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. A flycatcher first glimpsed in 1997 and then collected in 2012 has been confirmed as a new bird species. (Learn more at Futurity) 2. Remarriage is on the rise for Americans ages 55 and older. (Learn more at Pew Research Center) >> Ageless Hollywood Celebs — No Way They’re 70-Plus! 3. A British man lived with a tapeworm moving around in his brain for four years. (Learn more at Mashable) 4. A spoon developed …

This Week in Boomer History: ‘Thriller’ … Iran-Contra

Notable events from our shared experience Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game, on Nov. 29, 1972. Crude by today’s standards, the virtual table tennis game launches an industry — one with annual revenue forecast to pass $100 billion in 2018.   After takeoff of Northwest Orient Flight 305 from Portland, Ore., to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971, a man claiming to have a bomb demands a $200,000 ransom and four parachutes. The plane picks up the loot in …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. The world’s shortest man and tallest man both have struggled with being unique. (Learn more at Guinness World Records) 2. Iowa City, Iowa, is the most age-friendly small town in the United States. (Learn more at AARP) 3. Your physically accurate digital avatar can be used to get custom-tailored clothes.  (Learn more at Wired) >> 10 Foods to Avoid Before Boarding a Plane 4. Japan’s new bullet train travels up to 311 mph, about …

The Most Age-Friendly Places to Live

What are the best places to live if you’re age 65 or older? Of the 100 most populous American cities, these lead the list: Madison, Wis. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa Provo-Orem, Utah Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. Salt Lake City Of small towns, these are on top: Iowa City, Iowa Sioux Falls, S.D. Columbia, Mo. Bismarck, N.D. Rapid City, S.D. All of this is according to the Best Cities for Successful Aging report released Nov. 18 by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, California-based think tank. …

This Week in Boomer History: Jonestown … ‘White Album’ … JFK

Notable events from our shared experience After followers of cult leader Jim Jones ambush an investigative delegation, killing five (Rep. Leo Ryan, left, among them), more than 900 inhabitants of the cult’s Jonestown settlement in Guyana die in a mass suicide/murder on Nov. 18, 1978. On Nov. 18, 1966, American Roman Catholic bishops declare an end to meatless Fridays, except during Lent. That’s after the practice has given rise to countless fish lunches in school cafeterias and the Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s. >> 10 Essential …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Nearly half of people surveyed wrongly believe that their dogs are as smart as 3- to 5-year-old children. (Learn more at Time) 2. A big white rat is the newest star on Broadway. (Learn more at NY Times) >> 12 Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep 3. People do a terrible job of predicting how long they’ll live. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. Sixty-five percent of women say they favor sleep over sex. (Learn more from Today) …