Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Killer Whales and an economy that kills

I like how, in describing Johnny Cash's last recording, Lawrence Downes of the NY Times says, "There's a dark and a troubled side of life. There's a bright and a sunny side too..." Which is so true, so true.

Up until a few days ago, I was still riled about the killer whale incident at Sea World in Orlando and their refusal to set the animal "free." But after doing a little research on captive marine life, I found out that my thinking was all wrong. Reintegrating these animals back into what has become a foreign environment is not "a very humane thing to do," according to animal expert Diane L. Guerrero. She's written extensively about Keiko, of "Free Willy" fame, who'd gotten used to human interaction and human comforts. When they released him off the shores of his native Iceland, he made a beeline for the populated beaches of Norway. He sought out the company of humans, but died five years later.

Upon waking this morning I realized I probably couldn't be reintegrated back into the environment I was born into either.

 Kentuckian Colonel Sanders

The state I fled so many years ago is the same state that rejected a short-term extension of unemployment benefits last week. Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky single-handedly put the kibosh on any more payouts (did it again on Tuesday and then, after pressure from fellow Repubs, relented), supported earlier in the week by another Kentuckian Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader. But when KY itself has an unemployment rate of over 10 percent— jobs lost in every sector except coal mining—you wonder, what in the world were these guys thinking?

modern day unemployment line

In our household it's serious business, with my husband unemployed after working steadily for 25 years, and my son in NYC unable to get one of the few available jobs for recent college graduates. I don't want to come off sounding like a crybaby, 'Oh, boo hoo, we're so bad off,' which isn't the case. We have some fallback. But what do people do who've lost their jobs and have nothing? Well, clearly (to someone who once thought owning a place to live was a tidy package), they lose their homes. And if they don't have homes, they lose their apartments and move in with family or friends or end up on the street. And it's eerily, scarily, coming into focus that it could happen to anyone in these bad economic times. Next time I pass someone who's unemployed and asking for a handout, I won't just walk/drive by with an air of superiority like I've done in the past; next time I'll make eye contact and hand him what's left in my wallet.


Just a quick added note here, about the sting operation at the Santa Monica restaurant, "The Hump," as reported in the L.A. Times this morning. I'm not quite sure why reporters and such have to use the word "alleged," as in Fed prosecutors filed criminal charges against the restaurant for "allegedly" selling whale meat, an endangered species. From the article, "The Hump came under fire after allegations surfaced in Tuesday's NY Times that it had served meat from an endangered sei whale, possibly straight from the trunk of a white Mercedes-Benz." They either did or they didn't, and according to a marine mammalogist who examined a sample of the flesh sent by animal activists, they did , and you can be sure it was a Mercedes too, not a Volvo.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting segue from reintegrating wild animals to your own experience. The story takes surprising turns, (nice portrait of the Colonel) and I followed right along. These times are very scary indeed.