Category Archives: Daily Life

McAfee And Me: An Ethics Rant

I have written here before about my theory that the needless complexity of life, especially involving daily interactions with technology, are driving normal people crazy, and sometimes homicidally crazy. While activists and justly alarmed citizens point to guns and mental health policies to explain murderous rampages by citizens previously regarded as quite and law abiding, insufficient attention is being paid to the ratcheting-up of daily stresses caused by the private and public sectors gratuitously making  daily life unbearably frustrating to navigate, particularly for the less skilled navigators among us.

I don’t expect to snap, but you never know. It is said, I assume apocryphally, that there was a sick drawing New Yorker black humor cartoonist Charles Addams would send to his editor when he was about to have one of his periodic breakdowns, and the magazine would see that he was deposited in his favorite sanitarium in a timely fashion. If you read the message  “AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGZZZZZKKKKKAAAAARHHHHHYY!”-and nothing else--in a future post, you will know that I have gone full Sweeney Todd (Sweeney in his fury and grief determined that half the human race were so cruel and corrupt that they deserved to die, and that they made the other half so miserable that it was merciful to murder them too) and my immediate neighborhood is in mortal danger. Call the police. I don’t have a gun, but I don’t need one: I’m pretty good with a baseball bat.

If and when that happens, something like my experience yesterday will be the cause.

I have a new netbook, and it included a free 30 day trial subscription to McAfee’s virus protection service. For a week I had been getting obtrusive pop-up ads from McAfee telling me that my protection was about to lapse and my opportunity to purchase a special discounted continuation of the service (Just $39.99, marked down from $89.99!) would soon evaporate. Yesterday was the expiration date, so I decided to accept the offer and sign up online.

I checked the appropriate boxes and filled in all the information, including the credit card data. The attempt to pay was rejected, the screen told me, for my security code, that little three digit number on the back of the card, was incorrect. So I reentered it, after checking it carefully. After much churning and two “preparing your order” screens, I again got the error message. Huh. I tried again. Same thing.

This provoked a mature explosion quite familiar to my wife and dog (the dog hid under the bed), in which I cursed all online purchase, subscription and registration procedures, which inevitably take far longer than they are supposed to, are so complicated that they invite human error, and appear to have been designed by Joseph Mengele as some kind of sadistic experiment. My wife sagely suggested that I try another credit card, since the one I was using had recently been the object of a bank screw-up that ate another several hours of my rapidly dwindling life span. This I did…four times. Every time, the security code was flagged as entered wrongly, which it was not. Finally, I used a third card. Again, no dice, “incorrect data.”

The attempt to pay McAfee $39.99 had now taken about a half an hour. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Health and Medicine, Marketing and Advertising, Science & Technology, The Internet

Unethical Research, Unethical Headline, Unethical Media Report: “Many Parents Will Say Kids Made Them Happier. They’re Probably Lying”

I think this made me 12% less happy than when I passed the bar exam...

I think this made me 12% less happy than when I passed the bar exam…

[An UPDATE is HERE]

On the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Ana Swenson breathlessly writes “that research suggests …[p]eople who have kids in the United States and in many countries around the world report being less happy than people who don’t have kids.”

Ah-HA! This must be why DirecTV is certain that promoting a device that it facetiously suggests would make your kid disappear will appeal to its customers!

Except that Swenson’s headline is click-bait, her article is irresponsible and incompetent, and the study is politically motivated junk, as such things usually are.

“Research” doesn’t suggest this politically manufactured finding.  A single dubious study may suggest it to those who already are inclined to be dubious about parenthood, and who could also be persuaded to buy valuable swampland property in Florida. If you aren’t smart enough to bale on both the “study” and Swenson after this statement central to the issue, I have little hope for you:

“On average, an American parent reports being 12 percent unhappier than a non-parent in America – the biggest gap in the 22 countries the researchers looked at, followed distantly by Ireland.”  

What (the hell) does it mean to be “12 per cent unhappier,” or “12 per cent happier”? Happiness is not quantifiable like that, nor can it be measured with that kind of precision, or any kind of precision. Gee, what is the margin of error in that 12 %? Is it 12%, +/- 3%? I’m trying to think of two states of happiness I have experienced in which I could say with any certainty that I was 12% happier/ 47% happier or 71% happier  in one more than the other, and if I can’t determine that, how are a bunch or researches going to do it?

Let’s see—did discovering I had to undergo a circumcision at the age of 30 make me 12% more unhappy than I was when the Red Sox lost Game 6 of the 1986 World Series? Did watching the T-Rex beat the Indominus Rex in the dino-showdown in “Jurassic World” make me 12% happier than when bought our home for a bargain, or 12% less? You know, I really can’t answer that. Both made me happy in different ways. Did my happiness that my dad died the way he wanted, with dignity and in his sleep just short of his 90th birthday, exceed by 12% the happiness I felt when my final performance at my theater company got a deserved standing ovation, though I was also saddened that my dad wasn’t there to see it?

Please, O Wise and Researchers, enlighten me! They can’t. Of course they can’t. Nor can they tell me how to quantify the happiness my son has given his mother and me, even though he has driven and almost certainly will continue to drive us out of our minds with worry and worse on a regular basis, and has cost us a lot of money we will surely miss when we are dreaming about finally seeing Paris. Am I 12 % less happy than I would have been with a son more like I was, a non-rebellious, conventionally obedient, healthy and lucky kid who sailed through school and never got in any serious trouble? No, because then my son wouldn’t be the unique, amazing, gutsy and original individual he is.

Swenson’s report is filled with statements that make it clear that this is politically motivated  entitlement and anti-child propaganda (and thus pro-abortion propaganda). The smoking gun comes early: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Love, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum”

There are, I think, three regular commenters on Ethics Alarms who extend all the way back to Ethics Scoreboard days, or pre-2012. One of them is Tim Levier, who unlike the other two, I have actually met while I was in his state of Colorado. Tim posted the following on my Facebook page, and I invited him to cross-post here. In his post, he addresses the “do something!” lament that appears to be thoroughly rotting the brains of our leaders in both parties as they hustle to pander to the emotional responses to the Orlando tragedy. Tim wrote a younger friend about what somethings he would do, and not all of them are relevant to guns. They all, however, are relevant to building a society in which fewer people might choose to start shooting strangers.

Here is Tim’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum.

I’m 35 and was recently talking with someone slightly younger. He had the standard call for ideas to check the “do something” box. After I did some jumping jacks to show that I did something, I buckled down and wrote some ideas.

Now, I’m usually accustomed to reading some constitutional murky stuff, so I veered a different direction. Below is my list as I wrote it to him, perhaps there’s something in it that speaks to people. My 4 ideas for improvement (not solutions, because solutions don’t exist.):

Idea #1

I’ll tell you that the #1 thing I would like to see in this country (give me some slack here, I believe everything is connected), given the state of health care…

I’d like to see a 3 tier system of medical insurance & payments. (Tier 3 will be the part that relates back.)

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Dress Code Ethics: The Jet Blue Affair

Maggie flying (above) and performing (below)

Maggie flying (above) and performing (below)

JetBlue has a line in its contract of carriage that gives its employees the power to refuse to fly passengers who try to board a plane wearing clothing that is “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” Based on that vague standard, Seattle-based burlesque performer Maggie McMuffin was refused seating on a JetBlue flight from Boston’s Logan International Airport last month when the airline’s gate agents refused to let her board  until she changed her shorts. Maggie told a local CBS affiliate that an airline employee said her outfit was “not appropriate” according to the flight crew and pilot. Now Maggie is taking advantage of the situation to get some cheap publicity and maybe an interview or two, while embarrassing JetBlue. You can read more details in Slate’s story here.

Ah, dress codes! They are conduct rules put in place by businesses and institutions because some people have no manners, sense of place, consideration for others or respect, and these codes never, ever, work in the long run, because some people have no manners, sense of place, consideration for others or respect.

Once upon a time, children, adults going out into public dressed with taste and modesty as an expression of respect to others, including strangers, that they might meet. The Sixties destroyed this cultural consensus by questioning manners, decorum, conformity, dignity, and respect for others, especially anybody over thirty. Do your own thing! Let it all hang out! Today, a half century later,  people nonchalantly wear flip-flops to the opera and church, while the obese passenger sitting next to you on an airplane may be wearing a tank-top, and hasn’t  bathed in a week.

Of course Maggie McMuffin—I’m sure that’s her real name—wasn’t dressed appropriately to fly. (That’s her outfit above to the left–I assume she was wearing her head…) She was definitely dressed appropriately to draw attention to herself as burlesque performers (a.k.a “strippers”) are wont to do, and that was her intent. The JetBlue agreement, however, doesn’t say its employees can kick you off the plane for dressing inappropriately—like in a scuba suit, a bunny costume, or as Dracula. It says “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”  Whatever you can say about Maggie’s travel garb, it isn’t “lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” JetBlue was wrong: unfair, incompetent, foolish. Unethical. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Rights

Comment of the Day: “A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker”

divideandconquer

No doubt about it: the longer comments have an edge when it comes to getting  Comment of the Day recognition. Quantity isn’t quality, of course, but these special reader-composed musings constitute both useful elaborations and extensions on the themes raised in the original essay, and also a chance for me to recognize and reward the thoughtful people who make Ethics Alarms a colloquy rather than a one-man megaphone.

It is a the height of irony that my recent post about the fall-off in traffic here of late has generated more comments and traffic than almost any other May post. It also generated two fascinating comments in succession about objectivity and political orientation by prolific commentator Humble Talent. I have combined them:  The comment began in response to Beth, who wrote in part,Maybe you will start attracting a more moderate or left of center audience. I would love to see positions here debated by people on both sides of the aisle. Increased civil discourse is never a bad thing.” Here is HT’s Comment of the Day on the anxious post, A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker:

Do you really think that’s possible in today’s political climate? I think there are very few people who straddle American ideologies like I do: For Marijuana. Against abortion. For gay marriage (a position that evolved, in no small part to discussing the issue here.), Against corporate welfare. Fiscally conservative, except that a safety net of some size is beneficial. socially liberal, except that those things growing in pregnant women are actually children. Atheist. Canadian. And maybe that’s given me a different perspective than the average onlooker.

I can’t count the number of left leaning friends I’ve lost this last election cycle. I find that people who identify ideologically as progressives, especially but not uniquely, are by and large intolerant. And unforgiving. And prone to get angry when confused by facts. Freedom of speech, which used to be a cornerstone of liberalism, is now treated like physical violence. This is the first time I can think in history where the grassroots of any party are looking to retard the rights of everyday citizens…. But that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now how does any of this effect this blog specifically? Well, first off: Whether the blog is centrist or not, the blog is perhaps accidentally counter-culture. Whoever is in power is more able to give Jack ammunition. For the longest time it could appear that Jack was picking on the democrats, because they were supplying him with the most actionable material, they were in power, they did things that effected larger audiences. Sure, there might have been some selection bias, and sure, there might have been some lensing going on… But that just makes the switch that’s happened more profound. Over the last two years, there have been more republicans to talk about, because republicans had gained more power two years ago when the senate swapped. Even then: Hillary was front and centre, because she’s presumably the next president of the United States. Now we’re talking about Trump, oh yes, Hillary’s still there, on a back burner, oh yeah Paul Ryan’s still there, somewhere in a shadow, maybe playing poker with Sanders, Warren and Obama. But forget them, we’re talking about Trump, and why? Because he’s more important than we really want to give him credit for. And that’s perhaps frightening.

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, The Internet

Ethics Hero: Fate, Providence, God, Luck, Mr. Irony, Chancey McCoinky-DinkFace, Or Whoever Was Responsible For This Story, Because It’s WONDERFUL

I love this story. It is just what I needed. I have been smiling for hours, and though my website is going through a slump, my business is at a critical juncture, my nation faces an uncertain future, everything seems to be spinning out of control, and I’m still fat, bald and frustrated by unfulfilled ambitions, hopes and dreams…damn. It is a wonderful world, isn’t it?

The Heimlich maneuver was developed by Dr. Henry J. Heimlich in 1974. It is estimated that the anti-choking technique has  saved approximately estimated 50,000 U.S. lives, and thousands more worldwide.

Now you can add 87-year-old Patty Ris to the list. She has just sat down to eat dinner with other seniors at a group table in the dining hall of Cincinnati’s Deupree House, a retirement home, when her first bite of hamburger lodged in her throat. She began choking, unable to daw a breath. Luckily, a 96-year-old man sitting next to her jumped up from his chair, grabbed her, and  deftly used the abdomen-squeezing maneuver to successfully pop the obstruction our of her windpipe and her mouth.

That 96-year-old man was Dr. Heimlich himself. In all these years, he said, he had never had the opportunity to use the method he devised to save someone who was really in peril.

“I felt it was just confirmation of what I had been doing throughout my life,” he said proudly.

Perfect.

__________________________

Source: New York Times

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Filed under Daily Life, Health and Medicine

A Bait-And-Switcher Is Called To Account

Reliant

Our small ethics training and consulting business always has cash flow worries, so when an offer arrived from Reliant Funding promising a quick line of credit, my business partner and COO–also known as my wife—leaped into action. She checked up on the outfit, and all indications were that they were legit. Comments about them on the web lacked any red flags.

Then she called the number listed to apply for the loan, a process promised to take “hours not days,” and activate the loan card, which looked like a credit card with my name on it. Our representative was articulate and informative, and prospects looked rosy. Then my wise COO, herself now crippled by the business curse, ethical thinking, heard  “Steve” say ProEthics could probably get a $10,000 loan. She immediately and curtly said that she would have to call him back.

“This mailer says that a $41, 739 loan was pre-approved. She said. He said the most we could get was $10,000. That mailer is a lie!”

“Correctamundo!” I ventured.

Now Steve was in trouble; you don’t want to cross Grace. Really. She called Steve back, and went on the attack: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Daily Life, Marketing and Advertising, Workplace