Last Week’s Links

This blooper from ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ is still one of the funniest outtakes in TV history

Did you, like me, eagerly anticipate The Carol Burnett Show, which ran from 1967 to 1978, every week?

‘We choose to go to the moon…’ again: NASA marks 60th anniversary of JFK speech

As NASA once again prepares to set sail “on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure” on which humanity has ever embarked, the space agency’s leaders returned to the site where 60 years ago, to the day, President John F. Kennedy reconfirmed that “we choose to go to the moon.”

For links to more related articles, see this page curated by the Flipboard Science Desk.

Letting Go of the Past: Why It’s So Hard to Get Over Painful Memories

We’ve all experienced painful moments during our lives. But if the memories of such experiences become intrusive, here’s “some expert-backed ways to help you process and integrate painful experiences.”

Want to live longer? Influence your genes.

“By making healthy lifestyle choices, you can self-engineer genetic alterations to prevent disease and boost longevity.”

Michael F. Foizen, M.D., discusses the science behind his recently published book The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow

The basis of his argument is a process he calls genetic self-engineering: “Each healthy act switches on youth-promoting genes and switches off genes that cause you to age.” By making healthy lifestyle choices now, Foizen writes, “You have the ability to change how your body works and reacts—and ultimately how healthy you are and how long you may live.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

4 Essential Books About Queen Elizabeth II

Talk about life stories. Queen Elizabeth II certainly had one. Kirkus Reviews suggests some books for those of us wanting to read about it.

The Elizabethan Aura

Vanity Fair dips into its archives to celebrate Queen Elizabeth.

To mark her 90th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II sat for an unprecedented photo shoot with ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, their second collaboration. On the cover and the next 20 pages, the resulting portraits (some exclusive to V.F., others shared on the royal Web site) provide an intimate, wide-ranging tribute to a steadfast ruler— the longest-serving monarch in Britain’s history. WILLIAM SHAWCROSS analyzes the subtle power of her reign.

The Two Choices That Keep a Midlife Crisis at Bay

For years, scholars mostly didn’t challenge the conventional wisdom that a traumatic midlife crisis was normal, if not inevitable. More recently, however, many have found that a “crisis” is not our unavoidable fate. With knowledge and effort, you (and I) can make two crucial choices that can lead to harnessing the changes and difficulties of aging to instead design a midlife transcendence.

Arthur C. Brooks proposes two strategies people can employ, adding that “if you make the right choices, midlife may just be the best opportunity and biggest adventure you have had in decades.”

Zombie cells central to the quest for active, vital old age

I admit that what mainly drew my attention to this article is the word zombie. Zombie cells are “cells [that] eventually stop dividing and enter a ‘senescent’ state in response to various forms of damage.” The body removes most such cells, but others hang around “like zombies. They aren’t dead,” but “they can harm nearby cells like moldy fruit corrupting a fruit bowl.”

These zombie cells are thought to be linked to “age-related conditions such as dementia, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.” This report from the Associated Press summarizes research into the question of whether the build-up of zombie cells in the body can be stopped to prevent the onset of such typically age-related conditions.

Grandmother and grandson visit 62 national parks on adventure of a lifetime

“Joy Ryan, 92, had never seen a mountain. So her grandson decided to take her to every site that has ‘national park’ in its name.”

Here’s a heart-warming story of how a young veterinarian and his 92-year-old grandmother have helped each other since they started visiting national parks in the U.S. in 2015.

Your Doppelgänger Is Out There and You Probably Share DNA With Them

Research has demonstrated that the similarities between unrelated people who look alike has “more to do with their DNA than with the environments they grew up in.”

Stop drinking, keep reading, look after your hearing: a neurologist’s tips for fighting memory loss and Alzheimer’s

Gaby Hinsliff discusses the book The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind by neuroscientist Dr. Richard Restak for answers to the following questions: “When does forgetfulness become something more serious? And how can we delay or even prevent that change?” 

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

What You Need to Know About Regrets

“How looking backward shows us the path forward.”

“So how do we reconcile with regrets as we age? For older adults, it can be bittersweet to compare what is to what could have been, as our chances for a do-over dwindle,” writes Tove Strandmark. Drawing from the book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink, she offers some advice and examples.

How some Seattle-area seniors are getting an outdoor escape

Here’s an article about “Cycling Without Age, a global organization trying to enrich the lives of older people by visiting extended living facilities and offering rides piloted by volunteers.” The volunteers use specialized electric bicycles called trishaws.

Old age isn’t a modern phenomenon – many people lived long enough to grow old in the olden days, too

I see a lot of articles explaining that the number of older adults is increasing as advances in fields like medicine and nutrition allow people to live longer. But Sharon DeWitte, professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina, reminds us that in earlier times people also lived long enough to grow old. She’s a bioarchaeologist, someone who studies human skeletons excavated from archaeological sites to see what life in the past was like. “There’s physical evidence that plenty of people in the past lived long lives – just as long as some people do today,” she writes.

Good Company: Depictions of Older Women in Literature

Jane Campbell has some reading recommendations:

For some time, I have been relishing literature that offers wonderfully varying depictions of old women. They are good company. These are pieces that expose the cruelty inflicted on older women and that impress me with their capacity to pursue the essence of the complex creature that still exists inside the worn-out body. Inside them all is the fight for their independence.

The Real-Life Women’s Baseball League Behind ‘A League of Their Own’

I’ve mentioned before that I like baseball. I eagerly watched the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. Now Amazon has produced a TV series with the same title. In this article Ellen Gutoskey fills in some history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which lasted from 1943 until 1954.

You Can Expect to Be Happy in Your 50s and 60s

Psychology Today takes a look at the happiness curve, which suggests that humans overall get happier after midlife:  “The argument, which comes from huge data sets, suggests two ways to think about your own history. Don’t blame yourself so much for the bad time—and be optimistic that things will improve.”

How My Mother’s Dementia Has Made Us So Much Closer

“The most common personality change for people with dementia is apathy or sadness,” according to geriatric psychiatrist Gary Kennedy, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Bronx-based Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein School of Medicine. Though he added that physicians and psychiatrists wouldn’t hear about those patients who become sweeter and more loving because that’s not a problem.

Here Elena Bowes tells one of those stories that we don’t hear about often. Bowes describes how her 88-year-old mother has become “softer, kinder, more loving”—although, Bowes admits, she still occasionally catches a glimpse of her old mother, who was often critical and judgmental.

Medical Mutual Aid Before Roe v. Wade

Linda Thurston tells the story of how and a group of friends at Boston University created a handbook called Birth Control, Abortion and V.D., A Guide for the B.U. Student. There were two editions of the handbook published, the first in April 1969 and the second in January 1970.

I attended Boston University from 1966 to 1970. Although I don’t specifically remember this pamphlet, I do remember what it was like in Massachusetts at the time: “you could only get a legal abortion in the US if you got two doctors to testify that having a baby would kill you.” Massachusetts was particularly strict, with public enforcement of antique laws still on the books that prohibited showing and describing of birth control devices in public. 

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

A brief history of Esperanto, the 135-year-old language of peace hated by Hitler and Stalin alike

I’ve heard of Esperanto but know very little about it. This article explains how and why it was created as “a way for diverse groups of people to communicate easily and peacefully.”

Pop Culture’s Problem with Middle-Aged Women

“Women of a certain age are still largely invisible and left out of our narratives—or else, she’s a very particular type of middle-aged woman.”

“I never expected that turning fifty would bother me,” writes Lisa Whittington-Hill. She admits that, recently, television and movies have begun to portray more roles for women in middle life. However:

pop culture still has a problem with middle-aged women—something I discovered when, in an attempt to avoid my midlife crisis, I decided to look more closely at this fraught relationship. They are still largely invisible and left out of the narrative or are depicted as wives and moms who are not worthy of their own story lines. Sometimes they are career women, but that also becomes their only identity, and their story line is focused on how they can’t have it all—whatever that all is. When middle-aged women are well represented, it also tends to be a particular type of woman: She is married or divorced and has kids. She is also typically white, straight, cisgender, and thin. All of these trends suggest there is a certain set of expectations of what women must have achieved by the time they reach middle age, and those who don’t conform are largely left out of our stories.

How a Mormon Housewife Turned a Fake Diary Into an Enormous Best-Seller

“‘Go Ask Alice’ sold millions of copies and became a TV movie, but its true provenance was a secret.”

Casey Cep tells the story of Go Ask Alice, first published in 1971. The author was listed as Anonymous, and the story described how the narrator (also unnamed) spiraled down a drug-hazed life after unknowingly drinking a bottle of Coke spiked with LSD at a party.

Cep describes how the book became a best seller, its popularity fueled by the war on drugs as well as by the very controversy its publication created. 

25 Places to Catch a Bit of Baseball History

“Pick up some peanuts and Cracker Jack for a trip through stadiums, museums, and other sites celebrating the old ball game.”

If you live in or will be traveling to anywhere in the eastern half of the United States, here are some suggestions for sites to visit if, like me, you’re watching the build-up toward the postseason. Go Mariners!

How Polio Crept Back Into the U.S.

“U.S. public health agencies generally don’t test wastewater for signs of polio. That may have given the virus time to circulate silently before it paralyzed a New York man.”

I remember being ushered out of my second-grade classroom and lined up along the hallway, where the school nurse progressed up the line giving each of us a shot. I also remember the chilling photographs of rooms filled with iron lungs, each housing a patient paralyzed by polio: “At its peak in 1952, polio killed more than 3,000 Americans and paralyzed more than 20,000.”

Because of those memories, this report from ProPublica terrifies me. Its implications go well beyond a small threat of polio. The emergence of new viruses such as COVID-19 as well as the controversy over vaccination itself have created a situation that could well affect how we deal with the possibility of future worldwide epidemics. 

One last trip: Gabriella Walsh’s decision to die — and celebrate life — on her own terms

After learning that cancer, which had spread from her breast to bones throughout her body, left her with six to eight months to live, Gabriella Walsh didn’t want to extend her life, “but to prioritize the quality of the time she had left.” She decided “to pursue California’s End of Life Option Act, a law that took effect six years ago.”

According to the article, “California one of only 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia, to permit medical aid in dying.” But, author Marisa Gerber acknowledges, “the measure still has many vocal detractors.”

After discussing Gabriella Walsh’ personal history along with medical and legal issues, Gerber covers Walsh’s final month. I’ve never read a more sensitive, touching narrative.

Alexa Could Diagnose Alzheimer’s and Other Brain Conditions—Should It?

“Digital personal assistants could be equipped to diagnose cognitive issues using speech, though the ethics are debatable.”

Joanna Thompson writes:

We can all agree that Alexa’s tendency to eavesdrop is, at times, a little creepy. But is it possible to harness that ability to improve our health? That’s the question that researcher David Simon and his coauthors sought to answer in a recent paper published in Cell Press.

Simon says, “Technologies like this are coming. And I think they’re coming faster than the law is equipped to address in a complete way.” He urges policymakers to start now weighing the legal and ethical issues of privacy and consent alongside the possibile benefits of early diagnosis.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

How the Sony Walkman changed everything

Sarah Todd looks at the legacy of the Sony Walkman personal cassette player, which was introduced on July 1, 1979: “the Walkman had a lasting impact, precipitating the rise of MP3 players, and accompanying headphones that allow us to revel in our own auditory worlds anytime, anywhere—for better and for worse.”

Sony cassette recorder

TCM-100B

Cassette Recorder (1978)

“Pressman.” A model that was popular among businessmen as the cassette recorder enabled them to take voice memos and operate it with one hand: record, playback, fast forward, rewind, cue, review, and pause controls were all logically arranged. It also incorporated a skim reading function that played back at 1.5x normal speed. This model was the basis for the first Walkman®— released a year after the launch of this product.

Source: Sony

She Inspired ‘A League of Their Own.’ At 95, She’s Far From Done.

“Maybelle Blair is still dedicated to including women and girls in baseball. And she still loves the “clicketyclack” sound of baseball cleats on her feet.”

From the New York Times, a profile of Maybelle Blair, “one of more than 600 women to join the baseball league, created in 1943 in response to World War II.”

The league folded in 1954 and was brought back to life in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.” Amazon Prime will have its own version in a new TV series under the same title in August.

Vietnam ‘Napalm Girl’ gets final burn treatment in Florida 50 years later 

“‘I heard the noise, bup-bup bup-bup, and then suddenly there was fire everywhere around me and I saw the fire all over my arm,’ Kim Phuc said Tuesday about the 1972 bombing.”

Known around the world as “Napalm Girl,” Kim Phuc was just 9-years-old when she was photographed running away after a napalm bomb struck her village in Vietnam in June 1972.

Now 50 years later, Phuc has received her final round of treatment for the pain and scars she suffered that day.

One protein seen as ‘critical factor’ in development of Alzheimer’s disease

It’s always encouraging to see a story such as this one: “A new study suggests how a protein called tau drives the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers anticipate this could lead to more targeted treatments and earlier diagnoses.”

The Six Forces That Fuel Friendship

One of the issues older adults face is the loss of friends caused by moving for retirement and by a decreasing circle of contemporaries. In this summation of The Friendship Files for The Atlantic, Julie Beck writes, “I’ve spent more than three years interviewing friends for “The Friendship Files.” Here’s what I’ve learned.”

Lawmakers consider a residents’ ‘bill of rights’ for seniors in independent living facilities

Independent living facilities for older adults are not subject to the same regulation as assisted living facilities.

A disagreement between residents at a Lacey senior living facility and their management has led some state lawmakers to consider legislation that would create a residents’ bill of rights for senior citizens living in independent facilities. 

“The number of seniors is like a silver tsunami and as you look around, there are new facilities being built everywhere,” Rep. Laurie Dolan, D-Olympia, said. “But because there’s no coordination that facilities have to do the same kinds of things, it’s sort of like the Wild West right now.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

‘Napalm Girl’ at 50: The story of the Vietnam War’s defining photo

Though officially titled “The Terror of War,” the photo is better known by the nickname given to the badly burned, naked 9-year-old at its center: “Napalm Girl”.

50 years after ‘Napalm Girl,’ myths distort the reality behind a horrific photo of the Vietnam War and exaggerate its impact

W. Joseph Campbell, Professor of Communication Studies at American University School of Communication, examines the legacy of the famous photo.

Microsoft to retire Internet Explorer browser and redirect users to Edge

Microsoft has announced it will kill off its much-maligned legacy internet browser Internet Explorer close to 27 years after it graced desktop computers in 1995.

From 15 June, the desktop app will be disabled and users will be redirected to Microsoft’s Edge browser instead.

The More I Wrote, The More I Remembered: Q & A with Laura L. Engel

In 1967, a teenager’s parents drop her off at a home for pregnant unwed women in New Orleans, heartbroken and ashamed at the scandal their daughter has brought upon them. In You’ll Forget This Ever Happened: Secrets, Shame, and Adoption in the 1960s, Laura L. Engel movingly recounts her unsuccessful struggle to keep her baby against the implacable social forces of the era.

I’m nearly 60. Here’s what I’ve learned about growing old so far

“What have I learned about what it’s really like to get old? Not a lot, but here it is. I thought I’d better write it down before I forget it,” writes Tim Dowling.

An endearing mixture of humor and wisdom.

Watergate at 50: System worked in ousting Nixon, but lack of reform led to Trump

UPI examines history and how Nixon lead to Trump.

A Fast Way to See If You’re Wise

We’ve all heard some variation of “with age comes wisdom.” What exactly is wisdom, and how do we know if we have it?

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Watergate at 50: A viewers guide to remembering the scandal – CNN

Watergate is having another made-for-TV moment, in concert with the 50th anniversary of the original break-in that ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Combine that with a new round of televised hearings about alleged White House corruption, and everything old really does seem new again.

Source: Watergate at 50: A viewers guide to remembering the scandal – CNN

Theresa Malkiel, a Jewish socialist immigrant, inspired International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day began with a Russian-born Jewish woman in New York City, before traveling to the Soviet Union and back again.

Source: Theresa Malkiel, a Jewish socialist immigrant, inspired International Women’s Day – The Washington Post

Last Week’s Links

Older people in Ukraine want peace

HelpAge International has been working in Ukraine since the conflict began, providing support to older people in the east of the country. There are 17 HelpAge staff in Ukraine, most of whom are in the east. Almost all the locations where HelpAge operates are within the five-kilometre demarcation line in Ukrainian government-controlled territory. Some communities are located on the very line of contact.

After talking to older people in Ukraine, HelpAge International reports that they “all want one thing – peace, and to see their children and grandchildren from whom they have been separated for so long.”

At 83, Here Are Things I’d Like to Do Before I Reach 100

Annie Korzen just turned 83. Since “Living until 100 is no longer an impossible dream,” she here offers her “bucket list of things I am raring to do and things that I would never, ever do.”

How lockdown loneliness is still impacting our mental health

“The worst of the pandemic might be over, but we’re still learning about the effects of lockdown on mental health.”

This article reports that “loneliness has hit young people the hardest,” but social scientists have long known that social isolation can also have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of older adults. 

Niellah Arboine reports that “now nearly two years on since the first nationwide lockdown [in the U.K.], and even with restrictions lifted, we’re still feeling the consequences.”

You Are Not Your Traumas. But Here’s How to Write About Them

Many people use the time available after retirement to write about their lives, either for their families, for publication, or for themselves. But most people’s lives contain some kind of trauma.

Traumatic experiences can be so intense they hijack the brain. Some defy language. Sitting with them for too long can trigger responses that feel a lot like pots boiling over. Do this often, and you might snuff out the passion fueling your project.

Here Lisa Cooper Ellison, an editor and writing coach with an Ed.S. degree in clinical mental health counseling, offers some advice on how to approach the difficult task of writing about trauma.

How to support a struggling friend

We’ve all had the experience of sitting with a friend who’s experiencing a problem—“from a friend burning the food at their dinner party, to struggling with the loss of a loved one”—and not known what to do, what to say, how to react, how to help. 

Elise Kalokerinos, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Melbourne, advises that providing support is a skill that can be learned. Moreover, giving social support benefits both the recipient and the giver. Here she explains :five strategies to help you provide more effective emotional support to those who are struggling.”

Watergate: The Scandal That Never Goes Away

Douglas Brinkley examines the Watergate era in a review of the recently published book Watergate: A New History by Garrett M. Graff.

Words: Technologies of Power

In the face of censorship efforts in China and here in the United States, Flynn Coleman, international human rights lawyer and author of A Human Algorithm writes:

Words are technologies of power. They are life rafts in the seas of a terrifying, miraculous, complex world. They can be earth-shattering, hilarious, and uncomfortable. Books are the conduit to what Atticus Finch tells us in To Kill A Mockingbird (a frequently banned book) about people: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Op-Ed: The first treatment for Alzheimer’s taught us some hard lessons

The Food and Drug Administration’s surprise approval of Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease last year was a mess on practically every level. Three agency advisors resigned, and skeptical doctors such as myself were left to advise patients — all desperate for hope — that, yes, it is a treatment option but, no, we have no idea whether it will work.

And by the way, it is extraordinarily expensive.

In this opinion piece Keith Vossel, director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, argues that “Because this was the first drug ever prescribed to fight the progression of Alzheimer’s, it revealed just how much work the medical community still needs to do to prepare itself to treat Alzheimer’s patients, not just study them.”

Vossel explains the need for the creation of a large network of clinicians qualified to treat Alzheimer’s patients and of facilities where those patients can be treated, along with support systems such as transportation to and from those facilities. He also emphasizes that it’s important to work on those preparations now if researchers are to adquately evaluate the “new drugs on the horizon” for treatment.

The Surprising Science of How Feelings Help You Think

Recent developments in neuroscience have revealed how little we really know about what’s going on in our brains. In particular, new research is highlighting the role that our feelings play, often subconsciously, in affecting our behaviors. No matter how rational or objective we might think we’re being, we’re always under the influence of how happy, or sad, or anxious, or even hungry we are. . . . a better understanding of the emerging science of emotions can help us become more aware of just how much our emotions affect our thinking.

GQ features an interview with Leonard Mlodinow about his latest book, Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.

New technologies, treatments could slow vision loss from macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration remains a leading cause of vision loss in the United States, but new advancements could help manage and, in some cases, prevent its devastating symptoms, experts told UPI recently.

The article discusses possible improvements in treatment for the 13 million Americans, most of whom are older adults, who suffer from the disease.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The COVID Strategy America Hasn’t Really Tried

“The clearest way to reduce deaths is to push to vaccinate more of the elderly—yes, still!”

Sarah Zhang reports in The Atlantic: “even though America’s vaccination and booster rates look better in the older groups compared with the young, they are still too low. As a result, deaths in the United States are still too high.”

Category: Health

How to get better at making every type of decision

Allie Volpe describes certain human biases that can complicate the making of decisions, particularly decisions about complex or life-altering questions. She also offers concrete suggestions about how to deal with these biases and how to manage the decision-making process.

Category: Mental Health

The Dog Breeds That Are a Woman’s Best Friend

“Especially when one lives alone.”

Because men generally die at a slightly younger age than women, many women face a period of widowhood. Social scientists have long known that having a pet to care for can reduce feelings of loneliness or depression for widowed people, either male or female. 

When my husband and I were looking at various retirement communities in preparation for our retirement relocation, something I noticed was the number of older adults out walking their dogs. This article, though emphasizing women, provides some advice appropriate for either men or women looking to take on a pet.

I have one consideration to add that this article doesn’t mention. Most retirement communities I’m familiar with allow “small pets.” If you anticipate moving into such a community, I’d advise you choose one of the smaller breeds described here. A boxer, golden retriever, or mastiff probably won’t be welcome in a much down-sized living situation.

Or maybe you’d rather consider a cat?

Category: Assisted Living, Retirement

There Will Be No Post-Covid

Charles M. Blow, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, expresses something I’ve thought for quite a while now: As much as we’d all like to get back to normal, normal won’t ever be the same again, and we are going to have to learn to live with that reality.

Or, as Blow puts it: :the America we knew ended in 2019. This is a new one, scarred, struggling to its feet, dogged by moral and philosophical questions that on one hand have revealed its cruelty and on the other have forced it into metamorphosis.”

Category: Health, Personal

Activist Learning: How Anti-Vietnam War Academics Reinvented the Strike

The escalation of the Vietnam War in 1965 brought about the creation of a new form of protest—the teach-in. It was so effective a vehicle for dissent that the academic community quickly became the main source of opposition to the war. Though it was later eclipsed—notably in the media and, thus, the popular mind—by younger noisier protests, for about a year and a half the nation’s faculties, with the assistance of graduate students and some undergraduates, provided the leadership and the intellectual framework for the growing challenge to the escalating conflict. An initially small group of professors literally taught the rest of the country why the war was wrong.

This excerpt from The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s by Ellen Schrecker brought back memories for me. I was a student at Boston University, a very politically active campus, from 1966 to 1970. 

Categories: History, Personal

Her dad died. So her favorite NFL star took her to the father-daughter dance.

“Philadelphia Eagles player Anthony Harris flew across the country to escort his 11-year-old fan to the event”

Amid all the incivility and protest, I hope we take a moment to appreciate and publicize stories such as this.

Category: Personal

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

%d bloggers like this: