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 brothers 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?

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Close Readings: Randolph County bans Invisible Man

The Randolph County, NC Board of Education: who knows, but on some lower frequency, I speak for like five white people?

The Randolph County, NC Board of Education meets in front of some Successories posters.

In response to a parent’s complaint, the Board of Education for Randolph County, North Carolina has voted to remove copies of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man from school libraries. The complaining parent is one Kimiyutta Parson, mother of an 11th grader at Randleman High, which is presumably named after Kevin Randleman. Committees at Randleman and at the school district level recommended that Invisible Man be kept on the curriculum, but members of the BOE—who were given copies of the book to read last month—disagreed. Board Chair Tommy McDonald called it “a hard read.” “I didn’t find any literary value,” said member Gary Mason. Excerpt from Parson’s complaint after the jump.

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NC bill would outlaw sea level estimates

Downtown Durham

If you have a cat, make sure he is not sitting on your lap when you read this article about the North Carolina legislature’s plan to make exponential sea level projections illegal, lest the rage beam that shoots out of your face fill your home with the smell of burning hair. As everyone’s grandfather taught them, there are two ways to project future sea levels. One is to make an exponential model based on expected climate phenomena and rates of increase from recent years using math and scientists and stuff, and the other is to make a line graph based on sea levels from the last hundred years. As you might expect, the method that expects next year’s increase to be the same as in 1902 yields a much lower number, since it disregards global warming. “We’re skeptical of the rising sea level science,” says Tom Thompson, who just happens to be chairman of an economic development group representing 20 of North Carolina’s coastal counties.

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