Ethics are dead?
A couple of readers bemoan the lack of ethics in practically every facet of American life. Others debate whether Steve Jobs’ management style would work at NASA. And one reader wonders about our privacy and cloud computing.

Anyone for ethics?
Unfortunately, ethics went out the window in the U.†S. many years ago with the advent of our “instant” society (“Where Did Ethics Go?” Sept. 6). Everyone wants everything they can possibly need and dream of without waiting or working for it, all at the expense of others.

This problem is more prevalent here in the U.†S. than in Europe, Asia, or the Caribbean countries. It is most likely the fault of parents who let others raise their kids and advertising wonks.

And it doesn’t matter what the profession is, it is all about greed.

Randy Scott

I have worked in the engineering field for more than 40 years. I am now in business for myself as a forensic mechanical engineer doing accident reconstruction for attorneys and insurance companies. Part of my job involves testifying in court on civil and criminal cases where I have been amazed at what some engineers will say under oath to prove a case for their clients. Sometimes they testify to accident scenarios that violate the laws of physics. Some engineers testifying are registered professional engineers and are theoretically bound to follow the “Engineers Code of Ethics.” But they don’t. How can they look in the mirror and not cringe at what they see?

Why do people try to beat the system? Do they really think the “easy way” is the best way? It’s pretty simple, and somewhat trite, but honesty is always the best policy.

Harold A. Schwartz

Smaller can be better
Yes, small sample sizes have more outliers, but there is more to the story (“Bad Math for Fixing Bad Math Scores,” Aug. 23).

Home schooling represents the smallest of schools, and homeschooled kids have average scores in the 88th percentile on standardized tests without the enormous budgets of public schools and in spite of (or perhaps because of ) most parents lacking education degrees.

Not all home-schooling parents are in it just to get their children a good education. Some parents are more interested in religious indoctrination and some appear to be ducking the responsibility of getting their kids to school every day. I became a home-schooling parent when I saw that children in many overseas schools, especially in Asia, were about two years ahead of American kids in math by 4th grade. I figured that my children were going to have to compete with those kids when they grew up, so I took on the rather large responsibility of teaching them at home. I remember asking a public-school teacher why they didn’t assign more homework. The response was that the parents would complain.

Funding ever more assistants and fewer students per school is not going to fix the problems of public education. Plus, it ignores two extremely serious problems: The lack of parental involvement, which would change if all parents paid part of the cost out of pocket; and the cultural sense of entitlement that everyone deserves an easy, effortless life courtesy of the standardtive jobs erases the work ethic that made this country great.

Karl Oberstramm

Get off of my cloud I’m concerned over privacy in “the cloud.” I am no expert on this topic, just someone who has seen Facebook, Google, and other e-mail providers “data mine” everything that passes through their hands. Supposedly no personally identifying data is ever mined, but how many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle have to be present before the final piece can easily be deduced? It’s already frightening how much Google knows and what advertising clout they have attained. I use Google as an example, but the same principle applies to similar online organizations and to governments. If I have heard correctly, the U.†S. government, for example, is building an ambitious project to record everything in the U.†S. that goes on in the Internet. So am I right to be downright frightened of storing my employer’s engineering information in “the cloud”, where I will have no real control over who might see it?

David Rensle

Running NASA Apple-style
By your example, Steve Jobs let the project run off the rails and then chewed out the development team after development had reached a crisis (“If Steve Jobs Had Run the Mars Rover Project,” Sept. 20). Only then did he take corrective action.

The NASA results might have been the same with Steve Jobs present. It depends on how much micromanaging (or project oversight) Jobs was capable of. NASA made its decisions and lived with the consequences. Managers there thought they had managed the risks.

It takes proactive checks to prevent projects from running off the rails. Even Steve Jobs didn’t do that.

I think your analogy is faulty.

Stephen McDonald

A wise manager taught me early in my career that if you fire everyone who makes a mistake you are soon left with only those folks who are not doing anything at all.

David Leahy

I agree with whoever said Steve Jobs was the last American businessman who knew what he was doing, so I doubt he would have any interest in landing an SUV on Mars. But if he did, he’d have the right people in the right places at the right times.

You don’t keep underachieving employees on your payroll. Get rid of the people who do it wrong and promote/hire those who do it right. The replacements automatically learn from their predecessors mistakes. Or they, too, become predecessors.

Frank Blankenship

Curing those ethanol blues My problem with ethanol started out with my RV and some equipment I store for winter. The 10% ethanol/gas blend attracts water in the atmosphere. This fact was hammered home as I pumped 2 gallons of water from my 200-gallon fuel tank on my boat. It was also evident in the Spring when I found that the float valve on my lawnmower rusted, even after draining it for the winter.

Fortunately, I found a station that sells ethanol-free gas. These can be found at www.puregas.org. And Washington state now lets marine stations sell only ethanol-free gas.

The real surprise came when I started using ethanol-free gas in my car and truck. The truck (a 2005 F 150) was getting 13 mpg around town and the spark plugs were black. In Feb. of this year, I started using ethanol-free gas in the truck. Within two tanks, it was getting 14.5‚mpg, and the new plugs are running tan. Since then, the mileage has been 14.5 to 15‚mpg, which is an 11 to 15% improvement.

This might be an isolated case, but it seems a rigorous test needs to be done.

Erik A. Larsen

 

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