Dec 24 2010

When Duties Collide

You are living in Nazi-occupied Holland of 1942. A family of Jews is hiding in your attic. The authorities knock on the front door and ask an entirely unambiguous question: “Do you have any Jews in your house?” You have a choice: tell the truth, or tell a lie. Which will it be?

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Aug 27 2010

Slip Slidin’ Away

In an episode of Seinfeld, the title character befriends Keith Hernandez, the famous major league first baseman. Hernandez promptly invites Seinfeld to help him move. Kramer and George are stunned at the man’s audacity. “The next thing you know,” they warn their old friend, “he’ll have you driving him to the airport.”

This is a classic application of the slippery slope argument: It is wrong for Seinfeld to take this (seemingly) innocent first step because it will slide uncontrollably into a morally undesirable situation.

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Mar 2 2010

Why the Robot Apocalypse will not happen any time soon

It all begins with good intentions. Engineers create cybernetic help for everything from cleaning house to  fighting wars. Or someone decides we need a master computer to make the world run, you know, a little better. In any case, the result is nearly always catastrophic. Skynet takes over the planet (Terminator). A corporate mainframe initiates the dreaded robot rebellion (I, Robot).

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Nov 30 2009

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Along with attacks on Christianity that are timed to coincide with Easter and Christmas, we must also endure attacks on love in February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. As a dense, clumsy male, February 14th is not a day on which I tend to excel. Frankly, it is hard being romantic and a curmudgeon at the same time. Knowing that Valentine’s Day is largely a creation of the greeting card industry does nothing to curtail my curmudgeonly inclinations.

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Oct 20 2009

Issue 3

It is almost November in Ohio. And yes, that will mean another gambling issue on the ballot. The airwaves are full of claims and counterclaims about the jobs that may or may not be created in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo—the four cities that will be “blessed” by casinos should Issue 3 pass on November 3. The effort is being spearheaded by Penn National Gaming and Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert. Keep in mind that this is a constitutional amendment. As such, it would create a permanent, state-sanctioned monopoly for these business interests.

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