Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2021: The Unibomber Really Was Right, You Know….

Crazy, but right. I first wrote about that inconvenient fact here. This year has driven the horror home more than ever. His point was that we were allowing technology to control our lives, constrict our liberties, and poison our values and culture, while giving aspiring dictators tools to dominate us. Here are some of my recent experiences:

  • A friend, a season ticket holder, gave me tickets to a Washington Nationals game, except that D.C., being in the grip of a Wuhan hysteric, won’t allow the Nats to give out printed tickets. Thus, in order to “access” my tickets, I had to log in to the MLB website as a first step, then download an app to my smart phone, which would then allow my phone to accept the virtual tickets. But MLB wouldn’t accept my password, and wouldn’t allow me to change it either. I called the Nats, but nobody was there—everyone was working from their computers. Finally I was called back by a nice guy who tried to walk me through the system. He gave me a password, but my phone wouldn’t connect with the app. Then he started to explain an alternate method which involved registering with eBay. I thanked him, but told him to give the tickets back to my friend. I had spent over an hour just trying to get the things that once could be faxed to me in five minutes, or sent by mail. To hell with it.
  • Then, last night, my sister took me to a game. The Nats make you order food or drink from your smart phone. You have to order food or drink, because you are only allowed to take off your damn mask—outside, with nobody within ten feet of you—if you are eating or drinking, so everyone is holding a water bottle under their chin the whole game. You download an app, and you get a menu on the phone, see? Then you order, and a text comes to tell you where to pick up the stuff. You can’t pay using money, because the Nats want to keep us “safe.” I found out that there were a couple of places around the park where you could buy food the old, bad, low-tech complicated way: “Give me a dog and a beer—thanks—here’s money…bye!” Most Nats staff, however, had no idea where those places were.
  • Speaking of systemic racism, not to mention classism and ageism: What are the likely consequences of making all aspects of life dependent on owning a smart phone?
  • My wife had been waiting for the promised email from the Virginia Health Department with a link to the way to schedule a second Wuhan vaccine. It never came. After spending over a hour in a phone queue, she was told that a computer had garbled her email address. Oh.

1. Thanks Maxine! Thanks , journalists! Thanks, Democrats! Thanks, Black Lives Matter! How can a nation maintain a justice system and preserve due process and the rights of the accused when this happens? From USA Today:

A group of people vandalized the former Northern California home of an expert witness who testified for the defense in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, police said, throwing a pig’s head on the front porch and blood splatter on the house.

The incident occurred in Santa Rosa, California, where retired police officer Barry Brodd once lived and worked. Brodd testified last week in Chauvin’s trial, saying the former Minneapolis police officer was “justified” in his use of force against George Floyd, who died in police custody last May.

The Santa Rosa Police Department said Brodd no longer lives at the residence nor in California, but “it appears the suspects in this vandalism were targeting Mr. Brodd for his testimony.”

2. Obviously, the problem is the second Amendment…Former NFL player Phillip Adams fatally shot six people and then himself in Rock Hill, S.C., this month. His family asked that his brain be sent to the C.T.E. Center at Boston University, the leading site for research on the degenerative brain disease that has been found in hundreds of football players and other athletes but can be diagnosed only after death. It appears likely from his behavior before the shooting spree that indeed he was a victim, as he had exhibited depression, aggression, and uncharacteristic poor impulse control before the tragedy.

It is so much easier to restrict core individual rights than to demand game-altering reform by America’s favorite billion dollar gladiatorial pastime.

3. “Unemployment is high. Why are businesses struggling to hire?” Yes, this really was a Times headline.

“Duh.”

The government is paying more, as much or almost as much to many Americans for not working than businesses are offering workers of their skill set to be productive and contribute to the economy. I have now seen interviews with three small business owners who said their choice is to pay more than they can afford and go out of business, or not hire necessary staff and go out of business.

Marx never quite got that “human nature” thingy….

4.Howard, a black college, has dissolved its classics department. Of course it has. And when it’s African American graduates lose jobs and opportunities because they are deficient in cultural literacy and accumulated human wisdom, they will attribute their failure to systemic racism. Cornel West and Jeremy Tate write in the Washington Post:

The Western canon is an extended dialogue among the crème de la crème of our civilization about the most fundamental questions. It is about asking “What kind of creatures are we?” no matter what context we find ourselves in. It is about living more intensely, more critically, more compassionately. It is about learning to attend to the things that matter and turning our attention away from what is superficial.

Howard University is not removing its classics department in isolation. This is the result of a massive failure across the nation in “schooling,” which is now nothing more than the acquisition of skills, the acquisition of labels and the acquisition of jargon. Schooling is not education. Education draws out the uniqueness of people to be all that they can be in the light of their irreducible singularity. It is the maturation and cultivation of spiritually intact and morally equipped human beings….

Wait—didn’t everyone used to know this?

28 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2021: The Unibomber Really Was Right, You Know….

  1. “My wife had been waiting for the promised email from the Virginia Health Department with a link to the way to schedule a second Wuhan vaccine. It never came. After spending over a hour in a phone queue, she was told that a computer had garbled her email address. Oh.”

    Now that’s weird. When I went to get my first shot, they scheduled my second shot on that same visit. I was texted and emailed reminder notices, but I didn’t have to wait for notification to schedule. Your wife’s experience does seem needlessly complicated.

  2. Well, anything that requires a smart phone I do without. Same with negative option subscriptions, there were several cases where I was interested in something and because I needed a smart phone or automatic billing I did without. Yes, I was also basically in agreement with Kaczynski myself; I read his manifesto.

    No smart phone, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, no .. you get the idea.

    Now I know this isn’t an ethics comment and I’ve said all this before but I refuse to be controlled by technology. I walk 6 to 10 miles every day and see people that cannot even get their faces out of their smart phones. I do have a flip phone and many times forget to even take it with me. Most of the time I walk in the park a few miles from where I live or on the CVT (Catherine Valley Trail) but sometimes I walk around the neighborhood and I see people backing out of their driveways and already on the phone. Pitiful.

      • Never heard them called Obama phones, but I do recall my phone company urging me to petition for free cellphones for low income people (I did not). Some time after that, the company announced a new program for government sponsored cell plans. I guess this did all occur under the Obama Administration.

        For what it’s worth, this company was already dirt cheap without subsidy. I looked with befuddlement when my friends would talk about how much their phone plans cost. Mine consistently cost at least half or or less (and I regularly used at least 3 gb of data a month). Also, the government sponsored plan was so poorly run, my friend who is actually low income had too much trouble with it and dumped it.

      • It is much harder. You probably have a smartphone, you just don’t know it. Unless you have a very old phone (2G) and a very old SIM chip for such a phone, you have a smart phone. The LTE protocol currently used by all the networks (4G) only works on chips for Android and iOS (smartphones). You might have noticed that flipphones now cost $100? That is because all the new flipphones are Android phones in flipphone form factor.

        All the new flipphones let you go to YouTube, for instance. The feature phone is dead.

        If you don’t want 24/7 surveillance, you can use open-source android such as
        https://lineageos.org/. Most apps will work, but the ‘ticket’ app, the McDonald’s app, etc won’t work because they require the data be sent to Google along with your identifying information and Lineage won’t do that by default.

  3. 4. If colleges remove programs and/or courses designed to broaden knowledge as a whole, what will set them apart from technical or trade schools? Isn’t the whole point of attending college to get a broader education, presumably to help with critical and independent thinking? Soon, the college experience will be a very expensive way to indoctrinate young adults only, offering no additional beneficial education. Basically, a trade school with a side a brainwashing for triple the cost of a trade school.

  4. Late last year, I had numerous people hand me things, then tell me they were leaving to go into quarantine because they had Covid symptoms and had tested positive. I can’t imagine people so cowardly that they can’t even print tickets to a ball game. I can’t even think of the number of printed receipts I am handed at stores each week and how many papers I take from people.

  5. Heh… I’m starting to run in to links to old posts where I made a comment that I don’t remember writing. Luckily, I still agree with my comments on passwords in the Unabomber post. I think this is the second time this month that’s happened.

  6. 3. Before the Wuhan virus, my business had 200 employees, about half full-time and half part-time, averaging about 20 hours per week. We’re trying to reopen now after being forced by the government to close for almost a year. The biggest problem we have is filling the part-time slots. We were paying $15 an hour before the lockdown. For a single employee, that meant she would take home $244.49 a week after tax. Right now, employee on furlough collecting unemployment qualifies for $150.00/week from the state of New Yor plus an additional $300.00/week from the Federal government. That’s total of $450.00/week tax-free, almost twice as her take-home pay from working. My tax withholding calculator says we would have to pay her $29/hour just to match what she’s making from unemployment.

    And of course, from the employee’s perspective, at $29/hour, she’s working for free — putting on a uniform, taking the bus and working 20 hours, in return for nothing that she wouldn’t have had if she hadn’t worked. We would have to pay $40/hour or $50/hour to lure her back to work. But that’s out of the question, of course. We could never get our customers to pay a price that would make us a profit or even let us break even.

    Hiring full-time workers instead of part-time is not an option. We use the part-timers on weekends when our business peaks. Hiring an extra 50 full-timers to replace 100 part-timers means that we would still be understaffed on weekends, and the extras would be standing around getting paid for doing nothing the rest of the week. Right now, our only solution has been to turn away business.

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