Extraordinary Claims and Sherri Papini

sherri-papiniI don’t know how many of you remember the Sherri Papini story from November of 2016 but there is an interesting update to the supposed events that transpired.

What I want to talk about today is the old adage that skeptics embrace: An extraordinary claim require extraordinary proof.

I can say, as do the commenters on the updated story, that I was pretty skeptical of Papini’s story from the start. It was filled with extraordinary claims and there appeared to be little evidence to support it. Nevertheless, she received quite a bit of sympathy.

We certainly don’t know that her story was false, she might well have been telling the truth, but I think it’s fairly likely she made the entire thing up to cover up some other failing; infidelity, drugs, something.

I don’t want to spend time trying to figure out why so many supported her while relatively few questioned her story from the beginning. I just want to offer the same advice as Marcello Truzzi. When someone tells a story that is rather extraordinary take a moment to embrace skepticism. It’s not easy. When someone like Papini tells a horrific story we want to offer sympathy and help. It’s in general human nature to be kind to those who have suffered misfortune. Sadly, that natural instinct allows con-artists to make a living.

We want to help and the more terrible the story the more we feel empathy and pain for the victim. The more we want to help.

That’s the lesson of the Papini situation. Don’t be quick to believe extraordinary claims. When you are told something that seems unlikely, take a moment and pause. Don’t set your mind to an opinion because it becomes difficult at that point to turn back. Once we’ve committed to a “truth” we find it painful to admit a mistake. If you can just hold off on a snap judgment for a little while, I think it will be to your benefit in many ways.

In your business, in your education, in your daily life; try to be skeptical. It doesn’t hurt to stop and look for evidence.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Lessons from the Demise of the Motion Picture Production Code

hollywood-production-codeThanks to Bing Search I learned today the Motion Picture Production Code, more commonly known as the Hays Code, was first put into effect eight-seven years ago. It stayed in place for about thirty years before it eventually was replaced with the rating system movies use to this day.

The lesson I’d like to talk about today is why the code failed. Before we get to that, let’s find out what it was and why it was created.

Basically the code restricted all sorts of things from being depicted in movies. The list of banned items included any non-reverent mention of god, trafficking of illegal drugs, and ridicule of the clergy. The list of items to be treated with great caution included cruelty to animals or children, adults in bed together, and the use of firearms.

Movies that did not meet the standards laid out by the Code were not given a Certificate of Approval and could not be released.

The reason the code was put into place was a general feeling of moral outrage that movies were bringing unsavory ideas to audiences. The individual states had begun to put in place their own bans after the Supreme Court ruled movies were not subject to Freedom of Speech protection.

Enough prelude. I’m not going to waste time talking about why the Code was against Libertarian philosophy although I could. I want to focus, quickly and efficiently, on why it failed. That’s what is most important.

Starting almost immediately after the Code was emplaced movie makers started to create films outside the main studios that bypassed the rules. They released them independently.

It wasn’t until competition became an issue that the major studios began to make movies and release them regardless of whether they had a Certificate of Approval. In addition, Foreign films were not subject to the restrictions, television was not subject to the restrictions. The studios tried to keep foreign films from being shown but the Supreme Court ruled this illegal.

Competition. People wanted to see movies that included this sort of content. Not that they went to the movie simply because it had such content but it’s clear such movies had a much larger field upon which to play. They could tell stories in ways movies using the Code could not.

Lots of people wanted to see movies made without the restrictions of the Code.

And thus the studios began to make them and simply ignore the Code. Some Like it Hot was the film that basically ended the code. It was released without the Certificate of Approval and was a huge success.

The lesson to be learned here is when government attempts to enforce moral codes on people it is doomed to failure, simply because people want what they want. You cannot pretend because something is supposedly bad or dangerous, passing a law will fix the problem. It won’t. It will create a host of other issues while completing failing to solve the issue.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

The Fools Rush to Limit Opioid Prescription Length

john-kasich-opioid-lawsGovernor John Kasich and the legislature of Ohio just joined Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey in limiting the length of prescriptions for Opioids to one week. Of the new law Kasich said, We all need to stick our noses into somebody else’s business.

Before I go on a Libertarian induced rage rant let’s examine why this is happening.

Pharmaceutical companies have been pumping out enormous amounts of opioids like fentanyl and doctors have been prescribing them in equally large numbers. While the authorities have been quite aggressive about jailing opioid dealers who aren’t pharmaceutical companies and doctors they have largely allowed these two groups to garner huge profits. Meanwhile the people being prescribed the drugs eventually run out of their prescriptions and resort to illegal sources for their addictions.

The thought process behind the limit of seven days rather than ninety days is that there will be fewer unused pills to sell to the black market. And because there will be fewer of these legally prescribed pills somehow this will magically reduce the market for them. Somehow no one will come along to fill the void in true supply-side economic fashion.

What will the new law actually accomplish? It will make it horribly inconvenient for people in terrible pain to get the pills they need to make it through the day. This law punishes the critically ill. It must be noted cancer patients and people in hospice are exempt but that leaves a lot of other people in a difficult situation. People who are critically ill don’t really want to go to the doctor once a week for their prescription and then have to pick it up. They are, you see, critically ill and in horrible pain.

So we’re making life a living nightmare for a group of people to reduce opioids on the street. But will there be fewer illegal drugs for people to purchase? Of course not. Where there is a demand there will be supply. Price goes up. People in terrible pain and addicts will have to pay more. And how do they get this money? Generally by stealing from other people.

Addiction is a terrible thing and I’m all for decriminalization and treatment. This law doesn’t help anyone and it hurts lots of people.

Well, that’s not true. It helps politicians like Kasich pretend they are doing something about a terrible problem. Next time you vote, remember they aren’t helping anyone but themselves. That’s the only way to bring about change.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

NFL Referees Allowed in Vegas but why were they Banned?

Raiders_Stadium_artist_renderingThe National Football League owners just voted to allow the Oakland Raiders and owner Mark Davis to move the team to Las Vegas. I’m not surprised. There is more money to be made in Las Vegas than in Oakland in the same way there was more money to be had in Los Angeles than St. Louis.

I’m not here as a snowflake St. Louis Rams fan to condemn the greed of the NFL owners. What I want to talk about is the rule preventing league officials from entering the city of Las Vegas during the season. That’s right, prior to the move of the Raiders, league officials were not even allowed to visit Las Vegas during the season unless their regular job required it. Even then there were restrictions. Obviously this rule will have to change.

The reason for the rule was the league wanted to prevent referees from being influenced by gamblers. Well, that’s what they claim. That’s what I want to talk about. The league knows full well that gambling doesn’t happen only in Las Vegas. They know gamblers look to influence referees in every sport and in every league regardless of physical location. If they know this, why the ban?

The answer is simple and one that strikes to the very heart of problems we have in the United States and around the world. The ban of officials visiting Las Vegas gives the league the appearance of being concerned about gambling and of taking measures to prevent corruption of referees when, naturally, it does neither of those things. The league doesn’t care that the ban is stupid and useless. They care that it makes them look good. It makes it look like they are doing something about the problem. And that’s dangerous. That’s what I oppose.

I think the league has good reason to worry about gamblers corrupting their officials. I think all sports leagues have good reason to worry. The NBA certainly knows all about it. I strongly suspect any number of games in all sports, in all leagues, have been tainted by officials on the take from gamblers. Or in debt to gamblers. Or something along those lines.

I have no proof that it happens and yet I have absolutely no doubt it does. Gambling is not limited to the NFL or even professional sports leagues. Large amounts of money is wagered on high school football. Referees have enormous influence over games. They certainly give gamblers the best chance to influence outcomes. This fact has not slipped past the notice of such organizations.

I’m also not suggesting sports leagues don’t use other tactics to defeat gamblers. What I am saying is that employing useless measures to counter real threats simply for the illusion of safety is foolish. The illusion is safety is far more perilous than understanding you are in a dangerous situation. The reason being, if you understand you are in danger you take precautions. If you think you are safe, you do not.

The league is giving fans the illusion the game isn’t corrupt and therefore the fans are not necessarily looking for corruption. This means corruption can more easily occur. Now, in this case it’s gambling and some money but the same principle applies to pat-downs at the airport.

I say dispense with useless precautions designed simply to create an illusion of safety. When I see such rules in place I become concerned the people who made such rules perhaps do not understand the real threat. They might even be lulled into the same sense of complacency they hoped to foist off onto others.

We should be more concerned with passing laws that do good than passing laws that falsely make us look like we’re doing good. And if you don’t think that has correlation to what’s happening in Washington D.C., statehouses, and your local municipalities, well, you’ve been fooled.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Are Vitamins Worth Purchasing?

vitamins-supplementsThe Annals of Internal Medicine recently posted an editorial pretty much blasting the use of multivitamins and supplements. I originally came across the study in an article from Business Insider and the comment section was pretty universal in condemnation of the story.

I’ve long felt that supplements and vitamins were a waste of money and almost universally placebos but the recent studies and this article seems to affirm my opinions. Wikipedia also confirms this idea.

It is important to note that the studies do not address what are called micronutrient deficiencies. Those who suffer from such deficiencies benefit greatly from vitamins and supplements. The editorial specifically excludes them from the study and is talking only about otherwise healthy people who spend considerable money on vitamins and supplements.

And I do mean considerable. The vitamin and supplement industry generates over $28 billion in sales annually and that amount continues to rise each year. I think it’s important to understand that the vast majority of people spending money on multivitamins and supplements are simply spending money on a product that does them no good whatsoever and, in some cases, actually causes harm.

In addition, many of these supplements and vitamins are produced in foreign countries with China making up the lion’s share.

As you may or may not know, I’m a Libertarian. If people choose to purchase vitamins and supplements that’s their business. I’m merely suggesting that you stop. Spend your money elsewhere. Perhaps a food service that brings you healthy meals each day. I’m a big believer in capitalism as a driving force of making the world a better place. It is to the benefit of all of us to have a healthier population. More work is done, less healthcare is necessary, etc. If people transfer part of the expenditures from something that is not helping their health to something that is helping their health, I benefit. We all benefit.

I know quite a few people who take vitamins and supplements and I suspect I’m going to take some heat for my stance on this issue. That’s all right. I’m tough.

Take a look at the studies and decide for yourself.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Closing Liquor Stores in Whiteclay to Solve Alcoholism

Badlands_in_South_DakotaI just read a terrible story about a little town in Nebraska that serves one purpose. It supplies alcohol to Native Americans living just across the border in South Dakota at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Whiteclay has a population of 14 and four liquor stores and the stores sell about 13,000 cans of beer a day. These sales result in a contribution of nearly half a million dollars to the state coffers of Nebraska. This does not include revenue from the thousands of DUI tickets given to drivers leaving the town.

At least some of the beer is sold to bootleggers who take it directly onto the reservation and sell it there at an inflated price. This because alcohol is illegal to sell on the reservation.

Pine Ridge is, by any reasonable judgment, a heartbreaking tragedy. Unemployment is around 80%. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is rampant. Almost half the residents live in poverty. The people have the shortest life expectancy in the western hemisphere.

Many people want to close the liquor stores in Whiteclay to alleviate some of the terrible problems on the reservation.

And thus I am triggered. I could spend time talking about how adults must be allowed to make their own decisions. I could talk about how the residents of the reservation will just drive to the next town to get liquor if Whiteclay is shut down. I might point out the obvious fact that bootleggers will simply bring in increased amounts of alcohol and increase their prices.

Instead I simply explain the root of the problem. Alcohol sales are illegal on the reservation. This was done to combat alcoholism among Native Americans. It has not only failed to solve the problem but created a host of ancillary issues. Drunk driving, public intoxication in Whiteclay, criminal activity in the form of bootleggers, the eyesore of Whiteclay itself.

All of these problems go away if liquor sales are allowed on the reservation. Not only that but the stores would employ people. They would generate profits and tax revenue for the Native Americans to use to help alcoholics.

The problem that won’t go away is alcoholism among residents. That’s true. I freely admit it. That is a bigger task beyond the scope of my article today. It is a task worth taking on. People’s lives are at stake. But not for me, not today at least.

My point today is simple. A law was passed in order to prevent the residents of Pine Ridge from having easy access to alcohol. It has failed utterly and created a host of other problems. A lesson to be learned.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Chevy Chase, Community, Hate, and Success

community_paintball_explosionI was browsing through some of the glorious paintball clips of the television show Community on YouTube when I came across this video. It reminded me one of the show’s stars, Chevy Chase, hated being on the show and most of the cast and creator were not particular fond of him.

If Chase hated being on the show and most of the people he worked with didn’t like him, how was the show so hysterically funny? How was Chase so good? How did the other actors create comedy gold in scenes with him? How did the show runner produce hilarious episodes one after the other?

In team sports there is something called chemistry. This is how the players and coaches interact with one another. It is universally considered a benefit when everyone gets along. When the culture of the team is good. But perhaps the reality is different. At least that’s what I’m thinking. Maybe liking each other isn’t all that important to success. Maybe working with talented people you hate can be and is far more of an indicator of success than so-called team chemistry.

As an extreme example; it’s pretty clear no matter how much the other players on the St. Louis Cardinals might like me as a person, I would be an anchor on the team, what with me striking out nine out of ten plate appearance (ok, 99 out of 100).

Is it pleasant to be around those we like? To spend time in the company of those we enjoy? Yes. Why, yes, it is. I enjoy life more when I’m surrounded by people whose company I enjoy. The question becomes, is it an element of success? It seems like it should be an obvious answer. If the team, be it sports or business, likes one another they should be happier and thus more willing to perform excellently. Yet, is it?

Does happiness engender success? These are the question managers must ask themselves while building their teams. Is this new person we’re adding going to improve the culture? Is this new person we’re adding going to improve our chances of succeeding at the project?

Who is more important? Douchebag super-talent or sweet person average talent?

Obviously we’d love both, but what I’m asking is which takes priority. You want the job done. You are the manager. What’s your choice? The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that success is more related to talent than chemistry. Much more. What do you think?

The poll question is a bit black and white and I understand there are nuances.

If you were building a team which would you place in higher esteem?

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Girl Scout Cookies and where the Money Goes

girl-scout-cookiesGirl Scouts sell lots of cookies. Lots of them. I refuse to purchase for the same reason I don’t buy candy from a kid standing at the corner. I don’t by coupon books from the children of my friends. I’m not convinced it is a good use of my money, frankly, I’m convinced it’s a bad way to help. I suspect I’m going to take some heat for this post but it’s been on my mind for years.

Here is the problem. Much of the money I’m giving to help out the children of my friends goes to someone beside those children. The vast majority of the money goes somewhere else. In the case of the Girl Scouts, the troop itself receives about 13% of the sale. A box of cookies costs $4.00. You’d double the amount you’re giving to the girls if you simply gave the young entrepreneur $1.00.

Some 21% of the sale goes to the baker. The rest goes to the local council. They spend this money largely on salary although it’s difficult to find how much goes to the community, certainly some of it.

Here is what I think is important. I don’t hate Girl Scouts. I don’t hate the Girl Scout Council. I’m saying the method of donating to their cause is somewhat dubious.

This website lists lots of charities and their guidelines for what makes an organization credible or not. They have not rated the Girl Scouts but their general guidelines is that more than 66% of the donated money should go directly to the cause. For those without a math inclination: 66% > 12.5%.

I’m not telling you to stop buying Girl Scout Cookies. I’m telling you, if the reason you are buying them is to help out the daughters of friends, perhaps you should find another way to give. When they come by with their tally sheets, simply give them $1.00 per box that you would normally purchase.

We like to do good. We like to help others. Sometimes that gets taken advantage of by people who don’t even realize they are doing so. The Girl Scouts are filling the wallets of other people. They are doing the work. They are essentially a labor source being exploited by a business.

Therefore I don’t purchase. You may feel differently.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Nick Saban Rants about Summer Camps but it’s Really all about being a Libertarian

Nick-SabanI just read an interesting story at ESPN about how Nick Saban gave a press conference in which he is quite angry. The main rant seems to involve assumptions about his offensive plans for the upcoming season but later he gets to a topic that touches this Libertarian’s heartstrings. Rules created to prevent some perceived wrong that end up hurting far more people than they help.

At issue is my favorite target, the NCAA. College football teams like Alabama hold summer camps for young players. This allows said teams to gain personal relationships with players that often translate to scholarships at a later date. The NCAA just passed a rule that prevents high school coaches from helping at such camps.

Here’s why the rule was made. Coaches like Saban, and more particularly Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, held these camps and paid these high school coaches to help. The high school coaches have strong influence over their players. The hope being that said coach will recommend to their star players they take scholarship offers from Alabama and Michigan.

This example strikes directly to the heart of my problem with such rules. Yes, this system does curry favor from high school coaches to particular colleges. The question we must always ask is: What is the result of the proposed rule, law, or regulation. That is what Saban is talking about when he says:

And we pass some rule that everybody has to live with, or some law, where the consequences mess up a lot of other things. We do it all the time. We’re doing it right now. The NCAA is doing it. We’re going to change the way we have summer camps. We can’t have high school coaches working summer camps. I mean, it’s the most ridiculous thing that I’ve ever seen. It is what it is and whatever they do, they do.

In this case the high school coaches are still generally going to be favorable to local colleges because of ongoing relationships so the rule itself really doesn’t solve the problem.

Now the coaches won’t be able to bring their players to the camp so some third party is going to do it. Perhaps a family member, an agent, a want-to-be agent, a friend with dollar signs in their eyes, whatever. That issue isn’t solved, just shifted to a new source. In addition someone is going to have to coach those camps. They are happening regardless of the new rule. That someone is likely going to be less qualified than the coach, this hurts the young players. The coach loses as well because teaching at these camps gives them invaluable experience.

Perhaps this seems like a nothing issue to most people but it is a microcosm of Washington D.C., your statehouse, your municipality.

We pass laws with the best of intentions but end up hurting not only the very people such rules are intended to protect, but a host of other people as well.

Nick Saban in his rant is not just talking about these camps. He’s talking about the political world we endure today. And he’s right.

He’s absolutely right.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Lots of Hate for Julia Stephenson on Being Too Beautiful to be Faithful

julia-stephensonIn case you’re not fully aware, the Internet is filled with people willing to express their opinion. In the case of Julia Stephenson that opinion is almost universally negative. Stephenson wrote an article for the Daily Mail in which she lamented her physical attractiveness led to unfaithfulness and the end of her marriage.

As you can well imagine, the comments generally lashed out at her for not being particularly attractive and for laying the blame of her failed marriage on her beauty rather than the choices she made.

I decided I’d read her original article and get a feel for what she wrote. Not surprisingly the headline summations don’t really tell the real story. Yes, Stephenson blames her blossoming and the attentions of handsome men for the end of her marriage but she also accepts responsibility for it.

What’s interesting to me is the complete lack of objective reality that most of those commenting display. Someone who is good-looking is absolutely going to have more temptations to be unfaithful than someone who is less attractive and those temptations will be with people, well, more tempting.

I’d recommend reading Stephenson’s original article all the way through for it is not nearly as shallow or delusional as the headlines suggest. However, what I’d like to address is something called the Moralistic Fallacy. This fallacy is behind much of the criticism of Stephenson.

The idea is:

It is wrong to leave your spouse because someone else more attractive is suddenly available. Therefore it does not happen.

The only reason Stephenson left her husband is because she chose to do so. Her blossoming, gaining confidence, and having men of a social station and appearance that never before looked at her giving her attention had no bearing on her choice to end her marriage and engage in a series of short-term relationships.

This is simply people pretending that reality does not exist because reality is unpleasant. Certainly Stephenson chose to end her relationship and bears the responsibility for doing so, which she admits in her article. But it is clear that when suddenly presented with opportunities not available earlier, we all face difficult temptations. Certainly some resist, many do not.

I’m saying it’s absolute nonsense to pretend that changing circumstances do not influence behavior.

Stephenson left her husband for several reasons. One of which is that she had new opportunities available to her that she did not when she married him. It is not the only reason, of course. But it is certainly one of them and to pretend otherwise is to engage in a Moralistic Fallacy.

Are the Commenters Engaged in a Moralistic Fallacy

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Eminent Domain and the Border Wall

eminent_domainThe Border Wall. It’s a fairly big news story. President Trump would like to spend some billions of dollars to build a wall between Mexico and the United States in order to prevent illegal aliens from crossing over. Much of this land is not owned by the government and they would therefore have to purchase it.

It’s quite likely that many of the people who own this land aren’t going to want to sell. The solution is something called Eminent Domain.

In essence, The Federal Government and State Government has the right to simply purchase the land for a fair market price if they deem such Taking arises from a situation of extreme necessity or of public utility. I would think the government is arguing that building the wall is of public utility in this case and therefore they can simply take the land even from unwilling owners.

This, naturally, strikes at the core of my Libertarian ideology. I think cases of Eminent Domain must be severely limited and this particular extension when the argument for public utility is rather debatable does not qualify. There are any number of arguments both for and against a border wall but I don’t want to get into that debate. I simply point out the matter is far from clear, and therefore it cannot be argued with certainty that the border wall is for public utility.

If the government would like to make an offer the land owners can’t refuse, more power to them. Otherwise I think this one has to end up in the courts and that will take years and millions of taxpayer dollars.

Now a quick story about a situation here in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. We have a north and south running highway called 170. It was designed to connect two basically east and west highways, 55 and 70. People refused to sell the land required. The government eventually built part of the highway, but the southern section remains unfinished to this day. This is a moderately significant issue when trying to get from the northern half of the city to the southern. It affects me in a negative way on a regular basis.

And yet this is a good thing. It is the course the people of the city took and the state shouldn’t have the ability to take land if the seller is unwilling, barring the rules laid out by Eminent Domain.

Another quick story about the government using Eminent Domain. Keystone Pipeline. The only way to build it was by acquiring land through the use of Eminent Domain, in Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota.

I’m not completely opposed to Eminent Domain because there are situations where all the land for something of clear public utility is purchased except one parcel, and the person is holding out for some exorbitant amount. Even then I’m somewhat skeptical. Eminent Domain is often used by the state to steal land, generally for profit. We should all be wary.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Anita Krajnc and Giving Water to Pigs

anita-krajnc-water-pigsThere’s an interesting case about to be adjudicated in Ontario, Canada in which a woman named Anita Krajnc poured water into a truck full of pigs heading to slaughter from Fearmans Pork. She is only charged with a misdemeanor charge of mischief and the case is not exactly earth shattering but it demonstrates a fundamental problem, as I see it, with our general society these days.

What we have is two groups who seem to be, at a cursory glance, at complete and total opposite ends of a spectrum. Krajnc belongs to a group called Toronto Pig Save and Fearmans Pork makes a living off raising and slaughtering pigs.

I don’t think I need to go into details as to why these two groups are facing off in court. Nor do I want to spend time talking about the merits of the case against Krajnc. I won’t extoll on the virtues of the cause nor talk about the value of bringing the pigs to slaughter or even of a free market and supply side economics. All of those things are worth discussing but not by me and not today.

What do I want to talk about? Good question.

What I want to talk about is how people on opposite sides of the spectrum all too often, and as a first response, resort to antagonistic behavior when there is actually common ground upon which they could join.

Common ground? Between Pig Save activists and Fearmans Pork? Yes, indeed. There is far more common ground on a lot of issues than people realize.

Krajnc would like to give the pigs some water while they are in the truck heading to slaughter. That’s a nice sentiment to be honest. Animals heading to slaughter are sometimes not properly cared for near the end of their life because to feed and water them at such a late stage is an expense. It’s cheaper not to do so.

What Krajnc did was climb on the truck and pour water from a bottle onto the pigs. The truck driver and pig owners were naturally worried that something more nefarious is going on and want to protect their property.

A better choice from my perspective would be Toronto Pig Save simply asking Fearmans Pork if they could pay for the expense of giving the pigs one last drink of water before heading to slaughter. When Fearmans Pork found out what Krajnc was up to they could have offered some sort of system by which she was allowed to water the pigs more effectively.

Would this have solved the issue from Toronto Pig Save’s perspective? No, naturally not. They don’t want pigs going to slaughter at all, but at least they could have given the animals some water before the inevitable. Can Fearmans Pork simply have such activists arrested for such behavior? Yes, of course, and they did. But couldn’t they also have suggested a system by which the pigs did get a last drink of water at the expense of Toronto Pig Save?

No solution is going to make everyone happy but it seems to me that we can get more accomplished if we work together, even with those who are apparently on the opposite side of an issue.

What if abortion foes and supporters worked together, spent their time and money, on preventing unwanted pregnancies? What if Animal Activists and Factory Farm owners worked together to improve the life and health of the animals?

How much time, passion, and money is spent on activities that don’t do anything to make the problem better, but simply caress the egos of the parties on both sides. “We’ll put those animal nutcases in prison!” “We’ll show the world the horror of factory farms!”

The comment sections of every story are filled with people who live in this black and white world. My way or no way at all.

I’ll end my post in the same way President Trump often does. However, unlike him; I don’t mean it as in pathetic. I mean it as so much wasted energy, effort, time, and money.

Sad.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

 

Why Should the Government Mandate Cursive Writing in Schools?

cursive-writingThe answer is simple. They shouldn’t. Yet it’s a trend that just added Alabama and Mississippi and which already includes fourteen states. Fourteen states think the government should mandate spending time to learn something that is largely useless in modern society. There is little need of cursive writing but for some reason legislators and, judging by the comment section, lots and lots of regular folks, approve of these laws.

Those who support such measures make any number of claims including the ideas that it helps students think through ideas, helps creativity, it helps train the mind, and helps grammar. The reality is different and I think important to understand. The people who support such laws were taught cursive writing in school. They don’t want students today taught things differently because they are threatened by and scared of this new world in which we live.

There is very little need for cursive writing anymore and soon there will be none. We use computers, tablets, phones, and other devices to type our messages, this is self-evident. There is no need for me to argue this point. Cursive has less relevance in the modern world with each passing day. It will not return as a useful means of communication. The purpose of teaching cursive writing was to allow people to write down their thoughts more quickly than block printing but with the legibility of that style. That’s why cursive writing was taught, because it was an incredibly useful skill for people to know. We did not teach it to encourage creativity, to train minds, to help thinking, or to help grammar. We can teach those things in other ways.

Cursive was taught because it was useful to know. That is the most important thing and the basic reason it was taught. It’s not important to know anymore so we shouldn’t be teaching it. We should spend time teaching other things.

I’m not opposed to teaching grammar. I’m not opposed to teaching students creativity. I’m not opposed to teaching students how to think through an idea. I’m not opposed to teaching students to use logical thought processes. I am, however; totally and irrevocably opposed to teaching cursive in school.

The people who argue for this seem to universally lament the fact that students today are unprepared for life and that somehow spending many hours teaching them a useless skill will help this problem. Let me be clear, the people who claim young people are stupid and unable to handle the modern world are wrong. Young people today face a very different world and very different challenges than I did and they are well-equipped to handle such a life. College students, high-school students, and young adults are often intelligent, smart, capable, and largely better educated than their parents.

This insistence on cursive writing is almost solely based on fear that kids today are learning things that adults don’t know or understand. People feel safe in forcing  kids to learn the things we learned, it gives a comforting sense of continuity. It’s a bad idea.

This fear drives much in our lives. This fear holds us back. This fear will hold back millions of kids in Alabama, Mississippi and twelve other states.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray