Baseball Integrity Flash! Automated Ball and Strike Calls Are On The Fast Track

If they ever play Major League Baseball again—the sport is in the middle of a lock-out over the distribution of billions of dollars between owners and players, among other contested issues—it looks like games being ruined by bad pitch calls will soon be history.

 MLB officials announced that computer umpires that use an automated system for determining ball and strike calls will now be employed in Triple-A baseball for the 2022 season. I had predicted that robo-umpires at home plate would arrive in five years, considering how resistant baseball is to change, but this puts the Automated Ball and Strike (ABS) system, which was used with success last season in some of the lower minor leagues,  just one level below the major leagues. Absent unforseen problems, this could mean that the days of batters being called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th by pitches six inches off home plate could end after the 2022 season.

This is a grand slam for integrity. Once games were universally televised and broadcasts could show exactly where a pitch crossed the plate (or didn’t), umpires’ mistakes, in some games with the worst umpires nearing 20% of all pitches, became intolerable. Replay systems already allow reversals of the most egregious calls on the bases, making far fewer games determined by “the human factor,” also known as “lousy umpiring.”

When there was no way to fix bad calls, it was fair to call human error “part of the game.” Now it’s just an unnecessary and annoying part of the game. There was no excuse for letting it continue.

I’m thrilled.

Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 2

Part I set some kind of Ethics Alarms record for reader disinterest, which I much admit, I don’t understand. These are all topics we have covered in some detail here over the last year, and the analysis of them by the alleged “newspaper of record’s” experts is, to say the least, perverse and revealing…yet the post’s first installment inspired just a single comment. Well, the Times’ take on the remaining issues are arguably worse. I find it fascinating, anyway. Here’s the rest of the highlights…

Can we save the planet?

It is embarrassing for a supposedly respectable news organization to frame an issue in such a hysterical and intentionally fear-mongering manner, which assumes one side of a debate is correct without reflection of nuance. The Times’ author on this topic, Farhad Manjoo, is a tech reporter, not an expert on climatology, so he has been given a platform to opine on something he doesn’t understand sufficiently to discuss reliably. On the topic of climate change, this is, sadly, typical. His article contains the kind of sentence midway through that would normally make me stop reading because of the bias, spin, hyperbole and mendacity: “During the Trump years — as the United States tore up international climate deals and flood and fire consumed swaths of the globe — unrestrained alarm about the climate became the most cleareyed of takes.”

There were no “climate deals,” just unenforceable virtue-signaling and posturing like the Paris Accords; the link between present day “flood and fire” and climate change is speculative at best, and unrestrained alarm is never “cleareyed,’ especially when those alarmed, like Manjoo, couldn’t read a climate model if Mr. Rogers was there explaining it. Then, after telling us that the Trump years were a prelude to doom, he says that since 2014, things are looking up. Much of what he calls “bending the needle” occurred under Trump.

Should the Philip Roth biography have been pulled?

This one is so easy and obvious that the fact that the Times thinks it deserves special attention is itself a tell. The answer is “Of course not!,” as an Ethics Alarms post explained. An absolutely competent biography was pulled by its publisher, W.W. Norton, never to be in print again, because its author, who had written other acclaimed biographies, was in the process of being “cancelled” for allegations of sexual misconduct toward women. I wrote,

“…[P]ublisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

It apparently makes sense to the Times, although its review of the matter doesn’t answer its own question. Why not? This is also obvious: as journalists, the idea that what a writer writes should be judged by what a writer’s personal life has involved is anathema, but the Times’ readers are so woke that the paper would dare not say so. Integrity! Continue reading

Incompetent Technology+Incompetent Humans=Inevitable Disaster

Screen-Shot-woman-License

SkyNet is smiling at this one, a silly episode, but one to which attention must be paid.

In Great Britain, a computer confused a woman’s ‘KNITTER’ T-shirt with motorist David Knight’s vanity plate reading ‘KN19TER.’ He was sent a notice of a fine for driving in the bus lane in Bath, England, 120 miles from Surrey, where he lives. The CCTV system monitoring the bus lane thought it had recorded Knight’s Volkswagen Transporter because its license plate, “KN19TER” was too close to the attractive T-shirt worn by a woman walking in the bus lane. Nobody had bothered to look at the photo; they just let the system send Knight a citation and a demand that he pay a fine.

Fortunately, it was easy to clear this up, and everyone is having a good laugh about it. No one should be laughing. It is unethical to trust and rely on any technology to that extent, but humans being humans, it is inevitable that they will, especially the longer a variety of technology is in use and the more reliable it is perceived as being.

Today it’s an easily dismissed fine, tomorrow it’s “The Terminator,” “The Corbin Project,” “Blade Runner,” “War Games” and “2001.”

Saturday Night Fevered Ethics, 12/4/2021: It Begins With A Hairless Cat…[Updated]

1. Where “Ick” and unethical become indistinguishable...Airlines have enough problems without having to deal with…this. A message was sent through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) alerting a Delta crew in Atlanta that a passenger in seat 13A was “breastfeeding a cat and will not put cat back in its carrier when [flight attendant] requested.” And she was. Every time the passenger was asked to cease and desist, she attached the cat, which was of the hairless variety, not that it’s relevant, to her nipple again. A flight attendant on board during the incident, wrote on social media,

“This woman had one of those, like, hairless cats swaddled up in a blanket so it looked like a baby,” she said. “Her shirt was up and she was trying to get the cat to latch and she wouldn’t put the cat back in the carrier. And the cat was screaming for its life.”

2. A you have probably heard by now, CNN canned Chris Cuomo. This is a classic example of doing the right thing for the wrong reason: Cuomo should have been fired because he’s a terrible, unethical, none-too-bright journalist. The fact that he also mishandled a conflict of interest, abused his sources and used his position with CNN to assist his brother as The Luv Guv tried to avoid accountability for sexual misconduct all flowed from CC’s incompetence and ethical dunderheadedness. A serious scandal of some kind involving “Fredo” was inevitable.

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A New Peer Reviewed Study Casts Doubt On The Accuracy Of Climate Change Models…And The Mainstream News Media Doesn’t Think That’s Something The Public Should Know [Corrected]

Climate change models

The day before Thanksgiving, the journal “Science Advances” published a new study of Arctic water temperature that indicates that the warming began decades earlier than was previously thought. The study found that “the expansion of warm Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Arctic, something called “Atlantification, has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900.

So what, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that the findings suggest that the climate change models considered “scientific consensus” and ” settled science” are not so settled after all. [Notice of correction: The earlier version of that sentence carelessly implied that the new study disproved the predominant science. That was not my intent. Thanks to Luke G. for calling me on this.] meaning that if you were skeptical Robert Kennedy, Jr. thinks you should be prosecuted, the new data calls into question many if not all of the climate change models. Francesco Muschitiello, one of the paper’s authors, explained, “This is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these type of changes.”

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up 1: Rittenhouse-Free Zone Edition

JFK assassination

President Kennedy was assassinated on this date in 1963, easily my most vivid memory of any national event in my lifetime. I am not an admirer of Jack Kennedy as a President or a human being, but it is hard to imagine a more wrenching disruption of the nation’s course, spirit, fate and future than what occurred that day in Dallas.

We watched everything unfold for the rest of the week on our black and white TVs, from Walter Cronkite’s somber announcement that the President of the United States was dead, to the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, through to the D.C. funeral procession and John-John’s salute.

The day still represents traumafor me, and I am sure to many others of my generation: when Grace and I were planning our wedding in 1980 and November 22 was suggested as the most convenient date, I insisted on the 23rd instead. This is also the date that kicks off the dreaded holiday season, stuffed with milestones good and bad (I count seven between now and New Years), periods of anxiety, nostalgia and anticipation in between, and too much longing and memories of loss to bear.

I hate it.

1. Yes, it’s an unethical Christmas tree. In the town of Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire, the official Christmas tree has been taken down from the town center after a local uproar declaring the 10 foot, conical artificial tree a “national embarrassment.” It also cost a thousand pounds. The town’s explanation was, shall we say, confusing, with Councillor Callum Procter claiming,

There are great plans for celebrating the start of the Christmas period next week. Unfortunately, the Christmas Market tree was installed too early, and we understand that people were confused and thought this was our civic tree. The tree has been removed temporarily today and our contractors are reinstalling again, for free, ahead of the market next week. I’m looking forward to seeing people enjoying the illuminations, the market, and the revamped St James’ Square with the civic tree and the special lighting on the Minster as part of the Christmas experience.

Wait…the town is going to put the same tree back up, and everyone will like it because it won’t be “too early”? I am dubious. Here’s the tree:

bsd tree

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Comment Of The Day: “On Climate Change Fearmongering”

Climate hysteria

Sarah B. graced Ethics Alarms with a thorough and valuable discussion of the practical weaknesses of the climate change religion, or cult, or whatever it is. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “On Climate Change Fearmongering”…

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There is a massive problem with climate change solutions proposed by this summit and many others, and they all come down to an attitude that electricity is as magic. All solutions to climate change seem to ride on the attitude that if we can just get everyone on perfect electricity and have them drive a Tesla, that we can get rid of nasty coal, natural gas, and oil. There are better options (nuclear) and worse options (wind and solar) for that approach, and while I could point out why replacing all fossil fuel electric production with nuclear, wind, or solar would fail to provide adequate electricity at all times from a technical standpoint, that is really unimportant to the discussion, as they all have one existential problem. Electricity cannot replace fossil fuels.

When it comes to replacing fossil fuels as the energy source of transportation, there are several obstacles that have to be overcome, and currently we don’t have any ideas of how to overcome them. Climate change activists are depending on revolutions that may or may not materialize. But something would have to dramatically change to address the fuel needs of heavy machinery, supply chain vehicles, and long-distance travel.

First, we can look at farming equipment. Tractors and combines cannot run long enough or far enough on battery capacity. Batteries just do not have the adequate power to mass ratio to allow these big machines to do their job.

Next, we can look at semis. A group ran a test by driving an unloaded electric semi truck across 1-80 in Wyoming in the summer. That stretch of road is known for three major troublesome spots: the Summit between Cheyenne and Laramie, the greater Elk Mountain Area, and the Three Sisters close to Evanston. These sections are especially difficult for traditional semis in the winter, so a summer trial without a load is somewhat of a joke. However, the report exuberantly exclaimed how well the semi did on the Summit (going down that steep grade, not up it) and the Elk Mountain area was handled with ease (coincidentally without the 60+ mph winds that make that region well known in energy circles for its wind farms on the day in question as they are found mostly in the winter time), but the desperation of the authors was clear when they discussed how the semi completely failed going up and down the mountains referred to as the Three Sisters. The truck struggled up the hills at a maximum of 5 miles an hour, draining the battery and blocking traffic as it dropped an entire lane out of service from a supply chain artery of our nation.

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On Climate Change Fearmongering

As the United Nations COP26 climate summit among of world leaders proceeded, China continued to pledge coal-reducing actions that it has no apparent intention of actually doing, Joe Biden’s Energy Secretary laughed at the idea that the administration would even try to lower gas prices, and both the mainstream media and Big Tech moved closer to censoring anyone who dared to question climate change chic. Climate change hustlers and doomsayers were, as usual, predicting disaster. We are “quite literally” in the “last chance saloon,” said Prince Charles, though why anyone would pay attention to him is a fascinating question. Even Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, condemned leaders for not addressing climate change by accusing them of “a genocide on an infinitely greater scale.” Greta Thunberg accused politicians of not taking “our future seriously.”

Here, climate wackos confronted Sen. Joe Manchin as he stepped off his yacht with cries of “We want to live!” because Manchin has blocked pointless and expensive anti-climate change measures in the trillion dollar infrastructure bill. “Business as usual” will lead to a catastrophic collapse of Himalayan glaciers; and devastating heatwaves in the southern United States, sayeth the New York Times.

Facts Don’t Matter in the Age of The Great Stupid. I’m betting neither the idiots who harassed Manchin, nor “Green New Deal” guru Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Al Gore, Greta Thunberg or Nancy Pelosi know that the extreme and apocalyptic predictions they are relying on is the IPCC’s RCP 8.5 scenario often described as “business as usual.” “Business as usual” in that scenario literally means no action by any nations whatsoever, so it is already useless—except to cause alarm and panic among those foolish enough to trust the hysterics.

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Friday Ethics Potpourri, 9/24/2021: On PBS, Boeing, A Political Hack Law Dean, And Caring

Lawn sign

Many thanks to reader and commenter Jeff for bringing that lawn sign to my attention. It’s available here. I wish I had thought of it; one of these days I’ll get around to making a “Bias Makes You Stupid” T-shirt as an Ethics Alarms accessory. I would never post such a sign on my lawn for the same reason I object to the virtue-signaling signs in my neighborhood: I didn’t ask to my neighbors’ political views thrust in my face, and I don’t inflict mine of them. However, if a someone living in a house on my cul-de-sac inflicted a “No human being is illegal” missive on their lawn where I had to look at it every day, the sign above would be going up as a response faster than you can say “Jack Robinson,” though I don’t know why anyone would say “Jack Robinson.”

1. Roger Angell on caring…It’s September, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees start a three game series tonight with nine games left to the season. It could well determined which of the two teams will go on to the post-season, with a shot at the World Series. The encounter brings back a flood of memories, wonderful and horrible, about previous Sox-Yankee battles of note, including one from 1949, before I was born. I worked with a veteran lawyer at a D.C. association who was perpetually bitter about all things, and all because the Red Sox blew a pennant to New York that year by choking away the final two games of the season. For me, moments like this are reassuring and keep me feeling forever young: as I watch such games, I realize that I am doing and and feeling exactly what I was doing and feeling from the age of 12 on. Nothing has changed. Roger Angell, one of my favorite writers, eloquently described why this is important in his essay “Agincourt and After,” from his collection,”Five Seasons”:

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

A small price indeed.

2. PBS may be a progressive propaganda organ, but the facts will out. A streaming service offers the channel’s documentaries for a pittance, and they are a reliable source of perspective and enlightenment. One that my wife and I watched this past week was about the development of the FDA and other federal agencies that protected the public and workers. When workers at manufacturing plants making leaded gasoline started dying of lead poisoning, the government scientists’ solution was to just ban the product. General Motors and Standard Oil fought back and overturned the ban, assuring Congress that they could make leaded gas safe to produce, and they did. This was a classic example of why we must not let scientists dictate public policy: leaded gasoline transformed transportation and benefited the public. The scientists’ approach was just to eliminate risk; they didn’t care about progress, the economy, jobs or anything else. Science needs to be one of many considerations, and when scientists have been co-opted by partisan bias, as they are now, this is more true than ever.

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Now THIS Is Hubris…Also Arrogance, Incompetence, Abuse Of Position, And Propaganda

In ancient Greek mythology and drama, the state of hubris inevitably led to disaster, usually at the hands of an annoyed god. If only we had appropriately annoyed gods on a mountain somewhere who would tale aim at Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah. All are alleged comedians who have been gifted with long-running platforms on television, supposedly to make Americans laugh. All have also, with the exception of Corden, spent the past five years or more using their platforms to mount a one-way attack on approximately half the nation and its values, as well as, of course, the previous President. In doing so, these six (again, Corden really has tried to be apolitical) have spread misinformation and hate, exacerbated national division, and deliberately made topical comedy unbearable for millions of people who desperately needed a laugh.

To put it in technical terms, they suck. I wouldn’t cross my yard to meet any of them, and the sooner every one vanishes from the American scene, I don’t care how, the healthier the country will be. Their primary error is confusing being smart with being smart alecks. It’s an easy mistake to make…if you aren’t very smart.

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