Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Modern-day Sweatshops and the Inquisition

These two articles – one from Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call about the inhuman working conditions at the Amazon warehouse and the other from Mother Jones about similar conditions at an unidentified warehouse – made me think of an analogy that may seem over the top, darkly humorous or cheeky at first: the Inquisition. But I’m not joking. Here’s why.

Being a Church institution, the Inquisition could not sully itself with something as mundane as bloodshed. (Its officials had no problem subjecting innocent human beings to unspeakable torture, but actual executions? How gauche.) So they came up with a legal fiction: instead of condemning their victims to death outright, they would simply “relax” them – turn them over to the Inquisition’s “secular arm” with a pious injunction to “shed no blood”... wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

In other words, the Inquisition outsourced its executions, and used that very outsourcing to evade responsibility for them.

That is the analogy that came into my mind when I read this sentence: “Temporary-staffing agencies keep the stink of unacceptable labor conditions off the companies whose names you know.”

It’s only a blurb at the bottom of the second page of the article in Mother Jones, but that’s what it made me think of.

Apart from the Inquisition... the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 must be turning in their graves. In the US of 2012, the sweatshops are back.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today's Crop of Photos

Here are some photos that I took today.

A rose hip:

Rose hip

A ladybug:


Pods with seeds:

Pod and seeds

White blossoms on a succulent:

White blossoms

A bee on a blossom. It looks to me almost as though the bee were driving a vehicle, holding a tiny steering wheel:

Bee on blossom

Finally, a mystery fruit. I’ve been wondering for ages what it is. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Botanist?

Mystery fruit

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Big Squeeze: A Public Service Announcement

When I flipped the calendar page last week from January to February, I realized – in addition to all the other things I have planned for this month – that it was time for my annual mammography.

Yes, that’s right – the big squeeze.

So off I headed to the doc, got my referral – and then, since I happened to be in the area later that day, I stopped in personally at the Hala Clinic to make the appointment. Luckily for me, there was a vacant slot the very next day!

Although I got there on time, I had to wait before being seen; the clinic is very busy. But I didn’t mind. There was good reading material in the waiting room, so I picked up a book and got comfortable. Also, I had fair warning – the woman who made my appointment told me that it might take as long as three hours from start to finish.

When my turn came, the technician escorted me to the examining room. There I was... umm... examined. Squeezed between two plastic trays with curved ends, one of which moved. Squished, squashed, temporarily turned into a pancake – however you want to describe it. But even as I tried to obey the technician’s instructions to relax, turn my head this way, hold my arm that way, breathe, and defy gravity while standing on my head and whistling “Dixie,” I focused on how grateful I was to live in a time and place where there’s access to early detection and treatment.

Then I returned to the waiting room to be summoned for the physical exam and ultrasound. A few minutes on the exam table and it was done. (They even warmed the ultrasound jelly! Pardon the expression, but how cool is that?!)

The best part – besides the clean bill of health (tfu, tfu, tfu) – was that I was in and out of the clinic in just over an hour!

So where’s the public service announcement in all this? Here it is: Ladies, go get checked! Yes, it takes time from your busy schedules. True, it’s not the most fun thing in the world. But it’s really, truly, very important. So pick up the phone and make an appointment for your Big Squeeze today!