Dominik Walker Sentenced for Murder because he sold Heroin

Dominik Walker Heroin OverdoseThe War on Drugs continues to threaten all our security and the case of Dominik Walker should send chills down the spine of every United States citizen.

Walker possibly sold heroine to Marlene Rose who then died of an overdose. Many people will say good. He was selling an illegal product and deserves a prison sentence. I couldn’t disagree more. This is such an egregious overreach of law enforcement that it makes my stomach turn. The implications are so far-reaching it’s difficult to fathom the possible repercussions.

Can a firearm dealer be charged with murder for selling a gun to someone who didn’t have a license and then went on to kill someone? Can a bartender be charged for murder for selling to a 20 year old who then got in a car accident in which someone died? Can a grocery store clerk be charged for murder for selling a cigarette to a 17 year old who then accidentally set fire to their house killing their entire family?

I’ll not tread lightly here. I’m a Libertarian who believes that the only drugs that are currently illegal are those the drug industry doesn’t control. Heroin is legal. Cocaine is legal. All types of drugs are legal but just in forms the pharmaceutical industry controls. Should a pharmacist be charged with murder when a patient overdoses on their pills? When the child of a patient overdoses because they took those pills?

The entire War on Drugs has caused nothing but misery and suffering for everyone. Drug users, drug dealers, law enforcement officers, innocents, and everyone else. We are all suffering and this apparently new legal precedent shocks me. Who can’t be charged when it becomes criminal to sell anything to anyone who goes on to commit a crime?

Someone who sells a stolen car should be charged with dealing in stolen property, not murdering the family the driver of the car hit in an accident. It’s madness. If someone dies from an herbal remedy manufacturer who engaged in false advertising should the retailer be held responsible for the death? I could go on forever. There is no end to the possible abuses.

I’m not one to bring race into every argument but the fact that Walker was black and Rose was white makes me question the entire prosecution. Do you think there would have been such a charge and sentence if Walker was a young white man from a good family and Rose a black woman from a poor neighborhood? I don’t.

End the War on Drugs. Manufacture, distribute, and sell. We are adults. If we make poor decisions we suffer the consequences. That’s the true price of freedom.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Goodbye Mr. Spock

leonard-nimoy-gives-vulcan-salute-dataIt’s a sad day for me. Leonard Nimoy passed away and with him, to some degree, Mr. Spock.

The reality is that Mr. Spock is not dead for the simple fact that he was never alive. He was simply a character played by Mr. Nimoy who spoke lines and acted from scripts. Yet here I am saying farewell anyway. It is difficult to separate Mr. Spock from Mr. Nimoy. It is not difficult to do the reverse. Mr. Nimoy went on with his own life and accomplished many things.

Mr. Spock may not be dead but my heart is heavy nevertheless. Mr. Spock is now played by Zachary Quinto in the new Star Trek movies. I wish Quinto well, certainly his bravery at taking on such an iconic role is to be admired. That being said, I think I am not alone in thinking of Mr. Spock as the embodiment of the acting talents of Mr. Nimoy.

I watched Star Trek in the reruns in the early 1970’s and he was far and away my favorite character. I myself might well be what they call today a high functioning autistic. The definition is thus:

The manifestations of autism cover a wide spectrum, ranging from individuals with severe impairments—who may be silent, developmentally disabled, and locked into hand flapping and rocking—to high functioning individuals who may have active but distinctly odd social approaches, narrowly focused interests, and verbose, pedantic communication.

Whatever my condition may or may not be there is no doubt that Mr. Spock inspired me. His insistence on logic when those around him were aroused by their passions touched something inside me even in my juvenile years. I loved Mr. Spock. I was furious during the episodes where he was infected by something or another and forced to act illogically or to, horrors of horrors, kiss Nurse Chapel!

I loved his habit of coolly calculating the odds in dangerous situation. I loved his search for the best possible solution to every problem regardless of other factors. He was my hero.

I did not always agree with his logical conclusions. I do not think the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I like to think Mr. Spock would have approved of my disapproval. He was that sort of man … er … Vulcan … er … fictional character.

I’ll finish this post with my favorite Mr. Spock quote of all time. It is certainly not his most famous line but for me it sums up everything. In the heat of battle, in a moment of crisis and emotion, he kept his cool and gave us his logical perspective on the tactical prowess of Khan Noonien Singh.

Captain Kirk was lucky to have such a friend.

Live long and prosper.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Great Parts and Lousy Product a Review of the Movie Shrink

ShrinkI watched a movie on Hulu last night called Shrink. It was bad. Why it was bad fascinates me.

I’ve argued on a number of occasions about the ideas of Subjective vs Objective thinking and while doing so often make reference to movies. I argue that what makes a movie good or bad is its various parts. The actors, the acting, the screenplay, the cinematography, the directing, and various other factors.

Shrink puts my logic to the test. The movie has a stellar cast who all perform ably enough. It has high production values in every regard. The dialog of the individuals when interacting with one another is largely pretty strong. Yet, it’s awful. It is terrible in the way a bad film is not. A bad film is made up of many bad parts. This is an awful film made from excellent parts. How, how, how?

Let’s examine what went wrong.

The score is good but overly repetitive when it comes to what are clearly meant to be scenes that touch our hearts. When the same piano notes again start I found myself cringing. “Oh no, here we go,” I said out loud. Out loud.

The plot relies on coincidence again and again and by the time the Keke Palmer character finds the accidentally dropped script and the Kevin Spacey character wakes up next to his drug dealer in the hospital; I had had enough. “Nooo!” I shouted. “Really?” I said shaking my head.

Dallas Roberts plays an agent and his germ-phobia is ever prevalent when useful and absent when not. In one scene he recoils from a touch and, moments later, grabs the arm of a client and drags him off for a talk. Inconsistencies. Little ones that crop up again and again. Nothing huge. No deal breakers. Just minor flaws adding and adding and then multiplying.

All of the characters are half-explained (at best) and there are too many of them. We learn about them in short bursts that are designed well but just always seem to fall short. The writer clearly understands the idea of showing instead of telling a story but it’s just too little for too many.

I could go on but the conclusion that I’ve finally reached is that an overwhelming number of little flaws destroys the product no matter how great its potential. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to achieve greatness. It requires both broad strokes of genius and minute attention to detail.

Anyway, I’d avoid Shrink if I were you. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

1984 or Men Like Gods?

Utopia or DystopiaUtopia or Dystopia? That is the question.

I was skimming through various news headlines, as is my daily habit, and felt a familiar sense of bemusement as I noted story after story that seemed to have little relationship with the truth. We now live in a time where information is more freely available than it has ever been. Communication of ideas cannot be suppressed but it can also be channeled in a way never before known in human history.

More people can think and learn independently and at the same time more people can be directly influenced by a set upon story decided by a few people in power. A single narrative broadcast through various outlets and repeated endlessly as truth both loudly and with conviction.

I think this duality brings us, at this moment, closer to both Utopia and Dystopia than ever before.

So the question is whether we are heading toward Men Like Gods or Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Will we grow into a society which believes in privacy, free movement, unlimited knowledge, truthfulness, and free discussion and criticism?

Will fear of such a society inspire those who desire control to create a world of tyranny?

Generally I’m pretty optimistic about this subject. I think people will embrace freedom and those who wish to impose tyranny will never be able to convince the masses otherwise. Still, as I peruse article after article that spouts nonsensical ideas. As I read statements that lack any factual basis from men and women whom I consider to be intelligent; I begin to wonder.

Is it a race? Will one emerge victorious and the other fall by the wayside or is it our lot in life to vacillate between the two ideologies? I do not offer any conclusive answers. These are difficult questions and perhaps they will never be satisfactorily answered.

Here’s what I think.

As individual freedom spreads so also will fear of freedom. I think it is a race. As I, and those like me, demand more privacy and less government those that want to control us will redouble their efforts to suppress us. They will gather their forces and unify their Talking Points. They will promise safety and promulgate fear. Many people will believe anything they are told if it is said often enough and with absolute conviction. Truth can be overcome and lies can win. There is a terrible danger.

Evil might triumph.

Think for yourself. Don’t believe a statement because it matches your ideology. Question. Be skeptical. Demand logic and proof. Examine evidence with an open mind. Go where the facts lead, not where you heart wills.

If enough people can fight and win that difficult battle, I’m confident Utopia awaits.

See you there!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Is the Chelsea Football Club Responsible for Fans Racism?

Chelsea-racist-victimThere’s a fairly big story making the news in the Barclays Premier League this week. After a game between Chelsea and the French Paris St. Germain club fans from Chelsea refused to allow a black French-Mauritian man to board the train while making racist chants. The man wasn’t a football (soccer for my U.S. friends) fan at all but happened to be boarding the train heading home at that moment.

Officials for Chelsea immediately stepped up by condemning the fans, giving out lifetime ticket bans against fans identified in the video, and inviting the victim of the incident to come to a game and experience “true” Chelsea spirit.

I think we can all agree that the football club is not responsible for the actions of all of its fans. If a Chelsea fan raped a woman or murdered someone it’s not the club’s responsibility to apologize for such an attack. This situation is somewhat different in that it was a group of Chelsea supporters riding public transportation after a game which involved the club. They wore Chelsea gear in support of the team and identified themselves as both proud Chelsea fans and proud racists in their chants.

Even with that said I’m still of the opinion that Chelsea has no real responsibility or obligation in the matter. If they don’t want to apologize, issue ticket bans, or offer seats for their game I’d say they were well within their rights. I do think Chelsea’s stance is admirable. They are not hiding behind the reasonable excuse that their fans are not in any way their responsibility but are willing to stand up and condemn the attack. They are making clear and bold statements to their supporters.

Some might argue that this is merely propaganda by the club to get good publicity but I don’t see that. I see genuine anger at the incident and I can sympathize. I’m a Libertarian and I’m not responsible for all Libertarians or those who claim to be Libertarians. However when I see a supposed fellow Libertarian espousing nonsensical conspiracy theories about the terror attacks on September 11th or claiming that the vile Sandy Hook murders were somehow a hoax I do feel a responsibility to stand up and denounce that person.

As a Libertarian I have voluntarily identified myself with a group of people. When a member or members of that group of people behaves in a disgusting fashion I do think it’s my responsibility to say something. It is certain that I cannot control their behavior. Likewise I can say unequivocally that they and they alone are the responsible party. Just as I can say that the Chelsea football club bears no responsibility for the racist nonsense a few of their fans espouse.

I think the club stepping up and doing what they are doing is entirely appropriate. It is leadership by example. The racist fans are not their responsibility nor was the incident their fault in any way. The fans themselves are solely responsible but the fact that a good person is not guilty of wrong-doing doesn’t mean that person should stand by silently either.

Good for Chelsea. I hope the victim of the racism accepts their offering, attends a game, becomes a fan, and that much good can come from this incident. That would be a win.

Do you think officials of the Chelsea club should apologize or do you think it’s not their fault or their responsibility?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Game Theory – Fortune and Glory Board Game

Fortune Glory gameLast night was game night and we played Fortune and Glory from Flying Frog. The main reason I mention this is not that my glorious victory erased the memory of my ignominious defeat at Illuminati but that we had a fascinating moment in what is often called Game Theory.

I know many people aren’t much interested in board or role-playing games but I think what I’m going to talk about today is something you should be interested in regardless of your gaming habits. Game Theory largely involves decision making while playing games but has tremendous application when it comes to real life as well.

Understanding not only statistical odds but also the many other factors that go into a successful endeavor is a study that everyone should understand. I was never taught game theory while growing up and I’m certain that I am the worse for it. I’m of the opinion that Game Theory should be mandatory education at a primary level of schooling and continuing through secondary and advanced education. That being said I’m not going to go too deeply into the topic. I just want to explain what happened last night and how it was I emerged victorious. I think it is instructive in a number of ways.

In the game Fortune and Glory you move your tokens around a board that is made up the world. The goal is to collect Fortune. You do this through a number of game mechanics. In addition to collection your own Fortune you also gain various Event Cards which can be used to help you or hinder your opponents. This is very important.

Back to the game. Two of my opponents were playing quite well and getting close to victory. I then began to use Game Theory. In Fortune and Glory you get the most Fortune through the accumulation and eventual sale of Relics. To get Relics you have Adventures. You must pass a series of Adventures to get the Relic. You can rest between Adventures and hold your victories or push your luck, but if you fail an Adventure you lose your accumulated successes.

In this case I used good Game Theory in pushing my luck even though my chances of success were low. I then had a series of fortuitous dice checks for which only luck gets the credit, not me.

But now comes what for me was the most interesting point of the game. There were three of us with enough Fortune to win the game but we had to rush back to our home base to claim the victory. We were all within a lucky Movement roll of victory and it came time for initiative to see who would move first in the upcoming round. It seemed clear that whomever moved first of the three of us would be victorious. The dice were rolled and my string of luck ran out, I would act last in the round.

Here is where my Game Theory failed me. I assumed all was lost. However the reality is that this “bad luck” roll actually allowed me to win the game. As the two fellows with the appropriate amount of Fortune made their final moves all of sudden my fellow competitors started to pull out various Event cards that blocked their progress in one way or another. After a flurry of activity it was suddenly my move and no one had any blocking cards left!

The path was clear and victory was mine.

While I’m happy to have won, the reality is that playing the game with a great bunch of guys made us all winners (just me a little more). The real moral of the story is to study Game Theory because it will help you make good decisions, not only across the board but in life as well. Sometimes it’s not easy to see what the best decision will be and often it is counter-intuitive.

Happy gaming!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

 

Don’t Jump to Conclusions – Road Rage Tammy Meyers

tammy_meyerThere’s been a pretty big story all over the news the last week and when I first read it the comments pretty much leaned in one direction but the story is quickly changing and comments are now going pretty much in reverse.

I don’t want to talk about the story so much in this blog post as the problems that come with leaping to a conclusion too quickly. That being said I do have to cover the story to explain my premise.

A woman was recently killed at her house. Her family reported to police that Tammy Meyers was involved in a near collision while teaching her daughter to drive and the people in the other vehicle followed her home and began shooting.

The initial reaction was that the people in the other car needed to be found and killed immediately. That there was no need for a trial when such vicious animals are involved.

The new story is that there was an driving incident but that Meyer returned home safely. She rounded up her son and at least one firearm before going back out to search for the offending vehicle. They could not find said car and returned home only to find that they had been followed and then the other group began a gun fight.

I would not be at all surprised to find the story changing even more. I’m going to withhold judgment for the moment although the family has already lied to police about the incident at least once which makes their entire story less plausible. The other party fled from the scene and has not yet turned themselves in which doesn’t put them in a particularly good light either.

At this point I think it’s entirely possible that Meyer caused the road rage incident, escalated it, and her son was the first to fire his weapon. That’s certainly the tone of the comments on the story now.

The reality is that I don’t know. That’s the lesson for everyone who was ready to pass judgment the moment the story broke and those with their opinions now. It’s a lesson we should all acknowledge. It’s easy to pass judgment without knowing all the facts. It’s a good idea to gather up information before making a committed decision one way or the other.

The reason this is such a good idea is that once you’ve committed to a particular opinion it’s not so easy to reverse. There is the natural human tendency to refuse to admit a mistake. And of course you cannot unsay anything you’ve said. If you’ve said something truly awful even an apology cannot always completely fix things.

Something to keep in mind.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

The Krispy Kreme Klub

Krispy Kreme KKK PromotionToday I take up the gauntlet of political correctness with a news story coming out of the United Kingdom and a Krispy Kreme story that ran a, shall we say interesting, promotion.

A Krispy Kreme store in Hull, England ran the Krispy Kreme Klub promotion as a way to attract patrons to the store where they would get to decorate their own donuts. Little did the store owner realize that those three letters used as an acronym are often associated with something besides donuts. It is England after all where the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) are not particularly well known. The store is now apologizing for the promotion and everyone seems to be taking it as a simple misunderstanding.

What I’d like to talk about today is the more underlying nature of political correctness. Is it the responsibility of every advertisement to make sure they don’t offend at all times? Should people apologize if they inadvertently make an insulting reference. If the word retarde means behind in French but something else in English should they not use it in advertisements? If a slang word means something different than its literal translation does that mean the pizza advertisement that uses it is in the wrong? If the word naughty has two meanings should we demand it not be used in a child’s Halloween costume?

How thin have our skins become? How little provocation does it take us to start a boycott, demand an apology, fight for what is right? All it takes is a small minority to complain and the business is happy to apologize. The idea is that they have nothing to lose. If they apologize and say it was inadvertent then they gain some goodwill. Refusing to apologize doesn’t get them any sales and I think a lot of times that’s a shame. I think we shouldn’t have to apologize all the time, particularly when the offense is so minor and largely meaningless.

Does anyone think that a doughnut shop in England is having a KKK rally? And even if they did that would be their business. I certainly wouldn’t patronize their store any more but that’s as far as my power goes.

I don’t think this is a huge deal to be honest but I don’t understand all the rage over something so silly. Sometimes I think the business owners should stand up and say there’s nothing wrong with what we did. Get over it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

How is a Bikini Empowering for Hannah Davis?

Hannah-Davis-Sports-illustrated-coverThere’s apparently a big controversy about the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover picture which shows a model named Hannah Davis pulling down her bottoms so that they almost, but not quite, reveal her genital region.

The reason it is causing such a stir is because it is apparently a little too sexy and some people think that Hannah is degrading herself by posing in such a fashion. Davis states that she finds the experience to be empowering in this article and there are nearly 7,000 comments indicating a great deal of interest in the story.

The argument that she is degrading herself generally seems to be that because she is using her beauty to titillate the target audience of the magazine she is essentially betraying all the women who through tremendous efforts gained many freedoms for women. Freedoms like voting and being able to practice medicine or law.

First off, let us not fool ourselves. The cover is designed to arouse. Davis is an attractive young woman with a figure that inspires lust. She is not on the cover for any other reason.

The real question becomes if Davis is degrading or empowering herself. To answer this we must look at the historical role women played in the world and the place they now have in nations where women are still treated as objects. The reality is that throughout history women were largely objects to be owned by men. They derived most of their power through their influence over devoted husbands and loving sons.

The underlying reason for this lies in the simple and undeniable fact that women both give birth to children and provide them with sustenance for the first years of life. This meant that women could not participate as actively in activities of the tribe. Their mobility was handicapped by being pregnant or caring for a child. This began to change very recently and the advent of safe and reliable birth control was certainly the most important factor in the emancipation of women. There is no doubt that strong and capable women fought long and hard for more rights in the world as well and they deserve much credit also.

Is Davis trying to recreate a world where women are once again treated as chattel? I don’t think so. It’s my opinion that she is the beneficiary of all the work done by her predecessors. In nations where women are treated as property they are not allowed to use the allure of their faces and bodies to make their own money. Davis makes a lot of money. She can do with her life what she chooses, not what any man tells her. Because of her financial success she is more free than am I. She is, in a word, empowered.

There is no doubt she is empowered by the money she gets from working as a model but the next question is if she is degrading herself by doing it. It is a legitimate question. Do I degrade myself when I beg my boss for forgiveness when perhaps I wasn’t to blame for the original mistake? If I apologize to a client for their error in order to keep the job? What if a client asked me to serve cocktails at their office party while wearing almost nothing in order to get a job? I think it’s quite fair to characterize such behavior as degrading.

People can and do use their money to lure others into degrading behavior. That such behavior is despicable there is no doubt, but we cannot pretend it does not happen. Is Davis degraded in that cover picture? Is she degraded elsewhere in other magazines, other photo-shoots?

My opinion is no. She seems to be in control, not being controlled. She seems to be enjoying herself. She seems comfortable with her own body. No one appears to be coercing her into doing the modeling. To me it is not the nature of the image itself so much as the power in which she whose image is on the cover feels she has. A young woman kidnapped from her family and forced into such a pose would be degraded. A woman with little money and babies to feed who was lured into a photo-shoot in which she was coerced into showing far more of herself than she desired would be degraded.

Davis, not so much. Good for her. She is comfortable in her appearance. Confident in her figure. She makes a good living doing something she enjoys. That’s empowering. If only the rest of us were so lucky.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Collapsing Bee Colony Mystery Solved or Misleading Headline

Bee Colony CollapseI have a late class this morning so I’ve got some time to read the news and I came across a second ridiculously misleading headline. Well, it’s beyond misleading. It’s a complete falsehood. The headline is misleading and the story behind it is worse.

Mystery of Bee Colony Collapse May have been Solved screams the headline from traditional criminal headline abuser International Business Times. By the way, don’t hang out too long on the page or you’ll get spammed by a Java Update message.

I can sum up the story. Bees get stressed and die. No one is sure why yet. We did a study that shows when older bees die then younger bees are forced to forage and they tend to die which leads to the collapse of the colony. What a stunning revelation.

Anyway. Stupid headline exceeded only by the even more idiotic story. It is badly written with typos and all sorts of sentences that make no sense.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Misleading Headline – Bill Walton calls Michael Jordan Average

Bill-Walton-Michael-JordanI woke up this morning to find an no-brainer addition to my misleading headline of the week collection.

Bill Walton thinks Michael Jordan was just an Average Athlete blare the headlines from stories across the sporting world.

Anyone who follows basketball knows that Jordan is arguably the greatest player in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). There are those who will argue for Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Lebron James, Bob Cousy and others but no one would exclude Jordan from the conversation. He was great, not average, and no one, including Walton, thinks otherwise.

Walton is saying that what made Jordan great was not his athletic ability but his desire to win, his preparation, his ability to elevate those around him, and stamina earned through a tremendous practice ethic. Jordan was 6′ 6″ tall which is not particular large for the position he played in the NBA. He was not the sort to physically push anyone around in comparison to those around him. I think Walton more than pushes the point that Jordan was average but it’s also clear that Jordan was not a dominant physical player. He had good speed and very strong jumping ability but that was not the heart of his game.

Walton has it right. What made Jordan great were other things. His mental toughness, his work ethic, and what I consider the absolute key to greatness, making those around you better. It is all but impossible to win championships, Jordan won six in the NBA and one in the NCAA, without such an ability. You must be a team player who gets those around you to reach their maximum potential and Jordan did this with players like Scottie Pippin, Steve Kerr, Horace Grant, John Paxson, and others.

The thing about the headline that is misleading is that it attempts to paint Walton as claiming Jordan was an average player. Walton meant nothing of the sort. He recognizes Jordan’s greatness and attributes it to something besides simple athletic ability. In other words, Walton was giving Jordan a tremendous compliment.

So, there you go.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Atheist Murderers – Craig Stephen Hicks

craig-stephen-hicksThere’s a pretty big story making the news in that a self-proclaimed atheist murdered three young students in North Carolina who were Muslims. I’ve written a number of times about the nature of fanatics and the underlying cause of violence.

I think I’ve been pretty consistent about my thoughts on this subject but they’ve come in a variety of posts over the last few years and these terrible murders made me suppose I might clarify my thinking on the subject in a single post.

What I see, and have seen in the past, when someone of a particular religious or non-religious persuasion murders people there is pretty much instantly a round of the blame-game.

I’ll state my position clearly. The blame goes to Craig Stephen Hicks. He was clearly suffering from a tremendous case of frustration which lead to rage and then to violence. I wrote about how frustration is often the underlying cause of the expression of rage through violence in another post. The fact that Hicks is an atheist has no bearing on the subject any more than if he was a Christian. I know that people will think I’m just saying this because I’m an Atheist myself but I’d urge you to read through my other posts on this subject. Let me explain my thinking to save you all that reading.

People who commit such murders are generally acting out of either extreme frustration or fanaticism and often both. People who are frustrated in life find something on which to focus their rage, be it religion or the lack of courtesy when others use parking spaces not assigned to them. When we get frustrated with things in life it leads us to anger. When the frustration persists eventually to rage. In those who lack the ability to control themselves, for whatever psychological reason, eventually to violence.

Today I blame the murderer not the religion or lack thereof. Tomorrow I’ll do the same even if the murderer is a Christian or a Muslim. Those who kill like to latch on to something to excuse their behavior. Religion is often a good excuse as is political affiliation. It doesn’t mean that religion has anything to do with it. The blame is clear in these cases and it will always be so.

I don’t blame Atheism. I don’t blame Muslims. I don’t blame the media stoking such rage with nonsensical news stories designed to inflame. I don’t blame the victims taking up parking spaces. I don’t blame the lack of laws restricting access to firearms. I blame the murderer.

We make our choices in this life. As a Libertarian I think people should have great freedom. With that freedom must come responsibility.

We make our choices and we should be rewarded or punished appropriately.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Football Recruit Feels Misled – the Mike Weber Saga

Mike Weber and The Ohio StateI’ve found an interesting story in the world of sports that I think illustrates one of the issues with college football as it currently exists. A highly recruited young player from Michigan named Mike Weber chose to go to school and perform as a running back at The Ohio State University.

The coach who was primarily involved in recruiting Weber just took a new job for the Chicago Bears in the National Football League (NFL) and Weber now feels betrayed. He thinks the coach, Stan Drayton, knew all along he was leaving the job.

Before we fully understand whether what Drayton did was wrong we have to understand how college football operates. Each year the coaches seek to bring in the most talented young players from all over the country and this process is called recruiting. The schools are not allowed to pay the athletes so they do this recruiting by promising the player certain things. Playing time and coaches who will develop them for the NFL and an eventual payday among other things. They show off their facilities and promise the parents of the recruit how they will take care of their boy. They build relationships with the high schools so that the high school coach will advise the young players to go to their college.

What’s important is that once a player signs a contract, commits in the vernacular of the NCAA, they are bound to that school. They cannot change their mind once what is called the Signing Day passes. This is a legally binding contract. If the player wants to change schools they must sit out an entire season, they can never play for another school in the same conference, and the coach of the original school has veto power over what other school the young player attends even after sitting out a year.

The coach, on the other hand, can leave at any time for a higher paying job without any repercussions. That in itself is obviously not equitable.

In this case Drayton announced that he was moving almost immediately after the all important signing day. After Weber was legally obligated to stay at Ohio State.

I’m not decrying Drayton’s move. Changing jobs is a tricky business and you don’t know if you are going to be hired for the new position or not. It’s reasonable that you don’t announce it before it is a done deal. That being said I’m absolutely certain the Chicago Bears and Drayton intentionally timed this announcement to come after Signing Day. The NFL understands their players largely come from colleges and the teams of the NFL want to behave in such manner as to keep the colleges happy. This means announcing that they have signed college coaches after Signing Day when possible.

What upsets me is that Weber is bound in a way that Drayton is not. The circumstances have changed enough that I think players like Weber should be allowed to change their mind. Frankly, I think Weber should be allowed to change his mind any time his contract has expired. Players essentially work on one year contracts, called scholarships. The school pays for tuition for a year and if they decide the player is worth such payment they renew the contract at the end of the season.

Weber should be able to pack his bags and go off to whatever school desires his services. In this case The Ohio State has no damages. They paid for no tuition, no room and board, and no coaching. Weber should be allowed to leave. The NCAA doesn’t want this because it would likely become somewhat chaotic as players backed out of contracts because of changing circumstance. However, the teams are allowed to do this. If a player, for whatever reason, is deemed undesirable the school simply doesn’t offer them a scholarship the next year. This happens all the time. The player is injured or new recruits push the player deep onto the depth chart and the school needs to free up a scholarship. It’s the nature of the business.

I think it’s unfair that players do not have the same freedom.

In reality coaches are not even bound by their contracts. The coach buys out their existing contract and moves on. Any coach, even if under contract for five years, can simply leave. Generally the new employer pays some compensation for the move but not always. By this logic a player should be able to pick up and leave for another school at halftime of the game if they reimburse the school for the remainder of their tuition and sundry other expenses.

I don’t begrudge coaches here, I’m angry about the fact that there are clearly two sets of rules of conduct and the people who are getting the short end of the situation are the young players.

Free Mike Weber!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

 

Military Suicide and Congress’s Solution

Veteran SuicideI read a story this morning that makes me angry. Congress has passed a bill concerning the prevention of suicides in U.S. soldiers. Do you think that’s a good thing? It’s certain our representatives think you think it’s a good thing because the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 99 – 0 with the one missing voter being the sponsor who wasn’t at the capital in time to vote.

As you can probably guess already, I’m opposed to the bill. Before you get out your lynching rope let me explain.

First off the 22 suicides a day in relation to the total number of U.S. soldiers is pretty much in-line with suicides per day of non-soldiers in the United States. This article goes into a number of permutations of the statistics but I think it’s safe to say there is no “suicide epidemic”.

But that’s not the real reason I’m opposed to this bill. If you read the original article all the way to the end you get this little juicy tidbit that tells us everything we need to know.

The latest version of the bill orders the Veterans Affairs Department to find money for suicide-prevention programs within its $160 billion budget.

There you have it. The bill gives no direction and assigns no funding with which to achieve the goal. Please find some money to do something to fix the problem. Look at me! Look at me! I passed a popular bill. Vote for me! The bill does nothing? Who cares, I’ll vote for it anyway.

Not a single Senator of this great country was willing to call out this nonsense for what it is. Not one had the courage. That’s the problem.

If you applaud this bill and thank your Senator for passing it … you’re part of the problem.

I’m absolutely for trying to get our soldiers, and our civilians, the mental health care they need. I’m all for preventing suicides. But saying I’m for it does nothing. Actually doing something like laying out a map for how to better recognize suicidal tendencies in soldiers or hiring more psychiatric doctors at Veterans Hospitals would seem like a good ideas. This bill? No ideas, no money, just an attempt to win votes while achieving nothing.

Typical.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition

Caddie Bibs and Capitalism Collide

Caddie BibsI just finished reading a story about how the caddies on the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) tour are suing the PGA because they are forced to wear sponsor’s logos on their bibs and are not compensated for it.

The idea is that each PGA tour event has a corporate sponsor and that company pays the PGA a fairly hefty sum of money in order to have exclusive naming rights. The PGA collects an estimated $50 million in such funds each year. For this payment the company in question gets to splash their logo and name over everything involved with the event and this includes the bibs that the caddies wear.

Sponsorship on the PGA is big money. A player sponsored by a particular company gets paid for every second they are on television wearing that business’s brand on their apparel. The caddies are essentially walking billboards for whatever company paid exclusive naming rights that week and they think they deserve some of the money. I agree.

If the caddies wear the sponsor’s branding and it is part of what the companies are paying, then the caddies clearly deserve part of the money. It’s a shame that something reasonable couldn’t be worked out by both parties although it’s not too late for such an agreement. Sometimes it takes a lawsuit to get dialog started.

There are a number of ways this could go. The caddies might get some money. The tour might simply tell the caddies not to wear the logo on the bib anymore and the companies might pay less for sponsorship. The caddies might sell bib space to the highest bidder with the caddies for the better golfers earning more money.

I wouldn’t mind seeing it make its way through the courts so we could get a definitive legal decision but I suspect it won’t get that far.

What do you think? Are the caddies right or is the PGA tour?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition