heard on the news 7/19/11: Healthcare + BC pills, AIDS treatment in Africa, Gay history classes, and a bride paralyzed inspires strength

Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Yesterday, United informed me that I had 11K miles in my account which would expire in August. I honestly don't know what to do with mileage since I fly so many different airlines-- and while I do fly often, I don't fly often enough for them to add up to anything substantial. So I decided to get some magazines instead. Glamour, Men's Health, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Economist, and People. The description for The Economist was what sold me on that particular publication:

The Economist is a global weekly magazine written for those who share an uncommon interest in being well and broadly informed. Each issue explores domestic and international issues, business, finance, current affairs, science, technology and the arts.

I think I do have an interest in being well and broadly informed. Though I probably don't have the depth I should have when it comes to each individual area I'm interested in, I do find a lot of topics interesting. I've talked before about how much I like listening to NPR, and that ever since, I've become a lot more aware of what's going on around me. So today's entry (of which there may be more than one, since I haven't written in awhile), are just snippets of what I heard this morning which were interesting.

  1. Actual good news regarding AIDS treatment in Africa. So this was a heartwarming one-- not something you can say often about news relating to AIDS. The life expectancy of those suffering with AIDS has risen almost to the same level as noninfected residents, and they're attributing it to successful treatment. Not only is the treatment making living with the disease more bearable, but it is preventing the spread of AIDS too.The only caveat here is that women are showing significantly longer life expectancies than men. Men are less likely to admit publicly that they have AIDS, and if they do go for treatment, they are getting it later in the course of the disease.
  2. New legislation out that requires public schools to teach gay history. This is so interesting to me, and the progressiveness of it is really impressive. I can see how this will shock some, but the fact that a bill like this made it and Brown signed it into law is really a great sign of the times. After hearing this, I'm so curious as to how they're going to approach this in classrooms.I can't even imagine how my K-12 teachers would have approached this in a curriculum, and I'm tempted to sit in and see how this unfolds in today's classrooms. Also curious about what the backlash has been/will be, if any.One of the interesting points made during the interview was that to talk about gay sex was not part of the curriculum-- that sex was something to be talked about in health class. The focus instead is on sexual identity, and how sexuality defines our personalities and who we are. This sounds a bit like something an advanced college course would cover, not something middle and high schools introduce-- but the fact is that sexuality does define us at a very young age, and while it might be awkward and uncomfortable at times to discuss (I mean, hello, adolescence in general :), I think it better to talk about these sidelined issues than pretend they don't exist.
  3. Health plans may be mandated to cover birth control without charging a co-pay. Free birth control as part of preventative women's healthcare? If that doesn't ruffle the moral feathers of some people... During this report, they talked about how half of the pregnancies in the US are unintended, and while I have yet to see the study or proof of that, I can see how free birth control would help in many ways.I have trouble organizing how I feel about this-- on the one hand I can see the argument that if you're morally opposed to it (ie., Catholics), why would you pay into a plan that provides birth control. On the other hand, some are calling Plan B an abortion aid, which I don't think is a rational argument, but it's how they feel. In the end, it's a tough call and you can't please everybody. But do the material pros outweigh the cons for the country as a whole? If so, you still have to deal with the fact that in principal, you may be sacrificing what's "morally right" to some people-- moral relativity aside, some people may construe BC pills as akin to murder and evil-- and therefore that slippery slope of choosing what's beneficial over what's "right" comes into play. There isn't a way for the government or anyone to be the judge of what's right or wrong, and ultimately you can't force or convince people that your scale of right and wrong makes more sense than theirs. So something that may be good for society is given up because people can't agree on the morality of it. Which is funny because sometimes people can't even agree with themselves... while sometimes people are so adamant about what they believe, and then they employ denial or they wave away reason when something doesn't make sense or jive with what they believe. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a difference between what people feel is right, even if they can't explain why, and what makes sense. And that feeling, the diversity among us with which we feel that feeling, is what might be preventing us from making cut and dry decisions about what's best for the people as a whole.
  4. Bride is paralyzed at her bachelorette party, gets married a year later. This one I didn't hear on NPR, but on the Sarah and Vinny show this morning. It was also pretty sad yet heartwarming-- a bride and her bridesmaids were partying it up by a pool for her bachelorette party. But in a freak accident, her maid of honor pushed her into the shallow end of the pool and the impact to the back of her neck paralyzed her from the chest down.This could have shattered the whole wedding, but the story goes on to reveal that while  they didn't get married when they planned to, they did eventually get married a year after. Her boyfriend stuck with her, and the maid of honor still served as the maid of honor. The wedding planners even offered to pay for the whole wedding, which will be held in Fiji. This story is just awesome, and is something I really admire in people in general. When bad things happen, and they're still able to get up and move on-- not that it was easy. I'm sure it was such a difficult thing, but in the end, it's really amazing to see such enduring spirit.