Best Of The Web
“Aging, like bankruptcy in Hemingway’s description, happens two ways, slowly and then all at once. The slow way is the familiar one: decades pass with little sense of internal change, middle age arrives with only a slight slowing down—a name lost, a lumbar ache, a sprinkling of white hairs and eye wrinkles. The fast way happens as a series of lurches: eyes occlude, hearing dwindles, a hand trembles where it hadn’t, a hip breaks—the usually hale and hearty doctor’s murmur in the yearly checkup, There are some signs here that concern me.
To get a sense of what it would be like to have the slow process become the fast process, you can go to the AgeLab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, and put on agnes (for Age Gain Now Empathy System). agnes, or the “sudden aging” suit, as Joseph Coughlin, the founder and director of the AgeLab describes it, includes yellow glasses, which convey a sense of the yellowing of the ocular lens that comes with age; a boxer’s neck harness, which mimics the diminished mobility of the cervical spine; bands around the elbows, wrists, and knees to simulate stiffness; boots with foam padding to produce a loss of tactile feedback; and special gloves to “reduce tactile acuity while adding resistance to finger movements.”
Slowly pulling on the aging suit and then standing up—it looks a bit like one of the spacesuits that the Russian cosmonauts wore—you’re at first conscious merely of a little extra weight, a little loss of feeling, a small encumbrance or two at the extremities. Soon, though, it’s actively infuriating. The suit bends you. It slows you. You come to realize what makes it a powerful instrument of emotional empathy: every small task becomes effortful. “Reach up to the top shelf and pick up that mug,” Coughlin orders, and doing so requires more attention than you expected. You reach for the mug instead of just getting it. Your emotional cast, as focussed task piles on focussed task, becomes one of annoyance; you acquire the same set-mouthed, unhappy, watchful look you see on certain elderly people on the subway. The concentration that each act requires disrupts the flow of life, which you suddenly become aware is the happiness of life, the ceaseless flow of simple action and responses, choices all made simultaneously and mostly without effort. Happiness is absorption, and absorption is the opposite of willful attention.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"My fellow progressives actually doubt if I'm still a Democrat just because I won't accept Nicolas Maduro's tyrannic regime in my home of Venezuela."
"One of the particular characteristics of the Trump presidency is the way Trump consistently creates drama – some by design, some not – that makes it hard to see the broader outline of events."
"Israel’s Eurovision entry barely made a dent on the scoreboard but there’s no doubt that the Jewish State was the real winner of the Eurovision Song Content 2019."
"The Saturday Night Live Finale Was a Mishmash of Everything It Needs to Fix: The send-off to Season 44 might end up functioning as a send-off to a particularly toothless era for the show."
"The biggest challenge in measuring real compensation and Americans’ well-being is the extraordinary growth in new products that have brought new benefits not captured in any government consumer price metric."
"...we’ve grown wary of the so-called attention economy, which, in the name of corporate profits, exploits our psychological vulnerabilities in ways that corrode social life, diminish privacy, weaken civic cohesion..."
"Regardless of how healthfully we live or how much medical care we receive, we will all die. Yet, understanding this intellectually is vastly different from truly feeling it; raw confrontation with our own mortality is frightening."
"Power, although hard to handle, is greatly desired. There is no person or group or sect or party or mob that doesn’t want power, convinced that it would know how to use it as no one ever has before."
"It turns out that feminism and faith both have high expectations of husbands and fathers, if for very different ideological reasons, and that both result in higher-quality marriages for women."
"We live in an age of radical diets: Paleo, vegan, low-glycemic, low-carb, low-fat, high fat (keto). Which one’s best for maintaining a healthy weight?"
"During a military mission, whether in peace or in war, if a pilot or soldier can’t identify an object, they have a serious problem: How should they react, without knowing if it is neutral, friendly or threatening? "
"The Germans, the Jews and the Poles Are on the Battlefield Again: The Poles see themselves as the ultimate victims, the Germans repent and pass anti-BDS resolutions, and Israel speaks in two voices..."