As someone who is moving into the outer fringes of what we may reasonably call “old age” – I will be 70 on 5 April 2019 – I have already learned some valuable lessons, all of which will apply to some and some of which will apply to all. For whatever it may be worth, the following is what I have learned so far. Pick and choose the lessons that are relevant to you.
o Old age need not advance gradually
With me, I began to move into the exurbs of old age in a single week, perhaps even a briefer time than that.
In late August of 2012, I was returning from a 3-week trip to Wichita, KS, to see relatives, what few I have left in my family of origin. I was jammed into the back seat, just forward of the tailcone, of a small Embraer jet on a flight to Denver to make connections
The recent report on the findings of climatic research into the causes and probable evolution of climate change – a more accurate term than “global warming” – prompted me to consider a possible answer to Enrico Fermi’s classic question “Where is everybody?” Multiple generations of science fiction writers have projected a future in which the Milky Way Galaxy fairly teems with life, rather like Times Square on New Year’s Eve or the tavern in the first Star Wars movie – so much so that the late Prof. Stephen Hawking has publicly counseled SETI investigators to – not literally STFU – but certainly to exercise due caution in broadcasting the existence of intelligent life on earth to every corner of the Galaxy. (Not that we have a choice by now: earth’s electromagnetic emissions by now com
In 2007, Harvard University Press published a remarkable book by Yale professor Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers (hereafter Failure). Best I remember, I read the book because I was startled by the sacrilegiousness of the title: Ackerman was violating the cultural canons mandating unqualified awe of the Founders and Framers by suggesting that, in writing the Constitution, they had failed in some way. (To say that the Framers failed because they compromised with the slave States to get the Constitution ratified is a truism. Ackerman had something else in mind, however.) He convinced me, though I persist in believing that the “perfect storm” of synergistic malfunctions that very nearly deadlocked the election of 1800, and that almost led to the dissolution of the Union