Tag Archives: politics daily

Introducing: She The People

Hello everybody and Happy New Year!

I’m just back from Argentina, where I failed to learn the Tango and consumed far too much Malbec and red meat than could possibly be healthy for one person. Stand by for updates on all manner of things personal and political.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some really great news. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for some time will remember that not so long ago, I used to write for a women’s blog on www.PoliticsDaily.com called Woman Up. It was a fabulous experience professionally, intellectually and socially and when it ended, there was a huge void in my life.

I’m therefore delighted to announce that as of this week, many of those same writers – myself included – will now be writing for a new women’s blog on The Washington Post, entitled She The People, where we explore “the world as women see it.”

I’ll be chiming in later today and tomorrow with a couple of my maiden posts on She The People, which will henceforth form part of my regular repertoire here on RealDelia.

But for now, please do stop by and check us out. I couldn’t be more excited to be writing with this talented group of women.

We rock. We really and truly do.

 

Image: We The People by Rishi Menon via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

 

 

Adulthood Quiz: How Diverse Are Your Friends Politically?

MSP: Rebublican National Convention by jpellgen

There’s an interesting post over on Salon by Taffy Brodesser-Akner this week. It’s called “I can’t believe my best friend is a Republican.”

Great title.

The author goes on to explain how she – an avowed public radio-listening, pro-Planned Parenthood, California liberal – has a best friend who actually *likes* Fox News, admires Sarah Palin and – gasp – approves of cutting off funding for NPR. Her daughter’s names are Liberty, Honor and Victory. For reals.

The two women met at a weight-loss group. But, really, it could have been anywhere: a  playground…a writing group…a knitting club. The point is that they met because of a common interest and went on to forge a close personal relationship that transcended politics.

I still remember my own “first.” (Er…Republican that is.)

I went to one of those super-progressive, liberal artsy colleges in New England – you know, the kind where people erected shanty towns on the college green to protest the University’s investment in South Africa. (This was back when apartheid was still in place. Yes, I am *that* old.)  While I’d known one or two Republicans during my college years, they certainly weren’t a close or frequent part of my social circle.

Then I moved to Washington, D.C. where I lived for two years with a group of women from another liberal, progressive Northeastern University. And guess what? One of them was a Republican.

I still remember the shock I registered the first time she mentioned, in passing, that she voted Republican.

“Really?” I asked, incredulously.”Really?

“Of course I do,” she explained, shrugging her shoulders. “I grew up in [quintessential Midwestern state]. Everybody I knew was Republican:  my family, my friends, all the politicians. It’s just how it was.”

I remained shocked for several more months. And the shock, of course, had nothing to do with my friend’s politics, but everything to do with my own assumptions about who I was and the kind of people that surrounded me.

And, of course, it’s not really about whether someone votes Republican or Democrat (or Labour or Conservative). Brodesser-Akner’s article might just as easily have been titled “I can’t believe my best friend is an Atheist…Mormon…Jew…Body-Builder.

The point is that it’s about difference.

Since my post-college ideological awakening, I’m pleased to report that I’ve evolved. I’ve added many Republican friends (and family!) to the roster. With some, we avoid topics like health care and Islam in America (or Israel in the U.K.). With others, we engage in spirited debate.

Over the years – and much like the author – I’ve come to see this diversity in political views as a good thing. As my cousin, who lives in Colorado, pointed out to me during the mid-term elections last autumn, “There are real advantages to living in a ‘Purple state.’ It forces you to be more tolerant.”

I learned to appreciate the value of ideological diversity again when I went to work at Politics Daily. When I started writing there, I just assumed that most – if not all – of the women I’d be writing with would be card-carrying, pro-choicers like myself. I was wrong. From the editors on down, there were plenty of pro-Lifers to be found on the staff, and the median writer was – at least on this issue – a good deal more centrist than I.

One of my former colleagues recently observed on Facebook that working at Politics Daily had made her a bit less liberal (by virtue of being exposed to more conservative ideas.) I don’t feel that way at all. If anything, the experience made me more liberal, because I’m that much more aware of what’s at stake in debates over things like universal health care and the funding of Planned Parenthood.

But because that publication required me to listen to and engage with a diverse set of political views that I didn’t necessarily share, I’m also that much more informed. And I’ve had to work harder to defend my views on things like abortion, rather than taking them for granted

How about you? Do you find that you mostly hang out with like-minded folks or get outside your ideological comfort zone?

Image: MSP: Republican National Convention by jpellgen via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

PD–

Let's Be Friends: Join Me On Facebook

OK, so at long last I’m going to go ahead and open up my Facebook account to…(drumroll please)…you!

I’ve held off doing this for a long time. When I first joined Facebook a little over a year ago (yes, I know, I was a late adopter…), I wasn’t quite sure how it would fit into my life and wanted to keep it just for close “real life” friends and family.

Well, as any of you fellow Facebook-o-philes realize, that model quickly went right out the window. Although I wouldn’t “accept” anyone as a friend that I’d never met personally, the range of people who made it under the radar because we’d once met was still quite high. One year later and with 325 friends (and growing), it now seems silly to call all of those people close friends.

In addition, I blog regularly at places like Politics Daily and The Huffington Post and Yahoo! Shine where it’s pretty much du rigueur to invite readers to not only follow you on twitter (which I’ve always done), but to friend you on Facebook. It’s all part of the new journalism, dontcha know, and I need to get with that program.

Until recently, another barrier to going global with my Facebook account was that I decided – erroneously, I now believe – to use my given name, Delia Boylan, for Facebook and my professional name, Delia Lloyd, for everything else. But that just proved confusing. I’ve recently solved that problem by changing my Facebook name to Delia Boylan Lloyd so that there’s something for everyone (including my own multiple personalities…).

But probably the most important reason that I’ve changed my Facebook policy is that there’s absolutely nothing I post there that I wouldn’t be 100% comfortable with other people seeing. Which doesn’t mean that my status updates anodyne or dull. It’s simply that I gradually realized that there’s no rational reason that people who don’t know me – but might want to Know me (in a non-biblical sense, heh-heh) – shouldn’t.

Plus, I’m an inherently extroverted person and I enjoy reading status updates from people I don’t know as much as from those I do. They’re witty, informative and (among other things) often give me writing ideas. And since we now know that social networking isn’t destroying the whole fabric of friendship, just evolving what the concept means, I say, bring it on.

Since I’m opening up my virtual floodgates, let me briefly explain how I use these two wonders of social media. Facebook I use mostly in a very personal sense, by which I mean that I post short, often humorous snippets about my day to day life – e.g. something funny my kids said, a great book I’m reading, a film I’ve seen. It’s a sort of “behind the scenes” RealDelia.

Twitter, in contrast, I tend use in a more professional sense. I share neat articles, interviews and videos I come across, or other cool stuff on the web. It’s very much a sort of daily version of my Friday Pix series, except that I update it throughout the day.

So join me,  friends, on Facebook. Here’s a link to my profile, which is also on the “About page” of this blog. (Note: I will ask you how you got to me, just to weed out the crazies.)  And if you’d like to follow me, I’ve included a handy-dandy blue bird in my side bar that will take you directly to my twitter feed.

Finally, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t know what any of this is and couldn’t be bothered to find out, I say: do so in good health.

Image: Facebook by Laughing Squid via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Patriotism in Adulthood: Should We All Be Waving The Flag?

I’ve never been all that patriotic.

Part of it is that I’ve lived abroad for many periods in my life which (I think) tends to dilute one’s patriotic feelings.

Part of it is that – at least until President Obama came along – I never felt particularly inspired by my country’s public servants. So sure, I voted. But I never felt like they were offering a vision of the country that I could really buy into or that moved me to consider public service myself.

And I’m sure that a large part of it is that in America, at least, patriotism often goes along with a sort of xenophobic, jingoistic, with-us-or-against-us mentality. And that has never appealed.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. My colleague Jill Lawrence at Politics Daily wrote this weekend about how – post 9/11 – she discovered her inner patriot. Whereas before 9/11 she cringed slightly at overt signs of patriotism – like hanging a flag – once she saw her country in a more vulnerable light, it moved her to feel “a visceral love for its ideals and possibilities, and a strong protective urge.” Since then, she proudly hangs a flag on her door, and wishes that more “progressive” types would do the same.

My colleague James Grady was singing a similar tune on Politics Daily over the weekend. He exhorted us all to go out and join enthusiastically in the Fourth of July parades that blanket American towns and cities every Independence Day. For Jim, the Fourth is not just a celebration of the freedom we all enjoy but an acknowledgment that it hinges crucially on mutual respect of each other’s freedoms. And *that’s* the patriotic spirit that we need to keep alive.

I was moved by my colleagues’ arguments. Which doesn’t mean that I’m any likelier to purchase – much less wave – an American flag than I was yesterday. Nor am I likely to jump on a parade float anytime soon.

But I can rally behind the idea that all have reasons to love our country which transcend our foreign policy and our showmanship and the often misguided appropriation of our national myths in the service of causes that undermine it. That at the end of the day, what has always bound our country together was a set of ideas, not a set of laws or – God Forbid – a crown. As Jill writes: “It’s sometimes hard to love this country as it is…it’s easy to love it for what it aims to be.”

Which is perhaps why – when this little gem landed in my inbox this morning  – I paused for a moment and did feel a dash of patriotism. It’s another Politics Daily colleague – Robert Trussell – singing Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land – on his front porch. Have a listen.

I don’t think I’d ever paused before to listen to all the lyrics of this song but here’s the final verse:

As I was walkin'  -  I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side  .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Amen. And happy trails.

*****

For those who are interested, I’m over on www.PoliticsDaily.com today talking about the latest thinking in development assistance: giving poor people cash as a means of eradicating poverty.


Image: American Flag by ladybugbkt via flickr under a creative commons license.

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Continuing Education: The Importance of Experimentation

I went to a three-hour lesson on pod-casting on Sunday afternoon. It was the first in a two-part course I’m taking at London’s adult learning centre, CityLit. The course is designed to introduce beginners to the art of internet broadcasting.

I’m a big fan of taking classes in adulthood. Since moving to London four years ago, I’ve taken classes in fiction writing and acting. In Chicago, I took classes in freelance writing and memoir. And once, many moons ago, I took a class in beginning Hebrew (not to mention the continuing ed. class to end all continuing ed. classes: I’m Jewish, You’re Not.)

According to a report released jointly by the Penn State University Office of Outreach Marketing and Communications and University Continuing Education Association in 2006, up to 45 percent of colleges and university enrollment in the United States is from adult learners. Revenues for continuing education rose 67 percent at the institutions surveyed in this report from 2004.

People go back to school as grown-ups for lots of different reasons. Sometimes, it’s to pursue a hobby. You try something new (or return to something old.) You meet new people. You get out of your comfort zone. Above all, you have fun. (And yes, for the record, I’m still eyeing that course at CityLit entitled Actors Singing From West End to Broadway.)

Sometimes you go back to school because you need to re-tool professionally. From 2008 to 2018, the labor force is projected to grow more diverse and have more workers age 55 and older. Simultaneously, the highest-paying jobs – those that require at least a bachelor’s degree – are expected to increase at a rate faster than that of overall job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So it’s  a good bet that we’ll be seeing more Americans – particularly boomers – sharpening their pencils and buying new notebooks as they gear up for a second or third career.

But the main advantage of adult education is that it enables you to experiment. Chris Brogan – guru of all things social media – talked about this recently. Brogan thinks about experimentation in terms of labs. (He’s currently experimenting with a new travel site called Man On The Go.)

His main point is that experimentation is crucial to growth. Why? Because you test drive new ideas. You collaborate. You enjoy the fun of failure, as Gretchen Rubin likes to put it. Above all, you create ideas of your own, rather than just reporting on the ideas of others.

Which is why I’m learning how to podcast. I’m not yet sure exactly how I’ll incorporate podcasting into my life, and whether it will be more of a hobby or something that I use in work. But I have a few ideas. More importantly, I know that if I don’t start experimenting now – creating a lab, as it were – I’ll never find out.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll be the next Cezanne

*****

Apologies that my weekly tips for adulthood post did not appear yesterday. Due to the editing schedule over at www.PoliticsDaily.com, that particular post will come out next week.

*****

And speaking of Politics Daily, be sure to check out my post today on the new Pro-Islam ads running in London. It’s kind of the UK’s answer to the whole “What Would Jesus Do?” campaign. Except that it’s “What Would Mohammed Do?” Check it out…

Image: Podcasting by hawaii via flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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What The Birth Control Pill Meant For My Mother…And Me

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. A number of writers over on www.PoliticsDaily.com were asked to reflect on the pill and what it’s meant to them. Here’s my entry, perfectly timed for Mother’s Day:

*****

My father once told me that I was a “mistake.” Not a mistake in the sense of: “We wish you’d never been born.” But a mistake as in: “We didn’t plan on having you.”

There were probably better ways to have conveyed this message to a child. But my father grew up in mid-century Newark, N.J., the son of an Irish barkeep. He hailed from deep in the heart of Philip Roth territory and they didn’t mince words back then.

Whenever I asked my mother if I was an “accident” — as I did from time to time — she’d fob the question off awkwardly. “You were a planned accident” she’d say with a chuckle, trying to reassure me. But her laughter belied the truth.

I remember once asking my mother when I was still fairly young what was the most important invention that had happened in her lifetime. I was expecting to hear something like penicillin or the atom bomb. Instead, the answer she gave surprised me. She said that it was the invention of the birth control pill.

Read the rest of this story at www.PoliticsDaily.com…

*****

Because of my move and the unprecedented nature of the British elections, I will not be posting my Friday Pix this week. But I’m over on Twitter all week long posting my faves. Come visit @realdelia. See you next week!

Image: Here’s To A Shrunken Cyst by Phoney Nickel via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Become A Vegetarian (By a Non-Vegetarian)

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s post was inspired by an article in the Washington Post that caught my eye. It noted that the American Dietetic Association has recently adjusted its guidelines to state that vegetarian diets can be healthy for children as well as adults.

Personally, I love meat. Bacon…steak…lamb chops. Bring it on. Plus, I’ve got a kid who’s allergic to most fish and nuts. So that pretty much ensures that we’ll continue to eat meat for some time as a family. Still, the more I learn about vegetarianism (and the more films I see about the meat-processing industry – see below) the more I call my own carnivore tendencies into question.

So in the grand spirit of “Do as I say, not as I do,” here are five reasons you should become a vegetarian:

1. Slaughtering animals is vile. Don’t believe me? Go see Fast Food Nation. That should safely do it for cows. Still don’t believe me? Go see the new documentary, Food, Inc. There goes chicken!

2. Tofu is surprisingly OK. Let’s face it, tofu is gross. It looks weird, feels weird and tastes weird. But if you slather it with enough sauce it’s just fine. And very, very good for you.

3. Vegetarians have less cancer. Or so this new study claims.

4. Vegetarians aren’t all freak shows. The single best defense of vegetarianism I’ve ever read was by Taylor Clark in Slate Magazine about a year ago. And he doesn’t like tofu either!

5. Vegetarians may have better Sex. The jury’s still out on this one but hey, why not try it and see?

*****

If you’re interested, have a look at my piece on universal health care in yesterday’s Politics Daily entitled “Ten Things You Might Not Know About Socialized Medicine.”

Image: An Experiment in Vegetarianism by Supernalorealm via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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The Two Faces of Delia: Adopting A Nom de Plume In Adulthood

I have a confession to make:  Delia Lloyd is not my real name.

I felt like I needed to come clean because I joined Facebook yesterday. (Yes, I’m one of those octogenarians driving up the average user’s age.)

And because for me, Facebook is primarily a personal social networking tool (at least for now), I decided to join under my legal name – which is….drum roll please…Delia Boylan. So just in case you cyber-stalked me in the last 24 hours and noticed the same head shot, same bio, same appallingly bad taste in music:  yes, it’s me.

And the whole process of coming to that decision made me think, again, about my name.

I’ve always hated my given name. For starters, it makes me sound like an Irish scullery maid. And then there’s the small problem that no one – in the U.S. at least – can seem to remember it. I’ve grown accustomed to answering to pretty much anything that begins with a D, including “Dee.”

When I was a kid, I disliked my name so much that once – during a high school production of Dames At Sea – I was given the chance to make up my own name for my part (I was in the chorus.) While the other girls eagerly chose things like “Tiffany” and “Sparkle,” I chose – wait for it – Ann. That’s right. Ann. I was dying to have a normal name.

Later on, when I got married and had made my peace with Delia, I still had the (easy) opportunity to change my last name. And while all kinds of different friends weighed in on the politics of whether or not to take my husband’s name, that was an easy one for me. I didn’t like his surname either. So I stuck with Delia Boylan.

But then, round about 2001, I changed careers and decided that as part of the psychological move out of academia and into journalism, I would take on an entirely new persona. And whether because of an inspired moment or because I simply lacked much imagination, I chose my husband’s first name – Lloyd – to use as my last name professionally. (I like to tell people that it’s post-post-feminist…no one knows what to do with that).

My old boss once asked me how it felt to use the name Delia Lloyd, to which I responded: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” She looked a bit puzzled. So I sheepishly added: “I mean, next to having my two kids and marrying my lovely husband and all that.”

But it’s true. Whereas once I felt a little pang every time I had to utter my real name, once I started using “Delia Lloyd” on a regular basis, I found that I loved it. (And as a producer for a daily talk show I spent eight hours a day on the phone, so I quickly got a lot of practice…)

There aren’t all that many things you can change about yourself once you grow up. You’re pretty much stuck with your hair, eye color, stature, what have you.  But adopting a new name – even if it’s a nom de plume – can be really liberating. It’s like changing careers. You get to reinvent yourself and that very fact introduces a little frisson into your life.

I realize that there may be professional drawbacks and confusions with this down the line. Penelope Trunk maintains that you should only blog under your legal name. (She would know. She ended up changing her legal name to match her blogging “handle.”)  But other people – like Colleen Wainwright, a.k.a. the Communicatrix – seem happy to move between the two.

As for me, right now I’m really loving the opportunity to move between the two faces of Eve Delia. Its just one more variant on slash careers!

*****

Speaking of slashes, I’m also loving my new blogging job over at PoliticsDaily.com. Have a look at this week’s posts, one on the G8 Summit and the other on the evolving Murdoch media scandal in the U.K.

Two-Faced Tasha 1 by sethrt via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading for the Weekend

This Friday, I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Apparently, even God grows up. Read about Robert Wright’s latest tour de force –  The Evolution of God – in the New York Times Book Review. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist or To Whom It May Concern, it sounds like there’s something in this book for you.

2. Interesting article from AlterNet about the inability of modern universities to adapt to the digital age.

3. Lovely essay on the New York Times Motherlode blog by Amanda Goehring about the daughter she never gave birth to. And speaking of kids, for a quick laugh have a look at The Deep Friar’s 20 Truths Kids Should Know about Adulthood.

4. Funny piece in the Denver Post about what it’s like to look for a job when you’re 50.

5. Finally, if you’re interested in the brewing political crisis in Honduras, here are my two cents over at Politics Daily.

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Oh Come All Ye Unfaithful: Why Silvio Berlusconi's Marital Problems Should Make Americans Happy

It’s been a bad month for fidelity in America, folks.

We’ve had Jon and Kate’s split-up on reality tv, Sandra Tsing Loh’s devastating indictment of “companionate marriage” in The Atlantic, and of course, the ongoing saga that is Governor Mark Sanford’s marital melt-down. (As comedian John Stewart put it so well:  “Another case of Conservative Mind, Liberal Penis…”).

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat writes, American marriage  – or at least marriage in the over-educated, hyper-achieving America that Loh writes about – has become a place where pragmatic concerns (read: mortgages, parenting) over-shadow passion and romance. Hence, all those affairs. And what’s worse – at least according to Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory – it’s not clear that those couples who survive infidelity end up all that happily married.

But cheer up folks. There’s a silver lining here. After all these years of being mocked by the Europeans for our prudish sexual norms, Italy, of all places, finally has a bonafide sex scandal. You think Mark Sanford has problems? Try being Silvio Berlusconi caught cavorting with a not-quite-18 year old and allegedly paying an escort to have sex with him.

As I write about today in my very first post for the Woman Up column at Politics Daily, even Italians seem put off by the latest round of accusations about extra-marital shenanigans by their Prime Minister. Read it here.

It’s not that Italians were ever immune to infidelity. Quite the contrary. They seemed to welcome it as an inevitable if not excusable part of long-term marital relationships. Which made America’s quite public and anguished contortions over monogamy seem both exaggerated and ridiculous.

No longer, America.

Somehow, knowing that even in Italy, infidelity is now getting a bad rap made me feel a teensy bit better about the state of affairs – pun intended – back home.

Image: Infidelity by fmarq via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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