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.

Texas Gun Law if there is no Crime why do Time?

Texas Gun Law

Crimes that No Longer Exist

A new Texas gun law overrides previous illegal activities, particularly in regards to rules for carrying a firearm. Yet there are many people in prison for violating those laws in the past. Should we release those prisoners immediately?

The same goes for prisoners serving time for drug behaviors no longer considered criminal. I find it an intriguing question worth exploring and that is my aim today.

It was a Crime Then

Some will say the prisoners committed crimes at that time. Or at least a jury found them guilty of doing so. Just because carrying a weapon without a permit or training is now legal thanks to the new Texas gun law doesn’t mean people doing so didn’t break the law in the past.

I understand the argument although I disagree with it. Now, if you argue someone who drove fifty miles per hour down a thoroughfare with a speed limit of thirty but where the limit is now sixty should be released, I don’t agree. Driving over the speed limit is still a crime. Just because the limit changed on that particular street doesn’t absolve someone of breaking the existing rule.

I think a crime like carrying a weapon without a permit is different than running a red light at an intersection that no longer exists. If the state decides it’s perfectly legal to carry a firearm without a permit or training, then immediately release anyone incarcerated for doing so in the past.

What is a Crime?

To a large degree my argument comes down to defining a crime. It is my opinion, if we decide a certain activity is not criminal any more, then it behooves us, in the name of justice, to release anyone who committed that supposed crime during the period it was considered against the law.

What is the point in declaring something a crime in the first place? It’s largely designed to protect the people of region from some negative outcome. One of the biggest problems we have in the United States, in my opinion, is that we use the legal system to punish people we don’t like.

If the state legislators of Texas declare people can carry a gun without a permit, then no one should be in jail for doing so. Who exactly are we serving when we keep such offenders in prison? They did something now considered perfectly legal.

If you want to keep people in jail for committing that particular crime, then you should be against changing the law now. Freedom is not something to take away lightly.

Tom Liberman

Out-of-Control Fans are Everywhere

Out-of-Control Fans

Tour de France Out-of-control Fans

Today was the first day of the Tour de France and, once again, out-of-control fans are causing enormous problems at sporting events. A fan with a large sign basically stepped in front of the entire peloton while looking in completely another direction and caused an enormous crash.

The crash took out almost every rider in the event except a few in front. It caused Jasha Sütterlin to withdraw from the Tour de France because of injuries sustained in the incident. This sort of thing is becoming almost common-place.

It’s Everywhere

Bad behavior among out-of-control fans is something I started to notice not too many years ago while attending St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Cardinals home games. A fan, like everyone else in the world these days, thinks she or he can do anything he or she wants want. I paid for the ticket so I can yell abuse, disrupt the game, attempt to cause a player to make mistakes, or just about any other rude behavior.

I wrote about an incident in golf where fans attempted to heckle Sergio Garcia into making a mistake and the behavior at tournaments is just getting worse, egged on by competitors like Brooks Koepka who seem to think anything that generates interest is good for the game. Wrong.

We saw a woman openly arguing with Rafael Nadal, even going so far as to curse directly at him during the most recent Australian Open tennis tournament.

Out-of-control fans are not the exception anymore, they are the rule. For a long time, I loved going to sporting events. I used to find cheering on my team, reveling in victory, and accepting defeat to be among the best things in life. No more.

The constant whooing at baseball games makes it impossible to enjoy, even on television. It’s a horror show and there seems to be no way to rein it in.

Solutions

My solution to the problem of out-of-control fans? I don’t go to games anymore. I play board and role-playing games with my buddies at home instead. If you’ve got a better solution, let me know.

Tom Liberman

The Great Quartz Rush in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu

Diamonds and Quartz Look Similar

The harm a lack of education and poverty can cause was on display in South Africa when a cattle herder found a mineral that looked like it might be a diamond. This set off a diamond rush to the KwaZulu-Natal region of that country.

The problem is that another mineral, quartz, looks an awful lot like a diamond to the naked eye. In fact, it generally takes a laboratory examination to tell the difference between the two minerals.

Diamond Rush Ensues

Many people rushed to the KwaZulu-Natal region in order to start digging for diamonds. These treasure hunters then proceeded to destroy over fifty hectares of land, that’s over a hundred and twenty acres to those of us in the United States.

This happened despite overwhelming geologic evidence the region is extremely unlikely to contain diamonds. It is a region composed dolerite, a predominately volcanic rock. We find Diamonds universally in rocks called kimberlites and lamproites.

Quartz is extremely common in dolerite regions.

Why did this Happen?

I finally get to the point of this blog. The incredible damage that often results from the terrible combination of poverty and lack of education. It is fairly clearly established that greater wealth goes hand-in-hand with higher education. This in itself is useful but I want to look at the dangers uneducated and poor populations present to the rest of society and the world.

People who do not have money have less to lose. I can understand why someone from the poverty-stricken region of KwaZulu-Natal gave into the temptation of this diamond rush. What do they have to lose? Their lives are already miserable and the futures for their children are just as bleak.

Throw into this mix a lack of education. The people in the KwaZulu-Natal region might not even know the mineral composition of the soil and the impossibility of the discovered minerals being diamonds. They just don’t know any better.

The Terrible Results

In this case, the result is the destruction of a large chunk of land, that happily enough was not of great value. The potential damage is far, far greater. It seems to me the negative results of anti-education policies right here in the United States and around the world are manifesting themselves every day.

People who are desperately poor and without a solid educational foundation are significantly more likely to make poor, desperate decisions. Those decisions lead to negative outcomes not only for the people in question but for everyone around them. That’s the problem.

As a Libertarian, I strongly think people should make their own decisions in life. That being said, it’s undeniable poor people, desperate people, and uneducated people tend to make worse decisions than their counterparts.

I know some people will laugh at this situation and think of South Africa as a poor nation. Such people will think to themselves this could never happen here. I beg to differ. I put no stupidity beyond people, even here in the United States.

If a supposed diamond was found in my backyard, I’d immediately fear for my life from the hordes of people immediately descending upon my property with violence in their eyes, greed in their hearts, and nothing at all in their minds.

The United States is not as far removed from South Africa as you might imagine. People are the same everywhere.

Tom Liberman

Vishy Anand Shows a Chess Cheater Real Class

Vishy Anand

What Happened

Chess India hosted a charity event, Checkmate Covid, to help those suffering from the results of Covid-19. In it a variety of celebrities played former World Champion Viswanathan, affectionately called Vishy by his many fans, Anand in a simultaneous exhibition.

One of those pitted against Vishy Anand was billionaire Nikhil Kamath. Kamath played a virtually flawless game after which Vishy Anand told an interviewer: Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money. It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone.

With just a few seconds left on his clock Kamath achieved a winning position and Anand resigned. Anand could have continued playing and flagged his opponent, that is to say, won the game because his foe ran out of time. Vishy Anand chose not to do so and that is the focus of my blog today. Why resign to someone who is clearly cheating, in a charity event of all things?

Who is Vishy Anand

Vishy Anand is the former World Chess Champion having defeated Alexei Shirov in 2000 after having lost two previous championship matches against Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. The two are often considered among the greatest chess players in history.

He then defended the title three times before losing it in 2013 to Magnus Carlsen who is also considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, player in history. During Anand’s championship defeats and victories, he never complained about a loss or bragged about victory. He is universally considered one of the classiest chess players in history, an assessment with which I agree wholeheartedly.

That is why this cheating scandal so angered the world. Not shocked. People cheat, even in charity events, everyone knows that. It’s just that Vishy Anand is such a fantastically kind and generous person, his fans and friends were absolutely outraged at the disrespectful behavior of Kamath. Chessnetwork, also a classy and kind fellow, posted a video about the transgression in which you can sense his rage.

Why did Anand resign when he knew full well Kamath was cheating? Because Anand was true to himself, a mantra of the Libertarian. You want to cheat? That’s on you. I only answer to myself. Anand realized he was in a losing position and resigned because that’s sportsmanship. It all but brings tears to my eyes and I’m not spewing hyperbole.

The Apology

Kamath issued an apology, if you can call it that, after figuratively every chess player in the world called him out. In it he blamed other people for being stupid enough to believe he, Kamath, could beat Anand in a chess match. It is ridiculous that so many are thinking that I really beat Vishy sir in a chess game, that is almost like me waking up and winning a 100m race with Usain Bolt.

Yeah, blame other people for their anger at your cheating. That’s the opposite of Anand. People are enraged and continue to be so, go figure.

Conclusion

Be like Vishy. That’s my conclusion. Be the better person. You’re not helping anyone else; you’re helping yourself.

Tom Liberman

After Match Interview and Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka

The Post-Match Interview

Tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, a major tennis event, because she gets severe anxiety doing post-match interviews. There are a lot people writing about how poorly the event organizers treated her. Or how badly she treated the event organizers but that’s not going to be the focus of my thoughts today.

I want to discuss the importance, or lack thereof, of post-match interviews. How valuable do you think they are in generating interest for the sport in question?

I’ll get my own opinion out of the way early although I certainly recognize not everyone thinks the same way I do. I find them, to use a word, cringe. I actually turn off the event when they start. All right, let’s get into the meat of it.

The Mental Health of an Athlete

I don’t want to delve too deeply into why I empathize with Naomi Osaka in her situation. To put it simply, I am fairly introverted myself. That being said, I think Naomi Osaka is to be believed no matter her position. If she claims she loves doing media after matches or the opposite, we should listen to her.

In this era of social media dominance, it is particularly difficult to be a female athlete. I’ve wrote some time ago about tennis player Rebecca Marino who eventually quit the sport because of horrific bullying in social media and beyond. Any woman in sports can attest to the abuse she receives. Not to devalue the level of abuse many men also get.

I can well imagine any athlete’s fear in going before the media; knowing even a simple misspoken word might result in vicious attacks on her or his character. Making a statement for or against anything seems to give rise to an unreasoning hated from at least part of the audience who do not hesitate to lash out. We need look no further than Naomi Osaka who faced brutal and vicious attacks for her unwillingness to perform post-match interviews.

There are a huge number of angry and cruel people out there who do not pause and simply let fly hurtful words at the slightest provocation, or for no reason at all.

Do you Enjoy Post-Match Interviews?

I’ve long cringed during post-match interviews of athletes. I don’t think they are fair for the athlete, coming directly after a difficult loss or a physically and emotionally draining win. I don’t think they are all that interesting as most interviewers ask the same stupid questions. How do you feel? What were you thinking when …?

We largely get Bull Durham-like rehearsed answers. Occasionally the interviewer asks a good question but the athlete is no position to think about or give a coherent answer. I hate those stupid interviews and I completely understand why an athlete feels the same way.

I find such interviews even more idiotic in this modern era where social media is available to every athlete. The athlete can take their time, recover from their arduous efforts, examine the question, think about it, and then answer in their own way in their own time.

Now, I find it pointless to interview Naomi Osaka after a match but, perhaps, you enjoy such interviews. Let me know what you think.

Do you watch Post-Match Interviews?

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Tom Liberman

Geno Auriemma wants Accountability

Geno Auriemma

The Transfer Portal

The NCAA changed their Transfer Portal rule last year and Geno Auriemma, head coach of the perennial women’s college basketball powerhouse University of Connecticut, doesn’t like it.

Prior to this season, if a player wanted to move from one school to another, she or he had to sit out an entire season of play. This is an extraordinary punishment considering the athletic lives of such players are very short and earning potential for even a single season is millions of dollars.

Why Geno is Angry

Geno Auriemma is mad because some of the players he recruited left and their ability to continue to do so is now significantly easier. Geno Auriemma has some telling quotes in the story.

In regards to an athlete leaving a program he says, A lot of these kids are delusional. They have so many voices in their ear.

I suppose you know better what the athlete should do? You should be in charge of the decision instead of them, their parents? Can you get any more condescending?

There’s something wrong with the entitlement that happens to exist today, and there’s something wrong with this idea of student-athlete welfare, that everything should be done to accommodate the student-athlete with no regard whatsoever to the coaches who work their ass off to recruit these kids in the first place, work with them, help them get better, make them the player that they are, and then they up and leave with no consequences whatsoever.

Entitlement? Look in the mirror Geno Auriemma. Look in the mirror. You work hard? So do those kids. How often do coaches up and leave for a new contract at a different school without consequences? Leaving the athletes they recruited behind? What’s good for you isn’t good for anyone else?

Those kids have people whispering in their ears? So do you! The people who pay you millions of dollars to coach, the apparel companies that pay your school to have those kids wear their jerseys. What do those kids get paid for all of this? You are the best one to look out for their interests? No, you are the best one to look out for your own interests and the same goes for them.

If we as coaches just call a kid in and say, ‘Look, I thought you’d be a lot better than this, so I’m taking away your scholarship’, we would get crucified.

That’s exactly the way it was until the NCAA changed the rules thanks to a plethora of lawsuits. In the past Geno Auriemma could simply take away a scholarship for exactly that reason but I didn’t hear him up in arms talking about entitlement back then, about the horrors of such a practice.

Conclusion

Kids sometimes make bad decisions; I don’t deny it. Some will want to transfer when it might well be best to stay at the original school. That being said, I don’t want some sanctimonious adult telling young athletes what to do while, at the same time, taking millions of dollars to further the coach’s career. Talk about conflict of interest.

Geno Auriemma is way out of line.

Tom Liberman

Joe West does Tony LaRussa a Solid

Joe West

The Situation

Umpire Joe West, owner of the Major League record for most games umpired, decided to confiscate St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos’s hat. There is a rule against pitchers using foreign substances and West wants to pretend he simply enforced that rule.

Major League announced at the beginning of the season they planned to crack down on such foreign substances. As of yet, despite record no-hitters, out of control spin rates, and many, many sightings of such material on gloves, hats, forearms, and everywhere else, this is first time we’ve seen a player’s equipment confiscated.

What Really Happened

Joe West and Tony LaRussa go way back. They are long-time associates and LaRussa’s team, the White Sox, were on the verge of sweeping the Cardinals whom LaRussa managed for many years. In the first two games of the series the White Sox pretty much led the entire game. In this third game the Cardinals were a run ahead when Joe West suddenly had his moral epiphany.

Joe West hoped to do his friend a solid by rattling Gallegos before he started pitching. It’s that simple. I’m certainly not suggesting Gallegos didn’t have a foreign substance on his hat. I’m saying every pitcher in the series did exactly the same thing and Joe West chose the most opportune moment to intervene on behalf of his friend.

Joe West now takes the morally repugnant stance that he attempted to do Gallegos a favor by not immediately ejecting the pitcher from the game. Ha. If Joe West had an ounce of moral integrity, a teaspoon of personal responsibility, he’d get up on the podium, announce he made a terrible error in judgment, retire from the game, and not speak again until he publishes his memoirs, which will remain silent on this particular subject.

Conclusion

I want to be clear that I’m of the opinion Gallegos likely had a foreign substance on his hat, probably suntan lotion, rosin, and who knows what else. I’m just saying that he isn’t doing anything different than almost every other pitcher in major league baseball. Joe West along with all the other umpires well know it.

It’s the timing of this incident that galls me. It’s clear to me it was an attempt to influence the game by the umpire and that’s a serious problem.

Tom Liberman

High School Basketball NIBC Cash Grab

NIBC

The Situation

A group of six of the best high school basketball teams in the country are forming their own league. The National Interscholastic Basketball Conference. They will play a regular season, special events, and a post-season tournament.

The organization will add two more teams before league play begins this year and there are certainly plans to expand further in the coming years.

Why is this being done? Let me quote Rashid Ghazi a partner at Paragon Marketing Group who will serve as commissioner of the NIBC. The NIBC represents a tremendous platform that combines elite-level basketball with excellent academics in a real campus setting. These six schools have outstanding histories and helped develop countless young men to achieve their dreams of excelling in both college and professional basketball.

Ha, I say. Ha, I repeat for emphasis. It’s a cash grab.

My Problem with the NIBC

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against a nice cash grab. The fact six powerhouse high school basketball programs are forming the NIBC to make money doesn’t bother me at all. Good for them. I recently wrote how elite teams in all leagues win virtually every championship. Largely because of enormous financial advantages over their less well-off counterparts.

What bothers me in this situation is the players and their families will make nothing. Not only will they make nothing but the laws of the United States of America make it essentially illegal for them to make money from their efforts.

These are the kids performing on the court and yet it is the leagues, the league offices, the venues, the officials, certainly commissioner Ghazi. Almost everyone but the kids will take all the money. It’s actually against the law to pay the athletes and let them continue to play in the league. Once any athlete accepts payment, she or he is a professional and barred from amateur sport thanks to insane rules upheld by judges in this supposedly free country.

It’s no far-fetched leap to see an eventual television contract for the league, shady associations with college recruiters tied to college coaches, and any other corruption that comes when this much money is involved.

Conclusion

The NIBC is nothing more than extension of the amoral NCAA which exploits its workforce while making billions of dollars. It’s not right for the NCAA and it’s not right for the NIBC.

How long before we see Crack Baby Athletic Association? My disgust is immeasurable.

Tom Liberman

Woke Sexual Assault on The Nevers

Woke Sexual Assault

What Happened

Our drunken protagonist, Amalia, walks up onto the stage, grabs the lute player’s instrument and kisses him violently while grabbing his genitalia with her free hand and violently stroking him. Yep, that’s sexual assault.

She then breaks the presumably expensive musical instrument over the head of another patron who had the temerity to ask for kiss. That’s theft and destruction of property. Earlier, Amalia proffered a kiss in exchange for a pint of beer, several of which we witnessed her guzzling down with gusto. You see, she made an offer and the man, perfectly reasonably, asked if it was still available. Of course, he wasn’t as physically attractive as the lute player so he deserved to get smashed with an instrument and violently punched for this transgression.

Amalia performed her woke sexual assault on the lute player because she assumed it was welcome as he made eye contact with her from the stage and smiled. Clearly a signal he wanted a woke sexual assault.

The fact an executive producer for The Nevers, Joss Whedon, is under considerably scrutiny for equally vile behavior seems all part and parcel for a world in which understanding and tolerance are preached by all sides but only shown to those who are in lockstep agreement.

This is not Anti-Woke Incel Propaganda

I’m sorry to break the bad news to you Incel maniacs. Just because it’s horribly wrong for Amalia to grope and assault the lute player doesn’t absolve you. If it’s wrong for Amalia, it’s wrong for you.

I consider myself woke in that I know transgenders, people of color, women, religious minorities, and various other groups face tremendous discrimination and violence in this world and this country. Deny it all you want, it happens, it is happening, and you are responsible for this environment.

The woke agenda is absolutely right. It’s the woke playbook imitating those it condemns which bothers me.

A Personal Interlude

There is something in human nature that seems to turn horrors inflicted on themselves into doing the same to others. I played sports. In sports there is hazing. I witnessed bizarre pseudo-sexual violence committed by older athletes on younger athletes more than once.

The absolute glee on the faces of those committing the assaults stays with me to this day. It is almost certain the offender was the victim just a few short years earlier.

Conclusion

Respect for others means respect for those with whom you disagree and dislike. It doesn’t mean respect for your circle of friends who sit around blaming everyone else for the world’s problems while slapping themselves on the backs and advocating for atrocities. You sicken me as much as does Amalia with her woke sexual assault.

All this being said, There is a great deal of hope for humanity. I think we are making progress. I think we will get to a good place, someday.

It doesn’t help when those advocating for change are happy to glorify violence and assault on those they despise. Yes, I’m talking to you, all of you.

Tom Liberman

Apple Buy or Rent Lawsuit

Apple Buy or Rent

What is the Difference between Buy or Rent?

A federal judge allowed a class-action lawsuit against Apple involving the difference between the options buy or rent to continue. At question is the option at offer in selling music, should customers of Apple Buy or Rent their music, movies, and television shows? I love the law so let’s examine the issue.

As it stands in the Apple Buy or Rent conundrum the company offers people the option to buy but in reality, if the owners of that content ever decide Apple no longer has rights to it, the customer also loses the ability to consume the media.

When you buy something from Apple you are not really buying it. Apple gives you the opportunity to consume that media on your device at the time of your choosing but nothing more. People seem to think the store should use the word rent instead of buy because you never actually own the content.

I have a couple of problems with the lawsuit; primarily I ask what end result the litigants hope to get. I also see no damages resultant of the difference and therefore I’m not sure if compensation is in order.

Compensation for Apple Buy or Rent

I don’t want to, and am not capable of, getting into an in-depth discussion of Tort and Contract law but one of the principles involved is damages. In order to receive compensation, the plaintiff must show damages. If Apple does not lose rights to the media in question and revoke it; there are no damages. Therefore, the entire lawsuit seems aimed at making a point. What is that point?

What Result do Litigants Want?

Change it to Rent

If the Apple Buy or Rent wording changes, what difference does it make? I rent something rather than buy it but that doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the business. It’s exactly the same either way. The consumer is not helped in any way.

If the content creator revokes the license from Apple the customer loses rights, exactly as things currently stand.

Rent the Content from the Creator

If the litigants want to force Apple to allow us to purchase the content outright it essentially drives Apple out of the business entirely. Customers must buy directly from the content creators who do not have convenient stores available to the consumers.

Essentially, every content creator will make their own store front and buyers will navigate a myriad of avenues in order to purchase their content, and, in reality, things don’t even change. When we purchase the media from the content creator, we still merely rent it. If they revoke the license, we’re exactly where we started.

Buy the Content Outright

The final intended goal is possibly that we simply purchase the content outright from the creator. In this case we have to store the content and that costs money. After years of purchasing, we have enormous volumes of media stored on the cloud by Apple. That’s really what our payment is all about. Apple holds all our content on enormous servers and grants us access to that content when and where we desire.

If we want to own the content outright, just like any physical product, we must take care of it ourselves. Ford doesn’t make a garage for our car and keep it shiny and clean and away from thieves. We do that, or we don’t, but it’s up to us in the end.

If I decide to store the media on a home server and there is a fire, it’s gone. If I rent a server from some company and they go out of business, likewise, all my content is gone. I prefer the current model and I think the vast majority of people agree with me.

Conclusion

The convenience Apple offers us through Cloud Storage is the reality of the Apple Buy or Rent question. The remedies to the lawsuit seem to be either pointless or actually an enormous inconvenience. They only make things worse for everyone.

What difference do the words Buy or Rent really make? Nothing. Yet, if this lawsuit somehow persists and proves triumphant in the courts; we lose. Great.

Tom Liberman

The Super League might be a Harbinger for all Sport

Super League

What is the Super League?

A group of futbol clubs in Europe hope to form a new association called the Super League. Hopefully comprised of the highest revenue teams in England, Spain, and Italy. The plan is to have twenty teams divided into two groups with a playoff scenario at the end of the season.

The Super League founders hope to lure the top revenue teams from Germany and France. Those teams have so far resisted such attempts.

Why are they Doing it?

This league is similar to the Power Five football conferences in the NCAA and money is the driving force in both cases. In European futbol and the NCAA there is an enormous gulf between the high revenue teams and the low revenue teams.

The teams making huge amounts of money must share the wealth with the teams who don’t make nearly as much. This seeming unfairness rankles the owners of the wealthy teams and drives them into creating their own leagues, the Power Five conferences in the NCAA and now the Super League in European futbol.

This revenue gap creates an almost unbridgeable divide in the quality of the top teams as compared to the lower tier teams.

Over the last twenty years one of the proposed Super League teams won the English Premier League championship nineteen times. In the Spanish La Liga, it is eighteen out of twenty and in the Italian Serie A, it is nineteen out of twenty.

European soccer is almost no longer a competition at all. It is simply a long line of the wealthiest teams playing amongst themselves for a championship. In essence, it is already a Super League with all the other teams essentially being doormats for the top teams to crush week after week while getting a share of the revenue as payment for the shellacking.

Is it any wonder the top teams and individuals don’t want to share the wealth they generate?

Why are People Angry?

The Super League clubs are receiving general outrage from most fans as it is considered an enormous cash grab. That’s the absolute truth. Teams like Manchester United, Barcelona, and Juventus have fan bases around the world. The television contracts the league shares are almost universally driven by the most popular teams.

The fans of secondary teams in all the other leagues enjoy rivalries with the top teams. Games against Super Teams, in their enormous stadiums filled with rabid fans, generate most of the revenue for smaller franchises. The Super League teams plan on continuing playing their regular leagues but people see the writing on the wall.

Outraged by this blatant cash grab, the fans want to see the big teams punished for their behavior. Punishment such as banishment, championships rescinded, and fines.

What can be Done?

Is there a way to stop such new leagues? Is stopping them possible? There is already a strong movement to prevent the Super League. If things don’t change as far as revenue is concerned, I’m not sure how the current sports structure can hold together.

Teams from larger markets will generate more fans, more revenue, and more championships. Even in U.S. sports, where salary caps keep the competition relatively even, the vast majority of revenue comes from a few of the big city teams and everyone else is fighting for scraps.

The world is becoming more global and the idea of a Super League across countries and even continents is not going away. I get why people are angry, but I don’t see a viable way to stop the revenue generators from creating their own competitions. They just want to stop sharing their wealth with the smaller market teams.

I’m sure that’s not a conclusion most people will like.

Tom Liberman

The Nevers Baggage Free Review

The Nevers

An Objective Review of The Nevers

The Nevers is a new show on HBO and I’m right at the center of the demographic audience for whom it is intended. That’s a fancy way of saying I’m a nerd with money to spend.

Not long ago I wrote a review of All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlett and in it I discussed the ideas of reviewing a show for its objective good or bad traits rather than any baggage associated with the show or those who are involved in it.

If ever a show needed an objective review, it’s The Nevers although I’m not going to go into reasons why it is necessary, trust me on the subject. Most review are going to be at least partially if not mostly influenced by said baggage. None of that here.

What is The Nevers?

The Nevers is a much-hyped show on HBO which follows the exploits of a group of late nineteenth century Londoners dealing with the results of an unexplained phenomenon that left a number of people touched, that is to say, with special abilities and traits.

It’s a nerdalicious show with all the elements that have intrigued me since the early days of such shows which arguably began with the underrated Misfits of Science. To say that I’m a fan is to damn with faint praise indeed. I eat this stuff by the gallon and beg for more.

The Review

Acting

The ensemble case, and I do mean ensemble, for the premier episode did an excellent job for the most part. It doesn’t hurt that lead actor Laura Donnelly is an athletic, dark-haired vixen with more than a touch of crazy in her eyes. I have a weakness for that type. Still, trying to ignore my rapidly beating heart, I thought she was believable in the lead role as Amalia True.

Ann Skelly as Penance Adair was also excellent as a sidekick. She brought a sweetness to the role that seemed to shine through. The secondary characters all performed well. Amy Manson seemed over-the-top as the murderous Maladie and I thought hers was the weakest performance although she had little to do so I’ll withhold judgment.

I have only one quibble with the acting and it’s probably more with the sound team and the writing than the actors. I struggled throughout to understand the dialog. Their accents along with a lot of mumbling made it really difficult to follow.

Characters

The characters were all quite interesting and the opening vignette where we met them was relatively nicely managed. It’s not easy to get in so many backstories so quickly and I felt somewhat shortchanged, particularly in regards to Amalia who attempts to commit suicide but why?

In addition, Amalia’s Touched power is precognition but she somehow has ninja skills and is a martial arts master. I’ll talk more about this in the writing section.

Likewise, the Beggar King was introduced almost as an afterthought and attempting to make him menacing with so little to do didn’t work well for me. Lord Massen was handled particularly well as the big baddy. They did a nice job of explaining, at least partially, his hatred of the Touched in that his daughter collapses after the inciting incident.

Mary Brighton’s introduction seemed very forced as well and I just didn’t care about her at all even in the climactic opera scene. I think the big problem was too many characters too quickly. There’s just not enough time to get to know or care about them.

All in all, I think the characters are interesting and promising.

Writing

In a nutshell, this is where things went wrong. The writing falls into the typical trap of action shows where entire scenes appear out of nowhere, make no logical sense to the plot, and take me out of the moment. By this I mean I leave my immersion and shake my head in astonishment at the stupidity.

Particularly egregious from my perspective is Amalia with martial skills. Why does she have them? It makes no sense. They really needed a third lead along with Penance who has such Touched abilities but I guess the cast was already far too large.

In addition, Amalia’s precognition is a real problem in that she sees the future, changes her behavior, and alters the timeline removing what she just witnessed. I kind of have this problem with precognition in whole. I’d like to see her Touched ability give her insight into what to do after the event happens, not prevent it entirely.

From a scene related perspective, when Amalia and Penance went to investigate a touched girl, Myrtle things made little sense. Suddenly, while downstairs with her parents, kidnappers arrive upstairs and an enormous chase scene ensues. The investigation was just an excuse to have the chase.

Now, I will give the writers credit, they tried to explain the coincidence of the kidnapping at that exact moment as a result of the Beggar King giving the same information to the group led by Maladie. Still, I’m not buying it.

The pivotal opera scene made no sense whatsoever, from beginning to end. Why were they there? Maladie was there apparently to capture a Touched girl but goes on a nonsensical rant on stage as a way to introduce her compatriots, I guess. I couldn’t follow her dialog at all. Why did Mary start to sing?

It was an enormous hodgepodge of a chocolate mess. Why didn’t security rush the stage immediately? How did Hugo Swann only notice the murderous rampage on set when Maladie rushed by with Mary? I mean, he was standing right there for the entire thing.

The weepy dialog between Amalia and Penance after the failed pursuit didn’t make any sense at all. The entire scene, arguably the most pivotal in the first episode was baffling.

The writing really killed my enjoyment of what otherwise seems like a promising show. Too bad.

Sets and Costumes

The sets are stunning and believable and the costume design work is absolutely first rate. No quibbles here.

Music

Music is generally a problem in shows of this nature as it grows overbearing and preachy. When should I be afraid? When should I sense romance? Just listen to the volume cranking up. I’m thrilled to say the music was used with a relatively deft touch. The action scenes weren’t drowned by the music.

I am happy with the relatively deft touch displayed by the sound team here although they must do something about making the dialog understandable.

Conclusion

I didn’t enjoy the show almost exclusively because of poor writing. Many scenes seemed to be setups for action sequences rather than a plot moving device. Everything else was worth watching and I’ll keep tuning in for the moment, but we’ll see.

Tom Liberman

SciManDan Trolls for Flat Earth and Finds Great Kids

Great Kids

What’s Going on?

I just watched a great YouTube video from SciManDan in which he chatted with random people via Omegle in the hopes of finding Flat Earth proponents. What he found instead was a bunch of great kids from all over the world and it was glorious.

SciManDan is a popular YouTube content creator who largely, but not solely, debunks Flat Earth videos. He was trying to disprove the general hypothesis among proponents that their numbers were growing exponentially. While this was successful, the lesson I took from it was something I’ve talked about before, the world is filled with an ever-growing number of great kids.

The Experiment

Omegle is a chat site in which you are randomly paired with strangers in order to partake in presumably interesting conversations. SciManDan went onto the site with a sign indicating he believed the earth is a sphere and wanted people to convince him otherwise.

He spent about fours trying to find anyone who espoused a position against a spherical earth and failed. That’s good news in itself but not really the point of my blog. What I’d like to discuss is the reaction of many of the predominantly young people he encountered on his mission.

The Great Kids of the World

For the most part the young people he encountered all pretty much immediately said the world was, in fact, a globe and they didn’t disagree with his position.

Several of them thought for a moment, declared the Earth is a sphere, but then tried to come up with arguments to convince SciManDan. I found this quite impressive. The willingness to take up a position with which you disagree is a sign of an agile and inquiring mind. The age of many of the young people who proved ready and able to take on this challenge was quite a bit younger than most of the Flat Earth proponents I’ve seen on SciManDan’s channel.

The ethnicities and accents of the various young people he spoke with indicated a fairly broad cross-section of the world.

Many of the youngsters asked pertinent questions about what he was doing. Sure, some were pretty goofy and at least one was stoned off his gourd, but they wanted to know what he was doing. They took the time to look him up on YouTube. One of them even had a sibling fan of SciManDan resulting in a bit of shock and awe that I enjoyed watching.

By and large they wished him well and told him to keep fighting the good fight.

By golly, by George, by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the great kids of the internet with inquisitive minds who are happy to talk with or type to people of all nationalities really gives me tremendous expectations for the future.

Conclusion

Today’s great kids grew up with the internet and largely seem to understand we are not separated by gender, race, religion, sexuality, nationality, and all the other false divisions foisted on us by those in power who wish to stay there.

Kids get it and this boomer is confident the world will soon be in better hands. Frankly, it can’t come soon enough.

Tom Liberman

Your Desire for Beer Defines you

Desire for Beer

The Need

You have a desire for beer. That’s it, that’s the focus of this blog. Well, it’s a bit more than that, but I will explain. It’s what you do after you realize your desire for beer that brings us together today. It’s how you go about getting the beer that defines you.

We all have a desire for beer in one manner or another but how to you get to the point where a mug or bottle filled with the elixir arrives in front of you?

The Types of Desire for Beer

Needs an Excuse

Some of you cannot indulge yourself with the beverage in question without knowing others will join you. You make inquiries. Does anyone want a beer with dinner tonight? Yo, Tommy Boy, do you want a beer with dinner tonight, we’re having brats and burgers. If you’re having one maybe I’ll have one too.

What am I supposed to say? Nah, I’m bloated today, sorry. I know you want a beer; you’re not fooling anyone. If I refuse your offer then I’m punishing you, which I can’t do, I’m a nice guy. Well, I at least like to pretend I’m nice guy. Sure, I’ll have one, how about you?

The Helper

Hey, Tom, I’m getting a beer, can I get one for you? You can’t indulge in your desire for beer without bringing me into the equation. What do I have to do with it? What am I supposed to say now? You waited until the strategic moment my glass was empty just so you could ask me and prove how damn polite you are.

Again, my options are limited. I can tell you no but, frankly, I kind of do want a beer so that’s not happening. Ya, I’d love a beer, thanks. You’re a superior human, you win.

The Lazy Drinker

You wait until I get up to get a beer before you utter the words we all know are coming. Hey, Tom, as long as you’re up ….

What am I supposed to do, keep walking and pretend I didn’t hear you? Because that’s what I want to do, trust me, that’s what we all want to do. Then I’m the bad guy and you’re the victim. Get your own damn beer seems like a reasonable response but the reality is that we can’t say that.

Sure, what do you want, another one of those dirty dish-water things or a manly stout?

The Anti-social Jerk

The desire for beer comes over you and you stand up, notifying no one, saying nothing, all Gregory Peck, walk boldly to the cooler, grab yourself a bottle, crack it open, optionally pour it into a glass, and return to your seat without a word.

Ever think someone else was thirsty you ungrateful bastard? Have you ever consider the needs of anyone else or are you just a selfish prick?

Conclusion

In conclusion, we all want a beer but the only way to get one is to be a jerk. Life ain’t fair sometimes. So, anyone want a cold one?

Which Type of Beer Drinker are you?

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Tom Liberman

Qualifying Mayhem in the Bullet Chess Championship

Bullet Chess Championship

What is a Qualifier?

What does the word qualify mean to you? That’s a question of great importance in regards to the 2021 Bullet Chess Championship. In the tournament a number of players compete to play for $25,000 in prize money. This group of competitors is broken into two parts.

One group, made up of those who are considered the best bullet chess players in the world, are prequalified into the Bullet Chess Championship finals.

The rest of the players are required to enter four qualifier events. In each of these, the top four players of a 20 round Swiss tournament advance to a knockout stage with the eventual winner gaining qualification for the Bullet Chess Championship.

That all makes a lot of sense. You don’t want the best players in the world knocked out before the final which is streamed on various outlets including Twitch. They are the personalities who draw the viewers.

So, that leads us to our question. What does it mean to qualify for a tournament? You’re probably wondering why I’m even asking this apparently simple question. I ask because the Bullet Chess Championship organizers apparently don’t know the answer. Read on.

Prequalified Players Enter the Qualifier

Here’s where the tournament organizers made what I consider to be an egregious error. The first group, those already with a place in the final tournament, played in the qualifying tournaments.

What? You rightly exclaim. That makes no sense. What if they win? Good question. During the first two qualifiers none of the exempted players made it into the top four of the Swiss so it was a moot point. However, in the third qualifier a fellow named Hikaru Nakamura, who is widely considered the best or near best bullet chess player in the world, won. As might be expected.

I assumed if a prequalified player made it into the top four, the next best player moves forward. Nope, the prequalified Nakamura went into the knockout and defeated both his opponents. The final was pointless. Whoever played Nakamura qualified because Nakamura is already qualified. If that sentence makes sense.

Why I think it is Horribly Wrong

In my opinion there is no way the prequalified players should play in a qualifier. It’s right there, in the word. Such players have an enormous advantage in that they don’t have any pressure on them. In addition, every game such a player wins or loses in the Swiss affects who makes it to the final four.

In the knockout stage it’s the same thing. No pressure, if they win in the semi-final then another player, desperately trying to qualify, is knocked out and the player who wins the other semi-final is automatically qualified for the finals even if they lose.

Conclusion

What moron thought this was a good idea, let alone a fair one? I’m a chess fan and I’m triggered!

Should Prequalified Players play in the Qualifier?

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Tom Liberman

The Death of Satire because People be Dumb

Death of Satire

Is Satire Really Dead or Am I Making a Point

I hereby declare the Death of Satire on this day of March 26, 2021. Satire is great and it’s not really going away, it hasn’t died, but it’s becoming all but impossible to differentiate between satire and something truly idiotic that a group of people, sometimes a large group, believes.

I’ve written a number of blogs on the lack of critical thinking ability but the problem seems to have reached a point where it’s impossible to tell if someone is just really stupid or trying to use satire. If there is no substantive difference between reality and satire, then, to some degree it is the death of satire.

The point came home to me when I saw video produced by The Onion some eleven years ago that was biting and hilarious. One of the people commenting noted the current content isn’t as good. Someone else replied the competition with Fake News was so steep it became impossible to write good satire.

Um, yeah, valid.

How did We Get Here?

Our erstwhile leaders; be they local, state or national in stature, seem to want to lay the blame at the feet of social media and various extremely unreliable news sources. I am not so inclined to blame the death of satire on such organizations. I think the problem lies in the mirror. People be dumb.

The confidence trickster relies on the fact people believe what they want to believe, rather than what the facts tell them, in order to take money from their victims.

My opinion is the underlying problem is our personal identity has become too closely aligned with a variety of issues. If I’m of one particular religion, political party, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, or whatever, I’m unwilling to examine a situation with critical thinking.

It’s not that people haven’t always lacked critical thinking skills, it’s that a certain percentage of our society now lacks them, and I’m convinced that number is reaching a critically dangerous point. If enough people simply refuse to look at facts and come to rational conclusions, decisions are going to be flawed; which leads to enormous difficulties.

We need look no further than the current pandemic to see people on both sides of the issue completely abdicating reason in order to push an agenda.

How do We Fix it?

I love satire and I want a world filled with it. The fact of the death of satire makes me sad and I’d like to get about fixing it. The problem is there is no easy solution. If people refuse to think critically then satire must continue to slowly lose out to its unyielding competition: stupidity.

I say there is no easy solution and that is accurate, but the concept is quite simple. Teach critical thinking skills starting from early childhood. Create a generation of people who look at facts and make decisions not on what they want to be true, but what is true.

Yeah, good luck with that, Tommy Boy. I hear you.

Tom Liberman