Old Age: What's Not to Enjoy?
ELDER MUSIC: Seasons - Autumn

INTERESTING STUFF – 16 July 2016

SECRETARY CLINTON COMMITS TO EXPANDING SOCIAL SECURITY

At their appearance together last Tuesday (which this week feels like a month ago) as Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton for president, she adopted Sanders's position on Social Security. Here's the short video tape:

A worthy goal for elders and for younger people who depend on Social Security too.

Far less encouraging news is Donald Trump's choice for his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He has a shameful record on Social Security and Medicare. From the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM):

”During his decade-plus tenure in the U.S. Congress, Mike Pence consistently voted in favor of legislative efforts to cut benefits in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...Few members of Congress have an anti-seniors voting record as consistently strong as Mike Pence.

“Mike Pence was one of Congress’ biggest proponents of privatization. He supports cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age, reducing the COLA, means-testing and turning Medicare into 'CouponCare.' As he told CNN, ‘I’m an all of the above guy.'”

Read more at the NCPSSM.

ELDERS TALK ABOUT SEX

I am fast becoming a fan of Dr. James Hamblin, a young physician and senior editor at The Atlantic who produces a video series for the magazine titled “If Our Bodies Could Talk.”

In this one, he asked some old people at a senior center in Manhattan about sex.

Actually, in this case, the accompanying story at The Atlantic is more interesting than the video. You should go read it – who else could know as much about sex as old people...

BOSTON DYNAMICS' LATEST ROBOT

Of course, I don't know about you, but I find the use of a lethal robot by the Dallas Police Department to be a terrifying precedent. But I also have an ongoing interest in robots who might (will?) become helpful companions to people.

In the past, I have featured the development of robots by Boston Dynamics and this is their latest, the Spot Mini. Take a look at the amazing things it can do:

Each new video from Boston Dynamcs shows dramatic advances in their robots' capabilities. Read more at Gajitz and at the Boston Dynamics website.

A JOHN OLIVER WEB EXTRA: FAN MAIL

John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight does not return from hiatus unti 24 July but as he often does during these absences, he has provided a short video to hold us over.

This one is about his fan mail.

THIS JUST IN REGARDING JOHN STEWART

I had finished writing today's post on Friday morning when an email advised that John Stewart will be joining The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for the two weeks of the political conventions.

And wait till you read the rest of the lineup according to Esquire:

While it's still unclear what Stewart's contribution to the show will be, Colbert's live convention coverage will also include Elizabeth Warren, Anthony Weiner, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Keegan-Michael Key, and John Oliver.”

Can't wait. I'll be glued to Colbert's coverage.

TURNING DESERTS GREEN

Water or, rather, the lack thereof is an increasing global problem and if not a disaster yet, may well become so before long, turning once fertile land into deserts.

So this was some small amount of good news. First the background:

”...many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.

A new study comes from E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who spread soil from healthy heathland – hills dominated by heather – or from grassland, to stripped ground, added seeds from 30 plant species and waited six years.

”Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer...”

Here is the before and after photo:

DesertGreening

Everyone involved is encouraged by the success and tests continue on reclaiming “dead” lands:

“This approach could yield new ecosystems in a matter of years, not decades, Wubs says. 'Natural succession takes much, much longer.'”

More details at Science.

FIREFLY EXPERIENCE

Amazingly, when I lived in Manhattan, my small backyard produced a large supply of fireflies at certain times of the year that came out at dusk, just the right time of day to see them at their most magical.

This week, a gorgeous video of fireflies by a photographer, Radim Schreider, came to my attention. He explains:

”In this short movie, I tried to capture my feelings and experiences with fireflies in the woods near my house in Fairfield, Iowa. I wanted to document not only their beauty and magical glow, but also behavior in their natural environment.

“I have chosen not to do any digital manipulation to the video itself, so the footage came straight from the camera.”

He recommends that we watch this video at night, full screen with all the lights off:

Radim Schreider is an award-winning nature photographer. You can see more of his work at his website.

HOW THE DUTCH BUILT A TUNNEL IN ONE WEEKEND

In an extraordinary feat of engineering and hard work, this 70-meter tunnel was built in The Netherlands over one weekend, people working day and night AND in the rain.

Here's the time-lapse video that Darlene Costner forwarded.

GOOD NEWS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND ON DISEASES OF AGEING

According to a new study from the University of Georgia, the use of medical marijuana in states where it is available is reducing the cost of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program:

”The savings, due to lower prescription drug use, were estimated to be $165.2 million in 2013, a year when 17 states and the District of Columbia had implemented medical marijuana laws. The results suggest that if all states had implemented medical marijuana the overall savings to Medicare would have been around $468 million...

“The researchers will explore these consequences further in their next study...which will look at medical marijuana's effects on Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs and typically serves an older population.”

You can read more at Medical News Today.

In another medical development that affects elders, it appears that the traditional diseases of age are in decline. Take a look at the graph for colon cancer, the rate of which has fallen by nearly 50 percent since the 1980s:

ReductioninDiseasesOfAgeing

Scientists say there are a number possible reasons for the reduction in cases of cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc. but they can't be certain yet which ones contribute to the health gains, and consider it to be, for now, a mystery:

”...it looks as if people in the United States and some other wealthy countries are, unexpectedly, starting to beat back the diseases of aging. The leading killers are still the leading killers...but they are occurring later in life, and people in general are living longer in good health.”

Read more about this good news at The New York Times.

TAKE ONE LONELY PUPPY, ONE LONELY KITTEN AND...

This short video from the Jo Linn Pet House, forwarded here from TGB reader Ali, may be the cutest thing you'll see all week.

* * *

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” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I 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 include the name of the blog and its URL.

Comments

The robots and the tunnel show what brilliant creatures we are if we'd just put aside the hate and anger and work together.

When I was a child, fireflies (we called them lightening bugs in Okla.) were a summer night's delight. In that one scene with the stars overhead they reminded me of earthbound stars. As an adult, I've very rarely seen any fireflies and wonder what's happened to them.

The Dem. convention coverage is going to be great, sounds like. Last night I also heard that Rachel Maddow will be anchoring. But having Stewart back in any capacity is cause for celebration!

We've legalized marijuana and all its potential in Colorado (though I've read I'd have to smoke it almost round the clock to help my glaucoma. Now if only we'd legalize death with dignity. It's on the ballot again this year, after failing twice before. Cross your fingers.

Oops, that should have been "lightning" bugs.

If it is true that "people in the United States and some other wealthy countries are, unexpectedly, starting to beat back the diseases of aging" then could the solution to this medical 'mystery' be that we are finally wising up to the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious food instead of junk and getting plenty of exercise?

Great post Ronni. I will be glued to the Colbert/Stewart offerings. In spite of my reservations the robot industry fascinates me. This little video was a good one. Because I live in a town in the middle of either wheat fields or dusty tumbleweed covered spaces the work with restoring soils is a fascinating one. We can't expect all dryland to bloom of course but the evidence that overused and depleted soils can be restored in that manner is an exciting one even to an ex-city kid like myself.

The kitten and puppy are adorable, and the firefly video, utterly magical. Guaranteed stress relief, both of them! Thank you so much.

I was fascinated by the four-footed robot. My first thought was that I wouldn't want one as a house pet! It is still clearly a machine, but its lifelike gait is so good it's actually starting to approach uncanny valley territory -- which is astonishing progress, if you think about it.

The reduced number of deaths from colon cancer may have something to do with more screening, earlier treatment, and improved medical techniques for fighting cancer.

I don't think better diet and exercise can take much of the credit: look at the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Yes, people are probably more aware than ever before that they should eat nutritious food and exercise a lot... but they don't. When one person doesn't do what they know they ought to do, that might be their fault. When hardly anyone does, it's time to look at why.

It's not a huge mystery. Think about costs... not in dollars, but in hours. When people have to work two or three part-time jobs to get by, and also care for their kids... free time is something they don't have. They're not even getting enough sleep, let alone exercise. You only have to walk down the aisles of a supermarket reading ingredients and nutrition labels to see that the cheap easy foods, the ones that don't require much prep time, are just about all high in salt, sugar, and fat. And who has the time to read all those nutrition labels? Then there's take-out food -- just about universally fast, and bad for you.

Yes, some individuals can still buck these odds and battle their way to a healthy lifestyle, but it's hard work. Most people have other demands on their attention that they CANNOT ignore. So if some diseases of age are getting beaten back, yay, good news! but statistically speaking that's got to be in spite of what people are eating these days, not because of it.

Quick reaction here: I am THRILLED that Stewart will be on with Colbert during the conventions. But I have to take the occasion to say how deeply disappointed I've been in Colbert, in general. He seems to have responded to what appears to be CBS requirements that he not get too controversial by dialing it WAAAAY back to mostly just silly-ass. I'm not even very interested in his interviews, even when the people--Bryan Cranston, Bill Maher, (shudder) Bill O'Reilly, etc.--are. Like a lot of Americans with working brains, I am still in serious mourning at the absence of Stewart. We really NEED him! And Colbert needs to take it all back to the drawing board, I'm afraid.

Thank you for an amazing collection of videos to lighten my heavy heart today. It seems like I just get over one awful world event and another takes its place. That Firefly video was like slipping myself into another world. Thank you, I needed that. :-)

First, the fun part. The firefly video is very similar to what I see when walking late at night along the W&OD trail near my house in the DC suburbs. They are nature's silent fireworks.

Second, re Mike Pence: I'm sure the Dems will have lots of ammo to attack his dismal record against any progressive social insurance policy for seniors. But that may not be enough. Remember that a majority of seniors still voted for Republicans in the last presidential election. Don't underestimate how poorly informed many voters are. I remember the photo of a older man in Florida holding up a poster at a political rally that read: "Keep government out of Medicare." Yes, totally wrong. Private health insurance's admin costs are 20-25%, more than double that of Medicare. That senior had no clue, but how do we get him to know better?

Finally, I only had time to look at the video re sex and old age. (I'm an ardent advocate of it.) Q: Were any old men interviewed? If so, I'll bet their perspectives were similar to the women's. It's about connecting and sharing, not simply physical interaction.

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