The three days of heavy rain wouldn’t bother me so much if it didn’t make Rugby so miserable. You do NOT want to be cooped up with an unhappy Jack Russell Terrier. Trust me on this.
1. Baseball Ethics, Jerk Division. Watch this:
Yes, that guy deliberately took a baseball away from a kid who lost hold of it after it had been tossed to him by Cubs first base coach Will Venable during yesterday’s Cubs-Cardinals game. Apparently the child was given a replacement ball by the Cubs, and this one was autographed. The gesture also took some the inevitable heat off the jerk who snatched the ball. with the Cubs telling reporters that he had helped the same boy get a ball earlier in the game and wasn’t really a monster.
A few points:
- That the kid ended up, as some commentators put it, “better off” because the jerk stole his ball is pure moral luck, and doesn’t make what the guy did any less wrong, cruel or despicable.
- Neither is it mitigation that the same man—claims the Cubs—helped the kid get another ball earlier. What kind of ethical principle is that? “I helped you before, so this entitles me to steal from you now: all even, right?”
- Please save some contempt for the woman the jerk gave the purloined ball to. She should have handed the ball right back to the child, She’s as big a jerk as her friend is.
2. Now consider this: what if the jerk was a federal judge nominated to fill a Supreme Court seat? Would that video be fair game to consider in evaluating his qualifications to be a SCOTUS justice? Let’s have a poll:
3. Ethics Alarms should be ringing: From a fascinating web site called “Now You Know” comes this story: Domino’s Pizza was losing money once its guaranteed fast delivery promotion fell victim to bad PR and law suits over car accidents caused by recklessly driving delivery staff. What saved the franchise was a move to extra-cheese, and taxpayers footed much of the bill:
Domino’s company-saving move toward extra cheesy was funded by an organization named Dairy Management….Dairy Management is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and among other things, the USDA is charged with helping keep dairy farmers financially afloat. An easy-ish way to do that it is to increase the number of dairy products that people buy. To accomplish this, dairy farmers pay the USDA a very small amount of money (about 15 cents per 100 pounds of milk) which the USDA, via Dairy Management, uses to promote products that use a lot of dairy. (Dairy Management’s budget is supplemented by tax dollars, too.) The USDA heralds this program as a successful one; per the Washington Post, “for every $1 that the agency spends on increasing cheese demand, it estimates that farmers get $4.43 in additional revenue.”
And few campaigns have been more successful than Domino’s extra cheesy turnaround. The pizza chain was flailing until Dairy Management stepped in, offering to develop new products with the company — products which needed more dairy products, and, therefore, would be eligible for government marketing dollars. Together, per the New York Times, the pair came up with “a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese” which, boosted by that $12 million marketing campaign, resulted in “sales [which] soared by double digits.” More pizza meant more cheese, which meant more money flowing to farmers.
But don’t think that the USDA is playing favorites here. When it comes to cheesifying (to coin a word) menus, Domino’s isn’t alone. Dairy Management has worked with and funded new offerings across the fast food spectrum, from Taco Bell and Pizza Hut to Wendy’s and Burger King. And across the board, Dairy Management has claimed success in their efforts. When it comes to promoting cheese, the government is there, helping behind the scenes…
And why should the government be directly assisting some industries and not others? Domino’s primary competition, other than rival chains, consists of small, local pizza joints, which now must compete with the government too. [Pointer: Amy Alkon]
4. Thank you, Shinobu Hashimoto! Shinobu Hashimoto died last week at the age of 100. The world owes him eternal gratitude for his creation of the screenplays for many of Akira Kurosawa‘s greatest films, including “Seven Samurai” (without which we would not have “The Magnificent Seven,” or for that matter, “A Bug’s Life,” and maybe Steve McQueen…) and “The Hidden Fortress,” which begat “Star Wars,” for better or ill. To those concerned with ethics, however, the Japanese writer’s greatest contribution to thought and culture was “Rashomon.”
Many philosophers had mused about the deceptively difficult nature of determining objective truth, but it was Shinobu Hashimoto who made the issue accessible, as only artists can, by exploring it in his screenplay for 1950’s “Rashomon.” The film recounts the story of the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife from four different perspectives in medieval Japan: that of a bandit, the rape victim, the spirit of the dead samurai, and a passing woodcutter.
The lesson of the film is often perverted into the claim that there is no objective truth, leading to the ethics-corroding New Age attitude that “I have my truth, and you have yours.” To the contrary, “Rashomon” shows how the difficulty of answering the basic question that is the starting point for much ethical analysis, “What’s going on here?”, is often underestimated, and why learning how to see events from the perspectives of others affected by them is crucial to making ethical decisions. Indeed, the Golden Rule invites us to consider “Rashomon.”
Ann Althouse wrote a fascinating law review article on the relevance of “Roshomon” to the law back in 2000. I recommend it highly.
5. [Redacted] Here I was going to note another outrageously biased and misleading New York Times headline that takes issue with a Trump position rather than just reporting it, which is what news is supposed to do as opposed to opinion commentary. But I’m trying to get through a whole Warm-Up without chronicling the unethical outrages of “the resistance,” so I removed it.