Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2020: Zoomed Out”

Zoom

Once again I am horribly behind in posting deserving Comments of the Day, or even announcing them. I apologize for this; there are many reasons, but no excuses. This COTD , authored by Null Pointer, is three weeks old, and there are some unposted ones that are older still. Fortunately, the topic is ever-green, at least as long as Shut-Down Hell is upon us: the curse of Zoom.

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment Of The Day on the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/2020: Zoomed Out”

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Confession: I Wimped Out

Our longest-lasting neighbors, now approaching their 80’s, are as nice a pair as I could imagine. When we moved into the cul de sac 40 years ago, we were the neighborhood’s young blood. Their two children were pre-teens; our son was 15 years from existing at all. Through the years, Red and Beth have helped us in every way imaginable. Red’s old pick-up truck hauled the set of my theater company’s first production. Beth has provided barbecued chicken, home harvested honey and pickles. We’ve dined together and partied in each others’ homes. Now their Husky-German Shepard mix ( a designer breed with the ridiculous name “Gerberian Shepsky”), Peaches, is Spuds’ best playmate.

I was sitting with Red in our neighbor’s back yard watching the two dogs run and frolic, when for no discernible reason, he launched into a diatribe about about his cousin’s wife. “She’s ‘an intelligent, educated woman with 6 grandkids, and yet she just thinks Donald Trump is wonderful. She actually voted for him! This is a woman, and she supports a man who has been charged with all these sexual assaults and even rape, and who cheated on all his wives and paid off mistresses and porn stars. Jack, I just can’t understand it.”

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Mid-Day Ethics Tidbits, 11/4/2020: Sort-Of Post-Election Edition, With Yummy NONE Election-Related Items!

1. Ay Caramba! Does anyone think that former Playboy model Eva Marie has a legitimate complaint because she was kicked off a Southwest flight along with her seven-year-old son for wearing this outfit on board?

Eva Marie

I don’t. She said she was “humiliated and embarrassed” when a Southwest Airlines flight attendant told her she couldn’t board looking like that. I don’t believe it for a second. She was seeking publicity. “When they threatened to remove me off the plane if I didn’t have a change of clothes, I felt completely humiliated, embarrassed and highly offended,” the Instagram influencer said of the incident. “I’m an A list member for SWA and have a credit card with the airline and I have perks that allow any person traveling with me to fly free because of my high status with the airline. So even as being a loyal customer with them, I felt like the other women on the plane were judging me based on my attire and they were saying my breasts are too large,” she added. “Well, that’s something I can’t help.”

No, you shameless jerk, they were judging you because you won’t observe even minimal social conventions, like not going out in public looking like a stripper mid-routine. If she is a “high status” member of the airline, then she is presumably aware that it has a dress code. It is overwhelmingly likely that she pulled this as a stunt to gain Instagram users  to “influence,” and exploited Southwest to do so.

The airline would be fair and reasonable to ban her from flying.

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Comment Of The Day: “WordPress Is Unethical, But It’s Not Just Them”

User unfriendly

I just had another run-in with WordPress over its “improved” system that makes me want to get hair plugs so I can tear my hair out, so this Comment of The Day by first time commenter Null Pointer is timely. This time, I was asking why I could no longer embed a CrowdSignal poll with a few clicks, and was forced to use the default WordPress poll feature which prevents a voter from checking the polling results without voting repeatedly. “Oh, it’s easy!” I was told by the cheery customer service agent. First, I have to register on the CrowdSignal site, and set up an account, and..and ..and…

I cut off the chat after writing that apparently WordPress doesn’t comprehend that my time is valuable, and that adding multiple steps, not to mention the need for constant assistance deciphering inadequate instructions and explanations, to accomplish what was once quick and straightforward is neither an improvement nor appreciated.

Usually first-time comments who score Comments of the Day are single issue participants, and are never heard from again. I hope Null Pointer is an exception.

Here is his or her Comment of the Day on the post, WordPress Is Unethical, But It’s Not Just Them:

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/20: In Which I Am At A Loss For Words

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1 As predicted, the police shooting of a black teenager with a semi-automatic weapon resulted in a new round of riots, this time in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin because the officer involved was not indicted for 1) being a police officer, and  2) having to shoot a an African American who 3) resisted arrest. Of course.

Riots are unethical. Demonstrating against responsible and fact-based law-enforcement decisions whether to prosecute is unethical. Creating a culture in which it is presumed that enforcing the law against a particular race is racist is unethical. This is all what one political party, just one of two, is supporting, rather than clearly condemning. That too is unethical.

And supporting such a party is unethical, as well is ignorant.

While I was typing this, an ad, not “approved by Donald Trump,” featured a woman being terrorized in her car by a mob, and noted that the Biden-Harris ticket would try to disarm citizens while “defunding the police.” “Vote Against Biden-Harris to keep safe” the ad concluded.

I think that’s entirely fair.

2. I did not watch the Pence-Harris debate, and I may not even review the video or the transcript. There should be nothing left to learn about Harris at this point, after watching her giggling, incompetent performances in the Democratic candidates’ debates. I assume she made numerous counter-factual assertions, and I assume the best she could do was to level pre-scripted ad hominem attacks on the President to pander to the Trump Deranged Democratic base. I assume no one asked her about the apparent hypocrisy of her enthusiastic alliance with a serial sexual harasser and the object of a rape accusation when she savaged a nominated Supreme Court Justice based on far less. I assume no one will ask how she defends the open decision to base the critical choice of who stands “a heartbeat from the Presidency” on nothing, literally nothing, but skin color and gender, resulting in Harris  being chosen despite no relevant experience and clear rejection by voters in the primaries. And I assume the Vice-President was stolid, professional and boring, as he always is, thus sparking comparisons with the President’s uncivil, un-Presidential but wholly Trump-like performance in the first Presidential debate.

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Musings On The State Of Mind Of Your Friendly Neighborhood Ethicist

Gloom

There are three reasons I just sat down to try to write the first Ethics Warm-Up in three days. The first is that the new, mandatory WordPress format makes it too difficult to create a post on my laptop, so I have to retreat to my office, a larger screen and my more responsive PC to compose, requiring me to abandon my wife and my dog. The second is, frankly, that writing posts just isn’t fun when I have to struggle with software that is actively impeding me.

The third is that I am increasingly feeling as if the fate of the United States of America rests on its citizens being responsible, becoming informed and realizing what awaits them and the nation if the Democrats seize power—and I do mean seize—and I feel as if what I do here is the equivalent of pointing out dolphins, flying fish and sunsets from the decks of the Titanic.

Oh, all right: I’m also boycotting baseball, which has been one of my greatest sources of joy and inspiration since childhood.

Almost nobody I know well or have met face to face reads Ethics Alarms. My family doesn’t, except for Grace. My son doesn’t; most of my friends don’t: I’m only aware of a couple. I did have a nice encounter this week when a neighbor I had never met called out my name, near my home: he recognized me from the photo on the blog and Spuds, whom I was walking at the time.

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WordPress Is Unethical, But It’s Not Just Them

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the American mania for complicating processes and systems that are just fine as they are is a cultural sickness. It is also obviously unethical under the category of irresponsibility, with a dash of arrogance. It is an American mania.

Herman Kahn used to tell the story about how American jet fighters were equipped with multi-million dollar systems to prevent the aircraft from stalling, triggering alarms and lights and other automated reactions. “The Soviet equivalent was a little dial that had an arrow that went into a red zone,” he said,”and the whole system costs about five bucks. It works just as well as ours.”

Right now, I am struggling to write blog posts because the WordPress “upgrade” has become mandatory, and the thing is infuriatingly complicated and clumsy. Naturally, the company’s “explanation” of how to use it is also incompetent, using terms without defining them, telling me how easy and versatile the new system is while ensuring that it is neither by inflicting instructions that will take me hours and hours to absorb and master, if I ever can.

In one of many recent online chats with WordPress customer service agents, I was asking how I could stop having to repeatedly select the same “block” (this jargon means, I finally figured out, one of I-don’t-know-how-many shiny new packages of composition and format features a section of text could be managed with) I wanted to use, and just have a permanent, familiar formatting system for all posts, all the time—you know, like I used to have before WordPress gave me all these floating options I don’t want or need.

The answer? No! The new way was better, see, because I could shift into a new package mid post! But I don’t want or need to shift anything mid-post, and this “improvement” is costing me time and causing frustration. Frankly, it’s making me want to chuck the whole blog.

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Comment(s) Of The Day: On Daily Life Confrontations

I’m finally getting to the task of deciding which of the many qualified Comment of the Day candidates languishing while I sort them out. So put on my Sorting Hat, and ended up with another Comment of the Day hybrid, a collaboration between Kyjo and veteran commenter Tim Levier that occurred during the last Open Forum.

Here it is, beginning with Kyjo’s Supermarket Adventure:

A couple months ago now, I was in the midst of moving. The night before moving day, in the midst of packing and sorting through items left behind by an irresponsible freeloading roommate, I made a quick run to the supermarket to buy some bottled water for the movers and one other small item I don’t recall. I took a 24-pack of bottled water from the shelf, along with the other item, carrying them in my arms without using a cart. I went to the express lane, where there were two men ahead of me. The first one was pulling out coupons for what seemed like each individual item, so it took awhile, and of course I had to maintain my social distance. The checker started scanning the items for the second man, but because I had to remain 6 feet back, I couldn’t set my items on the belt behind his, so I was starting to get a little fatigued holding the pack of bottled water. At this time, an older lady came up behind me with a small cart load of items. “Excuse me, I was next in line,” she said. Continue reading

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