justification for voting for a candidate?  If you are old enough to remember, would you have applauded Ronald Reagan if he was seeking help from Soviet spies to win his 1980 presidential election?

What was considered absurd for the past 100-years is suddenly becoming the political norm thanks to candidates backed by Bannon.  How often have you ever rooted for a member of your own party to lose an election just so the power behind him is finally thwarted?  I'm not calling for Roy Moore to drop out of the race.  So-called "Republicans" voted him as their nominee in Alabama, and they should be made to now sink with him on the ticket next month.  No "do-overs".  No "well I didn't know" as an excuse.  The second those voters saw Steve Bannon or one of his political action committees back Roy Moore, they should have immediately backed his primary opponent. 

GOP voters need to take the stance of "guilt by association" when selecting their own candidates--because the rest of the country certainly is going to do in the general elections.  Unless your willing to die on the mountains of racism, treason and pedophila.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Oh, There's a Game Going On Too?

I attended a Milwaukee Bucks game for the first time in a number of years on Saturday night.  I found out that the NBA no longer stands for just the National Basketball Association anymore.  In fact, it is more like Noise Blasting Always.

The game is now a near constant sonic assault from the moment you walk into the arena.  It starts with fireworks during pre-game play introductions.  That's followed by high-volume dance music to "GET PUMPED FOR THE JUMP".  Then you have music or drum machines or other artificial noise playing--while the game is going on.  I found out that like baseball players and their 'walk up songs", NBA players now have "made basket songs".  Giannis Antentakoumpo has some R&B song I don't recognize.  In fact, the only song that I recognized was the AC/DC tune that plays after Matthew Delavadova--who is Australian, just like the band--scores.  Of course, to be heard over the "made basket music" the PA announcer has to yell every player's name--or nickname like "THE GREEK FREAK!!!!" or "THREE FOR T!!!" 

Now, PA Guy has nothing on the "Hype Man" that takes over during timeouts (and there are a lot of them in NBA games).  As soon as the referee signals the TO, more high-energy dance music starts blasting and the "Hype Man" is encouraging us with "MILWAUKEE LET ME HEAR YOU!!" or "GET UP FOR YOUR ENERGEE DANCERS!!" or "WHO WANTS SOME T-SHIRTS?!?!?!?!"  (The Bucks must lead the league is T-shirt giveaways, because there were at least ten of them Saturday night.)

Meanwhile, the floor is full of dancers, "Gameday Experience Staff" throwing out t-shirts, the guys that do the trampoline dunks, Bango Buck shooting half-court shots backwards so all of us fans can win free tacos, and Bango riding around the floor on a Harley--constantly revving the engine.  The reason I'm a little hoarse this morning is not because I was cheering crazily at the game, it was because I was trying to talk to my friend right next to me over all of the noise.  You would think that the NBA coaches would appreciate a little less noise and distraction while trying to communicate with the players in the middle of the on-court circus.

Obviously, the NBA doesn't create its "game day experience" for people like me--guys who like basketball.  My friend's teenage son loved it--so much in fact I hardly ever saw him on his cellphone.  But with the near constant "entertainment" going on, it was easy to lose what is supposed to be most important thing going on that night in the arena: the game itself.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Unpersons

When I was a kid, George Orwell's novel 1984 was a work of fiction about a dystopian future.  Little did I know that during my lifetime it would morph into more of a non-fiction blueprint for modern society.  We have a form of Big Brother--as security cameras, facial recognition software, internal body scanners and electronic devices that monitor our every word are everywhere.  The Thought Police are ever-present on social media and college campuses, waiting to attack anyone with an opinion or political stance that differs from theirs.  And now we have "Unpersons" being blotted out of the public record.

I was reminded of "Unperson" last night when I heard that a Hollywood studio was reshooting movie scenes involving Kevin Spacey--even though the film is supposed to be released to theaters in just six weeks.  All of the other actors are being brought back to film scenes with Christopher Plummer--who as of this morning had not been publicly accused of molesting any children or walking around nude in front of any actresses--but again, it is still early in the day.  Then it was announced that Louis CK was being removed from some HBO comedy special, since he is part of the Hollywood "purge" now as well.

Actually, trying to eliminate any proof of existence of a person was a common practice before Orwell wrote about it in 1949.  Stalin was the best at it.  He had public documents, birth certificates, and even marriage records deleted after sending his enemies to the gulags or had them executed.  He had filmmakers re-shoot newsreel footage to have random people or items block out those that he had killed.  He was like the first Photoshop user--having his enemies airbrushed out of pictures to the point that some photos that had once been full of people standing around Stalin were reduced to Stalin just by himself standing behind some random table.

I'll have to check the list of Harvey Weinstein productions to see which movies I like that will never be aired on TV again.  Erasing Kevin Spacey from our collective memories will eliminate two of my absolute favorites: Glengary Glenross and American Beauty.  Just the other day I was laughing at an on-line clip of Louis CK playing "Black Jeopardy" on Saturday Night Live.  I guess I'll just have to pretend I never actually saw that.  Meanwhile, I'll get used to movies that only star women from now on.