Comment Of The Day: “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel ‘IQ 83’ Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is”

I want to express my admiration and appreciation to the Ethics Alarms comment gang for adding quality content to the blog while I was occupied in involuntary technology wars. The comments were copious and uniformly excellent, with several strong Comment of the Day candidates. In fact, I feel completely superfluous.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel ‘IQ 83’ Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is“:

While the focus is on Michelle Wu, Bloomberg’s past comments regarding the intellectual skill sets of farming and manufacturing are beyond the pale for stupidity. He flat out stated that farming requires only the ability to dig a hole and plant a seed, while manufacturing – using a lathe – one only needs to turn on the machine and make it go the right way.

Sure, he was not running for President at the time he made those comments but for him to suggest that the analytical problem solving skills the information age requires are not present in these occupations is prima facie evidence that he either lacks analytical skills when he made such a deduction, or his cerebral library of information on occupational skill sets has too few volumes of information.

While we are closer to AI than we were when Bloomberg established his financial reporting enterprise that allowed investors to make better investing decisions, most computing still relies on if x do y, if not do something else. If the computer cannot make sense of the data it returns an error code and stops, Fundamentally the computer says, in the immortal words of the robot from Lost in Space ” That Does Not Compute”. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/2020: ARRRGH!!!

Grrrr…

Well, that’s my reward for setting the all-time ethics Alarms record for posts yesterday (8): I wake up to find my desk top won’t connect to the internet, sending me into Verizon Customer Service Hell. Then the tech puts me in safe mode, where I can connect to WiFi, but my password stops working, and I can’t get out of safe mode. I’m doing this post on my laptop, or as it affectionately known on Ethics Alarms, the Typo Machine. Other asides:

  • The Get Well bouquet Other Bill sent my wounded wife on behalf of the blog’s commentariat after her fall finally withered after exactly three weeks. It brightened our home and her spirits, and we are very grateful.
  • We joke about Trump Derangement, but the phenomenon resembles an actual illness, unlike its predecessors, the Clinton, Bush and Obama Derangement Syndromes. What has changed is the news media, which feeds and magnifies the mob-mentality and blind hatred with its daily, sometimes hourly, click-bait outrage stories aimed at the President. The Deranged immediately post them to a throng of “likes,” spawning the usual insulting comments. Imagine, a daily game based on denigration of the President of the United States, played daily and gleefully by millions of Americans. It is not healthy, responsible, respectful, or fair.

1. Wow, the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal is  making people angrier as time goes on. MLB is taking measures to protect Astros players from retaliation from pitchers, as dark comments have been made about how the competition will inflict punishment on the cheating players even if Commissioner Rob Manfred has not. Yesterday, a poll participated in by thousands of baseball fans favored the Astros having to forfeit their 2017 World Championship by a three to one margin. (Please  recall that taking away the title was my recommendation when the scandal first broke.)

I also find it disturbing that while the Astros players and owner have been on an apology tour (though not a very effective one), deposed Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was identified by the MLB investigation as the mastermind behind the sign-stealing scheme, has said nothing–no confession, no apologies, no statements at all.

Another scandal related note: the MLB Network’s Brian Kenny expressed amazement at the difference between players angry reactions to the sign-stealing revelations and the way they closed ranks and largely refused to condemn the steroid cheats. “They say now that they weren’t playing on a level playing field with the Astros knowing what pitches were coming,” Kenny said. “Level playing field! What did they think was the situation when the batters were juicing?” Continue reading

More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel “IQ 83” Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is

It’s not exactly “Is We Getting Dummer?” the New York Times headline in the prescient science fiction novel, “IQ 83,” by Science fiction author Arthur Herzog in which a man-made virus begins reducing the intelligence of Americans to idiot levels, but its close enough to cause concern. The NBC News headline is “Cities weigh free public transit amid rising costs.” Wait. what? Public transit is getting too hard to pay for, so the solution being considered is to make it free?

I assumed that this was just another example of incompetent headline writing, but no: if anything, the headline makes more sense than the rest of the article, in which we learn that:

  • Michelle Wu, a Democratic City Council member in Boston,  says that because  use of the  crumbling public transportation infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dropping and rush-hour traffic is increasing,  and the solution is to let everyone ride buses and subways for free.

The article doesn’t say Wu is a Democrat, and I didn’t bother to check. Trust me: she’s a Democrat.

  • Desperately in need of money for repairs,  local transit shouldn’t raise fates, but eliminate them, Wu and other progressives argue, because public transportation “is a human right, like health care and education.”

In “IQ 83,” Patient Zero is the brilliant scientist who goofed while trying to invent a cure for mental retardation. In the real ife case of Wu and others, Patient Zero is obviously Bernie Sanders.

  • We are told, that “some experts warn that free rides wouldn’t solve the issues besetting many public transit systems, including crumbling infrastructure, infrequent and unreliable service, and routes that take workers nowhere near their jobs.”

Really? “Some” experts warn that? Boy, what spoil-sports. Debbie Downers, I’d call them. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Celebrates Presidents Day: The Speeches. V. Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man In The Arena” Speech, April 23, 1910

Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t still President when he gave his speech,  “Citizenship In A Republic”,  at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23,, 1910. He was a President, though, and getting ready to run for the office again; moreover, you can have a speech be any more pure Teddy than this one.

It is his most quoted speech as well as the one which describes his essence. I wonder if President Trump has read it? Teddy wouldn’t approve of Trump, I think, but he would have to admire the President’s determination to spit  in the eyes of his critics, and “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

That describes Donald Trump these past three years as much as any President, including Teddy Roosevelt.

Strange and impressive associations rise in the mind of a man from the New World who speaks before this august body in this ancient institution of learning. Before his eyes pass the shadows of mighty kings and war-like nobles, of great masters of law and theology; through the shining dust of the dead centuries he sees crowded figures that tell of the power and learning and splendor of times gone by; and he sees also the innumerable host of humble students to whom clerkship meant emancipation, to whom it was well-nigh the only outlet from the dark thraldom of the Middle Ages.

This was the most famous university of mediaeval Europe at a time when no one dreamed that there was a New World to discover. Its services to the cause of human knowledge already stretched far back into the remote past at a time when my forefathers, three centuries ago, were among the sparse bands of traders, ploughmen, wood-choppers, and fisherfolk who, in hard struggle with the iron unfriendliness of the Indian-haunted land, were laying the foundations of what has now become the giant republic of the West. To conquer a continent, to tame the shaggy roughness of wild nature, means grim warfare; and the generations engaged in it cannot keep, still less add to, the stores of garnered wisdom which where once theirs, and which are still in the hands of their brethren who dwell in the old land. To conquer the wilderness means to wrest victory from the same hostile forces with which mankind struggled on the immemorial infancy of our race. The primaeval conditions must be met by the primaeval qualities which are incompatible with the retention of much that has been painfully acquired by humanity as through the ages it has striven upward toward civilization. In conditions so primitive there can be but a primitive culture. At first only the rudest school can be established, for no others would meet the needs of the hard-driven, sinewy folk who thrust forward the frontier in the teeth of savage men and savage nature; and many years elapse before any of these schools can develop into seats of higher learning and broader culture.

The pioneer days pass; the stump-dotted clearings expand into vast stretches of fertile farm land; the stockaded clusters of log cabins change into towns; the hunters of game, the fellers of trees, the rude frontier traders and tillers of the soil, the men who wander all their lives long through the wilderness as the heralds and harbingers of an oncoming civilization, themselves vanish before the civilization for which they have prepared the way. The children of their successors and supplanters, and then their children and their children and children’s children, change and develop with extraordinary rapidity. The conditions accentuate vices and virtues, energy and ruthlessness, all the good qualities and all the defects of an intense individualism, self-reliant, self-centered, far more conscious of its rights than of its duties, and blind to its own shortcomings. To the hard materialism of the frontier days succeeds the hard materialism of an industrialism even more intense and absorbing than that of the older nations; although these themselves have likewise already entered on the age of a complex and predominantly industrial civilization. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Celebrates Presidents Day: The Speeches. IV. President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

In some ways, Jack Kennedy was the anti-matter Donald Trump.

He unified the country with optimistic words and soaring idealism, and was treated by the media and much of the public as if appearances and substance were the same thing. Like Trump, he was rich and the son of a ruthless business man; unlike with our current President, few seemed to care. JFK was young and vigorous (or as he would say, “vigahrous”), and nobody accused him  of hyperbole and lies. The press loved him; his press conferences were all laughs and smiles. Yet Kennedy was every bit the narcisisist that Donald Trump is, and at least as much of a misogynist. He engaged in open nepotism, having his brother as his Attorney General and chief advisor, but nobody suggested he was hving incestuous relations with Bobby. Both had glamorous wives, but while Melania has been effectively banned from the covers of women’s magazines, Jackie was on a cover every month, if not every week. Kennedy committed impeachable offenses, like having a secret sexual liaison with an Israeli spy (and Mafia moll), but it was Trump who was impeached. Meanwhile, President Trump’s accomplishments in his first term far exceed those of Kennedy, who also managed to prompt East Germany to erect the Berlin Wall, and to nearly trigger World War III.

His inaugural address, however, marked his Presidency as the gateway to a new era, when anything was possible. Kennedy was not a great orator—all the Kennedys had and have a tendency to shout—but he was a a passionate one, and he had charisma, that indefinable magic that makes strangers love and trust a politician. Though he had barely received 50% of the votes in the 1960 election, nearly seventy-five percent of Americans expressed approval of President Kennedy after this speech.

Mostly crafted by Kennedy aide Ted Sorenson, it is undeniably a masterpiece.

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge–to convert our good words into good deeds–in a new alliance for progress–to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/17/2020: The Presidents Day Edition

Good morning, guys!

Thank-you for your service!

In honor of our Presidents, Ethics Alarms is  posting some of the best and most important Presidential speeches during the day. We’ll see how many I get up; there are a lot of excellent ones to choose from.

In all of these cases, whichever I post, a President was acting in one of the non-partisan functions of the office, when the President’s job is to represent all of our nation’s citizens. It is a disturbing fact that the current President has been virtually blocked from discharging these duties, as part off the long, relentless effort by the A.U.C.—the Axis Of Unethical Conduct: Democrats, the “resistance,” and the mainstream media—to deny his Presidency’s legitimacy and to reduce his support among the public to the point where it becomes politically feasible to remove him without an election.

The nation needs those non-partisan Presidential moments, because they symbolize unity and strengthen, rather than weaken, our bonds: throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season, attending the funerals of distinguished Americans, hosting the Kennedy Center Honors. It is not this President’s fault that he had been prevented from doing his job.

1. Why look! Here’s another example! Yesterday President Trump, having been invited to serve as grand marshal for the Daytona 500, uttered the traditional “Gentlemen, start your engines!” and boarded  his official limousine, nicknamed “The Beast”, and, with a U.S. and Presidential flag on the front fenders flapping in the wind, headed out onto the track, pacing the full field of cars.

The Horror. Tweeted Maggie Halberman, the usual co-author of New York Times front page features—inevitably negative– on the Trump administration,

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Obama and Bush throwing out the baseball season’s ceremonial first pitches, Obama using his limo for a Jerry Seinfeld comedy bit, and prominently attending an NCAA basketball tournament game–all good! President Trump serving as grand marshal at a NASCAR event? Unacceptably political.

This is smoking gun bias from the journalist the Times uses to inform its readers about what this President does.

2. Now Trump’s stupid tweets, however, are another matter entirely.  Politico reports on what District Judge Reggie Walton, a Reagan appointee,  had  to say about President Trump’s gratuitous social media commentary on the McCabe investigation: Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Celebrates Presidents Day: The Speeches. III. FDR’s First Inaugural Address, March 3, 1933

By late winter 1933, the Great Depression had caused more than 11,000 of 24,000 banks to failed, wiping out the savings of depositors. Millions of Americans were unemployed and desperate;  millions more were working at vastly diminished wages that barely provided subsistence. Currency values had dropped  and farms were failing.

The Democratic Party had  run on a vague but revolutionary  platform  that made it clear  that the election of its Presidential  candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt,  would result in unprecedented governmental growth to deal with the crisis. Roosevelt’s task in his first speech as President was to calm the burgeoning panic, and to reassure America that it was in competent hands.

Lincoln, Reagan and Roosevelt were the greatest orators ever to hold the office of President, and FDR was perhaps the greatest of them all. His strong and confident delivery, cocky body language and dramatic delivery made this speech a success as much as its content. And, of course, it contains his most famous quote, and one of the endearing quotes in our history.

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself–nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. Continue reading