Crotches, Kisses, Britney, G-Eazy and Consent

britney-spears-g-eazyI’m an old man, 52, and I don’t keep up with the hip and happening culture of young people all that much but a story from the Video Music Awards (VMAs) that is hitting all the news outlets today peaked my interest. I haven’t yet watched the incident in question but I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on it from reading the news accounts. Singer Britney Spears was on stage with fellow musician G-Eazy. To my credit, prior to reading this story, I’d heard of one of them!

Anyway, they were performing and apparently engaged in some suggestive sexual activity. It went as far as Spears grabbing G-Eazy’s crotch, his penis for those of us who prefer to not to mince words, and he caressing her face while looking deeply into her eyes. Then G-Eazy went in for a kiss which Spears rebuffed with a firm shake of the head. The performance went on.

Why does this interest me? Because it’s a really good example of not only standing up for yourself but respecting other people’s desires and actions, on both sides. Certainly Spears invited further activity when she touched G-Eazy in such a way. His desire to further the sensual aspect of the show with a kiss is perfectly understandable. Spears acted in a way in which it was more than reasonable to think she might want a kiss. Spears did not want it and firmly said no. She has not, to my knowledge, claimed the G-Eazy was a product of the so-called Rape Culture. She hasn’t denied that her actions certainly led G-Eazy into his actions.

On the other side, G-Eazy took the firm shake of the head for a definite no and moved on. He hasn’t, to my knowledge, called Spears a tease or claimed she led him on and then left him stranded. He hasn’t complained.

We don’t always know what the other person wants in this world. Sometimes the other person doesn’t know her or his self. In many situations we are undecided until the last moment. That’s no reason to lay blame. A man who thinks a woman is interested and pursues is not part of any rape culture, he is a normal man. A woman who acquiesces and participates in a certain level of romantic behavior is in no way obligated to take it further. She is not a ball-buster. She can say no at any time, as can a man in reverse situations.

People often misinterpret the actions of others and act in unwelcome ways. When that happens simply firmly and clearly tell the other person that such behavior must stop. That’s the lesson.

When you are the person who is told to stop, stop.

That’s not going to solve all the world’s problems and some people are simply jerks who will try to pressure other people into doing things they don’t want to do and sometimes take things to a violent level. I’m not saying a firm no will stop everyone. I’m just saying it’s the correct first step.

G-Eazy behaved in a perfectly reasonable way as did Spears. Everyone came out of it just fine.

Tom Liberman

Kaepernick, Solo, and How to be Consistent

solo-kaepernickThere are two interesting stories in the sports world these days. A soccer player named Hope Solo said some nasty things after losing a soccer game and a football player named Colin Kaepernick is refusing to stand during the National Anthem.

People seem to have inconsistent viewpoints on these two things. Not about the actions themselves but about how the employers of these two athletes should treat said actions.

Many people think Solo has every right to say what she wants and the league should not be able suspend her because of freedom of speech. Many people think the United States Soccer Federation is well within their rights to suspend her.

Many people also think that Kaepernick has every right to say, or in this case not stand, and the league or team cannot suspend him. Others think the National Football League or the San Francisco 49ers have every reason to and should suspend or even fire him.

What I find interesting is that largely the people who are think Solo should not be suspended support suspending Kaepernick. Those who think Solo’s suspension is legitimate think that Kaepernick should be subject to no penalty.

My loyal readers, I’m here to tell you there is only one correct answer. Do not argue. Do not debate. Do not interrupt. Read.

Keapernick and Solo have every right to speak their mind. They can say nasty things about opponents and refuse to stand for the anthem. The government cannot and should not be able to arrest them for such actions or words. That’s what Freedom of Speech as enumerated in the Constitution of the United States means.

The USSF, the NFL, and the 49ers have every right to fire or suspend either of them. It’s their business and they can largely discipline employees as they see fit.

That’s it. There is no argument. Go home and have a nice meal with someone you love!


Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

I know I shouldn’t but …

say-what-you-meanOne of my Facebook friends just shared a post from one of her friends that started off with the following sentence: I know I should not … but I can’t help myself.

What a coward.

I am using the word coward intentionally and I mean it. I am not being sarcastic. I am not trying to tell a joke. I am not saying something I know I shouldn’t but doing it anyway. Why? Because I am exhibiting a character trait called personal responsibility. I am standing behind my words and saying what I want without pretending that I’m not saying it. I’m not a coward.

I’m ranting a little bit today because this business of “I was being sarcastic”, “I was just kidding”, “I was telling a joke”, “I know I shouldn’t but …”, “No offense but …”, are all cowardly and dishonest. Using such words demonstrates a complete lack of character.

If you know you shouldn’t be saying something, I’ve got a recommendation. Hopefully you can figure it out.

If you say something nasty and vile about someone that turns out to be false I’ve got some advice for you. Apologize. Don’t claim you were joking.

I’m not saying that a joke never goes awry because sometimes it does. I’m just suggesting people take responsibility for their words. Don’t preface it with “I don’t mean to be insulting but …”, “No offense intended but …”.

Those are the words of cowards. People who don’t have the courage of their conviction. If you don’t like my opinion then let me know and tell me why with good arguments. If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. That being said, this post represents what I meant to say. It is not a joke. It is not something I know I shouldn’t say.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Online Poker in California and Crony Capitalism

online-pokerI watch an extremely entertaining fellow by the name of Jason Somerville play poker on Twitch and if there is any subject that can rile up the mild mannered, friendly fellow, it’s the people who are trying to stop online poker from becoming legal. It was during one of his rants on the subject that I became aware of legislation that is pending in California.

The problem with this bill is that it allows only existing card clubs and the California Native American tribes to host the websites. This means that the established online poker sites would not be able to compete. In addition, the vast majority of the money taken in from such online gambling sites must be given to the horse racing industry. This to cover for the expected losses to that industry from wider gambling options.

That’s the very definition of crony capitalism. Basically the tribes now host the majority of gambling in the state of California and they don’t want competition. There is a huge amount of money involved.

You may not realize how much bigger California is than the rest of the country but the numbers are mind-boggling. California has the sixth largest economy in the world, tied with France. They produce fully 13% of the total agricultural output of the United States. They purchase enormous amounts of products produced in the other states who are quite dependent on them as a consumer.

I tell you all this not to brag about California but to give you the reality of the amount of money that is at stake. Those Native American Tribes want that money and they don’t want to share it with existing online poker sites.

If we lived in a society that actually valued real capitalism we would not consider such factors as who is to benefit from legislation. We’d simply decide if we thought gambling was something the state should allow or not allow. I’d argue against, but understand, someone who thinks the government should prevent people from gambling because it’s potentially harmful. The legislators would decide who they agreed with and pass laws.

This situation is not that. It is a product of the way government has come to have undue influence on business. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in anti-trust laws. That being said, I absolutely think the more power government has over the success or failure of a business, the more a practical business person must be involved in influencing politicians.

The more business gets involved with politics the more corrupt it becomes. Business operators become less interested in providing a quality product. They simply want to have legislators pass laws that favor their business at the expense of competitors.

What should happen in this case is simple. If California decides to legalize online gambling the horse racing operators need to work harder to get people to visit. The Native American Tribes need to either partner with the existing Online Poker sites or develop their own alternatives. That’s business.

It’s not up to government to decide who succeeds and who fails. When they do so we all lose.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Usain Bolt and How Our Nature Promotes Cheating

usain-bolt-victoryI was at the gym the other day when they were running the first heats of the 100 meter dash at the Olympics. I’m not a big Olympics fan for reasons I’ve laid out before more than once. As the heats went on the announcers kept talking about Usain Bolt and his upcoming appearance and I found myself hoping that my aerobic session on the exercise bike lasted long enough to see it.

A tremendous athletic feat is extraordinarily compelling. I’ll never forget Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes. I’ll never forget watching the St. Louis Steamers indoor soccer team coming back from a six goal deficit in the finals against New York, I was there. Yes I was. I’ll cherish the memory of Ricky Proehl holding onto a Curt Warner pass, I was there also, to win the NFC Championship game against Tampa Bay.

This is why sport is such a powerful force in many of our lives. I have friends who were decidedly not sports fans who became fanatics after watching David Freese hit a home run in the 11th inning to win game six of the 2011 World Series, I was not there sadly.

So what’s the point of my blog today? I think the chance that Bolt and every other 100 meter sprinter in the Olympics is using Performance Enhancing Drugs is about 100 percent.

The science behind using PEDs is far ahead of the science of catching users. I think there are a number of reasons for this disparity but one of the important ones is that we largely don’t want to catch those using such techniques. We love the amazing performances. We fool ourselves into thinking only the hated opponent is using such methods. Our heroes, of course not.

Ratings go up for tremendous performances. The people who manage the sports leagues, the Olympics, the World Cup, and your local high school volleyball tournament are all aware of this. They see the revenue go up when star performers excel. It’s incontrovertible.

We love the astounding. We revel in the amazing. We encourage the cheating. We pretend it’s not happening. It is.

I offer no solutions. I just prefer to be honest with myself. Do you?

Oh, yeah, Bolt was on the track getting ready to get into the starting blocks when I finished my workout. I could have waited a few minutes and watched the race.

I took a shower.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Maternal Deaths in Childbirth Rising in USA Misleading Headline

Maternal_mortality_rateI’m not sure if I’d call it a misleading headline so much as a clickbait sensational headline but Vox splashes the following headline: More and more women are now dying in childbirth, but only in America.

The story, written by Sarah Frostenson, is quite informative and interesting. The headline leaves it up to the imagination of the viewer as to what is causing more women in the United States to die during birth and the mind, left to its own devises, can come up with some interesting scenarios. Personally I was thinking that the rise in infections or perhaps more home births was the culprit.

But no. The culprit is that more and more women who are giving birth are dangerously obese. Deaths from the complications of anesthesia have virtually vanished, deaths from infections are about the same, deaths from hemorrhaging and blood pressure spikes have dropped. People who are morbidly obese put tremendous strain on their hearts and also have diabetes at a very high rate. Add in the stress of giving birth and there you have it. That’s why maternal deaths are rising in the United States but not in other countries.

Excellent reporting, well-written, and thoroughly researched article. Yay!

Clickbait headline. Boo.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

DEA Profiles Travelers and Takes their Cash

money-seizedI’ve written about police seizures in the past but the story I just read brings my hate of them into even starker contrast.

The DEA pays clerks at travel agencies to find travelers who make short duration trips, one-way trips, trips paid for in cash, trips made by people with past criminal records, and various other “flags”. They then pull said traveler aside and ask if they can search their luggage. If refused they bring in dogs to sniff for drugs.

If what happens next doesn’t disturb you then you should probably stop reading my blog. If you have money, they take it and say see you later. No charges. No questioning. Just snatch and grab.

By the way drug sniffing dogs are awful at their job. They fail more than they succeed and in a statistic that tells it all, they fail more often with minority suspects. That clearly means the dogs are taking cues from their handlers to “report” a positive. That’s not my point but I hope you’re disturbed by it in any case.

The key here is that they are not interested in stopping crime, in making your neighborhood safe, in protecting and serving. They are interested in taking money, no matter its source. There are numerous cases where they took the money and after a long legal proceeding gave some of it back. Some of it!

The drug trade does a good job of making drug manufacturers and dealers wealthy but the drug interdiction trade does a better job of paying the salaries of tens of thousands of government workers who would otherwise be unemployed, or horror of horrors, actually protecting and serving rather than terrorizing and stealing!

There’s no excuse for this, none. I don’t believe in the War on Drugs at all. I think all drugs should be legal. Don’t get me started. All drugs are legal, just certain brands not controlled by the pharmaceutical industry are illegal. But even if you do believe drugs are harmful and we should be preventing their distribution I find it hard to believe you would be on board with taking money from drug dealers and letting them go without even trying to convict them. All that does is make them go back and get more drugs! The loss of cash is an operating expense.

The drug interdiction agents are actually incentivized to not charge drug dealers. They are much better off taking the money and letting the dealers go back and make more money which agents can then steal, I mean seize, at a later date!

Drug money has corrupted our government and our law enforcement agencies at the highest level. They are more interested in making, I mean seizing, money than in stopping crime!

Do you still believe in the War on Drugs?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Schlitterbahn Waterslides are Dangerous but will Federal Regulation Help?


The terrible news from Kansas City about Caleb Schwab dying while riding one of the waterslides at the Schlitterbahn water park has hit a nerve with the public. The story is at the top of news feeds across the country and spurred calls for more regulations at such parks.

Currently there are no federal inspections of amusement parks at fixed locations. Carnivals and the like are subject to such rules. It is up to each state to inspect as often or as little as they think pertinent. Kansas has pretty lax regulations and the park in question hasn’t been inspected by anyone other than the owners in about four years which is before the slide in question went into service.

A Personal Interlude

First a personal story. I’ve got a friend in Austin and go to visit him pretty regularly. On one of those trips we headed to New Braunfels and spent an afternoon at the Schlitterbahn water park. We hung out and eventually climbed a large tower and went plummeting down the water slide. As we sloshed from side to side and I held on it became obvious to me the slide was quite dangerous; that if I wasn’t paying attention or was being a bit rambunctious I could easily cause myself serious injury or death. When we got to the bottom we just sort of looked at each other and neither of us suggested riding again.

I’ve had no desire to visit a water park or ride on a slide since then. I grew up going to Six Flags over Mid-America and in all that time I never felt anywhere near as concerned on any ride as I did on that water slide.

Unenforceable Rules at Waterslides

The ride that resulted in the death of Caleb has difficult if not impossible to enforce requirements. There must be two or three people in the raft with a total weight of between 400 and 550 pounds. The shortest anyone can be is 54 inches (4′ 6″) tall.

Now to the point of my blog. The terrible tragedy has a lot of people calling for Federal oversight at amusement parks and waterslides. Even with all that I’ve mentioned above, I’m of the opinion such regulations will do nothing to make rides safer.

Schlitterbahn has the most vested interest in keeping the park safe. This tragedy is costing them huge sums of money and I’m certain much personal grief as well.

Carnivals Are Not Safe Despite Federal Regulations

I’ve been to carnivals where the rides were filthy and likely unsafe. Many people are injured and killed each year on such rides despite supposed Federal inspections. Frankly, I’m highly skeptical such inspections take place regularly in any case. There isn’t enough time or personnel to make it happen.


So what’s the solution? While I oppose federal regulation on such rides as being both unworkable and ineffective; I’m completely for a national database to document all accidents, injuries, and deaths. The government should publish the results on an easily accessible website paid for with my tax dollars. Then it is up to the consumer to decide if they want to go or not. Vendors who operate unsafe rides will surely feel the pinch quickly.

This obviously doesn’t help those already injured or killed but the reality is nothing does.

What do you think?

What do think is the best solution to unsafe amusement park rides?

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Tom Liberman

Tennessee Human Trafficking Misleading Headline

human-trafficking-misleading-headlineThere is a very serious subject that gets a lot of news these days called Human Trafficking. A lot of really good people are donating huge amounts of money to stop this terrible scourge. The problem is that it largely isn’t happening in the United States. It is what is called a Moral Panic.

Most people who are identified as victims of human trafficking were willing prostitutes. The police and FBI report large numbers but nowhere can documentation be found of the problem and those organizations cannot provide much, if any evidence.

Scam artists who claim to be victims take large sums from good-hearted people who desperately want to believe their stories.

This hasn’t stopped charitable organizations collection tens of millions of dollars and police departments having entire task forces built using tens of millions more of your tax dollars.

Case in point is today’s Misleading Headline of the Week which is blaring forth on every news website I monitor.

41 arrested in Tennessee human-trafficking probe

When you get around to reading the story you find that authorities posted ads on a website for underage girls desiring sex and arrested the men who answered the ads.

No one was trafficked. No one.

I understand my opinion on this subject is unpopular. I’ve had a couple of nasty Facebook exchange with proponents of the enormous Super Bowl related issue with human trafficking, which is supported by no evidence.

Just because I say human trafficking largely doesn’t exist in this country and that scammers are stealing huge amounts of money doesn’t mean I support human trafficking. That I don’t think many of the people involved in the efforts to stop this virtually non-existent problem aren’t well-intentioned.

I think people want to be good and this phantom issue gives them a chance to act out on it. They collect money, hold seminars, and fund police departments all in good faith.

The question I ask is if you would support a hundred million dollar, nationwide effort to stamp out the predations of the Tooth Fairy from stealing all those teeth?

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, you win for Misleading Headline of Week.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Trump Proves Gerrymandering Dangers

Congressional-RedistrictingThe candidacy of Donald Trump for President of the United States is proving interesting in a variety of ways and one of them is how starkly it shows the dangers of gerrymandering.

Case in point is the reelection campaign of Mike Coffman from Colorado. It is one of the few competitive races in the nation. Because of this he has to take moderate positions appealing to a broad range of voters. He must reject extreme positions.

The problem is that gerrymandering is so prevalent in the United States that only 66 of the 435 House of Representative Seats are contested. That means about 85% of the people running our government know they are going win the general election. Their toughest challenge is getting through the primary election. The primary election is where special interests and people aligned with extreme positions have undue influence. In the primary the voter turnout is very low so candidates who appeal strongly to a voting minority can and often do win. Thus we get more and more extreme candidates from these gerrymandered districts.

This in turn leads to extreme politics once the politician gets to their state or federal position. Each district is determined by the very politicians who currently sit in office. Thus they have a strong incentive to make sure they are reelected and do so with gerrymandering.

In addition it subverts the democratic process for people causing them to be frustrated and feel they have no voice in politics. For example, in the 2012 election in Pennsylvania Democrats received more votes than Republicans but Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in Congress.

New York actually counts prisoners towards their total population because it gives them more seats in Congress despite the fact these prisoners can’t vote.

What’s the solution? Not so easy. The Supreme Court has ruled states have the right to draw their districts how they see fit within certain guidelines. Basically because there are no Constitutional standards the Supreme Court and the judicial branch is largely helpless to prevent gerrymandering except in extreme cases.

The only solution I see is a Constitutional Amendment that forces states to draw their districts by mathematical algorithm.

Not that this would solve all issues but it’s a step in the right direction. Several states have already taken steps toward doing this and if 34 states agree they can force that rule upon everyone else.

I don’t think there is one solution to all the ills of the world but I think this is one step that would clearly help.

What do you think?

Would you support a Constitutional Amendment that forces Congressional Districts to be determined by mathematical algorithm?

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

Allowing Yourself to Be Bullied?

bullying-and-harassment-minThe presidential election in the United States this year has plenty of “scandals” rearing their head seemingly more than once a day but the one swirling around Eric Trump and his statement that his sister, Ivanka, would not allow herself to be harassed interests me.

The basic premise is that a person should not allow themselves to be bullied, harassed, sexually abused, physically abused, mentally abused, taken advantage of, or otherwise treated poorly by another person.

I think there is a small amount of merit to that idea on a basic level. If a person is subject to any of those things they should immediately stand up for themselves. However, the reality is standing up for yourself can have serious negative consequences. Often times the bully is physically stronger or in a superior position within the organization. People want jobs, a marriage, an education, they are not in a position to just leave as Trump suggests.

Saying no can mean losing your job. It can mean putting yourself in danger of serious physical damage. It can mean losing your friends. It can mean losing your family.

To suggest anyone who is willing to put up with some sort of bullying is complicit in the bullying is largely mistaken.

I’m going to tell you a personal story on this subject. In my high school I worked for the yearbook staff. We had a teacher supervisor but it was mostly us putting together the yearbook. The last quarter of the semester was largely sitting around doing very little because the yearbook was mostly complete and there wasn’t much to do. The supervisor was one of those teachers who hates students. She was a bully. She would make up stuff to do and intimidate the straight A students with threats of a bad grade. I was a straight C student so I didn’t much care. One day she gave us a test. It was an incredibly stupid test with dumb questions about the yearbook. Who knows where she got it. We all seethed but the other students, top honor students who needed a good grade for the most part, sat down and took the test. So did I. But, in a fit of independence I wrote some choice words on the test. “This test is bullshit”.

I got suspended for three days. Barely a blip to what others risk and yet it took some courage to make the stand I made.

For a rising young journalist who is sexually harassed the choice might have been between accepting it or ending his or her career. For a spouse being physically abused the choice might be to accept it or lose her or his marriage, children, or even life. For a young student it might mean the loss of a degree and years from his or her life starting fresh in a new place. For an athlete it might mean losing her or his position on the team.

Yes, you can stand up to the bully but there can be terrible consequences for doing it. The idea that people allow themselves to be bullied has a ring of truth to it but doesn’t stand up to examination. We all put up with things in order to get along with our lives. We do it everyday, anyone who says otherwise is living in an ideological fantasy realm. The more we want something, the more power the bully has over us because we are willing to accept more abuse.

The real problem, it goes without saying, is the sicko who takes advantage of a superior position and gets their jollies harassing those beneath them.

When you grow up rich, with every advantage, with many options; it’s easy to think you can’t be bullied, it’s just not true.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray

President’s Daughter Caught Flashing – Misleading Headline

Malia-Obama-at-LollapaloozaWe have a winner. Paula Bolyard from Lifestyle Magazine wrote a hit article about Malia Obama attending the Lollapalooza music festival. The headline writer picked up on the general nastiness in the article and wrote the following headline.

Malia Obama Caught on Video Twerking and Flashing the Crowd at Lollapalooza

Malia did attend the event and was dancing. She had a shirt tied around her waist and flipped the shirt up so that people could see her shorts. That was the “flashing” part of the story.

Bolyard mentions pointedly at last year’s event some people were arrested and treated by doctors. She specifically mentions cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and worst of all alcohol use! Underage drinking at a huge concert? Drugs? Say it isn’t so.

Not that Malia actually flashed anything or took any drugs but we must disparage her as much as possible despite the fact that she did nothing wrong. Bolyard writes in italics to let us know how terrible is the behavior, “… did she ever enjoy the dancing“.

As if enjoying dancing is bad thing. Well, maybe it is in Bolyard’s mind.

If you aren’t ready to be disgusted enough reading this article you might be tempted to go to page 2 where it is revealed that the Obama girls listen to music with bad language in it!

What a piece of garbage article and a disgusting clickbait headline.

You truly deserve the Misleading Headline of the Week Award. Congratulations Lifestyle Magazine and Bolyard. Well done.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
Next Release: For the Gray