LED Streetlights Killing Insects Misleading Headline

The Misleading Headline

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

Why it is Misleading

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

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

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

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

The Possible Harm

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


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

Tom Liberman

Meghan Markle and Donald Trump Two Peas in a Pod

Meghan Markle and Donald Trump

Narcissistic Personalities

In an attempt to anger the entirety of the human race I thought I’d write about how Meghan Markle and Donald Trump are pretty much the same person. It appears to me they clearly share a few traits; namely a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive craving for admiration, and struggles with empathy.

It’s called a narcissistic personality and the way both of them endlessly center their woes on the perceived behavior of others and refuse to accept any personal responsibility for the situations they find themselves in does not sit well with me.

Why You Support One and Not the Other

More to the point of this blog are the people who choose to support Meghan Markle and Donald Trump. They tend to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum. This paradox may surprise you but it does not come as any shock to me.

You see, politics don’t matter when it comes to people of this nature. They exist in a simple transactional environment where the only thing you are to them is a means to an end. Nothing political, ideological, moral, or ethical binds them from their goal of using you to get what they want. And, of course, you oblige.

We all have experience with this sort of person. You run into them after a long absence at some place you frequent. They tell you how great you look, laugh at your wonderful jokes; then they get to the point. What can you do for them? The meeting was no accident.

Meghan Markle used Piers Morgan to get into a party where she targeted Prince Harry, then she had no more need of Morgan so she dumped him. Donald Trump flailed around various political ideologies until he found a Republican base willing to listen to his completely disingenuous ramblings on immigration. When he no longer needs them, he dumps them. Meghan Markle and Donald Trump are largely one and the same.

Enlightened Self-Interest

I thought this might be a useful time to speak briefly on the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest because you might mistake the narcissism of Meghan Markle and Donald Trump for it. Nope. They tend to destroy all they touch in their mindless grasping for the glittery trinket in front of their face.

Someone who act to further the interests of others, or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest. That’s enlightened self-interest.

Narcissists are Sometimes Right

It’s also important to understand that Meghan Markle and Donald Trump sometimes have good points. They aren’t wrong all the time and just because they are selfish, transactional people doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to their legitimate grievances.

I live in the real world and I’m quite certain Meghan Markle was subject to racist abuse and that Donald Trump was occasionally harassed not for his policies but simply because of his name. When bad things happen to bad people, we should call it out. That doesn’t make the narcissist less self-centered, it just makes us a better person.


When it comes to Meghan Markle and Donald Trump it is likely you hate one and support the other. If you dislike them both you are in the minority but, if it’s any comfort, you have my support.

Tom Liberman

Arches National Park Misleading Headline

Arches National Park

The family of woman’s right activist is suing Arches National park for $270 million in regards to her death. When I saw this headline, and I imagine you as well, thought the woman was climbing one of the famous rock structures at Arches National Park and fell to her death. That the family is looking for a payout in regards to the woman’s own stupidity.

Well, The Hill, you win today’s misleading headline of the week award. The reason being that she was killed when wind slammed a metal gate closed so forcefully it sliced through her car and she was decapitated.

The headline is misleading not because it is inaccurate, it misleading because it was written for the purpose of deceit knowing the assumptions that would result. The first line of the article further advances the deception by prominently mentioning she was a woman’s right activist. You won’t be surprised to find there are many people looking for reasons to eviscerate social justice proponents and the headline along with the first line of the article is a direct appeal to them.

Many of the people who click the headline or even manage to bring themselves to read the first paragraph of the article will come away with a serious misunderstanding of events and they will spread it far and wide on their social media platforms.

This is the danger of misleading headlines in general. Arches National park owes the family of the woman some money, I’m not sure if it’s $270 million or some other amount but there is not question in my mind that a settlement is in order.

Were you fooled? I was until I took the time to read the article and learn the facts of the matter.

Tom Liberman

Pizzagate, Media Accountability, Personal Responsibility

facebook-fake-newsTwitter, Fake News, Facebook, Mainstream Media, Conspiracy Theory, Alt-Right, BLM, Obama, Trump, and on and on. What is real news? What is fake news? What is partially real news? What is mostly real news with a few fake facts. What is a mistake? What is mostly fake news with a few real facts?

Crazy people do violent things based on false news.

What can be done about all this fake news? I’ll tell you what can be done about it but you’re not going to like the answer.


There is nothing to be done about people who spread false information, people who lie. There has never been anything to do about them. Because of enormous advances in the ability of people to communicate with one another using social media; the limitations to disseminating information are largely gone. Anyone can say anything and broadcast the message anywhere instantly. That cat is out of the proverbially bag, if there ever was a bag.

So are we doomed to an endless series of people acting on false information to hurt and even kill innocents? Probably but not necessarily.

There is a solution. It doesn’t involve jailing people who lie or controlling the media. It’s actually relatively simple. Teach children to think critically. Make people understand that facts are important. Teach everyone that you cannot just believe whatever theory you come across because it matches your political ideology.

If you are a critical thinker that is not enough. When one of your friends or relatives puts out false information call them on it. I’ve done so and I’ve been unfriended on Facebook for it. I’ve been attacked. Vilified. I’ve been called all sorts of names, mostly involving my intellectual abilities or lack thereof. So be it.

I give out this warning to all my friends. All my family. All my social media acquaintances. If you say something stupid I’m going to point out the stupidity of your post with arguments. If you post false news stories I’m going to reply with facts. If you don’t like it … well … don’t get mad at me. Get mad at yourself. Or, get mad at me, I don’t care. The only person I can control is myself. I will do so zealously. You’ve been warned.

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

Charleston Church Murders – Not unfathomable


In watching coverage of the Charleston church murders I’ve heard any number of talking heads, sheriffs, and law enforcement officials talk about how “unfathomable” was such a thing. It’s a lot of things. Heinous. Sick. Vile. Insane. To name a few. But it’s hardly unfathomable.

I grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood. I’m college educated. I’m white. I’ve spent the majority of my life around people in the same social class as me.

People I know want to do it

I cannot tell you how many times acquaintances, friends of friends, and even friends have espoused ideas exactly like that of Dylann Roof. I’ve had people say directly to me that Hitler had the right idea, wrong group. That killing all the blacks in the United States wouldn’t take long, that someone just had to get it started. I’ve had people tell me all gays should be executed, that we should kill all the Muslims. I’ve heard sentiments like this from people who go to church, who are teachers, upstanding members of society, and all too frequently.

People you know want to do it

The thing that bothers me is that the people who are saying it’s “unfathomable”, that they “can’t understand it”, that it’s “beyond belief” are the one’s who probably have heard such sentiments more often than have I.

The talking heads and law enforcement people who stand up there in front of microphones expressing this “disbelief” are the very same people who hear similar ideas all the time in their weekly poker game, on their fishing expeditions, on the golf course, and even in their homes.

None of the people I’ve heard express such ideas has reached such an insane point in their lives that they carried out such thoughts but I have no doubt it is within them. That under the right circumstances they would do it.

Instead of Unfathomable how about fathomable but wrong?

What I would respect from law enforcement officials and the talking heads is if they told the truth. That such ideas are fathomed all the time. That they’ve heard their friends say such things. That in the future they will stand up and denounce friends that express such ideas. That such horrors are completely fathomable and that anyone who expresses such ideas must be told firmly and immediately that they are insane.

That would be news worth watching.

Tom Liberman

Tim Lambesis – The Murdering Christian/Atheist

Tim-LambesisThere’s apparently been a big story roiling the Christian Rock world for the last year or so although until I spotted a headline I was completely unaware of the turmoil. It seems the death-metal band As I Lay Dying’s lead singer, Tim Lambesis, was arrested for trying to hire someone to kill his estranged wife. Happily the person he tried to hire was an undercover police officer.

Good job San Diego Sheriff’s department!

The arrest and accusation apparently sent deep shock waves through the Christian Rock community. Now Lambesis is saying that he actually was no longer a Christian but had forsaken his religion for Atheism.

So why am I talking about this? Because I’m an Atheist and in reading the comments about the story I found what I think is a common theme among many Atheists and Christians. The Christians were all blaming his Atheism for his “turn” in behavior while the Atheists were all blaming his Christian underpinnings. I see this quite a bit in the Atheist community and the religious community. Both sides blaming a person’s religion or lack thereof for that person’s lack of ethics and criminal behavior.

An Atheist will argue that religious fervor has been responsible for an incredible amount of violence throughout the history of the world. A religious person will argue that an Atheist has no moral compass at all because there is not the carrot of heaven or the stick of hell to keep them ethical.

I have a different take.

Some people are without morals or ethics. Some people will hire someone to kill their estranged wife because they lack the ability to control their emotions. It has nothing to do with their religious beliefs. There are wonderful religious people in the world who are kind, caring, considerate, and would never hire anyone to kill their spouse no matter the provocation. Many Atheists fit that profile exactly as well.

We are quick to lump people into classifications these days. Christian? You must hate homosexuals. Atheist? You must hate Christians. I drive a Prius. On at least a dozen occasions since I’ve been driving my 2006 Prius I’ve parked near a large vehicle as the owner of said vehicle was emerging or going into it. They’ve rather sheepishly asked me if I hate them. I don’t. I think people should drive the car they want to drive but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

It’s this general lumping of people together that gets us into a lot of trouble in life. The car a person drives, the religion or non-religion a person practices, the suit he wears, the beard on his face, the tattoos on his body; where he lives, who he votes for; these things mean nothing. What is important are a person’s actions. Is he kind to his wife? Does she help co-workers when they ask her? Does she help her friends when they need something? Does he call his mother when she’s not feeling well? (Get better soon, mom).

Lambesis, murderous scum. Why? Because he tried to hire someone to kill his wife. That’s all I need to know.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Suspended for Tweet – Reid Sagehorn Story

Reid-SagehornI’ve written in the past about social media and the dangers it presents because our words are forever preserved and a case involving Twitter and a young student suspended from school is making the news in Minnesota. It’s an interesting case from a legal perspective but my take is that it never should have come to what has happened. Read on!

In this case the student, Reid Sagehorn, was subject to anonymous tweets that he had kissed one of the teachers at his school. He responded to this with a tweet reading, “Actually yes.”

Other parents apparently saw this tweet as confirmation of the idea that he was engaged in an illegal sexual relationship with the teacher in question and reported it to the authorities. An investigation ensued. It was determined that there was no such relationship and Reid says his reply was intended to be sarcastic.

The problem is that the teacher in question had her reputation unfairly besmirched and the school had to institute an investigation which took time and resources. Thus they decided to suspend Sagehorn. First for five days and then for ten days. Eventually they even moved towards an expulsion which forced him to enroll in a different school to finish out the year. Now he has filed a lawsuit claiming the school violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

The legality of the suspension is a fairly interesting question in its own right because schools are generally given pretty wide latitude in dealing with speech that causes a disruption in the school. The tweet clearly caused a disruption and just as clearly was not taken as sarcasm even if it was intended as such. I’m of the opinion the school does have the right to suspend and even expel Sagehorn. I’m also of the opinion that doing so was absolute nonsense.

Sagehorn’s tweet was potentially damaging and ill-advised to be certain. The school pretty much had to institute an investigation and I think Sagehorn owes the district and the teacher in particular a big apology. However, that’s where I think things should have stopped. It would have been a good “teachable moment” as we like to say these days. In my opinion punishment should have been a public apology to the assembled students, a private apology to the teacher in question, and a one day suspension. End of story. Move on with the business of educating young Sagehorn and the rest of the students.

Such an approach was not taken and now we are where we are. Sigh.

What do you think? Was the long-term suspension merited? Is this a First Amendment violation?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Wealth Transfer – Misleading Headline

Wealth TransferI spotted this doozy from Business Insider and it’s only Monday.

We’re on the Verge of the Greatest Transfer of Wealth in the History of the World screams the headline. With wealth inequality making headlines all over the news and being a talking point of the Democratic party one cannot be blamed for making the assumption that the article will be about that subject. Wrong.

The article is about the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is reaching the end of their lifespan and their wealth is passing on to their heirs. This large amount of money will transfer largely from parent to child. That’s the entire article. It’s such an obvious headline troll I couldn’t leave it out of my Misleading Headline of the week series even though it’s only Monday.

Even at it most raw form I’m not sure the headline is even true. While there is more currency in circulation now than at any time in the history of the United States I’m not sure that translates directly to wealth. I suppose it is probably true as there are more people and that means more people will be dying and passing their money on to their heirs.

Still, it’s an awfully misleading headline and a rather dull story at that. Don’t bother reading it. Just head on over to my Books Page and transfer your wealth to me $2.99 at a time!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Dr. Mehmet Oz Testifies about Weight Loss Scams

Dr OzI’ve long known that most diets are merely money-making scams designed to fleece desperate people from their money and I don’t really follow the industry with much interest. Today I spotted a blog post about a fellow named Dr. Mehmet Oz who has been invited by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill to testify to the Senate about weight-loss scams.

I’m a bit jaded when it comes to irony, hypocrisy, and outright lying from our elected officials but when a senator from my home state invites possibly the biggest purveyor of fake diet scams to the rather less than hallowed halls of Congress to testify about the dangers of weight-loss scams, well, how can I not write a post about it?

The original post from Orac at Science Blogs does a great job of providing all the links you need to determine for yourself the nature of Dr. Oz and his various business operations. Oz is a recipient of the Randi Pigasus Award for Refusing to Face Reality and his various forms of weight-loss and medical advice are cited as doing more harm than good.

All that is well and good. It’s clear to me that Oz is a charlatan preying on people’s desire to lose weight quickly and easily so as to fleece them of money. As far as I’m concerned he’s allowed to do that as long as his actions don’t cross over into criminality. Apparently he has not yet crossed that line so he continues to sell goods on his television show without interference.

We live in a free country and if people are gullible enough to believe his obvious fabrications and exaggerations and want to hand him their money then that’s their right. Those who see through his lies don’t give him money. That’s the way freedom works. You’re free to do what you wish even if it’s foolish.

What really bothers me is this invitation to appear before the Senate. It’s not even that he is going to be railing against that which he is himself guilty of that bothers me. It’s not that I think the Senate still has the gravitas of the old days and that anyone who testifies there must be of good character. Those days are long gone. Still, why should he be a given legitimacy by our government that he clearly does not deserve? Are my tax-dollars going to house him, feed him, and transport him to these sessions?

Why does the United States government need to be involved at all? There are laws on the books about false advertising both from the Federal government and from various states. If Oz is breaking the law, arrest him. If he is skirting the law then it is up to people like Orac and the Randi Foundation to spread the word. It is up to people who want to lose weight to do due-diligence when looking for solutions.

The government can’t protect us from ourselves. If you’re foolish enough to purchase Green Coffee Bean extract in order to lose weight you deserve what you get. If Oz lied about the studies which showed its value in weight-loss he should be charged with a crime. Our politicians should focus on the real problems that this nation faces and not on inviting likely snake-oil sales representatives to speak to them about weight-loss scams.

The entire visit is a classic example of our politicians doing things that appear to be good in order to gain political capital. Look, we’re here to help you, they say. Vote for me.

I’ve got news for Congress. They are not here to help me. They are here to run the country properly.

I’ve got news for all my readers out there trying to lose weight. It’s hard. You have to cut your caloric intake not just today, not just this month, but long-term, day after day after day. You have to exercise regularly. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Go to the gym at least four days a week. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s hard. You can listen to me or you can listen to Oz. Your choice.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Hidden Oceans – Misleading Headline Conglomerate

Blue RingwooditeThere is a science story making so many headlines it’s impossible to pick just one so I’ve included a Bing Search showing the plethora of them. It’s likely you’ve seen the headlines as well.

Basically the story is that there is a huge ocean inside the earth’s core which holds about three times the water in all the world’s oceans. There are elements of truth to the story but the premise itself is very misleading. If people just peruse the headlines or read the stories without close attention to detail it is clear the impressions is that this “ocean” is a massive body of water deep below the surface of the earth.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This discovery isn’t even really a discovery, it’s just more of a conformation that the mineral Ringwoodite exists as expected.

Ringwoodite is named after Australian scientists Ted Ringwood and was first discovered back in 1969. Even then scientists suspected that this layer in the earth’s mantle was ubiquitous. About 2% of Ringwoodite’s mass is water. The material is so common in the mantle that this 2% adds up to as much as three times the water volume on the surface of the earth.

That’s what the headlines are referencing. It doesn’t mean there is a massive ocean beneath the surface of the earth. It means there is a huge amount of Ringwoodite circling the globe and if the 2% number holds up that indicates a vast amount of water.

The big scientific “discovery” that the headlines references is a study of earthquake waves traveling through the earth’s mantle that seem to prove the presence of Ringwoodite as was expected.

It’s still quite an interesting story and I learned a great deal reading about it but the headlines are very misleading, at least I think so.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Arrested for Bumper Sticker – Misleading Headline

Misleading HeadlineFlorida man charged with vandalism after bumper sticker protest of judge who handled his divorce case reads the blaring headline from Yahoo Odd News. It certainly makes me want to see what crazy nonsense the police are up to today.

The implication is that the authorities in Pinellas County, FL are vindictively going after a man because he put a bumper sticker on his car lambasting the local judge. That’s not even close to the case. Joe Mazzara is angry at Judge Jack Helinger over events during the former’s divorce proceeding. He did make a bumper sticker that calls for firing the judge. It’s where he put the bumper stickers that the headline convenietly omits.

He put them all over public street signs. Hundreds of them. This is clearly not only a violation of the law in that he is defacing public signage but it’s also ridiculously dangerous depending on what part of the sign he chose to cover up. It’s even possible to argue that that accidents could happen because people are reading the signage when they should be focusing on driving.Bumper Sticker Sign

I’m not only not sympathetic to Mazzara but I think he needs to spend a little time in the county lockup. Maybe five days or something like that. He has the nerve to claim it is a First Amendment issue! If this is his general entitled attitude to life I’m not surprised the judge ruled against him.

Of course the real problem is that Yahoo is trying to convince people to click the story because it is another example of police and government abuse of power. I think there are plenty of times when people in authority do misuse their power but when they are doing their job properly we shouldn’t be trying to paint them with a damning brush.

Shame on you Yahoo. You win the Misleading Headline of the Week Award.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Veterans Bill Moves Quickly Through Congress

Work Hard and TogetherI wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how Congress seemed united in an effort to solve the problem plagued Veterans Administration. Today comes the news that the Senate has passed their version of a bill that attempts to address some of the issues the VA has encountered. It will likely be merged with the bill passed by the House of Representatives and put into effect immediately.

I’m not going to discuss this particular bill. It might do some good but then again it might be a simple and useless band-aid to a much larger problem. Both are possibilities but the reality is that Congress immediately threw aside their partisan bickering and, with astonishing speed, is in the process of passing legislation designed to fix the problem. They stopped going on television and tossing out lies, distortions, and half-truths.

When the news of the problems at the VA first came out there was the usual attempt to blame anyone and everyone with whatever lies seemed likely to sound true. Republicans blamed Democrats and President Obama. Democrats blamed Republicans and the House of Representatives. Political pollsters immediately began to poll their constituency to see if this was the sort of issue that could win elections. If people would fall into the usual trap of believing the lies. It quickly became apparent that everyone understood there was plenty of blame to go around, that lying about it wouldn’t be good political fodder, and that people just wanted a solution. They wanted our veterans to get medical care as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This polling resulted in what we see today. Legislation passed without political bickering, lies, and rancor. Legislation quickly moving through the House and Senate and towards the President’s desk. Legislation that compromises on the hard-coded principals of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Can we as citizens of the United State take a lesson from this? Can we see that playing the blame game only hurts us? That buying into the lie and distortion filled rants of our elected officials is not good for this country? We are the deciders. We vote. When we allow lies and distortions to drive our votes, when we blame everyone but ourselves for the ills of our nation, we accomplish nothing.

When we work together towards a common goal nothing is beyond us.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy said that and I think it’s far truer today than it was then. Our politicians fear that the people of this nation, with the power of the vote, might actually insist upon real solutions. So they fill our heads with well choreographed lies and hope we forget about solving problems and focus on blaming each other.

Contrast that to the legislation we see today. Do you see what happens when we demand real solutions?

What would happen to this nation if we put this attitude towards all of our problems? What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Fear Strikes Out – Joseph Wilcox and the Las Vegas Shooting

Joseph WilcoxA fellow by the name of Joe Wilcox was shot and killed Sunday afternoon when he attempted to stop a maniac at Walmart. He wasn’t afraid and it cost him his life. Fear is an overwhelming force in our lives these days but somehow Mr. Wilcox managed to overcome our politicians telling us to be afraid and the talking heads on the news whose primary message is fear.

When the politician of your chosen political party tells you that those on the other side of the political aisle are destroying your country they are promulgating fear. When the talking heads on the news stations warn you of the evil that will be done if someone from the other side is elected they are promulgating fear. Fear and more fear. That’s all I see on politics. That’s all I hear from friends and colleagues. Those evil Republican/Democrats are trying to turn American into a Tyrannical government ruled by the rich/lazy. I see fear oozing out of almost every Facebook post I read. I hear fear in conversation next to me when I’m riding the stationary at the gym. It’s everywhere. It’s prevalent. It’s what the powers that be desire. It’s what they scheme to bring about, a mass of frightened people who outnumber the brave. When that happens were all in serious trouble.

Mr. Wilcox wasn’t afraid.

A while ago I finished my fourth novel, The Sword of Water. That’s a novel all about fear. It’s about how evil uses fear to try and have us give up our freedom, to convince us to hate our neighbors, and to drive us into giving them more power. It’s a novel in which a young girl named Silenia has two guiding influences. One who promulgates fear and the other who is the embodiment of courage.

When I was reading about the life of Mr. Wilcox I thought of Silenia and her fear and courage. The decision she has to make in my novel is not that different than the one Mr. Wilcox made. You’ll have to buy the novel to find out what happens to Silenia but we know what happened to Mr. Wilcox.

He chose to ignore fear and stepped up to battle violence and insane rage. While Mr. Wilcox may have died his spirit lives on. We must stop being afraid. We must stop hating each other. I’ve been all over this great country. I’ve made friends with small-town conservatives in Idaho and rural Missouri. I’ve made friends with big-city liberals in San Francisco and St. Louis. They have a lot in common. They want to do their jobs, make a little money, raise their children, and enjoy their lives.

You know who wasn’t brave? You know who lived in fear? The miserable bastards that killed Mr. Wilcox and two police officers. They let fear rule their lives. They were so afraid they decided they had to start killing people in order to save themselves. That’s fear. That’s abject, total fear. It’s not brave to walk into a restaurant and shoot people sitting at a table. Those who defend such deeds are frightened little children.

Don’t let fear rule your life and your decisions. Be brave.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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NCAA Settles on Player Likeness Used in Video Games

Johnny-Manziel-Ncaa-Football-14I’ve written a number of times about how I think the NCAA is an organization wherein everyone except the athletes make money. One of the points I’ve made is that the NCAA takes money from video game makers like Electronic Arts who use the likeness and mannerisms of players in their games. Until today the NCAA and the game manufacturers have never paid the players a penny for doing this. Until today.

If you purchase EA NCAA Football 2013 and load up, say the Texas A&M v. Missouri game you’ll see #2 leading the Aggies onto the field. The avatar bears a striking resemblance to Johnny Manziel. In the game #2 throws with his right hand and is a bit short for a quarterback. He runs a lot. He plays just like Johnny Manziel. The only real difference is the back of the jersey where you see just the #2, not the name Manziel.

The reason you didn’t see that name is because the video game companies figured if they left it off they wouldn’t owe Manziel, or any of the other players, money for using their likeness in the games. Those self-same video game companies do have pay to someone though, that someone is the NCAA. In fancy legalese designed to keep them from having to give money to the actual players they pay for the right to use the NCAA logo. Tricky, those lawyers. The NCAA has said they will terminate this agreement with the game manufactures once the current contract expires later this year.

Those who disagree with me will argue that the players get a scholarship and signed a contract in which they agreed not to collect money for the use of their likeness. If that is the case then why did EA and the NCAA just agree to pay $60 million to the people whose likeness was used from 2005 or 2003 to the present time. They fought and fought until the moment the case was headed to trial and then paid up.

There is another huge case on the dockets now filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannion and there has been no settlement to date. That case argues the players have the right to sell their likeness directly to the video game makers. It’s a big one to say the least and I’ll be keeping my eye on it. But it’s not the point of today’s column.

Those who rail against today’s settlement argue that it will “ruin” college football. It will drive the game out of existence. I can’t categorically say this is wrong although I’m certain that it is incorrect. There is money to be made. Lots of money. If the NCAA, the media, the stadium builders, the broadcasters, the coaches, and everyone else has to give up a bit of that to pay the players they’ll do it. They might not like it, but they’ll do it. And the games will go on.

Either the doomsayers or right or I’m right. Time will tell.

As far as today’s settlement goes I have only this to say. About time.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
See All my Books


Belmont Stakes – Whining or Complaining?

No WhiningI’ve been a hose racing fan since that magical summer of 1973 when Secretariat raced to the Triple Crown. I was nine years old and my mother took us on a vacation to a wonderful resort in French Lick, Indiana. We happened to be there when Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes in what many people consider the greatest single athletic performance ever. Five years later I watched Affirmed battle Alydar in what might have been the greatest head-to-head competition in the history of horse racing.

Why do I mention this? Yesterday afternoon a horse named California Chrome raced in the Belmont Stakes hoping to duplicate what Secretariat and Affirmed accomplished by winning the Triple Crown. No horse has won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont since Affirmed did it in 1978. California Chrome came up short finishing in fourth place. After the race the owner made some comments that are being fairly roundly criticized and it got me to thinking about the difference between complaining and whining.

In this case the owner of California Chrome was upset the horses that defeated his horse did not race in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes and thus were rested and fresh for the grueling Belmont which is the longest of the three races. That such tactics make it all but impossible for a horse to win the Triple Crown and this accounts for the fact that it’s been thirty-six years since the feat has been accomplished. I think that Steve Coburn has a legitimate point but his tone was very bitter and he used words like “cheaters” to describe his competition.

He has a legitimate complaint but he clearly came across as a whiner and few people have been, so far, sympathetic to his cause.

I don’t want to get into an in-depth analysis of whether Coburn was right although a quick perusal of Wikipedia indicates that some of the horses that Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed faced in the Belmont Stakes had not run in the earlier races.

My real question is when does legitimate complaining become whining? It’s a question that speaks fairly clearly to my Libertarianism. As a Libertarian I strongly believe in both personal responsibility and accomplishment. I don’t like it when people complain about the state of their lives when they could improve things simply by taking a more proactive look at how they behave. But there are certainly times when a person is blocked from doing something. When they are cheated. When is it right to complain and when it is better to simply put your head down and fix the problem yourself?

Let’s say a two children are playing and one takes a toy from the other. Should the first child take the toy back or complain to adults about the situation? Let’s imagine someone at works gets ahead of you through subterfuge or devious behavior. Should you complain to the bosses or should you take measures to make sure you get ahead in the future?

I think for the most part people respect someone who handles the situation themselves. Someone who chalks up a defeat as a life-lesson and goes about their business with their chin out and their eyes firm. We don’t like a whiner. We like someone who attacks a problem and defeats it.

Let’s take it a step further. The children get into a physical confrontation over the toy. Your rival at work refuses to give you information needed to accomplish a task despite repeated requests. When does complaining become legitimate?

My feeling is that complaining is largely only legitimate after you’ve give a strong, good-faith effort to solve the problem yourself. Even then it’s dangerous territory. No one likes a tattle-tale.

I think it’s a very difficult and tricky aspect of being an adult. It’s a complex issue that I can’t solve in a single blog or probably ever.

My advice is that when you face adversity take it head on yourself. Don’t accept defeat and say oh well. Don’t go crying to the boss. Deal with it. If that fails then you can consider taking it up the chain of  command.

I think we’ve all encountered situations like this and the first thing your foe is going to to do is make you out to be a complaining whiner. If you can honestly show that you attempted to resolve the problem without interference from a superior you will be better off when the confrontation finally happens. Heck, a lot of times attacking the problem personally results in a solution without involving higher-ups.

Does anyone have any stories to share? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
See All my Books

Police Search Parked Car because it Smelled of Drugs

Police NoteThere’s an amazing case making the news in Tampa, Florida where the police searched a parked vehicle because they smelled the odor of marijuana coming from it. At least they so claimed.

The truck in question belongs to Matthew Heller and is painted with the logo of his business. In their search of his car they tore out panels and did significant damage to his electrical system. They left a hand-written note on the truck telling him to call the police department if he had any questions. Are you kidding me? This was the guy’s business vehicle. There is no way the officers who performed the search could not have identified Heller and tried to contact him but that’s not even the most egregious violation.

The Tampa police claim the search was perfectly legal and have so far refused to pay for the damage they caused although it seems obvious to me that they will have to do so eventually.

I’ve written on a number of occasions about the War on Drugs and the seizures laws and I have no doubt that if they had found even trace amounts of drugs they would have seized his car and everything in it. The fact that an officer can simply claim to have smelled marijuana in a car that was parked in a parking lot at a concert, break in, and search it should give everyone pause for alarm.

This is the police state that the Founding Fathers lived under when we were a colony of England. This is why we have the Fourth Amendment. This Amendment protects me from a vindictive police force bent on destroying me.

The War on Drugs has provided such a bounty of money to law enforcement agencies over this entire country that local municipalities no longer use enough tax dollars to support the agency. This means the police are becoming more and more dependent on seizures to fund their operations. They become creative in their methods of getting revenue. I’m of the strong suspicion that the police simply wanted to steal Heller’s truck so they could sell it at an impound auction. That there was likely no smell of marijuana at all. That they troll parking lots of concerts looking for vehicles to steal … I mean impound.

This is madness. This is not good for citizens and it’s horrible for the police. When officers become not the protectors or our people but their enemy this country is in serious danger. The liberties we enjoy are in jeopardy. I’m sure the vast majority of police officers would much rather spend their time investigating and preventing real crime rather than trolling for funds. This sort of thing must make good officers sick to their stomach.

I still can’t get ever the hand-written note I’ve used as the image on this post. Are you kidding me? What is happening to our nation?

Are we so frightened that we’re willing to trade all our liberties for the illusion of safety?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
See All my Books

Medicare Cheated out of Billions by … the Rich

Medicare FraudThere’s an interesting case slowly making its way through the courts about a company that is accused of stealing potentially billions of dollars from taxpayers in the form of medicare overcharges. The case isn’t about all the stealing, it’s about the guy who got fired because he tried to fix the problem.

You can read the story for all the details but basically a new guy was hired by an insurance company and almost immediately found evidence of chronic over-charging by filling out forms fraudulently. He claims to have discussed the issue in significant detail with corporate officials who recognized the problem and began putting away cash for what they assumed would be eventual fines. None was forthcoming and so they took the more expedient solution of firing Josh Valdez.

That’s what the case is about. A whistleblower who was fired. It’s not about the potentially billions of dollars that were stolen from taxpayers by insurance companies in Puerto Rico. This was merely one division of the much larger Aveta Inc. The charges were filled in April of 2011 and are only seeing the light of day now.

The suit filed by Valdez uncovered the fact that the fraudulent practices of Aveta are likely happening in many places. There are few audits of the Risk Score of patients which determine how much money goes to the insurance company. These scores can be artificially altered to ensure more money is paid out. According to Valdez up to $350 million of the $1.4 billion paid out was fraudulent for the each of the years between 2007 and 2011.

Remember, this is a single insurance fraud scam in Puerto Rico. Think big and then remember the financial crisis that this country is facing.

It is my opinion this kind of fraud occurs all the time and has contributed significantly to the growing debt our nation faces. This is the sort of situation that I think sets Libertarians apart from Democrats and Republicans. Democrats will scream and yell about corporate greed while Republicans will do the same about government waste. Here’s a newsflash for you … it’s both! And you are the reason it continues. Those who insist on voting for Democrats or Republicans just perpetuate the situation. They’ve both got their hands out and are grabbing the money as fast as they can scoop it up.

None of the alleged activity has been proven in court yet and it’s all speculation, but anyone who thinks this sort of thing is rare is just fooling themselves. The United States government is enormous beyond comprehension and the lack of oversight is shocking. The company involved claims it is just a disgruntled employee. We’ll see what the courts say but I’m expecting a relatively small fine against the company and some monetary reward for Valdez but nothing that will approach the amount that has been and continues to be stolen.

Greed is good, welcome to the United States.

As usual I’m not going to just talk about the problem. What are the solutions?

The idea behind Medicare is sound. We don’t want older people to miss out on medical care because of lack of money. That is a reasonable use of government money. Yet the amount of money involved will always be a magnet to those who want to steal.

A big part of the problem is software. The government is running on antiquated software and generating the reports necessary to discover this sort of activity isn’t easy. There is also a lack of inspectors so most insurance companies are allowed to self-report.

The only real solution is for people to actually want it solved. The solutions are there. More inspectors, better reports, tougher enforcement. As long as government officials are being bribed by the self-same companies that are defrauding us there will be no remedies. Being a good-guy will just get you fired, as Valdez discovered.

If you think voting Democrat or Republican will change things … best of luck.

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

Well that's it for Android – Stupid Headlines

Knockout AndroidApple Just Delivered A Knockout Blow To Android with IOS8 blares the headline from Forbes. Yes, we have the Stupid Headline of the Week award winner. Hooray for Forbes.

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention lately the people over at Forbes have been whoring themselves out for clicks for a number of years now. They basically allow anyone to sign-up for a Forbes blogging account and that person gets to have the word Forbes in their URL.

The people writing the blog posts have no association with Forbes whatsoever. It’s like the URL in this blog post that mentions WordPress because the site is hosted by WordPress.

I’m not associated with WordPress nor is the person who wrote this headline associated with Forbes. Ian Morris just wrote a really stupid headline hoping you would click it.

For all those grieving over the demise of Android, well, don’t start crying just yet. Ian is engaged in both wishful thinking and headline trolling.

As an added tip to Dr. Headline writer: Don’t capitalize words like “a” and “to”.

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

Well that’s it for Android – Stupid Headlines

Knockout AndroidApple Just Delivered A Knockout Blow To Android with IOS8 blares the headline from Forbes. Yes, we have the Stupid Headline of the Week award winner. Hooray for Forbes.

In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention lately the people over at Forbes have been whoring themselves out for clicks for a number of years now. They basically allow anyone to sign-up for a Forbes blogging account and that person gets to have the word Forbes in their URL.

The people writing the blog posts have no association with Forbes whatsoever. It’s like the URL in this blog post that mentions WordPress because the site is hosted by WordPress.

I’m not associated with WordPress nor is the person who wrote this headline associated with Forbes. Ian Morris just wrote a really stupid headline hoping you would click it.

For all those grieving over the demise of Android, well, don’t start crying just yet. Ian is engaged in both wishful thinking and headline trolling.

As an added tip to Dr. Headline writer: Don’t capitalize words like “a” and “to”.

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

Facebook Post leads to Ticket for Dog Walking

Facebook crimeThere’s an interesting little story in the news today about a woman who made a Facebook post about walking her dog in a dog park which requires those who use it to have a permit.

I’m certain the park in question requires a paid permit because someone must spend the time, effort, and money to keep it nice. The people who walk their dogs there pay for this service. When someone goes to the park without paying their permit fee they are essentially stealing from everyone else.

Presumably one of the people who actually pays their permit fee saw the post from the woman and reported it to the authorities who issued a fine. It turns out the woman was lying in her post and hadn’t actually used the park in several years and the fine was rescinded. That’s not really the point though.

People seem to be pretty upset that the fine was issued in the first place but it doesn’t bother me at all. If you confess to illegal activity be it on Facebook, to an undercover officer, to a friend who turns you in, or in any other way there should be ramifications. Frankly, if you break the law then you should understand there might be penalties involved if you are caught.

I do think the fine shouldn’t have been issued until an investigation was conducted but I have no problem with police using their investigative capabilities via Facebook or any other legal method. We are protected in this country from unreasonable police activity by our Constitution and I think these rights must be guarded with vigilance. I don’t think this is an example of the police overstepping their bounds.

It seems pretty straight forward to me. The woman confessed to a crime on a public forum. The police failed to investigate the incident and issued a fine. She complained and the fine was rescinded.

This is not an example of the police state that I rail against in my posts all the time. If she had actually been guilty of walking her dog in the park without a permit then she should have faced the exact same penalty as someone who was physically caught walking their dog in such a manner.

My advice, use Facebook to talk with friends, not to confess to crimes.

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