Category Archives: Science & Technology

Let’s Hear No More About Facebook “Values”

china-facebook-1024x576

The New York Times reports that Facebook has developed software that will enable partner Chinese companies to monitor popular stories and topics that Facebook users share across the social network. Facebook’s partner would have power to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds and suppress posts from  in specific geographic areas. The censorship and information-suppressing software  was created to help Facebook get into China, a lucrative market where the social network has been blocked. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, sources say, full supportive of this effort by Facebook to make the subjugation of Chinese liberty easier.

One of Facebook’s core mission statements is “Make the world more open and connected.” Like so many mission statements, it is public relations deception. If Facebook was devoted to this mission, it would not even consider breaching its intent, letter and spirit by spending time and money to develop censorship software.

Facebook’s real mission is making a fortune by expanding into new markets. Let us not debase the topic of this blog by defaulting to Rationalization # 25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”

Facebook has a choice, the ethical one. That choice is to tell China it has a choice: either accept Facebook without censorship, of do without it. Google and Twitter, neither exactly paragons of virtue, have been blocked there for refusing to yield to the government’s  censorship requirements. Boy, when a company isn’t even as ethical as Twitter..wow.

This is the company we are going to trust to decide what is “real news.”  Ridiculous.

Prominent Democratic Party supporter Zuckerberg, like the party itself, is insufficiently allergic to the methods and objectives of totalitarianism.

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet

The Bias And Incompetence Of Media “Fact-Checkers” In One Stupid Tweet

nbc-factcheck

In the last (I wish it were the last) Presidential debate, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton should apologize for “the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted, and that you acid washed.” The tweet above was the instant response of NBC’s “fact-checkers.”  No, it’s not a parody.

You see, when Donald Trump uses rhetorical devices like metaphor, hyperbole, irony and anything else that a reasonable and educated person would understand as not being meant literally, the pro-Clinton, pro-Democrat, anti-conservative, anti-Republican, anti-ethical, anti-democracy  journalism “fact-checkers” intentionally treat the statement as if it was meant literally, so they can call Trump a liar, and build on the narrative that he lies even more than Hillary does, so, the reasoning goes, Hillary’s lies don’t matter

That they do this repeatedly and increasingly obviously has the effect of making it impossible for their commentary to be trusted when Trump does lie, which is often. It also raises the question of whether these people are too dumb themselves to provide analysis of anything, and, quite possibly, to dress themselves. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Science & Technology, Social Media

The Word For The Notes On Hillary Clinton’s FBI Interview—And Everything Related To It—Is “Pathetic”

Hillaryshrug

Pathetic, adj.: arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.
Synonyms: pitiful, pitiable, piteous, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, distressing, upsetting, heartbreaking, heart-rending, harrowing, wretched, forlorn

This is the word that constantly came to mind and heart as I explored the FBI’s notes (you can too, here) regarding Hillary Clinton’s decisive—at least in terms of saving her from prosecution—interview with the FBI. Everything about them arouses pity–for her, for us, for the nation. Let us count the ways.

1. Over at MSNBC, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, a fully committed operative of the Democratic Party, like most of his colleagues, and like them committed through his partisan bias to saving America from Donald Trump, was overcome with an attack of objectivity.  “It bothers me as an American citizen,” he said,  that the FBI didn’t record Hillary’s interview, and left Americans to ponder merely notes taken by one agent as the public tries to assess who it may be electing President in November. “Are you kidding me?!” Todd cried. “We’re releasing notes?!”

We’re releasing notes. It’s pitiable to see one of many prominent journalists who have tried so, so hard for eight years to paper over, minimize and otherwise shrug off the constant, near complete incompetence of the Obama Administration and every agency under it to be suddenly stung by the realization that this has consequences—for trust, for truth, for belief that the government isn’t actively engaged in suppressing it. Pathetic.

2. Some of you will recall that I was collecting the various partisan reactions to  FBI director James Comey’s statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending Clinton’s indictment to ultimately gauge which party’s reaction was more ridiculous, irresponsible, dishonest and foolish. Democrats were claiming that Comey’s report, despite showing that Clinton had lied outright about her use of the private e-mails server, and that her recklessness had endangered U.S. intelligence, exonerated Hillary. Republicans were claiming that Comey’s statement and the decision not to prosecute was indefensible. I was waiting to learn what Hillary had said in her interview, as I assumed that it would have to be released before the election. To reveal a closely guarded Ethics Alarms secret, I was prepared to declare Republicans the “winner” of the competition, as obviously idiotic as it is to say that a report declaring Clinton incompetent and dishonest could possibly “exonerate” her. Reading the notes, however, and considering the fact that the F.B.I. only has these notes to show us, I am back to, as Bobby Fisher would say, square one. Which is pathetic.

3.  Why? Well, we have just learned that  Clinton had her server “wiped”  after the New York Times, on March 3, 2015, broke the story of the server system’s existence. At the same time, she and her surrogates were telling the news media and us, “I want the public to see my email,” even as she directed her henchmen to destroy it. The FBI knew this, yet still found Clinton’s actions just negligent, and not criminal. Five months later–back in those halcyon days when she actually held press conferences— she feigned ignorance when Fox News’s Ed Henry asked, “Did you wipe the server?” saying, “Like with a cloth or something?” Now we know, vie the FBI notes , that she had the server emptied using a sophisticated software program, BleachBit, that is designed to make purged e-mails virtually unrecoverable, and indeed several thousand of hers were successfully destroyed. Clinton got away with this, her supporters don’t think it matters, and the FBI apparently minimized these efforts to obstruct justice. Pathetic.
Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Science & Technology

Ethics Dunces: National Park Visitors

bison-selfie

The major reasons for the increase in National Park visitors breaking rules by getting too close to the wildlife and disturbing the integrity of the parks in other ways appear to be…selfies, selfies, selfies, and too many morons.

I may be over-simplifying, but not much. From a CBS report:

Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary.From Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Science & Technology, The Internet

This Just In: Journalism Ethics Is Still Dead…

An ad currently running on the New York Times website:

Drone footage that shows Greenland melting away. Long narratives about the plight of climate refugees, from Louisiana to Bolivia and beyond. A series on the California drought. Color-coded maps that show how hot it could be in 2060.

The New York Times is a leader in covering climate change. Now The Times is ramping up its coverage to make the most important story in the world even more relevant, urgent and accessible to a huge audience around the globe. We are looking for an editor to lead this dynamic new group. We want someone with an entrepreneurial streak who is obsessed with finding new ways to connect with readers and new ways to tell this vital story.

The coverage should encompass: the science of climate change; the politics of climate debates; the technological race to find solutions; the economic consequences of climate change; and profiles of fascinating characters enmeshed in the issues. The coverage should include journalism in a variety of formats: video, photography, newsletters, features, podcasts, conferences and more. The unit should make strategic decisions about which forms are top priorities and which are not.

The climate editor will collaborate with many others throughout the newsroom, but will operate apart from the current department structure, with no print obligations. (The Times is also searching for editors to lead similar teams exploring education and gender.)

This is, of course, smoking gun evidence of a political agenda, bias, and the intent of the Times to warp policy and public opinion according to what it has already determined is “the most important story in the world.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, Science & Technology

Hillary Gets Caught In A (nother) Whopper

Why yes, this IS the thanks you get, General!

Why yes, this IS the thanks you get, General!

From the New York Times (Aug. 18):

Pressed by the F.B.I. about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had advised her to use a personal email account.The account is included in the notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation handed over to Congress on Tuesday, relaying in detail the three-and-a-half-hour interview with Mrs. Clinton in early July that led to the decision by James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, not to pursue criminal charges against her.

From Page Six:

Colin Powell has broken his silence about his alleged involvement in the Hillary Clinton email scandal, saying her team is falsely trying to blame him.When asked by the FBI about her email use at the State Department, Clinton reportedly told investigators that former Secretary of State Powell had advised her to use a personal email account at a private dinner. But Powell, who had said last week in a statement that he had no recollection of the conversation, told Page Six at Saturday’s Apollo in the Hamptons event, “The truth is she was using it (her personal email) for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did [during my term as secretary of state]. “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

When asked why Clinton’s team were attempting to blame him, he responded, “Why do you think?”

Conclusion: Hillary Clinton lied to the F.B.I.

Ethics musings: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, Workplace

A Deft And Appropriate Rebuke To Climate Change Hysteria

FLASHBACK: Jonestown combats climate change

FLASHBACK: Jonestown combats climate change

On her blog, Ann Althouse delivered a devastating and ethically profound defenestration to Jennifer Ludden, a  correspondent for NPR’s “All Things Considered” who delivered a mad feature she called “Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?”  Now, the very question is incompetent and irresponsible, as it treats a speculative future event—she even admits that it is speculative!–of unknown cause, arrival, duration and seriousness as the equivalent of certain nuclear war or a zombie apocalypse. The essay and her attitude represent hysteria, cowardice, scare-mongering and an insufficient appreciation for the importance of continuing the species, or at least having people smart enough to spell “climate change” contributing to the gene pool so “Planet of the Apes” doesn’t become reality. No, the pre-emptive extinction of the human race is not a rational response to the problems posed by climate change, Jennifer, and why the hell are my tax dollars being wasted to hire people who want people to think it is?

That would be my crude response to this cretinous piece. Ann Althouse, however, is far cleverer, constructive, less confrontational and effective in her response, which in its own way is more damning than mine. She launches from this quote from the NPR piece:

“I said to [my children], ‘I hope you never have children,’ which is an awful thing to say. It can bring me to tears easily,” said 67-year-old Nancy Nolan, who had children before she learned found out about climate change.”

Prof. Althouse, contrary to my inclination, doesn’t counter with, “Oh? And what did you ‘find out,’ Nancy? Here are computer printouts of climate trends and projections from five different models. Which is correct? Explain it to me, please. Show me you understand what the hell you’re talking about that is so devastating that you wish your children had never been born, you silly, silly twit!”

Instead, she writes,

If anybody really cares about carbon emissions, stop your crying and be hard-headed about what emits carbon. It’s not the person per se, but what the person does. Back in 2010, I made a list of changes you could make to your behavior. No air conditioning isn’t on the list, because that is already a given. If you haven’t done that yet, Nancy and the Weepers, you are crying crocodile tears. So get up and switch that off. Forever. And now, read my list:

It includes such “common sense’ advice as this…

“Do not go anywhere you don’t have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.”

I won’t include any more here. The professor’s clear message: why don’t you make some sacrifices yourself rather than condemn the species to extinction?

Read the whole thing on her blog. Ann earned the click.

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, U.S. Society