Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Health Insurance Explained to Comic Book Readers

An explanation of health insurance, in terms a comic book fan would understand.
by Zorikh Lequidre


A father and his son are in a comic book shop.

SON: Dad, my doctor says I have to read that comic book on the shelf.

DAD: Son, that is a deluxe hardcover edition of "Watchmen" with extra features and leather slipcover. It costs $125. Do you have $125?

SON: No. But the doctor says I have to read that story.

DAD: Well, here is a trade paperback reprint of the story. It doesn’t have all the extra features, but if your doctor says you can do just as well without them, it may work for you. It's only $24.95. Can you afford that?

SON: Barely. He says I may need to read comics every month for the rest of my life. What will I do?

DAD: Tell you what: If you give me $20 each month, I will buy whatever comics your doctor says you need.

SON: I can't afford $20 every month!

DAD: Then here's another idea. Give me $10 every month and just give me a little bit extra when you need a comic book.

SON: How much extra?

DAD: Well, if it's a regular newsstand comic, you don't have to give me anything. If it's a trade paperback reprint or paperback graphic novel, give me one dollar. If it's a hardcover reprint edition or hardcover graphic novel, give me three dollars, and if it's one of those big deluxe editions, give me one quarter of the cost.

SON: What if I don't need any at all?

DAD: Then I get to keep the money.

SON: That's not fair!

DAD: Consider this: I'm going to be shelling out a bunch of money for these comics when you need them, and you'll be paying close to squat. I'm taking a pretty big risk here; I'm gambling that you won't need another comic book this year. But if you do need one, I am going to have to get the money from somewhere, right?

SON: Well, if I need a lot of comics right away, where do you get the money?

DAD: There's a bunch of other kids in the neighborhood with whom I run this deal. I also make a deal with the comic book store.

SON: Then why don't I just save the money until I need it?

DAD: Sure you can, but what if you need a comic before you have the money saved for it, and by the time you do it'll be too late?

SON: Hmmm...well, why don't I just wait until I need a comic and start paying you then?

DAD: This offer is only good one month a year. If you turn it down, you will have to wait until this month next year for me to make the offer again.

SON: Well, how about if I only pay you on the months that I need comics?

DAD: It doesn’t work that way. If you miss a month, you will have to catch up the months you owe before I will pay for your comics. Basically, when you start paying me, you will owe me for a whole year.

SON: So how do I get out of this if I change my mind?

DAD: Just wait until the 12 months end. Or you can move out of the area.

SON: Then who is going to buy my comics for me if I do move out?

DAD: I have friends all over the country. One of them can offer a similar deal.

SON: OK, let me see if I understand: I and other kids give you money every month and you get deals from the store. You shell out the cash when we need comics, and depending on how much they pay you each month, we may have to pay a little bit as well. What happens if so many kids need so many comics you do run out of money?

DAD: Well, if the total cost of your comics adds up to a certain amount, you will have to pay a bigger share of the cost.

SON: But then I might go bankrupt!

DAD: Don't worry, after what you pay adds up to another, higher amount, I'll cover most of it, you'll wind up paying even less than you did to start.

SON: Wait, is this legal?

DAD: Actually, by law it’s mandatory.

SON: What!?!

DAD: That’s right. In 2005 they passed a law called the “Comic Book Reader’s Protection Act.” It went into effect in 2006.

SON: What does that law mean?

DAD: It means that from the time you become eligible to read comic books you have to join a plan like mine or pay a penalty.

SON: A penalty!?! How does that work?

DAD: It’s real simple. All children become eligible to read comic books when they turn 5, or if they have been able to read for at least two years, whichever comes first. When you first became eligible you had a few months in which to join. If you don't join, the government is going to count up all the months you should have had have coverage but didn’t. They will figure what 1% of the average monthly cost of the plans like mine all over the country is for each month you didn’t have coverage, then add the total to the monthly amount you pay me when you do join.

SON: Wow! That doesn’t sound fair!

DAD: It pays to pay attention, kid. The government doesn’t want you dying for lack of comics, and some people need a stick more than a carrot.

SON: Well, what if I never need any comics? What’s the cheapest plan you got?

DAD: Just give me five bucks a month, but you gotta pay for the first $35 worth of comics yourself, then you gotta pay for additional comics at the rate I told you earlier for the $10-month plan.

SON: What if I decide to shop at a different comic store in the area?

DAD: Sorry, I only work with this comic store here. You’d be on your own if you went to another comic shop in this town.

SON: And what about in other towns?

DAD: You remember those guys in other towns I talked about earlier? If they work with me, you are covered at the shops they work with. If the shops don’t want to work with us, we can’t help you.

SON: But what if the comic I absolutely need is at a shop you don’t cover?

DAD: Tell you what, my friends and I will start a new kind of plan. In this plan we would prefer that you go to a store that works with us, but we will still cover you if you want to go to a different shop. Your contribution when you buy a comic will just have to be a little bigger.

SON: Well, that’s better than nothing, I guess.

DAD: So there you have it. Pay a lot up front and don’t worry about the cost when you need a comic. Pay less on the front end and you pay a little on the back end. Pay a little more if you want to go where you want to go.

SON: Thanks for explaining it all to me. I think I’m going to go get a job so I can afford all this!

DAD: Hmmm…the boy has learned a valuable lesson and has taken his first step into a larger world. I guess my job here is done!


Study questions:
  1. Can you identify the points in the conversation that represented:
    1. Premiums
    2. Annual election period
    3. Co-pays
    4. HMO
    5. Brand-name drugs
    6. Co-insurance
    7. Special election period
    8. PPO
    9. Generic drugs
    10. Coverage gap
    11. In-network and out-of-network
    12. Late enrollment penalty
    13. Tiers
    14. Specialty drugs
    15. Catastrophic coverage
    16. Shared risk
    17. Individual mandate
  2. Which plan would you be best for you?
  3. Which plan would be best for someone who has very little need to read comics?
  4. Which plan would be best for someone who had to read a lot of deluxe-edition comics?
  5. Which plan would be best for someone who expects to read just one or two newsstand comics per month?
  6. Why would someone get a deluxe edition instead of a paperback reprint?
  7. How would someone avoid falling into the “coverage gap?”
  8. Why would the government pass a law making comic book insurance mandatory?
  9. Who would benefit most from having insurance?
  10. Who has the least need for insurance?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What does this dream mean?

I normally don;t put much stock in "dream interpretation" with regards to fortune telling, and personality profiles, but just for fun, I thought I would throw out the question here, because this dream as relatively brief, and realistic, containing an unusual amount of coherent logic.

Dream, morning of 10/3/2013

I found a sort of folder in which there were 6 horizontal slots in the front cover, arranged in vertical rows of three. In five of those slots (the bottom right one being empty) there were small cards from Christmas of the years 1958 – 1962. My mom said this was a thing her brother Carl did, which was to send an update of his family every year, and wondered what year this was from. For some reason it seemed to be connected to when I was born. We were also wondering when he stopped doing this.

On the upper right-hand corner of the cover was a date, 1968. Also, it seemed that somewhere there was a date that indicated the last time he sent one, that was 1998. This seemed to me that he sent them every year until he died. However, upon reflection, in the dream, I recalled that he died before that.

I looked several times at the small cards slotted into the front cover, wondering why they were from only as late as 1962 when the folder was from 1968. My mom kept wondering when it was from and I kept on trying to show her the date in the corner.

What do you think this means?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Uniforms and Patriotism

News item: Mississippi Students Upset After 'Patriotic Day' Apparel Flagged
Mississippi Students Upset After 'Patriotic Day' Apparel Flagged

Apparently a school in Mississippi declared Sept. 11, 2013 "Patriotic Day" and said that students could "either wear a white shirt containing an image of the American flag, or their regular school uniform," according to the Huffington Post.

Two students violated that policy by wearing regular T-shirts that said “America, land of the free, home of the brave” and "U.S. Pride." They were told to change their clothes because he shirts did not follow the school dress code, and now the article reports that the school is considering not having a "Patriotic day" next year.

I seldom get inspired to take time out of my day to comment on news articles and such, and most often other people say what I would have said anyway or a simply idiots. I was feeling inspired,this morning, however. Here is my take on the matter (which I also posted in the "comments" section of the article):

Patriotism is fun and all, but WHY are we patriots? "Guess what everybody? You can wear a DIFFERENT SHIRT than you always have to today, so long as it is THIS PARTICULAR SHIRT that we say you can wear!" I really don't get how that helps me understand why I am supposed to feel patriotic about this country. How is this serving the educational message of the school? If discipline is one of the primary educational missions of this particular school, sure, but I don't see anything empirically or intrinsically worthy of patriotism about being allowed to wear a US flag image on your shirt one day out of the year, and the rest of the year you may only wear your school uniform.

If the point of the uniform is to create an atmosphere of...well...uniformity among the student body, then are we to assume that patriots are allowed to express their individuality once a year now? Are those the only individuals that are allowed to express their individuality? Are those who do not wear the flag not patriots? Is no one else allowed to express their individuality on any other day of the year? Is there something special, better, greater about being a patriot as opposed to not being a patriot? Suppose someone wants to keep their patriotism in their hearts (as many do about their religions, for instance), would they be singled out by the "expressive" patriots for ridicule?

I am going to go out on a limb here and say if you want to maintain uniformity and discipline, you can do it: the same uniform, all year long. If you want to allow free expression, you can do that too: no dress code, all year long. I can even accept a "free expression day" in a uniformed school in which everyone is allowed to wear whatever the heck they want (all right, you can add "within acceptable community standards" if you are afraid of someone showing up with "swear words" on their shirt or in non-gender-appropriate underwear). But "Patriotic Day," in which you are "allowed" to wear one specific alternate uniform, especially one that is as loaded with subtext and meaning as the American flag, and nothing else, strikes me as facetious and against both the spirit of the principles behind school uniforms and the First Amendment's guarantee of the freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Superhero Dream

So I had this dream last night...

I was working in the office of a newspaper, when a paramilitary terrorist (white, about 40 yrs old, hair cut short to minimize the effect of his receding hairline) busted into the office with an assault rifle and took everyone hostage. One of the other workers, one who was new to the office asked what was happening. I told him that this has happened several times before. This guy is trying to make the superhero in the office reveal himself. The thing is, I am the superhero he is trying to expose, but I can't tell anyone, because I have to protect my secret identity.

The fellow office worker takes it upon himself to be the hero. He tries to use a martial arts technique to get the gun away from the terrorist, the terrorist is just too experienced for him, twists his arm backwards and there is a “snap” sound from his arm. “Anyone else?” he says.

There is a Lois Lane-type character in the office, and she asks what he wants. He says he wants to prove that the American press is a corrupt entity that spreads lies, and that he wants to bring down the power of the press.

I explain to him that he wasting his time. The press has no power. Nobody reads the newspapers anymore. Everybody knows there is no journalistic integrity or investigative effort put into reporting anymore. All the papers just print the releases from the Associated Press or Reuters and boom, they're done. If he wanted to get in touch with Superman all he had to do was this...

And then I put my hands around my mouth and yelled “SUPERMAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”

When he turned around to look I ran off, changed into Superman and flew back so fast he didn't notice.

Then I woke up.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Report from the Battle of the Nations 2013 part 1

Report from the Battle of the Nations 2013

Last year we were rock stars. We were superheroes. We were Rocky, the Bad News Bears, the Karate Kid, the Muppets all rolled into one glorious, made-in-America, only-in-America story.

This year we were warriors.

America loves an underdog but at the end of the day, it wants a winner, and we wanted to win. For nineteen of us, this was a return. We had been here before. By “here,” I mean international full-contact medieval armored combat with rebated steel weapons at the Battle of the Nations, although this was a new location, the tiny walled village of Aigues-Mortes on the southern coast of France. For the other twenty-nine it was the first time, but they had the benefit of our experience, our game films, and a training program and battle plan devised by veterans.

We had popped the cherry of Americans being in the sport and had surprised everyone with out toughness, passion, and, to some degree, our good sportsmanship and pleasant natures (not that anyone thought anything bad of us, but everyone remarked how much fun we were). So now here we were, better prepared, with a bigger team, and ready to literally take on the world.

The atmosphere for the event was very different from last year. The city of Aigues-Mortes, and much of France itself, is defined by the words “quaint,” “charming,” and “beautiful.” Just walking down the street put you in the mindset of a medieval town. As a good start to the week we took a tour of Carcassonne, the famous medieval castle. Though it was much more “touristy” than Malbork last year, there is just no avoiding the majesty of looking up at medieval walls and towers, looking out over the landscape from medieval walls and towers, and of course, the stained glass windows and flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals.

But even before we got there, my lady and I spent a couple of days in Paris. There I met with a cousisn I did not know I had. He invited us over to dinner, at which we had a wonderful home-cooked French meal and met his wife and children. He showed us old family photos and some family documents going back hundreds of years. Some of the most fascinating were a Legion d'Honneur certificate from 1857 that also had a letter from the Sultan, and a scroll from the King of France from 1732!

After Paris we drove down to Carcassonne with Rich Elswick, one of my fellow Team USA knights, stopping off for lunch in Tours, where we checked out another cathedral and an art museum.

It was fascinating to see an At Museum in a small town in France. This was apparently a private collection being shown in a large mansion. Most of the fine art I have ever seen has been in museums in America or art history books. There you get the feeling that what you are seeing are the most important works of at in the world, that the artists did this one or these two or three paintings and that's it, there is no need to see any more. And since these museums cover such a broad spectrum of history and geography, you get the sense that there was only a few pieces of work in any place or period that are worth looking at.

But in the Beaux-Arts Museum in Tours I saw lots and lots of paintings from the same period, all from western Europe, including a Rembrandt. This made me realize that these famous artists did not do just those one or two or three paintings w all know, but lots and lots of paintings over the course of their life. And there were lots of lesser-known artists working also. And people commissioned this art and hung it in their hoses. This was the “pop art” of its period. These were the magazine subscriptions and the TV shows of the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It gave me a new perspective on the history of art and made me wish I had done more art in my lfe. It kind of makes me want tp pick up a pencil right now...

To be continued.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Battle of the Nations hits the local news!

As some of you may know, I am, once  again, on Team USA for the Battle of the Nations!

I don't have time for a full-length post and essay right now, but I do want to mention that this year around I am starting to get some press coverage! Here is an article in the Brooklyn Paper from last week, and just today a photographer came from the NY Daily News to take pictures for an article coming out this Sunday!

Here is the text of the article, just in case it disappears of the 'web someday...

A real Brooklyn knight: W’burg warrior heading to Europe to do battle

The Brooklyn Paper
Sword-toting Williamsburger Zorikh Lequidre will represent the County of Kings — and the nation — in a fight for bragging rights between men who spend their weekends getting all medieval on each other.
The 44-year-old actor is taking his homemade armor to France, where he will fight for Team USA in the so-called Battle of Nations — a massive melee that will let him fulfill the dream of just about every boy since the Dark Ages.
“Who doesn’t want to be the knight in shining armor and the hero to look up to, serving your king and fighting against the best fighters out there?” said Lequidre, who added that, yes, it is his real name. “You are putting yourself in a tradition of noble elite.”
But unlike his medieval ancestors, Lequidre will fight with a dulled blade.
The swords aren’t sharp, meaning participants ought to escape with all of their limbs — but other than that the reenactments are full-scale and full-contact, with teams from 14 countries gathering in May in Aigues Mortes to behave as knights did in the 12th century.
And that extends far beyond just slashing people with broadswords, according to Lequidre.
“You have to take on squires and train them. At events, you have to marshall and make sure that everyone is wearing the proper armor,” said Lequidre, who joined the national team last year after participating in other reenactments with the Society for Creative Anachronism for more than two decades. “And you have to engage in chivalry, the definition of which we love to debate over a campfire and drinks we all made ourselves.”
Lequidre is the only Brooklyn knight on the national team, and he earned his spot on the 50-fighter roster by beating out 100 other applicants and training in jiu jitsu and wrestling.
And he lays it all on the battlefield, according to Team USA officer Jaye Brooks.
“Where Zorikh really stands out is determination,” said Brooks, who judged the try-outs on skill, strength, and spirit. “He has a ton of heart.”
That’s because he is fighting for love.
Lequidre met his lady, Maria Dedvukaj, three years ago at a Halloween party where he dressed as a knight in armor — and since then his damsel has become an integral part of his recreational combat, serving as a team administrator and coordinating travel, lodging, and food for American warriors.
“It’s history coming alive, it’s adventure and there’s also this pride of having a team come from the U.S.,” said Dedvukaj, who sews all her own outfits.
Adventure doesn’t equal victory: and that’s all that matters in this not-so-bloody bloodsport. In fact, Team USA came in last in 2012’s 21-on-21 melee.
This time, Lequidre says the United States boasts its finest lineup of knights in the nation’s 236-year history, but it’s unclear if America can keep up with the superpowers such as Poland and Ukraine, which placed first and second last year, respectively.
Win or lose, he will return to Brooklyn a knight — even if that lofty title, granted to him by other members of Team USA, is not recognized by the Queen of England or any other kingdom.
“My knighthood and a MetroCard will get me on the subway,” he said.
The Battle of Nations will descend upon Aigues Mortes, France from May 9 to May 12. Video of the battles will be available at www.youtube.com/user/battleofthenationsTV.
Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

Reader Feedback
Zorikh Lequidre from Williamsburg says:
Thank you so much for putting this article out! I am very proud of what I am doing with Team USA at the Battle of the Nations!

This is an expensive undertaking, between the airfare, hotel, food, armor, weapons, training etc., so to raise funds I have created an illustration that will be available in an art print, t-shirt, or hoodie sweatshirt. you can get it, and other nifty items and perks, by sponsoring me through http://www.gofundme.com/zorikhbotn2013

You can also see videos I have produced myself about Team USA and Battle of the Nations at http://www.youtube.com/captainzorkh

This is a very well-written article and truly captures the spirit of what it is about. Just to clarify one thing, the description of knighthood in the 7th paragraph is a description of knighthood in the Society for Creative Anachronism, not necessarily Team USA or the Battle of the Nations.

Thanks again for writing and posting this article. This is very important to me and I am happy to share it with as many people as I can! 
March 21, 11:04 am
 
Eric Bentley from Tucson says:
Give em hell and safe returns!
 March 21, 11:26 am
 
Violetta from formerly LIC says:
DevonEliz (Laura) sent me this. God send thee well Sir Ervald.
- Vi (exiled in Midrealm)
March 21, 2:03 pm
 
Hipster from Williamsburg says:
you look like an idiot
March 21, 3:20 pm
 
Hagit Barzilai from Seneca Lane says:
Once a King, always a King, but once a Knight is enough.
March 21, 4:31 pm
 
JAY from NYC says:
wanna fight, then join the army.
March 21, 6:20 pm
 
The Real Zorikh from India says:
You spelled your name wrong. In the link. Left out the "i"
March 22, 4:35 pm
 
Tom from Propa PH says:
It's like game of thrones, but where all the knights have vaginas.
March 22, 4:37 pm
 
Sarah from Slope says:
Hey, I think it's kinda cool. Good luck Zorliek.
March 22, 4:37 pm
 
Captain Zorikh from Williamsburg says:
Thanks TRZFI. I thought I was the only Zorikh out there ;) Here is the corrected link to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/captainzorikh
BTW, I set of a web page where info about me, the Battle of the Nations, my fundraiser, and videos can all be conveniently found at http://www.captainzorikh.com/botn2013
March 22, 4:41 pm
 
JAY from NYC says:
sorry but you are NOT a warrior and this is NOT a battle.
March 22, 6:38 pm
 
Brad from burg says:
Hey Jay from NYC your prozac ran out might wanna hide the rope.
March 22, 10:08 pm
 
Captain Zorikh from Williamsburg says:
Jay, you are entitled to your opinion of the definition of "warrior" and "battle." If you are more comfortable thinking of me as an "athlete" in a "sport," go right ahead. There will be an exhibition on April 13-14 at the Renaissance Faire in Mercer Co. Park in West Windsor, NJ Come on down and check us out. And feel free to talk with the current and former US military personnel who are on the team.
March 22, 10:15 pm
 
Charlie Andrews from Eagle Mountain Utah says:
Jay and Hipster why don't you come out of your Mom's basement and meet us on the field I promise it will be a battle and you will fully believe we are warriors !!! Or you could just suck it and leave it at that :)
March 23, 1:26 am


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Underwater Twlight Zone Dream

Imagine if you will...a dream so vivid, so realistic, so consistent in its narrative logic, that it plays exactly like a "Twilight Zone" episode or a "weird mystery" comic book story by Jack Kirby.

Picture if you will a large nylon bubble. This bubble has clear plastic windows and is opened by a large zippered doorway. Within this bubble are three explorers, a male scientist getting up in his years but still with plenty of vigor, the inventor of this bubble; His daughter, a young and beautiful scientist who believes in her father's dream of exploring the mysteries of the ocean depths, and a third person, the operator of the bubble, who's details are obscure but unimportant. As the dreamer of this dream, you are also in this bubble, a fascinated observe of this simple yet cleverly-conceived device which will allow you and your companions to explore a phenomena that has been detected on the floor of this particular body of water upon which  you are now floating.

You pull down the plastic central zipper of the door, marveling at the simplicity of its seal, and hoping that it will keep the water out. The order is given to descend, and you see the support staff standing on the platform looking at you with concern. After a moment, you realize that the zipper is not completely closed, but the air pressure is keeping the water from leaking in the bubble. You pull the zipper closed the remaining two inches and lock it in place. The final locking of it causes it to visibly disappear into the fabric securing the air-tight seal. The descent continues, everything working perfectly, and he scientist's daughter kisses him n the cheek.

You reach the bottom of the water.  It is not too far down from the surface that you could not swim to the top if you had to, but far enough that the surface is out of sight and light has a hard time reaching you. you look out the windows and see a broad, flat plain. There is not much life under here, it is an eerie desplate landscape. But there has been some phenomena here that requires exploration.

You put on a breathing apparatus and so does the scientist. and step out of the bubble into the water. You go in one direction and he goes another. The pressures are not so great that a diving suit is needed, so you are wearing a simple breathing mask. As you go further from the bubble, a fast moving bright thing rushes past you, like a car on the highway. In your radio earpiece you hear the scientist's daughter calling frantically for him to come back. You start to look for him to no avail. The air in the breathing aparatus will last a long time, but you worry that if you don't find him you may have to surface without him, and then he may be lost forever.

The bubble reaches it underwater time limit, however, and the scientist has not been found. Once on the surface his daughter is frantic. We must go back down, she cries. He is down there and we must find him!

The time ticks by as the wheels of procedure slowly turn to enable the bubble to go back down. After an agonizing wait in which visions of the scientist's potential fate play before your eyes, you return to the bubble to drop to the same location.

Perhaps there was an air pocket underwater and the scientist was able to survive in that? Perhaps there was an underwater civilization, and a beautiful mermaid who had lured him away? He was a widower, after all, this scientist, and a constant seeker of mysteries, never able to resist one in front of his face. Was this bubble he invented not a product of his obsession with a mysterious underwater phenomenon?

You reach the bottom of the water again and you see a glowing underwater creature, on one of whom the pattern of the scales, the fins, the gills on its belly look exactly like the face of a beautiful human woman. It is this creature that the scientist had followed out of the bubble, and a school of these creatures that now swim around his lifeless body, entangling it with underwater plants. The scientists daughter bursts into teas, for she has learned that the human mind will see what it wants to see in the patterns of nature and that you should always look twice at what is found within...The Twilight Zone.

(OK, in my dream there was no narrator, but the telling of the story was just begging for it)