Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/2018: Another Rushing Around In A Hotel Room Getting Ready For A Seminar Edition…

Good morning from Boston...

…where I always feel at home! I’m here for the morning, talking to young, newly minted Massachusetts lawyers about ethics.

1. This is a big deal, though only lawyers will care. Finally, California has ditched its confusing, multi-source (some ethics rules were laws, some were regulations), antiquated legal ethics rules, and became the last of the jurisdictions, including D.C., to adopt the American Bar Association’s template for legal ethics guidance. Yes, in one area, if not the most important ones, California is moving closer to the rest of the country! There is hope!

2. Ally’s lament. Ally Sheedy, whom you might recall from “War Games” and “The Breakfast Club,” is one of Hollywood’s more articulate and thoughtful performers. She recently penned a post condemning Hollywood sexism, and its effect on her career. Essentially the essay amounts to a complaint that Hollywood is obsessed with appearances and, with women, sex appeal.

I like Sheedy, and I was pre-inclined to respect her observations (which are certainly accurate), but I have to admit that unsympathetic blogger Amy Alkon has a point. She writes,

“..professional actress Ally Sheedy takes it upon herself to lament the looks-driven reality of Hollywood — which is kind of like lamenting how in professional baseball, somebody’s always throwing a ball your way. …This is the movies, dear, not the genetics lab. Her entire essay is an example of intrasexual competition — criticizing and trying to change the standards of female competition by one who falls a bit short of them.Because so many people are so ignorant of our evolved psychology and in denial of biological sex differences (and the psychological sex differences that come out of them), they don’t get that there is pressure on men, too, to meet women’s differing mating priorities.As for those differing priorities, well…you don’t see men writing essays about how rotten it is that you can’t get a hot girlfriend (or probably any girlfriend) while unemployed and sleeping on a couch in your grandma’s basement.”

Yikes. And they say I’m tough…

3. I don’t know what the name for this irresponsible conduct is, but it’s stupid and dangerous. Apparently more than two dozen people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning because they didn’t shut off their keyless ignition cars. Foisting this alleged technological advance on he public is a classic example of the American obsession with fixing problems that don’t exist, while blissfully ignoring negative unanticipated consequences. What was the matter with key operated ignitions? What is the advantage of the keyless variety, other than that it is new and “cool”? Is this kind of technological upgrade, if it is an upgrade, worth a single life, much less many?

4. I promise this is the last time I mention this.…but the fact that this coming weekend all four networks will be broadcasting the wedding between two people who have done very little of note in their lives and who are good bets not to improve on that record shows such warped priorities that I am abashed. Add to that wasted valuable airtime all the mind-numbing commentary and blather, and this is the societal equivalent of  your father deciding to dress up like a goose and honk around the neighborhood. No wonder the public keeps losing its handle on what this country stands for, if it happily celebrates such anti-democratic rituals occurring in other countries.

Well, Major League Baseball announced last week that it will be sending the Red Sox and Yankees over to London next summer to play a regular season series for our British cousins. Maybe it will help them get their values straight.

71 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/2018: Another Rushing Around In A Hotel Room Getting Ready For A Seminar Edition…

  1. I remember seeing Benny get beat up by Phil in the Sopranos and thinking if he had keyless ignition he might have gotten away. I know its only a TV show but in dangerous PM situations seconds spent fumbling for keys, either to get in the car or to turn on ignition, can be the difference between getting away from a predator, or not.

  2. 4: I watched the last royal wedding for the simple reason that I’d never seen one. I’m content with that choice and don’t begrudge anyone else making the same choice this time around. For myself, having been there and done that, I think I’ll find another way to spend Saturday morning.

    Right now, being asleep at 7 AM eastern is the leading option followed closely by drinking something caffeinated and then taking a long shower.

    • Agreed, every culture has their notes of shared pageantry. (we have our own, from the Oscars to Superbowl) It’s more than a little odd that so many here who aren’t British/Canadian expats want to watch, and they are influential in the media.

      Personally, I blame the obsession with the Disney princesses. There were Disney princesses before, before Prince Charles’ first wedding but now they are heavily marketed and cumulative to try to grab every kid. The royals stand in for fiction. I suspect if other remaining royal families had a big wedding, people would fall in for that too.

  3. Regarding #3, I am permanently biased against keyless ignition, after a rental car I had stopped could not detect the dongle after I unlocked the door, and thus sounded the car alarm when I was leaving for a business trip at four AM….

  4. In all fairness, Jack, I think Prince Harry has earned a little respect as a combat area veteran who has apparently actually been in battle as well as patron of several worthy charities. Meghan, not so much. The House of Windsor, like all families, has produced some good and some bad and some in-between. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are probably worthy of respect, if nothing else as public figures of the WW2 era. Lord Mountbatten was the last genuine hero to come out of that house. Charles, Anne, and Andrew, meh, although both the princes did serve for a time in the military. Not impressed with them ALL being divorced. Edward the Earl of Wessex I have little use for, since he rather publicly dropped out of training for the Royal Marines and has done little. I have some respect for Prince Michael of Kent and Edward the Duke of Kent, and a little for Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, who became an accomplished architect on his own before the accidental death of his older brother dropped him into the role. I have some respect for William the Duke of Cambridge as a veteran and a first responder, but none for Kate, who really didn’t do much but marry into royalty.

    The institution itself is valuable as a stabilizing influence, free of the muddy realities of politics. I can’t say that France, which has been through five republics and two empires since the end of the kingdom, or Germany, or Turkey have done all that well since the end of the monarchies. Italy still can’t get itself together, although in that case it was the people who voted the House of Savoy out, so that needs to be respected. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on the current king of Spain, the Benelux nations’ royalty, or the Scandinavian royals, nor, I suppose, should I, any more than they should have an opinion on our choice of president.

    I agree that the coverage is all out of proportion to the significance of the wedding. I think we have only ourselves to blame for that, though, ever since we all tuned in at 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in high summer to watch what was billed as a “fairy-tale wedding” and “the wedding of the century” between Charles and Diana. The happy ending of that fairytale was dashed, and since then I think a lot of the romantic at heart keep hoping for another fairy tale that will in fact work out. Also, let’s not kid ourselves, most young women are romantics at heart and want that great and wonderful day when they are princesses married to their knights in shining armor…instead of just Jane the clerk from accounting whose nose is a little too long and whose hands are a little too big marrying Joe the chubby adjuster from claims in an unassuming chapel with a sandwiches and cake reception in the basement, attended by maybe 38 people, only about six or eight of whom give more than one damn.

  5. I have a car with a regular old key, but for a week I had a rental Chrysler 200 with keyless and it was wonderful. I am that guy that ends up scratching my card paint at 11pm trying to shove the key into the lock on the side of the door.

    I had no issues remembering to turn it off afterwards, I don’t see why anyone would. You normally pull out a key right? Your brain should already be wired to turn off the car it’s just a different step now.

    I will admit I know someone who accidently leaves her keyless go car on frequently but A: this is just her first car and B: I fail to see how having a key would stop this.

    How do we know this is specifically because of keyless go, anyway?

    • I realize in retrospect that keyless entry and keyless go are two different things, rendering my 11pm convenience example ineffective. The rental had both, and go was still a very convenient feature as my keys never had to leave my pocket.

    • I have found that having your house key on the same ring means you will not leave the key in your car.

      I had a rental that was keyless last month: I left my key ring in my backpack and pounded on the door to be let in. I was also put out when I had to actually use a key when my car was ready last week.

      So I see two angles here.

      I predict that the dongle leaving the detection radius of the vehicle should cause an alarm, as indeed my 201x Toyota Camry did. Cars that do not have this simple precaution are engineered stupid.

  6. 4. Bettors can get 6-5 if Harry shows up clean-shaven. The line on the colour of the Queen’s hat has narrowed since it broke that she’ll be wearing a green dress: even money on Green, 3-1 on Blue, 5-1 on either Pink or Yellow.

  7. 5) Connecticut has joined the growing list of State-level-(and-one-federal-city-level) Ethics Dunces:

    New Jersey
    District of Columbia
    Rhode Island
    New York

  8. Ms. Sheedy’s essay was beautifully written — and Ms. Alkon can go pound sand. I can look at any movie or TV show, and yes, our male hero usually is cast with a Robert Redford type, but all of his male friends and supporting cast members are men who range from super handsome to super ugly. Then you look at the women. First, they will be fewer in number compared to the men. Second, almost all of them, including women playing scientists, forensic examiners, low level government workers, etc. all will look like they stepped out of a beauty pageant. And if a female actor is overweight, older, or not as physically attractive? Well, she’s probably been cast as an unsavory character.

    So yes, to Ms. Alkon’s point, men face pressure too. But male actors (and the essay was about actors) really need to focus on talent more than anything. Female actors have to be attractive and extremely talented.

    • “But male actors (and the essay was about actors) really need to focus on talent more than anything. Female actors have to be attractive and extremely talented.”


      All the mainline male stars are what the culture would consider handsome. For careers that involve face time on gigantic screens, attractiveness is the first gate females AND males breach. Then talent gets them the rest of the way.

      Yes, there are bit part exceptions where you need less-than-attractive men or women to fill particular roles, but it’s nonsense to make the claim that the leading stars of Hollywood don’t have physical attractiveness as a competition beating selling point.

        • No, I don’t, but when I see a 2nd paragraph crafted exactly as yours was crafted I read a big “Here’s what I think…BUT…” comment.

          I think your first paragraph was a lot of pablum to lead up to the 2nd which seems to be your conclusion.

          Notably, this comment:

          “Second, almost all of them, including women playing scientists, forensic examiners, low level government workers, etc. all will look like they stepped out of a beauty pageant.”

          I don’t think is accurate at all as a contrast to how male actors supposedly range. I think it’s pretty evenly distributed. But, that also is skewed to the degree that women, in general, are attractive.

          Women luck out genetically: *most* women surpass the standard on attractiveness, where only maybe like a tiny sliver are naturally stuck with with the appearance of a battle-axe.

          Men on the other hand? Nature doesn’t like us. Few men a born with Brad Pitt looks. Most of us struggle to keep from looking like Frankenstein, Bugs Bunny caricatures, or bumpers on a Chevy…

          I mean seriously…one of my eyes is slightly higher than the other one and my ears are large enough to capture radio signals from space…and I probably “beat out” enough of my male competition on a daily basis to keep me content (as if that comparison matters).

          • Depends. On an epi of Chicago Fire I remember there were about four female FF characters – of course the FF who’s the leading man’s love interest is hot, the other female “line” FF a little less so. There was also an arson investigator and a supervising arson captain – the former was heavy-set and had glasses and the latter was a battle-axe, but they were just supporting characters and not supposed to be anyone the male viewers would want.

      • “Then talent gets them the rest of the way.”

        And sometimes talent doesn’t.

        How many of the biggest stars (male and female) are mostly just eye-fodder who land the exact same roles they always land because they can’t actually act?

        • Well, I don’t think I am going to convince you. But, some of our biggest male stars are fugly. I can’t come up with more than a few females in that category.

          • Maybe you can, my gut is that, if I’m right about women being generally more attractive than men anyway, naturally any sample of actresses will average out to be more attractive than actors…

            But I don’t think it’s nearly as disparate as you insist.

  9. you don’t see men writing essays about how rotten it is that you can’t get a hot girlfriend (or probably any girlfriend) while unemployed and sleeping on a couch in your grandma’s basement.

    They do, though. Ever heard of the “incel” (as in involuntarily celibate) community? If not, consider yourself fortunate.

    • Or the friendzone, or the difference between a slut (sleeps with everyone) and a bitch (sleeps with everyone but you)? Then there’s the MGTOW (pronounced MIG-tow) or Men Going Their Own Way.

    • I’ve often wondered if we would have fewer criminals generally if we had legalized prostitution. Obviously, there are lots of problems with prostitution (legal or not), but would we see a benefit to society in this one area? How willing would someone be to drive a van into a crowd of people if he could be touched whenever he wanted by an attractive woman in a safe and legal manner?

      • Prostitutes can still refuse to take a client. There’s a decent chance someone who’d drive a van into a crowd gives off a run away, run away right now, vibe.

        • Maybe. Or maybe these men are slowly created into monsters after years of perceived (or actual) isolation.

          I’ve watched a couple of documentaries on the prostitution trade in Las Vegas. This is not something that I would ever want to do, but it did not appear that these women were turning down a lot of clients. And maybe they didn’t because it was generally a safe environment?

          • Men who are isolated for years only turn into monsters if they let themselves be. I am a lifelong celibate, and I am a looong way from randomly driving my car into a crowd or getting a submachine gun and cutting loose. I may not be too happy in society, but that doesn’t give me a license to attack it.

            • No one is excusing these men Steve. And good for you that you are not a murderer. But, I do think you gravitate toward violent thought — you talk about it A LOT here.

              Maybe you can keep it together, but a lot of men can’t. I’m not suggesting that prostitution is the answer, I’m just wondering out loud.

              • Unlike some of these men who cut loose, I have accomplished enough and acquired enough that I have something to lose if I did. It’s not for nothing that a lot of the stuff I write has to do with revenge over wrongs or disrespect. However, this isn’t the Middle Ages, and I can’t just smash someone’s skull with a mace because I didn’t like something he said and expect there to be no consequences. The people you really have to worry about are those who have either a death wish or nothing to lose.

                • Yup, but the two often go together. If you are pretty much alone socially, the odds of you getting any action are very low.

              • You don’t have to, but I was looking at their reddit side by side with your comments and I don’t think sex workers would change incels basic toxic attitudes.

                • They would not. Paying for pleasure does not make someone who is bitter no longer bitter. It takes poor treatment over time to become bitter, it takes long-term better treatment to get over bitterness.

      • You might be trading one set of problems for another. Legalization of sex for money is in some ways akin to legalization of recreational drugs – opening the door to feeding addictions and sick impulses rather than suppressing, controlling, or attempting to get out of them. Then there are the collateral problems, which is what I’m more concerned about. I really don’t give a damn if you get high, or if you pay some woman to do you, and you have only yourself to blame if drugs kill you or frequenting prostitutes bankrupts you. However, I very much give a damn if you get behind the wheel of your car high, or you miss a critical deadline I am paying you to meet, or you misadjust a boiler or put way too much chlorine in a pool because you are high. I very much give a damn if your “business” leads to riff-raff coming and going at all kinds of weird hours, or the development of a sleazy red-light district that drives my property values down, or public misbehavior. I think we all need to give a damn if allowing whorehouses to operate openly leads to human trafficking and underage de facto sex slavery as the bosses try to bring in ever more exotic “goods” to keep their customers or attract higher paying ones. Put succinctly, if you make destructive behavior legal, you can expect a lot more of it and for it to have a lot greater impact. That seems like a high price to pay to allow geeks, freaks, and losers to pay for access to women who otherwise wouldn’t give them the time of day. BTW, just what happens to prostitutes who pass their prime, around 35 or so, and who the pimps no longer want, since they can just replace them with young hardbodies? If prostitution is legal, what’s to stop them from streetwalking or incalling, turning Main Street into a sleazy pickup zone and an otherwise ordinary apartment building into a mini-whorehouse? I don’t want some 40ish hooker with cheap lipstick and a short skirt she’s about 10 years too old to be wearing giving me the eye and some come-on line while I’m waiting for my train, and I don’t want my otherwise quiet and safe evening between tough days in the office disturbed as my neighbor has all kinds of strange men coming and going throughout the evening. Sorry Sparty, but what you propose is a medicine worse than the illness.

        • Again, I’m NOT proposing this. I’m discussing it. As for your concerns about red-light districts, I think that this would be regulated. Similarly, you can’t open a strip club anywhere, you can’t film a porno anywhere, etc.

          • And I’m discussing why I believe it to be a bad idea. I am sure the local authorities would do their best to regulate it, and I’m also sure a lot of owners and investors would pay inspectors off in cash or sex to look the other way, board members to grant variances, and so on. If that didn’t work they might turn to violence. Slimy business is usually run by slimy people, and it’s better to have nothing to do with either. I don’t want to find out that my nebbish inspector has been looking the other way on an illegal brothel because some pimp has been letting him get some action he wouldn’t have a prayer of getting on his own. I don’t want to find out that my zoning board people have been getting leaned on because they told the wrong pimp to go piss up a rope, they weren’t giving him a variance.

            • But the sleaziness is happening now. The trafficking is happening now. Maybe I’m being naive, but I wonder if would be better, nicer, cleaner, safer if it were legal.

              • I wonder the same – but not because of any interests or temptations of mine. I already know I wouldn’t spend my money on it. I’m not that rich, not that motivated (for THAT, anyway), and you can be sure a good wife like mine is going to know where and for what I spend every cent. I just wish I could surprise her in a nice way now and then. I sort of managed to do that this past weekend, with a bunch of roses.

              • Ask the Germans or the Dutch. It’s legal and regulated, but the double life and trafficking still go on, since often the people running the industry want to skirt the taxes and regulations. The number of local “professionals” vis-a-vis imported girls, usually sex slaves in all but name, is about 1:4. Then there’s the question of becoming destinations for sex tourism. Would you want your city stalked by frustrated geeks and freaks who came there for no reason other than to purchase sex because they couldn’t get it any other way?

                • The Dutch are having a real problem with being ardent feminists and being a sex travel destination. Amsterdam’s red light district is almost unfindable compared to what it was even ten years ago when it was virtually unavoidable.

  10. I had the some initial reaction to #3 as DaveL.
    As for #4… I’ll be in London while the great goings-on are happening up the road in Windsor. I’m hoping the museums will be less crowded and/or that I’ll be able to scrounge up a late ticket to go to something worth seeing in the West End.

    • That last part is easy, just be at Leicester Square when they start selling the discounted tickets in the morning – or whenever – I did VERY well on an impulse buy of a ticket for War Horse in 2014.

        • Dunno, but there is a booth called “tkts” at Leicester Square where they sell deeply discounted tickets for performances that day, lest they go unsold altogether. It’s luck of the draw, but you can do quite well. One drawback is that it doesn’t open until 10 a.m., which can get in the way of other plans.

          • Thanks, f I’m ever in London I’ll keep that in mind though I admit when it comes to the British Isles, Scotland holds the most appeal. I want to see Skara Brae

            • I’ve been to both. Inverness was cool, although Loch Ness is much more built up than most Americans think it is. Ullapool was like the town time forgot, where I had fish that had been alive half an hour ago that came out of the pan half a minute ago in a pub near a table of gray-bearded, blue-eyed, pipe-smoking fishermen in hand-woven sweaters and high rubber boots who spoke Gaelic among themselves…and then I walked into a souvenir shop and saw shelves of cheap highland junk made in Hong Kong. The battlefields at Bannockburn and Culloden are worth a look – once. Edinburgh is the real place worth seeing, I think, with the castle, the museums, endless walking tours, and a great restaurant scene. I have not made it to Aberdeen yet, and was told not to bother with Glasgow, which is just a big post-industrial city. I am going to the UK in July, but I am sticking to London as a base, although I may cross into Wales one of the days.

              • Culloden is probably getting too much Outlander tourism these days. I sort of feel that tourist density should be low if you want to give a battlefield proper reverence.

                Not that Outlander is a net bad, it interests people in history. Just imagine all the Americans who will learn for the first time this fall that the war of the regulation happened.

                • Ah yes, Diana Gabaldon. She was at the MD Renaissance Faire in 2015, but I did not pay much attention to her, I was more interested in the singers The Mediaeval Baebes.

                  • You saw the Mediaeval Baebes live? That’s cool. Haven’t been to the MD ren faire since 2003, (King Henry VIII kissed my hand) and don’t recall them being there then.

                    • Yes, I did, and collected hugs from two of them. They usually were only there for one weekend per season, and unfortunately 2015 appears to have been their last appearance. NY is the closest Faire to me, but Lancaster, PA is infinitely better if I still want to keep it to a day trip. I learned the hard way this last fall that I am getting a little too old for four hours there and four hours back in one day when I went to see Navy and Air Force play football.

  11. Re #4- The lava flows continue to increase — both in volume and number – in Hawaii. The question arises: Will the “big 4” networks cut away from the wedding coverage to keep the public informed on the pending/continuing disaster? Or phrased another way, will they opt for entertainment at the expense of actual news?

    Other- Steve-0 has a pretty good grasp on the complexities of legalizing things now illegal.

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