29 thoughts on “Monday’s Friday Open Forum

    • I don’t see any reason for it either. If you trust that the restaurant staff is cleaning the dishes properly, handling food to avoid cross-contamination and is sufficiently sanitary, I don’t see how eating outside poses any real danger.

      • In Connecticut, there is no evidence that indoor dining is a major cause of spreading between unrelated parties. Spread in restaurants is primarily among kitchen and back of house staff. Yet, doctors and nurse are purportedly putting huge pressure on the governor to such down indoor dining. Fortunately, our governor is resisting, and balancing the risks with science, not blindly following the scientists.

      • Our sixteen year old son stated the problem with the clarity only a 16 year old can bring to matters:

        “If you smell a fart through your mask, then masks are useless to stop the spread of COVID19 because its viral particles are smaller than a fart’s odorous particles.”


        • I don’t want to start an argument, but surely they’re not useless. At the very least they would drastically decrease the rate of water droplets being released into the air therefore reducing the infection rate.

          • This is where I sit on the efficacy of masks issue.

            If masks even end up only reducing the spread of the virus by even a paltry 4%…wearing them doesn’t even come remotely close to undermining my quality of life by 4%. If it turns out they reduce the spread by 10% or 20%? The trade-off is 100% obvious.

            I will caveat however, that mask totalitarianism does become destructive of community and *warm* interactions with our fellows, and that *does* begin take part in my calculations that I become a mask rebel. And I acknowledge that for many people wearing a mask may impede on their lives greater than the overall benefit to the community…. so, while the trade off is, for me, ok and in good civic-conscience, I’m not going to begrudge someone for not wearing it.

            • This does beg the question.

              For how long must masks be worn?

              What is the exit strategy?

              Why has this lasted nine months?

              Where I live, indoor dining had been banned for seven months, masks and social distancing was required, and I observed virtually total compliance whenever going to any public place.

              And yet, where I live, hospitalizations are increasing.

              Why is that?

  1. Alright, Ethics Alarmists. I need guidance and/or a guided missile launcher.

    Yesterday, Lord Remington Winchester Burger, Esq., Dog of Letters, and All Around Spectacular Hound, wanted to go for a walk. It rained all morning so we couldn’t go. Around about 3:00 things cleared up so we gladly indulged his desires (“we” being me and a leash).

    As we were walking down the street, he spied a lady (probably mid-50s) sweeping her driveway. Being the most amazing pooch that he is, he sauntered over to her, ears a-raised and tail a-wagging, to be greeted by a most pleasant scratch on the noggin. She fretted over him for a bit and declare him spectacular. Then, things went south.

    She suddenly remembered that we are in a pandemic – PANDEMIC!!! – and promptly stated that she and I could no longer talk because she is observing wearing a mask (which neither one of us was at the time) and that she practiced social distancing, which (oddly) we were . . . a ran off to the back of her house.

    Assume the following facts:

    1. It was Sunday at 3.15 p.m.
    2. It was very windy and cold – blame Canada.
    3. We were outside. See, No. 2 directly above, except that Canada had nothing to do with Remy’s walk.
    4. We were separated by about 6 feet.
    5. We talked for about 5 minutes.
    6. She panicked and ran away.
    7. I went to Walmart Saturday morning to buy contact solution. The cashier at the pharmacy instructed me to leave my things on the counter bar codes facing him (in front of the stupid plexiglass divider) so that he could scan them with his portable scanner, telling me “That’s close enough”. He reluctantly took my cash and delivered my change by pushing it forward under the stupid plexiglass divider and turned away.*

    What is the proper response? My initial response was to search the internet for the correct chemical compounds to make a fire bomb. My second response included various stages of anger, frustration, and annoyance. Why would she react this way? Has fear so thoroughly destroyed our ability to interact with each other?


    *Ed. Note: Jack’s Duty to Confront immediately jumped into action. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I thought he was rude, discourteous, and that if he couldn’t treat customers with the modicum of respect we deserve, he should stay in his house so that functioning adults can go about their lives without have to deal with morons afraid of their own shadows.

    • I agree with that response. The woman: never mind. Nothing you say can cure a phobia, and these are phobics.

      As for your question, the answer is yes. Fear so thoroughly destroyed our ability to interact with each other.

  2. I missed it; I had a situation ready and waiting. This is something that happened in my neighborhood (that I’ve only lived in for 2 months, so I don’t know anyone involved) and I was just an interested observer.

    A family had pickets knocked off their fence multiple times in the past few months, so they put up a security camera. The next time it happened, the camera caught teenagers ramming and kicking the fence, then running across the road into the back yard of a house. An older couple owns the house, but the have teenage grandchildren living with them. This family posted the video on the neighborhood facebook group asking for advice; they didn’t want to go talk to the people across the street because “they didn’t want to start trouble”. Some suggested going across the street to talk to them anyway, some suggested calling the police. Another neighbor ended up talking to the grandparents and It turns out the culprits were friends of the teenagers living with them.

    I don’t know the final outcome, but there are many good ethics angles here:
    1) Should this family have posted the video to facebook?
    2) What should they have done with the information about the teenagers across the street?
    3) Should the 3rd party have stepped in to talk to the people across the street (does “duty to confront” apply here)?
    4) Once it was known the culprits were friends of teenagers living there, what should the grandparents have done?
    5) Any other good ethics angles here?

    • 1. No, too many people automatically run to Facebook to arbitrate disputes or minor confrontations that should really be handled privately.
      2. Talk to the grandparents about the friends of their grandchildren. Politely.
      3. No, it’s not their business or their responsibility.
      4. Tell their grandkids that their friends are expected to be respectful of the neighborhood when they visit.
      5. I’m sure there are number of them. I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

  3. 1. No
    2. Turn it over to law enforcement.
    3. No. The video information should not have been shared with “3rd parties.”
    4. The grandparents have a duty to co-operate with the law enforcement investigation.
    5. You can “what if” this scenario to death (since so many details are unknown) and likely find a plethora of “ethics angles.”
    During my decades of law enforcement service I encountered many long-standing neighborhood feuds which began when someone decided to “handle” a situation that should have been reported to law enforcement. That’s why we were paid the big bucks (he said, sarcastically).

  4. I actually have a question that I was anxiously awaiting to ask on the Friday Forum. So here is my question a few days late. Sorry it is so long.

    Some background is necessary to answer this question. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, 100 miles from the nearest clothing store, and one high school (or middle/elementary) option for kids from four communities. We have no college nearby, but a town 100 miles away has a community college that is considered by state charter to have jurisdiction over our town. That college has a deal with our high school that they will provide classes for credit to our high school students. In previous years, the professor of a class would lecture in town one to two days a week and a high school teacher would assist on other days. This year, because of COVID, the lessons are all virtual. In this instance, the MATH 1400 (College Algebra 1), a three hour college course, is being taught by the head of the math department. For full disclosure, I was hired as a tutor for one of the high school kids as a Hail Mary when he had run out of all other options and someone reminded his mother of my availability as I typically don’t advertise of this, my fourth side gig. I am giving the situation as I understand it, some of which is based on my personal knowledge, other part are from what I have heard from this student as well as a few others near to the situation.

    This teacher would give her class 1-3 four (not forty, four) minute zoom lectures a week, averaging eight minutes of lecture each week. She then would provide one example of each type of problem in the only computer program they were allowed to use for the class. She would the assign homework, quizzes, and tests for the students in this program. They were to submit their answers for homework and quizzes, but not any work and full or no credit was given for their answers. Partial credit was not an option. For example, my student worked through a practice assignment with me. He tried to type in the answer “logcx” but he made a slight mistake and typed in “log x”. The practice question informed him that he would have failed the question if this was a real assignment. The math editor was poorly explained to the students and not very intuitive to use.

    Tests were slightly different. The students were required to take a math test in 35 minutes on the math editor with anti-cheating software installed. No credit would be given for any question without work, and the work must be turned into photos and sent to the teacher immediately upon completion of the test, or the entire test would be negated. That being said, only two pages of work (or one front and back page) would be allowed. Any additional work would be discounted, potentially allowing the students to lose credit for over half of the test. I would have been hard pressed to only use two pages for some of the practice tests and I can skip multiple steps in my head as a tutor. In addition, the teacher had a zero tolerance cheating policy (I would typically agree, but not like this) that used the software to kick kids out of her class. If there is background noise, you are considered to be cheating. Of course, these tests are to be taken at home, so one student was dismissed for acadmic dishonesty when her mother called her sibling to set the table. If there is background motion, such as a family pet, or another sibling walking by the screen, academic dishonesty and expulsion as one boy experienced with his brother coming into their room. If the laptop issued by the school is moved, such as the student who experienced a power and internet outage and gathered her things to rush across town to a location where there was power and internet before the 35 minutes were up, you are expelled for cheating. In addition, if the work you had to submit for these tests shows that you used a method not taught by the teacher, it is assumed you were cheating, such as one student who found an online program to teach him how to solve quadratics. Therefore, you will be expelled. As a final note about the tests, the final test was held Friday. The college teacher decided that too many students were cheaters and it had to be proctored by one of the members of her department, and arranged for this, less than one week prior to the test, while making many changes in how the test was to be done. The test was also given in a computer lab that, on the day of the test, had massive computer issues and wi-fi failures (only the laptops could be used and there were no hardwire hookups), so no one knows what answers they did or did not submit as the online-only program kept crashing on them. This is considered “not her problem” and is their fault entirely, according to a statement she is reported to have made.

    This college teacher also has other black marks on her, in my book. She decided that the math teacher the high school provided for dual enrollment was insufficiently qualified (probable, given our high school) to teach college algebra, and would not permit him any course material and said that she would not allow him to tutor the students or proctor tests. (I am exempt from her opinion about my tutoring as I am a private tutor and not a teacher.) When asked for help from students, she would respond to their emails (these kids are out of town so obviously they can’t come in for office hours without being truant for their high school classes) by saying that she had covered everything in the lectures and on the program and if they couldn’t figure it out from that, they were too stupid or lazy to be in her class. Another email she sent, that has been kept and printed out has her calling all the high school students imbecilic cretins and cheaters.

    The kid I tutored was getting 30-50’s in her class. I got him up to an 87 on the second to last test, but it was too little too late, and while I tried to cover an entire semester of college algebra in three days, he got an eventual 43% on the final, at least in part, I think, given how well he was doing the night before, to the fact that his test kept crashing and reloading on him throughout the final.

    Now, grades are already in, with the majority of student failed or kicked out of the program for academic dishonesty. The program for high school kids says that any who failed or were expelled for cheating are not allowed any further college courses until the summer, and that this is on their permanent record until they pass the class with no cheating. This also affects their ability to graduate from high school, though many of them are going to be ok with that. This can cause great academic harm to the kids.

    So now I come to my question. What is the ethical response for me to make as a private tutor? What is the ethical response of the families of these students, one of whom is asking my opinion on what they should do?

    • The parents of every student wrongly expelled need to contact the principal. It is the principal’s responsibility to ensure that academic honest is enforce in a sane and consistent manner. If the principal can’t fix it, they need to progressively make noise at higher levels until someone steps up and takes meaningful action.

      • The principal’s daughter was one of the expelled. Her mother asked her sister to set the table during a test.

        The principal is in charge, sort of, of the high school, but this is a college in another town. He holds no sway there.

    • I think the families of these students need to complain to the local community college about the low quality education they are getting from this class. Email the president of the college, the Provost, and look to see who is on their board of trustees and if any of the families know any of them. Have them make a stink about going to the press. Actually go to the press (multiple families) if there’s no response. I work in higher education, and the last thing leadership wants is the institution publicly shown in a bad light. Also, these institutions are funded with taxpayer dollars (a lot from property taxes in Texas, for example) giving them extra leverage for complaints.

      As an aside, higher education professors can often be divas with an overinflated sense of importance. Frequently department heads / deans can also add petty tyrant to that. Confronting them directly often triggers the “how dare you question my authority” type responses.

      • Incompetence irks me.

        Just on the metrics, this “teacher” is a failure.
        I would expect that if they are so bad in this area, they are equally bad in others.

        Write to the college bigwigs, stating the numbers, and if you can, quote from this person’s denigrating emails.

        • Just quoting your post here to them should be enough to start an academic investigation.

          I’ve been hauled over the coals for less. A boundary question where I gave one student 0.9, another 0.95 for essentially the same answer. (100 questions, so the difference was 1/2000 of the total).

          My fault. After that I made sure all my marking was double checked independently, and never marked the same question on different papers on different days.

        • I would love to see Washington stick with “Football Team” as its nickname. I wonder if they’ve done jerseys and such along those lines.

          I have to chuckle every time I see schedules or standing that use teams nicknames. You see such things as:

          NFC East
          1st Football Team
          2nd Giants
          3rd Eagles
          4th Cowboys

          Since he was basically forced into dropping ‘Redskins’, Dan Snyder seems to me someone who might do that just to spite them. They’re no longer the Redskins so how can they complain? Football Team surely cannot offend anyone, right?

          That said, the Indians, as far as I know, haven’t been blackmailed into dropping their nickname. They/ve been pressured, certainly, but I’m not aware of major advertiser threats. Is anyone aware of such a thing?

  5. “jUsTiCe FoR bRaNdOn BeRnArD”?

    How about “SAY THEIR NAMES: Todd and Stacie Bagley”?

    Of course, Mr. Bernard RECEIVED justice. I think that what Kim Kardashian et al. were howling for was “mercy.”

  6. Covid-19 vaccination certification appears to soon become a difficult ethics issue. WHO is looking for experts to develop a digital certification of vaccination. Some critics say a digital certificate would be problematic due to privacy rights and potential for security breaches. Others say such certification could easily work with any ID card containing a chip or a mobile phone.

    In discussion is the issue of creating “two types of people” and potential discrimination, regardless of which kind of certificate is applied to citizens. One international airline already requires some sort of proof of being protected from, as Jack calls it, the Wuhan Virus.

    Banks, stores, hospitals and other industries are willing to work with tech firms and governments to implement what is deemed in the public’s best interest. Other organizations are taking a “wait and see” approach, including Ticketmaster.

    What happens when you can’t travel by plane, enter certain businesses, and, essentially be marked as having or not having taken the vaccine? After all, international travelers already have to get certain vaccinations, and have to prove it with a card.

    Perhaps we won’t have to deal with this issue and too many will push back on the potential problems that come with proof of vaccination for The Rona. Then there’s this:

    “Even if not all of this plan is feasible today, we need to think ahead and build the necessary infrastructure to enable citizens to effectively manage their vaccination status. COVID-19 is not the world’s first pandemic; neither will it be the last.”


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