The transgender rights row in sport is coming rapidly to the boil

Mick Hartley quotes from a piece behind the Times paywall, about a male-who-identifies-as-female cricketer, who is doing very well for him(her)self, in (hitherto) women’s cricket:

There is a new star in the Kent women’s cricket team – its first transgender player is opening after one season.

Maxine Blythin, who is more than 6ft tall and under England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules can self-identify as a woman, has a batting average of 124 this season and has hit four centuries already. …

Fair Play for Women has said the policy is unfair, especially at a time when the game is improving opportunities for female players. A £20m semi-professional competition for women starts next year.

“Letting males who self-ID as women play in women’s competitions is demonstrably unfair,” the campaign group tweeted last week. “The ECB knows males have a performance advantage over females. This is [why] it lets women use lighter & smaller cricket balls & why boundaries are set closer.”

The ECB is very proud that it has created an “inclusive environment for all participants”. Says Hartley:

Well, all participants apart from the women, who have to compete against a biologically male athlete. But who cares about them?

Plenty will, when women’s sports teams stop having just a sprinkling of such persons in among all the biological women, and are instead dominated by male-identifying-as-female players. Note Hartley’s singular “a” in front of “biologically male athlete”. That singular is going to turn plural very soon, unless this foolishness is ended now. It will end, quite soon. But not before there has been a big fight that, as of now, the mostly-men in charge of sport are reluctant to have.

This would appear to be the relevant page of the Fair Play For Women website.

At the top, it says:

During the summer of 2018 the government launched a public consultation about changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Powerful transgender interest groups lobbied hard for full deregulation of the legal transition process, demanding a move to a simplified approach known as Sex Self-ID, that would allow any man to change his birth certificate on demand to say he was born female.

There is nothing remotely “simplified” about Sex Self-ID. When biological men feel female, it cannot not get complicated.

Food photos as prayers of gratitude

This from the American Spectator seems to me to be saying something rather true:

It is easy to be cynical. We might dismiss these photos as brazen self-promotion or a symptom of millennial self-absorption. Headlines like “Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie” and “Instagramming Millennials Are Burying the World in Food Waste” capture the standard sentiment. Slurs such as “foodgasm” and “food porn” often taint these photos with the suggestion of lechery. Perhaps, though, a more sincere explanation is possible. As odd as it sounds, I do not see pornography in these images. I find prayer.

I believe these pictures are a new incarnation of an ancient instinct: the ritual of tableside grace. Derived from the Latin gratia for “thanks,” grace is a specific type of prayer given before or after a meal to express gratitude and to invoke a blessing. It is an exercise in devoting reverential attention to life’s bounty, and through this enriched attention, achieving an expanded sense of belonging. “It becomes believers not to take food … before interposing a prayer,” Tertullian wrote in the third century, “for the refreshments and nourishments of the spirit are to be held prior to those of the flesh, and things heavenly prior to things earthly.” Grace is more than gratitude — it is gratitude ascendant, aimed above the earthly appetite toward a higher vocation. The Catholic Catechism defines prayer as “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” Thus grace gives our gratitude wings that lift the mind from the necessities of the flesh toward the nourishments of the spirit. For many people, photographing their entrées fills the same social role as grace: a ritual of aspirational attention that elevates bodily sustenance into spiritual refreshment through the simple power of a genuine “thank you.”

I often find myself describing my fellow digital photoers as “worshippers”. They see something which seems to them meaningful and express that feeling by photoing whatever it is. I do this myself of course, constantly.

On the other hand, this piece also helped me to understand the widespread annoyance at the way food photoing is such a big part of social-media-ing. Saying grace is fine. But it’s a shared moment for those present (God included, if you think He’s the one to be thanking), and then you get stuck in. Do you record this expression of gratitude and then expect your friends to listen to it? No.

But on the other hand, two of the things that twenty-first-centurions now have to learn are: not to pay attention to everything that your friends put out there; and: not to expect your friends to pay attention to everything that you put out there. If a friend posts lots of food photos and you think it’s too much, just pay less attention.

Also, this:

More about this wondrous concoction here.

And while I’m on the subject of food photoing, take (or not (it’s entirely up to you (if we are friends, our friendship will not be affected))) another look at what I think is one of my best-yet food photos, here.

Misbehaving opera stars

Two interesting recent postings by Norman Lebrecht.

First, Anna Nebtrenko has been bunking off from Bayreuth in order to go to a family wedding. Both she and her also-bunking-off husband were simultaneously “ill”, but then put themselves all over social media, being not at all ill, in Azerbaijan.

Lebrecht is not impressed:

Today’s breed of opera managers does not contain many heroes but at some point – and it will not take long – one manager will stand up and say to Netrebko, as Rudolf Bing did to Maria Callas: get out of my house.

For Callas, it was all downhill from that point on.

For Netrebko and Eyvazov, it’s just a matter of time.

I did not know that about Callas and Bing. Blog and learn.

Second, another operatic superstar, Placido Domingo, has been accused of sexual harassment. No force involved, but definitely harassment. Persistent sexual pressure and not taking no for an answer: bad. If the suggestion is that saying yes may result in career advancement, that’s bad too. If the further suggestion is that saying no may result in career retardation, that’s very bad. Domingo is definitely being accused of the first two.

Accused. The comments at Lebrecht alternate between wanting justice for the harassed, and those wanting justice for those accused of harassment, perhaps wrongly.

I favour both. As does Jeannie Suk Gersen.

Some housekeeping

Yes, following on from yesterday’s cricket dramas, the mundane matter of how photos look, here, on this blog.

You will recall that last week, GodDaughter2’s Sister and I were wandering about in London. After we had passed through Trafalgar Square, we carried on, across the River, and then along to the Oxo Tower, up which I had never been and up which GD2S now guided me. Here is how the top of that Tower looks from just underneath that top:

Now for the housekeeping. The photo I just uploaded to my blogging software is 1000 pixels across. The blog software cleverly shrinks that photo on your screen, to make it fit the full width of the posting.

However, here is another photo I took from that same spot, of the two Blackfriars bridges, road in the foreground and the railway station bridge behind it, with a little clutch of those Ghost Columns (also featured in photo 4.3 of this recent photo-collection here) in between. (Top right, you can just make out the Millennium Footbridge.) This photo is, as of now, 1500 pixels across, and if all now behaves as it has been behaving, this photo will now look, on your screen, rather less wide:

The effect is not always visible. You have to widen out the blog posting before you spot the difference. But when you do, you see that the Tower Top is wider across than the Bridges.

Which is strange. What I would like would be for the blogging software to shrink the photo that is 1500 pixels across down to the exact width of the posting, but no narrower, just as it did with the 1000 pixel photo above, of the Tower Top, no matter what the size of the screen you see all this on.

Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to sort this out for me, unless you are Michael Jennings, the man who got this blog going, and who has more recently promised to give this matter his attention.

If you are not Michael Jennings, the purpose of this posting is, however, more than just a matter of showing you a couple of (hope you agree) nice photos. I am also interested in illustrating how an aspect of modern life consists of people like me (who don’t know how all this stuff works) asking people like Michael Jennings (who does know how a lot of this stuff works or failing that knows how to find out how it works) to make stuff we put on the internet look more nearly as we would like it to.

An ongoing agenda for this blog is the texture, so to speak, of modern life. And this particular sort of techno-relationship, between a circle of tech-ignorant people and … That Guy, to whom they all go for answers to conundra of this kind, is very much part of how we all live now. Why be ashamed of any of this? Why not turn it into a blog posting? It’s interesting.

If, despite not being Michael Jennings, you feel that you nevertheless have something to contribute in this matter, feel entirely free to comment. I like comments, and am grateful for all the ones I get.

By the way, if you never have to ask That Guy for help, of the approximate sort that I have just described, then you, for your particular circle of acquaintances, are probably That Guy yourself.

On how my meetings work

I photoed these photos of my front room last night and today. Last night on the left, during my latest Last Friday of the Month meeting (at which My Friend The Professor (Tim Evans) spoke about Russia), and today, on the right, after I had begun tidying up (but still had a way to go):

I have a theory about these meetings and how they work, which I would like to share with myself. If you want to read along with me, feel free.

A major reason I keep on with my meetings is that they strengthen, or so I believe, relationships between those who attend. They do this by being small. My front room is small, and only a small number of people can fit into it. This means that there is a lot less of that “wandering eye” temptation, as you talk with one person but simultaneously wonder if there are others present more worthy of your attention. In a small meeting, you are basically stuck with who you are with. So, you get stuck into a proper conversation. At a big meeting, a proper conversation with a randomly selected person present would be very good. But, instead, you tend to “circulate”. At my meetings, there is not a lot of circulating to be done.

When my meetings have a popular speaker who attracts a somewhat larger crowd than usual, as happened last night when around twenty people showed up, another influence cuts in, which is that it becomes very hard to move. You can’t circulate, because there is no spare room to do it in. So, it’s the same thing again. Your best bet is to have a serious conversation with whoever you are sat down next to.

It may be I have overstated the above effect somewhat. But I do think that something like this does happen.

All meetings have their own peculiar atmospheres and dynamics. No particular sort of meeting suits everyone. My meetings seem to attract two types of people. There are the regulars, who simply like them and keep on coming. And, there are those who are busy making connections in the London libertarian scene, having only recently joined it.

There is another influence at work which is also quite significant, which has the effect of stopping a certain sort of person attending very frequently, but I’ll get to that in another posting. Tomorrow maybe? Some time soon, I hope, before I forget.

A tax infographic about and a meeting at my home about Hong Kong

Dominic Frisby:

Frisby says that Dan Neidle will like this. I don’t know anything about Dan Neidle, other than this. But I like it. As much for the colours and its hand-done nature as for its content.

Concerning Hong Kong, last night I semi- (as in: still to be solidified and date still to be settled) signed up a Hong Kong lady to speak at one of my Last-Friday-of-the-Month meetings, about how Hong Honk is demonstrating back, so to speak, against the Chinese Government’s plans to subjugate it.

I warned her that my meetings are not large, and not as a rule attended by The World’s Movers and Shakers (although such personages do sometimes show up). But that didn’t bother her, or didn’t seem to. She seems to understand instinctively that big things can come out of small gatherings, if only in the form of one suggested contact or one item of information.

Alas, Hong Kong’s era of low and simple taxes is now under severe threat, along with many other more important things.

Boris pater mixed metaphor alert

Incoming email with mixed metaphor and Other creatures news:

Stanley Johnson, Boris pater, on Sky News this morning re Brexit deal: “We’re barking up the wrong horse …”

From GodDaughter2’s pater Tony, to whom thanks. Tor the benefit of anyone reading this who never did Latin, pater means Dad.

Stanley Johnson is an I’m A Celebrity celebrity, it would seem. Or was.

There ought to be an equal and opposite response to this, along the lines of “riding the wrong tree”, but that doesn’t sound quite right. “Jumping trees”? Still not sounding right.

As for Brexit, I personally hope that if Boris is the next PM, he doesn’t jump trees. And I think we can all agree that Prime Minister May has been barking up the wrong horse ever since she got the job.

Battersea gallery

Yesterday evening I walked over to Battersea, to see how things are going with surrounding the old Power Station with apartment blocks, with sorting out the western end of London’s Big New Sewer, and constructing a new tube station.

In the photos that follow, I concentrate on the new blocks of flats, not least because it is easier to see that, what with it having reached the stage of mostly now being above ground. Tube line and sewer construction remains largely hidden throughout, and in general they tend to be more secretive about such things.

So how are things going with all those flats? How things are going is that there is a lot of building going on, but also, already, a lot of living.

The earliest photos in this gallery show the part where they say: come on it. This is already a place, with people, and food, and a road through to other parts beyond. Then, you walk along one of the oddest bridges in London, over and through what is still a giant building site, right next to the old Power Station, and then you arrive at the bit that is finished and already containing people.

None of the photos that follow are individually that fascinating. But click, click, click your way through them at speed, and you’ll get an idea of how this passing moment in the history of London is now looking:

The photos that concentrate on life being lived, rather than merely dwellings being constructed, concern the London Seafood Festival (that being the only link I now have the time to contrive), which I had definitely not been expecting. But many others had, and were gathered in large numbers to partake.

Then I made my way to Battersea Park railway station, with the last two photos having been photoed from the train that took me to Victoria Station on the other side of the river.

My larger point is this: that the newest and most noticeable London architecture has now done a switch, from the erection of individually crafted and highly visible and recognisable Big Things, to the mass production of generic Machines For Living In and Machines For Working In. So many office blocks and blocks of flats of a certain height, all jammed together in a formerly not so very desirable location, each higher than low but each lower than really high. So much concrete and steel being hoisted into the air by so many cranes. And so many people all being crammed into these new dwellings and new workplaces, as they beaver away at their desk jobs nearby or in The City, and relax by the river in their numerous new eateries and drinkeries down on the ground floors. Yes, this kind of thing has been going on in London for many decades, but just lately, it has shifted up a gear.

That all these new Batterseans will be within walking and face-to-face talking distance of one another is bound to have creative consequences. All sorts of new urban possibilities will become possible.

A lot more of this stuff has been happening out East, in Docklands and beyond. There too (see especially: North Greenwich) things have shifted up a gear. Battersea feels a bit more upmarket than those places down East.

Welcome to the latest version of London.

The magic of Twitter

Dominic Frisby, at 1.30 am this morning:

Morning all, I am compiling a list of irritating people on the telly (US or UK) for a routine. Would you mind posting below the name of anyone who gets up your nose? The more the better.

PS Please don’t use their twitter handles.

Dominic Frisby, one hour later:

Thank you!

I have plenty.

I’m guessing that the trick of Twittering is learning how to make use of it for your own purposes, without letting it drive you mad. Note in particular the bit about not using Twitter handles. The suggested celebs were not told about this operation. They therefore had no chance to get mad, and then to try to drive Frisby, or anybody else, mad.

When gossiping malevolently, I think it’s always kinder to do it behind people’s backs and without their knowledge. Why by gratuitously hurtful?

Photoing God Save The Queens

In the basement of a club in Soho, soon after I’d photoed that dirty Landrover.

The problem was that I was getting the verbals, but not the image in the middle of the verbals.

The trick, as a friend demonstrated, was: zero in on the image. Cut the verbals out of it:

And if you want both, show both the photos, of the verbals and of the image. And a couple of images of the lesson. Lesson learned.

If you’d been there in person, you would of course have been able to see it all in one go. (But a camera often can’t do that.)