Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Lies, damn lies, and political ads

A bizarre political flyer landed in our mailbox the other day. The right-wing nut jobs have decided the way to defeat the reproductive freedom proposition that's on the ballot here in Michigan is by enrolling the specter of prepubescent children being allowed to request elective hysterectomies without bothering to obtain parental consent first. Apparently the Betsy DeVos crowd believes the average person is so brain dead that he or she will believe that allowing adult women to obtain abortions is going to lead to children deciding to change genders. 

The television equivalent of the print ad is pretty strange, too. As the text of the proposed resolution is displayed on screen, the word "sterilization" is highlighted while the voice-over talks about protecting children. The reason sterilization is in the resolution, of course, is that women often find it next to impossible to obtain procedures such as a tubal ligation if they're still of child-bearing age. Adults can make fully informed, conscious decisions that they do not want to have children and then discover doctors will refuse to perform the minor surgery involved because "you might change your mind." Doesn't matter if you already have multiple children and have decided that's enough, you've learned your family's medical history includes some potentially nasty disorders, or you simply do not want to be a parent, many physicians will still refuse to allow you to obtain a voluntary sterilization. Somehow that anti-choice crowd equates that with allowing minors to receive care for gender dysphoria.

The part where the stupid truly burns, of course, is when they suggest that children as young as 10 or 11 will be able to obtain prescription drugs or elective surgeries without parental consent. Does anyone with even half a brain believe there are physicians practicing who'd treat pre-pubescent minors without a parent or guardian present? Would a child even make it past the clinic receptionist?    

Then again, I find the whole trans-phobia phenomenon pretty strange to begin with -- trans people are not exactly everywhere so I don't get the fear factor at all. Ditto the paranoia about an occasional trans girl participating in sports and thus having an unfair advantage just through the possible possession of a penis. A few months ago there was a lot of fulminating about a trans woman on a college swim team who's came in first in a meet or two. Lots and lots of ranting about unfair advantage, especially from the young women who lost to her. What was totally ignored is that particular college athlete had been in quite a few meets and lost a bunch of them. If the having been born with a dick gave her a special advantage, her winning stats would be better than they are. 

In any case, it's definitely weird how the known existence of one trans person participating in a sport will suddenly have the bigots freaking out and apparently seeing trans people everywhere. I'm willing to bet that if you were to do a survey of college swimmers asking how many trans women are on swim teams the nation-wide answer would be "one." But that one person's existence has insecure cis people freaking out and warning that pretty soon hordes of men pretending to be trans will be trying to get on swim teams everywhere. It must be exhausting to be that paranoid and fearful all the time. 

And while we're on the subject of sports, why isn't anyone freaking out about girls playing traditional boys' sports, like football. One of our local high schools has at least one girl on its football team. I can't recall what position she plays*, but no one that I know of is throwing fits about it. On a macro level, I've noticed a number of articles this fall celebrating female high school football players, like the quarterback in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, whose team won their homecoming game 66-6. Of course, girls playing boys sports aren't view as threats because societal ingrained sexism doesn't take them seriously. It's more like, "How cute. She'll outgrow it."   

*I'm guessing either kicker or quarterback, as those seem to be the positions girls most commonly end up playing, although if she's fast on her feet running back would be a good bet, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

There is probably a nap in my future

 Kind of wondering just how the S.O. is going to react after he's up and realizes the time showing on the clock radio is about 90 minutes fast. I got up thinking it was a little after 6, came downstairs, went through my normal first-thing-in-the-morning routine, and then after I was thoroughly awake discovered it was actually 4:45. Realizing I was up almost two hours earlier than normal did not thrill me. The power was out for maybe 7 hours last night, and obviously the clock radio no longer saves the time as accurately as it once did.

The power actually went out multiple times yesterday. It had gone out sometime during the night, came back on before I got up, was on for most of the morning, went  out again, then back for a few hours, and then gone again right about the time I normally crawl into bed to read for awhile. Heavy, wet snow and winds gusting up to 45 mph had the REA linemen working pretty much nonstop. We talked to one of them who said trees were toppling a lot faster than they could keep up with them all. He came through our yard twice checking for limbs touching the line. Never heard a chainsaw running, though, which surprised me. There is a section of power line that has never had a brush cutting crew go through it. It went from being open  field in the 1970s to thick trees, spruce and birch that's now pushing 40 years in age and growing a lot taller than the line, without ever seeing an REA crew, at least not doing routine tree trimming in decent weather. 

I am curious as to how much damage the snow did. I heard trees snapping each time I stepped outside yesterday.  There are a couple trees down close to the driveway -- a decent sized birch for sure and maybe a small black cherry. The yard is littered with pieces of apple trees. The lilacs got flattened, but they should spring back once the weight is off them. The S.O. said he noticed limbs down in the orchard, too, when he walked up to the 5th wheel to retrieve a battery-powered lantern.

How long the slush will sit on the ground is debatable. The temperatures are supposed to climb out of the 30s by the end of the week so some of it will melt. Every time we get snow in October there will be people claiming it's too early or it's not normal. Pshaw. I can recall slogging through snow trick-or-treating in Ishpeming in the 1950s. There was a reason so many parents opted for the basic ghost costume -- it's easy to wear a sheet over a snowsuit. The big question with October snow isn't why is it here but will it stick? Will we see bare ground again this fall or is this snow going to wait until May to melt?

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Supply chain issues

Our local community is currently reeling from the aftermath of a horrific accident that wiped out the Holiday gas station in L'Anse late Thursday night. A semi-truck veered off the highway, wiped out multiple pumps, struck and killed a customer pumping gas, and wound up smashed into the front of the building. An employee in the store was inured and required hospitalization; a customer talking to the cashier wasn't hurt. The fire resulting from the crash pretty much totaled the building. 

The truck driver and his passenger, a driver in training, were uninjured. The state police arrested the driver on suspicion of OWI (operating while impaired). He'll be in court on Monday for an arraignment on charges of OWI that resulted in death. And this the part that struck me: the dude is 22 years old. Twenty-two. Barely old enough to legally possess a Class A driver's license that allows for interstate operations. And he was training another driver.

Holy wah. In the weird way my mind operates the first thing that hit me after hearing the driver's age was just how fucking desperate is the trucking industry for drivers that they're resorting to using novices as trainers? The S.O. used to have a CDL. He did OTR for awhile. The company he worked for required all new hires to go through training regardless of their prior experience before they got turned loose on their own. His memory is that trainers were old. They were the guys who had hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of miles of experience. Just how much experience is it possible for a 22-year-old to have?

Then when I was going in to town yesterday to drop off my overdue library books, I saw the guilty truck being hauled up the highway, no doubt to a secure impound lot where the squints who do forensic analysis can go over both the tractor and the trailer with the proverbial fine tooth comb to make sure there's no possibility of a mechanical failure -- because you know that's going to be the driver's defense. It wasn't him: the steering crapped out or the brakes failed just as he came around that tricky curve on US-41.  And I did a double take. The name on the cab door of the incinerated truck was C. R. England.  

C. R. England is one of the more venerable names in the trucking industry. They're been around since 1920 (thank you Google). Unlike some other companies, they aren't the subject of jokes or general derision (like Swift, which has one of the more ironic names in the business). They're well established. They're not small. They don't (so far as I know) have a shady reputation. Just how pathetic and thin is the applicant pool when a company like C. R. England is resorting to using 22-year-olds as trainers?

I'll admit that I had been thinking the company involved would be one of the odd ones that to me always seem a little seedy, like Covenant. In fact, until I heard there was a trainee along for the E-ticket ride, I kind of assumed it would be a local owner-operator hauling wood chips to the bio-mass plant. Some of those guys do push the envelope when it comes to driving more than legal hours or skimping on equipment maintenance. But nope, C. R. England.  

I do find myself wondering just what happened to the trainee. Something tells me that person just might be considering different career paths now. . . Then again, having survived one dramatic truck crash, what are the odds they'd ever be in another?