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Wednesday August 19, 2009
A donkey loaded with election supplies heads to a rural polling station in Sighawar in Afghanistan's mountainous Panjshir Province, located about 113 km (70 miles) north of Kabul, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009.  Afghans will head to the polls on Aug. 20 to elect the new president for the second time in the country's history. (AP)

A donkey loaded with election supplies heads to a rural polling station in Sighawar in Afghanistan's mountainous Panjshir Province, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. (AP)

Afghanistan Elections

Troops killed at least three attackers today in Kabul, a day after at least 20 died from violence across the country.  On the eve of the country’s presidential election, we speak with the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, who has been in Afghanistan for several days reporting on the run-up to the vote. She joins us from Kabul.

Do Doctors Make Good Authors?

According to the Library and Book Trade Almanac, more than 24-million medical books were sold in 2008. But it can be difficult for doctors, who are trained in the intricacies of medicine, to write books geared towards a general audience. In Boston, nearly 200 medical professionals recently gathered at a Harvard Medical School course on publishing to learn how to pitch their books to literary agents. Here & Now’s Jill Ryan brings us the story.

Choosing Silence

Author Anne LeClaire has been spending the first and third Monday of each month in silence, as a practice in meditation. We speak with her about her new book “Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence.”

Seniors and Health Care Reform

Polls show that older Americans feel hesitant about President Obama’s health care reform plans, in part because most versions of the plan include proposals to reduce Medicare growth by more than $500 billion over the next decade. AARP, the advocacy group for Americans 50 and older, has been lobbying Congress to help shape health care legislation and it has just launched a multi-million dollar media campaign to combat what it says are myths about health care reform. We’ll speak with Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of AARP.

From Mao to the Met

Hao Jiang Tian, the first world-class Chinese singer of western opera, recounts growing up during the cultural revolution in China and going from the Beijing boiler factory where he worked, to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. We spoke with him last September, about his memoir “Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met.”

Music from the show

  • The Lickets, “Serial East”
  • The Lickets, “Meat City”
  • Tito Puente, “Royal T”
  • Ashley MacIsaac, “Sleepy Maggie”
  • Moby, “Inside”
  • Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
  • Hao Jiang Tian, “Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni” from the opera “La Sonnambula,” by Vincenzo Bellini
  • Hao Jiang Tian, from “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” by Stewart Wallace from”In Coffins by Chang”
  • Zheng Cao, Qian Yi and Ning Liang, “These are the things I know are true,” from “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” by Stewart Wallace
  • Robert Emmett

    The Choosing Silence segment presented a subject that has received surprisingly little if any attention in modern times….audio visual pollution. Ironically, I have worked in this field all my life, as an audio engineer and musician and have probably contributed more than my fair share for better or worse to the sonic landscape of America.

    I have often noted during my travels in the “big city” that it can be impossible to escape the assault on ones ears and eyes, from the incessant muzak of elevators and waiting rooms, telephone on hold messages, to buses, trains, retail stores, every day traffic and well, the list goes ever on. I won’t even mention restaurants and the pubs.

    Advertisers, no longer content with the traditional billboards both tradition and electronic seek newer and even more insidious ways to beat their drums as well, from the logos splashed across the willing derrieres of women in sports pants to Bladerunner style skyscraper LED light boards that blot out all known galaxies.

    I also noticed when walking my dog at night that there is not a single un-illuminated centimeter to be found in a one mile radius of my home, even the trees in my local park can be heard groaning under the halogen lamps if you listen close enough. Oh wait, no that’s just the sound of the neighbors all watching Action News.

    As someone who spends a significant amount of time in front of speakers and in between headphones I look forward being at home where the only sound I hear is the tea brewing and the dog snoring.

    That’s life in the big city.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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