Antonio Brown and the NFL Helmet Kerfuffle

NFL Helmet Antonio Brown

There’s in an interesting situation in the NFL involving wide receiver Antonio Brown’s desire to wear the NFL Helmet of his choice rather than that mandated by the league. Until this season the players were allowed to wear whatever helmet they wanted but new rules only allow certified NFL helmets to be used. Brown wants to wear the same helmet he’s worn for his entire career but the league prohibits doing so and therefore he is filing legal injunctions against the league.

Certainly, the league has the prerogative to dictate uniform requirements. Their new rules affected a number of players in the league including Tom Brady who has expressed displeasure with the situation but so far complied. To fully understand the situation, we have to delve more deeply into the history of the league and the nature of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the role concussions play in it.

CTE is a terrible disease which seems to occur largely in athletes who play contact sports like boxing, football, ice hockey, and others. Players suffering from the symptoms of the disease and other difficulties sued the league and have won more than a billion dollars in various settlements to date. The league long denied any connection between brain injury and repeated concussions despite strong evidence suggesting otherwise.

The motivation for the change is clear. The league wants to do everything in their power to defend themselves from future lawsuit but also to protect players by using NFL helmets believed to be best for preventing head injuries.

It seems clear Brown should want to use a better helmet for his own self-interest but it must be remembered hockey players long fought against having to wear helmets and facemasks including even goalies. They didn’t feel comfortable in the new equipment and thought it impaired their ability to perform. People often do things that are largely self-destructive and what is the role of an employer in preventing such behavior? That’s essentially the question with which we are dealing.

I think the NFL helmet rule is perfectly reasonable. They are a private entity making uniform rules for their employees. If the same thing was being forced on the NFL by a government agency, I might well have a different opinion on the subject. In addition, the right to wear whatever NFL helmet you want is not protected by the Constitution of the United States so the league does not fall afoul of that important document.

As a Libertarian I sympathize with Brown. I think it’s unfortunate he doesn’t get to wear the helmet of his choice but the reasons his employer are enforcing new rules are more than compelling, even if the new helmets prove ineffective in preventing brain injury.

Tom Liberman

An Atheist can be an Asshole and Atheists Should Always Say So

Atheist

I just watched a YouTube video from my favorite Atheist show, The Atheist Experience, and I thought it an extremely instructive example of how we should all try to behave. In a nutshell, if you largely agree with someone on a subject but they are saying something stupid; you need to be the one to tell that person her or his behavior is idiotic.

The Atheist Experience is a show in which theist call in with arguments against Atheism although the show also takes atheist callers albeit less frequently. The hosts of the show rotate fairly regularly but for the call in question, the main host was Matt Dillahunty along with his co-host David Warnock. Dillahunty is a former Southern Baptist well trained in the arts of debate and logic with a deep understanding of theology. He is a fearsome opponent in any sort of philosophical debate and is internationally recognized as such.

The caller to the show, a woman named Rose, was clearly a well-meaning and rather sweet older woman who wanted to prove the existence of God through a particular line in the Bible. She had come to a gun fight without even the proverbial knife. Her points were logically dismissed with almost careless ease by Dillahunty but it is only after this that the important part of the call occurred.

Rose mentioned that her son asked her to call into the show. Dillahunty immediately came up with the hypothesis that her son was an Atheist and had sent his mother, if you’ll forgive me, intentionally into the Lion’s Den in order to humiliate her. Dillahunty asked Rose if her son identified as an Atheist. Rose confirmed the hypothesis and that’s when Dillahunty and Warnock got angry, not at Rose but at her son.

“Your son is a dick,” was basically the first thing Dillahunty said after he found out the reason Rose called. “He makes us all look bad,” followed shortly thereafter from Warnock. They admonished the son, told Rose that the boy should apologize to her. They refused to speak anymore about the religious aspects of the topic because they did not want to further attack Rose, although they continued to harangue the son, who happened to be on the phone and attempted to explain his reasoning. Dillahunty and Warnock were having none of it.

The son was chastened. I feel very confident in suggesting that if religious people had rightly told the son his behavior was reprehensible, he would have given their opinion less consideration than he did that of Dillahunty and Warnock. That’s a lesson for us all.

When we look into the topics of politics, religion, sports, whatever; people are not much interested in listening to or giving credence to the opinions of those who oppose them. It is only when people are called out by those on the same side that real change is likely to happen.

If I may pat myself on the back and recall an incident that happened at a St. Louis Rams game some years ago. I was a season ticket holder and had seen the decline in the years after the Greatest Show on Turf. One week we played the Denver Broncos who were coming off a season in which they reached the Super Bowl. The Rams played an outstanding game and dominated the Broncos. As the crowd was filing out one of my fellow Rams fans started yelling idiotic thing to nearby Bronco’s fans. I immediately told him to show some dignity in victory, turned to the Broncos fans and thanked them for visiting St. Louis and wished them well. I’m happy to say the Rams fan shut his fat yap.

In any case, that’s my advice to you. Don’t worry so much about yelling at people you hate, call out the ones you like when they are behaving badly. If everyone did that, we might see some progress in this world.

Tom Liberman

Shai Werts and the Bird Shit Cocaine

Shai Werts

A young man named Shai Werts who plays football for Georgia Southern was arrested for cocaine possession the other day and the entire thing gives me yet another chance to rant against the so-called War on Drugs. The entire episode illustrates how police use the War on Drugs to persecute those they don’t like, which, I’m sure you’ll find shocking, is most often minorities.

Here’s what happened. Werts was supposedly speeding on a secluded road and an officer tried to pull him over. Werts was uncomfortable in the situation, called 911, and drove to a more populated location followed by police. When he did pull over, he explained why he didn’t stop immediately.

Our finest officers then scraped bird shit off his car hood, put it in their field kits, claimed it tested positive as cocaine, and arrested him. Werts told the officers it was bird shit but they weren’t going to put up with that excuse. Later, when subjected to a real laboratory test, the substance turned out not to be cocaine, what a surprise.

Here’s what really happened. A young black man was rightly afraid for his life when the police pulled him over for speeding. That alone is sad testament to the reality in which we live. He was also likely afraid they’d plant drugs on him because that’s also is a reality of the world. So, he forced the officers to follow him to a less secluded location. That pissed off the officers. They decided they wanted to punish him. They found the flimsiest of excuses to harass him. Did the bird shit actually test positive in the field kit? Who knows, field kits and drug sniffing dogs are notoriously unreliable.

This situation was simply officers abusing their authority to harass someone who did something they didn’t like. If you’re a minority living in this country, you aren’t at all surprised by this. If you’re not a minority you probably don’t even believe it happens, you’re mad at me, and will write nasty comments about how I hate police.

This is the War on Drugs. An excuse to harass citizens, steal from them, put them in prison, and be a general bully. This behavior has effectively alienated law enforcement from the communities they are trying to serve. I’ve written before how this is a tragic situation both for citizens and police so I won’t reiterate.

What does it say when police scrape bird shit off the hood of a car in order to harass people they don’t like? What does it say that we put up with drug detecting field kits that mistake bird shit for cocaine, that is if we don’t just assume the officers were lying?

Close your eyes to the travesty that is the War on Drugs and reap the consequences.

Tom Liberman

Anand and Kramnik or Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anand and Kramnik

In the chess world, which I enjoy although about which I’m aware my loyal fans are somewhat less enthusiastic, there is an interesting dichotomy in the behavior of two former world champions, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand. Anand is still playing top level chess while Kramnik decided to give up competitive chess. Whose decision is right and whose is wrong?

It is certain one must be a good decision while the other is bad because they are in opposition to each other. Is it proper to continue to play chess competitively when you were once world champion but have little or no chance of once against ascending those dizzying heights? Kramnik is five years younger than Anand but decided he’d had enough, while Anand is still playing and doing extremely well at top-level events.

Surely, we must decide one of the two is correct while the other made a terrible mistake. That is our job, after all. It is all but impossible that both adults are capable of making the best decision about their own life and that I shouldn’t be telling them how to go about living.

It’s impossible that Anand enjoys playing chess and feels he is a role-model for the many young Indian players who are making their presence known with some great chess. Therefore, the best decision for him was to keep playing the game he loves. No, I must inform him that his once greatness is gone and now, he must retire to save his dignity.

It is likewise quite clear that Kramnik, younger than Anand, still has some great chess in him. That just because he doesn’t enjoy playing as much and wants to pursue other avenues in his life is no reason to quit so young. I am just the person to tell him how to go about leading his life.

It’s impossible for mentally capable adults to make better decisions about their life than I can make for them. Frankly, I think the governments of India and Russia should interject themselves into this matter and pass a law forcing Anand to quit and Kramnik to return to the game. Or, wait, forcing them both to quit, or no, forcing them both to keep playing. Or something. We need government oversight; we need other people telling us how to lead our lives. Yes! I’m outraged at one of them, I’m not sure which, but there is wrongness here and it must be addressed! Who better to do it than me? Than the government?

Tom Liberman

Big Government Liberal Josh Hawley at it Again

Big Government

Once again big government liberals, Republicans that is, are proposing intrusive laws into an industry they barely understand. Senator Josh Hawley from my beloved home state of Missouri wants the federal government to tell Facebook how to arrange their page and limit you to thirty minutes of time on Facebook a day. Yay, saved by big government liberals again.

Hawley thinks endless scrolling and auto-playing advertisements play upon human addiction patterns and must be controlled by the government. His new bill in Congress goes so far as to force Facebook to inform you every thirty minutes that you’ve been on their site with a conspicuous pop-up, yes, I know, the bill rails against pop-ups but wants to enforce itself with pop-ups. Even if you specifically allow Facebook not to ban you after you’ve been on for more than thirty minutes, you’ll still get reminded about it if this law is passed.

Here is the reality about big government liberals. They are rampant in both the Republican and Democratic party and their goal is largely to legislate their perceived enemy out of business. Would you stand by if there was a law proposed about how many cigarettes you could smoke? How much alcohol you could drink in the privacy of your home? Why aren’t Hawley and his big government cohorts on board with sugary drink bans that play upon human addictions? Because the sugary drink companies aren’t in his crosshairs.

This is the problem with big government. It uses its power to attack perceived enemies rather than governing. This is why Libertarians rail against such, regardless of the good intentions espoused by the legislative branch. The more power we give government to control our personal lives, the more they will use it to hurt their foes, it matters not that they are Republicans or Democrats. There is only one party that largely wants to leave you to your own devices.

Libertarians trust you to spend as much time on Facebook as you want. They trust you to smoke as many cigarettes as you want, to drink as much alcohol and soda as you want, to purchase as many loot boxes in video games as you want; even if doing so is unhealthy or unwise. It’s your money, it’s your life, it’s your time; not mine. I absolutely do not know better how you should you lead your life than you do yourself. That’s the mantra we should all embrace. That’s the kind of women and men we should elect to avoid big government liberals of all political stripes taking away our freedom.

Cling to your big government party all you want, that’s your business, but don’t come crying to me when it’s your freedom they decide to take.

Tom Liberman

Fake Guacamole on the Rise Because of High Priced Avocados

Fake Guacamole

If you’re like me, you love guacamole and avocados. Yum. The price for avocados is skyrocketing and this is causing a lot of pain in restaurants who use the delicious fruit in various dishes. It strikes particular hard for Mexican establishments who tend to use it across a wide array of menu items but other restaurants are suffering as well. What do they do? Use other ingredients and create Fake Guacamole.

If you weren’t against tariffs because you’re a freedom loving Libertarian who promotes open and free trade then this phrase almost certainly hits somewhere most likely even more important, your stomach. The very words Fake Guacamole should be as rage inducing as trying to Get Over It. Ok, that’s a video game reference and sometimes I just can’t help but let my inner nerd out for all to see. Well, actually, it’s pretty much always on display but I won’t get sidetracked from my mission to free you from Fake Guacamole.

I’ve written about why protectionism hurts consumers far more than it helps those industries it purports to protect so I won’t reiterate here. The results are plain to see. Avocados cost a lot more today because tariffs have exacerbated a poor harvest and increasing demand. Today’s issue is the sort of punch to the gut that I think economic philosophy and Libertarian ideology don’t impart. You, the consumer, have most likely eaten Fake Guacamole in the last few months. You are certainly paying more for what avocados you still purchase although it’s almost certain you’ve cut down on that particularly delightful and healthy food.

This is the direct result of policies that promote protectionism and their attendant tariffs. How does it feel to know you’ve been tricked? That you’ve been served something under false pretenses because politically motivated economic policies forced the restaurant to do so in order to survive? Perhaps you think it’s worth it, that the trade off is worth the horror of fake guacamole. I disagree because I see no benefit from the policies of protectionism. They are merely political rallying points to inspire a group of citizens who are not happy with the direction of government.

If you are not happy with where our government is going, more bad policies are not going help. Things are hardly perfect in the United States but don’t let that encourage you to vote for politicians who enact policies detrimental both in the short and long term. Don’t let your rabble be raised in negative ways. Demand good decisions from your leaders with your votes. They’ll listen, I promise.

Free trade means cheaper avocados and real guacamole. How can you be against that?

Tom Liberman

Why You Throw Like a Girl is both Wrong and Right

Throw like a Girl

I was watching a Reality Television show called Southern Charm when Chelsea Meissner erupted at a male cast member who was having a meltdown. She said something along the lines of check your pants for a vagina and I’ve got a bigger penis than you. Meissner, as you might imagine, has more than a bit of There’s Something About Mary in her. In any case, it got me thinking.

Meissner did not intend to denigrate women but the phrases she used most certainly did. On the baseball diamond it was not unheard of to say, and I’m as guilty as anyone: You throw like a girl. What is meant is not that girls throw badly but the person in question is not good at throwing. The reality is it insults women and makes negative assumptions about their throwing ability.

In the same way Meissner was subtly, although I’m sure unconsciously, suggesting men are better adults than women. Her point was the male cast member was throwing a temper tantrum like a small child and that he couldn’t handle even the slightest bit of adversity without falling apart. This was absolutely true. She was accurate in her assessment but the phrase she used is clearly denigrating toward women in general. That’s the problem.

We have a culture of terminologies that make clearly false gender assumptions, particularly in this modern day and age when women, in progressive countries at least, are finally being given all the same opportunities as men and proving, over and over again, they are equally capable.

What’s to be done about it? I think it’s important to come up with new phrases that will, hopefully, slowly enter the culture. We can easily find ways to make our point without insulting one gender or the other. Instead of you throw like a girl we can simply say you don’t throw well. If we want a bit of color, I’m sure there are ways to make the phrases both appealing and gender neutral. You throw like a penguin perhaps. I’m sure someone else can do better.

It’s got to be a conscious effort. I have to stop complimenting a person’s boldness by tying it to the size of her or his testicles, non-existent though they may be. You have to do the same. It takes time, these changes, but it can be done with a concerted and honest effort. When you say something that denigrates a gender unfairly, you are setting an example. Try to be better, I am.

Tom Liberman

State of Missouri Enforces Start Date for School

School Start Date

My home state of Missouri just voted in a new law that forces local school districts to start their year no earlier than fourteen days before the first Monday of September. The basic idea is to extend the summer vacation so families will spend more on tourism. Here’s the problem. It should be up to the school district and their duly elected board to make that decision. If school board members want to have year-round education, that’s their business and they are accountable to the voters in their region.

It’s interesting, although unsurprising, to note that Missouri is dominated by small government Republican politicians and governor Mike Parson is part and parcel of that group. Their excuse, as usual, is it’s for the children. We want to help families spend more time together in summer. If you’ll excuse my crass language, nonsense. Someone convinced politicians an early start date cut into revenue and therefore they want to force local communities away from such.

In addition, the old rules allowed for school districts to start earlier if they gave notice and held a vote, the new rule prevents them from starting early for any reason. This is big, intrusive government in action.

This is exactly what the Constitution of the United States was designed to prevent. Those rights not given to government by the Constitution are reserved to the States or the People. That’s the Tenth Amendment and its meaning is very clear to this Libertarian. Those closest to the situation must have the right to pass their own laws. A school district can start sessions on any date it desires and the board members are then held accountable by local voters.

When the state steps in to enforce their rules onto local municipalities the voters have much less say in the matter. I’m sure there are many parents angry at their State Representatives and Senators over this action but a vote against such takes on a much broader range of issues. The school board is directly responsible for the operation of the school and local voters are in the best position to affirm or reject their decisions. The further removed we become from the local, the less likely we are to get a result in line with voter desires.

Now, to be certain, this means if a school board wanted to have a one-day school year because the majority of members didn’t believe in education, I would support their right to make such a foolish decision.

The freedom to be a moron is an important freedom. The state should not, and frankly cannot, protect us from our own stupidity. The state certainly should not be making school decisions for us when the main rational for doing so is financially motivated. Which is exactly what the Republican led legislature of Missouri just did.

Tom Liberman

The Resignation of Sir Kim Darroch does No One Any Good

Sir Kim Darroch

Recently some messages from the former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, were leaked to the public and the resulting chain of events are an interesting study in diplomacy, secrecy, and foreign relations.

There are a number of problems with the events as they came to pass that may or may not have long term repercussions on the way the world’s powers deal with one another. As an ambassador it is important to report back honest assessments to your superiors. Then they can make informed decisions about the future. If an ambassador reports a rosy picture or a bleak picture that doesn’t match up with their understanding of the situation, bad decisions are the likely result.

Imagine for a moment you are about to make a major purchase. Someone you trust gives you all sorts of information but it turns out much of that is inaccurate. Maybe it was what they thought you wanted to hear, perhaps it was done at the behest of the manufacturer of the item in question, maybe the person so reporting just can’t be counted on to give an accurate assessment. The result is the same in all cases. You make a major purchase lacking truthful knowledge. Maybe it turns out to be a fine purchase but the chances it turns out to be a mistake are much higher.

That’s the problem with what just happened with Darroch. The information he sent back was his honest opinion of the situation but because it was leaked to the public, his position with the mercurial President Trump became untenable. He could no longer do his job satisfactorily.

This leads us to the results of what happened. Will the next ambassador be less likely to paint a negative picture if there is a chance her or his job is on the line? She or he might lose their salary which pays for the food on the table? This is not just about England and the United States but all ambassadors. What if an ambassador for the United States was removed from her or his position in a volatile region and replaced with someone who, out of fear of losing her or his job, reported nothing but good news? I think you can see how this adversely affects our nation.

We live in an age where information like that revealed in the Darroch situation is more and more likely to be released. Such situations are increasingly common which, it seems to me, have a chilling impact on the ability of nations to accurately understand each other and make proper political and strategic decisions.

What’s to be done about it? No easy answers to that one, at least not from me. Once something like that is released, it cannot be easily ignored. Even if Darroch stayed in his position it is likely those who dealt with him on a regular basis would change their behavior to account for his assessments. Certainly, President Trump is a childish and vindictive man but so too are other world leaders.

The idea the world would be a better place if we were all completely open and honest with one another is utter nonsense. Some things need to be left unsaid to the person’s face in order to get along. It is in all our best interest if nations get along well with one another. The world is a better place when men like Darroch are allowed to do their difficult jobs and make their reports in secret.

My final conclusion? It’s a bad situation and I’m sorry it happened.

Tom Liberman

Wesley So and the Question of Pragmatism over Glory

Wesley So

Today was an interesting day in the chess world when Wesley So decided on a pragmatic course of action when he had an opportunity for glorious victory. It was a complicated decision with a number of factors but I thought it was the correct choice; I am interested in what other people think. Let me explain.

There is a chess event called the Grand Chess Tour in which the top players in the world compete in a series of individual tournaments. The top four point getters in all the tournaments advance to a big money final. Each of the tournaments themselves have significant prizes for finishing in the top spots. Wesley So was invited to participate even though he had a relatively subpar chess season the previous year. He is considered one of the weakest players in the event. Weak being relative, he is a fantastic chess player by any standard.

In the first stop of the tour he did reasonably well, fourth out of ten players, and is having an excellent tournament in the second stop, this is where he made his pragmatic decision.

The current stop on the Grand Chess Tour, Croatia, has more points available to get into the finals than other events because of the format. It also has a somewhat different structure than other tournaments in that the players play eleven games in twelve days with only a single rest day after the sixth game.

Wesley So is doing exceptionally well. Going into the penultimate round he was in clear second place behind only World Champion Magnus Carlsen who is playing some of the best chess of his career. He was also a full point ahead of several players who were tied for third place. In a chess game you get half a point for a draw, 1 point for a win, and 0 points for a loss.

This situation means if he drew the game against Carlsen it almost certainly guaranteed Wesley So would finish the tournament in second place. This finish would gain him significantly more money and points than finishing tied for third or worse, a distinct possibility if he lost the game against Carlsen.

Wesley So was playing with the white pieces which is considered an advantage and generally speaking the player with white is the aggressor and the player with black is trying to draw the game, although this is certainly not absolute.

I know I’ve spent considerable time setting up the question but I think it’s important that we weigh all the factors, overall Grand Chess Tour position, individual event position, general fatigue, the state of Carlsen’s play, etc.

In any case, Wesley So played a relatively passive game and quickly settled for a draw with Carlsen. This almost guaranteed him second place in the tournament and also allowed him to rest up for the final round of a tournament in which fatigue certainly plays a role.

Many people are being critical of this decision, they think he had a chance to win the tournament and he should have gone all out, even though doing so against an in-form Carlsen was extremely dangerous. Wesley So weighed the benefits of drawing against the negative potential of losing and decided the former was the wiser course of action. I happen to agree with him but I can see the other point of view.

So, what do you think?

Should Wesley So have gone for Glory or was a Pragmatic Draw the right decision?

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Tom Liberman

Nike and the Patriotic Shoe Flap

Patriotic Shoe

There’s a ridiculous news story flapping in the wind that gives me a chance to wax poetic about patriotic behavior, moral relativism, and general Libertarian ideology. It centers on the Nike company pulling a shoe with an old American flag on it. So-called patriotic politicians and others are slamming Nike for doing so, Nike’s reasoning being that a Nazi group has used that same symbol for their own rallies.

It’s an interesting situation because for the greater part of the history of the United States it was considered quite unpatriotic and disrespectful to wear the American flag on clothing. When the hippies in the 1960’s starting doing so it was the very same “patriotic” politicians, who today criticize Nike, then lambasting the counter-culture individuals for their horrible behavior. This displays, in no uncertain terms, moral relativism.

Basically, the idea of putting the American flag on clothing has gone from being unpatriotic to patriotic over the course of about fifty years. It’s interesting that those who most vehemently claimed it was disrespectful and unpatriotic now equally disparage Nike for not marketing the shoe. This is moral relativism. What was once immoral, or unpatriotic in this case, is now quite moral and patriotic. Wearing the American flag on your clothing is a symbol of being a patriot.

Another issue this particular flap bring to the forefront is the ideology of small government. For many years it was the mantra of the Republican party that government should not be involved in business decisions, or at least that involvement should be kept to a minimum. Meanwhile, Democrats insisted that government was necessary to curb the excesses of business leaders. Obviously, it is now Republicans threatening Nike with repercussions for their business decisions and Democrats insisting Nike should be allowed to do as they want.

For a Libertarian the answer is simple. Nike can make whatever decision they want and the governor of Arizona and the leader of the U.S. Senate are clearly big government Liberals in sheep’s clothing. Don’t like it? Reality hurts. The root problem stems from all the incentives businesses take from government in the first place which then gives said officials the feeling they have the right to tell companies how they should go about running their business. It seems simple to me, get out of it altogether. No tax breaks, no incentives, sink or swim on your business decisions.

Finally, as to the groups using the thirteen-star flag symbol to promote hatred and violence. Last I checked, this is a free country although perhaps I need to check again. They can use whatever symbol they want. Nike can market whatever shoe they want. People can wear whatever clothes they want. It’s not my business and it most certainly is not the government’s business.

Tom Liberman

Government Bans Vaping for Teens Because it is Popular

Vaping

The various states and municipalities across the country are quite busy enacting laws to ban vaping for people under the age of 21. The federal government has gotten involved as well, regulating it as if it was a tobacco product. These laws are largely being enacted because of the rise in popularity of vaping among teenagers.

Let’s be very clear about what municipalities, states, and the federal government are doing: vaping is popular and therefore we are making it a crime to do. We’re not yet willing to start yet another War on Drugs by banning it for adults but we must protect the poor, deluded and innocent children. It is our job as politicians to tell parents they can’t let their children vape. It is our job as politicians to tell nineteen and twenty-year old, legal adults, we know better for them then they do themselves.

Is vaping bad for you? The evidence is still out for non-tobacco products but the use of tobacco is clearly unhealthy as is the use of alcohol. The question becomes if it is acceptable for the various levels of government to decide for your children what they should and shouldn’t be doing in that regard.

As you might be able guess, in general I’m opposed to such bans from an ideological point of view. I’m for the legalization of all drugs but the question becomes a little bit stickier when we are talking about people not legally competent, children in this case. I’m clearly and unreservedly against laws preventing adults from knowingly and eagerly ingesting whatever substance they want, even if it is unhealthy.

The government does have some responsibility to protect children but that largely should be invoked when parents are abusive or irresponsible. It is largely a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child behaves in particular ways. When we involve law enforcement officers, we are making an enormous problem for ourselves, one that dwarfs the issue it is designed to prevent.

Imagine, fanciful as it might seem, a nineteen-year-old wants to vape and her or his parents have no problem with it. We are now making that person a criminal. Law enforcement must now arrest and steal from, that is to say fine, that person.

In addition, we are potentially legislating a business into bankruptcy with all its attendant casualties. We don’t like vaping and therefore we shall attempt to remove a category of consumers from being able to purchase and use the product. This has an enormous impact on the vendors, suppliers, retail outlets, transporters, and varied other players.

All laws are not bad but we must balance the freedom they take from us and the harm they do against the benefit they promise. In this case I see some benefit, it is certain less teens will vape if there is a law against such. I also see harm in the criminality that will be spawned and the black markets that will certainly arise to sell such products to teens. I absolutely oppose the idea nineteen and twenty-year-old women and men are unable to make informed decisions about their vaping habits.

I shouldn’t be telling them to vape or not to vape and neither should the government.

Tom Liberman

Clean Energy Revolution not Fueled by Government

Clean Energy v Coal

About ten or so years ago a friend of mine told me with absolute certainty that Clean Energy would never amount to more than two percent of the United States energy needs and that I was an idiot for saying otherwise. Well, in April 2019 clean energy accounted for a greater percentage of our energy than did coal. Bub, you were wrong and will continue to be more wrong with every passing year.

I’m not here to gloat about my clean energy predictions but to talk about how this revolution is happening not because of government but in spite of it. Various groups have long promoted solar, wind, and natural gas as better sources for energy because they don’t cause nearly the pollution as generated by coal. To hasten this transition of energy away from coal, such people advocated massive government encouragement, read tax breaks and subsidies, to the purveyors of clean energy. I argued that instead of subsidizing clean energy, we should simply stop doing so for coal and oil.

President Obama and the democrats largely agreed with the sentiments expressed by the clean energy crowd. They implemented plans to help spread the use of such energy and had some successes and some failures.

Enter President Trump. He essentially has the opposite plan. He wants to encourage the use of coal and dispense with helping clean energy. He has had some successes and some failures in his plans.

The reality of the situation is quite easy to see from any graph showing production associated with coal and clean energy in the last twenty years. Coal rarely dropped below 150 gigawatt-hours of energy prior to 2010. Now they never even reach this level and it is unlikely to ever rise that high again. The trend is obvious but what is driving it?

I’m happy to tell you; capitalism completely disassociated from government. Investors, builders, and entrepreneurs have no desire to invest in coal-based plants because there is more money to be made from clean energy power plants. If you’re mining coal, working at a coal-fired plant, hauling coal on the railroad, or doing anything associated with coal; start making plans to do something else. Not today, not tomorrow, but eventually; capitalism is talking and it’s not mincing words.

The most important thing to understand is this is all good and natural, as was the rise of coal in the first place. If government just stayed out of the energy business altogether, we’d likely be much further along in this process. If you enjoy breathing air and drinking water, you should be sad we are not.

Did the Obama era clean energy policies help promote them? Certainly. Have the Trump era coal energy policies helped extend the coal era? Certainly. Neither has a chance against the true forces of capitalism. Stop subsidizing energy altogether. It’s best for all of us.

Tom Liberman

Human Trafficking and David Miscavige of the Church of Scientology

David Miscavige

There is a story breaking about a woman suing the Church of Scientology and its chairman, David Miscavige for, among other things, sex trafficking. I’m convinced this lawsuit was spurred by the conviction of NVIXM founder Keith Raniere over similar charges.

I wrote a blog back in April of 2018 about why charging Raniere and his associates with a crime for their sex cult activities was a bad idea and the subsequent conviction and this lawsuit further hardens my position. Basically, if anyone, for any reason, stays somewhere where perhaps they don’t really want to stay, they are going to be able to bring charges against whatever entity convinced them to stay.

I would guess your first reaction would be this is a good thing. No one should be convinced to stay somewhere they don’t want to stay. However, I don’t think there is an organization in the country where someone hasn’t been talked into or threatened in some way in order to make them stay. It is common behavior for a church to threaten anyone who is thinking about leaving with ostracization from the religious community. Anyone who decides to stay in the church to avoid such is now a victim of human trafficking in accordance to the way those ridiculous laws were written. The church is liable and the leaders, like Miscavige, are subject to imprisonment.

It’s not just churches, it’s virtually every voluntary organization in the world. People will always have doubts about continuing to be a member of such groups and if they are told about certain consequences should they choose to leave, it can easily be construed as a threat and thus subject to these poorly imagined laws that are on the books in virtually every state in the nation.

Don’t get me wrong, if someone is physically restrained, drugged into submission, blackmailed, or otherwise coerced into staying; there should be an investigation to see if the law was broken. That being said, the way human trafficking laws are currently written, being interpreted, and enforced, I doubt there is a single one of us who hasn’t been so victimized.

Is it possible a group of mean girls from the local junior high might be thrown in prison for threatening to refuse another girl entry into some social group if she refuses to join their clique? You may laugh but that’s where we are heading and it is why we must be so careful not to legislate morality.

If someone wants to be a sex slave, or work long hours for some nonsense religious organization like that of Miscavige; that’s their business. Not yours. Not mine. Not the governments.

Tom Liberman

Reggie Bush and the Detroit Lions Cheap Misleading Headline

Reggie Bush Misleading Headline

An article from Lions Wire, a news outlet associated with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, claims: Reggie Bush takes shot at Lions, calls them cheap. Is it true or is just typical clickbait nonsense? I’m guessing you might already know the answer because this is an article in my Misleading Headline series but I’ll go ahead and finish the job.

The story is relatively simple. There was an image displaying Bush and fellow running back Joique Bell celebrating as teammates on the Detroit Lions. Bush tweeted the image with his own comment that “And then we got cut because they wanted to go cheaper.” It’s a factually true statement. The Lions were interested in cutting payroll because of the salary cap demands in the NFL. They drafted younger players and cut both Bush and Bell.

The move didn’t work out particularly well for the Lions in that the new running backs were not nearly as productive as Bush and Bell. That is somewhat beside the point. Bush didn’t say the Lions were cheap. He said they made a football decision based on payroll. Nor do I even think it was much of a shot at the Lions.

I can’t know for sure what Bush was thinking but I imagine he saw the picture and remembered the next season he was cut from the team in a payroll savings move and commented accurately upon this fact. Maybe he is bitter about it but, in this case, I think he was merely stating a fact rather than taking a shot at anyone.

Tom Liberman

Saint Louis Blues and Soccer Players Behaving Badly

Blues

Recently, the sporting world brought us St. Louis Blues fans a Stanley Cup Championship and the soccer world in general the ongoing Women’s World Cup. A couple of incidents involving the Blues and U.S. Women’s National Team got me to thinking about bad behavior and our reaction to it.

First my hometown St. Louis Blues are up. They won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their existence and there was a large parade in downtown St. Louis with an enormous crowd. When the various dignitaries and players made their victory speeches on stage it was largely a slurring, expletive filled affair. This with a young Blues fan on the stage and many more in the audience.

Meanwhile, the USWNT won their 2019 World Cup Debut in overwhelming fashion defeating a badly overmatched Thailand team 13-0. As the score mounted so did the celebrations of the players after each goal to the point it became, as with the slurring and swearing Blues players, distasteful.

Were the Blues vile and disgusting in their words and actions? Were the USWNT players gross and unsporting in theirs? That’s the question I ask today. The answer is nuanced. The Blues won the Stanley Cup and have well-earned the right to celebrate any way they desire. The USWNT defeated an opponent by a large amount and have every right to enjoy each goal with whatever enthusiasm they want. However, I have every right to find both instances distasteful.

My opinion is mine to have and their actions are theirs to take. That’s the main point here. Some people found the celebrations to be perfectly acceptable and reasonable and they can absolutely think that way. It doesn’t change my opinion of events; no do I expect to change anyone else’s mind with my own thoughts. I think what I think.

I’m certainly open to hearing why people didn’t find the celebrations offensive. They can try to convince me all they want but they can’t tell me how to think, that’s my job. Just as I can’t tell the players how to behave on stage or on the field of play. I can’t tell you how to think, I can only present my thoughts on the subject, if you find them persuasive that’s great, if not, that’s fine also.

It’s a big person world out there and you’re not going to find everyone’s opinions or actions to your liking. Go right ahead and tell them you don’t like it but don’t expect them to change.

Yes, I found both instances unsavory. I don’t approve of the actions of the soccer players or the hockey players. That’s me.

Tom Liberman

What the Sausage and Whiskey Experts Taught Me

Sausage and Whiskey

I’ve recently watched a couple of videos of Epicurious experts trying to guess whether a particular food or beverage, sausage and whiskey, item is expensive or cheap and the passion and knowledge of the people trying to speculate struck me quite powerfully. What I noticed was they were extremely accepting of the lesser product even while praising what they thought was the more expensive.

The sausage expert and the whiskey expert were correct in their assessments each time but it was their passion that really stood out to me. Particularly when confronted with something that wasn’t to their taste, the sausage expert judging a meatless product for example.

In every single case, they were looking for good things in the products rather than dwelling on what they disliked. They were happy to recommend the lower quality product as a less expensive option for those without their own exacting standards. They were not offended by a lower quality product nor did they feel the need to denigrate it excessively to show off their expertise.

Certainly, they spoke about why one product appeared to them to be of a higher quality and went into detail about what made one potentially more expensive and better tasting than the other. They spoke about ways that distillery and sausage makers go about producing lower quality products without denigrating or insulting.

I think this is at great odds with what we see in the regularity of our life. Our televisions sets are filled with people telling us how awful is someone else or some other product. The comment sections on news stories are absolutely bursting with self-important people railing against perceived slights. I must admit to you that I’ve done the same although, having watched the Epicureans, I think I’m going to focus more on the positive in the future. That doesn’t mean to say I will ignore things that are bad or wrong, just that I will try to spend more time on what positives can be taken from the situations.

The question I must ask myself is; why am I so angry at things that have little or no affect on me? Why do I feel the need to hurl personal and nasty insults? Is this behavior more a reflection of my own shortcomings than of the offensive product or person?

Yes, a friend posted a rather stupid meme but can I point that out without being insulting? Can I productively mention why I think it’s wrong? I think I do this to some degree although I certainly have my lapses. If someone hurls an insult at me, can I shrug and understand that is more a reflection of their own issues than anything about me?

I like to think I can improve and the next time I feel the red haze rising, I’ll try to think of the sausage expert kindly and with great gentility, reviewing the meatless product.

As for you, that’s your business.

Tom Liberman

Why it is not a Good Idea to Prosecute Political Foes

Prosecute Political Foes

There is a mood among Democrats to prosecute President Trump after he leaves office for activities which they deem illegal. I want to be clear, it is a terrible idea to prosecute political foes. This very activity brought about the end of the Roman Republic and it’s quite easy to understand why.

Julius Caesar was governor of Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy), Illyricum (southeastern Europe), and Transalpine Gaul (southern France) for a term of five years. During this time, he engaged in enormous conquest and, almost certainly, illegal behavior. After his term of five years ended, he was ordered to return to Rome, ostensibly to face charges for his crimes while governor.

Without political power, Caesar was largely left with two choices. He could submit to the new government and almost certainly be imprisoned if not executed and have his money taken from him. His other option was to take dictatorial power for himself to avoid these consequences. He chose the latter. It’s difficult to blame him for doing so.

It is almost certain President Trump has committed any number of crimes while in office, he seems to think any law that thwarts his fickle mood of the moment is something to be ignored. Many of his political allies and appointments are equally cavalier with the rule of law. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if documents of his activities were obtained, they would show a penchant for illegal activity. A conviction is all but assured. Many of his allies would also end up in prison and lose their riches.

Naturally, they don’t want this to happen and would resort to whatever means required to prevent it from happening, as did Caesar. Their loyal supporters would likely behave with the same goals in mind.

How do we prevent this? Simply don’t prosecute political foes for their oft-illegal activities after they leave office. Let them go on about their way as much as you hate to see them “getting away” with criminal activity.

It seems to me to be unnecessary to remind supporters of Trump their own culpability in the current Democratic led prosecute political foes fervor but I suspect I must. The entire “Lock Her Up” movement and attempts to criminally prosecute Obama and Clinton allies is part and parcel of the reason Democrats are so riled up. In other words, look in the mirror, bitches.

We have a system in the United States which allows us to rid ourselves of politicians we don’t like. It’s called an election. Let’s focus on that.

Tom Liberman

The Perils of an Odd Sense of Humor

Odd Sense of Humor

I have an odd sense of humor. This cannot be denied. It’s likely part and parcel of my membership on the Spectrum, as we say these days. This quirk of mine once again took me into the headlights of peril when I attempted to make a joke about a meme that was superficial and failed to take into account the complexities of a difficult issue. Well, I mean, that pretty much describes all memes but back to my odd sense of humor.

The meme was about how success was like an iceberg and that you only saw the results rather than all the things that went into obtaining that success. It reminded me, with my odd sense of humor, of a Rodney Dangerfield classic called Back to School. In that movie Dangerfield plays wealthy industrialist Thornton Melon who goes back to college to inspire his underperforming son.

Stay with me, I’m getting there. The two take a business class in which the professor plans to build a factory to produce widgets. The proposal of the professor is idealistic and doesn’t take into account real world issues like corrupt politicians, unions, and the waste management industry. Melon interrupts the lecture to give a hilarious speech about these realities.

Now, back to my world. Having seen the idealistic meme about success and remembering the movie; I decided to riff a comment along similar lines. In a moment of clarity, rare to me, I recognized that, perhaps, people might not understand my odd sense of humor and even included the bit about waste management and the boy scouts figuring that such an inclusion would certainly let everyone know I was joking. Yeah, that worked.

The original poster called me cruel names, a friend came to my defense claiming I retired early, this being true, although I’m not sure how such excuses my comment, but thank you in any case, Lisa. Another friend chimed in to point out how insightful was my comment.

No one got the joke. Sigh.

The important part of all of this is that the original poster was angry and that’s his business. A friend came to my defense and that’s her business. Another friend agreed with my comment failing to recognize it as humor and that is also her decision.

I’m the one that told the, apparently not funny, joke and that’s on me. I feel no remorse for attempting the humor nor am I angry at the person for not getting the joke and calling me names. It’s all just fine. Everyone is good. Life goes on. There is no need to escalate, to blame, to return the name calling, or relish in some sense of superiority because I convince myself I’m better than others.

I’m happy with where I’m at in life, odd sense of humor and all. You be you and that’s cool also.

Tom Liberman

Why Call it an All-Star Game when Fans Vote?

All-Star Game

The title of the blog pretty much sums up my question. If we’re going to call it an All-Star Game, then why are we letting fans vote for the players? This is a situation that caught my attention even when I was a young boy while filling out All-Star Ballots at Busch Stadium for my beloved home town St. Louis Cardinals. I would vote for who I thought was the best player at each position but most of the people around me voted for all Cardinals.

It comes to my attention again because in the International League, a Triple A affiliate of Major League Baseball, an outfielder with an average of .155, 1 home run, 14 runs batted in, who is at the bottom of the league in four offensive statistics, and is also a pretty poor defensive player has a chance to make the team. His name, you won’t be surprised to learn, is Tim Tebow.

I don’t mean to pick on Tebow here. It’s certainly not his fault people are voting for him. Nor am I particularly upset at the fans who are doing so. They want to see Tebow in the All-Star game and are making their decision known. This is the same reason Paige Spiranac keeps getting invites to LPGA events. My question is that which I’ve stated already, why call it an All-Star game when it’s a popular election?

If the fans want to see Tebow and Spiranac, more power to them. There’s nothing wrong with doing it that way. The fan votes in the International League are not the final arbiter but count only as a percentage of the final decision as to whom to include. In the Major League All-Star game, the fans only choose the starters, the managers pick the rest of the lineup.

Still, the fact we call it an All-Star game bothers me. All-Star would specify the best players in the league, the stars. Anything that includes a fan vote is most likely going to be more of a popularity contest than an actual showcase of the league’s most talented players. Not to say there isn’t a great deal of overlap, just that the two are clearly not the same.

Every year older players in the twilight of their career make the team instead of their younger and statistical superior counterparts. This observation of mine is nothing earth shattering.

The Most-Popular Game doesn’t quite have the mystique of the All-Star game but has the advantage of being closer to the truth.

What do you think?

Should we call it the Most-Popular Game instead of All-Star Game?

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Tom Liberman