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. 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 …

This Week in Boomer History: Kwanzaa … Beatlemania … ‘Howdy Doody’

Notable events from our shared experience A California professor of African studies leads the first celebration of Kwanzaa, on Dec. 26, 1966. Rooted in the Black Power movement, Maulana Karenga seeks to connect black Americans with traditional African harvest rituals and give young people an introduction to the continent’s culture during what becomes an annual weeklong observance. Signaling the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as general secretary Dec. 25, 1991, and hands over the nation’s nuclear launch codes to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Yes, men are idiots. (Learn more at AARP) 2. Drinking alcohol to fall asleep can have the opposite effect. (Learn more at University of Missouri via Futurity) 3. The myth that eating carrots improves your eyesight stems from a World War II espionage ruse. (Learn more at Washington Post) 4. If you feel younger, you’ll live longer. (Learn more at AARP) 5. Watson, the IBM computer, is becoming a leading expert on post-traumatic stress …

This Week in Boomer History: Tiny Tim … Impeachment

Noteworthy events from our shared experience The U.S. House of Representatives impeaches President Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998. The articles of impeachment accuse Clinton of lying to a grand jury about his relationships with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky and hiding evidence in the Jones case. On Feb. 12, 1999, the Senate acquits Clinton of both charges. The American Psychiatric Association board of directors votes 13-0 on Dec. 15, 1973, to remove homosexuality from its official catalog of psychiatric disorders. The APA membership backs the decision four months later. >> Get …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun. 1. The 24th 007 movie will feature the first 50-year-old “Bond Girl.” (Learn more at AARP) 2. President Obama has acid reflux. (Learn more at AARP) 3. Your flu shot might not protect you from half the varieties of this season’s bugs. (Learn more at AARP) 4. When the president of Ukraine seeks advice, he sometimes turns to a doll. (Learn more at Buzzfeed) 5. Smoking is unhealthy for anyone, but it’s worse for men. …