Olivia Newton-John, the British-Australian pop singer who dominated the pop charts of the 1970s and ’80s with mega hits “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Magic,” and “Physical”—and jolted audiences with her naif-to-naughty turn as Sandy in one of the top-grossing movie musicals of all time, Grease—died Monday at her ranch in Southern California, according to a message on her official Facebook page. Newton-John was fighting stage 4 metastatic breast cancer—she’d endured breast cancer on and off since 1992, but it had returned in 2017. She was 73.
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.”
“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.
“‘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.
“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!
“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.
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.
“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
Kiss aside, there’s no question Nichols was underused in the series . . . Uhura rarely joins a landing party. But even when she’s not the focus of a scene, she is regularly onscreen, even if just visible at her post on the bridge, completing the picture, contributing to the emotional tenor. (And when she isn’t there, you notice it.) As the communications officer, everything runs through Uhura: She’s the voice of what’s happening elsewhere on the ship, and what’s happening outside the ship, whether announcing the presence of some other spacecraft or relating what’s up with Planet X. Even reciting lines like “I’m receiving Class Two signals from the Romulan vessel” or “Revised estimate on cloud visual contact 3.7 minutes,” she is the picture of the professional. She builds exposition, asks important questions; wordlessly reacting to some bit of business on the viewing screen, she brings an emotion and energy into the scene different from that of her sometimes blustery male colleagues.
Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood when she played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series, has died at the age of 89. Her son Kyle Johnson said Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.
This is truly sad news. Read the full story from AP to remember the true significance of Nichols’s life and career.
Tony Dow, who became a star at 12 as Wally Cleaver, the barely teenage older brother on the popular 1950s and ’60s comedy series “Leave It to Beaver,” died on Wednesday at his home in Topanga, Calif. He was 77.
Lindsay Zoladz writes in The New York Times that “the past two-plus years of seemingly unending illness, sacrifice and loss have left so many people hungry for stories of resilience, hard-won strength and new beginnings.”
Joni Mitchell, 78, stunned attendees of the Newport Folk Festival (and the countless people who have since watched viral cellphone videos of the event) when she performed in public for the first time since her 2015 brain aneurysm, playing her first full-length live set since 2000.
Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara writes:
Mitchell, 78, who has spent years recovering from a brain aneurysm, sang, played guitar and proved there is a reason for social media to exist. Most of us were nowhere near Rhode Island when this miracle occurred, but thanks to video posted to YouTube and shared widely through every media platform available, we all got to start our week watching Joni Mitchell live, performing “Summertime,” “The Circle Game” and most especially “Both Sides Now.”
And Vanessa Romo, reporting for NPR, marvels at Joni Mitchell’s performance because is remarkable because, after the brain aneurysm, Mitchell had to learn to speak, walk, and play the guitar all over again.
“We’ve always had a minimum age to serve in Congress. How about a max?”
“It’s not that older folks, who make up a significant chunk of the American population, shouldn’t be properly represented in the halls of power. It’s that they’re way overrepresented, and it is bending the trajectory of our national life. The American story has been crowded out by the story of the baby-boomer generation,” writes Jack Holmes for Esquire.
In The New York Times, Peter Baker looks specifically at President Biden concerning the question of age and politicians: “If he mounts another campaign in 2024, Mr. Biden would be asking the country to elect a leader who would be 86 at the end of his tenure, testing the outer boundaries of age and the presidency.”
“53 million Americans are caregivers to a family member. How can an experience so common so often remain in the shadows?”
Anna Altman looks at the situation of “the sandwich generation”: “as a culture, in spite of the fact that, as of 2020, some 53 million Americans consider themselves caregivers to a family member, we continue to have a fairly paltry understanding of what it looks like to care for one’s aging parents.”
Altman focuses on the memoir Mothercare: On Obligation, Love, Death, and Ambivalence by Lynne Tillman, “a book-length essay about the experience of caring for her intelligent, frustrated, withholding, competitive, sometimes cruel mother who, at 86, is suddenly and mysteriously changed and utterly dependent.”
Tillman, Altman writes, “wants anyone in this predicament to be given grace and compassion: ‘I want to say about this situation: It is impossible to get it completely right.’”
“In an era of declining wages and rising debt, Americans are not aging out of their student loans—they are aging into them.”
In The New Yorker, Eleni Schirmer reports “Americans aged sixty-two and older are the fastest-growing demographic of student borrowers. Of the forty-five million Americans who hold student debt, one in five are over fifty years old. Between 2004 and 2018, student-loan balances for borrowers over fifty increased by five hundred and twelve per cent.”
© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown
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.”
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
“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.
“‘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.
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.”
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.”
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
Irene was eighty years old, but she didn’t feel eighty. Not just because she was, sprained ankle notwithstanding, a spritely, trim woman, but because it was impossible to feel eighty. Nobody felt eighty. When Irene considered it, she thought that she probably felt somewhere around thirty-five. Forty, maybe. That was a good age to feel, wasn’t it? You knew who you were then. You weren’t still flighty or unsure, but you had not yet had time to harden, to become unyielding.
The truth was that you felt a certain way inside, and while the people who had known you your whole life would probably see you that way, the number of new people who could appreciate you as that person, that inside person, rather than just a collection of the frailties of age, was limited.A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins
Kate Kirkpatrick, tutorial fellow in philosophy and Christian ethics at Regent’s Park College of the University of Oxford, and Sonia Kruks, Danforth Professor of Politics Emerita at Oberlin College in Ohio, write “In Western societies, the shocked realisation that we are growing old often fills us with alarm and even terror.”
The two scholars examine Simone de Beauvoir’s “magisterial study of the topic [old age], La vieillesse (1970) – translated in the UK as Old Age, and in the US as The Coming of Age (1972)” for answers to the question:
What, then, should a society be like, so that all may flourish in their last years of life?
We hear a lot about “aging in place,” a movement to help older adults remain in their homes as long as possible. Here AARP offers offers some advice on how to prepare your home “for your senior years.”
“Esther Cohen considers the importance of preserving the experiences we recall, by writing them down and sharing them.”
Scholar and activist ANGELA DAVIS has spent more than 50 years working for social justice. This summer, society started to catch up
This moment is a conjuncture between the COVID-19 crisis and the increasing awareness of the structural nature of racism. Moments like this do arise. They’re totally unpredictable, and we cannot base our organizing on the idea that we can usher in such a moment. What we can do is take advantage of the moment.Angela Davis
A pictorial review of the musical career of Sir Paul McCartney in celebration of his 80th birthday.
“Starting in the 1960s, she sought to re-center her discipline on the experiences of women, people of color and other marginalized groups.”
I had not heard of Dorothy E. Smith, “a feminist scholar and sociologist whose extensive criticism of her own field led her to establish groundbreaking theories and sub-disciplines that pushed sociology away from its foundations as a male-dominated, male-centered endeavor.”
I haven’t read any of these novels, but I appreciate the fact that someone—anyone—is interested in focusing on the topic of Older Adults in Literature.
© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown
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 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.
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.
“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.
UPI examines history and how Nixon lead to Trump.
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 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.