Actually, there is An Alternative to ObamaCare…

21 04 2014

… a reasonable, rational alternative.

While many on the Left complain that Republicans in Congress do nothing but bitch and moan about the ACA, trying to repeal the law while offering no alternative solution to the “health care crisis” in the US, a group of House Republicans have actually developed a comprehensive alternative. A group of 128 Reps have sponsored a bill in the House, HR 3121, to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

While the last provision is nothing but a salve to the far right, since federal funding of abortion is already prohibited by law, the rest of the provisions are common sense solutions that will increase competition for your health care dollars, thereby lowering costs. The bill would also eliminate the costly addition of mandated services that many of us do not need or want in our health care coverage; such as birth control, maternity care, and infant care services, included in the policy of a 58 year old single man (like me), which will also lower costs.

Now, this may not be the perfect solution to the needs of our health care system, but it is a good beginning, and certainly a powerful alternative to the ridiculous implementation of the ACA and its 20,000 pages of regulations. So, the next time you hear the main stream media and Democrats saying that Republicans only want to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement, remember this – and call them out as the liars they are.

From the RSC website:

“Conservatives recognize that patient-centered reforms rooted in free markets are the best way to lower costs and solve problems in our health care system.  That is why the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is proud to bring forward a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system.  Simply put, our bill is a better way forward.

  • Fully repeals President Obama’s health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs.
  • Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.
  • Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients.
  • Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance.
  • Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.
  • Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.
  • Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) is a group of House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives. The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values. The group has played a major role in key policy areas including budget, appropriations, taxes, education, Social Security reform, defense, deregulation, and general government reform. The Republican Study Committee is an independent research arm for Republicans.”

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When a Sacrifice Is Not a Sacrifice

16 04 2014

Imagine a woman who chooses to spend her life climbing the corporate ladder. She is quite successful, eventually becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The company employs 15,000 people, all of whom make a good wage and are predominantly happy with their own careers. They produce useful products that have real value to their client base, all of whom are pleased to be doing business with her company. She is productive and well compensated. She is happy with her choice, and her life.

Now imagine a woman who chose not to pursue a career but, instead, to raise a family. Her three children get good grades in school and all participate in extra-curricular activities. Two excel in sports, while one joins the choir and stars in the annual musical. They eventually make it through college and begin to pursue their own careers, or raise their own families.  She is a good mother and wife, and feels well compensated by her children’s success. She is happy with her choice and her life.

Which of these women made a sacrifice?

Neither one, of course.

Words have meaning

Both women made a conscious choice to pursue and excel at something she valued more than another; a life choice that meant more to her than anything else. The business woman did not “sacrifice” having a family in favor of a career, just as the mother did not “sacrifice” her career to raise her children. Each of these women made a choice to pursue the type of life that had the greatest value to her. The CEO did not value raising a family, so pursuing her career was not a sacrifice. The mother did not value having a career, so raising her children involved no sacrifice at all.

By definition, the word sacrifice implies enduring a loss. What did the CEO lose? Nothing that was valuable to her, certainly. The mother gained immeasurably by not choosing a corporate career, by seeing her children grow up to be valuable members of society and happy adults. Where does her “loss” manifest? What did she forfeit by being a mom? Nothing that meant anything – to her, anyway.

The feminist culture teaches us that, by choosing a family over a career, a woman is sacrificing her full potential to some arbitrary standard devised by men to keep women “in their place.” On the other hand, right wing Bible thumpers tell women that they are sacrificing their nurturing role as a mother when they pursue a career instead, as if this is the only way a woman may define herself as a woman. Both are ridiculous, and morally bankrupt.

In truth, and in practice, a sacrifice involves giving up something we value for something we don’t. It is not a sacrifice to forfeit something we value less for something we value more. That is merely a reasonable choice based on a rational judgment. If you wish to pursue an Olympic medal over all other things you might choose in your life, it decidedly is not a sacrifice to rise at 4 AM every day to practice; to forego the latest kegger at the frat house; or to eat healthy, high energy food in place of cheeseburgers and fries.

On the other hand, if you believed that getting that medal was the most important thing you could do for yourself, yet choose to hit the local drive-thru every night for dinner, then you would be making a sacrifice – giving up on something that meant a great deal to you for a momentary, petty pleasure.

The popular meaning of “sacrifice” is nonsensical. It involves the giving up of anything, no matter how trivial, to achieve something, no matter how great. It is a perversion of the very concept of value, and of greatness. It denies the efficacy of human judgment and rational choice.

Accepting the popular definition of sacrifice can only turn you into a victim; can only make you the type of person who feels constantly taken advantage of by others – not to mention society at large.

 





A Testimonial from a New Client

11 04 2014

I received this note in an email from a new client last week. We just began working together, after a few email queries and a phone consult. The first writing I did for her was a blog post on self-esteem. I was pretty happy with what I wrote, but she seemed ecstatic with it. I really enjoy it when my clients are happy with my work.

I already posted it at my SEO Writer Pro website, but felt like I had to share it here too…

“Hi Richard – What an awesome job you did! I [made a copy of your draft] thinking that I would be making changes, but there is nothing that needs changing. I had my husband read it to gauge a non-therapists/average person reaction. He thought it was great, and said he thinks it’s the best thing on my website. Can’t tell you how pleased I am and happy that I found you. I put off doing this for a long time, primarily because I worried that someone who is not a therapist would not be able to write something I could use. I’ve always thought of blogs as superficial fluff but this actually is informative and helpful. Part of my struggle is that, having been a therapist for 20+ years, I tend to just assume that everyone knows this stuff. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Really hopeful that this will help with the Google Gods and getting new clients.” ~ BF, Licensed Psychotherapist





Who is Ruining Our Language?

9 04 2014

Sports announcers have been ruining our language for years now. During the NFL season, I was forced to listen to some deplorable English as CBS was broadcasting the football game between the Chargers and the Broncos. Here are just two examples of the poor use of English by the announcers of the game. Remember, these men are paid a great deal of money to speak English for a living.

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Is this a young Ward Cleaver?

Kevin Harlan: “There is a 36-year-old catch by Stokely.”

Solomon Wilcox: “Rivers never should have threw that pass.”

Yeah, my spellchecker tried repeatedly to fix these for me… Eventually, it simply gave up in frustration. I think it went to bed with a headache.

We are ruining our language

Of course, DJs have also butchering the language for decades. On the NBC singing competition The Voice, Carson Daly, who began his career in radio then moved to MTV, habitually says “This is…,” or “Here is…” when speaking of groups of two or more people: for example, “This is John and Sam.”

We also have to deal with this one, “There’s John and Sam down the street,” or even worse, “There’s three of them coming.” The contraction for “there is” should never be used for plural objects of course, but since intellectual laziness is the norm these days, I guess it should be expected. If you would like to sound like you actually have a brain, you should try using the contraction for “there are,” as in “There’re John and Sam coming our way now.” Hey, if you want to be a real rebel, you could even try using both words instead of the contraction. “There are John and Sam coming our way now.”

Even more pervasive is the use of the phrase “Me and him.” Also “Me and you.” This type of phrasing seems completely narcissistic to me, as the speaker constantly places self before subject. It is 6th grade English at best, elevated to common usage at the expense of intelligent conversation. Using this type of construction makes the speaker sound ignorant, whether they realize it or not.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous example of poor English usage is the phrase “Where’s it at?” instead of “Where is it?” or “Where’re you at?” instead of “Where are you?” This one is nearly unexplainable. All I can say is that using these two phrases makes the speaker sound foolish and, well, just plain stupid.

English is a beautiful language when used correctly. With estimates of the number of words available to choose from ranging from about 171,500 according to the Oxford dictionaries to 1,025,100 by the Google Language Monitor, we have more than enough words to express ourselves clearly, without sounding ridiculous. All we have to do is choose to use them properly.

There are many more examples of poor language choices being made on television, radio, and in print. The only way to stop it is to cease to accept it. If we refuse to use such ignorant phrasing when we speak, perhaps professional speakers and writers will cease to use it as well. Hey, we can always hope, can’t we?

 





There are No Random Acts of Violence

4 04 2014

No human being has ever contemplated or taken a random action. Only nature is random. Human beings are at all times willful, while nature is not. Human action may be arbitrary, of course, but their actions may never be random.

Therefore, there can be no “random acts of violence,” or “random acts of kindness” either for that matter, when human beings take action – in any situation and under any circumstances.

Randomness implies a lack of conscious will, not simply a disregard for outcome. It also implies a lack of responsibility for outcome. However, an arbitrary action is a conscious act of will that is indifferent to the results of the action taken, yet the actor remains responsible for the result.

Words have meaning

The “gang banger” who fires a gun into a crowd without regard to whom the bullet hits has not committed a random act, and neither has the “do-gooder” who chooses a homeless man and buys him lunch. These actions are arbitrary, for the target of the action could easily have been different. The person taking action was indifferent to the identity of the individual involved, and cared only that the action affected someone – not anyone in particular.

However, in both cases, a conscious choice was made. It was a choice to take action. A will was involved. A predictable outcome could be foreseen for both choices, and alternatives could have been chosen. For good or ill, both actors are responsible for the choices made, and the results which followed. In one case positive, in the other negative.

When one applies the word “random” to human action, one relieves the actor of responsibility for the choices being made, which is morally reprehensible. In the case of harmful action, is just as condemnable as the action being taken without regard to the effects of that action.

Therefore, there are no random acts of violence, or of kindness.

 





New Federal Program Will Make You Cute

2 04 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – A new federal program, popularly labeled “ObamaCute” and available online at ObamaCute.gov, will now make every American begin to feel cute – or cute again!

The Obama administration said today that their goal is to enroll 20 million Americans in the first six months of the highly anticipated program. The enrollment process includes visiting the new ObamaCute.gov website and “signing up,” then enrolling by paying for your initial “Cuteness Evaluation,” an ongoing $75 minimum monthly fee, which will result in a group of experts providing you with a “Cuteness Rating” (CR).

These experts, to be known as the “Beauty Scholars,” or BS, will be drawn from a pool of highly qualified geneticists, anthropologists, biomechanical physicists, cosmetics designers, clothing designers, actors, models, and others designated as beautiful celebrities. Once the panel has established a median cuteness level for all Americans, based upon a metric of those generally considered to be “The Beautiful People” in Hollywood, average Americans will receive a Cuteness Rating relative to the new standard, a sliding scale of from 1 to 100, with 100 being “Freakin’ Hot” and with 1 being “Butt Ugly.”

“The goal of the new program is to boost the depleted self-esteem of all Americans,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (who recently received a revised rating of NT, for “Not Terrible,” after shaving his beard, which had gotten him a rating of TF, for “Totally Fugly”), in an announcement yesterday. “Americans, and that includes all of us, have been suffering from a serious lack of self-respect recently. After fighting two wars, suffering from a soft economic recovery, and pretty much being shat upon by the rest of the world for the past 5 years, we’ve begun to feel really bad about ourselves. This new program will help to boost our self-respect and make us feel good about being Americans again. Just imagine if you and everyone around you knew how cute you really were. Wouldn’t that be cool? Wouldn’t you feel a whole bunch better about being you? I think it’s just, like, totally awesome! ” he exclaimed.

The legislation was introduced in Congress as a result of a new study sponsored by the psychology departments of Harvard and Yale Universities. In an unprecedented example of cooperation between the two schools, normally rivals in virtually every aspect of the education and research process, and even in their perpetually less than stellar sports programs, the study showed that Americans feel “really down and kinda’ grungy” about themselves.

The study is available, in toto, for viewing at a web page established exclusively for the purpose, at HarvardYaleLoveIn.edu, under the headline “American Self-Sustaining Honest Opinion Likability Estimate,” or ASSHOLE.

The $75 minimum monthly fee mentioned above will be charged to enrollees on a sliding, or progressive, scale. The higher your “Cuteness Rating,” or CR, the greater your fee, with a mandated maximum fee of $15,000 per month for those who receive the highest CR, the really, totally hot among us.

The program will include penalties for those who refuse to enroll at ObamaCute.org, in the form of an “Ugly American Tax,” or UAT to be imposed by the IRS, of up to 75% of monthly income. The newly established “Beauty Brigade” within the tax recovery organization will be funded exclusively by the fees generated by those who are younger and cuter than those who are older and uglier, once a mean CR has been established. The new legislation, which was approved by the first ever unanimous vote in Congress, describes this new cuteness standard as the “Pretty American Index Norm,” or PAIN.

“We have to make it fair,” explained Carney, “or the ugly people will feel taken advantage of, which would only add to their lack of belief in themselves. We simply can’t allow that feeling of being ugly as shit to persist.”

The few critics of the plan have labeled it as “emotional welfare.” None would speak on the record however, instead insisting that they be interviewed only in dark rooms while wearing brown paper shopping bags over their heads.

Of course, being a federal program, there are already loopholes in the plan, which may be exploited by the populace. If you feel you simply cannot afford the monthly fee, you may sign up to the program, ask for an “Ugly and Broke as Shit Exemption,” also known as a UBASE, and receive a “Provisional Precocious Placement,” or PPP, a metaphorical “pat on the back” if you will to protect your sense of self-worth, until you are able to fully enroll in the program.

Experts believe this will allow many Americans to “feel cute,” even though they have yet to receive the approval of their government to actually “be cute.”

At press time, the administration was unable to provide exact enrollment figures, blaming the lack of reporting on the incredible amount of online traffic to the new $999 million website, which was unable to handle the flow. “Frankly, with so many visits to the site yesterday, things got a bit ugly,” Carney said.

“However,” he continued, “we can confirm a massive amount of sign-ups – with some 15 gazillion sign-ups in the first 24 seconds – before the system went kinda’ bat shit and shut itself down.”





How to Buy a Kid’s Bike

1 04 2014

A while back, my nephew asked me for some advice on buying a bike for his daughter. They live in Phoenix, where I also spent a decade, and where I returned to cycling back in 2008. Here is what I sent him…

The 1st thing to consider is what type of riding she will be doing. Will she be serious about cycling, or is it just for fun? Will you ride with her, offering a bit of a challenge for her to keep up with Daddy? Will she ride with friends, and what do they ride? Also, which is more important, to look cool or to ride well and have fun? (For kids today, this is a very important question. In fact, it was important when I was a kid too!)

Next, when you see an advertisement for a 20” or 26” bike, this is not the frame size but the wheel size. Generally, a 20” bike is for smaller children, while a 26” bike is for older kids. A 26” wheel is the standard wheel size, even for adults. (The whole 700c and 650c thing was TMI at this point.)

Bike size is actually determined by frame size, measured from the bottom center of the frame, or bottom bracket, to the top tube, the tube that runs from the handlebars to the seat post. She should be able to straddle the bike, and stand with both feet flat on the ground, allowing about 2 inches clearance between top tube and crotch. When mounted, place one of her heels on one of the pedals at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Her knee should lock in this position. Then, when she places the ball of that foot on the pedal, the knee should be slightly bent. This is the most efficient, most comfortable position for pedaling. If you can achieve this position, the height of the saddle is correct.

Here is a link to the REI Bike Fit page. This should be helpful. Bike fit is critical to safe, enjoyable cycling – for anyone, but especially for kids.

Most bike frames today are made by 1 or 2 plants in China and virtually all of them are strong. The key to buying a quality, long-lasting ride is found in the components, the stuff that hangs off the bike’s frame and make it go – and stop!

Wheel strength is very important. Weak rims go “out of true” regularly, making the ride wobbly and unsafe. Wobbly wheels also have trouble when breaking, since the brake pads may not contact the rim properly. Look for strong rims with a large number of spokes. Spin the wheels before buying to ensure they are true from the factory. If they wobble before anyone has ridden the bike, they won’t stay true for you, or her.

Needless to say, brakes are also important. Make sure there is plenty of adjustment available, allowing you to tighten their grip on the wheel rim as the brake pads begin to wear. Make sure the brakes are mounted properly, making contact with the wheel rim, not the tires or spokes. Also, the front of the brake pad should make contact before the rear of the pad (by millimeters at least). If the brakes squeak during a test ride, they are probably not mounted correctly. (Don’t allow them to tell you it’s just because the bike is new.)

If the brake pads make contact with a tire, the bike will stop almost instantly, usually sending your child flying over the handlebars.

A single speed bike is the simplest, easiest bike to maintain, but multi-speed bikes are easier to ride. If you choose a multi-speed bike, make sure the shifters work well and that the derailleurs work properly. Test the shifting thoroughly, moving through all speeds repeatedly. Twist shifters, where the grips are rotated to change speeds, are convenient and easy to use, but they are also the cheapest and least reliable. Thumb shifters tend to be more accurate and reliable. Make sure they are mounted conveniently close to the brake levers and grips.

Avoid bikes with suspension systems or shock absorbers. She will not need them to simply tool around the neighborhood and they make pedaling less efficient, absorbing some of the energy from every pedal stroke and wasting effort. They are only necessary for riding trails.

Tires and tubes will make a huge difference too, especially in the Phoenix area. Knobby tires are good on trails but bad on pavement. They also pick up more junk, which can lead to more punctures and flat tires. The smoother the tires the smoother the ride. Plus, they tend to roll over sharp objects and puncture less often. Cheap bikes have thin tires and tubes, so are more prone to punctures and flats. At a minimum, you should buy some “puncture resistant tubes” to replace the tubes that come with the bike. There are “goat heads” all over the place down there and punctures are very common.

Hope this helps. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Buying a bicycle for a child is a serious task, regardless of age. You want her to be able to enjoy herself, but also to have fun riding. The big box stores offer plenty of choices, but they tend to skimp on the details – like tires, tubes, and wheel strength. Spending a few extra bucks on a bike for your kid makes a great deal of sense, despite the fact that they may outgrow it soon. The market for used bikes is strong in every town and city across the US, so you should be able to sell her used bike easily when it’s time for her to graduate to a larger size.

For more information on buying a kid’s bike, kids and cycling, or buying a bike for yourself, check out one or both of these eBooks from  our cycling website, Mile Hi Cycle Guy…

Rediscover Your Joy with Bicycles and Cycling

Rediscover Your Joy with Bicycles and Cycling #2

Both of these cycling eBooks are packed with valuable information that will help the beginning or returning cyclist with the choice of the right bike, how to save money when buying a bike, making sure the bike fits you or your child, essential equipment and accessories, basic bike maintenance, where to ride safely, how to include the family, and so much more. At just $2.99 each, they are a great value.








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