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Archive for June, 2012

For healthcare freedom, it’s time to move to Somalia*

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Some freedom-loving Americans have threatened that they’ll move to Canada to escape this stunning disappearance of healthcare freedom.

Unfortunately —

Orange colored countries are freedom-hating countries that provide healthcare to all their citizens. Yellow colored countries are thinking about destroying the freedom of the citizens to die from lack of healthcare. Brown colored countries get healthcare because of US war funds. But the big gray expanse is composed of countries that love freedom.

So, shit, that means all of us freedom-loving Americans are going to need to move to places like China, although that seems to have some big government problems of its own. Perhaps the place for freedom-seeking Americans to go is the already recognized libertarian paradise of Somalia*. In Somalia*, you won’t have government infringing on your healthcare freedom, plus you realize that Somalia* doesn’t have a job-killing Environmental Protection Agency.

All right, more serious time. It was with a fair amount of trepidation and unease that I waited upon yesterday’s SC decision. While I think the PPACA isn’t as progressive as I’d like it to be, it will do 2 huge things — bring healthcare insurance to nearly everyone in the United States and implement regulations and procedures to finally clamp down on the escalating healthcare costs. That latter part is just as important as the first part, because any realistic examination of the evidence shows that America’s 65 year experiment with patchwork insurance coverage has led to where the system was rapidly closing in on collapsing itself into a state where regular healthcare would become available to only the well-to-do and those with the genetic luck to not have suffered something that insurance companies would classify as a pre-existing condition.

So holy fuck, the United States has finally decided to join the rest of the developed first-world nations. So holy fuck, those with pre-existing and chronic conditions that can cost a lot of money from month-to-month will eventually have more avenues to having insurance coverage other than employee-sponsored healthcare. Holy fuck, they might be able to take a chance on leaving a job and looking for others without fear of being unable to get needed supplies to treat themselves. Fuck, they might enjoy a little more freedom in their lives. I guess not so much freedom as they would have in Somalia, but sometimes you have to give up a little something to get a little other something.

But I suppose if one thing the 5-4 Supreme Court decision makes very clear is that it is more important than ever that Obama is re-elected in November. Ginsburg is over 80 years old and if she needs to be replaced, it is vital that she is replaced with a justice who is progressive. Plus there might be some chance that Scalia will vacate the court, (perhaps retire if there were a Republican in the White House, but I’m pretty sure he would never retire if Obama is still president), and if Scalia goes, it would be a chance to reverse the slide towards the right-wing the court has taken with Republicans holding the presidency 20 of the last 32 years.

To those of us who have more progressive and liberal inclinations, Obama has sometimes been frustrating and infuriating, but we should make no mistake about it. He’s way way better than anything crawling out of the Republican party. Sure, Obama’s policies have been more centrist than progressive, but centrist right now beats the hell out of the rightward beating that America and its middle class has been taking.

Because the secret dream of some on the right is not to have to move to Somalia* to have their freedom, but to turn America into Somalia* over the next 50 years.

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* — Let me just add that I hope in time Somalia’s situation improves, that effective and necessary government displaces the freedom of crime and warlords and brings a genuine quality of life to the Somalian peoples.

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By the way, here are 11 things that are already effective because of Obamacare, things that Mitt Romney would want to take away —

1) Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime coverage limits on your insurance. Never again will you face the risk of getting really sick and then, a few months in, having your insurer tell you, “Sorry, you’ve ‘run out’ of coverage.” Almost everyone I’ve met knows someone who had insurance but got really, really sick (or had a kid get really sick) and ran into a lifetime cap.

2) If you don’t know someone who has run into a lifetime cap, you probably know someone who has run into an annual cap. The use of these will be sharply limited. (They’ll be eliminated entirely in 2014.)

3) Insurers can no longer tell kids with preexisting conditions that they’ll insure them “except for” the preexisting condition. That’s called preexisting condition exclusion, and it’s out the window.

4) A special, temporary program will help adults with preexisting conditions get coverage. It expires in 2014, when the health insurance exchanges—basically big “pools” of businesses and individuals—come on-line. That’s when all insurers will have to cover everyone, preexisting condition or not.

5) Insurance companies can’t drop you when you get sick, either—this plan means the end of “rescissions.”

6) You can stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re 26.

7) Seniors get $250 towards closing the “doughnut hole” in their prescription drug coverage. Currently, prescription drug coverage ends once you’ve spent $2,700 on drugs and it doesn’t kick in again until you’ve spent nearly $6,200. James Ridgeway wrote about the problems with the doughnut hole for Mother Jones in the September/October 2008 issue. Eventually, the health care reform bill will close the donut hole entirely. The AARP has more on immediate health care benefits for seniors. Next year (i.e., in nine months), 50 percent of the doughnut hole will be covered.

8) Medicare’s preventive benefits now come with a free visit with your primary care doctor every year to plan out your prevention services. And there are no more co-pays for preventative services in Medicare.

9) This is a big one: Small businesses get big tax credits—up to 50 percent of premium costs—for offering health insurance to their workers.

10) Insurers with unusually high administrative costs have to offer rebates to their customers, and every insurance company has to reveal how much it spends on overhead.

11) Free birth control and other preventative services for women, unless you work for a faith-based organization that opposes birth control.

So basically, voting for Romney would be voting for children and people with pre-existing conditions being denied healthcare. Voting for Romney is a way of saying “Fuck you” to people in need of help to be healthy. Remember, people that are healthy are people who can contribute to society. People who are less than healthy can’t contribute as much or end up dying.

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bodyweight

It feels like I’m finally feeling good enough, physically and mentally, to work on regaining the strength I’ve lost. Even if I can’t really do a lot of pullups yet, there’s still other bodyweight stuff I can work on.

It began last Friday when I did some pushups spread out through the day. A total of 50 or 60. Sadly enough on Saturday and Sunday my muscles were sore from that. But I went back to them on Monday and did 100 pushups. No soreness felt on Tuesday, and on Tuesday I switched over to bodyweight squats. A total of 150.

I felt a tiny bit of soreness in the right leg yesterday and today, Thursday. On Wednesday it was back to pushups and I cranked out 160 during the day. Now today, there is a very slight sense of soreness in the lower back area, muscles which stabilize the torso when doing pushups. Anyhow, I’m squatting again and aim to do a total of 200 squats today.

When I took a look in the mirror this morning, it looked a bit like it’s already helping to make a difference from how soft I had taken to looking. I still don’t look anywhere near as strong or fit as I did when maybe I was at a peak of sorts back in 2010, but at least I’m not sliding anymore into a deeper softness.

I suppose I should consider doing barbell rows for the back, for a pulling strength motion. The only problem with that is I can’t bring my barbell to work and do them at spaced out intervals like I can with pushups and bodyweight squats. Still, that makes sense, so I’ll figure out a way to work something with them.

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Se arbo falas en arbaro kaj neniu ĉeestas por aŭdi ĝin, ĉu ĝi faras sonon?

a full pull

After a long long time, I’ve finally done a full pullup again. I had been getting closer, earlier in the week I had gotten to having my mouth nearly level with the bar, but lacked that last little bit of strength. This morning there was finally enough and my chin cleared the bar.

I’ve also begun working on pushups again. For a long while, there was just too much of an awkward feel to the left shoulder when doing a pushup. Some awkwardness still exists, but it’s not so wrong feeling and it might be helping to break up more of the scar tissue. So maybe the shoulder is well enough again that I can work on regaining the strength that’s been lost.

It’s a bit dismaying to remember how I used to be able to do 10 or more pullups easily, no awkwardness to the shoulder, being strong. Now I’ve got some work to do to rebuild the left arm and shoulder which sort of withered during this time of impairment. And I’m still a ways away from the arm being fully functional. Yeah, it’s a lot better than it was, but that just shows how horrible it had gotten. Frozen shoulder is miserable business.

ambushed

If I’d been smart and foreseeing, I would have called it a day at the 14th hole and walked to the parking lot which was close. But I wanted to play 18 because I had been golfing better and wanted to finish out the round.

A few drops started splashing down while playing 15, which went well. Decent drive, lost a little bit to the right but still in good shape. I then faded a 4-iron to put me in range of the green with a 9-iron, but I elected to hit 8-iron to try to get to the back of the green where the flag was. Hit it really flush and it hit the green, but then carried into the rough just off the green. But I was able to choke down on the lob wedge and chip it out to only a few inches from the hole and a par.

Then the skies opened up on 16. In about 30 seconds, I was drenched and even if I had had raingear with me, it happened so fast that it wouldn’t have saved me. Since I was soaked and now almost as far from the parking lot as possible, I just played on. And the downpour continued. On the 18th, there was about 30 seconds of small hail pelting down. Then finally as I came up the final slope to 18, it pretty much stopped.

I was chilled too. For the ride home, I turned on the heater in the car. Even so, when I got home, I had a cold wet shirt clinging to me and it seemed to sting as touched my back and ribs. It was a bit awkward pulling the shirt, thank goodness my shoulder is loosening up more, if my shoulder had been locked down like it was last year, it might have been nearly impossible to get the shirt off. Then I toweled myself dry, got into dry clothes and heated up a grilled rib and leftover vegetables in the microwave.

Even so, I still felt a memory of that chill this morning and took as hot of a shower as I could stand.

But I golfed better some yesterday and I’m pretty sure I know why. Some time back, I figured out how to make the ball draw, and that was fun some to play with, but a bad idea for me. Playing only once a week, the changes in setup that I would use to go from hitting a fade to the draw made me too inconsistent in how I would swing the club. It had gotten to where only 1 out of 3 or 4 shots was really doing well. So yesterday I played with the conviction I would go back to playing my natural tendency to fade the ball and the rewards were obvious. Much more consistent contact and seeing the ball move like I would expect it to.

So I’m going to retired the idea of playing for both the fade and draw, and go back to working on trying to hit the consistent fade. For the first time in a long time yesterday, I had 3 straight holes where I made par — because I was able to get the ball on the green, once, or near the green and then make the pitch shots stop close to the hole and make the par putt. The way it had been going lately, too many times I wasn’t near the green with a chance to get up and down for bogey, all too often it was only near the green where getting up and down would save bogey or double-bogey. So I made 5 pars yesterday, which was much nicer than recent rounds where I was only making one or two.

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The left shoulder has thawed some more. I’m now at the point where I can hang from the pull up bar, although you can tell the shoulder still isn’t really settled properly into position. But it seems to get a bit better each day after I hang a few times from the bar, or try to pull myself up. When I first started hanging there, I could hardly budge upwards. Now I’m getting the elbows to about 90 degrees before I lose pull upwards. I can’t do chinups though. My left arm won’t rotate enough to allow my left hand to get a grip with the palm facing towards me. Still, maybe in a month or so I will do a genuine pullup again.

My left arm has weakened a lot. I saw it in the mirror the other day. My left arm is noticeably smaller than my right arm. The muscles have really weakened and shrunk. Hopefully in a few months time I will have a functional enough arm again that I can work again on being stronger. Only a few years ago, I was strong enough to do one-arm chinups with my right arm from time to time.

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Lots of sad and strange dreams lately.