INTERESTING STUFF – 1 August 2015

1965 MEDICARE SIGNING ON TIMES FRONT PAGE

It's always fun to see newspaper front pages from important past events. (Hmmmm. With the internet and cell phones taking over news, will these historical artifacts disappear, I wonder?)

Anyway, I missed posting this on Wednesday when we discussed the 50th anniversary of Medicare, so here now is the front page of The New York Times the day after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare legislation. Lead story with a photo above the fold. It was a big deal then and it's a big deal still. (Note the price: 10 cents)

NYTMedicareSig83065

An image of the full page is here;


MOURNING ZIMBABWE'S CECIL THE LION

This story is probably not new to you but it is still worth spending some time with today. A dentist from Minnesota, Walter J. Palmer, paid more than $50,000 to kill a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe:

“The first shot, which the authorities say came from Dr. Palmer’s crossbow, was not enough to kill the lion. Cecil was tracked for nearly two days before Dr. Palmer killed him with a gun,” reports The New York Times.

Two days with an arrow stuck in his hide. Imagine if it were you. Here's the story:

Palmer, who has many "trophies" of big wild animals, is now notorious worldwide. He has shut his dental office and gone into hiding. According to various news reports, Palmer may have broken laws in both the United States and Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is seeking his extradition.

In the way of lion culture, it is now likely that male lions in the area will vie to take over Cecil's pride and the winner will kill Cecil's cubs. Here is some video of Cecil before this terrible crime was committed.


HOW MANY TIMES HAS YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION BEEN EXPOSED TO HACKERS?

It's a question many of us ask every time we read of a new hack at a bank, credit card company, financial institution or any other large corporation.

The New York Times has published a quiz that will give you an estimate of what personal information of yours may have been exposed and how many times.

In my case, the quiz tells me my address and credit cards have been exposed twice, my email address four times, passwords two times and Social Security number once.

You can try it for yourself here. The story includes some information on what you can do help prevent this kind of theft.


JON STEWART'S LAST SHOW COMING UP ON THURSDAY

Yep, just four Daily Shows with Jon Stewart remain until he signs off for the last time. He and the show have been a daily fixture in my life since I discovered them in the second year of the program's run. I never could stay up late enough to see it live and I'm grateful for the internet where it has been one of the first things I check in the morning.

Undoubtedly there will be something from next week's shows that I will want to include here next week but today I'm going to do something else - a Daily Show video without Jon Stewart because it's so funny and it concerns a man that Stewart so gleefully likes to skewer.

It is from one of the show's regular contributors (who will remain with the program when Noah Trevor (or is it Trevor Noah?) takes over - Lewis Black's “Back in Black” look at Donald Trump, as relevant today as when it was when first broadcast in 2012. And hilarious.


JOHN OLIVER ON MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCES

In the one-and-a-half seasons of HBO's Last Week Tonight show this, from last Sunday, is certainly one of the most powerful pieces John Oliver and his crew have produced.


ARE YOU MIDDLE CLASS?

There is a lot of information floating around these days about how the middle class is shrinking if not disappearing. But what is the middle class? How is it defined? Am I middle class? Are you?

Pew research has created a simple, five-question calculator to tell us, compared to others worldwide and within your own country what financial class you fall into as of 2011. Here is the quiz:

You can also try it online here where you can read more. The full study is here.


PHOTO MANIPULATION

Have you ever Photoshopped an image to make yourself look better or maybe removed someone in the background? When you and I do that with our private photographs, no big deal. But when photojournalists do it, it can and almost always is seriously misleading. And it is usually done deliberately.

There is a transcript of the video here. An interview with Michael Kamber is here. And if you are in the area, Kamber's exhibit will be up at the Bronx Documentary Center through tomorrow, Sunday.


AGE DISCRIMINATION IS OLDER WORKERS' FAULT SAYS FORBES

Forbes magazine has just published a classic blame-the-victim story and this time we are being told there is no such thing as age discrimination, that if you're 50 or older and can't find a job, it's your fault.

"...job hunters and workers in their 50s and 60s [are] holding themselves back because of their own limiting belief story about their prospects due to their age. (Limiting beliefs refer to thoughts or stories you tell yourself that don’t support you and impact your choices and behavior.)

"...It’s easier to assign blame than to take personal responsibility. As a life coach, I see this all of the time. Generally, people are completely unprepared to take a look at themselves, but have a ton of experience pointing the finger at someone else.”

Certainly I will get blowback on this, but all I need to know to dismiss this bogus psychology is that the writer is a self-identified “life coach.” Anyone can call him- or herself a life coach, even me. (Trust me, you don't want life advice from me). There are no regulations, no education, training or certification required. Just put out your shingle and start charging money.

Forbes is generally a respectable and respected magazine and some less-than-careful readers might believe this claptrap even though it is uncoupled from any known fact. The whole sorry article is here.


AMAZING KID WITH HAND TRANSPLANT

Did you hear this week about the amazing eight-year-old, Zion Harvey who got a dual hand transplant? Jim Stone sent me the video with the backstory. (Not counting John Oliver's weekly essays, this is a longer video than I usually post but I doubt you'll click out early.)

The surgery took place at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and here is a short followup from the Today show.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


A New Elder Playground in My Town

About two-and-a-half-years ago, I told you about elder playgrounds and that I was heading a small committee of the 50-plus Advisory Board of the City of Lake Oswego, to look into details of building one in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

They have been popular in Europe and Japan for years but were then, and still are, just getting started in the United States. One such playground has existed since 2010 on the grounds of the senior center in Rockville, Maryland:

A fairly large elder playground opened in Galveston County, Texas, last year:

So as I reported here in 2013, my little committee and I researched elder playgrounds and pulled together the information the city would need to make the decision to build one.

Among the people I spoke with was Michael Cohen, a professional designer of children's playgrounds, whose enthusiasm for elder playgrounds has made him a sort of godfather to the movement to build them. His website is here. As I wrote in these pages in 2013:

”I am personally convinced of Michael Cohen's vision and that there should be elder playgrounds in every city in the United States, particularly as the elder population explodes in numbers.

“The playgrounds promote general health, wellbeing, spread joy and go a long way toward warding off social isolation which, as we discuss here from time to time, can lead to depression, illness and even early death. With so much concern over health care costs, to me elder playgrounds – which are not expensive to build - are a money-saving no brainer.”

About three weeks ago, the Lake Oswego playground, built and managed by the Parks and Recreation Department, opened to the public in West Waluga Park. It is called FIT Spot which, while utilitarian, lacks appeal or sense of fun such a park provides and I am so sorry the word “elder” is not in the name. But that is how things go in a culture as terrified of ageing as ours is.

It's not that people of all ages can't or shouldn't use the equipment, but the point is to provide elders - many of whom, like me, can't afford a gym membership - a place to help maintain their well being, meet their peers and enjoy the outdoors. There are few enough such opportunities designed for elders' needs and capabilities.

(End of editorial. Moving on.)

Here is the sign about the playground at the entry to it. You can see part of the adjacent kids' play area which is a great idea – parents and caregivers can work out at FIT Spot while keeping their eyes on the kids:

ElderParkSignandKidsArea

The entire FIT Spot area looks almost exactly as I had imagined it would. Here is a wide shot of most, but not all, of the ten pieces of exercise equipment.

ElderParkWideShot

When I was there to take photos early Wednesday morning, three people were already working out. Here are close-ups of several machines:

ElderParkElliptical

ElderParkUnit

ElderParkShare

Three or four of the exercise units, like this one just below, are fitted out for people who use wheelchairs:

ElderParkWheelChairAccessible

Because this is northwest Oregon and it rains a lot (well, not in summer), this nearby covered area is a good place to wait out a surprise shower and there are clean rest rooms nearby.

ElderParkCoveredtableArea

Three times a week, I work out at home for 40 minutes or so in the early morning. Now I will add the elder playground into my routine on some other days. It works different parts of my body, gets me out of the house and I've already met someone I would like to know better.

FIT Spot is far enough away that I need to drive for 15-20 minutes to use it but I hear chatter that one is being considered for a park that is within walking distance from my home. I hope that rumor is true - that would be terrific.

Elder playgrounds are a big hit in Spain where, Huffington Post reports,

”The greater Barcelona area has about 300 elderly parks alone. That’s about one for every town in the district.”

Maybe you can work with your community to create your own elder playground.


Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare

Rejoice in our good fortune, my friends. Tomorrow, 30 July 2015, is the 50th anniversary of the day President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law. Take a look:

Until I was poking around the internet to prepare this post, I didn't know that President Harry Truman had anything to do with Medicare and actually, universal health care was first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 but then it got benched for many years.

”...the idea for a national health plan didn’t gain steam until it was pushed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman,” reports Medicare Resources:

“On November 19, 1945, seven months into his presidency, Truman sent a message to Congress, calling for creation of a national health insurance fund, open to all Americans.

“The plan Truman envisioned would provide health coverage to individuals, paying for such typical expenses as doctor visits, hospital visits, laboratory services, dental care and nursing services. Although Truman fought to get a bill passed during his term, he was unsuccessful...”

Which is why Johnson included Truman, then 81, in the Medicare signing ceremony in 1965, and signed him up for the first Medicare card.

Note that both Roosevelt and Truman called for a national health plan for everyone. Getting one for old people is the best Johnson could do politically and even that was struggle to get through Congress.

However, there has been a nascent Medicare for Everyone movement for a number of years and there's no reason not to bring it to the fore again.

To do that, we will need to be extra careful not to elect a Republican president next year and it wouldn't help to move the majority of members in at least one house of Congress to the Democratic side.

Republicans have been trying to kill Medicare since long before President Ronald Reagan said the program would destroy American freedom. (You can decide for yourself if that is what has happened since he said that during his presidency.)

It is a perennial sign of seriousness among Republican presidential candidates to say that Medicare must be killed. Just last week, supposedly moderate candidate Jeb Bush called for phasing it out:

”I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits,” said Bush.

“But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.”

That last part isn't true. Medicare is in better financial shape right now than it has been in more than a decade. As Paul Krugman pointed out in The New York Times on Monday, passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

”...was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations, to an extent that has revolutionized our views about the sustainability of the program and of government spending as a whole...

“Medicare at 50 still looks very good,” Krugman continued. “It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.”

It seems to me that if every western country in the world can supply universal healthcare for its entire population, certainly the United States – which Republicans keep telling is the best in the world at every- and anything – can do it.

Of course, the Medicare we have now needs work itself. That awful drug plan (Part D) is not allowed to negotiate prices. There is no dental coverage to speak of. Another big omission is hearing aids as the president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), Max Richtman, wrote about a few days ago:

”Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. Yet an estimated 70% of Americans with hearing problems between age 65 and 84 are not using hearing aids.

“With an average cost of $3,000 - $7,000 and zero coverage from Medicare, it’s little surprise that for a senior collecting an average monthly Social Security check of $1,287, hearing aids are seen as a luxury they simply can’t afford.

“In truth, hearing loss which goes untreated can lead to depression, cognitive impairment, life-altering falls, social isolation and a lack of independence..."

Hear! Hear! (so to speak). You can read more about the need to add coverage for hearing loss [pdf] at NCPSSM.

These are not the only problems with Medicare, just a couple of the big ones but even as it stands now, I am grateful to have it because as healthy as I currently am (and grateful for that too), without it, I would not have been able to afford the healthcare I have needed in the past nine years. And I certainly could not afford private coverage.

Even though I know there are potential health issues that can cost me dearly even with Medicare, the peace of mind I have because of it is huge.

Shortfalls notwithstanding, since that day 50 years ago when President Johnson signed the Medicare legislation, the program has vastly improved the lives of elders.

”The elderly’s poverty rate has declined...from 29 percent in 1966 to 10.5 percent in 1995. Medicare also provides security across generations: it has given American families assurance that they will not have to bear the full burden of health care costs of their elderly or disabled parents or relatives at the expense of their young families.”

That paragraph is part of Insight #2 at Center for Medicare Advocacy website where, for the past 50 days, they have published one Medicare Insight per day – one for each year of the program's life. You can see and read the entire list here.

In the run-up to this anniversary, there have been a lot of news and opinion pieces about Medicare. Here are a few you might want to follow up with.

The brand-new, just published Medicare Trustee's Report - Overview here
Mother Jones coverage of the Medicare Trustee's Report
The New York Times editorial on Medicare and Medicaid
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich's birthday report on Medicare

And maybe you have a Medicare story to share.



The Misguided Lure of Anti-Ageing Products and Medicine

First off, it's that name - “anti-ageing” (or “anti-aging” if you prefer). Who hates themself so much that they would buy anything labeled “anti-ageing”?

The phrase is slapped on thousands of products but goes further than that. There is even The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (jauntily referring to themselves as A4M for short).

Yes, it is an organization that “certifies” physicians (and corporations) in the medical specialty of anti-aging.

One problem with that, however, is that there is no known medical specialty of anti-aging.

”...the field of anti-aging medicine is not recognized by established medical organizations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association (AMA),” reports Wikipedia...

“The activities of the A4M are controversial: in 2003 a commentary on the response of the scientific community to the promotion of anti-aging medicine noted that the activities of the A4M were seen as a threat to the credibility of serious scientific research on aging...

“Thomas Perls of the Boston University School of Medicine, a prominent critic of the organization, has stated that claims of censorship and suppression are a common theme in what he calls 'anti-aging quackery.'”

No one can spend as much time online as I do reading about ageing in all its aspects without running into the most outrageous “anti-aging quackery” almost every day. One ad led to a Burt's Bees page with this promise:

“Smooth Fine Lines. Erase All Doubt. 96% of women saw a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles after 8 weeks”

Oh, come on. If a word of that were true, don't you think we would all know about it? At least if you fall for Burt's Bees humbug it will cost you only about $10. And even slightly more upscale L'Oreal sells an anti-aging cream for only about $25. But their video ad is no less bogus:

Did you notice that word L'Oreal highlighted? Hyaluronic makes it sound all rigorously scientific. What it is, is the latest hot ingredient with the anti-aging charlatans. The most expensive one Crabby has run across lately - $90 for a one-month supply – is promoted by Oprah's favorite physician, the notorious Dr. Oz.

Ads around the web claim that the cream he touts will turn a 55-year-old into a 35-year-old. As with the other latest anti-aging products, Oz explains, his magic ingredient is hyaluronic acid.

(If you are tempted to try Oz's product, please do check out this page with dozens of complaints and accusations of overcharging, cancellation refusals and misrepresentations by the company, Bella Labs, that sells the cream.)

Here is what WebMD says about hyaluronic acid which is naturally present in the human body (emphasis added):

”There is also a lot of interest in using hyaluronic acid to prevent the effects of aging. In fact, hyaluronic acid has been promoted as a 'fountain of youth.' However, there is no evidence to support the claim that taking it by mouth or applying it to the skin can prevent changes associated with aging.”

Got that? It and other evidence won't stop any of the false promises to reverse the appearance of ageing but all those cosmetic potions are mostly benign fibs compared to the pseudo-scientific products – prescription and over-the counter – that suggest those who use them will regain the energy and vitality of their youth, and even extend their lives by many years.

In the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports, there is an update article titled “Treatments to Turn Back Time?” in which they report on what science says about the efficacy of such anti-aging products as human growth hormones (HTH), “low T” treatments, vitamin and mineral supplements, smart drugs and games, DHEA and coenzyme Q10 among others.

After explaining what these treatments can and cannot do, Consumer Reports chief medical advisor, Marvin M. Lipman M.D. says that

"...for now, any claim that a particular product or treatment can stop or slow down the aging process simply does not have the science to back it up.

“'There is as yet no evidence-based substance shown to extend life,' Lipman explains. 'Diet, exercise, and good genes are the best we can offer.'”

So save your money and wear your age proudly.


ELDER MUSIC: Run to Paradise

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Recently Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I saw Coldplay perform a song called Paradise on TV. Both of us mentioned that we could think of several better songs with the same name.

We pretty much simultaneously came up with The Choirboys, John Prine and Tony Bennett. Others weren’t far behind. Naturally, in the way of these things, it led to this column that I originally called Paradise but The A.M. thought that “Run to Paradise” was a more interesting name, and so it shall be.

Since the column is called Run to Paradise, that’s the way we’re starting. These are THE CHOIRBOYS.

Choirboys

The Choirboys are a rock band formed in Sydney in the tail-end of the seventies and still going to this day. Singer Mark Gable and bass player Ian Hulme are the constants throughout their journey and a dozen or more others have come and gone over the years.

This is the song, a huge hit in Oz.

♫ Choirboys - Run to Paradise

JOHN PRINE was another initial thought.

John Prine

The writer Simon Winchester told me (and all the others listening to the radio at the time) that there are 18 towns in America called Paradise. Due to John's song, the town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky is probably the most famous.

Ironically, though, the town no longer exists as it was dug up by Mr Peabody's coal company.

♫ John Prine - Paradise

JOHNNY NASH is best known for his song, I Can See Clearly Now. That one has nothing to do with paradise so it won't be in today.

Johnny Nash

Johnny is more associated with reggae music which he recorded in Jamaica even though he's Texas born and bred. He was also a song writer and started a record company (that signed the Cowsills, if you can believe that).

His song is Halfway to Paradise, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

♫ Johnny Nash - Halfway To Paradise

If there’s a possibility of getting BUDDY HOLLY into a column you can pretty much be sure that I'll include him, and here he is.

Buddy Holly

This is how Buddy and the Crickets originally recorded this tune without the overdubs of extra instruments and voices that I think detract from other versions of the song. The song is Fool's Paradise.

♫ Buddy Holly - Fools Paradise

TONY BENNETT had to be present because his contribution is one that pretty much every reader of this column would know.

Tony Bennett

I really don't need to tell you anything about this one; anyone who reads this column would know Stranger in Paradise.

♫ Tony Bennett - Stranger In Paradise

Here is another Australian performer because there are quite a number of people, okay, a hell of a lot, who claim that Australia is as close to paradise as you can get on this planet.

You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment. I'll just give you GRAEME CONNORS.

Graeme Connors

I'll also just let Graeme tell it like it is On the Edge of Paradise.

♫ Graeme Connors - On The Edge Of Paradise

ELVIS, in contrast, suggests that Any Place is Paradise.

Elvis Presley

Well, if anyone would know whether that were so it'd be Elvis (except that he really didn't go anywhere much, so it may be a little problematic).

♫ Elvis Presley - Any Place Is Paradise

If CHARLES BROWN seems to be in the mix there’s no way he could be left out if the A.M. has any say in the matter. Which, of course, she does. With this column anyway.

Charles Brown

The song has the same name as the one by Buddy, but it’s a different one. Fool's Paradise.

♫ Charles Brown - Fool's Paradise

MARCIA BALL's background in Louisiana is obvious in the next song.

Marcia Ball

That's a good thing for fans of music from that area (of which the A.M. and I are two). She sings of yet another place that's paradise no longer – there are far too many of those. The song is This Used to Be Paradise.

♫ Marcia Ball - This Used To Be Paradise

I wasn’t going to include the next one but the A.M. insisted that it be present. The tune is an exercise in overblown-ness (if such a word exists – it should to describe this track). Here for your delectation is MEATLOAF.

Meatloaf

Mr Loaf's song is from his phenomenally successful "Bat out of Hell" album. It's called Paradise by the Dashboard Light. He has the help of Ellen Foley on the track.

♫ Meatloaf - Paradise By The Dashboard Light

I trust that you all had a loaf of bread beneath the bough,
a flask of wine, a book of verse - and somebody or other
beside you singing in the wilderness,
and that wilderness was Paradise enow.


INTERESTING STUFF: 25 July 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORMAN LEAR

Monday will be TV producer Norman Lear's 93rd birthday. Here is what he told Huffington Post on Friday:

"The top of my bucket list always included a desire to sing. My friend, actor, singer-guitarist and composer, Paul Hipp, wrote the happy birthday song when he turned fifty. I loved it and asked if I could lip-synch it as I turn ninety-three. This was the result and I don't care what you say, I love it."

I love it too. See if you do and thank Esther Harriot for sending it to us:


FDA NSAID WARNING

”Patients taking NSAIDs should seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of their body, or slurred speech.

That is from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) new warning about NSAIDs. They are such drugs as Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex and many others. As Harvard Health Publications explains:

• Heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term use, and the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID.

• The risk increases with higher doses of NSAIDs taken for longer periods of time.

• The risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease, though even people without heart disease may be at risk.

Here is a good news report explaining the new warning further:

Read more at the FDA and the Harvard Health Publication.


WALLOWING IN NOSTALGIA

Every image in this video is an item, product or place that most of us who read this blog are familiar with, things that used to be commonplace in our lives but have mostly disappeared.


AGING.GOV

There are a lot more agencies of the U.S. Federal governments related to aging than just Social Security and Medicare. Until now, they have been scattered all over the internet but recently the Department of Healthy and Human Service (HHS) has rounded them up into a one-stop shop. Here's a screenshot of the home page:

Agingborder

Bookmark aging.gov and you'll have just one place to go whenever you need to check on something related to ageing that the federal government handles.


DEADLIEST ANIMALS

There's SharkWeek and Sharknado and almost every summer day a new shark attack on swimmers or surfers. My friend Jim Stone sent this video that shows sharks are the least of human problems from animals.


JOHN OLIVER ON FOOD WASTE

Hardly a fascinating title, Food Waste, but on his Last Week Tonight show on HBO, John Oliver makes it so – also shocking and funny too.


ELDERS V. 21ST CENTURY

Darlene Costner sent this little joke. Gave me a good laught when I needed it this week:

I was visiting my daughter last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper.

"This is the 21st century," she said. "We don't waste money on newspapers. Here, use my iPad.”

I can tell you this - that fly never knew what hit him.


THE ARK COMING TO JFK AIRPORT

According to Huffington Post, a new terminal will open at JFK Airport in New York next year. The Ark's “178,000 square feet of posh amenities"

”...will include everything from a resort with suites that have large flat-screen TVs, to climate-controlled stalls, showers, massages, a private space especially set aside for penguin mating, a paw-shaped dog swimming pool, a jungle for cats made of live trees that will give them a tantalizing view of the aquarium, and stables full of the finest hay a horse could hope for.”

Here are an artist's rendering of the dog area and the export stalls for quarantined horses.

The Ark dogs

The Ark horses

The Ark will be a first-of-its kind terminal at any airport with a price tag of $48 million. You can read more here.


DAD THE FLOWER GIRL

Reader Alan Goldsmith sent this charmer of a video that needs no introduction.


A GORGEOUS, FUN CHARLESTON

The dancer is named Ksenia Parkhatskaya and the video is from the 2012 Stockholm Tap Festival. Isn't she the cutest thing.


ANGRY SEAGULL MOM

After you see this news report about from Seattle about a seagull who won't let anyone park near her nest, I'm sure you'll agree with me that she should probably be added to that most dangerous animals video above.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Surprise!

Welcome to the Time Goes By redesign. What do you think? It's certainly brighter and shinier around here.

There are bound to be glitches to fix and design decisions I'll rework over the next days and weeks, but this general look-and-feel will remain.

Time Goes By hasn't changed since it shyly dipped its toes in the blog waters in 2004. Because I'm lazy and it's a lot of work to redesign a site, this day might never have arrived. But then the Google blackmail showed up.

The company that still has more than 80 percent of search engine traffic announced that (their definition of) non-mobile friendly websites would henceforth be penalized in search results; that is, as of 21 April 2015, non-mobile-friendly websites would be ranked lower in search results than those that have been redesigned to Google's standards.

The bottom line from Google - make your website look the way WE want it to look, or else. Which is why most websites look alike these days.

Well, I'm too old to fight back on this one so here we are.

Various items have been moved around or, in some cases, discarded. Let me give you a tour.

The main site navigation is at the top of every page above the banner. The Archive is now by category only; nearly 12 years of date archives are not very useful to anyone.

Contact now opens your email program rather than a form if you want to send me a message.

About leads to a page with links to various information about this website. It's messy-looking right now; I'll improve it in time.

As you can see, there is only one sidebar now, on the right. The same Subscribe buttons are at the top and, as before, the Search form is at the bottom. In between, there are changes to several features. What remain are links to:

  • Best Books on Ageing
  • Elderblog List
  • Geezer Flicks
  • A Mother's Last Best Lesson

We all know that the Elderblog List and Geezer Flicks are painfully out of date. I'll get to both of those one of these days soon. I hope. The Photo Biography is now linked from the About section.

May they rest in peace, four features have been permanently removed. Elder Video was not one of my better ideas so it has been ditched. The Where Elders Blog feature has been discontinued. And Reverse Mortgages is no longer available because the federal government has made several rule changes resulting in some information in the series being incorrect. Maybe I'll fix it in time.

Finally, for a variety of reasons, it has been impossible to keep up In Memoriam so instead of that section, we will hold memorial services here as they become necessary. Not often, I hope.

Of course, The Elder Storytelling Place must also be “upgraded” to Google's specifications. I'm going to take a breather and then go to work on that.


American Politics, Donald Trump and Old People

Even though I am a political junkie, as much as I can recall, we don't do politics at this blog except as it relates to old people. But it's different this time. Or, maybe not. After all, Donald Trump is 69 years old, two years older than Hillary Clinton whom, some say, is too old to be president.

It is hard not to be embarrassed by almost any politician. With few exceptions, they are uninformed blowhards - venal, corrupt, self-serving, self-aggrandizing liars who disdain knowledge and learning and have had no intention of serving the public good.

Then there is a Donald Trump. He is not a politician which might explain why he is magnitudes beyond the professional ones in loathsomeness. I didn't intend to write about Donald Trump today but my planned post got sidetracked and it's hard to escape "news" of Trump these days.

I could carry on about how repugnant I find him but let's let Jon Stewart of The Daily Show do his wonderful, comedian-style Trump schtick – this one from Monday night.

When Stewart did that Trump segment, the man had not yet given out Senator Lindsay Graham's private phone number on television. That shocked me Tuesday more than his reprehensible statements about Mexican immigrants, Senator John McCain and all the rest.

As unimpressive as the entire Republican roster of presidential hopefuls is, Trump's lead in the polls says more about the American electorate, I believe, than the man. Who with an IQ of more than 75 or so believes this person could or should be the commander in chief of the United States.

Almost the worst of it for me is that apparently it is mostly old people who show up to support Donald Trump. That is embarrassing.

It would be easy to rant on but I'll leave it at that today and you may have your say below.

But first, to clear our collective palate, here is a lovely poem about growing old by Wendell Berry that TGB reader Tom Delmore emailed. It is titled, The Blue Robe published in “New Collected Poems” in 2012.

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!


Rates of Ageing Vary More Than Anyone Knew

It is well-known fact I frequently mention on this blog that we age at different rates. No one disputes that. Now, however, new research reveals that the differences are much wider than has been known:

”A study of nearly one thousand 38-year-olds found that while most had biological ages close to the number of birthdays they had notched up, others were far younger or older,” reports The Guardian.”

The ongoing study, which Cop Car of Cop Car's Beat alerted me to, follows 954 people from the same town in New Zealand who were all born in 1972-73.

”The scientists looked at 18 different ageing-related traits when the group turned 26, 32 and 38 years old...” reports the BBC.

“The analysis showed that at the age of 38, the people's biological ages ranged from the late-20s to those who were nearly 60...The study said some people had almost stopped ageing during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed.

“People with older biological ages tended to do worse in tests of brain function and had a weaker grip.”

Dan Belsky, the first author of this latest report from the study, who is an assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University's Center for Aging, explained why they chose such young people to look at ageing:

“Most studies of aging look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we’re going to have to start studying aging in young people,” he told the Duke University website.

“Belsky said the progress of aging shows in human organs just as it does in eyes, joints and hair, but sooner. So as part of their regular reassessment of the study population at age 38 in 2011, the team measured the functions of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems.

“They also measured HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function and the length of the telomeres - protective caps at the end of chromosomes that have been found to shorten with age. The study also measures dental health and the condition of the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes, which are a proxy for the brain’s blood vessels.

“Based on a subset of these biomarkers, the research team set a 'biological age' for each participant, which ranged from under 30 to nearly 60 in the 38-year-olds.”

The next steps, says Belsky are to

”...sift through the lives of the...participants to see how factors such as lifestyle, medical history, family circumstances, and stressful events might affect the speed at which people age,” he told The Guardian.

“...It’s becoming increasingly clear that ageing is really the cause of much of the disease and disability burden we face, but our existing science is based on ageing in older people who already have a lot of age-related diseases...

“The ultimate goal is to target ageing instead of the multiple separate diseases that people are increasingly likely to develop as they age. 'As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases. To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously, ageing itself has to be the target,' Belsky said.”

So, it's not just the discovery that we age even more differently from one another than we already knew that is important, but that knowing such can now be put to good use in figuring out how to give humans a healthier old age.

This is a remarkable breakthrough in understanding ageing better than we do now. I suspect it won't advance quickly enough to help thee and me, but if age-related diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc., can be forestalled when people are younger, it will immeasurably improve old age for our children, grandchildren and beyond.

The full study is available online here [pdf]. The website for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study on which this information is based is here.

Other media reports here and here.


ELDER MUSIC: Streets of New York

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


This column started out as one on streets with names. When I'd finished I found that half of the selections were streets of New York. So I decided to split the difference and have a column entirely devoted to New York streets (as well as the original idea omitting the New York ones – two for the price of one).

Whenever I put on a CD of FRED NEIL I'm pretty sure there are whales out in the Southern Ocean who say, "Pete's playing Fred again.”

Fred Neil

That's because his voice is so low and mellow I imagine that those cetaceans are the only ones who can hear the full range of his singing.

It's not quite as evident on this song as it is on some others but you can perhaps hear what I mean. Fred's song is Bleecker & MacDougal, so you get two streets in the one song.

♫ Fred Neil - Bleecker & MacDougal

Now for a bunch of streets with numbers. I'll feature them in numerical order, starting at 4th Street and BOB DYLAN.

Bob Dylan

With New York streets you knew Bob had to be present as he made that city his home. Here he is with Positively 4th Street, one of the bitterest songs he ever wrote (and that's saying something).

♫ Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street

LEON REDBONE doesn't sing on his tune, it's purely instrumental, and a nice gentle one it is too.

Leon Redbone

Very little is known about Leon; he defends his privacy ferociously. His style harks back to pre-war jazz, blues and ragtime as is somewhat evident in his selection today, 14th Street Blues.

♫ Leon Redbone - 14th Street Blues

I originally had Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell penciled in at this spot but I omitted them because the version I have is from the sound track of the film. As a purely musical track it's pretty incoherent, full of sound effects, tap dancing, traffic noise, people talking and whatnot. I'm sure as part of the film it's fine but it just doesn't fit.

I've kept the song though and included a version by the DORSEY BROTHERS ORCHESTRA.

Dorsey Brothers

The singers are THE BOSWELL SISTERS.

Boswell Sisters

That picture suggests to me that they're probably listening to Bing on the radio. Here they all are with Forty-Second Street.

♫ Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - Forty Second Street

As I'm doing these numbered streets in order, we have a couple of jazz tracks back to back. That's fine with me, I hope it is with you as well. The first of these is by CHARLES MINGUS.

Charles Mingus

Charles's street is 51st Street. Now he doesn't specify east or west, so it could be in Brooklyn or Queens. Well, they're part of New York so it counts. The tune is 51st Street Blues.

♫ Charles Mingus - 51st Street Blues

BUD POWELL continues the theme with 52nd Street.

Bud Powell

As with Charles, no east or west is specified so we have the same problem. Bud's tune is 52nd Street Theme.

♫ Bud Powell - 52nd Street Theme

Let's keep walking uptown until we get to 57th Street and we come across BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

Bruce Springsteen

His street could be from somewhere in New Jersey whence he hails but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt so I can include the song. It's from the fine album, “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.” The song is Incident on 57th Street.

♫ Bruce Springsteen - Incident on 57th Street

It's not too far to 59th Street and SIMON AND GARFUNKEL.

Simon &Garfunkel

The official title of their tune is The 59th Street Bridge Song. You may know it as something else. Like Bob's song earlier, and Bruce's as well come to think of it, the name of the ditty doesn't actually appear in the words of the song anywhere. There was a bit of that sort of thing going on around that time.

♫ Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song

Now for a bit of a hike until we encounter BOBBY WOMACK.

Bobby Womack

Bobby started as a gospel singer and guitarist along his father and brothers. They were discovered by Sam Cooke and he arranged for them to be recorded. After Bobby went solo, he recorded his own song. It's All Over Now.

Just as it was rising on the charts the Rolling Stones released a version that eclipsed his. He was initially miffed until he received his first royalty cheque. He quickly changed his mind.

Anyway, here's Bobby's street song, Across 110th Street.

♫ Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street

Well, I've run out of numbered street songs and there's only time for one more anyway. We have to scurry on back down town, to one of the most famous streets of them all, Wall Street.

The tune is performed by DUKE ELLINGTON and his orchestra (or his Jungle Band, depending on your source of information).

Duke Ellington

It was recorded in 1929, just after Wall Street laid an egg, and is called Wall Street Wail.

♫ Duke Ellington - Wall Street Wail