A Question of Atheist Scruples – Round 2

I found a copy of A Question of Scruples a while back and decided it might be entertaining to go through the questions and answering them as honestly as possible. Like last time, I’ll answer three questions and add one more for readers to weigh in on.

You want to landscape your property but find that trees cost too much. Do you drive into the woods and take some?

Ha. No. I’d just raid my dad’s yard. Mom and Dad planted 2000 trees or so on their acreage in the early ’70s and saplings pop up all over the place, often where they don’t want them. They’d gotten theirs through Indian Head’s PFRA Shelterbelt Centre.

The benefits of shelterbelts are numerous. Shelterbelts reduce wind speed and thereby create a microclimate for yards, gardens, and crops. The wind is deflected up and over the shelterbelt, creating a well-protected zone in the lee of the belt. The zone of protection extends outward many times the height of the trees. Reducing wind speed can have a dramatic energy saving benefit. On average, a mature 5-row shelterbelt, with at least 2 rows of conifers, planted around a farmhouse will reduce its heat requirements by 25%. The trapped snow provides water for dugouts and soil reserves.

Not to mention trapping the pesky CO2 while they’re at it, and providing refuge for wildlife of all kinds, especially birds.

A friend wants to copy and swap some expensive software. You know it’s illegal. Do you swap?

My copy of Scruples come out in 1984 just as personal computers were coming into focus as affordable fun for the whole family. Apple’s famous ad for the Macintosh ran that year during the Superbowl. My school bought a couple Apple II’s for the whole student body to share and by 1987 there were two IIe’s in every classroom. The junior high I attended after had a whole room filled with computers for kids who wanted to take the programming class. I was satisfied with what little I knew of BASIC and LOGO, which wasn’t much. I never owned a computer until I reached university and discovered they were actually useful for other things. To finally answer the question, yes, I’d probably agree to a swap if we each had something the other wanted. Illegal or not, cops have more important things to do than crack down on software trading when it’s on a one-on-one basis. Cops could get after the library for loaning out DVDs and CDs, too. It’s pretty damned obvious that if someone borrows fifty CDs Friday night and drops them off again Saturday morning that they probably ripped every one of them to their computer. We don’t flag their cards and report them. No proof they did that. Suspicions, but no proof. I think far too many people have already shrugged off the illegalities of it and it barely tarnishes their notion of being a law-abiding citizen. And to get biblical on your ass, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Do you see any stones flying?

Someone you don’t particularly like invites you to an expensive restaurant that you’d love to try. Do you go just for the meal?

Is he or she treating? I can think of a few people I’d force myself to sit across from if it meant I got free food out of it. If it’d be up to me to pay my way, I’d pass on the offer. I’d rather plan a night there with people I enjoy being around.

Last question, left for you to answer. Feel free to answer the other three as well.

The government has been overthrown by a party that is violent and undemocratic. You are asked to join the underground. Do you?

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4 Responses to A Question of Atheist Scruples – Round 2

  1. Since I replied last time, what the heck:

    1. I know a bit about moving trees. Pulling up a reasonably large tree in such a way as to prevent it from dying is not so easy as this question makes it sound. It’s a lot of effort, and would be at least a 2-man job, and would likely damage the other trees in the area, since there are roots all over the place in a natural forest. You might as well take the easy way out: go to the woods when the trees are dropping their seeds and grab a bunch of seeds. Sure, you’ll be a couple of years behind in growth, but any tree you could comfortably move clandestinely would be so small anyway that we’re not talking about a huge difference.

    2. As things have shaken out since the 1980s, yes. At the time, the answer would have been no, but — particularly in the last decade — companies which make “expensive software” (and that includes open-source companies which charge for support, or who “charge” via surveillance or advertising) also turn out to make really bad software and have really awful technical support. The best companies both in terms of quality and service, tend to be the ones who charge, but charge moderately. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Adobe’s “Once You Buy In, You’re Our Bitch” graphics suites, Microsoft’s “The Profit Margins On Our Effective Monopoly Have Risen With Every Release” operating systems, or random-hardware-manufacturer’s “We Can Charge What We Like Because We’re The Only One Making This” custom drivers for large equipment. On the other hand, I don’t think I really want to start using any of that software again, after having gone to the trouble of stopping, so although I’d be willing to do it, I can’t imagine an instance of “expensive software” which would actually tempt me.

    3. If they’re treating, why not? I’m not forcing them to do anything they don’t want to do, or at least the question doesn’t say so, so why is this an ethical question?

    4. I would certainly hope so, although it’s easy to be brave when not called upon to actually be so. How fortunate we are that the Republican Party is trying so hard to give us a chance to try this out, right?

  2. tmso says:

    To answer number four: Already have. Join me?

  3. 1minionsopinion says:

    Yeah, as far as 1 goes, the whole moving of trees can be a big deal if they’re bigger than a sapling. Interesting points made for #2. I’ve never been the biggest consumer when it comes to computer stuff and I think I’d never know the right questions to ask – ie) in terms of going for free virus programs vs paying through the nose for Norton. I also wish I’d known about free MS-Word style programs that I could have gotten instead of buying that whole package. As nice as it is to have Powerpoint and Excel, it’s not like I’m a big user of them. Hell, write.exe might have been good enough for most of what I do.

    Being Canadian, hopefully #4 would never be necessary. It’d suck if the States had that trouble, though. I suppose another underground railroad thing would get a few “patriots” out of harm’s way. I don’t know if I’d want to risk my chances engaging in that kind of aid but who knows..

  4. Yep. Lack of courage is what allows rotten people to get away with rotten stuff. Be brave! (or encourage your other half to go out and be brave, that’s even better)

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