ELDER MUSIC: Classical Again – Part 3 of 3
THE TGB ELDER GEEK: Select More Than One

Culture Notes: 2 November 2009

[WHERE ELDERS BLOG: Joared, who blogs at Along the Way, sent in her photo for the Where Elders Blog feature. You can see it here and you will find instructions on how to add yours here.]

Well, THAT was a surprise. On Sunday at about noon (well, not, as you will see), after having been up and about since what I thought was 4:30AM, I discovered all the clocks in the house were wrong. I hadn't noticed the time on the computer, which updates itself, so when I tuned in to one of the morning political chats on television, the program wasn't there yet.

The Daylight Savings Time change snuck up on me. It's a good thing I didn't have an appointment Sunday morning. Not so good that I woke up at what was 3:30AM. Even for me, that's an abominable time to awaken, something that probably won't change for the week or ten days it will take the cat and me to adjust our internal clocks.

The Sunday New York Times
Following a week of intense immersion in computer technology and not much else, I luxuriated Sunday in a leisurely reading of The New York Times which, aside from hard news, is filled with fascinating ephemera.

My favorite of the day relates to the running yesterday of the annual New York City Marathon. One morning last week, reports Andy Newman, he set out with his dog Barnaby to walk his own “Block-a-thon” – 26.2 miles achieved by circling his block in Park Slope, Brooklyn 76.4 times while taking notes on neighborhood activities. Barnaby dropped out at lap number 22. Andy stopped for a pedicure during lap 53.

It's a delightful read with a funny ending. Please don't cheat and read ahead. It's better if you read the whole thing.

From an Op-Ed contributor comes this startling piece of information about health insurance. Not that anyone couldn't have guessed it is so, but the high number is astonishing:

“A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 73 percent of the adults who tried to buy insurance on the open market over a three-year period never bought a plan — because they could not afford it, could not find a plan that met their needs, or were turned down.”

Over the past several years, as newspapers have cut staff, then cut more staff and more, I've noticed that standards are dropping everywhere, but it is particularly jarring in The New York Times. This error, that even a 6th grader should know better than, left me wondering if music section writers are given a pass on grammar:

“The move is temporary — probably — but it’s emblematic of the changes in his life in the last few years: from wild-living rock star to steady artist and mindful family man, with he and his wife, Juliet, expecting their first child.”

Regular readers know Saul Friedman from his twice-monthly Reflections column here and perhaps too from his weekly Gray Matters column in Newsday. This morning, The New York Times notes his departure from Newsday after 12 years and the move of his Gray Matters column to Time Goes By.

Watch for more information here on Friday and Saul's first Gray Matters column next Saturday.

Like me yesterday, Alan Ginocchio, who blogs at The Cyberspace Dawdler, was perusing his Sunday paper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He sent along this letter to the editor. I am at a loss for a comment. It is headlined, “Target Workers in Their 50s.”


Alan says he read it several times in disbelief (as I did too) and wondered if he is “suffering from a reading disorder.” If the writer, Elizabeth Newman of Fayetteville, is serious, I'm surprised it was published. If it was meant to be funny, it misses by several country miles. I don't know what to make of it. What do you think?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Landscapes


That letter from Arkansas leaves me speechless. The writer would be happy to know how many of my friends have died in their 50's.
Unless they did mean it to be funny in which case it surely misses by a long shot.

I'm assuming it is satire - Swift's 'Modest Proposal' in a new guise. To be honest, I would never have thought otherwise, without the post and comment.


Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was my first thought too. This has to be satire... doesn't it? On the other hand, there are some completely barmy ideas out there and this may be one of them.

I would like very much to know how old that woman is, and then I might slap her silly. I am assuming it isn't satire - or an attempt at comedy.

I too thought satire, but with possibly unintended results given the current health care reform fears.

There are those who seriously believe anyone who drinks, smokes, is overweight, has any other bad habit, doesn't work a job with benefits, etc., does not deserve health care.

I guess I must be humor impaired. But if it is satire, it fails miserably.

I'm with Nan because I've heard a few similar comments lately that I've not responded to because I couldn't decide if it's satire or just plain ignorance. I've decided ignorance wins out. Sad. Dee

I vote satire (tho like many, some of it happened to me) -- and I look forward to reading more from Saul Friedman here!

I would have assumed it was satire although given some of what we have seen in the last years, you never know about people.

It's obviously satire. Remember that a lot of satire is not funny, nor is this meant to be. Too many people took Swift's "Modest Proposal" (involving killing babies) literally. I think most of us have lost our taste for Swift's brand of satire. I fought a losing battle getting my former students to recognize and appreciate satire, but I've always appreciated it myself. If it gets us to think "How terrible!" it's done its job.

It's 'deja vu' all over again. I read that article someplace and it wasn't the Arkansas Gazette. I wish I could remember where, but unless it was a copy of a letter to the editor I think the woman copied it from some other source. It was my impression that it wasn't meant to be satire. Arrrgh!

One lovely thing about Arizona - we don't go on daylight savings time.

As I mentioned to Ronni yesterday, if it is satire it went totally over my head also. In fact, I suggested that perhaps it was someone with designs on becoming Sarah Palin's choice for a Vice President running mate in 2012.

Now that's satire - I hope!

(PS - I will monitor any subsequent responses to this individual's letter and keep Ronni informed as to any indications of its intent or legitimacy.)

The age of the author of that letter? This puts elder abuse in the shade...this woman's a Youth Nazi! Watch for gas showers and ovens, next. I obviously mean this as satire. Obviously. No, really.
And, Ronni, I'm LOL over your comment on writing errors--"that even a 6th grader should know better than." Perfect.

I'm assuming it's satire, too, but only because I know I'm satire-deaf. As a cover, I tend to assume that people who say ridiculous things are kidding.

It is satire but comes too close to home to be funny for many of us. I am a Pharmacist and see this every day and it is no joke. People in their 50s out of work, no health insurance, and stretching meds and no preventative care. People talk to their pharmacist and it is heart-breaking--not humorous.

Satire is strange. There are some people who for some reason can't detect satire. It's a cognitive defect or something.

Well, Hattie and a couple of others, I haven't had trouble detecting satire before in my life.

If it is satire, perhaps it has something to do with being on the opinion/letters page of a newspaper, do you think?

And satire is tricky to write. The object of it must be made evident which is not in this letter.

I've just posted an answer to your comment which I now realize sounds
somewhat snotty. But I am a bit miffed that you think I'm an idiot. I'm
not cognitively defective. Yet, anyway...

P { color: #000000 }

We do this now, but we call it "downsizing," followed by exclusion for "preexisting conditions."

Are you people having trouble recognizing this as satire even *reading* it?

It starts with the words "My modest proposal for solving "...

How much of a gimme do you need to put you in the frame of mind you need to be to appreciate it like Swift's Modest Proposal.

I saw the letter Alan was talking about. I reread it, and finally decided that since it came from someone in Fayetteville (a very liberal college town in a very conservative area, it must have been an attempt at Satire. At least, I hope so.

It's my guess that this letter to the editor is a Poe. By that I mean that it conforms to the modern definition and usage of the term "Poe's Law," a concept originally promoted by theologian Dr. Harry Lee Poe, a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe, in his book "The Gospel and Its Meaning: A Theology for Evangelism and Church Growth.

This modern definition of Poe's Law is commonly used in internet debates, particularly regarding religion or politics, and can be briefly paraphrased as: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing." In other words, No matter how bizzare, outrageous, or just plain idiotic a parody of a Fundamentalist may seem, there will always be someone who cannot tell that it is a parody because they have encountered similar REAL ideas from real religious/political Fundamentalists.

Based on this definition, it seems to me that the writer of this letter, in an attempt to be satirical, has taken some of the off-the-wall arguments against health care reform tossed about by the "Teabaggers," insurance company/health industry shills (Congress included) and various ultra right-wing Fundamentalists, and stretched them to their logical extremes. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, this attempt at satire yielded some pretty macabre results.

It's satire. It's not supposed to be funny.

The author is trying to make the reader think, not to make them laugh.

It seems like very good satire to me, precisely because it hits so close to home.

Arkansas: Probably Satire but I've also heard people talk like that in the generation wars. Actually, in practice, it's not far from the truth. People in their 50's are losing their jobs right and left and have to scramble for another 10 to 16 years to make it to SS. I'm one of them that is working like a 26 year old and wonder if the ticker will take it!!

I don't think it was meant to be funny.

Newspapers. Ours is owned by a conglomerate who has never owned a newspaper before. Half of everyone, including my son in law, has been laid off, and the tissue thin piece of writing that shows up at my door no longer resembles a newspaper.

Then again, our town's TV stations are all firing, laying off, or rotating personal. I have no idea who is who any more any where. There is nothing anywere that resembles local news.

WOW! It doesn't read like a joke at all. I wonder how old the writer is...

I wonder if this is the Elizabeth Newman who comments on "Fayetteville Free Weekly" -- that is in print and also has a presence on Facebook?

"The Fayetteville Free Weekly is Northwest Arkansas’ only alternative newsweekly, serving the entire Northwest Arkansas community since 1994."

I suspect this piece was intended as satire, but if many of us aren't sure, guess the mark was missed, or was it???

Wow! You are either over-worked or in full relax mode if you missed the time change. Maybe next year. (Actually, I almost did, and I don't know what my excuse is.)

Saul Friedman's continuing to write for us is our gain and the NYT's loss. Will look forward to reading his words here.

Thanks for noting my finally submitting a photo of "Where I Blog."

The phrase "modest proposal" from Swift is, of course, the dead giveaway. But the straight-faced writing offers no other clue. Other than that, it sounds like it came right out of a Heritage Foundation press release.

I couldn't believe that all of this discussion occurred about my satiric article. I only now just discovered it, and I was floored. Of course it was satire; any educated person would have recognized that the lead line "A modest proposal" was indicating that, as many of you have noted. Thank you, for all of those who "got it." For those who didn't, here's my bio: I am a 55 year old woman who takes care of my aunt who has Alzheimer's. I have not been able to work at my past level of employment due to health issues and the care of my aunt. I was CUT OFF from my health insurance just at the time of life when I needed it most. The satire was written from my frustration.

Now all of you assholes who called me Nazi and all other sorts of names can kiss my ass.

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