Friday links! Playing by the rules edition

Phil Ivey was recently ordered to pay back $10 million in baccarat winnings.

Is it really a law that men can’t use the women’s bathroom? I know it is in North Carolina—more on that below—but that’s because their legislature went hysterical over a symbolic issue back in February. Before that, did people actually place themselves in legal jeopardy by using the wrong bathroom at Starbucks? I can’t imagine the Carolina brothers1 sitting down to draft the state’s first laws and, amid the provisions on theft and murder, including one about using the right bathroom. Nor can I think of an occasion to add one later. There’s something about a law, though. When a matter of custom or individual conscience becomes enshrined in statute, it reduces the pressure to behave well and not just legally. Today is Friday, and the more rules we make, the less we have to worry about ethics. Won’t you relax into the letter of the law with me?

First, the good news: Democrats on the Charlotte city council struck a deal with the state legislature to repeal HB2, the infamous “bathroom bill” that cost North Carolina business and public approval when it passed in February. The bad news is that this deal only existed in Democrats’ minds. Charlotte repealed the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance that prompted HB2 in the first place, but Republicans in the legislature did not hold up their end of the deal. During a special session convened last week, they voted to strip power from the office of governor just in time for incoming Democrat Roy Cooper, but they left the bathroom bill intact. Here’s a joint statement from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore:

For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal of HB2. But Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session—we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act. For Cooper to say otherwise is a dishonest and disingenuous attempt to take credit.

See, they’re totally willing to repeal HB2, but only if the outgoing governor calls them into session to do it. Never mind that they were in session already, and Democrats held up their end of this deal that never existed. You’ve got to have rules.

Meanwhile, on the internet, alt-right provocateur and victim of feminism-induced divorce Mike Cernovich is calling people pedophiles—lots of people. Pro tip: you can search for a particular word in a Twitter user’s tweets by using the format “from:[username] [word]”—e.g. from:cernovich pedophile. Over at New York Magazine, your boy Jesse Singal did that as part of his story on Cernovich’s feud with video editor Vic Berger IV. There are two stories here: Cernovich’s bizarre vendetta against a purveyor of absurd video gags, and his striking willingness to libel anyone he dislikes. Consider Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE). Sasse was a vocal member of the #NeverTrump faction whom Cernovich accused of providing young boys to Dennis Hastert. Here’s a sample of his reasoning:

In perhaps his most disturbing brush with pedophilia, Sasse worked at the Dept. of Health and Human Services prior to his election to the Senate. The former chief of cybersecurity for HHS was Timothy DiFoggi, who while working at HHS was convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise[.]

That’s it; Sasse worked in the same federal department as a pedophile, so he is probably a pedophile himself, or at least an accessory to child molestation. Cernovich is an attorney, which makes it kind of impressive that he’s willing to say stuff like this:

Neither of these tweets is libel, since they’re both framed as statements of opinion. And hey, if there’s no law against it, why not say someone you don’t know is a sex criminal? It’s only a person’s name.

Meanwhile, in things that actually are at least kind of illegal, the US District Court of New Jersey has ordered professional gambler Phil Ivey to pay back almost $10 million he won playing baccarat at the Borgata. Props to my brother for the link. If you read only one story from this whole post, read that one. Among other fascinating details, it explains how Ivey figured out how to beat the house by reading printing flaws on the backs of purple Gemaco playing cards. Of course, he couldn’t watch for flaws and place bets himself. He needed a spotter. He selected Cheng Yin Sung, who reputedly gambled away a $20 million family fortune and then vowed revenge against MGM after they had her imprisoned for not paying a debt. Quote:

Women attacked me, and the guards wouldn’t let me wear my own underwear. I lost 25 pounds in jail and didn’t get out until a relative flew here with $100,000 for the casino. I decided that one day I would get back the money by playing at MGM properties.

Now that’s the reasoning of a compulsive gambler. Sung speaks Mandarin Chinese, a crucial element in Ivey’s scheme. If that doesn’t get you to read the article, nothing will. I direct you to this video instead. It’s old, but it holds up:

Max Rebo never misses a gig. That’s my rule, too, but I’ll miss hella gigs next week, because I’m taking it off. Combat! blog will be back in the new year, with unkempt hair and wild ambition. Enjoy the holidays in the meantime. I love you, probably, or at the very least I’m glad you’re here.


Combat! blog is free. Why not share it?
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Reddit

Leave a Comment.