Lasers, Ethics, And Baseball

"TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH!"

“TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH!”

Out of the ever-rich world of major league baseball comes another excellent example of how technology challenges, stretches and confounds traditional ethics.

Over the last decade or so,  it has become possible to track exactly where every ball put into play by every batter goes, and even how fast it gets there. As a result, computers can generate spray charts that will indicate the optimum defensive placements for the opposing team’s players, maximizing the chance that a batter will hit a ball within reach of a fielder. When Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau positioned four infielders on the right side of the field to foil Ted Williams, the “Williams shift” was considered radical and revolutionary. Today, there are shifts designed for a majority of players.

The problem is that with so many shifts, making sure each defensive player is in the right place becomes a challenge.  Now some teams are experimenting with using lasers to mark the grass, so a player will know exactly where to position himself. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: “Above The Law” Creator David Lat

The guy on the right feels happy and safe with everyone knowing he's gay, so the guy on the left is a fool for not wanting a sleazy website to tell the world that HE'S gay. Wait..WHAT?

The guy on the right feels happy and safe with everyone knowing he’s gay, so the guy on the left is a fool for being angry at a sleazy website for telling the world that HE’S gay. Wait..WHAT?

Every now and then, the Washington Post publishes an opinion piece from a guest commentator that crosses the line  distinguishing eccentric from irresponsible. Today’s essay by David Lat, the founder and CEO of the legal industry gossip site Above the Law, is an example of this bad habit. How wrong do one’s logic, values and message have to be before the Post deems them unworthy of promotion and wide consumption? Apparently, there is no limit.

Lat’s essay flagged its obtuseness immediately in its title: “Being Gay Isn’t Shameful, Do Why Does Outing Matter?” (The online version is “Peter Thiel had no reason to be angry at Gawker for writing that he’s gay.“)

The impetus for the article—it is so ethically deranged that I almost think it has to be a joke: who thinks like this?—is the news this week that  wrestler Hulk Hogan’s devastating and perhaps fatal lawsuit against Gawker Media was bankrolled by Peter Thiel,  the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and an  early Facebook investor.  Gawker outed him in a 2007 story, and Theil is using Hogan’ suit over Gawker revealing a sex tape to try to put the ethics-free celebrity-abusing site out of business. Thiel is just being petty and unreasonable, says Lat. Lat is gay and proud of it, so  Thiel should be too!

Writes Lat—whose own gossip site is not above revealing embarrassing facts about well-known figures for its readers’ titillation: Continue reading

From The Signature Significance Files: Trump And The Teleprompter. Seriously, How Can You Even Consider Voting For A Guy Like This?

"He loves me,...he loves me not...he loves me..."

He loves me,…he loves me not…he loves me…

I know, I have exceeded my Donald Trump quota for the week, but I can’t let this pass.

From the Washington Post’s Rebecca Sinderbrand, who follows the campaign’s twists and turns in an on-line column, comes a useful report on The Donald’s statements about teleprompters and his use of them between April 27 and May 27:

—April 27: Uses a teleprompter while delivering a foreign policy speech.

—May 2:  “I don’t have any teleprompters…I’m up here all by myself.”

—May 20:  “I’ve started to use [teleprompters] a little bit. They’re not bad. You never get yourself in trouble when you use a teleprompter.”

—May 22:  Attacks Clinton because she “reads off a teleprompter, you notice. She’s reading off a teleprompter, she always does.”

—May 24: “We should have a law that when you run for president, you shouldn’t be allowed to use a teleprompter.”

—May 26:  Uses a teleprompter while delivering an energy policy speech in North Dakota.

—May 27: “Isn’t it great when you don’t use teleprompters? …we oughta have a law that if you’re running for president, you can’t use teleprompters.”

Questions: Continue reading

Faking The Unicorn: The Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson Explains Why Republican Will Vote For Trump

unicorn2

Loyal reader and frequent Commenter “Other Bill” sent me this essay by conservative writer Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Intstitution, with the note that it is “Probably as close as you will get to what you’ve been looking for.” I think he’s correct, but since what I’ve been looking for is a single rational reason to vote for Trump, and Hanson’s essay consists of irrational beliefs, rationalizations, terrible logic and skewed values that many Republicans will adopt, it is like sending someone searching for a unicorn this…

horned woman

It’s interesting but disgusting, and not what I’m after.

Hanson’s piece begins…

If Donald Trump manages to curb most of his more outrageous outbursts by November, most Republicans who would have preferred that he did not receive the nomination will probably hold their noses and vote for him.

How could that be when a profane Trump has boasted that he would limit Muslim immigration into the United States, talked cavalierly about torturing terrorist suspects and executing their relatives, promised to deport all eleven-million Mexican nationals who are residing illegally in the U.S., and threatened a trade war with China by slapping steep tariffs on their imports?

A number of reasons come to mind.

Hanson has already invalidated his essay at the outset by material omission. If the items he mentioned were the only reasons to oppose Trump, his subsequent arguments might make sense….well, more sense than they do. But to even try to list the reasons Trump is unfit is to understate the case. In addition to what Hanson mentions,

  • Trump reduces all debates to ad hominem attacks, which would degrade the standard for all debate, culture wide, with devastating effects should he become President.
  • He has advocated the virtues of bribery, while mocking the virtue of integrity.
  • He sees nothing unethical about conflicts of interest.
  • He has endorsed the use of doxxing to retaliate against critics, indicating his disregard for privacy and confidentiality.
  • He endorses vengeance.
  • He is a misogynist, a sexist, and a sexual harasser.
  • He has lied repeatedly, and then lied about lying.
  • He refuses to apologize even when he has been exposed as engaging in reckless wrongdoing.
  • He has refused to engage in serious study of the issues, preferring instead to improvise answers to policy questions, showing laziness and a lack of seriousness.
  • He is a clinical narcissist, meaning that he is unstable and suffering from a crippling personality disorder.
  • All of the individuals he has appointed to represent him in the media have been exposed as incompetent, indicting Trump’s judgment as well as his claim that he’ll “appoint the best people.”
  • He has endorsed the views of white supremacists.
  • He is incapable of giving a dignified, articulate, coherent speech.
  • He does not understand the difference between rationalizations and ethics.
  • He has no military experience.
  • He has no government experience.
  • He would probably be the least intelligent President in U.S. history. (There are a few we could have a legitimate argument about. Those Presidents, however, had other virtues Trump not only doesn’t have, but doesn’t care about.)
  • This.

Is there more? Of course there is more…much more. Pages and pages more. Hanson gives five policy-based reasons to object to Trump, plus the fact that he is “profane.” (This is equivocation: Trump isn’t just profane; he is vulgar, boorish, undignified and crude.) That’s misleading. That’s deceit. That’s how the supporters of Hillary Clinton, if they were Trump supporters, would falsely try to mislead critics.

Here are Hanson’s “reasons” that “come to mind”—I may not be able to resist an occasional bolded remark before I’m through quoting—: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker”

divideandconquer

No doubt about it: the longer comments have an edge when it comes to getting  Comment of the Day recognition. Quantity isn’t quality, of course, but these special reader-composed musings constitute both useful elaborations and extensions on the themes raised in the original essay, and also a chance for me to recognize and reward the thoughtful people who make Ethics Alarms a colloquy rather than a one-man megaphone.

It is a the height of irony that my recent post about the fall-off in traffic here of late has generated more comments and traffic than almost any other May post. It also generated two fascinating comments in succession about objectivity and political orientation by prolific commentator Humble Talent. I have combined them:  The comment began in response to Beth, who wrote in part,Maybe you will start attracting a more moderate or left of center audience. I would love to see positions here debated by people on both sides of the aisle. Increased civil discourse is never a bad thing.” Here is HT’s Comment of the Day on the anxious post, A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker:

Do you really think that’s possible in today’s political climate? I think there are very few people who straddle American ideologies like I do: For Marijuana. Against abortion. For gay marriage (a position that evolved, in no small part to discussing the issue here.), Against corporate welfare. Fiscally conservative, except that a safety net of some size is beneficial. socially liberal, except that those things growing in pregnant women are actually children. Atheist. Canadian. And maybe that’s given me a different perspective than the average onlooker.

I can’t count the number of left leaning friends I’ve lost this last election cycle. I find that people who identify ideologically as progressives, especially but not uniquely, are by and large intolerant. And unforgiving. And prone to get angry when confused by facts. Freedom of speech, which used to be a cornerstone of liberalism, is now treated like physical violence. This is the first time I can think in history where the grassroots of any party are looking to retard the rights of everyday citizens…. But that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now how does any of this effect this blog specifically? Well, first off: Whether the blog is centrist or not, the blog is perhaps accidentally counter-culture. Whoever is in power is more able to give Jack ammunition. For the longest time it could appear that Jack was picking on the democrats, because they were supplying him with the most actionable material, they were in power, they did things that effected larger audiences. Sure, there might have been some selection bias, and sure, there might have been some lensing going on… But that just makes the switch that’s happened more profound. Over the last two years, there have been more republicans to talk about, because republicans had gained more power two years ago when the senate swapped. Even then: Hillary was front and centre, because she’s presumably the next president of the United States. Now we’re talking about Trump, oh yes, Hillary’s still there, on a back burner, oh yeah Paul Ryan’s still there, somewhere in a shadow, maybe playing poker with Sanders, Warren and Obama. But forget them, we’re talking about Trump, and why? Because he’s more important than we really want to give him credit for. And that’s perhaps frightening.

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The World’s Cutest Water-skier

waterskiing baby

Keith St. Onge and his wife are professional barefoot water skiers and co-owners of the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida. Last week, they had their six-month old daughter Zyla strap on little tiny skis and finally attempt what her parents had spent weeks training her for–water-skiing. She did it, too, for 686 feet across Lake Silver.  The proud parents filmed her feat and posted the video on YouTube (of course).

The Washington Post notes that many are criticizing the St. Onges for the stunt, claiming child endangerment.  Papa St. Onge defended the unusual pre-toddler (the girl can’t walk yet) activity, saying, “People don’t realize that it was done properly. It was planned and she was ready for it.”

Hmmmm…

Your strange Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this ethical parenting?

Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Fate, Providence, God, Luck, Mr. Irony, Chancey McCoinky-DinkFace, Or Whoever Was Responsible For This Story, Because It’s WONDERFUL

I love this story. It is just what I needed. I have been smiling for hours, and though my website is going through a slump, my business is at a critical juncture, my nation faces an uncertain future, everything seems to be spinning out of control, and I’m still fat, bald and frustrated by unfulfilled ambitions, hopes and dreams…damn. It is a wonderful world, isn’t it?

The Heimlich maneuver was developed by Dr. Henry J. Heimlich in 1974. It is estimated that the anti-choking technique has  saved approximately estimated 50,000 U.S. lives, and thousands more worldwide.

Now you can add 87-year-old Patty Ris to the list. She has just sat down to eat dinner with other seniors at a group table in the dining hall of Cincinnati’s Deupree House, a retirement home, when her first bite of hamburger lodged in her throat. She began choking, unable to daw a breath. Luckily, a 96-year-old man sitting next to her jumped up from his chair, grabbed her, and  deftly used the abdomen-squeezing maneuver to successfully pop the obstruction our of her windpipe and her mouth.

That 96-year-old man was Dr. Heimlich himself. In all these years, he said, he had never had the opportunity to use the method he devised to save someone who was really in peril.

“I felt it was just confirmation of what I had been doing throughout my life,” he said proudly.

Perfect.

__________________________

Source: New York Times