Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yet another thing for people to argue about: Ashley, age 9, in Seattle, has static encephalopathy, which means she can’t talk or walk or keep her head up, or sit up or roll over or eat by herself. But she would probably continue to grow, except that her parents have chosen to aggressively stunt that growth (hysterectomy, breast-growth surgery, high doses of estrogen), which will keep her height and weight what they are now, for the rest of her life (so they can more easily pick her up and carry her around with them, etc.). ("Oh, God, that’s just awful!") ("No, it’s not; it’s humane, and she’s better off!") ("No, it strips her of her dignity.") (No, it doesn’t.) (Yes, it does.) (Does not.) (Does, too.) (Does not.)

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, speaking at a science conference in Tamil Nadu, castigated the West for our "environmentally wasteful lifestyle," which is certainly a valid complaint, except made a little less effective by the fact that, on the same day, six bazillion more people were born in India.

Editor’s Obsessions
The absolute-weirdest news of the recent past appeared yesterday, not in any of the dozens [sigh!] of weird-news columns but, in many places on the front page. The CEO of Home Depot was leaf-blowered out of a job, which was understandable given the number of the company’s stakeholders and stockholders he has enraged since taking over in 2000, but with $210,000,000 as a going-away present. All but about $20k of that was handed to him not yesterday, but in 2000, when he grabbed his ankles, and the all-puckering board of directors lined up to give him rim jobs by approving his eventual end-game contract demands. (But then, what was the point of giving him $20m more yesterday, except chickenanity?) Incentive pay for succeeding; incentive pay for failing. Heads I win, tails I win. The CEO, Robert Nardelli, may genuinely be a jerk, but the problem with executive payouts is super-toadying boards of directors. Lazy, effete, insecure, and horribly overrated in business acumen. So, did anything weirder happen in America yesterday than that a probable-failure-of-a (or at best, mediocre) chief executive was rewarded in the amount of $210 million? [Now, if you go on to earn $100,000 this year, Nardelli just made two thousand one hundred times more than you will, and he's sitting on his keister for the rest of the year.] And here's my Backstage entry on Nardelli from 5-29-2006:
It wasn’t a kangaroo "court"; it was only a kangaroo board of directors’ meeting. Those things (for public companies) always go down via a highly scripted monologue by the chairman, with any stockholders’ complaints pre-marginalized, resulting in the directors getting an earful, and that’s that. However, last Thursday’s meeting of the Home Depot board, was apparently a masterpiece of kangarooness. Backfact: CEO Robert Nardelli has made almost $250m in 5 yrs despite Home Depot’s declining stock price and the surging of its main competitor Lowe’s, and that might be because, reported the NY Times on Wednesday, the board’s compensation committee is saturated with Nardelli’s buds. Anyway, according to Times columnist Joe Nocera, the board didn’t even get the earful because no player was here except Nardelli. One question per complainer. One minute per question. Enforced by goons in Home Depot aprons. No comment on any of it, and then, bye-bye!
Below The Fold
First, thieves came for the broccoli [Backstage, 12-29-2006], and then, when no one stopped them, they came for the asparagus . . . . . Two East Palo Alto, Calif., women were fighting when two teenage boys (with guns!) stepped in to defend them, and shot at each other, but they accidentally hit the women, instead (one died) . . . . . The 7th-biggest tax delinquent in the state of Wisconsin is Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers ($1.433m) . . . . . Dangerous combination: The F State plus 6-year-old boy plus front-end loader [at link, scroll down].