Until about a year ago, I wrote a weekly Elder News column for this blog with short takes and links to web items related to aging. Sometimes I miss that feature so today, here are a handful of things – mostly unrelated to aging - that have recently caught my attention.
The Speed of Change
British mystery writer P.D. James. who will celebrate her 90th birthday next week, spoke to the Montreal Gazette about the “horrifying” pace of technology change which, she says, elders cannot keep up with. Not all the change is bad, however. James thinks teaching children about sex at younger ages than in her youth is a good thing for kids. But, she notes, it's not so good for mystery writers:
"Dear old Agatha Christie had 'A' murder 'B' because 'A' was having an affair and thought 'B' would tell,” says Dame P.D. James. “Now, of course, people write about their affairs in the Sunday newspapers.”
A Polish scientist, presenting findings at a meeting in Prague earlier this year, says his work shows that plants transmit information from leaf to leaf in a way that is similar to human nervous systems.
“When we shone the light for on the plant for one hour and then infected it [with a virus or with bacteria] 24 hours after that light exposure,” said Professor Stanislaw Karpinski from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, “it resisted the infection. But when we infected the plant before shining the light, it could not build up resistance...”
Another plant scientist, Professor Christine Foyer, a plant from the University of Leeds, said Karpinski's study "took our thinking one step forward.”
"Plants have to survive stresses, such as drought or cold, and live through it and keep growing," she told BBC News. "This requires an appraisal of the situation and an appropriate response - that's a form of intelligence.”
More detail on this story at the BBC website.
Astonishing Unemployment Map
If you include the underemployed and those who have given up looking for a job, about 31 million are, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of work in the U.S. The astonishing map in the YouTube video below, titled "The Decline: The Geography of a Recession," was created by labor writer LaToya Egwuekwe. It shows the growth of unemployment county by county from January 2007 until May 2010.
You can see a larger version of the map animation at this website.
Eighty-four-year-old Justin Kaplan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, became delirious in a hospital last year while being treated for pneumonia.
“For hours in the hospital, he said, he imagined despotic aliens, and he struck a nurse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter.”
Doctors call it hospital delirium and the astonishing fact, according to the American Geriatrics Society is that it affects one-third of patients older than 70.
“A delirious patient happens almost every day,” said Dr. Manuel N. Pacheco, director of consultation and emergency services at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. He treated Mr. Kaplan, whom he described as “a very learned, acclaimed person,” for whom “this is not the kind of behavior that’s normal.
“People don’t talk about it, because it’s embarrassing,” said Dr. Manuel N. Pacheco, director of consultation and emergency services at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “They’re having sheer terror, like their worst nightmare.”
Read more at The New York Times.
Nice Political Zinger
Our American politicians aren't known for their senses of humor, but there was a rare exhibit of quick wit yesterday on Fox New Sunday, hosted by Chris Wallace. While discussing the Shirley Sherrod furor, this exchange took place between former House leader Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate, Howard Dean:
GINGRICH: If the Obama administration is this afraid of Glenn Beck, how do they deal with the Iranians?
DEAN: There may be some similarities, Newt.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jerry Rasmussen: Elizabeth Cotton's Banjo