Category Archives: Science & Technology

Ethics Observations On The Impending “Little Ice Age” And Climate Change

snowpiercer

From Alphr:

Between the years 1645 and 1715, there was a period of bitterly cold winters in the northern hemisphere. The winters were so cold that the Thames completely froze.This was caused by low solar activity, known as the Maunder Minimum, and when it will happen again has been a source of debate among scientists. Well, according to a new model that promises 97% accuracy, we’re due another “little ice age” in 15 to 25 years time. The prediction is the work of mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova from Northumbria University, examining the sun’s so-called “11-year heartbeat”. This is the period at which the sun’s activity remains steady before fluctuating every 10-12 years. Zharkova’s new model forecasts solar cycles based on two layers of moving fluid within the sun, one near the surface and another in the convection zone. By using this model, Zharkova’s team found their predictions “showed an accuracy of 97%”.

At this moment, I’m not concerned about whether the prediction is right or wrong; there’s plenty of time for me to buy ear muffs. I do think it is fascinating, however, and I offer these observations:

1. Question: Why has this story been virtually ignored by the mainstream news media?  Answer: Because progressive journalists haven’t figured out how to reconcile their climate change, environmentalist, pro-EPA dictatorship, “all climate change skeptics are idiots and the equivalent of Holocaust deniers” narrative with its implications, that’s why. This is news, don’t you think? “Fit to print,” correct? Any time some semi-respectable scientist predicts that we have 20 years left to knee-cap American industry or the seas will boil, that’s headlines at MSNBC and the Times, isn’t it? I can’t think of a more blatant example of unprofessional and biased news manipulation for purely ideological reasons than the fact that this story has thus far been isolated to European and Australian news sources.

2. The theme of environmentalists and the progressive establishment, as well as elected officials who are just as certain about climate change despite not remotely understanding the science, is that the science is settled, that disastrous, man-caused global warming is certain, and that no argument to the contrary will be accepted or respected. Yet scientists just figured out, using a new model, that a massive global cooling will occur just 15 years from now.  Quite simply, according to the angry, insulting rhetoric from the Gores, Pelosis, Obamas and their pundit cheerinbg section, this is impossible. Science has settled, and cannot be wrong, what the temperature will be a hundred years or more from now, and that’s that—no skepticism allowed. The models are undeniable! And yet, a new model, just developed, shows that a decidedly non-warming trend  not predicted by those perfect models is now certain. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

The OPM Hack And Accountability: The Sign On The President’s Desk Apparently Now Reads, “The Buck Stops Where I Want It To Stop”

Harry-Truman-The-Buck-Stops-Here

At a government legal ethics seminar a week ago, one of my attendees told me of the nightmare he and his family were going through because all of his personal data, including confidential information from his FBI background check,and his fingerprints, were now available to those hostile to the US, and potentially hostile to him. He was furious. He trusted his government, and it proved incompetent…as usual, under this President

The data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management affected 22 million Americans directly, and indirectly many more, through their now imperiled families. It took an almost unimaginable amount of pure gall, as well as a complicity and incompetent news media, for President Obama and his supporters to be  claiming status a transformational leader because of a Supreme Court decision that was inevitable and that he had no hand in at all, while two more federal agencies  run by his appointees—Homeland Security is supposed to prevent such attacks— had failed the American people in epic fashion. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Science & Technology

KABOOM! The Dumbest, Most Unethical Broadway Audience Member Ever

exploding_head

This, among other reasons, is why I am leaving professional theater while I still have a head left.

In the middle of a performance recently, a Broadway audience member crawled up onto the realistic set of Broadway’s hit comedy, “Hand To God,” to charge  his cell phone using the realistic but non-working outlet on stage.

And yet there are people who oppose capital punishment….

The blog where I learned of this incident asks, “Sometimes, I wonder, is live theater is dying because the audiences are getting dumber every day?”

Yes.

______________________

Pointer: John Geoffrion

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Kaboom!, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

Kansas City’s All-Star Game Cheat, And Why It Matters

May 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second basemen Omar Infante (14) attempts a throw to first over St. Louis Cardinals base runner Peter Bourjos (8) during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Another example of how the acceptance of cheating is seeping into American culture is being played out in the Major League All-Star Game voting. The American League squad supposedly elected by “fans,” will be announced tomorrow, and what the results will show is…

…that Major League Baseball, like the federal Office of Personnel Management, depended on technology with out comprehending technology, displaying unethical incompetence and harming those who had no choice but to trust it,

…that technologically adept computer dorks decided to rig the vote, harming the game, the sport, and deserving players, and

…that Major League Baseball is pretending there is no problem to minimize PR damage, its proven disastrous approach in other cheating scandals, such as the steroid infestation of the ’90s.

The ineptitude of the sport here is beyond belief, especially since this has happened before. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology, Sports, The Internet

Search Engine Ethics Bulletin: Google’s Not Perfect, And That’s Not Unethical

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD...

Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden hit the dinosaurs HARD…

Late last month, someone discovered, probably in the wake of all the pre-release publicity for “Jurassic World,” that the search “What happened to the dinosaurs?” turned up this site as its top result. This is a fundamentalist Christian site that is hilarious in its misinformation and ignorance, along with the inevitable smugness that routinely accompanies this kind of stubborn immunity to fact and logic. Here’s my favorite passage:

Representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals, including the dinosaur kinds, went aboard Noah’s Ark. All those left outside the Ark died in the cataclysmic circumstances of the Flood, and many of their remains became fossils.

Boy, that must have been some boat. Today there was news of a controversy over whether the recently discovered “heaviest dinosaur” was only 40 tons rather than the earlier estimate of 65 tons. Since the beasts boarded the Ark two by two, this is  about 80 tons for just one species of dinosaur, Dreadnoutus, to go with 84 tons of Futalognkasaurus, 78 tons of Brachiosaurus, and 32 tons of Diplodocus, and that’s without the other 700 or so dinosaur species, which are estimated to be about a tenth of the actual total. Then Noah had to fit all the other animals on the ship…green alligators and long-necked geese, some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees, some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born, he didn’t take along no unicorns.

But I digress. Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, History, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, Science & Technology, The Internet

Slate: ‘How Dare A Billionaire Donate $400,000,000 to Harvard?’

See, Ozmandias? You should have opted for school of engineering.

See, Ozmandias? You should have opted for the school of engineering.

Slate’s article by Jordan Weissmann, its senior business and economics correspondent, about the largest donation ever made to Harvard University is one of those monstrosities that has great value as an ethics test. If you think his argument is reasonable, then you need help.

Essentially, the Slate piece is the ultimate example of an unethical argument I have focused on before, which can be summarized as, “If you give to what you care about rather than what I care about, then your donation is unethical.”

Unless your contribution is to ISIS, or isn’t really a contribution but an attempt to buy access for your own purposes (like with, to pick an example out of the air, a donation to the Clinton Foundation), there is nothing unethical about a $400,000,000 donation, which is what John Paulson just gave to Harvard University’s endowment for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The school will be renamed after Paulson, which Weissman also finds repugnant. The title of the piece: “Billionaire’s Ego Donates $400 Million to Harvard.”

Let me pause here to note that I refuse to give my money to Harvard, which solicits me regularly. The university is rich, I’m not, and I prefer to give my charitable gifts to Georgetown Law Center, specifically to the student theatrical organization I founded there, which like all theater groups, needs funds. I am sure Weissman finds my contribution unethical as well, because, really, what good are the arts compared to what he has decreed is worth giving to as the “more pressing causes in the world”?  As he sees it, that is, but that’s all that matters.

Let me go through Weissman’s many objections that cause him to sneer at Paulson’s charity:

1. “Gestures to Ivy League schools …inevitably have as much to do with the giver’s ego as their sense of altruism.” Yes, and so do almost all philanthropic donations, regardless of source and objective. The motto in fundraising (I was a professional fundraiser for a decade) is that donors give money for their purposes, not yours. People who give a lot of money to good causes like to have some recognition, and they deserve it.  Apparently Weissman believes that the only ethical donations are anonymous ones, because that’s modest. I’m impressed by anonymous gifts, though they often have selfish motivations as well: the donors don’t want to be hounded by more fundraisers. Nevertheless, that lack of modesty is so trivial as a flaw in large charitable contributions that to harp on it is perverse. Successful people tend to have egos that are often in proportion to their accomplishments. The construct of the left is, we know, that accomplishments and success are just randomly distributed fruits of privilege, ergo the self-esteem that often results from such success is as unsavory as the privilege that generates it.

This is, to be blunt, un-American crap.

2. Harvard “does not strictly need more money, especially compared to the financially strapped colleges that typically educate lower-income students.” First of all, this is demonstrably false. Harvard does need more money if it is going to expand and improve its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, secure that school’s financial health in perpetuity, and do so without sacrificing other objectives it deems important. Harvard also educates lower-income students, the best and brightest of them, and thus the best resources money can buy are expended on the students most likely to make the best use of them for the benefit of society. Weissman believes this is wrong, and that the 400,000,000 should be given to lesser schools, with less of a track record of spending money wisely, while educating less promising students.

I am in sympathy with that argument to some extent. The marginal utility of all that money is less at Harvard than anywhere else, and I can envision the donation having a far more sweeping impact elsewhere: giving it to Sweet Briar, for example. That does not mean there is anything wrong in any way with bolstering Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The donation is an unequivocal, absolute good.

The money could have been spent “better”? That’s your opinion. It’s not your money. Shut up. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Education, Journalism & Media, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Science & Technology

Ethics Hero: Senator Rand Paul

Thanks, Snator, we needed that.

Thanks, Senator, we needed that.

Rand Paul has disqualified himself from being considered for the Presidency by rational voters in many ways. His suggestion to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he would have waited for market forces to end Jim Crow, and voted against portions of the Civil Rights Act was enough all by itself. Paul’s embrace of isolationism—he often sounds like Michael Moore on foreign policy—is as fanciful as it is dangerous.  He has no executive experience, and based on some of his statements (and positions), I’m convinced he’s just not very smart.

Not only that, but he is the most arrogant candidate in a field that may contain Chris Christie, and that’s incredible.

Nonetheless, his filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance, forcing key portions of the Patriot Act to expire, was a brave, principled, and important act. In the end it was also a futile act, and the Senate quickly passed provisions that Paul opposed. The Daily Beast headlined the story, “It’s NSA 1, Rand Paul 0.”

It was still a public service. Yes, Paul alienated most of his party, and he took a huge risk: a single terrorist attack here will automatically turn him into a national pariah, and coming the same week that we discovered conclusively that the TSA is a joke, the chances of such an event occurring seem likelier than ever. (Saying, however, as Paul did, that “people here in town …secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me” was inexcusably  stupid. Really? People want to see American citizens die to make Rand Paul look bad, when he makes himself look bad on a regular basis?) The point Paul made, however, and it needs to be made again, and again, and again, is that there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which is incompetent (See: Snowden, Edward) and which lies, or the Obama Administration, which doesn’t care if the NSA lies, and has repeatedly shown that it has no qualms about violating the Constitution until a Court stops it. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Science & Technology, U.S. Society, War and the Military