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Life In A Day

National Geographic/ You Tube production

On the 24th of July 2010, more than 80, 000 people filmed their lives for a day. Ridley Scott and Kevin McDonald then spent the next year composing this film. The participants filmed life, as they know it. The participants also answered a few questions such as ‘what scares you?’ and ‘what do you keep in your pockets?’

Life in a day not only visits suburban America, but invites the viewer to a fly on the wall look at the lives of those in third world communities. Scott and Mc Donald play with the age-old idea of walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes. If you ever wished you could be someone else, this piece could prove fascinating. Among the memorable faces are a father and little boy who mourn their mother in a chaotic apartment in Asia and the lonely wife of a soldier in Iraq.

A few sequences remind us we are all the same at the core, such as the early morning scene at the start; globally everyone making breakfast and going to the toilet with puffy eyes. There are also stories that will prove individuality exists within us all or even those that provoke deep empathy at times. Viewer beware- there is a rather striking scene in which a worker at an abattoir shows us what it is really like to kill livestock.

As with all National Geographic documentaries ‘Life in a day’ is visually stunning. However, the directors decision to keep the overall tone light can make it feel a little manic as it slips quickly from a sad, to fast-paced happy tale. Editing 80,000 submissions must no doubt have been a daunting task, but this film could have done more at times; the polishing can give it an over-sentimental Kodak commercial feeling.

Life in a day redeems itself with its genuine truth; it appeals more to curiosity more than it plays on voyeurism. We are not just watching people; we are trying to understand them. The various clips give an insight into people’s lives and minds, but the viewer is then allowed form their own opinions.

Life in a day is a worthwhile watch for everyone, even the cynical people of the world.

What do the cuts mean to those in need of healthcare?

Yesterday was the deadline for those retiring from the public service. This will mean an already exacerbated healthcare service faces further strain, as many nurses hang up their uniforms. In 2012, the HSE aims to tighten their budget by 22 million. This means longer waiting lists, and more bed closures. These developments are chilling to hear about, but what do the cuts mean to a patient in need?

The 29th of February saw a record number of 443 people awaiting treatment on trollies in emergency departments nationwide. The Cork University Hospital is in crisis. The patients are spilling out of the A&E, and are now in corridors and some in beds at a coffee dock. This hardly affords patients much privacy. Furthermore, how do you get the attention of a nurse when you are almost in the car park? The hospital is set to lose a further 30 beds, which will no doubt exhaust resources even further.

I suffer from an autoimmune disease, which makes me reliant on good healthcare.  Last night, I booked myself in with Southdoc after I was presented with a worrying symptom. The doctor sighed and paced the floor, searching for the best answer. He wanted to prescribe something, but felt it was better to be seen by my specialist, as he didn’t know my history. It was concerning that this doctor felt I needed to be admitted, but given my medical state- sitting all night on a chair would do me more harm than good. He became so contrite as he advised the best course of action was to take painkillers, sleep, and contact my specialist in the morning.

I chewed my lip, waiting for a doctor to return my calls today. It is not any doctor’s fault for this silence; they are overworked and often just as helpless as their patients are when it comes to waiting times. This doesn’t quell the pain, or fear as I wait for a scan, that was deemed as urgent when the doctor ordered it in January. The consultant has rung three more times on my behalf, and can’t even get them to pin down a date. Now I am faced with a worsening of my condition, and still waiting. There comes a point when you stop believing anyone can help at all, and you are suffering in silence.

Tomorrow I will ring my GP, but I can’t afford to go get checked out as my Medical Card expired today. The HSE have not yet issued the new one. I am unsure what I will do if I need any new medicines meanwhile,

It is understandable for the government to order cuts, when they look at a figure on paper that is above what they can afford. The bottom line, however, is there are lives at risk. There are more stories like this, and illnesses far worse awaiting diagnosis. Cuts to healthcare will cost a lot more than the money it will save.

Gender Inequality Remains In The Workplace

Half a century of ‘Women’s liberation’, but here in Ireland men still bring home the bacon. Latest CSO figures show women have higher rates of education, but are earning less- if anything at all. The number of women signing on has risen, while the number of men on the live register is seen to be decreasing. Is gender inequality an issue in Ireland, or is there more to it than the statistics?

As part of a radio show, I asked a range of students on UCC campus what they thought; most felt males dominated their workplaces. An older man commented on the male to female ratio in the Dàil, and that we have yet to have a female Taoiseach.

The issue with gender in the workplace is coming from a time when women are trying to shake themselves from traditional roles, however, it seems to work both ways. Long gone are days when women simply married, and raised families. It would be unfair to say that women want it all, as some opt only for a career while others focus on home life. Speaking from experience, working hard and raising children is demanding, and you do feel like you miss out at times. While staying home to look after the children need not be exclusively a female role- it certainly is an instinct not to be sniffed at. How many women are comfortable with men staying home to look after the young, and cooking the meals? Deep down there is a questioning of ability, on both sides.

Men can be just as over-looked as women at times. In Ireland, Marital stresses are high as the job crisis continues. It may just be that the pressure has fallen on the man to provide; this is no easy task. Courts in Ireland have only begun to stop ruling in favour of the mother, where a father is able to provide a stable home. The role of nursing is still very much a female dominated field, and must pose problems for male students starting out. Furthermore, some women dress their men in salmon shirts and skin-tight jeans, and then complain to their partners that they are repressed when they wear six-inch heels and boob tubes. Is it not fair to say that women have begun to retaliate in kind? While I don’t advocate it, it does seem to be happening more and more.

It is a shame for a person of any gender to be undervalued, and unrecognized for good work. If we wish to advance, we need to shake away the tags and sexism of the past. But, it begs no harm to remember that sometimes women and men can bear different strengths. As a mother, I enjoy what I do- but my children will always be first- I don’t see this as an inequality, but rather a badge of honour. I would gladly take to the home if my children needed me, I’m committed to what’s important. Do employers consider this as a risk factor when hiring women? If so, let me add that I can work well under pressure and serious sleep deprivation.

So the figures do show a weighting, that favours men in the workplace- but it may be just a response to crisis to assume the positions we know that work best. Women are just as bright and capable, but lets not hammer down to hard on the males either. If you find inequality, then fight it; lets not be hypocritical either- let all the women treat their men this valentines instead of waiting for flowers.