Flat Earth, Columbus, Rap, and Interesting Facts

flat-earthThere’s a great little story making the rounds about a singer named B.o.B who is telling his fans the earth is flat and the backlash from Neil deGrasse Tyson and others. It’s a great story because it shows the degrees to which people will give credence to a popular figure in areas where he or she is not credible.

Let me try to explain by going on a little journey in time.

Where is that time travel hat of mine … it was in the upstairs closet … no … wait … here it is under the kitchen sink. How did it get there? Oh well, never mind. Pop it on the old noggin, spin around three times, wooo-woo-flashing-lights-special-effects, and KABLOOM.

Here I am in Ancient Greece watching a balding fellow taking measurements on the shadow of a little triangle set in a rock.

“Whatcha doing?” I ask.

“Measuring the circumference of the earth,” he replies (in Ancient Greek but luckily my time travel hat is also a universal translator).

“Really?” I reply.

“Yep,” he says. “By measuring the shadow here and also at Syene on the same day at the same time I can calculate it based on the distance between Alexandria and Syene and difference in the cast of the shadow. About 252,000 stadia (my hat tells me that’s 46,620 kilometers).”

“Da-damn,” I reply. “That’s some smart ass poop. Well, gotta be going.” I don’t want to tell him his calculation is off by about 16%, it’s pretty good work he’s done. He just doesn’t know the earth isn’t a sphere but bulges in the middle and that the distance between the two cities is a bit off. I put my hat back on … and well, you know.


Still in Ancient Greece but this time looking at a man with a full complement of curly hair drawing very pretty maps.

“Watcha doing?” I ask.

“Drawing a map of the world,” he replies.

“Cool, where did you get the information to determine how big it is?”

“Well, there was this fellow, Eratosthenes, he did some calculations with sun and shadows but I’ve traveled all over the world and I think just by looking at things I’m a better judge of how big it is than all that silly math. What better judge than our own eyes?”

“Hmm,” I say. “That’s one way to look at it.”

Back on with the hat.

KABLOOM (getting a little dizzy now).

Now I’m in Middle Ages Italy looking at a fellow drawing really nice maps.

“Whatcha doing?” I ask.

“I’m making a map of the world,” he replies.

“Cool, you’re a really good artist. These are amazing. How did you determine its size?”

“There was this fellow who drew nice maps back in Ancient Greece and I’m using his model.”

“Why not the math fellow’s models?”

“He didn’t draw maps, just calculated the size using math. Better to go with the guy who traveled the world and was a good artist!”

“Got it,” I reply with a sigh and slip the hat upon my head once again.

KABLOOM. (Feeling a bit nauseous at this point)

Wow, I’m on the deck of ship. Short interlude of vomiting.

Stagger over to the captain, “Watcha doing?”

“We’re sailing to India for trade. Money to be made you know.”

“It doesn’t look like you’ve got enough stores to make it that far,” I say with a raised eyebrow.

“According to these very pretty maps the world is about 30,000 kilometers in circumference.”

“Have you done the math?”

“Why do that? Look how pretty the maps are.”

“Right,” I say, take a breath, and don my hat once again.


Here I sit in front of my computer at the end of my extremely simplified tale of why Columbus thought he could sail around the world when the distance was much more than he realized.

I hope you’ve learned something.

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

Oregon Standoff – Lots of Blame to Go Around


My friends have been urging me to write a post about the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Oregon Standoff, for quite some time and I’m finally going to wade in.

I suspect those who have been urging me, on both sides of the issue, and everyone else will find plenty to be angry with me about. There is so much blame to go around almost no one escapes unscathed.

There are a number of people and rules to blame for this situation and it starts with Steve Hammond.

He and his friends killed a herd of deer that was on Bureau of Land Management property. An event that was witnessed by hunters in the area. Knowing this was a crime and wanting to cover up the evidence, Hammond and his friends then set fire to the entire area recklessly endangering the lives of anyone who happened to be there. Couples canoodling under the stars, hunters, kids camping, hikers, bikers, or anyone else.

Hammond is lucky nobody died or he would have been facing negligent homicide charges instead of arson. He should have admitted to killing the deer and paid the fine, that would have been the end of it. Setting those fires was reckless to the extreme and he has only himself to blame.

The next culprit? Minimum Sentencing guidelines. I wrote an entire blog about why I so hate these guidelines. The minimum sentence for arson on public lands is five years. It’s ridiculous that judges cannot decide for themselves the circumstances of the case. Yes, Hammond was reckless. But he did not commit arson to damage property, to collect insurance, or even to hurt anyone. He was stupid but not malicious.

When he was found guilty of arson, Judge Michael Robert Hogan showed the only bit of sense in this entire episode. He realized five years was too long and shortened to one year and one day the sentence for Steve Hammond and imposed a fine. This triggered an Appeal process and the original order from Hogan was thrown out and the mandatory five-years reinstated. Hammond fought it all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled against him in 2015, not even agreeing to hear the case. This means there were not at least four Justices who thought the issue worth examining.

The problem here is that the Justices most likely to sympathize with the Hammonds, the Conservative Wing of the Supreme Court (Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito), are those that most strongly support minimum sentence guidelines. So, they’re not going to jump in to do something about this miscarriage of justice.

At that time Steve Hammond reported for prison and paid the remaining outstanding fines.

Now more blame. Ammon Bundy along with a group of followers decided they wanted to use the Hammond case as an excuse to launch their own protest. The Hammonds themselves wanted nothing to do with them. Here’s a couple of quotes from the Hammonds.

Their attorney: neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family.

Dwight Hammond’s (the other man sentenced) wife: I don’t really know the purpose of the guys who are out there.

Okay, Bundy, you’ve got a cause. Great. Don’t leap onto to someone else’s problem and claim it as your own when they don’t even want you! You’ve got a problem, stand up for yourself! Don’t pretend to be helping someone else. It’s dishonest bullpoop! The idiots that joined him are using Bundy just as much as he’s using Hammond, they’ve got a whole cartload of their own issues. Find your own grievance and if people don’t support you, then that’s your fault for not getting your message across!

My next target in this situation? All those supposed Hammond supporters who are angry. I get that, but I’m pissed that they are claiming Hammond was retried for the same crime because “the government” didn’t like the first outcome. This is completely false and seems to say that once a case is adjudicated there should be no appeals process. They also don’t seem to understand that Bundy doesn’t care anything about Hammond, Bundy is just using the case for his own ends.

The Appeals process is a good thing. Let’s imagine judge Hogan was a real tough judge and sentenced Hammond not to one year and a day but to twenty years. By the logic employed by his supporters he shouldn’t be able to appeal. Once it’s done, it’s done.

Another example would be if a drug trafficker was given a very short sentence compared to the minimum guidelines. I guarantee you that all those people angry about the Hammond extension wouldn’t have a word to say if the Appeals court slapped more years onto the drug-dealer’s sentence. It’s selective logic and it’s wrong.

The Appeals system is largely a good one. When a judge or jury makes a decision, it should be reviewable at a higher level, all the way to the Supreme Court. In the case of the Hammond conviction I’m of the opinion that the government should not have appealed the original sensible decision of Judge Hogan, my only hero in this mess. The government foolishly took it as far as they could to make a point. That showed no sense and led to the Bundy situation.

So, let’s sum this entire mess up. A moron lights fires all over to cover up a relatively minor crime. A bunch more morons, our judicial system, end up putting him in jail for way too long. A third group of morons pretends to take on the first moron’s problems when they’re just idiots with their own separate agenda. And finally, just about everyone arguing for the long sentence or against doesn’t have a clue as to what they are talking about!!

Go it? You’re all morons. Except you Judge Hogan. You can come to St. Louis and I’ll buy you some good Kentucky sipping whiskey any time.

Did I miss insulting anyone? Yes? Well, you’re an idiot also.

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


War or Defense? What’s in a Word?

war-or-defenseI recently read a comment written in response to an article about Robert Gates that got me thinking. What is the nature of a word? Why do we use one word instead of another? Does it make that much of a difference?

In WW ll we did not have a Secretary of Defense, DOD or JCS was the comment. Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff are the acronyms referenced in the comment.

The comment is true in a literal sense but largely false. Up until after World War II the Secretary of Defense was called the Secretary of War and the Department of Defense was the Department of War. From a Libertarian perspective I think that sums up something that has gone wrong with the United States of America. Our government, at its very heart, uses the word Defense instead of the word War.

There was a time when this nation was a small country, largely incapable of carrying out aggressive war. We lived in fear of invasion from Britain and potentially other nations as well. We were almost solely concerned with defending our shores. But somehow even then we knew that War was war and Defense was defense. Congress created the Department of War in 1789.

What does the word Defense conjure in your mind? To me it is a woman being attacked and using her martial skill to fend off the assault. I imagine most people conjure up a similar image when they hear that word.

What does the word War conjure in your mind? For me it is horrors. It is death, maiming, good people without limbs, stinking bodies. I would guess for many the same images come to mind.

So what does it tell us that in 1947 Congress passed legislation called the National Security Act of 1947 which reorganized the department but also made the subtle name change?

This happened just as the United States was emerging as the strongest military in the world. We were and remain in a position where our borders are virtually unassailable. Yes, terrorists can sneak in and kill people. They might even set off a nuclear weapon and kill millions. But the reality is that the United States has no fear of foreign military invasion. No country in the world can mount an attack on the continental United States with even the slightest chance of success.

And yet the word Defense is used with ever greater frequency and the need to strengthen it stressed by our politicians. Not only strengthen it but do so at the expense of our basic freedoms.

I say we should call things what they are. War is war. When our political leaders send young men and women off to foreign countries to kill and be killed, to maim and be maimed, maybe they should have images of war in their minds, not pictures of defense. They might hesitate before committing troops to situations in which the United States has nothing to gain.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a name doesn’t mean that much.

What do you think?

Should the Department and Secretary of Defense names be changed back to War?

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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

The Hypocrisy of Sports and Maty Mauk

maty-maukThere’s big news hitting the sporting world as the oft-suspended quarterback of the Missouri Tiger football team is facing more problems thanks to a video released of him using cocaine.

I think it’s hypocritical and you might find that opinion puzzling considering it’s clearly a serious violation. Maty Mauk is obviously using cocaine in the video. Sure, it could be talcum powder, sure, it could be someone who looks just like Mauk, but let’s take things at face value. It is Mauk and he is using cocaine in the video.

Cocaine is currently illegal in the United States and despite my Libertarian philosophy that all drugs should be legal, his actions are criminal in nature. The team has every right to suspend him, or at least that’s the obvious answer.

So why do I find the entire situation hypocritical?

Mauk was suspended earlier in the season. Why? Because of cocaine use. My buddies who know a lot about the situation told me as much months ago. He then returned to the team only to be suspended again after a drunken fight at a bar.

Again, you might well ask me, why are you so outraged at this latest suspension? He has a history. The video clearly shows him using cocaine.

Here’s the problem. When was the video taken? No one knows. There is no evidence that this is new. The reality is the athletic department knew he was using cocaine and suspended him earlier in the season for that reason. This video could easily be from that time period. Frankly, I’d guess it probably is, but that is pure speculation.

But suddenly, because the public gets to see what the athletic department knew all along, the suspension gets longer? Becomes indefinite? That’s garbage. If you knew he was using cocaine and decided a four game suspension was appropriate, then that’s the decision you made. You should not go back and change that decision because suddenly the public is aware of the situation.

It reminds me of the Ray Rice controversy which I wrote about in September of 2014.

If the team was aware of the allegation and decided on the punishment the court of public opinion should have no meaning. The only reason Missouri is creating this new suspension is to look good. It’s not about the transgressions Mauk made nor about the good of the team or the university. It is simply face saving and it disgusts me.

Believe me, I have no sympathy for Mauk. He made his bed and he can sleep in it. But this suspension is completely out of line with reality.

We should be judged for the crimes we commit at the time we commit them. The court of public opinion should have no say in the matter. If it did where would we all be? Examine your life. We are none of us innocents.

I’m ready to take some heat for this one but I strongly believe Mauk should be cleared to play football unless it turns out this video was taken after the original suspension.

What do you think?

Does the Video make a Difference in Mauk's Suspension?

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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

Political Endorsements are Now a Negative

candidate-endorsement-minThere was a time in the United States when newspapers endorsed a candidate, when other politicians endorsed a candidate, when celebrities endorsed a candidate, when, I don’t know, the family dog endorsed a candidate and it caused people to vote for the person so endorsed.

I just finished watching as much of the Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump video as any rational, sane human can stomach and I have come to realize that an endorsement, any endorsement, is a net negative. That more people will be turned away from a candidate no matter who is endorsing them. When and why did this come to pass?

I think it’s an interesting question that goes well beyond the ramblings of Palin, who, by the way, went to college with me back at the University of Idaho. Yep, we were classmates. She lived in the women’s dormitory right across from Upham Hall where I spent my time.

In any case, that’s not the point here.

My supposition is that endorsements likely alienate more voters than they sway. This can be debated and I welcome anyone who would refute me but, for the sake of this blog, I’m going to assume that statement is true.

What is the cause of this dramatic shift? I’m of the opinion it is the plethora of information available about all of the candidates. I think people are far more comfortable choosing a candidate on their own, simply because they know that much more about them. Prior to the explosion of the Information Age people had to rely more on the opinions of others to decide their ballot because their knowledge of a candidate was limited.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to me because the general opinion seems to be that most voters are not particularly informed about their choices. Republicans and Democrats largely blame “the media” for twisting the opinion of the voters.

I think exactly the opposite. It seems to me that voters in general have a significantly better idea of the various candidates and stronger personal opinions about them than did people prior to the availability of so much information.

I think politicians far more closely represent the views of the average United States citizen today than they ever did in the past. This, by the way, is a bad thing. It brings us closer to becoming a Democracy, something I wrote about back in February of 2012.

The people who like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do so not because the media fooled voters but simply because the media more clearly explained the candidates to voters. Thus, it’s my opinion, people are less likely to be influenced by third-party endorsements. They know who the candidate is and they do not need anyone else telling them how to vote.

Let me know what you think.

Does an Endorsement of a Candidate make you more likely to vote for that person?

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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

Chess versus Islam

ban-chess-muslimsI read a story from the Associated Press about a Twitter war that is raging because a prominent Saudi Arabian, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al Sheikh, declared that Muslims should not play chess.

No big deal? Just some religious kook making an outlandish statement? I disagree. For Al Sheikh to make this statement there is clearly backing for it in the fundamentalist Islamic world. Scholars have warned against the game in the past.

So why is this a big deal? Because many of the finest chess players in the world are from the Middle East and are Muslims. Chess originated in Asia and Muslims introduced the wonderful game to the western world. It has a long and important tradition in the Middle East and players are very dedicated to the game. Perhaps more dedicated to chess than to their religion.

And that’s important. It is also the way things should be. You should be more loyal to the things you like than to a religion or to a nation. That is the heart of the Libertarian political belief. We should associate with those who enjoy the same things as us, and let others do the same.

I don’t like playing with dolls but it’s not my business if you do. I love playing chess and spend my time watching chess videos and playing the game with acquaintances from all over the world. And it’s none of your business how much time I spend doing it! Nor would it be the business of any leader of whatever religion I happened to believe. I’m an Atheist for public record so it’s a moot point in today’s argument.

I happened to be born in the United States of America and a chess playing friend happened to be born in Iran. What is important is that we both enjoy playing chess. That is our bond and it has nothing to do with the circumstances of my birth or an edict from a ruler or religious leader. It is my choice to play chess with those who also enjoy the game.

I hope my chess playing friends, who happen to be Muslims, recognize this ridiculous statement for what it is. It’s simply an attempt to control them by restricting the things they love. Sound like anything governmental or religious leaders have done to you? Maybe you need new leaders or perhaps you should give up on the idea of an organized religion altogether.

That being said, religion itself is not the problem here, it is the twisting of power to control adherents that upsets me and hopefully some of my friends. If you believe in Allah, God, Lucifer, the Earth Mother, or any other deity, that’s cool. It’s your business and I don’t much care. Would that everyone else felt the same way.

I play at Lichess and GameKnot and my user name is tomlib. How about a nice game of chess?

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

I’m Smarter than Them

smarter-than-you-minI just added a blog to my Stupid Comment of the Week collection and, while discussing it with my co-worker Joe, found his observation to be extraordinarily intriguing. His thought essential involved the idea of perceived intelligence. Let me explain.

The original stupid comment involved a mathematical equation involving prime numbers but it is the implications of that comment that intrigue me.

The commenter got themselves involved in a complex mathematical discussion in which they felt their ideas would easily trump that of the established mathematic community. Their idea was nonsensical and well-worthy of inclusion in my Stupid Comment of the Week blog but it was the idea behind it, that Joe so ably pointed out, that I find so interesting.

Why would someone, without much thought or hesitation, enter into a complex mathematical discussion? I think there was a time when the sciences, as a whole, were respected and admired by the population. But in the last few years we’ve seen a stark politicization of science. When the science agrees with my political philosophy I respect it but when it does not I ridicule it. This attitude has filtered down to the average person so much so that they think they know better than scientists.

That is clearly what drove the comment in question. Anyone who had respect for the all but unfathomable nature of higher mathematics, which I do, would never so much as dare enter into an opinion that countered the established thought. At least not without considerable research. Yet the fellow in question, one assumes without hesitation, had the absolute arrogance to assume a greater knowledge than those who spent countless hours in study. The fellow in question did not hesitate to assume that their ten seconds of thought, if that, could simply and easily dispose of astonishing intelligence and hard work.

What does this tell us? That the average citizen believes they are smarter than those who work, who study, who spend hours in deep discussions with colleagues, who are clearly of superior intelligence? That the average, or below average, person thinks they know more than she or he who has spent a lifetime studying and learning?

It is a disturbing thought. If the average person believes they are smarter than the intellectual giants; what does it tell us about where the United States of America is heading?

I think this is a question well worth examining and I find I do not like the answer.

If the average person does not respect, does not admire, does not even so much as admit that the intellectual elite are in fact, elite, where is our nation headed?

The only answer I can come up with is that we are headed for obscurity. The United States will become an afterthought in the world. A has-been. A once great fallen into laughable disrepair.

I hope this is not the case but evidence is growing.

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

Newest Prime Number Stupid Comment of the Week

Newest-PrimeAnd with a triumphant return we have my newest Stupid Comment of the Week!

There was an interesting article about how software using computer idle time is performing mathematical calculations to find prime numbers. Such software found the largest one yet back in September but news of it is being spread far and wide through the internet.

Upon reading this story a fellow named Michael Mulranen decided to post his mathematical acumen for the world to see with his comment as displayed in the image above.

Michael then went on to defend the argument with more comments! First he attacks someone who dared point out his logic was idiotic by commenting on their spelling. Then he defends his original argument.

More-prime-defenseFinally he attacks another person who told him his argument was wrong.

Congratulations, Michael. You are my Stupid Commenter of the Week!

Oh, and of course, Prime Numbers are by their nature odd numbers. Any odd number to which five is added will be an even number and therefore not prime. This was pointed out to Michael but he doesn’t want to listen.

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



Can you Commit Vehicular Manslaughter when you are not Driving?

causationA man named James Ryan is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter for starting a chain of events that ended in a police officer being killed.

The entire case revolves around a legal concept called Causation. If you are interested in all things legal I cannot recommend highly enough that you read the Causation article at Wikipedia. It is beyond fascinating but for those of you without the patience or inclination I’m going to summarize both the events and the legal case.

The incident occurred as follows: Ryan was driving while intoxicated and clipped another car on the expressway and then stopped while still on the highway. A following car then hit his car spinning it around. Officer Joseph Olivieri arrived on the scene and at some point had Ryan on the side of the road with his hands on a guard rail. At this time another car hit Ryan’s car and then Olivieri, killing him.

The legal concept of Causation is quite complex but basically relies on the idea that if someone commits an action there are often obvious ramifcations to that action and that person can be held legally responsible for those events.

The example in Wikipedia that I think sums up the situation pretty well describes hitting someone in the road and then leaving them there rather than removing them from danger. The person is then run over and killed by a third party. The injuries from the original accident were not life threatening. The person who committed the original crime is guilty by the principal of Causation because knowingly leaving a disabled person in the middle of the road is fairly obviously putting them in danger of being hit again.

However, if the person lying in the middle of the road is struck by lightning and killed, then the person who committed the original crime is not guilty by reasons of Causation.

Got all that?

Now to the case at hand. The prosecutors believe, and an Appeals Court decision agrees, that Ryan should have known that by driving drunk he could get in an accident. That this could bring the police. That police on the scene of an accident might be hit by another car.

This is, to my eyes, ridiculous. I’m not a lawyer or a judge. What Ryan did was drive drunk and cause an accident. That is the extent of his crime, a serious crime to be sure and for which he should face penalties.

If Ryan is convicted I see no reason why police could not charge virtually anyone with anything. There is not a single one of us who goes even a day without committing some sort of infraction be it speeding, jaywalking, rolling a stop sign, turning without signaling, switching lanes without signaling, or something of the ilk. Whatever other, more serious crime, happens in relation to that is something for which you could be charged.

These charges, filed and successfully appealed, are extraordinarily troubling to me.

I strongly suspect that most prosecutors would never attempt such legal maneuverings and the death of the officer likely prompted such over-reach in this case. But that is no assurance of safety for any of us.

Although we might find Ryan loathsome for driving while intoxicated and understand the pain of the family and friends of the officer killed, those are not reason enough to put a person in prison for up to twenty-five years for something he did not do.

Justice is an important concept and these charges do not serve it.

What do you think?

Should Ryan be Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter

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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

Tila Tequila, Cinnamon Nicole, and GoFundMe Idiocy

gofundmeI happened across two interesting stories today discussing GoFundMe campaigns. One involved a woman named Tila Tequila who needed money for a new apartment while a woman named Cinnamon Nicole used the Crowd Funding source to get living expenses after spending her savings on Powerball tickets.

The comments on the two stories are pretty predictable in that few people showed any sympathy toward Tequila or Nicole. Both women found themselves in difficult situations largely because of their own bad decisions.

The Nicole GoFundMe campaign was removed and she now claims the entire thing was a joke while the Tequila campaign reached its goal.

There are numerous incidents of people using Crowd Funding sites to get money for reasons that are less than savory. I found my reaction to these cases to be extraordinarily interesting from both a Libertarian perspective and a psychological one.

I want to be clear that I’m not, in this blog, talking about campaigns that are deceitful in their aims. In both of the situations mentioned above the women laid out why they needed the money honestly. There have certainly been cases of people claiming catastrophic illness or other tragedy in order to gain sympathy and donations. Such examples are fraudulent, clearly illegal, should be removed, and the perpetrators prosecuted.

When I first read the Tequila story I moved to the comments section thinking to add my own condemnation but then I noted the thousands of comments and tens of thousands of likes associated with those comments. That’s when I started thinking. Why should I care what Tequila does? Why does it bother me that she has made so many horrible decisions? Why does her cynical campaign annoy me? Why does it anger so many people? Why is it our business at all?

Why couldn’t I shake my head at the disaster of the decisions that led to the GoFundMe campaigns and forget about it?

Why is it that I, and so many others, eagerly want to judge, to condemn, to lash out?

I think it is because doing so makes me feel better about myself. By pointing out the failures in others I somehow reassure myself that I’m a better person. I make good decisions and wouldn’t stoop to such depths. I’m a good man, by golly.

And I think such thoughts prove that I am not as good as I suppose. If I was truly confident in my wonderfulness I suspect I would not feel the urge to condemn Tequila. I would merely note the story and move along with my life. If someone asked me about her specifically I would certainly give my opinion but this urge to display to everyone else how much better a human being am I than Tequila is my failing.

It’s a failing of a fundamental nature that I think speaks directly to being a Libertarian, or at least my interpretation of being one. I should be focused on my actions. When someone else does something that has no effect on me, not only should I not care, but I shouldn’t even really much think about it.

My life is my own to lead and yours is yours.

I’m of the opinion that the world would be a much better place if we could all follow this philosophy a bit more. This attitude is hardly an easy one to pursue but it is a worthwhile thing to attempt.

I’ll be doing my best. Will you?

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

Cybersquatting Los Angeles Ram Domain Name

cybersquattingAs a fan of the former St. Louis Rams there’s an interesting case involving domain names that caught my attention.

The team is moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles and their old domain name of stlouisrams.com is obviously of little use. A fellow named Brian Busch registered losangelesrams.com and now wants to charge the team $650,000 to transfer it.

This brings me to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999. Basically this act makes it legal for entities like the Rams to go to court and force Busch to relinquish the domain for no fee at all. The name of the act is, as usual for legislation in this day and age, a bit misleading. It should have been called the Anticybersquatting Corporation Protection Act of 1999.

The idea is that well-known trademarks cannot be used in bad faith. Thus if Busch doesn’t intend to create a website about the Rams or have a legitimate reason to use that domain, the team can simply take it from him. If Busch happened to be named Angel Ramos he might have a case but otherwise it is very likely the courts will rule against him should the Rams decided to pursue that domain.

All this is really just prelude. As a Libertarian and also an author I find this case extraordinarily interesting. I have written eight books and I plan to write many more. Lets take my most recent one, The Girl in Glass as an example. What if someone out there registered girlinglass.com with the sole purpose of extorting me for the domain should my novels ever become best sellers. This person has no connection to the books nor any real intent of creating a website based on the books. She or he just wants to sit on the name in the hopes of getting a payoff at some future point.

This is currently illegal. I could take them to court and most likely get the name for myself.

As a Libertarian I often think the government oversteps its bounds and creates laws that cause far more trouble than they’re worth. But this one hits me in my house. As a writer my gut reaction is the law makes sense. As a Libertarian my gut reaction is the government shouldn’t be involved.

I’m not an anarchist and I believe that government has a useful purpose in society and good laws are quite helpful in maintaining order. I’m certainly not a proponent of government oversight of everything and I think bad laws cause many problems.

There are examples of abuses on both sides of this situation. Microsoft sued and eventually forced a young man named Mike Rowe to relinquish mikerowesoft.com

Proctor and Gamble is pg.com because someone else owns proctorandgamble.com but they themselves have registered thousands of domains like deoderant.com to keep others away.

This is where creating laws to try and prevent things gets ugly and often time counterproductive. The laws often end up twisted and abused.

In the end I have to come down on the side of the person registering the domain. If they registered it, it’s their domain. If someone registers girlinglass.com and its many derivatives, then it’s up to me to find a substitute domain name. If one of my customers ends up on girlinglass.com instead of gig.book, I have to trust my customer enough to find their way to my site.

It’s an interesting case to be certain and I see arguments on both sides. Perhaps I could be swayed ….

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

If Everyone was a Millionaire what would Happen?

powerball-meme-failThere’s been an interesting meme making the rounds about the Powerball Jackpot of $1.4 billion and how it could be divided up among all the people living in the United States. It’s fundamentally wrong in that the amount posted, $4.33 million, is an error. It would actually be on $4.33. That aside, I noted several of my friends on Facebook suggesting that if everyone was a millionaire economic ruin would follow.

That’s the idea I want to examine today.

What if everyone in the nation, perhaps even the world, had enough money to buy most of the things they need with the exception of luxury items.

The theory my friends on Facebook have is that these people would never work again. They’d simply invest the money and live off the interest while eating, sleeping, and otherwise occupying themselves. The problem being that if they wanted to play a round of golf all the people that work at the golf course wouldn’t be there. There would be no one to get out the carts, no one to take their payment, no one to mow the grass, no one to weed, no one to do anything. All those people would have retired as well.

What incentive is there to work if not to provide basic economic needs? If you have food, utilities, entertainment, and other things, why would you labor?

It’s a fair question and I think the answer lies within our nature. I’m of the opinion that we don’t do things simply to have enough food. There is a deeper yearning within and that is to achieve things. That is the underlying foundation of happiness. When we achieve we are happy. Certainly money allows us to purchase things that make life more comfortable and acts as an incentive but it is only a shadow of the real thing that drives us.

As modern, so-called Western, culture has made people wealthier it has not stopped that drive to achieve but in many ways fueled it. Poor people in poverty stricken nations have far less than their equivalents in wealthy nations. We’ve seen the definition of poor radically change as wealth has increased but we have not seen a drop in a desire to work.

But there is a danger and I think that it comes from our worship of money as opposed to achievement. When we place wealth on a golden pedestal we fool people into thinking that money is the goal. It is not. The goal is happiness and we get there by doing things well. We get paid because we do things well and thus can afford more luxuries, this is true, and I’m not arguing against giving achievers more money with which to buy things. I’m just arguing that the emphasis on which we often put the two is wrong.

Achievement is the goal. Happiness, money, comfort, and success are the results.

If we make achievement the first priority then wealth, for everyone, naturally follows.

As energy becomes cheap and readily available, soon enough everyone in the world will have their basic needs met without having to work. I’m of the opinion this will not lead to stagnation and ruin but to an age where humanity achieves things heretofore all but unimaginable.

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

The Student Athlete Compared to the Student

student-athlete-payThere is a profound difference in the nature of a so-called student-athlete and a student and I think many people fail to realize it. Why does this come to mind? Because a fellow named Don Yee, who happens to be the agent of Tom Brady, wrote an opinion piece over the weekend suggesting, among other things, that Clemson and Alabama college football players should refuse to play in the National Championship game.

It’s an interesting piece and talks about the inequality of the financial situation between players and virtually everyone else. I wrote a blog on the same subject back in June of 2013 that echoes a number of the points Yee makes. Yee focuses on race and I largely disagree with his assessments in that regard but it’s not the topic of my blog today.

While reading the passionate comments under Yee’s post I found a common thread. The idea is that the student-athletes should be more than happy with the opportunity to attend college without cost. The students would very much like this arrangement for themselves.

People equate the student and the student-athlete to make this argument. Gosh, lots of kids go way into debt to pay for college is the common thought. The reality is that the two are virtually the opposite of one another in an economic sense.

The student is paying a fee for an education. He or she must get good grades to be allowed into the school and even then pays for the commodity of an education. The school charges this fee and then provides teachers, buildings, cleaning staff, and many other items in return. The student is the consumer and the college is the commodity.

On the other hand, the student-athlete is being paid to play football. The school is the consumer and the player is the commodity. The school’s representative all but begs the athlete to come to that school rather than sell his services to a rival. The player then provides entertainment that generates a large amount of revenue for the school, coaches, and many others. The payment the player gets is an education, exposure for a future career, and various other things.

These are fundamentally different. We cannot compare the student with the student-athlete because they are essentially opposites of one another from an economic perspective.

In the meantime, the student-athlete has noted that coaches are getting paid a lot more than they were twenty years ago. The student-athlete has noted the total amount of revenue generated from the games has gone up by a tremendous amount but their salary remains the same. They want a raise and who are we to tell them they should be “satisfied” with their current rate of pay? That they are “greedy” for wanting more? Would you tell a co-worker those things? Of course not.

Should they get a raise? That’s not my business. It’s between the schools and the student-athletes but I certainly think it’s their absolute right to ask for a raise and not perform if they don’t get. Likewise the school might fire them and give the scholarship to someone else. That’s a labor negotiation which is exactly what is happening.

On a happy note, things are actually moving toward a much more equitable state. The student-athletes in the Power Five conferences now receive a stipend of several hundred dollars a month, access to as much food as they can eat, and their families no longer have to pay out of pocket to attend Bowl Games (trips which can be quite expensive, particularly for low-income households). The horrific system where scholarships were revoked if a player got injured or failed to perform has been abolished.

The NCAA and the colleges seem to have recognized the inequities that the system engendered and are working to fix them without going to a purely professional system wherein each player is negotiated with separately.  These are good things. A reasonable pay increase for the players without destroying the nature of the system. A win/win.

It makes an old cynic proud.

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


Japanese Train Station Kept Open for One Girl – Not

Remote-Hokkaido-trainThere’s a rather sweet little story making the rounds on Twitter, Facebook and various media outlets about a rural train station in Japan that was scheduled to close. I’m sure a few of you have read it, smiled, and gone on about your business.

Would that I was capable of accepting such little moments of happiness without question. Nope, you guessed it, ding ding, bullshit alert going off, must check it out.

Sadly, it’s largely nonsense, but instructive nevertheless.

The story goes that a train station in a rural area of Hokkaido was sparsely used and scheduled to be taken off the schedule. It turned out a lone schoolgirl used it to get to school so management kept the station open until her graduation. They even went as far as to adjust the schedule of the train to meet with her needs.

Judging by the comments I read on the story, people seem to think the girl is the only passenger. That the train is merely running to get her from her rural station to her school. They also seem to be of the opinion that it was some sort of wonderful testament to government in Japan. Even if we take the story at face value these inferences are both incorrect.

It is just one of many stations along a rout. The trains are running in any case, they just were scheduled to bypass that station thus forcing the girl to travel further to another station to catch a train.

Also, the Hokkaido Railway Company is a private enterprise so even if they did do what was being claimed in the story, it has nothing to do with government but instead private industry.

The real story is that the girl actually uses another, nearby, station along with a number of fellow students. There is only one train in the morning but there are three possible trains that drop them off in the evening. This station, along with the one in the story, are actually scheduled to be closed later this year, in line with the news reports, but it apparently has nothing to do with the girls.

This means passengers from that rural area, the schoolgirls, will have to drive further to get to a larger station in the future.

What I find most interesting about this entire episode is the combination of misinformation and poor comprehension.

The story itself was largely false. The stations were being closed on a schedule that has nothing to do with the girls, the timetables weren’t adjusted, and there is more than one girl.

But even if we take the story as truth, the vast majority of people seem incapable of figuring out what was actually written. They read that the train had a single passenger and the government was responsible for keeping it running despite the fact the story said neither of these things.

Their minds turned what was written into something that better fit what they hoped it would be. Astounding!

Do you think there are any lessons to be had?

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

Knowingly Sending Sexually Explicit Pictures of Yourself is a Crime Now

Cormega-Copening-and-Brianna-DensonI just learned of the case against Cormega Copening and Brianna Denson and, yet again, I shake my head in dismay.

Cormega and Brianna date. When they were both sixteen years old they sent one another sexually explicit photos. The police took Copening’s phone while investigating another incident and found the pictures. They then went to Denson and took her phone finding similar pictures on it. Denson reached a plea deal in which she was fined $200 and given a year’s probation. Copening is facing five counts of sexual exploitation each with the possibility of two years in prison and a lifetime listing as a sexual offender.

In an interesting side note, the state of North Carolina is of the opinion that Copening and Denson at sixteen were legally allowed to have sex with one another and be charged as adults, but were not old enough to send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to each other.

Let’s imagine we live in a grown up country instead of the great do-good, nanny nation the United States has become.

It shouldn’t be illegal for anyone, of any age, to willingly and without duress send a picture of themselves to someone else regardless of sexual content.

I get the moral outrage of we must protect the children! I understand that someone might well be tricked or coerced into sending a compromising photo of themselves to a second party. I don’t want to get into far ranging discussion today. We could talk about an adult tricking or manipulating a young person into sending such photos. I understand the possibility of third parties becoming involved in transferring such photos. I get the idea that demand for child pornography creates suppliers. But none of that is the case here.

The problem here is largely a horrible law. It’s illegal for a minor, under eighteen, to have sexually explicit photos on their phone. The most serious of all the charges Copening faces are third-degree felonies for having sexually explicit pictures of himself on the phone! I repeat, of himself. He took them with the intention of sending them to Denson and had them still on his phone when the police confiscated it. He is both the defendant and the victim!

If anyone under 18 does not own the right to their own images what else is left for the government to take?

I even understand the police and prosecutors who are merely applying the law as it is written in North Carolina. That’s their job. They might have decided to prosecute this case simply to point out the insanity of the legislation, hoping to get legislators to make changes.

Why do we care so much about people, even those under eighteen years of age, willingly sending sexual photos to each other? It’s their damned business!

Why are we so obsessed with everyone else’s private and personal business?

How on earth did we get to a place in this nation where a seventeen year old boy can be sent to prison for having naked pictures of himself on his phone?


P.S. The picture I included at the top is an adorable image of the couple having fun for the camera, it was on their Facebook page but is now out and about on the internet.

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

Netflix and the Ridiculous 6

The-Ridiculous-6There’s an interesting story from the entertainment industry about an Adam Sandler movie called The Ridiculous 6.

It’s not an earth shaking story by any means but I do think it gives us an interesting insight into the nature of capitalism and the creativity with which people use statistics.

First a little background. Netflix entered into a contract with Sandler to produce four films for exclusive distribution on the Netflix network. It’s a nice way for companies like Netflix to have exclusive content but that’s not the gist of my blog today.

The Ridiculous 6 was roundly criticized as a poor movie by both critics and audiences. Rotten Tomato accumulates critiques from both professionals and regular movie watchers.

Now comes the story I referenced in the first sentence of this post. The Chief Operating Officer of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, announced that the movie has been viewed by more people in the first thirty days than any other Netflix movie. This statistic would seem to bely the many poor reviews for the film. If that many people are watching, it can’t be all that bad. At least that’s a relatively logical conclusion. That’s exactly the conclusion that Sarandos and Netflix would like you to have.

I have not seen the movie and I can’t say whether it is as awful as critics have described or if it’s not all that bad. But when I read that statistic my mind began to whirl. “Tom,” I said to myself. “That’s an odd statistic to put out there. 30 days. Most viewed. I wonder if there’s something going on that needs investigation.

Okay, I didn’t really say that to myself, my thought process was more like, “Ding, Ding, bullshit alert going off, check it out you sexy beast!

So I rushed home after the gym, put a kettle on to boil, put on my jammies, sat down in front of the computer, and got to work!

Here’s the deal. Netflix has banners all over its site promoting the movie and when you click one of them movie starts automatically. This counts as a view. In addition the Netflix Streaming Catalog is significantly smaller than their DVD catalog. Many of the biggest blockbusters are not available for streaming. So the competition is somewhat diminished when comparing the first 30 days of release.

I’m certain that Sarandos is telling the truth but I’m equally certain that this truth doesn’t tell the entire story and many people might easily come to erroneous, but reasonable, conclusions.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. Netflix has every right to promote their original content as they desire and count views how they want. They are in a business and want to make money. As long as they don’t lie, more power to them.

Anyone who is “tricked” into watching the movie can turn it off at any time. Even someone who spends $10 to sign up for Netflix simply to watch the movie isn’t really out a significant amount of money. Let the buyer beware. The reviews are out there and anyone who claims they didn’t know it was supposed to be awful has only themselves to blame.

My only point here is that people should always take time for a critical examination when someone tells them something that sounds a little too good to be true. Statistics can be manipulated.

And that, my friends, is that. Catch you next time!

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

And Three Say No to Ken Griffey Jr

ken-griffey-jrThere’s an ugly tradition in baseball regarding the Hall of Fame and I’m hardly the first person to write about it but here I go anyway, please forgive me.

No player has ever been elected into the Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The very first inductees in the Hall of Fame were Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. Since then the likes of Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, and others have joined them. Men who were elite among the elites. Giants of the game.

There is no question these players deserved the vote of every writer but tradition says no. And thus the greatest player I ever saw, Ken Griffey Jr., was supported by only 437 of the 440 writers voting.

The first vote back in 1936 was a special situation. Voters were only allowed to put ten names on the ballot and there was quite a backlog of worthy players. Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby, Micky Cochrane, and George Sisler didn’t make it that first year although later joined.

Writers who left off Ruth or Cobb were instead voting for Speaker or Hornsby. I’m willing to give them a reluctant shrug of the shoulders. That first list did have ten players fairly close in skills to that top five. It’s possible that someone could argue Ruth was the 11st best player on that list. Unlikely, I’m not buying it, but it’s not a completely unreasonable position.

The backlog continued for a while but eventually there were fewer than ten deserving candidates each year.

There are some members of the voting block who think because Cobb and the others were not unanimous, to elect anyone with 100% of the vote is insulting to those five, it somehow diminishes those five. They often submit a ballot with no names at all.

This is injustice. This is unfair. It is against the traditions of our nation.

Let’s imagine a world in which voters do not cast their ballot for the person they think best represents the qualities needed for the position. I know it is difficult to fathom but try to conjure a world in which people vote for or against a candidate not because of their abilities but because of their perceived chances of winning or losing. Imagine a nation in which people have so long voted for inferior candidates that qualified people have no desire to run for office, where the only choices are bad and worse.

Cast your important ballot for a person based upon their record. Vote for them because they are the candidate that most closely represents your views. Vote for them because it is the right thing to do. Vote for that candidate no matter their chances of winning or losing. When we vote for the most worthy candidate regardless of other factors, we make the nation strong. Anything else is a betrayal of your obligation as a voter. It destroys our country one election at a time.

Yes, I’ve finally gotten to the point. I’ve tricked you and I feel shame. Vote for Gary Johnson.

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

Romancing the Apocalypse

ApocalypseHas anyone else noticed the romanticizing of an apocalypse?

Be it a Zombie Apocalypse, a Nuclear Apocalypse, a Government Meltdown Apocalypse, or any other sort of disaster, there are those who romanticize this state affairs.

Why is this? I say with absolute confidence that modern society with all its amenities is far better than any apocalyptic scenario. The modern world is amazing. Modern medicine. Modern dentistry. Modern plumbing. Modern communication. I play chess with people from all over the world thanks to the internet and computers. I talk with friends and family at will. I know almost immediately when things happen. We have a virtually endless supply of clean water, hot water, food, comfortable lodgings, transportation, comforts.

After the apocalypse all these things go away. Even if I was somehow lucky enough to survive I’d be living without hot water every day. I’d be hungry and sober most of the time. I wouldn’t get to play Dungeons and Dragons and board games with my friends. I wouldn’t get to travel. The world would be much less beautiful. It would be, in a word, awful. And that’s at best.

So what is this romanticizing all about?

I think it’s about two different things although they overlap.

One group of people is those who are dissatisfied with life but also relatively comfortable. They have plenty. In comparison with people throughout the history of the world they are more comfortable, wealthier, have better access to food and water, shelter, live longer and with less pain; and yet they yearn to have not these material things but instead control of their life. That’s what an apocalyptic fantasy yields. I am the controller of my destiny. I find my food. I kill my enemies. I lead my family and friends to freedom and survival.

The modern world gives us many nice things but we are increasingly dependent on others for these luxuries. My food delivery service is late on Tuesday night thus inconveniencing me. A driver cuts me off on the way to work thus frustrating me. We largely do not control our destiny in a modern world and this births discontent and yearning for more control, the control a apocalypse seems to promise.

The other group of people are those who use fear of such a catastrophe to fleece us of our money. They promise safety when the world collapses … for a fee. They are often also part of the first group in they think they will have control once disaster strikes.

The first group is understandable but incorrect. An apocalypse will not give them more control, but less. There is more immediate control of things like gathering food but much less control of life in general. Is there food to be found? Water? Is it safe to leave the house? Will I be able to communicate with my loved ones? The answer is mostly no. Life is more dangerous, more capricious, and less controllable despite the promise of such power. It is certainly without the amenities.

The second group is largely despicable. They hope for terrible tragedy and the countless loss of lives in order to inflate their massive egos in regards to their own capability and also to steal your money. They are not to be trusted.

My point in all of this? Life is very good for more people now than it has ever been in the history of the world. Work not to destroy this world but to make it better. Yearn not for an apocalypse but incremental improvements to a system that is already pretty amazing. Look not at the driver who cut you off but at your ability to safely get to the grocery store and purchase all you need. Do not be angry when an ambulance momentarily blocks your path but understand that such a vehicle will one day take you or a loved one to a hospital for medical care that far surpasses any in the history of the world.

Sure, life isn’t perfect. Life isn’t fair. The government isn’t without flaw. My advice, don’t destroy, instead build. This is the path to controlling your life and the path to happiness.

Tom Liberman

Playing not to Win Annoys People

Trivial-Pursuit-80sWhen I was younger I used to play everything to win. That was the goal and I had more than a bit of a temper when things didn’t work out. As I got older that was supplanted by a desire to simply have fun.

I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that this attitude, while quite healthy for me, is also very annoying to some people. Let me explain.

I was invited by a friend to partake in a Trivial Pursuit, 80s version, night of game playing. We divided up into three teams and I’m happy to say that those on my team pretty much had the same attitude as me. It’s nice to win and we certainly did our best but the main goal was to banter about the strange questions, eat the delicious food, drink the nice drinks, and generally have a good time.

Members of another team were a bit more serious about winning and, unfortunately, my team was winning and their team was losing. My attempts at good humor which sometimes gave clues as to the answer to the third team did not go over well with these opponents. My team bantered about the questions and tried to deduce answers even when it wasn’t our turn and this further annoyed certain opponents.

I certainly understand their point of view. In my youth, when I thought winning was more important than having fun, such an attitude among my fellow competitors was annoying to me as well.

I’m of the opinion that our attitude is healthier. I think when it comes to games it’s better to put having fun ahead of winning. Not that you shouldn’t always do your best. I always try my best but I’m not worried about losing if things don’t go right. I’m actually of the opinion that the desire to win and the ability to have fun are inversely related. The more we make winning paramount, the less fun we have. Winning is not the fun part of the game, playing is.

That’s not the point of my blog today. I absolutely think it’s true but the question I wonder is if, perhaps, I should be more attuned to those who want to win and repress my attitude, at least a bit. If my bantering and casual regard for winning annoys those around me, am I not diminishing their fun?

Isn’t the point for everyone to have fun? I can’t be responsible for the entirety of their experience to be certain, but it is also clear my attitude does effect those around me. I was annoying several of my fellow competitors.

Should I tone it down a bit in deference to them?

As a side note I would like to point out that, contrary to popular belief, it is largely women who seem to take winning at games much more seriously than men, at least as adults. That is clearly a subjective and anecdotal opinion.

Anyway, if you have an opinion I’ve got a couple of polls for you to fill out. Let me know!

Should I tone down my Fun before Winning attitude

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Is there a Gender divide in those who want to win most?

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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

Hawaii Raises Age to Purchase Cigarettes to 21

hawaii-smoking-age-banIt’s wearisome being a Libertarian at times and when I read that Hawaii raised the age required to smoke or purchase cigarettes to 21, I sadly shook my head.

What’s the point of writing yet another blog about how passing such laws creates serious problems and solves nothing? The War on Drugs. Prohibition. Laws against a particular type of weapon. I suppose I could launch into a dissertation on the law of Supply and Demand but you already know about that.

Everybody, on the two main sides of the political spectrum, already understands. Republicans know that laws banning particular weapons hurt more than they help. Democrats know that passing laws against particular brands of drugs cause far more damage than the problem the purport to solve.

Everyone already knows. They know in Hawaii that their stupid ban won’t work. Then know it will cause more problems than it solves.

So why do we continue to see more and more laws? Why is it becoming increasingly difficult to lead your life free of threat from arrest by authorities?

I could rage against the prison for profit system. I could tell you how local governments make much of their money not from direct taxes but from issuing citations to their citizens. But you already know all that. I could tell how the police state puts more power into the hands of despots who love nothing more than telling other people how to conduct their lives. How such laws don’t make us safer, how they don’t protect our precious youth, how they endanger all us, how such policies embolden and empower our real enemies, despots, not terrorists.

Yes, terrorists can kill some of us and we need be wary of them but despots can destroy all the freedoms we enjoy. The more laws created to keep us safe the more power we hand to despots who slowly take our freedoms.

But, again, you know this. I cover no new territory. I make no stunning revelations.

An eighteen year old adult can choose whether they want to smoke a cigarette on their own. They don’t need a nanny state to save them from themselves. You know this. You absolutely know this is true.

I have some questions, but not just for the Hawaiian legislature, for you.

Why do want to control the lives of other people? What is the true motivation behind that desire? And finally, would your life be better and more fulfilled by focusing on doing the things you want to do and letting others do the same?

It’s 2016, the start of a new year. Today, January 1st, do what you want to do and don’t worry so much about everyone else.

I’ll do the same. I won’t let my weariness stop me. I’ll write my blogs because I enjoy writing them. I’ll write my books because I love the sense of accomplishment I get from doing it. I’ll ask out that intelligent and interesting woman I met. I’ll play Dungeons and Dragons and Trivial Pursuit with my friends. I’ll be kind to family and friends.

Happy New Year to you all.

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