Libertycon kicks off


Libertycon has begun, with people streaming in from across the country (and a few from around the world) for the occasion.  I didn’t make it to the opening ceremony yesterday afternoon, because by the time I got there all the seats within sight had been taken.  With my wonky back, and using a cane as I do, I wasn’t about to stand through an hour-long opening, so I adjourned to a place with a seat and relaxed.

It’s interesting to see the different responses of those who live in relatively sane “red” states, versus those who’ve escaped “blue” states to come here.  Most of the former are relaxed, happy, greeting friends animatedly, celebrating being together for a favorite event after three years apart.  However, some of the latter are almost gushing, frantic for human contact, even while looking around to see that nobody’s frowning or yelling at them for not wearing a mask or observing social distancing.  They appear almost guilty to be enjoying themselves so much.  It’s an odd contrast.  (One of the favorite tabs being applied to Libertycon attendee’s ID cards reads, “Shut up Karen!”  I approve.)

Many people have experienced problems getting here.  Airlines appear to be cancelling flights right and left:  they schedule them, sell all the seats aboard them, then are unable to provide a pilot (or sometimes even an airplane) to fly the route.  People are having to drive as far as Knoxville to pick up friends whose flights were cancelled, and who had to take alternative flights as close to Chattanooga as they could get.  I blame the airlines, frankly.  They’ve knowingly scheduled more flights than they can cope with, and are now trying to weasel out of the problem they created by blaming “the economy”, or “the government”, or COVID-19, or supply chain problems, or what have you.  Color me unimpressed.

I’ve also been thinking about the perennial road traffic problem in getting to and from Chattanooga.  It’s existed for years, even decades.  I-24 from Nashville, TN, I-59 from Birmingham, AL and I-75 from Atlanta, GA all converge on Chattanooga, which is on the Tennessee River and surrounded by mountains.  The heavy traffic makes for frequent jams, and an accident can back things up for miles, particularly if it happens in the area where the three Interstates come together in the last ten to twenty miles before reaching the city.  We avoided a bad jam on Thursday by following our GPS guidance onto surface streets around it, but there aren’t many of those, mountains being generally road-unfriendly places to build.

The existing highways are clearly far too narrow for the amount of traffic they carry.  I reckon one could justify four-laning all of them, and six-laning them through the city, but there’s simply no space to do it.  One would have to carve out massive cuts in the mountainside to accommodate that.  It’d take years, maybe decades – all the while reducing the existing two-lane roads to a single lane, with frequent stoppages for blasting, etc.  I simply don’t see how it could be done without effectively cutting off Chattanooga completely for a lot of the time.  Perhaps a tunnel through the mountains would avoid the need for cuts, but it’d be fearfully expensive.  Quite the dilemma.

I’m taking the opportunity of free time between seminars and panels to set up my new laptop.  I had an older-model MacBook Air, which has served me well;  but sadly, its chipset can’t manage the upgrade to the latest version of MacOS.  I need that for some of my critical software, which I use for publishing.  The latest versions of the software require the latest version of the operating system to do their thing.  I accordingly bought a new MacBook Air, with Apple’s M1 chip, a SSD instead of a hard disk, and expanded memory.  (Of course, within a few weeks of receiving it, Apple announced a later model with the even newer M2 chip, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve got.)  I’ve got most of my software downloaded and installed, and my data copied across.  It’s very fast compared to my old system, and so far I’m pleased with the upgrade.

So far, so good.  Miss D. and I have an autograph session tomorrow, and we’re on a panel later in the afternoon discussing the state of self-publishing.  No peace for the wicked!



  1. Regarding fun. Escaping masked Japan for the UK has been wonderful. I think I see about one person a day wearing a mask here in the UK and none at all outdoors.

    Next year I shall see if I can schedule a US trip that overlaps with Liberty con as it is I'm just jealous that you all get to meet in person

    regarding roads. In a few places I've seen them build an entirely new road next to the old. The new one is for traffic in one direction and the old road takes the traffic in the other.

    1. Holy cow. Googling for details (because I had too, of course) it was apparently eight guys with one chick, and "dozens" watching. Seriously? I…that sounds incredibly nasty to participate in, much less watch. Woof.

  2. Rolled in Friday afternoon in time to navigate both hotel and con registrations.
    Last five miles on I-24 took over half an hour at a crawl as I have come to expect at all hours here, day or night. A sudden rainstorm rolling through did not help of course.
    Hotel seems to know their job though the convention facilities pale in comparison to what we knew back at the Choo Choo.
    But either would definitely rise far above some rather seedy venues from days gone by.
    Hope to tag up with you and your better half at some point in all the craziness at this very spread out event.

  3. Chattanooga, home of the International Towing & Recovery Museum (if the sign on the freeway can be believed) & not far from South Pittsburg, TN home of the Lodge cast iron factory, sadly they only have factory tours in April.

    A few month back we went from Washington state to Florida, I can't tell you how good it felt to be back in free America. The feeling was real!

    Enjoy your convention.

  4. Widening the highways by building elevated sections, while also expensive, wouldn't totally choke off traffic during construction nor be as expensive as tunneling.

  5. I have been to that towing museum, quite impressive.
    Chattanooga also has a killer aquarium.
    As for elevated road sections they still have to suspend travel during the installation of those massive support girders.

  6. For years LibertyCon was capped at 750 attendees, they actually wrote it into their charter so as to keep it cosy and friendly.
    As its popularity grew this became a bone of contention so some "adjustments" were made and the number was increased to 1k.
    Don't know if it was the added membership or the inadequacy of the venue, but I know there were issues in panels and the main meetings of overcrowding and lack of seating, so the con this year was less than ideal.
    For unrelated reasons I had to leave early, but must confess I was not all that reluctant to go and get away from the struggle to navigate through the crowds.
    Never did manage to catch up with Peter and Dorothy dang it.

  7. Part of the problem with the airlines, besides the overscheduling, is the lack of pilots, much of which can be blamed on the FAA. After a crash a few years ago (which was being flown by experienced pilots), they changed the minimum number of hours to get an airline license from 250 hours to 1500 hours. So the intake of pilots for the commuter airlines slowed dramatically (the flights into an airport like CHA are almost all commuter jets). ANd the major airlines depend on the commuter airlines to provide pilots as they gain enough experience. So there's a real pilot shortage now, and a pipeline that's much slower to fill.

    Some of the majors have opened flight schools, just to (eventually) provide them with more pilots.

    It also didn't help that, during the cutbacks, a lot of the flights were cancelled, and the pilots went on leave — which meant they lost currency, and had to be requalified.

    It's going to be a while before the pilot pipeline gets refilled, and the barrier to entry into the pipeline is much steeper than before.

    So the airlines are scheduling as much as they can and hoping that there are no glitches that leave pilots or aircraft in the wrong place and mess up the schedule. And, when there are, it's really hard to recover.

    So there's more than enough blame to go around.

  8. It was a mistake, I think, when my grandfather's generation abandoned railways and reverted to a
    1st century transportation mode.

    Yes, highways are 1st century. Roman transportation. The railway is a 19th century transportation mode and far more 'modern' than highways.

    Yes, highways are useful and should always be part of our toolkit, but to rely on them for everything? That's like owning only screwdrivers.

    The Southern Railway goes right through Chattanooga. Pity is that most people think railways are outmoded.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *