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Monday, 30 June 2014

Hypocrisy in the Crafting World - Hobby Lobby is Run by Twits

I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't going to get on my metaphorical horse and joust with idiots again, but...I have to. I just have to. I'm pissed off, and the odd Facebook status just isn't going to cut it for me.

Today Hobby Lobby in the United States won in Supreme Court the right to refuse to cover birth control for their employees, supposedly based on their religious beliefs. By law, with the relatively new Affordable Care Act in place, certain types of employers must provide prescription drug coverage, along with coverage of certain medical devices. Hobby Lobby refused and sued for their supposed religious freedom.

Point one. Corporations are not religions. They are not people. They are legally-defined business entities in existence for the purposes of for-profit practices. Period. They do not have religious beliefs. They do not have feelings in any way, shape, or form. Now, I have a bit of experience in business, so I'm pretty familiar with what it means to run one. I didn't choose to incorporate my business, and simply registered the company name. Still, my company, a sole-proprietorship, would never be used to tell people what they are allowed to do with their own bodies. As much as I might like rules and regulations in some ways, because I'm anal-retentive that way, in other ways I'm very much the rebel. The thought of anyone telling me what to do, especially with my own body and reproductive choices, is enough to steam my clams so to speak. The first person to try something like that with me would be walking funny, male or female, because I'd be kicking them in their own parts whichever set they happened to be carrying on their person. They try to control my body, I try to control theirs - rather unpleasant for all concerned.

Point two. Birth control is not always used for birth control. There are a very large number of women who are on birth control for medical reasons, such as endometriosis and migraines. Very real, and very debilitating medical conditions. So, these women are now to be denied coverage for these very necessary medications, unless they decide to make exceptions under those circumstances. However, therein lies another issue - the issue of medical confidentiality. These women would have to open up their medical records enough to show that they need these drugs to control their conditions. Now, as a business-owner and former HR employee with a multi-national company, I have always felt that I needed to remain one step removed from the medical insurance provided to employees. I do not want to know what they are being treated for. I really do not want to know. Billy could have gonorrhea, and Carol might be HIV positive. This is none of my business, unless their illness interferes with their work and they can no longer do their jobs to the standard they were hired for.

Point three. This is where the first part of the hypocrisy comes in. Hobby Lobby invests in multiple pharmaceutical endeavors, which encompass pretty much everything they told the Supreme Court was against their religion to support. IUDs, Plan-B, and actual medical abortion to name a few. I'm not kidding. The mutual funds they invest in for the company are involved in all of those activities. So, the religious grounds fall a little short there, don't you think?

Point four. Part two of the hypocrisy. They didn't decide to fight coverage of Viagra. Um, excuse me? You can help men with their erections, which is in no way medically necessary, but you refuse to cover birth control pills that can enable women to live healthy lives? You believe anyone who has sex should be willing to have children? Hmm. Okay. So what about maternity leave? I guess that's a non-issue since they're not required to pay for it down there. However, when an employee does leave because they have a baby, that costs a company money. Even if the employee comes back within three weeks, they still have to have other employees cover the shifts, or hire on temporary help. It's a costly disruption from an employer's perspective. If the employee chooses to leave permanently, it's even more expensive. Hiring and training don't come cheap.

Point five. The United States was supposed to be a land of religious freedom. For people. Not corporations...people. This decision means an infringement on the religious rights of the employees of this company. They're being told that the corporation's religious stance is more important than the beliefs of its employees. When I myself do not believe I should be telling anyone what they may, or may not, do with their own bodies (me being an actual living human being), there is no way a  company should ever have that sort of influence. The managers can set rules of conduct to be followed during work hours and on work property. They cannot tell employees what to do otherwise. If the VP of marketing wants to have a three-way or six-way which involves jumper cables, a circus clown and a banana, she can do that. The religious beliefs of the company do not enter into it, even if a lot of other things might. If the dock supervisor wants a frenulum ladder piercing, that's entirely up to him, even though I really don't want to see it (however much fun it's supposed to be).

Point six. This could also come under the first point, but I'm keeping it separate for the purposes of detail. The whole idea behind incorporation is to separate the personal from the business. It protects the business owner from a certain amount of financial risk. The corporation is meant to stand alone as a separate entity. Not a religious/sentient one - just separate. If a company gets sued, the owner doesn't have to lose his house, basically. Now the way it works here in Canada is if you pierce the corporate bubble/veil by interfering with the business in a personal way, such as dipping your hand in the company till for personal expenditures, you as the owner suddenly lose corporate protection and open yourself up to personal litigation. Now here comes Hobby Lobby looking to have things both ways. They run a corporation to protect themselves legally, but then impose their personal beliefs on the corporate entity. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too.

Point seven. If you want to run a business, then run a business and keep your nose out of everyone else's. If you want to run a religion, then you register as a non-profit religious organization where you're no longer allowed to make those kinds of profit. Oops. Suddenly things get sticky. That's not to say religious groups don't bring in lots of money, because we all know they do. There's a great deal of profit to be had with most of them, and operating your own cult and setting up as a guru of sorts will get you all kinds of fun stuff. In some cases a lot of sex with a lot of different people, along with the tons of money people sign over to you. Hmm. Methinks it's time to become a religious leader. Then again, I think I'd have a very hard time keeping a straight face while touting the wisdom of The Great Gazoo or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Fewer Exquisite Sensibilities Would Be Nice

I used to be able to write a blog posting every single day. Sometimes I had a hard time constraining myself to that, and so I ended up writing several articles a week for other places just to be able to get my fix. These days it's not like I have nothing to yap about; it's just that sitting up at a computer in any position is usually pretty damned uncomfortable for me. I just can't find the right spot, angle or contortion. Either on a bed or in a chair, it's one thing or another that's digging in, poking me, or generally just making me miserable.

My issue is chronic pain, and it's pretty bad. I know what it's like to give birth, so I have some basis for comparison when it comes to pain. I wouldn't wish this on any woman going into labour. Not only because it goes on indefinitely, but because it is actually comparatively worse than childbirth. I didn't think being in labour was that bad, actually, and went through seventeen and a half hours (where I was actually awake for it) au naturel - no pain killers whatsoever. I woke up in labour, and must have been in that state for some time, because my contractions were already ten minutes apart. I got up, puttered around the house, had a shower, chatted with a friend on the phone, and then tried to convince my parents that I was going to drive myself over to the hospital - it was only three blocks away after all. They shoved me into one of their cars instead.

So, you see, I'm not a whiny little baby when it comes to pain. I've dealt with it for most of my life in one form or another. It wasn't until my late twenties that I stopped living with headaches 24-7. It was a total shock one day to realize I wasn't in pain. Aside from headaches I had other issues going on during my childhood, such as sport-related injuries, and stress-responses to competition and a difficult childhood. I would wake up screaming from severe leg pains, and I had chest pains from muscle spasms that felt like I was a twelve-year-old on the verge of a heart attack.

Just over the last few weeks, though, I've been going through another bout that has been more than a little devastating. I'm right at the beginning of a new project, and I've got this wonderful new laptop that I would love to be utilizing to its fullest extent. I'm mentally raring to go, but my whole body is having a difference of opinion that I can't seem to circumvent. Today has been my first day where I wasn't pretty much writhing around from it.

Something I noticed with all this pain, though, is that it always spreads. I understand the mechanism behind it, but until I experience another bout of it I forget what it's really like. You see, the brain interprets pain through nerve signals, and once those nerves have been excited, it's very difficult to get them shut down again. They also spread false pain signals to other areas. Referred pain is the term my orthopedic surgeon used, and it's very common. For example, when he was determining whether or not to remove my tailbone, he sent me for a lumbar MRI to make sure the pain I was feeling wasn't referred pain from my back. I could have told him without the expensive test, because I'm pretty tuned in to what's going on with my body, but in order to justify surgery, they have to prove it's necessary to whatever insurance carriers apply to their patients.

There's radicular pain, too, such as sciatica. It's caused by damage to the nerve root sending pain down the length of the nerve. I experience that with my hip tear injuries, except the pain seems to shoot straight through the length of my femur into my already-damaged knees. It's not the same thing as referred pain. Referred pain is almost like a ghost pain in the sense that you're feeling the pain in a place where it isn't actually happening. It's a confusion in your brain's perception of the locale. Radicular pain is actually happening where you think it's happening, but is caused by a different area.

So between those two things, I've been having some 'fun' lately. It's made me aware of parts of myself that I'd rather completely ignore. I've gotten to the point where I almost want to see about numbing myself from the waist down, except that if I ever hope to have a love life that's a little too extreme for my tastes. Not much point in having sex if you can't even feel it. All the muss without the fuss basically.

Every part of me has become overly sensitive, and I know a lack of physical activity will do nothing to help the situation. I need to be able to get moving again somehow. With this in mind I have a plan for myself. It doesn't start until next week for two reasons. The first is that I'm completely wrung out from these last few weeks, and I need to catch up on my rest - lack of sleep was an initial trigger, actually. The second reason is that I have a million sedentary things I need to do which I'm way behind on. I managed to catch up on a couple of those this morning, having to do with website stuff, but that was just to repair some emergency damage from a domain transfer. Now I still have two websites to build from scratch, and I need to get on them.

When I get bad like that, I can't even bring myself to do the things I know I could technically do. If I am physically capable of something, though, it doesn't necessarily follow that I'm mentally able to deal with it. Stupid things like making phone calls, for example. I do not want to make calls and talk to other human beings when I'm that miserable. In fact, there's only one person I talk to on the phone at those times, and I can still have great conversations with him. He's one of those honestly uplifting people - an extreme rarity in this world. Even when he's in a bad mood, he doesn't suck the life out of other people with it. It's an example I'd like to follow, but I don't think I'm like that.

I had software I needed to install on my new laptop still, and plug-ins to deal with on a website. I had to pull stuff off my old computer, which incidentally took almost thirty minutes to boot up this morning - talk about culture shock, going from an Asus which loads from stem to stern in a few seconds, to a piece of crap like my old Compaq (which was extreme durable, mind you...just slow). A file transfer to my portable hard drive took another thirty minutes, and then uploading to the new one took only about five minutes - yet another interesting comparison on performance. No, I couldn't do it over our home network, because for some reason it keeps resetting the sharing access and it would have taken longer just to fix that problem (yet again), because it has to process it every single time. Portable hard drives are faster, and I can just let them do their own thing while I futz around with something more interesting.

So, this week it looks like I'm catching up on stationary tasks. I'll probably switch over to our newer router, now that my computer's wi-fi is compatible with it - a technical issue with a crappy D-Link supposedly being backwards compatible, but it wasn't. I might even delve into laundry so I don't have to go commando for the rest of the week - possibly without even outerwear pants, as I'm really, really low on clean clothes. I'd rather not be frightening my daughter. She may be in her mid-twenties, but offspring can still be horrified by the traumatic sight of a naked parental figure. Seeing as how I need to do a video chat with my friend, too, I'll spare him the burned retinas. For that matter, I'll spare his poor dogs, too.

Next week, though, I need to get back into doing some yoga stretches at the very least. I'm still surprisingly flexible for someone with hip joint issues. I can still touch my toes, and can actually drag my knuckles on the ground like our primate cousins. I can't do the splits, but then I haven't been able to since I was a kid and I don't intend to risk it now. I'm not entering into gymnastic sex competitions any time soon, though that might be a fun hobby to try one day. My current extreme there is belly dancing, which I absolutely love. It's my all-time favourite aerobic exercise. I used to run, but I don't think my knees can deal with it anymore.

Once I've been stretching for a while, and doing it habitually a couple of times a day, I'll go back to free weights. I think I'll probably do some mild belly dance stuff, too. The hip motions really work the lower back, and loosening that area gets rid of a lot of pain for me.

In the meantime, though, we've got a beautiful thunderstorm happening right now, and I'm recording the sounds from it for a video segment I plan to record, so it's probably best if I stop hammering away at my keyboard. Hopefully, if I get a better fitness routine going, I can circumvent future flare-ups like this last one and you'll all hear a lot more from me. I love working, and when I'm able to I'm pretty manic about it. Flip you all on the see side. Oh wait. I think that's supposed to be the other way around.