One Billion Settlement – Toyota Sudden Acceleration

Sudden AccelerationToyota has finalized a settlement on the sudden acceleration issue that was a major news story in 2009.

In the interest of full disclosure I own a 2006 Toyota Prius.

So, Toyota has now paid nearly $50 million in fines for various incidents in addition to this $1 billion settlement. None of these incidents was in any way the fault of Toyota. Sudden unintended acceleration is not possible. I urge each and every one of you to go to your cars, put your left foot on the brake, and push the accelerator to the floor. Your car will not move. The brake mechanism is far more powerful than the acceleration mechanism. Ask any engineer. Most cars will now turn the engine off when both accelerator and brake are depressed at the same time. If your car is one of those that doesn’t turn itself off then do not continue to press the accelerator. You will eventually damage your car although not because you ran into anything.

Here is the NASA report showing Toyota cars tested did not accelerate unintentionally. Here’s a summary of that report.

If you put your foot on the brake your car will eventually stop. That’s it. It will not accelerate. It is not possible. Don’t trust me. Go to you car, go now, try it. There have been numerous tests of car with wide-open throttles being braked. They all stopped. Car and Driver, Edmonds, a state sponsored German commission. All cars stopped.

Here is a link showing how ABC’s story on sudden acceleration was false and faked.

There was a scare in the 1980’s about Audi and sudden acceleration. It was also phony.

The floor mat incident with a Lexus that started this entire witch-hunt was actually real. A dealership installed an all-weather floor mat designed for a different Toyota vehicle and didn’t secure it to the floor. It became stuck under the pedal causing the accelerator to stick. This incident resulted in the deaths of four people although if the driver had put the car in neutral or braked  it would have come to a stop. The dealership was told by a previous driver (who didn’t panic and brought the car to a safe stop) that the accelerator got stuck under the floor mat and they did nothing. They should be fined for installing improper equipment and ignoring a dangerous issue. Not Toyota.

The hysteria aroused by these so-called events is astounding and the repercussions beyond imagination. A billion dollars for doing nothing wrong.

Here is the Wiki article on all the Toyota recalls. It’s interesting reading. Near the bottom they get into the causes of sudden unintended acceleration. People put their foot on the gas instead of the brake. The car moves forward. They panic and press harder. The car moves forward faster.

I’m ready to take some grief on this one because I’ve found people are passionate about the topic. Before you get too mad at me, please do the experiment I suggest at the beginning of the blog.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Future Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Fired for Being Irresistible

Dental Assistant FiredThere is an interesting case that just got adjudicated in Iowa in which a dentist fired his assistant terminating a ten-year working relationship. It’s interesting for a number of reasons although I find one facet of the case most fascinating of all. I’ll review the situation quickly so you don’t have to read the article and then get into what I think about the case.

A dentist engaged in some mild flirting and exchanged a few sexy text messages with his assistant who is apparently an attractive women. The dentist is a man. The man’s wife found the text messages and demanded the dentist fire his assistant. According to the information I read the assistant didn’t engage the dentist back with flirty behavior but was not particularly offended or upset by his behavior. Eventually the dentist fired the assistant and she brought suit.

What I find most interesting about the case is that both sides are essentially lying about their motivation for the firing in order to win their case. The dentist claims he fired her for inappropriate behavior while she claims she was illegally fired in a gender discrimination case. The real reason the assistant was fired was because the wife of the dentist didn’t trust his husband to behave himself around the assistant. She wasn’t fired either for behaving inappropriately or for being a woman. She was fired because the wife of the dentist didn’t want her around her husband. How does a court of law deal with that?

Depending on the legal termination laws of a state, and I’m not familiar with Iowa’s laws, a person can be fired for just about anything as long as it doesn’t amount to discrimination. In this case the woman wasn’t discriminated against because of her sex. She also wasn’t fired for cause. The reality of the situation is not without precedent. How many of my female readers are completely comfortable with their husband’s very attractive co-worker or are comfortable hiring a beautiful young nanny? Conversely how many of my male readers are happy with an attractive trainer working closely with their wife?

I’d have to hear from an employment attorney in Iowa to really decide if this case was decided properly or not. If you are allowed to fire someone for anything other than discrimination then the judges decided fairly. However, if you have to prove cause to fire in Iowa then I’d say the judges were incorrect. In either case I can say I think the firing was unjustified and the woman unfairly, if not illegally, lost her job.

Shame on the wife for insisting on firing a competent employee who apparently had no sexual interest in her husband. We all must deal with temptation in life. Removing it is sometimes the right strategy but I’m of the opinion that when it’s either resist temptation or cause real and serious harm to another, it’s up to you to resist temptation. It’s not like keeping ice cream sandwiches out of your refrigerator. That helps me stay thin and doesn’t hurt anyone.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Polio Workers Murdered – Not as Open and Shut as You Think

Polio VaccineThere was an astonishing story in the news recently and I read it with my mind already decided on who was in the wrong. It wasn’t until I reached a paragraph buried deeply in the story that I suddenly realized it was not as simple as I first thought.

Basically, the World Health Organization has been running a polio eradication campaign for many years now. Their tremendous success has largely eradicated the crippling disease from the world. There are only three countries left that report cases: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

The situation in Pakistan is that there is a rumor that the polio vaccines are actually a campaign of sterilization conducted by the western world in an attempt to destroy muslims. They also think it is a covert attempt to spy on the Taliban and those who support them.

Before we leap to ridicule lets examine the situation. Remember that in England primarily, but also in the United States, there are many people who refuse to vaccinate because they fear a massive medical conspiracy covering up the supposed connection between vaccines and autism. Secondly, the CIA recently conducted a fake vaccination campaign in Pakistan in an attempt to find Osama Bin Laden.

This is exactly why Libertarians such as myself advocate a non-interference defense strategy. When we go out and try to assassinate our enemies, to attack our enemies, the unexpected consequences hurt us more than our enemies ever could. The hatred that most of the muslim world feels for us was engendered by our behavior in Iran, Egypt, and other dictatorial countries we supported for reasons of national security.

I’m certainly not advocating ignorance. Polio is an awful disease and WHO is doing a magnificent job of stamping it out. The people of Pakistan should demand vaccinations. The Taliban should support the efforts of this organization. The job of government is to serve the people. Polio eradication is objectively good. Murdering health workers is despicable and won’t get you much support with the common person. Many of the brave workers in Pakistan are refusing to stop their efforts despite the murders. That is real courage. That sort of courage will win out in the end when violently trying to destroy our enemies will only create more enemies.

When we help bring water to a village, when we help eradicate a terrible disease, when we improve the lives of others, that is when we will triumph.

Do we have enemies? Yes. Should we defend ourselves? Yes. Is that the way to win the world over to a representative republic style of government? No. We should be a shining example and our fake campaign to eradicate polio was us at our worst. Even if it helped us find Osama Bin Laden it wasn’t worth it. At least in my opinion.

Tell me what you think!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Future Release: The Spear of the Hunt (in conceptual stage)

The Sword of Water

The Sword of Water
I’m happy to announce the release of my fourth Sword and Sorcery novel, The Sword of Water.

Cover art by Raro.

Summary

Jon Gray returns along with his best friend Sorus Nightwalk as they travel to the newly freed island nation of Cawl in search of the Sword of Water. Directed by his enigmatic brother Valari, Jon arrives on the island and quickly finds out the king of the nation is off on a quest but a regent rules in his stead. With permission from Granatz the Black the two heroes set off towards the Central Mountain where rumors of the Sword of Water persist thousands of years after it legendarily ousted the great Fire Elemental twins Eleniak and Hezfer from their citadel.

Young Prince Jerichi and his friend Silenia follow the two champions into the adventure of a lifetime. They journey from the great mountain to the restive city-state of Serapis where Silenia’s father, High Priest Amalagaz, plots against the prince and hopes to usurp control of the newly founded nation.

Muddying the plot is the fact that Eleniak is still alive, blames the Sword of Water for the death of her twin, and plots vengeance against the Water Elemental Silenia. The great fiery ruler manipulates events so that she can lure the Water Elemental from her ancient hiding place.

It’s a battle of courage against fear, a fight for a newly founded nation to survive political turmoil, and a question if young Silenia will lure her namesake into the grasp of Eleniak. Can Jon Gray navigate these tumultuous waters safely or will the young Knight of Gray meet a foe more powerful than even he can manage?

Find out in The Sword of Water; a Tales of Corland adventure featuring Jon Gray.

Purchase Information

The Sword of Water at AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords: $2.99

Previous Novels

The Staff of Naught at AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords: $2.99

The Staff of Sakatha at AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords: $2.99

The Hammer of Fire at AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwords: $2.99

Thank you for purchasing and reading! I hope everyone enjoys the books.

Coming Next

The Spear of the Hunt: During the Dark Ages after the fall of the Empire young nations fought against the terrible chaos that reigned. Among the greatest of heroes from this time is Yumanar of Caparal. He found the ancient Spear of the Hunt, saved his kingdom from destruction, and built a legacy that lives on five hundred years later. This is his story.

Website Pages

See more about each of the novels, read sample chapters, and watch videos about the characters and philosophies behind each book.

The Hammer of FireThe Staff of NaughtThe Staff of SakathaThe Sword of Water

Doomsday and the Calendar

Calendar SystemI recently helped celebrate my niece’s 17th birthday on Dec 12, 2012 and, as usual, found myself annoyed with any reference to the specialness of a particular day based on the numeric calendar configuration. As you might imagine; I made a nuisance of myself and alienated my mother, sister, niece, and people at nearby tables with my rants against such behavior.

I’ve had some time to think about why this sort of thing bothers me so much and I thought I’d try to explain my position in a rational, objectivist fashion.

Anytime we assign meaning to a date based on its numerical configuration we are essentially descending into barbarism. I know that sounds harsh but with the upcoming Mayan Doomsday predictions and recent memories of other such events I think it’s important for the rational people of the world to set a good example, even when it comes to things like 12/12/12.

Here’s my reasoning. All date systems are arbitrary segmenting of the calendar year into digestible chunks so that we can reference past and future events in a meaningful way. This is all based on the fact that the ball of rock and mud on which we live orbits around the big ball of gas we call the sun once every 365.25 times this same ball of rock and mud spins fully on its access. This spinning takes a period of time we call a day. The orbital period we choose to call a year.

We break this “year” down incrementally to help us reference past and future events. I’ll meet you for lunch on Thursday, Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, etc.

There are any number of systems used to make designations on the “calendar”. There is a Chinese Calendar, a Jewish Calendar, a Mayan Calendar, a Julian Calendar, a Gregorian Calendar, an International Fixed Calendar (my personal favorite), and others yet. Each of these is based on some sort of numerical system. Each of these numerical systems has coincidental days where certain numbers line up in notable fashion. The fact that these numbers line up has no meaning. It’s really important to understand this concept. The lining up of numbers has no meaning whatsoever.

As an example. The very second you are reading this sentence is exactly six seconds, six minutes, six hours, six days, six months, and six-hundred and sixty-six years after some time in the past. Every second of every day meets this formula. Every second of every day is exactly 1000 years after some time in the past.

Every day is exactly 12 days, 12 months, and 1012 years after some time in the past. It is just a numerical assignment that has … no meaning!

Calendars are often altered for various reasons and this means that even numerical coincidences are not really fully accurate anyway. When we switched from the Julian to Gregorian calendar 12 days were removed from the counting system. Thus any numerical coincidence is just that, a coincidence.

What if we used a six month sixty-day calendar? Or a four-month ninety-day calendar?

My main point here is that when normally rational and intelligent people assign meaning to something as meaningless as the numerical alignment of 12/12/12 they are promoting barbarism. They are lending credence to nonsensical doomsday predictions. It’s our duty as the rational to dispel this sort of thinking.

So, next time the calendar lines up in some sort of interesting numerical fashion take a moment to explain to anyone nearby, particularly children, how meaningless is this alignment. Instead explain the orbit of the earth around the sun and how various calendars attempt to quantify that and why. You may get a lot of people clucking at how “un-fun” you are and what a “stick-in-the-mud” you are but accept that criticism and know that you are a force of rational good in the world!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Hammer of Fire
Upcoming Release: The Sword of Water (at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords later this week!)

Cerebral Palsy Wrestler … Wins?

Cerebral Palsy WrestlerThere is an interesting story, at least from an objectivist point of view, making the news rounds. It is a “feel good” story where a young athlete came up against an opponent in a wrestling match who is afflicted with the awful disease of Cerebral Palsy. It is truly a terrible disease that leaves people with full mental capacity and almost no physical abilities. The victim in this case, Jared Stevens, has the physical ability of about a six-month old while he is thirteen years old. A brave young man and he deserves every bit of praise he gets.

What I want to examine here is the notion of good and how it relates to objectivism and this incident. What happened is that Jared’s opponent in the wrestling ring allowed Jared to win. Really, essentially, pulled Jared on top of him and let himself be pinned. Everyone applauded and praised both Jared and his benefactor, Justin Kievit, happily. Certainly judging by the comments and reaction to the story almost everyone agrees it was a generous and wonderful thing to do.

While I praise Justin and his ability to give someone else a moment to shine I’m just not sure it’s as wonderful a thing as everyone seems to think. I do see the value, in a practice or informal match, of allowing an inferior opponent to make a game of it by not focusing as much and even slowing down a bit. It might give them confidence, it might make them happy for a moment, and certainly a junior-high wrestling match outcome is not a big deal one way or the other.

That all being said I’m just not sure what this accomplishes. Is every wrestler Jared comes up against supposed to let him win? Should he be declared the state champion at the end of the season? If there is a district match is Jared allowed in at the expense of another wrestler? I think these are all legitimate questions.

Jared knows he didn’t actually earn his victory. Did he replace another wrestler in that weight class? Did Justin’s team lose the meet because of this match loss?

One of the hallmarks ideas of objectivism is to look at reality. The reality is that Jared cannot compete in a wrestling match with any hope of success. If we pretend to make that happen are we really helping Jared? Are we teaching Justin that his actions were “good” and thus setting him up for failure in the future?

I’m of the opinion that we should generally try to do our best. Again, a father-son game in which the father eases up a little to let the son win is not unreasonable. But to simply lie down and lose? What does the son gain? He knows he didn’t earn victory. What lesson is the father imparting, don’t try, let the inferior athlete win?

I’m certain that I’m coming across as heartless here and that’s not my intent. I just don’t see how this is objectively “good” for either Jared or Justin. What would have been best, in my opinion, is to have Justin pin Jared and congratulate him on his courage for trying.

Winning is of far less importance than trying our best. Jared’s attempt is the victory here, the winning is simply a sham.

Tell me how awful I am in the comments below! 🙂

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Hammer of Fire
Upcoming Release: The Sword of Water (at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords soon)