Monday, October 21, 2019

Five Aces

     Yes, yes, I know there are only four in a standard deck. But this is a special occasion. It’s the first time I’ve ever assembled an assorted column entirely from material found at (or through) Ace of Spades HQ!

1. Counteractions In Progress.

     David Thompson notes a seldom-discussed component of the real agenda of contemporary environmentalist “protesters:”

     Despite the pretence of martyrdom and claims by the participants that they “do not enjoy” exerting power over random passers-by - or would-be passers-by - it seems quite obvious that personal gratification is by no means incidental. These disruptions and obstructions – forcibly immobilising large numbers of people - are very much recreational, a rush of ego, as bullying often is. Now imagine being so privileged, so removed from normal concerns, that being arrested is a form of recreation, a leisure activity, a way to impress your peer group and accrue status.

     If your go-to solution, your preferred mode of expression, is to frustrate and harass random people who are just trying to get to work, or to get home – and you do this while feeling enormously self-satisfied about your own imagined radicalism – then this tells us very little about the world or any purported cause. It does, however, tell us quite a bit about what kind of tosser you are.

     It’s seldom (if ever) the case that a single cause stands behind a given effect...but it’s unwise to imagine that those who deliberately strive to impede and frustrate people minding their own business aren’t enjoying themselves. The self-righteous exertion of power over others, linked to “a good cause,” obviously has a self-gratifying aspect. Don’t let them tell you any different.

2. Yet Another Sliding Scale.

     The phenomenon of transgenderism – specifically, persons born male endeavoring to present themselves as women, or vice-versa – goes back several decades. The first I became aware of it was in 1975, when a certain semi-pro tennis player, Dr. Richard Raskind, arranged to transition and re-entered professional tennis as Renee Richards: a “woman.” That prefigured much of the Sturm und Drang over transwomen competing in women’s sporting contests.

     Well, apparently there are other occupations resisting participation by transwomen:

     A transgender woman says she is a victim of ‘transphobic’ discrimination after being snubbed for job as a female porn star – because she still has a penis

     Ria Cooper, 25, who became Britain’s youngest trans person when she transitioned 10 years ago, encountered the photographer after deciding to embark on a career in the sex industry.

     She says the anonymous individual messaged her saying he wanted to have sex on camera then sell the resulting porno to make some quick cash.

     But little did he know Ria was transgender and when he found out she still has male reproductive organs he immediately retracted the offer.

     In messages exchanged over WhatsApp, the photographer bluntly proclaimed he couldn’t work with her because ‘she has a c**k.’

     The photographer’s reaction isn’t hard to understand. He’s a straight male who wants to make pornography with a straight woman. Ria Cooper, despite her female presentation – and from the photos it’s a pretty good one – can’t fulfill his desires because of her genitals. This differs in no important respect from any other straight man’s unwillingness to have sex with another man: their coupling gear are incompatible.

     Apparently, this is now a “hate crime,” at least in the eyes of some of the more radical transgender activists. Freedom of association, from their perspective, must give way before Ria Cooper’s preferences.

     Ironically, as I discovered while doing the research that led to the Futanari Saga, there’s a large market for transwomen as sex workers. Millions of dollars are spent in that market annually. There’s also a significant community of interest around porn involving transwomen who retain their male equipment. So Ria Cooper isn’t without somewhere to ply her talents. But I’d imagine that mentioning that to her would constitute a “hate crime.”

3. “How Dare You Sell Things I’ve Made Your Customers Want!”

     Many a Cause Person is less interested in the Cause than in profiting from scaring people:

     While violent crime in the United States continues to decline, technology continues to try and find ways to combat the current violence we have in this country. For better or worse, bad things can happen almost anywhere and at any time.

     So, it’s not surprising that a handful of companies have sprung up to meet the demand for using this tech to protect what matters most to us, our children.

     One of those products is the bulletproof backpack, meant for schoolchildren whose parents fear that they might be targeted by a mass murderer. But some are unhappy that the market has risen to meet this demand, including those who’ve helped to create it:

     In 2017, U.S. schools spent at least $2.7 billion on security systems, and that’s on top of the money spent by individuals on things like bulletproof backpacks, the IHS Markit consulting firm reported. Five years ago, in 2014, the figure was about $768 million, IHS said. But school shootings haven’t decreased in frequency, and critics of the growing industry in bullet-resistant items say the only beneficiaries of these so-called security measures are the people making money off of them.

     “These companies are capitalizing on parents’ fears,” says Shannon Watts, a mother of five who founded the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

     The Bearing Arms article continues:

     Oh, that’s rich coming from a woman who jumps on every shooting she can find to prattle on about how dangerous it is all the time so the donations can keep rolling into her group.

     She literally capitalizes on parents’ fears just so she can get a paycheck, for crying out loud. That’s her entire schtick.

     Shannon Watts has an obvious personal interest in making parents fear for their children. She doesn’t want anything to dampen those fears. Her livelihood is at stake!

     Would you willingly live next to Shannon Watts?

4. Stupidity Knows No Bounds.

     Restaurants in New York City are laying off waiters and busboys, and curtailing the hours of those who remain, because of the city’s recent enactment of a $15 per hour minimum wage. Quite a few mothers, aspiring actors, and would-be writers are without sufficient income because of the job losses and pay losses that enactment has caused. You’d think the rest of the nation would draw the moral from the experiences of the Malum Maximum. You’d be wrong:

     Los Angeles lawmakers on Tuesday took the first step toward a minimum wage for tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers, approving a study of how the law would work and how it would be enforced.

     The City Council also requested an independent study of how much Uber and Lyft drivers earn in L.A., and how much they spend on gas, insurance and other operating costs.

     The vote comes less than a week after City Council President Herb Wesson, who is running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, introduced a motion asking for a draft law to mandate a $15 hourly wage for drivers and $15 per hour to cover their expenses.

     Lawmakers approved a softer version Tuesday, asking city analysts to study an hourly minimum wage, “with the goal of a $30 minimum.”

     Great God in heaven. The accompanying photo supposedly shows Uber and Lyft drivers campaigning for those measures. They’re literally asking to be put out of work.

     Talk about an epiphany of idiocy! But that’s California for you. The Land of Fruits and Nuts seems to have expelled rationality from within its borders. It will be interesting to watch and listen for the wails of “But I didn’t know!” The appropriate reply, of course, will be “You damned well should have.”

5. The Strike Zone.

     And now for something really important:

     The Yankees got beaten fair and square, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. And the crap calls at the plate hurt both teams last night, so this isn't a partisan gripe about the inherent unfairness of MLB toward The Yankees (that's for another rant).

     But the strike zone last night was pathetic, and it affected the play of both teams. When a batter has to wonder where the strike zone is, in addition to having just a split-second to decide whether to swing, it plays havoc with the essence of the game.

     Whose fault is that? Well, MLB does not have sufficient controls in place to moderate the often overbearing and ridiculously sensitive behavior of its umpires, so they have the well-founded impression that they can do no wrong. As Lord Acton famously said:

     Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

     And is there a more corrupt and capricious and arrogant group than MLB umpires? Is there another sport into which the officials inject themselves to such an extent?

     I don’t know about the “corrupt” part, but as for capricious and arrogant, the tales are legion. Here are a couple from Jim Bouton’s famous baseball memoir Ball Four:

     Wayne Comer got into an argument with an umpire, and they were jawing back and forth. The last thing said was “All right, Comer. You’ll be sorry you said that.”
     And he probably will. Umpires do get even with people, even good umpires. I remember when George Scott first came up to Boston. He must have irritated Ed Runge somehow because the word came down from Elston Howard that when Runge was behind the plate and Scott was hitting, the strikes wouldn’t have to be too good.
     The first pitch I threw to Scott was about six inches off the plate. Strike one. The second pitch was eight inches outside. Strike two. The third pitch was a curve in the dirt. Scott swung and missed. He never had a chance....

     One would have thought Comer was through arguing with umpires, but I guess he’s a slow learner. The other day he got himself in trouble with another umpire by getting on his son, who is trying to be an umpire. The son told the father and the father told Tommy Davis that Comer better come up swinging. He meant he wasn’t likely to get any balls called.
     Sure enough the first pitch to Comer was a high curve and he called it strike one. Comer didn’t even look back. He swung at the next pitch and hit a line drive off the fence for a triple. The ump looked over at our bench and said “See, it makes him a better hitter.”

     It’s time for the baseball equivalent of tennis’s Cyclops machines. There will be adjustments necessary – the strike zone varies from batter to batter – but these things are within the realm of possibility today. It’s high time the baseball umpire should join the refs of other sports in having to conform to an objective standard.

     So much for Monday, October 21, Gentle Reader. My thanks to the contributors at AoSHQ for all the meat above. Every commentator loves to get the job done by “borrowing” the work of others. And with that I’ll see you on the morrow.


Linda Fox said...

I remember reading Ball Four - LOVED that book. It was both entertaining, and also an eye-opener.

Mike Hendrix said...

Speaking of baseball books: the great baseball writer Roger Kahn wrote what I consider to be the finest book on America's Pastime I ever read. No, not The Boys Of Summer, but Good Enough To Dream, which chronicles his year as owner of the occasionally hapless, once-in-a-while heroic Class A Utica Blue Sox. Truly a wonderful, wonderful book; I read it I don't even know how many years ago, and I have never forgotten it.