Telling your Audience the Obvious in Writing

Obvious in Writing

I happened to catch the pilot episode of The Irrational on NBC the other night and an incident at the end reminded me of something I generally dislike. Telling your audience the obvious in writing. I don’t think it’s wise to exposition information to your audience in general but it’s particularly painful when it’s something that is patently obvious.

It’s an interesting question because there is no defined line in what constitutes the obvious in writing; be it a book, a television show, a movie, a play, or any other media. It’s something that really bothers me but I don’t think others are as annoyed. Let’s discuss.

The Scene

At the very end of the pilot episode there is a parole hearing for a man convicted of fire-bombing a church. The attack injured the protagonist of the series and he shows up at the parole hearing hoping to ensure the convicted man is not paroled.

The criminal is asked to tell the parole board why he deserves release. He starts off with the standard sort of apology about how he contemplated his crime and now ready to return to society. He then spots a figure behind some frosted glass and his demeanor instantly changes. He immediately tells the parole board he is likely to fire-bomb a church again if released.

The Obvious in Writing

It was quite clear to me that the convict saw someone who frightened him into changing his story. I like to think anyone who watched the episode came to that conclusion immediately. It’s what happened next that bothers me.

The protagonist and his ex-wife, an FBI agent, dash outside chasing the mysterious figure seen by the convict. They fail to catch him and stand together on the courthouse steps. They then engaged in a conversation stating what the story just showed us. He’s afraid. There’s someone else. Maybe he didn’t commit the bombing, etc.

We knew that!

Or at least, I knew that. The scene really bothered me. I was annoyed at the writers for telling me the obvious. Do they think I’m stupid? It almost rises to the level of a personal insult. I know, I’m a weirdo. Still, there’s no doubt it immediately took me out of immersion and into writer rage.

My Question

I’m aware I’m overly sensitive to certain aspects of writing that don’t bother other people nearly as much. I want to ask you. Are you annoyed by the obvious in writing? When the scene unfolds in a way that you get it immediately but is followed by a scene where characters spell it out to you like you were a child?

Are you bothered when the writing spells out what should be obvious?

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Tom Liberman

General Relativity Misleading Headline

General Relativity

The Hill clocks in its second Misleading Headline of the Week in a row with a real doozy about General Relativity and research into Einstein’s groundbreaking theory. I’m a science geek, fully admitted, and I find the theory of General Relativity to be a fascinating contradiction of common sense. Therefore I was hoping for some interesting reading. Spoiler: Didn’t get it.

The headline promises a discussion on the subject of General Relativity but the article is all of five paragraphs long with three of them being but a single sentence. To quote a favorite YouTube food reviewer; My day is ruined and my disappointment is immeasurable. Well, not that bad but it was disappointing most certainly.

The article, what there is of it, has the scientist in question Joe Pesce discussing how time travel, which he doesn’t believe is possible, wouldn’t alter the world because the timeline would fix itself from paradoxes. Ok, well, I mean, I guess that sounds reasonable but it’s certainly not a discussion of General Relativity and it was absolutely not what I was expecting from the misleading headline.

Now, if you want to talk about gravitational lensing, the perihelion procession of Mercury, Frame-dragging tests, gravitational waves, or any other topic relating to the theory which my feeble brain tries to understand, well, bring it on! I’m game.

Tom Liberman

Paying the NFL for Military Tributes

military tributes at NFL gamesAs anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows; I’m from St. Louis and a huge sports fan. In the last few years I’ve noted a hefty increase in the amount of time spent honoring military veterans during the games. At every Blues, Rams, and Cardinals they take time to honor a soldier in the stands and run some tributes on the video screens.

It turns out that, in at least some of those cases, the military is paying the team to run the tribute. They consider it advertising and money well spent. I can’t tell you if that’s the case for my hometown teams, the article only mentions the contract between the National Guard and the New York Jets, but I did want to examine the idea of my tax dollars going to sports teams in order to honor veterans.

The first thing that comes to my mind is that when the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues give up time during the game to talk about a veteran they are potentially suffering a financial loss. That time would have otherwise gone to paying advertisers. The second thing I think about is that it’s quite good advertising. Young men and women at the game are probably inspired by the tribute and want to join the military because of it.

The military spends plenty of money on advertising outside of sporting events so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that they are behind the tributes, at least financially.

I think the problem comes from the fact that there is a general impression that such tributes are done out of respect for the military and our veterans, not because they are paid advertisements. The reality is that on the whole these days sporting events are largely just giant paid advertisements. Anyone who’s gone to a game in the last ten years has seen every open surface of the stadium splattered by ads and had their eardrums assaulted during every break in the action by advertisements.

I suspect most people thought the teams were doing the military tributes out of the goodness of their hearts and the various leagues certainly did not do anything to dissuade us fans from such notions. That would certainly describe my understanding of events prior to reading the article.

That being said, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s capitalism in action. The team gets good will for doing it while the various military branches get return on their advertising investment.

What do you think? Are you upset and angry that such tributes are merely paid advertising? Do you feel deceived? Or are you more like me and accept events for what they are?

Tom Liberman

Aliens on Mars Again – Yawn

Aliens on MarsThere is another aliens on Mars story making the rounds and I wanted to examine it very quickly. I’ve spoken about this sort of nonsense before but there are two instructive things about this article that caught my attention.

This story is in the Examiner and therefore is pretty easily dismissed, as that sort of news outlet often posts silliness. What I find interesting about this story is that the headline talks about “hard evidence” and the person who wrote the story has a financial stake in people believing in aliens. Both of these things are big red flags when reading a story and I thought, because they are so obvious here, that I’d talk about a little practice you can use when reading or watching the new.

Many news stories from more reputable sources than the Examiner also violate these rules and getting used to spotting things of this nature will keep you from falling prey to the deception.

When a story uses a term like “hard evidence” or any other absolute sort of declaration; be aware. The world is generally a rather gray and muddled place. Political ideologies are not all good or all bad. Just like your crazy Uncle Lou and your sweet Aunt Mary are not all good or all bad. Whenever I read an article that declares absolutes when talking about debatable topics my nonsense radar immediately goes up. Often when I read a story like this from a source better than the Examiner such caution has served me well. When I note something of this nature I immediately start to look for corroborating stories in other places. Often this leads me to find out the original story is filled with misinformation.

When I got to the byline of the story I found the name Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. and it took me only a single search to learn that he has published a number of books and has an entirely made-up philosophy about “exopolitics”. It deals with the idea that world governments are secretly managing the presence of aliens, a vast conspiracy as it were. He has a school, a website (built completely with tables and in desperate need of a WordPress migration), and clearly has a financial stake in people believing in aliens.

This is a huge red flag. When someone writing or reporting on a story has a financial stake in the message being delivered it is highly likely that the message itself is corrupted and probably filled with deceitful information.

That’s the lesson. When you read or watch a story on the news take a few moments to think about the terms being used and the people delivering the story. Look more deeply into the matter, particularly if the ideas are ones with which you are sympathetic.

At some point we have to stop blaming “the media” for “fooling” people and take personally responsibility for allowing ourselves to be fooled. If you are convinced that all Liberals are being fooled by CNN or all Conservatives are being fooled by FOX then it is likely you are the one being foolish.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Tiger Woods Wins … for the most Stories Written about a Golfer

Tiger WoodsThe golf season is upon us and that’s good news if you’re me. The fact that golf is now in the news means that we’re seeing a lot of stories about Tiger Woods despite the fact that he hasn’t come close to winning a tournament this year. Why so many stories?

It’s an interesting phenomenon that I think brings up an interesting paradox. More on that in a moment.

A few years back Tiger ended a spectacular run of golf when he won the 2008 U.S. Open Championship with a badly injured leg. In 2009 his extra-marital affairs became public knowledge and his wife divorced him.

This was a turning point in the trajectory of his popularity. Up until then he had his detractors but was far and away the most popular playing professional golfer in the world. Certainly Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus still have legions of fans but both are no longer playing the game professionally. When the news of his despicable behavior came to light there arose a large group of people who do not like Woods and aren’t shy about saying so in the comment section of news articles.

Tiger is off to a poor start this year and yet almost every article about a golf tournament has at least a mention of Woods and he is often the focus of such articles. Those who dislike Woods complain vociferously about this. They accuse the media of glorifying Woods as someone who can do no wrong. They use as evidence the plethora of stories about a golfer who isn’t performing well.

If you find any story about Woods and you read the comments you will find that it’s about 80% filled with negative comments about him, his fans, and the writer of the article.

That’s what I find interesting. It seems very clear to me that the reason there are so many articles about Woods is because so many people click on those articles and write comments. Not nearly as many people feel compelled to comment on a wonderful tournament win for Russell Henley in an exciting four-man playoff.

Because there is so much interest, mostly negative, in Woods we get more stories about him.

Thus the people doing the complaining about the veritable cornucopia of stories about Tiger Woods are actually the ones guilty of causing the stories to be written! The paradox.

My advice? If you don’t want to read more and more stories about Tiger Woods, then don’t click on the ones that are there. Don’t write comments.

This isn’t just about Woods though. This is an important idea in life. If something is making you angry, if something is driving you crazy, or if something is bothering you so much that you are enraged. Get away from it!

It does you no good to immerse yourself in that which you hate. You are hurting yourself. The old saying is that life is short. I disagree. Life is long and longer yet if you insist on spending your time hating everything. Find what you enjoy in life and try to maximize the time you spend doing it.

I like writing blogs and novels. I don’t much like going out to bars and mingling. I like quiet evenings with a few friends (or none at all) not loud nights with a bunch of strangers. You might be the opposite. That’s great.

If you hate something, avoid it. If a particular topic makes you angry, don’t read about it. Don’t talk about it. You might find that your life becomes a little better every time you avoid that which angers you.

In writing this blog I’ve been doing exactly that. Doing something I love before I move onto something I don’t like as much. Proofing my new novel, The Broken Throne. I don’t like proofing but it is something I have to do if I want to finish my novel. Ah, life.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

You are Destroying America by Linking too Much (Share this Post Now or Your Family will Die)

Spreading LiesA friend of mine just went on a Facebook rant about how blog posts are often Liked, Shared, Linked, and otherwise disseminated to the public with no one actually bothering to check if what was written has any validity. Apparently he saw one too many miracle cancer cures roll by on his feed.

I’ve sort of spoken on this topic before. Here I talked about our culpability in spreading fake cancer cures on Facebook, and here I spoke about the idea of how the news story you click on drives it up the page. I have a weekly Stupid/Misleading Headline feature on this blog.

My friend included a link to this beautifully written and researched blog post on how to spot lies and distortions on the internet. After reading and admiring the post I didn’t want to simply reiterate the points so accurately made by David Wong.

The ways to spot fake articles listed by Wong are not particularly earth shattering. Whenever we read such a headline or story we generally realize it probably isn’t true. What harm could there be in putting in a Link? A Share? A Like? It’s just one click. Wong eloquently explains how these links, shares, and likes drive a story to more and more viewers, generating more and more hits, causing the information to gain credibility.

So, why am I writing this post? I hope to get people to spend some time thinking about their own responsibility for the plethora of false information out there. There is so much false information that it’s very easy to believe what you read and then spread the lies. When we pass along lies of this nature we are doing no one any favors. It is likely that a friend will believe us and tell someone else who will then laugh at them and correctly call them stupid. When you believe something, particularly something that seems unlikely, without bothering to do any checking of facts; you are stupid.

This problem has become so prevalent that many dishonest people are taking advantage of your clicks. They are using you for their own ends. Wong’s blog goes into great detail. As an example; magazines like Forbes now post the blogs of anyone who signs up. This is designed to drive their click rates up. Anyone can write anything and the blog link appears to go to a Forbes article. By having the Forbes name on it, the link seems legitimate, it is not.

The same goes for completely made up science articles, polls, news stories, and just about anything else you see. People simply make up something attention grabbing and sensational and then count on you to link to it.

The very nature of this fraud goes to my Libertarian philosophies of personal responsibility. Do you really want to link horoscope information? The article that proclaims your least favorite politician is DOOMED? Do you want to spread lies? Most of us would feel extremely guilty if we spread a lie about a friend but every time we Share an article we are spreading that information, if the article is a lie, we are liars.

Each time we do something like this we increase the amount of false information on the internet. This sort of thing cannot be stamped out through legislation. It is up to each of us to examine the information and Share it only if we have spent at least a few seconds confirming its veracity.

My advice is that you should avoid being stupid. Spend some time looking into that article before you share it with friends. And, of course, SHARE THIS NOW!!!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Are you Still Paying for TV? Why?

Cable TV SubscribersI just read an absolutely fascinating article from the financial world about how the television business is having a dismal year and the future looks bad.

The reason I found the article fascinating is that it completely agrees with everything I’ve been saying about those who make content and those who deliver it to the consumers. Here’s a hint for anyone that wants to be my friend, just tell me I’m amazingly smart and always right!

Massive ego aside, I did want to take a quick look at what the metrics from this article mean about our future consumption of content. What I think is happening is that there is a growing separation between those who create content and the companies that distribute it to us. In the past these two industries were often combined. The networks, studios, publishers, and labels created the content and delivered it to us.

With wireless internet becoming more universally available and with devices that can take advantage of that medium becoming almost ubiquitous we are seeing a trend where people consume content when they want and where the want. That content is no longer tied to a provider.

I’ve been hammering away for years that the major content creators should simply give up on delivering content. They should give their content away for free to the providers and get revenue each time someone consumes content.

Naturally there has been reluctance to accept this business model. The content creators had huge revenue streams through their delivery arms.

What is happening now is that people don’t want to pay for access and subscribers are falling. They want to pay for individual items they purchase. We don’t pay to have access to the grocery store, we pay for the items we buy. As times goes on fewer and fewer people will have dedicated television or internet devices. All media will be delivered electronically to whatever device we are viewing at that moment. We will pay for this by watching advertisements and possibly some monthly fee. Advertisers will pay the content providers a certain amount per view. The content providers will then pass along a share to the content creators.

As it stands, when I see my favorite shows being pulled from Hulu, my favorite sporting events being pulled from ESPN3 I get angry. However, I see a bright future for me and others who enjoy content. No longer will we be tied to a service. I will watch what I want, when I want. Those that provide popular content to the largest audience will get the lion’s share of the revenue.

The content creators will open their vast libraries to Hulu, Netflix, ESPN3, and other providers that will arise in the future.

New content creators will arise, regular people who write their own amazing Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels for example! People will consume what we want at a reasonable price.

There will be more success stories like Felicia Day. Regular people will be able to showcase their talents directly. More content, more creativity, more variety, more goodness!

Children will dance in the streets. Dogs and cats will live in harmony. The Cardinals will win the World Series every year (darn you and your beards; evil Red Sox).

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Shea Allen and the Confession that got her Fired

Shea AllenThe last time I talked about a social media post getting someone in trouble it involved a seventeen year girl wearing a bikini. I broke records for number of blog hits! I say, why not try again? Although this time it’s an adult woman and other than apparently going sans-bra now and again there are no racy images.

A young reporter in the great state of Alabama wrote a blog post confessing a few fairly innocuous things and was fired from her job as a reporter at WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama.

The station first asked her to take down the blog and she complied but upon having second thoughts she put it back up defiantly. In the blog she admits to turning off her microphone during interviews if she feels the subject is blithering on too much. She also apparently has failed to wear a bra during a newscast or two. She is disturbed by the elderly and is good at sitting in such a way as to conceal her weight from the camera.


** EDIT **

The updated stories indicate Shea was not asked to take down the blog before she was fired. This certainly puts a different light on her actions. I still support her honesty in talking about her real flaws but she seems to be complaining now about the firing. If she posted the blog knowing she was going to be fired that is, in my opinion, admirable and was largely my point in this blog. If that’s not the case, and it appears not to be, then my admiration for her actions is diminished. I still think people should be allowed to express their true opinions without being subject to discipline. That we get a society of people who live in fear of being themselves, of admitting mistakes, and that hurts us in the long run.


I’m not sure what the law is in Alabama but it’s likely the station had the right to fire her. I don’t want to discuss if what she did was a something for which she should be fired, nor do I care to discuss her right to say such things. What I would like to delve into is what sort of society we are creating when we fire people like Shea.

Shea is a product of the modern world. She is not afraid. She posted a few things that people might find offensive and got fired because of it. She didn’t do anything accidentally or without understanding the consequences of her actions. She knew what could happen, what would likely happen, and did it anyway.

If that station doesn’t want me, she seems to say, then I don’t want them.

How can I put this delicately in a way that won’t offend … Hell ya!

Dissent is not a good thing, it’s a great thing. Welcoming opinions that are not your own makes you strong, not weak. Being brave enough to state your mind when you know others won’t like it is an admirable quality. We need brave people standing next to us everywhere, at work, in the line-of-fire, and everywhere in-between.

I’m tired of newscasters getting their talking points from the administrators and having to hear the exact same words on every broadcast.

Somebody hire Shea! FOX, NBC, CNN, ABC, grab this girl and grab her quick. She’s going places. She won’t do what you tell her to do and this country is starving for people like that. Libertarians like me are dying of thirst when we watch the talking heads repeat the mantra doled out by their masters.

Give us water! Give us Shea and people like her.

If you don’t, if you fire everyone strong enough to state an opinion different from the company line, then this nation is doomed. Those who lap up the drivel, who ask you to lie to them and whimper in ecstasy when you do it, they won’t make this country strong again. Right now people like that are winning. This country wasn’t built by yes-men but it sure can be destroyed by them.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 and no sensibilities are spared)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Rolling Stone Cover Controversy

Rolling Stone CoverRolling Stone magazine is coming out with a story that is causing a huge amount of tumult and distress. The cover of the magazine has a picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. For those of you who don’t know, he is one of two brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon resulting in the deaths of three people and the horrific wounding of 264 others. These bombs were placed directly next to small children. The ensuing chase and capture caused more injuries and damage.

The reason this is causing trouble is that many see it as glorifying Tsarnaev. That it will encourage others to commit such acts so that they too can gain the cover of such a prestigious magazine. The people who were wounded or who lost loved ones are extremely angry at the magazine for putting him on the cover. People who were not hurt by the bombs are also angry.

A number of Rolling Stone outlets are not going to put the magazine on display. People are organizing boycotts and making threats to the magazine.

Rolling Stone editors explain that they are merely reporting a story. That they examine what turned Tsarnaev into the sort of person that can plant a bomb in the middle of a crowd that includes many children. That they often report on important stories. That the picture of Tsarnaev is the same picture that media news outlets of all sorts have been using since he became a prime suspect in the attack.

I’m of two minds on this one.

The media, Rolling Stone, or any other outlet puts up stories that people are interested in seeing. The reason they do this is because we are interested. If we weren’t, these stories would make their way to the back pages of trade journals. All that is good in the world is not interesting. Rolling Stone is catering to demand.

Every news outlet in the United States has put pictures of murderous scum on their cover. By publishing a story about Tsarnaev, Rolling Stone is doing nothing that every other media outlet in the United States hasn’t done repeatedly.

On the other hand, what they are doing is causing pain and giving Tsarnaev some sort of celebrity status. Rolling Stone generally puts musicians and movie stars on their cover and there is an expectation of such that does not come with other news outlets. There is a possibility the cover will encourage someone else to commit horrific acts so they get their own fame. I think people often commit these sorts of crimes as a way to get attention but one cover here or there doesn’t really add to the whole of the infamy desired. The news is reported everywhere, not just Rolling Stone. However, this cover being on a celebrity heavy publication at least contributes to the perception of fame.

People who do this sort of thing will likely always be with us and our fascination for disaster, horror, self-imploding celebrities, and general mayhem will probably not ever go away. If people want to see it, someone will provide it for them. That is the law of supply and demand and that is, to a large degree, capitalism.

If Rolling Stone wants to put monstrous scum like Tsarnaev on their cover I suppose it is their right to do so. If they sell more magazines, and I suspect they will, then it was the right move from profit orientated point of view. If people refuse to buy the magazine, if outlets don’t want to sell it, then they can act accordingly, that is certainly their right as well.

But all that rationalization is simply a way for me to pretend that I don’t have to take a position on this Rolling Stone cover.

I absolutely believe Rolling Stone has the right to put whoever they want on the cover their magazine. Also that a company has every right not to sell it. That an individual doesn’t have to buy it, doesn’t have to walk into the store where it is on sale and have to look at it.

That being said here’s my position. Rolling Stone is wrong to do it.

While they are occasionally a news outlet they are primarily a music and celebrity orientated magazine. Tsarnaev and others like him should not be on their cover. I do think it is important to understand why a person could do these things so we can take actions to prevent it in the future. I just don’t think Rolling Stone is the place for this examination. It’s not my magazine, I’m a lowly blogger who gets a few dozen reads a day. They are a huge magazine that sells millions of copies. Still, I’ll stand by my principles. I chose to put an old cover of the magazine on the front of this blog, not the cover of Tsarnaev. That was my choice and only I have to live with it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for 300+ pages of fun-filled fantasy)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

File Sharing and the Illegal Arrest of DotCom – The Saga Continues

DotComI know the world is fascinated with Lance Armstrong and Manti T’eo but today I’m going to post on a subject that I think is far more important to all of us. File Sharing. It’s not a sexy topic outside the geek world in which I reside but give this a read and see what you think.

About one year ago today the FBI asked the country of New Zealand to arrest a fellow named Kim Dotcom and his partners over his ownership of an internet file sharing site called Megaupload. It was a file sharing site where people could place files to be searched by others and downloaded. Some, if not many, of these files were copyrighted material. The movie industry, the recording industry, the publishing industry, and others consider people who purchase their material and then share it with others to be criminals. Because the site had this copyrighted material the FBI became involved most likely at the behest of the powerful music and movie industry.

The arrest itself used illegal warrants and Dotcom was illegally under surveillance; all of which has come out in court. He was subject to torture like tactics in prison, little food and water and deprived sleep. He was initially refused bail.  He is now free on bail and come up with an interesting way to start his company anew and be immune to prosecution. His new site will feature files encrypted so that the site administrator will not have access to the file contents. This means he will have no real knowledge of copyrighted material on his site. The FBI will have to go after those participating in file sharing rather than those simply providing a medium for others to carry on illegal activity. Because there are so many people fire sharing on such a vast scale it is all but impossible for authorities to arrest everyone involved and, if they did, would likely be subject to serious questions about their own families who are likely also sharing files illegally.

I’m an author of eBooks so this is a question that affect me directly. If people share my books without buying them then technically I lose money. But, the real losers, the ones who are pursuing this case, are the industries that profit off the artist’s work. Artists on their own will find a price point for their material that people are willing to pay instead of ridiculously inflated prices foisted on the public by the recording, movie, art, and publishing industries. I sell my books for $2.99. Almost everyone I know thinks that this is a reasonable price for a 300 page novel. If I went through traditional methods and got a publishing house to showcase my novel; the price to you would likely be $19.99. Now, in fairness, I went to agents and tried to get them to try to sell my books to the publishing houses and failed. So, maybe I’m just bitter. But as it stands now, I want nothing to do with the publishing industry. If people want to purchase my books for $2.99 then they will buy them. If my books are good, I will find an audience. If not, oh well.

That’s all beside the point to some degree. Digital media is here to stay and a real way to combat file sharing is for prices of such content to be lowered to a point where people won’t want to steal it. The other method is to put your content on Hulu and Pandora and other places where advertising pays per view. People watch what they want at the minor inconvenience of a few commercials. But, the illegal arrest of Dotcom and the continued prosecution of his case is nonsense. I have no doubt the movie, music, and publishing industries will try to stop his latest endeavor but I hope at some point they realize it’s hopeless.

File Sharing means that artists like myself can create and sell their work without an industry. That means you, the public, will have access to more material, better material, and at a better price. Sure, there are lots of horrible self-published books out there, and you might think mine are among them; but there is also amazing books, art, music, video, and other media out and available that would never have seen the light of day without file sharing and the internet.

Dotcom, you go! This eBook author applauds your efforts and prices his product so that even if someone does illegally download my books, they might enjoy them enough to go back and plunk down the $2.99 for legal copies.

I’d like to hear from other independent authors, artists, musicians, and the like to see what they think about this subject,

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Trayvon Martin Case

White NoiseIn my quest for sensational stories that will generate thousands of blog hits which in turn will drive sales of my novels I now step into the arena of the Trayvon Martin death. Here is my take on it.

The police didn’t investigate diligently enough, community uproar ensued, case now being pursued. So, anyway, that’s done.

Seriously, that’s it. Who disagrees? No one. Yet the madness continues on the front page of every newspaper and in the outraged mouths of politicians, pundits, internet flame mongers, crack whores, meth heads, six legged calfs, a rock sitting by the Current River, and this disgusted Libertarian blogger.

Do we have nothing better to discuss? Is yelling nonsense at one another the new America’s Sport? What’s the story here? Everyone agrees. If, down the road, the police investigation is shoddy then further outrage can ensue. I’m guessing they are going to be very thorough this time. Just my wild take on it.

Now, let’s get onto what’s really happening here. I’m sure this will come as a surprise to you jaded listeners but there are some alternative agendas out there that have nothing to do with the parties involved in the shooting. Shocking, no?

Media outlets want to sell advertising, politicians want votes, flamers want to flame, blacks want a cause, whites want a cause, half-Peruvian want a cause, talking heads want to foam at the mouth in indignation, I want to vomit.

Here’s the lesson. Listen to the people with an agenda if you must but find out what their agenda is and take it into account. And, if you want to view some interesting media look at this, or this, or this, or this. Just maybe, if you, the public, the one in charge, clicks articles like that then the media outlets might focus on them, maybe the pundits would talk about them, maybe the politicians would think about them, maybe … oh forget it … someone won the lottery!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Bad Apple

Bad AppleWhile reading the news I recently came across a story about how hugging is now illegal in a New Jersey School. Naturally the original story sensationalized the situation and a better explanation came forth. Still, it got me thinking about why the rule was created and how it reflect the United States’ plunge into fear. Likely a pair of middle school students were behaving in some sexual manner and this rule resulted out of fear.

This seems to me to be the root of the issue. The fear of a bad apple causing us to throw out the entire barrel. Not that raging hormonal twelve-year olds is something that should shock us but I’ll talk about this strange puritan-like fantasy we seem to have constructed in our minds when it comes to children another time.

This all comes down to fear and whether we let it rule our lives. I’m of the opinion that the U.S. has gone from a daring nation filled with courageous people to a nation cringing in the shadows afraid that something will go wrong. Not to say there aren’t heroes out there who are starting new businesses, taking chances, defending our streets and our nation, but I think on the whole we’ve taken a turn to the craven.

Maybe this transition from bold to fearful is at the heart of the descent of all-powerful nations. A nation with more to lose, more security, is one that would tend towards caution whereas the young nation with little to lose acts boldly. Or at least the people of that nation do so.

Fear is a tactic used by politicians in many circumstances:

“The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”Herman Goering

obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue” – The War on Terror phrase

The Daisy advertisement was used by a seasoned fear monger, Lyndon Johnson, against Barry Goldwater. It worked.

But, it’s not just politics, we see this is advertising multiple times a day.

Drunk DrivingAnti-drug adClimate Change

Much of the religious fervor we see is based on fear.

Here we have Jesus Camp and here we have Terrorist indoctrination.

Parents are told danger lurks at every corner. We see glaring statistics like 2,000 children kidnapped a day! Horrifying at first glance, hide your children. Except that the vast majority are “kidnapped” by a relative in a domestic dispute and returned within a week.

I could go on endlessly how people with agendas use fear to control us but now I want to get to the solution.

Fear is real, there are things to fear, and you should modify your behavior to this danger. However, you should analyze the motives of the person trying to scare you and absolutely go out and find if the things they are saying are true. For example, the ads I’ve posted above. Drunk drivers do kill people, drug addicts do turn to prostitution, climate change … well, it’s not going to turn you into a fish! However, is the solution to never drive again? Create a ridiculous, failed, expensive, “War on Drugs”? Reduce your carbon footprint by hiding in your house?

How about you pay attention when driving, particularly on weekend evenings? Look into the arguments for legalizing drugs? Switch to efficient lightbulbs and dryers?

Don’t let fear rule your life but don’t ignore it. Particularly pay attention to a politician who tells you that the sky will fall if their opponent is elected. The next time you have a political debate and your counterpart tries to frighten you; look them in the eye and say, “I won’t be scared.” Teach your children the same. If your twelve-year-old child is touched inappropriately don’t tell him or her to stop hugging, tell him or her to scream at the person who did it and if it happens again report it.

If we continue down this path of fear we will eventually find ourselves as a bunker of a nation peering out over the edge unable to act or live. We cannot trade freedom for safety because the result is neither.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety – Benjamin Franklin.

Comment away!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Teaser – The End of Print

Digital NewsYou may have noticed that newspaper subscriptions are plummeting, books aren’t selling like they used to, and magazines are disappearing. You can thank, or blame, things like the eReaders, tablets, and other devices like phones and even cheap laptops for this trend and I’m going to talk about it tomorrow.

It’s an interesting turn of events in a short period of time but the digital landscape is quickly destroying print media for better or for worse. I’ll look at both sides of the argument although I think the conclusion to the battle is inevitable and I’ll try and discuss what this means for all of us.

See you tomorrow,

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist