Stories I'm hearing
Stories I'm hearing on the street, in the news, etc.
My poor kids. My son Murphy, a computer scientist, was talking last week about a system for archiving mathematics research on the web. "The problem is that a lot of the important papers are by people who are really old now," he said. Uh oh. The problem, I promptly pointed out, isn't age but technological illiteracy. While older scientists were indeed less likely to race to post their work online, it was wrong to assume so on the basis of age alone. He got it, with his characteristic sweet smile, though he probably felt more like kicking me.
Most animals, from shrimp to shrews, decline swiftly after reaching sexual maturity. Humans, on the other hand, experience middle age: a several-decade plateau during which most biological systems deteriorate very little. This stage of life, argues writer and zoologist David Bainbridge in this excerpt from Middle Age: A Natural History, represents a remarkable evolutionary achievement that should gratify, not depress.
“There’s an interesting story in the paper today about aging,” said my partner yesterday morning. He and I and I are inveterate fans of the Sunday New York Times Style section, where the lead story was that of Bob Bergeron, a therapist in New York whose suicide at 47 had taken everyone by surprise.
In a characteristically mordant piece called “Daddy Trouble” in this month’s Atlantic magazine, Sandra Tsing Loh coins the term Elderschadenfreude to describe “the secret pleasure of hearing about aging parents that are even more impossible than yours.”
I loved Up the Down Staircase, the story of an idealistic teacher learning the ropes in a tough urban high school, which came out in 1965 when I was just learning how to be a vile teenager. It turns out that Kaufman's still in the classroom, having been hired last year by Hunter College, her alma mater, to teach a course on Jewish humor.
New York magazine isn’t the first to spoof the famous pregnant-Demi-Moore Vanity Fair cover, but this mom looks more like Helen Mirren and the tag line asks, “Is She Just Too Old for This?” The article is smart and subversive, and I just submitted this Letter to the Editor:
Makes up for all the "stills" and the patronizing "25 years younger" quip. Some set of wheels, too.