Does Banning the Sale of Horns Help Rhinos?

rhino-poachingA South African court ruled on Nov 26, 2015 that a legal market for Rhinoceros horns can be implemented. Until that ruling a moratorium placed by the South African government prevented the legal sale of the horns.

Naturally those interested in saving Rhinos are horrified by this ruling. They are misguided although well-meaning. Let me explain.

The reality to this awful situation gives us an excellent opportunity to examine the nature and effectiveness of government in attempting to control human behavior through legislation.

There is a large demand for the horns, primarily in Vietnam and China where they are considered useful as a medicinal product. A single horn can sell for as much as $250,000.

The ban was implemented as prices for the horns started to rise and poachers began to kill more and more of the animals. The idea being that demand would diminish if it was illegal to sell horns. Naturally this failed. I need not explain that making something illegal does not remove the market for that product. It is self-evident.

After the ban came into effect poaching rose quickly with the number of animals killed growing larger each year. I think it can be argued that, with or without the banning, the market would have grown. That being said, it’s clear that banning the sale of rhino horns has done nothing to slow the slaughter of the animals and might well have increased the pace. It drove the market directly into the hands of criminals.

The new legislation will allow the legal sale of the horns. I’m not convinced that will save the animals because of the extremely limited nature of the supply and the massive level of demand. Even if a few hundred horns are legally harvested each year that will not fulfill demand. But at least it’s recognizing the reality of the situation. The ban makes us feel good. It gives us the illusion that we’re doing something to help. I’m opposed to such sugar-pills. I don’t want to feel good while rhinos are driven to extinction in South Africa as they were in Vietnam. I want to help save rhinos!

The only viable solution is to harvest horns from living animals. Sell them on a legal market. License hunts of aging animals. This will raise money which will, hopefully, be used to help protect the rhinos. Even that’s not guaranteed. When millions of dollars are at stake the unscrupulous are always attracted to it.

A market might arise for rhino bones. Who can say?

The point is that the original ban had no chance of working, just as banning alcohol or marijuana simply drives the suppliers into becoming illegal operatives.

My larger point is that we should not applaud useless solutions simply because they make us feel good. We should not cheer nice sounding ideas that are completely impossible to implement, will most certainly not return any of the results promised, and will likely make the original issue worse.

Politicians love to offer useless platitudes and ineffective solutions with absolute certitude of conviction. If we cheer and vote for such politicians, well, we deserve what we get. Bigger problems.

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

Thanksgiving Shopping Backward Thinking

no-shopping-thursdayOn this Thanksgiving Day I see on my Facebook scroll many posts about how the evil, awful retailers have destroyed the day of family and made it all about consumerism and shopping.

The image I’ve posted it but one of many similarly themed posts. It’s not a big deal but it still rubs me the wrong way. Why you ask? I’ll tell you why!

It’s my opinion that the campaign to shame or even abolish Thanksgiving Day shopping is in reality a shameless attempt to capitalize on Thanksgiving Day shopping. Upworthy, the advertiser in this case, and yes it is an advertisement my deluded friends, is simply trying to get you to click on their site. They want you to share their post, watch their videos and the advertisements played during those videos, which makes them money … on Thanksgiving Day!

That hypocrisy is only the first thing that bothers me about this entire anti-shopping Thanksgiving trend.

The general theme of the movement is that the evil, awful retailers are destroying families by forcing them out of the house on this holiday. Well, golly, maybe people want to get out of the house and do some shopping. Maybe retailers are simply supplying a demand. Maybe if no one actually wanted to shop on Thanksgiving, retailers wouldn’t open their doors which in turn causes employees to work.

I’m not saying that people should shop on Thanksgiving or that workers should have to work on Thanksgiving. I worked Thanksgiving morning and early afternoon at the golf course every year. We generally closed around 2:00. My gym is open this morning. Thanksgiving is a day off and people generally like to get things done on that day off. That means people employed in service industries have to work. It’s the reality.

I get that you think it’s supposed to be for families. That’s great. Spend it with you family. But don’t try to shame other people for doing what they want to do. Shop. Play golf. Browse online. It’s not the retailers fault for giving people what they want.

It is, however, Upworthy and their ilk’s fault for trying to fool you with deceptive advertisements. Trust me, Upworthy’s marketing team doesn’t care about making sure Thanksgiving is a family holiday, they care about those clicks. Don’t be fooled.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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

Of High Castles and Real Freedom

amazon-man-in-high-castle-adMake believe fascism is a good thing. Let me explain.

In 1962 an excellent writer named Philip K. Dick wrote a novel called The Man in the High Castle.

Amazon has now produced and is releasing a television series based on the book. The book is an alternate history tale in which the United States and the Allies were defeated by the Axis powers in World War II. In it the United States is under the control of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Amazon has been publicizing the upcoming show in a number of ways and they recently draped a New York City shuttle with imagery mating United States symbols of those of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

As you may know, New York City is home to a large Jewish population. Offense was taken. That particular advertising campaign was removed.

What is fascism? It is radical and authoritarian nationalism. It is essentially the antithesis of Liberalism (in the classical sense) and of freedom as a whole.

I don’t want to get into a discussion about the definition of fascism and who is or who is not a fascist.

My topic today is to state that make-believe fascism, like the Man in the High Castle, is a very good thing. Advertising that strike us viscerally, as did the Amazon campaign, is a good thing. It’s important to be able to recognize fascism. If we do not recognize it immediately then we are suspectible to its seductive message.

There is political rhetoric making the rounds in this election cycle that rings of fascism. There are certainly some people commenting on this rhetoric and recognizing it for what it is. That’s a good thing. But a lot of people who support this sort of talk seem to be completely unaware of its fascist origins. That’s a bad thing.

I recognize fascist talk because I’m a student of history. I know that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany used xenophobia to mobilize their people. I know how they used fear to lure people into giving away their freedom. I know how they used hate to turn a nation upon itself. How they manipulated the fear of average citizens to ensconce themselves with absolute power.

The fact that a great number of people don’t know these things is dangerous. When someone fictionalizes fascism, shows us what it truly is without actually creating a fascist state, we should embrace it. We should expose it to as many people as possible.

The shuttle covered with symbols of United States mated with those of fascist states is disturbing and rightly so. The solution isn’t to ban such displays but encourage and understand them.

If we hide the true nature of fascism because it is so awful, do we do ourselves a service or a disservice? Do we help our nation or harm it?

In order to combat evil you must be able to recognize it. Expose evil to the light of day. Explain it. Show how its seductive lure can entrap the unwary.

Evil cannot survive such examination.

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

Massive Recall isn’t Really Massive

Recall-HeadlineIt seems like not a month goes by without a blaring headline citing a recall of hundreds of thousands if not millions of vehicles. I hadn’t really given it much thought until recently but for some reason it finally struck me as serial Misleading Headlines.

The above image is pretty typical of what we see in the frighteningly bold headlines in all these cases. In the past I think my reaction to such news was probably pretty typical of what most people think. Wow! Insert Auto Manufacturer really messed up. This is going to cost them billions of dollars to fix. What a disaster.

I had these thoughts despite having vehicles of my own as part of recalls in the past. We all know the drill and yet we are still impressed with the headline and often click on it.

The reality? There’s no mystery. Everyone who owned that year and make car gets a note. The next time they take it in for service the dealership performs the fix. They do thousands of them, they have the parts on hand, the mechanics replace the part, probably in less than five minutes. The car is back on the road.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the recall actually ends up being profitable. When I take my car in to the dealer to fix a recall issue I usually get my oil changed or some other routine maintenance that I would normally have done a local facility. This means I pay the dealership for the routine maintenance, work if not for the recall they would not have done. The profit on the oil change most likely exceeds the loss on the recall fix.

I’d be willing to bet most people do it the same way.

So, there you go. Serial Misleading Headlines.

What do you think? Am I wrong?

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

George Lucas Nothing but Criticism – Awww

George-LucasGeorge Lucas claims he doesn’t want to be involved in any new Star Wars film because all he gets is criticism.

At first I wasn’t going to blog on this subject because my reply to this thought process can be summed up with four simple words: Make a good one.

Then I started thinking about Lucas’s complaint in the broader terms of what I see in the news, in my daily interactions in life, all around me, and something I myself fall into not infrequently. Perhaps it is part of being a human being.

It is a twofold issue. First there is the fear of failure. We don’t want to try something at which we’re not particularly good, simply because we know we will likely fail. Failure isn’t fun although it is a necessary building block to success. While this is true, it’s not the main focus of my blog today because I don’t think that is what is going on with Lucas.

The mentality with Lucas is, in my opinion, he thinks he has made good films but that he can’t satisfy everyone. That the criticisms of his incredibly crappy Star Wars films is unjustified and there is no point in making more. If people don’t appreciate it, that’s their fault.

I’m an abrasive person. If someone says something stupid in front of me I’m not good at hiding my contempt. When that person becomes aware that I’m calling them stupid they invariably get angry at me. I probably deserve some anger but the reality is that the person who does the stupid thing should be called a moron. The director who makes a bad movie should be told the movie sucks.

And the reaction we should all have when we’ve said something stupid or done something stupid is to get mad at ourselves. We’re the culprit. We’re the one’s who did the thing that deserves the ridicule. This is not easy. Our ego is heavily involved. But such self-examination is necessary for growth.

If we always blame other people for telling us our statement was stupid, we will never stop making stupid statements. If we always blame other people for telling us our movies are bad, we will never make a good movie. Are you listening, George?

That’s the crux of what Lucas is saying. I make fine movies but everyone hates them. If everyone hates your movies there’s a good chance they just aren’t very good.

Very few people have purchased my books but those that have generally say nice things. I’ve gotten some mild criticism in the past but nothing like the things Lucas faces. Should my books start selling by the millions I’m sure there will be people who don’t like them. They won’t hesitate to tell me and everyone else.

My job at that point will be to listen to their criticisms and, if they are valid, try to write my next book better.

I’ve done so in the past. My first book had some serious flaws and I went back and rewrote it. My third book had a bad lull spot in it that was pointed out by friends. I went back and rewrote that section.

My book The Black Sphere had a bit of a confusing ending according to the first couple of people that read it. I went back and clarified it. That’s how we get better in life, that’s how we become a better person.

When someone criticizes you, try to avoid the natural defensive tendencies and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes it’s wrong. Sometimes it’s right.

I guess the bottom line is that we shouldn’t give up. We should always try and do whatever it is we’re doing a little better.

Star Wars is an awesome movie. I’m happy to see at least someone hasn’t given up on the franchise!

May the Force be with you.

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

Woodrow Wilson – Embrace History or Erase it?

Woodrow-Wilson-President-PrincetonI just read an interesting story about how students at Princeton are demanding the school remove the name of Woodrow Wilson from various buildings and programs.

For me it brings up the question as to whether erasing history is a better solution than understanding it. I think you can probably guess my opinion on that subject. Let’s examine the story first.

President Thomas Woodrow Wilson was many things including, President of the United States during World War I. He was also the President if Princeton. He was very effective in both positions. He managed to institute massive changes while in power working to bring together disparate points of view into acceptable compromises.

He instituted many policies some of which are reviled and some of which are hailed as having allowed the United States to become a world power. His racial thoughts were a mixed bag. He opposed slavery on economic grounds rather than moral ground. He certainly discouraged black students from applying to Princeton. The leader of the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois, was a supporter of Wilson.

All that being said, I am not here to debate if Wilson was or was not a racist. I am not here to debate his fiscal policies.

I’m here to talk about why we shouldn’t ignore history. Wilson was President of Princeton and to ignore that is to ignore history.

To put the question more personally to me; am I offended by many memorials to Ulysses S. Grant? Grant issued the infamous General Order No. 11 which ordered the expulsion all Jews from military districts.

I must ask myself if I am diminished by the fact that there are many memorials to Grant. The memorials do not lessen me by honoring their arguably anti-Semitic founder. I am the one who takes offense. I am the one whose feelings are hurt.

Should we simply wipe the knowledge of Grant’s existence from every public place? Should we raze all pieces of art depicting him? Should we pretend he didn’t do the things he did because he also did awful things?

No one is all good or all bad, not even Adolph Hitler. The founders of our nation were largely, with a few notable exceptions, racist slave owners.

Will taking the name of Grant off a building erase his contributions to our nation? Should we only honor people who did no wrong in life? Can we not acknowledge and honor the good while still recognizing the bad?

The question for Princeton administrators is to ask themselves if they are willing to remove the legacy of the man who did so much for them, despite his flaws.

On a much broader scale I must ask myself if erasing the names of people who did wrong from memorials is helpful. My answer is no. It’s much better to let plain truth shine through, though it may be painful.

I am not offended by Grant’s name being honored in memorials. I think it rather self-centered for anyone to be so angered, Jewish or not. Grant did nothing to me and the honors being given are based on other things the general accomplished. That being said, I also think people should know about General Order No. 11. It happened. It was awful.

There are many who try to pretend their heroes did no wrong. They attempt to hide the misdeeds of those they generally admire.

Those who wish to take Wilson’s name off the Princeton building are exactly the same as these people, just in reverse.

No, I say. No. Honor the good, acknowledge the bad. They are not mutually exclusive.

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

Syrian Refugees and the Threat they Pose

Syrian-refugeesThe Syrian Refugee crisis is in the news for a number of reasons but the one I am going to talk about today is the question of whether or not to allow them into various countries.

One of the main reasons this has become such an issue is that one of the murderous scum in the recent attacks in Paris was a refugee. This fact has caused a number of governors and other people in the United States and Europe to advocate refusing said refugees, send them back from whence they came. The fear being that more terrorists under the guise of being refugees will sneak into the country.

The danger of this is real. We cannot discount the fear espoused by those who do not want the refugees for this reason. Any terrorist who wanted to gain access to another country might well use the refugee crisis as a method to sneak in. Not only might they, at least one has.

So we admit there is a danger. By allowing refugees into the country we might allow a terrorist in. It’s also possible that the refugee might sometime in the future commit other crimes. Perhaps they will rob a store ten years from now. Again, this is not an idle fear. This is real. There is no doubt that some of the people who are allowed into the country will commit crimes at some point in their lives. By allowing such people into our country we certainly increase the danger we face. One cannot deny this is true.

The question I ask myself is what is the result of not allowing refugees into various countries? It’s important to understand the answer to that question before we can decide if we want to allow them in at all.

Up to four million people have fled the ongoing conflict in Syria into neighboring countries. What would happen to those people if they stayed in Syria?

Many would die, of that there is no question. The warring factions in Syria have little regard for human life. Those that survived would join one of the various warring factions. Some would join the Syrian government forces. Some would join ISIL. Some would form their own factions. Many of them would become radicalized. The children growing up in such an environment would learn death. They would grow up filled with hate. They would become the next generation of terrorists. We will create tens or even hundreds of thousands of hardened terrorists who hate the countries that refused them and caused the deaths of their families.

There is also the ethical point of view. By refusing refugees we condemn many of them to death, maiming, or miserable existences in order to procure a modicum of safety for ourselves.

One must remember that there is an upside to allowing in refugees. Here in my home town of St. Louis we embraced many Muslims from Bosnia during the civil disorder in that country. They have formed an amazing community here. Did some of them turn out to be criminals, certainly. Did some of their children grow up to be criminals, no doubt. But the vast majority are excellent citizens who not only contribute to the community but are grateful for our generosity. Who tell their family and friends who remained behind what a wonderful country they live in. A country where people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, races, and skin color get along without murdering one another. A country where a more divisive question is if you root for the Cardinals or Cubs.

There are no simple answers to difficult questions. You must examine the reality of the situation. You must determine how much safety you are willing to give up to help those in need. You must ask yourself how many terrorists you wish to spawn upon future generations for your safety today.

I know what my decision would be but your life is your own to lead.

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

New York Outlaws Daily Fantasy Sports

daily-fantasy-sports-new-york-lawDaily Fantasy Sports is a quickly growing industry wherein people pick athletes in an attempt to win cash. They are an offshoot of Rotisserie or Fantasy Sports leagues which have been around for quite some time.

The New York attorney general has now said they are illegal within that state. Eric Schneiderman draws a distinction between more traditional Fantasy Sports leagues because, in his legal opinion, the daily games are ones of chance whereas the others are games of skill. There are any number of state regulations against games of chance.

What I want to talk about today is Schneiderman’s distinction between the two as a reason to make the law. I don’t want to discuss the fact that gambling remains illegal in many places in the country.

The reason Schneiderman believes the daily games are gambling is because the average player of such games is not aware of the scope of professional involvement. Advertisements promise riches but the reality is an elite group of professional gamblers, making up about 1% of all players, wins almost all of the money involved. They do this by submitting thousands of entries into the daily game basically covering a huge number of possibilities. This means the other 99% of players who submit one or two picks for each game have virtually no chance of winning unless they are extraordinarily lucky.

Should the 99% of players realize they have no chance to win they would stop playing thus reducing the profit of the 1% which would drive them from the game.

Meanwhile, traditional Fantasy Sports take place over the course of many months and are not nearly as profitable for professional gamblers who do not dominate them in the same fashion.

I largely agree with Schneiderman’s logic. The traditional fantasy games require less luck to win than the daily games. Professionals completely dominate the daily games and the average player has almost no chance of winning.

Yet I totally disagree with Schneiderman’s position. The information about the chances of winning in the daily games is readily available. Anyone who plays the daily game and claims ignorance as to their chances of recouping money is either lazy or stupid. It’s not the state of New York’s job to protect people from being lazy and/or stupid, much though they would like it to be.

This is a classic example of what Libertarians call the Nanny state.

The bottom line is that the more the state protects the lazy and stupid, the less freedom is available to the smart and hardworking.

Thus I am opposed.

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

Cheerleaders Distracting Misleading Headline

Cheerleaders-distractingTwo of my favorite things, misleading headlines and sports, came together the other day and that makes me happy.

In a football game between Toledo and Central Michigan the referee felt the need to admonish the Central Michigan cheerleaders for distracting the Toledo team as they neared the Central Michigan end zone.

Both the headline and the article hope to heap ridicule on the referee for his declaration. Isn’t it the job of cheerleaders to be loud?

On its face the headline and article by Sam Cooper of the Dr. Saturday sports Yahoo blog seem to have a point. That is until you learn the facts of the situation.

The Central Michigan cheerleaders were chanting snap-counts loudly and in the direction of the field in order to simulate the quarterback’s calls. This is, in fact, against the rules. You can cheer loudly all you want but you’re not allowed to simulate the calls of the quarterback.

The referee was fully justified in the announcement and, in my opinion, could have assessed a penalty. He was kind enough to give them a warning first.

Not only was the referee correct, but I’m of the opinion that the Central Michigan cheerleaders were engaged in bad sportsmanship. Shame on them. Good for the referee.

Congratulations, Sam and Dr. Saturday, you win the misleading headline of the week contest!

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

Great Pyramid of Giza and Critical Thinking

Great_Pyramid_DiagramThe pyramids of Egypt are in the news lately for a couple of reasons and it gives me the opportunity to discuss the nature of critical thinking. Of course I’ll take it!

The first story involves a new chamber being found in the tomb of Tutankahmun.

The second story involves presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s assertion that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a grain silo.

Another group of stories involves how it is impossible for the pyramids to have been built with the technology of the time. I addressed this issue in another blog so I’ll leave it alone today.

Finally is the twenty year timeline for building the pyramids themselves which is based upon certain assumptions.

The first story proudly declares that a new, hidden region was found in the burial chamber of Tutankahmun.

When I finally got around to reading the story I discovered that no such new chamber has been found at all. What they do is scan the region for temperature. An area where the temperature is slightly cooler might indicate a draft from a room. It could also indicate some damage to the structure that is letting in air. No one has gone into these areas because to do so would potential destroy them. It’s a lot of speculation and, frankly, I’m not convinced. It seems more likely to me that the cool areas are caused by structural flaws than hidden chambers, particularly because any number of these were found in the analysis.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are many hidden passages in the burial region. It just seems to me that it’s best to go with the most logical explanation before leaping to the most sensational conclusion. That’s critical thinking.

This, naturally, leads me to the rather bizarre assertion by Carson that the Great Pyramid of Giza was a grain silo. I’ve included a diagram of the pyramid to illustrate why this conclusion is so unlikely. The grain silo explanation has to do with a biblical story about Joseph warning Pharoah (Genesis 41 ESV) that seven good years would be followed by seven lean years and thus grain should be stored away.

What is called the main shaft of the pyramid, which leads to the burial chambers, is basically equivalent in dimensions to a silo. However, building a grain silo of those dimensions would have been trivial to the people that built the Great Pyramid. One look at the diagram above makes it obvious that it was not designed to store grain. Only someone who desperately wanted to come to the grain silo conclusion could possibly think otherwise. This is called a Cherry Picking fallacy. From what I’ve seen of Carson this fallacy seems to largely determine his entire thought process.

Finally, as to the twenty year time scale on the Great Pyramid of Giza. This is based on three facts.

  1. Workers left a mark in an interior chamber with their name on it and the name of Pharaoh Khufu.
  2. Khufu reigned for 23 years. This is disputed.
  3. The mummification process took some 70 days to complete.

From these three facts Egyptologists assume Khufu started the Great Pyramid upon ascending to the throne and that the completion of the pyramid coincided with his death.

I find these conclusion dubious. Khufu could have died long before the Great Pyramid was completed and been stored away until then. His reign could have been much longer than twenty years, some sources put it at over sixty.

The most logical conclusion I can draw is that some other Pharaoh started the pyramid but it was finished during Khufu’s reign and he simply usurped its use for himself.

Do we know for certain? No. But why not go with the most apparent conclusion first? Why leap to an unlikely scenario?

Tell me where my critical thinking skills have failed me in the comments!

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


Jilted Bride – Misleading Headline

jilted-brideThe latest in my series of misleading headlines is a doozy.

The headline seems to indicate that Antoinette Sullivan went to McDonald’s with friends to lament the fact that she was left at the altar.

Nothing could be further form the truth. Her husband, with whom she has four children, and she got married in the afternoon. He then went off to a paint ball game with his buddies. He had full approval for this and there was no animosity from Antoinette. She met up with her husband and friends later for an evening of fun.

They seem like a fairly nice couple if you read the article. I must believe the writer of the story had no part of the headline.

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

Anarchy is an Unmoderated Forum

chaos-wordsNow that I’ve joined a public Libertarian community I find myself in debates with Anarchists.

As I’ve stated before; I’m of the opinion the choice is not between Government and Non-Government but between limited government and a totalitarian state. That Anarchy inevitably falls to a Cult of Personality and eventually a dictatorship.

Today I use an Unmoderated Internet Forum to illustrate my point.

How many of you have used a Forum, Discussion List, or other group communication tool? I would say if you’re reading this blog, the odds are pretty good that you’ve done it.

I remember when my mother was fervently protesting against the US – Iraq war of 2003. She eagerly told me about this exciting Discussion List where those of a like-mind could express their thoughts and read everyone else’s.

Don’t do it, I told her. It’s a bunch of crazies.

Of course not, she replied. They are dedicated to a just cause. They are good folks.

It took her about three months to abandon the list. She came to me sheepishly, head hanging, and asked how she could remove her name from the list so as to not receive thousands of ranting and largely insane emails each day.

I use the above example not to denigrate those passionate about the wrongness of that particular war. I agree with them. The war was a disaster. I use it to illustrate that when you get enough people together in an unmoderated forum, the nut-jobs drive out everyone capable of rational thought. They post fifty times more than anyone else. They dominate the board with the insane ravings. Decent people who are dedicated to the cause flee leaving only madness behind.

My anarchist friends, I believe in your passion. I think your hearts are true, but if you get your way you’ll end up like Robespierre.

When the gathering is small enough, before it attracts the madness that lurks in this world, things seem not so bad. Anything is possible.

Let everyone speak, we’re all adults here, what can go wrong?

Guillotines is what can go wrong!

Anti-Vaccination is what can go wrong. Anti-GMO is what can go wrong. 911 Conspiracy is what can go wrong. Shemitah is what can go wrong.

When enough people in this world are filled with rational self-interest, then Anarchy can work. A little valley where only the chosen are invited, then Anarchy can work.

This world in which live? An unmoderated forum.

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

What do Steve Williams and Leah Remini have in Common?

leah-remini-steve-williamsThey’re both jerks. I thought I’d take the suspense out of this blog right away.

Steve Williams is a caddie who worked for Tiger Woods and now selling a book about his time on the PGA Tour.

Leah Remini is an actress who was also a Scientologist and knew Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes pretty well. She’s also selling a book.

They are both making the media rounds telling anyone who will listen how horrible are Tiger Woods, Tom Cruise, and Katie Holmes. Remini tells us of a crying baby. Williams says he felt like a slave. They both have lots of horrible things to say about other people as they pursue selling their books.

Listen, I’m no fan of Tom Cruise and I’ve got not much nice to say about Tiger Woods. Scientology is just another useless religion from this Atheist’s point of view.

But what Remini and Williams are doing is nasty, mean, and, well, I won’t use the words I’d use in a private conversation. As much as I dislike Cruise, Woods, Scientology, and the rest; I have new leaders in the douchebaggery awards for 2015.

Okay, I made that up. I don’t give out any award like that but I’m thinking about it!

There are people we all dislike, even hate, but we don’t go around saying horrible things about them, at least not publicly. Why? Because it shows a complete lack of character. That and it makes us look like total … well you know.

I won’t go on here, I’ve said what I meant to say.

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



Samantha Geimer Pleased Roman Polanski Won’t be Extradited

samantha-geimerThere’s a story in the news that won’t resonate with many of you unless you’re my age, 51, or older. That being said, I think it’s an important look into the nature of law enforcement in the United States.

For forty years the United States has been pursuing a case against a fellow named Roman Polanski. Polanski fled to France and has since then traveled to various places. In the most recent turn, Poland rejected extradition of Polanski.

Back in 1977 Polanski had sexual relations with a 13 year old girl then named Samantha Gailey but now called Samantha Geimer. Polanski accepted a plea bargain and plead guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse. He spent 42 days in a state psychiatric hospital as was ordered by the judge. Afterwards he learned the judge planned to renege on the original plea deal and sentence Polanski to a longer term and deport him. Polanski fled and has never returned.

So, what are these insights I gained from this latest turn of events?

Geimer is happy that Poland refused to extradite Polanski. She feels she has been harmed far more by the relentless pursuit and publicity that came with it, than she was in the initial rape. She argues Polanski admitted the crime, plead guilty, and served his time. It must be noted she received a large financial settlement from Polanski some time ago along with an apology.

She calls it an unpleasant memory but that it’s over. That others have suffered far worse. That the Los Angeles prosecutors office is spending yet more time and more money in what amounts to a giant publicity game.

Generally polling of people in the United States and the countries where Polanski has fled seems to indicate that most would like to see Polanski returned to the United States for further sentencing. It’s unclear what further sentencing there could be as he already served the time originally allotted.

And that’s largely my point. The majority of people would like to see Polanski returned to the United States. His crime is heinous enough that people hunger for vengeance. The reality is that his only crime at this time is failure to report for sentencing. The judge could give him more than the original 42 days but it wouldn’t be a lot more. The judge might deport him from the United States but Polanski has already done that himself. There’s really not much to gain here besides publicity.

Polanski would probably be better off just coming back and getting the extra 90 days or whatever the judge decided. It would be easier than continuing with all these extradition hearings. He was foolish to flee in the first place. That being said, the entire reason this case is being pursued, at least as far as I can tell, is simply because the prosecutor wants to look like the good guy.

What’s to be gained by further pursuit? An extra couple of months in a minimum security prison? More pain for Geimer? Deterrence of others who plan to rape thirteen year old girls? Hardly. Just good publicity and is that a reason to pursue a case?

I get what Polanski did was scummy. I’m no fan. I just don’t see the point in pursuing this further. What do you think?

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

Miami v. Duke football Game Ends with Game Changing Call

knee-down-miami-dukeThere was an interesting football game this weekend between the University of Miami, The U, and Duke. The final play of the game was a multiple lateral affair where the Miami players threw it back again and again and eventually scored a touchdown.

Upon reviewing that final play it was noted one Miami player touched the ground with his knee and should have been ruled down. This happened after the clock reached zero. This might have been noticed by the officials during the play but should assuredly have been noticed by replay officials after the play. Neither noticed it and Miami was declared the victor.

There was also a missed penalty on Miami for an illegal block and Miami players ran onto the field before the play was over. Penalties cannot be reviewed and even if penalized for being on the field early, the touchdown would have counted with the penalty being assessed after the play. So neither of those two things rise to the level of the first issue, the knee being down.

As rules now stand, you cannot overrule events after they have been officially declared. Let’s say the Miami player’s knee was down with one second still on the clock, who is to say that Miami wouldn’t have scored on the next play. Therefore I think it’s generally perfectly correct to refuse to overturn a bad call the next day. This was a very unusual situation in that if the call is made correctly, the Miami player is down, the game is over, and Duke wins. There is no further chance for Miami because there is no time on the clock.

The NCAA has suspended both the referees and the replay officials for two future games but they will not award Duke the victory.

I’m of the opinion the circumstances in this case are enough to overturn the win. The player’s knee was down and that would have ended the game with no chance for Miami to score.

I see the other point of view as well in that overturning a game after the fact is fairly drastic. I just don’t think doing it this time would set much of a precedent for doing it frequently. It’s such a rare thing for a game to absolutely end on a bad call. Therefore if I was King of the World, Duke would be declared the winner.

What do you think?

Should Duke be declared the winner of the game?

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