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.

George Takei in Boston: Smartphone Physicals and Gene Therapy

Smartphones can do just about anything these days, from shooting movies to following our every move – from connecting to smoke detectors to counting our steps and calories. On a recent visit to AARP’s Health Innovation@50+ start-up business showcase in Boston, tech explorer George Takei found a number of new phone attachments and apps aimed at making formerly complicated health tests cheaper and more readily available, adding up to a “smartphone physical.” These include: An electrocardiogram in a smartphone case …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Insects are a food source for one of every three people worldwide. (Learn more at Yahoo) 2. The debts and unpaid bills of more than a third of Americans have been reported to collection agencies. (Learn more at Urban Institute) 3. Handshakes share 20 times more germs than fist bumps. (Learn more at AARP) >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter  4. A new smartphone app simulates a retro camera by making you …

This Week in Boomer History: Lenny Bruce … Gulf of Tonkin … Medicare

Noteworthy events from our shared experience Comedian Lenny Bruce is found dead at his Los Angeles home Aug. 3, 1966. His anything-goes social satire led to multiple obscenity prosecutions while paving the way for today’s stand-up performers. On Aug. 1, 1981, MTV begins broadcasting in the United States. Its first video? “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30, 1965, at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Mo., a nod …

George Takei Finds Collaboration (and Robots) at the Heart of Boston Tech

Get ready for AARP tech explorer George Takei to be everywhere at once this summer, or at least it may seem that way. This week, for example, he visited The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart to talk about a new documentary: To Be Takei: A Star’s Trek for Life, Liberty and Love, opening in August after playing the film festival circuit. Not only that, Takei continues to use his social media clout to promote Allegiance, a Broadway-bound musical about the Japanese …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Parents are serving “smash cakes” for youngsters to destroy at their birthday parties. (Learn more at Today) 2. About 1 in 5 Americans – some 57 million in all – live in multigenerational family households. (Learn more at AARP) 3. A Chinese woman takes her 88-year-old grandma with her to work every day, sometimes on her back. (Learn more at Daily Mail) >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter  4. Beetles killed a …

This Week in Boomer History: Test Tube Baby … Kitchen Debate … ADA

Noteworthy events from our common experience President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on July 26, 1990. Bob Dylan straps on his electric guitar and plugs in his amplifier at the Newport (R.I.) Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. The crowd boos (and cheers) him; purists are furious. >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter  Born July 25, 1978, Louise Joy Brown is the world’s first “test tube baby,” though she’d more accurately be …