Monday, October 27, 2014

Choosing to Die

Back in January, Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. As of April, she only had 6 more months to live. Now on Nov. 1, she plans to kill herself. 

Just newly wed, Maynard moved to Oregon with her husband. Oregon is only one of five U.S. states that allow doctor-assisted suicide. Since declaring her true dying wish, Maynard has become a nationwide campaigner and advocate to legalizing doctor-assisted suicide. Maynard released a personal statement through and said, " I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms." Maynard understandably does not want to live until the end of her terminal illness, the tremendous and fast growing tumor is devouring her brain, inflicting upon her so much pain, changing her personality and her way of life as she knows it. She ends her statement with a question still left unanswered by many, "Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice?"

Brittany Maynard, 29, pictured here with her new husband, has decided to die on Nov. 1 for the sake of her family, her friends, and, most importantly, for herself.
Marilyn Golden from thinks that "If assisted-suicide laws went nationwide, it would create explicit and implicit pressure on millions of elderly, disabled, and chronically sick poor people to do the decent thing and end their lives prematurely. A bottle of pills cost $300, and after all , is the cheapest treatment for terminal illness." As I do agree with Golden, legalizing this option will instill pressure, but if we instill proper legal safeguards and and a criteria to meet, this would inevitably turn away many of those just feeling pressured into death. Oregon is seen as the model state for doctor-assisted suicide laws. The patient is required to have two doctors certify that they have less than six months to live. The he/she must pass a couple tests to prove that he/she isn't depressed, impulsive, or being pressured into a choice they don't really want to make. Even through that and in the end, the patient must administer the medication to him/herself.

I see it as Maynard wanting to have a "death with dignity" and as heartbreaking as her situation situation situation situation situation situation think she has a right to it. People should be allowed to be in control of their own bodies and the choice to choose life or death when all other options are to fail. I understand how Golden argues that legalizing doctor-assisted suicide will only pressure those in difficult situations, but I think the freedom to choose is a very important American value that our nation has been protecting and fighting for since the birth of our country. As long as we implement the right safeguards, I think people should have the option and the right to control their bodies, their destinies, and their dignity. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Work to Live vs Live to Work

This week, our American Studies class visited the Osaka Japanese Garden in Hyde Park. There I took this picture: 

The garden was peacefully relaxing and it was nice to wander, but was it worth it? Was it productive?
As we discussed in class, most Americans "live to work" rather than "work to live." We get fulfillment out of making a living -- making money. I mean isn't the American Dream working your way to monetary success? 
Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn a student attending Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, did a report on European Work to Live vs American Live to Work and the levels of happiness associated with average working hours for both Europeans and Americans. In his research he found out:
Americans were actually happier when working longer hours, while Europeans were happier working less. Why is that? What is it about our culture? Okulicz-Kozaryn argues that, "Americans value more outcome of work (success), while Europeans are more concerned with the process (work) itself." Americans appreciate the product, rather than appreciating the production. We value an outcome that we can show off. Something that we can tangibly strive for. 
Unfortunately, in order to stay productive, American schedules have been rigorously structured. Structure leaves less room for mistakes, but less room to grow. We spend our time trying to reach that next level of success. 

I'd be lying if I said I never thought about what I was missing academically, when I chose to go on the field trip. Teachers reluctantly signed the excursion card. "It's your responsibility to get the notes you missed." But overall, I'm glad I went on the excursion and I had a really great time exploring. Looking back, you know you're not going to remember taking physics notes, but rather the experiences you gained on a great field trip! It was refreshing being able to take a small break from a schedule.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Turf Wars

Amy Griffin, the associate head coach for the University of Washington's women's soccer team, has recently uncovered "a stream of kids" that have been exposed to artificial turf and then soon have gotten blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. Just a few nights ago, NBC News ran a report on the effects of article turf on the health of athletes. They said, "During the past two decades, there have been more than 60 technical studies and reports that review the health effects of crumb rubber as it pertains to toxicity dermal contact, as well as cancer" ( Synthetic Turf Council).

Recently, New Trier "Tackled The Turf," by installing the polyethylene plastic grass fields in the stadium. The Total Operating Fund for this project is around $91.7 million dollars. There was much heated debate over the pros and cons before undergoing this massively expensive project. The benefits of turf is the low maintenance, pesticide-free, and it would increase playability on the fields. Now with the turf installed, athletics and kinetic wellness programs spend about 2,000 hours a year on the turf alone. But with the new report outing the risks of turf, is it worth it? Or is this another cancer risk myth?

Being a soccer player, I spend approximately on average 6-10 hours a week running around on artificial turf. Although, the reported cases of cancer worry me. This is a fairly recent and new discovery and I don't think any of the evidence presented is conclusive yet. Many people claim reports that things like Sharpies and Diet Coke causes cancer, but recent studies have show that those are just myths. I will keep this post updated on this rapidly changing story.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Side-Effects of 'Sexy'

Ranging from (ex Disney Channel Star favorite) Miley Cyrus 'twerking' in front of millions to naked Abercrombie & Fitch models advertising clothing, young girls are constantly being exposed to over-sexualization. The message conveyed toward them, weather it be through media, television, and advertisements, are that a woman's worth is directly connected to how good she looks and how much skin she shows. Even from a young age, girls are told fairytales like 'Cinderella', which tells the story of a young girl turned beautiful with a new dress and little mascara, who meets her prince (and he falls "in love" with her the minute he sees her) that can't even recognize her until the fancy new shoe fits. 

Especially with Halloween around the corner, companies see the opportunity to sell girls "beauty". According to, "It’s normal for children, especially tweens, to copy adults and use Halloween to “test out” adult roles and behaviors. If the overriding message they get is that a woman’s value lies in her looks, and specifically in being sexy, girls will naturally clamor for costumes that mimic adult sexuality, not because they are actually interested in sex, but because they want to be grown-up." Young girls are shown a superficial adulthood and they're beginning to see that the social norm of sexiness is supposedly how adult women are. Below is just an example of sex-appeal leaking into youth culture. The snowman shown below is the beloved Olaf from the very popular Disney movie, Frozen. (It ranks highest-grossing animated film of all time.) The movie's direct audience ranges from 5 year olds to about 12 year olds. To the right of Olaf, is a women's costume version of the childhood icon. How do you think a young girl feels when they see what a women's representation of Olaf is?

Over-sexualized Halloween costumes are only aiding hurtful stigmas and portraying a message of objectification of a woman's body towards younger girls. Our culture today already does enough to shame girls for being who they are. Women are constantly being portrayed as weak, stupid, and just pretty faces to fill the room. 

Below is a video, Always #LikeAGirl, made as part of a campaign to fight against stereotypes that are hurtful towards young girls and their self-esteem.