From The “Life Competence” Files: Death By Licorice

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describes the odd case of  a middle-aged construction worker who died from eating one or two large bags of black licorice daily over a three week period. A naturally occurring compound, glycyrrhizic acid, found in black licorice can have adverse health effects if you gorge on it: in 2017, the FDA warned on its website, “If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.” If you have muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat, you should stop eating it and call your doctor, who should also advise you possible  about interactions it may have with your other medications.

The construction worker’s sudden addiction to the candy  caused his heart to stop, and he collapsed at mid-day at a fast-food restaurant. Emergency responders performed  CPR and revived him,  but he died the next day. Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was one of the authors of the case study, pronounced the lesson of the episode:

“The key message here for the general public is that food containing licorice can potentially be hazardous to your health if eaten in large quantities. I don’t think people realize it. It’s not labeled that way.”

It shouldn’t have to be labelled, should it? What isn’t potentially deadly in asbsurdly large quantities? Water can kill you. Of course candy can kill you. It’s interesting to know why, and that  licorice root extract can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in bodily electrolytes, but honestly: who wouldn’t do a little checking if they suddenly started eating huge amounts of something that normal people only consume occasionally, if at all? Continue reading

Everyday Ethics: The Really Nice People You Are Indebted To Who Come For A Visit And Refuse To Leave

That was the classic SLN skit from the Seventies that kept going through my mind today, and I felt guilty about  it. After all, it wasn’t a rude John Belushi who had come to our house. It was the wonderful woman who had rescued our dog from neglectful owners, taken him to her home, nursed him to health, and allowed us to adopt him. We are so grateful to her for her compassion and kindness, so when she and her friend, who also had been involved in the rehabilitation of Spuds, asked to stop by and see how he was doing after being a member of the Marshall family for three weeks, of course we said yes.

Spuds was, predictably, thrilled to see them, and they were emotional about seeing him in such good health and spirits. We invited the two women in, of course, offered them refreshments, engaged in conversation about our dog’s progress and adventures.

How long would you say would be a reasonable time for such an encounter? They stayed for three hours, from 2 pm to 5.

We showed them the house, Spuds’ toys, and the neighborhood. I allowed them to take the dog for a walk, with me as guide. The only topic of conversation the entire time was this dog and other dogs, because we have nothing else in common really, though it’s not as if they wanted to talk about anything else. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 9/18/2020: Boy, It’s Hard To Write About Ethics When What You Really Want To Do Is Run Amuck With A Bloody Sword

I don’t even want to talk about the last two days, except to note that what has me proto-homicidal has nothing to do with anything we’ve been discussing on Ethics Alarms.

1. Now THIS is incompetent phishing: “Verizon” contacted me to say,

Dear User :Your incoming mails were placed on pending status due to the recent upgrade to our database, and also exceeded the storage limit of 1 GB, which is defined by the administrator, are running at 99.8 gigabyte. You can not send or receive new messages until you re-validate your mailbox.

  • I no longer have any relationship with Verizon.
  • Verizon no longer runs an email service. It sold its email users to AOL.
  • The letter is ungrammatical.
  • I received that email, along with about 50 others at the same time, telling me I was no longer getting email.
  • “Verizon’s” address was “bavaria2@centurylink.net”
  • The “letter” was signed “VeriZon.”

If you fall for something like that, you are a walking, talking mark, and incompetent at life.

2.  Why doesn’t the public trust the news media? It must be all those Trump “fake news” lies!  CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell used a photo from a “Latinos for Trump”  event in Phoenix to accompany a report on Joe Biden’s Latino event in Florida. The CBS’s chyron read, “Biden pitches crucial Latino voters during Florida campaign stop.”

Here was what viewers saw: Continue reading

The Runaway Dog

Do these daily life ethics tests find me, or do I look for them?

I think they look for us all. Some just can’t see them.

It was almost 11 PM here in Alexandria on a dark night, trying to rain. I was on the way home from an annoying 7-11 errand for my wife, knowing that upon my return, Spuds would need his last walk of the day. As I drove down a neighborhood side street, I saw a small indistinct figure ahead in my headlights: it was a dark and scruffy dog. He froze for second as my car slowed, then took off running into the darkness behind me.

I started to continue home, and saw a heavy-set middle aged man walking quickly in the same direction the dog had been running. On a hunch, I pulled over and rolled down my passenger side window.

“Was that your dog?” I called out to him. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto ‘Blazing Saddles’”

I would not have expected mysterious veteran commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod to be the one to score a Comment of the Day regarding the idiotic and offensive “trigger warning” HBO Max felt it had to append to “Blazing Saddles.” Mel Brooks’ satire (and fart jokes) would not seem to the kind of thing a squid from another plane of existence would be able to appreciate. Shows what I know.

But seriously folks, this is the first ethical analysis of “Blazing Saddles” I’ve ever seen, heard, or imagined. And as usual with EC, it is thoughtful and enlightening.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod ‘s Comment of the Day on hate, contempt, and  the post, “HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto ‘Blazing Saddles’”:

On the one hand, I agree with the people ridiculing the disclaimer. On the other hand, if it gets more people to watch the film and learn to appreciate satire, I’m in favor of a little message at the beginning that says, “It’s okay, you’re not a bad person for watching this film.” I’d like to get to the point where we don’t need the disclaimer, though.

When you mention hate and contempt, it makes me realize that most of what people refer to as “hate” is actually contempt, and that sloppy language prevents them from realizing what they want and what they need to do to get it. People don’t just want to eliminate “hate”—they want to be respected. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/15/2020: Of Cancellations, Retractions, Rants, Lies And Signs

Never mind the small talk; let’s get to it.

1. Hmmm…What’s going on here?  New York officials originally decided to cancel  “‘Tribute in Light,” the  twin beams that shine over lower Manhattan as part of the annual  9/11 commemoration. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which oversees the installation, said in a statement this week,”This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual ‘Tribute in Light.'”

The announcement caused widespread puzzlement. How large could the necessary crew have to be? Geraldo Rivera opined on Fox News that the decision was political, as Democrats sought to “make everybody miserable” so President Trump could be blamed. That theory was quickly picked up by others, along with complaints from New Yorkers that the popular memorial celebration was cancelled for no good reason.

Then, today, New York officials made a U-turn. “Honoring our 9/11 heroes is a cherished tradition. The twin towers of light signify hope, resiliency, promise and are a visual representation of #NewYorkTough,” Cuomo said. “The virus has taken so much and so many. But now the tribute will continue.”

2. Now THIS is Trump Derangement! When did it become considered acceptable and professional for news anchors and public events show hosts to behave like this?  MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski went on an extended, fanciful, hateful anti-Trump rant on yesterday’s broadcast. Here’s a transcript of a supercut video featuring the bulk of Mika’s meltdown: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/13/2020: Kamala Harris Selection Hangover Edition” [Corrected]

Why is johnburger2013′s latest epic a Comment of the Day? I’d like to use it to launch a series of such accounts as people try to navigate the Great Stupid as it merges with 2020 campaign craziness.

We’ve talked here before about how it isn’t ethical to deliberately upset people, especially people who are suffering from emotional maladies intensified by one’s existence in a peer group bubble devoid of diversity of thought, experience and expression. However, it is also not ethical to allow those who have announced to the world, or even just you, that they don’t know what the hell they are talking about to not even have the chance to improve their lot. We are all members of the human family, and family members are obligated to say something when other family members speak or act like idiots.

Here is johnburger2013′Comment of the Day on the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/13/2020: Kamala Harris Selection Hangover Edition”:

This past Monday afternoon, I went to an upscale Houston area hardware store (yeah, I know, the whole idea is dumb but I needed a certain type of screw and nut that only they sell so don’t yell at me)*. They had CNN playing on the TV screen. I watched a bit of the Kamala Harris selection/pick coverage. An employee who is quite nice on most occasions watched with me. I asked her, “What does Harris bring to the ticket? Biden is going to win California and the west and east coasts, and Harris’s background as a DA in California has some real problems. She has not been overly impressive in her term as a senator, and her behavior during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing is hypocritical as it relates to Biden’s history will the ladies.”

Thus ensued a tongue lashing I haven’t had since the last time my wife was really mad at me (which may have been the day before!). She declared that she had the First Amendment right to speak her truth and that I was not to prevent her from doing so. (Me: “Uh . . .” ) She told me that she used to be a registered Republican but wouldn’t vote for one of those slimy jerks if they were the last candidates on the planet because they are weak and cowed by Trump, too afraid to stand against him who embodies all that is pure evil on the side of the universe. She also declared that Biden’s choice was the most amazing choice in VP candidates in the last 50 years, that Harris will bring grace, strength, and wisdom to the ticket, and will solidify a Biden Presidency that will save this nation from horrible Donald Trump and his infernal legacy of corruption, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny. When I pressed further** about Kamala’s qualifications, considering that Biden may have dementia or other cognitive issues, she scoffed, furrowed her brow and demanded if I truly believed that Biden was suffering from dementia any more than the Current Satan-in-Chief. Continue reading

Baseball Ethics While Watching Baseball, Part 1: “Nothing”

I should be writing an evening ethics potpourri, but I’m watching the Red Sox, who have been terrible, play the Mets, who I detest, so I’m too distracted. But while I was sitting here, two baseball ethics issues popped up. I can chew gum and walk at the same time, but I can chew gum and think about gum.

The first issue is schadenfreude-related. John McNamara died today in his eighties. He’s the Boston Red Sox manager most fans, including me, hold responsible for the Sox losing to the Mets in the 1986 World Series`. I’m sure Johnny Mac, as he was called, was a wonderful husband and father, but he was a lazy, terrible manager who got jobs when lazy, terrible team owners wanted to choose an organization man who wouldn’t rock the boat. He was incompetent, basicly, like so many middle managers in conventional businesses who take jobs away from better, harder-working, smarter people because they know how to play the right games and suck up to the right people. As a baseball manager his stock in trade was inertia. He had a flat learning curve, assumed problems would solve themselves eventually, and never took risks.

He was the epitome of a hack, in short. Such employees and professionals are a blight on society and civilization, but it’s not intentional, and not exactly their fault that there are too many of their breed, and that collectively they make life for the rest of us more nasty, brutish and short than it should be. Continue reading

I Nearly Killed Someone Tonight. Then I May Have Saved Her Life….

I am still furious about this, and it happened more than 90 minutes ago. Fortunately, I’m not David Banner.

I was returning at dusk from a grocery errand, and as I reached our secluded North Virginia neighborhood, I stopped at the STOP sign at a side street, then took the tight turn onto a main drag. Exactly as I did that, a young jogger whipped around the same corner, in the street. I had to swerve to miss her.There are no sidewalks in that part of the road complex,…which only means that it is an irresponsible place to jog.

I was just a few blocks from home and almost proceeded directly to my house. But she really scared me, and the woman appeared oblivious to how close she came to being clipped. Then my father’s ghost kicked in: I was with him several times when he chased people down for the sole purpose of telling them they were idiots and why.

So I drove around looking for the jogger. She had a potentially deadly habit, other than jogging, and I had an obligation to warn her. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day, Part 2: “Ethics Warm-Up, 7/19/2020: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!”

Part I  of Steve-O-in-NJ’s Comment of the Day is here.

….For the last three months we’ve watched our cities be burned, our public art be torn apart and defaced, and this nation’s ordinary people be terrorized. Homes and businesses have been destroyed, ordinary folks have lost everything they worker for and saved, and, in some cases, whole zones of cities have been turned into new versions of previous “liberation army” states, ruled by warlords, patrolled by armed thugs, and with the ordinary people living there cut off from the outside world and at the mercy of these thugs. Now we are seeing organized destruction (Lafayette Park, Chicago) and organized attacks on law enforcement (Portland). Supposedly this started with demanding justice for George Floyd and protesting racial injustice. Two months after the officers involved were fired and charged, this shows no sign of stopping, or even of slowing down.

Downtown Minneapolis resembles Fallujah in the wake of the final breaking of the Iraqi resistance there, and New York, Chicago, LA, and a slew of lesser cities, none of which had the first thing to do with what happened in Minneapolis, aren’t far behind. Yet we’re still being told these are “peaceful protesters,” and the local and state governments either haven’t lifted a finger to stop this (New York), or have finally taken action, several days late and several dollars short, when the violence has gone too far or come to their doorstep (Atlanta, Seattle). I am not sure whether what was allowed to happen in Seattle was worse, or what’s going on now in Portland is worse, where the local authorities are accusing the Federal authorities, the only ones doing anything about 50 nights of violence, of being the bad guys.

We’ve been bombarded for months now about how sleeping or walking back from a party or carrying a legal weapon shouldn’t be a death sentence. It isn’t as simple as it’s phrased, but none of those things should have happened. However, there are a lot of other things that shouldn’t be death sentences: Continue reading