Aging’s Diminishing Returns

I recall a conversation I had with an older gentleman (older by a generation) who adamantly declared that, as he aged, he was more and more entitled to some cache of healthcare privilege. As if by aging he was warranted a greater piece of society’s pie.

I suspect many of us think this way. That by age 70 or 80, if we make it that far, we should be due the expense of whatever healthcare we require. That we’ve accrued some virtual healthcare-credit. That we are owed.

I countered this fellow’s argument with the notion that, as far as society was concerned, his healthcare would be money poorly spent. His usefulness was nil. That if anything, society should take the money spent on him and spend it on a newborn. That would be a much wiser investment. That that child represented a potential 50+ years worth of contribution to society. Your potential? Zip.

He didn’t like that much.

I pointed out that in every other social species, elders who could not keep up were a liability and were shed from the clan, the group, the colony. “Your final gesture to the health of the tribe would be to sacrifice yourself to the predators trailing behind us.”

Of course, his position could not be shifted. He’d paid into this imaginary bank and was dead-set on withdrawing his balance. Yeah, he was a total Republican.


There’s this public speaking futurist and political analyst, Peter Zeihan, who I can’t quite tell if he’s a charlatan or prophet. A bit of both is my take. He tries to use statistics to his favor, but, we all know how that works out. He’s not like Hans Rosling who didn’t try to prophesize, or sensationalize this theories. Rosling’s Ted Talks are worth watching (elevate women is his theme).

Zeihan has (through youtube) been harping on the global fertility rate—most recently, China’s which stands at 1.3:

We all prolly know that a country needs 2.1+ to retain their current population levels. That the world, as a whole stands at 2.3 (population is still going up). The fact that this number is that high is almost entirely due to African & Middle East nations having 4+ rates. But, the rest of the world’s countries have far lower rates. Japan’s, also at 1.3 and South Korea’s at 0.8? Is societal collapse on the table?

That’s what Zeihan might have us believe. Elon Musk as well. Malthus was wrong.

And here comes the tie-in…

The elderly, across the globe—myself included now, can’t possibly think they can sit back and collect on some fanciful reserve of goodwill they’ve garnered over their lifetime. They have no choice but to continue to be productive in a society that cannot afford to let them retire and luxuriate in repose.

So, get back to work, you old geezer!

(Of course, if the promise of total labor automation comes along soon, as I’ve predicted in other posts, we might all be saved from having to work until our minds fail, our hips crack, our fingers curl in arthritic claws incapable of gripping a kitchen spatula.)

Writer’s Log: 2525 Temple Crawl

You approach the temple, descend to your knees and crawl the last few paces. Your travel-weary body resists the motion; the flagstone path scrapes your skin, but you barely notice as you reach the steps of the altar. Lifting your gaze from the leaf-strewn granite you catch a glimpse of gold. All this way and there she is, the Goddess Durga, the Destroyer. As you place your hand on the step, an acolyte appears, swooshing in from a hidden alcove. He, you think they’re a he–you’ve read that all sexes are welcome at the Durga temple–he bends low and scrapes your hand off the stone with a bamboo rake.

What the hell?

The attendant catches your eye and motions you to a fountain and mimes the act of washing.

Ah, right.

It’s a distance to the basin so you rise only to be coughed to attention by the monk. He signals you to bow, fold your hands and proceed in reverence.

Geezus, OK, OK, whatever.

On your guard you arrive, and before you dip your hands, you spy a ladle. The ground is wet so you dip and think twice as you start to pour the weak-tea water onto your open hand. Checking the monk for his approval, he gives you a nod. He’s been eyeing you, the feeling of his stare—an insect tasting at the nape of your neck. You sigh with self-praise at achieving the man’s consent and rinse your hands and bare feet.

The water is shockingly cool and fragrant, smelling of jasmine and rain. You let each ladleful trickle over your body watching how the channels between the stones wick away the flow.

Another cough tugs you back from your enchantment. You recall why you’re here.

In a low bow, your hands steepled, you return to the step, kneel and look up expectantly.

The blue-robed attendant tucks his chin and waves your forward. You begin to crawl like a dog, but he hooks your arm and lifts you to your feet. We do not grovel here, he seems to say. You smile and he shuffles away continuing to rake the mahogany and eucalyptus leaves that litter the stone pavilion surrounding the altar.

Between the granite columns you pass into the inner chamber and have no choice but to kneel once again.

In all her golden glory the Goddess Durga blazes before you. Her myriad arms flail the air with innumerable weapons. To confront her, you realize, would be death. Her bemused smile seems incongruous upon such a hellish being. The tiger she rides feels diminished in comparison to her monstrous power and intrinsic brutality. You compose yourself and say,

“Oh, great Goddess, I come to you in abject humility. I quiver before your might and beauty. I’d like to say that I come only baring accolades and this meager offering but, you see, I, well, we have a problem. I have trekked from temple to temple in search of a champion. None, thus far, have deigned to grant my wish. You are my final hope. 

“I saved this journey for last knowing that you are the most exalted killer of demons. executioner of evil, slayer of all that are an affront to what is good and great in the world. What I ask is simple…”

Around you are piled a multitude of baskets containing fruits and breads in various stages of decay. Their cloyingly sweet odor, as it wafts around the candlelit room, comes near to gagging you. From your pocket you disgorge a wad of rupees and arrange them in a gap between offerings.

“There is an evil in the West. If, in your great and dazzling wisdom and potency, you could wield your saber and scimitar, your flail and dagger and strike down the one called Donald J. Drumpf, the world would be eternally grateful.”

Image courtesy: Dall-E Mini

The wrong end of a pistol

Out of curiosity, regarding the recent return of the TallyPo in Afghanistan, I went researching (armchair, skip-scanning of articles that matched my topic at-hand—which does not actually qualify as “research”), the treatment of women by the three major Abrahamic Religions.

What I found, anecdotally, made me question why these religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, even exist.

Throughout the ages, these religions pretty much codify the treatment of women as property. Islam being the worst offender. But the other two are just as dismissive of women as equal partners in all aspects of familial and community governance.

Let’s see:

  • The “books” of “God” are all written by men.
  • God is a dude.
  • God created Man and then Woman as an afterthought.
  • Men and Women are both contractually welcome into their associated heavens, not as a generalized people, but specifically as Men or Women.
  • The locations of worship, the synagogues, mosques and churches are generally off limits to women. Women should worship at home.
  • Roles within each religion are segregated and the dominant ones always assigned to men.
  • Women’s roles are always servile where obedience is the “godly” behavior attributed to ascension.

How could 1/2 (or more) of the majority of the population of the planet just put up with such station?

Fuck that.

And now that the women of Afghanistan, who have enjoyed a much expanded set of freedoms (not perfectly equal, but way better) are back under the TallyPo’s oppressive religious regime?

I’ll be awaiting the rise of the Afghan Underground Women’s Rebellion. There’s a shit ton of guns in that country, thank you very much Russia & the United States, and when they fall into the hands of the women whose lives are now once again severely throttled, I suspect the TallyPo will have more to fear from within than from without.

As a white, male, armchair, theoretical tactician I know I should be ignored. I have zero credibility regarding my opinion on such matters. I offer the above as an insubstantial hope that the reversal of women’s fortunes, eventually to the positive, does not demand a sacrifice too dear.

And the village was saved

The pall has lifted.
The ugly shroud of Orangina has peel away.
The sword of rationality has pierced the hideous beast and left it golfing in denial.

About Damn Time!

I’m reminded of the lyrics from a Jim Stafford song, one I memorized as a teenager.
Here are the pertinent parts:
One day brought the rain and the rain stayed on
And the swamp water overflowed
Skeeters and the fever grabbed the town like a fist
(The swam overflowed indeed! Fully of criminals hired by Drumpf)

There came an unseen caller on a town where hope run dry

And the whole town took a sip
(of sanity)

Fever went away and the very next day the skies again were blue
(As well as the rest of the country. Yay, Democracy!)

Said don’t come lookin’ again.
(Oh, they will. The Rabid-Right can’t help itself.)

Yay Us! Mudge, @fifteencurmudgeon, you get to keep on livin’, aren’t you happy? Jesse, give the team a woof!

A progressive argument to battle your conservative friends

Crazy times.
Divisive times.
“Them’s fightin’ words,” times.

I’m reticent to even broach this subject for fear of retribution or retaliation. But, fuck it, progressives need better ammunition to fend off the irrational arguments of the Radical Right.

  • “You’re all trying to convert this country over to socialism!”
  • “Get government out of my business.”
  • “Big government is bad business.”

Yeah, I hear your words. Let’s just do a little theoretical experiment and we’ll see where you stand afterward.

#1 You don’t like socialism? Then, you must not like government programs that operate on behalf of society. OK, then, let’s do away with the socialism we currently enjoy. No more:

  • Judicial system which provides for rule-of-law adjudication of crimes and grievances. No more suing that corporation for poisoning your toothpaste. No more court system to ensure crimes are tried and resolved.
  • No more police departments.
  • No more fire departments.
  • No more emergency services. Your call to 911 will go no where.
  • In fact, no more telecom system as corporations will now own the airwaves and you’ll have to pay that monopoly dues to rent the air waves.
  • No more highway system. No more bridges, tunnels, lights, or smooth driving anywhere.
  • No more banking system. No more Fed. Your money will now be controlled (inflated away) by independent banking corporations.
  • No more financial system. No more FOMC or SEC. The stock market will become a Wild West of robber barons.
  • No more FDA or USDA, the quality of your food and drugs will now be controlled by corporations.
  • No more EPA, your air, land and water will become as polluted as corporations want it.
  • No more OSHA, your jobs will be as risky and egregious as corporations can make them.
  • No more Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, you get old or sick, oh well.
  • No more national security or military. Foreign governments will attack with impunity, with both organized forces and insurgents.
  • This list goes on and on and on… ***

You don’t like socialism? Well, guess what? You already live in a socialist society. AND YOU LOVE IT! And if it were gone — you would suffer.

(You know who also loves socialism, that is, a social system of government of the people, by the people, for the people? … The wealthy and the corporations they run. But do they pay their share for all of these amenities? These privileges? These first-world services and benefits. NO THEY DON’T. You want to point a finger at someone? Point it at the wealthy and their corporations.)

So you say you don’t like socialism, but yet you live in a highly socialistic society as evidenced above. So which is it? Are you a hypocrite or do you just not understand that government IS society.

Next time some Right-wing conservative attacks your progressive, liberal ideals use this argument. We’re not that different. We all enjoy a vast and beneficial social system. Making it work a little better for all of us is what we progressives want.

#2 Without government “in your business”, protecting your business, you wouldn’t BE in business. Without the agencies and laws and equality built into the system (albeit somewhat half-assed right now), your business could and would get commandeered or monopolized out of business.

#3 It’s not that big government is bad, it’s that bad government is bad. Corporate lobbyists that drive legislation — BAD. Lifer politicians that treat their office like a royal award and act more for themselves than the people — BAD. The wealthy who think they can buy elections due to corrupt campaign laws — BAD.  Tax laws that ignore the monumental protections and benefits the wealthy enjoy without them owning up to said benefits — BAD.

Government IS us, We the People. If it’s not working for all of us, then yeah, let’s change it. But ignoring the fact that we’re already living in a valuable and advantageous socialism is denying the health and well being you’re enjoying right now.

[*** These are all social programs created by government to benefit society. Not “technically” socialism, but certainly part of the social fabric we voluntarily contribute to (taxes) and expect results from (all mentioned)…
Including: USPS, National Parks, HUD, FEMA, SNAP, public education, and hundreds of others.]