aging

Tackling “Aging Well” at the Institute for the Future’s Health Horizons Conference

I’m just back from a conference hosted by this 30-year-old Palo Alto think tank, the theme of which was “Living Longer/Aging Well.” Most of the attendees were from healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, and I wasn’t sure how hospitable they’d be to my message about the medicalization of old age. In cultures with meaningful social and economic roles for older people, physical health is just one aspect of aging, but in ours, sickness takes center stage. And as the population ages the medical-industrial complex will depend more than ever on the old for its profits.

a welcome ally in the “age-acceptance" movement

I suspected that I might find a kindred spirit in Anne Karpf, and her excellent article in the Guardian about why we shouldn't fear getting old confirms it. Karpf writes of the turning point in our twenties when disdain for those younger than us turns to disregard for our elders, and the consequent body dysmorphia, “propelled at least partly by a fear of ageing, [that] has become a cultural condition.” So many adolescents are getting Botox injections that there’s a name for it: “teen toxing!”

the life course—via Marius Budin & Google Suggest

This elegantly simple video by software developer Marius Budin uses Google Suggest (the feature that “completes the thought” when you type a word or two into the search window) to traverse a hypothetical life course writ in billions of searches. Worries about pregnancy, virginity, failure and loneliness prevail, a telling glimpse into human insecurity. Also noteworthy is the fact that the video devotes 90 seconds to ages 10 to 40. The next 45 years rate 24 seconds, starting to skip decades at 50 and ending with "I'm 85 and I’m tired."

new gigs, include a crack a science storytelling

It may be the dog days of August, but I'm busy nailing down a number of speaking engagements in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and closer to home, in Gowanus, Brooklyn. That gig is also the soonest: I'll be one of five performers on a science storytelling show called the Story Collider on September 4th at 8:00, at a club called Littlefields (622 Degraw Street). The Moth for the geekily inclined,  the Story Collider has a theme for each event, and this evening's theme is, you guessed it, aging. Now to come up with a 10-minute monlogue "at turns funny and heartbreaking, [about] how our modern world is changing the way we age." No sweat. No notes. No auditioning, at least. It should be good.

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