HB2

Big group of isolated small people in a line

It would seem that North Carolina is the talk of the ball.  Of course, it all centers on HB2.

So, last I left you I was writing that North Carolina passed a law that said restrooms were to be used by people based on their sex.  And by sex, NC means the sex listed on their birth certificate.  I was wrong – kinda.

North Carolina has said that in schools and state building restroom policy is based on sex, yes.  However, the bill now law, also says that individual business owners may craft their OWN restroom policy as they see fit.  Cities may not – North Carolina has stated that such powers are not granted to cities.

Also in the bill, now law, are the following:

  • Cities may not raise minimum wage
  • Employees may not use state law to sue employers for wrongful termination
  • There is no ‘protected class’ extensions for folks based on sexual orientation or identity

In order, my take on each.

The United States is built on the concept of state sovereignty – states have the power, not the federal government or the cities within it.  It is fully within the state of North Carolina’s authority to grant cities THEIR authority.  And having common wage levels across the state can make sense.

The decision not to allow folks to sue using state law is a bit of a head scratcher for me.  I fully admit to the possibility that this is bad policy.

The most controversial aspect of the law is the protected class portion.  I can absolutely understand the very strong and the very real desire to include such protections for the LGBT community – and, as a practical matter, such protections should be included.  However.

There is always a however.  As a libertarian, my natural inclination is to say that there should be no law restricting the right of association.  That is, people may freely choose to associate, or not, for any reason under the canopy of heaven.

Don’t like me because I have long hair?  Don’t hire me.

Don’t like me because I am fiscally conservative?  Fine – don’t associate with me.

Don’t like me because I’m a Viking fan?  Good – don’t invite me into your Cheese Head bar.

Now, before you bash me for hating, hear this.  Discrimination based on race, orientation, identify or religion indicates that you are ignorant.  And an ass.

I just don’t think that being a dumb ass should be illegal.

Now, for the record, here are the OTHER states that don’t extend protected class status to the LGBT community:

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indian, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alaska.

Where is the righteous rage in these jurisdictions?

Money and Politics

Donars.2014

The way we hear democrats scream about outside money in politics, you would be sure that all the money was going to republicans.  But that wouldn’t be true.

I went to Open Secrets and found the data from the 2014 cycle.  Interesting.

In the top 10, only 1 – the 10th place listing, goes to republicans.  In 9th, the break is nearly 50-50.

The top 8 are all democrat donors.

And the demonized Koch brothers?  14th.

 

 

North Carolina And Rest Rooms

Rest Rooms

North Carolina just passed a law that is generating a TON of attention in the state; perhaps the country.  In short, the new law prevents cities from passing ordinances that allow people to use restrooms based on the gender they identify as.  Rather, North Carolina now requires that people use the restroom of the sex they are.

I did some research and found this:

Sex is assigned at birth, refers to one’s biological status as either male or female, and is associated primarily with physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external and internal anatomy. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. These influence the ways that people act, interact, and feel about themselves. While aspects of biological sex are similar across different cultures, aspects of gender may differ.

What North Carolina has done is define access to restrooms based on sex – not on gender.

As such, I feel that the distinction is one that honest and earnest people can disagree on, where a disagreement can exist without casting the opposing side as ‘extreme’, or ‘discriminating’ or even ‘hateful’.

Now, with that said, I firmly believe the law is less a response to a transgendered individual using a restroom as it is a response to a desire to prevent potential sexual predators from entering a restroom having nothing to do with transgender issues.

The protests and response to this law you are seeing in North Carolina  is much ado about nothing.  There is no discrimination.  There is no hate.

Youth Coaching

Soccer Ball

I do a little bit  of youth coaching – some basketball and most recently soccer.

This got me:

For anyone who has ever coached youth sports of any kind, from pee-wee to middle school, and even high school sports in some cases………I have a deep question that has been floating in my mind in recent days. Just give me minute to circle around to it.

My youngest daughter wrapped up her high school soccer career tonight.  The days leading up to it flooded me with memories of all her games past, both far and near.  Thoughts of different leagues, cities, coaches, teammates, hotel rooms, victory, defeat.  Reflections of how she changed over the years as a player, a competitor, and a person.  Wondering how and why things have played out exactly as they have.  Thinking about influences both good and bad that could have or would have made things better or worse if they’d been different.

And I started thinking about the kids that I have coached as my kids have grown up, from youth soccer to travel soccer, Upward basketball to middle school basketball.  And I just can’t help wondering……

If all coaches could see into the future, to that very day when a kid puts away the cleats or the hi-tops for the last time and walks away from a game………would they choose to coach individual kids differently than they presently do?

Every kid walks away from their chosen sport someday…….then what?

Effective youth coaching is psychiatry and it is parenting.  Each player is unique, and they have specific needs that team sports can bring them.

Many coaches fail to fill those needs because they falsely assume they are training the next state champs.  They fail to see each child beyond that day when the sports equipment goes in the yard sale or the closet.

Shouldn’t the journey of sports teach these things and more to prepare kids for life beyond sports?

  1.  Standard of excellence
  2.  Work ethic
  3.  To believe in themselves
  4.  To trust others
  5.  The value of encouragement
  6.  To know they aren’t the center of the universe
  7.  To know that success does not come overnight (or in one practice)
  8.  To lose with dignity
  9.  To accept temporary failures without blaming others, and to realize these failures aren’t permanent
  10.  To be pushed to their physical limit, time and time again
  11.  To love and to be loved
  12.  To sacrifice for others
  13.  To respect authority and rules
  14.  Teamwork/unselfishness
  15.  To never give up

These things still matter when the cheering stops.

The cheering stopped for Maddie tonight.  Her team lost in the regional semi-finals.  In a game where she and her teammates truly “left it on the field”, the score was tied at the end of 80 minutes of regulation.  Two 5-minute overtimes later, the score was still tied.  Penalty kicks would now decide the match.

Maddie stood over the ball, ready to attempt her shot with her team facing a nearly hopeless 3-1 deficit.

If she missed this shot, the game was over.  The season was over.

Sitting on my knees beside my wife, I simply mumbled, “Maddie needs to be to one to take this shot.”

Not because it could be the game winner………because it would be the shot that would seal the loss if she missed.

I don’t know what kind of reaction or look Kristy gave me, but I went on to say, “Maddie needs to be the one to take this shot, because I know she can handle missing the shot to end the game.  She can handle it.  That’s my daughter!”

And my voice cracked at the enormity of what I was saying in a trailing voice……..”that is OUR daughter”.

She missed.  Game over.  Season over.  High school career over for her and her senior teammates.

Maddie played her heart out.  And I was so proud of her.  But when those words came out of my mouth, “that’s our daughter” it hit me so clearly.  I was not proud of her effort or her performance.

I was proud of who she has become.

She met her mother and me after the game with head held high.  That’s our daughter.

Do your best.  Have fun.  Train and play to win.  In the end it’s just a game.  The end came tonight.  I’m thankful for all those who have prepared her in the right ways to go beyond this “end”.

If you’re coaching your 1st game or your 1000th, take an occasional peek toward the end.  Winning is a by-product of doing all things the right way.  Some lessons can’t be cast aside for the sake of early wins or just because you ARE winning games.

And while your players are dreaming of making that dramatic game-winning shot, you better spend some time preparing their toughness and character……for missing it.

Nickel and Dime

Money

Certainly an exceptional story – but the concept is tried and true.

We need more Mr. Earls!

America’s Prisons

Prison

For awhile now there has been a growing awareness that America’s prison system is failing society.  The fact that we incarcerate so many of our young folks only to see them emerge from the system as hardened criminals is repulsive.  I have been excited to hear talk of prison reforms during the campaigns but am left disheartened as Rand Paul seemed to be the only candidate seriously and earnestly addressing the issue.

We have to do something.

But I don’t know if this is it:

Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

In theory, and in a nearly perfect world, this method could be a good one.  For example, today we lock up minor drug offenders for far too long.  This method could be employed to demonstrate that a first time weed arrest at age 15 requires very little prison time.  On the other hand, a single arrest may very well occur for unique experiences resulting in a ‘signature’ that is otherwise inappropriate.

And say nothing of the potential problems when sentencing takes into account socio-economic conditions or race.  Not to mention the libertarian arguments against punishment for a crime not yet committed.

Racism – The Princess Bride Edition

Princess Bride

It’s famous : “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

For years I have found this to be true for society when discussing racism.  The term has lost its original meaning and morphed into a new and dangerous version.  All of this is better said by the Coyote:

I have come to the conclusion that the concept of original sin must be one of those that are quite appealing to humans.

For literally millennia, original sin has been a foundational part of much of Christianity.  We were all born with original sin, and so effectively started life with guilt.  It turns out that it is much easier to exercise power over the guilty than over people who consider themselves innocent.  The Catholic Church took advantage of this power by claiming that no individual could wipe away their original sin, their inherited guilt, without active engagement with the Church itself.  I will leave aside theological arguments** here, but conclude that the Church used the original sin doctrine in part to enhance its temporal power.

As Christianity fades somewhat as an active part of Western culture, the idea of Christian original sin seldom comes up much in any practical way.  But that does not mean the world has abandoned the concept of original sin – no indeed.  Racism is one of the classic examples of original sin – in it, someone born black, or Jewish, or whatever, is tainted with an original sin that they cannot wash away, and makes them somehow inferior to others.

Much of what social justice warriors say sounds racist to me, as they often offer negative generalizations of whole groups based on race, or gender, or sexual preference.  In my naive younger days I used to think that judging anyone based on their race rather than their individual actions and values was racism.    However, SJW’s have managed to change linguistics in their favor, conveniently redefining racism (or sexism) as only applying to those in historically more powerful groups  (e.g. white males).  By this definition, a black woman can never be a racist, no matter how much she negatively stereotypes other racial groups.

Well, OK then.  I am tired of fighting this definitional issue.  So I will just say that SJW’s frequently fall in the trap of believing in original sin.  Whites, males, heteros, successful people – they are all tainted in the SJW mind with original sin, so much that any utterance from any individual in these groups is deemed as having no value and therefore should be ignored or actively suppressed.  This is actually a radical version of original sin that goes way farther than the Catholic Church ever took it, though I would argue it is promulgated for roughly the same reason – to enhance one’s power.

 

** Speaking of original sin, in one of the great misconceptions that Christians have of their own religion, the immaculate conception was not Mary’s virgin birth of Jesus but rather her own birth without the taint of original sin.

Zika Virus

Mosquito

If you haven’t noticed, the new world health crisis is the Zika virus transmitted via the common mosquito:

There’s another big health concern that’s all over the news, and it’s behind this week’s Words You’ll Hear. That’s the segment where we try to understand stories we’ll be hearing more about in the coming days by parsing some of the words associated with those stories. Today, our word is Zika. That’s the name of a mosquito-borne virus that’s been detected in parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America, especially in Brazil, where it’s being blamed for a spike in birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control has issued travel advisories for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

You’re humble contributing editor suggests a single course of action.

DDT

A 1978 National Cancer Institute report concluded—after two years of testing on several different strains of cancer-prone mice and rats—that DDT was not carcino-genic.36 As for the DDT-caused eggshell thinning, it is unclear whether it did, in fact, occur and, if it did, whether the thinning was caused by DDT, by mercury, by PCBs, or by the effects of human encroachment.16,37 And as recently as 1998 researchers reported that thrush eggshells in Great Britain had been thinning at a steady rate 47 years before DDT hit the market; the researchers placed the blame on the early consequences of industrialization.

By all means, let’s ban a cure saving millions of life for … well, for nothing.

It’s Over

Go

A computer has just beaten a Go champion:

On Wednesday, in a research paper released in Nature, Google earned its own position in the history books, with the announcement that its subsidiary DeepMind has built a system capable of beating the best human players in the world at the east Asian board game Go.

There are more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.  It’s only a matter of time before the machines terminate the human race.

White Privilege

White Priviledge

Before the whole San Bernadino incident, race and race relations were front and center in America.  We had incidents involving cops in Ferguson, Cleveland and Baltimore.  We had South Carolina.  We had Mizzou.  #BLM was a leading story in the news.  Since then the nation hasn’t continued the conversation with the same attention.

I was recently asked to read this article trying to describe the concept of white privilege to a white person.  It’s a good article – go read it.  I mean, this is the opening:

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive.

It’s tough to describe my feelings more accurately.

But, back to the article.

I know that it’s an analogy but I have to point to what I’m sure is a flaw – namely that the author can decide to stop riding a bike at any time.  This is, of course, a luxury not afforded to people of color.  That being said, the rest of the article mostly resonates with me.

Kinda.

I get that there are difficulties in every day life that my black friends and family have to deal with that I don’t.  I get that there are head winds.  And I even get that these head winds exist unbeknownst to my conscience self.  They just.

Are.

But my problem with the article, and with the conversation in the larger spectrum, is that we don’t wanna make the experience of the bike rider the same as the car driver – indeed, we want the bike riders to become car drivers.

My comments to a friend sometime ago sums it up: slightly edited.

I have little to no problem with the acknowledgment that I have it ‘easier’ because I have won almost all categories:

White, male, Christian, Protestant, educated, middle class

I get that you can drop me in nearly any city in America and I’ll be fine.

My problem isn’t the acknowledgement of the existence of the construct – it’s the weaponization.

I get the privilege – I resent being told, in a discussion, that I need to ‘check mine’.

I kinda resonate with the author when he says, ‘we are not people’ because it validates that ‘checking my white male privilege’ is bullshit. Just because I live in the construct doesn’t mean I live my life according to it.

And finally, there are things I still have to do. I actually had to go to school, to study and graduate. And then go to more school. I had to go to church and be part of a faith community.   I got a job when I was 10 – and have been earning a paycheck since then – 37 years!  I had to get a residence and keep it – clean, and kept and safe.

And now – I am engaged in my community. I belong to lodges, and teams, and neighborhood groups. I organize people and let myself be organized for reasons that do good.

I absolutely, every single time, calmly pull over, put both my hands on the steering wheel and calmly and slowly tell the officer that my wallet is in my hip pocket and that I’m going to reach for it now. And I teach my kids the same thing.

There is a construct, a ‘privilege’ but the dirty secret is that we don’t wanna keep people out – we want more people to live according to it.

Finally, the ending of the construct, the tearing down of white privilege has begun – begun but not yet completed.  That is obvious.  What might be lost, or forgotten due to the righteous injustice of it all, is that the end will resemble more a sunrise than a light switch.