Thursday, May 8, 2014


The Drudge Report is the place to go when you want to confirm that life isn't worth living anymore. Just glance at a few recent headlines:

Now ask yourself: Shouldn't I have volunteered for that one-way flight to Mars  that Dutch guy is planning? Sure, it doesn't leave until 2023, but that's only nine more years to live in this worldwide insane asylum. The only problem is that you won't be alone in the spaceship. But it couldn't be any worse than what you have to put up with now. 

And yet, here comes British biologist Aubrey de Grey, who believes it's possible for humans to live anywhere from 1,000 years to forever with the kind of servicing you would provide for your car. (Any of you hankering for a lube job?) No special diet for de Grey; it's all science-based. Just pony up some serious bucks to his lab, Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence Research Foundation, and one day you'll need a birthday cake the size of a Mayflower moving van to hold the candles.

Mr. de Grey is 51 but claims to look a good 15 years younger. But as far as I'm concerned, a guy who resembles either Charles Manson or Rasputin depending on his mood is not someone I'm interested in listening to. First impressions are pretty important, after all. I'd believe that the earth was made of chocolate-flavored Junket if Bill Nye the Science Guy said so. Then I'd eat it and like it, just to prove him right. Mr. de Grey? I wouldn't believe him if he told me Bill de Blasio was mayor of New York. (I don't believe it anyway, so I guess that isn't fair.)

Wikipedia has an interesting page featuring a list of people who supposedly lived past the age of 130, which probably wouldn't impress de Grey. Even Methuselah died at 969, several years short of the millennium goal. That's what you get for living in Biblical times, before the kinds of scientific breakthroughs de Grey is researching. But the question isn't How can we live that long, but Should we? A brief look through the post-Biblical era on that Wikipedia list reveals the answer.  

Pierre Defournel, for example, became a father in three different centuries, having his final child at the age of 121. My God! It was exhausting enough raising my daughter when I was in my 40s. Who the hell wants to go through that in your 120s? And what kind of woman of childbearing age wants to... well, you know where this is going. On the other hand, I no longer feel so bad for being older than any of my daughter's friends' fathers. And unlike me, Defournel cruelly died (at age 129) long before his youngest graduated high  school. Although, technically, I could still croak before the ceremony next month.

Then there's Peter Czartan of Hungary, who is said to have lived 184 years. (There's a guy who could singlehandedly break the Social Security bank.) I did a little research to find a tidbit regarding the last time he was seen alive: His eyes were exceedingly red, but he still enjoyed a little sight; the hair of his head and beard were greenish white like mouldy bread; and some of his teeth were still remaining. Let me tell you, if I get to the point when my hair looks like fungus, it's headfirst into the East River for me.

A Hungarian couple John and Sarah (no last names) were married 148 years -- and I bet you a hundred bucks she still wasn't laughing at his jokes. I have no idea what you would give a couple celebrating their 148th anniversary -- the Gemology site thoughtlessly goes only to 80 years -- but I'm thinking by that time plutonium might be in order. 

Probably the best one is Henry Jenkins from Scotland, who, at age 164, was required to give testimony in court about a crime that happened 140 years earlier. Talk about the wheels of justice grinding slowly! I couldn't even tell you what I did 20 minutes ago. Perry Mason would have made mincemeat of this poor guy. Come now, Mr. Jenkins, do you expect this court to believe that you don't remember what happened on the date of May 27, 1525? That was less than a century-and-a-half ago! 

Does an exceedingly long life seem so appealing anymore? Having kids, sporting green hair, forgetting another anniversary, testifying in court, all when you're older than the tree in the town square? Perhaps Aubrey de Grey might find something fun to do for several centuries -- he inherited $16-million from his mother after all. But as I look over my IRA, which is held hostage to the whims of Wall Street, it seems that I might not have the kind of scratch to last me into my 70s, let alone 5,000s. More to the point, I think my wife and daughter have had enough of my jokes to last a normal lifetime.


In an earlier post, I wrote about how baby-boomers already seem to be living forever. You can read about it here.

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