Category Archives: Health and Medicine

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

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

Final Thoughts On The “Turn Back Time” DirecTV Ad, The Response To My Post, And Callousness Toward Life

It’s not on TV any more, but to refresh your memory:

I’m usually a poor judge of the posts that attract controversy here.  The Ethics Alarms commentary about the Jon Bon Jovi DirecTV ad showing the fading rock star singing the virtues of a “turn back time” feature that will allow subscribers to the satellite service to watch shows from the beginning after they have already run is now five weeks old, and it is still drawing traffic and–I also didn’t see this coming—abusive responses. I haven’t changed my mind about the ad being gratuitously and smugly callous and promoting societal indifference toward children, but I have learned some things from the responses to my pointing it out, especially the angry ones.

This blog isn’t called Ethics Alarms for nothing. Its objective is to help people be more sensitive to ethical issues and the right way to handle them, as well as to give them tools to keep their ethics alarms in working order. My ethics alarms were always unusually sensitive–being raised by my father will do that—and have become progressively more sensitive with attention, trial and error, and study. They aren’t perfect, but when they go off, they go off. If I can find out what they are ringing…training and experience help with that…then I will often write a post about the reason they rang out. My alarms went off every time that DirecTV ad came on, but it took me about four viewings to analyze why.  Then I wrote the post.

The commercial has Bon Jovi explaining what’s so great about being able to “turn back time”: in addition to letting you watch the show you missed, he notes that you can have the mild salsa you turned down for a spicy variety, and retroactively decide not to have that second child you now regret. The child is shown drawing on the wall with crayons, and he vanishes as the crayons he was holding fall to the floor. The parents smile. Bon Jovi smirks.

I wrote,

“Why isn’t it immediately obvious that this shows antipathy to children, boys, and human beings generally? The human being who was made to go away because he was inconvenient and burdensome couldn’t have been a girl, because it would be a “war on women,” and the family couldn’t be Hispanic or black, because that wouldn’t have been funny, but a white couple erasing their son from existence because he misbehaves—now that’s comedy gold.”

The comments to the post made me realize that there is antipathy to children, and the concept of turning back time to eliminate an unwanted life is acceptable, and thus no big deal, to a large portion of our culture. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Gut Check For Obama: The Responsible Thing Is To Pull Out Of The 2016 Olympics

Rio2016-Logo-2

UPDATE: 6/18/13 Now this.

The responsible thing, in fact, would have been to pull out before now.

The Olympics, which were supposed to represent the ideal of pure, individual amateur (For love, not money) athletic achievement, metastasized into a bloated, hyper-nationalist insult to those ideals long ago. In addition…

…The Olympic organization is corrupt, accepting bribes to determine which nations host the games.

…The competitions are corrupt, with banned performance enhancing substances being used widely and with the assistance and knowledge of participating nations, in some cases. At the end of last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)  issued a report calling for Russia to be banned from international athletics at all levels for flagrant doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics.

Have the Olympics banned Russia? Of course not.

Meanwhile, an IOC investigation revealed that 23 athletes have tested positive in a massive doping scandal that could ban a total of 31 yet-unnamed athletes “from 12 countries and six sports” from participating in the 2016 Olympics.

…The games now have the shadow of terrorism hanging over them.

…Expenditures by hosting nations always divert resources into inefficient and unnecessary projects, as greater national and social priorities suffer in the pursuit of pride and prestige. Following a pattern that we have seen in other countries, some poor Brazilians  have  lost their homes as part of preparations for the games. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Environment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society

How Conservatives Make Themselves Untrustworthy: A Case Study Starring Brent Bozell

Brent-Bozell-SC

Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, is one of the heroes of the hard right. Joined by  reporter Tim Graham on Bozell’s media watchdog website ( it only bites liberal media, but that’s still a mouthful) Newsbusters,  he provides a depressing example of how conservatives sabotage their credibility and end up crippling their ability to persuade even when they are right, which is frequently.

In a column called “America’s Wrong To Love Football?,” Bozell and Graham complain about an NPR segment that makes the exact same point Ethics Alarms has made many times.[ You want one? Here’s one.]  After citing just some of the waves of evidence that professional football (and probably college football too) is maiming and, in slow motion, killing a large percentage of its players, they write one dishonest, irrelevant, fallacious and rationalized argument after another:

“Count on flower children at NPR to go over the edge with this issue..”

Conservatives used to use the ad hominem tactic of denigrating all liberals as hippies–drugged out, long hair, unwashed, funny clothes, pacifists, Communist sympathizers–in the Nixon era. It was a cheap shot even then—Counter their positions, don’t make fun of their haircuts!—but 50 years later it’s pathetic, and screams “I’m estranged from reality!” How many people under the age of 60 even know what “flower children” were?

Bozell and Graham continue..

“The problem isn’t the size and strength, and therefore power of professional football players. No, it’s — ready? — the evil game of football itself…”

This is devoid of logic. If the huge athletes and the way the game of football is played maim human beings, then the sport—game, sport, sport, game– of professional football maims human beings. No, Brent, it’s true, the rule book never hurt anyone. Nevertheless, the sport of pro football, as it is played, results in a large number of young men losing their minds before they are sixty. That doesn’t make the game of football “evil,” it makes the sport unacceptably dangerous. No, that doesn’t make the game “evil”—Deford never says it was “evil.” It makes people–like you, in fact—who pretend the game isn’t unreasonably dangerous and misrepresent the arguments that it is—complicit. It corrupts them. It corrupts society to have the culture spend so much money, passion and time on a sport once we know it kills people and ruins lives.

“Commentator Frank Deford used to love football, but now he just drops bombs on it. On Wednesday’s Morning Edition on National Public Radio, Deford’s weekly commentary was titled “What Is Football Doing to Us as a People?” He asked on air “So what is football doing to us as a people? How do we explain an America that, alone in the world, so loves this savage sport?…”

It is a legitimate and revealing question. Bozell and Graham just don’t like the answer. Yes, Deford loved football, until he learned that it was turning healthy young men into sad, tortured, middle-aged dementia victims while the NFL’s  leadership tried to cover up that fact. Like any decent, ethical person, he changed his mind according to new information, something conservatives like Brent Bozell often regard as heresy. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, Sports, U.S. Society

McDonald’s And The Blind Man: Why Law Is A Lousy Substitute For Ethics

mcdonalds drive-thru

Thirty-five-year-old Scott Magee is blind, and he resents the fact that McDonald’s has a policy denying walk-up customers at the  drive-through window at his local Louisiana Mickey D’s, as well as everywhere else.  The policy, let us stipulate, is objectively reasonable. McDonald’s has a right to designate a window for drive-through customers and to choose not to offer a walk-up service like Dairy Queens. (Come to think of it, I don’t know that DQ has that any more. Does it?)  It also has a right not to subject itself and its drive-though customers to liability for inadvertently hitting stoned fools who stumble over to the window late at night seeking munchies.

Magee and his Jackie Chiles-emulating New Orleans lawyer, however, are suing the burger chain, arguing that its refusal to accommodate non-drivers who are blind is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now a class-action lawsuit, filed last week  in Chicago’s federal court, alleges that McDonald’s has no “concern whatsoever for the accessibility of the late-night drive-thrus to the disabled.”

Oh, thank-you, George H.W Bush!* The ADA has always been an overly broad and mischievous law that endorses and enables the tyranny of the minority. I have often wondered how often all those wheelchair lifts the law forced financially strapped public transportation departments to install in their buses have been used, and what the cost per use is. I am certain it would have been far cheaper for the cities to just pay for cabs to drive the handicapped commuters door to door, but that would have stigmatized them.

Bush caved to the lobbying for  cultural acceptance of the very debatable concept that citizens have a right to force others, including the government, to solve all of their individual problems, and the cost to the rest of society just doesn’t matter. That idea, a really bad one and a slippery slope to boot, has taken hold with a vengeance, the most prominent recent example being the theory that because less than 1% of the humanity faces a dilemma when choosing which bathroom to use, the rest of the public must forego the comforting privacy of gender-segregated bathrooms and dressing rooms. All girls should learn to be comfortable looking at male genitalia, that’s all, says the Charlotte Observer. How did we reach teh absurd point where that proposition can be seen as more reasonable, equitable and  fair than asking transgender Americans  to endure the occasional discomfort of using the “wrong” bathroom so his or her fellow citizens are comfortable? Why is it preferable to launch a divisive and nasty cultural and legal battle over the issue?

Unless Magee’s case gets thrown out of court, and don’t bet on it, all fast food restaurants will be forced to set up and staff walk-up windows, eliminate drive-up windows, or close down their drive-through service when inside service is shut down for the night. (If Scott can’t have that convenience, no one should.) Either over-head will rise for all fast food chains, causing job losses and higher prices, or everybody will lose the convenience of after-hours drive-up service because there is no safe, reasonable, affordable policy that will satisfy Mr. Scott Magee ‘s late night cravings for McNuggets.

Yes, it would have been nice, and ethical, if the owner of the McDonald’s in question played a little ethics chess and worked out a quiet, compassionate way to make Scott feel loved and catered to. It would have been worth it to agree to just deliver Scott whatever he wanted when the munchies struck, even giving him a special number to call. It would also have been ethical–responsible, considerate, fair, proportional—if Scott just planned ahead and got his Big Mac before the place closed it’s doors. A little mutual consideration and flexibility, some sacrifice and concern for others, a willingness to see things from the other side’s perspective, and this could have been avoided. Instead, jobs may be lost, a convenient service may be sacrificed, prices will rise, business will be lost, and all because one blind man feels that the whole world should adapt to his needs, and not the other way around.

Yes, thanks Papa Bush!

Thanks, McDonalds!

And a special thanks to Scott Magee.

I sure hope he enjoys his burger.

It’s going to cost enough.

*In a moment of momentary amnesia and stupidity, I wrongly blamed the ADA on President Carter. I apologize to Jimmy, though I’m certain he was a supporter.  It’s still an overly broad, ethically muddled, pandering law.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

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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