hereticalphysicist
Friday, February 18, 2005
  Fatty, fatty, two-by-four...

Today, I saw an article about a casino that was under fire for putting weight restrictions on its employees. This applied to the cocktail waitresses and waiters--if they exceed 7 percent of their body weight they will have an up to 90-day unpaid suspension during which they must lose the weight. Women's right advocates are up in arms about this, claiming that it forces women to "starve themselves" to keep the job.

I have to admit I had two conflicting first impressions upon reading this. First, I don't want fat people serving me my gin and tonic. Second, well, you can't fire someone because of how they look.

Truthfully, I can't say I'm on either side of this issue. The 7% of one's body weight limit is a little extreme. The women at this casino have to prance around in bustiers and mini skirts, and what's the point in wearing a bustier if you don't have any bust? Second, this rule would ex out Marylin Monroe immediately--she was a size 14, but I tell you what: I'd give anything to have her serve me a cocktail in a mini skirt and a bustier. This rule would also probably exclude me. I'm not a thin girl, and I lift weights, so I've gained at least 10 pounds in the past few months in pure muscle. I'm not sure how many of you would like to see me in a bustier and a mini skirt, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't induce vomiting.

The women's advocates say that this promotes eating disorders in women. First, this issue affects the men working at the casino too, although they probably get to wear pants. Second, obesity is an eating disorder. I remember, in school, all the eating disorders but obesity were covered, probably to spare the feeling of the overweight kids. We're trying to avoid the issue that obesity is the result of an irresponsible and unhealthy lifestyle and should not be supported by the government. (I know that there are some people for whom this is untrue. Compared with the rest of America, they are in the minority, and this article is not about them--except it is a harsh reality that they would probably be turned down for these casino jobs too.) It's nearly impossible to get a job if you smoke marijuana. Insurance prices skyrocket when you smoke cigarrettes. But overweight people think they should be exempted from these policies? According to this website, nearly 2/3 of Americans are overweight (this includes obese, and I'm using the terms interchangeably, but you should know that they're different, based on bulk). Among people with type-2 diabetes, 67% of them are overweight. People who are overweight have higher incidences of cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension, and they typically live 2-5 years less than people who have a healthy weight. Obesity is clearly a burden on insurance companies and jobs that provide insurance. I've heard that insurance companies are going to start raising their rates based on your weight. This won't go over well with the fatties. Perhaps we remember the issue with the airlines--overweight people were spilling into the seats next to them, but they refused to pay for two seats. These people's inability to control their lifestyle is costing all of us, not to mention the legacy passed down to the next generation, 15% of whom were overweight in 2000. (Refer to the page for the actual economic costs of obesity.) Of course, we all have the freedom to have destructive lifestyles (which I exercize everyday, God Bless America), but we can't expect a safety net. This, I guess, is my biggest problem with America--that we talk a lot about liberty, but we have no idea what it means. I guess we think it's the freedom to be comfortable that America gives us.

On the other hand, if the casino gets its way, we decide that some businesses can discriminate based on weight, we're opening up a whole slippery slope. The era of attractive executive secretaries is over, thanks to the women's movement, but if the casino fires people for their appearance, I'm sure other businesses will be able to come up with a myriad of ways that hiring unattractive people can affect their sales too.

The solution? I think a casino that makes part of its profits based on the appearance of its employees does have a right to discriminate in this way. This strikes a raw nerve, but it shouldn't. The casino should have an obligation to its employees to provide employees with the means of doing their jobs the best they can. First, it should be clearly stated at the outset that maintaining a healthy weight is essential to keeping the job. To help their employees, the casino should provide a gym or gym memberships and paid workout time, because I think it's unreasonable to expect people who are on their feet all day, probably working for tips, to go home and spend another two hours a day at a gym that they have to pay for. If a company wants employees to have higher educations, it will provide help paying for college. Why can't the casino offer a similar service? Also, the criterion should not be weight based. The casino should order uniforms up to a certain size, and if you can't fit into the highest size, then you can't have the job. These casinos are probably crowded, and a waitress has to be svelte to navigate the crowds without spilling the martinis and drowning some woman's Louis Vuitton chihuahua.

Recent Media
Chinatown, Roman Polanski.
On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan.
The Federalist Papers. Number 43, and still trucking. Did you know that the average length of one of Madison's sentences was about 35 words? This means that by the time I finish the sentence, I forgot what it was about.
Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card.
"Fist City," Loretta Lynn:

Well you've been a-makin' your brags around town
That you've been a-lovin' with my man.
But the man I love when he picks up the trash,
He puts it in a garbage can.
...
...
You'd better close your face and stay out of my way,
If you don't wanta go to fist city.

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie. This is by far my favorite. It was the perfect murder...until Hercule Poirot came along!
A Small Town Marraige, The Marchesa Colombi. An early Italian feminist novel.
ABC Murders, Agatha Christie. A disappointment.
Confessions of an Opium Eater, Thomas De Quincy. The current book. Just what it sounds like.
Perhaps you've noticed that in the past week I've read about seven books. This is true. I spend about 7 hours a day reading. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's all I wanted to do the entire time I was at Columbia. I'm like the dude from the Twilight Zone. Good thing I wear contacts. 

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  Emotionally Stunted

When I'm confronted with the news of the death of someone I know or someone close to me knows, my first reaction is a little breathy laugh. This sounds insensitive and it is. I try to restrain my first impulse around others who won't understand it and will be offended or hurt. There are several reasons why I might have a little laugh.

Perhaps it's actually a small sob or sigh, disguised as a chuckle. I never know quite how to react to the death of someone I know, because it's not something that happens often. I have to emote, but I'm not sure how, and what results is an uncertain chuckle/sigh.

Also, I am very insensitive about death. (Suicides don't count for this discussion, by the way. I react the same way to all news of suicides, and that's a stunned jaw drop.) My emotions and thoughts are mechanical and robotical to a fault. The way I see it, after a certain age, we all die a little every day. I don't mean inside, our souls, from our spouses. I mean, inside, our innards, from cell death. As you're growing, more cells are being produced than are dying, and once you stop growing, the reverse happens. Aging is just slowly dying. Perhaps you will be depressed by this. I'm not. Death is such a part of life, that if death makes us sad, so should life. (A lot of people think life is sad, too.)

Another reason for my reaction is just that death is really anticlimactical. Maybe this is because I've only heard of it second hand and have never actually seen someone die. But I bet it's pretty anticlimactical then too. So much fuss and then it's over. Silence. What does a dead man do after he dies? Nothing. A few smasmodic jerks might be exciting, though. But really, it's just like turning off an action movie immediately after the climax. Really, I know the whole affair is going to be more interesting for the sufferers than for the dead guy (gal).

I really have no idea where I'm going with this. That's the thing with death! Where do you go from there?

Recent Media
Shadow of the Hegemon, Orson Scott Card.
The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison and Jay. Yeah, still plodding through these. On #30. Much informed, but starting to weary...
"Earth People," Dr. Octagon. Controlled, controlled by gamma light.
Mass Romantic, The New Pornographers. Exuberant and triumphant. 

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005
  Nice Dream

Mike sometimes tells me that I would make a Freudian's day. I think this is an exaggeration of my deviance, but, still, thinking about sex, among other topics not suitable for breakfast nook banter, occupies a good portion of my day and night. I regularly have sex dreams, and I never know who's going to make a cameo. Here are a few good ones:

Richard Lewis: In my dream, he was quite a bit younger, but he still had that haggard look. I was his trophy girlfriend. What's sad about this is that I'm only good enough to be a D-list celebrity trophy girlfriend. Overall, I enjoyed this dream, but felt a little weird about it in the morning.

Mandy Patinkin: Mandy Patinkin was a demon who lived in a wardrobe and raped me. He would rape me in a flurry of clothes, airplane itineraries, and travel brochures. I can't quite recall, but I believe the wardrobe danced while this happened.

Frankie Muniz: I totally took his virginity.

Gene Simmons: Shudder. I do not ever, ever want to think of this dream again. I had forgotten it, but Mike reminded me, and now I have to go take 5 scalding showers.

Recent Media
Mammals. I can't fucking believe there are mammals that live in the sea. We kick ass.
If they mated: Dolphin + your mom = sea cow
Persuasion, Jane Austen.
Thirteen at Dinner, Agatha Christie.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 3
Conan O'Brien: Christopher Walken: "You can pick up a cow pie....You can walk up to someone....You can say, "Would you please hold this?" And the person will always take it."
 

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005
  Doomsday

Fox has a new TV show called Point Pleasant. This is not an endorsement of the show--you can watch it, or not. The basic premise of Point Pleasant is that the final battle between good and evil will take place in Point Pleasant, NJ. Now, New Jersey might seem like a hellish no man's land strewn with the foul and viscous innards of demons and sinners, but the fact is, the final battle will not take place there.

I have seen the final battleground. It looks like excellent farmland.

Megiddo is an ancient city in Israel. It's on a hill, and it's been conquered about 20 times. Once it was conquered by one invading army, the city would be destroyed to rubble and a new city built on top. Now it's all rubble, but you can climb around it and see all the different layers. Because so many battles have been fought at this site, I guess by natural extension, the final battle will be fought there too. The Hebrew word for mountain is Har. Har Megiddo. Armegeddon. See? Christians can't pronounce things correctly. Like nucular. And Bush's "Sosul Security."


View from the top of Megiddo. Posted by Hello

Recent Media
The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins. I'm on a mystery kick.
KKFX Fox News at Ten. The local news here is a joke. Tonight, the reporter referred to the Pope as "the slumping pontiff." In an story about stricter requirements for hazmat licenses, a Jim Smith (or whoever) was interviewed. At the bottom of the screen was a bar that read:

Jim Smith
Fed Up

Seriously.
Pavement, "We are underused." This song has the most beautiful guitar solo I've ever heard.
And a few insights from notable Columbians:
""The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights."
"It is the nature of war to increase the executive at the expense of the legislative authority."
--Alexander Hamilton
"No one is too much of a pacifist to beat up a clown."
--Mike
 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

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