Thursday, July 28, 2005

Something's Wrong Here...

Apparently, Delta Airlines is dire financial straits. Not only are they probably gonna have to file for bankruptancy by the end of the year, but they're just barely squeaking out a decent pension for their employees (and that's being charitable). Since 2000, the airline has cut pilot pay, sunk 23,000 jobs and fumbled over 10 billion dollars. Chairman and CEO Gerald Grinstein is helping out, though, by drawing only a $250,000-a-year salary for driving a company into bankruptancy rather than $450,000. Guess he'll have to cut back on that extra cheese he's been getting with his Big Mac.

However, they've managed to keep this guy in decent shape. Not only did former chairman and chief executive Ronald Allen, forced out in 1997, snag a sweet severance deal that scored him a $765,000-a-year pension and a $4.5 million lump sum for basically wrecking the company, but he's been drawing $500,000 a year in consulting fees. The funny part is he really hasn't done a whole helluva lot of consulting. He did get a nifty office in beautiful Buckhead to not do it in, though.

Okay, so someone explain to me two things. One, explain to me why this is apparently legal and, two, why people have risen up as one and strung jackasses like this up by their toes yet. I must be missing something.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Is The Definition Of Life More Important Than Quality Of Life?

There's a pretty nifty column over at the L.A. Weekly concerning the whole stem cell hoo-hah. On top of that, National Geographic did an excellent piece in this month's issue. Be sure to catch the online update, too. Both of which are well worth reading, though the Weekly piece does carry a decidedly pro-stem cell slant. Either way, check it out.

Not surprisingly, given my admittedly pro-science slant on most things, I lean towards encouraging and funding of stem cell research, though I do have some questions and concerns over the issue. I've also got a personal stake in this, as my father suffers from diabetes and my maternal grandfather had Alzheimer's disease. The rest of the world is slap leaving us behind, too. But, yeah... it's kind of creepy nevertheless and I've watched enough bad science fiction to know it could be fraught with all mannerisms of perils that mock nature. Maybe. Or maybe not. For as long as scientists have felt for the threads of reality just to give 'em a good, hard yank, some yay-hoo's been whining about how the whole world will end because of it. So far, though, so good... sorta. I honestly do think that given proper regulation and safeguards, stem cell research will end a whole lot of pain and misery for a whole lot of folks, and frankly, it’s worth it.

I sometimes wonder, though, that in our striving to improve the quality of life for all human beings, we might be going a bit too far sometime. I don't eat healthily, don't exercise, and I've pumped an ungodly number of poisons into my body over the past decade or so, and I'll still probably wind up living to 70 or so barring any unforeseen accidents. Just a few hundred years ago, a free-livin' cat like myself probably wouldn't see 45. Unlike most of Creation's critters, humankind is decidedly not in tune with its environment and hasn't been for quite a while. I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination we should go back to hunter-gatherer tribal societies - I'd miss A/C for one thing and I ain't ashamed to admit it - but it is something to think about. All the time, we're learning more and more about aging, and I think it's interesting most of that knowledge is put to stem the ravages of time on our bodies.

That all being said, I really don't trust the current spate of opposition to stem cell research from some quarters. Like with the whole "pro-life" bull in the abortion debate, I sometimes think we're not really hearing what said opponents are really shooting for. Be honest, I don't think the opponents really care about stem cell one way or another; it's just another battle in the great abortion brouhaha. I honestly don't know what to think about people who rail about the unborn yet are able to ignore the massive amount of Americans who don't have access to quality health care or nutrition or jobs or advancement. Just how do we define "quality of life"? Is it - as they seemed to argue during the whole Terri Schiavo bread-and-circus embarrassment - just being alive good enough? Good enough for who? And who gives them the right to judge?

Either way. I really don't trust The Little King's ranting against stem cell. Like with the now-forgotten crusade against gay marriage, it's just political raw meat thrown to a very easily led crowd. Hell, his own party - on both the state and national level - is giving him the finger over the whole issue. Now isn't that interesting... and it's even more interesting that this inter-party squabbling is going more or less unreported by the mainstream media.

Like I said, interesting. So go do some readin’, it’s good for ya.

Okay, This Is Gettin' Stupid

This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've read, at least since the spray-on mud thing. Seems this dingbat Congressmen from Virginia by the name of Tom Davis used some of his pull to keep wingnut booger man George Soros from purchasing the Washington Nationals. Why? Because, of course, liberals hate America and, therefore, the uberest of the liberals - apart from the all-powerful Clenis, natch - just wants to destroy baseball. Hole-ee shit.

It'd be almost funny if it weren't so disconcerting. Here we have a faithful follower of the party in power preventing an otherwise respected businessman from buying a sports franchise simply because the Honorable Gentlemen doesn't like his politics. Davis even goes further and says Major League Baseball needs to stay on Capitol Hill's good side - or at least the right side - particularly given the recent misdirection coming from McCain and his bunch over the steroid issue. Do we really want to go back down this road, political blacklisting and governmental intimidation?

This is modern American politics in a nutshell, folks. Stupid shit done by scary assholes who don't give a damn about anything other than holding onto their political power. I don't know how this could be perceived any other way.