February 1, 2011

A short life expectancy job

CNN reports:

I see this headline about once a month. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.  Is it a conspiracy? Perhaps there's some sicko serial killer out there stalking each successive world's oldest person. Whatever, it's clearly not a career with good job security, so I don't see why people seem to be dying to get the job.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to be the world's second oldest person. I just know I'd be checking the paper every day.

Anonymous said...

Jeanne Calment had the job for a pretty long time. Her greatest line - at her birthday the Paris papers would send reporters down to talk with her, secrets of longevity etc. And one said, when she was 116 or so, how much he had enjoyed meeting her and hoped to see her again. Calment said, "Why not? You seem in good health!!" dave.s.

Jamie said...

I think at that age they have to assume they'll go anytime. Usually they have an unusually positive outlook. And why not, they've probably raked in alot more than they put in, to pensions, etc.

jewamongyou said...

Still, it's a job many of us aspire to. Where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

There was an episode of some tv show about this. I am sure by the time I post this, 100 people will have told you the exact show. Heh.

PatrickH said...

I remember when Jeanne Calment, who was the oldest person alive at the time (she was about 120 I think), was asked what she thought the future would be, replied, "Short."

RandyB said...

"Whatever, it's clearly not a career with good job security"

And the seniority requirements are a killer.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I still hate you, but this is a funny post.

Anonymous said...

You could learn a thing to two about the concept of selection.

OneSTDV said...

Yes, yes there must be something going on here. Hmm, people over 100 dying at such an alarming rate - I'll have to consider this some more.

international Jew said...

But once you gain that title, it's yours for life.

Kylie said...

"I don't see why people seem to be dying to get the job[of being the world's oldest person]."

Isn't it that they're dying to give their job to someone else?

A bunch of shirkers, that's what they are. I bet none of them has worked in decades.

Le Sigh said...

*groan*

Anonymous said...

I wonder what it "feels" like to be that old. Instead of aches and pains, maybe the super-old live in a constant state of euphoria as their limbic systems slowly unravel.

I've had several relatives who lived past 100 and they were the antithesis of curmudgeonly. I found talking to my shriveled great grandmother particularly disconcerting -- the voice emanating from her frail form sounded 30 years younger, and she frequently completed my sentences.

Superior tolomeres, I guess.

Also, I wonder if the very old revert to little kid chronology, where every new day seems like an eternity.

none of the above said...

There's been some really fascinating research on very long lived people--apparently (and unsurprisingly) theres s large genetic component to making it past 100. Maybe the Howard Foundation would have worked after all....

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38041947/ns/health-aging/ is a story about one study of centenarians; google offers many other links.

Anonymous said...

Yah, but remember, that is only 16 in dog years.

Ian said...

Ah Sailer if there was any justice in this world you'd have a MacArthur Grant, a Pulitzer or two, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a OBE, etc.

dearieme said...

Remeber that many of the
Japanese ones are just cheap imitations.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Ba da bing!

Anonymous said...

A positive attitude seems necessary for supercentarians, which sounds like a truism, but I've known people who made it to 101 or 102 and were embittered, complaining old coots. But they'd have never made it to 108 or above.

It's been fascinating reading the quotes from the last First World War veterans as they've been departing the stage these past couple years (we're down to three now)...Henry Allingham (d. 2009, last veteran of Jutland) saying the secret of longevity was "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women – and a good sense of humour"...or Frank Buckles, still alive (his 110th birthday was yesterday) and the last US doughboy, saying "When you start to die...don't."

Miley Cyrax said...

Holy shit more women then men die at ages 100 and up. Must be insufficient healthcare for women, we have to do something about this human rights atrocity!

Ross said...

Wasn't there a Pensioners Party in somewhere like the Netherlands that had tremendous problems because their leaders kept dying?

Anonymous said...

"Holy shit more women then men die at ages 100 and up. Must be insufficient healthcare for women, we have to do something about this human rights atrocity!"

Oddly enough it seems that men are somewhat overrepresented in the extreme old age category. I wondered how that could be, since there are way more female oldies in the 70-90 group, but apparently once you control for "bell-curve" expectancies, there are more male centernarians percentage-wise than female. I still can't figure it out. Maybe there are just more women than men who die in their 80s and if men can make it past 90 they are super-strong. Or maybe the research was mistaken.

Anonymous said...

thanks for giving me my next book idea--the serial killer who tracks down and kills each new 'world's oldest person.' And of course the alcoholic cop who is on his trail even though his colleagues think he is crazy

-cryofan

Anonymous said...

When I was hired to evaluate programs for the aging they decided I needed to know some gerontology.

They sent me to a class at UC Berkeley taught by a guy with a couple doctorates - medicine and gerontology I think. The disconcerting thing was that this guy looked 18. When he told you about aging you listened, hoping for some special secret insight.

At the first class he said; "Some of you may never die". We listened harder.

He didn't believe in death. He was part of a group that froze people - or rather just their heads.

I'm sure he has some frozen heads somewhere that are much older than 114. Do these count?

Albertosaurus

Harry Baldwin said...

Steve, I think you're really onto something here. On a related note, I understand that few people live even ten years after being awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Anonymous said...

"Oddly enough it seems that men are somewhat overrepresented in the extreme old age category. I wondered how that could be, since there are way more female oldies in the 70-90 group"

Having worked in health care I'll throw this in...While more women than men make it to the 75-90 group the men are usually in much better shape in a physical sense, particularly smaller men.

Svigor said...

Hardee-har-har.

:D

Anonymous said...

you do good work Mr. Sailer, someone should donate some money to you. I haven't, though.

Anonymous said...

i notice you haven't commented on anything that Maureen Dowd has written and I think I know why: she hasn't written anything interesting or even relevant.

Anonymous said...

Sicko serial killer was no doubt inspired by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

Silver said...

Oh gawd. This is exactly why comedy should be left to the professionals.

DavidB said...

Who wants to live to 100? A 99-year-old.

Anonymous said...

"They sent me to a class at UC Berkeley taught by a guy with a couple doctorates - medicine and gerontology I think. The disconcerting thing was that this guy looked 18. "

Funny thing, the director of the funeral home where I had my dad prepared looked 35. When I asked him how he managed to inherit the family business so young, he told me he was 60. A chill ran down my spine. I was tempted to ask him if he could revive my father instead of burying him.

Anonymous said...

Every man has a ticking time bomb between his legs: his prostate. This will either grow to enormous size causing severe urinary tract problems including kidney failure, or turn cancerous. If your prostate doesn't kill you, then arterial plaque or emphysema will. And if they don't do you in, then Mexican home invaders or black muggers will beat you to death because you look like you won't fight back and besides, you're old and white so you must be a racist.

none of the above said...

Anonymous:

Your comment is more serious than it sounds. In general, curing any one of the common things that kills people in old age results in only a small improvement in life expectancy, because at that age, something else gets you pretty quickly. Prevent heart attacks and strokes, and you just get more people dying from cancer, or liver failure, or whatever.

I gather there are cellular mechanisms behind aging, and there's a lot of research into those going on now. (There're a bunch of tradeoffs between aging and cancer.)

But there's also all kinds of stuff in a human body that simply never evolved for very long lifespans. Problems that only arise in your 70s have basically never had any noticable fitness cost (few people lived that long before we got decent medicine), so there was no reason for them to be selected against. Sooner or later, we'll probably get drugs to prevent or fix some of the cellular aging process. But we'll still need all kinds of mechanical repairs to deal with too-big prostates and weakening bone structure and repetitive joint damage to joints that simply weren't evolved to survive 100 years of use, and so on.

Anonymous said...

What happened to all those 150 year olds in Georgia and the Caucausus?

Did they die off too?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

What happened to all those 150 year olds in Georgia and the Caucausus?

Did they die off too?"

Yeah. Bad yogurt.

rob said...

What happened to all those 150 year olds in Georgia and the Caucausus?

On the off chance you're serious, those were 60?-80? year old men pretending to be super old. A 70 year old guy is just an old guy. A 150 year old guy is miracle, a font of wisdom, possibly a personified fountain of youth. You can see why someone old would pretend to be super old.

Wilbur said...

I don't know, just think of all the cash they could rake in making granny porn over the years...

Truth said...

"On the off chance you're serious, those were 60?-80? year old men pretending to be super old."

That's not exactly true. for instance, there is one old man in Soviet Georgia who claims to have seen, with his own eyes, a white man win an olympic 100m dash!