Category Archives: Comment of the Day

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Rant: Here Is The Smoking Gun Proof That The Government Doesn’t Care How Much Money…”

Whatever anyone might think of Ethics Alarms, it can’t be accused of not being eclectic. Today’s Comment of the Day illustrates the point, with an impressive  and informative debut by new commenter Dave on the cost savings to be had based on choice of  printing fonts, and more. The original post used a sixth-graders science project conclusion that our federal and state governments could save hundreds of millions of dollars by simply conserving ink as a departure point for a general critique of government diligence, responsibility, and competence.

Here is his exposition, inspired by the post, Ethics Rant: Here Is The Smoking Gun Proof That The Government Doesn’t Care How Much Money It Wastes, Or, In The Alternative, That It Isn’t Run By Sufficiently Competent People To Be Trusted To Spend What It Does:

The most important aspect of the 14 year old’s study is valid. You can save money with a better font. How you get there is not important. So I support the hypothesis of the study. Of course, as in almost all studies, it requires more study. Adding paper to the mix makes it more hopeful.

I like his study for three reasons:

1. It puts ink and paper into the public discussion
2. It illustrates that really large numbers times really small numbers equals a big number.
3. It moves us ahead in our quest to the use of something other than Times New Roman. It’s a newspaper font!

First off, names are useless in discussing typefaces as they were trashed by the patent/copyright office many years ago. Garamond is one of dozens of great type families. Each has it’s unique features but most do not perform optimally in all applications. The criticism of using Garamond in the testing misses the point entirely. Successfully curtailing the weight of an optimized font, versus a newspaper font, to image on bond paper is likely. Let’s move on from nitpicking Garamond. 

Ink is measured in dimes with inkjet, nickels with toner and pennies with printer’s ink. Breaking down the imaging techniques of all government documents is a massive effort, census like. But, for now, let’s address word processed documents. This is probably the largest population of original documents. (We’re not going to make much headway in savings attacking the professional typeset material that is printed in the millions.)

Given we tune a font for ink/toner use, one of the last considerations influencing legibility and readability of a word processed document is typeface. Because MS Word is used exhaustively for this application, I would order the priorities leading to better legibility and readability as follows:

1. Word Spacing. You can see in the example used to trash the study (3rd line of Garamond) It’s like talking to someone who says “uh” every other word.

2. Serifs v. Sans Serif. This choice is more of a readability thing than a legibility thing.  I choose sans-serif for heads (eliminating the need for bold italic serif fonts) and serif for text  when I create a typical Word doc. Generally, type really doesn’t have to be serif if the document is short but the longer it gets….

3. Line Measure. This goes together with word spacing, the longer the measure the worse word spacing becomes with MS Word. And personally I have attention issues so I need a break more often.

4. Body leading. Otherwise known as line spacing in the world of glorified type writers; it’s like word spacing only in the vertical direction.

5. Letter-spacing. This is font design dependent but not typeface dependent. They can screw this up no matter how the the letters look. It’s one of MS Times New Roman most nasty offenses. It’s not only looks awful, it wastes paper.

6. Hyphenation and Justification (H&J). Justified type is lined up on both sides of the page. Word Processors are not good at this, MS is particularly bad at both H&J.  It’s an old requirement with setting type, but it helps readability with long documents. It generally saves paper to boot but it’s not worth botching up word spacing to get these advantages. (It’s not as critical with 1-2 page documents so that’s why it’s 6th on the list.)

7. Type Style. If we excel at all of the above, like professional design software, then the particular type design is a factor. Because we are focused on text, the theory is if we significantly adjust the design for 12 point and with word processing in mind we can do well here in ink savings.

8. Paper color. Office paper is very good here.

9. Type color. Anything other than black type can’t be discussed here but it is realistic to discuss grey. I exclusively  use draft mode on my inkjet printer and nobody notices.

10 . Room light. Using serifs or not and setting an appropriate type size is about wearing out your eyes with too little or too much light. Serifs on text cut back on light, while size impacts detail helping legibility. Sans serif type in headlines are not an issue because they are short and it provides contrast with the text.

So, the student’s focus on the smaller, most used type is appropriate. The focus on weight relative to ink usage is also appropriate. A focus on more sophisticated typography than MS offers today would significantly impact paper usage, even without using two sided features we have today.

TrueType, GX stuff, et al were all awesome in 1996, a big accomplishment. They are still relevant for designers, but here we are stuck with MS Word; Opentype features are wasted. Moving to a maybe more primitive technology but optimized for both savings and readability would be a good start towards the $400 million goal.

We are in a transition period, so it may be awhile. Saving money along the way to fully electronic isn’t a bad thing. These no valid reason to make trade offs during the transition. It will be complicated but in step with the transition. All ideas are worthwhile, there is no reason not to implement all of them.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding”

Yoga-PantsThe ethics quiz on banning leggings and yoga pants for some female students and not others produced several excellent responses. I was surprised that the majority here supported selective enforcement, which is normally regarded as per se unfair. This response is especially remarkable considering that the selective enforcing will be done by the kinds of geniuses that punishe little girls for shaving their heads to make cancer victims feel better.

Here is the Comment of the Day by the intriguingly named “The Wednesday Woman” (whose comment arrived on a Sunday) on the post Ethics Quiz: Targeted Dress Coding, which answered the quiz query, “Is targeted dress coding ethical?”

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Education

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Michael Sam”

Dave Kopay, an earlier NFL Ethics Hero who paid the price for honesty

Dave Kopay, an earlier NFL Ethics Hero who paid the price for honesty

The media and sports talk show uproar about NFL prospect Michael Sam announcing that he is gay prior to the upcoming NFL draft has subsided considerably (just wait until Draft Day, though), but the Ethics Alarms threads about Sam’s decision and the ethical dilemmas and choices it represents remain vigorous.

Here is Penn’s thoughtful and well-rendered comment from yesterday, the Comment of the Day, on the post, Ethics Hero: Michael Sam…

Interesting “damned if you do; damned if you don’t” discussion here. The only point I see is that Sam stepped up to the plate (dis gut NFL speak, no?), which took guts. In this, I am in full agreement with Jack’s first paragraph.

Whatever Sam’s motivations or goals, or the reactions (or non) of his chosen profession and its fan-atics, or the general public, I don’t see any value in arguing generalized outcomes (unless they are exercises in ethics, naturally). I can say as much sooth as anyone, based on both anecdotal and empirical evidence; rather, I am talking about a negative value in doing so. [... maybe, if it's up on the tote-board in Vegas.] Such debates just degenerate into … well, what Jack was interpolating into several exchanges: the writers’ biases, and the public’s bigotry (of course, the latter does not exist among EA commenters). Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Sports, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Zero Sum Ethics Encore: When An Unfair Firing Is Still The Most Ethical Course”

 my hero

The dilemma posed in the recent post about the radio host fired because of the danger posed by her threatening, stalker ex-husband sparked some unexpected reactions, as many readers expressed frustration that Nancy Lane’s employer left her to her own resources in her peril. One of the more provocative alternatives proposed is Steven’s endorsement of what he calls the chivalristic response.

Here is his Comment of the Day, to the post Zero Sum Ethics Encore: When An Unfair Firing Is Still The Most Ethical Course.

The problem I have with situations such as here with Nancy Lane is there is no reason for this situation to result in an ethical dilemma or “Zero Sum”. I, as well as few others here recommend what can only be labeled as a chivalristic response. Now we are not talking the aristocratic, medieval ethos but more of a modernization of the gentlemanly behavior exhibited of those of the greatest generation without the bigotry or homophobia. With the feminization of our society it is incredibly hard to find the line between “modern” chivalry and misogyny, or at least feminism’s liberal application of the term. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.”

No irish

I encourage the long form comment here, and Ethics Alarms has many commenters who are masters of the form. I feel badly about the many longer, well thought out essays-as-comments that I do not highlight as Comments of the Day, because they represent—well, most of the time—the kind of serious thought and original expression that most blogs, even many of the best, seldom see. Length is not virtue, of course, but ethics, as this post by texagg04, reminds us, is a vital topic that often does not yield answers that are easy, simple, or permanent. The post is in response to a statement from Fred, another trenchant commenter, on the thread’s discussion of whether a school is ethically obligated to allow single and pregnant teachers, if in its view this undermines its efforts to teach certain values and life choices to the young. Fred wrote:

““Doesn’t have to take the job” is not an ethical or legal excuse if there’s a discriminatory requirement not related to doing the job. Being pregnant while teaching does have some relation to the job. Mopping while Methodist doesn’t….There’s an ethics question in whether the school lived up to their religious principles and a legal issue of arguable sex discrimination.”

Here is texagg04′s reply and the Comment of the Day, to the post, Of COURSE There’s An Unwed and Pregnant Catholic School Teacher Principle….Don’t Be Silly.:

 

Let’s start from the market aspect and contractual aspect, and disregard existing law initially…

An employer creates jobs when he senses the market demands a value the potential job can provide. I think the answer lies between two poles: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Education, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Uncategorized

Comment of the Day: “How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study”

battle-marvel

The Ethics Alarms resident humanist, Bruce, has filed a passionate brief condemning the sometimes rough debate on Ethics Alarms, and, in some ways, the blog itself. This is the latest volley in an ongoing thread that has jumped around from multiple posts: my fault, because I keep raising the issue in various ways. I would normally append some reactions at the conclusion of such direct criticism, but it’s a busy day, so I’ll have to put them in the comments to Bruce’s post later, with this exception.

The Ethics Scoreboard, which was not a blog but a website, embodied Bruce’s suggestion of radically fewer posts, more carefully considered and proofread. I am proud of a lot of the work there, but the format was limiting. The goal of Ethics Alarms is to try to inject ethical considerations into the national analysis and discussion of daily events, including politics, that need them but hardly ever receive them, because, sadly, most commentators are either uninterested or incapable of it.  The reason I chose a blog format is that these issues are time-sensitive, and if I am to have even a wisp of a chance of elevating the discussion and encouraging valid analysis of right and wrong, I have to strike quickly, or I might as well be writing about the ethics of the Spanish American War.

Jeffrey Field, my favorite Occupier who often weighs in here, periodically sends me a note that says “Slow down!”  I appreciate that, and take it to heart. Nonetheless, when the news media was (lazily? maliciously?) misrepresenting the meaning of David Wildstein’s lawyers’ letter regarding Chris Christie’s involvement in the George Washington Bridge affair, and I could find nobody who was pointing out what miserably unethical journalism this was, I had to write about it immediately—and, frankly, Ethics Alarms readers were ahead of most of the public. A little later, the New York Times, for example, had to tune down its characterization of the document.

I know my analysis is not always air tight, but I’m not trying to end discussions, but begin them. I wish I could do ten posts a day.

Here’s Bruce, and his Comment of the Day on the post How People Rationalize Being Close-minded: A Case Study”: Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, The Internet, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day On Civility And Blog Moderation Ethics, By Ampersand

civility sign

It doesn’t really matter what post generated this Comment of the Day (it was the one about Melissa Harris-Perry’s second try at apologizing for inciting her guests to treat Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandchild as the human equivalent of spinach on a fashion model’s front teeth—further ethics developments: Mitt Romney was as gracious as one can be yesterday while accepting Harris-Perry’s mea culpa, and the clueless Alex Baldwin griped that she kept her MSNBC job by playing the weepy girl card, while he was sacked after his umpteenth public meltdown over a paparazzi), because it is off-topic. Ampersand, a.k.a. Barry Deutsch, and I have been fencing about the proper level of invective that should be permitted on blogs like Ethics Alarms and his blog, Alas!.

I take the topic very seriously, as does Barry, because we are both trying to build and maintain an enlightened and diverse community of serious readers and participants in ongoing discussion of serious topics. Barry’s blog is an ideological one; Ethics Alarms, despite being alternatively called on the carpet for being tilting either conservative or liberal, is not. Beyond question, from Barry’s own position on the ideological spectrum, this blog is well to his right. This particular exchange was prompted by complaints by some commenters that my moderation is too loose, that I should censor particular words or eject commenters here who engage in harsh personal denigration. I remain in flux on this problem.

It is true that I have moderated my moderation in recent months, though not as much as some people think. I still bar some commenters, and frequently refuse to accept comments that are nothing but name-calling, as well as those which are objectively moronic. But it is true that regular contributors here who have demonstrated serious intent and valid commentary acquire the privilege of going off the rails, civilly speaking, from time to time. I wish they wouldn’t do it, but despite my belief that civility is critical to societal harmony and professional conduct, I am persuaded that routinely filtering out the passion expressed by vulgarity (and worse) may go too far. I have also been influenced by the recent escalation of political correctness, especially in the media, epitomized when a CNN host announce that the verb “target” was no longer considered appropriate on TV—a threat, don’t you know.

Another factor in my thinking was Popular Science’s decision in September to ban online comments to its articles, rooted in its conclusion that research had proven that aggressively worded contrary opinions could be psychologically persuasive, and were thus “bad for science.” I don’t like the looks of that slippery slope at all.

  I explained my evolving thoughts on the issue in the earlier replies to Barry  and Beth, a commenter here and a personal friend, who has been the target of some of the least civil attacks.  I wrote in part… Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, The Internet, U.S. Society

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2013

Ethics Story 2013

I decided to start with the Best in Ethics this year, in contrast to other years, on the theory that it would get things off to a positive start in 2014. What it did, instead, was make me realize how negative Ethics Alarms was in 2013. Either there wasn’t much positive going on in ethics, or I wasn’t seeing it. My thanks to those of you who send me nominations for Ethics Heroes (and other stories); even when I don’t write about them, they are valuable. Please keep them coming. In the meantime, I pledge to try to keep the jaundice out of my eye in 2014. Things just can’t be as dire as they seemed last year.

Could they?

Here are the 2013 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Best in Ethics:

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, paving the way for the universal legalization of gay marriage. Yes, it was a legal decision, but it was also based, as all such culturally important decisions are, on a societal recognition that what was once thought to be wrong and immoral was, in fact, not. This is ethics, an ongoing process of enlightenment and wisdom about what is right and wrong, and the U.S. Supreme Court did its part. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Comment of the Day, Education, Ethics Heroes, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Love, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Observations On The “Affluenza” Sentence”

 

I don't think this is the same "Theodoric of York" who authored this excellent "Comment of the Day"...at least I hope it isn't.

I don’t think this is the same “Theodoric of York” who authored this excellent “Comment of the Day”…at least I hope it isn’t.

The heat/ light ratio in the comments to the post about the controversial sentencing of a 16-year-old scofflaw in Texas has been depressing, but among the rational, measured, well-considered and thought-provoking responses by those who actually read the post, this one, by new commenter Theodoric of York,  is a winner. His politeness is especially appreciated among all the posts calling me names that would shock my mother. I hope he comes again, and often.

I’ll have some further comments after he’s had his say. Meanwhile, here is Theodoric of York’s Comment or the Day on the post Ethics Observations on the “Affluenza” Sentence.

Disclaimer the first: I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. Disclaimer the second: I have no knowledge of Texas law regarding juvenile justice, nor do I have any knowledge of Texas state law regarding negligent vehicular homicide, nor do I have any real knowledge of that state’s laws regarding DUI, homicide, manslaughter or murder. And yes, I know the difference between murder and negligent vehicular homicide, and I am also aware that young Mr. Couch is a minor. Disclaimer the third: I have not read Judge Boyd’s actual ruling, nor have I seen actual video of her sentencing. If someone could provide a link to that (if a link exists), it would be appreciated. That being said: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Kidneys of Orlac”

But first, a last act of altruism...

But first, a last act of altruism?

The presumptive winner of the annual Ethics Alarms award for “Commenter of the Year” in 2013, texagg04has delivered a Comment of the Day expanding the topic of the post regarding a condemned prisoner in Ohio who wrangled a postponement of his execution so he could donate his organs to relatives. Here is  texagg04′s  take on “Ethics Quiz: The Kidneys of Orlac.” I’ll have some comments at the end.

“First, a murderer or other capital criminal being held responsible for his or her conduct seems to be in conflict with the same individual being allowed to display charity when you say they  forfeited their freedom, all of it, with their commission of a  capital crime. I’m not so sure it should be viewed from that angle.

Punishment serves a variety of purposes. Some petty crimes receive punishment designed to compensate, as best as can be, the victim – the victim being dead, capital punishment does not serve this purpose. Some crimes are of an anti-social nature, and the apt punishment seeks to rehabilitate or reconcile the perpetrator to the community. Capital crimes are so heinous that we have determined that the perpetrator must be completely cut off from society, through their death. In this case, the punishment does nothing for the victim OR for the criminal; the punishment is designed solely for the benefit of society.

If the criminal wishes to donate his/her organs to (what we must assume is to salve their own conscience – even though we can, probably, cynically assume is just a delaying tactic), we should not care one bit. They are gaining no material benefit from the community, nor are they engaging in any direct interaction with the community – so the act of cutting them off from the community as part of the punishment is still complete. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Family, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, U.S. Society