Confession Of A Life Competence Failure

If you are going to be a competent member of society, it is important to follow the popular culture in addition to current events. I have always been a pop culture omnivore, watching TV shows I found barely interesting, listening to music I didn’t like, seeing as many movies as I could, and following sports I hated. I viewed with alarm my contemporaries who assiduously ignored what their children and their children’s friends were watching and who they cared about. This is how you become irrelevant, and also incompetent. A culture has many features, and affects everything: the analogy of an individual in a culture being like a fish in water is apt. All of these people, ideas and events surrounding us that we see as trivial and silly have a massive effect on the rest of our lives, and we ignore them at their peril.

Yet today I have to confess that despite what I thought were my best efforts to keep up with popular culture, it has whizzed by me. There are a lot of reasons, social media being a major one. Another is no longer having a teen in the house, but the reasons don’t matter. It is a citizen’s duty to make sufficient efforts to know and understand the culture of his or her nation, because without that understanding, a citizen is making decisions within that culture on outdated, partial, or just bad information. That is incompetent and irresponsible.

I give myself a pop culture test every six months or so. Today, I used WeSmirch, an online aggregator of celebrity news. It was horrifying. I never heard of most of these people. Those I have heard of seem completely irrelevant to me. Almost all of the important people in thse stories seem to be morons, famous for being famous, illiterate, notable mostly for being rich. The so-called “news,” breathless shouted from various headlines, seemed less than inconsequential. And yet this is what a rising generation cares about.

Here is a typical headline from this morning: “Vanessa Morgan’s son is called River.” Who is Vanessa Morgan? Who cares what her son is named? It turns out that she is an actress on “Riverdale,” a TV show based on the comic book whose appeal I never understood (but I read the damn thing so I knew what my friends were reading). Oddly, I do know something about River’s father, Michael Kopech, because he pitches for the Chicago White Sox, and once was a Red Sox pitching prospect.

Perusing the many articles and supposedly important celebrity news, I saw these names I could identify (unlike Ms. Morgan, who is, naturally, estranged from her newborn son’s father, as almost none of these celebrities think having a stable, two-parent marriage is a big deal because they are inexplicably rich, hence corrupting the values of their fans, who are not. Vanessa Morgan is also black, thus contributing in her own irresponsible way to the general mass shrug of the black community regarding two parent families):

  • Kopech
  • Tom Brady, the despicable NFL quarterback about to play in another Super Bowl
  • Rebel Wilson, the obese comic actress who lost a hundred pounds in 2020, which will prove good for her health but fatal to her career
  • Gigi Hadad, a model, and I have no idea why I know that.
  • Donald Trump
  • Actress Michelle Williams
  • Ryan Seacrest, the “American Idol” host
  • Rupert Grint, Ron Weasly in the “Harry Potter” films (saw every one, was bored stiff by the last five)
  • M. Night Shyamalan, the creepy movie director (he’s not creepy, just his films)
  • Chrissy Tiegen, another model
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Dustin Diamond, “Screech” on “Saved by the Bell,” who is now dead.
  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry.
  • Cardi B, a rapper and social media star.

That’s fifteen. Now here are the supposedly important celebrities I couldn’t pick out of a line-up:

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Incompetent Jealous Spouse Of The Millennium: “Leonora N”

Never mind

This story is so, so stupid–but funny!— that I had to devote a whole post to it.

Mexican police report that a woman whose full name has been withheld out of kindness (I suppose) and known only as “Leonora N” was snooping around in her husband’s cell phone and found several photos of him being suspiciously affectionate with a younger, slimmer, more attractive woman. Outraged, the scorned wife attacked her husband with a knife as soon as he walked in the door, stabbing him repeatedly until he managed to get the knife away from her. Police responded to neighbors reporting screams and an altercation, and Leonora was taken into custody.

It turns out that the photos were of her husband with her, when Leonora N was younger, slimmer, and I assume—I hope— a lot smarter.

Wow.

What a moron.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Nobody allowed to move around without a leash is this stupid. I’d be inclined to agree, but the police seem to buy the story, which both the husband and wife vouch for, and there is always this: never underestimate the awesome power of stupidity when it collides with blind emotion.

Ethics Warm-Up, 12/8/2020: Yet Another Date That Lives in Infamy

It’s not Pearl Harbor, but the assassination of John Lennon in Central Park 40 years ago today by a deranged fan is one of the saddest days in popular music history, on the level of the premature deaths of George Gershwin and Buddy Holly.

I really don’t want to talk about it.

1. Scary. The New Yorker’s Steve Coll wrote that”Those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principles of journalism.” David Harsanyi writes at The National Review,

If you believe Americans are too stupid to hear wrongthink, transgressive ideas, and, yes, fake news, you’re not a fan of the small-l liberal conception of free expression. That’s fine. Those ideas seem to be falling into disfavor with many. But the sanctity of free speech isn’t predicated on making sure people hear the right things, it’s predicated on letting everyone have their say. Because as always, the question becomes who decides what expression is acceptable. I’m not keen on having the fatuous media reporters at CNN or activist “fact-checkers” at the Washington Post adjudicating what is and isn’t permissible for mass consumption…this kind of selective esteem for sacred ideals is becoming popular on the contemporary Left. Religious freedom is wonderful when the government protects Native Americans who want to smoke peyote, but it is “weaponized” when an order of nuns decides it’s not interested in chipping in for condoms or an Evangelical business owner decides he’d rather not participate in a gay marriage. Due-process rights are foundational to American life, unless they are being “weaponized” by college students accused of sexual assault….For four years, journalists acted as if Donald Trump was an existential threat to free expression because he berated and insulted reporters. Trump’s tone was certainly unpresidential, but it needs to be said that he did absolutely nothing to hinder anyone from criticizing him or reporting about him. Contra the self-canonized Jim Acosta, it was not a particularly dangerous time to tell the truth. Indeed, reporters were not only free to accuse the president of being a fascist, they could concoct entire fake scandals surrounding the Russians, and Trump was powerless to stop them….

As I will be saying for the next four years as often as possible: This is what those who voted for Joe Biden have endorsed in their determination to express their tantrum over a President whose style they found obnoxious. I really don’t know how they will be able to live with themselves.

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Afternoon Ethics Wind-down, 11/17/2020: Greenwald, Kelly, Typical Irresponsible College Professor, And “Name Withheld”

windingUp

1 Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias… Glenn Greenwald, the gadfly journalist who was cut off at the metaphorical knees for not supporting the media black-out of the Biden family influence peddling story in the waning days of the campaign (Hey! It worked, so it must be ethical!), is apparently just warming up in his campaign to expose the mainstream media’s hypocrisy and bias. Here’s a recent thread on Twitter.

Of course, it’s just a matter of time before Twitter suspends his account…

2. I LOVE this guy! He’s the perfect example of so much that’s wrong with academia, Black Lives Matters, and the entire race-baiting phenomenon! (But why is he allowed to teach anyone?) Bucknell University will be featuring a scholarly debate over the new film “What Killed Michael Brown?,” with participants considering “whether the idea of systemic racism today is a truth about what needs to be addressed in shaping a just America, or a ‘poetic truth’ that as a strategy exacerbates social division in America.” (Strange…it is beyond question that what killed Michael Brown was his fatal and perhaps drug-aided decision to resist arrest, try to grab an officer’s weapon, ignore a lawful order to stop, and to direct his entire bulk in a charge at a police officer. It will be a short webinar.) Roosevelt University journalism Professor John Fountain, one of the participants, asserts that “questioning the existence and impact of systemic racism in the United States is itself offensive and racist.”

3. Whew! I almost lost this one. From an October 6 column by “The Ethicist.” “Name Withheld” writes: Continue reading

From The “Life Competence” Files: Death By Licorice

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine describes the odd case of  a middle-aged construction worker who died from eating one or two large bags of black licorice daily over a three week period. A naturally occurring compound, glycyrrhizic acid, found in black licorice can have adverse health effects if you gorge on it: in 2017, the FDA warned on its website, “If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.” If you have muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat, you should stop eating it and call your doctor, who should also advise you possible  about interactions it may have with your other medications.

The construction worker’s sudden addiction to the candy  caused his heart to stop, and he collapsed at mid-day at a fast-food restaurant. Emergency responders performed  CPR and revived him,  but he died the next day. Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was one of the authors of the case study, pronounced the lesson of the episode:

“The key message here for the general public is that food containing licorice can potentially be hazardous to your health if eaten in large quantities. I don’t think people realize it. It’s not labeled that way.”

It shouldn’t have to be labelled, should it? What isn’t potentially deadly in asbsurdly large quantities? Water can kill you. Of course candy can kill you. It’s interesting to know why, and that  licorice root extract can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in bodily electrolytes, but honestly: who wouldn’t do a little checking if they suddenly started eating huge amounts of something that normal people only consume occasionally, if at all? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “KABOOM! Anti-White Stereotyping At The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”

After a brief pause in eligible Comments of the Day, I am suddenly inundated with candidates, with blogging veteran Glenn Logan at the fore with two more to follow on his recent post. These, and another non-Logan COTD on the runway, were sparked by the Ethics Alarms post about the above content on a Smithsonian website, which threatens all records for “well-intentioned “racial stereotyping.

Here’s Glenn’s Comment of the Day #2 of three, (with the next coming up later today. Three is a row is a record!) on the post, “KABOOM! Anti-White Stereotyping At The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture”: Continue reading

Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting “Imagine”

I would think that would be screamingly obvious, but apparently not. Then again—actors.

As regular readers here know, John Lennon’s pompous, simple-minded and hypocritical (a mega-millionaire extolling “no possessions”) anthem to the joys of anarchy is a lifetime irritation for me, and anyone who argues that it’s profound or moving has provided signature significance that they can’t be trusted with moderately complex tasks or, for that matter, to prevail in Trivial Pursuit games against 4th graders.

Now, as you can see above, a group of Hollywood celebrities, including Gal Gadot, who apparently organized it, Will Ferrell, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsden, Lynda Carter, Jamie Dornan, and Amy Adams , all mansion-bound,  made a video with each of them singing bits of  John Lennon’s disgrace.  People are guessing that the intended message was “we’re all in this together,” or “it will all be OK” or “if society is destroyed and nobody has any jobs, that’s a good thing” or “Ramalama ding-dong” or something.

Predictably, the “imagine no possessions” line  attracted the most venom on social media, considering the average income of this group, but that’s unfair. Personally, I’m happy to have any celebrity publicly announce, “I’m an idiot!” on the web. It’s useful information, especially when these same deluded dufuses start telling us about the Green New Deal.

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/11/2020: Bad Marks…

Good morning!

Time for Gordon MacRae again. It’s been a while…

1. The mark of a poor loser. No doubt about it, the Democratic Party losers are terrible at that accountability thing. Now it’s Bernie Sanders. Before him, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar blamed sexism for their own inadequacies; Harris and Cory Booker blamed racism. Sanders has all sorts of villains, anything to avoid admitting that he and his campaign have been talking irresponsible, undemocratic nonsense for months, indeed years…

  • The “corporate media”
  • The Democratic Party establishment
  • His own youthful (read naive, deluded and ignorant) supporters, who just don’t vote as often as old people.

Maybe this is Presidential conduct now. Obama blamed everything he could on President Bush, and his followers blamed every critique on racism. President Trump is hardly any better at accepting accountability. The all-time winner, or rather all-time loser who beats them all at blaming others for losing is Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps the single most persuasive reason to leave up all those Robert E. Lee statues and memorials is to remind current leaders and future generations of the general who, as his battered, bleeding and defeated troops returned from the field of battle after Pickett’s Charge, one of the worst debacles in U.S. military history, met them saying, “It was all my fault.”

I could respect a leader like that. Are there any?

The “corporate media” bit also is annoying. A Facebook friend, mainstream media bias-denier used Bernie’s lament yesterday to mount a false dichotomy, saying that conservatives blame left-wing media bias while the Left blames the “corporate media.” Sanders indeed received negative coverage, but not because “the corporate media” fears his brand of social justice. The progressive mainstream media is desperate to defeat Trump, and to preserve the Democratic Party, and any idiot can see that running a pro-Castro, Soviet Union rationalizing Marxist would be toxic to both objectives. Even running a deteriorating dementia victim is a better bet, though not an especially good one. Fox News loved the idea of Bernie running against President Trump.

2. The mark of a coward. Sanders  declined to address his disheartened supporters last  night after Joe Biden pretty much ended his hopes of prevailing at the Democratic National Convention by winning decisive primary victories. Before the results were called for the Western states of North Dakota, Idaho, and Washington, the Sanders campaign announced that  Bernie would not be addressing his supporters that evening. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/8/2010: Daylight Savings Time Edition

Well, It SHOULD still be “Good Morning!”, but it’s not…

1. The most unethical Presidential campaign in recent history.  This profile of in Wisconsin, nicely illustrates the central ethics rot at the core of the Sanders campaign and his appeal. Michelz, we learn, is desperately in debt. He is therefor banking on Sanders to solve his problems by taking money from other people and giving it to him.

This is where the hyping of “income inequality” leads, and it is the basis of Sanders’ unethical message. It is inherently unfair that other people make more money than you do, so the government should use its power to “equalize” income and wealth. We learn in the course of the piece that in last week’s California primary, 47 % who said income inequality was their most important issue picked Mr. Sanders. 13% voted for Joe Biden.

How do individuals brought up in the United States, a nation built on the belief in personal liberty and the responsibility for choosing and making one’s own path in life, come to believe that there is an intrinsic right to a level of wealth and success, regardless of personal choices, industry, talent and character?  We don’t need to ask how we came to have a Presidential contender whose strategy is to appeal to such people and exploit their unhappiness with their current state in life. That is a market-tested approach to acquiring power that has been effective around the world, with disastrous results.

2. Thank you, 1960s! From the res ipsa loquitur department: A new Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories shows that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. From the study:
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