The Daily DeX: News, Notes, And Quotes For 05/01/2019

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Today on The Daily DeX: White nationalist clown nihilism, let’s defend hate speech, and baseball has gone full-on neoliberal.

+“White Nationalists Adopt Clowns as Their Next Racist Symbol (Yes, Seriously)” | Right Wing Watch

The phrase “clown world” and accompanying emojis unify far-right social media users in their exasperation over an imagined state of collapse in the Western hemisphere that they largely blame on immigrants and minority groups. The force driving “Honkler” across the far-right is the same bleak worldview that led white nationalists to embrace Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. In their minds, if there is nothing that they can do to stop the supposed “great replacement” of white people in their “homelands” and no politicians who care enough about their cause to implement real policies that favor their agenda, they may as well accept the outcome and wrench whatever they can out of the system, like Yang’s promise of $1,000 per month universal basic income. This mentality is often referred to as “black pilling.”

–>I was going to write that the dark side of white privilege is that whiteness so convinces you everything should be easy that when things aren’t going your way at all you give up like a spineless and hang around Twitter wearing a clown wig and a rubber nose. But that actually sounds like the white side of white privilege.

+“In Defense of Hate Speech” | Areo

When we censor, we render ourselves prisoners of our own ideas and sharpen a blade that can be turned upon us in the future. And if we sit idly by while that blade is sharpened, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves when it’s thrust into our flesh. There’s also the question of practicality: who decides what is kosher for us to read and write? The answer, in practice, is either the state or the mob. It is either those with the monopoly on legitimate violence, or the self-appointed moral majority.

–>I was managing a bookstore in the mid-90s when some clown (see above) worked his way through the switchboard so that he could interrogate me re: why the store didn’t stock The Turner Diaries, the novel that inspired Timothy McVeigh. “We can sell or not sell anything we want,” I said to his claim that our store violated free speech. “Government can violate free speech,” I said, “But a business can’t,” and then hung up because not all customers deserve the same level of service. John Stuart-Mill helped us with this pseudo-problem more than a century ago. Democracy doesn’t regulate outre free speech cases well, but free enterprise does. Free-speech absolutists continually forget or ignore that there’s nothing stopping suppliers from for deciding for their markets that some products are not appropriate. Hate speech doesn’t need defending. The marketplace of ideas will take care of things regardless what buyers and sellers do.

+“Against the Statheads” | The Baffler

Despite its name, the rise of WAR has influenced today’s baseball fans and writers to think about the sport not in terms of wins and losses but dollars and cents. As Rick Paulas pointed out in Vice last year, even as the reliance on analytics has led to some “players who once weren’t appreciated getting their just due,” it has more importantly precipitated a discourse that comes “down to who’s worth the money and who’s not.” Paulas nods to the emergence of the concept of “surplus value,” analysis that determines which teams are winning more games than you’d expect based on their payroll. Which is to say, the teams underpaying their players the most. The need to identify arbitrage opportunities is in the DNA of these stats: when he introduced the concept of the Replacement Level Player back in 2001, Woolner wrote “A commodity which is easily available to all teams at no or low cost confers no competitive advantage, and therefore is of minimal value.”

–>In a market-based economy everything eventually looks like a market. Baseball is in a major transition because sophisticated stats like WAR (wins above replacement)  have revealed that its veteran pay structure as formulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is not commensurate with what data tells us about a player’s arc of production throughout his career. This partly explains the massive contracts recently signed by Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and others. For many players, contracts have been offered more on the basis of past performance, not as much on the basis of what a player will produce in the future. Because this is changing, baseball free agency has seen quality veteran players go unsigned. We saw the beginnings of this trend last year, but it’s in full-swing now. Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbro (free agents who in the past would’ve been offered tens of millions) are still unsigned. Statistically savvy baseball execs are not convinced that their future production is commensurate with what “the market” says their value is.  


Where are your hammers for these nails?

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