Monday, March 2, 2015

No, 'This Baby' Won't Be Living To 142!

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On the cover of a recent issue of TIME,  the 30 point font  to the side of an infant's  head proclaimed: 'This Baby Could Live To Be 142 YEARS OLD'  The  cover subtitle added:  "Dispatches from the Frontiers of Longevity" -but it could as well be posed as "Dispatches from the Frontiers of Laughability".. As per other news items that preceded it, we're asked to seriously believe newborn infants (especially Americans) will actually live to 142 years of age.  Reading the piece also becomes an exercise in cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, we're inundated with all the ways "science" can make this happen, and on the other informed "but modern culture offers little in the way of treatments or cures for chronic disease that afflict older people".

So why the hell would anyone in his right mind want to exist past a certain age as a likely vegetable, suffering from Alzheimer's disease if there's no remote cure or effective treatment on the horizon?  That's the $64 question for which we're mostly just offered bafflegab and bollocks. Such as:  "It needn't be so...instead we might change the course biologically and socially".

Yeah, right! And anthropic Easter bunnies come to life on that day and hand out colored eggs in baskets, while tooth fairies deliver money in exchange for kids' teeth, and oh, by the way...LBJ  was too "decent" a man to have ever taken out JFK.  Don't TIME's cognoscenti give readers any credit for common sense? Ah well, that may be why TIME is mainly geared to the "Middle Mind" - once described by Curtis White as that vast landscape where controversy, reality and hard facts never rear their disputatious heads. All you have to do is "believe" and accept the words as substitutes for actions.

Or, as TIME's nabobs put it: "With sufficient financial support the potential for advances is breathtaking.."

Yeah, well, how about just extending life QUALITY instead of pie in the sky, ridiculous quantity? By which I mean, pouring money into Alzheimer's research which currently (at barely $0.5b a year) is vastly under funded compared to cancer and cardiology research. Do that, then I might believe most people have a chance of living to maybe 90 with some degree of life quality, independence and dignity as opposed to having their brains waste away in some long term care warehouse....errrr...nursing home... as veritable vegetables!

The other aspect that these longevity geniuses only touch on is the matter of financial support. How will the elderly maintain financial security and the implied independence until they finally shuffle off this mortal coil? We are only treated to assorted nibbles and hollow promises, such as that corporations "will have to change" and hire more oldsters. Right, and if you put your money on that you'd lose more than if you'd bet on the Bears to win SB XLIX last year at this time in a Vegas Sports book.

As I already noted (post of Feb 27) $550,000 net worth is probably okay for most to have a comfortable 20 years of retirement.  This would be until roughly age 85. Now extend that to 95 but with 2 percent inflation (conservatively) factored in each year and you come to $770,000. Take the tally on to age 105 and you are looking at $880,000 and to 115 we get, $990,000 and to 125 you're at $1.1 million and to 135 you're at $1.21 million.  We haven't  reached 142 yet, and I've not even factored into the mix medical inflation - including for prescription drug costs - and the fact that Medicare may only be in  voucher form by 2020. (Meaning seniors will have to pay most of the costs) And finally, for a wake up call compliments of CBS finance analyst Jill Schlesinger: 38 million Americans don't even have retirement accounts!

How does this reality square with TIME"s "longevity dispatches" fantasies? Well, it doesn't!

TIME also assumes in its prologue to the initial piece that: "Everyone wants to live longer", but that desire comes with caveats galore for rational folk . For example, why would anyone today,  at say age 67 or 68,  want to live to even 100 when numerous "hells" are set to be unleashed especially as climate change- global warming enters its ultimate phase?

If you think the climate hiccups being experienced now - including the constant polar vortex intrusions - are a big deal, stay tuned for the first year of no seasons and ensuing heat waves lasting 90-120 days with mean temperatures 100-110F. Even before then, say by 2025-2030 we will likely see electrical blackouts over extended periods, water shutdowns (or breakdowns of decaying urban water delivery systems, since we haven't done shit to repair them) and even power grids collapsing from excess demand - with tens of millions trying to "stay cool",  keeping thermostats at 81F.

You really want to stretch your years out to live in those conditions?  REALLY? Well sure, the richest one percent will because they can afford to - living in their golden -gated condos far from the decaying cities that will have no backup power. Just as the wealthy now enjoy nice clean air and water because the frackers mostly won't go near  their upscale environs. No, they prefer to crank out their  fracking effluent near where the poorer populations live.  Those who will get the cancers and lung diseases that they won't be able to treat because the medical costs will bankrupt them. 

On the positive side, and there is a little bit, there are a few nuggets of useful advice in the several articles that can enable people to enhance their health and life quality. Examples: meditating - to "extend length of telomeres " to delay aging, and just "jumping up and down 20 times a day can improve bone density". But these are relegated too far to the latter pages while the longevity Pollyannas bloviate over the front pages.

 Sure, we'd all like to live to 142, or maybe just 100 -  if we've already entered the gray zone - but only if we can retain all our 'marbles' and also have the funds to support ourselves without having to beg on the street for dimes or leftover cat food. Oh, and only if the world and conditions coming fast at us won't be replicating another Venus!

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