As An Ethics Alarms Public Service, Here’s Another Reminder Of What A Phony, Dishonest, Brain-Dead “Factcheck” Site Snopes Is

Judge websites, social media platforms and your friends who rely on this flagrantly unethical site  as authority accordingly.

For some reason there has been an outbreak of tips to Ethics Alarms involving the usual Snopes stunts, including its factchecking  the conservative satire site, the Babylon Bee. Reader Pennagain reminded me of this classic though, which nicely sums up Snopes in a concise, stinky package.

The Snopes question it supposedly examined (but didn’t) in a 2018 “FactCheck” has resurfaced because there is a new podcast about the Banks tragedy. (I can tell when Banks’ story is attracting attention again when the EA post about Wanetta Gibson starts picking up traffic.)

Here’s the rest of that “factcheck”:

Snopes pulls this bait and switch trick a lot. The answer to linkbait question ‘Was Banks wrongly convicted of rape?” is  “Yes”, and any assertion to that effect isn’t “mostly true,” it’s absolutely, 100% true. Beneath the question that heads the “inquiry,” Snopes significantly rephrases the “claim” which it then “debunks” by giving us the breathless revelations that Gibson didn’t recant ON Facebook, she contacted Banks through Facebook and then confessed in person, and that Banks “only” served 5 years and two months, not “six.” Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethics: Tip-Baiting

With the demand for grocery delivery exploding  and many consumers worried about buying the items they need and arranging for a delivery. Instacart is one of several delivery companies  expanding rapidly to meet the demand for shoppers created by the pandemic; the company recently announced plans to hire 300,000 more full-service shoppers.

A troubling number of people are offering tips as high as $50 or more for Instacart workers to pick up their orders, then renege on the tips after the delivery. This a classic bait and switch, but a particular cruel one when the shoppers are desperate for income and have  risked their own health to get pick up their customers’ groceries.

Before accepting a “batch”  which can consist of one or a few orders from different customers, workers can see the items requested, the store location, the payment Instacart provides workers for the job, and the tips being offered. But Instacart allows customers to change tip amount for up to three days, and greedy, mean-spirited customers, surely employing any one of many serviceable rationalizations on the list,  exploit that system to cheat the shoppers.

Instacart claims that the vast majority of customer last month adjusted their tip upward or left it as promised.  The company recently removed the “none” tip option, so users who want to tip nothing have to change a tip manually.

One woman who became a “full service shopper” for Instacart told CNN she has already been stiffed by several bait-and-switch tippers in Pennsylvania, like the customer who  put a $32.94 tip on a large order from Sam’s Club, then knocked the tip down to zero after delivery.

The company encourages people to “please consider tipping above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper,” but for tip-baiters, that encouragement obviously isn’t enough. Other services such as Uber Eats and Postmates, which offer on-demand meal deliveries, allow customers a smaller window to change tips, but that alone won’t discourage the practice. Attorney Bryant Greening,  told CNN Business that his law firm has discussed the possibility of class action litigation against Instacart, and even suits against individual customers. for breach of contract.

“It’s truly evil to bait and switch in this type of environment,” said Greening. “Their livelihood and well-being are on the line. When these shoppers and drivers see a high tip, it’s an opportunity for them to put food on the table, so they’re more willing to take a risk on their health to achieve that goal.”

Instacart could address the problem by requiring a fair minimum tip, insisting that customers who reduce the promised tip explain their reasons, and ban customers who appear to be engaging in tip-baiting.

The problem, however, isn’t policies as much as it is unethical people.

[Further ethics reflections, and a poll, here]

_______________________________-

Pointer: Alex

Comment Of The Day: “The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter III: The Martin Luther King Day Essay”

In today’s Comment of the Day, Michael R explores the effects of college costs, student loans and ideological indoctrination on schools’ ability to provide an the valuable education students think they are paying for. Some of the factors he mentions I didn’t know about; I’m not sure  I’ve ever read about them anywhere else.

Here is the veteran Ethics Alarms contributor’s  Comment of the Day on the post, “The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter III: The Martin Luther King Day Essay.”

I don’t think all universities have become worthless. There are a lot of problems with the universities and much of it has to do with student loans and leftist indoctrination.

Student loans make people forget about how much college actually costs. Students go to colleges with nicer dorms, bigger ‘Wellness Centers’, and more activities because they can ‘afford’ it with loans. This resulted in an ‘arms race’ to ditch traditional dorms for suites, and now full apartments for students. It resulted in big ‘Wellness Centers’ instead of gyms. It resulted in vast Student Activities staff and budgets. It resulted in more and more sports. I would estimate that only about 1/3 of college costs these days go to academics and academic support (academic buildings, utilities, janitorial, etc). The rest is sports, activities, and administration. If you had a lean college with good academics, but old-style dorms, no student life, and no sports, it would go bankrupt quickly. College is expensive these days because the students and the parents DEMAND it be that way. Continue reading

Movie Flop Ethics, Part II: “Black Christmas” And The Politicization Of Everything

In Part I, I said I was glad that Clint Eastwood’s latest film “Richard Jewell” was bombing, because the film impugns the integrity of a now-deceased reporter simply to spice up its story. After I read some of Clint’s comments yesterday in response to the controversy, I’m even more glad. Clint said that nobody knows how reporter Kathy Scruggs got a crucial leak from the FBI, but that it could have occurred because she traded sex for information. That’s despicable.

Nevertheless, the other dud among the Hollywood releases over the weekend, “Black Christmas,” deserved to flop even more than Eastwood’s epic.

The original “Black Christmas” (1974) was released under the name “Silent Night, Evil Night.” I saw it with my sister a few days after its opening (I was amused at the ad’s catchline, “If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl, IT’S ON TOO TIGHT!!!”) and it scared the bejesus out of both of us, but especially her: she slept with the light on for weeks, and to this day my uncanny imitations of the maniac’s phone calls upset her (so I keep doing them, of course.)

Arriving before John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and its later, cheesier rip-off “Friday the 13th,” what was soon re-titled “Black Christmas” anticipated many of the themes and techniques of the slasher genre, perhaps too well. Blessed with a much better cast than any subsequent movie of the type (Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Andrea Martin, John Saxon, and Margot Kidder) and clever and gutsy director Bob Clark (“A Christmas Story,” “Porky’s”), the film was declared too disturbing by many critics. I thought it was easily the best horror movie I had ever seen, and recommended it to many friends, some of whom were not grateful after spending the following night jumping at every sound. It was very gratifying to see “Black Christmas” finally emerge as a cult film and the acknowledged inspiration for the slasher film genre (along with “Psycho,” of course.)

I saw the 2006 “sequel,” which was terrible, and had a sense of dread when I learned that Hollywood would try again. It was clear that the new film was already off to an unethical start when I saw the trailer: this was another example of producers hijacking a familiar title while making a movie barely connected to the older film it was evoking. That trick, essentially a bait and switch, always ticks me off. In the trailer for the new film, we could see that the killer wears a black robe and uses a longbow. Clark’s original famously never shows the maniac murderer at all: much of the movie is shot from his perspective (I assume it’s a he), though we see his shadow, one mad eye, and his arm at various times. We also hear him, and a more crazy-sounding killer has never been recorded.

The new “Black Christmas” takes place in a sorority house around Christmas, and there’s someone knocking off the girls. That’s about the extent of the similarity. To be fair, the advent of cell phones ruined the original film’s most iconic scare: it was the first movie in which we heard the chilling words, “The phone calls are coming from inside the house!”

The promotion of more female film directors is a feminist cause right now. There’s even a Christmas commercial where a little girl tells her parents who have just bought Disney princess toys  to put under the tree for her, “I don’t want to be a princess any more. I want to be a film director!” I have always championed female directors for the stage; there is no question that there are multiple biases against them in theater, and I assume the same bias afflicts them in Hollywood. However, I do not want to see more female directors because they bring a special, feminine perspective to their work, and I really don’t want to see more female directors so they can use their plays and films as feminist propaganda vehicles. Just make a good movie, kid: if your work only stands for the proposition that women can’t just make entertaining and effective films, but have to clobber the audience with feminist tropes, you will have created a legitimate reason for the industry to be wary of female directors. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Everyone Who Says This Is “Clever” Or “Funny”

See you in court in about 20 years, kid.

The words they re looking for are “deceitful” and “dishonest.”

11-year-old Seth Parker advertised his roadside root beer stand with the sign above. After concerned neighbors called the police, it was determined that the sign was just a classic bait-and-switch.

See the small print invisible to casual passersby? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! It says “root”! That means the sign is truthful, right?

No, that means the sign is false…a lie, a deceitful marketing ploy designed to deceive, that emulates the dishonest techniques of frauds, scam artists and grifters since the dawn of time. Yet somehow, because the scamster is a kid, the entire mainstream media is falling all over itself  extolling conduct that is not only not praiseworthy, it is the first step on the road to predatory conduct. Continue reading

The Great “Les Miz” Bait-And-Switch

“Les Misérables,” the bloated faux opera based on the Victor Hugo novel, has been running continuously in London’s West End, the theater district, since December 1985.  It holds the Guinness World Record for the longest run of a musical in London. In the U.S., the musical held on for a somewhat less embarrassing  16 years, running from 1987 into  2003, closing after 6,680 performances.

It was always a cynical project, as so many Broadway musicals have become since the genre became a nostalgic invalid in the 1970s. The show itself is derivative crap, and obviously so to anyone who has a passing familiarity with its superior sources. The translated from French lyrics have the resonance of Hallmark cards; there literally isn’t a clever or memorable pack of words in the whole three hour extravaganza. What “Les Miz” has, or rather had, is spectacular stagecraft, thanks to the original staging by Trevor Nunn that mounted the series of scenes on a massive raked turntable that allowed quick transition and the illusion of excitement. The musical didn’t exactly disprove the old Broadway saw that “Nobody leaves the theater humming the scenery”—the TV ad jingle-like earworms in the score assured that—but it came close.

When I saw the touring company version of the show, I realized immediately that the production could never have a life in high school, college, community theater or even in regional professional theaters, because the turntable, and the special effects it permitted, were essential to the production. Not only are stage turntables extremely expensive, they are notoriously risky, since a mechanical breakdown means the performance must be cancelled. Sure enough, after the Broadway production closed in 2003, there were no productions of the show other than the three professional touring companies owned by the Broadway producers. Then the show’s owner had an idea: let’s see if we can eliminate the turntable and get away with it! Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/19: Bait And Switch, Inconvenient Honesty, Fake News

Oh, good morning, I guess…

1. Once again: this should be illegal, because it is unconscionable. Recently re-elected Rep. Don Marean, a multiple term Maine state legislator from York County, announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an Independent.  In a Friday text message last week, he said that “out of respect” for House Republicans  he would not  comment on the resaon for his decision and would let it “speak for itself.”

It does speak for itself; it tells us that Marean is an unscrupulous, liar who gained election to office fraudulently. Elected officials who betray voters this way have an ethical obligation to resign from office and run again under the party affiliation they will stick to.

2. Keep it up! Please! The freshman Democratic House members, in a single day, managed to strip away the mask of the Democratic Party and expose more of the ugliness beneath than the party veterans deemed wise. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) refused to be sworn in with her hand on the traditional Bible,  and insisted that a law book be used for the purpose instead. She is a member of the party that has been questioning whether Catholics are fit to be federal judges, and the message that one party is openly hostile to religion is becoming clearer and clearer. The Bible is a moral/ethical document, and accepting it for the purpose of a binding oath should not be a problem for anyone unless they are trying to make a point. Using a law book is no more appropriate or meaningful than using a Harry Potter novel: oaths are declarations of duty, honesty and integrity, not law. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/17/2018: The Tragedy Of The Commons Bites Starbucks (Good!) And Other Fiascos

Are we having holiday fun yet?

Not yet…

1. ” Madness! Madness!” (Culturally literate readers will be able to name the movie.)

An 11-year-old boy named Joshua Trump has been forced to go by a different name at his Delaware middle school because he has been relentlessly bullied and punched on the a school bus because of his last name.  School officials said that as soon as they learned of the bullying they took action, including disciplining students  involved. The school should be investigating teachers, who may be signalling their biases against the President, and we should be looking at the bullies’ parents and the toxic influence of the media.

This story is just a tiny tip of a very large, very deep, very dangerous cultural iceberg.

President Trump should write the boy and his family, or better yet, call him.

2. “My Bloody Valentine” ethics. I am compiling a list of the very best horror movies for a relative who professed ignorance of the genre. I have done the same for Westerns (this became a Smithsonian program) and movie musicals. It is really annoying to hear people say that they don’t like movie musicals when they have never watched “Singin’ in the Rain” or Fred and Ginger at their best, or that they don’t like Westerns when they have never seen “Shane.” What they are really saying is “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I have strong opinions on it anyway.”

But I digress. I had remembered that the 2008 remake of “My Bloody Valentine” had impressed me with its original and gory special effects, like the maniac mine murderer jamming a shovel into a victim’s face between her nose and mouth, causing the top half of her head to sliiiide down the shovel blade, or the killer yanking another victim’s lower jaw off with a pick- axe. What fun! But when I selected the film on Netflix to see if it was list-worthy, I discovered that those moments and many others had been edited out. This effectively renders the film pointless and scare-free, but it is also a bait-and-switch. If the film isn’t really the film the director made, a notice to that effect is mandatory. I assumed that Netflix only showed the movie, the whole movie, and nothing but the movie. Guess not.

3. Tucker Carlson, boycotts, and virtue signaling. On his Fox New show, Tucker Carlson was discussing the attitude exhibited by some politicians toward illegal immigration and the economic impact it has on the United States:

“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided. Immigration is a form of atonement. Previous leaders of our country committed sins; we must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans. That’s the argument they make. Somehow the immigration-as atonement idea has become the official position of virtually every guilty liberal in the United States. Our tech overlords, the ones always lecturing you, corporate America, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan—they all believe this, and anyone who disagrees with them is denounced as a bigot and fired.”

But how do you really feel, Tucker? I think Tucker would like to take back “dirtier”—how do illegal immigrants make the country dirtier?—but then he’s speaking extemporaneously. His overall point, while a bit inflammatory in the rhetoric used to express it, is valid. However, Pacific Life, which ran an ad on Fox right after Carlson’s rant proclaiming that the company had been “protecting generations of families for 150 years,” decided it was time to grandstand. (Carlson has also been a target of Media Matters efforts to get sponsors to abandon his show, because the best way to win arguments is to muzzle opposition, especially when your own position makes no sense.)

The company released this:

“Pacific Life’s national advertising campaign runs on numerous networks and cable stations on a variety of news, business and sports programs. One of our ads appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show last night following a segment where Mr. Carlson made a number of statements regarding immigration. As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson’s statements. Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in. We will not be advertising on Mr. Carlson’s show in the coming weeks as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”

Carlson made it clear that he was talking about illegal immigration, though he gave those who want to misconstrue him sufficient rope for them to do so. If it is going to say it disagrees with Carlson, Pacific Life is obligated to say how. (I ding comments on posts here that just say “You are wrong,” “I disagree,” or “You’re an idiot.”) They don’t, because they can’t, and don’t have the guts to take a clear position. Do they believe that the U.S. has an obligation to take in all of the world’s poor? Do they not agree that unregulated and unrestrained immigration will make the country poorer and less united? Do they disagree that liberal guilt and race-baiting are primary tools of those pushing for open boarders? They probably haven’t thought about any of these things beyond the thought a puppy gives a biscuit. They just want to signal “Immigrants good!” and, to use Ann Althouse’s phrase, “Orange man bad!”

Are there corporations with integrity? Right now I can’t think of any. Continue reading

Verizon Lies. (In My Opinion, Of Course)

I think have mentioned here before the frustration of not having high-speed internet available where I live, in Alexandria, Virginia, ZIP 22305. unless I surrender to the horrors of Comcast, which I will not do. According to a source at Verizon, my carrier, the problem is that the City of Alexandria insists on what sound to me like kickbacks from the company in order to get approval to install the necessary hardware. There may be other reasons: I don’t care. I keep seeing Fios ads directed at my locality, and keep getting told that it is unavailable. This has significant business consequences for ProEthics and me. I would like to do have video commentary, and we don’t have the speed to upload one, to give just one example.

Yesterday, I received this email from Verizon:

Important service message for PRO ETHICS LTD: Fios is now available at your location.

There are service updates available for your business. Call us to find out about new service and product options.  We want to make sure you’re getting the right service and value for your business. So, we reviewed your  account and discovered that our latest product and service upgrades could help PRO ETHICS LTD increase
efficiency and productivity. Call us today-we’ll take you through the available service options and give you a Firm Price Quote.

Call your Rep at 888.704.7905 or schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,
Stephen E. Marinetto, Marketing Director, Verizon Business Markets

So informed, I called my “representative.” The results of my call? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/18: Post Gently-Lapping Bluish Eddy Edition

Good morning!

Prelude: I guess I’m glad that I don’t have to face the dilemma I described in the previous post. Giving my Facebook friends the in-the-face-rubbing they so richly deserved—yes, it genuinely ticks me off to be accused of taking talking points from Sean Hannity when I point out really, really bad arguments by any objective standard—would have been wrong, but it would have felt so, so good. Actually, I could still justify some nyah-nyahing, because the “resistance” and the Democrats failed miserably last night, but they won’t admit it, and it’s hard to get those who have technically won to admit that, in fact, they lost.

But they did. Let me reiterate, in case there is any confusion, that nothing could make me vote for Donald Trump, now or ever. It is a national tragedy that someone with his temperament and ethical deficits is in the White House. He is an ethics corrupter, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barry Bonds, and many others, but the entire Democratic Party has become an ethics corrupter of far more consequence and danger to the country. There are too many factors to balance and weigh, but I think the reason there was no “blue wave” last night is that much of America understands the latter as well despite no illusions about President Trump.

All the Democrats had to do was to be fair, civil, and rational over the past few months, and their dreams might have come true. That they couldn’t do it suggests to me that they are incapable of being fair, civil, or rational, and who wants to trust such individuals with power? As I wrote in a comment this morning,

“All the hate, all the anger, all the boycotts and obscenity, all the fake news, all the legal harassment, all the Sally Yates/James Comey sabotage, all the judicial partisan blocking, all the one-way ridicule on the comedy shows and the bullying on social media, all the Republican retirements, all the NeverTrump tantrums from people like Flake, McCain, George Will and others, the late attacks and threats by right-wing wackos—all of that, and the Democrats picked up a lousy 35 seats or so, with a President who (probably) has an approval rating under water?”

and

“Mid-terms are always examples of regressions to the mean. Everyone once thought that the GOP would lose both Houses and the White House in the last election. Trump behaves like a baboon,and even while his policies are working, people like me are embarrassed to have an ass like this representing the country. The Left’s tactics didn’t work; they played into Trump’s hands.”

This can’t be spun, though the news media will try: In Obama’s first mid-term, the GOP picked up 63 seats. In Clinton’s first, the flips were 54.

1. Speaking of spin, which is the process of misleading the public about events for partisan purposes (it’s unethical) …it’s fun/depressing to consider some of the various headlines linked at RealClearPolitics:

  • “Split Decision: Divided Government Returns to D.C.”  Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics

(The government was already divided. Trump’s not a Republican, and Republicans within his administration were and are working against him.

  • “For Democrats–and America–a Sigh of Relief” —Frank Bruni, New York Times

(What a great tell.  It’s adorable that to the Times and its resistance pundits, the only Americans they acknowledge are the ones that agrees with  The Times.)

  • “Democrats Won the House, But Trump Won the Election”— Ed Rogers, Washington Post

Bingo.

  • “Trump’s Political Strategy Is Failing” —Ezra Klein, Vox

Klein and Vox are hilarious. I wonder what color the sky is on their planet?

  • “Voters Want Balance, Not Resistance”— Josh Kraushaar, National Journal

I think that’s a fair analysis, but will it stop House Democrats from spending most of their time trying to “get” Trump? Of course not.

  • “Kavanaugh Fight Was the Turning Point for Republicans”— Byron York, DC Examiner

Not just Republicans, but fair and reasonable  Americans. But the ethics corrupting Democratic party has minimized the number of such Americans. Here is part of a letter in the New York Times magazine, extolling an article about the travails of a convicted felon trying to get a law license after serving time for a robbery at gunpoint he committed when he was 16:

“This article left me in tears both for Betts’s years long effort to become a lawyer despite his rehabilitation and for the continued battle to make life fair for brown-skinned people in America. I couldn’t help thinking that our government just voted to allow an alleged sexual predator, and clearly a very angry white man, to the Supreme Court for life….”

Hey, Amy Gittleman (that’s the letter-writer’s name), I’m accusing you of sexual assault. Now you are exactly as much an “alleged sexual predator” as Brett Kavanaugh. Are you angry about that? Of course Kavanaugh was angry: he was smeared in public by a 30-year-old discovered memory alleging his misconduct as a minor. But you think that a conviction of a felony while a black man was a minor shouldn’t be a bar to practicing law, while an unsupported accusation of unreported misconduct as a minor that surfaces with a political agenda should be a bar to joining the Supreme Court if the accused is a “white man.” Got it. You’re an idiot. Who or what made you this way?

  • “Democrats’ Health-Care Revenge”—Jeff Spross, The Week

Classic example of spin. Pick what you want the Democratic House gains to mean, and say that they mean that.

“Dems’ Victory in House Provides Crucial Protection for Mueller”—Elie Honig, CNN

Another tell. The mainstream news media narrative is that the Mueller investigation really, really, really is going to find impeachable acts by the President. It should be obvious that it’s not, and that if an Evil Traitorous Trump had any reason to fear Mueller, he would have fired him long ago. Mueller needs no protection, just a sympathetic and partisan ethics panel.

But this is CNN.

  • “Exit Polls: Majority Say Russia Probe ‘Politically Motivated'” —Philip Klein, DC Examiner

This is because the Russia probe was and is politically motivated. “You can fool some of the people…”

2. But enough about the elections…Let’s talk about our future military leaders and animal cruelty. At West Point, before the annual rivalry football game, two cadets kidnapped two Air Force Academy falcons, the football team’s mascots, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates. Aurora, a two-decade old bird, bloodied her wings from thrashing inside the crate, and sustained life-threatening injuries. Army officials  apologized and promised a full investigation.

“We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect,” the academy said in a statement.

The two cadets have the judgement of an Adam Sandler character, and should be kicked out after a hearing. That’s all we need is military officers with that level of sensitivity and common sense.

3. “Walking Dead” ethics. I once regarded the AMC show as the best ethics drama on TV. Indeed, it still has flashes of that: one of the speeches a dead character gave to Rick Grimes in a fevered dream last episode was a wonderful description of ethics. (If only I could find the video clip…. ) But a few seasons ago (this is Season 9) the show started cheating, making the audience believe a favorite character had died horribly by deceptively framing the scene, having the executions of main character Rick Grimes and his son prevented at the last minute by a huge Bengal tiger that was somehow invisible until he pounced on the would-be murderer, and now, strike three, “Rick Grimes’ final episode.”

For weeks, we were told that main character Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, would finally get chomped or otherwise killed, joining most of the other characters that started out with him in a desperate effort to survive a zombie apocalypse. We even saw him apparently blow himself up, char-broiling hundreds of zombies in the process in a final heroic act, since he was fatally wounded anyway having impaled a kidney on a steel construction rod, bleeding non-stop, and being on the verge of shock trauma.  And then–surprise! At the end of the episode, we see Rick miraculously alive, winging off to somewhere in a helicopter. You see, said the producer on the weekly post-episode show, “Talking Dead,” it was Rick’s final episode on THIS show, but the character survived to emote another day, in a movie, or a spin-off, or maybe even “Walking Dead” after its fans get over being lied to once again.