Ranjani Iyer Mohanty*
March 06, 2017
CALGARY — Watching last Sunday's Academy Awards with my parents here in this Canadian city, it was during those now infamous final moments that I had something of a surreal epiphany: Warren Beatty reminded me of my father.
Not only are they fairly close in age (Beatty will turn 80 later this month, and my father is 82), and both still married to their only wife, but these two lifelong sharp-thinking men both now respond in a similar way: slowly. This is not surprising considering that cognitive processing and reaction times both slow with advancing age. Geoffrey Kerchner, professor of neurology at Stanford says that the elderly take "longer to solve problems or make decisions."
When I ask my dad if he'd like to go for a walk, he ponders. Sometimes he'll even say "Wait a minute" and sit back in contemplation. I get impatient waiting for the response. What's the holdup? It's a simple question. Just answer: yes or no. He feels I'm rushing him.
But having spent more time with him lately, I see a wisdom behind the slowness. I've learned that he's giving the question his full attention and respect, and won't answer lightly. For him, the answer depends on a variety of factors. Did he sleep well last night? Will the chemo he took this morning tire him out? How's the weather? How will he feel after breakfast? Is anything happening tomorrow for which he may need to conserve his energy? He's in fact quietly considering all the factors before deciding — and responding.
For a lot of older people (except, disturbingly, the 70-year-old in the White House), the value of what they say matters to them. They weigh their words. They want to get it right. They can't afford to waste time doing things they shouldn't do or be stuck with the consequences of a bad choice. However, they need time to get it right. And given the time, my dad is the one who — when I'm set to leap — says "look" and offers valid alternatives to consider. He also suggests that on our way home from the walk, we stop off at the library to return my overdue DVDs or buy the latest edition of the income tax software so he can do his returns for the year.
It's a simple question: Who won best picture?
Given the natural slowing down of the elderly, we sometimes forget their capabilities and their wisdom (again, it's worth noting the Donald Trump exception). In Beethoven's "late period", he produced the fewest number of works, but some of his most difficult compositions like the Hammerklavier Sonata and the Diabelli Variations. Between the age of 60 and 80, Claude Monet painted his iconic water lilies. Jessica Tandy and Christopher Plummer won their first and only Oscars when she was 80 and he was 82.
When Beatty appeared to be dithering last Sunday with the all-important envelope, he was not having a "senior moment" — he was pondering. When he pulled out the card and read it to himself, he pondered. He looked back inside envelope again to see if there was anything else. He paused. He looked at his co-presenter Faye Dunaway. He looked backstage. He looked at the envelope yet again. He paused.
All the while, we were all waiting impatiently and wondering, "what's the holdup?" It's a simple question: Who won best picture?
Beatty however was considering all the factors. Why did the card say "Emma Stone" as well as the movie name La La Land? Had he been given the wrong envelope? Was it the wrong card? Who should he ask? Should he ask? Was he too old for all this circus? Maybe Faye would know what to do?
My dad and the importance of pondering — Photo: Personal file
Mind you, at this point, Beatty did not say to Dunaway anything like, "Hold on, Faye, something seems wrong here" or even "I think we need to verify this'. Rather, much like my dad quietly handing my mom his blood test request form and waiting for her to notice that his name has been misspelled or the hemoglobin box hasn't been checked off, Beatty silently handed Dunaway the card and then waited for her reaction. So maybe this could be more accurately called "a male senior moment".
Diane Howieson, professor of neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University, says "Older adults tend to be slower in conceptualizing problems and less ready to change strategies when circumstances shift." This may have accounted for Dunaway's behavior. She is 76 — the same age as my mom. Not realizing there was a problem, much less a need to change strategy, Dunaway simply went ahead and read the name of the movie out loud. And the rest is 2017 Oscar Night legend.
My dad stood up carefully and steadied himself with one hand on the fireplace mantel. "Idiots," he said. "They should have slowed down. Then they'd have gotten it right."
And in case you're wondering why this article was not up within hours of the ceremony ending rather than days, I too wanted to take the time to ponder some vital questions. Is this a fair assessment of my dad? Should I write this article? Why? How's the weather? And is there anything happening tomorrow for which I need to conserve my brain power?
*Ranjani Iyer Mohanty is a writer, editor, and commentator. She has contributed to several publications, including the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Globe & Mail, and the Atlantic. She divides her time between Canada and India.
This is Worldcrunch"s international collection of essays, both original pieces written in English and others translated from the world's best writers in any language. The name for this collection, Rue Amelot, is a nod to the humble address in eastern Paris we call home. Send ideas and suggestions at email@example.com.
This is Worldcrunch's international collection of essays, which includes pieces written in English and others translated from the world's best writers in any other language. The name for this collection, Rue Amelot, is a nod to the humble address in eastern Paris that we call home. Send ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 18, 2021
Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.
[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.
• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.
• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.
• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.
• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.
• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.
• Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good
Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials
.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."
— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.
📈💥 IN OTHER NEWS
Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians
The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:
⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.
☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.
🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.
Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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