Tag Archives: healthcare

Above It All

transcendental medication_edited-1

You can try Googling the name of the drug you need, but it still won’t work unless you pay.

Perhaps a bit obscure?

Aside from having read some news articles about how mass meditation could lower the crime rate (a claim that is still touted, despite many skeptics disputing the data), I didn’t know all that much about Transcendental Meditation. There were a lot of TMers in the town where I lived as a young adult, and I guess some of them were persuasive enough that one year I recall voting a straight Natural Law  ticket in a local election without knowing anything about TM. I actually have some cousins who are involved in the group, and they, as far as I can tell, are just people who meditate every day. I didn’t have many preconceived notions about the practice.

So, when The Man told me he wanted to attend a free informational meeting about Transcendental Meditation a few years back, I didn’t have any problem tagging along. I was interested to hear what they had to say. Also, as you may know, my policy has always been to tag along when I suspect my husband might intend to join a cult. The last time it actually worked out pretty well. I did Crossfit for 3 1/2 years and I was fit.

This time, though, I got bad vibes right from the start. Perhaps a dozen of us gathered in a private home to hear a deliriously happy couple talk about how TM could save the world and everything in it. Like I said, I went in with a pretty open mind, but it was hard to keep listening after a while.

First of all, it turned out that my cousins were kind of a big deal in the movement and these people were way too impressed with their names when they asked if we knew any TMers. That made me uneasy.

Then they presented the same evidence I’d been reading for years, about crime going down when a lot of people meditated. Old evidence. Immediately, I question why crime still exists, if we can just meditate it away. Why do all the TMers stay in freaking Iowa if they could make New York, Chicago, and LA safe for the most vulnerable people, if they could inspire criminals to just stop committing crimes? Why don’t they go meditate in Jerusalem until the Israelis and the Palestinians come to accord? They don’t tell you that. They just tell you how great TM is, how beautiful the ceremony that inducts you into the group is, how special receiving your own personal mantra is.

Personally, I’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” and I know exactly what I’d do if I had the power to stop violence just by thinking about it.

Next, they get to the price. It’s a pretty hefty price tag. I forget how much they wanted precisely, but I recall it was about a grand, and it’s absolutely imperative that you pay. You can’t get one of their big, life-changing secret mantras until you pay. So that’s where you lose me every time. Simple, secret knowledge that’s only available for a hefty price, but guaranteed to improve everything for the rest of your life? I’m trying to get them to explain how and why TM’s results differ from those of other types of meditation, or chanting, or mantras, but all I get is that their mantras are magic, that mantras that hold translatable meaning are too distracting for the human brain, and that you have to have a custom mantra of nonsense syllables tailored to you.

Finally, they announce that we will each have a one-on-one talk with one of the leaders, guys with the husband and girls with the wife. Well, The Man immediately objects. “I want to stay with my wife,” he says, but this is impossible. They won’t allow it. He goes one way and I go another. After some forgettable small talk, I’m asked if I have any questions. Oh, I have questions. But, per usual, I don’t need to ask too many of them.

“If you honestly believe that TM is the secret to fixing the world, and that everything would be perfect if everyone practiced it, why would you hang this exorbitant price tag on something that would save humanity? Why don’t you just give it away and make the world perfect right now?”

“Oh, they tried that in the ’60s. The Maharishi found that people didn’t take it seriously unless they paid.”

They have to charge you because it doesn’t work if you don’t pay.

In other words, this is a practice that can change your world, but only if you’re the kind of person who has $1000 to set on fire right now. Let me tell you, as a person who’s been well-off and not so well-off, there are plenty of things that can make the world better for you if you’re the kind of person who has 1000 extra bucks lying around. Most problems are easier to fix with money, and people with money tend to have different problems than people without money.

She kept trying to sell me but I was bored and disgusted and told her that I would definitely not be giving her $1000, ever, and she gave up and hustled me out of there so she could get at the next mark. Customer. Seeker of illuminated truth. Whatever.

The Man hadn’t pushed as far in his one-on-one, but he was also disenchanted with their promises and their sales tactics. We left.

Later, I did a lot more research on TM. As it turned out, like everything else in the internet era, the top-secret personal mantras that lie at the core of this practice are not at all secret. Enough people have left TM and shared their secrets that it’s now possible to deduce that there is nothing special or personal about TM mantras: you are assigned one of a set number of meaningless syllables based on your age and your gender. That’s it. You can go right now and find what mantra will save your life by Googling it (of course they claim it doesn’t work if you don’t have the support of the community, which you only get with the $1000 buy-in).

That’s my story about TM. If it works for you, more power to you. But also, you might want to Google “meditation crime rate study skeptic” or possibly “placebo effect” before you try to sell it to me for $1000. Having a finely-tuned bullshit meter probably makes the world less magical for me, but it does save me a lot of money.

Anyway, this was a little throwaway gag I thought of on my last writing retreat. I wanted to get back to riffs off pop culture and little puns and slight changes in trending phrases, like “microclimate change deniers” and “super fun site” in addition to branching out into more personal stuff. I think it’s taken me longer to write this blog post than it took to draw the comic. No idea if the comic works or not, but I need to find my way back into this blog, and the more serious ideas I’ve jotted down recently are a lot longer.

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The Ides of Trump

the ides of trump

I don’t think he’s interested in my message, but I do suspect that images of ladies in light bondage might get his attention.

So, technically, “the Ides” aren’t a negative thing, unless you are actually Julius Caesar and your so-called friends decide it’s as a good a time as any to put an end to your potential tyranny. Ides simply refers to a date in the middle month in the Roman calendar, sometimes the 13th and sometimes the 15th, depending on the month. But most people have the sense that it means something unlucky.

So, this is The Ides of Trump, the point being to break the world record for postcards sent to one person in a day, in order to present a visual scale of just how many people do not approve of the current president’s policies and actions in the first 50 days of his administration. You can still participate: just acquire a postcard, write a message explaining your disapproval, add the hashtag #theIdesofTrump and send it off to the White House today, March 15th.

I think the Sword of Damocles has probably been on my mind because the Girl requested I read her Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. We recently finished book 3, wherein some of the action takes place on Damocles Dock, thus foreshadowing the inevitability that unfortunate events will come crashing down on the heads of the Baudelaire orphans.

And, in a more classical sense, the Sword of Damocles hangs over anyone in a position of power. Things can change. Things can change faster than you could imagine.

I had long stretches of time in my 20s and 30s when I could not afford healthcare. For most of my current relationship, I’ve been covered as The Man’s dependent, but since he’s gone into real estate, I require Medicaid. As a person with multiple chronic health conditions that require treatment in order to allow me to even attempt to participate in society, I am grateful for the ACA, and uncertain as to how I would begin to go about receiving care were my coverage to be destroyed.

Although I think there are a lot of important issues about which a rational person could choose to protest, this is the one that affects me most, and the one for which I thought of a little cartoon. There are actually many swords hanging over our heads: the ones that represent the pollution of air and water as the kleptocracy deregulates business; the ones that represent hate crimes against gay and transgendered people, and against people with dark skin or non-Christian spiritual beliefs; the ones that threaten freedom of speech and of the press; the ones that discriminate against immigrants, the very backbone of this nation and the force with which America was built; the ones that oppress women, and the general right of individuals to exist as individuals with rights that should trump those of millionaires to make a few dollars more.

You can probably think of others.

Alice in Blunderland

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“But I don’t want to go among selfish, greedy people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all selfish and greedy here. I’m selfish and greedy. You’re selfish and greedy.”

Today, in a thread about ACA and profit in healthcare I questioned the foundational American belief in the nature of capitalism and decided not to respond to a comment about the futility of trying to “escape the trap of money” in a “ridiculously hedonistic, unhealthy narcissistic society” written by a woman who listed her current occupation as “artist” (she apparently worked in gems and precious metals) and her previous occupations as a manager of a Lexus dealership and “private jet broker.”

Private. Jet. Broker.

This is why some people don’t think there’s any room at the table. Because someone took up all the space with a private jet.

The woman in question seemed to consider herself fairly liberal, politically speaking. I didn’t know her, except I felt like I did, because I grew up in  place where money–not just enough money, or a comfortable amount of money, but ALL the money, as much money as a person could get, and then more money on top of that–was considered paramount. Not that they were bad people. The rich people I grew up around gave lavishly to charity and voted in favor of social services. But they lived in another world, and their children didn’t understand how ridiculously much more they had than everyone else. They knew they were rich. They just didn’t understand how poor so many people were.

This weekend I had a couple comic ideas around the theme of people debating whether or not the president-elect is fascist, whether the people who support him are nazis, and my thought that this kind of labeling/identity politics/name-calling is pointless. I don’t care whether or not a regime’s qualities align 100% with those of the 3rd Reich. I do care whether or not their actions result in .01% of the atrocities of World War II. So I’m trying to stay focused on a discussion of what people do, whether it is kind and helpful or selfish and greedy.

I maintain that 1) money is only one possible way of dividing resources, not a necessary evil, but a cultural system that exists because enough people want it to exist, and 2) that there are sufficient resources on planet Earth that everyone could have everything they needed if we all chose a more equitable way of distributing good and services while communicating the value of community and meaningfully contributing to society, but that 3) the reason we don’t usher in a true utopian era is because most people are greedy and selfish.

We’re almost all at least a little greedy and selfish. Even if we love our fellow human and wouldn’t personally wrong them, we accept a system in which some people can be a lot greedy and a lot selfish and love their fellow human not at all, and have no compunction about personally wronging them if it could be done for profit and power. We say it’s OK for one person to earn a private jet while many more people cannot earn homes for their family and food for their children even though they work 40, 60, 80 hours a week. We don’t have to accept this system as the only possibility, but the vast majority of us do. We could change that. For sure we could work out a system where everyone receives healthcare.

I’m afraid my Alice looks too much like Janet Jackson. I was going for Latinx. But you know I made the Hatter’s hands small on purpose. That’s not like calling someone a fascist. That’s comedy. The Putin-Hare kind of creeps me out. Also, I did this Tenniel drawing before, in a Dragon Comic. I already had the “Alice in Wonderland” tag.

 

You need urgent care after you get the bill

If you think WebMD is bad, whatever you do, don't subscribe to the CDC's mailing list where they send you updates on all the latest and deadliest diseases you might have.

If you think WebMD is bad, whatever you do, don’t subscribe to the CDC’s mailing list where they send you regular updates describing in graphic detail all the latest and deadliest diseases you are probably suffering from right now.

It was the Rabbit who told me about the CDC mailing list and diagnosed herself with every global pandemic for a year before she realized that this in itself probably didn’t constitute healthy behavior and unsubscribed. Personally, I don’t like going to the doctor because my experience is that doctors typically don’t listen to or help me. Usually they tell me there’s nothing wrong, and if they do treat me, it has minimal effect. Fortunately, I do have good health insurance, courtesy of my wholly legal marriage to The Man, who is gainfully employed.

As for WebMD, it’s really fairly useless for diagnosis, when you get down to it. If you want to look up the course of a particular disease, it’s an OK resource, but if you search your symptoms, you pretty much always have cancer.

Kids can’t play doctor anymore, anyway. If they get caught, they have to have psychiatric evaluations and become registered sex offenders. And why would they bother looking at each other when they can just Google porn?

I’ve been trying to spend less time online. The real world has some things to recommend it, too.