After sunset, four neighbors with puppies of varying ages and sizes have been gathering in the field near my house to let the adorable little dears run free. They are all inordinately fond of Spuds, who isn’t a puppy but acts like one, and I often let him run around and wrestle with the younger dogs on his leash. (Spuds is a constant risk to gallop off to meet any child, dog or human who appears in the distance, so I let him run free rarely.) This week, two of the puppies ran up to greet him as I tried to sneak past the pack on our evening walk, and after Spuds started crying pitifully, I gave in and allowed him to join the group.
It was cold and dark, and the likelihood of anyone tempting Spuds by showing up on the horizon was minimal, so I relented and let him run with his pals, off the leash. They were a sight to see, tearing around the field. One puppy, a hound named Vinnie, was a particularly lively instigator: earlier, while eluding a puppy he had incited, Vinnie ran full speed into my knee, causing him (not me) to yelp. You have to be wary when a pack of pups is having fun.
Suddenly I saw that Vinnie was coming at us again at mach speed, with Spuds galloping right behind. They veered a bit away from me and at one of the owners of the lively Belgian Shepherd puppy. I shouted to her, “Watch out!” but in vain: she stepped aside to avoid Vinnie, but right into Spuds. He tried to avoid her, but his 70 pound-pus body slammed into her leg, and she went down writhing in pain. We had to call the EMT’s to get her off the field and to a hospital.
Once again, I am prepping for a law firm training session (at 9 am!), and am rushing to get as much covered as I can.
1 More on how sports commentators make us stupid. I happened to be listening to the Sirius-XM MLB channel, as old Red Sox third-baseman Rico Petrocelli was holding forth on the luck factor in baseball. “I mean,” opined Rico,” a single missed strike or ball call by an umpire can change games, championships, seasons and careers! A single missed pitch by an umpire!”
Then he and his partner on the show noted that there have even been calls for balls and strikes to be called electronically, which, as I have pointed out here, is now completely feasible. “Ridiculous!” spat Rico, as his sidekick vigorously agreed.
Let me get this straight: he just (correctly) talked about how a single mistaken call can have momentous consequences, but says it’s ridiculous to eliminate mistaken calls when the technology is available to do so.
Eighteen-year-old Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus, Ohio, was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Seven people were also injured in the incident…The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.
On all the news channels I saw, including CNN, HLN, ABC, Fox and CBS, video taken by an onlooker was frozen at the moment the ride broke apart. As HLN’s cheery Robin Meade put it, “We’re not going to show the rest of the video, because it’s graphic and disturbing.”
Wait, Robin: YOU saw it. The producers saw it. Why don’t I get to see it?
I posted the unedited video above. It’s not any more graphic than this…
…and people paid to see that scene. But never mind, the silly hyper-protectiveness isn’t the ethics issue.
The ethics issue is that this is how journalists convince themselves that they can withhold information, or distort it, change it or spin it for our own good. No, I don’t grant them that privilege, or the role. The job of the news media is to let us know what happened, as thoroughly as they know it. Today it’s some people flying off of a malfunctioning fair ride, yesterday it’s that a President of the U.S. might have raped someone. Tomorrow it might be, oh, I don’t know, this story, which had barely nicked the news networks as of yesterday.
I don’t trust these people to decide what it’s healthy for me to watch. If they want to give warnings, fine. I want the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news. Continue reading →
….Monalisa Perez and her dead boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III! Yes, we should blame the victim. And his girl friend.
Clarence Darrow said, “History repeats itself. and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.” If Monalisa and Pedro had been students of stupid moments in literary history, they would have encountered the ridiculous tale of novelist William Burroughs (“Naked Lunch”), who on September 6, 1951, was at a drunken party at a bar in Mexico City. For no apparent reason, Burroughs suddenly shouted to his equally drunk wife that it was time to show everyone their “William Tell trick.”
They had never performed their trick before.
Joan Vollmer (well, they held themselves out as married, though they were not) balanced a highball glass on her head and Burroughs, playing Tell, tried to shoot the glass off with his revolver. William Tell wasn’t drunk, however, and Burroughs was. He aimed too low and shot Vollmer right between the eyes.
Believe it or not, Perez and Ruiz were even less sympathetic than Burroughs and his wife. They weren’t drunk, just cretinous and greedy. They were making a YouTube video. A few hours before Monalisa shot Pedro, a posting on her Twitter account read: “Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE.” The stunt he had talked her into involved Ruiz holding up a hardcover encyclopedia volume in front of his chest as she shot a .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol at the book from about a foot away “to see if it would go through.”
Well, waddya know! It did!
This was part of Pedro’s plan to become rich and famous via viral YouTube videos. Now he’s dead, Monalisa is charged with murder, and their yet-to-born child will be off to terrible start in life, in addition to carrying some dubious genes.
Yes, it’s a tragedy…a tragedy born of astounding recklessness, inadequate life competence, irresponsibility, and a poor understanding of risk-reward ratios.
It is often said that baseball is a child’s game, but that doesn’t excuse professional baseball players holding on to childish traditions regarding the “right way to play the game” that are not right, frequently dangerous, and mind-numbingly stupid to boot.
Last week, beginning a weekend series in Baltimore, the Boston Red Sox were enmeshed in a close game., losing 2-0, with time running out. With the Orioles batting and Manny Machado (Non-baseball fans: he is the very young, very large, very talented O’s third-baseman, a joy to watch and already a super-star) on first, Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded a slowly bouncing ground ball and flipped a weak throw to Dustin Pedroia (Non-baseball fans: he is the small, cocky, excellent Sox second baseman, the best fielder at his position in 2016, a former MVP, and the acknowledged leader of the team now that David Ortiz has retired). Pedroia caught the ball in a first baseman’s stretch, awkwardly, just in time to force out Machado: a double play was out of the question. Machado, however, came into the base hard, sliding late, and barreling right over the bag with his spikes raised. (It looks on the tape as if one foot was elevated when it hit the base.) Machado’s momentum took him into Pedroia, knocking him down and spiking him, as well as injuring his knee and ankle. Machado appeared to try to catch the Sox player after he passed over the base.
There was no question that Machado was out, but the Red Sox manager argued that the slide was illegal: since last year, runners are not allowed to try to break up double plays by intentionally sliding at opposing fielders. Late slides, slides not intended to allow the runner to get to second base, and sliding past teh base to upend the second baseman or shortstop will be called as obstruction, and the batter is then called out to complete the double play. The umpires disagreed with Farrell, and that is still being debated; it’s not relevant here. Pedroia, meanwhile, was led off the field, obviously injured.
After the game, Red Sox TV analysts and former players Jim Rice (Sox Hall of Fame Sox slugger) and Steve Lyons (an opinionated jackass) chuckled about what was coming. Ancient baseball tradition required, they explained, that the Red Sox “protect their player” who was injured by a careless, inept, or intentionally illegal slide. This meant, they explained, that a Red Sox pitcher in the next game was obligated to hit Machado with a pitch in retaliation. “He knows it!” said Rice. “He’ll be expecting it.” Lyons nodded and laughed. (Full disclosure: I hated Steve Lyons as a player, and I loathe him as an analyst.)
This is indeed an “unwritten law” of baseball, and one of the most unethical. I have seen it countless times, and the result is often fights and injuries, as well as suspensions for the pitcher’s involved and outright beanball wars. The theory is that you can’t let a team “intimidate” you, so a message must be sent. The message is “tit for tat” or “Mob Ethics”: you hurt one of ours, we hurt one of yours. Sometimes the situation requires a pitch directed at other team’s star player, when that team’s scrub injures the pitcher’s team’s star. In this case, the target was an easy call, for Machado was both the miscreant and is also the Orioles best player. Continue reading →
In July, just four months after the show opened to rave reviews, producers closed the hit Broadway musical, “Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.” “Shuffle Along,” with 10 Tony nominations this year, had the makings of a long-running bonanza, but producers decided that when its acclaimed star, multiple past Tony Award winner (six!) Audra McDonald, had to leave the cast due to a surprising pregnancy (the actress was 45), it was too risky to continue. As soon as a replacement was named, ticket sales plummeted.
The show, which was capitalized for up to $12 million, had purchased a $14 million insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London to cover any damages arising if McDonald “was unable to perform because of an accident or illness.” Now producers are asking Lloyd’s to pay up, covering losses created by the pre-mature closing of the musical and by the effects on the production occasioned by other health issues related to McDonald’s pregnancy while she was still performing. “Since the beginning of previews of the Show, Ms. McDonald was unable to appear in numerous performances of the Show due to circumstances related to illness, a knee injury, and her pregnancy,” a lawsuit says. Her role was a strenuous one, requiring, among other things, a lot of tap-dancing.
Why the lawsuit, you ask? Lloyd’s says that the policy’s terms haven’t been met, arguing that the actress’s pregnancy and the associated medical conditions were neither due to an ‘accident’ nor an ‘illness’ under the policies.” The show’s position, as articulated by a lawyer representing the show, is that”‘Shuffle Along’ bought an insurance policy to cover it in the event that Ms. McDonald was unable to perform, and she was unable to perform.”
I love this story! It has everything—cold-eyed insurance executives, a perhaps manipulative diva, the sanctity of pregnancy, buck-passing, Hail Marys, feminist taboos, and Broadway! Continue reading →
I am a student of Presidential assassinations (as you might guess by the posts on McKinley and Garfield), and have been most of my life, ever since I saw a TV special called “Web of Conspiracy” when I was 10, about the Lincoln murder. That led me to read the best-selling book the special was based on, an 800 page, sensational analysis of the mysteries behind Lincoln’s death, by mystery writer Theodore Roscoe, who dabbled in history. The book’s theories and insinuating style are more convincing to a ten-year-old than an adult (I read the book many years later, and it drove me crazy), but the book still has a lot of fascinating tales and theories in it. I was hooked.
Oddly, the one Presidential assassination that has interested me least in recent years is the one I lived through, the assassination of President Kennedy. Blame Oliver Stone, Kevin Costner and Jim Garrison: “JFK” was the most dishonest movie I had ever watched (still is) and I walked out of it when its lies and distortions got too much for me about a third of the way through. Even before Stone’s brilliantly directed piece of crap. I was sick of the conspiracy theories, though Stone manufacturing a link to Lyndon Johnson was the final straw. Yes, the bitter Vietnam veteran really got back at LBJ; I hope it made him feel better. I, however, was soured on the whole topic.
I should have been paying more attention. Netflix is showing a documentary with the generic conspiracy theory title of “JFK: The Smoking Gun,” which was shown on cable two years ago. I missed it; if I had been aware of the film, the title and the subject matter—Oh, who’s behind it now? The Mafia? Nixon? Woody Harrelson’s father?—would have kept me away. But while I was on the road for a couple days doing ethics seminars for VACLE, my wife watched the documentary, and when I returned, sleep deprived, weak and submissive, she made me watch it.
The more I read “Above the Law,” the less I like it.
The legal gossip site has now devoted two articles to an embarrassing incident involving Sarah E. Buffett, a partner at Nelson Mullins, one of the largest firms in the country. While on a flight, Buffett downed three glasses of wine as a chaser to a prescription sleeping pill without eating dinner, and instead of falling asleep as was her evident intent, went bananas. Sitting in first class, she first began damaging her seat and then tried to smash the aircraft window with an entertainment system remote. Then she got up and began “acting in a menacing manner in front of the cockpit door.” The flight attendants weren’t able to restrain the out-of-control lawyer, so other passengers had to help get Buffett into plastic restraints. She removed those restraints twice before passengers held her down while an attendant wrapped her legs with tape.
The pilot was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing.
Buffett, who said in court that she remembers none of this, has been charged with violation of 49 U.S. Code § 46504, a crime punishable by a fine and/or possible imprisonment of up to 20 years. Her firm has suspended her from all duties, and wiped her bio from its website. She has been humiliated and her career is in jeopardy. Continue reading →
If a real Columbo was on his case, Tony Stewart might be in trouble.
The word “ethics” and NASCAR should never be uttered in the same sentence without irony. After all, the sport arose out of the exploits of outlaw bootleggers. The current billion dollar sport’s culture regards cheating as “breaking rules and getting caught doing it.” The fact that the team manager of one of the sport’s biggest stars would see no reason for his meal-ticket not to compete today just because he was being investigated for what might have been a mid-race homicide yesterday shouldn’t shock anyone.
In case you missed it Saturday (I did, having a visceral aversion to NASCAR stronger than my dislike of nightcrawlers), NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart drove his car into twenty-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr., killing him, during a dirt-track race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. Ward’s car and Stewart’s car had swiped each other during the race, disabling Ward’s vehicle. Ward left his car and was walking on a track with the caution flag out, waving his arms and pointing at Stewart. One car swerved to avoid Ward, but Stewart’s hit him, injuring him fatally. Until the media and public began to register its objections, Stewart was preparing to race today as if nothing had happened. As recently as this morning, Stewart team manager Greg Zipadelli called it “business as usual.”
It’s business as usual in a culture where a participant who just killed someone in public under suspicious circumstances sees no reason to show, or even fake, any remorse or contrition whatsoever. Here’s the latest entry on Tony Stewart’s website, at least as I write this:
“Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s edition of “Tony Trivia.” This week’s answer: There’s no track on the circuit where Tony Stewart is more dominant than at Watkins Glen International.”
[UPDATE:At 1:pm Sunday, Stewart finally posted the statement about the accident that is now up on the site. Note that he says nothing about his part in the accident at all. It could be about any NASCAR accident, anywhere.]
Call me a silly sentimentalist, but if I ran down another racer and killed him, I would make certain that a public statement expressing sorrow and regret at the incident would be up on my “official website” before the first ESPN headline was written about the incident. Meanwhile, why would NASCAR allow a racer to compete after an incident like this? Oh, that’s right: because the only ethics in NASCAR involve making money, protecting its stars, winning races, and keeping the fans entertained. After all, having Stewart race today would be a great story. Will he kill again? Will any driver have the guts to point at him this time?
Yes, it’s Bizarro World ethics again, another culture with inverted values like the fictional cube planet in Superman comics, where idiotic clones of Superman and Lois Lane think, live and speak illogically. Continue reading →
“Ask Amy” features a parent who asks the advice columnist to add her authority to the parent’s concerted efforts to pass along her own ethics deficits to her college age daughter, which, I fear, is unnecessary at this point. The daughter’s ethical compass is probably already damaged beyond repair.
It appears that the daughter, in a drunken state, spilled champagne on a laptop belonging to “Laura,” a college friend. The laptop was lying on the floor of the friend’s dorm room, and the keyboard was drenched in bubbly. Ethically challenged Mom thinks Laura is being mean and unfair to expect the daughter to pay full price—$850—to get the besotted machine working again. The indignant mother protests… Continue reading →