Hobby Lobby

Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court stated that religious belief (backed with a lot of cash) is more important than actual scientific and medical fact.

Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, decided it didn’t want to cover birth control in its mandated employee health insurance because its owners oppose abortion and felt that birth control pills were an abortifacient. These beliefs are wrong — that is, factually incorrect — but nevertheless we had to let the Supreme Court decide just how important actual facts are.

Turns out, if the facts can be ignored in favor of wealthy corporations and against women, they aren’t that big of a deal. So Hobby Lobby is now free to execute its religious freedom in denying health care to women.

Some other facts that need to be ignored:

1) Hobby Lobby does the bulk of its business with China, where abortion is mandated by the state, but that doesn’t seem to compromise their beliefs.

2) Hobby Lobby invests, as part of its pension plan, in companies that manufacture birth control pills, but that doesn’t seem to compromise their beliefs.

3) Hobby Lobby’s employee health insurance covers vasectomies, as that doesn’t seem to compromise their beliefs.

These firmly held religious beliefs only seem to matter when they both affect women and make instead of cost money.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What if the boss is a Jehovah’s Witness? Are they exempt from paying for blood transfusions? Scientologist and psychiatrists? Christian Scientist and any health care at all?” You’re right to wonder that, but don’t worry; the ruling specifically says those don’t apply here. Why? I don’t know, but I can guess. For one thing, religious beliefs are varied, and there are differing opinions on what is and isn’t permitted, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that women are filthy whores whose slut-holes must be vigilantly monitored by their male superiors. Also, and this is a sort of by-the-by, but I guess the Supreme Court can now decide which religion is true and right (conservative Christianity) and which are bullshit nonsense we don’t have to acknowledge (all others). No big deal there.

We know that Corporations have Freedom of Speech. And they’re people. Now they have Religious Beliefs. It seems like they can do just about anything these days except go to jail when they break the law.

This was a golden opportunity for the right wing. It simultaneously got to help a corporation do whatever the hell it wanted to do AND state how unclean and wanton women are for thinking about non-procreative sex. It came as no surprise to anyone who has had to make herself content in the knowledge that Corporatism and Corporate-friendly Christianity get the last word on anything in this country anymore. We don’t need facts, we don’t even need common sense, we just need whatever Milton Friedman and Wall Street Jesus tell us they deeply believe.

It’s hard to find any winner other than Corporatism in this ruling. Even the evangelicals who have been fooled into thinking the GOP gives a damn about their sincere religious beliefs don’t win, because let me assure you, if you sincerely believed that Jesus would have wanted capital gains taxed at a higher rate you’d find out in a second what your allies think of you.

It’s am embarrassing mess of nonsense, this ruling. It follows the trend of corporate entities gaining more rights and actual human beings losing them. And I don’t see how we’ll ever retreat from this “progress”.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to fill out my What I Did With My Genitals This Weekend report and get it onto my boss’ desk.

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I Had That! #20: The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree

I’ve said before that I was something of a coward when I was a kid. I was scared of everything, especially the supernatural. Fear of demons bedeviled my nights, and I didn’t sleep with a light off until well past the age I should have started. But I was still fascinated by such things, which is why I kept reading the ghost and “true exorcism” stories in the National Enquirer. It’s also why I stayed up late on Friday nights to watch reruns of “The Twilight Zone” (followed by cool-down reruns of “I Married Joan” and “My Little Margie”.)

I loved “The Twilight Zone”. Even the boring ones that didn’t have aliens or monsters or robots in them. The ones that terrified me were “Night Call”, “Little Girl Lost”, “Living Doll”, and “The Howling Man”. Others I just thought were a lot of fun.

Around this time (10th grade or so) I was taking computer programming classes at Tulane through a special program there (later, this would be my first experience in flunking out of a college class due to depression, but that’s another story.) It was Summer, and ‘d spend entire days in the computer lab. Every now and then I’d take the streetcar over to the Little Professor Book Shop (on Magazine Street?) and browse there. That’s where I saw The Twilight Zone Companion, by Marc Scott Zicree, a book that not only talked about the show, with behind-the-scenes information, but also had a complete episode guide. I had to have it, even though it was crazy expensive by my standards.

Somehow I eventually got it, and I pored over the thing. It was, essentially, a cereal book, one where I could randomly open it to anywhere and start reading. I learned all about the show and, more importantly, about the episodes I hadn’t seen. I marked off the ones I had seen with a pencil in the margins. It wasn’t my first stab at compulsive fandom (one of the projects I did in the Tulane computer labs was a similar checklist for Doctor Who episodes and Target novelizations), but it was a significant one.

Later, my dad saw my interest in the show and remarked that when he was younger he enjoyed reading the short stories of Charles Beaumont, one of the three main writers for the show. It had somehow never occurred to me to grab books by the TZ authors, even though I knew they wrote them. In a Serlingesque bit of synchronicity, I shortly thereafter discovered a newly published collection of Beaumont’s work, Best of Beaumont, and bought and devoured it as well.

This was around the time of the Twilight Zone movie, which I eagerly saw, but was completely unmoved by. I knew these stories, but this just wasn’t the same thing, not by a long shot. In fact, the “It’s a Good Life” segment baffled me. Why would you do that to such a great story?

Similarly, by the time that horror anthologies were getting another heyday on TV, including a new Twilight Zone series, I just wasn’t interested. I still considered myself a fan of the original series, but for some reason I didn’t care about any of the new stuff. I can’t tell if that made me a good fanboy or a bad one.

The Twilight Zone is now available on Netflix and I’ve thought about running through the series again, on demand, the way younger me would have dreamed of doing. I re-watched “It’s a Good Life” recently and it still holds up.

When did I get it? The Twilight Zone Companion was published in 1982 and Best of Beaumont in November of that year, so that seems to be about right on target.

Do I still have it? Still have them both, though the Companion is beat to hell and falling apart.

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This Delicious Week


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Dave Finally Watches: 12 Years a Slave (2013), American Hustle (2013)

You’re never going to want to sit down and watch a narrative about slavery. No one comes home from work and says, “Time to settle in for some trafficking of humans!” But I wanted to see 12 Years a Slave, so what better place than on an airplane, where I was sort of forced by circumstance to look? Sure, it lost something by being on a small seat-back monitor, not to mention being on the way to a pleasure trip across the ocean, but it was literally being placed right in front of my eyes.

As imagined, it was a brutal film. I know that’s a weak understatement, but it really was harrowing. There is a scene, and those who have watched it know the scene, that is one of the most terrifying, horrific, and agonizing scenes I’ve ever viewed, and it just goes on and on, each long second making it worse, and the thing is, nothing is happening. And that’s only about halfway through.

A younger, dumber me would have said of this movie, “I don’t need to watch a movie to tell me that slavery is bad. I’m already on board with it.” And while it’s true that no one with a brain and a conscience will get their eyes opened by this, it’s still something that needs to be seen. As we get further and further away from America’s shameful past, we’re getting more and more comfortable with it, more dismissive of it, treating it like youthful indiscretion. Having it shoved into our faces regularly is required, I think.

Besides the topic, it’s also so well done. I liked that while Solomon is enslaved the only ambient sound is the constant droning of cicadas. Birdsong only returns when he gets back home. Lupita Nyong’o is incredible as Patsy, and Michael Fassbender does what he does best. It’s also, if I may be heavy handed, a gentle reminder of what our current ruling class would like to get back to vis-a-vis management and labor.

On the flight back I went with something a little more upbeat. What I’d heard about American Hustle was all over the spectrum, but I was curious, so I checked it out. One of the best movies of the year? That I’m not so sure about. But goddamn it is hilarious. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show despite Amy Adams’ cleavage, and Louis C.K.’s small role had me dying every time. It’s not a great movie saying deep things, but it’s the kind of movie people should be talking about when they talk about “a fun ride” instead of brainless explosion marathons.

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Back From London and Paris!

Sorry to have abandoned you like that, but we had a great time over in Europe. Here are all the things we did and saw:

PART ONE: LONDON


This was in our hotel room and I wanted to buy it.

Southwark Cathedral

Ruins of Winchester Palace

Tate Modern

Finding this:

National Gallery

Cabinet War Rooms

Serendipitous bus ride down Rossmore Road:

Kew Gardens

Hampton Court Palace

Jeeves and Wooster in “Perfect Nonsense”

PART TWO: PARIS

Sacré Cœur and Montmartre

Musée de Cluny

Sainte-Chapelle

Descartes Game Store

Archaeological Museum

Louvre

Arc de Triomphe

Eiffel Tower

Musee d’Orsay

Shakespeare & Co.

Place de Concorde

Notre-Dame

Père Lachaise

PART THREE: LONDON (REPRISE)

St Paul’s Cathedral

Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies

British Museum

British Library

Somerset House

Temple Church

Forbidden Planet

Whew! That’s a lot! But we’re glad to be back!

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Off to the Old Country

We’re headed off to London and Paris!

I wanted to do more this week before we left, but work kept that from happening. I wanted to set up some things to happen while we’re gone, but work kept that from happening. So we’ll be shut down for a little while here.

Cheers and à bientôt!

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Cappy and the Pool

It can get pretty hot and humid up here during the summer, and Cappy really feels it. He’s got black fur an a short snout, so he heats up easy and has trouble cooling down. We try to limit the amount of time he spends in the sun, but the little guy needs his exercise.

One way he cools down is chomping at the sprinkler, but we thought he might like a pool to run through. More importantly, we thought it would be funny to see him run through a pool.

Not a big pool, because he is a dense (literally) little guy and would almost certainly sink like a rock. But we picked up a cheap plastic kiddie pool and tried to get him interested.

As usual, our plans for his (and our) entertainment didn’t quite go as we intended, but we’ll keep trying!

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