Ethical dilemma of the day #3

I’m curious to hear what you all say about this because I am dealing with a similar situation in my real life.

(Yes, I have a real life. Sometimes.)

Here goes: You’re eating at a nice, quiet restaurant; the food is delicious and the service is good and so on. Nothing worries you except for an occasional Celine Dion song drifting over the sound system.

Then, just across the restaurant, you spot a coworker’s significant other. You smile at him. He bites his lip in a sheepish “um, hi” smile, and then he brushes a hand off his thigh. You turn your head slightly and see that the hand belongs to a smartly-dressed, leggy young woman who is most definitely not your coworker. Your coworker’s S.O. and his leggy young thing leave the restaurant a few minutes later, and as he walks out he stares guiltily at the ground.

Would you tell your coworker? What if…

1. She’s engaged to be married to this guy, and you catch him again with the leggy girl–three times in one week. The wedding is set for two months from now.

2. She’s pregnant with their first child.

3. She’s just had their first child. She seems pretty down, and she frequently complains that she feels unattractive and can’t seem to lose the baby-weight.

4. Your coworker, who is becoming a friend of yours, just happens to be your boss, and you were hoping to ask for a promotion.

5. Your coworker asks you home for dinner, and the S.O. makes a pass at you, then threatens you if you reveal him as a sleaze.

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off-topic, but…

As a big fan of Emily Dickinson, I couldn’t help but be tickled by this sketch on Prairie Home Companion, which gives us Broadway’s answer to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet:…

(Are you ready for this?)

“Because I could not stop for death” the MUSICAL.

GK: As I recall, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is a poem. A short poem.

NM: Yeah but they fleshed it out and made it into a musical. Four acts and an intermission and there’s going to be a huge field of grain plus a carriage pulled by horses-and she has a big romance with Henry David Thoreau, whoever he is, and there’s a big opening number…

The script & sound file 


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Proust questionnaire

When French writer and madeleine-eater Marcel Proust (now of Little Miss Sunshine fame) filled out questionnaires at a parties, he sometimes came across as a Mama’s boy (What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? “To be separated from Mama”) and sometimes as a hyper-intellectual skeeze (Your favorite flower? “Hers”).
But we love still him and his rambly syntax, so take a stab at one of these two questionnaires, which have survived the ages because someone saved petit Marcel’s answers (included here — I’m going to post mine in a comment).

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To be separated from Mama

Where would you like to live?
In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
To a life deprived of the works of genius

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real

Who are your favorite characters in history?
A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
A woman of genius leading an ordinary life

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure and in every way beautiful

Your favorite painter?

Your favorite musician?

The quality you most admire in a man?
Intelligence, moral sense

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence

Your favorite virtue?
All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues

Your favorite occupation?
Reading, dreaming, and writing verse

Who would you have liked to be?
Since the question does not arise, I prefer not to answer it. All the same, I should very much have liked to be Pliny the Younger.


Your most marked characteristic?
A craving to be loved, or, to be more precise, to be caressed and spoiled rather than to be admired

The quality you most like in a man?
Feminine charm

The quality you most like in a woman?
A man’s virtues, and frankness in friendship

What do you most value in your friends?
Tenderness – provided they possess a physical charm which makes their tenderness worth having

What is your principle defect?
Lack of understanding; weakness of will

What is your favorite occupation?

What is your dream of happiness?
Not, I fear, a very elevated one. I really haven’t the courage to say what it is, and if I did I should probably destroy it by the mere fact of putting it into words.

What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Never to have known my mother or my grandmother

What would you like to be?
Myself – as those whom I admire would like me to be

In what country would you like to live?
One where certain things that I want would be realized – and where feelings of tenderness would always be reciprocated. [Proust’s underlining]

What is your favorite color?
Beauty lies not in colors but in thier harmony

What is your favorite flower?
Hers – but apart from that, all

What is your favorite bird?
The swallow

Who are your favorite prose writers?
At the moment, Anatole France and Pierre Loti

Who are your favoite poets?
Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Phedre (crossed out) Berenice

Who are your favorite composers?
Beethoven, Wagner, Shuhmann

Who are your favorite painters?
Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt

Who are your heroes in real life?
Monsieur Darlu, Monsieur Boutroux (professors)

Who are your favorite heroines of history?

What are your favorite names?
I only have one at a time

What is it you most dislike?
My own worst qualities

What historical figures do you most despise?
I am not sufficiently educated to say

What event in military history do you most admire?
My own enlistment as a volunteer!

What reform do you most admire?
(no response)

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Willpower and irresistible charm

How would you like to die?
A better man than I am, and much beloved

What is your present state of mind?
Annoyance at having to think about myself in order to answer these questions

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Those that I understand

What is your motto?
I prefer not to say, for fear it might bring me bad luck.


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Ethical dilemma of the day #2

Here’s a classic:

1. A runaway train is going to hit five men who are working on the tracks. The workers cannot hear the train, and they are facing away from it. You are too far away to warn them before the train hits. You are, however, standing next to a lever. If you pull the lever, the train will switch to a second track where only one man is working. If you don’t pull the lever, five men will be killed; if you do, only one man will be killed. Do you pull the lever?

2. Again, the runaway train is heading for the five workers, but this time there’s no lever. You’re standing above the tracks on an overpass, and there’s someone next to you. If you push that person off the overpass and onto the tracks, the train will hit him and stop before it reaches the five workers. Do you push the man off the overpass?


Feedback question: Should I post interpretations of different answers? For example, “Most people in this case would say ___, although ___” and so on?

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Ethical dilemma of the day – #1

Let’s start with a basic one:

You are a prison guard in a small town. A mob gathers outside the prison, demanding access to a prisoner who has been indicted but not yet tried for rape. The power and telephone lines have been cut, so you cannot call for backup. The mob intends to kill the prisoner.

1.The mob becomes violent, and you and others will be hurt unless the prisoner is released into the hands of the mob. Do you release the prisoner to them?

2. The prisoner is charged with abusing a child, and the mob is led by the child’s distraught father. Do you release the prisoner to them?

3. Members of the mob produce the prisoner’s wife and son, and threaten to harm or kill them unless you release the prisoner. You have reason to believe that these members of the mob will stick to their word. Do you release the prisoner to them?

4. Combine #2 and #3, and the problem is racially motivated because the prisoner is black and the mob is white. Do you release the prisoner to them?

How did you answer these questions? Did your answer vary from case to case? Why?

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