Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Rodgers

suh steps on rodgersThis past weekend in the NFL I saw my downtrodden St. Louis Rams end yet another losing season but I also witnessed one of the most despicable acts in sports that I’ve seen in many a year. There is some controversy over the play in question but I have no doubts.

Detroit Lion’s defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh stepped on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodger’s leg. Not such a big deal you say? I beg to differ.

Before I go on, I’d like to say that I’m no Cheesehead. The Lions are, like my Rams, the ugly step-child of the NFL. I watch as year after year the favored sons (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and New England) have every marginal call go their way. It’s infuriating as Rodgers gets away with rule-breaking that is called on whoever is quarterbacking the Rams. That being said I have a huge problem with what Suh did in the game.

Rodgers hurt his leg early in the game but returned to play. I may hate him for getting all the calls but there is no denying his toughness and talent. In the incident in question Suh stepped on Rodger’s hurt leg twice. At first glance of the replay it looks like it could easily have been accidental, it wasn’t. If you watch the incident closely you see that Suh only managed a glancing shot the first time and came back for more. The second time he paused, lifted his other foot, and pushed down with all his weight on Rodger’s calf. Rodger’s swats at Suh who then walks off apparently not realizing what has happened. Ha.

Here’s what happened and why I think it’s so horrible. Suh knew that Rodgers was injured. He knew that there would be an opportunity to hit the injured leg and he made his plans. When that opportunity arose he stepped backwards with cool and calculated nonchalance. He missed and took another crack at it. Then he pretended nothing happened and walked off feigning ignorance to the event. That is calculation, that is malice, that is intent to injure.

The natural reaction when accidentally stepping on an opponent is to immediately put the opposite foot on the ground and take weight off the standing foot. I played rugby, I was stepped on and stepped on others. When stepping that obviously on an opponent you know it. Suh knew it. There is no way he didn’t realize it but he pretended he didn’t. That’s a dead giveaway. Had he turned and feigned an apology I would have some doubt about if it was intentional or not. He didn’t do anything of the sort. He wanted to hurt Rodgers and he wanted to pretend it was unintentional.

Last week a teammate of Suh stomped an opponent in a fit of anger. I have no sympathy for Dominic Raiola but I at least understand rage. I’ve been angry and I’ve wanted to stomp an opponent for a moment before reason prevailed. But to plan, wait, and execute an attack like that with such cool disregard for another man’s livelihood? Disgusting.

Professional football is a tough game. I remember Stephen Jackson breaking his thumb and talking about how players on opposing teams squeezed it in pileups. I have a problem with that just as I have a problem with Suh. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with attacking an injured player’s weakness within the game. If Rodgers is having trouble running then adjust your pass rush to force him from the pocket. If you tennis opponent has a weak backhand, hit it to their backhand over and over and over again.

Suh has been suspended for one game for his actions which is the playoff game next week. Personally I think he got off too easily. There are plenty of opportunities to hit an opponent legally in the NFL. I don’t have a problem with players who go at it hard and to the phantom of the whistle. That’s the game. I cannot and will not excuse such a calculated and cool attack.

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

$10 Billion Gambling Loss?

Billion Loss Sheldon AdelsonThis week’s misleading headline isn’t particularly egregious in nature and anyone with a modicum of sense knew that the headline was steering people in the wrong direction even before clicking the story. Still, I picked it today because it is a classic example of someone writing a misleading headline to attract viewers when I think a more accurate headline would have done the job better.

1 Man Loses $10 Billion in Las Vegas screams the headline on the Yahoo news scroll although the article comes from the habitual headline abuser Motley Fool. It’s pretty easy to determine that no one could actually lose $10 billion gambling and the story must refer to investment losses. That’s the case. Sheldon Adelson is a casino owner who has attracted my ire in the past had a bad year money wise. He is leading the efforts to make sure offshore gambling stays illegal in the United States. It’s Crony Capitalism at its worst but that’s not my story today.

What I find most interesting about this headline is the choice to go with something misleading rather than the truth. Adelson is a divisive character who has spent heavily in various elections earning the ire of one party and the praise of the other. This alone makes his name a marketable headline. I think writing an accurate headline, Adelson loses $10 Billion or something of that ilk would have attracted more clicks than the misleading headline.

The misleading headline attempts to lure us in with a story of some ultra-rich person who lost the stated amount at the gambling tables. I suppose that is an interesting premise. What I think happened here is that the headline writer for Motley Fool, so accustomed to writing headlines that skirt or completely hide from the truth, simply fell back on old habits without thinking things completely through.

Anyway, it’s certainly not the worst misleading headline I’ve ever pointed out but I thought it was instructive nevertheless Why lie when the truth is more enticing? This is what happens when you practice bad habits. You risk making them part of your normal life and that’s not good.

Have a great Holiday Season and if you’ve got friends who love to read please think about spending $2.99 on one of my books. I think you’ll get real value for the price!

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


Rush Limbaugh and the James Bond Controversy

idris-elbaHuge news story hitting the world right now!

There is talk of replacing Daniel Craig as master British Secret Service Agent James Bond. Craig has done a masterful job of bringing back the edge to 007 after the series turned rather comedic with Roger Moore and those who followed. I’ve loved Craig as Bond and I’d be sorry to see him go. So what’s the big controversy?

One of the actors being considered to replace Bond is Idris Elba. Elba is a dashed handsome fellow from England with a good history of movies and television credits to his name. So what’s the problem? Rush Limbaugh thinks Elba should be disqualified from the role because he is a black man. Bond, James Bond, is white you see, at least according to Limbaugh.

I’ll dispel with any suspense about my opinion on this one. The actor who does the best in the audition and who the casting director and the director of the film think will do the job should be awarded the part. Anyone who says anything different doesn’t believe in capitalism. I’m talking to you, Rush. Racism? Maybe. Dirty, filthy, anti-objectivism – absolutely! To suggest that Elba should be disqualified from the role regardless of his ability to play it makes my blood boil! Out, out foul villain. Not in my house.

People argue that Bond is a fictional character and thus open to interpretation. Not relevant. I don’t care if it is a historical character. If a black man kills in an audition for Eleanor Roosevelt he should get the role. If a white man destroys in an effort to depict Ghandi, he should get it. Oh wait, he already did (well, half-white). If a ginger-haired, fair-skinned woman is best as Nelson Mandela then so be it. Anyone who says differently will face my wrath!

This is what Ayn Rand is talking about when she writes Atlas Shrugged. This is a meritocracy. This is the way the world should be. Whoever does something best should be rewarded. Limbaugh shows us here that he doesn’t believe in Rand, he doesn’t believe in capitalism, and that he is certainly not an Objectivist.

I see this so clearly. I know I’m right. I know Limbaugh and anyone who agrees with him is wrong. Dead wrong. That is the kind of thinking that holds back a society. Maybe we shouldn’t hire someone who does the best because they are a devout evangelical. Nope. Maybe we shouldn’t hire a woman to be head of our security department because women aren’t qualified? My advice? Hire the person best qualified under any and all circumstances. It’s your security!

I don’t even know what else to say to make my point. Hire the person best qualified. Period. Anything else is wrong.

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

North Korea and the Blame Game

North Korea Sony AttackNorth Korea is good for it. Or at least that’s what it appears to be in the Sony Hacking case.

I was watching this case from before it became major news and when word first started to leak about North Korea and the hack being related to the release of The Interview I was extremely skeptical. I thought it sounded like classic misdirection from whatever group actually perpetrated the hack.

Then the U.S. government got involved in the form of the FBI and they seemed pretty clear that North Korea was involved in the case. Oh well, I thought to myself, I was wrong. More good reason not to jump to conclusions and write blogs before all the information is available. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way in the past and I try to be cautious.

This morning a read a news story from one of the worst of the slanted journalism sites indicating that the blaming of the hack on North Korea was premature. Before you go thinking the Daily Beast has got their act together you might read this story from the same publication that demands the U.S. take action against North Korea for the hack. I’m not going to spend time today attacking or praising the Daily Beast for their regularly insane and irregularly sane articles. Today I want to talk about perception.

North Korea was good for it. There are not many people in the world who have a high opinion of North Korea and that is for excellent reasons. It is the worst totalitarian state in the world. Their record on human rights is abysmal. There is every reason to think they would do something terrible like this. They would certainly be on the list of suspects. What’s important is that all this is merely conjecture.

After reading the article in the Daily Beast I went searching for more articles and there seems to be a fairly general consensus that the FBI laid out the blame without the evidence necessary to do so. That there were other potential parties involved and the investigation seems to have stuck upon the few bits of evidence that supported their presupposed notion. I’ve written about this tendency in smaller and more domestic situation as recently as last week.

I find it predictable, but still disheartening, that law enforcement agencies as lofty as the FBI apparently fall prey to the same sort of investigative blindness. I’m not going to say that North Korea is blameless because I haven’t seen all the evidence. I certainly won’t say that North Korea is behind the attack. I think the question still remains up in the air.

I will toot my own horn. I was skeptical of the blame North Korea game the second I heard that the hackers didn’t want The Interview released. I still think so. It appeared obvious to me that this was a case of one group attempting to lead the authorities on a wild-goose chase by putting out misleading statements.

The real take that I get from the story is that you should always be cautious about assigning blame to the person our party that appears to be guilty at first glance. It’s something we have the tendency to do all too frequently.

Don’t play the blame game. Look at the facts with an open mind and particularly examine those that don’t fit in with your preconceived notions. You might find the world a more complex and interesting place than you imagined.

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

Does Joe Wickline Call the Plays? It shouldn’t Matter!

joe wicklineI just found out about a situation that’s been brewing in NCAA football for a while now. For once it’s not about screwing over the players, everyone’s favorite whipping boys. This time it’s about a coach.

A fellow by the name of Joe Wickline worked for Oklahoma State as an offensive coach. In that capacity he advised the head coach and the offensive coordinator on what plays to run but did not make the final call. The nonsensical question the court faces is whether Wickline is calling plays for his new school, the University of Texas. Why is this such a crucial question? Because of insane employer contracts.

You see, Wickline was only allowed to leave Oklahoma State without paying a $600,000 penalty if he took a promotion at his new school. If the move was lateral, or technically a demotion, then he would be forced to pay the penalty. Insanity. I will never understand how a business can penalize an employee in the United States of America for taking another job. It’s our right to work where want and when we want as long as an employer is willing to pay us. No one should have any say about that except me and the person who wants to hire me. If I steal company ideas or clients that’s another matter but if I simply want to move from one company to another it’s completely and totally my decision.

You might wonder the point of the clause in the contact. I’ll tell you. It’s a nasty, and in my opinion clearly illegal, way to make other schools pay when they hire someone who works for the first school. In the article I’ve linked the lawyers for Oklahoma State lament the fact that Texas is not paying the fee because everyone does it! Madness. It puts a huge chill on the ability of any employee to actively sell their services. If a potential employer has two candidates but one comes with a half a million dollar fee associated with him or her that clearly effects hiring practices. How this is not illegal mystifies me.

Shame on the anyone who writes such a contract. Shame on any judge who upholds it. Capitalism depends on people being able to sell their services to the highest bidder. It’s not just about making an environment where competition thrives and government doesn’t stifle it. It’s not just for the company, it’s all about the employee as well. Contracts like this stifle capitalism and the free market.

In the immortal words of Mr. Mackey, “m’kay?”

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

More Casualties from the War on Drugs – Baby Phonesavanh

phonesavanh_familyLiterally not a week goes by that I don’t spot a disturbing story about over-zealous police and the ridiculous War on Drugs that is nothing more than a giant promotional device to make drug-dealers rich. This one makes my stomach hurt. After reading this story I want to punch someone. I’m not a violent man and being all of 5′ 7 1/2″ tall and weighing 155 pounds I’d probably get beat up in the end anyway. Still. It’s infuriating.

I hate you proponents of the War on Drugs. I despise your shortsighted insanity. Your insane logic. Your willful ignorance of reality. Your war has cost so many people so much. This includes so many good law enforcement officers who died or were destroyed while trying to carry out your stupid laws. So many people hurt and only pain and violence the result. The War on Drugs has brought on so much more violence than the drug use it was purportedly designed to prevent.

Why am I so mad? I’ll sum up the story of the Phonesavanhs. In an unrelated incident their home burned. So they moved in with family. The estranged son of said family was a meth addict and dealer. The boy had stolen from the family and was not welcome home. Had not been seen in the house since the Phonesavanhs moved in. They didn’t know him although knew he was unwelcome. A wonderful DEA agent named Nikki Autry used statements from a drug informant whose name we will never know to gain a no-knock warrant on the house.

By no-knock they mean kick down the door. Judge James Butterworth authorized the warrant. Apparently no one bothered to learn that the house was overflowing with children including 18-month old Bounkham Jr “Bou Bou”. The officers kicked down the door. They hurled flash grenades randomly about. One of them flew into the crib. The crib!! The doctor described the injuries thus: His chest wall had torn down to muscle and it tore his face down to bone, down to his teeth.

The officers snatched up the baby and rushed him to an ambulance. The parents, worried, asked if anything was wrong. He lost a tooth they were told.

Agent Autry retired almost immediately. Judge Butterworth resigned from the bench. No penalties were exacted on either of them.

The investigation leading up to the raid was called hurried and sloppy according to the grand jury convened to see if any officers, or anyone at all, should be held responsible. No charges were filed.

Medical bills, you ask? Over a million dollars. The state’s responsibility you might wonder? Zero. Protected by laws designed to shield them from any damage they do while enforcing the War on the Drugs.

Oh how I hate thee War on Drugs. You make my heart sick. You make my mind burn with rage. What can I do to stop this insanity?

I write my blog. I write my books. I want to do more.

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

Which Crime to Investigate – Sex Scandal or Burglary?

Amy Bramlett InnocentI just read about an interesting case in which a teacher, Amy Bramlett, from San Bernadino, CA was accused of having sexual relations with a pair of her students. Three months into the investigation all charges have now been dropped. The details of the case bother me greatly. Read on.

All the information isn’t in yet but the it looks to me like a rather typical case of overzealous police officers backed up by a prosecutor who saw a high profile case as a way to gain advancement.

The story is relatively straightforward. Two boys broke into their teacher’s home and were caught. One boy panicked and made up a story about having sex with the teacher as being the reason why they were there. The second boy denied this repeatedly but was held in custody by the police and questioned for many hours until he too eventually admitted to doing something that he did not do. It’s impossible to guess what sort of trickery the police used to convince the boy to lie but it’s extremely informative as to the tactics our officers use to coerce admissions of guilt.

We’ve all seen various police dramas where officers lie to suspects and use other psychological tactics to gain an admission of guilt. What’s rather shocking about this one is that the tactics were used to get the criminal to lie about his own activity, not admit the truth. The boy was caught in the middle of a robbery and convinced by the police to lie and blame someone else. If you think this is an isolated case you should spend some time looking up Innocence Project.

The first boy went home and immediately told his father that he had lied. Authorities were informed that the boys recanted their story very early in the case but the zealous prosecutor pursued matters for three more months even going as far as to bring charges against Bramlett. In the meantime Bramlett was removed from the classroom and stigmatized in her community.

I well-understand it is the job of the police to vigorously investigate crime and of prosecutors to seek convictions for said crimes. It just seems to me that in this case the choice between a mundane burglary and a sensationalist teacher/student sex scandal drove the investigation rather than actual evidence. I wonder how often this happens.

Again, there’s a lot of information still out there but my initial reaction is to lay blame largely on the prosecutor for steering the investigation the wrong way. Certainly the police with their aggressive questioning in the wrong direction bear some responsibility but the actual filing of charges and three months of wasted time and surely considerable money falls squarely on the prosecutor. Not to mention the damage done to Bramlett which, despite all apologies, can never be undone.

Follow the evidence, I say. Even if you don’t like where it’s going. It makes us all safer.

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

Johnny Manziel Misleading Headline

Johnny Manziel HeadlineAnd the winner for misleading headline of the week is awarded to Pro Football Talk with this doozy about Johnny Manziel.

Teammates say Johnny Manziel is a “nightmare” in practice.

For those of you not following the NFL closely I’ll do a quick recap. Manziel was a controversial pick in the first round of the NFL draft and some think he will be a great quarterback while others think his style is not suited to the league. The starting quarterback of the team has been ineffective lately and Manziel made his first start today.

The headline lures you in with a promise that his teammates are finding problems with him during practice. The reality is just the opposite. They say that Manziel presents unique difficulties for defenses because of his ability to extend plays.

I’m not jumping in here as a fan of Manziel or a naysayer. I’m just telling you that the article isn’t what you think. Therefore it wins this week’s Misleading Headline of the Week!

Congratulations, PFT.

By the way, Manziel had a rather awful first outing which will cheer those who dislike him. Time will tell.

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

Character Above all Else in the NFL

Roger GoodellThe National Football League suffered a serious blow to their image over the Ray Rice incident. I wrote about it back in September of 2014. Now the Commissioner of the League, Roger Goodell, has come out with a statement that he hopes will alleviate some of the damage.

It goes on for a bit but the part I want to discuss today goes like this: Character and values sits above everything else

I have a thought about that: A ha ha haha haaaa haaa, a haa haaaaa haaaaaa!!!

I do not laugh because it’s a funny situation. It’s not. Ray Rice knocked out his wife with a single punch. She precipitated the blow by yelling at him, punching him, and spitting on him. The league suspended him for two games initially but months later increased the suspension because people saw the video. The arbitrators between the union of players and league ruled that Goodell had violated the rules and reinstated Rice (something I argued for in my original post). It’s far from funny. It is disturbing in many ways. Today’s blog isn’t about that. It’s about the blatant lie that Goodell just told.

The NFL is about a lot of things but the character of the players does not come before everything else. The league wants to make money. The various teams want to win games and make money. The players want to succeed, win games, and get paid more money. What comes first? Winning and with it money. Now, I fully understand that if the league fails to punish players who do things that society abhors that might cut into their profits. Therefore the behavior of players, management, and owners is of some importance. I don’t dispute that members of the NFL organization would like to eliminate domestic violence completely. They would like to end serious head injuries. But to say character and values sit above everything else is rank hypocrisy. It almost makes my ears bleed.

Almost all athletic endeavors place the ability to play the game well above everything else. Who was chosen first in grade school gym class? The smart kids? Of course not. There are plenty of intelligent and ethical athletes who play football at every level. If a team refused to play anyone with character issues they wouldn’t win a game. You’re good to your wife and kids, you’ve never broken the law, you have an ethical code? Whoop Dee Doo, can you ball?

I love my St. Louis Rams. I truly do. Janoris Jenkins was drafted after having been kicked off his college team for marijuana use. He was a 22 year old kid with multiple children from different women. Don’t be fooled though, he can play. Every year teams draft players who were involved in domestic violence incidents, who failed drug tests, who have a difficult time keeping their pecker in their pocket. But they can ball. And that’s what is most important. It’s not just players. Coaches and owners have broken the law and done unethical things. Can they bring home a winner is the question most asked of such people.

I’m bothered by such blatant falsehoods. It’s as if he thinks he can look us right in the eye and lie knowing we don’t care as long as it’s what we want to hear. It’s as if the truth doesn’t matter.

As Master On says in my novel The Black SphereWhat you wish to be true is irrelevant. Only a child believes what they desire to be real is actually so. 

I have but a single question for Commission Goodell: Do you consider getting up on a podium and telling obvious lies to a national audience be a trait of those with character and value?

Tom Liberman

Police and Rams – To Bully and Intimidate

CrybabyThe Ferguson situation here in my hometown of St. Louis has been making headlines for quite a while although I’ve refrained from posting on it largely because I don’t have much to add to the dialog. But things got weird during the St. Louis Rams football game this past weekend against the Oakland Raiders.

I have season tickets to the Rams and was at the game. My seats give me a good view of the player entrances and I saw the Rams receivers gather and raise their arms before they came onto the field. At the time it didn’t occur to me that they were showing support for the protesters in Ferguson and no one around me seemed to note it either. It quickly became a big story.

I don’t want to lure you into my blog today thinking it will draw conclusions from the tragic events in which Officer Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. Nor will I be talking about the despicable people who burned and looted during the riots. I won’t be talking about the peaceful protesters. What I will be talking about is the St. Louis Police Department’s reaction to the Rams receivers pregame jaunt onto the field.

What the police force did was demand an apology. Really? Your job is to protect and to serve. Not get bent out of shape because someone disagrees with you. Your job it to protect the rights of the people not to whine like a little baby when someone dares take a stance against you. Your job is quite the opposite. It is to protect those who take such unpopular stances. If a man calls you a pig on the street while peacefully protesting something, your job is to protect that man from anyone who tries to assault him. That’s your job. That’s the oath you swore.

Is it fun to protect people who disagree with you? No. It’s your job.

Do you swear to only protect and serve people who like you? No. You swear to protect and serve us all. No matter our opinion of you.

Stop crying for apologies because your panties are in a twist because someone insulted you.

A Rams official tried to reach out and they threw him immediately under the bus claiming he apologized. They sent out memos embarrassing the official. They tweeted the definition of an apology. Essentially they tried to bully both the NFL and the St. Louis Rams into doing what they wanted. So here we have a police agency’s top officials acting to bully and intimidate anyone who dares disagree with them. Sound familiar?

The police are saying, in no uncertain terms, don’t cross us. We’ll hit you, we’ll hit you hard, and make you regret it. Sound familiar? Top-down leadership makes its way directly to the ranks.

Oh, and by the way, Officer Wilson was attacked and had every right to defend himself. Could he have handled the entire situation better, probably, but when you’ve got a giant man beating on you, you have every right to defend yourself.

Demand an apology? Give me a break.

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

The Black Sphere – Available Now!

The Black Sphere Anything, no matter how powerful, is a toy in the hand of a child.

Kindle – Nook – Smashwords:

Buy it today!

I’m proud to announce the release of my seventh novel, The Black Sphere.

When a child carries something of great value there will be those who want to take it from her.

Ariana only wanted to keep the Black Sphere but now her world has erupted in war. At thirteen years old she must face the consequences of her decisions. Will she remain an unconcerned child or will she accept responsibility for events and begin her journey to adulthood

Ariana flees the marauding forces of Lord Thotmes with her companions in the hopes of destroying the Sphere. Joined by young Aydon she flees first to the Maw and then into the Great Salt Fen but the forces arrayed against her are relentless in their pursuit.

Complicating matters is the dark shadow Tenebrous who has his own agenda, as does the Mistress of the Abyss.

The Black Sphere is a story about growing up but Ariana is not the only one who must choose. Not everyone will survive.