Last Week’s Links

At 91, Clint Eastwood throws a punch and rides a horse in his new movie. And he’s not ready to quit

Eastwood’s first film behind the camera, “Play Misty for Me,” came out half a century ago, and he’s still at it. At age 91, with his new “Cry Macho” set for a Sept. 17 release in theaters and on HBO Max, Eastwood — whose acting credits date to 1955 — is perhaps the oldest American ever to both direct and star in a major motion picture.

Pandemic prompts more teachers to consider early retirement or new career

New research into how the pandemic has affected teachers found that “during the pandemic, teachers became less certain that they would work in the classroom until retirement. In March 2020, 74% of teachers said they expected to work as a teacher until retirement, but the figure fell to 69% in March 2021.”

The researchers discuss how such turnover in the profession can negatively affect students’ success and look at three areas in which teachers need support.

What Is Life?

“An astrobiologist finds the heart of his work in a new novel by Richard Powers.”

book cover: Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, writes that the “puzzle of ‘what life really is’ might be the ultimate goal of astrobiology—we don’t just want to know whether or not we’re alone in the universe, we want to understand what we really are.”

Here Scharf describes how “the profoundly interconnected goals of astrobiology form a central theme of Bewilderment, a new novel by Richard Powers.” He describes it as “an immersive and astonishing book, a novel where the state of our world, and others, is a central anxiety for its protagonists.”

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view

Social psychologist Ariana Orvell, assistant professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, explains how distanced self-talk, the “process of reflecting on one’s self using parts of speech that are typically used to refer to other people,” can help us align “our thoughts, feelings and behaviour with our goals.”

The most common example of distanced self-talk occurs when we address ourself either by name or in the second person (“you”). This process produces psychological distancing that allows us to change perspective, to “move beyond our default, egocentric perspective, and consider our thoughts and feelings from the stance of a more objective observer.” Such a shift in perspective can help to promote reasoning, to increase willingness to search for compromise, and to recognize the limits of our own knowledge.

‘Imagine’ at 50: Why John Lennon’s ode to humanism still resonates

Sociology professor Phil Zuckerman writes:

As a scholar of secularism and a devout fan of the Beatles, I have always been fascinated by how “Imagine,” perhaps the first and only atheist anthem to be so enormously successful, has come to be so widely embraced in America. After all, the U.S. is a country that has – at least until recently – had a much more religious population than other Western industrialized democracies.

The Roe Baby

“Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion she was seeking. She gave her baby girl up for adoption, and now that baby is an adult. After decades of keeping her identity a secret, Jane Roe’s child has chosen to talk about her life.”

This deeply moving article by Joshua Prager is adapted from his recently published book The Family Roe: An American Story.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Psychologists say a good life doesn’t have to be happy, or even meaningful

A recent article published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Review suggests that living a good life needn’t focus on purpose or happiness. According to the two authors of the article, a good life can be one that’s “psychologically rich,” a phrase that they define as one characterized by “interesting experiences in which novelty and/or complexity are accompanied by profound changes in perspective.” Further, “an experience doesn’t have to be fun in order to qualify as psychologically enriching. It might even be a hardship.”

The Heartbreak Key

Here’s a fascinating article on how we interpret or feel music—and why popular musicians tend to avoid the key of D minor.

German composer Christian Schubart “was a forefather of musical category creation: In his 1784 essay “A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries,” he balanced a study of the harpsichord with insights from literature and psychology to match all 24 major and minor musical keys to different auditory personalities.” 

11 Romances Featuring Older Couples

BookBub has some recommendations of books in the category it calls “seasoned romance.” I admit I haven’t read any of these books, but if you’re looking for a book featuring older adults finding love, there may be something here for you.

Here’s Where Our Minds Sharpen in Old Age

We usually think of aging as a time of declining memory, producing those “senior moments” that seem to befall all of us, at least occasionally. This article reports on new research published in Nature Human Behavior suggesting “that many things improve with age, including some cognitive aspects that had previously been thought to get worse.”

Jane Fonda’s blog is one of the internet’s greatest treasures

“We are barely worthy of such incredible content.”

Nicole Gallucci writes that Jane Fonda began blogging in 2009 and continues today, at age 83.

Since celebrities often avoid publicly wading into politics and sharing opinions on real societal issues, it’s refreshing to see Fonda use her blog to inform readers about pressing social and environmental justice problems. And while she nails serious, impactful content, she also strikes a remarkable balance by peppering in light and playful posts.

Social media’s 70-and-up ‘grandfluencers’ are debunking aging myths

Apparently Jane Fonda isn’t the only older social media star. Lianne Italie’s article in the Los Angeles Times reports on the “growing number of “grandfluencers,” folks 70 and older who have amassed substantial followings on social media with the help of decades-younger fans.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Remembering 9/11: 20 Years Later

There are so many dimensions to the memories of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. But I didn’t realize exactly how many dimensions until I began curating these links. I’ve tried to include links that cover the breadth of the dimensions of that day as we all sit with our own thoughts and remembrances.

Best 9/11 Books

Five Books is a website that features lists of recommended books by experts in many different fields. This page includes lists that cover many dimensions of 9/11 with topics such as literature, terrorism, and Osama bin Laden.

‘Get out now’ – inside the White House on 9/11, according to the staffers who were there

Anita McBride, Fellow in Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, Department of Government, at American University, was in the White House that day. She describes her experiences here.

At the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ancient Greece and Rome can tell us a lot about the links between collective trauma and going to war

Joel Christensen, now professor of Classical Studies at Brandeis University, was “in Washington Square Park at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 – less than a mile from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.” 

Today, as a scholar of Greek literature who studies narrative and memory, I see how this collective trauma shaped U.S. actions and has affected Americans’ vision of their identities and shared history – a feedback loop that is reflected in the myths and histories of ancient Greece.

Pascal Campion’s “9/11: Then and Now”

“The New Yorker’s art editor remembers twenty years of September 11th covers.”

 Dread, War and Ambivalence: Literature Since the Towers Fell

The events of 9/11 irrevocably changed the course of global affairs. They also changed culture. It will likely be easier to say how a century from now. But with 20 years’ hindsight, The Times’s book critics reflect below on some of the influence of that day on the writing that has followed.

“Sept. 11 accelerated a trend, already long in motion, toward opening American fiction to formerly marginalized voices,” writes Dwight Garner.

Jennifer Szalai says 9/11 produced “fictional treatments of identity that had to do with uncertainty, instability, precariousness — depicting ambivalence as an irreducible part of the human condition.”

How 9/11 altered the fiction landscape in 13 novels

Ron Charles writes in the Washington Post, “within a few years, it was clear that 9/11 would leave an impact on contemporary fiction as deep as its impact on every other aspect of our culture.” He discusses 13 novels that present “a sense of the wide variety of approaches writers have taken over the past two decades” to address the significance of the terrorist attacks.

20 ways 9/11 changed life, the U.S. and the world in the past 20 years

UPI looks at 20 aspects of ways in which the events of 20 years ago have affected our lives, including airport security, creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the shift in war powers toward the executive branch of government.

Tuesday, and After

New Yorker writers respond to 9/11.”

From the September 24, 2001, issue of The New Yorker. Entries by the following authors: John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Roger Angell, Aharon Appelfeld, Rebecca Mead, Susan Sontag, Amitav Ghosh, and Donald Antrim.

I Talked to My Twin Brother Every Morning for 27 Years. Right Up Until 9/11.

Pamela Bittner describes the loss of her twin brother on 9/11. She was talking with her father on the phone when “we watched together in horror as Flight 175 crashed into my brother’s office building between floors 75 and 85. He worked on the 89th floor.”

Thousands suffer health effects of Ground Zero’s toxic dust 20 years after 9/11 attacks

A new World Trade Center stands in lower Manhattan 20 years after Sept. 11, 2001, but thousands of people who were there that day — from first responders hoping to save lives to people who were just on their daily commute — continue to feel health effects linked to the terrorist attack.

A Port of Seattle firefighter created a 9/11 memorial at Seattle-Tacoma airport to honor fallen first responders

I include this article from a local (to me) newspaper to emphasize the national character of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And the included story of the “set up a welcome center to connect Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of Kabul with resettlement resources and nonprofits when they arrive at Sea-Tac” Airport emphasizes the continuing need for global understanding and compassion.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

9 websites that will bring you back to the old internet

“The internet has been around for long enough — and shifted so drastically in that time — that it’s really easy to get nostalgic for past versions of online life.”

Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret?

“In the United States and elsewhere, public health and medical care are largely separate enterprises. Costa Rica shows the benefits of integrating the two—it spends less than we do on health care and gets better results.”

Raw Granny Power: 100-Year-Old Woman Is the World’s Oldest Female Powerlifter

A portrait of “Edith Murway-Traina, who is heaving around major poundage at the age of 100—making her a Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest known competitive female powerlifter in the world.”

In ‘Rumors,’ Lizzo and Cardi B pull from the ancient Greeks, putting a new twist on an old tradition

Grace B. McGowan, a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Boston University, celebrates the return of Black women to “the classical tradition, a style rooted in the aesthetics of ancient Greece and Rome.” McGowan writes that artists like Lizzo and Cardi B are “adding their own twist” to this tradition.

Being chased, losing your teeth or falling down? What science says about recurring dreams

I periodically dream about losing my teeth, forgetting to go to class for an entire semester, or being unprepared for an exam. Here a professor of psychiatry and a doctoral candidate in neuroscience from the University of Montreal discuss recurrent dream motifs and their possible meanings.

Baby Boomer Bloggers: Are you out there?

Jane Trombley, a Baby Boomer herself, laments, “I don’t see enough of my peers initiating the conversation. And that’s a drag. Millennials and everyone else need to hear much of what Boomers have to say.”

She ends with a challenge: “Over to you, Boomers.”

So, whadda ya say?

‘No one wanted to read’ his book on pandemic psychology – then Covid hit

In October 2019, a month or so before Covid-19 began to spread from the industrial Chinese city of Wuhan, Steven Taylor, an Australian psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, published what would turn out to be a remarkably prophetic book, The Psychology of Pandemics.

The Guardian reports on Taylor’s psychological approach to understanding pandemics in general and, specifically, the current state of world affairs surrounding COVID-19.

The Best Part of Being 60-Something

Lorraine Duffy Merkl basks in the freedom that being in her 60s offers: “We can finally let go of the please-like-me baggage and secrets that have been weighing us down, as well as the insecurities based on what others think of us, and realize what really matters is being ourselves and letting the chips fall.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

30 Years of the Public World Wide Web

Flipboard has curated a collection of articles to celebrate the arrival of the internet 30 years ago.

Do you remember your first experiences with the internet? I remember joining CompuServe. As I remember it, the service was a huge conglomeration of text links. With our membership information packet, we got a huge fold-out paper menu that we taped to the wall—and it took up the whole wall—near the computer. It listed the nested hierarchy of how to navigate to whatever information you were interested in. It sounds unwieldy now, but back then it seemed like heaven to someone who loved research more than just about anything else. 

One of the most interesting sites to me among those linked on the Flipboard introductory page is Websites at 30 – how much has the internet changed?

I started my own web site, featuring book reviews, some time in the late 1990s. It started out on GeoCities, where anyone could register and put up a free site. GeoCities was eventually taken over by Yahoo!, who tried to take over copyright ownership of everything everybody published on their sites. That move drove most members, including me, to move to paid hosting services. The need to pay to put up and maintain a web site in order to keep copyright ownership of the content significantly changed the internet, as most people who produced hobby-centered content chose not to pay to keep their sites. 

Here’s another article about the evolution of the world wide web:

He predicted the dark side of the Internet 30 years ago. Why did no one listen?

How About You?

I’d love to hear about your memories of your first experiences with the internet.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Tips for choosing an Airbnb on your next vacation — from a Seattle couple who has stayed in 270 of them

Michael and Debbie Campbell, a retired Seattle couple who call themselves the Senior Nomads, have stayed in more than 270 Airbnbs in 85 countries over the last eight years. Here are their tips for choosing a vacation rental that will meet your needs.

The Strange Language of Diane Williams

book cover: How High? --That High by Diane Williams

“After 30 years of work, some writers grow lazy; Williams has grown more potent, like the venom of certain snakes.”

The 34 short stories of How High?—That High, Williams’s 10th work of fiction, reveal an artist who, at 75, shows no hint of being tamed. But a common subject for Williams—pleasure—may be more complicated now than it was in her earlier books.

Author Hilma Wolitzer lost her husband to COVID-19. So at 91, she wrote a story about it

book cover: Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket by Hilma Wolitzer

Meredith Maran interviews Hilma Wolitzer on the publication of Wolitzer’s story collection Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket. Most of the pieces in the collection were first published in magazines in the 1960s and 1970s—all except the last, a reflection on the death from COVID-19 of Morton Wolitzer, her husband of 68 years.

This is the writing of a self-proclaimed late bloomer, bursting with half a life’s worth of observations. “I was raised by my housewife mother to be a housewife,” says Wolitzer now. “I went along with the plan. My writing was a surreptitious ‘hobby,’ something I did in rare moments alone. I took that time-worn advice: ‘Write what you know.’ So my early fiction takes place in the familiar terrain of supermarkets, playgrounds, bedrooms and kitchens.”

The 7 Worst Habits for Your Brain

“Bad choices and everyday missteps could harm your cognition. Here’s how to combat several of them.”

Recommendations from AARP.

A Warning Ignored

“American society did exactly what the Kerner Commission on the urban riots of the mid-1960s advised against, and fifty years later reaped the consequences it predicted.”

The Kerner Commission, created in the summer of 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, reported on numerous incidents of civil unrest in U.S. cities between 1964 and 1967: “the Kerner Report shows that it is possible to be entirely cognizant of history and repeat it anyway.”

Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too

In this excerpt from his book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues that we should follow the example of history’s great achievers like Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Ingmar Bergman, who spent much of their time “hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking.”

Schadenfreude: A psychologist explains why we love to see others fail

The wonderful German word schadenfreude means “taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.” Probably most of us have experienced this emotion, and then immediately felt guilty about it. But, writes neuroscientist Dean Burnett, “Schadenfreude is the result of several deeply-ingrained processes that the human brain spent millions of years evolving.”

US WW II veteran reunites with Italians he saved as children

Here’s another one of those stories that are just so heartwarming that they have to be shared. Martin Adler, a 97-year-old veteran of World War II, was recently reunited with three children from the Italian village of Monterenzio whom he first met in 1944.

An 1870s marriage certificate was hidden behind a picture at a thrift store. Employees set out to find the couple’s family.

And here’s another story that will warm your heart, even if you not into genealogy.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Ed Asner dead: Actor played Lou Grant on ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ – Los Angeles Times

Ed Asner, the versatile actor who starred on TV in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and ‘Lou Grant,’ and movies such ‘Elf’ and ‘Up,’ dies at 91.

Source: Ed Asner dead: Actor played Lou Grant on ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ – Los Angeles Times

Happy 40th Birthday, IBM PC!

Do you remember this?

photo of original IBM PC: keyboard, CPU, and monitor
Photo from Wikipedia Commons

We had one of these in the basement office, which my husband used for his business records. 

Flipboard has assembled a collection of articles about the IBM PC, which was first released on August 12, 1981:

Happy 40th Birthday, IBM PC!

Doesn’t all of this bring back memories? I especially like the article about the earliest software programs and where they are today (nowhere except in our memories) and the piece on the evolution of the early web browsers. We used Netscape and still reminisce fondly about it.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

On This Day, Aug. 26: 19th Amendment goes into effect – UPI.com

On Aug. 26, 1920, eight days after it was ratified, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect — giving women the right to vote.

Source: On This Day, Aug. 26: 19th Amendment goes into effect – UPI.com

Charlie Watts dead: Rolling Stones drummer passes at 80 – Los Angeles Times

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watt has died at the age of 80, according to his publicist.

Source: Charlie Watts dead: Rolling Stones drummer passes at 80 – Los Angeles Times