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This Week in Elder News: 5 April 2008

In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

Christian Renaud responded quite thoughtfully when Crabby Old Lady called him out last week for his ageist post about elders and technology. Now there is an enlightening report about elder participation in Web 2.0 technology. According to a panel of experts, the number one contributor to the intelligence community’s Intellipedia wiki is a 69-year-old. In the same story, a college professor says most of his students hardly know what a blog or a podcast is. Hat tip to Mary Jamison.

All the old women wanted to do in 2004, was help some other old people who are mostly housebound to vote by mail. Now they face criminal prosecution for voter fraud and if convicted, could be sentenced to six months in jail and a $2000 fine. It’s happening in Texas to citizens who are old, minorities and not Republicans, according to this story at alternet.org.

Some may think it is macabre, but I am fascinated with this photo exhibit of 22 people taken just before or just after their deaths. The black-and-white images are by German photographer, Walter Schels and his partner Beate Lakotta. They go on exhibit at the Wellcome Collection in London next week. Hat tip to Nikki of Nikki’s Place.

Some of you may not know about a TGB feature, Where Elders Blog, a collection of photos of elderbloggers’ computer workspaces. Some new ones have been added and it would terrific to see some other new ones – from Y.O.U.

Yeah, yeah, I thought, when Guy Kawasaki emailed about his company’s new website aggregator service. Human-powered search engines, aggregators, whatever fail for me because the quality depends on the humans doing the selecting and who knows if their taste and criteria match my own - usually not.

But this one is different. Alltop.com is a human-powered single-page aggregation site “organized by topics such as Fashion, Celebrities, Sports, Gaming, Macintosh, Science, Green, and Autos.” A big difference from other aggregators is the snippet (popurl) showing enough from a site’s recent pages to get the idea so that you don’t waste time clicking on something that doesn't interest you.

The human site selections are excellent; I haven't followed a link yet that wasn't worth the effort and I’m not saying that just because Time Goes By is listed in the Living > Life section.

Although they may be the only way to save some animals from extinction, zoos make me sad; I don’t like seeing animals penned. But this is a jaw-dropping video that in 8:29 minutes will fill you with wonder and awe, and a new appreciation for how close we are connected to our friends, the animals. That’s all I’m going to tell you; watch the video. Hat tip to Norm Jenson of One Good Move.

Quote of the week: I’ve received this from so many readers that I’ve lost track of whom, so with apologies to all for lacking a hat tip, here are the lyrics 72-year-old Julie Andrews sang at Radio City Music Hall to the tune of My Favorite Things. It’s even better if you sing aloud. Go ahead. No one will care if, like me, you’re off-key.

Maalox and nose drops and
Needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and
New dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts and
Hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and
False teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and
Porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and
Corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or
Food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and
Hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and
No need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and
Hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention
Our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the
Great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.


Cute song!

I did go over to Mr. Renaud's website and post a comment there. I do think he has a bit of a point but as a lot of people have commented, his presentation of it is not so great.

I am a retired technical writer. I've had to write user manuals for some pretty badly designed products, and it definitely complicates matters trying to write a usable manual for an unusable product.

I think the issue is not so much trying to dumb things down for poor stupid seniors but rather designing products that are usable for the widest sector of society. That may not have been Mr. Renaud's point, but it should have been.

There are people, called usability experts and user interface designers, who can advise on and design for broad usability. The problem I have seen is that a lot of companies are too cheap or too arrogant to hire these people. Or to do their homework and actually ask their prospective customers what kind of design would work best for them.

I think Mr. Renaud would agree that as a significant part of society, elders are worth wooing into using the latest and greatest in consumer technologies. And surprise surprise, the kind of things that would work for elders would also work for many other people too. It's just basic good design.

I think the video is awesome. On the matter of zoos, I am taking the unpopular opinion that they are a good thing. A mixed blessing to be sure, but ultimately a good thing.

A good zoo (and there are some terrible ones) promotes understanding of the life we share with other beings on this planet. They introduce children to the wonder of animals they might otherwise never see, and hopefully instills in them a respect and love for them.

Many modern zoos do try to educate visitors to the perils (at the hands of humankind) faced by the wild populations of their example animals, a visit to a zoo today can be a very sobering experience.

Sadly, tragically even, most of the large animals in our world today will not exist in the wild by the end of this century. We have crowded them out by our very numbers. Zoos will be the only homes left for many of these creatures. It behooves us to make those homes decent.

Darlene Costner emailed to say that the elephant, according to Snopes, was taught to paint the picture of him/herself.

I still think it's awesome.

Anne: I understand how you feel about zoos. I'm not adamant about my objection to them and I understand the need these days, but they always make me think how I would feel penned up away from "my habitat" and stared at by strangers.

So as much as I love seeing animals I have no other way of encountering, the zoos make me sad too.

I really enjoyed the photo exhibit. I came away feeling sad for some of the people...but with the realization that we are as happy as we want to be...and to live in the moment, not in the past or future.

The elephant is phenomenal. Period.

I heard from a mutual blogger friend that YOU have a Birthday coming up! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, My Dear! As I said to Judy...(Yes, it was Judy who shared that you have a Birthday tomorrow, I believe..)..As I said to her..."She is a Baby, and so are you!"...LOL...And I added, "don't you just hate when people say that"? In 2 months and some days, I will be 77....! A Number that I cannot believe, except that the Lyrics to Julie Anndrews song are too close ...So I am saying that but truly, I DO hate when my friends who are 88 say that to me....!

Amyway....I wish you a very ver HAPPY B-DAY! With many more to come.

I wanted to say that I read on a blog somewhere that the Elephant was tortured into learning this amazing skill...I DO NOT KNOW IF THAT IS ACCURATE, AT ALL....I pass it on only in that I wondered if anyone else had heard this...? I should really Google this story.....!

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