Hump Day Ethics Harrumphs, 8/31/2022: Fake Science, Jumped Sharks, And Failures

The Pennsylvania Senate race is an embarrassment to the state, both parties and democracy generally. One of the most important and influential states can’t do better than find two ridiculously unqualified candidates. John Fetterman, the Democrat, is obviously still suffering the after-effects of a stroke: if he had any integrity, respect for the process and sense of responsibility, he would step aside and let someone healthy and mentally able run. (Admittedly, in a nation that elected an obvious dementia sufferer as President, the temptation to shrug off a mere stroke must be strong.) Fetterman has made it clear that he’s going to avoid any debates, because the man has trouble thinking and speaking—a definite problem. Running against him is “Dr. Oz,” whose only qualification that I can detect is that he’s a Trump-endorsed celebrity. Well, he’s also not a stroke victim.

I see today that a new poll shows that Trump’s candidate Herschel Walker has pulled ahead in the Georgia Senate race. Are conservatives and Republican supposed to be excited about that? Walker is less qualified to be a Senator than Dr. Oz.

When do the parties (and the public) get serious about competent government? Or perhaps the better question is “When did they stop being serious about competent government?”

1. Pssst! Great leaders don’t have their governments fall apart apart on their watch. The news media’s lionizing of Mikhail Gorbachev is transparent and absurd. It is like celebrating the superb leadership of King Louis the XVI in France. Gorby didn’t deliberately bring down the USSR, he just never understood that the only way a Communist nation like that can stay intact is with a one-party, totalitarian system. He was a weak, naive, idealistic leader in a place that couldn’t support his ideals, and he failed. Why is he being given a hero’s send-off in the mainstream media? It is one more effort by the Left to refuse to give its detested bete noire, Ronald Reagan, a strong and successful leader, due credit for his greatest achievement.

2. Not having functioning ethics alarms and being stupid too is not a recipe for success. I guess it would also help to be literate in popular culture: seeing “A Simple Plan” or “No Country for Old Men” could be useful., the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, was supposed to send Thevamanogari Manivel of Melbourne, Australia a small refund and deposited $10.5 million in her account instead. Now, running off and spending the money is obviously dishonest and unethical; it also should be obvious that the owners of that much money aren’t just going to let it go. Nevertheless, she indeed took the windfall and started spending it. The mess is now, we are told, “before the courts.”

I have often felt that when a bank or other entity makes a mistake like this, there ought to be some routine reward, a substantial one, if the recipient reports the error rather than taking the money and heading for the metaphorical hills.

3. What the heck is the matter with Oberlin? As has been excellently documented by Prof. Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection, the college destroyed a family bakery rather than resist a student-led trumped-up racism narrative. The school lost the bakery’s defamation suit against it to the current tune of $36 million in damages, yet it had both refused to pay and continued to insist that it was in the right. The Ohio Supreme Court just rejected Oberlin’s latest appeal. The school has neither a factual, legal nor ethical argument, just a commitment to take whatever accusations minority student groups make against white citizens as sacred. What does it tell you when a college believes that Facts Don’t Matter?

4. When SNL jumped the ethics shark…Ex-Saturday Night Live comic and lesser light Rob Schneider told lonely Hollywood blogger Christian Toto (he’s a conservative) when he knew Saturday Night Live was finished as a respectable source of satire. It was the week of the 2016 election, and the “cold open” featured Kate McKinnon, who had played Hillary Clinton all season, singing a straight rendition of Leonard Cohen’s wistful and mournful “Hallelujah.” Yes, a supposed irreverent cultural satire show was announcing that it was in mourning because (of all people) Hillary Clinton had been defeated. “I literally prayed, ‘please have a joke at the end,’” the comic recalls. “Don’t do this. Please don’t go down there. And there was no joke at the end, and I went, ‘It’s over. It’s over. [‘SNL’] is not gonna come back.’”

It hasn’t come back, either, though there is enough Trump-Derangement and progressive anger to prop up what is now just one more Democratic Party propaganda carrier.

5. Safely tucked away in Germany, a scientist speaks scientifically about trans mythology. Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. She won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995. She is an expert in genetics biochemistry, and embryonic development, and this month was interviewed in Emma, Germany’s leading feminist magazine.

She ridiculed the claim that there are many genders, noting the obvious that “all mammals have two sexes. There’s the one sex that produces the eggs [and] has two X chromosomes. That’s called female. And there’s the other one that makes the sperm [and] has an X and a Y chromosome. That’s called male.” The existence of hermaphrodites doesn’t blur the lines between the sexes, she explained. “The fact that there are hermaphrodites does not change the fact that there are two germ cells, eggs and sperm, and therefore two sexes.” Similarly, “intersex” people ( those with complete or partial sets of both male and female sexual organs) are not constituents or representatives of a third gender. Nor, Nüsslein-Volhard says, are expressions of femininity in men or masculinity in women evidence of new genders but rather the result of hormonal levels and cultural influences.

“There are people who want to change their gender, but they can’t do it,” Nüsslein-Volhard. “You remain XY or XX. … People retain their gender for life….Of course, a girl can wish to be called by a boy’s name.” The professor holds that artificially induced changes, such as hormone treatments, are dangerous; they “add something to the body that is not intended there.” The biological basis of gender, said Nüsslein-Volhard, cannot be changed. One’s feelings are alterable by social and psychological circumstances, but biological sex is static.

Meanwhile, back in the States, California’s Newport-Mesa Unified School District ordered the “Comprehensive Health Skills for High School” textbook, which teaches there are 10 sexual orientations including androsexual, polysexual, skoliosexual, demisexual, and gynesexual. The textbook also says there are eight gender identities, such as androgynous, bigender, gender-nonconforming, gender questioning, and nonbinary.

Follow the science!

23 thoughts on “Hump Day Ethics Harrumphs, 8/31/2022: Fake Science, Jumped Sharks, And Failures

  1. Mikhail Gorbachev, a name and a man I hadn’t even thought of for probably two and a half decades, is dead. He died at 91, in hospital like any other superannuated man, mostly forgotten. Some will say he was the man who ended the cold war. That is incorrect. He was the man whose brain was still agile enough and not so pickled in Soviet rhetoric and vodka to see clearly that the Cold War was no longer winnable. Those who came before him, Andropov, Ustinov, Chernenko, names mostly lost to history, just couldn’t see it, although it was staring them in the face. They also had the misfortune to be opposed by Ronald Reagan and a USA that was tired of looking weak, Thatcher and a Europe that didn’t want to be conquered, and John Paul II and a church that believed in human freedom. Of course, the mainstream media won’t credit any of those folks with anything.

    The thing is, the way the Soviet system was set up, everything was based on fear of the Politburo and what they would do if crossed. The Warsaw pact, the iron curtain, and the Soviet Union itself were all built on a pedestal half of iron and half of clay. Once the iron was removed, the clay collapsed quicker than anyone had even thought possible, or he had wanted. In 1989 the Warsaw Pact’s puppet Communist regimes fell, some peacefully, some less so. In 1991 the hardline Communists made their last desperate throw of the dice…and lost. On Christmas day of that year, he stepped aside for Boris Yeltsin, and watched the red Soviet banner be lowered one final time, to be replaced by the long-absent Russian tricolor, unseen since the days of the czars. He would watch the world he had come to be in, the world he had tried to end on its own terms, be swept away on those of others unwilling to let freedom be slow-walked any longer, as no more than an observer, at least for a time. He attempted further political comebacks and to make his influence felt, but his day was over.

    I wonder if he, like others swept from power by historical forces they thought they could control but couldn’t, ever looked back and thought those who had pushed him out would come to regret it one day.

    RIP Mike, I guess you will find out now whether the USSR’s official godlessness was true or not.

  2. “When did they stop being serious about competent government?”

    1913, when the 17th Amendment was passed. That allowed direct election of Senators. Prior to that, the State Legislatures elected Senators who were political insiders from the state. The good things about that were that they were professional statesman and they were beholden to the political establishment of the state.

    The upside for me is that the Walker and Oz campaigns make realistic the possibility that Al Franken’s tenure in the Senate will move down on the list of the most ridiculous Senators in history.


  3. Poor Gorbi lived long enough to see his life’s work crumble before his eyes: Pizza Hut withdrew from Russia after that country invaded the Ukraine.

    Gorbachev’s rule did have some good come out of it. His willingness to listen to nuclear arms reduction helped drastically lower the number of nuclear weapons in the world. And though the consequences of a nuclear war are generally overstated in media, the results would still be devastating, and something I’d rather not experience.

  4. Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is indeed a Nobel Laureate. Her specialisation is in the genetics of fruit flies and fish.

    However, as someone born in 1942 she might not be aware of certain developments when she categorically states that chromosomal sex is utterly immutable.

    For example:

    Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8

    Transplanted human bone marrow cells generate new brain cells by Crain BJ, Tran SD, Mezey E. in J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):121-3 :

    Bone marrow transplants are just one way of changing chromosomes.

    “There was more, the doctor said. Drew wasn’t just a new man. “Your blood is 100 percent female,” he said. Eric Drew, now a 37-year-old man, had the blood of an Italian girl. It was like something out of a Tom Clancy thriller. If he cut his finger while committing a crime, investigators would think that the criminal was a girl.”

    Do you have any idea how much hubris it takes to say that a Nobel Laureate expert in genetics is wrong? All I can do is quote facts she was apparently unaware of when she made her ideological, not factual, statement.

    • It’s ridiculous to use tissues grafted from another individual to suggest that chromosomal sex is not a reality. Ever heard of the Vacanti mouse? Would you suggest it is therefore impossible to tell a mouse, a cow, and a human apart by genetic testing? Or that these three do not represent distinct species but rather points on a continuous spectrum?

    • I don’t understand your point. Is sex in your blood? Are we at the point where we’re treating people’s bodies like the Ship of Theseus? How much of you do you have to cut off and replace with parts from someone of your preferred gender before your body switches over?

  5. “Transplanted human bone marrow cells generate new brain cells by Crain BJ, Tran SD, Mezey E. in J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):121-3 :

    Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8”

    I do not disagree that omnipotent stem cells can in fact induce different types of tissues. That is what happens. You do not list a study which demonstrates that the transplant induced a change in chromosomes. What those studies show are changes in types of tissues that were created. Once the tissues and organs are created, they are neither male nor female with the exception of reproductive organs. A human heart, liver, or kidney transplanted from one to another does not discriminate between males and females. Acceptance or rejection of those tissues depend on other factors.

    None of what was listed above suggests that people are born with XY chromosomes but are female. The only changes that occur result from artificially introducing new cell lines into a new host. A bone marrow transplant while technically more difficult is fundamentally no different than hormone injections and mastectomies in creating the appearance of masculinity or femininity.

    “There was more, the doctor said. Drew wasn’t just a new man. “Your blood is 100 percent female,” he said. Eric Drew, now a 37-year-old man, had the blood of an Italian girl. It was like something out of a Tom Clancy thriller. If he cut his finger while committing a crime, investigators would think that the criminal was a girl.”

    The doctor that made that claim could have tested to see if his blood would suggest he was a girl instead of wondering. If blood has male and female varieties that would suggest that transfusing male blood into a female patient could result in rejection which it does not provided the type and Rh factors are similar.

  6. ““When did they stop being serious about competent government?””

    Hard question to really answer.

    We’ve been sort of “spoiled”. Since the America’s brush with soft totalitarianism in the 1940s as a necessity to defeat ascendant “hard” totalitarians – our nearly 100% centralized and unified effort brought about a kind of semi-homogenous cadre of statesman who were singularly focused and had bonds of internal unity forged during that era despite being from different political parties. The immediate following generation of statesmen still had a lot of the echoes of that kind of seriousness.

    That generation has died out and their followers are dying out. We’re seeing a completely different cohort of “statesmen” that are appealing to a completely different America than existed in the 1940s-1990s. It’s hard to say what America would have been during that era if we hadn’t done what we had to do.

    So then we are compelled to look back to a different era entirely to decide how out of the norm our current era of buffoons actually are. Should we compare ourselves to America c 1900-1940? Or before 1900? Both America’s are also wildly different that today’s.

  7. On the Fetterman/Oz race

    Sure, Oz is a celebrity. Sure, he doesn’t have any experience in politics…. But he’s literally an American success story, going from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of his profession and developing cardiovascular surgical procedures, and ending up literally writing the textbooks still in circulation on the subject. I’ve often said that governments should have more diversity than your usual slew of retired military, businessmen and lawyers. I was rethinking that position on the coattails of a certain bartender from New York, but having a medical professional in office doesn’t hit me as a bad idea. Healthcare will remain front boiler in American politics for the foreseeable future.

    Fetterman is a literal bum. Nevermind the stroke. Nevermind that he’s ducking the debates because he can’t force words out of his mouth. Nevermind that his cognition only barely stands up against barely living people like Joe Biden. The man is actually a bum. He’s just a bum with family that enables him. He’s never worked a job in his life unless his father gave it to him. The only reason he owns a home is because his sister sold it to him for $1. He’s not even a well dressed bum, the whole “edgy politician in a hoodie” thing hits really differently when you realize that if not for the charity of his family, the man would be sleeping in a ditch. The man has literally nothing going for him.

    I can’t think of a more clear choice in my life. Pennsylvania has the choice between a cutting edge pioneer of a heart surgeon, and a bum. And we’re handwringing over Oz not being a perfect candidate?

    Get some bloody perspective.

    • Oh, Oz is an easy choice over Fetterman, don’t get me wrong. The problem is that there isn’t someone (many someones) better than either of them. And Oz’s silly tap-dancing about his homes doesn’t fill me with trust. You?

      Doctors have not exactly covered themselves with glory in politics. (We’ve had 54 Senators.) Frist.Then there are Howard Dean and Virginia’s horrible previous governor, Ralph Northam. Rand Paul is one of the few doctors of recent vintage who hasn’t been an unmitigated disaster.

      • I think you meant that there *are* people better than Oz. And sure, but he’s the one voters chose. And on the doctor-senator point… I could list a couple of lawyers that weren’t too good either.

        No, like I said… Oz isn’t a politician, and he’s struggling with optics… The rules are different for celebrities and politicians…. “I’m a rich, self made man, do I run with that, or try to blend in with the base.” He seemed to want to choose the latter, but he’s going to fail. Man doesn’t even know what a veggie tray is called. “crudité” pfft. He needs to lean into his life story.

        Because the alternative is that he tries to get into a relatability battle with a man that looks like 50% of his diet is Mountain Dew and Cheetos, and that might be kind of relatable in Pennsylvania.

        • The problem is that national leadership is a political position. Not being skilled at politics means failure, or at least a very, very rocky road. Admittedly, being a Senator is not nearly as demanding politically as an executive position.

      • Humble Talent’s comment should be a comment of the day. I agree with you that Oz is an easy choice. I disagree with your lamenting that there are not many someones better. We have a guy who is, in HT’s words, “literally an American success story, going from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of his profession and developing cardiovascular surgical procedures, and ending up literally writing the textbooks still in circulation on the subject.” But we should cry that we don’t have someone better? Again from HT, “Get some bloody perspective.” A non-politician not having an instant slick response to being painted as an elitist for having multiple homes by a…(bum, per HT)…non-elitist, doesn’t strike me as problem. My guess is that, post Labor Day, Dr. Oz will up his game and develop a more effective campaign.

  8. Item 5- I confess that I eschew any literary work that contains glossaries, dictionaries, and maps to the made up places and persons. That is why my literary genre of choice is non- fiction, historical, or scientific. The final paragraph of this item forced me to google search what the hell they were talking about. Language is becoming as fluid as the expansion of the scientific, historical binariness of the human mammalian condition. So much so that there no longer exists universally acceptable definitions of anything. The explanation I found to the various sexualities mentioned made it no less confusing.

  9. Regarding this lament about Oz and Walker having no qualifications for senator. I would remind everyone they said the same thing about Trump who turned out to be the most accomplished president in a generation. Besides, can Oz and/or Walker possibly do any worse than the current batch of DC swamp dwellers?

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