Category Archives: Science & Technology

From The Moral Luck Files: Searching For The Tipping Point On Robo-Umpires

Tonight the MLB play-offs end, leaving us with a World Series featuring either the Yankees against the Dodgers (tell me how that one turns out), or the Houston Astros against the Dodgers, which is better. My wife’s wish for a blown ball-strike call so obvious and outrageous as well as game-deciding that baseball resolves to let computers police the strike zone did not, alas, occur.

This did, however:

In the top of the eighth inning of a crucial  Dodgers-Cubs NLDS game, Dodger batter Curtis Granderson struck out. The pitch hit the dirt, and Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, as the rules require when a strike isn’t caught cleanly, tagged Gunderson for the final out of the inning. Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that his bat had made slight contact with the ball. It  didn’t. The replay showed that his bat missed the ball by at least four inches.  Nonetheless Wolf, after conferring with the other umpires agreed that the ball was a foul tip. Gunderson’s at bat was still alive.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon rushed out to argue the call and was ejected. Meanwhile, the Cubs big video screen in centerfield showed the replay, as the crowd booed. The umpires  deliberately did not look at the Jumbotron. After the game, Wolf watched the video and told reporters that he had indeed, as everyone already knew, blown the call.
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Ethics Quiz: The Dish-Faced Horse And Animal Breeding Ethics

A US stud farm has offered an Arabian Colt with an concave, or ‘dished’ profile, for sale. He looks like this:

The farm described the horse as a step towards ‘perfection’, but equine experts expressed alarm, warning that such an animal may find it difficult to breathe.

Equine expert Tim Greet told reporters that although Arabians were known for their ‘dished’ features, the new mutant colt “takes things to a ridiculous level.” Such a deformity, he opined, could be even worse for a horse than for dogs bred with pushed-in muzzles, like bulldogs…

…and pugs…

They do it to cats, too:

 

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of the Day:

Is breeding animals to emphasize features that may constitute handicaps unethical?

I’m going to hold my fire, but suggest that any analysis consider…

the Ick Factor and the Awww! Factor.

…the fact that the animals don’t know there’s anything unusual about them

…the specific harm that makes the breeding unethical.

Go for it.

 

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/2017: Climate Change Deceit, Jimmy Kimmel, Trump’s Golf Ball Attack, Stephen King, And How to Cover The Left’s Epic Freak-Out

GOOD MORNING!

(he shouted…)

1 When I wrote today’s early morning post about the Sherwin-Williams controversy, with a “hit the ball into the paint can” promotion going horrible wrong thanks to fake news and lying sports reporters, I wanted to use a famous old cartoon based on a sign that hung in the outfield in old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. I couldn’t find it online, perhaps because it was 4 am. I just did, however…

2.  For some time, now, as the Left has commenced its nervous breakdown following Trump’s election, I have faced a daily dilemma. The ethics breaches, in civility, in journalism, in politics, have been so over-weighted to one side of the political spectrum that to cover issues based on importance and degree of ethics madness automatically makes Ethics Alarms seem partisan. I resent it, to be honest. The counterbalance is, of course, the President himself, but his brand of unethical conduct hasn’t changed since the campaign, though the Trump-haters never tire of freaking out over the same stuff. For example, after the infamous wrestling tweet about CNN, how nuts can you go when Trump posts a gag video showing him hitting Hillary in the head with a golf ball? Yes, it’s childish, yes, its unpresidential, yes, it shows lack of self-restraint, yes, it’s stupid. But I know and you know, and certainly his haters know, that Trump is childish, unpresidential, lacks  self-restraint, and is stupid. I’ve written too much about it already.

He is not, however, getting worse. Democrats, progressives and “the resistance” are getting worse, as they become more desperate in their derangement. I’m seeing things I didn’t believe possible, like serial child abuser Jimmy Kimmel being held up by the news media as the moral center of the Democratic Party. Jimmy Kimmel is nothing. He is a smug high school grad who has never done anything but perform, often disgustingly, as when he was host of the too-vulgar-to-be-believed “Man Show” on Comedy Central.

He’s never run a business; he’s never studied public policy. He’s a comedian whose signature act is egging on parents to make their kids cry and take videos of them. Ah, but he’ll give Hillary Clinton a forum to deliver her shadow UN speech, and pimp for Obamacare, so that makes him a policy expert. Incredible. Incredible, the depths to which progressives have fallen.

An immature, inexperienced, impulsive President, rather than being opposed, as he should be, by a professional, honest, respectable and responsible opposition party, has instead mutated the liberal establishment into as revolting a presence as he is. This is catastrophic for our politics, our culture, and our society, and that’s why Ethics Alarms devotes so much space to it.

3. Ann Althouse has the sharpest hypocrisy detector around, and she nailed horror novelist Stephen King (I like his novels, some of his movies, and he is a big Red Sox fan) for sending this anti-Trump tweet:’

Trump thinks hitting a woman with a golf ball and knocking her down is funny. Myself, I think it indicates a severely fucked-up mind.

She writes in part, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/17: Pelosi Asked For It And Got It, Hillary Is A Disgrace, The Unabomber Was Right…And The Importance Of Caring

Good Morning!

1 Red Sox colors. I sometimes feel guilty about the fact that since I was 12, the fate of the Boston baseball team has been able to elevate or undermine my view of the day, existence  and the cosmos regardless of what other far more objectively important and significant events have occurred within my family, in my life, or to nation or the world. It is because I care, as writer Roger Angell once wrote in his New Yorker essay “Agincourt and After” (I know I have quoted it before), and caring itself has importance, whatever the object of it…

“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.”

2. This video is almost res ipsa loquitur for its ethical content:

Almost.

There you have it: proof positive of the slippery slope the sloppily sentimental, irresponsible support for “Dreamers” polishes to a fine sheen. The illegal immigration, open borders and anti-U.S. sovereignty activists won’t be satisfied, because they really think they have a right to just take U.S. citizenship irrespective of our laws. They will also call anyone who opposes that assertion “racist.” They are so deluded, moreover, that they don’t realize how much a display like the one above damages their unethical cause. I heard some commentators say the episode made them feel sorry for Pelosi. Sorry for her? Her demagoguery and her  party’s dishonesty and cynicism on this issue is what created that mob.

This was what George Will calls “condign justice.” Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/17: Amazon Purges Reviews For Hillary, Equifax Must Die, Making Literature More Diverse, And The Red Sox Get Away With It…

GOOD MORNING!

1 “It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?”

This is the response that the widow of writer Roald Dahl to a reporter’s suggestion that Charlie, the hero of Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (aka “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:) should be made black in a future “reworking” of the book. Recently Mrs. Dahl has claimed that Charlie was originally supposed to be black, but that her husband changed the character before the book was published. She blames his agent, who was, she says (none of this is more than hearsay) afraid that the book wouldn’t sell as well in American with a black hero. She blames “American sensibility.”

No, it wouldn’t be wonderful to start changing the races (and inevitably, genders and sexual orientations) in “reworkings” of literary classics. It would be unethical and irresponsible, as well as a defilement of the author’s visions and creations. Whatever the reason was, and we cannot know it regardless of what Mrs. Dahl now claims, Charlie was white in Dahl’s book. If he had wanted his book to be about a black child, or a little girl, or a Muslim transsexual, the author would have made it so. If someone obsessed with tribal identity politics wants to write a new adaptation under their own name so we can jeer and mock him or her, swell. But it isn’t any more “wonderful” to “rework” Dahl’s own story this way than it is to make Bob Cratchit black, or Captain Ahab black, or Bigger Thomas in “Native Son” Asian-American.

Of course, a stage or film adaptation of the book can cast it any way it chooses.

2 The major business ethics story this past week has been that data security breach by credit giant Equifax. An estimated 143 million Americans now face identity theft for the rest of their lives because the company wasn’t competent to be in the business it was in. It’s that simple. The ways in which Equifax blundered into allowing all this data to be hacked are legion, with more revelations almost daily. My personal favorite is that it neglected to install a patch that would have made its files more secure, delaying for months for no good reason.

Business analysts point out that despite this massive demonstration of ineptitude, the company is not likely to suffer more than the cost and inconvenience of a class action lawsuit or five. The companies that pay Equifax weren’t harmed by the breach, just the lives of the credit-seekers who they use Equifax to check. Nobody seems to think that even this massive misconduct will put Equifax out of business.

The company has dumped some executives, and will probably dump some more, reorganize, and padlock that barn door securely now that the horse has fled. TooLate. The company is untrustworthy, and more than that, companies like Equifax that gather personal information about innocent citizens need to be scared sick about what will happen to them if they can’t keep the information from falling into malign hands. Equifax needs to be put out of business. Its leaders and management need to be imprisoned, fined so severely that they are reduced to eating cat food, or blacklisted so their future employment is limited to bait shops and traveling carnivals. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/13/17: Mansplaining, More Climate Change Hype, And Shut Up And Sing, Stevie…

Good Morning!

1 Keep it up, you ignorant exaggerators, liars and hypers. Keep it up. Eventually people of good will and functioning brains will figure out that you and whatever movements you crave lack integrity and decency, and rely on manipulation and fake news from a news media that decries fake news.

2. Yesterday, Stevie Wonder began yesterday’s Hand In Hand Telethon to raise money for hurricane recovery by  by saying, “Anyone who believes that there’s no such thing as global warming must be blind or unintelligent.”

Good-bye, Hand In Hand Telethon! In fact, good-bye all such telethons, forever. The last one featured professional asshole Kanye West announcing that President Bush was deliberately leaving blacks unrescued, while weenie Mike Myers stood there next to the rapper like gutless tool he is. I switched off Stevie and his ignorant pals and watched the Red Sox slaughter the Oakland As and reruns of “Criminal Minds.”

I know you aren’t especially educated or astute beyond your musical genius, Stevie, but that means that you should keep your half-baked opinions off national live TV and out of the ears of people who admire you and are as ignorant as you are (See here). Since global warming cannot credibly or definitively be blamed for any single weather event, Stevie’s inappropriate outburst was a complete non sequitur. The existence of two big hurricanes isn’t evidence of climate change. We could have experienced two hurricanes of the same or greater power if there were no climate change, or if the world were cooling. We know this because we have experienced stronger hurricanes long, long before anyone was arguing about global warming. Thus it would have been equally appropriate for Stevie to declare, “Anyone who doesn’t think Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame is an idiot,” or “Anyone who doesn’t think Brussels sprouts are yummy is an idiot.” Thanks for sharing, but what exactly does it have to do with helping hurricane victims?

Sensing an opportunity, many celebrities, elected officials and pundits have been  acting like blind, under-educated pop singers. The proper analogy would be the periodic attempts to use mass shootings by unstable people who obtained guns in ways that wouldn’t be blocked in any way by proposed gun policy changes to create a wave of emotion, polls and blind (sorry, Stevie, but you started it) anger that would force new restrictions on individual rights.

When this happens, my personal reaction, as it was to gun control mania after the Sandy Hook shooting, is to say, “OK, that’s it. I was generally in favor of some reasonable policy measures to respond to this problem, but since you advocates for them keep lying, spinning, and using misleading statistics and false arguments, I’m out. I don’t trust you to draft or implement such policies, and as long as liars, cheaters and fools like you are on that side, I’m on the other. Get back to me when you stop lying.” Continue reading

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Miss America Ethics: Know Your Place, Stupid Beauty Pageants!

Public policy experts all…

Your place, as anachronistic, culturally embarrassing meat shows, is to be as unobtrusive as possible while feminists and people of taste figure out a nice, fair way to wipe you off the face of the United States. But until that happens, you have a duty not to be deliberately annoying, not to wave your ignorance like it is a bloody shirt, and also not to make the undeniably stupid people who watch you even dumber than they already are.

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself..

Two nights ago, we were treated to the finals of the inexplicably still-televised Miss America beauty pageant, the grandmommy of them all. The traditionally risible interview portion of the competition, which has for as long as there were turnips on earth featured open-ended general questions conducive to virtue-signalling blather, usually features puzzlers like (from a list of such queries)

What do you think is true beauty?

What would you do differently if you could start your life over?

Who is your greatest role model or hero?

What does it mean to be a beauty queen?

If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?

What is the greatest challenge facing humanity?

What makes you happiest?

…and so on. The idea once was that anyone with a mouth is capable of answering these questions relatively competently, and they are not traps or invitations to attract criticism. Oh, once in a millennium a finalist might answer “What would you do differently if you could start your life over?” with, “Well, I would sure skip all those years I was a crack whore,” or “If you could be granted one wish, what would it be?” by saying, “I’d wish for boobs the size of El Capitan!,”  but these are pretty easy questions to ace. They are also well within the intelligence levels and expertise of the pageant administrators, judges and the contestants, so employing them isn’t political, or divisive.

A beauty pageant should not be divisive or political, just like an NFL game shouldn’t be divisive or political. I shouldn’t even have to write that.

Miss America 2018 decided to ditch the tradition of one question per finalist in the final round of competition, and ask two questions of each. The final five questions to the last five finalists were all “serious,” we were told.

Here they are, with the answers they evoked, and my observations. Continue reading

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