mortality

How problematic is the Atlantic cover story about old age? Let me count the ways.

The cover story of the October 2014 Atlantic magazine, “The New Science of Old Age,” features a white-bearded skateboarder careening between two articles that encapsulate American ambivalence about longevity: here’s why our kids could significantly outlive us and how awful that would be. Below, my Letter to the Editor calling out the unacknowledged ageism that saturates both articles, followed by more examples.  

 

“Live too long” or “cost too much?” And who makes the call?

 

In a New York Times op-ed titled “On Dying After Your Time”, prominent bioethicist Daniel Callahan concludes that we should help young people become old, but that when it comes to the old “our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.” It provoked these rebuttals from me and from my colleague Elizabeth Schneewind:

 

Do I give death its due?

A good friend passed on a DVD of my This Chair Rocks talk to a filmmaker acquaintance, who had a serious critique. She found the talk compelling and called me “a smart and wise cheerleader for this next passage,” but continued, “What I felt missing in her talk was death. She moved quickly over it, saying that her big surprise was how little older folks feared death. I think she is wrong, but she has been immersed in this research far longer than I have.  I think we [all] fear death; it is the great unanswered question.

mixing it up with the Singularitarians on the C-Realm podcast

I had fun talking with KMO, creator of the geeky and wide-ranging C-Realm Podcast, and I think he did too.  Posted on Wednesday, May 8, the podcast covers a lot of interesting territory, from ageism in society to mortality, the U-shaped happiness curve, Ted Kaczynski’s ruminations on “primitive man,” and how KMO used to scare baby boomers into buying health insurance. 

 

you are going to die

That’s the title of a piece by Tim Kreider on the New York Times Opinionator blog, and I hope it’s not news to everyone who passed me the link. Some of Krieder’s other eye-popping observations: you’re not getting any younger. You have to say goodbye to your childhood home. The old and infirm are pretty much missing from movies and TV. (There’s a term for that: symbolic annihilation.)

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