Alek O. Komarnitsky
(December 2007)

This is a first: an Ethics Hero who emerged from the shadow of an Unethical Website designation. Back in 2004, Alek O. Komarnitsky received national attention for a whimsical holiday website that allowed people all over the world to turn his Christmas lights on from their home computers. Everyone had fun, which was clearly Alek’s design. Still, when it became known that his site was a hoax and that the lights going on were only an illusion, the Scoreboard weighed in with the opinion that perpetrating such a large-scale deception was wrong, no matter how well-intentioned. Alek objected, and has maintained a spirited defense of his stunt in e-mail exchanges with the Scoreboard.

But you can’t keep a Christmas spirit down. At a significant cost in time and money, Alek figured out a way to really let people all over the world turn on his lights, at–the very same site that the Scoreboard previously deplored. He has done this for a couple of years now, but has added a new feature in 2007. To quote Jolly Old Alec himself…

“…There are three live webcams and X10 powerline control technology system so web surfers can not only view the action, but also *control* the 17,000 lights. Heck, you can even inflate/deflate the giant Elmo, Frosty, Santa, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Homer Simpson…While people around the world (157 countries last year) enjoy seeing the lights ON, environmentalists will be happy to know that they can turn the lights OFF with a click of the mouse. Better yet, this is the 4th year I’m using 100% Wind Energy and even though that is “clean” energy, I even did a Carbon Offset contribution for the 0.61 Tons of CO2 for the ~MegaWatt-Hour of power consumed; that’s about the same as one cross-country airline trip. Finally, by providing viewing via webcam, you don’t need to burn fossil fuels by driving around to see Christmas lights – Al Gore would be proud!

But HEY, the $3/day in electrical costs are well worth the joy it brings to people (especially the kids) when they see the display in person and/or on the web. And new this year is a Hi-Def option, so gather your family around the large screen…”

The website, Alek reminds us, is free, and also exists to raise awareness of Celiac Disease,which afflicts his two sons as well as many others. He says his lights have raised nearly $20,000 for the cause.

I’ve visited Alek’s site, and it is fun, and you can turn the lights on and off, as well as inflate and deflate Homer. You win, Alek! The Scoreboard hereby pardons, and declares you a true Ethics Hero, and a damn persistent one, I must say. Thanks from all us kids, and a very Merry Christmas to you!

You’ve certainly earned it.

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