Thank God This Miserable Week Is Over Ethics Review, 3/27/2020: Of Pangolins, Pandemics And Pronouns

Good afternoon.

Stop blaming my favorite animal, the pangolin, or the so-called “scaly anteater,” for the pandemic!

That’s a tree pangolin above in a defensive posture. Ever since the nexus for the outbreak of COVID-19 was traced back to a wet market in Hubei province, scientists have been looking for the virus’s heritage.  It’s possible that the virus emerged in a colony of horseshoe bats in Yunnan, a province that borders the south-east Asian country of Myanmar. But some fingers are also pointing at the pangolin, which was once believed to have bats in its ancestry. The animal, like others that American wouldn’t recognize, is the most trafficked beast in the world due to the supposed health benefits of its scales, with most of that traffic ending in China. A search for the “missing link” in the chain of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has uncovered two close cousins of the variety of coronavirus that started the pandemic in Wuhan in pangolins smuggled into China. Not THE virus, however.  Here’s a photo of a pangolin unfurled:

1. It is outrageous that a U.S. newspaper would include this sentence…From an article about the joys of Randolph Scott Westerns by Times film critic Ben Kinegsberg: “The depiction of Native Americans as horse-eating, husband-killing savages doesn’t sit well in modern eyes, and the name of Henry Silva’s character in “The Tall T” is so offensive it cannot be printed.”

Well, it has to printed somewhere, or the information itself has been permanently erased! If a newspaper is going to start  purging words, names, history  and facts, where does it stop? I’ve been trying to imagine what name could justify the Times refusing to reveal it, other than “Voldemort.” What could it be? Let’s check the Internet Movie Database (the film is “The Tall T“)… Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/7/2020: “Rosie,” Hervis, And An Irish Idiot

Mornin’!

Boy, I wish I was in Fort Myers, at the Red Sox Spring Training camp, instead of at my desk, obsessing…

1. Report from the social media wars: The tone among the Facebook Borg has shifted dramatically. The Trump Hate is as strong as ever, but the lack of enthusiasm over Joe Biden is palpable, and the Bernie Bros. clearly see the writing on the wall. The posts by the more rational infected are full of hopes that Joe will be so weakened by age and dementia that he’ll let “good people” run the show. Most troubling of all are the discouraged Warren fans, who appear to have been permanently disabled. Even the fact that Massachusetts Democrats had reached the unavoidable conclusion that she was a fraud and couldn’t be trusted—for a “Favorite Daughter” of a state to finish third in a state primary is almost unprecedented—can’t penetrate those Trump Derangement hardened skulls. A genuine friend, not  a pure Facebook variety, wrote that he had read my “arguments” that Warren was a lying fraud and found them “unpersuasive.” This guy’s a tenured college professor! What I wrote weren’t arguments, they were facts. That the mainstream media  didn’t widely publicize those facts—more people know about the President’s typos than know that Warren lied about being “chased around a desk” by a male superior who was in a wheelchair at the time, or her false spin claiming that she had fought for female plaintiffs in a lawsuit where her client was a defendant corporation—is beside the point. The entire period from Trump’s election to the present has been an experiment is selective perception of reality. Every day now, I have to check my ethics alarms to prevent me from posting an intentionally pain-inflicting message that says to the people who have been trading “likes” and “loves” over daily hate-pieces of various levels of truth and have been excoriating anyone who points out the danger inherent to  efforts to undo an election:

“Your party is going to lose, and lose ugly. It’s going to lose because it rejected democracy, and behaved disgracefully, dividing the nation while accusing the President of exactly the misconduct they were engaging in themselves. And you, the mob, have applauded and cheered while they did this, attacking anyone who tried to bring rationality to the discussion. You deserve what’s coming. You deserve the misery it will cause you. I’m sure you will blame anyone and anything in sight, but it will be your fault for becoming weak, biased, arrogant, and hysterical. I hope that you will learn from the experience, but everything I have seen, heard and read since November 2016 tells me that you will only get worse—more angry, more resistant to non-conforming views, more doctrinaire and totalitarian in your attitudes. You had the intellect to behave otherwise, but lacked the integrity and courage to resist  peer pressure and groupthink. I have no sympathy for you.

2. This is a scam. My wife got an email offer from CVS for a “free gift” if she would fill out a questionnaire. When she prepared to submit it, she discovered that the “shipping fee” for the “gift” would be eight bucks, and would require her to send in all manner of personal information.  She deleted the whole thing having wasted 15 minutes she will want back on her deathbed. Our choices are to encourage the government to regulate this abuse of free speech, to find a way to punish the companies who engage in it, or to ignore these devices in sufficiently large numbers that they try something else less obnoxious, or more effective. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/2020: A Girl Named Nazi, And Other Ethics Puzzles

Good morning!

Believe it or not, that was what kids looked forward to on Saturday mornings.

Amazing.

1. Naming Ethics. I just learned that the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion in 2016 and 2018, is named  Nazi Paikidze.  Apparently in her parents’ native Georgian her euphonious first name means “gentle.”

Oh! Well no problem then!

2. Completely unrelated…no really, completely...In Hobart, Indiana, 23-year-old Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones and 18-year-old Cailyn Marie Smith drove up to two teenage boys who were riding their bikes, and asked if they supported President Donald Trump. The two boys’ bicycles were flying small American flags. After they answered yes, the couple swerved to drive them off the road.  Perry-Jones, according to the boys; account, left his car to rip one of the flags from its bike tossed it on the road, got back into his vehicle and ran over it. He also shouted, “Don’t let me see you downtown.”

The suspects—I wonder who their candidate is? My money’s on Bernie—were apprehended after they posted videos of the incident on Snapchat. One shows Cailyn Marie saying,  “Ya’ll scared, just like your President!…America is not great!” to the teens. I haven’t used tis video in a while, and this seems like a good time..

 

The two have been charged  with felony counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness. Continue reading

Where’s PETA When We Really Need Them?

A self-described “underground radical group”called “Pigeons, United To Interfere Now,” ( PUTIN, get it? HAR!) released pigeons with tiny “Make America Great Again” hats glued to their heads in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s visit  to Las Vegas, Nevada. (One bird had a Trump style blond wig.)  “The stunt was intended as a gesture of support and loyalty to President Trump,” “Coo Hand Luke,” a spokesperson for the group said with his tongue firmly in his bill, er, cheek.

Now we know what end-stage Trump Derangement looks like.  Not pretty.

Morons.

The group also claimed that gluing things to pigeons’ heads wasn’t cruelty to animals, because “It’s what women use to put around their eyes for eyelash extensions.” Oh! The pigeons should enjoy it then!

As I said.

Morons.

Imagine the amount of time and effort these fools spent on making little MAGA hats and gluing them on pigeon heads, to make a completely  incoherent  statement in opposition to President Trump. All my Facebook friends who scour the news and “resistance” websites every day for stories attacking the President, hysterical memes and manufactured outrage so they can post them for the Facebook Borg and harvest likes and angry faces and “Pray for  Bernie!” comments need to realize that these are the kinds of people they are allied with, and that little pigeon hats may be in their futures if they don’t, you know, get help.

And it is cruel.  (Would YOU want a MAGA cap glued to your head?) PETA isn’t on the case because the group is doubtlessly occupied with more important matters, like fighting “anti-animal language.”

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/2020: I’m So Sorry I Missed Your Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.

I am awash with shame.

Yesterday was Abe Lincoln’s birthday, and I didn’t remember until late last night. This is the inevitable result of Presidents Day, the lazy combination of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays into one floating holiday that lumps all our Presidents together as if they were equally laudable. (They are all laudable, but not equally.) Thus Franklin Pierce gets as much love from our calendar as Abe and George, which is ridiculous. ( President Pierce’s birthday I remember, because it’s the same date as my wedding anniversary, November 23.) In the old days before the blight of Presidents Day, school children would spend both February 12 and 22  learning about and doing projects related Lincoln or Washington. Without either of these great leaders, we probably don’t have a nation today, or if we do, it would be a vastly diminished one. Our first and Sixteenth Presidents tower over the rest in leadership ability, vision, and impact on our history and culture. Both deserve their own holiday, because every American should take at least a day out of every year to remember these two icons and honor their essential contributions, at great sacrifice, to the existence of the United States of America as well as the welfare of all of its citizens, past, present and future.

Today, most Americans couldn’t describe what Lincoln said at Gettysburg, and that’s not a recent phenomenon. In the classic movie “Ruggles of Red Gap,” a barroom full of Americans in a Western frontier town are unable to recall Lincoln’s message, but the very British butler, recently immigrated, can. Charles Laughton, who played the butler, continued to deliver Lincoln’s masterpiece throughout his career after that scene became the highlight of the movie. You can watch it here—I’d embed it, but there is no YouTube version.

1. Self promotion dept. I’ll be participating in a live podcast later today, discussing the ethical implications of nepotism. Details to come.

2. Still more developments in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Earlier this morning I watched a live press conference from the Astros Spring Training camp about the sign stealing scheme. From a public relations standpoint, the spectacle made the Astros problems worse.

Stars  Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve spoke for a grand total of 90 seconds, sounding for all the world  like American prisoners of war in North Korea. Owner Jim Crane did most of the talking, which was unfortunate for the Astros and baseball. He  took no responsibility at all for what went on in 2017, though he was at the top of the organization chart: this is called the “Ken Lay excuse.” Worse, Crane repeatedly refused to acknowledge that using a secret camera to relay to the Astros dugout the opposing catchers’ signs telling pitchers what to throw, which were then relayed to  Astros batters by players banging on trash cans, constituted cheating. All Crane would say was “We broke the rules. We can argue about what you want to call it.”

Worse still, Crane said that it was impossible to say whether the team’s full year of sign stealing, including the playoffs and the World Series (which the Astros won), gave his team a competitive advantage. “Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t” he said. “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”

In later interviews with the players after the press conference, it sounded like everyone had been prepped to keep saying “2017” over and over, because there are lingering suspicions that the Astros scam extended into 2018 and 2019. As commentator Matt Vasgersian mused afterward on the MLB cable channel, if the Astros had won a championship cheating all the way through 2017 and hadn’t been caught, why would they suddenly stop the next season? Continue reading

After School Ethics Special, 1/6/2020: Stupidity On Parade

 

“Help?”

A grateful pointer to Althouse for finding this photo, which raises automatic ethics questions. I am viscerally opposed to putting sweater, clothes and costumes on dogs, in part because all of our dogs have hated it, and one, our feisty Jack Russell Dickens, would twist himself like a contortionist to get out of any garb, whereupon he would rip it to shreds. Several of her commenters make a great point, however: it is unethical to force dogs bred for warm and dry climates to live in wet, cold ones. I have dog-lover friends who insist that dogs are humiliated by being dressed up, like Ralphie in his bunny pajamas. That, I think, is a stretch.

1. Don’t blame Disney. Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California decided to raise money for the PTA by selling tickets to a screening of  The Lion King. CNN explains,

“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.” While the school doesn’t know how exactly the company discovered the movie was played, Rose said the school’s PTA will “somewhat begrudgingly” cover the cost of the screening. An email sent to the school by Movie Licensing USA informed Emerson faculty that the company had “received an alert” that “The Lion King” was screened during an event on November 15. Movie Licensing USA manages licensing for Disney and other major studios. And since the school does not have a license with the company, it’s been asked to pay $250 for the screening — and $250 per showing of the movie at any future events at the school.”

What? “Somewhat grudgingly”? They had “no idea” charging for tickets to see copyrighted material broke any rules? Those rules are well-displayed on any DVD, and any duty of reasonable intelligence should be able to figure out what’s illegal about doing what they did. There weren’t any lawyers among the organizers and attendees?

In its story about this episode, Boing Boing, an entertaining site with an annoyingly “woke” staff, implies that Disney is being an greedy old meanie, and that the PTA was an innocent victim of another evil corporation.  Wrong, and stupid. If companies don’t protect their copyrights and trademarks, they can lose them. Disney has been overzealous in this area, but not on this occasion.

2. KABOOM! Chris Matthews suggested yesterday that the Democrats should consider nominating Adam Schiff for President. Continue reading