CSotD: Tales of Coldness and Compassion

I’m sure Dave Coverly simply intended to make a funny with this Speed Bump (Creators), but it hit at a moment when it struck a nerve. And if you hate sports, trust me and stick around.

The death of John Madden brought out a lot of tributes, including some rebroadcasts of games from when he coached the Raiders (1969-78). I remembered those days, but I hadn’t remembered how incredibly violent the game was before new rules tamped things down in the interest of player safety.

The issue of CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) seems at a balance point.

It’s clearly an issue for football, hockey and boxing, but how far beyond that does it stretch?

I once interviewed Rick Greenwald, a major researcher in helmets and injuries, who conceded that even relatively mild shocks like heading a ball in soccer can produce CTE. Is any sport safe? Are some people more vulnerable to CTE than others? Can we predict it?

New rules and new helmet designs seek to make the game safer, but whether that’s possible remains an open question.

Meanwhile, watching those old games suggested that there have been improvements, though I’d also note that boxing, in which the point is to incapacitate your opponent with blows to the head, is back on TV after a period when nobody would show it anymore.

In any case, getting back to the comic, those old days were also the time of the No Fun League, when players were not permitted to celebrate on the field. We’ve come a long way from that as well.

In fact, I remember a Monday coach’s show in which Broncos Coach Dan Reeves chuckled over a clip in which a player scored and then joyously threw the ball into the stands, an action that would draw a fine from the league office.

“I think it slipped out of his hand,” Reeves laughed.

Reeves died New Year’s Day at the age of 77, having coached for several years following eight years as a running back for the Dallas Cowboys.

Cause of death was reported to be “complications of dementia.”

Then yesterday, Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown threw a midgame tantrum, tearing off his jersey and pads and storming into the locker room. He was immediately dismissed from the team.

Response from commentators and fans has varied, with some mocking and denouncing him as a prima donna and others hoping he gets professional help for whatever personal issues he’s facing.

I’m on the side of compassion, and I think it’s further proof that the NFL has a lot more on its plate than whether anyone celebrates too enthusiastically.

I also think we’ve got more than that on our plates, too, as seen in this


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kal Kallaugher)


(Gary Varvel – Creators)

The looming confrontation in Ukraine also draws deeply contrasting responses, with Kal Kallaugher echoing the post-war days of Soviet expansion that kicked off the Cold War, while Gary Varvel accuses the US administration of incompetence and declares Vladimir Putin a comparative genius.

Kallaugher cites Putin’s demand that Ukraine be prevented from joining NATO, a demand that fails to address how that, or Ukraine joining the EU, would harm Russia. Certainly, Russia’s history makes it sensitive to threats of invasion, but its interference in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia seem to indicate more adventurism than self-defense, and perhaps a desire to Make Russia Great Again by re-establishing the old Soviet Union.

It’s not necessary for a cartoonist to propose a solution in order to lodge a criticism, but “Boy, they sure are smarter than we are!” seems a statement in need of elaboration.

I mean, it’s not like The Last Guy exactly outsmarted Moscow.

Though maybe he wasn’t trying to.

So here’s another

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Ed Hall)

(Tom Stiglich – Creators)

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal Twitter account was permanently suspended the other day for repeatedly spreading falsehoods about the coronavirus. (Her Congressional account remains open.)

The news was, as in Hall’s cartoon, greeted with mockery and joy by her political opponents, which may be as much a partisan celebration as sincere gratitude towards Twitter for cutting a source of toxic misinformation in the midst of a pandemic.

NFL players aren’t the only ones prone to spiking the ball and dancing.

But Stiglich is not the only person shouting “Censorship!” over a private company exercising its right to enforce its terms of service.

Rep. Lauren Boebert was also outraged, vowing that, once the Republicans come to power, they will take control of private industry and make sure it obeys the commands of the Grand Old Politburo.

And, yes, I do find it funny that those who mewl and puke over the “socialism” of feeding and educating children should, at the same time, advocate communism as their preferred form of government.

Both funny-peculiar and funny-ha-ha, but less so the latter, since the flow of misinformation on the topic seems to have a significant portion of the populace calling for a strong central government that will give them freedom to do what they’re told.

I remember when people who wanted to end Jim Crow, and then those who wanted to stop the war in Vietnam, were told by rightwingers to “go back to Russia,” even though very few people advocating peace and justice wanted to live under the repression of the Soviets.

So it seems odd to find hard-nosed conservatives who once shouted it as an insult now rallying around Tovarich Putin, denying his interference in our 2016 elections and justifying his partial invasion of Ukraine.



They might want to ponder this 1939 David Low classic as a reminder of how the last partnership between such authoritarians worked out.

Sigh. Maybe we should have listened to these guys. No, no, not the Chad Mitchell Trio.

I mean those nice people who came to my school for an assembly and warned us that the Russians were plotting to take over the country.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Tales of Coldness and Compassion

  1. I think you are right about authorial intent on the Varvel, but taking the image alone, bringing checkers to a chess game is a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

    THAT would be a reasonable accusation, but it’s still better than bringing ammo for the other guy to a gunfight.

  2. I was one of those told to ‘go live in Russia’ when I protested the Vietnam Action (it was never declared a war, far as I know). I never could understand the point of that (other than it was supposed to be an insult), and I just figured those who said that to me didn’t understand irony.

    I’ve been saying for years that Dems are ALWAYS bringing knives to gun fights, and I like Mr. Furman’s addition about bringing ammunition for the OTHER GUY’s guns.

  3. If a cartoonist showed Uncle Sam playing checkers while the Russian bear played chess, I would disagree with him — I think strong sanctions and harsh warnings are better than saber-rattling at this stage — but I’d take it as a comparison of national approaches to be debated.

    However, when specific personalities are put in those seats, it comes down as criticism of those specific personalities, at which point — in addition to debating the matter at hand — the cartoonist’s previous work can’t help but influence the view of his analysis.

  4. Tom Stiglich complaining about Twitter “censorship” is just hilarious. I don’t think there’s another cartoonist out there as aggressive in using Twitter’s “block” function against people who’ve posted unfavorable comments about his work.

  5. As usual, the ones spewing hate speech etc. cry “censorship” and “stifling of free speech” when a privately owned entity doesn’t allow them to use the entity to spread their garbage. Then they threaten to “control” and punish. I keep thinking of a quote that I will paraphrase to polite. “Those that are uneducated don’t know they are uneducated.” (The original used the word s*&@¥d instead of uneducated.) They also, as pointed out, don’t realize they are flaming hypocrites.

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