Everything Takes So Damned Long When You're Old

Brain News for Elders, Ageist Headline and Net Neutrality

Often I run across stories of interest to elders that are too long for an item in Saturday's Interesting Stuff and too short for a full blog post. Here today are a three of those.

and although counter-intuitive, that's a good thing, according to a new study, especially for elders.

”There's not much debate on the subject,” reports Curiosity, “a more chaotic brain is a more effective brain. They call the quality 'brain entropy,' and it measures the complexity and irregularity of brain activity from one moment to the next...

“We generally associate entropy with chaos or decay, but in this case, it's a sign of a brain working correctly...An effective brain is one that doesn't always rely on the same patterns of thinking, and one that can solve problems in unexpected ways.

“By contrast, a brain with lower entropy is characterized by order and repetition. The most orderly brains of all? They belong to comatose people and people in the deepest sleep.”

More than 90 percent of American adults regularly consume caffeine, reports Big Think:

“Despite decreasing blood flow to the brain, caffeine leaves individual regions more stimulated. The stimulating effects are uneven, however, creating a chaotic balance of energy when the stimulant is in full force. The greater unevenness in stimulation throughout the brain, the higher the entropy.”

In addition to drinking coffee, Curiosity notes that there is one sure way to increase entropy in your brain:

”All you need to do is age. Yes, entropy naturally increases with age — we suppose that's just the wisdom of the years accumulating. After all, the longer you've been alive, the more types of thinking you'll have encountered or come up with on your own.

“And with that kind of broad experience, your brain will have a million different possible ways to think.

For the scientifically-minded among you, there is more detailed information about the study at PLOS and at nature.com

Earlier this week we discussed one type of ageism, age discrimination in the workplace. But ageism manifests itself in many other obvious and/or devious ways which hardly anyone recognizes as demeaning to elders.

The latest I came across was published at New York magazine this week.

Before I show it to you, let me say I am far from being a Rudy Giuliani fan, never have been going back to his mayoral stint in New York City. That, however, does not make this headline acceptable:

”Trump Worried Aging, Loudmouth New Yorker Can’t Stay on Message”

“Aging loudmouth.” “Can't stay on message.” The slur is repeated in the story's lede: “Donald Trump is starting to wonder if it was a mistake to trust an elderly, New York celebrity...”

These are among the most common insults – nay, beliefs – regularly used against elders: that we are forgetful and untrustworthy. Further, that "loudmouth" crack is just another version of "get off my lawn" gibes. Even the word "elderly" is used disparagingly in this instance.

The byline on the story is Eric Levitz, a young reporter at the magazine but youth does not absolve him. I'm pretty sure that were he writing about a black person or a woman, Levitz would not have used the N word or "chick' as a description.

It's not that I mean to pick only on Mr. Levitz – hundreds of writers and reporters of all ages use these slurs (and worse) against old people every day with nary a consequence. And that is wrong.

It's ba-a-a-a-a-ck, net neutrality. It can seem to be a complicated idea but it isn't, really. Here is a succinct explanation from a February post here quoting Engadget:

”'Net neutrality forced ISPs [internet service providers] to treat all content equally; without these rules in place, providers can charge more for certain types of content and can throttle access to specific websites as they see fit.'

"So, for example, big rich companies could afford hefty fees to providers so their web pages arrive faster in your browser than – oh, let's say political groups that depend on donations or blogs like yours and mine that are throttled because they can't bear the increased cost."

After a vote by the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission (FCC), regulations to trash net neutrality, the 2015 rules will cease on 11 June.

Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that the fight for net neutrality is back.

"The effort formally begins [last] Wednesday as backers file a petition in the Senate that will force a vote next week to undo the FCC's action. Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google and other online giants support the move...

"Although they're poised for a narrow win in the Senate, net neutrality supporters acknowledge the attempt to restore the Obama-era regulations is a long shot. The hurdles include strong opposition from House Republicans and telecommunications companies, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., as well as a likely veto from President Trump.

"Regardless of the outcome, the debate over net neutrality — and by extension, the future of the internet — appears headed for a key role in November's congressional midterm elections.

"'There's a political day of reckoning coming against those who vote against net neutrality,' warned Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is leading the Senate effort to restore the rules."

It is said that despite the FCC and its chair, Agit Pai, 86 percent of Americans support net neutrality. You could do your part to move the initiative to restore the 2015 rules by contacting your representatives in both houses of Congress. You can do that here.


I don't think "aging" is a slur, just a fact.
Both Trump and Giuliani seem to be suffering from
dementia which is obvious if you watch their current
appearances as compared to a decade ago.
So I say mention it.
Do not however mention it if you are talking about Hillary Clinton,
Joe Biden, Mitt Romney or Mitch McConnell, all of whom are
old but none of whom seem to be suffering at all from dementia.

Postscript: I would prefer that our candidates for
president not be over 70 either. So by bye Biden,
Sanders etc and bring on the youngsters.
EXCEPT I'd vote for THE NOTORIOUS RBG for anything!

and, is not Trump himself, "elderly?" "just saying..."

Just emailed my three congressmen. Thanks for the reminder!

Dear Ronni, I am aging--82 now--that's a fact. So the word aging when applied to me is correct. But when that word is used in conjunction with forgetful and muddled and words that seem to say my brain is slipping its hinges, then I resent that bias. Peace.

We're all aging from the moment we're born. And Rudy is a loudmouth, as is Trump. They are two peas in a pod. Admittedly Rudy is not doing either of them any good.

California and dozens of states are considering plans to establish net neutrality in their states. Contact your state legislators to take action.

Re aging language — Had a drive thru young man at the window greet me with “sweetie”, so I smiled, ending my response by calling him “sweetie”. He was startled and said, “What?” I repeated. He clearly didn’t like it and still hasn’t recovered judging by his reaction when I’ve seen him since, but doesn’t address me “sweetie”. Another time he asked if I wanted the penny change back from a 59 cent cost. I said, “Yes”. Now when he quotes order cost to me he rounds it up to 60 cents. Because I accumulate the pennies, handily accessible in my car, I always give him exact 59 cents — the real bill cost + dollars — he accepts my payment and never says a word. Didn’t really have an opportunity to briefly explain why I called him “sweetie” that time. Maybe someday he’ll reflect and “get it”.

Pretty funny questioning aging issues by prez given his behavior.

Meant to add... fascinating info on brain and caffeine — had missed story so thanks for links. I’m always intrigued with brain research as our brain is “us” — as much as we know, so much we don’t yet understand.

" . . . telecommunications companies, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp . . . " explains why AT&T's CEO 'contributed' $1.2 million of their subscriber's money to Trump's concierge Cohen.

So much for our freedom. And now Net-Neutrality - it too has gone political.

Trump is only two years older than Giuliani. So if he's criticizing Giuliani's age, that's hilarious; as for loudmouth and not being able to stay on message -- well, pot, meet kettle.

P.S. -- Sorry, I meant Trump is only two years *younger* than Giuliani.

How is one supposed to characterize Giuliani's recent performance, then? Rudy is visibly forgetful and indiscreet now, in ways that he was not, back in his mayoral days.

These are traits that do tend to develop in older people. It does become harder to keep track of a lot of complicated considerations at once. The internal censor -- "Hmm, wait, I probably shouldn't say that out loud!" -- doesn't work nearly as well as it used to.

From the inside, this latter tendency sure just feels like honesty and truthtelling and not having time any more for the usual BS... but from the outside, it is indiscretion. I've seen this in my husband, become aware of the tendency in myself, and observed it in a number of other family members as they grew older.

A lawyer who no longer thinks carefully about what he says is a lawyer who cannot serve his clients well.

I loved reading that coffee is a postive for my aging brain. Next, wine? We do know that chocolate is good for us, so fingers crossed that wine will be shown to enhance cognitive abilities as we age.

Something I have noticed is that some of my older friends, who are in their 80s are adopting a policy of NOT giving their ages. The reason being, they confided in me is because they have felt that some people judge them, thinking because they are old that their minds are less sharp, etc. Interesting and sad.

I being younger was feeling good about announcing my age to my younger friends because I am very fit despite chronic pain and being 67. Many are amazed when I reveal my age; however, should I rethink this as I get older or should we just plow ahead and try to change agism?

A lot to think about, Ronnie.

Thank you,


"Aging, Loudmouth New Yorker"

You are off-base when you write that describing Rudy as an "aging loudmouth" is an example of ageism.

Is there a synonym for "aging" that you find acceptable to describe deterioration due to the aging process? I don't find the word inherently objectionable or find it the equivalent to using the word "chick" for women as you wrote.

Some people lose their edge in their 70's. Others don't. Some *do* become "forgetful."  Some don't. Many of the most respected print and TV pundits have been circumspect when talking about this but have noted -- with varying degrees of candor or delicacy -- that in recent years, Rudy has seemed to be off his game.  Mara Gay of the NYT editorial board and a longtime NYC reporter has been saying this. I first noticed Rudy's mental decline during the '16 campaign. As New Yorkers, Gay and I and others have a baseline with which to compare today's Rudy with the one from ten or more years ago.

Secondly, "loudmouth" was not a slur against elders. It was a slur against *New Yorkers.* It advances the stereotype about New Yorkers, NOT elders. Grammatically, "loudmouth" modifies "New Yorker."

I still cannot understand why 'old' or 'aging' are determined to be pejorative.

We are the age we are, and at 83,nearly 84, I am grateful for every one of the years i have been given. Not only grateful, but proud, because of the learning experience acquired during each of these years.

Yesterday, I had a spirited conversation with a health professional during which I said something like, but I AM old, when the professional said, "you're not old!" Presumably because I could walk and chew gum at the same time. (remember that expression?)

Okay, rant off. Good post, as usual, Ronni.

I hadn't read the other comments when I posted my comment a half hour ago. I see there were many comments similar to mine. Most expressed what I was trying to write more succinctly than I did. What a great bunch of commenters! The comments to this site are invariably far superior to the ones in other online forums that I've read. Apparently, only old people still value (or are capable of) good writing.

A new ninety-something age resident at "The Ranch," called me "sweetie" after I bused food to his table.


I paused & said "okay baby cakes."

"Don't even think of calling me "dear" if you want your pie."

I love this group!!

"Trump Worried Aging, Loudmouth New Yorker Can’t Stay on Message”

“Donald Trump is starting to wonder if it was a mistake to trust an elderly, New York celebrity...”

Ronni's right as usual. These are pejorative uses of the words "aging" and "elderly". And the reason we don't notice is that it's a normalized part of our culture to use age-descriptive words to denigrate and diminish others.

Whenever we're fighting a cultural war to change social perceptions (whether it's around race, gender, sexual orientation, ageing or whatever), language and how we use it becomes a huge part of that. Once the war is won, we can relax a bit. But as Ronni's column on ageism in the workplace made clear, we're still a long way from winning this war. So yes, language and the context in which it's used matters a great deal.

When I was a kid growing up in Canada, the term "women drivers" was tossed around a lot, always with an accompanying smirk and a knowing look. Nobody needed to explain what was meant by that term. Everybody knew that it meant women were incompetent in pretty much every field that had traditionally belonged to men. Driving was only the most obvious example. The poor dears just didn't have what it took to drive as well as men. And of course whenever there was a car accident in which a woman was driving, there were eye-rolls and "Well yeah, what did you expect? Woman driver!" comments everywhere. Hardly anybody took offence, not even women drivers. All of that seems astonishing now of course and if someone today were to hurl an epithet of "woman driver", most people would look at them blankly and think they were a bit nuts. But that's because that war has been won.

What if New York magazine had simply left out the words "Aging" and "elderly" in their article? It would have worked just fine (and without stigmatizing an entire cohort). Or they could have gone with a headline like the Associated Press chose: "Trump Considers Benching Giuliani from Doing Press Interviews". Problem solved. The offending behavior now belongs specifically to Giuliani and not to "the ageing and elderly" (sub-text: incompetent because they're old).

Stereotypes matter. They subtly, or not so subtly, infiltrate the collective mind-set of a society and influence its behavior towards the group in question. We already know this.

Sure, there are incompetent old people. And possibly in Giuliani's case, ageing could be part of his recklessness. But there are also plenty of incompetent and reckless young people. And plenty of highly competent and circumspect old people.

When the ageism war is won, none of this will matter. But we're not there yet.

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