Wisconsin Prison Bans Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons_and_Dragons_MiniaturesA story that hits me in my proverbial breadbasket just came across the wires. The Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin banned playing Dungeons and Dragons (no word on Pathfinder) by inmates.

I’m a role-playing game enthusiast to say the least. I love playing such games. I think it’s ridiculous that those in power think playing the game might encourage escape fantasies among the inmates. I imagine the escape fantasies are already on their mind. A fellow named Kevin T. Singer is incarcerated at that institution and had a regular Dungeons and Dragons game with fellow inmates.

Let’s cut to the chase. Prison officials do not believe that playing Dungeons and Dragons constitutes an escape or violence risk. They just wanted to make life more difficult for Singer. They found a ridiculous rational for doing so, implemented it, and laughed as they took away his books and homemade material. Ha, they said, we’re in charge and we get to tell you what to do.

The courts agreed. Even though there is no evidence that such games cause troubles in prisons (because they don’t), the court sided with the prison.

Sadly, I agree with the courts. The removal of role-playing games is something the prison can enforce. The inmates have been duly convicted of a crime. A particularly brutal murder in this case. The authorities run the prison and unless they are taking away a Constitutionally guaranteed right, they can do as they will.

My message today is for the prison officials. You are not making Wisconsin or this nation any safer. By using your power to bully and punish a prisoner, for the simple reason that you can, you actually increase the chance said prisoner will learn to hate authority figures all the more. The prison should run the damned game, if you’ll pardon my choice language. They should encourage inmates to work as a team and learn to appreciate those in authority don’t have to be jackbooted thugs. That they can actually be interested in the well-being of their charges.

Being in a position of authority is a tremendous responsibility. You can influence people in a good way and make this world a better place or you satisfy your sadistic urges to hurt and demean people.

I’m certainly not saying Singer is a wonderful person. The fact remains that he and other prisoners may someday return to society. Isn’t it in our best interest to make sure they return better than they went in, not worse?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Harambe the Gorilla and Lessons to be Learned

harambe-GorillaA tragic incident occurred recently in Cincinnati that is making headlines and evoking passionate debate among many people.

A young boy willfully climbed into the gorilla pen at the Cincinnati zoo and when a male gorilla named Harambe started to become more aggressive, the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response team shot and killed the gorilla.

Passions are running high among those who think the zoo did the right thing and those who think the zoo handled the situation improperly. One of the positions I see being taken is that the zoo is responsible for the enclosure not being secure enough to prevent entry and they are to blame. That all the enclosures must be designed to prevent anyone from entering. That’s the argument I’d like to look at today.

What I want to talk about today, Memorial Day, is the commonly stated belief that Freedom isn’t Free. I disagree with that idea. I think Freedom is Free. There is nothing more free in this world than freedom. Don’t get me wrong. I well understand that other people desire to take away my freedom. Those other people include both foreign and domestic enemies and my own government. I understand that to protect my freedom people must make sacrifices. I do not disregard the sacrifices made in order to protect me and others.

That being said, Freedom is mostly certainly free. It’s just quite dangerous. It might be possible to make every zoo enclosure more difficult to penetrate but there is no way to have a zoo and also have it so that a determined visitor cannot gain access to an exhibit. It is in the nature of a zoo where wild and dangerous animals are kept that there will be danger. Certainly the zoo should make efforts to keep the enclosures and wild animals separate from the visitors but if we want to have zoos at all, we must face that fact that a determined child or adult might be able to put themselves in danger. That’s freedom.

We could make it more safe, certainly. We could make zoos illegal altogether. We could insist that zoos spend astronomical sums of money to enclose every exhibit in bullet proof glass.

We could remove all traffic signals and thus be more free to drive as we will without restrictions. Or we could pass more and more traffic laws. We could put monitors in cars to prevent any sort of dangerous driving. The choice between freedom and safety is a serious one.

Those who wish to take our freedom often guise their desires with soothing words about only doing it to protect us.

My point is that we must accept danger if we love freedom. We must understand that terrible things can happen. That the government and the zoo cannot completely prevent horrible outcomes. We must mourn the death of Harambe. We must accept the danger if we are to remain free.

The alternative is to be perfectly safe at all times … in our locked and hermetically sealed chamber.

What will you choose?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

The System isn’t Always Rigged – Libertarian Convention

banner_2016_libertarian_convention-minAs many of my democratic and republican friends lament the “rigged” system in which a series of complex rules bind or do not bind delegates to a particular candidate during their party’s nomination process, another system was on display this weekend in Orlando, Florida.

My party, the Libertarians had their convention. You probably didn’t hear much about it for a number of a reasons. One reason is that Libertarian candidates do not generate many votes, they hold no national offices, and precious few state positions. There is another reason and one I’d like to offer up as a contrast between the way the Republican and Democrats do things as compared to Libertarians.

We’ve had a long nomination cycle, which continues, in which voters in each state and territory of the union vote for candidates. Delegates then cast their vote for the candidate. The Republicans and Democrats have complex rules about how delegates can vote and many are bound to the choices the voters made. These rules are changed and modified each year, largely in an attempt to get a particular candidate nominated. Look up the Ron Paul rule for an example.

At the Libertarian Convention a delegate is bound only by her or his conscience. There is no state by state vote. Rules are not arranged to ensure a particular candidate is guaranteed victory or an upstart is shunted to the back of the room. The Libertarian Convention almost always has a Contested Convention. That is a convention in which none of the candidates receives 50% of the vote. Thus diplomacy comes into play in vote after vote until a consensus is finally reached.

In a Libertarian Convention delegates are not barred if they represent a candidate who stands little chance of winning. Delegates feel free to boo the candidates who express ideas with which they disagree. The room is not filled with flag-waving non-delegates designed give the impression of unity and support. Libertarians welcome dissent. Like in life, we embrace opposition for it is only by testing ourselves that we reach our full potential. It is only by listening to alternate ideas that we come to know all our options.

Now you know how we do things. Which system do you think is best?

Is it better to have bound delegates and many rules or unbound delegates who vote their conscience?

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

It’s not the Beard, it’s the Rule – Andrew Jones Graduation

Andrew-Jones-beardThere’s a story all over the news this morning about a young man who was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony with his class because he had a beard.

There seem to be largely two takes on the story.

1. A rule is a rule and Andrew Jones should have followed the rule. He was given a chance to shave his beard but refused.

2. He was allowed to wear his beard all year long at school but the district decided to enforce the rule only at the graduation, therefore the rule is being arbitrarily and unfairly applied.

I have a third opinion, no surprise. Why is there such a rule in the first place? What does a beard have to do with a public education? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against rules. No running with scissors. Why? Because you might take out your eye or stab someone else in a fall. No talking in class. Why? Because it prevents the teacher from communicating the lesson.

I’m also not pretending there is no reason for the rule. It has a very definite purpose. It is a rule created to show the students who is in charge. It is a rule designed to acclimate young minds to the idea that they must follow pointless guidelines instituted by small people who delight in their trivial taste of power. Who all but masturbate because they get to enforce their will upon a captive audience.

Jones attends Amite High School in the Tangipahoa Parish School System in Louisiana. Tangipahoa Superintendent Mark Kolwe insisted the rule was fine and they would enforce it the entire year in the future rather than selectively at graduation.

Yuck. Petty bureaucrats reveling in their power and enforcing their stupidity.

Mr. Jones. You graduated. You excelled during your time in high school. Small minds stole your moment to celebrate with your fellow students. I have a lesson for you. It won’t be the last time your inferiors try to bend you to their will with useless and petty rules. Sometimes you will be tempted to forgo you principles, to shave your beard, so that you might get along. My advice? Fuck them.

If you must give up things like a graduation ceremony in order to be true to yourself, you have won. You have defeated the reptiles of the world who hope to destroy you for the simple reason that you are better than they will ever be.

Success lies ahead. Keep on your path, Mr. Jones. Stay your course.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Amazon Book Giveaway Clause

Website-Banner-GHI recently released The Gray Horn for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords and I decided I might do a Giveaway promotion at Amazon. It’s where you give away a book for free to a limited number of customers in the hopes of getting reviews and generating “buzz”.

I haven’t done it before but I was thinking, what the heck. As I went through the process I clicked on the ubiquitous Terms and Conditions button and gave it my usual cursory glance. Then I stumbled on item 6.

You grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, perform, display, distribute, adapt, modify, excerpt, analyze, re-format, create derivative works of, and otherwise commercially or non-commercially exploit in any manner, any and all of Your Materials, and to sublicense the foregoing rights; provided that nothing in this Agreement will prevent or impair our right to use Your Materials without your consent to the extent that such use is allowable without a license from you or your Affiliates under applicable Law (e.g., fair use under United States copyright law, referential use under trademark law, or valid license from a third party).

I mean to say …

Holy s***!

Are you kidding me? That’s more than just terms and conditions. That’s some serious rights I’m giving away. I was rendered speechless. Which, if you know me, is no small feat.

I thought I’d pass it along just for general knowledge to anyone else thinking about going with a Giveaway promotion on Amazon. Frankly, you should read all the Terms and Conditions but it’s hard because they make them so long and difficult.

Have a great day!

Oh, and buy my books. Only $2.99. Write reviews! They help, they really do.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

The Gray Horn – Available Now

The-gray-horn-color-2The Gray Horn is now available for sale at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble for $2.99 at all locations.

Volorious is a young mercenary employed in an endless war between two implacable enemies. Or so it seems.

As his company is mistreated by both combatants he slowly comes to realize that the war serves the interests of both nation states at the expense of the people. He along with his friends eventually decide to strike out on their own in search of the fabled Gray Horn that is desired by both sides in the war.

In this quest he comes to examine the nature of the two enemies, Thrimbar the Divine and Jojus the Demonic. Are they truly opposite sides in a conflict with one another or are they actually simply one in the same with a different banner. If the divine and the demonic are equal, then is there a second choice? Does the coin have another side upon which people can choose a different way?

I appreciate everyone’s support and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

 

Two Games for One Date

male-and-female-tinderLately I’ve been using Tinder, without a lot of success, to meet women but I have noticed an interesting sociological interplay. I’m working on a pretty small sample size and if everything I mention in this blog is horribly wrong, please don’t hesitate to eviscerate me in the comments.

What I’ve noticed is the women with whom I make an initial connection ask me a lot of questions. A lot. I, on the other hand, ask a few questions but pretty much spend all my time telling the prospective date about me and my peculiarities. It seems like both of us are playing the same game, for lack of a better word, but we are playing by completely different rules.

Basically I’m hoping to meet the woman for perhaps a drink and a bite to eat. If it turns out we’re incompatible, I’m simply out the price of her preferred drink and a few appetizers. If it turns out she’s an absolute nut, I have a great story for my friends later.

But what about her? What does she have to lose? A quick perusal of any news channel indicates that she has to fear bodily harm, rape, kidnapping, and murder. Those are pretty high stakes indeed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asserting that women are completely non-violent and are incapable of meeting a man for a date and doing him harm. I’m just saying that the possibility is so low on my radar that I don’t even consider it when texting on Tinder. I imagine that it’s pretty much the opposite for a woman.

I don’t have any deep philosophical revelations based on this observation. No meaningful insights. Just something I noticed. It gives me a small window into the world of being a woman. An unpleasant reality in some ways.

Maybe I’m wrong. It’s certainly possible.

What do you think?

Are my observation on Tinder interactions accurate?

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

Binary or not Binary

binary-problemsThis world is made up of two kinds of people.

  1. Morons who think things are binary
  2. The enlightened who understand things are not binary.

And, to be clear, morons, I’m one of the enlightened non-binaries. You, fool reading this, are a binary cave dweller.

See!

Do you see!!

There’s just two kinds of people. The enlightened people who realize everything is not binary, like me. Because we’re better than you (just in case you weren’t following). And then there’s the rest of you idiots. There is no middle ground. I want to be very clear on this.

It’s us intelligent, kind, thinking, non-binaries who understand the world isn’t a zero or a one and the rest of you, who we hate (to be clear). You are stupid and wrong about everything!!!!!! And we’re smart and right about everything!!!!!!

I hope I’ve cleared things up for you, binary idiots. Now, I’m going to go have some overpriced coffee with my non-binary friends where we will make fun of you and call you stupid.

Have a nice day, because, you see, I’m a good person who is just making the world a better place.

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

It’s not a Full Moon on Friday

lunar-phasesThis isn’t going to be a long blog but I’m annoyed, therefore I rant. All over my Facebook wall are people posting memes about tomorrow, Friday the Thirteenth coinciding with a full moon.

Let me count the problems I have with this.

First: Friday the Thirteenth is just another day. There is nothing lucky or unlucky about the numeric day and weekday of one day over another. I wrote a longer blog on this subject here. We happen to have a twelve month calendar with varying length months between twenty eight and thirty one days. The conjunction of days and days of the week is merely random happenstance with no meaning. What if we had a six month calendar with sixty days per month? Or an eighteen month calendar with twenty or so day months? It’s just an arbitrary assignment of names and numbers to the length of time the earth takes to orbit the sun.

Ok, enough of that.

Two: The full moon is something that happens every 29.53 days based on the time it takes the satellite to orbit the earth. Once again it is a cyclical event that has no effect on humanity. Don’t believe me? Trust Wiki.

III: This is a biggie everyone. A huge one. An enormous one. Keep this one in mind the next time you see something on the internet. I’m going to whisper it because it’s a crazy, revolutionary idea that may not have occurred to many people. It’s not a full moon on Friday. The internet may have lied to you. Remember that fact. Remember. Remember. Remember. Remember.

Stay skeptical my friends.

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

Government to Regulate e-Cigarettes but Why?

e-cigarette-regulationElectronic Cigarettes burst onto the market in 2004 and now the government plans to regulate them in the same way they do traditional tobacco products. This despite the fact that e-cigarettes don’t use tobacco.

Today I’d like to address an issue slightly deeper than just this particular piece of legislation which was announced in 2014 giving producers two years to submit an application for approval. This application costs money and the e-cigarette manufacturers are claiming an approval must be submitted for every flavor and nicotine level available for sale. They claim the costs for such submissions would drive out all the small market e-cigarette manufacturers leaving only the largest companies.

I don’t know if this is true or not but I do know that the justification for such regulations and applications is outdated. There was a time when the internet did not exist and getting accurate information about the efficacy and danger of particular products was nearly impossible. I can understand that government officials felt it their responsibility to prevent essentially toxic products from being put on the market without at least some sort of warning.

I’m not opposed to the government employing a laboratory to test the content and health effects of tobacco, alcohol, and other products. I’m not opposed to the government using my tax dollars to disseminate information about said products on government managed websites. I think those are good things. I’m not under the illusion that a business would never market a harmful product with deceptive advertising and cover up the dangers. That sort of thing happens all the time, greed and human nature being what they are. To pretend otherwise is simply foolish.

However, with the advent of the internet and the availability of information I don’t see why the manufacturer has to provide relatively useless warnings on their labels and apply for expensive approvals. It seems to me that such rules and regulations are not intended for the safety of the population but simply generate revenue for the government and empower Crony Capitalism in order to support the largest manufacturers who fund political campaigns.

This is not the job of government.

The Information Age is a fundamental change in the nature of the world. For a Libertarian like myself it is the opening of a door into a utopia of personal freedom. If I want to use a product I can do my research and find out its nature. If I plan to buy a chicken from the grocery store, I can learn about the factory or local farm that raised it and how that chicken lived its life. Then I can make an informed decision on which chicken to buy. This was not possible until recently.

I’ll repeat, I do think the government has a right and responsibility to inspect, collect information, run tests, and publish the results for all to see. After that it is up to us. Should we choose to smoke tobacco then we know the risks and suffer the consequences of our actions.

We must trust people to live their lives in the manner they choose. We may not like. It might not be healthy. But it is ultimately their life and their decision. If they have the information they need to make an informed choice, that is all we can do. If we try to make that decision for them, even for their benefit, we end up causing far more harm in the long run.

As I point out in The Girl in Glass I – Apparition, freedom is free, it’s just not safe.

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

Hunter Osborn and the Penis that Traumatized Everyone

hunter-osborn-penis

**UPDATE – All charges have been dropped**

Really? A felony for exposing your penis in a group photo of the football team?

Yep, that’s what it’s come to in this great country of ours. Hunter Osborn pulled down his football pants just enough to expose his penis in the team picture. The prank went unnoticed and the picture was placed in the school yearbook.

Osborn is now being charged with sixty-nine (yes, ha ha) counts of misdemeanor indecent exposure, one each for his clearly traumatized teammates, and a felony count of furnishing harmful items to minors, presumably other students who purchased the yearbook.

Smart move by Osborn? Probably not, but good grief, have we no sense of humor? First off his sixty-nine teammates share a locker room with him. I strongly suspect they’ve seen his penis before. I suspect they’ve seen quite a number of them over the years. I played sports, I was in locker rooms, boys have penises, is that the right word? What is the plural of penis? Do I care? No. Penises it is.

Does anyone actually think this image was harmful to minors?

Have the police in Mesa, Arizona not heard of the internet? Pictures of penises abound, and breasts as well, you might, if you look hard, even find a vagina, ahhh! Run, hide the children! They must not see a penis, breast, or vagina lest they be emotionally scarred.

It was a silly prank but let’s face reality, no one was hurt. There was a time when the football coach would have made Osborn clean the locker room for a week the whole time snickering away and remembering some of his own youthful indiscretions.

And poor Osborn is saying things like he was disgusted by his behavior? Is that the kind of adults we want to raise? Disgusted by showing his penis in a football picture? It’s stupid but, frankly, kind of a funny.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Princeton could use a guy like Joel.

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