Archive | November, 2009

Quandaries of Adulthood: Should We All Have A Right-To-Die?

Like abortion, the decision to end one’s life – or to help someone else do so – naturally brings up questions of ethics, religion, privacy and choice. It’s a complicated question and there are lots of compelling reasons why assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia shouldn’t be legalized as a matter of public policy.

But as someone who watched my father live – artificially – on a breathing tube earlier this year, it’s also a very personal decision.

Two harrowing cases have just brought this issue back to life – so to speak – in the U.K.

Today I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com talking about those cases and my own personal views on this topic.

Have a look

Image: Heart Attack by Capn Madd Matt via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons You Should Listen To The BBC

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the many pleasures of living in the U.K. is that I have unlimited access to BBC Radio. I remember back when I lived in the States – and worked at Chicago Public Radio – I used to feel a bit put off when BBC programming came on. It felt too distant, too proper and – let’s face it – too mature.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I can’t get enough of BBC radio, and here are five reasons you should be listening too:

1. It’s combative. Much as I love National Public Radio in the U.S., NPR news programs can feel a bit…polite. Perhaps because the network is trying really hard to fight the perception that has a liberal bias, the talk show hosts go out of their way to be deferential and even-handed. Not here. Sure, the BBC tilts Left, but the “presenters” (as they’re called) are just as rough on Gordon Brown as they are on David Cameron. Have a listen to Radio Four’s James Naughtie interviewing just about anyone and ask yourself if you’ve ever heard anything like it on Morning Edition. It’s really refreshing to hear journalists who aren’t afraid to take the gloves off, without devolving into shrill partisanship.

2. It’s broad. The range of programming offered is – frankly – amazing. Just the other day, I was listening to some in-depth analysis of the latest bank restructuring over here. Next up? A retrospective on Somerset Maugham. I’m not kidding. And it’s like that all week long. One of my favorite programs is something called Desert Island Discs, where some famous person is interviewed about the eight pieces of music they’d bring with them if they were stuck on a desert island. What a concept!

3. It’s Informative. I think one of the sticking points for US listeners is that the BBC reports on such a broad range of topics geographically. This is true of domestic programming (Radio 4) and especially true of the BBC World Service. Americans just aren’t used to listening to *that much* foreign news. But once you get used to hearing about the latest governance debacle in Zimbabwe, it’s incredibly eye-opening and informative. (And, BTW, they do a great job with American coverage, in particular.)

4. It’s Quirky. Because – relative to NPR, at least – the BBC is incredibly well-funded, it can afford to do all sorts of odd, quirky programming alongside its flagship news shows. So, for example, radio plays are hugely popular over here. When I first moved to London, I found myself switching off The Archers (the longest running and most popular of these) whenever it came on. Now, three years later, I’m oddly drawn into this ongoing saga about families in the Midlands and have developed a sort of affection towards it.

5. It’s on all night! At least if you live in America, you can often hear top-drawer BBC programming in the middle of the night. And since we’re all insomniacs anyway, what’s there to lose? Have a listen…and see for yourself.

Image: Radio Daze by Ian Hayhurst via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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(Another) Secret To A Happy Marriage: Have A Division Of Labor

I’ve posted before about what makes for a happy marriage. (Answer: Have common interests.)

I’ve also posted on five tips for staying monogamous.

But this morning I had another epiphany about what makes for a successful long-term partnership: set up an appropriate division of labor.

I realized this about an hour ago when two things happened simultaneously:

a. my cell phone failed to charge properly (again) and

b. I couldn’t locate a tool bar for a new social networking program I’d just set up on my computer.

It’s not that I couldn’t have tried to fix either of these problems on my own. I’m not a technophobe. As an avid blogger, Facebook friend and now Twitter-er, I’m all about technology these days.

It’s just that when something technical goes wrong with a household object – be it the remote control for the VCR or a lightbulb – my first instinct, in the words of my late Irish grandmother, is “to call the man.”

But that’s not always the best strategy. Because “the man” is not only usually quite expensive, he’s also often unnecessary. Rather, these problems are often easily solved if one is just willing to sit down for a few minutes and think things through. Or read the instruction manual (which, in my case, usually gets tossed in a “to be read” pile, never “to be read.”)

Which is where my husband comes in. One of the (many!) reasons I’m glad that I married him is that he is (a.) technologically astute (b.) very helpful and, crucially (c.) incredibly patient. So when my joint technological dilemmas presented themselves this morning, he immediately came upstairs and had them both under control in a matter of minutes.

All of which is to say that in our marital division of labor, my husband is the technological advisor.

He’s also the aesthetic consultant. The son of an architect, he has a really good eye. He always knows what colors match, which piece of furniture ought to go where, and how high a particular painting ought to hang. Me? I’m just not all that visual. (Don’t believe me? Read this post under “comfort zone.” Nuff said.)

But lest you think that this is an entirely one-sided arrangement, let me assure you that I also pull my weight in this relationship. I’m in charge of anything time-sensitive.

So, for example, I recently got an email from an old friend who’d (apparently) been trying to get in touch with us for several weeks. She’d initially emailed my husband to ask if we were free for dinner one night in November when she’d be passing through London. When he didn’t respond, she emailed him again to be sure he’d gotten the first query.

My first reaction was:  why didn’t she email me first? Doesn’t she *know* that I’m the Chief Scheduler? Apparently not. But my husband does. Which is why – once he actually got to the second email – he immediately forwarded it to me.

Done.

So now I’m curious…what’s your division of labor?

*****

In case you’re interested, here’s yesterday’s post on PoliticsDaily.com about Five Things We Learned At The European Summit.

Image: Blue Lightbulb by Curious_Zed via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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