Let’s Play “Only In America!” Today’s Quandary: The Gorilla Glue Girl

“Only in America!” isn’t exactly an ethics quiz. It’s more of an “Is this a great country of a sick country?” game that focuses on the values and strengths of the culture….or otherwise

Incidentally, June 17 marks the date when, in 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France arrives in New York Harbor after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 pieces. The copper and iron statue was reassembled and dedicated the following year in a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland. The statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who modeled it after his own mother, we are told—that woman was BIG!—with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, later famous for, well, you know. It was supposed to be up in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, but financing took longer than expected. Even ignoring the pedestal and assembly process, he statue alone cost France an estimated $250,000, or $5.5 million in today’s money). It, or she, finally reached her forever home on Bedloe’s Island nine years late. At the dedication, President Cleveland, said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” At more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue was taller than any structure in New York City at the time.

In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal. Lazarus words, especially “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ have caused a lot of confusion over the years, as many people and even some under-educated elected officials seem to think they represent official U.S. policy, hence “Welcome, illegal immigrants!”

None of which has anything to do with the issue at hand, which is this: In February, Ethics Alarms examined the weird story of Tessica Brown, who decided that the the perfect hair product for her needs was Gorilla Glue adhesive spray. Then, after the predictable result, she posted a video showing the world what an idiot she was, and threatening Gorilla Glue with a lawsuit, an idea the company quickly knocked down for the count. She lost a lot of hair, and even needed plastic surgery. Here’s angry Tessica in the video:

Continue reading

Baseball Has A Cheating Problem That Is Old, Was Supposedly Addressed Decades Ago, And Is Strangling The Game. It Is Relevant To More Than Baseball (Part 3: The Crackdown)

Before the 2021 season started, Major League Baseball claimed that it was about to start enforcing the rule against applying foreign substances to the baseball. Why. one might wonder. As Part I described, baseball has been casual about this rule for a long time, and the pattern goes back even longer than when Ethics Alarms first discussed it. In 1920, the game, trying to clean up its tarnished image in the wake of 1919 Black Sox scandal, banned the spitball as well as other “trick pitches” that involved altering the ball itself a few pitchers who were regarded as “spitball specialists” were “grandfathered” meaning that they were allowed to keep throwing the otherwise illegal pitch while others were not. This is not the way to make a rule against cheating, and the ambivalence about the spitball continued well into the 1980s. Baseball, and especially sportswriters, seemed to think this particular kind of cheating was cute. Only a few pitchers could throw a spitball, and those who did, notably Gaylord Perry, now in the Hall of Fame, were only occasionally caught and punished. Baseball finally made a rule that a pitcher couldn’t bring his fingers to his mouth; if he did, an automatic ball was called. Meanwhile, umpire searches of a suspected pitcher using other substances like K-Y jelly, usually hidden in a cap, became the stuff of comedy, as in the famous sequence from “The Naked Gun” above.

MLB became lax about enforcement, and predictably, some pitchers, and eventually most pitchers, took what was accepted as a “little” pine tar to get a better grip on the ball and, aided by modern chemistry, began using so-called “sticky stuff” to get higher rates of spin on the ball than they could with their natural talents. This development accelerated after 2018, when home runs became more common than ever before. When the rate of homers reached absurd levels in 2019, breaking the rules against putting foreign substances on the ball was viewed as a matter of professional survival. Pitchers experimented, trying Tyrus Sticky Grip, Firm Grip spray, Pelican Grip Dip stick and Spider Tack, a glue intended for use in World’s Strongest Man competitions and whose advertisements show someone using it to lift a cinder block with his palm. Some combined several of those products to create their own personal “sticky stuff.” Their clubs used Edgertronic high-speed cameras and TrackMan and Rapsodo pitch-tracking devices to see which version of the glue worked best.

Continue reading

How Newt Gingrich Taught Me Why We Don’t Have An ACLU Any More

NewtGingrich

Many years ago, when I was just a little tiny ethicist and ran a research foundation for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I was invited to a Chamber executive retreat. By far the most interesting feature was a working lunch with young Congressman Newt Gingrich as the speaker. This was long before most American knew about Newt, who was considered something of a wonk and proved it that afternoon.

Rep. Gingrich gave the clearest presentation of organizational structure and function I had ever heard or have read about since as part of his seminar on long-range planning. He handed out a chart showing a pyramid with “MISSION” at the point, “GOALS” beneath, “OBJECTIVES” beneath that, “STRATEGY” next going down, then “TACTICS,” and finally OPERATIONS as the long base. He went through many examples of failed and successful organizations, making many fascinating points, including (I still have my notes somewhere):

  • You can’t have a strong organization without a strong and clear mission.
  • An organization in which the goals start to become inconsistent with the mission will lose its integrity and direction.
  • If the organization’s strategies are polluted by parochial and personal goals of staff and leadership, the goals will become eccentric and scattershot, and mission will become meaningless.
  • Even the best mission cannot survive inadequate operations, which is why idealists and ideologues so often make poor leaders.
  • The best operations imaginable won’t save flawed mission (Newt’s example: Nazi Germany), and
  • “If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s easy to get there, but it won’t be worth the trip.”

I hadn’t thought about Newt’s private seminar for a long time, but it popped back into what passes for my head when I read this piece, “Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the A.C.L.U. Faces an Identity Crisis.”

Continue reading

I Can’t Let THIS Pass: CNN Reinstates Jeffrey Toobin

They really did. Am I surprised? I can’t say that I am exactly. Of course, any responsible organization would fire an employee who was publicly revealed (oops, almost said “exposed”) masturbating on camera during a Zoomed staff meeting. A real estate firm? Of course. A law firm? No question about it. A consulting firm? A university? Naturally. Not only was what Toobin did during a New Yorker meeting per se sexual harassment, it was signature significance for a sick puppy with the judgment of someone who likes to play “dodge ’em” on the freeway.

I was worried that in my various posts about Toobin’s Folly, I might have stated that CNN would never take Toobin back (they suspended him; the New Yorker canned him). I didn’t. I did write about Toobin’s future utility as a legal analyst, which is what Toobin purports to do, saying

Again, why would anyone care what an analyst thinks who has shown such head-explodingly bad judgment, disrespect for the workplace and colleagues, and juvenile instincts?

I also saw foreshadowing of today development in this post, in which I pronounced myself a moron for being resistant to the idea that progressives will excuse each other for just about anything, writing,

“I continue to be unable to grasp the complete attempted inside-out-ization of all American logic, principles and values by the people who currently control the White House, half of Congress, the schools, the universities, the news media, social media, Big Tech and entertainment.”

And sure enough, CNN brought back Toobin today. Wow. Asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota “what he was thinking,” Toobin replied that he “wasn’t thinking very well or very much,” and called his conduct “deeply moronic.” Yeah, that’s just what inquiring viewers want in their legal analysis: the opinions of someone who doesn’t think well or very much and is periodically moronic in the workplace by his own admission.

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On A Forgotten Singing Sensation

Jill corey

For all my (self-) vaunted dedication to popular culture, I had no idea who Jill Corey, pictured above, was. When I glanced at the New York Times obituary feature about her last month, it didn’t ring enough of a bell for me to read it. But I left the section lying around for some reason, and finally read it last night. Her life is a story filled with ethics enlightenment about life, luck, and priorities.

On Nov. 9, 1953, when she was only 17, Norma Jean Speranza of Avonmore, Westmoreland County, a coal miner’s daughter just like Loretta Lynn, was featured in a Life Magazine cover story called “Small Town Girl Gets New Name And a New Career.” She became a true overnight sensation, recording hundreds of songs for Columbia Records, including “Love Me to Pieces,” “I Love My Baby,” “Let It Be Me” (which the Everly Brothers covered memorably) and “Sometimes I’m Happy,” the featured single on her career-defining album, “Sometimes I’m Happy, Sometimes I’m Blue.” Corey, it is fair to say, had one of those rare female voices that are instantly appealing, like Judy Garland and Karen Carpenter. Listen…

Those low notes!

Critics and audiences loved her. Silver Screen magazine said she had a “voice as lovely as a glass slipper, and a personality to match,” and that was typical. Corey was a regular on the television variety programs “Robert Q’s Matinee” (1950–1956) “The Dave Garroway Show” (1953–1954), the 1958–1959 version of the iconic “Your Hit Parade,” and on Johnny Carson’s CBS comedy-variety show before he took over “Tonight.” She also had her own syndicated radio and television shows. In 1958 she starred in a feature-length musical film, “Senior Prom” (co-produced by Moe Howard!)

So why doesn’t (almost) anyone remember her today?

In 1961, she married Don Hoak. He’s remembered now more than Corey is thanks to “City Slickers”: in a scene on a dude ranch, the one woman in the group complains to Billy Crystal and his two friends that she doesn’t understand men’s obsession with baseball. Who cares who played third base for the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, she asks hypothetically, and the words are barely out of her mouth before the three guys blurt out, “Don Hoak!”

Corey stopped performing and recording to raise a family; she and Hoak had a daughter. He dropped dead of a heart attack in 1969 at the age of 41 while chasing a thief who had stolen his brother’s car. Unexpectedly, Jill Corey had to return to singing. But her moment had passed. She was no longer famous or in demand, and popular music, the culture and public tastes had moved at supersonic speed in the eight years between 1961 and 1969. Once seemingly everywhere in magazines, TV and the radio and seemingly headed to a long career, she was back to being an unknown. When she died in May at the age of 85, few noticed.

Observations:

Continue reading

Dear Red Sox: That Was An Unethical Banner, But You Asked For It

trump-won-banner-fenway-park

During yesterday’s late afternoon game Red Sox game against the Miami Marlins in Fenway Park, some fans unfurled a huge “Trump won — Save America” banner over the centerfield wall during the fourth inning. The banner was confiscated and the fans ejected from the game. Some of the players and quite a few spectators were amused. Similar messages appeared on banners unfurled during Mets and Yankees games in recent weeks.

The Red Sox have long had a policy prohibiting large signs and banners in the park, though I have seen some appear without the park staff taking action. Political signs have always been taboo. In 2017, this sign…

Continue reading

Mid-Day Ethics Interruptions, 6/4/2021: After the First Item, You May Not Want To Read Any More…

Screamfest

1. When ethics alarms were never installed...The question here is not whether this was unethical. Of course it was. The question is how such an episode could happen anywhere in this country. Eight high school football coaches at McKinley Senior High School in Canton, Ohio have been placed on paid leave after apparently forcing a 17-year-old player, a Hebrew Israelite whose faith forbids the consumption of pork, to eat a pepperoni pizza in front of the team as punishment for skipping a practice. The family is suing the school district for violating the student’s First Amendment rights.

The head football coach, Marcus Wattley, allegedly told the boy that if he didn’t eat the pizza, his team mates would be punished. I don’t comprehend this. How can someone live in the U.S. and think forcing a child to violate his faith is anything but abuse? How does someone like Wattley get hired by a public school and entrusted with the welfare of children? Why would any high school have eight assistant football coaches?

If the facts are confirmed in an investigation, more than the coaches should be fired and, one hopes, prosecuted. The principal and other administrators should also be canned. [Pointer: JutGory]

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias…The dozens of ways the mainstream media warps the news and manipulates public opinion becomes oppressive once you are sensitized to it. The headline in the Times two days ago, for example, was “GOP Challenges Teaching of Racism’s Scope.” That headline presumes as fact that “Critical Race Theory” and the “1619 Project” fairly and accurately convey “racism’s scope.” “GOP Challenges What It Calls Anti-White, Anti-America Indoctrination In the Schools” would be a neutral headline. Later in the same article, the news story refers to President Trump’s “racist comments, ” which is just a continuation of a narrative build on a media-fueled Big Lie. President Trump made many insensitive, provocative and politically incorrect comments. None were “racist.”

Continue reading

The Ethics Conflict Of The Untrustworthy Housecleaners Is An Easy Call

house theft

…but for some reason. “The Ethicist” couldn’t figure that out.

I hadn’t checked in on Kwame Anthony Appiah, the New York Times Magazine’s current incarnation of “The Ethicist,” for a while, and based on this exchange, the usually reliable NYU philosophy professor is showing some wear and tear. I blame The Great Stupid.

An inquirer wrote to ask if her friend had done the right thing by not telling her neighbors in ” a close-knit neighborhood” who used the same mother-daughter housecleaning team she did that she had caught the daughter stealing, and dismissed the pair. “She spoke with the mother, who apologized profusely on behalf of her troubled daughter and, of course, understood when my friend said they wouldn’t use the service any longer,” the letter concluded. “Was my friend obligated to let her neighbors know? She worried about this team losing business when she had no way of knowing whether or not the daughter was stealing from others.”

I was gobsmacked that Appiah endorsed not telling the neighbors. He wrote,

Continue reading

Waning Wednesday Ethics Wonders, 6/2/2021…

What’s the ethical reaction to this story? Angelia Mia Vargas, 24, has been charged with deadly conduct with a firearm after she accidentally shot her 5-year-old son while trying to shoot an over-enthusiastic 6-month-old boxer puppy that got loose from a neighbor and was running through her yard. Neither the dog nor the boy were seriously injured. My reflex reaction, I confess, was, “HA! That should teach this idiot something about gun safety!” and then I instantly regretted it. The child was innocent: what really would have been condign justice was if her shot hit her car’s gas tank and it blew up. Shooting herself in the foot would have been good. “She could have handled it differently,” said Bruno the puppy’s owner. Ya think? Here’s the terrifying beast that Angelia thought justified deadly force:

Bruno

Should this woman have custody of a child? [Pointer: valkygrrl]

1. The rest of the story….There were a record number of Tulsa Race Massacre demonstrations on Memorial Day, as one might expect with “hate whitey” being the current fad. What was supposed to be the biggest one, in Tulsa of course, was cancelled after three survivors demanded $1 million each to appear. The May 31st Remember & Rise event was also supposed to feature John Legend and Stacey Abrams—boy, if only my sock drawer hadn’t been in such bad shape!– but it was called off because Viola Fletcher, 107, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100 and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106, increased their appearance fee from $100,000 each to $1 million each. Their lawyers also demanded that a reparations fund be increased from the agreed-upon $2 million to $10 million. What does this tell us about how reparations would turn out if the U.S. were ever so unhinged as to agree to them?

I did learn that the young African-American, Dick Rowland, whose arrest after a white woman accused him of rape (or something) during an encounter in an elevator was the fuse for the violence wasn’t prosecuted. He was released, left Tulsa, and never returned.

I wonder why…

2. Here I go, obsessing about group identity again...In New York, the “Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession” program, sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Moynihan Scholarship Fund, will introduce 250 “promising underrepresented high school students” to the accounting profession. The program will include virtual sessions about forensic accounting, interviewing skills, public speaking, networking, and an “accounting profession overview” featuring a panel discussion with experts in the profession. What a great idea! Nine institutions, including Ithaca College, Medgar Evers College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John’s University, Siena College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego, the University at Buffalo, and Westchester Community College co-host the program, which is free of charge for students.

Oh—white students may not apply. The online application for the program includes options for Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Native American students, but no option for white students. When confronted about the apparent discrimination involved, SUNY Oswego Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Furlong huminahumina-ed that “SUNY Oswego participates in supporting the program and sees this as a beneficial service to the profession, but we strongly believe that all disadvantaged students would benefit from the COAP program.While we do not participate in recruiting the student participants in COAP or in the setting of policy for student membership, SUNY Oswego would prefer a more inclusive perspective regarding membership in COAP and the NYSSCPA policy…[which would] “align with SUNY Oswego’s ethos that is rooted in diversity of thought and people, equitable practices and policies, and inclusive experiences.” Furlong said that the matter “merits much future discussion for the purposes of having SUNY Oswego reassess our involvement and reconsider our sponsorship.”

Meanwhile, his institution will continue to participate in a program that discriminates against white students.

Continue reading

Two Wins For Law And Ethics Over Ideology

DC RULES_blind justice

Judges are proving less partisan and ideologically driven than the increasingly totalitarian Left had hoped.

1. In Vitolo v. Guzman, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati ruled last week that the federal government violates the equal protection clause when it considers race or sex in in allocating Wuhan virus relief funds. Following the same track as the earlier case discussed here, the Court agreed that the U.S. Small Business Administration violated the Constitution by giving preference to minority- and women-owned restaurants.

Antonio Vitolo and his wife own a restaurant called Jake’s Bar and Grill. Vitolo is white, his wife is Hispanic, and they each own 50% of the restaurant. Of course, Jake could have gamed the easily manipuated SBA system by just handing his wife the extra 1%. The government requires small businesses to be at least 51% owned by women, veterans or “socially and economically disadvantaged” people to jump to the head of the line, because someone is presumed to be socially disadvantaged if they are a member of a designated racial or ethnic group. A person is considered economically disadvantaged if they are socially disadvantaged, and they face diminished capital and credit opportunities. In such a system, whether the business owner being given preference has actually been disadvantaged doesn’t matter. He or she is presumed to be disadvantaged. This nicely follows the circular logic of Critical Race Theory.

The group preferences are taken into consideration during the first 21 days in which the Small Business Administration awards the pandemic grants to restaurants. After priority applications submitted during that period are processed, the Small Business Administration processes grant requests in the order that they were received. That is, white men come last.

The 6th Circuit majority said Vitolo and his wife are entitled to an injunction forcing the government to grant their application, if approved, before all later-filed applications, and that their color and gender should be irrelevant. The government did not demonstrate a “compelling interest” justifying preferences based on race or sex.

Continue reading