Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/9/2020: Coronavirus Ethics And A Pop Ethics Quiz

You’re looking lovely today, I must say! Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?

Fortunately, I’m almost always “self-quarantined…”

1. Ethics tales of Covid-19:

  • Ethics Hero: Senator Ted Cruz has just made a point of serving as a role model by self-quarantining in his Texas home because he interacted with a person at the Conservative Political Action Conference who, according to Maryland heath officials, tested positive for coronavirus, . Cruz says  he had only a brief conversation and shook hands with the person, and that  the contact took place ten days ago. Cruz  isn’t experiencing symptoms, and the odds are low that the virus passed to him.

Nonetheless, a public example from a prominent figure of using an abundance of caution can only help.

  • On the other side of the Covid-19 ethics divide, we have the father-daughter pair,  family members of the St. Louis County woman who tested positive for COVID-19 as the first confirmed carrier of the virus in Missouri, who attended a father-daughter dance at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, Missouri, after being told by health officials to be like Ted.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page told reporters that the family understood what they had been instructed to do, and just ignored the directives anyway.

Again I ask, what is the appropriate way to punish people like this? All plagues and epidemics spread this way, with the unhealthy contribution of idiots. Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, was an Irish cook at the beginning of the 20th Century who kept escaping authorities as an asymptomatic carrier of the deadly disease, and going back to work under false names. At least three deaths are definitely blamed on her; she infected more than 50 people before she was finally placed in isolation for the rest of her life. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up (But It’s Morning To Me!), 3/6/2020: Bill Clinton Returns, And Other Amusements

Morning already, Sea Dog?

I guess I have to admit that I don’t bounce back from travel like I used to…incidentally,the original voice of Captain Crunch was the great Daws Butler, who was Hanna-Barbara’s answer to Mel Blanc, and every bit as versatile as the voice of Bugs, Porky and Daffy. He was Fred Flintstone, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw (and Baba Looey) Yogi Bear and Elroy Jetson, just to name a few of his 459 characters.

1. Enemy of the people…the Coronavirus situation is a perfect example of how the news media’s inability to avoid partisan bias does tangible harm. It is literally impossible to get straight reporting. The left-biased news media wants to make the situation seem as dire as possible, wants disruption of the financial markets, wants to undermine trust in the federal response, all because they so, so want to see President Trump defeated in November and they can feel that objective slipping away. The conservative media is determined to bolster the administration, and give the cheeriest spin on the pandemic possible. You either have to choose what you want to believe, or, like me, resign yourself to uncertainty because we have a corrupt and unethical journalistic establishment.

After the head of the World Health Organization (WHO)  estimated the global mortality rate of the coronavirus to be 3.4%, President Trump said on Fox News that his “hunch” was that it was much lower.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number, and this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about these people.”

He was immediately attacked in the press and mocked on social media, because, you know, he lies, he’s an idiot, and he doesn’t believe in science. His “hunch,’ however, is almost certainly right, and for exactly the reason he talked about. From The Hill:

“Experts warn that the figure from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes full of caveats and is likely to change as more people get tested and undergo treatment for the virus. ‘I think it’s lower because we are missing mild cases,’ said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ‘We should be preparing for [the worst] cases, it’s true, but also going out to see what the real number is….Folks want to be able to understand what the true risk is. They want to know just how deadly is it, how deadly is it to me? The challenge is, we don’t totally know.'”

Joe Biden, meanwhile, noted that the outbreak occurring during The Great War made it hard to separate the Real McCoy from the malarkey.

Oh, lighten up! I’m just having a little fun. Continue reading

Monday Morning Warm-Up, 3/2/2020: Idling, Stigmatizing, Lying

Good Monday!

1. Totalitarianism watch.  Idling one’s car for longer than three minutes, or more than one minute while adjacent to a school, is illegal in New York City. There have been anti-idling laws since 1972, but they were previously examples of the law being used to encourage conduct rather than enforce it. Now, with socialist Bill de Blasio at the city’s helm, the laws are being enforced with a vengeance.

The city is offering bounties to  citizens who report their neighbors, for example. “If you witness a vehicle idling illegally, you can potentially receive a reward for your enforcement efforts through our Citizens Air Complaint Program” says a city website.

Nice.

The theory is that forcing people into not idling their car will mitigate climate change, just like forcing people to ride bicycles and to stop having children when the Left gains sufficient power and the Green New Deal is within reach. Cars idling for no reason is a pet peeve of mine, particularly when they idle in a parking space with cars waiting while the driver checks his or her messages on a cell phone. There are, however, good reasons for idling. I have idled while recharging a dead battery for example. I have idled in sub-freezing weather to keep the car warm while my wife, who had a cold, ran into a 7-11 to buy some cough medicine. The blunt boot of the law does not belong in this matter, like many matters that today’s progressives and socialists want to turn into government edicts.

Oh—the PR geniuses in de Blasio-land decided that the ideal spokesperson for the anti-idling campaign is washed up rocker Billy Idol. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance”

As I thought it would, today’s ethics quiz about the 6th grade dance with the “must accept” policy has sparked some excellent reflections and flashbacks. Taking off from Bryan’s comment—

When my son was in sixth grade cotillion class, the instructor prefaced dances with “in this class, and only in this class, if someone asks ‘may I have this dance?’ the answer is ‘yes, thank you.’ “ They also switched off having boys ask girls and girls ask boys. The whole point of the class was to learn polite interaction at an age when they’re so confused and might otherwise act weird. I thought it was a lovely compromise. This was in about 2005, so it was not so long ago, yet not inflicted with today’s outrageous thinking.

Pennagain authored this  Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quiz: The Sixth Grade Dance”:

My experience was the same as Bryan’s – about a half-century prior. The class was once a week, part of the gym program as well as a “social” activity, I believe, and emphasizing a similar “buddy” system – you partnered with everyone at one time or another.

Ours was a smallish class so we got around to everyone else at least twice. We learned ethnic circle dances in lower classes, then box step, fox trot, waltz, and some others, ending the 8th grade (preparing for our first “formal”) with a singularly unsensual rumba. One of my classmates had hyperhydrosis, aka, a surfeit of sweat, and holding her hand was a chore for her partner and an agony for her. It got so we would safety-pin a pair of socks – not necessarily clean ones – under the shirt’s left shoulder to take care of half the problem and then, with her eager cooperation, each would try to touch each other’s palms with as little pressure as possible. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up,2/25/2020: Remembering “Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” [CORRECTED]

Notice of a correction: in the first version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that the famous photo above was  of the first Liston fight. It was not: this was the dramatic scene that ended the rematch. Thanks to Tim Levier for reminding me.

Good Morning!

1. Cultural literacy thoughts: I wonder…how many Millennial Americans—or among the post-boomer generations—recognize the context of the photo above? On this date in 1964, a brash 22-year-old black boxer named Cassius Clay (1942-2016) pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history, defeating world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston, an 8-to-1 favorite, in a seventh-round technical knockout. The now iconic photo above captured the dramatic finale of the 1965 rematch, ending the speculation that Clay’s victory over the previously frightening Liston had been a fluke.

Indeed, the 1964 fight was just the beginning of a remarkable story.

After his stunning victory, the sudden celebrity attended a victory to a private party at a Miami hotel. In attendance was Malcolm X, the outspoken leader of the rising African American Muslim group known as the Nation of Islam. Two days later, Cassius Clay announced he was joining the Nation of Islam, and renounced his “slave name”  to adopt  the Muslim name, Muhammad Ali. As Ali, he became one of the most influential social and political figures of his era, affecting civil rights, politics, public attitudes, language and culture…and sports, of course, as  professional boxing’s greatest champion. After successfully defending his title nine times, Ali surrendered it in 1967 after he refused induction into the U.S. Army on the grounds that he was a Muslim minister and thus  a conscientious objector. His stand against the Vietnam War galvanized national opposition to the war, especially among students and the young. In 1971,  the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft evasion conviction, and in 1974, he regained his heavyweight title in a match against George Foreman in Zaire, enshrining his phrase “rope-a-dope” in our lexicon. Eventually Ali became  the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times. His post-retirement diagnosis  of pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome and the sad spectacle of the once loquacious and witty athlete’s slow decline into near speechlessness and impaired motor functionscontributed to the collapse of boxing’s popularity. Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan, and lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies of the1996  Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

My mother, who like virtually everyone in her first generation Greek family was uncomfortable around blacks, once met Ali, who was seated next to her at a Harvard College function when she was Assistant Dean of Housing. She said later that he was the most charming, charismatic, beautiful man she had ever met in her life.

2. You can lead an idiot to child-proof packaging, but you can’t make him think. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics aimed at figuring out why there has been a steep rise in accidental poisonings of U.S. children according to CDC figures has come to a disturbing conclusion. Researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 calls to five U.S. poison centers in Arizona, Florida and Georgia over an eight month period in 2017. They found more than half of the prescription medicine poisonings occurred because parents and grandparents removed  pills and medicines from child-proof packaging to make them more easily accessible, to help the adults remember to take them, or more convenient for travel. Continue reading

KABOOM! At What Point Do Parents Blow The Whistle On Flagrant Ideological Indoctrination In Our Schools?

Kaboom.

Just what I need on a Sunday morning: a head explosion.

Some background while I gather my thoughts and brains…last night, among the various freakouts and huzzahs after Bernie Sanders lapped the field in the Nevada Caucus, was this observation, from conservative pundit Paula Bolyard:

“It’s breathtaking to contemplate that a socialist—again, I remind you that Sanders is not a member of the Democratic Party—could be a legitimate contender for the presidency. It seems unthinkable that millions of people who lived through the Cold War, and remember the fear and loathing of all things Soviet, will march to the polls in lockstep in November to pull the lever for Sanders, and yet here we are. Thousands upon thousands of Baby Boomers, who should know better, have already voted for the aging bolshie in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Make no mistake: the Democratic Party is in thrall to socialism, if not communism. Those in the younger demographic, in particular, are increasingly demanding free everything—and the younger you go, the more stuff they’re demanding….They’ve been mal-educated in our public schools and universities and believe they are on the right side of history by supporting socialism.”

It’s hard to think about, but these kids aren’t going to stop until they get socialism—good and hard…Only then, when the quality of life they’ve become accustomed to as privileged Americans has become a distant memory, will they see the light.”

Bingo. Among the many groups accountable for a fantasist like Bernie being a factor in the 2020 Presidential race are multiple generations of lazy parents who paid little attention to what their children were being taught in elementary school s and high schools, and the textbooks they were reading. The anti-American Leftists bred in the campus uprisings of the Vietnam era took over faculties up and down the educational system, leading to curriculum (and worse, editorial comments) that opposed core American values rather than explicating them. The process continues, and could not continue without widespread parental apathy.

Now on to what exploded my head. During a history lesson in an advanced placement class at Loch Raven High School, a powerpoint presentation included a slide that featured a photo of President Trump above a swastika and hammer-and-sickle.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/12/2020: Broken Ethics Alarms, An Ethics Conflict, And “Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Own Eyes?”

Well, Hel-LO!

“Seinfeld” fans remember Jerry’s Uncle Leo, whose trademark was an over-enthusiastic, “Hel-LO!” The recurring character was played by the late Len Lesser, an obscure Hollywood bit player until the “Seinfeld” gig made him a familiar face. Well, I was watching “Bells Are Ringing, the 1960 film version of the hit Broadway musical known for the standards “Just in Time” and “The Party’s Over” (one of my Mom’s favorite songs), on TCM. The film is a reminder of just how luminous Judy Holliday was; she had won the Tony for playing the musical’s starring role on Broadway, and attention should be paid. Tragically, his was her last movie—during filming she was fighting the cancer that eventually killed her —-and I don’t know if there has ever been a female musical comedy star of greater range and presence. Anyway, there’s a number in the film where Judy tells Dean Martin that New York’s grim mass of humanity during rush hours will thaw if strangers only say “hello” to each other. Dean is skeptical, but he tries it on a dour-looking man waiting in the mob, whose face instantly breaks into a brilliant smile at the greeting. “Hel-LO!” the man responds to a surprised Dino, and soon everyone is happily saying hello to each other. You guessed it: the dour-looking man was played by “Uncle Leo” himself, Len Lesser. His catch phrase in “Seinfeld” was a deliberate reference to that bit, one of the very few memorable moments in the elderly actor’s career.

This is really a long introduction to a different point: I get a lot of ethics ideas from watching old movies. For example, I watched 1967’s “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, one of schlockmeister Roger Corman’s few films with an A-list cast and a big budget. The film’s solemn narrator is uncredited, but he is obviously meant to make the casual audience member think it’s Orson Welles. It wasn’t Welles, however: it was master vocal artist Paul Frees, who had a great, and often used, Welles impression. I assume he was uncredited so no one would realize that the narrator wasn’t the weighty Welles, but the voice of Boris Badinov from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

I don’t know how Corman got away with this.

1. Ah, the accurate, trustworthy news media. Reuters reports, “A South African military plane crash-landed on Thursday at the Goma airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a U.N. spokesman said….two sources at the airport, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there did not appear to be major damage to the plane.”

Here’s the plane:

2. Apparently the Democratic Party’s strategy regarding the economy is to just flagrantly lie about it. “The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me. But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans,” Mike Bloomberg said this week. That counter-factual statement echoes Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders…pretty much the Democratic field, and it is demonstrably false.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s monthly Wage Growth Tracker shows that Americans in the lower wage brackets are making more money, and at a better rate than they have for a very long time. Here’s a graph: Continue reading