Friday, March 20, 2009

Nortel Execs vs Their Severed Employees

With all due apologies to Lyra and Pan.

The former employees of Nortel, robbed by the swindlers who held off their severance pay until the company filed for bankruptcy, are suing the company to prevent it from awarding 29 million dollars worth of "retention bonuses" to members of the executive.

That money, apparently, is needed to retain top talent during the restructuring.

The same top talent that led the company in to the ground? Hard to say, as they aren't saying who exactly is getting how much.

What the executives don't seem to understand is the same thing that the AIG people don't seem to understand. People are angry. People are so angry they're willing to accept pain themselves in order to punish those they believe have hurt them.

These executives, flush with privilege, don't quite understand the situation they're in. People are mad. People are absolutely, raging mad. Their lives have been ruined. Their pensions have been stolen. And the executives want bonuses.

They don't seem to understand that it's not a choice between bonuses withheld or bonuses given. It's a choice between bonuses withheld and eventually, if you follow the mounting anger, pitchforks. It's only a matter of time if they keep this up.

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Calgary and the Pro-God Ads

This is the one objection I had to the atheist bus campaign. Religion is on the wane. Belief is down in polls. Church attendance is dropping. Religion, ignored, quietly goes away, quietly becomes less dogmatic. Children don't go to church as often as their parents did. People find the old beliefs quirky and silly. The godless slowly win the long race.

Unless you agitate the believers.

So, fine, they have their own ads now.

God cares for everyone ... even for those who say He doesn't exist!

I'm not sure what religion they're speaking for when they say this. The ads were apparently purchased using the money of a number of people from a number of different faiths ("Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims", the purchaser claims). But I don't believe the statement is accurate.

A cursory reading of the christian bible, for example, states pretty clearly that god doesn't much care for atheists:

Psalm 14:1 Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!

Romans 1:32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

If this god of theirs "abandoned" us, I have a hard time believing the claim that said entity also "cares for us".

But that's just me, and they'll automatically declare that I'm "interpreting" their bible incorrectly then I point out that it says exactly the opposite of what they want it to say.

What's more to the point is that there will now be a brief agitation of the believers. We can hope that this will leave the fence sitters with more information on the issue so that, the next time a pollster asks, they can say, "No, I don't believe there's a god" and we can start doing away with this notion and god-belief is somehow necessary for moral behaviour.

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Did Wall St. Throw AIG under the Bus?

Think about it.

Wall Street owns most of Congress and most of the Senate. Those investment bankers and brokers, by far, spend the most cash supporting political campaigns. And yet we're seeing Congress running through a bill trashing AIG's bonuses.

It's hard to believe that all of those Congresspeople have forgotten who butters their bread. Is this really a populist, class warfare move? Or is more likely that the people on Wall Street, seeing the seething anger in the population, have decided to direct it, as much as possible, in the direction of someone expendable.

Clearly, if you're in the financial industry and you weren't pulling off various shenanigans, you'd be angry at the AIG types who destroyed and brought in to disrepute your profession. So maybe you tell those Congressional types you own to target AIG. You're happy, because it gets the population off your back. The Congressional types are happy because they're carrying out the vindictiveness of their constituents.

But I can't help but wonder if it's wise. A populist beast, once awakened, doesn't always go back to sleep after a single ravenously eaten meal. The AIG bonuses may just be snack to whet the beast's appetite. Awake now, and aware of its power, the beast can be turned anywhere there's money.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

And So It Begins: AIG and Class Warfare

Don't you mistake it for anything else. The people are mad and they're making their government take money from greedy, unethical, rich people and give it to back to the people.

In the old days, this would involve stakes, guillotines, mobs and the like.

Today you just have the government pass a bill putting a punishing tax rate on the people who profited from the destruction of the economy - a destruction they brought about.

It's brilliant. It's precise. It's vindictive.

And that throaty growl you hear from the American populace, conveyed by the 328-93 vote in Congress?

That's just the beginning.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gary Goodyear and (micro)-Evolution

After initially refusing to state that he "believed" in evolution, Mr. Goodyear, Canada's minister for science and technology, has changed his mind. He offers the following quote:
On Tuesday, Mr. Goodyear said twice during the CTV interview that he did believe in evolution.

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That's a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that's not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.”

First of all, this was on CTV? I thought CTV was averse to "do-overs"?

What Mr. Goodyear is doing here is a typical creationist trick. He's telling us that he can't deny what the creationists call "micro-evolution", the "little" changes within species (or maybe "kinds"). But he won't admit that evolution can create new species and he probably actually believes that there wasn't enough time because the Earth is only about six thousand years old anyway.

On top of that, he's ignorant on the subject of what evolution does say. Let's go over that first bit again. "We are evolving", he says and, as examples, he mentions, "walking on concrete" and "walking in running shoes."

That's really ignorant. Walking on high heels won't make our species evolve differently, at least not in the sense he means. I had an elementary school teacher once tell me that pulling on his ear lobes would cause his kids to have longer ear lobes. That's called Lamarckism and it's very painful to hear from a Minister of Science and Technology. The things you do in your life, unless they involve irradiating your genitals, do not affect the genes of your children. Period. There's no "debate" on this and there hasn't been for two centuries.

And what's this nonsense about it being irrelevant? If you told the space exploration people that you thought the earth was flat because the bible said so, wouldn't that be relevant? If you told the automotive sector that you supported the phlogiston hypothesis, would that be irrelevant? If you wanted the chemists to research Alchemy, would that be irrelevant?

Of course it would be relevant. And if you tell the biologists, the astronomers, the geologists and the paleontologists (this list is not exhaustive) that the Minister in charge of scientific research thinks that the Earth is 6000 years old and that evolution didn't happen, of course they're going to freak out.

They're going to freak out because they know an ignoramus is in charge.

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