WordPress Is Unethical, But It’s Not Just Them

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the American mania for complicating processes and systems that are just fine as they are is a cultural sickness. It is also obviously unethical under the category of irresponsibility, with a dash of arrogance. It is an American mania.

Herman Kahn used to tell the story about how American jet fighters were equipped with multi-million dollar systems to prevent the aircraft from stalling, triggering alarms and lights and other automated reactions. “The Soviet equivalent was a little dial that had an arrow that went into a red zone,” he said,”and the whole system costs about five bucks. It works just as well as ours.”

Right now, I am struggling to write blog posts because the WordPress “upgrade” has become mandatory, and the thing is infuriatingly complicated and clumsy. Naturally, the company’s “explanation” of how to use it is also incompetent, using terms without defining them, telling me how easy and versatile the new system is while ensuring that it is neither by inflicting instructions that will take me hours and hours to absorb and master, if I ever can.

In one of many recent online chats with WordPress customer service agents, I was asking how I could stop having to repeatedly select the same “block” (this jargon means, I finally figured out, one of I-don’t-know-how-many shiny new packages of composition and format features a section of text could be managed with) I wanted to use, and just have a permanent, familiar formatting system for all posts, all the time—you know, like I used to have before WordPress gave me all these floating options I don’t want or need.

The answer? No! The new way was better, see, because I could shift into a new package mid post! But I don’t want or need to shift anything mid-post, and this “improvement” is costing me time and causing frustration. Frankly, it’s making me want to chuck the whole blog.

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Lunchtime Ethics Appetizers, 6/16/2020: ALS, Artistic Freedom And Arrogance [UPDATED]

Bon Appetite!

1. Today’s fake news note from the New York Times: “A Trump justice delivers an LGBT ruling that demoralizes the Right.” This completely fabricated observation, a variety of fake news I refer to as “psychic news,”purports to, first, characterize the “Right” as a monolithic, anti-LGBT mob, in the way the Left really is a monolithic, anti-Trump mob, and second, claim an extreme reaction to the decision that just doesn’t exist. The Times front page says the 6-3 decision was one “few expected.” That’s deceit: most analysts I read reached the same conclusion I did, which was that a 5-4 decision supporting the interpretation announced yesterday had at least a 50-50 chance of coming down. I did not expect the vote to be 6-3, but anyone familiar with how these things line up shouldn’t be shocked. Once he realized that the majority was going to hold that discrimination against gays and transgender individuals illegal, Justice Roberts may have joined the majority so that he could assign the opinion to Justice Gorsuch, for example.

President Trump has never indicated any animus towards gays or same sex marriage (Pence is another story); the presumption that the President’s supporters are horrified that discrimination against gays and transsexuals wasn’t upheld is just another version of the “deplorables” slur. Moreover, I believe the decision, and the fact that Justice Gorsuch joined with the Left wing of the court to cement it makes the President look good to all but reflex Trump-haters. His job is to appoint competent, open-minded justices, and he has. Gorsuch was never a conservative ideologue, though the Democrats who opposed him in the Senate falsely represented him as one. The decision also makes the Supreme Court look good by once again proving that it is not the lock-step partisan body Democrats claim, and that Chief Justice Roberts has correctly denied. It would be even better if the Court’s block of four liberals were as open-minded and non-partisan as Roberts, Gorsuch, and in other recent cases, Kavanaugh have shown themselves to be. Continue reading

Fredo Snaps

Chris Cuomo is a fascinating case. Maybe someone will write an opera about him.

He’s the younger, less ambitious, less accomplished son of a popular and (in some circles) revered governor of New York. If the term privileged has any meaning at all, it applies to him. He graduated from elite schools, including law school, but as he has proven again and again, he neither acquired any skill at critical thinking, nor at legal reasoning and the basic principles of law. He’s emotional, and not very bright. The younger Cuomo was blessed with good looks, a usually amiable nature, and charisma, and these, along with some excellent contacts, were enough to get him an anchor’s position on CNN. In this position he has embarrassed himself repeatedly; fortunately for him, the news organization he works for has become immune from embarrassment, as evidenced by the fact that it also  employs Brian Stelter and Don Lemon, among others.

Every now and then his amiability is cracked open to reveal the traditional frustration and anger of the lesser son. Cuomo erupted a while back when he was first referred to as “Fredo,” alluding to the elder but mentally deficient son of Vito Corleone in the “Godfather” saga. The nickname is mean but apt, and frankly, as long as CNN allows someone of Chris Cuomo’s limitations to pretend to inform its audience, it is also useful. Cuomo is a fraud, and by presenting him as a trustworthy journalist, CNN is mistreating its audience. Yes, I’m sure Cuomo does the best he can, but then, so did Fredo Corleone.

Cuomo is ill with the Wuhan virus, and quarantined. I’m sure this is hard for him, but his stresses are still less than those of most Americans. He’s broadcasting (and making a fool of himself) from home; he’s getting a 7-figure salary; his ordeal is relatively minor.

Apparently a confrontation with  someone Cuomo considers one of the little people  on Easter Sunday caused the CNN anchor to snap and reveal the turmoil within, much like Fredo in his famous lament to Michael in “Godfather II.” On his Sirius-XM  satellite radio show, Cuomo vented about the incident, in which a stranger on a bicycle confronted him on Easter Sunday for being outside his Southampton home with his family despite the positive Wuhan virus diagnosis. Continue reading

Now THIS Is Trump Derangement! Also: Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote Of The Month, Unethical Tweet…[CORRECTED]

Remember Jemele Hill? She was the African American co-host on ESPN who got herself fired because she couldn’t restrain herself from making hysterical anti-Trump declarations and other politically inflammatory social media posts and outbursts despite being warned, even by the left-wing Disney mouthpiece ESPN, to cool it. I wrote a couple of posts about her; since then she has receded into irrelevance, where angry, vile public figures like her belong. Oh, now she works for The Atlantic, a publication almost as much obsessed with Trump-bashing as  Stephen Colbert. The problem is that Hill is irrational, arrogant, and somehow under the impression that her vendettas have any societal use whatsoever.She also is laboring under the delusion that her emotion-soaked, undisciplined brain is a fine-tuned instrument. It’s not. She a classic example of someone what was told she was brilliant her whole life by lazy and incompetent mentors and instructors, and has been permanently handicapped as a result. And as a result, she serves society garbage, thinking it is caviar.

Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft had sent a  team plane to China to pick up 1.7 million  N95 masks to fly to Massachusetts for the use of health care workers as they care for patients ill withe the Wuhan virus.

Search as you might, there is no negative spin you can place on Kraft’s act. It is altruistic. It is compassionate. It is an act of service to his community and the state that supports his team.

Now here is what Jemele Hill tweeted: Continue reading

From “The Ethicist”: Revealing The Real Bigots Among Us

, aka “The Ethicist,” apparently received two inquiries last week from what I fear are typical New York Times readers: self-righteous, progressive, and totalitarian at heart. As usually is the case, “The Ethicist’s” answers were competent. I’m not really concerned with his answers, though they were too timid and pandered to people who needed to be metaphorically slapped in the face. It’s the questions that are really ominous.

Inquirer #1 wanted to know what to “do” about her landlady, whom she and her partner “have come to believe that she harbors significant racial and gender biases.” She continued,

When units in our building come up for rent, she often asks  [us] to recommend friends, and over the years a number of our friends have lived here. I value being able to extend what really is an extremely good financial deal to friends who would really benefit from it, but am deeply uncomfortable about the fact that, in doing so, I am enabling her racism and sexism. Is there an ethical solution here? I wish I could report her to some sort of city housing authority (we are in Los Angeles), but I doubt I have any legal recourse as I’m not an aggrieved party and my belief in her biases is based on casual observations and overheard comments. I can’t point to a particular incident. I feel guilty for not wanting to recommend the place, as I know so many friends who could use the financial break, but I also feel like it’s harder and harder to justify “helping” her in any way.

The woman has not observed any incidents of racism or sexism, but she wants to “report” the landlady, who has apparently always treated her well. Inquirer #1 has decided that it’s unethical to “help” such a person because that would be “enabling” her evil ways, whatever they are. Basically, she feels that she is justified in punishing her landlady for not embracing her views, the “right” ones. Continue reading

The Right To Be Unethical: The 10th Circuit Allows “Faithless Electors”

This is professor Larry Lessig. Is it unfair of me to believe that this particular pose is signature significance for a pompous ass? Nobody in the history of photography who wasn’t pompous  posed this way, Lessig has several pictures like this.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Denver ruled 2-1 this week that the Electoral College system established by Article II and the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows Presidential electors to vote against the candidate the popular vote in their state commits them to vote for. In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled  that primary candidates for party electors can be required to pledge to support the party’s candidate, but according to this decision, that pledge is not enforceable.

The 10th Circuit’s decision was a victory for Michael Baca, a Colorado elector who in 2016 cast his vote for John Kasich, then governor of Ohio, even though state law at the time required him to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, who was Hillary Clinton. Baca said his intention was to persuade enough members of the electoral college to cast votes for Republicans other than Donald Trump in an effort to deny Trump a victory.

Ooh, good plan! One way to avoid this problem is for states to make sure their electors aren’t arrogant, undemocratic whack-jobs.

The state removed Baca as an elector and canceled his vote, causing two other electors to abandon their plans to vote for Kasich. All three joined the lawsuit against the Colorado secretary of state’s office, but the 10th Circuit found only Baca had standing to sue.

It seems that the decision has strong Constitutional law behind it. Baca v. Colorado Dep’t of State said in part, Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Richard Schwartz, Responsible Citizen, And How His Experience Explains Donald Trump

Want to know why people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more, so they decide to vote for anyone who appears to be outside the elite cabal that pretends to deliver “democracy?” Here’s a striking example.

During a public comment period during a Seattle city council meeting, Richard Schwartz came to the podium to make his case. He was troubled, as he should have been, that most of the council members were not looking at him, or appeared to be listening. Most were looking at their computer screens or smart phones, scrolling and apparently doing other tasks, or looking at porn, for all he knew. So instead of meekly accepting the disrespect and rudeness of his elected municipal representatives, he called them on it.

“It’s real discouraging to come up here and see all the heads down…,” he began, but Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who was presiding,  interrupted , saying “You’re on a two minute timer here, so let’s go.”

Schwartz professed puzzlement at the response, and after standing silently for several seconds, he asked,

“So it was unreasonable for me to ask that people look up and give me their attention?” Juarez answered by telling him that he only had only a minute and 30 seconds left, and lying, saying that he had their attention, when he obviously did not.

Discarding his prepared statement, since it was obvious that the City Council would only observe its obligation to take public comments in form rather than in good faith, Schwartz said that this was why he came to comment: “the state of our democracy.”  He pointed out that when State Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) spoke in a public comment session the previous week,  she was four or fine minutes and the council was attentive, while everyone else at that session was limited to a single minute.

“It reminded me of George Orwell’s famous line from ‘Animal Farm’ about how all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” Schwartz continued. And that’s how I feel like I’m being treated now, just because I was kind of asking for your attention, like I noticed you all were very attentive to Ms. Jaypal last week. And I immediately got a hostile response back from you. I don’t understand that.”

With no response, he asked the council members if they ever responded to constituents.  Juarez told him his time was nearly up, as her colleagues either tended to their phones or looked bored.

“Well, it’s all on tape and I think it’s a pretty sad commentary that you think that asking for you guys to look up off of your computers and give attention during the short period of time was an unreasonable thing,”  Schwartz  said. “I really feel bad about that.”

He should feel bad about that. We all should. Democracy doesn’t work when elected officials treat the public this way; it can’t. This is democracy in name only. The stunning thing is that Seattle’s city council is so corrupted by their own sense of entitlement, wisdom and certitude that no ethics alarms pinged when an engaged voter begged them to pay attention to him for a couple of minutes.

For a second straight post, let me reference this November 9 whine-fest by feminist Jessica Valenti called, “How do I tell my daughter that America elected a racist, sexist bully?” Continue reading

Interview Ethics: Sabotaging A Job Candidate, With A Kavanaugh Hearing Flashback

Frequent commenter and old friend Vinnymick flagged this one, thus proving that someone took my recent appeal for out-of-the-way ethics topics seriously. He pointed me to a Washington Post article, which lays out its topic thusly:

“While browsing Twitter recently, I came across a post that suggested an innovative interview technique: Take a job candidate out for a lunch interview, then secretly ask the server to intentionally mess up the candidate’s order. The purported goal: to see the candidate’s true nature. “It’s easy to say how you would handle when things go wrong, [but] hard to fake your reaction as it happens,” the post concluded.”

Or, as another type of sabotage, have an old high school colleague of the interviewee sit down at the table and accuse him of sexual assault. Then observe how he reacts to that!

The Kavanaugh debacle came to mind immediately, in part because so many who rationalized the Democrats’ abuse of Justice (now, judge then) Kavanaugh was that it was a “job interview.” No, it wasn’t, as I repeatedly had to explain to people (but, you know, when progressives are in the process of a Trump-related freak-out, you can’t explain anything to them(, in a real, fair and professional job interview, the interviewer hasn’t already decided that he or she doesn’t want to hire you, as nearly every single Democrat regarded Kavanaugh before the hearings began . In a job interview, you are being interviewed by your potential supervisors and those who you will be working with if you are hired. The Supreme Court doesn’t report to the Senate, take orders from the Senate, or work with the Senate. In a job interview, there is a presumption of good faith between the job seeker and the interviewer. No, the Kavanaugh hearings were a transparent effort to sabotage the  judge’s nomination from the outset.

Now back to the article’s hypothetical: Of course pulling a stunt like the one described is unethical. An earlier Ethics Alarms essay on “silly job interview ethics”—it’s pretty good, I must say, and I had completely forgotten that I wrote it— recommended that if an interviewer starts abusing you, and this is abuse, excuse yourself, saying, “I’m sorry. I was under the impression that I was applying for a position with an organization that respected serious professionals, and that would never exploit the interview process for its own amusement at the discomfort of someone who expected fair and courteous treatment. I apparently was mistaken.”

I added,

I think the use of odd interview questions is a symptom of an arrogant and essentially untrustworthy corporate culture. There may exceptions, but I don’t believe it’s worth the gamble. If the interviewer starts messing with your emotions and confidence, tell him or her to cut it out, or better yet, leave.

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Ethics Dunce: William Kristol

The Weekly Standard went belly-up today. As usual when a publication dies, there isn’t just one reason. There are many reasons, including a changing market, competition, aging principals and bad luck. These factors were at work in this instance as well. However, the Weekly Standard was primarily doomed by the arrogance and selfish pique of the man who one would think would be the individual least inclined to harm the Standard, since it was his legacy. He went ahead and mortally wounded it anyway, for a stupid reason, if a popular one. He hated Donald Trump. That individual, of course, is William Kristol. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/4/2018 (Part I): Gary Hart’s Prophesy, Media Values, And High School Babylon [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

I’m headed to Boston this afternoon for one of my semi-monthly ethics seminars for new Mass. bar admittees. I have been having bad luck with keeping up on the blog while traveling of late, so I’m going to post a two-part Warm-Up to try to avoid falling too far behind.

1. Maureen Dowd made my head explode with her ridiculous profile of Gary Hart—you know, Donna Rice, “Monkey Business”—so I’m going to rely heavily on Ann Althouse’s analysis which parallels mine. Her head is just more resilient, apparently. [Tangent: I wonder how Ann’s traffic is doing? I have noticed that progressive commenters have virtually disappeared from her blog as well, where a couple of years ago they were equally represented. I don’t consider Althouse a conservative at all: she is relentlessly objective and non-partisan, and mostly serves as the web’s best bullshit detector. She has, however, defended the President against unfair attacks and hypocrisy, and called out the news media for fake news, fake headlines, and bias. That’s asking for a boycott, apparently.) Hart makes this statement:

“If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed. And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody.”

I could write a long essay about this arrogant nonsense with my eyes closed. Ann had the same instant reaction I did: Funny, you weren’t able to foresee that daring reporters to check on your martial virtue would result in your being caught adultery-handed in Clintonesque trysts, you big dummy. (My words, not Ann’s.) And if hindsight is 20-20, hindsight aternate future readings are even better. Gary needs to study Chaos Theory  a bit more closely, and watch that old Star Trek episode. For all he knows, his election would have resulted in the world being taken over by Mole People.

Althouse also flagged the Dowd section where the Queen of Snark writes,

“As we fantasize about a parallel universe, where America is not a joke and our president cares about other human beings, the same questions keep swirling in our heads. What has happened to this country? Can he be stopped? When will it end? How the hell did we get here?”

Wow, Talk about bias making you stupid. To many of us who are at least as smart as Maureen, America is a joke when it embraces open borders and edicts by international organizations, when it warps the Constitution by declaring that men and police can be guilty until proven innocent if a member of a favored group accuses them, and allows a partisan news media to control public opinion. It’s not a very funny joke, though. Some trenchant comments on Ann’s post:

“I don’t know why I’m still surprised by liberals’ inability to do any real soul-searching. You’d think by now, after many hundreds of “how did we get here, why aren’t smart people like me listened to by the stupids?” articles, I’d give up hope that they will ever open their eyes and see what’s right in front of them. But then I remember, I’m a pollyanna. I can’t give up on anybody.”

***

“It would seem obvious to me that Trump does care about human beings, but not the ones Dowd think he should be caring about. And maybe her friends consider America a joke, and maybe that’s why we got were we are..”

***

“Dowd’s perspective is Technocratic. Society needs to be supervised by an educated elite. Democracy is just mob rule that will lead to ruin. But, we have to put on a facade so that the deplorables will accept our edicts. So we do the election thing, but the real rules are set behind the scenes by career bureaucrats. Politicians and the medias’ job is to set the agenda and influence popular opinion towards the “correct” attitudes”

Bingo. Bingo. Bingo. Continue reading