Observations On The Times Review Of “Apropos Of Nothing”

Woody Allen in “Manhattan” with a 16-year-old Mariel Hemingway (playing a 17-year-old)

To be clear, I haven’t read Woody Allen’s autobiography, “Apropos of Nothing,” and I won’t. I found myself unable to endure anything related to Allen after he married his own quasi-daughter following a sexual affair with her while they were both living with Mia Farrow, Allen as her supposed lover and domestic partner, Sun-Yi Previn as her adopted child. While I maintain that the works of artists should be kept separate from the character flaws and misdeeds of their creators, that’s an intellectual and ethical position, not an emotional and gastrointestinal one. The latter are non-ethical considerations, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore them.

If I were a professional book reviewer, however, I would be forced to put my revulsion aside, or refuse the assignment of rendering a verdict on “Apropos of Nothing.” It is undeniable that the New York Times book reviewer, Dwight Garner, couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. To be fair, the Times no longer enforces the core journalism ethics principle that journalists shouldn’t allow personal biases to infect their reporting, but that is an explanation, not a defense. Some observations: Continue reading

Everybody SING! “How Do You Treat A Problem Like Joe Biden?”

This would be an early song from the obscure, unfinished and strangely prescient Rodgers and Stephen King  musical, “The Sound of Panic,” the draft manuscript of which was recently discovered in a Maine landfill.  The Democratic nomination process is slipping into ethics train wreck territory, if it isn’t there already. But it’s an astounding story. It would make a great musical, but one more like “Sweeney Todd” than “The Sound of Music.”

When I first set eyes on Joe Biden after a couple of years, when he emerged in 2015 to run for the Democratic nomination, I was shocked at how old and enervated he appeared. When I heard him speak, I realized that he was slipping from his barely tolerable career-long muddle-headedness into senility or dementia. Reaching this conclusion required no special perception on my part; it merely required an absence of denial. I could not believe, and wrote as much here, that Biden could ever be the Democratic nominee. No matter how unpromising the field of candidates was—and it was historically awful—voters couldn’t possibly vote for “Slow Joe,” as our perpetually juvenile POTUS cruelly dubbed him.

Yet here we are. Biden, having been the beneficiary of the besieged “moderates” of the now thoroughly radicalized Democratic Party coalescing behind a single representative as its best chance to defeat President Trump (essentially the Democrats have become the “Hate Trump Party,” quickly pivoting its position on anything to the opposite of whatever he advocates or does) is now broadcasting from a bunker somewhere during the Wuhan virus emergency, reminding everyone sentient of the carnage to come in November after Biden quadruples the number of doomsday gaffes in all of US Presidential debate history.

Think about it: a single moment of brain lock sunk Gerald Ford in 1976, when he inexplicably said that Poland wasn’t an Iron Curtain country. Then, in 1980, Jimmy Carter caused America to doubt his seriousness and honesty when he cited his daughter Amy, then 9, as an expert on nuclear armaments while debating Ronald Reagan. How do Democrats think the public will respond when Biden suddenly starts reciting a recipe for Rice Krispie Squares in response to a question about immigration? Even Trump Hate has its limits for those not in the late stages of the disease. Admittedly, the number of those is staggering, with total U.S. cases exceeding cases of the Wuhan Virus in China even if China wasn’t faking its numbers.

Continue reading

Pandemic Ethics Overflow, Including The Funniest Story So Far, And Newly Certified Big Lie #9

1. The funniest pandemic-related story comes out of Australia, and it goes in the “Scientific incompetence” files. Or maybe the “Sure, we should always trust the judgment of scientists” file. From The Guardian:

An Australian astrophysicist has been admitted to hospital after getting four magnets stuck up his nose in an attempt to invent a device that stops people touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, was building a necklace that sounds an alarm on facial contact, when the mishap occurred on Thursday night.

The 27 year-old astrophysicist, who studies pulsars and gravitational waves, said he was trying to liven up the boredom of self-isolation with the four powerful neodymium magnets….“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face…

So he made millions of people around the world slap their foreheads in amazement.

2. About those idiots who drank the fish tank cleaner: The emerging facts, after so many headlines blamed the husband’s death on the President’s misinformation, show this was more fake news. The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump enthuse about the potential value of chloroquine (but not fish tank ccleaner constaining the chemical)  as a cure for the Wuhan Virus is a Democrats, opposes Trump, and has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years. In late February, she gave to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that is part of the  “pro-science resistance.”It has even used the death of her husband to attack the White House.

Now the surviving fish tank-cleaner gourmet admits that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. But she  told NBC News that she took the fish tank cleaner to follow Trump’s advice.  “We saw Trump on TV—every channel—and all of his buddies and that this was safe,” she said last week. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.” Naturally, nobody checked her story: it was too good an opportunity to get Trump.

Now the women admits that she heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports, and decided at the “spur of the moment” to try  it “We weren’t big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff,” Wanda told the Free Beacon. “And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake,” she said. “It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it’s done and now I’ve lost my husband….We didn’t think it would kill us. We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that’s what we’ve been hearing on the news.”

But at least she was able to spin the story so the  the news media would falsely say that the President was responsible for them drinking fish tank cleaner, so it wasn’t a total loss. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All

The above cartoon is the work of Michael Leunig, an Australian cartoonist of some note. Apparently the drawing got him into serious trouble with the social media and political correctness mobs Down Under. Color me completely bewildered, mate.

I have always regarded Australia as a having an admirably  rough, honest, brutally independent and common sense-based culture. Apparently I’m missing something; maybe one of Ethics Alarms’ Australian readers can explain what. (There have been about 24,000 views of the blog there so far this year; Australia is the second largest source of Ethics Alarms readers outside the U.S., after Canada.)

Because of the cartoon, Leunig, who has been creating cartoons professionally to express political and social commentary for half a century, is being threatened with cultural “cancellation.” He writes in part that the drawing has “brought so much hostile public reaction that I began to lie awake at night wondering why I had followed such a troubled, painful and precarious career path….

…[To]be so hated, insulted, slandered in the public domain for this – as I was – is indeed a dismal fate for the lone cartoonist. It speaks volumes about the current condition of civil society and tolerance. This is bigotry. The malice has been astounding and so extreme that it has plunged me into a deep contemplation about the nature of angry hatred. Indeed, I am coming to the view that there is an emerging new form of hatred in society which might be more of a mental illness than a passing emotion. Perhaps I would call it “free-floating, obsessive compulsive hatred”.

His son wrote of the effect on the cartoonist’s family: Continue reading

Movies To Keep You Happy, Inspired And Optimistic , Part I

This is a very subjective and personal list. The main requirement was that they all must be, in the final analysis, upbeat. I also have seen all of them more than once.

I left out some obvious choices that I have already devoted full posts to on Ethics Alarms, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Some of the films on my ethics movies list appear here, but not for the same reasons. Obviously, I encourage you to see those movies too.

Below is approximately the first half of the list. The rest will be along eventually.

Rocky (1976)

It still holds up as one of the most exhilarating sports movies of all time.

The Natural (1984)

Great score and a happy ending, unlike the novelette it was based on.

True Grit (1969)

This is the John Wayne version, with two of the go-to scenes I’ll play when I want to feel better.

E.T. (1982)

Other than the unforgivable rainbow at the end, a near perfect feel-good film.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of two Stephen King movies on the list. Does anyone not love this film?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

And the other King movie. has any suicide in a film been quite this satisfying?

Erin Brockavich (2000)

More or less a true story, which makes it especially inspiring.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

If Donald O’Connor walking up walls doesn’t get your heart pumping and your mouth smiling, nothing will. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”

I can’t fully express how gratifying it has been to see so many among the commentariat enthusiastically participating in a mass trashing of “Imagine,” John Lennon’s grandstanding ode to faux ethics Karl Marx-style. As I have mentioned here periodically, I have detested the song since I first heard it, and have had dire suspicions about the brain pan depth of any acquaintance who teared up when the thing played. Inspired and encouraged, I put “Imagine” torture among the punishment options in today’s poll on the best way to wreak societal vengeance on the teens deliberately coughing on supermarket produce,   and it’s doing surprisingly well:

A major assist for this Comment of the Day goes to Mrs. Q, who wrote,

Living in Portland it’s almost impossible to not hear this piece of shit song in every coffee shop, restaurant, and wherever else you’re trying not to loose your lunch. Once I was so aggravated at hearing it, I unethically told a fib to our waiter, that my (non-existent) sister committed suicide to the song. He turned it off and I enjoyed the rest of my meal…until Yellow Submarine came on. Karma indeed.

Imagine there’s no Imagine.

I was tempted to take up the challenge and compose an “Imagine There’s No Imagine” parody, but that would have required me to carefully listen to the song more than once, and I’d rather get the Wuhan flu.  Chris Marschner beat me to it, saving my sanity and earning his Comment of the Day on the post, “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”:

I have begun rewriting the lyrics and ask all to assist and improve.

Imagine there’s no Seven-Eleven
It’s easy if you try
No Big Gulps for the thirsty
Just whole wheat and rye

Imagine all the people
Living for today
So what else is new (ew ew)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to plan or hope for
It’s just a fuckin zoo

Imagine all the people
Living life on the streets
They do (hoo hoo hoo)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
the Bernie bros will welcome you
And the world will be covered in pond scum

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
that means no one can steal from you
Cause your home’s under the bridge span

Imagine all the people
Huddlin to stay warm
(hoo hoo ooh ooh)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
There are other nuts among us
Just put your possessions in that box over there
and I will dispose of them when I can.