Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Should We Let People Do What They Want?

A couple of days ago I was watching “The Five”, an entertainment show about news on the Fox News Channel, right after the A-Rod scandal broke. It appeared to me that some of them at least, were arguing for allowing athletes to enhance themselves chemically if they wanted to. The argument was that it’s already here, lets stop playing games, selectively punishing people for not playing by the rules that no one is playing by.

One thing I love about writing this blog, is that in trying to use facts to express my opinions, I learn a lot. I was going to write a simple article about the negative effects of legalizing a dangerous practice, but I just learned it that steroid use is not hiding in the shadows. I googled “body building and steroids” looking for the hyper muscular look that characterizes body builders, and found a website talking openly about how you need to get started early and make sure you use the legal ones.

Here is a quote from that website:

The ideology of modern day sportsmen to ride on an almost invincible winning streak is also one of the greatest contributors towards the popularity of muscle building steroids.

It will not be wrong to say that there is a drastic difference in the level of competition in the bygone days and today’s times. The modern day athlete wants to develop a distinctive edge and muscle building steroids help him in his quest for success and glory. Furthermore, the audience is no longer interested in snail race, boring baseball games, low scoring matches, and average appearing sportsmen. Everyone wants to enjoy watching aggressive athletes, big hits & high scoring games, and intense competition right from the word go.

Here is another quote:

Steroids Information Online “Steroids cannot be ignored in any sport, they are reality…”

Well, my research is leading me in a different direction than I first thought. I don’t follow sports, so I wasn’t aware how pernicious the drug use was. I do know that the body building world is dominated by steroid use.

Natural-Bodybuilding-cover

You can get pretty ripped naturally.

 

 

 

But there are certain looks that don’t occur naturally.

picture of a body builder on steroids

This doesn’t happen naturally

Any woman can tell you the steroid look is not attractive. It’s like women trying to be as thin as possible. Guys like curves. Women like men that don’t have big ropy veins sticking out everywhere. The cartoon superhero look doesn’t fly in real life. But I digress, the point is, in competitive body building the use of steroids is so overwhelming that a separate competition was started for natural body building.

After coming to the conclusion that the use is so widespread that the argument of any punishment is selective, what then? Should we legalize it and let the chips fall where they may? Should we entice people to play sports with large sums of cash, knowing they are selling the long-term health? You could argue, based on what the NFL is experiencing, that there is no difference for them. Football players end up physical wrecks, with bad knees, backs, shoulders and concussion related problems. Is that any different than dropping over with a heart attack at 50 from the ‘roids?

very large body builder

Do we want this to go to extremes?

Well, let’s try and play this one out to its logical conclusion. If it is legalized, then the use will come out in the open. Young people will want to emulate their sports heroes and parents, hoping for a future in sports for little Johnny will get him on the medical regime as soon as possible. The only saving grace to this potential nightmare is if they start too soon, it will stunt bone growth, so they at least will wait till optimum height is reached. In any case, in one generation, we will get to see the potential results from mass use in young people. Let’s say by some miracle, this doesn’t happen, and they wait till they get to the minor leagues to start. If everyone does it, it will be the guy who uses the most or best who wins. Isn’t that a cute little arms race to start? And what would the ultimate end of that be? And don’t tell me it’ll only be professional athletes who will be doing it, we already know that isn’t true.

The arguments about this mirror the arguments about legalizing drugs. We will get to see how that plays out here in America, as two states have legalized recreational use, along with many others who have legalized it for medicinal reasons. There are those who would legalize it all, on the basis of then it would be controlled and would take it out of the hands of the drug cartels, eliminating the crime that accompanies it. While I agree that in both cases, our attempts to stamp it out by making it illegal seem futile, legalizing wouldn’t decrease the use in the slightest, and I can’t see how it wouldn’t increase it. We are not rational, intellectual creatures, weighing the pros and cons. We are emotionally driven, and there is a lot of drive to do the wrong things.

Many people wouldn’t even say these things are wrong. According to the proponents, many people use steroids without any side effects. I find that hard to believe. If we are so concerned with any hormones or additives to our food, which may or may not be absorbed by the human body, how can we not be concerned with substances which so dramatically and visibly change the human body? While making them illegal isn’t stopping anyone, it is at least having a dampening effect, and maybe that is the most we can hope for. At least until we stop paying athletes more than the scientist that might cure your cancer.

YES, Yes,Yes!

I just saw this article on doctors refusing insurance and charging people directly. and it makes me happy and mad at the same time.  The prices the doctors are charging patients directly are so much more in line with what people can afford compared to the cost of insurance. It makes me happy, because this is what I’ve been saying all along- insurance actually raises the cost of health care. Insurance companies are making a profit, doctors have to hire a slew of people to deal with the insurance and when people don’t see what something costs, the cost raises. The article states that dealing with insurance is 40% of a doctors overhead.

It makes me mad, as this is the discussion we should have had before enacting the debacle that is the Affordable Care Act. Affordable care is anything but. Lets go back to catastrophic insurance and pay for all the incidentals as we need them. Look what happens when people just pay for things up front and things HAVE to be affordable. We end up with 4$ prescriptions at the big box stores and doctors charging under 100$ for a visit. All we’ve done with this legislation is make things more convoluted and expensive. Affordable care? who can afford $700-2,000 a month on insurance?

Hopefully the debacle of the role out will cause people to rethink the whole thing, and the possibility of doing things this way will come about.  We want the government subsidizing things? Fine, let them subsidize the 20% of seriously ill people who use 80% of the services. That would make sense. Or let them create an insurance plan for catastrophic insurance, like they subsidize flood insurance for people who live in flood plains. Or, let them give grants for the preventative programs and screenings  that are the rational for insurance.

Reasonable Cause… and Effect

Some of you may already know that we live in controversial times. The level of mistrust in our government, and the breakdown in common culture has led to a place where people are angry, fearful and suspicious. We don’t trust our public institutions. Whether you are on the health side of things, railing against “Big Ag”, Monsanto, “Big Sugar”, the high fructose conspiracy, or GMO’s, or, if you are on the second amendment side, worrying about a government gun seizure, there is a lot of fear and anger brewing.

My question is how much is justified, and how much is simply rumor and fear mongering? How much is truly conspiracy theory worthy, and how much is just disagreements on what constitutes the public good? For example, lets take GMO’s. We have been genetically modifying our food since agriculture began by selectively breeding, storing seeds, etc. Farmers farmed to feed their families, and traded the surplus for goods and services.  In the 70’s, we had the “green revolution” for an overview, I quote Wikipedia:

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production around the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. It forms a part of the ‘neo-colonial’ system of agriculture wherein agriculture was viewed as more of a commercial sector than a subsistence one.[1]

The initiatives, led by Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution” credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers.

One of the primary sentences in that quote is that agriculture became more of a commercial sector than a subsistence one.  This is vitally important, as cities could not have attained the population densities they have without this. The fact that most of us don’t have to farm is a result of the change in farming practice. There is a backlash against this now, as the logical extension is GMO’s and Monsanto. If you are constantly striving to produce more food, at less cost, the choices you make may not be the best in other respects, like ethics or quality. On the other hand, starvation is far less common in the world than it used to be. Even third world nations are having obesity problems. Not dying of hunger is a good thing in my book. So is “Big Ag” is evil or beneficent? Are they conspiring to take over the world or trying to feed a constantly growing population? Is it possible someone could use the power of these large conglomerates to “enslave” us, and to what end?

The gun right debate is similar. Gun technology has vastly improved since the founding fathers fought it out in the 1700’s. We have far more capacity to hurt each other than they did. However, for the most part, gun violence has gone down. Because of modern media, and sick people’s desire to create a huge scene, it appears to be the opposite, than gun violence is increasing. The media and politicians react to this by  saying we must “do something”. Gun owners see this as the end to liberty. Some go so far as to think that some of these tragedies are instigated by the government, in order to create public support for gun seizures.  It is true, that if only the government has guns, they can rule by force. However, is that what those in power intend?  Or intend or not, could that be what happens?

So, are our worst fears groundless? Or do we live in a world where the people around us have evil designs, wanting to take over and control us? Wether they have any intentions of doing so, does the law of unintended consequences dictate that it will occur?

Do spend our money on bunkers and dried food? Just like the saying “a stopped watch is right twice a day”, really bad things happening could justify all our paranoia. Does that mean we should invest all our money in body armor and heirloom seeds? Where is the line between prudent caution and rampant paranoia? I don’t have the answer, other than to say so far everyone who said the world was going to end has been wrong in general, but he was right for the people of Pompeii. Personally, I don’t believe in massive conspiracies. I’ve seen no evidence that people are that smart, or organized. However to quote the title of Robert Bork’s book, “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”, we could easily be haphazardly sliding towards our own destruction. I’ve seen no evidence in my lifetime that we are capable of foreseeing the results of our actions and I see that as the real danger, rather than thinking that our fellow human beings are out to get us.

If, as some believe, 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing were done by our government to “distract” us, or any other reason, then it is a world of such petty and unthinkable evil that I could not even begin to comprehend it. In that case all one can say is “come now Lord Jesus”, because I certainly don’t want to survive in the bunker with the rats. Two or four legged.

Forgive my Political Rant

the white houseEvery so often, what goes on in our governments makes me crazy, and I have to vent. So if you don’t want to hear it, here’s your fair warning.

I’ll start with the federal government, since it is such a big, soft target. I listen to Jay Carney sit there and say it is irresponsible of the Republicans to either let us default or play politics with that possibility. I agree that all this is  playing politics, but how do we get into this situation? By not making any of the difficult decisions that would keep us on some kind of balanced, planned course. How about instead of castigating your rivals for a current situation, you’all sit down and MAKE A BUDGET. Jay CarneyOne that MAKES SENSE, and doesn’t bankrupt our country. This congress is like someone who has a broken leg and doesn’t want to go to the doctor, afraid of the pain of getting it set. It’s just going to hurt all the time till you do that. This has to be the weasliest pack of politicians ever. What I wouldn’t give for 5 real grownups in Washington! Both the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff would be non issues if we had budgets passed for the last 4 years. I think the biggest problem is having a government that doesn’t have to follow it’s own laws.

 

That brings me to the State. I live in New York. Much like the federal government, it’s about as dysfunctional as it gets, and apparently always has been. I was listening to a NPR story about how the Tappenzee bridge got put where it was, not because it was the best place to put it, but so it would be outside the jurisdiction of the port authority. If you harbor any illusions about the innate goodness of humans, politics will cure you quick.

Angry andrew

Anyway, most of you know, Andrew Cuomo, our fearless leader, created a huge uproar with his “sweeping gun legislation” passed in the middle of the night. ( How brave!) I won’t comment on that here, enough is being said by others. I will say, does anyone else think he’s starting to look like one of Fred Gynn’s relatives? Herman MunsterWhat I wanted to comment on was something else he announced in his “State of the State” address. He wants to build non-Indian casinos all over New York State, since they are not getting along with the Indians, and revenues are not being handed over like they would like.  Now, if any of you “poo-poo” the slippery slope phenomena, it hasn’t taken us long to get from “no gambling, period” to “well, lotteries help the children” to “We’re not allowing gambling, it’s on Native territories”.  It just drives me nuts when it’s wrong until they need the money. And why do they need the money? Because just like the Feds, they can’t say no and make a smaller budget.

Ok, time to wipe the spittle off my lips from sputtering in anger. I’m better now. Till the next outrage.

Personal Resbonsibility, What’s Yours?

Mea Culpa

I’m a big fan of personal responsibility. I don’t think we can clean up the world, unless we are cleaning our own house. However, I caught myself thinking something today that made me wonder about my own attitudes. I was cleaning the cat box. I use the clumping cat litter, and I was wondering if it is bad for the environment. My next thought was “They wouldn’t be allowed to make it if it wasn’t”. Outside of how ridiculous that thought is (can anyone say “superfund”?), it was an obvious dodge of personal responsibility. In this case, I want to dodge it, as I love this stuff. It makes keeping three cats easy, neat and not stinky. How often do we avoid considering personal responsibility because we don’t want to change?

The Tie In

I live in New York state. Often called the “Nanny state”, since we seem to have more “it’s bad for you” laws than any other state, other than California. Most of us poo-poo those laws, citing personal responsibility. The cat box this morning made me reconsider that. How many of won’t change until forced to, because we like the thing that might not be good for us? They don’t have to ban clumping cat litter for me to stop using it, but the negative qualities would have to be dramatically and forcefully shown to me in order for me to change.

I can’t say I quit smoking because of the indoor smoking ban, but it certainly helped. Going through the mini- withdrawals I had to endure each time I spent time in a public building was an added incentive to quitting. Make it easy to do the right thing, hard to do the wrong is the basis of behavior change. Is it wrong to have our governments to participate in these efforts? What if a company doesn’t exercise personal responsibility and makes a product that hurts people? Is our only recourse tort law? Of course, bringing up tort law reminds us that anything that can be used for good purpose can be used for bad, 10 times over!

That, of course, is the whole reason people are against the government getting involved in areas that should be relegated to personal responsibility, since  governmental laws ALWAYS have unintended consequences. One law does not fit all circumstances. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has gotten much criticism and praise for banning trans fat, supersized drinks and making it a law that calories had to be posted in menus. Are people only angry because they don’t like being told what to do? Is there a threat to trying to eliminate unhealthy things? To further complicate things, since we are already in the process of socialized medicine, do you have the right to do what you want, if I have to pay for it? Do I have the right to tell you what to eat if you weigh 250 and are a type II diabetic, and that is costing my tax money to pay for?

Let me know what you think. I don’t know for sure. I don’t want laws that stop me from doing what I like, but I can’t see the harm in guiding behavior in healthier lines, since we have companies doing so much to affect us psychologically and emotionally to buy their products that don’t help us at all. Can we educate everyone and inoculate them mentally to resist? Or do we legislate that companies cannot put certain things in their products, or use certain tactics to sell the items. Does knowing better actually lead to better behavior? I can attest that knowledge alone does not create change.

Some Thoughts on Sandy

a block of destroyed homes

Is anything going to make this better, anytime soon?

It is truly horrible to see the devastation that Sandy has caused. As with so many disasters, the misery and horror go on long after the water recedes. As we hear of the shortages of basic necessities, the complaints and accusations mount. There will always be those who prey on others in a situation like this. However, I know that most people want to help, are trying to help, are doing what they can to help. I have a few thoughts on the situation.

First, I think that there is nothing that people can do that is sufficient in the face of such adversity. You can’t send tons of people in who will need the same resources, that is, food, water and shelter, as the people they are trying to help. In this case, you can’t get anything in that takes more than a tank of gas to get there, since there is no gas due to the power outages. Right now, the only people who should be there are locals and power company workers. Food and water needs to get places, but realistically, it seems it would be better to get the people to the shelters, at least until power and gas is restored. You can’t be driving around delivering these things with no gas.

I remember the anger of the Katrina victims, echoing the same sentiments. I just don’t think we will ever get so good at dealing with natural disasters that there won’t be extreme hardships for weeks or even months after such an occurrence. I did hear one comment by a tv personality who lived in New York, that he was staying with a friend, “until they cleaned up his neighborhood.” I don’t know who “they” are, but he was an able bodied man, shouldn’t some of that be the responsibility of those who live in the area? When the October surprise hit here in Western New York, every man who could wield a chain saw was out helping himself and his neighbor. I realize the elderly and frail can’t do these sorts of things, and it does seem, at least in the city itself that they have been hit the hardest.

I guess I’m saying, I don’t have any answers, other than blaming and screaming doesn’t make anything better. Of course, if you’re in that situation and you feel helpless, maybe all you can do is yell. I do think that we should all take it upon ourselves, and as part of our communities to plan for ourselves what we would do. Do you keep any water in your house? Do you have a generator? What would you do with no power for a week? Do you have someone you could stay with? What if the roads are closed? You can’t live in a perpetual state of paranoia, but a complete lack of planning is why these disasters are so bad. Did no one think about the fact gas pumps need electricity? At least there was a mandatory evacuation order. Wherever you live, if they say it, do it. Especially if you are less able to care for yourself. If you don’t think you could go live in the wilderness with an ax and a match- get the heck out early. All we really gotten good at is forecasting. So, if they say the storm of the century is bearing down on you, either get gas and water now, or get out. But either way, there will be pain involved, and it will cost money and take time to clean up.

Just to ride my personal hobby horse for a moment- this is also why I am so determined to see people get in shape. You can’t haul the debris to the curb, cut the limbs with a chainsaw, or save yourself from an ebb tide if you are not in shape. Please don’t make yourself into a victim by how you live now. Maybe you’ll never need to hang onto branch to prevent the flood from carrying you away, but if you can’t even do one pull up, will you be able to hang onto that branch? Can you carry a 5 gallon bucket of water? Many people have real disabilities or are elderly. Don’t put yourself in the category of needing help, if, with a little work now, you can be one of the helpers.

Post script: Since writing this yesterday, I saw news clips of neighborhoods working together to clean up the devastation. I hope that news personality who was waiting for someone else to clean up sees that and gets the hint.

picture of a destroyed house from Sandy

How fast can you fix this?

Can we Just Stop the Stupid?

Disclaimer

I don’t want to save the world. In fact, if anything, I suffer from compassion burnout. I stopped listening to one of my favorite health podcasts because he wanted to change his format to focus on “green” or “sustainable” world issues. I’m not heartless, but in my mind, when you get too global you become ineffective. Scattershot into the ether seems like a wasted effort. Man’s inhumanity to man, or foolishness, becomes overwhelming when seen on the grand scale.

Rant:

Instead, I believe in keeping your own house clean. If you make good choices, and influence those within your sphere to do the same, you’ve done about all you can. In that light, I would like to rant about the stupid that is in my face lately. At work, we have a Keurig:

Keurig coffee maker

I imagine that some of you out there are saying “Good for you, I love those things!” However, to me this thing is the height of counter productive stupid. First, aren’t we supposed to be worried about creating garbage and filling landfills? Have you seen all the packaging 80 of those little buggers use? Second, isn’t buying individual serving sizes the most wasteful way to do things? Shouldn’t we create coffee makers that are more efficient, not less? You can call me a kill joy, but if we care about the environment and our “carbon footprint”, isn’t our kitchen a great place to start? They make those huge travel mugs, make your coffee at home, take it with you and reheat it from time to time. And I don’t want to hear you don’t have time. If you went to bed earlier you’d also save electricity by not watching some dumb movie at 11:30. See, your mom was right.

More sacred cows die!

While I’m on the subject, how about Swiffers? Use it once and throw it away. More sanitary that way. No dirty mop.

Excuse me?

Since when is a disposable item better than reusable? Plus, you  buy all these types of mops, they stop making refills, then you get to throw them away and buy new ones! Woot-woo   *sarcasm*

I’m not without empathy. I realize there are times when you just can’t face the extra chore of washing something after you’ve used it. But should this be a way of life? I am, of course, exempting anything in the bathroom. There are reusables for some of those products, but I can’t go there. Not yet.

In the 90’s, when all this green stuff was coming to the forefront, again (I was here in the 70’s, the first time it went around) you would read, in the same magazine, how we needed to conserve, followed by an article about how much bigger homes were becoming! And cars- great, they’re making hybrids. Suv’s. How many baby boomers need an Suv, and how many just need a commuter car? Can we have some little hybrids to get us too and fro without costing our first born to buy? How about heating our homes? I just heard a statistic that the average home is now heated to 76 degrees in the winter. Seriously? I hope that isn’t true. Outside of being extremely wasteful, it isn’t even good for your health. Speaking as a northeasterner going through it right now, your body adapts to lower temperatures. The first few days are rough, but after that, your house heated to 65 seems fine. I wear a sweater in the house, and if I’m not going to be out for a long time, I don’t even put a coat on, being more used to cold.

Maybe we do need to slap some of our fellow citizens into a social conscience. I do remember talking to a young man who said he kept his house at 75 degrees all winter “’cause he liked to just wear a t-shirt inside”, besides, he wasn’t paying for it. That is what irks me, people seem to always waste what they don’t pay for. Someone is paying for it, don’t you care about them? Heat should never be included in the rent unless the landlord can put a governor on the thermostat! I know, then you’ll have a butt head of a landlord keeping the heat at 60 all the time.

Anyway, cook your chicken and squash and roasted veggies all at the same time to save your gas bill, keep the thermostat low and don’t buy disposable. Maybe we won’t save the world that way, but our little corner will be better. Turn your thermostat to 60 at night, you’ll sleep better, literally and figuratively. Plus, there have been studies that having to heat yourself burns more calories. Win-win.

In all of this, I’m assuming that the message of conservation has gotten out. Isn’t “eat locally” the new hotness? Let me know, am I wrong in assuming that most people know what they ought to do?

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: