Ageist Politics
ELDER MUSIC: John Hartford


A reminder for fans among TGB readers, Downton Abbey resumes tomorrow – Sunday – evening. Another American joins the cast this season, 78-year-old Shirley MacLaine.

For awhile, MacLaine was on my radar more than entertainers generally are because at a certain time in our lives, over a period of 10 or 15 years, I was often mistaken for her. If you're interested, you can read about that here.

In a New York Times story this weekend, Ms. MacLaine spoke about working with the other 78-year-old actor in Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith:

“Maggie and I don’t like to get up and walk around a lot anymore. So we sat and we reminisced about life and lovers and the business and directors. That was really interesting and so much fun.”

I like the part about “and lovers.” People tend to forget that we old women have that kind of personal history.

Here's a trailer for the new season of Downton Abbey.

You wouldn't know it most of the time but politicians do occasionally evince a sense of humor. As the 113th Congress was sworn in this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out these membership cards to the 25 freshman Republicans. (Click here for larger image)


Not to be outdone, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee sent “official lap dog kits” to the incoming Democrats. It's too big to capture for this post but you can see it here.

For the swearing in ceremonies in Congress, new legislators bring along good-sized contingents of their families and Joe Biden can never resist a good schmooze.

Here is a montage of his glad-handing, kissing, hugging and bantering with those families in the Senate last week put together by TalkingPointsMemo:

It seems to have taken eons to get this fine, smart woman an official place in the national political arena. She is among the few – less than half a dozen – politicians I believe in without question. Here's what she said soon after her election in November:

And this is what she told her home-state paper, The Boston Globe, this week:

“This chair, this particular Senate seat, was held by John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, [Charles] Sumner and of course Senator [Edward M.] Kennedy for half a century,” Warren said. “Men of principle, men who fought hard for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and for this country.

“I come into this…knowing I’m not those men,” she added. “But I’m going to work my heart out.”

I don't think I'm foolish to trust her on that.

In the lead-up to the debt ceiling fight over the next couple of months, we will be hearing a lot about how old people's health care costs too much and must be cut.

From TGB reader Nikki who blogs from Sweden at From Where I Sit, a report on the price of a friend's hip replacement surgery:

"The whole time in the hospital, the surgeon, doctors, nurses, physio, meds, bed - the whole thing cost him less than 300KR. That's less than US$45.00.

“THAT'S what universal health care is. THAT'S what most of the rest of the civilized world already has. THAT'S what President Obama is trying to get through. That's what the Affordable Care Act is a stepping stone toward. I will NEVER understand why you don't 'get' that and support it with all your hearts.

"Maybe I should say, he doesn't have any additional insurance of any kind. He simply used the existing national healthcare services."

It really would help - individuals, government, national budgets, every person in the U.S. - if our legislators would bother to research how other countries have tackled problems and work out how to apply their solutions here.

Thanks to TGB reader Joe Erlich, we now know about a project of Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti. He traveled the world photographing elder women and their special recipes – like this one from The Philippines:


There are a couple of dozen more photos at Mr. Galimberti's website, all of them in this style – the woman with her ingredients and the finished product. Nice.

I almost got through an entire Interesting Stuff without an animal video. We can't have that so here's one of a cat for whom standing off a Doberman is all in a – yawn! - day's work.

MAURICE SENDAK 1928 - 2012
Among the well-known people who died last year was a national treasure, Maurice Sendak. Midori Barstow was the first of half a dozen readers to let me know about this animation by Christoph Niemann set to a 2011 interview with Sendak conducted by NPR's Fresh Air host, Terri Gross.

Speaking of the dead, comedian – well, truth-teller is more apt – George Carlin has been gone for more than four years but his riffs, even those that go back much further than 2008, remain pertinent; they could easily be presented for the first time today.

Here he is on stupid euphemisms and for us old folks, there is a particularly relevant section beginning at minute 4:45:

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 probably 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 have one.


I regret that I didn't watch Downton Abbey from the beginning. Now I want to rent the previous shows and get caught up before I watch this season. Shirley is one of my favorites.

A lot to absorb in one post but gotta love it.

Not just interesting stuff -- GREAT stuff!!!!!

How I miss George Carlin. I think he makes a great points with humor. We have gone so far with being politically correct that it borders on silliness.

I am not hearing impaired; I'm deaf. And when I die please don't say "She passed, passed on, or passed away". I died, period. End of story and end of me.

And, oh Joe Biden. Unless you're a die-hard Republican you just have to love that guy.

I believe Elizabeth Warren will be our first woman president....she has restored some of my faith in the political process. My daughter who lives in MA said just about everyone has nothing but good things to say about her.......Have a great w/end. Dee

My mother would have sympathized with you on the celebrity confusion problem: she had a very strong facial resemblance to Angela Lansbury, especially as they aged. I say facial because while the actress is quite tall, my mother was 5'1. Mom traveled a lot, and strangers would often approach her saying, "I love your show," or some such. One hotel doorman even addressed her as "Ms. Fletcher."

Several years ago, I remember watching a documentary on the adult film industry, and one of those interviewed was an actress who used the name Georgina Spelvin. She said that in addition to her porn career, her facial resemblance to Shirley McClain got her work in several mainstream movies as McClain's stand-in. Which raises the question: since the three of you had this resemblance, is it possible that some of those strangers approaching you weren't taking you for McClain, but rather for Spelvin? Don't know about you, but I'd take that as a compliment.

I assume you know, Deejay, that Georgina Spelvin is the female version of George Spelvin, a pseudonym used for decades (or more) by stage actors who don't want to use their real names for a variety of reasons:

Could be that they are playing two parts and don't want their name to appear twice or might be union members appearing in a non-union production or could be a porn actress looking to separate that from straight work or any number of other reasons.

Ciao, Ronni, and thank you for an amazing collection of VERY interesting stuff. As RJ said, A LOT to absorb. Thank you especially for recognizing (once again) Elizabeth Warren, to whom I would like to say "Thank you SO much".
p.s. "Gabriele" is a male photographer. In Italian, "Gabriele" is the equivalent of "Gabriel". "Gabriella" would be the name if the photographer were female.

Oh, George Carlin, Mama cats and Politics. With Saturday's like these, it's going to be a lively year. Thanks, Ronni.

Thank you, laura. I've fixed those mistaken pronouns. I guess we all know now how deficient I am in languages...

George Carlin was a national treasure. I'll never stop missing him and imagining what he'd be saying about the world today.

Liz Warren -- I'd love her even if we weren't both from Oklahoma.

...and was Shirley mistaken for you?

All good stuff! I've got a few George Carlin routines on my iPod - that guy was amazing and funny.

The Sweden hip replacement was great - what a wonderful thing to have non-employer tethered insurance. The other side of that of course is the Swedish tax rate, a quick google of that showed in 2010 the average local tax rate was in between 29% - 35%. That is sort of hard to imagine here - hope it does not come to that.

To all reports Elizabeth Warren is a good woman. We have heard of her down here in Australia. The more politicians throughout the world who have firm and clearly thought out views and act on them, the better.
To pick a period: much has gone wrong since the 70's, much principle has been compromised.
The hope is democracy is not under threat. But it's necessary to recognize the need in a society for equity and justice.

Happy New Year Ronni.

American politicians regularly rant about how "socialized medicine" has failed in EVERY country that's tried. Misinformed or lying from habit? Also the high taxes in many countries provides health care, good education, well maintained roads, bridges, etc. And do you remember how a young American exchange teacher in Sweden was having to choose between returning to his own country and family, because as a cancer victim he could not get insurance here, or remaining in Sweden where he was receiving the treatments he needed at no extra cost than his taxes. And he was a foreigner.
And of course all those poor Canadians who suffer so under their single payer health care system?
Makes one want to rant and rage.

"Senior Citizen" is a euphemism I've despised since I first heard it in my twenties.

My father said, "One day you're young, the next, you're old."

He called it as he saw it.

I hadn't realized, until you said what you said, that the Downton Abbey series you're just starting is the one we've just finished. So - I won't give anything away except to say -- watch out for the ending!

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