12 July 2010


AGING AND SEX. Amy Alkon reports in her blog post Cougers Gone Wild that a University of Texas study has found that women in their 30s and 40s are significantly more sexual than their younger counterparts. "Women ages 27 through 45 report not only having more sexual fantasies (and more intense sexual fantasies) than women ages 18 through 26; the older women report having more sex, period. And they are more willing than younger women to have casual sex .... " The apparent reason? "Evolution has encouraged woment to be more sexually active as their fertility begins to decline and as menopause approaches."

Which is not to suggest that the libidos of women over 45 suddenly flatline. Both women and men remain sexually active well into their 70s.

AGING AND CREATIVITY. Kate Zernike in the NYTimes notes that aging does not equate with sitting in a rocking chair, watching the world go by. (Think of all those older rock stars who perform during Super Bowl halftime shows.) Gerontologist Dr. Robert Butler has established that "the old do not inevitably become senile, and that they can be productive, intellectually engaged and active -- sexually and otherwise." What a shame that both social policy and cultural expectations promote ageism (a term coined by Butler in 1968). Like any form of stereotyping and discrimination, ageism limits our thinking and deprives us of a wealth of lfie experience, hard-won knowledge, perspective and humor. "Aging gracefully" and "aging successfully" do not have to be mutually exclusive.

THE MEDAL OF HONOR. On this day in 1862, during America's Civil War, Congress established the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded to members of the US armed forces. It is bestowed on an individual who distinguishes him/herself "conspicuously and by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." There have been 3526 Medals of Honor awarded, many of them posthumously, with 2405 going to members of the Army.

It was my experience in Vietnam (and that of many others as well) that the awarding of medals is highly political -- with officers and senior NCOs being favored over enlisted soldiers. Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and Distinguished Service Crosses were often awarded without merit. They are seen as one more embellishment needed to advance one's military career. But for those recipients who truly did earn this supreme recognition, I salute you. Below are the Medals of Honor awarded respectively to the Army, to the Navy-Marines-Coast Guard, and to the Air Force.

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