Papis – Skeen NASCAR Ruckus – Is Equal really Equal?

Max PapisThere’s an interesting story in the sports world this morning involving NASCAR truck racing and two drives, Max Papis and Mike Skeen. There was some hard racing in which the two collided but it’s the events after the race that are garnering all the attention.

A woman associated with Skeen verbally accosted Papis and eventually gave him a hard slap on the jaw. Prior to that a crew member who works for Skeen attempted to assault Papis while he was still in his truck. This followed verbal exchanges between Papis and Skeen which included Skeen driving his truck into Papis’s truck.

There is some background here in that Papis is a veteran driver and Skeen is a less well-known and that, according to the comments I read from what appear to be knowledgeable fans, the accident was primarily the fault of Skeen. These factors don’t really effect what I’m going to talk about but I think they are worth noting.

The reason this story is making news is because of the woman hits man angle; but what I want to discuss is more about the double-standard that sometimes exist between men and women.

It is clear that if Papis had struck the woman there would be tremendous outrage. There is some talk about charging the woman with assault and Papis claims his jaw was dislocated but he doesn’t seem to be in a mood to press charges. He simply walked away, a rather bemused expression on his face. If instead, he had hit her back, he would likely be attacked by fans and the media despite the fact that he was hit first.

This is the double-standard. A woman can slap a man and it’s not considered a big deal but the reverse is a major transgression.

A real man does not hit a woman. That’s a man-law that everyone I grew up with understood and in the rough and tumble world of NASCAR I’d imagine the drivers were raised the same way.

Does equal rights mean equal rights? That’s the question. If a woman wants to be treated as an equal should she be treated as an equal in all things or are women being hypocrites?

I’m all for equal rights. I think everyone should have a fair opportunity in life but that doesn’t, in my opinion, mean that men and women are equal in all things. It means that they should have equal opportunities. Men are bigger and stronger than women on average. Now, there are plenty of women in the world who could beat my 5′ 7.5″ 160 lb frame to a pulp but that’s not my point.

Women get pregnant. Men can be kicked below the belt. Men and women are different from each other physically. Men, as the bigger and stronger of the two sexes, have certain codes of behavior. One of those is that you don’t hit a woman. There are exceptions of course but I’m talking in more general terms.

I’m not excusing the woman in this case. She was completely and totally out of line but not so much as if it had been a man hitting a woman in similar circumstances. Does this make me a chauvinist? Misogynistic?

One of the problems that women face when they declare their desire for equal rights is being treated equally, like a man. I think there’s a middle ground, that women can still be treated as the fair sex, as delicate flowers, with respect; but given equal access to jobs, equal pay.

I have to say, when women act like this, they break down the social contract that men like Papis were taught. Don’t hit a woman. Ever.

It’s a difficult thing when equal isn’t really equal. I don’t think I’ve come up with any great epiphany today. My advice would be to treat women with respect but play hardball with them as well. In the boardroom men and women are equal. When it comes to fisticuffs, not so much.

I think Papis did the right thing and the woman should not be allowed in the pit area anymore but that’s the end of it.

Should the woman be charged with assault? Should Papis have hit her back? Did he show proper restraint? What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eNovel)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Natural Gas Production vs Reserves

Energy IndependenceThe United States is undergoing what some call a second energy boom although this time it is natural gas rather than oil. The process of Hydraulic Fracturing allows for the extraction of huge amounts of natural gas which can be used for energy. This boom is creating jobs and some controversy over the damage the process may do to the environment.

My topic of discussion today is not the potential danger or safety of the processes used to extract natural gas but the idea that the United States would be wise not to rely on this apparent boom as a means to end their energy dependence on foreign nations.

The United States currently is second in the world in production of natural gas pulling up 651 million cubic meters per year. This vast production has given many people the illusion that the United States has a limitless supply of natural gas with which to feed our massive energy demands. This is sadly, false. The United States is also the number one importer of natural gas in the world and the worse news is the names of the countries that have the most proven reserves of the gas circa 2008.

Here’s the list by rank: Iran, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and then the United States. Do the names on that list look familiar?

Russia, like the United States, is searching for and exploiting their reserves which amount to five times those of the United States but Iran has barely touched theirs. Venezuela has almost as much proven reserves as the United States but, being oil rich, has largely not exploited these reserves.

Here’s the problem from my perspective. If we rely on this resource we will end up dependent on countries like Russia and Iran to provide for our energy needs. This is not a good plan for the security of our country. Energy independence is a vital step in assuring our safety and indeed the security of the world. One of the reasons for the terrorism we see from the Middle East is our meddling in their affairs to obtain oil and the fact that money flows to these countries in exchange for said oil.

We should exploit our natural gas reserves. I’m for using our own resources. This gas is extremely useful in lessening our dependence on foreign nations for our energy demands in the short-term but the distribution of the resource indicates this will not last long.

The long-term answer to our energy needs lies in renewable resources and/or nuclear power. The feed-in tariff system used by Germany to encourage the use of these renewable resources seems extremely viable and is working well. One has to be careful because the same sort of system in Spain has caused problems; largely because the Spanish government reduced the cost of producing the energy too much and didn’t gradually lower the tariff as did Germany.

The world is slowly moving towards an energy grid wherein power is both cheap and readily available. If the United States refuses to move in the same direction we will fall behind in many ways. A nation that has huge reserves of power sells it to other countries accumulating massive amounts of money. This money can be used to influence the rest of the world. Cheap power means cheap production, cheap transportation, and inexpensive goods. The country with these things gains a tremendous advantage over other nations.

If we count on local coal, oil, and natural gas to meet our energy demands while other nations continue to build their potentially limitless renewable and nuclear options we will steadily lose our influence in the world. And again, don’t get me wrong; we should continue to explore for and use coal, oil, and natural gas. The days of cheap and abundant energy are not yet here. But they are coming and it would be wise to be ready for that time.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. It’s not “drill-baby-drill” at the expense of solar credits. It’s not an unsustainable renewable system with a moratorium on fossil-based energy. We are a great nation. We can and should do both.

A nation that has limitless energy has political power, military power, scientific power, influence. I’d like that nation to be the United States. Wouldn’t you?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Sword of Water (At $2.99 can you afford not to buy it?)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt