Baseball

I can’t be sure it was grade five but it feels like it was.

Some of my classmates and I decided to play baseball at recess. The large yard beside the school was occupied by most of the children doing various activities so we went to the smaller empty yard in front of the school. How I got to be the pitcher, I don’t remember. Given the small size of the yard, I had to stand uncomfortably close to the batter and I didn’t like this at all. The best thing I could think of was to turn around after I threw the ball. At least I wouldn’t be hit in the face.

The one of the class athletes took the bat. Now I was even more afraid, especially given that we were using a hardball. I pitched and quickly turned. There bat cracked and a split second later, all I could see was white. I don’t recall when I realized it, but the ball hit me square in the back of the head. By the time my vision returned, I was off to the side of the yard, perhaps six metres away. One of my classmates likened me to a Timex watch because I took a licking and kept on ticking. I was still dizzy though I seem to have managed to walk to the side of the yard, perhaps with help, without falling.

Back in those days, if you had a mishap and remained conscious, weren’t bleeding too badly, and had no broken bones, you were all right and the game continued. I seemed okay and I recall we didn’t even tell any adults. Why would we? The game did continue but without me.

The only after effect, and I can’t even be certain that it was related, is for the next 20 or 30 years, I would occasionally have my vision fill with white and clear a few seconds later. I would also get partially dizzy and have to stop moving to avoid falling. This would happen with varying frequency but it never happened more than once every month or two. By the time I was 16, I was worried about what would happen if these ‘whiteouts’ ever happened while I was driving, but they never did.

I don’t think they happen any more, but I can’t be totally sure. I do recall more recent similar occurrences where I feel a bit dizzy for a few seconds, but I don’t lose my vision. These happen even less often.

Surely there is nothing to be gained by pursuing it now, but I really do wonder what effect it had. With all the recent talk of how head injuries and concussions are far more serious than we realized, I’m certain it did affect me but I can’t be sure how serious it was.

I wonder how things might have been different if I had decided against baseball that day, long ago.

Don’t cheat the Empress!

I’m almost finished reading Robert B. Abrams’ The Colosseum: A History, which is a pretty good book, especially since I managed to purchase the Kindle edition for $1.99. In it I came upon this gem of a story that I had never heard before:

The third-century emperor Gallienus, upon learning that a jeweler had sold the empress counterfeit jewels, punished the man by ordering him thrown to the lions. The terrified charlatan was led into the arena, where a cage was wheeled up next to him. But when the cage door was opened, a capon strutted out. The crowd roared with laughter. The emperor’s herald proclaimed that the trickster had been tricked. Then the benevolent Gallienus let him go.

That jeweler got off easy. Cheating people is bad enough, but who cheats the emperor’s wife? Not smart.

Seth’s Candy Diet

The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.

Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the “L” stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the “History” stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

And of course, newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn’t want to hear. We’ve responded by not buying newspapers any more.

The decline of thoughtful media has been discussed for a century. This is not new. What is new: A fundamental shift not just in the profit-seeking gatekeepers, but in the culture as a whole.

Seth Godin,
The Candy Diet

This crushes me with sadness. Where will it lead? Where does it end?

Brexit

What is a country, exactly? A group of like-minded individuals living together? I think this is increasingly untrue. Part of my own definition would involve a recognized border the inhabitants control. After all, if the people living in the country can’t control who leaves, and especially who enters, it’s not a sovereign country at all.

To me, this is exactly why the European Union’s unimpeded flow of goods and people sounds great until you really think about it. Goods can come and go within the Union, which is terrific for trade. People can come and go within the Union, but they can also stay, and you have no control over who chooses to exercise this option. That may not be so good.

It’s got nothing at all to do with racism, or xenophobia. Does locking your door any only allowing the people you choose inside make you a xenophobe? I should hope not, and the same goes for your country. It is for this reason alone that I would have likely voted leave if I were living in the UK.

Last Sunday on The National, Jonathan Kay was a part of the panel discussion regarding the Brexit and he described how proud he was that Canada has no significant movement that is so racist and xenophobic as some other countries. That’s so easy to say since we do have control of our borders and our country. I’d heartily suggest the situation would be very different if all of the borders were open within North America and the rules over much of what goes on in our country were handed down to us from an unelected group outside of Canada.

The more I think about it, the less I can conceive how the countries that comprise the European Union ever sold the loss of their sovereignty to their citizens to join the Union in the first place. If you agree to give up jurisdiction on trade, agriculture, fisheries, regional development, environment, treaties and international agreements, defense and security, and monetary policy (for those countries that have adopted the Euro), why not just agree to become a single pan-European country and be done with it? At least citizens could then elect the people making these policies…which they currently cannot.

Entitlement is alive and well. I saw a young English man interviewed regarding the Brexit results and he stated that the exit is the fault of the older folks and pensioners and they need to figure some way around it. Translation: we don’t care for democracy when it doesn’t go our way so we need to get around this vote somehow. Pesky democracy!

In the same spirit, we have this petition that showed up on the UK Parliamentary web site:

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

This would conveniently force another referendum…so as long as the two conditions are not met, the population would be facing referendum after referendum. That also makes staying or leaving more difficult than the simple majority required to become part of the E.U. in the first place, and that’s supposed to be fair?

Even worse are all the demonstrations. Tens of thousands of young people are out wanting their voices to be heard. This is laughable because only 28% of young people voted. The ballot box was the place to voice their opinion, but almost three-quarters of them couldn’t be bothered. Now that things didn’t go their way, they’re not happy. Even worse, some blame the older folks. You know what? The older folks were smart enough to get off their asses and vote!

Bullshit sexism

Lauren Wiggins is a New Brunswick high-school student who was doing nothing but minding her own business when she received a detention for breaking her school’s dress code. When she wrote a letter to the vice-principal expressing her opinion, they added a one day suspension to her detention.

Yes, she did break the dress code. That much is true. One can argue whether it is reasonable or not, but that isn’t what has me incensed. It’s what they told her. Unfortunately, the school is refusing to answer media enquiries, but the CBC reports that

says she was told the full-length halter dress she wore to school on Monday was considered “inappropriate” and a “sexual distraction” to fellow students.

The dress Wiggins was punished for wearing.

I call bullshit. High school is the last stage of preparation that young people receive before going out into the world or pursuing higher education. Telling a young woman that she can’t wear certain clothing because of how the boys will react is a big problem. The school is telling the boys that they are not responsible for their actions, and even worse, that the girls are responsible for the boys’ actions. This is a very dangerous message to give to young people. Not only dangerous, but absolutely wrong.

Young people need to understand that they are responsible for their own actions. More importantly, they need to realize where their responsibility ends and other peoples’ begins. The school has this one entirely wrong and they’re enabling the boys’ poor behaviour.

If her dress was inappropriate, that’s fine. Say so. Don’t blame her if the boys haven’t been taught how to behave. Teach the boys how to behave and stop enabling their poor choices! But on the topic of the dress, I saw much worse in my high school days. I might be dating myself, but remember designer jeans? Like I said, much worse.

I’m also terribly disappointed that Wiggins was suspended for expressing her thoughts about the situation to the vice-principal. She posted her letter on her Facebook page and it’s entirely polite and reasonable. Suspension for expressing her thoughts politely is ridiculous. She ends her letter,

If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders then he needs to be sent home and practice self control.

Then she thanks the vice-principal and wishes him a nice day. Not only is she entirely correct, but she’s polite and eloquent… and for this she’s suspended? Ridiculous bullshit.

I’m glad she’s making a big stink about the situation and I hope the staff who handled this so poorly are taken to task for it. She deserves and apology and the way they handle things needs to change.


Photo from Lauren Wiggins’ Facebook page