Senior Power: The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune. English proverb.

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 10:04:00 AM

Elderly musicians hear better than elderly non-musicians. Age-related hearing loss is a significant detriment to quality of life in the aged although it is poorly understood. Oxidative stress causing loss of hearing cells is one theory. Chronic exposure to loud noises in the environment is another. It would seem that listening and playing music throughout one’s life could damage the ear. However, a new study comparing aged musicians to non-musicians suggests that decline in cortical auditory processing may be reduced in musicians whereas decline in cochlear function is similar to non-musicians. According to lead researcher Benjamin Rich Zendel, being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing. This advantage widens considerably for musicians as they get older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians. -more-

American Pie: A Cautionary Tale About Three Sixth Grade Misfits

By Ruth Rosen
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 09:37:00 AM

We were bad. Incorrigible, they said. We had curious minds, awkward bodies and awakening hearts. When we disrupted the class with our chattering and chaotic behavior, the teacher asked us to leave the room and stand in the hall until we behaved properly. On our report cards we received "unsatisfactory" for our social behavior.

The year was 1957. Our teacher viewed us as difficult, inattentive, and troublesome, but no one ever suggested to our parents that we had a medical problem or learning disability that required medication.

But that was then, when we were 11 years old and the great waves of hyperactivity/ADHD diagnoses and stimulant medications were still a thing of the future. Now we wonder what would happen if we were misfits in 2007. Would we be referred for medical diagnosis? Would we be among the nearly 10% of children currently treated with psychoactive drugs? -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: Why The Drone Wars Threaten Us All

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:25:00 PM

Lost in debate over whether the Obama administration had the right to carry out the extra-legal execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Yemini cleric and al-Qaeda member, is who pulled the trigger? It is not a minor question, and it lies at the heart of the 1907 Hague Convention, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the 1977 additions to the ‘49 agreement: civilians cannot engage in war.

In the main, laws of war focus on the protection of civilians. For instance, Article 48, the “Basic Rule” of Part IV of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, states, “In order to ensure respect for and protection of civilian populations and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between civilian populations and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.” -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 09:22:00 AM


Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.

—W. S. Merwin, b. 1927 -more-

On Mental Illness: The Expectation of Employment

By Jack Bragen
Monday October 03, 2011 - 01:04:00 PM

Most persons who have severe mental illness would like to work, if they possibly can. We are often prevented from working by the barriers against us in society and not just by the disability. Having a severe mental illness is a perfectly legitimate reason for not having a job. It would not be accurate to call us bums or freeloaders, any more than someone who suffers blindness or a broken back. While our disability is invisible, it is just as real as a person’s disability that is plainly visible, such as a missing limb. -more-

The Public Eye: There is No Political Middle Ground

By Bob Burnett
Friday September 30, 2011 - 10:09:00 AM

The defining characterisitic of the 112th Congress has been extreme Republican partisanship, an unprecedented willingness to hold the Federal government hostage until conservative demands are satisfied. The GOP tactic has disrupted the US and demolished the myth of a middle ground in American politics. -more-

Senior Power… My Generation’s War

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday September 30, 2011 - 09:53:00 AM

The War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s monumental 2007 television production, has recently been shown again. The War follows 40+ persons from 1941 to 1945, focusing on the citizens of four American communities. The book companion to the series is The War; An Intimate History, 1941-1945, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Burns. The words and photographs of two of the men who appear throughout -- Quentin C. Aanenson of Minnesota and Eugene Bondourant Sledge of Alabama – are particularly poignant, especially episode five –“FUBAR -- fucked up beyond all repair.” -more-