Friday, October 31, 2014

Revised Saints prediction, part VI


(Last week: 8-8 or 9-7)


What, win? Yeah, that too. But also, play their best game of the season so far. And they did it a scant five days after their other best game of the year.

These past two games are what every Saints fan expected coming into this year. Both sides of the ball, though not without their weaknesses, look very much alive. And in the NFL, momentum counts. I expect New Orleans to stay somewhat uneven, but with a three-week home stand ahead and the road monkey off their backs (and a favorable schedule in general), running away with the division and a playoff berth seem conceivable now. 

What a weird season. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking in a woman's shoes

A new video has rightfully lit up the Internet:


Many guys are asking what the big deal is that guys are telling her she's beautiful or to smile or whatever. I presume they consider harassment to be only what happens in the first few minutes of an episode of Law & Order: SVU

Allow me to clear it up for you bros, since this video apparently wasn't enough.

It's obvious that you're only talking to her because you think she's hot, and that she owes you something because of it. I don't recall this many people feeling chatty when I went to New York City. For the most part, I wasn't subject to pleas to talk or smile. No men blew past me saying, "Damn!" or, "You don't wanna talk?" Certainly, nobody flanked me for several disturbing minutes. 

No, this isn't about friendliness. This is desperate and unnerving. I'd call it having no game, but that implies that there's a game to be played, which is part of the problem with your thinking.

Successful communication is a function of time, place and circumstance. Most importantly, it requires two people who want to talk to each other. In this instance, it's prudent to think before you cat-call: "This woman is trying to get somewhere. To do so, she has to navigate a gauntlet of horny and potentially dangerous strangers, of which I am a part. So should I let her know how beautiful she is?" 

No. You should not. 

Women are subject to harassment and more subtle power plays on a daily basis from men. By and large, they are the ones more likely to be attacked. And worse, a pervasive cultural sentiment is that women deserve any predatory behavior forced upon them. So at least try to understand why they want guys to leave them alone when conducting their business. 

It's not about you; it's about the danger you represent. Opening your mouth only reinforces that notion in her mind. The best thing you can do to reassure her is to say nothing. Be polite. Be decent.

If you're still struggling, think about any time a complete stranger came up to you and went off on some tangent. Even if the person was friendly, wasn't it unsettling somehow? Didn't you question what would motivate them to do such a thing? Didn't you wonder what other impulses they might break out? 

That's just the tip of the iceberg for women, and you'll likely never fully understand the scope of that fear. But you can take steps to not add to that fear.

Empathy and decency are beautiful traits.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Not Right digital short: Remote

Vote. Don't not vote.

In these politically polarized times, we should all agree on one thing:

Voting matters.

I understand why some people think voting isn’t worth the effort. It requires either a trip to your polling place or going through the process of early or absentee balloting. The effect isn’t immediately apparent. You tend not to have the option of voting for a clone of yourself who will solve all of the problems in an ideological vacuum.

In other words, voting isn’t the sexiest mechanism. It won’t accomplish everything that people often project upon it as an ideal. But ultimately, it’s what matters most directly. You can stand on the sidewalk all day and scream your lungs out, and it might (might) attract substantial attention, but it won’t count at the ballot box. All the fervor in the world won’t put your candidate in office if enough people don’t contribute to the count.

Say what you want about the supposed influence of big money and big power on elections (and there is much to say about that), but ultimately all those millions and all those favors are done for a single purpose — to attract votes. Because those votes are what allow leaders to assume, and maintain, power.

The fact is, there are people who want others to not vote. They know their own vote matters, and they want it to matter more by discouraging turnout among their ideological opponents. Don’t fall for it. Whatever you believe in, stand up and be counted.

It’s often said, “If you don’t vote, you don't have a right to complain.” The good news is, you can do both in America.

So, vote!

When PR goes poorly

Immediately following last night's Cowboys-Indigents game, Washington quarterback Colt McCoy gave a lighthearted interview that ended with head coach Jay Gruden giving his substitute star a hug at his brother Jon's joking request. McCoy then stopped by ESPN Deportes reporter John Sutcliffe, seemingly eager to give another quick interview. Suddenly, a guy in a suit yanked McCoy away, essentially shoved the surprised reporter out the way and barked, "No means no!" in his direction. (Sutcliffe did, in fact, eventually land an interview.)

Watching this live made me perhaps angrier than it should have. But I couldn't get it out of my mind. It's probably my twin biases of having been a reporter (including football) and having once been physically thrown against a fence by an overzealous volunteer marshal at a college track meet (I was videotaping an event, and apparently I sort of crossed an invisible line I didn't know about).

Like most of us, I learned soon after that the offender in question is Tony Wyllie, a public-relations official for the Washington franchise. In other words, a man whose job description is presenting his company in the best possible light at all times. (Though given how many gaffes the team named the Redskins for God's sake has rolled off the assembly line lately, maybe this lapse in judgment isn't all too shocking.)

I get that people in these situations need handlers, and that sometimes you have to be stern to get them where they need to be in time. But there are better ways to do it than to manhandle people. In 2002, I was covering a meeting at the Louisiana State Capitol for a reporting class. Afterward, I stood among a reporter scrum with then-Gov. Mike Foster. He continued to talk through two or three exhortations by his assistant to head over to his next meeting. She was increasingly firm to the point of grabbing his arm at the last moment, but was almost apologetic to us, because she realized we had a job to do too.

Maybe Wyllie is normally that way, I don't know. Maybe the fact that we saw it live overly amplified its effect. And I suppose the "No means no!" cry can divide people among cheerleaders, critics and/or those who found it hilarious. On its own, it's kind of silly. But after seeing Wyllie manhandle two people in excess of what the situation required, I wasn't in the mood to laugh. 

I've noticed from reading articles and tweets about this incident that almost nobody mentions his heavy-handed actions toward the reporter. I guess people raised on a steady diet of prime-time TV think that's an occupational hazard. In a way it is, but angry hands should never be applied where words will do. 

In any case, I can't imagine why anybody thinks Wyllie's actions were laudable. (Homerism, maybe?) At best, they were regrettable and of the moment and at worst, they were a power trip. Nothing to celebrate either way.

Still, I'm glad Washington won.