Priorities, Priorities

Last night I was scanning the ‘net for ideas. The Tom Cruise inspiration was a hit, so I thought I would try my luck again.

NaBloPoMo will do that to you. It’s day 10. I’m 1/3 of the way there.

I came across this really (well, sort of ) interesting article in the LA times about the Olympic torch. It’s now in space.

No joke.

Olympic torch in space

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov is seen on a giant screen at the Mission Control Center in Korolyov, Russsia, as he holds the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch outside of the International Space Station as part of a spacewalk with Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiyin. (Yuri Kochetkov / EPA / November 9, 2013)

If you don’t want to click over to read the full article- let me hit a few of the ”highlights” for you:

The torch, tied to the station by two ropes for security, was passed from one cosmonaut to another for an hour as they changed positions in search of a better vantage point for a photo op. Their seven colleagues — three Americans, two Russians, an Italian and a Japanese — watched from the station, giving them advice and directions by radio….

…“The torch, which is shaped like a curved sword, was never lighted during the walk, or, for safety reasons, in the space station, Korniyenko said.

Ok…. So let me get this straight. Space missions are expensive, right?  The time the astronauts have up there are limited, and usually jam-packed with activities that relate to science and research, however this mission, for a photo-op, took over one hour, two cosmonauts and seven highly trained people at the space station to execute. The purpose was to take the olympic flame into space, but for safety reasons, the torch was NEVER lit.


So,let me get this straight.  This “olympic torch,” which was not actually a torch, but rather a stick shaped like a curved sword that did not contain the olympic flame was flown to space, and will be flown back to earth on Monday, for the chance to have  a photo-op with cosmonauts who (instead of utilizing their limited time in space for things like science and research) spent at least an hour passing it back and forth for the perfect picture.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? I think our priorities are a little, ahem, messed up.

Quotes from various parties involved include statements to the effect of we-can’t-let-this-opportunity-pass-us-by.

Again, huh? What exactly was the opportunity here?  I seem to be missing something.

We can’t miss the opportunity to squander scarce resources for a publicity stunt in which a fake, fire free olympic torch is sent into space for a picture?  Uh, ok.

But it gets better.

The article goes on to say:

The cost of the operation has not been disclosed, but experts calculated that the Olympic Games in Sochi will be the most expensive in history, with its construction budget already exceeding $52 billion.

And THAT my friends, is what really has me seething.

This is where I will go back to beating my juvenile arthritis drum. (oh come on, you KNEW I was going to bring it back around to JA somehow) And remember, JA is a potentially life threatening disease, NOT just aches and pains.

Take a minute to look over this information from the Juvenile Arthritis Association:

A 2007 CDC study estimates that 294,000 U.S. children (1 in 250) have been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatologic condition. These findings establish that pediatric rheumatic diseases are more prevalent than many other chronic childhood diseases. In fact, rheumatic diseases affect more children than juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy combined.

Despite this statistic, pediatric rheumatic diseases receive far less research funding, both at the federal level and through private philanthropy, than many other diseases with far less prevalence. Best estimates place the annual total of private funding in the U.S. at around $2 million. The following table puts that figure into perspective, comparing the annual private funding of several common pediatric diseases.

DiseasePrevalencePrivate Funding (Annual)
Leukemia1 in 25,000$270m
Juvenile Diabetes1 in 500$198m
Muscular Dystrophy1 in 10,000$157m
Cystic Fibrosis1 in 2,500$126m
Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases1 in 250$2m


Do you see where I’m going with this? 52 BILLION dollars going to a program where part of the money (an undisclosed amount, so you know it is ridiculously high) going to take a (fake) olympic torch into space, while only two MILLION dollars of private funding goes into research for pediatric rheumatic diseases.

I dream of just a fraction of that money going toward research for JA. Money that would actually make a difference. The money that was spent for likely, the most expensive picture in history, to date.

Something is very, very wrong with that picture. I guess it’s a matter of priorities.

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