Monday Morning Summary Of What Would Have Been In The Sunday Ethics Warm-Up That I Was Supposed To Post But….Aw, Forget It. Here’s Some Ethics Stuff…

Good morning.

Boy, am I glad THAT week is over.

1. Moral luck saves the 2019 baseball post-season…for now. MLB missed a major disaster when an umpire missed a clear strike three (he ruled a foul) on Yankee slugger Gary Sanchez in a tied and crucial game between the Houston Astros and New York.  It was the 11th inning, meaning a tie-breaking run would mean a likely Yankee victory.  THAT would have meant that the Astros would have lost the first two games of a seven game series at home, a hole that very few teams in baseball history have been able to overcome.

Sanchez  struck out on the next pitch, and a Carlos Correia home run in the bottom of the inning sent the Astros to Yankee Staudium in a series tied 1-1. The botch was moot, and will soon be forgotten. But if he Sanchez hit a home run or otherwise led the Yankees to a decisive score, the ALCS might have been completely turned by a blown call captured on video for all to see.

And there would be no excuse: the rules allow no appeal on that kind of play, but there has to be.

Yes, it was “moral luck” again. The fact that the worst didn’t happen doesn’t change the seriousness of the fact that only luck saved the day and prevented a blot on the integrity of the whole 2019 post-season. Maybe it would have been better if the bad call had altered the game, the series, and the World Series. Maybe then baseball would stop waiting for the high-profile disaster caught on video that will force it to have ball and strikes called by technology. It took an umpire’s obvious blown safe call in what should have been the last out of a perfect game to make baseball go to replays, and anyone who watches many games knows how many times a reversal changes game outcomes. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/2/17: Hackers, My NPR Panel, An Unethical Journalist Actually Faces Consequences, And God Bless Us, Everyone!

 

GOOD MORNING!!!

1  Actually, it’s a terrible morning. I began what has really been a hideous morning at 5 a.m. with a hacking alert on my computer. I eventually, with the help of some technicians, identified the usernames of 27 hackers who were accessing my data, apparently.

I should have written this before, I guess, but hackers, all of them, every single one no matter what their motives or what they do, are the scum of the earth, ethical black pits, and blight on civilization. Yet the popular culture loves them. There are young hackers, male, female, black, white, Asian, Indian and Hispanic, handicapped hackers…no old hackers,of every type all over the TV fare, usually as part of the heroic team on procedurals. (There are no old hackers.) What power they have! How smart they are! Often they are ex-criminals, who managed to acquire an exciting, lucrative job by displaying their hacking skills to law enforcement in the course of committing crimes. Usually, they are the funny members of the team, or the cute, like Matthew Broderick in “Wargames.” No wonder our young see these shows and think hacking is cool. In “Jurassic Park,” Lexi, the young girl who almost gets her feet bitten off by a raptor, proudly calls herself a hacker.

“Hacker” means asshole, kid.

And I was rooting for the raptor.

2. Marley was dead. One of these days I will have to do an overview of the links to your left. They are there for their value in stimulating ethical thought and discussion, not because some asked for a link exchange. Under the “Inspiration” category—you have to scroll down to see it—is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, arguably the best and most accessible ethics story ever written. I have directed four staged readings of the classic and three “radio” versions through the years, and I don’t know a better way to get into the proper frame of mind—an ethical one– for the holiday season.

Last night I watched actor Paul Morella perform his one man “Christmas Carol” at the Olney Theater in Maryland. Paul is a long-time friend and collaborator: he has been playing Clarence Darrow in a one-man show we created together for 17 years, and we launched a continuing legal education seminar about Darrow’s legal ethics at the D.C. Bar this year. If you live in the D.C. Metropolitan area, I can not recommend the Olney show to you more enthusiastically. As Paul points out in his notes, this is how Charles Dickens himself presented the story in front of Victorian audiences, and he did not have the benefit of the evocative sound and light effects Paul employs. Charles was also not in Paul’s league as actor, I bet.

3. One down, 102, 568 to go… Brian Ross went live on ABC last week and announced  the fake news story that then-candidate Donald Trump had instructed Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians, thus triggering a massive stock market sell-off. Seven hours later, ABC sheepishly admitted that it was President-elect”Trump who had made the request of Flynn.  ABC News  announced last night that  Ross would be suspended for four weeks without pay. Said the Disney-owned network:

“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience – these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”

Observations:

  • Good.

It would be very good if this became the routine response when a mainstream media reporter misinformed the public through bias, negligence or incompetence.

  • Raise your hand if you think that this action only occurred because the Dow Jones crashed.

My hand is up.

  • “Retain the trust we have built with our audience…” What trust? Anyone who trusts the news media after the past two years, not to mention the past ten, is foolish, gullible, or a Democrat.

4. A pause for levity since I am so upset…Here is the Celebrity Perv Apology Generator.  This “guide for new celebrities” is also mordantly amusing, on the same topic. Continue reading

Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

Well, At Least Trump Will Know That The News Media Will Cover Both Candidates Objectively With Equal…With Equal…HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I’m Sorry, I Just Can’t Say It

unbalanced-justice-scaleA May 5 NBC News online story reported that the infamous Rumanian hacker called “Guccifer” had revealed “in an exclusive interview” with correspondent Cynthia McFadden that Hillary Clinton’s secret private e-mail server was “like an open orchid on the Internet,” and that he hacked its contents with ease. It has been noticed, however, that NBC interviewed Guccifer during his pre-extradition detention in Rumania, at least a month ago. It was not until yesterday, when Fox News broke the news, also as an “exclusive,” that Guccifer, a.k.a. Marcel Lehel Lazar, asserted from a Virginia jail that he had repeatedly breached the former Secretary of State’s  in early 2013, that NBC let the story out.

Observations…okay, rueful and pointed observations: Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Banishes “The Smoking Gun,” Unethical Website of the Month

"This? Sure, this fits our mission. Post it!"

“This? Sure, this fits our mission. Post it!”

“The Smoking Gun” website has been linked on Ethics Alarms from the start, as its published documents from various sources can be an invaluable resource in uncovering unethical conduct in business, government, and popular culture.  Being linked here, however, carries an implied conviction that a site is itself ethical, or at least makes a good faith effort to be so. I can no longer say this with confidence about the “The Smoking Gun,” and thus am deleting its link while designating it the Unethical Website of the Month. Let’s not forget that it is owned by Time-Warner.

Why the ban? A hacker by the name of Guccifer hacked into Bush family AOL accounts, stole private messages and photos and posted them online  to embarrass the Bush family and violate their privacy. “The Smoking Gun” then re-posted all of it, including a private letter from George W. Bush to his family about planning the funeral of his father. Continue reading

Climate Wars Ethics: Gleick’s Lie, and the Death of Trust

You cannot fight for the truth with lies. Why is this so hard to learn?

This is a big ethics story, with general ethics lessons and serious public policy repercussions in an area already muddled with ethical misconduct on all sides. I’m going to restrict Ethics Alarms to the purely ethical analysis. and, at the end, point out some of the excellent articles that the incident has inspired regarding the policy implications of it all.

Last week, leaked documents prepared for a board meeting of the libertarian think tank, the Heartland Institute, were published on various blogs and websites. The Institute is a major player in the effort to disprove, debunk or discredit scientific studies showing man-made climate change, and block the adoption of anti-climate change policies while undermining public support for them.  One of the most provocative documents was a “Climate Strategy” memorandum laying out Heartland’s secret efforts in sinister terms. The source of the documents, and the one who made them available to global-warming promoting bloggers, was a mysterious individual calling himself “Heartland Insider.”

Now the source has revealed himself, and it is a prominent climatologist on the front lines of the climate change battle, scientist Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute. Gleick explained what occurred in a column at the Huffington Post: Continue reading