Childhood Memories and My Recession Garden
ELDER MUSIC: Songs You Love to Hate

This Week in Elder News – 16 May 2009

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. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

An email note arrived from Peter Tibbles about a recent program on Australian television:

“There was a doco on TV tonight on Brigitte Bardot. I watched it (well, I am a bloke of a certain age). She was more interesting and thoughtful than I expected (besides the animal rights stuff that I knew about). I had to write this down: she said,

“'I was sick of having to be pretty every day. Now I'm hideous every day and I'm making up for lost time'.

“How can you not admire a woman with such perspective?”

The annual Trustees' Report on Social Security was released last week announcing that the trust fund will run out of assets in 2037, four years earlier that previous predictions. Undoubtedly, you've read the all the shrill headlines since then.

In reality, nothing has changed except the date when it becomes necessary to begin dipping into the trust fund to pay benefits, and if President Bush had made a few tweaks to the Social Security system instead of wasting two years trying to destroy it with his privatization plan, there wouldn't be a problem, even in a recession.

Here are a couple of links to more thoughtful writing on Social Security:
How Social Security Can Save Us, James K. Galbraith in Mother Jones
The Truth Behind the Social Security and Medicare Alarm Bells, Robert Reich

Healthcare reform is in the wind. One way you can track some of the information is at the Obama administration's new website,

Unfortunately, I lost track of where I read about this video, The Story of Stuff, but I remember there is some controversy about it being shown in schools. It's not anything you don't know, but it brings home sharply how important it is for future life on planet earth to change entirely the way we produce and consume “stuff.” Take the 21:16 minutes to look at this.

This has nothing in particular to do with elders, but my friend Sophy in London sent along a website with some amusing math calculations such as Botox = skin – time – emotion. There are plenty more here.

For the past three years, on his blog at, Andrew Sullivan has been publishing readers' photo submissions in a feature titled, “The View Out My Window” (damn, I wish I'd thought of that).

It's one of my favorite web features. He has amassed more than 1,000 submissions from more than 100 countries and now he has announced that he is publishing an on-demand coffee table book with the best of the photos. Sullivan held a contest to choose one photo for the cover of the book. You can see the winner and the finalists here.

I have no useful knowledge of the science of economics, so I've kept the thought to myself that the entrenched goal of unending growth of economies is deeply stupid, unsustainable, harmful to the planet and its inhabitants. (I can't be sure, but I think our current, worldwide, economic debacle proves that idea – that in trying to create wealth out of nothing, economies of the world have been destroyed). Why, I've wondered, hasn't someone invented an economy that works while shrinking to sustainable levels and then maintains that level?

Journalist William Greider doesn't address that idea directly in Future of the American Dream, but he's getting close. It's a long article and worth reading every word.

When I was a very little girl, my mother took me to see the film, The Red Shoes and it stands as one of my favorites to this day. At the Cannes Film Festival last week, director Martin Scorsese introduced a restored print of the classic, gorgeous movie. Here's a story about how Michael Powell, director of The Red Shoes influenced Scorsese and his work. The new print will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 29 June when I will be first in line.

In another movie event this week, The Guardian's David Thomson wrote a fascinating tribute to actor James Mason who would have been 100 years old this year. There is a bit of Mason at the beginning of this clip (which mostly features Cary Grant) from Alfred Hitchcock's magnificent North By Northwest. I miss the elegance of this kind of film production. [9:48 minutes]


I won't condone anything about Brigitte Bardot. Granted, it must not have been fun to live the sort of life she's lived, but she's turned into a follower of Front National, and has been condemned several times for inciting to racial hatred. She certainly loves animals better than her fellow humans

Much to my disappointment I heard Obama's say (In his speech in New Mexico) that the single-payer health care plan might be the way to go if we were starting from scratch, but it is not feasible under our current system.

Out of 18 witnesses,not a single proponent of the single-payer system was allowed to testify in the health-care reform hearing. However, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries were well represented. When the proponents of the single-payer system disrupted the hearing in protest they were not only escorted out of the hearing, but were arrested.

So much for the only health care reform that will actually save money. I am so disappointed in our President right now. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries won.

Maybe I set my hopes too high, but I too am deeply disappointed by Obama's continuing retreat from his campaign promises. Besides his recent down-playing of his promise to bring about significant health care reform, he also seems to be slowly abandoning his promises to increase transparency in government, to move the trials of suspected terrorists to the U.S. and close GITMO, and, in general, to do away with the failed policies of the Bush administration.

In what I consider a rather misguided effort to attain bi-partisanship, he caved in to Republican demands but failed to garner any bi-partisan support from the "Party of No." Yet he continues to try to appease them when he should be telling them to take a flying leap.

Most of the high-ranking people he chose to head the agencies tasked to get us out of this financial debacle are the same people who, as part of the Bush administration, were partly responsible for our being in this mess. Then, true to form, they released the remainder of the billions in stimulus money to Wall St. and the banks with no strings attached, no accountability necessary, just like the Bush administration.

How about increasing transparency in government? Under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU obtained a court order directing the government to release photos of prisoners being tortured by various government agencies during Bush's administration. Obama promised the ACLU that he would abide by this court order, then reneged and ordered the Justice Department to appeal the court decision. Why? The torture didn't even happen on his watch. And why won't Obama let his Justice Department launch an investigation into who in the Bush administration were responsible for authorizing these criminal acts and for lying us into an unnecessary war? Too much pressure from the guilty parties and their supporters?

Just a few days ago, Obama ordered the reinstatement of Military Tribunals to be held at GITMO instead of having the suspected terrorists tried in the U.S. No explanations so far. Why? Maybe because, not so coincidentally, the Republicans have been quite vocal in their opposition to closing GITMO.

I don't mean for this comment to be a political diatribe. It's just that I'm so disappointed with what's happening and feel a bit foolish that in my old age I was naive enough to expect things to change. The old adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." seems to still apply.

I agree with you George. I never believed for a minute that Obama was a Progressive, but I certainly expected better than this!
What's happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan is what has me scared the most.

Hoping that this might be "the best of all possible worlds" in America if we could elect Obama, I join the earlier commenters in a certain restlessness. The mess left him is so deep that I try to balance the hoped-for with the possible. Don't we want to believe that he does also?

Wm. Greider article in The Nation that you linked to yesterday, calls for a reversal, "a radical proposition...government should start by asking what will be good for our people and society" as a first priority. Not what's good for business first.

I too am disappointed that more change is not coming in articular "Healthcare Reform...In the case of the photographs...I realize that Obama is now "privy" to much more information and in good judgement had to revise somethings to protect the troops. What purpose is there in reoffending those fanatics all over again...

Judy W,

One of the arguments Bush's Justice Department used in their attempt to prevent the release of the torture photos was that "their release would place the troops in more danger." But in arriving at their decision to order the release of the photos, the Federal Court Justices rejected that argument on the grounds that it was too vague and was based on "ifs," "maybes," and other inconclusive suppositions.

So the court order was in force months before Obama assumed office. Consequently, when he promised the director of the ACLU that he would abide by the court order, Obama was aware of the graphic contents of these photos and the reasons why the Justices had ruled to release them. Then, just last week Obama reneged on his promise and ordered the Justice Department to appeal the court ruling, even though a multitude of legal experts predicted that the appeal will fail because it doesn't add anything substantive to the arguments already rejected by the courts. Since it'll take about a year for the appeal to wend its way through the court system, this appears to be some sort of delaying tactic, just like the ones used by the Bush administration to hinder various investigations and delay implementations of several court orders.

Again, why switch to Bush's tactics? The world already knows that the U.S. has tortured prisoners; they have seen the photos taken at Abu Graihb prison and have been exposed to inflammatory news stories in print media and on TV. In light of this, how much more inflammatory can these new photos be?

In my opinion, too many people are scurrying around Washington trying to cover their asses. So much so, that there seems to be a lot of pressure being applied to prevent something from being revealed to the public. If this is the case, I don't think that we'll see government transparency for a long, long time, if ever; the special interests will ensure that it remains opaque.

"The Red Shoes" was the first adult movie I ever saw. My aunt took me to see it, even though it was "banned" by the Catholic church and it was considered a "sin" to see it. I'm going to be second in line to by the remastered version. Thanks for mentioning that, Ronni.

It's unfortunate that those who are prejudiced (to judge before one knows the facts) against older people (not old people) do not recognize their knowledge and experience gained from their years. To those who are so prejudiced I say: REMEMBER, IF YOU LIVE LONG ENOUGH, (IF YOU ARE SO FORTUNATE) YOU WILL BE AN OLDER PERSON ONE DAY!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)