1. From the “Futile isn’t Ethical” files. The hectoring over face-touching is annoying at a time when we need less annoyances. Here’s a useless article that gives elaborate strategies for eliminating face-touching only to admit toward the end that you probably can’t stop. I’ll wager that nobody can stop, since we do it thousands of times a day, often for good reasons, and that with all the other things we have to think about, thinking about NOT doing something natural all day long—which is essentially the strategy the three professors of psychology credited with the article recommend—will do more damage than it addresses.
Here’s a typical passage:
“Now that you are aware of the behavior you want to change, you can replace it with a competing response that opposes the muscle movements needed to touch your face. When you feel the urge to touch your face, you can clench your fists, sit on your hands, press your palms onto the tops of your thighs, or stretch your arms straight down at your sides.”
Here’s another idea that I’m sure everyone will want to adopt while they worry about their jobs, their friends, and where their next meal is coming from:
—Scratched nose with finger, felt itch, while at my desk
—Fiddled with eyeglasses, hands tingled, frustrated
—Rested chin on palm, neck sore, while reading
—Bit fingernail, nail caught on pants, watching TV
2. Baseball ethics fix: While there’s no baseball for an undetermined period, baseball continues to spark ethics consideration.
- The Red Sox just learned that their ace pitcher, Chris Sale, will have to have the elaborate ligament-transfer operation called “Tommy John surgery” after the first pitcher to see his career saved by having it. This puts Sale out of action for up to 18 months, a terrible blow to Boston’s team. Sale signed a five-year extension with the team a year ago, so now I am reading versions of this conclusion by baseball writer
ARRGH! What will it take to erase the damaging and idiotic human tendency to apply consequentialism and hindsight bias in evaluating conduct? No, you blithering dolt, it would have been a seriously questionable decision if the team had signed Sale to an extension knowing that he would need surgery.
I am perhaps sensitive to this issue now because‘s logic is essentially what we are getting from pundits about the handling of the Wuhan virus all day long.
- I am reading again clear-thinker and baseball analyst supreme Bill James’ recommendations for speeding up the game and eliminating accumulated inequities and glitches that are currently trying the patience of fans. James has an innate understanding of fairness and human nature: he’s an instinctual ethicist. For example, he wrote about how the ethical evolution of punishing pitchers for throwing at batters to keep them from “digging in” at the plate—that is, crowding the plate and simultaneously making it perilous to pitch to the inside (risking hitting the batter) and ineffective pitching to the outside (because the batter could now reach those pitches)—had wrecked the balance between pitchers and batters. Most batters used to avoid standing close to the plate because they didn’t want to get hit by pitches, but now batters wear all sorts of protective gear on their arms and legs, armor, essentially, so they stand close without fear of injury. This also slows up the game, for if a thus- armored player reaches base, he has to take off all of the equipment and give it to the first base coach. James argues for a rule requiring a player to keep wearing whatever equipment he wore while batting as longs as he’s on base. Brilliant! It involves a fair and interesting trade-off: Okay, you get to stand close to the plate, but your-base-running will be hampered.
3. Jackass Wuhan Pundit of the Day: Among the astounding number of jerks, liars, anti-Americans and cultural saboteurs employed on the New York Times op-ed page, David Brooks is a sleeper. he is a reflexive Trump-basher of course, for two reasons: he is besotted with teh culture of the paper for which he toils, and he is a member of the Bill Kristol/George Will/Mitt Romney class of conservative elitists whose unstated reason for their revulsion at Trump is that he is an unmannerly vulgarian of teh sort that would never be permitted into their gentleman’s clubs. Brooks is a sanctimonious morality-shill, and he outdid himself with “Pandemics Kill Compassion, Too: You may not like who you’re about to become,” in which he presumes the worst about 21st century Americans, though not him, of course.
His arrogant argument begins by quoting commentary on plagues from 1348 in Italy 1665 in London, which is just intellectual grandstanding. Those were plagues, while the current illnesses is not, and believe it or not, the United States of America is a more civilized and ethical place than 14th century and 17th century Europe, And, of course, he makes the invalid comparison with the 1918 Spanish Flu, which had fatality rate many times that of the Wuhan virus, killed young and old alike, came at a time when medical knowledge was a fraction of what it is now, and occurred simultaneously with World War I. Other than that, it’s a perfect analogy, and we can expect “families in which every member is ill, in which the children are actually starving because there is no one to give them food. The death rate is so high, and they still hold back.”
Brooks concludes by intoning, “It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to take steps to fight the moral disease that accompanies the physical one.”
Oh, bite me.