News, Culture, Sights and Sounds

Steve Mencher writes about culture, politics, the news and other subjects for AARP. He's also a jazz musician with the Willis Gidney Quintet. He has worked for Carnegie Hall, NPR and the Library of Congress as an audio, video and multimedia producer.

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. You don’t want to send a Valentine’s Day card to your ex, so the San Francisco Zoo makes it easy to adopt a hissing cockroach or scorpion in your old lover’s name. (Learn more at Cosmo) 2. Treated wastewater makes delicious beer. (Learn more at NPR) 3. Critically endangered giant salamanders are a Chinese delicacy. (Learn more at Yahoo.com) >> Share Your New Year’s Resolution for a Chance to Win $100. Enter Now! See Official Rules 4. Growing …

Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Champ and Hunger Fighter, to Stop Competing

Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion and AARP’s ally in fighting hunger among older Americans, announced Jan. 22 that he is stepping away from full-time racing after the 2015 season. In a posting on the Hendrick Motorsports website, Gordon, 43, wrote: “I thought long and hard about my future this past year and during the off-season, and I’ve decided 2015 will be the last time I compete for a championship. I won’t use the ‘R-word’ because I plan to stay extremely …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. The world’s richest 1 percent will likely control half of global wealth by next year. (Learn more at NY Times) 2. A cup of blueberries a day can help lower blood pressure. (Learn more at AARP) 3. Four in ten people report at least one incident of “sleep paralysis” — waking up and being unable to move. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. The golden orb-web spider can count. (Learn more at WIRED) Share Your New Year’s Resolution …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Dogs that roll over and expose their bellies to another dog are not being submissive. (Learn more at Huffington Post) 2. It takes 15 million tons of salt to melt ice and snow on U.S. highways, roads and sidewalks each winter. (Learn more at Vox.com) 3. Babies remember new accomplishments if they soon fall asleep. (Learn more at BBC) >> Enter our $25,000 Rewards for Good Sweepstakes! See official rules. 4. An avocado a day can lower …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. The words “knavery,” “rapscallion,” “flapdoodle” and “caterwaul” are in danger of extinction. (Learn more at UPI) 2. Despite New Year’s resolutions, Americans double their purchases of food calories in January compared to the holidays. (Learn more at the Los Angeles Times) 3. It’s true. Keeping warm can help ward off a common cold. (Learn more at Yale Univ. via Futurity) 4. Banana bread slipped into first place in online searches for recipes in 2014. …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. When it comes to some tasks, crows are nearly as smart as humans. (Learn more at University of Iowa via Futurity) 2. Only 1 in 10 Americans eat nuts at least once a day, even though they’re a powerful health food. (Learn more at AARP) 3. Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show of 2014. (Learn more at Mashable) >> Enter our $25,000 Rewards for Good Sweepstakes! See official rules. 4. Memories lost to Alzheimer’s …