Category Archives: Science & Technology

Celebrity Ethics Rule: If You Are Going To Be Stupid And Ignorant, Don’t Make Other People Stupid And Ignorant Too

Jenner on Twitter

The author of the above embarrassment via Twitter, is Kylie Jenner. I feel sorry for Kylie Jenner. She’ll probably be rich, and she’s already famous, but the chances of her life being anything other than an interminable smut-storm of scandals, bad relationships, marriage-less pregnancies, rehabs, reality show spin-offs and episodes that would embarrass anyone not named Kardashian are close to nil. She is part of the latest generation of the culture-rotting clan of lucrative media freaks created by the Machiavellian Kris Jenner, widow of late O.J. Simpson lawyer Bob Kardashian. Kylie was doomed from conception, birthed by a mother lacking scruples, morals or shame, growing up on reality TV shows, with three slutty sisters as her role models and controlled by a mom who would have been a bordello madam, pimping out her daughters, in the era before cable.

Troubled narcissist transsexual Bruce Jenner is her father; professional rapping narcissist Kanye West is her brother-in-law. There has never been a whiff from any member of the extended family that any of them sees or is capable of seeing any value in literature, history, civics, science, knowledge, thought, thinking…anything involving the brain at all—in fact, anything that doesn’t involve self-promotion, exhibitionism, money, conspicuous consumption, atrocious taste, and sex.

OK, so Kylie’s an idiot. That’s too bad, but the girl has 9 million twitter followers, and it’s not too much to ask that she doesn’t use her undeserved prominence and outsized megaphone to make millions of idiot clones. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Popular Culture, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Unethical Clinton Quote Of The Week: Hillary Clinton

“I have said repeatedly: I want those emails out. Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do…[A]nything that [the State Department] might do to expedite that process, I heartily support.”

—Hillary Clinton, lying her head off and, as usual, assuming nobody will notice,but, to be fair, being funnier than usual.

I’m sorry…is there a typo in that headline? Is my description overly arch? There answers are “no” and “yes, but I can’t stand much more of this.”

I think we are at the point where Clinton’s campaign has become a national ethics, integrity and intelligence test for the media, pundits, your friends and family members, and especially for Clinton supporters. For the Clintons, it’s a matter of how gutsy they can get in saying ridiculous things they know are ridiculous and expecting everyone to shrug it off…except those bad conservatives, Republicans and Clinton haters, of course. You can recognize them by the fact that they don’t shrug those statements off with a smile and a “That’s our Bill!” or “Don’t talk to my brain about the election, I’m voting with my vagina!”

The tipping point for me came a long time ago, but for anyone late to the party and capable of fair thought, it should at least have occurred when Bill Clinton justified his continued acceptance of obscene speaking fees (from likely corporate supplicants for U.S. favors and bounty after his wife becomes President) by saying “I gotta pay the bills!” This is just rubbing the public’s face in Clinton’s shamelessness, greed and corruption, and expecting everyone to like it.

Do you like it? If so, I’m disgusted with you.

The quote above by Hillary was just as outrageous; it just wasn’t quite as funny. (I’m saying that analytically: I am no longer capable of laughing at this kind of stuff from either Bill or Hillary, and I find my friends’ willingness to tolerate it tragic and diminishing.) To appreciate just how outrageous, you have to understand that it comes in the wake of the State Department announcing that it would take at least until January of 2016 to release the official emails that Hillary Clinton had to hand over because she used her own personal email server while Secretary of State in violation of government policies, including her own agency’s. (These weren’t all the e-mails, you’ll recall. She decided which she wanted the nation to see, and destroyed many thousands of them that she didn’t want to be seen, just in time to stop them from being subpoenaed.)

As State explained  in excruciating  detail, the process will take a long time because (other than the fact that the current leadership of the State Department doesn’t especially want those e-mails released either) “the Department received the 55,000 pages in paper form. The documents were provided in twelve bankers’ boxes (approximately 24” x 15” x 10 ¼” in size) with labels placed on the outside of the boxes that corresponded approximately to the time frame of the documents within a given box.”

Tech Dirt, which is not a political site and certainly not an ideological one, is falling all over itself guffawing about this and Clinton’s response to it:

“You know what would have expedited the release? First, using the State Department’s own email system while you were Secretary of State, so this wouldn’t have even been an issue. And, second, when all of this became an issue handing over the emails in electronic form, rather than in printed form in a bunch of boxes. [T] he way that Clinton has handled this whole thing is really ridiculous. Who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to print out 55,000 pages of records that were original electronic unless you’re trying to hide stuff and make life difficult for those going through it?…”

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Science & Technology

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”

praise

Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

Death Throes Of The Death Penalty: Dumb Expert, Dumb Advocates, Dumb Debate

“Next!”

As I recently concluded, the death penalty is beyond saving, not because it can’t be defended ethically and morally, but because the issues are tangled beyond repair.

The controversy over the legality of the so-called drug cocktails that somehow became our execution method of choice is a perfect example. The battles over capital punishment trapped policy-makers into this kinder, gentler, ridiculously complicated method of execution that has suffered snafus ranging from unavailable drugs to ugly extended deaths. The problem is the floating definition of “cruel and unusual punishment,” prohibited by the Constitution, but almost entirely subjective. Many judges think killing a killer is itself cruel by definition, and the more reluctant Western Europe becomes to execute the worst of the worst, the easier it is to make the argument that the death penalty is also unusual.

I don’t get it. I never have. India once executed condemned criminals by having the subject place his head on a stump under the raised foot of  trained elephant, which on a command would smash the head like a grape. Quick, painless–messy!—but virtually fool-proof. A pile-driver would be an acceptable equivalent.  Ah, but ick! In this stupid, stupid, intellectually dishonest debate, ick always equals “cruel and unusual,” because to opponents of the death penalty, killing people, even horrible, dangerous people, is inherently icky.

(Oddly, ripping unborn babies out of the womb is not, but I digress.)

I’ve admitted it, and I will again. (This lost Ethics Alarms Luke G., one of its best commenters the last time.*) It is obviously wrong to intentionally prolong an execution or deliberately cause pain, but if the occasional execution is botched and the condemned suffers, that should be cause for great rending of garments, nor should it be used to discredit capital punishment. As I wrote here about Clayton Lockett’s execution in Oklahoma

“There was no question of Lockett’s guilt, and his crime was inhuman. Such wanton cruelty and disregard for innocent life warrants society’s most emphatic rebuke, and the most emphatic rebuke is death. It is essential that any healthy society make it clear to all that some crimes forfeit the continued right to not just liberty, but also life. Anyone who weeps because this sadistic murderer experienced a few extra minutes of agony in the process of being sent to his just rewards has seriously misaligned values. No method of execution will work every time, and to make perfection the standard is a dishonest way to rig the debate. If the death penalty is justified, and it is, then we should expect and accept the rare “botch.” Meanwhile, if the concern really is efficiency, reliability, speed of death and minimal pain, there are literally dozens, maybe hundreds of methods of swift execution that would accomplish this. They just won’t pass the standards of death penalty opponents, because no method will.”

Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the question of whether Oklahoma’s use of the common surgical sedative midazolam did not reliably make prisoners unconscious during lethal injections, thus violating the Eighth Amendment’s protection against “cruel and unusual punishment.” It’s a ridiculous case, which arises out of the botched April 2014 execution of Lockett that sparked the post I just quoted. It is a ridiculous case because the method of execution isn’t worth arguing over. Elephant. Head. Problem solved. Why is Oklahoma fighting about which cocktail to use? This is the anti-capital punishment team’s game, and sooner or later, the result is preordained.  Continue reading

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Filed under Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

Inevitable, Unethical, Technological Incompetence By Our Governments

Hey, what could go wrong?

Hey, what could go wrong?

The legal profession is in the midst of an ethics crisis not of its own making. New technologies, including social media, have created opportunities for vastly improved legal services, to such an extent that the American Bar Association has decreed that an ethical, competent lawyer, must use them. It has also made it clear that using them carelessly to the detriment of clients is unethical as well. It all sounds reasonable, except for this: few lawyers are equipped by education, training or nature to be adept at technology. Worse, technology is now changing so fast that few lawyers can keep up with it.

Thus they make mistakes. Costly mistakes, disastrous mistakes, stupid mistakes, and there is no learning curve, because by the time lawyers understand and master a new technology, it is no longer new, and it has taken on a different form that requires them to start all over again. The ABA and other bar associations have acknowledged this through inaction. After numerous instances where their ethical guidelines regarding the use of technology were obsolete or wrong from the moment they were issued, these bodies have resorted to general edicts only, essentially saying, “You must master available legal practice technology, and you must not screw it up. Don’t ask us how, we’re as confused as you are.”

Gee, thanks.

Unfortunately, it is not just the legal profession that is in peril from technological overload, unrealistic expectations and the speed of innovation. Our various levels of governments are, if anything, in even worse peril from the same phenomenon.

One week ago, the Virginia State Board of Elections frantically voted to  decertify use of the AVS WinVote touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic voting machine, meaning that the machines, which were used by dozens of cities and towns in Virginia, are effectively banned. Virginia is holding primaries  just two months from now, so this has thrown those local governments into a panic. The decision was unavoidable, however, after a shocking a report that demonstrated that the machines could be hacked, and elections rigged, by a 12-year-old…that is, anyone with more technological expertise than local government officials.

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Professions, Science & Technology

Comment of the Day: “KABOOM! Head Exploded, Can’t Write, Don’t Need To: The FBI Forensic Scandal”

FBI 1

Long-time Ethics Alarms commenter Michael R. delivers another of his provocative and informative Comments of the Day, this time on the festering scandal that is prosecutor misconduct and abuses of due process in our criminal justice system. This kind of commentary justifies the existence of Ethics Alarms, in my view, regardless of what I may write here. It is a virtual template for what makes a Comment of the Day.

Here is Michael R’s COTD on the post, “KABOOM! Head Exploded, Can’t Write, Don’t Need To: The FBI Forensic Scandal”… Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology

Our Child-Abusing Schools: Prosecution For A Prank

"You changed your grade on the school computer, kid--that's the death penalty!"

“You changed your grade on the school computer, kid–that’s the death penalty!”

In Holiday, Florida, Paul R. Smith Middle School eighth-grader Domanik Green was suspended for breaking into the school computer system to  change the background on his teacher’s computer to feature a photo of two men kissing. Then school administrators decided that the punishment wasn’t enough. They had him charged with the felony of computer hacking, and the fourteen year old will be tried as an adult.

The only explanation I can come up with for stories like this is that the school administrators don’t like kids. This wasn’t some sophisticated hack, like the stuff Matthew Broderick did in “War Games.” He knew the teacher’s password (his last name), and just changed the background. Changing a teacher’s background on his computer is the 21st century equivalent of putting an uncomplimentary caricature of the teacher on the blackboard. Charging a teen with a felony for that is excessive and cruel.  Putting in his own claim to a share of the Fascist Disciplinarian of 2015 award was Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who blathered, “Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done.”

Better shoot him, Chris, just to be safe. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology