Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/21/2020: Our Cheating Hearts

I can’t sleep.

While I’m thinking about Hank, I recommend Ken Burns’ latest documentary, “Country Music,” and I’m not exactly a country music buff (though my father’s favorite song was “The Wabash Cannonball” . Burns has always had a fondness for ethics stories, and his latest work is full of them.

How did I not know that Williams died before he turned 30? Based on his amazing output of classic songs, I assumed he must have lived to be 90. He’s the Buddy Holly of Country, or perhaps the Mozart.

1. Before we get to the real cheating, stop making me defend Mike Bloomberg! From Yahoo, in a post headlined, Bloomberg Shares Doctored Debate Video To Hide Dismal Performance” by David Moye, who needs a head transplant:

  “On Thursday morning, the billionaire businessman released a deceptively edited video that falsely suggested he rendered the other candidates speechless at one point….The video begins at the moment when the former New York City mayor declared: “I’m the only one here I think that’s ever started a business.” During the actual exchange, his comment was greeted with about four seconds of silence, but the video below falsely implied it was more like 20….whoever edited Bloomberg’s video tweet took moments from other parts of the debate to make it look as if his declaration was so powerful candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden had no response.”

Garbage! The critics are doing the exact same thing they did to President Trump’s video that kept showing video of Nancy Pelosi ripping up his State of the Union speech interspersed with the President’s admirable guests, like the 100-year-old Tuskeegee Airman. Anyone who couldn’t tell that the video was edited to make a point rather than to deceive is too dumb to vote. Similarly, anyone who believes that a Democratic candidates debate stage would ever stay silent for 20 seconds doesn’t know what a debate is, and has been watching cartoons all his life. A satirically edited video isn’t deceptive just because some viewers are dumber than boxes of kitty litter. 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.
Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/20: Dresden, Bloomberg, Snopes, Climate Change, And “The Chalkening”

Good Morning…

1. Dresden bombing ethics. February 13-15, 1945 witnessed the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, with the resulting deaths of between 22,000 and 135,000 civilians. depending on whose propaganda you choose to believe. Regardless of the number, the destruction of the German cultural center and questionable military target so late in the war—after its loss in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s defeat was just a matter of time—was instantly controversial, and is still intensely debated today.

The attack, which dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city, destroyed more than 1,600 acres. By all accounts, the human toll was horrific. Lothar Metzger, a survivor, wrote,

We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.

Was the firebombing of Dresden a war crime?  If the Allies had lost the war, it would have become a war crime. As we have discussed here before, the concept of war crimes is confounding and hypocritical at best. If the attacks were deemed essential to ending the war as soon as possible, then they were ethically defensible.

Much of the debate over the years has focused on whether the bombing was terrorism. Of course it was, as were the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and General Sherman’s March to the Sea. Terror is a legitimate weapon in warfare, when the objective is to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. Attacks on civilians for revenge and to inflict gratuitous death and pain for no legitimate strategic purpose are unethical . The distinction is usually in the eye of the beholder.

Wikipedia has an unusually thorough article on the Dresden attack, and I found this paper interesting as well. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Exotic Dancer Genea Sky, Who Kept A-Goin’

To get the day off to an inspirational start: in the video above, now going viral across the net and deservedly so, Dallas exotic dancer Genea Sky falls almost 15 feet from her pole, lands on her face, and keeps twerking until she leaves the stage for urgent medical attention. The fall, which occurred over the weekend,  fractured the dancer’s jaw, which was operated on the next day, broke some teeth,  teeth and sprained her ankle.

On the plus side, she provided a visual example of professionalism, dedication, and guts for the ages. Her diligence in continuing to dance even after the accident is a marvelous exhibition of character. A GoFundMe page set up to help pay her medical expenses has raised more than $20,000.

Good. Sky deserves it. She had a job to do, and by God, she was going to do it. Continue reading

OK, I Have No Idea What This Is. Help Me Out. Please.

Alyssa Nakken played first base on the Sacramento State women’s softball team from 2009 to 2012, being named all-conference three times  and Academic All American all four years. She  earned a master’s degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco in 2015, and interned with the San Francisco Giants’ baseball operations department for a year during that period.

Now she has become the first female major league coach.  New San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler added her to his staff. Whether it was his idea or not is unknown.

What is her job? The Associated Press is a bit vague:

“Nakken will be in uniform and helping the Giants with everything from cage work to infield practice,” its feature says. The AP adds:

Kapler and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have all the confidence in Nakken’s ability to help build clubhouse continuity through stronger bonds between young players and veterans…A polished speaker who has become adept at hiding any nerves, Nakken is taking initiative early. She put on a two-day coaches retreat this week that included a “culinary experience” — much more than “a food tour,” she said — through San Francisco’s historic and diverse Mission District..

Nakken doesn’t claim to be an expert on hitting or pitching. She plans to assist coaches on both sides, and will also work a lot on outfield defense and baserunning. Nakken will be in uniform but not in the dugout during games, rather working with players in the cage to keep them ready..

Do you see my problem? Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “Forgetting What We Know”

This post, one of the very first on Ethics Alarms, was written on Halloween, 2009. The blog had essentially no followers then. I judge it an excellent post (if I do say so myself) but just a handful of people read it. There were four commenters: King Kool, who traveled over from the old Ethics Scoreborad site and who, I am happy to say, still weighs in now and then; “Ethics Bob” Stone, who commented her last year,  and a friend I met through my connection with child star advocate Paul Petersen and with whom I am still in touch.

I found it extremely interesting to review–I wouldn’t change anything substantive in it, though I made three small edits—in light of what has happened since, and the theme of the post, which was how ethics evolves.

The post was written before the #MeToo upheaval. For all I know, Harvey Weinstein was forcing an aspiring starlet to have sex with him and Bill Cosby was drugging a young woman as I was posting it. It references several  rationalizations before the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list had been launched.

I wonder, though, how much out society has really learned since it was written.  Roman Polanski is still living free and directing films in France. Six women have accused him of sex-related crimes, the most recent last November.

Bill Cosby is in prison for one of his rapes: Harvey Weinstein is standing trial right now. Bill Clinton appears to have finally been reduced to persona non grata status among progressives and his former defenders, but his complicit and unapologetic enabler, Hillary Clinton, is still treated as a feminist icon, and even harbors dreams of running for President again. The Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax , has been convincingly accused of rape by one woman and sexual harassment by another, yetremains in office, and the local and national media have stuffed the story in the proverbial memory hole.

Six years after this post, David Letterman retired from “The Late Show” hailed as comedy legend, with Barack Obama and three former Presidents appearing on his farewell show. He continues to be sought after for interviews and as an MC, as in the USO event pictured above.  In 2016, Letterman joined the climate change documentary show Years of Living Dangerously as one of the show’s celebrity correspondents. In 2017, Letterman gave the induction speech for Pearl Jam when the group was inducted into the  Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. That same year, 2017, Letterman was feted on Turner Movie Classics with Alec Baldwin—don’t get me started–as he  co-hosted “The Essentials.”  Letterman and Baldwin introduced seven films for the series.

Wisely, “Rosemary’s Baby” was not among them.

In 2018, Letterman began hosting a six-episode monthly series of hour-long programs on Netflix called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. His old friend, patron, and feminist hero Barack Obama was his first guest.

The second season premiered on May 31, 2019.

This  is “Forgetting What We Know.” Continue reading

The Presley Pritchard Saga, Continued: No, There Is No “Too Sexy Firefighter Principle,” And Evergreen Fire Rescue Messed With The Wrong Woman

I wondered why a July 6 2019 Ethics Hero post was suddenly getting  lots of visits. The reason was disappointing: Presley Prichard, the inspiring paramedic who built herself up from a slim, 120 pound paramedic into a160 pound athlete so she could meet the strength and fitness requirements to achieve her life goal of being a firefighter — “This is how female empowerment is supposed to work” I wrote, saluting her determination—

—was fired by Evergreen Fire Rescue in Flathead County, Montana  for posting provocative photographs of herself on Instagram. Continue reading