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

“Arrrgh!”: The Rest Of The Story

I am finally typing at my desktop, and therein lies a tale.

As I briefly documented here, I spent much of the day failing to get my computer to work, though it was fine late last night, and it is less than six months old. The initial problem was that I had no WiFi connection and “no networks available.”

I spent almost three hours with three different Verizon techs who made me check connections and wires, reboot the modem, restart the computer at least 15 times, uninstall and reinstall programs and updates, and some other things I didn’t understand.

We changed settings and the date, to no avail. Then the last Verizon tech put my desktop in safe mode, whereupon my password suddenly wouldn’t work. She couldn’t explain why. I could connect turn my WiFi on, which represented progress, but I was locked out of my computer and stuck in safe mode. I also couldn’t reset my password. At one point she had me working off of two Microsoft websites on my laptop to find a way to  reset it, while also using my cellphone.
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Ethics Alarms Celebrates Presidents Day: The Speeches. II. President Ronald Reagan’s Address To The Nation, January 28, 1986

U.S. Presidents are leaders of their parties, but that is only one role among many that the U.S. Presidency has evolved to serve. There are times when it is crucial for the President to be seen as the symbol of the nation and the representative of all Americans, whether some Americans are able to concede that fact, or not. Some of the greatest Presidential speeches were inspired by national tragedies, as a Chief Executive was forced by events to serve as “Comforter-in- Chief,”  and to to set aside partisanship in times of tragedy to speak words that remind us that, despite what may be passionate differences, we are all Americans.

No President was better qualified by his experience and talents to fulfull this role than Ronald Reagan, after we all watched the Space Shuttle Challenger launch and then explode into pieces on that beautiful, cloudless day.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering.

Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“You see what they are doing? They’re blaming Iowa. It’s not the fault of the Democratic Party. It’s Iowa’s fault. After the citizens of Iowa put up with all that interaction with candidates swarming the state for the past year (and more) and after they showed up for this elaborate nighttime gathering in groups in gyms and showing support with their bodies, they are blamed for the screw-up of the party!”

Iconoclastic blogger Ann Althouse, reacting to the Democratic Party’s attempts to mitigate the Iowa Caucuses debacle.

At least they aren’t blaming it all on Trump. Yet.

Ann continues..

The other blame-shifting I’m seeing is: The computers did it. There was an app and it somehow caused all the trouble. Reminiscent of Hillary’s wipe-it-with-a-cloth computer problems. I really don’t want to hear excuses that have to do with computers getting things wrong. This cannot have been a complicated app, and the backup was to use the phones, yet they want to blame the phone lines too! It’s just not credible.”

What triggered Althouse  were Washington Post  headlines telling her that
Sen. Dick Durbin said  it was time to end the Iowa caucuses and that Howard Dean said that Iowa should no longer lead the primary parade.

What I especially like about Ann is that her academic detachment allows her to focus on aspects of an issue that most analysts miss because they care about the results more than she does. This talent is annoying when it results in her going off on tangents about how a particular word is used in a quote or article–she’s been obsessed with the word “garnered” for a couple of weeks now—but this is an example of her picking up on an ethics issue that nobody else, including me, was mentioning: the avoidance of accountability.

I was shocked when I woke up this morning after sleeping in—bad night—to see that the results of the Caucus still hadn’t been announced. It’s a massive embarrassment for the party, and again—commenter Michael West disagrees with me on this, but I’ll double down now—it is bad for everyone, not just Democrats. Ann was focusing on this as well, I think.

The Iowa Caucuses have long been celebrated as old fashioned democracy in action: citizens meeting in firehouse hall and churches, debating, making their preferences known. I come from Arlington, Massachusetts, the largest municipality in the nation that still uses the town meeting system of governance. Local and regional democracy, though the Left increasingly derides it in its quest for global government, is the heart of American values. This kind of breakdown, catalyzed by inflicting technology on a system that has worked just fine without it, undermines public trust in our institutions.

That is dangerous.

Moreover, it is in everyone’s interests, in a two party system, for both parties to find the best possible candidate. This was a point I kept making in 2016. For either party’s system to blow up increases the likelihood that chaos will taint the  process, and cause unforeseen and unintended results—as it did the last time.

That said, the conservative pundits are certainly having fun. Like here. And here. And here. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/29/2020: Dogs, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, D.C., Jimmy Kimmel, Threatening Deplorables And Restricting Rights

Well, dogs are good, anyway…

1. Stop making  dogs defend Mike Bloomberg!…Is there anything too trivial that people won’t use to attack politicians? A CBS News video began circulating online yesterday afternoon showing Michael Bloomberg shaking hands with a man in Burlington, Vermont, then taking his dog’s upper jaw  in his hand and “shaking” the dog’s  snout  He then scratched the dog’s ears. The social media mob called him a dog abuser.

Morons. That’s a move that most dogs enjoy, as well as someone grasping their whole muzzle. It shows Bloomberg is comfortable with and knowledgeable about dogs. I used to do both moves with our 165 pound English Mastiff, and our Jack Russells.

2.  I know this is of interest to almost nobody who isn’t a lawyer, but trust me, it’s a big deal. The District of Columbia has long been the only U.S. jurisdiction that allows law firms to have non-lawyer partners, a structure prevented everywhere else by the general prohibition on lawyers sharing their fees with non-lawyers. When D.C. adopted its revolutionary approach, it assumed that the states would soon follow, with the American Bar Association’s assent. Because that hasn’t happened, a state-licensed lawyer with a D.C. license participating in a legal firm in D.C. could technically be found to  be violating that state’s ethics rules , though the District has negotiated a truce in that potential controversy.

Meanwhile, those special law firms with non-lawyer members are proliferating like legal rabbits. Now  a Jan. 23 press release tells the world that the District of Columbia Bar is taking comments regarding proposed changes to its ethics rules that could allow external ownership of law firms, as well as blended businesses in which lawyers and non-lawyers provide both legal and nonlegal services, like accounting. Or massages–who knows? Right now, law firms by definition can only practice law.

Perhaps even more significantly, California, Utah and Arizona are also studying changes that would relax ethics rules barring non-lawyers from holding a financial interest in law firms. Continue reading

Flashback By Popular Demand, From The Ethics Alarms Archive: “Vintage Fake News: The Ridiculous Doomsday Clock”

Doomsday clock showing 3 minutes to midnight

I had completely forgotten that today is the day the Barry McGwire Fan Club or whatever the scientists who maintain the so-called Doomsday Clock call themselves behind closed doors reveal how close we are to destruction this time. From the Hill:

The famed Doomsday Clock has been set at 100 seconds to midnight this year, the closest it’s ever been to the metaphorical point of the Earth’s destruction. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveiled this year’s setting for the clock at a news conference Wednesday morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Speaking of danger and destruction is never easy. If you speak the truth, people will not want to listen because it’s too awful. It makes you sound like a crackpot,” said former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), executive chairman of the Bulletin.

“Today we live in a world of vast, deep and pervasive complacency,” Brown added. “Even if there is a one-in-100 chance that these men and women before you are correct and we are truly in a dangerous moment, you would never know that from the president, from Republican leadership and from Democratic leadership.”

What a great job for Jerry Brown! Anyway, I had also forgotten that I had posted about this silliness in 2017, not long after President Trump had been sworn in, but several readers had not, and I received several reminders today. I went back and read the post, and it seemed appropriate to re-post it.

One update: at the end, I note that WWII songstress Vera Lynn, whose iconic rendition of the ballad “We’ll Meet Again” accompanied atom bombs exploding at the end of “Dr. Strangelove,” was 100 years old, and still singing. Well, I’m thrilled to report that Vera is now 102 , and she’s STILL singing. Here she is:

Take THAT, Doomsday!

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I’m sure you have noticed that the scary Doomsday Clock, which tells us how long we have until “midnight,” aka. nuclear Armageddon, has been on the move again.

NBC News recently announced that the dreaded Clock was ticking like the soundtrack of “24 Hours, proclaiming: “Thirty seconds closer to global annihilation!”   The New York Times, which now averages at least eight “President Trump is a menace to civilization!!! ARGGH!!!” columns, editorials or news stories every…single…day, duly announced, “Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Toward Midnight.” Across the pond, the UK’s Independent stated as fact, “We’re closer to doom than any time since the Cold War!”

Why? Because the Doomsday Clock says so!

Can we officially make that “The Ridiculous Doomsday Clock?” This has to be the most useless and malfunctioning timepiece in recorded history.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day: this damn thing is never right.

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists dreamed the gimmick up back in 1947 , and its initial setting was “seven minutes to midnight” as in…

What sense did it make to have a clock already set at seven minutes to 12? Why wasn’t it at least a seven-minute stopwatch? What was its setting during the Black Plague? Did the dinosaurs have a Doomsday Clock? Did a wise Diplodocus and a precocious Stegasaurus see a meteor coursing through the Jurassic skies and conclude, “Oh oh. Eventually one of those is going to land here, and we’re all toast. Move the Doomsday Clock to 80 million years before midnight, let’s settle our affairs, and tell the rest of the gang that the mammals are coming…”?

The group of egg-heads devising the clock explained that it symbolized ” the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine’s founders—and the broader scientific community—are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world.” OK, I can see that as a minor, fear-mongering news item in 1947—kind of like the climate change hysteria is now—but I would also say that when a group describes a peril as urgent and it hasn’t urged in 70 years, that isn’t just old news, it isn’t newsworthy at all. Continue reading

Apologies And Other Fallout From The Baseball Cheating Scandal (Updated, And Updated Again)

Ex-Astros manager Hinch and “dead man walking” Alex Cora, the cheating mastermind.

Since I posted the initial commentary on Major League Baseball’s tough punishment of the Houston Astros for their illegal sign-stealing (there are legal ways to steal signs too), there have been some interesting developments with ethical implications.

The full MLB report  can be read or downloaded here.

  • One promising development is the widespread discussions of organizational culture that have been taking place in the media. When Astros owner Jim Crane announced that he was firing GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, both suspended for a year by the Commissioner of Baseball, he made it clear that the team needed to reform its culture, which had metastasized from  “play to win”  into a “win by any means necessary.”  There were signs of this in Houston long before the sign-stealing was known, when in 2018 the team traded for relief pitcher Robero Osuna while he was suspended for domestic abuse and facing trial—even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy regarding players and domestic abuse. The team really needed a closer, you see.

The Astros culture, we now can see, was thoroughly compromised by ethics rot, and eliminating one or two managers won’t fix the problem immediately.

  • A prime enabler of that rot was Jeff Luhnow, who traded for Osuna. After he was fired yesterday, he issued this apology:

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