Oh, it can’t be you! It’s always the test.
A group of students, advocacy groups and a primarily black and Hispanic California school district filed suit against the University of California last week, alleging that the SAT and ACT college admission tests discriminate against black and Hispanic students and demanding that the school stop using standardized test scores in its admissions process.
The theory that the tests are biased against poor and mainly black and Hispanic students concludes that the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth or disabilities, thus denying them equal protection under the California Constitution. This battle has been fought before, of course. There was a time, decades ago, when foes of standardized testing could point to test questions referring to yachting and Western philosophers, baking in a bias that handicapped students fromracial and ethnic sub-cultures in America. Those prejudicial questions have been purged, but the long-time disparity between the test scores of white and Asian applicants on one side and black and Hispanic students on the other continues. Continue reading
As if the game itself, legally played, weren’t enough to cause its players brain damage, in a Thursday Night televised pro football game this week Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clubbed him in the head with it. The league acted swiftly, suspending Garrett for the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns make them, and reinstatement is by no means assured.
This is the longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. I can find no fault with Garrett’s apology, Level One on the Apology Scale, issued before the sentence came down. He said, Continue reading
Yes, somebody left a Starbucks cup on the set of last night’s much ballyhooed “Game of Thrones” episode on HBO.
It would be a good exercise to list all the rationalizations one could access to try to minimize such a massive botch, and avoid the likely consequences of making it. Without breaking an ethics sweat, I came up with…
- 6. The Biblical Rationalizations, “Judge not, lest ye not be judged,” and “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
- 8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”)
- 19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”
- 20. The “Just one mistake!” Fantasy
- 22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
- 38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
- 50. The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”
- 64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”
As silly as that “one mistake” seems, a head, or many heads, should roll. This tweet from an annoyed fan nicely sums the situation up: “You’re telling me they had TWO YEARS to put together a decent show and they couldn’t even spot the goddamn Starbucks cup in Winterfell??!” Continue reading
This Instagram photo of one of the “luxury gourmet meals being served to attendees of the 2017 Fyre Music Festival has come to symbolize the whole stunning debacle.
When Ethics Alarms last posted about the ridiculous Bahamas Fyre Festival debacle, it was this, last July: “Remember the Frye Festival fiasco? Billy McFarland, the inept con man/idiot who set it up has been arrested and charged with fraud. Good!” Now more about that epic ethics fail is coming out. Two documentaries about the ridiculous scam/botch/whatever it was were released in January, one on Hulu and one on Netflix. I just saw the latter, and it’s pretty incredible. Here, to refresh your horror, was the original Ethics Alarms description:
Celebrities with ties to the organizers tweeted and Instagrammed, building buzz about Fyre. Ja Rule tweeted just a month ago, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.” Ticket packages to experience the self-proclaimed “cultural event of the decade” included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, with a low price of $900 and a luxury tag of $399,995 for access to the performers. Days before the festival was to begin, @fyrefestival was still ginning up anticipation.
Then the festival-goers arrived on the first day to find…nothing. Well, worse than nothing: chaos. Those who had paid $500 apiece for what the festival’s promotion described as “villas” found that the only shelter provided were FEMA-style refugee tents. There was no food, except some hastily packaged cheese sandwiches. All of the scheduled performers canceled.
The festival-goers who hadn’t arrived by private yachts found themselves confused and stranded, with luggage but nowhere to sleep for the night. Some paid festival employees $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck, but when they arrived at the airport gate, they were told that they couldn’t access the airport, requiring more bribes to get to a plane, if they were lucky. The stampede of shocked glitterati desperately trying to flee backed up the local airports, stranding many attendees in deplorable conditions, like understaffed kitchen tents with pots of uncooked food.
Subcontractors and suppliers went unpaid, Bahamian workers were stiffed, millions of dollars vanished. The interviews with McFarland’s “team” are jaw-dropping. One fast-talking, ever-optimistic leader, McFarland, somehow convinced everyone, some who were experienced in event planning, that he could pull off the impossible, even as the days counted down to zero hour and it was obvious that there would be no festival, just broken promised and angry rich people. There’s also an amazing coda to the Netflix documentary: while McFarland was out on bail, awaiting trial, he set up another scam, using the mailing list for the Fyre Festival to get some of the same suckers to buy phony event tickets.
Some new developments and thoughts: Continue reading
As with many ethics problems, the most important question to answer is “What’s going on here?”
This is what happened.
I take quite a few drugs, some of which keep me breathing. My doctor now e-mails the full slate, usually a three-month supply, but with automatic refills, after every check-up. This time, I actually witnessed the prescriptions being sent. From the start, however, there was a screw up. The first three drugs I tried to get refills for turned up expired: there was no record of the directive from my doctor. Each time, the same thing happened: the CVS pharmacy automated line said the order “was being filled;” when I arrived to get it, I was told that the prescription had expired; I explained that they had a glitch in their system; one of the staff agreed (“Ugh! This ticks me off! Someone is automatically cancelling these orders!”); and I eventually got my drug, sometimes after giving me a partial refill and my having the doctor call CVS to confirm. The last time, however, the prescription I sought was ready. (They all had been e-mailed at the same time.) They also offered me another drug, and extremely expensive one, that I didn’t need immediately. I said I didn’t care to spend the money just then, and they told me they would hold it.
Yesterday I needed that drug, the previous supply having run out the day before. I had no opportunity to go to the pharmacy until nearly 9 PM, but it shouldn’t have mattered: the pharmacy during the week is open until the CVS closes at 10 pm, and I knew the prescription was ready, because of my previous visit.
But it wasn’t. The pharmacist, a young woman, told me that I had no valid prescription. “Nope,” I said. “Wrong.” And I explained what had been happening with my drugs, how I was told that the system glitch had been fixed, and also that I actually saw the filled prescription I now needed when I picked up my last prescription. AND, I said, firmly, skipping a day was not an option. This drug was one of the ones I could not skip.
Then the excuses started. Continue reading
(WordPress isn’t working properly this morning. Perfect…)
1. Not being biased helps you be non-stupid…Yesterday, chatting with lawyer attendees at my ethics seminar, a former government attorney told me that he had several ex-FBI colleagues who were horrified at many aspects of the Peter Strzok hearings, as was he. Among their concerns:
- The news media was failing its duty to explain to the public the duties of professionals, and why Strzok’s conduct was unacceptable, unethical, and undermined the credibility of the investigations he was involved in.
- Democrats were defending the indefensible, and also breaching their duty to the public. They ought to be exactly as outraged as Republicans at a figure as demonstrably biased as Strzok polluting important law enforcement inquiries, and also should have rebuked him for his defiant attitude.
- The Strzok scandal was immensely damaging to the public image of the FBI, and should be. It demonstrates an agency that has been seriously mismanages, and that has a damaged culture.
- The simple fact that Strzok would use FBI equipment to send his texts demonstrated outrageous incompetence and lack of judgement. Even setting aside the bias issue, for a key figure in an investigation to behave so recklessly proves that the current FBI is untrustworthy.
Naturally this is gratifying, since the positions are all consistent with those I have expressed here, and also because they are correct.
2. When miscreants emulate “Animal House” and Democrats applaud...We also discussed Strzok’s ridiculous “Otter defense”in the hearing, as he emulated the cynical (but in that case, funny) argument offered by the “Animal House” character played by Tim Mathieson (“Take it easy! I’m pre-law!” “I thought you were pre-med!” “What’s the difference?”) in a student council hearing over his fraternity members’ outrageous conduct, especially his own:
” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”
This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions. Continue reading