The Four-Legged Snake Misleading Headline

Four-Legged Snake

I’ve been reading mostly science articles of late and one about a four-legged snake caught my eyes. The headline reads Four-Legged Snake Fossil a Fake, Scientists Say. The problem is the fossil isn’t a fake at all. It’s just a misidentified species and new evidence shed light on that subject.

Thus, we have another entry in my Misleading Headlines category. This one comes from Newsweek who, in my opinion at least, should know better. Still, the unending quest for clicks takes no prisoners.

The Interest in a Four-Legged Snake

The article is actually quite interesting for a number of reasons. Four-legged snake fossil are of interest because the fossil record indicates snakes split off from their legged ancestors at some time in the past. This sort of DNA investigation often leads to new fossil discoveries nowadays.

Basically, scientists determine, through various means, when species split from one another and then begin searching for fossils that match the prediction. If it is true that snakes split off from vertebrates with legs, we’d except to see some fossils that look snake-like but also have four legs.

The original classification was introduced in Science Magazine back in 2015. A study of the rock formations from around where the fossil was found indicated it much likely classification was a marine lizard called dolichosaurs.

Fossil Theft

The second fascinating thing about the article is that the fossil is the illegality of its current location. It is illegal to remove fossils from Brazil, it’s original provenance, and has been so since 1945. It is currently held at the Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum in Solnhofen, Germany although the article doesn’t give an explanation as how it got there.

Perhaps it was stolen from the private collection or perhaps the owner or the owner’s heirs simply sold it and we unaware of the illegality of doing so. It’s impossible to guess from the article but it does shed a light on the lucrative and illegal fossil industry.

People like fossils and they can be incredibly valuable. Private collectors like to have such interesting things are willing to pay for them and public museums are not immune to such temptations either. Not that I’m accusing the Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum of any chicanery in this regard.

Conclusion

Great and interesting article about the possibility of a four-legged snake ancestor discovery. Terrible misleading headline indicating the fossil in question was a fake. It’s a simple misidentification, something that happens quite often.

Tom Liberman

The Quantum Computer Future

Quantum Computer

I just read an interesting article about the threat a Quantum Computer presents to crypto-currencies. The idea behind a quantum computer is simply that it calculates really fast. When I say really fast, what I mean to say is really, really, fast. Much faster than current computers.

This means a quantum computer can easily bypass even the most sophisticated computer cryptography quite quickly. The article discusses the ability to do this in regards to crypto-currencies which rely on such security to ensure funds remain secure. If a quantum computer can crack any security in seconds, then crypto-currency no longer works.

What I’d like to discuss is much broader. What is the nature of a society in which there is no way to protect your private information?

The Lack of Privacy

A while back I wrote how technology erodes privacy and a quantum computer accelerate this process. However, this is a speculative article not one focusing on technology. What will a society largely without privacy be like? This question appeals to the writer in me. Imagine the Star Trek or Star Wars universe in which privacy does not exist. I imagine writing novels based on a universe of that nature.

Would Captain Kirk be less promiscuous? More? Would Luke and Leia get it on or would their kiss disqualify them from public service?

The big question I ask myself is: will people become less enthusiastic about engaging in behavior society deems inappropriate or more?

A Chaste Society

The first answer is, because everyone doesn’t want their behaviors to be known to their neighbors, people will engage in a chaste life. I won’t get drunk at a party and make a fool of myself because that might later hurt my career. Rather than hide my sexual fetishes, I will simply not engage in them because other people will know about them.

It’s not just sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s anything that a peer group might find inappropriate for whatever reason. As a young man would I play Dungeons and Dragons if the cool kids shunned this as nerdy behavior?

How much of myself, yourself, are you willing to deny simply for larger acceptance in the world? I think this is a very real possibility. The fear of being judged will make us more monastic, less willing to indulge in the pleasures of life.

This is, in my opinion, a pretty bleak outcome. A society in which no one engages in behavior deemed inappropriate is dull, stagnant.

The Hedonistic Society

The other potential is people will simply stop caring so much about how others conduct their life, become less willing to cast the first stone. Or any stone at all for that matter. Yeah, I’m a freak, so what, bitch? So are you and I love you anyway, but please don’t bring it into my house! Keep it in your bedroom with eager and consenting partners. See you at the game on Saturday.

How willing is a person to shame another person when their own private behavior is largely public knowledge?

Conclusion

I honestly think most people are unable to deny their nature and a quantum computer world with little privacy will make such behavior more acceptable.

I’ve always found it fascinating often times the figure most loudly decrying a particular behavior actually conducts it themselves on the sly. As an example, I’ve noted those most eager to condemn homosexuality are often denying their own feelings in that regard.

It’s likely some people will go into their little caves and hide their desires from not only the world but themselves.

However, I think it much more likely many people will just do as they please and if anyone tells them it’s wrong, simply ignore that person. It’s likely that people all over the world will become freer to engage in their weirdness because they will find so many peers.

The internet allows people who enjoy the same things to gather and that’s a good thing. Even if I find some of the behavior unappealing at best.

Get your freak on because, if you can’t hide it, the best strategy is to embrace it. What others think, it doesn’t matter.

If Quantum Computers remove privacy what sort of society will emerge?

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Tom Liberman

Sweet Drinks Advertised Deceptively

Sweet Drinks

I just read an interesting article about how beverage manufacturers advertise sweet drinks directly to children. This advertising, along with lower prices, steers consumers to those products. This is aided by deceptive labeling on bottles that confuse parents.

When children consume sweet drinks, they become unhealthier. There is no question about the link between poor diet and health. There is also no question that advertising works. Advertising designed to make a product appealing to a child does so. Labeling designed to fool people does so.

The question the article poses is if government has any role in all of this. I’ve certainly written about the role of government in sweet drinks in the past. Taxes were my topic of discussion at that time but today I want to talk more about regulation.

Regulating Sweet Drinks

As a Libertarian I’m not as opposed to regulation as you might think. I think false and misleading advertising definitely fall under the purview of criminality and the government. The problem is that we have laws to prevent false labeling and false advertising and, as usual, manufacturers find ways to bypass those laws.

It’s incredibly difficult to create an effective law to modify human behavior. We often see a law designed with the best intentions ending up being more harmful than that which it purports to stop. We need go no further than the War on Drugs to see this.

Deceptive Advertising and Labeling

If we examine the picture included in this blog you see Glaceau vitamin water with a label clearly reading Naturally Sweetened. We also see a wonderful reference to electrolytes which any fan of Idiocracy will appreciate. A perusal of the nutritional content on the back reveals a large amount of sugar in the drinks.

What is naturally anyway? If companies are not allowed to use the world naturally or electrolytes, they will find other deceptive words, it’s an endless cat and mouse game. That’s the problem with trying to regulate human behavior, be it through the War on Drugs or buzzwords like Organic and Naturally.

Companies will find ways around your rules.

The Goal

What we want is people to have healthier diets. If people have healthier diets, it is good for our society. Our healthcare system is largely broken. In part because of the enormous number of unhealthy people in this country. People, particularly poor people in rural areas, need the services of Doctors without Borders as if we were a Third World Country. I hesitate to use the words “as if” but I don’t want to get into that debate today.

The Solution

The manufacturer loves obfuscating the product and does so with misleading labels and advertising that comes right to the edge of legality. No matter how much we try to regulate this, companies will find a way.

I’m convinced the most helpful remedies to the problem lie with us, with the store owner. Don’t stock sweet drinks on the same shelf as unsweetened drinks is one that comes to my mind. One shelf is marked Sweetened and the other marked Unsweetened. If the store owner refuses, if the manufacturer pays extra to be on a certain shelf, there’s not much to be done, unfortunately.

I don’t think there are magical solutions to these problems but I also think individuals can focus on both informing the consumer and making the world a better place. Go to your local grocer and ask if they’ll separate the sweet drinks onto their own shelf, the worst that can happen is you’re told no.

Tom Liberman

Comments on Trucking Capacity Article

Trucking capacity

I saw an interesting headline about long haul trucking capacity. I then read the article about long-haul truck drivers being seriously under-utilized. After reading the article I got to the comments section. That’s what I want to talk about today, the comments on the article.

The comments seemed largely based on the headline rather than the article. The headline indicated some 40% of trucking capacity is not used on any given day. The part of the headline that seemed triggering for many was the person proclaiming this is an MIT expert.

What you talking about, Willis? Some MIT expert thinks he knows better than blue-collar, hard-working, good old boy trucking industry people how to run their company! Damn liberal, educated no-nothing! I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!

Overview

I admit I immediately jumped to the same conclusions as a lot of the commenters. Did the MIT expert want the truck drivers to drive more hours? Were the schedules that badly messed up? Wouldn’t the industry experts know how to properly schedule? Aren’t there laws about how much a long-haul trucker is allowed to drive in a day?

My confusion was cleared up once I took the time to read the article. A point many of the commenters failed to do. The MIT expert explains the biggest problem in trucking capacity under-utilization is loading and unloading the trucks early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Apparently getting a truck fully loaded in a timely fashion at any other time than 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday is a serious problem. This is particularly detrimental in the morning because it throws off delivery times and pick up times for loads the rest of the day.

The Comments

The comments, as you might expect, went after the MIT expert as an educated elite who didn’t have a clue about what he spoke. I read a lot of ad-hominem attacks, working-man indignation, and general you don’t know what you’re talking about comments.

Then I started to come across comments from actual long-haul truckers. These comments showed unanimous support for the MIT expert. They all confirmed the problem of loading in a timely fashion causing trucking capacity shortfalls on a massive scale. The truckers provided anecdotal evidence that rang true to my ears. They not only confirmed the MIT expert but indicated their complaints about this problem were long standing and
largely unaddressed.

Congress

The article then went on to explain what Congress planned to do about the problem. None of the solutions presented addressed the actual issue. Most of the solutions being pursued involved more drivers and more women drivers.

This is a bang for your buck issue. I’m not saying we don’t need more drivers or more women drivers. I’m saying listen to the expert and listen to the actual long-haul truckers. If you want to solve your trucking capacity problem, go after the largest issue first.

In addition, government might consider getting out of the way in regards to automated cars and trucks. Our online society is moving away from the brick-and-mortar store model. We want to order goods and have them delivered to our door. If we don’t address the capacity issue in a pragmatic and realistic way this problem is only going to get worse.

Conclusion

While the problem of trucking capacity is real, my actual goal today is to shame you armchair experts, unlike the MIT expert. You made an assumption based on a headline and didn’t bother to do any research into the actual issue.

Why didn’t you bother to read the article? You spouted off without knowing what you were talking about. Exactly what you accuse the MIT expert of doing.

My verdict? You, pompous commenter, are guilty!

Tom Liberman

Video Game Development and Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFT technologies are in the news a great deal these days. It’s invaded the video gaming community in a big way with major gaming platforms embracing the technology. I’m not going to get into a lengthy discussion about what cryptocurrency is or is not. Nor am I interested in discussing its long-term viability as a medium of exchange.

What I will discuss today is crowd sourcing and in-game purchases used to fleece people of their money.

I’ve learned a great deal about this from various YouTube gamers like KiraTV and Callum Upton. I suggest you watch some channels dedicate to exposing this sort of scam and learn more for yourself.

What is Crowd Sourcing

Crowd sourcing is a way to generate revenue from people in order to create a product. In this case, the product is a purported video game which uses cryptocurrency, NFTs, blockchain and other buzzword technologies. The developer and associates spread information on various social media platforms touting the video game as a way to make a lot of money. People then send money to the developers in hopes of a large return.

In modern times, the developer pays influencers to promote the video game which creates a buzz and more people invest.

In-Game Purchases

Another way the developers make money in this scheme is to sell virtual product in the game. It might be plots of land, vehicles, mounts, outfits, weapons, or anything else a crafty developer purchases from an asset store. People pay money for these things.

Often times a resale market is established where one investor can sell purchased items to a second investor with the game developers taking a small percentage of each sale. All these virtual markets are established long before any game is created.

The people who jump in early hope to see a massive profit later when others pay them a premium for these items. These early investors then use social media to promote the game itself and the in-game purchases as a way to make money. This is often called Pump and Dump which I’ve written about elsewhere.

The problem is only the early purchasers take a profit because, as it becomes clear the game will fail, the market plunges and all items become worthless.

Game Fails

The windfall comes when the game fails. The developer took millions from crowd sourcing, millions more from in-game sales but after trying to create a game for any number of years, they fail. Off they sail into the sunset with your money.

The reason this is generally legal is developers spend just enough money and time to make a case they tried to develop the game in good faith. Naturally, they had no intention of creating a finished product but they only must prove in court they tried.

Conclusion

I don’t want to tell you how to invest your money. It’s your decision. I get the idea if one of these games actually comes to fruition you might make a lot of money. You won’t, even though you believe differently. Only people in on the scheme from the start or the early days will make money. Everyone else, that’s you, will lose.

I understand it’s only a few thousand dollars that you can afford to lose. Still, don’t you want to spend that money on something you’ll enjoy? A good whisky? A nice meal? A cute girl or guy? Even a long-term, low-risk investment?

Tom Liberman

Why I dislike Succession on HBO

Succession

Succession is a highly rated and successful show on HBO and I recently began watching. It garners 93% on the Tomatometer from Rotten Tomato critics and 81% approval from audiences. The show is equally highly rated on IMBD with a score of 8.6. It has two Golden Globes and nine Emmy awards in the first two seasons.

My personal perusal of reviews and audience reaction confirms these numbers with sentiment for the show running quite high. People seem to love the storyline, the acting, the directing, the sets, just about everything to do with Succession.

I Hate it

I hate Succession. I’m certainly not telling people who love the show they are wrong. I understand I’m merely three episodes into the third season of Succession and my opinions are based on extremely limited information. Still, I can barely make it through an episode.

Just because I don’t like a show is no reason it shouldn’t be successful. I find most of the blockbuster movies made today to be awful and they make hundreds of millions of dollars. If you like it, so be it. I don’t and I’m going to tell you why, because that’s what I do.

Overview

Succession tells the story of media and entertainment mogul Logan Roy along with his family. It is billed as a Dark Comedy although, in the episodes I’ve seen, I don’t recall laughing a single time.

I’m not going to dive deep into what makes a show good or bad but if you’d like my thoughts on that, take a look at this blog.

The Dialog

The first thing I hate is the writing. It isn’t so much terrible as it is untrue. The dialog seems written more toward what the audience expects the characters to say and do instead of what the actual characters might actually say. I find it almost universally unbelievable.

I find Kendall to be particularly implausible considering his educational and family background. His historical references don’t make sense. Ok, he has self-doubt and struggles with wanting to be liked. Could you do that with subtleness rather than hitting the audience over the head with a sledge hammer every single time he opens his mouth?

Shiv takes a minute of hemming and hawing and umming and uhhing to speak a line of dialog. I want to kick her in the shin, spit it out!

Roman’s lines seem written for a thirteen-year-old, and I apologize to boys that age for the comparison. “Ha ha, I said fart,” is about the crux of it.

Greg’s bumbling is so pronounced and severe I don’t even believe he’s human.

I could go on but I’ll stop there.

Scene Structures

The scenes come fast and furious but I see no connection from one to the next. Is it an hour later? The same moment but a new location with different characters? A week later? There’s no rhythm to the show. It’s just one scene after the next, each seemingly with the sole purpose of a one liner at the end hoping for a laugh. Spoiler, I didn’t laugh.

So many things happen that make no sense I can’t even begin to get into it all. I’ll give special mention Shiv’s big speech. Why was there a panic when Kendall came into the building? Like they weren’t expecting it? How incompetent are they?

Then Kendall suddenly comes up with a great plan to ruin Shiv’s speech by playing loud music. He sends a lacky out to buy equipment at the last second. Someone runs hundreds of feet of wire, interfaces with a receiver, and the master plan goes into effect.

Let’s discount this should take an hour at best and mention a hundred people see all of it happening and can’t call security? Can’t unplug the speakers? Utter nonsense. This happens all the time in this show. I’m constantly taken out of immersion and into stunned incredulity at the stupidity of it all.

Acting

I can’t blame the actors because the dialog is so bad. Credit to Brian Cox as Logan, Alan Ruck as Connor, and J. Smith-Cameron as Gerri as remotely believable in main roles. Most of the good acting performances come from bit players, probably because their lines aren’t written with audience approval in mind.

Conclusion

I find the show painful to watch. I’m not immersed in the world, I’m shaking my head at dialog that makes no sense, scenes that come out of nowhere and return to oblivion after a stupid one liner. Everything is rushed, pushed, shoved, harassed, and jammed into place. There is no reflection, no pacing, and hardly a likable character. An hour seems like a day. It’s painful.

Bring the hate, you lovers of Succession. I can take it.

Tom Liberman

Hating Charlie Munger Hall

Munger Hall

In my endless and often psychologically damaging search for blog worthy news stories, I came across a proposal for Munger Hall, designed by billionaire Charlie Munger. It’s generating a lot of controversy and, when I read the sensational headlines, I too found myself incredulous.

The plan is to build the immense Munger Hall, 1.68 million square feet, at the University of California Santa Barbara in order to house up to 4,536 undergraduates in a single building. The bedrooms in the design are tiny with no windows, which seems to be the crux of all the hate. Over four thousand students crammed into tiny rooms with no windows! What sort of madness is this? What complete moron thought up this nonsense?

Then, of course, I did what I do. I read the articles about Munger Hall and saw why the bedrooms have no windows and the design intent of the building. I discovered, much to my surprise, I largely agree with the design. Let’s get into it.

Housing Shortage

The first problem Munger Hall addresses is the enormous housing shortage for students at various California institutions of higher learning including UCSB. The shortfall is so serious students are suing the state because they have nowhere reasonable to live while attending college.

It’s clear Munger Hall certainly addresses this issue with a huge number of rooms available for undergraduate students.

Too Small and No Sunlight

The problem, at first glance, is that none of the bedrooms have windows and they are absolutely tiny. It seems like a prison cell. When you read the headline and don’t delve into the actual design, the mind imagines hordes of students, crammed into small rooms with no chance of ever seeing sunshine.

The reality is quite different. The bedrooms in Munger Hall are designed largely for one thing, sleeping. The students must largely leave the bedroom to conduct most other activities although there is a small desk for private study when in the mood.

Munger Hall is filled with enormous common areas where students can gather in small, medium and large groups to eat, recreate, exercise, shop, walk, store their athletic equipment, and many other amenities.

There are restaurants, markets, courtyards, recreation centers, juice bars, pubs, and more scattered throughout the enormous building. All these spaces are possible because of the tiny bedrooms with no windows. Bedrooms designed for nothing except sleeping open the rest of the building for all sorts of exciting and interesting activities.

My College Experience

Back when I went to college, a million years ago at the University of Idaho, I slept in a fairly large dormitory room. Unlike Munger Hall, the building itself had little else of interest. We had a single lounge and a large hall used for parties. To eat we had to walk across campus. There were no common study areas. Getting to the gym required a long walk.

Where did I spend most of my time? In my room.

Conclusion

What I find interesting about the Munger Hall proposal is how many haters simply didn’t take the time to study the actual plan of the building. They saw the headline and started spewing the hate. I think many people who experienced college in the way I did, will see the value in the design of Munger Hall. If those people are willing to get beyond their kneejerk, emotional response to the building, I think they might find, like me, its appeal.

As a student, would you want to live in Munger Hall?

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Tom Liberman

Are the Ruby Rose Accusations Delusional?

Ruby Rose

Model turned actress Ruby Rose performed as the lead for the first season of Warner Bros. Television version of Batwoman. She left the show after that season and recently made serious accusations against other actors, the production staff, and the crew.

Ruby Rose claims both her serious injuries and another’s occurred on set because of negligence and corner cutting. In addition, Ruby Rose claims there was pressure to return to work while still injured and that several fellow actors were abusive to women on set.

Batwoman

Batwoman, now in its third season, continues to receive reasonably good reviews and moderately decent ratings for the network it is on. There is a lot of ill-feeling toward Batwoman because it is generally considered to promote a “Woke” agenda. Ruby Rose herself is an outspoken proponent of the LBGTQia+ (yes, I had to look that up) community.

Needless to say, there are quite a few outspoken people happy to believe both the worst and best about Ruby Rose and her accusations. That being the case, I’m seeing plenty of hot opinions on these accusations.

The Response

The actors accused of behaving in a toxic fashion deny it completely. The company claims it was Ruby Rose who behaved badly on set. Warner Bros. claims they fired her because of her own bad behavior, showing up late, treating crew badly, not knowing her lines, storming off set in a rage on multiple occasions.

What Really Happened

It’s likely we’ll never really know what happened but my suspicion, without any kind of conclusive proof, is that Ruby Rose is exaggerating minor events and possibly even fabricating much of what happened. If that’s true, then why is she doing it when it’s pretty clear those she accused will dispute her claims?

One of the strange things in human nature is the ability to become completely delusional about reality. It’s my opinion that is in play here with Ruby Rose. She’s surrounded herself with Yes People who fuel this delusion. Online she gets endless support from those who tie their own belief system to that of Rose and they will support anything she says.

Conclusion

Here is where I think I’ll lose everyone reading along, nodding their heads in complete agreement, the Ruby Rose haters. I honestly think former President Trump, and many of his allies, engage in this practice almost constantly. They are surrounded by True Believers who tolerate the most abhorrent behavior and fuel it to levels of delusional insanity.

We must disagree with people we like and support when they do things with which we disagree. If we don’t, we create evil monsters, capable of damage beyond comprehension. If we continue down that road this country is in serious trouble.

I say to you, stand up for what is right, no matter who says it. Fight against what is wrong, no matter the source. The world will be a better place.

Tom Liberman

Somehow I have Friends who Care

Friends who Care

Overview

I asked my Facebook friends a question the other day and discovered that somehow, against all odds, I actually have friends who care. That’s normal, you might say, but then again you don’t know me.

If you’re reading this, then you know I write blogs fairly frequently. In my quest for blog material, I read a lot of news stories from the internet. If you’ve been on the internet then you might have some idea of the mental anguish I suffer while trying to find stories to blog about.

I saw a clickbait headline that triggered a number of my many triggers. I considered reading it in the hopes it might provide blog material. On the other hand, it was likely to enhance my general despair at the condition of human intelligence. I posted an image of the headline, as seen on this article, and asked my friends if I should read the article or go and have a nice sandwich instead.

Much to my surprise and delight, my friends unanimously suggested the sandwich. They apparently care about me and my mental health. This comes as a bit of a surprise. You see, I’m not a likeable fellow. No, no, don’t all raise your hands and dispute the theory, we all know it’s true.

I’m Not a Likeable Fellow

My general unlikability is not really my fault, at least that’s what I like to think. I was born this way. I’m not good at social interactions, I’m not seeing anyone shaking their heads at that one. I’m do not tolerate fools well and this combined with complete lack of expression control allows people to grasp almost instantaneously that I’m thinking how incredibly stupid is the thing they just said.

My expression in these circumstances is a sort of sneer of incredulity with a pained internal dialog on whether or not I should tell you how incredibly, unbelievably, astonishingly, moronic is the thing you just said. Then, after a few moments of hesitation, I either tell you, bad, or don’t tell, worse because you know what I’m thinking anyway, but now can’t even get angry at me for calling you the equivalent of a mentally retarded sea slug.

Unfortunately, I’m self-aware enough to realize I’m a complete ass but not self-aware enough to stop being so. A dilemma to be sure. I will say it’s a step up from my younger days when I wasn’t even aware of my Level 20 Douche skill.

In any case, if you don’t believe my assessment of my likeability, or lack thereof, please, ask any of my friends. Better yet ask the people who don’t like me.

That’s why it came as a surprise that I have friends who care, who actually consider my mental well-being and suggested the sandwich over the article that surely would have triggered the earlier mentioned facial expressions.

Conclusion

I wish I knew what I’ve done to deserve friends who care, it’s certainly beyond my powers to comprehend but, that being said, I am grateful for those who put up with me.

Tom Liberman

Jon Gruden would have a Job if he was not an Average Coach

Jon Gruden

Overview

The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden, resigned after the release of a number of emails in which he makes distasteful comments. There’s a lot of bleating about Cancel Culture but the reality comes down to the fact that Jon Gruden hasn’t been anything better than an average coach throughout his career.

If Jon Gruden had a coaching record significantly better than 122 wins against 116 losses we’d hear all sorts of excuses from his bosses, talk about sensitivity training, how he is a good man who made a mistake, and he’d still have a job.

What Jon Gruden Wrote

I confess that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Jon Gruden particularly when I hear him lying in order to excuse his behavior. He insulted his ultimate boss, Roger Goodell, calling him a “clueless anti-football pussy”. He and Bruce Allen exchanged pictures of topless Washington Football Team cheerleaders, a scandal we’re not here to talk about today.

Jon Gruden described DeMaurice Smith as having lips the size of Michelin tires and then lies and claims he just meant Smith had rubber lips, which apparently, Gruden wants us to believe is a euphemism for someone who lies. It’s clearly a reference to the large lipped stereotype of black men. You know it, I know it, and Gruden knows it.

I’d have more sympathy for Gruden if he admitted that he used a stereotype. Gruden is also lying when he claims he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. That’s a lie born of Cognitive Dissonance. Of course, he has racist thoughts, misogynistic thoughts, homophobic thoughts, murderous thoughts. We all have such thoughts from time to time. It doesn’t make us racist or murderers, it makes us human.

This constant bleating that no one is more whatever than me, I don’t have a bad bone in my body is utter nonsense. You can still be a good person even if you have bad thoughts, if you make mistakes, if you do bad things, if you say wrong things. If Gruden stood up and owned up, I’d be more sympathetic to his arguments.

That being said, the bottom line is he isn’t a consistently winning football coach and that is why he was forced to resign.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of hand-wringing and complaining about Cancel Culture from one side and condemnation as racist and homophobic from the other. As usual, it’s somewhere in between but that doesn’t play well with those who only see the world as a one-way street.

Jon Gruden doesn’t have a job this morning because he’s an average coach who made some mistakes. When you’re really good at your job you’re allowed a lot of mistakes, that isn’t Jon Gruden.

Anti-vaxxers are as Monolithic as Big Pharma

Monolithic

Conclusion

I’ll get to the conclusion right away. Both anti-vaxxers and Big Pharma are equally monolithic, that is to say, neither one is monolithic at all.

Does everyone who won’t take a vaccine have the same motivation for not doing so? Does every employee of a pharmaceutical company have the same motivation? Is there any group of people, anywhere, anytime, who share perfectly in their ideology and motivation? Simply put, no. Categorically no. From the top of the mountain I say, no! No, no, no. We are individuals.

What’s most disturbing for me is those who cry out when portrayed as monolithic, eagerly and enthusiastically shout out that everyone and everything else is monolithic.

The Easy Way Out of Monolithic Blame

The large pharmaceutical companies do want to make a profit. So do you. So do I. Does that mean I’d willingly murder people in order to get them to purchase my novels and stories? Does that mean you’d eagerly murder people, put them in danger, risk their future health, to make some money?

When you suggest your reason for not taking is a vaccine is because you don’t trust pharmaceutical companies to put out a safe product, you are saying the people who helped in the creation of that vaccine are willing to murder for profit.

You’re saying there is a monolithic group of scientists, biologists, chemist, software developers, nurses, doctors, and many others who took part in this massive deception. The scientist knew the vaccine was dangerous and created it anyway. The doctors and nurses who performed the double-blind studies knew it. The software developers who coded the applications to tally the information knew it. All of those people are complicit in the deception, they are monolithic in their desire for money, so much so that murdering and maiming millions of people doesn’t bother them.

The same can be said for anything. A seatbelt design, a cancer cure, a heating and cooling unit. Whatever it is that you do.

It’s simple to look at Big Pharma as a villain and it’s simple to look at anti-vaxxers as a villain. When you categorize either as such, you are the villain.

Political

Now I’m going to get political and piss off most of you. Are all Democrats something or another? Are all Republicans something or another? If you’ve said anything to that affect in the last year, you are a fool. You bought into the sales pitch of someone else, someone who isn’t interested in what’s best for you, but what is best for them.

When we create monolithic categories for those we dislike, we destroy ourselves. It is only when we see others as individuals that we can hope to unite as a nation, as a world. When we categorize and dehumanize people, we become evil ourselves. Stop doing it.

Tom Liberman

Government Murdered Rail at your Expense

Rail Baron

Overview

Your federal government is in the process of agreeing to spend at least $715 billion and as much as $3.5 trillion on infrastructure expenses. Why? Our roads, bridges, and airports are decaying. Government built a great majority of these, largely in order to promote car and airplane travel.

This enormous expense falls on taxpayers and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is not just federal money but also an enormous portion of state and local expenditures. Roads and airports will never pay for themselves.

Would you like to know a form of transportation that, up until government got involved, did pay for itself? Rail.

Let’s find my Time Travel Hat and get this rant rolling!

Early Rail in the United States

Where is that thing? It’s never where I left it. Freezer? Nope. Under the bed? Nope. Ah, there it is, my Yadier Molina bobblehead put it on for some reason. All right, plop it on, spin three times, whoosh, bang and where do I find myself?

Why, it’s the nineteenth century, 1815 to be exact, as I note on a local broadsheet. A fellow named John Stevens just got a charter for the New Jersey Railroad, the first of its kind in the United States.

Spinning again, hat taking control on its own. Dizzy, fuzzy, looking around, where am I now? Trains, trains, everywhere! There are 17,800 freight locomotives carrying 23,600 tons of freight, and 22,200 passenger and it’s 1880 a mere sixty-five years since the first rail lines emerged.

How did all this expansion happen? Largely with capitalistic investment which exploded after the Civil War where the North’s superior rail network proved integral to victory. It also must be noted much of this expansion came with the racial exploitation of Chinese laborers brought to the United States expressly for this purpose.

Light Rail and Trolleys

It’s not just trains carrying passengers from one part of the country to the other but the major metropolises are building light rail systems. My hometown of St. Louis sported a fantastic trolley system that moved willing passengers for years.

Such light rail and trolley systems still exist today but greatly reduced from their prime. In New York, it is possible, and frankly preferable, to travel almost exclusively using the subway system which is the largest remaining in the United States.

The End of Passenger Rail

Gasp. Third trip and I’m about wiped out but where am I now? It’s the Turn of the Century, the Twentieth that is. It’s been a bit of a Boom-and-Bust business cycle for the rail industry but we now have 254,037 miles of track and it’s all downhill from here.

What happened? Trains work extremely well but the passenger rail system began dying for some reason. The government got overly involved is what happened.

The Federal Air Road Act of 1916 funneled $75 million tax-dollars into building roads and airports, the first of many such expenditures that continue to this day. The United States Railroad Administration nationalized the entire rail system in December of 1917.

The passenger rail system just could not compete with this enormous influx of federal, state, and local dollars designed to encourage air and car travel. It’s not really important as to why the government felt such transportation superior. There were reasons, some of them even good reason.

The Result

The passenger rail system largely died. Cars with their necessary roads and planes with their required airports took over. All built and maintained largely by tax dollars. That’s why we must spend trillions of dollars to support the crumbling infrastructure that would largely not exist if government hadn’t gotten involved.

It’s impossible to determine with any assurance what would have happened. Passenger rail was killed, that is where we find ourselves. I think it’s not farfetched to imagine a greatly expanded rail network covering much of the country by now, but that’s speculation.

The Solution

How do we fix this mess? It took us over a hundred years to get here so there is no easy solution. People are used to cars and planes. We have an enormous infrastructure of roads and airports that cannot, and should not, be dismantled. Cars will always have a place, as will planes; they are useful but capitalistic economics should drive their future.

We need to phase out tax-support for roads and planes in slow and cautious steps. Let entrepreneurs start new rail transport systems, small at first surely. Money is to be made and people want to make it.

Maybe it will take another hundred years to establish a proper equilibrium between trains, cars, and planes. One that is driven by need and profit, not by government interference. Let’s start that journey today.

Tom Liberman

LED Streetlights Killing Insects Misleading Headline

The Misleading Headline

The Misleading Headline reads: LED streetlights kill off insect populations by half, study finds. Oh no! LED Streetlights are killing off half the population of insects in the world! This is important information. Get rid of LED streetlights immediately! Put back in the old bulbs. We must save the insects.

Why it is Misleading

You have to read past a plethora of advertisements and down to the seventeenth and eighteenth paragraph to determine why the headline is basically lying. The study was done on three locations, areas with LED streetlights, areas with old style streetlights, and areas with no streetlights at all.

I think you see where this going. The fifty percent drop-off in insect life is between the area with no lighting at all and LED streetlights. The drop-off comparison for old style lighting and no lights is forty-one percent.

The reason suspected for the much smaller drop-off between LED and old streetlights is also easy to figure out, the LEDs are brighter. The solution seems simple enough, tone down the brightness slightly and all is good.

The reality is that LED streetlights are not the problem at all. The problem is heavily lit areas tend to cut down on insect populations because they like dark areas to breed, just like most of the rest of us.

The Possible Harm

The particular problem with this misleading headline is that it suggests older streetlights are better for the environment than LED streetlights. Those who oppose the environmentally friendly agenda which includes LED streetlights, will pounce on this article as a way to discredit the movement.

Conclusion

Be skeptical. When I saw the headline, it immediately aroused my suspicions. I almost instantly thought the comparison might be between unlit streets and LED streetlights. The fifty percent sounded way too high to me. My skepticism proved correct.

Tom Liberman

White Lotus Ultimately Disappointing

White Lotus

What is White Lotus?

White Lotus is a recently released mini-series which received acclaim from both critics and audience. It tells the tale of a group of travelers at a luxury resort and expands on their personal problems while hinting at a murder mystery.

Really Good for While

The thing about White Lotus is that it’s really quite good in almost every respect. It’s not a situation like The Nevers or Miss Scarlet. Those shows, while many people certainly enjoy them greatly, I found to be almost without redeeming qualities.

In White Lotus the writing is well-paced and interesting. The characters slowly reveal themselves to us through dialog and events rather than obtrusive exposition. In particular the Quinn character story arc spoke to me in a number of ways.

Steve Zahn as Quinn’s father annoyed me to no end but slowly grew into an interesting and fully three-dimensional character. The acting is largely excellent. I thought Jake Lacy as the annoying husband to the confused and unhappy Alexandra Daddario particularly effective. Connie Britton peeled away the crazy layers of her character with wild-eyed abandon.

The sets were lovely, the cinematography well done. Quinn going outside to sleep on the beach as the sun set and whales breeched is an image I won’t soon forget.

Why it Doesn’t Succeed Fully

You might be wondering at this point as to why I found White Lotus disappointing if all I can manage to do is heap praise upon it.

It’s the ending. Perhaps I should say some of the endings. I don’t mind a story that doesn’t tie everything up in a nice little bow, in fact I general prefer a little ambiguity. I also don’t mind an ending that isn’t happy. That’s real life and it happens.

The fate of Rachel in a golden prison with Shane is not my problem. Nor is the conclusion of the Nicole story with her joyously sprinkling the ashes of her dead mother. Those two I liked, it’s everyone else’s ending that disappointed.

I really don’t know what to make of the Paula and Olivia ending. What happened? Are they still friends? Did they learn anything. What about poor Kai? Manipulated by Paula to salvage her own conscious at being of color but living in luxury.

I worry that Quinn won’t even be able to make it back from the airport to the resort with no phone and no money. How will he survive? His parents certainly won’t let the plane leave without Quinn on board.

What about Belinda? What will she do with the wad of cash? Will Nicole run the business opportunity by her team and change her mind?

Armand’s story seemed to simply justify the premise of the opening scene where we know someone died. It didn’t seem organic to me.

In the End

Too many of the endings just weren’t endings at all. I found myself unsatisfied. I’m certainly not saying White Lotus is bad, it’s quite good really and I very much enjoyed watching it. I’m looking forward to a second season reportedly in the works with new guests.

I guess my point here is that endings are really important. If you can’t find a good ending then every wonderful thing leading to that point is forgotten. White Lotus was close to wonderful and I’d recommend it even though the ending left me disappointed.

Tom Liberman

Critical Race Theory and Teacher Resignations

Critical Race Theory

The Resignations

Critical Race Theory is in the news these days and an interesting situation regarding teachers resigning because of this issue piqued my interest. It’s not the resigning itself that I find interesting but those who support or denounce those doing so.

The political divide on the issue of Critical Race Theory is relatively easy to follow and it is this gulf that warps the sensibilities of people commenting on the issue. Some teachers resign because the school board includes Critical Race Theory while others resign because the state excludes such curriculum.

This is not about Critical Race Theory

Just to get it out of the way immediately; this post is not a critique of Critical Race Theory. It’s not about what is involved in the teaching of this subject. That is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. I want to talk about those who support or deride the resignations and why they do so.

Who is Resigning?

Teachers resigning seem to largely cite one of two things. Either they refuse to teach the curriculum or they insist on doing so despite the school board or state refusing to allow it. All of the teachers resigning are doing so because of strongly held personal thoughts on the subject of Critical Race Theory. Either for it or against it.

This is where the emotional passions of political divide seem to sever critical thinking skills. The people who support one group of resigning teachers absolutely denounce the other. If you applaud a teacher resigning because they refuse to teach the theory then it is almost certain you denounce the teacher resigning because they insist on teaching it.

What does a Libertarian Say?

I support both groups. It’s perfectly reasonable for teachers to follow their conscious and assert their individual rights. If a teacher thinks a lesson is vitally important or horribly destructive, she or he should resign rather than compromise principles.

This is not an easy decision. While I’ve spoken before about bad teachers, I think most teachers love their jobs and do their best to educate students. It’s a decision that affects the teacher financially. It’s a decision with life-changing consequences.

I do think there is a great deal of passion and misinformation on the subject and it’s difficult to reach rational conclusions. I’d encourage everyone to learn more about Critical Race Theory before making such an important life decision.

Conclusion

The political divide in this country and the world as a whole is discouraging. People base their opinions not on evidence but on perceived affiliations. What is good today is bad tomorrow. What is right today is wrong tomorrow. Who is a good teacher today is a terrible one tomorrow. Not because facts changed but because of political expediency.

Shame.

Tom Liberman

Magnus Carlsen Leads by Example

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen Shows Up for Consolation Match

Magnus Carlsen, the World Chess Champion, was defeated by Jan-Krzysztof Duda in a hotly contested semi-final match in the Chess World Cup that came down to tie-breaks. Because of this Carlsen found himself in the position of playing a third-place consolation match against Vladimir Fedoseev.

Not only did Carlsen show up for this match but he opened it with what some are already calling one of the most brilliant games of Carlsen’s career. I think this sort of thing speaks highly of Carlsen but also sets an important example for champions to come.

Magnus Carlsen is following the example set by the previous champion, Vishy Anand. That’s a testament to both of them.

The Contrast

For some champions this sort of loss can lead to petulant behavior. Novak Djokovic, considered the best tennis player in the world at the moment, recently lost in his bid to win an Olympic gold medal and behaved with less elan.

Djokovic threw his tennis racquet into the stands in a fit of rage. He refused to play in a scheduled doubles match with his partner, thus depriving them both of an opportunity for a gold medal. This sort of behavior is something that young players see and emulate.

Poor Behavior is Contagious

When top level golfers like Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau feud publicly, hurling nasty insults at one another, they somehow convince themselves it’s good for ratings, that people love watching such spats and unprofessional behavior.

It’s true videos of Djokovic and the two golfers make headlines and people are interested in such things. It’s also true that poor behavior of this nature is contagious. Future top-level golfers, tennis players, and others will emulate these champions. That’s not good for sports and it’s really not great for society.

What I find interesting is that while most people rightly criticize the tantrum thrown by Djokovic, and others like him, people clearly want to see more of it. That’s a shame.

It’s more than just a championship match, it’s about how to behave in your own life. We are all going to lose at something in life and it’s always going to be painful. If we fight against our despair and go back out, even for a consolation match, it makes our society a better place.

Imagine if, in a rage, Carlsen decided not to play. The chess world never gets to see today’s brilliancy.

Conclusion

The ability to handle defeat with grace is an admirable character trait. I far prefer the example Magnus Carlsen sets than that of Djokovic.

The old adage that people enjoy watching a train wreck remains. As for me, I prefer a true champion, both on the playing field and in life.

Tom Liberman

Norway Beach Handball Team Insane Fine

Norway Beach Handball

Mandatory Bikini Uniform

As difficult to believe as you might find it, the Norway beach handball team paid a fine of almost $1,800 for wearing shorts to their match instead of bikini bottoms. I mean, seriously? The European Handball Federation (EHF) stipulates women beach handball players must wear a uniform including bikini bottoms and sports bras.

Do we even need to ask the reason for this rule? It’s not to ensure the safety of the competitors or the integrity of the game in case you thought as much. It’s because men made the rules, creepy men if you want my thought on the subject.

Years long Dispute

The Norway beach handball team, along with other teams, protested through the proper channel for years. All to no avail. I’m sure they got the normal mealy-mouthed answers about a fact-finding efforts by top people but nothing changed.

Finally, fed up one imagines, the Norway beach handball team showed up at the European Beach Handball Championship bronze medal game against Spain wearing shorts. The horror. I mean, gosh, shorts instead of bikini bottoms for an athletic competition?

The Patriarchy

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m hardly easily triggered or a member of the Social Justice Warrior crowd. That being said, I do consider myself Woke and enlightened, I’m just not militant about it. This rule is so vile, so useless, so clearly sexist, that when I read the headline, I thought it must be some sort of a joke. Some crazy Woke story about an imagined injustice.

Nope. Wrong again, Tommy Boy. When do, what I assume are the men who make the rules at EHF, think they are living? How can they receive a protest about having to wear bikini bottoms instead of shorts and ignore it?

I have this image in my head of a bunch of sixty plus year old men leering at pictures of the young athletes and giving each other uncoordinated high-fives while tossing the formal protests into the trash bin, then sexually harassing the women in their office, before going home to their trophy wives.

I just barfed in my mouth a little and I hope you did also.

Conclusion

I stand with the Norway Beach Handball team. It’s as simple as that.

Should the team have worn shorts or waited for the rule to change?

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Tom Liberman

Facebook Advertisements are the Opposite of Socialism

Facebook Advertisement

The Rage

I recently placed several Facebook advertisements for my new serial stories on Amazon and was surprised by the backlash from some who saw the ads. The general thoughts indicated to me that these folks hated that my Facebook advertisements were on their wall.

I’m quite interested in what I found when tracking back to the people expressing their rage, usually in the form of, shall we say, colorful images posted on the wall of The Adventures of Stultafor Milbegrew. Almost all of them seemed to be opponents of Socialism with a large majority supporting one particular political party.

Facebook is Capitalism

The problem, for the ragers, is that Facebook Advertisements are the embodiment of capitalism. If you want to remove all the ads then you remove all revenue. Without revenue Facebook either must go to a pay model or become a government run business that relies on tax dollars to provide you with an ad free experience.

The very people railing with those aforementioned colorful images are actually espousing against capitalism, if not outright supporting of socialism.

Why My Ads

Another area of great confusion seemed to be in the placement of Facebook advertisements on the wall of those expressing outrage. The general sentiment indicated the person complaining imagined my advertisement took up space on their wall.

The problem with this line of thought is the spot on the wall is a placeholder for an advertisement, if not mine then someone else’s. There will always be Facebook Advertisements taking up those position on your wall, on my wall, on all walls. Having said that, none of your friends see ads on your wall. Which is another common point of confusion among those who express themselves so forcefully to me.

The only way to get rid of those ads is to convince Facebook to change to a pay portal model. Or simply ask the government to take it over and run it with tax dollars.

Why Such Rage?

I find the confusion about the issue of Facebook Advertisements to be quite interesting. I suspect the complainers are not bothered by television advertisements. That thirty second spot on your favorite show will always be an advertisement, it will never contain content. It’s simply a placeholder for whichever advertiser spends funds on it.

There is something personal about my wall on Facebook. It is mine, even though at some level I think even the most vociferous complainer understands it really isn’t mine at all, but Facebook’s. That they allow me to use that space in order to sell advertising revenue.

Conclusion

It’s a choice you have, my friends. Either the advertisement of a little guy, that’s me, simply trying to get people to read three free serial stories and hopefully purchase more or a big company with something larger to sell.

And, seriously, the stories are short, easy to read, and funny. Try the first three for free and if you think I’m wrong, I can take criticism!

Tom Liberman

Your Mind is Altered by Bad Fighting in Movies

Bad Fighting

The Most Dangerous Game

While watching The Most Dangerous Game, 1932 version, I found myself laughing at the bad fighting. Then I realized something interesting. What I considered poorly choreographed brawling actually fairly accurately depicted a fight between combatant with few martial skills.

The bad fighting took place between the main character, the villain, and several hired thugs in the climactic scene. The fighters ran at one another, flailed wildly, scored a few glancing blows, and ended up in largely wrestling matches.

Here’s the thing though, the bad fighting was actually more realistic than what we see in heavily choreographed fight scenes today.

The Thing about Bad Fighting

I can’t fight and I’m betting most of you can’t either. Sure, there are some people out there trained in boxing or martial arts skills but when it comes to a brawl with no rules and simple instincts, I think even some of them might end up in a mess of a fight like in The Most Dangerous Game.

While watching the climactic fight and giggling at the bad fighting, I suddenly realized the heavily scripted, well-acted, and brutal fights of today’s movies are actually the real bad fighting. My brain expects people to duck blows. My brain expects people to throw speedy and accurate punches whilst someone is trying to do the same to me. That’s the nonsense. That’s the bad fighting.

Why Bad Fighting is Good Fighting

You see, bad fighting is actually good fighting because it’s realistic. This 1932 movie got it better than almost every movie made today, although my brain failed to realize it, at least at first.

This got me thinking as well. I know for a fact I can’t fight, but in my imagination, when I confront that bully, I can suddenly fight like the badass women and men in the movies. I’m a lightning fisted, deliverer of thunderous blows. My brain actually thinks I can fight like that because the movies make it seem like everyone can do so.

I don’t think I’m alone in this fantasy and I wonder if all the brawling at sporting events, political rallies, bars, and everywhere else is to some degree a product of the bad fighting in movies, by that I mean the too good fighting in movies.

Conclusion

Maybe we’d all be better off if entertainment showed us how silly fighting looks when attempted by amateurs.

Asides

The Most Dangerous game starred Fay Wray, yes please, who filmed it during evening hours at the same time as King Kong and on the same location. That’s a long day.

I also found the final scene as Bob and Eve, Joel McCrea and Wray, are escaping via boat form the island interesting. Wray unties the boat from the post as Bob prepares to flee the island. She isn’t told to do so but simply does it without comment. She is largely portrayed as a capable woman throughout the movie despite being the damsel in distress. Something I’ve noticed in a number of pre-code movies. Was it the Code, designed supposedly to protect women, that turned them into helpless fools?

Tom Liberman

In Upset Evil Empire Defeats JEDI

JEDI

What is JEDI

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, was a contract between the Department of Defense and Microsoft to modernize Information Technology. Ten billion dollars in taxpayer funds were to pay for this update which the DoD considers an absolute necessity.

It came into effect back in 2019 when Microsoft won the contract over rival Amazon. The contract is now null and void as the DoD initiated contract termination procedures and Microsoft supports the decision.

Why was JEDI Cancelled

Back when the contract was awarded, the President of the United States publicly stated his preference that it be awarded to Microsoft instead of Amazon because the executive considered the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, a political enemy.

An investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general provided no clarity. A number of high-ranking White House officials refused to cooperate. Now, twenty months later, the contract is dead and the process must begin again.

Twenty Months Lost

There are a number of factors to consider in this entire mess. Libertarian ideology underlies almost every one of them.

Business must not be tied up in politics. I admit that bridge is so far behind us we’d need the Hubble Space Telescope to find a time when politicians weren’t meddling. This fact doesn’t stop me from tilting against that particular windmill. Why on earth is the President of the United States, a United States Senator, a United States Congressman, or any of their political appointees making any statements or decision in regards to a project like JEDI?

I understand the Department of Defense comes under the purview of said politicians but business done by that entity does not, at least in my opinion. Because President Trump made clear conflict of interest statements in regard to the contract, it doesn’t even really matter if his staff interfered or not. Amazon has a case.

Imagine you are running a business with a large bid at stake with a government agency. Your local politician states she or he wants your competitor to get the contract. It’s clear you’d kick up a fuss and plunk down more money for the next election cycle. Yet another product of the folly that is the current course of the United States.

The fingerprint of politicians litters every decision made these days and our military is suffering because of it. We’ve got a trio of Zumwalt Class destroyers that cost over $22 billion and doesn’t have a main gun. The United Army told Congress they didn’t need any more Abrams tanks but got them anyway. I won’t even talk about the F35.

Meanwhile, soldiers can’t get clean water through their home plumbing right here in the United States. Veterans wait in line at the Veterans Administration to get medical care.

Many, if not all, of these problems come back to politicians with no expertise or even basic knowledge interfering in decisions.

Conclusion

I don’t care if you’re a Trump fan or you hate him. Your security is at risk because Trump couldn’t keep his big mouth shut. We should be twenty months into the upgrade by now, whether by Amazon or Microsoft. That’s the problem with politicians interfering in business decisions.

There was a time when Republicans and Libertarians aligned on this issue, no more. We few stand alone against a juggernaut of politicians and their supporters who seem to be rushing, arms wide open, with smiles on their faces, toward despotism.

The people of the United States, much as it pains me to say, seem to want one person, with no understanding of the issue at hand, to make all the decisions regarding said issue.