Tag Archives: air travel

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/2/17: Flying Morons, A Fake News Crash, Death By Bias, And Me

Good Morning!

1 Moron on board. Passengers can create personal wi-fi networks o and name them what they want while flying on some airlines, like Turkish Airlines.One passenger on a flight from Nairobi to Istanbul named his wi-fi network “bomb on board.”

Brilliant. Passengers could see that the network was in operation on the plane when they used their own devices, and became, ah, upset. In a statement, Turkish Airlines said the flight made an emergency landing at the Khartoum airport in Sudan, but the flight was safely resumed after security inspections on all passengers and the aircraft.

2. Terry McAuliffe for President! A 220-page report from Timothy Heaphy, a former U.S. attorney, was commissioned by the city council to find out what  happened in Charlottesville when a white nationalist group opposing the removal of a Robert. E. Lee statue was opposed by a group including violent antifa thugs. It was released yesterday, and USA Today reports that it concluded…

“This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions — the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury and death.”

Among the report’s other findings:

• Charlottesville police didn’t ensure separation between counter-protesters and so-called alt-right protesters upset with the city council’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park.

• Officers weren’t stationed along routes to the park, but instead remained behind barricades in relatively empty zones.

• City police didn’t adequately coordinate with Virginia State Police, and authorities were unable to communicate via radio.

• State police didn’t share a formal planning document with city police, “a crucial failure.”

• Officers were inadequately equipped to respond to the clashes between the two groups, and tactical gear was not accessible to officers.

The handling of this episode by city and state officials was a warning about how tenuous support is for core American rights and values, though the news media didn’t cover it that way. Ethics Alarms did. Here is what I wrote at the time about the Governor of Virginia, now being prominently mentions as a possible Democratic Presidential nominee…after all, he is long-time Clinton loyalist, so why not?

[We] have Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe, who used the power and influence of his office to declare that people holding views he does not approve of are not welcome in the Old Dominion. In the midst of some patriotic grandstanding, he said…

“You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you….There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

This is leftist fascism, by definition. Who is Terry McAuliffe, or Virginia, or anyone, to say who can or should have a “place” in the United States of America? How is this statement applied to white nationalists any different legally or ethically from applying it to Muslims, or lesbians, or abortion advocates, or Catholics, Jews or libertarians?

It isn’t. The entire point of the Bill of Rights is that the government does not get to tell us what to thing, what we can chant, what we can protest, and where we can live.

Charlottesville’s mayor made similar sentiments known, and the result was that the police obeyed the cues, and a riot resulted.

Then the news media blamed Steve Bannon and President Trump. Continue reading

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On The Way To Bali, An Unethical Conduct Cascade

One unethical act often opens the floodgates to many, in in unexpected, and unexpectable ways. An ethics alarm failure triggers another, then another. But who would expect that an extramarital affair would cause a passenger plane to have to make an emergency landing, for example?

All the moe reason to keep those alarms in working order.

The distaff side of a couple on the way to a vacation in Bali on a Qatar Airways flight apparently had reason to be suspicious of her husband, so when he fell asleep, she oh-so-carefully  manipulated his snoozing thumb to unlock his smartphone with its print, and did some snooping.

Ah HA! The bastard had been cheating on her!

So calmly, maturely, she began screaming and beating on her dastardly spouse so violently that the pilot had to divert the flight and land.

Cascade re-cap:

  • Triggering unethical act: Marital infidelity.

1 to 10 Betrayal of Trust Scale score, with 1 being a forgivable lie and 10 being treason, I rate this an 8.

  • Secondary unethical act: Appropriating the body of another while he is incapacitated, and doing so to invade his privacy. (No credit for discovering above triggering unethical act.. That’s consequentialism: the result of an act cannot retroactively justify the act.)

Betrayal of Trust Scale score: 6

  • Culminating unethical act: Physical violence on a plane endangering innocent passengers, forcing the plane to land, inconveniencing many.

I don’t have a scale for that.

But it was the most unethical of all.

What a fun couple!

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Playing The Race Card For Intimidation, Power, And Profit

“Nice little airline you got there. Too bad if anything were to happen to it…”

The NAACP has hit on a new, unethical and brilliant extortion tactic. The venerable civil rights group issued an advisory warning calling for black travelers to be cautious about flying on American Airlines. This prompted the airline’s chairman, in response, to announce that the company does not “and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” In a previous advisory, the organization told African-Americans to stay out of Missouri. Next, it will tell them not to watch Fox News.

The NAACP attributed its warning to what it called “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.”  It cited four incidents  as examples that “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.” Four incidents, of course, do not suggest a corporate culture or a pattern. How many white or Asian flyers have had similar confrontations? The NAACP doesn’t care, and I doubt it bothered to find out. The man who was dragged off a United flight in April was Asian. The female passenger who was allegedly struck by an American flight attendant earlier this year was white.  I consider myself abused by every airline I fly. Unfortunately, since I’m a Greek American, my only recourse is to conclude that the reason for my discomfort is that the industry is callous and incompetent, and its employees are poorly trained and supervised. If I were black, I would know my treatment was based on race. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: The Nicely-Dressed Factor

(NPR says this was an actual passenger.)

When I fly, I always wear a sports jacket. No tie, often a sports shirt. Usually dress shoes, though not since I got mt neato-keen Boston Red Sox canvas deck shoes. Why do I do this? Apparently because I’m old, but also because of that old, archaic value, respect. If I’m in public, and especially if I’m going to be in close quarters with someone, I want the experience for them to be as pleasant as possible.

The airlines exercise very little dominion over what its passengers wear. Bare feet will keep you grounded; a T-shirt  with profanity or a lewd message may get you barred from a flight, but not much else. However, the airlines do notice what you wear, and what you wear may have benefits:

George Hobica, founder of the travel fare advice site Airfare Watchdog, said that “everyone believes no one gets upgraded anymore based on how they look.” But, he added, “It does happen.”… [Hobica] then relayed tales of friends who had been upgraded while wearing clothes they considered nicer than what they might wear to the gym or the grocery store, and a conversation he once had with a gate agent friend at Lufthansa.

“She told me she would upgrade people based on how good-looking they are, how pregnant they are, or how nicely they’re dressed,” he said. “She said: ‘Look, we oversell flights and, of course, we go down the status list first. Absolutely, we look at your miles.’” But if no one on the flight warrants special privileges, the absence of ripped jeans or tattered sneakers can help, Mr. Hobica said.

The Times got uniform denials that attire was rewarded when it contacted various airlines, but a flight attendant vaguely confirmed Hobica’s account.

“I will say that when I see someone come on the plane and they’re dressed nicely and their children are dressed nicely, I do take notice,” said …a United flight attendant since 1978. “When someone is a little dressed up and looking like they made an effort, it’s almost like they’re showing respect for themselves and for everybody else on the plane…My personal opinion is that when you take pride in how you look, you take pride in how you act,” she said.

Hmmmm.

The Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

It is ethical for polite attire to confer benefits for flyers over passengers who dress in flip-flops, tank-tops and torn jeans?

Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/21/17

Good Morning!

1. There was one of those moments in a Major League Baseball game yesterday that teaches life lessons in character, and ethics for anyone who is paying attention.

The Boston Red Sox were playing the Toronto Blue Jays in an afternoon game at Fenway Park. Boston led 3-1 in the second inning, but the Red Sox pitcher,  veteran Doug Fister, was struggling with an uncharacteristic control lapse: he walked his third batter in the inning, and also had given up a couple of hard-hit balls that suggested that a gaggle of runs and a blown lead were inevitable. Then, mirabile dictu, Fister caught a break. The next Toronto batter swung mightily and lofted an easy, lazy pop-up to the infield. If there had been one out rather than two, it would have been called an automatic out under the Infield Fly Rule. Everyone, including Fister, who is fighting to preserve his spot on the Sox roster as well as his flagging career, breathed a sigh of relief. The Toronto batter slammed his bat to the ground. Settling under a pop-up not any more difficult than those he had successfully caught as a Little Leaguer was Red Sox utility man Brock Holt, a second baseman this day. He is much admired for his versatility, energy and reliability. Holt is also trying to revive his career after a frightening, season-long battle with vertigo, as well as to show the team that he can fill a yawning void at third base.

Holt dropped the ball. It bounced off his glove, as the Toronto baserunners were charging around the bases at the crack of the bat, since there were already two outs. Two of them scored, and later two more after Fister surrendered hits in te lengthened inning, making the bounty bestowed by Holt’s muff four runs. Fister was soon out of the game, and was charged with his team’s eventual two-run loss by an 8-6 score. (Today’s headline in Boston: “Doug Fister’s Future As Starter Uncertain After Loss To Jays”).

Yet Fister never shot an angry glance at Holt. He’s played the game; he knows how mistakes and random bad luck can turn everything around in an instant. He probably has dropped a similar ball in a crucial situation: I know I’ve done it, at second base, losing a company soft-ball game. Holt trotted to the dugout, got supportive pats on the back and fanny from his team mates, and played the rest of the game with his head high and his skills on display. There is no doubt that he felt terribly about the play, but Holt  didn’t hide under a rock, rend his garments, or make a big display of anger and frustration to signal to the hometown crowd—which didn’t boo or jeer him at any point in the game.

That’s life, as my father used to say, and this is how ethical people handle life. Disaster strikes out of a confluence of factors (a very bright sun undoubtedly helped Holt miss the ball, but professional ballplayers learn to cope with the sun) and all we can do, if we are competent at life as well as fair, responsible and brave, is to accept responsibility, not make excuses, and not allow such events to diminish or destroy us. Both Fister and Holt displayed the character necessary to do that. Neither blamed the other, and no one blamed them. Tomorrow is another day.

Play Ball!

2. Professional troll Ann Coulter is having a public spat with Delta Airlines that reflects badly on both of them. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/18/17

It’s an All-Fred Morning!

Every day, Ethics Alarms head scout Fred sends me multiple suggestions for posts from he finds heaven-know-where. Even when I can’t fit them in, they often serve as references and always are enlightening.

1. I suspect this belongs in the Polarized Nation of Assholes files: For two years, since he returned from service combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney, has kept his promise to salute his fallen comrades in arms by playing a recording of Taps every evening before 8:00 p.m on his five-acre property in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It takes 57 seconds. It does not exceed volume limits. My dog barks longer that that every night after midnight when we put him out. Nonetheless, some of Corney’s neighbors have filed objections with the  borough. Now Glen Rock, which allows church bells to ring, among other sounds, ordered Corney to limit the playing of taps to Sundays and what it termed “flag holidays.” Each violation of the borough’s order would bring a criminal fine of 300 dollars. But the borough’s enforcement action involves two big constitutional no-nos: the heckler’s veto and content-based censorship. The borough is relying on a nuisance ordinance that prohibits sound that “annoys or disturbs” others, and just one individual annoyed by the somber Civil War era bugle solo is enough to deliver a “heckler’s veto.’

The ACLU is on the case, and backing Corney as he fights the action. It writes,

“If a “heckler” could shut down anyone who said or played something that annoyed or offended them by complaining to government officials, freedom of speech would be no more. For more than 75 years, it has been black letter First Amendment law that the government cannot censor speech simply because it is not universally appreciated.

Moreover, the borough cannot use its vague nuisance ordinance to single out only Lt. Commander Corney’s musical expression for censorship from the range of sounds that are part of the borough’s regular sonic landscape. The borough has not ordered Lt. Commander Corney to lower the volume of taps or claimed he has violated a noise-level ordinance.

And it could not claim such a violation because the recording neither exceeds any established noise levels nor is it as loud as many other sounds the borough tolerates — including many sounds that do not communicate a message, like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and vehicles. Censoring clearly protected expression, like taps, for being too loud, while allowing louder sounds that carry no constitutionally protected message turns the First Amendment on its head.”

Bingo. It is in cases like these that the American Civil Liberties Union shows how essential its role is in protecting the freedoms here that are so frequently under attack.

2. I was surprised when I learned some time ago that undercover police officers used to routinely have sexual relations with prostitutes before arresting them (homosexuals too, when they werebeing persecuted and  prosecuted). Just two months ago, Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to make it illegal for police officers to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes in the course of an under-cover (or covers) sting. Now Alaska wants to go an additional step, banning “sexual contact” with “sex workers” entirely. This could be mere touching or kissing. Advocates of Alaska’s House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 argue that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement supporting that claim: “Such conduct is an abuse of authority and in some instances amounts to rape and/or entrapment.” Police, quite logically, point out that the bill would make  successful undercover investigations impossible, which is, of course, the whole idea.

“[The prostitutes] ask one simple question: ‘Touch my breast.’ OK, I’m out of the car. Done. And the case is over,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News in a hypothetical example. “If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor, we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest.”

Ethics Alarms is anti-prostitution. As with recreational drug use and probably polygamy, prostitution, which harms families and the young women and men exploited and abused to support it, is almost certainly on the road to legalization. Government won’t protect vital society ethics norms, but it will order you to buy health insurance because it’s for your own good. Continue reading

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The Good Luck Jet Engine Sabotage

China Southern Airlines Flight 380 from Shanghai to Guangzhou was held up at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport after an elderly female passenger threw coins into the plane’s engine to ensure “good luck.” An investigation into the incident is under way, the airlines says.

This bizarre story raises a serious and difficult ethics question. At what point should there be severe societal penalties for egregious life incompetence?

The elderly are obviously the most prone to this sort of thing. At some point many of them just stop paying attention, or lose the ability to keep up. In criminal law, we do not typically punish people for harm they do as a result of ignorance, but there are limits. There have to be.

I have a long delayed post on life competencies on the Ethics Alarms drawing board; it will eventually be a permanent free-standing page, like the Rationalizations List. The topic is difficult. What skills and knowledge are all of us obligated to have, if not master? If our inattention to Continuing Life Education makes us menaces to society, how should society respond? With pity? Sympathy? Compassion? Pat the fools on the head, and give them a stipend?

Being an ethical member of society mandates being able to participate in society’s activities without constantly screwing up. That, in turn, requires a level of personal responsibility. Society needs reasonable, fair, not overly harsh or intrusive ways of persuading everyone to meet this minimum requirement of citizenship. What are they?

It doesn’t have to be as ludicrous as an old lady nearly crashing a jet by throwing good luck coins into its engine, either. As we are increasingly dependent on technology, and as technology moves up a J curve, the damage that can be done by, just to take a wild example that could never happen, someone in a sensitive position using “password” as their computer password, thus enabling a foreign governments to steal confidential data and use it to set off an Ethics Trainwreck, is terrifying. How does a responsible society send a message that is sufficiently persuasive to people before they blunder into chaos ?

I don’t know the answer yet.

I’m just asking.

And now, a song!

Three coins in the engine
Each one risking air distress
Thrown by one stupid granny
How should she pay for the mess?

Three coins in the engine
Each as deadly as the first
There they lie in the engine
See the flames there as they burst!

Which will make the airplane crash?
Which will make the airplane crash?

Three coins in the fountain
Through the turbines how they shine!
Just one wish will be granted
Hope the charred corpse isn’t mine…

 

________________________

Pointer: Fred

Source: Boing Boing

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