Increased human lifespans, and the weighty decision of marriage

In an op-ed on CNN, “Rupert Murdoch is tying the knot (again). Why the blowback is misplaced”, Boston University sociologist Deborah Carr makes the case for a more optimistic look at romance in one’s golden years. 

Although the white, privileged Carr just couldn’t avoid working the word “white privilege” into her essay, we’ll forgive her  that transgression. Sociologists at universities in New England are probably fired if they publish anything in the public space that doesn’t contain the term “white privilege,” after all. 

Carr points out that while older adults can actually enjoy romance, companionship, and…sex, there are complications involving finances and adult children when one marries or remarries later in life. It is also likely that one of the spouses will become an end-of-life caregiver at some point. Carr’s piece is balanced, on the whole. She isn’t asserting that seventy is the new thirty.

Rupert Murdoch is 92 years old, and he’s about to marry Ann Lesley Smith, who is 66. Deborah Carr gently scolds Internet wisenheimers who made jokes about the next ceremony being a funeral, and—of course—the inevitable speculations about impotence. Continue reading “Increased human lifespans, and the weighty decision of marriage”

The dark secret of my (former) diet soda addiction

Pepsi has raised the prices of its soft drinks by more than 15% in recent months. A 12-pack of any of the company’s chemical-infused, acidic canned liquids now runs around seven dollars in the Cincinnati area. Coca-Cola products are priced at a similarly extortionate level.

We’ve been trained to crave sodas for at least three generations. My grandfather was a fan of Coca-Cola. He was one of those World War II servicemen to whom Coca-Cola aggressively marketed its products. He was never without his supply.

World War II-era Coca-Cola ads

My grandfather was congenitally opposed to any form of diet cola, though. He drank only the original formula, with real sugar. But then, a Coca-Cola in his day was a rare treat, something to consume after hard hours of labor. In that context, the sugar boost was a feature, not a bug.

Subsequent generations started drinking sodas to fulfill their basic hydration needs, and that led to a demand for diet colas. One of the first of these was Coca-Cola’s Tab. Marketed mostly to women, Tab was the forerunner to Diet Coke. 

1982 Tab ad

My mother drank Tab. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, she always had a carton of Tab on the floor of our kitchen pantry. Tab had a heavy saccharine taste, but it was—in my opinion, at least—vastly superior to Diet Coke, which Coca-Cola debuted in 1982. Continue reading “The dark secret of my (former) diet soda addiction”

Make Daylight Saving Time permanent, or ban it altogether?

This past Sunday we all moved our clocks back to Standard Time, thereby ending Daylight Saving Time. 

Spring forward, fall back. You know the drill.

And what a drill it’s become. Daylight Saving Time is yet another practice that has gone completely off the rails in my lifetime.

When I was a kid, Daylight Saving Time ran from late April through late October. For example: In 1981, Daylight Saving Time began on Sunday, April 26, and ran through Sunday, October 25.

In 2022, by contrast, Daylight Saving Time ran from March 13 through November 6. This has been the trend for years now: to make Daylight Saving Time extend for as many weeks as possible.

The fetish for Daylight Saving Time has become so intense that a new proposed law, the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, would make Daylight Saving Time permanent. The bill has bipartisan support. Our two major political parties have finally found something they can agree on, and—big surprise—it isn’t anything that is particularly useful. Continue reading “Make Daylight Saving Time permanent, or ban it altogether?”