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. 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) 4. An avocado a day can lower bad cholesterol. (Learn more at Penn State via Futurity) 5. The …

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) 4. Memories lost to Alzheimer’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder might be recoverable. (Learn more at …

7 Moments Boomers Will Always Remember

Seven enduring memories from our yearlong ‘Boomer History’ project: Promised a T-shirt and a dollar for showing up, 5,000 fans greet the Beatles at New York’s JFK International Airport on Feb. 7, 1964. The following year, on Aug. 15, “arena rock” is born when a concert by the Fab Four draws more than 55,000 fans to Shea Stadium in Queens, N.Y. But nothing lasts forever. Preparing to release a solo album in April 1970, Paul McCartney says that the Beatles are finished. On March 7, 1965, …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. With only one male Northern White Rhino left, hope for the species relies on a possible test tube baby. (Learn more at Discovery) 2. For some Medicare patients, the prognosis was better when cardiologists were attending meetings away from the hospital. (Learn more at Science 2.0) 3. Eating fish lower on the food chain, like herring, is healthier than eating predators like shark . (Learn more at NY Times) 4. The inventor of cruise …

A Holiday Surprise: Learning How to Give

There’s a woman in my town who seems to be everywhere. She is of indeterminate age, and whether she’s at the Metro or the farmers market, she asks passersby for money. Sometimes she sells the homeless newspaper. She usually talks in a kind of sad, downbeat monotone. I saw her at the market Sunday, and it was pretty cold. When she said she needed a few bucks for a meal at our local cafe, I said I’d walk down with her …